Saturday, June 1, 2013

1 Peter 4:10 and the Moral Case for Free Enterprise

"As each one has recieved a gift, minister unto one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." 1 Peter 4:10

"The great advances of civilization....were the product of individual genius, of strongly held minority views, of a social climate permitting variety and diversity." Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, 1962 (p. 3/4)

"Profit comes from serving another one of God's creatures." Rabbi Daniel Lapin

1 Peter 4:10 is one of the most important passages in the Bible; in twenty-one words, it outlines the case for free enterprise.

God endows every person with unique gifts.  Each of us are good at some things, while others are good at others.  Through Peter, God instructs us to exchange those gifts in a spirit of mutual service.

Mutual service is the essence of free enterprise.  We meet someone else's needs, who then reward us with the fruits of their own labor.  This bottom up system works as long as the state doesn't try to manipulate things from the top down.

The Nelson study Bible states:
4:10 Every believer is gifted to serve.  Stewards are managers or trustees who will be held accountable for using their gift in the best interest of the One who gave it to them.
 Service leads to good stewardship.

 Economic interaction is a form of ministry.  The economic realm is an earthly illustration of meeting each others needs.  Humans shouldn't mess with that outline.

And that's why 1 Peter 4:10 is one of the most important passages in the Bible.


  1. As a preacher for a church, I would never preach this. This is not exegesis, but eisegesis. This passage is not about free enterprise. It's about how the church should utilize God's grace in its various forms. To apply this to economics or government is to completely ignore the context. I'm a fan of free markets, but that's not what this passage is about.

    1. Economic interaction is an earthly manifestation of ministry, thus how we should "should utilize God's grace in its various forms" applies.

  2. Peter did not say we should have free enterprise. You did. Therefore, you are reading into the text, rather than interpreting the text. Peter is talking about opening your home in hospitality (which he in fact mentions) or serving others without reference to profit. Capitalistic profit is not in the picture at all. One can serve others and not be in a free enterprise system at all. In fact, Peter himself was not in a free enterprise system, so even if he were talking about economics (which he isn't, because economics wasn't a subject until after the enlightenment) he wouldn't be talking about capitalistic economics.


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