Provision Of Food And Clothing For The Wandering People Of God: A Canonical And Salvation-Historical Study -- By: David Wenkel

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 05:1 (Summer 2014)
Article: Provision Of Food And Clothing For The Wandering People Of God: A Canonical And Salvation-Historical Study
Author: David Wenkel


Provision Of Food And Clothing
For The Wandering People Of God:
A Canonical And Salvation-Historical Study

David Wenkel

Moody Bible Institute

1. Introduction

“You will never see a hearse with a U-Haul behind it.” This is a colloquial way of saying that no one can take their earthly riches with them when they die. That is easy enough for most people to understand and it closely approximates this pastoral saying: “we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world” (1 Tim 6:7). But the next statement from Paul is a much more difficult statement: “but if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Tim 6:8).1 This “we” carries the force of a command that applies to all Christians.2 This is similar to the extra-biblical writer Sirach who stated: “The basic necessities of human life are water and fire and iron and salt and wheat flour and milk and honey, the blood of the grape and oil and clothing” (NRSV, Ecclus 39:26).3 What is surprising is the absence of shelter, which one expects to be connected with food and clothing.4 As

Craig Bartholomew explains, “To be stable and inhabit a place, humans must build to make sure of stable inhabitation.”5 For Paul, it is only the most basic elements of life—food and clothing alone—that constitute the condition upon which a Christian should be content. Why these items (food and clothing) alone? Where do these conditions in 1 Tim 6:8 come from? Is there an over-arching narrative in which this proverb can be placed or is it simply an isolated pastoral maxim?

1.1 Why This Study?

Most commentaries attempt to answer these questions in two problematic ways. First, some read the reference to being content with “food and clothing” in an atomistic fashion—the saying is removed from over-arching issues and narratives. These often note that there are parallels between Paul’s call to be content with such simplicity and the teachings of Jesus and Stoic teachers. In the area of the Old Testament, studies of food rarely interact with the combination of “food and clothing” together.6 Second, some read the section about material possessions in 1 Tim 6:1-10

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