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We learn from the Archangel Raphael in Tobit 12:9 that our salvation from sins can be achieved through "Almsgiving".

[Tobit 12:9] "For almsgiving saves from death and purges away every sin. Those who give alms will enjoy a full life"

Does "Almsgiving" atone for all sins - based on teachings of Archangel Raphael in Tobit 12:9?

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  • Avarice is a sin, and the wages of sin is death; also, almsgiving is a form of selflessness, whereas sins, in general, are expressions of selfishness or self-centeredness; as such, just as one sin can open up the path to another, so can one obtained virtue serve as a link to acquiring others.
    – Lucian
    Oct 2, 2021 at 13:31

3 Answers 3

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obs.: I encourage to read this carefully not to miss the details.

That's a deep question, first the hebrew word for almsgiving which is a more advanced concept that the one meant by english, which is inside the word צדקה which means quite the same for many people, but the truth is that the concept of צדקה comes from the word for justice, in hebrew, צֶדֶק. The corresponding verse from Tobit 12:9 is Tobit 12:3 and it says:

ויאמר רפאל אל טובי ואל טוביה בנו שירו ליי שיר חדש וברכו(הו) וזמרו שמו על כל הטובה אשר עשה עמכם והרבו לפניו תפלה ותחנה וצדקה כל ימי חייכם כי טוב לפני יי לעשות צדקה תמיד מכנוס אוצרות כסף וזהב כי צדקה תציל ממות ואני לא אכחד מכם כל האמת דעו כי בעת אשר התפללת[ם] והתחננת[ם] לפני (הקדוש ברוך הוא) אתה ושרה כלתך על צרת נפשכם אני העליתי תפלתכם לפני כסא הכבוד ובעת אשר היית קובר את המתים אני הייתי עמך [ובחג שבועות שעזבת את שלחנך והלכת לקבור את המת אני הייתי עמך] ובחנך האלהים בעורות עיניך כי יי צדיק יבחן ובעת צרתך שלחני יי לרפא אותך ואת שרה כלתך ואני (הוא) רפאל המלאך אחד מן השרים המשרתים לפני כסא הכבוד.

When we look carefully כי צדקה תציל ממות ואני לא אכחד מכם כל האמת we find the word justice which isn't almsgiving or even money in the sense of currency, or even silver or gold, for this verse I say in english:

For justice shall deliver from death

And isn't this exactly what Jesus say in Matthew 6:19-21:

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (KJV)

But why Jesus say for your treasure is, there will your heart be also? Contrarily what is known in the world in general, in judaism, it's known that the choice is made in someone's heart, then the will to make tzedakah garantees the salvation according to the fact that Jesus seems to use in Matthew 12:8-9 from this part:

It is better to give alms than to store up gold, 9 for almsgiving saves from death, and purges all sin.

So, one of the pillars of salvation is justice according to the text the first commandment which is also Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31). So in my view, if one does that, he's saved, since everything that exists derive from the Oneness of G'd, including all the other 9 commandments.

To be clearer, in Deuteronomy 16:20 it says a pillar of jewish faith:

Justice, justice shall you pursue

or in hebrew:

צֶ֥דֶק צֶ֖דֶק תִּרְדֹּ֑ף

To prove the point of salvation it happens in Psalms 37:39:

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble. (ESV)

Also in Ephesians 2:8-9 it says the following:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (ESV)

So, indeed, since G'd is the justice and the justice is G'd, one who is just, this will be saved, through faith that lead someone to receive the grace. And truly it's not a work since it's given by faith, however, has a person that doesn't practice justice (work) faith (in G'd)?

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Contemporary English Version, Tobit 12:

9 because giving to the poor saves you from death and washes away every sin. People who are generous to the poor will have a full life,

ἐλεημοσύνη ἐκ θανάτου ῥύεται καὶ αὐτὴ ἀποκαθαίρει [purges or washes away] πᾶσαν ἁμαρτίαν οἱ ποιοῦντες ἐλεημοσύνην χορτασθήσονται ζωῆς

1 John 2:

2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Thayer's Greek Lexicon:

STRONGS NT 2434: ἱλασμός

  1. an appeasing, propitiating, ... of a priest offering an expiatory sacrifice, 2 Macc. 3:33).

Atonement is a deeper concept. It requires purging. On top of that, it requires propitiating.

Does "Almsgiving" atone for all sins - based on teachings of Archangel Raphael in Tobit 12:9?

No. Almsgiving purges away every sin but not necessarily atones all sins.

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People sometimes use this verse to discredit the deuterocanonicals, saying that it teaches salvation by works. They are mistaken in this because the verse teaches nothing different from the rest of the Bible.

Prov 29:7 The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor, The wicked does not understand such concern.

Prov 11:4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

It is interesting that in the second temple period, there are more references to sin being seen as a debt to be repaid. In Lamentations 4:22, Israel’s debt was repaid but Edom’s wasn’t.

22The punishment of your wrongdoing has been completed, daughter of Zion; He will no longer exile you. But He will punish your wrongdoing, daughter of Edom; He will expose your sins!

In Daniel 9:24, the atonement of sin was marked by a specified time period.

“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.

Daniel’s advice to Nebuchadnezzar was to pay off his sins with a ransom, λύτρωσαι.

Dan 4:27 Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: wipe away your sin by doing righteousness (בְּצִדְקָ֣ה ), and your wrongdoings by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.’

"tzedakah” goes beyond magnanimous generosity, it is an obligation to do the right thing.

Malachi also uses the imagery of washing away transgressions.

3:2But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire, like a launderer’s soap.

A further function of purifying, far more common in the OT, is also described in the following verse, which is that the refining prepares one for acts of righteousness.

3And He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the LORD in righteousness.

When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he needed to do to obtain eternal life, Jesus told him to keep the commandments and then followed up with:

...“If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Mt 19:21

In fairness, we should note that both Raphael and Jesus were giving recommendations to specific people who had been endeavoring to live righteous lives. We cannot necessarily generalize their recommendations to all people. But Paul reinforces the connection between giving and righteousness in 2 Cor. 9:

9as it is written, “HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.” 10Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; NASB

Sowing essentially increases righteousness. At the very least, we must admit that there is a very close connection between righteousness, as in giving to the needy, and salvation. As James 2 explains, where there is faith, there will be works. This is what Jesus will be looking for in the end.

34“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’

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