Collecting Interest
Does the Bible prohibit collecting interest on loans?

Emmanuel asks: It is acceptable for ashort Son of God to have a business like bank. Jesus one day said we should not borrow friend money and want it with an interest in return, I don't know as a business that the some procedure is applied or I what. In parable of three man who were given talent the last one he/she didn't manage to make it double he just dicky a hole and live it there until sower comes, the last words He said it was better if you have taken that talent to bank so that you will receive interest by now. Please assist We want to open a business for loans or bank
Question about A General Question: Meaning of a passage
Motivation - Guidance: Not sure, confused; Guidance: Looking for a solution
Bible view - The Word of God - [question 198, Wednesday, 17-Jun-2015]

Emmanuel says he wants to open a commercial financial institution, but he is not sure how to interpret Bible passages about collecting interest. Some passages seem to prohibit charging interest. Other passages seem to say that it is ok to charge interest. Indeed, the subject can be confusing.

Summary - In a word, Emmanuel, the Bible supports the idea of interest on loans for commercial purposes. Of course, all the ethics of 'Love Thy Neighbor' apply to commercial loans, but any reasonable rate of interest is fine by biblical standards. We attempt to build proper biblical insight in the following paragraphs.

Render to Caesar

Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus was constantly challenged by the religious leaders of the day. At one point they tried to trip Him up by asking a question about taxes. 'Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? (Matthew 22:17). Jesus replies with a masterful response:

Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
- Matthew 22:21 [KJV]

In this way the Bible establishes an important principle we call in America 'Separation of Church and State' or the idea that political power should not be joined with religious power, lest a few leaders gain absolute rule over the people. This lesson has not been learned in several Islamic nations today, where politics combined with religion rule the people with an iron grip.

Likewise, under strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia Law, collecting interest is prohibited, leading to either: (1) economic shortcomings or (2) crafty interpretations to circumvent the problem. Again, Jesus cleared up the question of collecting interest with a famous story known as the Parable of the Talents which says, in part:

Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.
- Matthew 25:27 [NASB]

The fact that Jesus' parable mentions banks, lending, and interest in a favorable light gives explicit approval to the practice in business ventures. Of course the meaning of the parable goes much deeper than business ventures, encouraging believers to use and prosper their spiritual gifts.

The Sanctity of Labor

From beginning to end, the Bible is pro-business. The Bible endorses property ownership, economic endeavor, financial prosperity, industry, and the Judeo-Christian work ethic.

The eight Commandment says 'Thou shall not steal.' It establishes the sanctity of private property and that which is necessary to get it, i.e., the sanctity of labor. Of this commandment a famous rabbi writes:

Property represents the fruit of industry and intelligence. Any aggression on the property of our neighbor is, therefore, an assault on his human personality. This Commandment also has a wider application than theft and robbery; and it forbids every illegal acquisition of property by cheating, by embezzlement or forgery. - Hertz, Dr. J H, Pentateuch and Haftorahs, London, 1962

The New Testament summarizes the concept of free-market capitalism in one short statement:

if any would not work, neither should he eat.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:10 [KJV]

Proper Charity

There are three passages in the Torah which, at first glance, appear to prohibit interest-taking. But even a cursory reading shows that these apply to the special case of charitable loans and giving, not to commercial business.

You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest.
- Deuteronomy 23:19 [NASB]

If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, you are not to act as a creditor to him; you shall not charge him interest.
- Exodus 22:25 [NASB]

Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Do not take usurious interest from him, but revere your God, that your countryman may live with you. You shall not give him your silver at interest, nor your food for gain.
- Leviticus 25:35ff [NASB]

In the above verses, words like countrymen, the poor among you, and sustain him indicate that demanding interest in charitable cases is improper. You don't really need the Bible to tell you that. Common sense and a soft heart will get the message across just fine.

Bowerer is Slave to Lender

The few passages above acknowledge that circumstances often require commercial loans. Bankers, like soldiers and policemen, are respected in the Bible as valued professionals who are necessary for prosperity in civilized society. But, the power of bankers, soldiers, and policemen must be kept in check.

The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the borrower-lender relationship. The most famous verse is this one:

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
- Proverbs 22:7 [KJV]

But, if you are rich or a lender, watch out. There are consequences if you abuse your power over people less fortunate than you:

Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
- Proverbs 22:22ff [KJV]

He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.
- Proverbs 22:16 [KJV]
by Paul Richards

Mon, 26-Jun-2017 03:47:06 GMT, unknown: 642399 ABsI.ZegCzpzA
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