What does Matthew 5:42 mean?
ESV: Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
NIV: Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
NASB: Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
CSB: Give to the one who asks you, and don't turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
NLT: Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.
KJV: Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus provides another example of what it means not to "resist" an evil man. This is the standard of behavior He is setting for His disciples, and it must not have been an easy teaching to hear or follow. The overall idea is that followers of Jesus should overcome evil by freely giving of themselves more than the evil person wants to take. The picture He paints is someone targeted by evil, to be taken advantage of, and somehow the targeted person retains all the power in the exchange. If slapped on one cheek, offer the other. If sued for your tunic, give it and the cloak to your accuser. If forced to walk a mile by a Roman officer, willingly walk two or three. Overcome their evil with God's goodness (Matthew 5:38–41).

In this case, Jesus speaks of a different, but related scenario. The prior command implied someone with more power than us, such as a Roman soldier or a wealthier member of the community. This statement speaks of those with less power. Jesus escalates His earlier command by telling His followers to submit even to those on the lowest rungs of society.

To that end, Jesus tells His disciples to freely give to beggars and to loan money or possessions to whomever asks. These commands may feel like the weakest position of all: cooperating with an unreasonable request when it comes from someone with no power over you. Rather than an unfair insult, or an abusive command, this might be a manipulative or emotionally-tied appeal.

Jesus is demonstrating that choosing to give is a powerful act because you have chosen to do so. More importantly, you have chosen to trust God to continue to provide for you despite giving away what He has freely given to you. Just as Jesus' prior words don't prohibit legitimate self-defense (Luke 22:36), this command does not mean being naïve or gullible about charity (Matthew 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 3:10). It does mean that sacrificial, purposeful giving is the proper response when someone expresses legitimate need.
Verse Context:
Matthew 5:38–42 is part of the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus teaches about how to respond to insults and persecution. Old Testament law established a legal principle of ''eye for an eye,'' intended to prevent excessive revenge—punishments were meant to be proportional to the crime. In personal matters, however, Jesus sets a very different standard. In response to insults and unfair treatment, Christians are to endure, not retaliate. The following passage, speaking on loving one's enemies, adds an active component to this concept.
Chapter Summary:
The Sermon on the Mount contains some of Jesus' most challenging teaching. It begins with the unlikely blessings of the Beatitudes. Jesus' disciples must do good works in order to be a powerful influence: as the salt of the earth and light of the world. The superficial righteousness of the Pharisees is not good enough to earn heaven. Sins of the heart, such as angry insults and intentional lust, are worthy of hell just as much as adultery and murder. Easy divorce and deceptive oaths are forbidden. Believers should not seek revenge. Instead, God intends us to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors. In short, we should strive to be perfect, as God is perfect.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 5 follows Matthew's description of the enormous crowds that were following Jesus (Matthew 4:25). One day, Jesus sits down on a hill to teach them, in an address we now call the Sermon on the Mount. He describes as blessed those who are poor in spirit, who mourn, and who are persecuted. Christ also explains how God's standards of righteousness go far beyond behaviors and speech; they also include our thoughts and attitudes. Meeting God's standards means perfection. Chapter 6 continues this sermon, with more examples of Jesus clarifying God's intent for godly living.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 4/17/2024 8:39:17 PM
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