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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Luke 16

Verses 1-13

  1. Intro:
    1. This past summer we all heard about Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation receiving Warren Buffett’s gift of $31 billion.
      1. In 2 years they will start receiving Increments of $3 billion a year.
      2. Must give away every nickel that is contributed in the previous year.
      3. In the next 2 years, the foundation plans to double its staff to about 600 people to handle the additional money.
      4. I wonder what they’ll invest in. I wonder how much will be a temp blessing(earthly), or a how much will be an investment to the future?
    2. Christmas message? – Well...ch.16 has to do with the proper use of money!
    3. The “Sabbath day” which began in 14:1 continues to 17:10.
  2. A BAD MAN’S GOOD EXAMPLE! (1-13)
    1. MONEY MATTERS! (1,2)
    2. (1) Though speaking to “His disciples” he was still dealing with the Pharisees…see correlation in vs.14. [note “there was a certain rich man” & Pharisees…lovers of $] also vs.19
      1. The Pharisees were mastered by desire for material gain, while claiming to be the teachers of the moral law & interpreters of spiritual life.
    3. A steward – a manager who oversaw a rich man’s estate. (like Joseph to Pharoah)
      1. This one was accused of wasting his employer’s possessions.
      2. It could have been incompetence or dishonesty or both.
      3. He was given great authority over his master’s household.
        1. Usually over servants, workers, the women & children, & is empowered to transact business as he sees fit.
    4. Wasting his goods - Like the prodigal(wasteful) son, this steward wasted his master’s goods, just as many people are doing today.
      1. From the prodigal son to the prodigal steward.
      2. Many people are doing the same today…wasting what God has entrusted into their care!
    5. (2) What is this I hear about you? – Often times the servants & workers didn’t like him, so they would either spread gossip about him, or spy on him so they could report it to their master.
    6. No longer be steward – you’re fired!
    7. Individual accountability to God:
      1. Rom.14:12 “each of us shall give account of himself to God.”
      2. 2 Cor.5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
      3. All that we have comes from the Lord and must be used for the good of others and the glory of God.
      4. We are not owners; we are stewards of His possessions, & 1 day we must give an account of what we have done with what God has shared with us.
    8. PORTFOLIO PLANNING! (3,4) [Portfolio – all the investments held by an individual]
    9. Can’t dig – probably a case of disinclination not disability.
    10. Ashamed to beg – That was good, but reeks of pride.
    11. Soon to be unemployed he began to plan for his future needs!
      1. He concocts a scheme to use his present position to make friends who would care for him when times got bad. (4b)
    12. Rent was often paid to a landlord, not in money, but in kind. This would have 2 effects:
      1. First, the debtors would be grateful to him.
      2. Second, and much more effective, he had involved the debtors, if worst came to the worst, he was now in a strong position to exercise a little judicious blackmail!
    13. LET’S MAKE A DEAL! (5-8)
    14. He calls his employers debtors one by one & reduces their debt.
    15. (8) When the rich man heard what he had done, he commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. {note: not Jesus, but this rich man commends him}
      1. The dishonest manager had not done a good thing. But he had been careful to plan ahead, using material things to insure a secure future.
      2. Jesus was not teaching that His disciples should be dishonest. He was teaching that they should use material things for future spiritual benefit.
      3. This was a good lesson from a bad example. (Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary.)
      4. Thus my title, “A Bad Man’s God Example!”
      5. Maybe the rich man wasn’t too upset because now he would have the reputation as a man who put principle before property.
    16. Shrewdly = a morally neutral term. “common sense, keen foresight, practical intelligence, smarts, being prudent.”
    17. Sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation – Pharisees & Scribes.
      1. Key – only in their generation. [mark the limit to it]
      2. They were wiser in carrying on their enterprises, than the sons of light are in carrying out theirs.
      3. These only invest in this life, thus are better at it because it is their sole focus.
        1. “They are clever for today and fools forever!” / (Morgan)
    18. Sons of light - the disciples.
      1. Different both in motive & method.
      2. These wisely make investments in the future kingdom.
    19. The worldly are more creative in working toward their aims than those enlightened.
      1. Many well-intentioned people are bound, when seeking solutions, by lack of imagination, freedom and grounding in reality. (Stern, D. H. (1992). Jewish New Testament commentary)
      2. The people of this world are much better at seeing opportunities and profiting from them, than are the children of God.
      3. Eph.5:15-17 “Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is”
    20. If only the Christian was an eager and ingenious in his attempt to attain goodness as the man of the world is in his attempt to attain money and comfort, he would be a much better man. (William Barclay; Luke 16.)
    21. If only men would give as much attention to the things which concern their souls as they do to the things which concern their business, they would be much better men.
      1. Over and over again a man will expend 20 x’s the amount of time and money and effort on “his pleasure, his hobby, his garden, his sport” as he does on his church.
      2. Our Christianity will begin to be real and effective only when we spend as much time and effort on it as we do on our worldly activities.
      3. Money is not immoral. Money is entirely non-moral.
        1. There is no evil in money & there is no good in it.
        2. It can be used for both.
        3. It can be used to blast our own souls, & others around us; Or to bless our own souls, & those around us.
      4. John Wesley’s motto regarding money, Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.”
    22. Jesus urges his followers not to use the materials of this world in a wicked way, but for noble ends. (Stern, D. H. (1992). Jewish New Testament commentary)
    23. FUTURE INVESTMENTS! (9-13)
    24. (9) We do not buy friends, but we can make friends for the Lord, by the wise use of money!
      1. “The world measures people by how much they get, but God measures them by how much they give.”
      2. Money can be used now in ways that create an eternal fellowship.
      3. When life comes to an end, the wisdom of lasting investments will become clear!
      4. Q: Are there any who have gone on, who are likely to want to see us when we arrive, because of the use we made on their behalf of our wealth?
      5. The Rabbis had a saying, “The rich help the poor in this world, but the poor help the rich in the world to come.”
      6. Ambrose, commenting on the rich fool who built bigger barns to store his goods, said, “The bosoms of the poor, the houses of widows, the mouths of children are the barns which last forever.”
      7. A man’s true wealth would consist not in what he kept, but in what he gave away.
    25. Receive you into an everlasting home – Will people welcome you to heaven because your stewardship made it possible for them to hear the gospel & be saved? (Wiersbe; With The word; pg.680.)
      1. Jesus did not commend the manager’s dishonesty, but he did point to the manager’s initiative & foresight in planning for the future.
      2. How would this play out in our day & age? [here’s an example]
        1. Watch Video Car Lot. [Sermonspice.com “The Car Lot”]
    26. (10-12) Jesus did not see a great gulf fixed between the material and the spiritual, for one of the most spiritual things we can do is use material things to the glory of God in the winning of the lost. (Wiersbe, W. W. (1997, c1992). Wiersbe's expository outlines on the New Testament (185). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.)
    27. If one is faithful in his use of money, then he can be trusted with greater things.
      1. True riches seem to refer to the kingdom’s spiritual riches of which the disciples will partake.
    28. (13) Emphasis is on the word serve!
      1. When money masters a man it blasts him; When God masters a man, He makes him.
      2. When God masters a man, the man does not abandon his money, he masters his money, & he makes it lay up dividends for eternity.
        1. With it he blesses humanity & glorifies God!
      3. On the other hand the man mastered by money will patronize God,
        1. make a convenience of Him.
      4. The Pharisees & Scribes love themselves & therefore loved money; Jesus loved God, & therefore He loved man.
    29. “Money is a wonderful servant, a terrible master, & an abominable god.”
    30. The master possessed the slave, and possessed him exclusively.
      1. Nowadays it’s different, a workman can quite easily do 2 jobs and work for 2 people. Back then it was exclusive!
      2. Serving God can never be a part-time or a spare-time job.
    31. Remember one day money & possessions will be useless.
      1. 60 seconds after a man is dead he cannot sign a check!
      2. It’s a poor thing to hang on to money until we are dead. Make use of it now. How? Make friends by means of it, & when it fails, in that very moment, when your hand is no longer able to sign checks, they, the friends you’ve made, shall greet you in the eternal tabernacles.
      3. Money can be used now in ways that create an eternal fellowship.
      4. $1900 was collected on “Dollar Days” last Sunday for the Homeless in our area!}
    32. Once a man chooses to serve God every moment of his time and every atom of his energy belongs to God. God is the most exclusive of masters. We either belong to him totally or not at all.

Verses 14-31

  1. Intro:
    1. A politician awoke after an operation and found the curtains in his hospital room drawn. “Why are the curtains closed?” he asked the nurse. “Is it night time already?” - “No,” the nurse replied, “But there’s a fire across the street, and we didn’t want you to wake and think the operation was unsuccessful.” ☺
      1. This morning God gives us a glimpse beyond the veil of death.
    2. A global study reveals an overwhelming wealth gap!
      1. I was sent this article(by Todd Cernetic) that was reported and written by Thomas Kostigen for MarketWatch.
    3. The 3 richest people in the world: Bill Gates(53 bill); Warren Buffett(46 bill); & Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helú(37.6 bill) - have more money than the poorest 48 nations combined.
    4. The richest 2% of the world's population owns more than half of the world's household wealth.
      1. Assets of just $2,200 per adult place a household in the top half of the worlds wealthiest.
      2. To be among the richest 10% of adults in the world, just $61,000 in assets is needed.
      3. If you have more than $500,000, you're part of the richest 1%, the United Nations study says.
        1. 37 million people now belong in that category.
    5. Half the world (nearly 3 billion people) live on less than $2 a day.
    6. The world's total wealth is valuated at $125 trillion.
      1. Although North America has only 6% of the world's adult population, it accounts for 34% of household wealth.
    7. The gospel came to the Greeks & they turned it into a Philosophy, The gospel came to the Romans & they turned it into a System, The gospel came to the European’s & they turned it into a Culture, The gospel came to America & we turned it into a Business. (Stewart McAlister)
      1. Shopping & consuming is our #1 past time.
    8. A Bumper sticker read – “Money Talks: Mine Says Goodbye!”
      1. Money is much better at saying goodbye than it is at sticking around.
      2. Maybe you can relate with what the Lord told Haggai in1:6, “You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes”.
  2. HIGHWAY TO HELL! (14-18)
    1. CONTRASTING VIEWS ABOUT MONEY! (14,15)
    2. Recap – (16:1-13) Jesus was speaking to “His disciples” yet he was still dealing with the Pharisees & their greed. (see vs. 14 & 19)
      1. See the vital connection of vs.13 & vs.14.
        1. Their passion…their love of material possessions.
      2. This is a searching application of the callous Pharisees in their indifference to the poor & outcast!
    3. They learn the hard way that life is like a green dot & eternity is like a purple line extending to the right with an arrow at the end.
      1. Everything on the purple line is dependant on the green dot!
    4. (14) They turned up their nose at Jesus, why?
      1. Because they had a contrasting view of money.
      2. They saw money as evidence of God’s favor, not as a false god threatening to take God’s place.
    5. So was Jesus advocating communism & opposing capitalism? No way! – He certainly opposed those who acquire wealth unjustly, but He didn’t imply that everyone should give everything to the poor & become destitute.
      1. That would simply create another evil…by making the poor rich, & the rich poor. (The problem wouldn’t be solved)
      2. He simply didn’t want people relying on their wealth for salvation.
      3. Jesus didn’t compel those who followed Him to renounce all their wealth (Zaccheus gave only ½ away, yet was praised by Jesus)
    6. (15) In Jesus’ reply he gave them some statements(15-18) & 1 story(19-31)
    7. This verse becomes the key to the rest as He contrasts their motives in doing things in the sight of man or for God.
      1. There’s a life that constantly keeps God in view…& one that doesn’t!
      2. Ps.49 is a great Psalm on this. - Vs.18,19 sounds like this rich man.
      3. (18b)“men will praise you” to God it’s an abomination [a stench in His nostrils]
    8. THE DANGER OF SELF JUSTIFICATION! (16-18)
    9. The Pharisees prided themselves on their careful observation of the Law & often accused Jesus of disregarding their laws & traditions.
      1. In vs.17 Jesus affirmed the lasting importance of the moral truth in the Law. And, in vs.18 he gave an example of that.
    10. (16) The verse does not mean that the authority of the Torah and the Prophets came to an end when John appeared. But since then, in addition to their witness, Good News of the Kingdom of God, has been proclaimed directly, first by John & now by Yeshua, with the result that everyone(every race & kind) is pushing to get in. (Stern, D. H. (1992). Jewish New Testament commentary : A companion volume to the Jewish New Testament.)
      1. Parallel Passage Mt.11:12 “from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”
      2. The “violent” decision one must make in order to enter the kingdom…
        1. “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Lk.13:24
        2. Or, “he must deny himself, & take up his cross, & follow me.”
      3. If any man is coming to the Kingdom, he comes that way!
    11. (17) One tittle – the smallest stroke of a Hebrew letter.
    12. (18) Yet the moral law would stay unchanged.
      1. Not primarily a teaching on divorce. It is an example demonstrating that the Torah and the Prophets continue to have authoritative force. (ibid.)
      2. To divorce and remarry constituted adultery (Jesus gave the exception to this in mt.5:32 “sexual immorality”; Paul’s/abandonment clause 1 Cor.7)
      3. The Pharisees who took a loose view of money also took a loose view of divorce(i.e. Hillel, divorce for anything).
      4. It was acknowledged that a man should not commit adultery. But if a man wanted another woman, many of the Pharisees condoned divorcing his present wife for no good reason and marrying the desired woman.
        1. In this way they thought adultery did not take place.
        2. However this was a perfect example of justifying themselves in the eyes of men but not being justified before God. (Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary.)
      5. Challenge married couples here on the seriousness of divorce!
  3. THE RICH MAN & LAZARUS! (19-31)
    1. The day after James Brown died I thought it interesting that a billboard which stands along our 15 Frwy in Elsinore, near Main St., reads “James Brown Live Feb. 8 @ Harrah’s”. (James 4:13,14)
    2. This section isn’t necessarily to teach about the future life, but instead primarily to drive home the awful danger of making wrong use of this life, thus leading to eternal misery. (Griffith Thomas; pg.259.)
    3. Outline: 2 Persons; 2 Places; 2 Prayers.
    4. 2 PERSONS! (19-21)
    5. Let’s meet the 2 main characters of our story:
    6. THE RICH MAN! (19)
    7. The Rich man – orDives” from the Latin word for rich.
    8. Rich man fared sumptuously – brilliance of display, living flamboyantly.
      1. Interesting, we aren’t told of some “vulgar” sin in his life.
      2. He was simply a rich man, self-centered, displaying ostentatiously his wealth. (G. Campbell Morgan; pg.191)
      3. Even the word for Gate(20) meant a gate of beauty.
        1. Only a thin gate divided them (later a great gulf will).
    9. THE BEGGAR! (20,21)
    10. A certain Beggar/Lazarus – means “God has helped”.
    11. Listen to the Lord’s pathos(pAy-thaws) here: beggar, full of sores, laid at the gate, crumbs, top it off with dogs licking sores
      1. Note: dog outside gate showed more compassion than man inside.
    12. 2 PLACES! (22,23)
    13. No one who is ever in hell will be able to say to God, “You put me here,” And no one who is in heaven will ever be able to say, “I put myself here.” - John Hannah
    14. PARADISE!
    15. (22) Carried by the angels – this is where that idea comes from.
      1. Pearly gates from Rev.21:21.
    16. Abraham’s bosom - where there’s no more begging, no more sores, no more outside the gate, no more crumbs to fend for, no more hunger!
      1. Note my view! – Paradise, Abraham’s bosom, heaven, God’s throne are all synonymous terms.
        1. Luke 23:43 “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
        2. 2 Cor 12:4 Paul was “caught up into Paradise”.
        3. Rev 2:7 “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”
      2. Also note, lifted up his eyes, great gulf fixed.
    17. PERDITION!
    18. The other place, the bad place, “H. E. double toothpicks”, Hell, Hades, the underworld, place of punishment, place of perdition.
      1. What hell is, we know not; only this we know, that there is such a sure and certain place. - Martin Luther
    19. The safest road to hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts. - C. S. Lewis
    20. The beggar died, & the rich man died & was buried!
      1. The beggar probably didn’t have a decent burial.
      2. On the other hand, what did the rich man’s burial cost?
        1. Burial costs can get pretty extravagant! – My dad’s comment when my mom died (Queen of Heaven’s cemetery, hefty cost to be buried under the Virgin Mary’s Statue, “what does she talk for that price?”) [staunch Catholic, but a frugal child of the depression]
      3. But the point…both die! – The rich man couldn’t bribe the grim reaper!
      4. Ok, so both died…is that it??? – No, that’s not all! 3.20.4.1. Death comes to all…but doesn’t end all!
    21. 2 PRAYERS! (24-31)
    22. 1st PRAYER – RELIEF FOR HIS BODY! (24-26)
    23. (24) Tormented in this flame – real flames?
      1. Well, it seems it is a real torment, thus a real thirst, which desires real water, from a real finger, to touch his real tongue. So I believe real flames.
      2. Is the fire spoken of literal fire? It is an accepted law of language that a figure of speech is less intense than the reality. If “fire” is merely a figurative expression, it must stand for some great reality, and if the reality is more intense than the figure, what an awful thing the punishment symbolized by fire must be. (William Evans)
    24. (25) The world measures people by how much they get, but God measures them by how much they give.
    25. The rich man didn’t go to Hades because he was rich; he went there because riches were his god.
      1. Abraham was a wealthy man, yet he was in paradise.
      2. Remember in most countries of the world there is no middle class.
    26. What was this man’s sin? – It’s clear; he was selfish w/his wealth.
      1. Origen said, “in fullness of bread & overflowing of abundance he had not pity for the man who lay at this gate wasted by sores.” “He never took account of either the suffering of his inferiors or the common rights of humanity.”
    27. Lessons:
    28. Money can help send people to heaven(9); or it can help send people to hell.
    29. Money & possessions are gifts & trusts from God.
      1. God loans us these w/the expectation that we’ll use them to help others.
    30. Again, Jesus teaches us about important principles on Stewardship.
      1. As Christians, we are stewards, not owners responsible to God for what we do w/His gifts put in our charge!
    31. 2nd PRAYER – REDEMPTION FOR HIS BROTHERS! (27-31)
    32. They have Moses & the prophets – like vs.16.
    33. Won’t hear, though one rise form the dead – life which is not affected by moral considerations will not be affected by the miraculous.
      1. A little later another Lazarus died, & Jesus raised him from the dead, & we are told specifically that these same men tried to kill him.
      2. Then came the day when they put Jesus to death, & He rose from the dead, but His resurrection from the dead made no appeal to men who lacked moral sense which puts God 1st.
      3. Acts 10:40,41 “Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead”
    34. Jesus drew the curtain back where we were permitted to look behind the veil, past “he died” to see, some are “carried by angels”, others “awaking in anguish”. Which? Which will be yours?
      1. A life that constantly keeps God in view…or one that doesn’t?
      2. Is your motive in doing things the sight of man, or for God?
    35. One day, when Vice President Calvin Coolidge was presiding over the Senate, one Senator angrily told another to go “straight to hell.” The offended Senator complained to Coolidge as presiding officer, and Coolidge looked up from the book he had been leafing through while listening to the debate. “I’ve been looking through the rule book,” he said. “you don’t have to go.”
      1. Good News…You don’t either!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Luke 16". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/luke-16.html. 2017.