Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 16
January 27, 2008
29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.
30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
1901 ASV Translation:
29 To him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and from him that taketh away thy cloak withhold not thy coat also.
30 Give to every one that asketh thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
- I. Permitting the Coat to be Taken.
- A. The setting of this instruction involved the "legal" debt-control issues of the Law of Moses.
- 1. Under that Law, a borrower was required to give some form of "pledge" that would be held by the lender until the debt was paid.
- a. There were certain restrictions. According to Exodus 22:26 a person could give his "raiment" for this "pledge" but, if he did, it was to be returned to him by nightfall. In Deuteronomy 24:6 there was a forbidding of accepting millstones as a "pledge" because they constituted the owners source of income and, therefore, his "life". In verse 10 there is the further restraint that one could not "go into his (the borrower's) house to fetch his pledge." And, according to vs. 12-13, if he was so poor as to have only garments to give in "pledge", the lender was to return them by nightfall. In verse 17 it was forbidden to take a widow's raiment as a "pledge". Job 24:9 it is considered an evil thing to "take a pledge of the poor". Amos 2:8 faults Israel because the people "lay themselves down beside every altar upon clothes taken in pledge" (in direct disobedience to the Law).
- b. The Law was not intended to make "borrowing" an easy way to obtain the necessities of life without labor, but it was intended to temper what was to be done to the person whose circumstances made "repayment" difficult, or impossible.
- 2. Jesus' words were not addressed to the "lender", but to the "borrower". If a "lender" wanted the "cloak" for a pledge, the "borrower" was not to refuse even the "coat".
- a. Matthew 5:40 reverses the details: it that text, the "lender" is attempting to take the "coat" and the "borrower" is not to refuse him the "cloke" also.
- b. Matthew 9:20 implies that the "cloak" is the outer garment as does 11:8 and several other texts (including 21:7).
- c. Revelation 3:5 strongly implies that the "cloak" had become a metaphor for the righteousness of Christ.
- d. According to the Online Bible's "synonym" list, the "cloak" was the outer garment and the "coat" was the under garment that was worn next to the skin. The AV translators do not serve our generation well (for "coat" to us means "a garment worn outside of regular clothes because of the cold) and the NASB translators, though providing a better "generational" sense, do not give us a good sense of the original setting.
- e. Jesus' point is this: if you are going to be a "borrower" and your "lender" wants more than a "normal" pledge to signify your willingness to repay your debt, you should be so committed to repaying your debt that you do not even hesitate to give that impression. In a day when those who do not have tend to think that those who do have some kind of "moral obligation" to bring them up to the same level of prosperity, Jesus' words tell us that "disciples" do not have that attitude at all. It is born in envious greed and has no place in the life of a "disciple". The apostle Paul addressed this greedy attitude by pointedly insisting that "if a person is unwilling to work, he should be compelled to go hungry" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). In an economic setting of material prosperity, it behooves believers to remember that Paul established the bottom line for believers as "food and covering" (1 Timothy 6:8) and he cautioned that we should "owe no man anything but love" (Romans 13:8). In any case, there can be no excuse for not being determined to repay one's debts. It is one thing to be too willing to yield to an appetite for more than food or raiment; it is a worse thing to develop the attitude that such a willingness can be coupled to a willingness to not repay one's debts.