What Does the Bible Say About Usury and Lending?

Bible Summary. The Bible sanctions usury (lending with interest), but the Bible disallows it when it comes to the poor. The Bible tells us that we should not lend and charge interest to people who we have a personal relationship with such as family or friends. The Bible tells us that usury, lending with interest, must not be done for unjust gain. The Bible does provide strict guidance concerning usury, but it also tells us that it is an acceptable profession. See below for Biblical commentary and advice concerning usury.

The Money Changer and His Wife

The Money-Changer and his Wife


Usury in the Bible: Do Not Charge Interest When Lending to the Poor.

Usury is mentioned frequently in the Bible. The original definition of usury was “the practice of lending money at interest.” and this is what usury means from a Biblical perspective. The Bible sanctions usury (lending with interest), but the Bible disallows it when it comes to the poor. Exodus 22:25 advises us to refrain from usury when it comes to the poor.

Exodus 22:25, “If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.”

Usury in the Bible: Charging of Interest is Allowed, But Not With Friends and Family.

The Bible tells us that usury, lending with interest, is permissible within specific limits. One limit is that we should not lend and charge interest to people that we have a personal relationship with such as family or friends. Deuteronomy 23:20 advises us of what types of usury are permissible.

Deuteronomy 23:20, “Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.”

Usury in the Bible: Do Not Charge Unjust or Excessive Interest.

The Bible tells us that usury, lending with interest, must not be done for unjust gain. A lender should not take advantage of the uninformed, the disadvantaged, or the coerced to charge excessive rates of interest. Another word for unjust lending is predatory lending. Proverbs 28:8 advises us not to practice usury for unjust gain.

Proverbs 28:8, “He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.”

Usury in the Bible: Receiving Interest from Banks and Investments is Acceptable.

Other the years usury has received a bad reputation. The Bible does provide strict guidance concerning usury, but it also tells us that it is an acceptable profession. Matthew 25:27 tells us of the Parable of the Talents and the practice of usury.

Matthew 25:27, “Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.”