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You are here: Home > Bible Commentary > Luke > Chapter 19 > Verse 23

Luke 19

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Luke 19:23
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Luke 19:23
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Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?

Note 2 at Lu 19:23: The Greek word for "usury" is "TOKOS" and means "primarily a bringing forth, birth...an offspring" (Vine's Expository Dictionary). It is used metaphorically for the profit received by a lender as inducement for making a loan and applies to any type of lending on interest.

The Law of Moses attempted to protect both borrower and lender. In Israel, borrowing and lending was not for big, commercial enterprises but rather to help the poor and needy who lacked everyday needs. In lending, the lender had the opportunity to help the poor in need. It was an act of love in which the lender actually lifted a burden by helping the fellow Israelite through a crisis but was forbidden to charge usury (Ex 22:25, Le 25:35-37, De 15:7-11, Ps 37:21, and Pr 19:17). To relieve the burden of the poor, debts were released every seven years (De 15:1-6) and property restored during the year of Jubilee (Le 25:28).

It should be understood that ancient usury rates were extremely high. In Babylon, the common interest rate for food and produce was about 33 percent. In Nuzi, the rate of interest on some loans was as high as 50 percent. Modern rates of interest from 5 to 12 percent were quite unheard of.

In the New Testament, the practice of lending money at interest seemed to be accepted as normal business procedure (Mt 25:27 and Lu 19:23). Although Jesus never condemned interest directly, in general, He was hard on the improper attitude toward riches and on the oppression of the poor (Mt 5:42, 19:21, 24, 25:35; Lu 3:11, 11:41, 12:15-21, 14:12-14, and 16:13), just as was the Old Testament.

The principle of making money from someone else's hardship is not really a godly way of doing business. It was permitted and even encouraged in this instance, but De 23:19-20 makes it clear that interest was never to be charged to a fellow Israelite. Today, that would be equivalent to never loaning money on interest to a fellow Christian.

Borrowing money is not condemned in Scripture unless Ro 13:8 is interpreted as speaking of borrowing. However, the Scriptures make it clear that borrowing is not God's best. De 28:12 lists never having to borrow as a blessing, while De 28:44 lists borrowing as a part of the curse of the Law. Pr 22:7 says, "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender."


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