‘On a long day of controversies and teachings in the Temple, just before telling his disciples about the signs of the coming end of the World, Jesus watches a poor widow throw two coins into the Temple treasury.
Widows need not be poor, as this one was (and some wealthy widows might have been very influential members of early Christian communities), however, their status was often tentative, because their husbands, their major source of protection and identity, were dead.
While sons, other male relatives, or family wealth could provide some measure of security, widows were traditionally considered subjects of special moral concern because of their generally defenseless legal and ﬁnancial position.
In the scene immediately preceding this one, Jesus condemns the scribes for, among other things, consuming the homes of widows (12:40), which probably refers to the practice of appointing some supposedly well-reputed and pious man to oversee the affairs of a widow, only to have the individual use the estate for his own gain. The widow who comes to the treasury, then, is not only disadvantaged by poverty but also by her vulnerable status, which makes her almost invisible in the legal, religious, political, and social eyes of her society.
Jesus had been watching many rich people put in large sums of money, when he observed the widow throw in the tiny amount of a “penny.” However, to his disciples he asserts that the widow’s offering is greater than any of the others because she has given all that she has, ‘her whole living’.
Besides indicating that what matters to God is the nature of the act of giving itself rather than the gross amount given, Jesus’ saying also underlines the ultimate or total nature of the ﬁnancial sacriﬁce made by the widow. For one whose only protection from complete destitution is the little money she possesses, to give all of it to the Temple is to consign herself to disaster,- yet this she does without fanfare or desire for glory, but out of faith.
Such indifference to conventional human desires for security, wealth, and status stand as a very appropriate introduction to Jesus’ teaching on the coming end of the world, for at that time faith in God and not faith in human wealth and status will establish ones membership in the saved elect of the coming kingdom.’
Women’s Bible Commentary, Newsom & Ringe Eds., John Knox Press, p.357