Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online

Get access

(3,063 words)

In the early church, labor was a duty as well as a mark of dignity. In his apology, written in 197 CE, Tertullian (Apol. 42.1–3) states that Christians are idle Brahmins nor Gymnosophists. Far from being infructuosi in negotiis (“unfruitful in business”), they engage in agriculture, arts, and commerce, just like the heathens do. In the apostolic fathers and early church fathers, idleness was a sin. Citing from Prov 6:6–11 that …

Cite this page
Hengstmengel, Joost W., “Labor”, in: Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online, General Editor David G. Hunter, Paul J.J. van Geest, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte. Consulted online on 05 June 2023 <>
First published online: 2018

▲   Back to top   ▲