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There was a certain rich man ; in this parable our Lord teaches the necessity of spiritual wisdom and forethought in providing for the world to come, by an example of worldly shrewdness. Its immediate reference is to the use which God requires us, as his stewards, to make of the property which he entrusts to us. But it includes all other gifts and opportunities of doing good.
Steward ; one intrusted with property, to be used according to the will of its owner.
Riches and all the blessings which men possess come from God and belong to him. With them men, as his stewards, are intrusted for a season. For the use of them they must give account, and they will be treated according to their works.
Said within himself ; he thought.
I cannot dig ; work at any service labor.
Thy bill ; thy writing.
Write fifty ; by allowing the debtor to alter his bill and diminish it one half. the steward hoped to gain his favor, and thus, in time of need, to secure his aid.
Fourscore ; eighty.
The lord ; the master of the steward.
Commended ; not his injustice, but his sagacity.
Done wisely ; acted shrewdly; manifested forethought and skill.
Children of this world ; those who seek earthly things as their chief good.
Wiser than the chidren of light ; more sagacious in the selection, and more skilful in the application of means to obtain temporal, than Christians are to obtain eternal good.
Of the mammon of unrighteousness ; by the right use of it, as the original implies. Mammon is a Chaldee word signifying riches. It is here called the mammon of unrighteousness, as being with unrighteous men the great object of pursuit, and too commonly sought, moreover, by unrighteous means.
That when ye fail ; are discharged from your stewardship by death.
They may receive you ; that is, the friends whom you have made by bestowing your property in deeds of love and mercy. Our Saviour used the words, "they may receive me into their houses." They do not receive us by any right or authority of their own, for this belongs to Christ alone; but they welcome us to heaven and bear witness to our deeds of mercy, as being the evidence and fruit of that "faith which worketh by love." Compare the remarkable passage in Matthew 25:34-46 .
Faithful ; as God’s steward.
In that which is least ; our Saviour teaches that it is not the quantity committed to us that God will regard, but our fidelity in using it; and that our disposition is as thoroughly tried by a small as by a large amount of property or influence.
Unrighteous mammon ; worldly things.
True riches ; heavenly treasures-satisfying, eternal good. To be happy hereafter, men must be honest towards God here. If they continue knowingly to rob him of what he gives them on earth, he will never bestow on them the riches of heaven.
Not been faithful ; if not honest as stewards in what God committed to you for time, no one will give you heavenly riches for eternity.
God and mammon ; Matthew 6:24 .
Derided him ; because of the doctrine contained in the preceding discourse, in which he taught that all our wealth belongs to God, and that to obtain heaven, we must faithfully use it in his service, and that too with undivided love and devotion.
Justify yourselves ; you pretend before men to be just and good, and are by them highly esteemed; but God, who sees your hearts, abhors and condemns your hypocrisy and worldliness.
Were until John ; see notes on Matthew 11:12-13 .
Every man ; the Saviour alludes to the fact that the despised publicans and sinners are pressing into the kingdom of heaven, while the proud Pharisees reject it.
One tittle of the law to fail ; he shows that the gospel-the kingdom of heaven which he has come to establish-does not relax the strictness of the divine law. Of this he gives, in the next verse, an instance.
Putteth away his wife , and married another ; the Saviour here connects covetousness with licentiousness, both being sins of the Pharisees growing out of the common root of worldliness, and both excluding men from the kingdom of heaven.
Clothed in purple ; an indication of great wealth.
Fared sumptuously ; lived in a luxurious and costly manner. A man’s condition in this world is no certain criterion of his character. A wicked man may be rich and surrounded with all the comforts and luxuries of life, while a good man may be poor, afflicted, and helpless. He may want even that which is squandered by the wicked on their dogs.
To illustrate the folly, guilt, and ruin of being dishonest towards God and employing what he gives only in self-indulgence, our Saviour gave this account of the rich man and Lazarus.
Begger ; literally, a poor man.
Laid at his gate ; there was then no public provision for the poor, and when disabled, they were often laid at the gates of the rich, that they might receive aid.
Abraham’s bosom ; a common expression among the Jews for the rest and bliss of heaven. Good men and bad must die. But their souls will live after death, in heaven or hell, according to their character. An impassable barrier will divide them. Those in heaven cannot help those in hell, and none from hell can ever ascend to heaven.
Father Abraham , have mercy on me ; this shows that he was a Jew, or one of Abraham’s descendants. This is the only instance mentioned in Scripture of any one praying to a departed spirit, and he gained nothing by it but an increase of torment. Prayer is an act of religious worship, and the command of Jehovah is, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Matthew 4:10 .
Good things ; wealth, honor, and pleasure.
Evil things ; poverty, contempt, and distress. The faculty of memory is a great blessing; but men may so conduct in this world that the exercise of it will for ever torment them in the world to come.
Neither can they pass ; there can be no interchange of places between those in heaven and those in hell.
They have Moses and the prophets ; the Old Testament scriptures. Great and momentous truths are revealed by God in the Bible. If men who have the Bible and the preaching of the gospel are not led, under the influence of the Spirit, to believe, no other means would be availing; but they will be left to pursue their chosen course of wickedness to the place of endless torment.
Neither will they be persuaded ; persuaded to repent.
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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Luke 16". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29