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KJV Proverbs 6:1

My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger,

KJV Proverbs 17:18

A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend.

KJV Proverbs 22:26

Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.

There seems to a lot of negative bias towards being surety/guarantor of loans/debts for a friend in this book.

Yet we are clearly told Christ became our surety that we may have life

KJV Psalms 119:122

Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me.

KJV Hebrews 7:22

By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

Why does author of the book of Proverbs have a negative bias towards surety?

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    'Surety' is a bad translation in Hebrews 7:22. The word means 'one drawn near' εγγυος. It has a similar meaning to paraklete but a different emphasis. Jesus has 'drawn near' and then we have another Comforter. By making this a matter of money (as people constantly seem to want to do) the real subtlety of the meaning is lost. As Proverbs shows, being a 'surety' is a very bad idea unless one has a very distinct and firm relationship with that person. Up-voted +1 as this is a good question from both points of view.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 11, 2023 at 11:35
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    "And if you lend to those from whom you hope to be repaid, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, so that they may be repaid in full." (Lk. 6:34 NET)
    – Betho's
    Feb 11, 2023 at 15:38

2 Answers 2

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There are two separate matters here:

  • Proverbs repeatedly discourages surety for financial debts. The same book also repeatedly discourages debt itself.
  • By contrast, Jesus was surety for our debt of sin - which we had no hope of ever paying, thus, Jesus decided to take responsibility for our debt of sin.

Note that financial debt is entered into at the request of the borrower; by contrast, the debt of sin is something that all sinners (Rom (3:10-18, 23, 24) are born with and thus have no choice and no hope of repaying the debt. Put another way, Jesus become the "Redeemer" - the one who pays the manumission fee or ransom fee, to free us from the slavery of sin (Luke 1:68, 24:21, Matt 20:28, Mark 10:45, 1 Tim 2:6, Heb 9:15, 1 Cor 6:20, 7:23, Gal 3:13, 4:5, Titus 2:14, 1 Peter 1:18, Rev 5:9).

Thus, Jesus steps in to repay the debt. We see the latter numerous times and is generally known by the title of the great Divine Exchange:

  • 2 Cor 5:21, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
  • Gal 1:4, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.
  • Gal 3:13, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.
  • John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • 2 Cor 8:9, For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
  • 1 Peter 3:18, For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit,
  • Isa 53:4-6, Surely He took on our infirmities and carried our sorrows; yet we considered Him stricken by God, struck down and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

That is, Jesus was treated as we deserve so that we might be treated as He deserves.

Thus, Jesus' atonement for our sin is often called a free gift, and the initiative of God. Rom 4:4, 5:15-17, 6:23, 2 Cor 9:14, 15, Eph 2:8, 3:7, Heb 6:4. See also Rom 3:20-24.

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    +1 The Bible as a whole has a bias against debt, not just surely; also, a bias against charging interest. Christianity went for centuries without allowing charging interest. In the time the Scriptures were written, dept often lead to slavery. Interest would increase that likelyhood. So, dept was a negative in the culture.
    – Perry Webb
    Feb 11, 2023 at 11:50
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Deuteronomy 15:1-11 read

1 At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. 2 This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. 3 You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your fellow Israelite owes you. 4 However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, 5 if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. 6 For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you. 7 If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. 8 Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. 9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

The Lord's command are;

  1. If all the Israelites fully obey the Lord, there would have no poor people among them (vv5), for the Lord will bless them as He has promised (vv6)
  2. If there is poor fellow Israelites among them, they must be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need (vv7-8). At the seventh year, cancel the debt (vv1-2), for the Lord will bless them the generosity (vv10).

In view of the above, surety as an assurance of debt repayment, is a sin against God's will. It is not a bias, but an act that draw the Israelites against the Lord's command.

But note it is a command applicable only on Israelites, but not the gentiles (vv3).

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