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Mark 12:42

ESV And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.
NIV But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
NASB And a poor widow came and put in two lepta coins, which amount to a quadrans.
CSB Then a poor widow came and dropped in two tiny coins worth very little.
NLT Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.
KJV And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

What does Mark 12:42 mean?

The copper coins the woman offer are Greek lepta. Her two coins add up to a "penny," the Greek kodrantēs. About sixty-four kodrantēs would make up a denarius, or a day's wage for a laborer. Three-hundred-eighty kodrantēs would make a shekel. Using modern equivalents from the United States, if a laborer earns a day's wage of sixty-four dollars, the woman is giving the equivalent of one dollar.

The chest she has put the coins into is likely one of six dedicated to freewill offerings. That means she has absolutely no obligation to donate at all. It's interesting to note that Jesus honors her offering and does not try to stop her. We don't know her situation. We know that if we trust God, He will add to the food and clothing we need, but He will not necessarily keep us from starving (Matthew 6:33). Jesus has made it very clear that children are to care for their aging parents (Mark 7:9–13), but we don't know if this woman has family.

We may find ourselves in a position where we need to step in when an elderly relative is being tricked into giving money to a religious charlatan. These false teachers promise that if people send in money to their ministry, God will bless them with both money and health. They also pressure their victims into feeling guilty if they don't give.

Jesus has shown that the temple complex is similarly corrupt (Mark 11:15–19), but the woman is not giving to the rich priests and greedy city elders. She's giving to God and His temple. She trusts God to take care of her. She doesn't offer some of the abundant resources she owns; she offers her whole self, something the rich young ruler was unable to do (Mark 10:17–22). It is this heart that Jesus says is essential to receive eternal life (Mark 8:34–38).
What is the Gospel?
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