Old Testament Women
New Testament Women
The Widow With the Two Mites:
We do not know anything about the widow woman with the two mites. We do not know her name, where she came from, how long she had been a widow or anything about her widowhood. What we do know is her faith and her love and dedication was obedient to the LORD.
Mark 12:42-44; Luke 21:2-4
By Joanne Holstein
This unnamed widow was the poorest widow in the city. We know that this unnamed widow loved God. You see she had nothing but two mites, which makes a farthing. And she gave all she had to the LORD. No one else saw what she had done; no one except our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus called his disciples unto him to witness this woman. The disciples had seen many rich people make wealthy contributions and large amount of riches into the treasury. This unnamed widow gave all that she had even all her living.
Jesus told the disciples that this poor widow had cast in more than all the rich who did not touch their abundance unto the offerings of the LORD.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:”
The story of the Widow with two mites happened during the last week Jesus was on this earth. We know that was during the Feast of Passover. There would have been many people visiting in the Temple of Jerusalem all giving more coins that mites into the treasure box. This unnamed woman went unnoticed as she gave all she had. She did not go unnoticed by Jesus who called the disciples to take notice of what this faithful woman gave.
It is important to note that a miter (Greek word lepton) a small brass coin, equivalent to the eighth part of an "as," worth about a 1/5 of a cent. A miter was the smallest coin then in circulation in Palestine. Even two of these coins together were so insignificant a sum that they were insufficient to buy a piece of bread to eat. That is even less than our pennies. You have to wonder what you could buy for this small amount. Just think this is all the poor widow had to live on.
Just prior to the arrival of the widow Jesus had chastised the scribes to the common people. Mark 12:38-40 reminds us of the word of Jesus; “Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.”
Scribes are men who are learned and studies the Law of Moses; this is called the Mosaic Law. They also study sacred writings and they interpreter these writings and they teach according to what their finding are. They tell the people what the meaning should be of the Law of Moses and they explain the questions of the Law regarding religious matters. These Scribes were employed in the Sanhedrim and believed themselves to be very important.
The Scribes were a part of the Pharisee group. They copied the law by hand, and they were regarded as important because of their interpretation of the law and they had control over people’s spiritual lives. They wore long flowing beautiful robes that had either a broad border or fringes that showed how very important they were. They had to sit in the best places in the synagogues, or churches, and at the head of the tables to show how important they were. They prayed long wordy prayers out in the public just for show. They were called “Rabbi” or teacher, to again show their importance. Scribes and Pharisees bind heavy burdens and grievous work that is hard to bear yet they will not lift one finger. All the work they do is for show before men. Jesus accused the scribes and Pharisees how shut up the kingdom of heaven against men. Because they devour or forcibly appropriate: widows’ property for a pretense they shall receive the greater damnation. (Matthew 23:2-39).
It was after this chastisement when the poor widow with her two mites came in. When you think of the word poor which means “ptochos” in Greek means reduced to beggary, asking for alms, destitute of wealth? Since this woman was also a widow there probably was not any source of income for her. Also when a woman becomes a widow she is at risk of falling prey to the religious men convincing them to give their inheritance for this project or that. It is sad to think this is still going on today especially with the televangelists. Yet this poor widow gave all she had showing her obedience and faith in the LORD to provide for her.
The characteristic of this woman is that of dedication, obedience and faithfulness to the LORD. It would take a pure heart and faith in the LORD for this poor widow to give all she had for the poor and keeping the temple functioning. She had to know that no matter how much money she had the LORD would still provide for her in all things.
She gave with a true thanksgiving heart to the LORD. It was not in the quantity of her gift it was the quality of her giving heart. This poor widow showed great faith along with works. James 2:14-17 is a reminder why people give money to the church and faith without works. “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”
Acts 2:44-45 “And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
This poor widow is such a strong example for us to not be afraid of financial insufficiency. She had faith and trust in the LORD and did not worry how she was going to survive. She knew everything she had came from the LORD. This can best be illustrated by using 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness ;) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”
The poor widow is an example of the true measure of giving. She gave out of the excess of her heart, rather than from the excess of her purse. It is the size of the heart of the giver not the size of the gift that is most important. You see it is not the “things” we have that is important to the LORD it is our heart and soul. He wants us not our “things.” She will be remembered more often that the scribes and Pharisees.
Many churches use this story when it comes times for the pledging of tithes. If you are receiving from a church then you are obligated to tithe for the up keep of that church. Our hearts are to be willing and obedient. It must be done with the right attitude and good heart. If the church is not feeding you with the true Word of God, leave that church and find one that will feed you that true Word of God. It is men who control how the money given through tithing. We live in a perverse world where churches are not doing the things of the LORD but the things of man. If the church budget is more for the musical entertainment than for Bible’s for the pulpit, or the budget is more for the salary and extravagant wardrobes rather than feeding the poor then are your tithes really for the glory of God or the glory of man?
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MLA Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne "The Widow With the Two Mites:." Becker Bible Studies Library Dec 2012.<http://christianselfstudy.com/moodle/mod/page/view.php?id=113,
APA Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne (2012, December) "The Widow With the Two Mites:." Becker Bible Studies Library. Retrieved from http://christianselfstudy.com/moodle/mod/page/view.php?id=113, .
Chicago Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne (2012) "The Widow With the Two Mites:." Becker Bible Studies Library (December), http://christianselfstudy.com/moodle/mod/page/view.php?id=113, (accessed ).
About the Author
Joanne B. Holstein is a Becker Bible Studies teacher and author of Guided Bible Studies for Hungry Christians. She has received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology/Christian Counseling with honors from Liberty University. She is well-known as a counselor to Christian faithful who are struggling with tremendous burden in these difficult times. She is a leading authority on the history of development of the Christian churches and the practices and beliefs of world religions and cults.
Key words: widow with two mites, poor widow, farthing, mark 12, luke 21, 2 corinthians 9, treasure box, greek word lepton, small brass coin, equivalent eighth of a cent, beware scribes, law of moses, dedication, obedience and faithfulness, james 2, acts 2, financial insufficiency, pledging of tithes