Vol 3, No 1, 2004

Private Property and the Gospel of Luke

Paul Babie


Every major religious tradition has a dogmatic teaching on the existence and role of private property in the society in which its faithful live. This article considers the Christian scriptural foundations for its dogmatic teaching on private property. Specifically it considers the treatment of possessions in the Gospel of Luke and suggests a rapprochement between that teaching and the legal-philosophical understanding of private property found in all western legal traditions. The rapprochement suggested here lies in what is known as the 'social aspect' of private property. The article concludes that while the social aspect can be found in the legal-philosophical view of private property, it is amplified in the Lukan teaching on possessions (private property). Indeed, for the author of Luke, private property is viewed only in its social dimension: it is justifiable only to the extent that it is used for the good of others.