Although this word is not found in the Old Testament, it is used repeatedly in the New Testament. The Mosaic laws (Leviticus 25:35; Deuteronomy 15:7) tended to promote a spirit of charity, and were meant to prevent the destitution among the people. Such passages as the following would also naturally foster the same benevolent spirit (Psalm 41:1; 112:9; Proverbs 14:31; Isaiah 10:2; Amos 2:7; Jeremiah 5:28; Ezek. 22:29).
The spirit by which the Christian ought to be compelled in this duty is set forth in 1 John 3:17. A regard for the state of the poor and needy is declared to be a Christian duty (Luke 3:11; 6:30; Matthew 6:1; Acts 9:36; 10:2, 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 Corinthians 9:12). Our Lord and his attendants showed an example also in this (John 13:29).