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How did Jesus fund his ministry?

Jesus, urantia book, funding, money, christianity, women ministry

Who Paid Jesus' Bills? by Greg Garrison. This is such an interesting question; not something that most of us think about when we think about Jesus and his life. So when I saw it, I decided that there's enough information in The Urantia Book to make a nice blog, which you'll find below. But first, here's a snippet from the article:

Former megachurch pastor Rob Bell, the bestselling author of "Love Wins," was in Birmingham Wednesday to talk about his latest book, "What is the Bible?' and sold out an event at the 1,300-capacity Iron City venue.

One chapter of his book tackles an interesting question: "Who paid Jesus' bills?"

He points to an often overlooked passage in the Gospel of Luke, the opening verses of Chapter 8:

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

"Luke drops this little bomb," Bell said in an interview with "There are these women who pay Jesus' bills. One of them is married to the steward of Herod's household."

Click to read the whole article


"There are these women who pay Jesus' bills." WHAT?

The excerpt from Luke above is but a fragmentary account of one of the most fascinating and important events in the public life of Jesus: The commissioning of the Women's Evangelistic Corps. You can read the entire account HERE. And here is a corresponding passage that parallels the one cited above from Luke:

150:1.1 Of all the daring things which Jesus did in connection with his earth career, the most amazing was his sudden announcement on the evening of January 16: "On the morrow we will set apart ten women for the ministering work of the kingdom." At the beginning of the two weeks' period during which the apostles and the evangelists were to be absent from Bethsaida on their furlough, Jesus requested David to summon his parents back to their home and to dispatch messengers calling to Bethsaida ten devout women who had served in the administration of the former encampment and the tented infirmary. These women had all listened to the instruction given the young evangelists, but it had never occurred to either themselves or their teachers that Jesus would dare to commission women to teach the gospel of the kingdom and minister to the sick. These ten women selected and commissioned by Jesus were: Susanna, the daughter of the former chazan of the Nazareth synagogue; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, the steward of Herod Antipas; Elizabeth, the daughter of a wealthy Jew of Tiberias and Sepphoris; Martha, the elder sister of Andrew and Peter; Rachel, the sister-in-law of Jude, the Master's brother in the flesh; Nasanta, the daughter of Elman, the Syrian physician; Milcha, a cousin of the Apostle Thomas; Ruth, the eldest daughter of Matthew Levi; Celta, the daughter of a Roman centurion; and Agaman, a widow of Damascus. Subsequently, Jesus added two other women to this group— Mary Magdalene and Rebecca, the daughter of Joseph of Arimathea.

150:1.2 Jesus authorized these women to effect their own organization and directed Judas to provide funds for their equipment and for pack animals. The ten elected Susanna as their chief and Joanna as their treasurer. From this time on they furnished their own funds; never again did they draw upon Judas for support.

So we see that in fact, the women did not support Jesus' ministry; the apostle Judas Iscariot (the keeper of the funds) helped the woment to get started, after which they became self-supporting.

That's an important expansion of a Biblical story - something that is quite common in one's reading and appreciation of the Urantian revelation of Jesus' life. And it leads us to another question:

How was Jesus' ministry funded?

At the beginning of the training period with with his new apostles, and long before the commissioning of the women:

138:7.4 Jesus now asked them how much money they had among them; he also inquired as to what provision had been made for their families. When it developed that they had hardly sufficient funds to maintain themselves for two weeks, he said: "It is not the will of my Father that we begin our work in this way. We will remain here by the sea two weeks and fish or do whatever our hands find to do; and in the meantime, under the guidance of Andrew, the first chosen apostle, you shall so organize yourselves as to provide for everything needful in your future work, both for the present personal ministry and also when I shall subsequently ordain you to preach the gospel and instruct believers." They were all greatly cheered by these words; this was their first clear-cut and positive intimation that Jesus designed later on to enter upon more aggressive and pretentious public efforts.

138:7.7 This plan of fishing two weeks and going out to do personal work in behalf of the kingdom for two weeks was followed for more than five months, even to the end of this year of A.D. 26, until after the cessation of those special persecutions which had been directed against John's disciples subsequent to his imprisonment.

Several of the apostles had duties that included dispersal of funds:

4. Nathaniel watched over the needs of the families of the twelve. He received regular reports as to the requirements of each apostle's family and, making requisition on Judas, the treasurer, would send funds each week to those in need.

5. Matthew was the fiscal agent of the apostolic corps. It was his duty to see that the budget was balanced, the treasury replenished. If the funds for mutual support were not forthcoming, if donations sufficient to maintain the party were not received, Matthew was empowered to order the twelve back to their nets for a season. But this was never necessary after they began their public work; he always had sufficient funds in the treasurer's hands to finance their activities.

9. Judas Iscariot was appointed treasurer. He carried the bag. He paid all expenses and kept the books. He made budget estimates for Matthew from week to week and also made weekly reports to Andrew. Judas paid out funds on Andrew's authorization.

Incidentally, this same Matthew Levi, the seventh aspostle - the tax collector - was himself an effective fundraiser, as well as a secret contributor to the mission:

139:7.8 Matthew received freely tendered offerings from believing disciples and the immediate auditors of the Master's teachings, but he never openly solicited funds from the multitudes. He did all his financial work in a quiet and personal way and raised most of the money among the more substantial class of interested believers. He gave practically the whole of his modest fortune to the work of the Master and his apostles, but they never knew of this generosity, save Jesus, who knew all about it. Matthew hesitated openly to contribute to the apostolic funds for fear that Jesus and his associates might regard his money as being tainted; so he gave much in the names of other believers. During the earlier months, when Matthew knew his presence among them was more or less of a trial, he was strongly tempted to let them know that his funds often supplied them with their daily bread, but he did not yield. When evidence of the disdain of the publican would become manifest, Levi would burn to reveal to them his generosity, but always he managed to keep still.

139:7.9 When the funds for the week were short of the estimated requirements, Levi would often draw heavily upon his own personal resources. Also, sometimes when he became greatly interested in Jesus' teaching, he preferred to remain and hear the instruction, even though he knew he must personally make up for his failure to solicit the necessary funds. But Levi did so wish that Jesus might know that much of the money came from his pocket! He little realized that the Master knew all about it. The apostles all died without knowing that Matthew was their benefactor to such an extent that, when he went forth to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom after the beginning of the persecutions, he was practically penniless.

Regularly, the apostles would fish and sell their catches as a means of earning money:

148:0.2 Throughout this period the apostles would go fishing at least one day a week, selling their catch to David for consumption by the seaside encampment. The funds thus received were turned over to the group treasury. The twelve were permitted to spend one week out of each month with their families or friends. And here's more about the management of the apostolic funds:

163:2.11 Jesus never taught that it was wrong to have wealth. He required only the twelve and the seventy to dedicate all of their worldly possessions to the common cause. Even then, he provided for the profitable liquidation of their property, as in the case of the Apostle Matthew. Jesus many times advised his well-to-do disciples as he taught the rich man of Rome. The Master regarded the wise investment of excess earnings as a legitimate form of insurance against future and unavoidable adversity. When the apostolic treasury was overflowing, Judas put funds on deposit to be used subsequently when they might suffer greatly from a diminution of income. This Judas did after consultation with Andrew. Jesus never personally had anything to do with the apostolic finances except in the disbursement of alms. But there was one economic abuse which he many times condemned, and that was the unfair exploitation of the weak, unlearned, and less fortunate of men by their strong, keen, and more intelligent fellows. Jesus declared that such inhuman treatment of men, women, and children was incompatible with the ideals of the brotherhood of the kingdom of heaven.

And there are more references in The Urantia Book about the apostolic funding; but let's go back further...into Jesus adolescent years, when he became sole support to his family of brothers and sisters following Joseph's untimely death. Jesus was no stranger to financial realities.

Jesus Learned Finances Early in Life

Joseph had been an able provider, and by the time he died (when Jesus was 14) they owned several properties: the family home including a working garden and attached carpenter shop, and a couple of other properties - one that was held in common with partners of Joseph's. 

In this section, we learn of the period of poverty through which Jesus and his family passed after Joseph died - and how hard Jesus worked to keep their household afloat:

126:5.5 The pay of a common day-laboring carpenter was slowly diminishing. By the end of this year Jesus could earn, by working early and late, only the equivalent of about twenty-five cents a day. By the next year they found it difficult to pay the civil taxes, not to mention the synagogue assessments and the temple tax of one-half shekel. During this year the tax collector tried to squeeze extra revenue out of Jesus, even threatening to take his harp.

They were forced eventually to sell a house that Joseph had owned, and later were forced to sell even one more that had been mortgaged. These funds went for taxes and other expenses. Finally, Jesus sold an equity share in a house that was jointly owned with Zebedee, a friend of Joseph's. And it was this Zebedee who eventually hired Jesus to work in his boatshop. And Zebedee's son, David, also became a leading fundraiser for the apostolic mission, soliciting funds from "liberal men and women of means."

Later, as Jesus and his apostles geared up for their public mission, Zebedee offered his large home to Jesus to be used as their headquarters throughout the public ministry.

But, from this early trying time in Jesus' life, the family gradually were able to lift themselves back up into a more comfortable existence, and it was not easy. Jesus was no stranger to material problems. But he was a wise steward of all that came to him, and was able to see to it that all of the family were able to have a good start in life by the time he left them.

You can start HERE to read the progression of the Nazareth family from poverty to relative comfort by the time Jesus left home.

Have you enjoyed learning about Jesus' finances?

This is a subject that is not often addressed - if ever. In fact, the article that I cited above is probably the first one I've ever seen. So it was fun to go into The Life and Teachings of Jesus and explore the topic. I hope you have enjoyed it, and that you are inspired to explore this topic even further.

And by the way, this is something that anyone can do. We have a great search engine, that can be found at the top right of every Truthbook page - the top box is used to search our site for topics or studies, or pages you might want to see, and the bottom box is used to search the Urantia Book text for words and/or phrases.

I guess the main thing to takaway from this blog is that Jesus and his ministry were always self-sufficient; they did have contributors, but the Women's Corps was not one of those contributors. In fact, it was the other way around.

Link to External Source Article

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