From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

Interest —‘Interest,’ found twice in Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 of the Gospels ( Matthew 25:27,  Luke 19:23) instead of ‘usury’ of Authorized Version, represents the Greek τόκος which in the LXX Septuagint is the equivalent of the Heb. neshekh in the whole of the eleven passages in which the latter occurs ( Exodus 22:25,  Leviticus 25:36 etc.). Now neshekh is rightly rendered ‘usury,’ the reference being to the interest, often exorbitant, charged by money-lenders in the ancient East. In the NT τόκος, though often used in contemporary Greek in the sense just defined, clearly signifies ‘interest on deposit paid by a banker.’ There were many banks in the Roman period scattered over the Graeco-Roman world, some called ‘public banks’ and others private firms ( e.g. ‘Theon & Co.,’ ‘Herodes & Co.,’ at Oxyrhynchus). These, however, seem, from a lately discovered text, to have farmed from the government, in Egypt at any rate, the right of administering business; the Roman authorities, it would appear, following in some degree Ptolemaic precedent ( Papyri of Oxyrhynchus , No. 513, vol. iii.: cf. the note on p. 248 f.). Not much seems to be known about the deposit department of ancient banking. The technical term for a deposit on which interest was paid was creditum . The amounts lodged in Roman banks towards the end of the Republic and under the Empire must have been, in some instances, very large. About the rate of interest paid to depositors there seems to be little or no information. The statement of Suetonius, that Augustus branded some people with infamy ( notavit ) because they borrowed at low interest and invested at high ( Octavius , 39), may hint how the bankers made money out of the funds entrusted to their care. The usual rate of interest on loans under the Empire seems to have been one per cent, per month, or twelve per cent. per annum. This rate is repeatedly mentioned in the Papyri of Oxyrhynchus (No. 243 of a.d. 79, and No. 270 of a.d. 94, etc.). The rate paid to depositors will have been much lower. A considerable banking business was also done in ancient temples. So in ancient Babylonia (Johns, Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts, and Letters , 211), and in the Greek world, at the temple of the Ephesian Artemis, for instance ( Anabasis , v. iii. 6 f.). That the temple of Jerusalem was used in this way is expressly stated by Josephus ( BJ vi. v. 2), and in the legend about Heliodorus ( 2 Maccabees 3:10-12;  2 Maccabees 3:15). About the management of this temple bank nothing seems to be known. Our Lord’s references are probably to local τραπεζίται, the Eastern representatives of the Roman argentarii . See also Bank.

Literature.—Besides the authorities mentioned above, see Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, art. ‘Usury’; Encyc. Bibl ., art. ‘Trade and Commerce,’ § 78; Smith, Dict. of Ant ., artt. ‘Fenus’ and ‘Argentarii; Winer, RW B [Note: WB Realwörterbuch.] , art. ‘Hinterlage’; Schurer, GJ V [Note: JV Geschichte des Jüdischen Volkes.] 3 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] ii. 268.

W. Taylor Smith.

Holman Bible Dictionary [2]

 Exodus 22:25 Leviticus 25:36-37 Deuteronomy 23:19 Deuteronomy 23:20 Ezekiel 18:8 18:13 18:17 Ezekiel 22:12 Nehemiah 5:6-13

The “harsh” master who expects interest and reaps what he did not sow ( Matthew 25:24 ,Matthew 25:24, 25:26-27;  Luke 19:21-23 ) is hardly to be taken as a model for Christian business practice. Luke's parable in particular contains reminiscences of the hated Archelaus ( Luke 19:12 ,Luke 19:12, 19:14; compare  Matthew 2:22 ). See  Matthew 5:42;  Matthew 10:8 ).

Many commentators feel compelled to defend the common, contemporary practice of charging interest. Any moral decision on the matter must carefully weigh rival claims: (1) that capital loaned at interest provides an opportunity for persons to escape poverty and (2) that the inability of both individuals and nations to pay interest on borrowed capital contributes to continued poverty. See Banking; Loan .

Webster's Dictionary [3]

(1): ( n.) The persons interested in any particular business or measure, taken collectively; as, the iron interest; the cotton interest.

(2): ( n.) Advantage, personal or general; good, regarded as a selfish benefit; profit; benefit.

(3): ( n.) Participation in advantage, profit, and responsibility; share; portion; part; as, an interest in a brewery; he has parted with his interest in the stocks.

(4): ( n.) To cause or permit to share.

(5): ( n.) Any excess of advantage over and above an exact equivalent for what is given or rendered.

(6): ( n.) Premium paid for the use of money, - usually reckoned as a percentage; as, interest at five per cent per annum on ten thousand dollars.

(7): ( n.) Excitement of feeling, whether pleasant or painful, accompanying special attention to some object; concern.

(8): ( n.) To engage the attention of; to awaken interest in; to excite emotion or passion in, in behalf of a person or thing; as, the subject did not interest him; to interest one in charitable work.

(9): ( n.) To be concerned with or engaged in; to affect; to concern; to excite; - often used impersonally.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [4]

1: Τόκος (Strong'S #5110 — Noun Masculine — tokos — tok'-os )

primarily "a bringing forth, birth" (from tikto, "to beget"), then, "an offspring," is used metaphorically of the produce of money lent out, "interest," usury,  Matthew 25:27;  Luke 19:23 . See Usury.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [5]

INTEREST . See Usury.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [6]

in´tẽr - est ( נשׁך , neshekh , משּׁא , mashshā'  ; τόκος , tókos ): The Hebrew word neshekh is from a root which means "to bite"; thus interest is "something bitten off." The other word, mashshā' , means "lending on interest." The Greek term is from the root tı́ktō , "to produce" or "beget," hence, interest is something begotten or produced by money. The Hebrew words are usually translated "usury," but this meant the same as interest, all interest being reckoned as usury.

Long before Abraham's time money had been loaned at a fixed rate of interest in Babylonia and almost certainly in Egypt. The Code of H̬ammurabi gives regulations regarding the lending and borrowing of money, the usual interest being 20 percent. Sometimes it was only 11 2/3,13 1/3, as shown by contract tablets. In one case, if the loan was not paid in two months, 18 per cent interest would be charged. Corn (grain), dates, onions, etc., were loaned at interest. Thus Moses and Israel would be familiar with commercial loans and interest. In Israel there was no system of credit or commercial loans in Moses' time and after. A poor man borrowed because he was poor. The law of Moses (  Exodus 22:25 ) forbade loaning at interest. There was to be no creditor and no taker of interest among them ( Leviticus 25:36 ,  Leviticus 25:37 ). Dt permits them to lend on interest to a foreigner ( Deuteronomy 23:19 ,  Deuteronomy 23:20 ), but not to a brother Israelite. That this was considered the proper thing in Israel for centuries is seen in  Psalm 15:5 , while  Proverbs 28:8 implies that it was an unusual thing, interest being generally exacted and profit made. Ezekiel condemns it as a heinous sin (  Ezekiel 18:8 ,  Ezekiel 18:13 ,  Ezekiel 18:17 ) and holds up the ideal of righteousness as not taking interest ( Ezekiel 22:12 ).  Isaiah 24:2 implies that it was a business in that age, the lender and borrower being social types. Jeremiah implies that there was not always the best feeling between lenders and borrowers (  Jeremiah 15:10 ). According to  Nehemiah 5:7 ,  Nehemiah 5:10 , rich Jews were lending to others and exacting heavy interest. Nehemiah condemns such conduct and forbids its continuance, citing himself as an example of lending without interest. The lenders restored 1 percent of that exacted.

In the New Testament, references to interest occur in the parable of the Pounds ( Luke 19:23 ) and of the Talents ( Matthew 25:27 ). Here the men were expected to put their master's money out at interest, and condemnation followed the failure to do so. Thus the principle of receiving interest is not condemned in the Old Testament, only it was not to be taken from a brother Israelite. In the New Testament it is distinctly encouraged. See also Usury .