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1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
Ver. 1. A certain rich man which had a steward ] Masters had need look well, 1. To the choosing of their servants. Solomon saw Jeroboam, that he was industrious, and therefore, without any respect at all to his religion, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph, but to his singular disadvantage. 1 Kings 11:28 ; cf. Luke 12:3 ; Luke 2:1-52 . To the using of them; most men make no other use of their servants than they do of their beasts; while they may have their bodies to do their service, they care not if their souls serve the devil. Hence they so often prove false and perfidious.
2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
Ver. 2. Give an account of thy stewardship ] Villicus rationem cum Domino suo crebro putet, said Cato. Stewards should often account with their masters.
3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
Ver. 3. I cannot dig, &c. ] They that will get wisdom must both dig and beg, Proverbs 2:3-4 .
4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
Ver. 4. They may receive me ] This is that wit he showed for himself, and for the which he is here commended: teaching us by all lawful means (not by any unlawful, as he) to provide for ourselves, and to preserve our reputation.
5 So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him , and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?
Ver. 5. How much owest thou? ] Some are ever owing; and may say of debt, as the strumpet Quartilla did of her virginity, Iunonem meam iratam habeam, si unquam me meminerim virginem fuisse. Petron.
6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
Ver. 6. Take thy bill ] The scope of this parable is, ut profusionem charitate erga pauperes compensemus, saith Beza, that we expiate, as it were, our prodigality, by showing mercy to the poor, Daniel 4:27 .
7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.
Ver. 7. See Luke 16:5 .
8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
Ver. 8. And the lord commended ] Gr. ο κυριος, that lord, viz the steward’s lord, not the Lord Christ who relateth this parable. Or if we understand it of Christ (as the Syriac here doth), yet he herein no more approveth of this steward’s false dealing than he doth of the usurer’s trade,Matthew 5:27; Matthew 5:27 ; or the thieves, 1 Thessalonians 5:2 ; or the dancers,Matthew 11:17; Matthew 11:17 ; or the Olympic games,1 Corinthians 9:24; 1 Corinthians 9:24 .
Because he had done wisely ] The worldling’s wisdom serves him (as the ostrich’s wings) to make him outrun others upon earth, and in earthly things; but helps him never a wit toward heaven.
Are in their generation wiser ] A swine that wanders can make better shift to get home to the trough than a sheep can to the fold. We have not received the spirit of this world, 1 Corinthians 2:12 , we cannot shift and plot as they can; but we have received a better thing. The fox is wise in his generation, the serpent subtle, so is the devil too. When he was but young, he outwitted our first parents, 2 Corinthians 11:3 .
Than the children of light ] As the angels are called angels of light,2 Corinthians 11:14; 2 Corinthians 11:14 . God’s children are the only earthly angels, have a Goshen in their bosoms, can lay their hands on their hearts with dying Oecolampadius, and say, Hic sat lucis, Here is enough light. (Melch. Adam.)
9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
Ver. 9. Make unto yourselves friends ] Quibus officia praestita fidem defuncti apud Deum testificentur, illa comprobantem, et gratis coronantem (Beza.) Testify your faith by your works, that God of his free grace may commend and crown you.
Of the mammon of unrighteousness ] The next odious name to the devil himself. This mammon of iniquity, this wages of wickedness, is not gain, but loss.
They may receive you ] That is, that either the angels, or thy riches, or the poor, may let you into heaven.
10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
Ver. 10. He that is faithful ] Mr Diodati’s note here is, "The right use of riches in believers is a trial of their loyal use of their spiritual graces and gifts. And, on the contrary, the abuse of the one showeth the abuse of the other. God likewise taketh away his spiritual graces from them, who do not use the temporal ones well."
11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches ?
Ver. 11. In the unrighteous mammon ] Or the uncertain, vain, deceitful wealth of this world, which yet most rich men trust in, as if simply the better or safer for their abundance. Hence Drusius derives mammon from amans, which signifieth to trust.
12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?
Ver. 12. In that which is another man’s ] Riches are not properly ours, but God’s, who hath intrusted us, and who doth usually assign them to the wicked, those men of his hand, for their portion,Psalms 17:14; Psalms 17:14 , for all the heaven that they are ever to look for. Better things abide the saints, who are here but foreigners, and must do as they may.
Who shall give you that which is your own? ] Quod nec eripi nec surripi potest. Aristotle relateth a law like this made by Theodectes, that he that used not another man’s horse well should forfeit his own.
13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Ver. 13. See Matthew 6:24 .
14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.
Ver. 14. And they derided him ] Gr. εξεμυκτηριζον , they blew their noses at him in scorn and derision. They fleered and jeered, when they should have feared, and fled from the wrath to come. Naso suspendere adunco. Horat.
15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
Ver. 15. For that which is highly esteemed, &c. ] A thing that I see in the night may shine, and that shining proceed from nothing but rottenness. There may be malum opus in bona materia, as in Jehu’s zeal. Two things make a good Christian, good actions and good aims. And though a good aim doth not make a bad action good (as in Uzzah), yet a bad aim makes a good action bad (as in Jehu, Hosea 1:4 , whose justice was approved, but his policy punished).
16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
Ver. 16. See Matthew 11:11 .
17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
Ver. 17. See Matthew 5:18 .
18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
Ver. 18. See Matthew 5:32 ; Matthew 19:9 ; Mark 10:5 ;
19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
Ver. 19. There was a certain rich man ] Not once named, as Lazarus was, though never so little esteemed of men. God knew him by name, as he did Moses; when the rich man’s name is written in the earth, rots above ground, is left for a reproach.
Which was clothed in purple, &c. ] Gr. ενεδιδυσκετο , was commonly so clothed. It was his every day’s wear, as the word implieth. ( Verbum est quasi frequentativum. Pasor.)
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
Ver. 20. A certain beggar named Lazarus ] Or Eleazar (as Tertullian and Prudentius call him), who having been Abraham’s faithful servant, now resteth in his bosom.
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
Ver. 21. And desiring to be fed with the crumbs ] Many poor folk have but prisoners’ pittances, which will neither keep them alive nor suffer them to die.
The dogs came and licked his sores ] When Sabinus was put to death for whispering against Sejanus, his dog lay down by his dead body, brought to his mouth the bread that was cast to him; and when Sabinus was thrown into the river Tiber, the dog leapt after him, endeavouring to keep him up, that he might not sink into the bottom. Pliny.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
Ver. 22. Into Abraham’s bosom ] A metaphor from feasts, say some; from fathers, say others, who imbosom and hug their children when wearied with long running about, or have met with a knock, and come crying unto them.
And was carried by the angels ] Through the air, the devil’s region, do the angels conduct the saints at death; who may therefore call death, as Jacob did the place where he met the angels, Mahanaim, Genesis 32:2 . For like as the palsyman was let down with his bed through the tiling before Jesus, Luke 5:18 , so is every good soul taken up in a heavenly couch through the roof of his house, and carried into Christ’s presence by these heavenly courtiers; who as in life they are our supporters,Psalms 91:10-11; Psalms 91:10-11 , so after death our porters, as here, by the angels; as if they had striven which should have a part.
And was buried ] Possibly with as much noisome stench and hurry in the air, as at Cardinal Wolsey’s burial. A terrible example there is in the Book of Martyrs of one Christopher Landsdale, an unmerciful courtier, who suffering a poor lazar a to die in a ditch by him, did afterwards perish himseff in a ditch.
The rich man also died ] Perhaps he was choked, as Hardicanutus (noted for epicurism, A.D. 1041) was at a marriage at Lambeth, most men rejoicing to be rid of him; in memory whereof Hocktide (a feast of scorning) was a long time after continued in this kingdom, saith our chronicler.
a A poor and diseased person, usually one afflicted with a loathsome disease; esp. a leper. ŒD
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Ver. 23. Being in torments ] Having punishment without pity, misery without mercy, sorrow without succour, crying without compassion, mischief without measure, torments without end, and past imagination.
And Lazarus in his bosom ] Which more vexed him than his own torments, saith Chrysostom.
He lifted up his eyes ] So often lifted up (saith one) in a false devotion.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
Ver. 24. And cool my tongue ] In his tongue he was most tortured, quia plus lingua peccaverat, saith Cyprian. So Nestorius the heretic had his tongue eaten up with worms. a So Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester (two notorious persecutors), died with their tongues thrust out, big swollen, and black with inflammation of their bodies. A spectacle worthy to be noted of all such bloody burning persecutors.
a Nestorii lingua vermibus exesa. Evang.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
Ver. 25. Son, remember, &c. ] Son he calls him, with respect either ad procreationem carnis, aut ad aetatem, saith Piscator. But as it was but cold comfort to Dives in flames that Abraham called him son, so those that have no more to shroud themselves under than a general profession, shall find that an empty title yields but an empty comfort at last.
That thou in thy lifetime ] Gregory the Great could never read these words without horror: lest himself, having such honours here, should be shut out of heaven.James 5:5; James 5:5 ; "Ye have lived in pleasure upon earth;" which is a purgatory, not a paradise.
Receivedst thy good things ] Wicked men then have not only a civil title, but a right before God to earthly things. It is their portion, Psalms 17:14 . And what Ananias had was his own, Acts 5:4 , while he had it. God gave Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar for his pains at Tyre. It is hard to say they are usurpers. They shall not (saith one) be called to an account at the last day for possessing what they had, but for abusing that possession. As when the king gives a traitor his life, he gives him food and drink that may maintain his life. So here God deals, not as that cruel d’Alva did, who starved some prisoners after he had given them quarter, saying, Though I promised you your lives, I promised not to find you food. (Grimst. Hist. of the Netherl.).
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
Ver. 26. There is a great gulf fixed ] viz. By the unmovable and immutable decree of God, called mountains of brass, Zechariah 6:1 , from between which all effects and actions come forth as so many chariots. εστηρικται . Firmissimum Dei statutum. Jansen.
27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
Ver. 27. I pray thee therefore ] Are not the Popish doctors hard driven, when they allege this text to prove that the dead do take care of the living, and pray for them?
28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Ver. 28. Lest they also come into this place ] This he wisheth, not for their good, but for his own. For he knew that if they were damned, he should be double damned, because they were brought thither partly by his lewd and loose example.
29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
Ver. 29. Let them hear them ] Hell is to be escaped by hearing the word read and preached, John 5:25 ; Isaiah 55:3 .
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
Ver. 30. They will repent ] Bellarmine is of the opinion that one glimpse of hell were enough to make a man not only turn Christian and sober, but anchorite and monk; to live after the strictest rule that might be. Such a sight or report might work much upon the judgment, but it is the gospel only that works upon the affections, and produceth repentance never to be repented of.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Ver. 31. Though one rose from the dead ] As Lazarus did, and yet they listened as little to him as to Christ, John 12:10 ; but sought to kill him also.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29