Not found in the Old Testament, but repeatedly in the New. The Mosaic legislation ( Leviticus 25:35 ; Deuteronomy 15:7 ) tended to promote a spirit of charity, and to prevent the occurrence of destitution among the people. Such passages as these, Psalms 41:1 ; 112:9 ; Proverbs 14:31 ; Isaiah 10:2 ; Amos 2:7 ; Jeremiah 5:28 ; Ezekiel 22:29 , would also naturally foster the same benevolent spirit.
In the time of our Lord begging was common ( Mark 10:46 ; Acts 3:2 ). The Pharisees were very ostentatious in their almsgivings ( Matthew 6:2 ). The spirit by which the Christian ought to be actuated in this duty is set forth in 1 John 3:17 . A regard to the state of the poor and needy is enjoined as a Christian duty ( Luke 3:11 ; 6:30 ; Matthew 6:1 ; Acts 9:36 ; Acts 10:2 Acts 10:4 ), a duty which was not neglected by the early Christians ( Luke 14:13 ; Acts 20:35 ; Galatians 2:10 ; Romans 15:25-27 ; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 ). They cared not only for the poor among themselves, but contributed also to the necessities of those at a distance ( Acts 11:29 ; 24:17 ; 2 co. 9:12 ). Our Lord and his attendants showed an example also in this ( John 13:29 ).
In modern times the "poor-laws" have introduced an element which modifies considerably the form in which we may discharge this Christian duty.
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.
[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary
Bibliography InformationEaston, Matthew George. "Entry for Alms". "Easton's Bible Dictionary".