“Sell Everything You Have And Give To The Poor”: The Old Testament Prophetic Theme Of Justice As The Connecting Motif Of Luke 18:1-19:10 -- By: J. Daniel Hays

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 55:1 (Mar 2012)
Article: “Sell Everything You Have And Give To The Poor”: The Old Testament Prophetic Theme Of Justice As The Connecting Motif Of Luke 18:1-19:10
Author: J. Daniel Hays


“Sell Everything You Have And Give To The Poor”: The Old Testament Prophetic Theme Of Justice As The Connecting Motif Of Luke 18:1-19:10

J. Daniel Hays

J. Daniel Hays is dean of the Pruet School of Christian Studies, Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, AR 71998.

I. Introduction

This paper proposes that the theme of “justice,” as described and emphasized repeatedly throughout the Old Testament Prophets, is the central theme and connecting motif for the interrelated pericopes in Luke 18:1-19:10. In developing this conclusion, first three important background issues will be explored: (1) Luke’s intertextual use of the OT in general and the OT Prophets in particular; (2) the emphasis on the theme of justice within the OT prophetic corpus, especially as it is connected to the coming messianic era; and (3) the socio-economic setting in first century Palestine, especially in regard to the rich, the poor, and justice. Informed by these three important background perspectives, the paper will then seek to demonstrate how the theme of justice (as defined by the OT Prophets) runs like a thread throughout the pericopes of Luke 18:1-19:10.

II. Luke’s Reliance On The OT Prophets

The strong influence of the OT within the message and themes of Luke-Acts is without question. James A. Sanders states, “Luke is the most explicit of the evangelists in insisting that to understand what God was doing in Christ one had to know Scripture.”1 Luke, however, is not tied to direct citations for his OT connections, and, in fact, much of his OT reference and allusion is not done by direct citation. In this regard, Darrell Bock writes: “The Old Testament is not cited with explanation points like Matthew, but woven into the fabric of the account. This implicit literary style of Old Testament citation may be responsible for much of the ‘subtlety’ since Luke indulges by choice in little explicit editorial

comment.”2 Thus in many passages Luke will allude continuously to OT themes and promises without making any direct citations.

It is also clear that Luke is concerned with connecting Jesus to OT prophecy. In the past, scholars often referred to this as a “proof from prophecy” scheme,3 but more recently this has been refined along the lines of “proclamation from prophecy and pattern.”4 Either way, ...

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