“Social Justice in the Bible”

Annunciation Church

Fr. Alexander Veronis, who with his wife Presybtera Pearl recently celebrated 50 years in ministry, most of them at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Lancaster, PA, leads a Saturday morning Bible Study and Discussion at the Church in Lancaster. My wife and I were there for the study on October 22, 2011.  Here are the verses and sayings that were discussed that day:


  1. “The test of any society is how it treats the poor, the vulnerable, and the stranger.”  (Jim Wallis of Sojourners)
  2. NEW YORK . Archbishop Demetrios recently presented the Athenagoras Human Rights Award to Admiral James G. Stavridis, the highest ranking Greek American in the history of the U. S. Military. In accepting the award Admiral Stavridis spoke about his family and the values that were instilled in him and particularly about his father who left Asia Minor in the early 20th Century.  The Admiral explained the humanitarian role of the Armed Forces and said that “it is the duty of the strong to protect those who are weak,” adding that “might does not make right” and explaining that “we live in an imperfect world” in which “human rights sadly are not the norm.” 
  3. “Blessed is he who considers the poor.”  (Psalm 41:1)
  4. “You shall remember that you were a servant in the landof Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out thence with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.” (Deuteronomy 5:15)
  5. For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall  open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in the land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11)
  6. “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)
  7. “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?:(Micah 6:8)
  8. “I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor.” (Psalm 140:12)
  9.  “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27)
  10. “He who oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is kind to the needy honors him.” (Proverbs 14:31)
  11. “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:3)
  12. “The poor is disliked even by his neighbors, but the rich has many friends..  He who despises his neighbor is a sinner, but happy is he who is kind to the poor.”  (Proberbs 14:20-21)
  13. “He who mocks the poor insults his Maker.” (Proverbs 17:5)
  14. “If a ruler judges the poor with equity, his throne will be established forever.” (Proverbs 29:14)
  15. “He who closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself cry out and not be heard.” (Proverbs 21:13)
  16. “A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.” (Proverbs 29:7)
  17. “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food,  thirsty and you gave me drink,  a stranger and you welcomed me,  naked and you clothed me,  sick and you visited me,  in prison and you came to me.”  (Jesus, Matthew 25:34-36)
  18. “Why do you trouble the woman (who anointed his feet with a very expensive ointment which his disciples considered a waste)…..for she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.” (Matthew 26:6-13)
  19. “Remember the poor.” (Galatians 2:10)
  20. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
  21. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2)  (Remember the familiar Icon of the Hospitality of Abraham, symbolic of the Holy Trinity)
  22. “I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody. . I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.  Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. (Martin Luther King Jr.) HOW AND WHERE HAVE WE AND THE CHURCH LIVED UP TO THE IDEAL OF SOCIAL JUSTICE?

Here is Deuteronomy 15:11 in its fuller context (verses 7-11):

“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you. You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’

(The seventh year refers to a year for the forgiveness of debts.)

NKJV, http://www.biblegateway.com/ 


2 Responses to ““Social Justice in the Bible””

  1. 1 Steve December 3, 2011 at 11:56 PM

    Thanks very much for this. Proverbs 29, especially verses 2 and 7, were among my favourites, also 29:4.


    • 2 armsopenwide December 5, 2011 at 11:49 AM

      Proverbs 31:8-9 is one not listed, but continually comes to mind for me:: “Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die .[literally, “passing away”] Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy.” Some versions say “the dumb” [mute] rather than “appointed to die;” this broadens the matter to all who have no voice or weight in this world.



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