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Bible Commentaries
Luke 16

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verses 1-3


There was a rich man. The three parables of the 15th chapter were aimed at the sanctimonious. This one deals with greed, and may have been aimed at the tax collectors who were there. [Many of them were guilty of dishonesty and mismanagement.] Was wasting his master’s money. Just like the younger son in chapter 15:13. What is this I hear about you? The manager has betrayed his master by his action. Turn in a complete account. He is fired! And the books will all be audited. What shall I do? He has a few short days yet until the action is final. What can he do to help himself? “Reckless living” has made him too “soft” to work at manual labor. He is too proud to beg.

Verses 4-7


Now I know what I will do. The “way out” of all this comes to him in a flash! So he called in all the people. In order to make friends who will welcome him in their homes. He calls these people to come in and lets them “write off’ their debts at reduced rates.

Verse 8


The master of this dishonest manager praised him. Not for his dishonesty, but for his shrewdness in preparing for his future. Are much more shrewd. The shrewd manager knew better how to deal with his master and the debtors [who were probably tenants] under his control, than people of light know how to deal with their God above and their needy brothers here. Central idea: The one point taught in this parable is to use our earthly resources shrewdly to prepare for the time when these very things will fail us.

Verse 9


And so I tell you. We are managers of the worldly wealth which God gives us. We must not waste it, nor hoard it up. We are to use it in a way which meets with God’s approval, to make friends in that eternal home. It is true of many things, that we “use it, or lose it!”

Verses 10-12


Whoever is faithful in small matters. A person who is faithful in minor details will not be unfaithful in more important things. If, then, you have not been faithful. Our management of worldly wealth clearly reveals our character and spirit. The true wealth is the Eternal. With what belongs to someone else. This world and all that is in it belongs to God! If we are faithful in our use of God’s wealth, he will give us Eternity! See Ephesians 2:8-10.

Verse 13


No servant can be the slave of two masters. See note on Matthew 6:24.

Verse 14


And they made fun of Jesus. They understood Jesus to be attacking greed, and they thought this foolish, because they measured everything in terms of money.

Verse 15


Is worth nothing in God’s sight. The things that seem so important in this world, have no value in God’s sight. Compare 1 Corinthians 1:26-31.

Verse 16


The Law of Moses and the writings. See notes on Matthew 11:12-13.

Verse 17


But it is easier. See note on Matthew 5:17-18.

Verse 18


Any man who divorcee his wife. Marriage meant little to the Pharisees. See notes on Matthew 19:1-9.

Verse 19


There was once a rich man. Jesus tells this to illustrate the result of a wrong attitude and misuse of worldly wealth. The parable of the Shrewd Manager showed how worldly wealth is to be used; this parable shows the horror which a failure to use worldly wealth properly will bring. [Jesus brings the whole force of his rebuke on the one point of “failure to use.” Nothing said about this rich man wasting other people’s money nor any hint that he gained his riches dishonestly. To have described him as dishonest or drunken, would have clouded the issue. Here is a good citizen, with no hint of scandal attached to his name. He was “well off,” and made no attempt to help anyone else. He spent his worldly wealth pleasing himself, and spent none serving God or helping his fellow man.]

Verse 20


There was also a poor man. In the last stages of his life, this poor man has nothing to keep him alive, but the charity he receives. Named Lazarus. This is the only time Jesus mentions a name in a parable. Lazarus means God a help, and it is symbolic of absolute poverty. Augustine wrote: “Does not Christ seem to you to have been reading in that book where he found the name of the poor man written, but found not the name of the rich? For that book is the Book of Life.” [Book of the Living; see note on Revelation 20:14-15. ] The description shows the condition of the helpless poor at that time. The rich man has friends, and servants to wait on him. Lazarus has only dogs. [Dogs: see note on Matthew 7:6.] The whole point is that the rich man gave nothing to Lazarus. The bits of food from the rich man’s table was the garbage which would be thrown out on the street.

Verse 22


And was carried by the angels. Not because he was poor, but because he pleased God.

Verse 23


He was In great pain in Hades. Not because he was rich [Abraham was rich], but because he failed to use it shrewdly. Note also that both were Jews, and therefore both people of God. The difference between them in this parable is how they used what they had.

Verse 24


Take pity on me. Note that the rich man was very conscious of his surroundings, and that he could both see and recognize Abraham. [The Jews had a saying: “Abraham sits at the entrance to Hades and will not let his descendants go in there.] He calls on Abraham for help. The conditions of the rich man and Lazarus are sharply reversed in the spirit world. [See note at the end of this chapter.]

Verse 25


Remember, my son. Alford (Greek Testament) says: “Analogy gives us every reason to suppose that in the disembodied state the whole life on earth will lie before the soul in all its thoughts, words, and deeds, like a map of the past journey before a traveler.”

Verse 26


There is a deep pit. Permanent and impassible! In the future state, the good and the evil will be separated from each other. [See note at the end of this chapter.]

Verses 27-31


Send Lazarus to my father’s house. He first thought of himself. Now he wants to warn his family. This is brought up to emphasize what follows. Your brothers have Moses and the prophets to warn them. The rich man and his brothers thought worldly wealth was the only REALITY. The warning was there, loud and clear, but they did not listen! They will not be convinced. If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, Lazarus returning from the dead would not make them listen. JESUS DID RETURN FROM THE DEAD! But many of the enemies of Jesus paid no attention to it! Compare 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16. [Hades is the Greek name for the world of the dead, and is the same as Sheol in the Old Testament. Hades sometimes means the abyss, a place of punishment for the wicked awaiting judgment (see note on Revelation 9:2). But also in this spirit world of Hades is Paradise—“heaven” before the Judgment. In Hades we see the wicked in great pain; while the good enjoy their rewards. The joys of Paradise were thought of as “the feast in heaven. “ After the resurrection and the Judgment, the good will inherit the Eternal Kingdom; while the wicked, death, and the world of the dead (Hades) will be thrown into the lake of fire (see Revelation 20:14-15).]

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Luke 16". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/luke-16.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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