Matthew 5:40

And if any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also.
All Commentaries on Matthew 5:40 Go To Matthew 5

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
Hence also what follows, And if any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also, is rightly understood as a precept having reference to the preparation of heart, not to a vain show of outward deed. But what is said with respect to the coat and cloak is to be carried out not merely in such things, but in the case of everything which on any ground of right we speak of as being ours for time. For if this command is given with respect to what is necessary, how much more does it become us to contemn what is superfluous! But still, those things which I have called ours are to be included in that category under which the Lord Himself gives the precept, when He says, If any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat. Let all these things therefore be understood for which we may be sued at the law, so that the right to them may pass from us to him who sues, or for whom he sues; such, for instance, as clothing, a house, an estate, a beast of burden, and in general all kinds of property. But whether it is to be understood of slaves also is a great question. For a Christian ought not to possess a slave in the same way as a horse or money: although it may happen that a horse is valued at a greater price than a slave, and some article of gold or silver at much more. But with respect to that slave, if he is being educated and ruled by time as his master, in a way more upright, and more honourable, and more conducing to the fear of God, than can be done by him who desires to take him away, I do not know whether any one would dare to say that he ought to be despised like a garment. For a man ought to love a fellow-man as himself, inasmuch as he is commanded by the Lord of all (as is shown by what follows) even to love his enemies. It is carefully to be observed that every tunic is a garment, but that every garment is not a tunic. Hence the word garment means more than the word tunic. And therefore I think it is so expressed, And if any one will sue you at the law, and take away your tunic, let him have your garment also, as if He had said, Whoever wishes to take away your tunic, give over to him whatever other clothing you have. And so some have interpreted the word pallium, which in the Greek as used here is ἱμάτιον .
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Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

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