What does the Bible say about retirement?

When you think about retirement, you may want to know what the bible says about retirement. Here is everything you need to know.

3 min read

For most people, retirement is viewed as a form of reward after a long working career and as a time to do the things you did not do while working. You can decide to spend more time with your family, travel the world, move to a tax-friendly state, or explore outdoor recreation opportunities. However, as a Christian, you may want to know the biblical perspective of retirement.

While the bible does not explicitly talk about retirement, it has key principles that support retirement and saving for retirement. For example, in Numbers 8:23-26, the Lord spoke to Moses saying “at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer." This scripture can be interpreted to mean that, after age 50, you should retire from your role, and let younger workers take on your responsibilities.

Biblical perspective of retirement

The bible is a collection of various books, and each book was written in a different period. The Old Testament was written from 1200 to 165 BC, while the New Testament was written in the first AD. This means the bible existed even before the modern concept of retirement came into existence.

While the bible does not explicitly talk about retirement, several verses can be interpreted to refer to retirement. Here are some of the bible verses that support retirement

Numbers 8:23-26

“but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer”

In this verse, the Lord was communicating to Moses about the Levites, who handled all responsibilities at the Tent of Meetings. The lord said that between ages 25 to 50, Levite males could serve at the tent of meetings, but once they reached age 50, they must no longer serve in the same roles. Instead, the bible says, after 50, they “may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the tent of meeting, but they must not do the work.”

These verses can be interpreted to mean that, after age 50, older workers should stop working. You should leave your job and mentor younger workers, by passing on the knowledge and skills you learned to help them become better workers.

1 Timothy 6: 17-19

“They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”

In a letter to Timothy, Paul wanted members of Timothy’s church to practice good deeds with other people, and share what they have with the poor. Paul says that, by people sharing their wealth with others, they can lead a more comfortable, peaceful, and luxurious life in the future.

2 Thessalonians 3:7-8

“because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you”

In 2 Thessalonians, Paul uses himself as an example to warn against idleness. He asks his followers to work hard to support their families so that they don't burden society and the younger generation. These verses can be interpreted to mean that Paul was encouraging the members of the church to save for the future (retirement) so that they don't become a burden to their children.

History of retirement

Before the concept of modern retirement was adopted, people worked for as long as they could to meet their economic needs. Older generations worked all their life until when they could no longer work, and the younger generations in the family were required to provide for the older generations.

The concept of modern retirement started in 1883 when the German Chancellor, Otto Van Bismarck announced that workers over 65 would be forced to retire and the government would pay them a pension.

In the US, the concept of retirement began after the Industrial Revolution when factory workers began showing signs of aging and slowing assembly lines. By 1935, the idea of retiring older workers and paying them a pension became widespread, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed the Social Security Act to make workers pay for their retirement.

What does retirement look like today?

With improved healthcare, retirees are living longer, and senior citizens now make up a sizable portion of the population. Apart from social security which was established in 1935, US workers can save for retirement using various types of retirement accounts like 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA, SEP-IRA, etc. If you work for the federal or state government, you can save for retirement using a Thrift Savings Account, FERS retirement, or PER retirement.

Once you retire, you can start receiving distributions from social security, pension, and your retirement account. Since you will no longer have 40+ hour weeks, you can use the extra time to spend more time with family, explore your hobbies, or even move to another state for leisure. States like Florida and New Jersey have a growing senior population, and you can enjoy outdoor recreation opportunities like beaches, hiking, camping, bird watching, and visiting museums to learn history.