In John Chapter 12 verses 1-8 Jesus says the famous quote "... The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have Me", or in the original greek:

τοὺς (the) πτωχοὺς (poor) γὰρ (for) πάντοτε (always) ἔχετε (you have) μεθ’ (with) ἑαυτῶν (you) ἐμὲ (Me) δὲ (however) οὐ (not) πάντοτε (always) ἔχετε (you have).

A quick look at the uses of the word ἔχετε (you have) shows that it seemed to be used in the second person, implying that it is Judas who will always have the poor with him and it is Judas who will not have Jesus with him much longer. This seems to be a radically different interpretation than the one I am so accustomed to hearing.

In addition, the next time Saint John uses the word πτωχοὺς (poor) in the bible he is talking about the spiritual poverty of the Laodiceans in Revelation chapter 3 verse 17, showing that he uses the word to describe spiritual poverty. These are the only two times in the bible where John uses the word πτωχοὺς (poor) in the context of coming from the mouth of Jesus.

If all of this is correct, an accurate (or at least acceptable) interpretation of the verse would be a declaration of the damnation of Judas as opposed to a guarantee that the financially impoverished are a permanent characteristic of reality.

Am I fair in this assessment or am I missing something? I tend to be skeptical when I think I have unlocked some new meaning in the scriptures considering I am still a novice at reading them. Thanks for your time!

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    The most obvious "omission" is that the "you" is plural and so cannot refer to Judas alone but must refer to the group collectively.
    – Dottard
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 22:08

1 Answer 1


No, it is a clear statement that there will always be poor people, reiterated also in Mark 14.3-7 in which there is no reference at all to Judas:

Mark 14:3–7 (KJV 1900)

3 And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. 4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. 6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. 7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

It is also a quote of a passage in the law, which is an unambiguous statement about financial poverty:

Deuteronomy 15:7–11 (KJV 1900)

7 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: 8 But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. 9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee. 10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. 11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

Of course, you can always interpret "the poor you shall always have with you" as a double meaning for some kind of spiritual poverty, but such interpretations must not remove from the plain meaning of the text, which is financial poverty.

Bottom line, the scriptures are clear that there will always be financially poor people, and history has borne this out, and will continue to bear it out. No Star Trek future of abundance is possible, at least according to the scripture.

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    Nice connections to Mark and Deuteronomy, thank you! Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 22:00
  • Also, the "you" is plural which rules out Judas as the sole intended subject. Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 12:16

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