Give to him that asks you, and from him that would borrow of you turn not you away.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Give to him that asketh.—Here again our Lord teaches us by the method of a seeming paradox, and enforces a principle binding upon every one in the form of a rule which in its letter is binding upon no man. Were we to give to all men what they ask, we should in many cases be cursing, not blessing, them with our gifts. Not so does our Father give us what we ask in prayer; not so did Christ grant the prayers of His disciples. That which the words really teach as the ideal of the perfect life which we ought to aim at, is the loving and the giving temper that sees in every request made to us the expression of a want of some kind, which we are to consider as a call to thoughtful inquiry how best to meet the want, giving what is asked for if we honestly believe that it is really for the good of him who asks, giving something else if that would seem to be really better for him. Rightly understood, the words do not bid us idly give alms to the idle or the impostor; and St. Paul’s rule, “If a man will not work, neither let him eat” (2Thessalonians 3:10), is not a departure from the law of Christ, but its truest application and fulfilment.
From him that would borrow.—The force of the precept depends on its connection with the Jewish Law, which forbade not only what we call usury, i.e., excessive interest, but all interest on loans where debtor and creditor alike were Israelites (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:37; Deuteronomy 23:19-20). From our modern point of view that law cannot be regarded as in harmony with the present order of society, nor consistent with our modern views of financial justice. It is not the less true, however, that in the education of a family or nation, such a prohibition may be a necessary and useful discipline. We should look with scorn on boys who lent on interest to their brothers or their schoolfellows, and the ideal of the Law of Moses was that of treating all Israelites as brothers brought under the discipline of the schoolmaster. As if with a prescient insight into the besetting temptation of the race, the lawgiver forbade a practice which would have destroyed, and eventually did destroy, the sense of brotherhood (Nehemiah 5:1-13), leaving it open to receive interest from strangers who were outside the limits of the family (Deuteronomy 23:20). The higher law of Christ treats all men as brothers, and bids us, if it is right to lend as an act of charity, to do so for love, and not for profit. Cases where the business of the world calls for loans not for the relief of want, but as a matter of commercial convenience, lie obviously outside the range of the precept.1 Timothy 5:8 and with other objects of justice and charity. It is seldom, perhaps never, good to give to a person who is able to work, 2 Thessalonians 3:10. To give to such is to encourage laziness, and to support the idle at the expense of the industrious. If such a one is indeed hungry, feed him; if he needs anything further, give him employment. If a widow, an orphan, a man of misfortune, or an infirmed man, lame, or sick, is at your door, never send any of them away empty. See Hebrews 13:2; Matthew 25:35-45. So this is true of a poor and needy friend that wishes to borrow. We are not to turn away or deny him. This deserves, however, some limitation. It must be done in consistency with other duties. To lend to every worthless man would be to throw away our property, encourage laziness and crime, and ruin our own families. It should be done consistently with every other obligation, and of this everyone is to be the judge. Perhaps our Saviour meant to teach that where there was a deserving friend or brother in need, we should lend to him without usury, and without standing much about the security.
and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away—Though the word signifies classically "to have money lent to one on security," or "with interest," yet as this was not the original sense of the word, and as usury was forbidden among the Jews (Ex 22:25, &c.), it is doubtless simple borrowing which our Lord here means, as indeed the whole strain of the exhortation implies. This shows that such counsels as "Owe no man anything" (Ro 13:8), are not to be taken absolutely; else the Scripture commendations of the righteous for "lending" to his necessitous brother (Ps 37:36; 112:5; Lu 6:37) would have no application.
turn not thou away—a graphic expression of unfeeling refusal to relieve a brother in extremity.
Same Subject—Love to Enemies (Mt 5:43-48).to give.
To him that asketh, who hath need to ask, and in that order too which God hath directed, who hath commanded us to provide for our own household, and to do good to all, but especially to the household of faith. The other sort are such as may have only a temporary want: to these he commandeth us to lend, and not to turn away from them, when they desire to borrow of us, and we can spare it. This was an ancient precept of God, Deu 15:7-9, confirmed by Christ, as a piece of his will under the gospel. Luke 6:30 whether Jew or Gentile; friend or foe; believer or unbeliever; a good, or a bad man; worthy or unworthy; deserving or not, that asketh alms, whether food or money; give it freely, readily, cheerfully, according to your abilities, and as the necessity of the object requires: for such rules are always supposed, and to be observed; and though all are to be relieved, yet the circumstances of persons, and their relation to men, are to be considered, and special regard is to be had to the household of faith.
And from him that would borrow of thee, turn not away; refuse him not, turn not away from him with a frown, or without speaking to him, or with a denial; look upon him with a pleasant countenance, cheerfully lend him what he wants, whether he be a Jew, from whom it was not lawful to take usury, or a stranger, from whom it, was lawful to take it, yet take it not; lend him freely, "hoping for nothing again", Luke 6:35 which must not be understood of not hoping for the money lent, for then it would be giving, and not lending; but of not hoping for any reward for lending it: and indeed the money itself is not to be hoped for again, when the circumstances of the borrower are such, that he is not able to make a return.Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 5:42. A precept (in opposition to selfishness) which does not stand indeed in essential connection with what precedes, but which is still brought into connection with it through the natural connection of the thoughts. According to Ewald, who here lays weight (Jahrb. I. p. 132 f.) upon the number seven in the quotations of the O. T. laws, there must have stood after Matthew 5:41 in the original collection of sayings the following words: ἠκούσατε, ὅτι ἐῤῥήθη· οὐ κλέψεις, ἀποδώσεις δὲ τὸ ἱμάτιον τῷ πτωχῷ· ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν· τῷ αἰτοῦντι, and so on, and then, Matthew 5:40. The command that is wanting was put together from Exodus 20:15; Deuteronomy 24:12 f. A very thoughtful conjecture, which is followed by Holtzmann; but unnecessary, for this reason, that the contents and order of the sentences, Matthew 5:40-42, attach themselves to one fundamental thought; and improbable, because not merely an omission, but also a transposition, is assumed, and because τῷ αἰτοῦντι, κ.τ.λ., does not correspond to the prohibition of thieving as its fulfilment.
δανείς.] That Jesus did not think of lending out at interest, appears from Exodus 22:24; Leviticus 25:37; Deuteronomy 15:7; Deuteronomy 23:20; Ewald, Alterthumer, p. 242 f. [E. T. 181].Matthew 5:42. This counsel does not seem to belong to the same category as the preceding three. One does not think of begging or borrowing as an injury, but at most as a nuisance. Some have doubted the genuineness of the logion as a part of the Sermon. But it occurs in Luke’s redaction (Matthew 6:30), transformed indeed so as to make it a case of the sturdy beggar who helps himself to what he does not get for the asking. Were there idle, lawless tramps in Palestine in our Lord’s time, and would He counsel such treatment of them? If so, it is the extreme instance of not resisting evil.—μὴ ἀποστραφῇς with τὸν θέλοντα in accusative. One would expect the genitive with the middle, the active taking an accusative with genitive, e.g., 2 Timothy 4:4, τὴν ἀκοὴν ἀπὸ τῆς ἀληθείας. But the transitive sense is intelligible. In turning myself away from another, I turn him away from me. Vide Hebrews 12:25, 2 Timothy 1:15.42. from him that would borrow of thee] Luke has “lend, hoping for nothing again.” Forced loans have been a mode of oppression in every age, for which, perhaps, no people have suffered more than the Jews.Matthew 5:42. Αἰτοῦντι, to him that asketh) who wishes you to give to him gratuitously, even though he do not ask with the best claim.—δίδου, give) as God does; see Luke 11:10.—τὸν θέλοντα, him that would) even though he does not venture to beseech thee vehemently.—μὴ ἀποστραφῆς, turn not thou away) although you have a specious pretext for so doing.Verse 42. - (Cf. Luke 6:30, 34a, 35.) The connexion is as follows: Our Lord spoke first (ver. 39) of entire submission to injuries; then (ver. 40) of acceptance of loss of property; then (ver. 41) of acceptance of a burden imposed; here of acceptance of a demand for pecuniary assistance. This, in its turn, forms an easy transition to the subject of ver. 43, sqq. Give to him that asketh thee, etc. This verse has been often adduced by unbelievers to prove the incompatibility of our Lord's utterances with the conditions of modern society. Wrongly. Because our Lord is inculcating the proper spirit of Christian life, not giving rules to be literally carried out irrespective of circumstances. Hammond (vide Ford) points out that we have "a countermand" in 2 Thessalonians 3:7, 10. (For the possibility of accounting for the verbal differences between this verse and Luke 6:30 by supposing an Aramaic original, see Professor Marshall, in the Expositor, April, 1891, p. 287.)
Properly, to borrow at interest.
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