Jesus against Hillel on Usury

I would argue that the best summation of Christian ethics is found in the sermon on the plain in Luke 6:20–49. What I love about the sermon on the plain is just how radical it seems on the surface, it seems almost impossible; however, when you think about what it’s saying, and think about it deeply—it makes sense. Probably my favorite example of this is found in Luke 6:34–35 (NRSV):

If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

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Jesus against Hillel on Usury

Luke 6:34,35

One of the most fascinating passages in the Bible for me is the sermon on the Plain in Luke 6. This sermon is one of the most radical, and difficult sections of the New Testament when it comes to ethics. I specifically want to focus on verses 34 and 35. These 2 verses are within the section of the sermon that seems to make impossible demands, the 2 verses I’m looking at deal specifically with lending and borrowing. Very often these passages are read as just being about a condition of the heart or a general attitude. I think, however, that Jesus actually means what he says, I don’t think this is about a general condition of the heart or about an attitude. I think it’s about real social and economic relationships. Let’s take a look at the whole passage in question but focus in on verse 34 and 35.

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Luke 6:34,35