Romans 12:20
Parallel Verses
New International Version
On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."

New Living Translation
Instead, "If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads."

English Standard Version
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

New American Standard Bible
"BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD."

King James Bible
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.

International Standard Version
But "if your enemy is hungry, feed him. For if he is thirsty, give him a drink. If you do this, you will pile burning coals on his head."

NET Bible
Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
“And if your enemy hungers, feed him, and if he thirsts, give him a drink, and if you do these things to him you will heap coals of fire on his skull.”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
But, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. If you do this, you will make him feel guilty and ashamed."

Jubilee Bible 2000
Therefore, if thine enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

King James 2000 Bible
Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head.

American King James Version
Therefore if your enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head.

American Standard Version
But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.

Douay-Rheims Bible
But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink. For, doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.

Darby Bible Translation
If therefore thine enemy should hunger, feed him; if he should thirst, give him drink; for, so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.

English Revised Version
But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.

Webster's Bible Translation
Therefore if thy enemy hungereth, feed him; if he thirsteth, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

Weymouth New Testament
On the contrary, therefore, if your enemy is hungry, give him food; if he is thirsty, quench his thirst. For by doing this you will be heaping burning coals upon his head.

World English Bible
Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head."

Young's Literal Translation
I will recompense again, saith the Lord;' if, then, thine enemy doth hunger, feed him; if he doth thirst, give him drink; for this doing, coals of fire thou shalt heap upon his head;
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

12:17-21 Since men became enemies to God, they have been very ready to be enemies one to another. And those that embrace religion, must expect to meet with enemies in a world whose smiles seldom agree with Christ's. Recompense to no man evil for evil. That is a brutish recompence, befitting only animals, which are not conscious of any being above them, or of any existence hereafter. And not only do, but study and take care to do, that which is amiable and creditable, and recommends religion to all with whom you converse. Study the things that make for peace; if it be possible, without offending God and wounding conscience. Avenge not yourselves. This is a hard lesson to corrupt nature, therefore a remedy against it is added. Give place unto wrath. When a man's passion is up, and the stream is strong, let it pass off; lest it be made to rage the more against us. The line of our duty is clearly marked out, and if our enemies are not melted by persevering kindness, we are not to seek vengeance; they will be consumed by the fiery wrath of that God to whom vengeance belongeth. The last verse suggests what is not easily understood by the world; that in all strife and contention, those that revenge are conquered, and those that forgive are conquerors. Be not overcome of evil. Learn to defeat ill designs against you, either to change them, or to preserve your own peace. He that has this rule over his spirit, is better than the mighty. God's children may be asked whether it is not more sweet unto them than all earthly good, that God so enables them by his Spirit, thus to feel and act.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him,.... These words are taken from Proverbs 25:21, and to be understood, as a Jewish (o) writer observes, according to "their literal sense"; though some of the Rabbins explain them in an allegorical way, of the corruption of nature. The Alexandrian copy and some others, and the Vulgate Latin version, reads "but if"; so far should the saints be from meditating revenge upon their enemies, that they should do good unto them, as Christ directs, Matthew 5:44, by feeding them when hungry, and giving drink unto them when thirsty:

if he thirst give him drink; which includes all offices of humanity and beneficence to be performed unto them: the reason, or argument inducing hereunto is,

for in so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head; not to do him hurt, not to aggravate his condemnation, as if this would be a means of bringing down the wrath of God the more fiercely on him, which is a sense given by some; as if this would be an inducement to the saints to do such acts of kindness; which is just the reverse of the spirit and temper of mind the apostle is here cultivating; but rather the sense is, that by so doing, his conscience would be stung with a sense of former injuries done to his benefactor, and he be filled with shame on account of them, and be brought to repentance for them, and to love the person he before hated, and be careful of doing him any wrong for the future; all which may be considered as a prevailing motive to God's people to act the generous part they are here moved to: in the passage referred to, Proverbs 25:21, "bread" and "water" are mentioned as to be given, which include all the necessaries of life: and it is added for encouragement, "and the Lord shall reward thee". The sense given of this passage by some of the Jewish commentators on it agrees with what has been observed in some measure; says one (p) of them,

"when he remembers the food and drink thou hast given him, thou shall burn him, as if thou puttest coals upon his head to burn him, , and "he will take care of doing thee any ill";''

that is, for the time to come: and another of them observes (q) that

"this matter will be hard unto him, as if thou heapest coals on his head to burn him, , "because of the greatness of his shame", on account of the good that he shall receive from thee, for the evil which he hath rendered to thee.''

This advice of showing kindness to enemies, and against private revenge, is very contrary to the dictates of human nature, as corrupted by sin. The former of these Julian the emperor represents (r) as a "paradox", though he owns it to be lawful, and a good action, to give clothes and food to enemies in war; and the latter, to revenge an injury, he says (s), is a law common to all men, Greeks and Barbarians; but the Gospel and the grace of God teach us another lesson.

(o) Jarchi in Proverbs 25.21. (p) R. Aben Ezra in loc. (q) R. Levi ben Gersom in loc. Vid. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 147. 2.((r) Fragment. inter opera, par. 1. p. 533. (s) Ad Atheniens. p. 501.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

20. if thine enemy hunger, &c.—This is taken from Pr 25:21, 22, which without doubt supplied the basis of those lofty precepts on that subject which form the culminating point of the Sermon on the Mount.

in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head—As the heaping of "coals of fire" is in the Old Testament the figurative expression of divine vengeance (Ps 140:10; 11:6, &c.), the true sense of these words seems to be, "That will be the most effectual vengeance—a vengeance under which he will be fain to bend" (So Alford, Hodge, &c.). Ro 12:21 confirms this.

Romans 12:20 Additional Commentaries
Context
Forgiveness
19Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. 20"BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD." 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Cross References
Genesis 42:25
Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man's silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them,

2 Kings 6:22
"Do not kill them," he answered. "Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master."

Proverbs 25:21
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.

Matthew 5:44
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Luke 6:27
"But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

Romans 12:21
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Treasury of Scripture

Therefore if your enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head.

if thine.

Exodus 23:4,5 If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey going astray, you shall …

1 Samuel 24:16-19 And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these …

1 Samuel 26:21 Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no …

Proverbs 25:21,22 If your enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, …

Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do …

coals.

Psalm 120:4 Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper.

Psalm 140:10 Let burning coals fall on them: let them be cast into the fire; into …

Songs 8:6,7 Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm: for love is …

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