Remember the Poor: How the Earliest Christians Cared for the Needy

Matthew C. Harrison

St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2018. 80 pages. Softcover. $6.99.

Reviewed by Paul E. Deterding on 09/06/2018

This study of the collection orchestrated by the apostle Paul for the Christians in Jerusalem is essentially a paper which President Matthew Harrison wrote about a decade earlier for a PhD course at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. The work is described as “a tool for making the case for mercy in your congregation.”

The early part of the study examines relevant texts with the intent of placing the collection in its historical context of Paul’s ministry. A few (perhaps quite a few) might disagree with some of the dating Harrison gives—he observes in a footnote that other scholars hold to a slightly different dating scheme for the events under study. That notwithstanding, many readers of the study, especially lay readers (the work is designed for group study) might well question the relevance of these pages to the overall purpose of the work.

My tepid reception of the earlier portion of the book is offset by a most enthusiastic recommendation of its main portion: a detailed study of 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. Harrison interprets the chapters in great detail, with every detail contributing to understanding Paul’s instruction.

President Harrison offers his work as a resource for developing a ministry of mercy that extends beyond the immediate, local needs of the congregation. His explanation of 2 Corinthians will contribute much toward that goal.