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Proverbs 26:4

    Proverbs 26:4 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like to him.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    Answer not a fool according to his folly, Lest thou also be like unto him.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    Do not give to the foolish man a foolish answer, or you will be like him.

    Webster's Revision

    Answer not a fool according to his folly, Lest thou also be like unto him.

    World English Bible

    Don't answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

    Clarke's Commentary on Proverbs 26:4

    Answer not a fool - On this and the following verse Bishop Warburton, who has written well on many things, and very indifferently on the doctrine of grace, has written with force and perspicuity: "Had this advice been given simply, and without circumstance, to answer the fool, and not to answer him, one who had reverence for the text would satisfy himself in supposing that the different directions referred to the doing a thing in and out of season;

    1. The reasons given why a fool should not be answered according to his folly, is, "lest he (the answerer) should be like unto him."

    2. The reason given why the fool should be answered according to his folly, is, "lest he (the fool) should be wise in his own conceit."

    1. "The cause assigned for forbidding to answer, therefore, plainly insinuates that the defender of religion should not imitate the insulter of it in his modes of disputation, which may be comprised in sophistry, buffoonery, and scurrility.

    2. "The cause assigned for directing to answer, as plainly intimates that the sage should address himself to confute the fool upon his own false principles, by showing that they lead to conclusions very wide from, very opposite to, those impieties he would deduce from them. If any thing can allay the fool's vanity, and prevent his being wise in his own conceit, it must be the dishonor of having his own principles turned against himself, and shown to be destructive of his own conclusions." - Treatise on Grace. Preface.

    Barnes' Notes on Proverbs 26:4

    Two sides of a truth. To "answer a fool according to his folly" is in Proverbs 26:4 to bandy words with him, to descend to his level of coarse anger and vile abuse; in Proverbs 26:5 it is to say the right word at the right time, to expose his unwisdom and untruth to others and to himself, not by a teaching beyond his reach, but by words that he is just able to apprehend. The apparent contradiction between the two verses led some of the rabbis to question the canonical authority of this book. The Pythagoreans had maxims expressing a truth in precepts seemingly contradictory.

    Wesley's Notes on Proverbs 26:4

    26:4 According - So as to imitate his folly, by passionate or reproachful speeches.