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4. The Parable of the Unjust Steward and its Application (Luke 16:1-13)
1And he said also unto his [the1] disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had [of having] wasted his goods. 2And 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. 3Then 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. 4I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. 5So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? 6And he said, A hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. 7Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, A hundred measures of wheat. And2 he said 8unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the [his3] lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in [in reference to, εἰς] their generation wiser than the children of light. 9And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail [it fails, V. O.4], they may receive you into [the] everlasting habitations [lit., tabernacles, σκηνάς].
10He 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. 11If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? 13No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the [om., the] one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Luke 16:1. And He said also.—The opinion that the Saviour uttered this parable on another occasion, and not in connection with the three former parables, is without any ground.—On the other hand, the well-known crux interpretum, the parable of the Unjust Steward, has the right light thrown upon it only when we assume that it was uttered before the same mixed audience of publicans and Pharisees, for whom also the parables of the Lost Sheep, of the Lost Coin, and of the Prodigal Son, were intended. A tolerably full catalogue of the latest theological literature upon Luke 16:1-9, is found in Meyer, ad loc., to which we add the Interprétation de la parabole de l’économe infidèle, par M. Ensfelder, in the Revue Theol. de Colani, 1852, iii. and Stölbe, Versuch einer Erklärung der Parabel vom ungerechten Haushalter, Stud. und Krit. 1858, iii., and among the Dutch exegetes, an important dissertation by the late Dr. B. Van Willes, 1842.—Here, also, in particular, we prefer to give, instead of a criticism of the various and exceedingly divergent views, a simple statement of our own opinion.
To the disciples.—Not to be understood of the apostolic circle, although this is by no means to be excluded, but of the followers and hearers of the Saviour, in a wider sense of the word. See Luke 14:33; Luke 14:33; John 6:66, and other passages, and comp. also Luke 17:1 with Luke 17:5. We have, therefore, to conceive the Saviour as surrounded by publicans, whom He had just been comforting, and by Pharisees, whom He had just put to shame. The former He wishes to remind of their high duty now, as His disciples, to make good as much as possible the guilt which they had formerly incurred by extortion and dishonesty; the others He wishes to bring back from their love to earthly good, by drawing their attention to the truth that they are only stewards, for whom a day of reckoning will come. Both, therefore, He desires to lead to that prudent foresight, the image of which He depicts in the narrative of the Unjust Steward.
A certain rich man.—Neither the Romans (Schleiermacher), nor the Roman Emperor (Grossmann), and as little the devil (Olshausen), and, on the other hand, not Mammon (Meyer)—the μαμμωνᾶς τῆς . is, on the other hand, equivalent to the ὑπάρχοντα of the rich man, Luke 16:1—but God, who here is represented as the paramount owner of all which has been given to man only as a fief, and for use. By the οἰκονόμος we have to understand not exclusively the μαθηταί of the Saviour, but every man to whom the paramount owner has entrusted part of His goods.
A steward.—The wealth of the lord in the parable is visible from the circumstance that he needs an οἰκονόμος.—The property which this steward managed consists, however, not in ready money, but in allotments of land, which he has farmed out for such a price as he has thought fit, without every particular in the farm-contracts having been necessarily known to his lord. For we have here to represent to ourselves no modern steward, who every time gives a complete account, and has to decide nothing by his own full powers: on the other hand, it appears that his lord, who bestowed on him his full confidence, had not previously required any reckoning of him at all, until he, persuaded of the man’s dishonesty, had resolved to displace him. If the οἰκονόμος was clothed with so extensive powers, it is then also unnecessary to assume that he falsified the farm-contracts; in earlier times it was probably not at all necessary to lay these before the lord of the manor. But how had he squandered the ὑπάρχοντα? He had made the farmers pay more than he had stated and paid in to his lord as the rent: he demanded of them an excessive, and paid to him only the fair, amount, so that the difference between what he received and what he rendered constituted a clear gain to himself. He had, however, not enriched himself; for, with his deposition from his post, he sees himself brought at once to the beggar’s staff—he had lived sumptuously and wantonly on that which he had from time to time gained in this way, until his lord, we know not how, came on the track of his villainous transactions. His lord now summons him to the rendering of the definite account, to which he, as well known to him, is obliged (τὸν λόγον), and speaks at once of displacement. In the giving of this account, therefore, the papers, the farm-contracts, must for the first time be produced, and the displacement must naturally follow if the comparison of the rent with the sum accounted for reveals the cheat; it will, on the other hand, not be necessary, if from a thoroughly consistent account it appears that the suspicion conceived has been an ungrounded one. This must be kept distinctly in mind: the displacement is not yet irrevocably uttered, but only threatened; it does not precede the account, however this may turn out, but will only follow if the steward cannot justify himself. This appears, first, from the nature of the case, since his lord, by such a condemnation, without hearing him, and on a loose report, would have dealt quite as unjustly as the steward, which undoubtedly Jesus did not mean to represent; and, secondly, from the expression of the steward himself, who sought a secure maintenance only in case (ὅταν) he should lose his post, and who, it is true, foresees a displacement as being as good as certain, but yet ventures one more attempt to smooth over his accounts a little.
Luke 16:3. What shall I do?—Striking is the monologue in which the Saviour depicts to us the perplexity of the steward, especially striking, if we conceive these words as spoken in broken sentences—“What shall I do? for my lord takes away my stewardship from me:—I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.—Εὕρηκα—I know—I have discovered (ἔγνων) what I will do.” And what now does one expect of a man who is proposed for imitation with very particular reference to his prudence? he will seek a means either, if possible, to avert even yet the dreaded blow and to keep his place, or, in case he should not succeed in this, to provide for himself a comfortable old age.
Luke 16:4. They may receive me into their houses.—Not precisely into their families (Schultz), but yet οἶκος, regarded as the seat of the family-life into which he, out of thankfulness, hoped to be received. The whole monologue shows us the steward as a man of mature reflection. “For explanation these reflections are not intended, but for portrayal of the crisis.”
Luke 16:5. So he called.—Not (Brauns, a. o.) in the presence, but, of course, in the absence, of his exasperated lord; for the steward must certainly, if he were to give the required account, have time for it, and his lord has, therefore, gone away again. Neither can the speaking ἑαυτῷ, Luke 16:3, be easily explained otherwise than as taking place in solitude, and the phrase, Luke 16:5, καθίσας ταχέως γράψον, is plainly the language of a man who wishes to dispose of something quickly before his lord observes it. The opinion also that the steward makes up the fifty measures of oil and the twenty measures of wheat from his own means, is incompatible with his own assertion, Luke 16:3, that he must beg if he did not find a remedy. If the Saviour had here intended to depict a repentant Zaccheus, who with his dishonestly acquired treasures will even yet do some good (D. Schultz), he would without doubt have put in some way into the steward’s mouth an acknowledgment of his guilt.
How much owest thou?—We must conceive the matter thus: that he has all the farmers come at the same time to him, but that he talks with every one of them apart. His dealing with two of them is communicated, as an example, from which one can easily conclude how he dealt with the others also. He does not, as is commonly believed, have the farmers write a new bond with a smaller amount; this would have cost too long a detention, but simply set a smaller number instead of the former, either by the altering of a single letter in the old agreement, which the Hebrew numerals easily admit, or by the mere filling up of a new agreement already prepared. The numbers fifty and eighty, which he causes to be set down instead of the previous hundred, express the just amount which he had already given account of to his lord, and he gains by this alteration the advantage that the leases agree with the sums previously stated to his lord, who had never yet had a sight of the authentic papers. But the farmers, who, as they suppose, had been required to pay an exorbitant sum to the lord, can by this moderating of the price only feel themselves personally obliged to the steward, from whose hands this deduction is made to them, and who has perhaps represented this unexpected favor as a consequence of his intercession and of his influence with the lord of the manor.—One hundred baths.—The Hebrew בַּת is equivalent to the old μετρητής, the tenth part of a Homer; therefore for liquids, the same as the Ephah for dry substances.—A hundred Kor, the Hebrew כֹּו, according to Josephus, A. I. 15. 9, 2 =10 μέδιμνοι, about =15/16 of the Berlin bushel [11 1/9 English bush.]. See Winer, ad loc.
Luke 16:7. Write fourscore.—By the just-mentioned measure the steward has actually done all which in so critical a case could have been expected from a prudent man: for in the first place he makes good his former dishonesty, although only out of selfishness; in the second place, he makes it possible to give a correct account, so far as the leases are laid before the lord and compared with his ledger, and finally, in case the dreaded dismissal follows, nevertheless, he, by his kindness shown to the farmers, purchases for himself a comfortable maintenance for his old age. That he, after he had protected himself in this way, really remained in his office (Baumgarten-Crusius), the Saviour, it is true, does not say, but He is as far from saying also that he was actually removed (common view). This point, on the other hand, remains entirely conjectural, since it does not lie in the purpose of the Saviour to bring the narrative in and of itself to an end, but only to commend a very judicious course of reflection and mode of dealing, in a critical moment, for imitation in a certain respect.
Luke 16:8. And the lord commended the unjust steward.—It is, of course, understood that this lord was not the Lord Jesus (Erasmus), but the rich lord in the parable, who had soon learned in what way the οἰκονομος had helped himself out of the trouble. We have here to place ourselves entirely on the stand-point of worldly wisdom, and conceive the matter thus: that his lord does not commend the motive or the act of the steward in itself, but commends the cleverness of his Way of dealing, with which he had, while there was yet time, diverted from himself the threatening storm.—The unjust steward.—That this designation does not need absolutely to be brought into connection with his last-mentioned conduct, but may be referred as well to his earlier and now abandoned dishonesty, appears from similar usage. Matthew 26:6; comp. Luke 7:37.
For the children of this world.—There is as little room to doubt that the Saviour designs to have represented the οἰκονόμος as a child of the world, as that He means him for imitation merely and solely in respect of his prudence. The grounds of the here-mentioned phenomenon are plain enough to be seen, “because the means which prudence manages are worldly, and are, therefore, foreign to the aims of the children of light, and because prudence belongs to the understanding and the experience of the world, while the children of light live in the Spirit.” De Wette.—Εἰς τὴν γεν. ἑαυτ.—that is, when they come into contact with such as, like themselves, are children of the present world. The children of the world are, therefore, happily designated as γενεά a family of similar characters. In their mutual intercourse these are wont to go to work with as well-considered plans as the Unjust Steward, and in this respect commonly far surpass the children of light when these have intercourse with one another or with others. Children of light the disciples of the Saviour are named, being those that are enlightened with the light of truth, and are accustomed to walk therein. See John 12:35; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; Ephesians 5:8. As to the rest, the expression γενεὰ ἑαυτῶν is not to be referred to both-named classes of men (each in its own sphere), but exclusively to the υἱοὶ τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, in contrast with whom the Saviour, Luke 16:9, addresses His disciples.
Luke 16:9. And I say unto you.—It is well known into what perplexity this precept has brought early and later expositors,—a perplexity which went so far that some have ventured the bold critical conjecture of causing the Saviour, by the insertion of a single little word, οὐ, to say exactly the opposite. What, however, He means by the phrase: Make to yourselves friends, is, if we only recollect the conduct of the steward, intelligible enough. The steward had made the farmers subordinated to him, his friends; even so, the Saviour means, should one make those who need help his friends, by bestowing on them benefits with and out of the same money which is so often acquired in an unrighteous manner and applied to shameful purposes. It is entirely arbitrary and against the spirit of the parable to understand here (Ambrosius, Ewald, Meyer) angels, who receive the pious man into heaven. The Saviour, on the other hand, represents the matter thus: that those to whom benefits have been shown, precede their benefactors to heaven, welcome them there, and thus exalt their joy. That the form of this promise is borrowed from the expression of the steward, Luke 16:4, is, of course, obvious. By the everlasting tabernacles, we may understand either heaven, or also (Meyer), according to the analogy, Esther 2:11; Esther 2:11, the future Messianic kingdom, in which, however, we meet with the difficulty that then all the φίλοι whom one has gained with the mammon of unrighteousness are represented eo ipso as citizens of the Messianic kingdom. [Doubtless our Lord does not mean that any but such friends as do belong to His kingdom are to receive us into the eternal abodes.—C. C. S.] It is safest to understand, in general, a blessed locality where one can abide, in opposition to an earthly locality which one soon leaves.
Of the mammon of unrighteousness, ἐκ τοῦ μαμμ. τῆς .—’Εκ, the means by which one procures himself friends. Comp. Acts 1:18. The application of the Mammon must have the consequence indicated by Jesus. Respecting the Mammon, see Lange on Matthew 6:24.—Μαμ. τῆς .—Not because it is commonly acquired in an unlawful manner (Euthym. Zigab.), or because it is itself perishable and delusive (Kuinoel, Wieseler), or because the disciples of the Saviour were in an unrighteous degree very parsimonious therewith (Paulus); but in the same sense in which before an οἰκον. τῆς . Luke 16:8, was spoken of. The ἀδικία is the inherent character of the Mammon, which is here represented as a personal being, and called unrighteous because money, as with the Steward, commonly becomes the occasion and the means of an unrighteous course of conduct; “the ethical character of its use is represented as cleaving to itself.” Meyer.
When it fails.—Ὅταν ἐκλείπῃ, so we believe that we must read with Tischendorf, on the authority of A., B., X. The Recepta ἐκλίπητε has probably arisen from the fact that by the mention of the Everlasting Tabernacles it seemed almost a matter of course to take the verb in the plural and to understand it of departure from this earthly place of abode. Therefore, also, the translation: cum defeceritis, with the accompanying thought of dying. With the reading defended by us, the sense becomes much simpler, as the Saviour now speaks of the Mammon τῆς : cum Mammon defecerit, when the Mammon is exhausted. So did it fare with the Steward; so might it fare sooner or later with every one who places his confidence in his goods. We have, therefore, not to understand exactly the moment when Mammon leaves us in the lurch in death (Wieseler), but the day when it comes to an end, as with the Steward, Luke 16:4.
They may receive you, δέξωνται.—Not to be taken impersonally (Starke), or to be referred exclusively to God and Jesus (Schultz, Olshausen), and quite as little (Grotius) to be understood as if the φίλοι recipientes were here the means of effecting the reception into the σκηναὶ αἰώνιοι (efficiant, ut recipiamini), which would necessarily lead either to the doctrine of the meritoriousness of good works or of the intercession of the saints; but it is to be understood of a reception on the part of the friends acquired with our money, as joyful as that upon which the Unjust Steward in the parable had supposed himself entitled to reckon. These friends are conceived as already present in the everlasting σκηναί, and as there coming to meet their benefactors, as it were, at the entrance, with the purpose of admitting them into their future abode (εἰς). Σκηνάς, “sic appellantur propter securitatem, amœnitatem et contubernii tanquam hospitii communicati commoditatem. Non additur: s u a, ut, Luke 16:4, domus suas, quia tabernacula sunt Dei.” Bengel. Comp. John 14:2.
The expressions thus explained must, in conclusion, be briefly vindicated from two perverted interpretations. The first is the Pelagian, as if the Saviour had meant to say that one might by beneficence, from whatever motives, buy himself a place in heaven, and that, therefore, those on whom benefits had been bestowed opened to their benefactors the everlasting tabernacles. For with the unrighteous mammon one may indeed make himself friends, yet these friends only receive their benefactors; they can assure them no place in the everlasting abodes, and to give even this reception they have no right in themselves, but only according to God’s will, if their benefactors have entered the way of faith and conversion, and this faith has borne fruits of love. [If Christ Himself could give no place of honor in His kingdom, except according to His Father’s will, much less may the saints assign any place whatever therein, except as God may will. Nevertheless, the truly beneficent use of wealth is a powerful means of grace, and so of salvation; and this our Saviour doubtless means to teach.—C. C. S.] We find thus no other moral here than Matthew 25:34-40. And as respects the other interpretation, the Ebionitic coloring which has been found in this parable, the Tübingen school has, it is true, imagined itself to find in the μαμμωνᾶς τῆς a new proof for its darling theme, that the Gospel of Luke vindicates an Ebionitic contempt of riches and favoring of poverty (see Schwegler, l. c. ii. p. 59); but it strikes the eye at once that the Saviour so designates not the use and possession of earthly good in itself, as the source of unrighteousness, but only its prevalent misuse. If an Ebionitic spirit had here prevailed, we doubt very much whether Luke would have put in the Saviour’s mouth an admonition also to faithful administration of earthly treasures, and the assurance that this stands in connection with the eternal destiny of men. Had the Saviour really thought that earthly good, in and of itself, is something to be reprobated, He would at all events have withheld the admonition, Luke 16:9. Among the weapons which an impartial criticism has to avail itself of for the controverting of the Ebionitic interpretation of Luke 16:19-31, Luke 16:1-9 certainly do not occupy the least important place.
As respects, moreover, our interpretation of the parable itself, it offers, as we think, undeniable advantages;—it removes many otherwise obvious difficulties. In the first place, it sees in the Steward even greater prudence than those who assume that he sought nothing more than to secure betimes a good support; according to us, his piece hit the mark on two sides. Secondly, on this interpretation, the Saviour’s address is far more adapted for the two classes of His hearers; for the publicans now hear the making good of previous dishonesty commended as a work of true wisdom and prudence, while the avaricious Pharisees are shamed by the portraiture of a man who, although in no respect holy, yet stands far above them. In the third place, the objection is thus immediately set aside, which even the emperor Julian and others afterwards have, on the strength of this teaching, brought up against the character of our Lord, as if Christ had, at least to a certain extent, advocated the Jesuitical principle, that the end sanctifies the means. For although it is a thousand times repeated, that it is not the measure taken by the Steward in itself, but only his prudence in laying hold of a measure (in itself evil), which is proposed to the children of light for imitation, yet even in this there will something offensive remain as long as (common view) it is asserted that the Steward made good his former dishonesty by a new trick, and not (as we believe) by the compensation of the damage. How would it then be explicable, that even the Pharisees find in this no occasion for a new imputation? But if we assume, on the other hand, that the Steward out of self-interest abandoned his former crooked ways, we must, it is true, suppose that he acted only as a genuine child of the world (for of self-humiliation or confession of sin we read nothing); but then we can at all events comprehend that not only from his craftiness, but also from his mode of dealing itself, a weighty lesson was to be deduced for the publicans; for in how many respects could the Steward thus serve them as an example, by that which he had done from a purely worldly point of view! Finally, we learn on only this interpretation to understand the full force of the declarations, Luke 16:10-13.
Luke 16:10. He that is faithful in the least.—It is as if the Saviour foresaw the objection, that He put too high a value on the faithful application and administration of so worthless and superficial a good as earthly good. To cut off this objection, He adduces a general principle, which He in the following verse immediately applies. It is impossible at the same time to be really faithful in the greater things, and to be unfaithful in the lesser things. For true faithfulness has its ground not in the greatness of the matter in which it is displayed, but in the conscientious feeling of duty of him that exercises it. He therefore that lacks it in the lesser, will not show it even in weightier relations; he to whom it is really a pleasure to be faithful, such an one will account nothing, whether great or small, trifling or unworthy of his attention. Comp. Sirach 5:18. “All faithfulness in great things, without being accompanied with faithfulness in lesser things, is only a semblance; all micrology, which in straining at gnats can swallow camels; such is indeed no true heart-faithfulness. Consequently also the reverse: whoever will abide or become faithful in that which is great, let him be so principally and continually in the little circumstances which continually come up in the details that are everywhere occurrent; here is an indissoluble connection.” Stier.
Luke 16:11. If therefore ye.—What the faithfulness is which the Saviour in the application of the ἄδικος μαμμωνᾶς requires (see Luke 16:9), has appeared from the parable itself. It is exhibited when one, obedient to the precept of our Lord, makes friends with it, who receive us into the everlasting tabernacles. If His disciples were wanting in this faithfulness, if they were, in other words, like the Unjust Steward in his former dishonest course, but not in the prudence with which he, while there was yet time, made good again the evil he had committed, who should entrust to them the higher good, the true good? Τὸ is here a general designation of the benefits of the Spirit of truth and light, which in the Messianic kingdom are attainable for every one; benefits whose administration was first of all entrusted to the apostles, but then also to every believer in his sphere. They are called here by antithesis the true, because they are not, like the Unrighteous Mammon, untrustworthy and deceitful, but fully deserve the name of genuine and true good, whereby the highest ideal is realized. Comp. John 1:9; Hebrews 9:24.
Luke 16:12. And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s.—A repetition of the same thought, only in another form. The Mammon is here called the ἀλλότριον, since it is not the property of man, who can only be the οἰκονόμος of earthly treasures, but belongs to the paramount owner, who can at any moment demand it back. Money, as such, has then only a relative worth, and the ἀλλότριον is entirely equivalent to the ἐλάχιστον, Luke 16:11. In opposition to this stand the spiritual benefits which the Saviour, with reference to His disciples, calls τὸ ὑμέτερον, because they, once attained through faith, are destined in time and eternity to constitute their inalienable property. “That which belongs to your true nature, which was your own originally (in the Creator’s purpose), and shall in the redemption again become yours.” Von Meyer. In this sense, the Mammon can never be called our property, because it with every generation changes owners, and often unexpectedly takes to itself wings.
Luke 16:13. No servant.—Comp. Matthew 6:24 and Lange, ad loc. A proverbial expression like this the Saviour could properly use repeatedly; and here also there is a psychological connection plain between this utterance and what precedes. Whoever was not faithful in the least, and did not apply the ἀλλότριον to the purpose stated in Luke 16:9, showed thereby that he was yet a wretched slave of Mammon, and by that very fact could not possibly be a servant of God, who will have us use money in His service, and thereby promote our reception into the everlasting tabernacles. It is precisely this service of Mammon which stands most in the way of its true use, that use which redounds to the glory of God. If perchance one of the Saviour’s hearers had inwardly thought that it was, for all this, possible to be in truth His disciple, even though one did not so literally follow His doctrine given in the foregoing parable, He here declares the union of that which is essentially incompatible to be impossible. It is obvious that the faithfulness praised in Luke 16:10-13, is at once the best manifestation of the prudence to which He, Luke 16:1-9, has admonished His hearers, and that therefore the whole instruction deserves the name of a well rounded whole.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. If the parable of the Unjust Steward, considered entirely by itself, has been a λίθος προσ κόμματος for many interpreters, it is rightly considered, taken in its true historical connection, as one of the most striking examples of the elevated didactic wisdom of our Lord. This appears particularly if we consider that this instruction also was given in the presence of Judas, who carried the purse, and for whom in particular the admonition ἐν was of high importance. Indirect, yet intelligible enough, are the threatening and warning which he here hears, that persistence in the way of dishonesty must end with the utter loss of the apostleship, nay of his own soul. At the same time it deserves consideration, how remarkably adapted this whole delineation was for the case of the publicans and sinners, whom the Saviour had by the three previous parables been encouraging, and whom He now by this wished to lead to sanctification. Where He takes them under His protection, He is gentle in His consolations, but where He admonishes them, strict in His requirements. He shows, as it were, to the lost but now recovered sons of the house, how the father, it is true, at their return gives a feast, but how they now also, after having been refreshed and strengthened at the table, must return to an immediate and faithful fulfilment of the obligations imposed upon them. If they formerly had been only hirelings of the Romans, the Saviour will now have them consider themselves as stewards of God, to administer faithfully in their earthly treasure, His property. That He places before them an unrighteous steward as a model for imitation, can, after all that we have said, appear a matter of offence only if we, in opposition to the Saviour’s intention, press the comparison beyond the tertium comparationis. The parable is in this respect entirely equivalent to that of the Importunate Friend, Luke 11:5, and that of the Unjust Judge, Luke 18:1, and this also belongs to the Singularia Lucœ, that with Him alone a triad of parables appears, in which the cum grano salis more than elsewhere must be kept in mind, if one will not fall into absurdity.
2. The penetrating light which illumines the darkness of the whole parable, is to be found in the remark, Luke 16:8 : “The children of this world,” &c. It is visibly the Saviour’s intention that His disciples shall learn something of the children of the world, which for the most part is altogether too much lacking to them; and in fact this parable affords rich matter for antitheses which are very shaming for the children of light. The Steward, type of a genuine child of the world, does not for an instant conceal from himself the greatness of the danger threatening him. Without delay he thinks upon means and ways to assure to himself his future lot. The means that appear unsuitable he rejects, in order at once to consider better ones. He is inventive, and knows with great distinctness what he desires, namely, to gain his daily support in an easy and secure way. He does not stop with projects and plans, but all that he has resolved he carries out upon the spot, and chooses, in speaking and dealing, the form which promises the richest fruits for his own advantage. He so disposes himself that he in any case will be protected, whether he remain yet longer steward or not. What a distinction between the sluggishness, irresolution, want of tact, &c., shown by so many better-minded persons, who have infinitely higher interests to lay to heart! However, it scarcely needs an explanation that the Saviour here speaks of children of light, not in the ideal but in the empirical sense, and that the censure herein indirectly expressed, is applicable, as a rule, more to His incipient, than to His established, disciples.
3. It is a striking proof of the practical tendency of the Evangelical morality, that the Saviour has regarded the use and possession of earthly riches as a subject of sufficient weight to be particularly handled by Him in a triad of parables (Luke 12:15-21; Luke 16:1-9; Luke 16:19-31), not to reckon in a number of hints upon this, occurring here and there in His discourses. So much immediately appears from the comparison of the different passages: the Saviour does not disapprove the possession of wealth in itself, and is far from the one-sided spiritualism which denies the temporal, as such, almost any worth. But earnestly does He warn, and repeatedly does He draw attention to the truth, how greatly covetousness, no less than ambition and sensuality, renders difficult and hinders entrance into the kingdom of God. He does not repel the rich from Him, any more than He pronounces the poor blessed for the sake of their poverty, but only insists that earthly good, in comparison with something higher and better, should be viewed as the ἐλάχιστον and ἀλλότριον. Compare the beautiful homily of Basil, contra ditescentes. As to the rest, it is not capable of proof that in the apostolic writings, e.g. 1 Timothy 6:0., James 5:0., and elsewhere, we find a view of earthly riches different from that in the teachings of the Saviour Himself.
4. The purity of the faithfulness which the Saviour demands of His disciples is not in the least injured by the fact that He points them to the reward which is connected with the exercise of general philanthropy. The gospel is as far from favoring an impure craving for reward, as from the perhaps very philosophical, but certainly very unpsychological, hypothesis, that man must practise virtue purely for virtue’s sake. Only as a stimulus, not as a motive of action, does He propose that which love may hope as a gracious recompense in the future life, and thus the prospect which He here opens to the penitent publicans, is essentially no other than that which He, e.g., Matthew 10:41-42, held up before His faithful apostles. Besides this, there exists also a natural connection between love and blessedness in the future world, which must by no means be overlooked. The thought of the eternal love of heavenly spirits, into whose fellowship we hope to enter, has also more attractions for the loving than for the selfish heart; and whoever really makes himself friends of the Unrighteous Mammon, shows thereby that he finds his highest joy, not in the attainment of selfish purposes, but in the happiness of others. Taking all this together, we should hardly be able to contradict Luther when he says on the following parable: “It is not works that win to us Heaven, but Christ bestows eternal blessedness out of grace, on those who believe and have proved their faith in works of love and right use of earthly good; since now all this is not the case with the rich man, faith was lacking to him, and the whole parable, Luke 16:19-31, is therefore directed against unbelief, in order to warn against it by its terrible consequences.” Here also the saying of the old father holds good: Amicœ sunt scripturarum lites, and the evangelical doctrines of grace and of reward contradict one another in no respect. It was, therefore, a miserable error, when they would in any way draw from this parable the conclusion, that one need only apply property gained in an unrighteous manner to beneficent and pious purposes, in order thereby to see one’s guilt removed, and that one, by a pious foundation at the approach of death, could buy his salvation. Upon this error, which crept very early into the Christian Church, there deserves to be compared August. Hom. 113, Opera v. pp. 396–398.
5. Upon nothing does the Saviour insist with more right, than unity and harmony in the inner life of His people. True prudence is inconceivable, if genuine faithfulness is lacking, but on the other hand genuine faithfulness is also inconceivable, if inward discord and division yet dwell in the soul. If the will of two masters is hostile to one another, obedience to one must necessarily lead to unfaithfulness towards the other. To Mammon also the admonition of the Apostle is especially applicable, 1 John 5:21. When he who should serve rules, he who should command soon becomes a slave. There is scarcely a sin which so shrewdly and obstinately disputes with God the first place in the heart, as love to temporal good. Comp. the admirable discourse of Adolph Monod, L’ami de l’argent, found in the second part of his “Sermons.”
6. Whoever has comprehended in its whole depth the requirement of faithfulness in that which is least, which the Saviour places first with so much emphasis, has at the same time comprehended the hard and easy side of the Christian life, the simplicity and the infiniteness of the requirement of Christian perfection. The requirement of faithfulness in that which is least, is essentially no other than the requirement to be perfect with the Lord our God. Deuteronomy 18:13; Psalms 51:6.
7. The right use of earthly treasures, as it is here commanded, leads of itself to the Christian communism, whose ideal we see realized most beautifully in the first Christian church, Acts 5:4; Acts 5:4. The distinction between this free manifestation of benevolence and the communistic fantasies of our century, is as great as that between selfishness and love.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
God, the Paramount Owner even of earthly treasure.—Man is called on earth to be the steward of God. As such he is: 1. Placed in a dependent position; 2. pledged to conscientious faithfulness; 3. to the rendering of a complete account.—“Give account of thy stewardship” (very excellent text for a sermon at the close of the year): 1. Account of the blessings received, children of prosperity! 2. account of the fruit of trial, members of the school of suffering ! 3. account of the time measured out to you, sons of mortality! 4. account of the message of salvation received, ye that are shined upon by that light which is most cheering!—Against God’s stewards on earth there are severe accusations preferred, and He who hears them all, will examine them all carefully to the very last one.—Life, a time of grace which precedes the day of reckoning: it Isaiah , 1. Short; 2. uncertain; 3. decisive.—“What shall I do?” the question: 1. Of painful uncertainty; 2. of well-considered reflection.—He who cannot dig, must not be ashamed to appear as a beggar before God.—“How much owest thou to my lord?” a fitting question also for the minister of the word to address to every member of his congregation individually.—“If the falsifying of human bonds is evil, how much more the presumptuous falsifying of God’s written word!”—Not all have an equally great debt to account for to the heavenly Owner.—Prudent people are praised by their like.—Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.—The phenomenon that the children of the world not seldom excel the children of light in prudence: 1. A continually recurring; 2. a seemingly surprising; 3. a fully explicable; 4. a justly shaming; 5. a powerfully awakening, phenomenon.—What the Christian can learn from the child of the world; compare: 1. The carefulness of the child of the world over against the carelessness of the children of light: “What shall I do?” 2. the clear recognizing of danger by the one, over against the self-deceiving of the others: “My lord taketh away the stewardship from me;” 3. the inventiveness in the choice of remedies with the one over against the spiritual sluggishness of the others; 4. the resoluteness and versatility of the Steward over against the continual loitering and procrastination of so many Christians.—“The children of this world are wiser,” &c.: 1. This is Song of Song of Solomon 2:0. but it must be made different.—Earthly treasure, well applied, is a means to heighten the joy of heaven.—With gold we can buy no place in heaven, but we may prepare ourselves a good reception in the heaven already open to faith.—Even when earthly treasure fails, the rents of it may be saved.—Faithfulness in that which is great and in that which is small inseparably coupled.—The infinite excellence of heavenly treasure above earthly: 1. The earthly small, the heavenly great; 2. the earthly illusive, the heavenly genuine; 3. the earthly another man’s capital, the heavenly an inalienable property of the disciples of the Lord.—Faithfulness in the earthly and zeal for the heavenly calling most intimately united in the Christian.—The indispensable necessity of unity in principle and action.—“How long halt ye between two opinions?” 1 Kings 18:21.—The intimate connection of the various requirements of the Lord: 1. No true prudence without faithfulness; 2. no faithfulness without steadfastness in resolve; 3. no steadfastness in resolve without sacrifice; 4. no sacrifice without rich compensation.
Starke:—Quesnel:—If we do not apply the gifts of God to His honor, to our neighbor’s good, and to our own necessity, this is the same as to destroy and dissipate them.—Brentius:—The heathen held it unjust to condemn any one when his cause was unheard; much less should that be done in Christendom.—J. Hall:—Let no one deal with entrusted goods as his own property.—The great day of reckoning and examination impends over every one, 2 Corinthians 5:10.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—Upon unfaith fulness there follows inevitable punishment, deposition, and condemnation.—Laziness and pride are the two evil sources of the so-common craftiness.—One is oft ashamed when he should not be ashamed and on the other hand, he is often not ashamed, when he ought to be ashamed before God.—There is a sad fact even in the Christian world,—the most of worldly people are wise enough to do evil, but how to do good they will not learn.—For ungodly men it is not enough that they sin for themselves, but they draw others also into their sinful net.—What one owes the lord belongs not to the servant.—Canstein:—It would not be easy for one child of the world to ask any evil of another, that the latter would not be ready to do.—One may praise even in a bad man what is good in him.—Brentius:—A broad fertile intelligence is a precious gift of God, and so far laudable.—Zeisius;—Be wise to that which is good, and simple concerning evil, Romans 16:19; 1 Corinthians 14:20.—The children of light have indeed the light in them, but they have also their natural darkness, which makes them slothful.—J. Hall:—Whoever does good soweth to the Spirit, Galatians 6:8.—Canstein:—Whoever will do good, must do it especially to those who will come into the eternal tabernacles, and are therefore true members of Christ.—Let no one say: I can do with mine what I will, 1 Corinthians 4:7—God all or nothing.
Heubner:—The man who does wrong has always his accuser before God.—Without religion, riches are a very ruinous instrument.—Three things make death frightful to the earthly-minded: their evil conscience, the Divine judgment, and the loss of everything earthly.—Earnest consideration always finds a way.—Heavenly blessedness is the true, the eternal property.
The Pericope.—Heubner:—The Christian order of salvation: 1. Repentance for our stewardship (Luke 16:1-3); 2. belief in God’s judgment (Luke 16:3-4); 3. sanctification—holy use of all (Luke 16:5-9).—The earnest reminders which Christianity gives the rich man.—The threefold prudence: 1. Of the lord of the manor; 2. of the steward; 3. of the Christian.—The obscurities or apparent difficulties in the parable of the Unjust Steward.—Lisco:—Of the prudence of the citizens of the kingdom.—Arndt:—Wisdom unto the kingdom of God.—Zimmermann:—The children of the world, our teachers in this, that they: 1. Consider the future; 2. use the past; 3. control the present.—The Christian a servant of God, a lord over Mammon.—F. W. Krummacher:—A sermon in the Sabbath-Glocke, 1. pp. 140–151.—Ahlfeld:—1. What in the Unjust Steward have we to shun? 2. what to learn from him?—Couard:—What belongs to Christian prudence, in the care for our everlasting salvation?—Rautenberg:—How do we secure to ourselves a reception into the everlasting tabernacles?—Tholuck:—What is true of a faithful steward?—Wolf:—The Unjust Steward about to pass the border of his earthly fortune.—Our refuge when we fail.—Steinhofer:—The connection of prudence and faithfulness In a steward of God; there is a character: 1. Where there is neither prudence nor faithfulness; 2. where there is prudence without faithfulness; 3. where there is faithfulness without prudence; 4. where prudence and faithfulness are united.—Burk:—The great faithfulness of God, even with man’s great unfaithfulness.—Florey:—The prudence of the steward in the kingdom of God, Luke 16:8.
Luke 16:1; Luke 16:1.—On the authority of B., D., [CoφThis is sod. Sin.,] L., αὐτοῦ should be expunged.
Luke 16:7; Luke 16:7.—The καί of the Recepta should be omitted, as by Tischendorf.
[Luke 16:8.—The article before κύριος having its continually recurring possessive sense.—C. C. S.]
Luke 16:9; Luke 16:9.—See Exegetical and Critical remarks.
5. The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:14-31)
14And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided 15[ἐξεμυκτήριζον] him. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed 16[lofty, ὑψηλόν] among men is abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth5 into it. 17And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass [away], than [for] one tittle of the law to fail [fall]. 18Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever [he that6] marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
19There was a certain rich man, which was clothed [and he was wont to array himself] in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which7 was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover [nay, even] thedogs came and licked his sores. 22And 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 buried23[entombed]; And in hell [hades] he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24And 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. 25But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is [here8] comforted, and thou art tormented. 26And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf [chasm] fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went 31[should go] unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded [or, won over, V. O.], though one rose from the dead.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Luke 16:14.Derided Him, ἐξεμυκτήριζον [lit., turned up the nose at], 2 Samuel 19:21; Psalms 2:4. An unequivocal, and at the same time hateful, token of deep contempt, whose cause is easy to give, especially in this case. The rich Pharisees looked down on the poor Nazarene with contempt, as if they would say: “You have spoken very trippingly about the use or misuse of riches, but we have no mind whatever to trouble ourselves about your counsel.” The answer of the Saviour, Luke 16:15, gives us to see how He views this hypocritical pride as the deepest source of this contempt.
Luke 16:15.Ye are they.—An expression almost like the well-known one of the prophet Nathan, 2 Samuel 12:7 : “Thou art the man!”—Justify yourselves.—Comp. Luke 11:39 seq. and Luke 18:10, where the image of a Pharisee is delineated who will justify himself even in the eyes of God.—But God knoweth your hearts.—Comp. 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalms 7:10.
For what is lofty.—The Saviour, of course, speaks not of that which actually in a moral respect stands high and may stand high, but only that which in men’s eyes is prominent above other things, of which is high κατ’ ὄψιν.—Βδέλυγμα, in general, a thing which in the eyes of the holy God is abhorrent and damnable; in a special sense, also, impurity, which was often connected with idolatry; therefore τό βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως, Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14, and the union of βδέλυγμα and ψεῦδος, Revelation 21:27. Here the word is chosen with the more striking force, because the Pharisees considered themselves as very especial favorites of God.
Luke 16:16. The law and the prophets.—Even from old time the expositors of Luke 16:16-18 have been divided into two classes. Some give up all connection; so, e.g., De Wette: “Luke 16:16-18 stand isolated; every attempt made to demonstrate a connection has been a failure.” Among the Dutch theologians, Van Der Palm believed that Luke, before beginning on a new page a new parable, in order to make use of the yet vacant space of his almost fully occupied former leaf, noted down some disconnected sayings of the Lord, without any historical connection. Others, on the other hand, have, with more or less success, sought to state the connection, as well of these sayings with the rebuke in Luke 16:15, as also with the parable, Luke 16:19-31. According to Stier, e.g., “All the single sayings fit exactly into most intimate unity.” According to Meyer, the actual centre of gravity falls upon Luke 16:17, while Luke 16:16 is merely introductory, and Luke 16:18 is an example which is intended to explain more particularly the previous declaration of the continuing validity of the law. According to Lange, L. J., iii. p. 464, the Saviour will give the Pharisees to feel that their time is over, and that without their own notice a new period has dawned. The whole exposition of the latter deserves to be compared in its connection. Even the very great diversity of these attempts proves how difficult the question itself is. We, for our part, are acquainted with no statement of the course of thought of these three verses, whose simplicity and naturalness satisfy us in every respect, and we therefore regard it as easier to explain each of these three verses for itself than to state in a satisfactory manner how they are connected with one another, and why the Saviour on this occasion held up precisely these recollections before the avaricious Pharisees.
Were until John.—Not ἧσαν is to be supplied (Ewald, De Wette), but ἐκηρύσσοντο, or something of the kind. In any case, the Saviour will intimate, not that the Old Testament Dispensation was now abrogated (Olshausen), but that the Old Testament up to John constitutes a whole fully complete within itself, which, as the period of preparation, now gives place to the word of fulfilment—the preaching of the kingdom of God.
And every man presseth into it, or, Every man useth violence against it.—Comp. Matthew 11:12-13. We cannot agree with the common view that here the impulse of enthusiastic interest and the impetuous longing to press into the kingdom of God is indicated. The connection, Luke 16:14-15, appears to lead us rather to the thought that it is here a hostile assault that is spoken of, in which the inward malice of the heart reveals itself. In view of the augmenting opposition which the Saviour found in Israel, He could hardly have meant to say that so general an eagerness for entrance into His kingdom existed. But especially does the necessity of an explanation in an unfavorable sense strike the mind when we compare the parallel passage in Matthew in its whole connection. The βιασταί, the powerful of the earth, were in Jesus’ days, at all events, not in fact very much devoted to the cause of the kingdom of God, comp. Matthew 11:16-19; Luke 7:29-30, and what ground could the Saviour have had to speak here of an impulse of heart on the part of many, which, at all events, was wanting to the Pharisees? By our explanation, on the other hand, it is, perhaps, possible to show some connection with Luke 16:14. The Saviour will then say: How hostilely soever ye are disposed towards a kingdom of God, which (Luke 16:16) was announced by the law and the prophets, yet the law’s demands and threatenings hold continually good (Luke 16:17) in undiminished force (an example, Luke 16:18), and ye will, therefore, not escape the judgment of the God who knows your hearts, Luke 16:15. [I cannot accede to the author’s view of this passage In the first place, his arguments drawn from the connection do not appear to have great weight, for the original connection is evidently that given in the parallel passage, Matthew 11:12. Then his identification of the βιασταί in Matthew 11:12 with the powerful of the earth, who were opposed to Christ, is quite gratuitous. Persecution against the kingdom of God, to any considerable extent, between the first preaching of John and the period here mentioned, there had not been; while there had been from that period on, a widespread and enthusiastic pressing forward to hear the preaching concerning the kingdom of God, and, on the part of many, a pressing into it. The “every man” of Luke, besides that it is hardly so exact as the terms used by Matthew, need no more be taken with absolute literalness than Paul’s mention of the Gospel as being preached “to every creature under heaven.” Besides, the whole complexion of both passages shows that, although our Lord, as Alford remarks, here contrasts the actual existence of the kingdom of heaven, as a present and powerful fact, with the bare prophesying of it by John and the prophets, yet He is aware how much that is ill-considered and external there is in this present enthusiasm. Nor do I see any reason why the Presents ἁρπάζουσιν and βιάζεται, in Matthew and Luke, may not have the tentative sense so frequently found in the Present and Imperfect, and be nearly equivalent to “essay to press into it,” or “with vehement exertion to appropriate it,” with the implication that the future will show how far this eagerness will accomplish its end.—C. C. S.]
Luke 16:17. And it is easier.—Comp. Matthew 5:18-20, and Lange, ad loc. The Saviour, it is true, teaches here no external validity of the law; for, according to his own teaching, heaven and earth will one day pass away, Matthew 24:35, but till the dawn of the new economy the moral obligation of the law remains in inviolable force. “In the world of perfection there is no longer need of a law, since every one purposes the right to himself. As, therefore, for God there is no law, so is there also for the perfected world no law. For, like God, so is also this a law unto itself.”
Luke 16:18. Whosoever putteth away his wife.—According to the most, a special example by which the principle expressed in Luke 16:17 is further established. The singularity of this example misled Olshausen to the curious view that here we have to understand spiritual idolatry of the Pharisees, who honored Mammon more than Jehovah, and has brought Stier to the conjecture that here there is an indirect allusion to the scandal which Herod had given, Mark 6:18. Possibly it is true, but, in our apprehension at least, not probable. Is it not much simpler to assume that Luke, who nowhere else in his gospel has a place to take in the doctrine of the Saviour respecting the inviolableness of marriage (comp. Matthew 19:3-12), here, on the mention of the inviolableness of the law, without observing the original historical connection, adds the statement of a particular from which it may appear how strictly the Saviour regarded its moral precepts? In a more complete form we find this precept respecting marriage and divorce noted down, Matthew 5:31-32. But if our Lord really uttered this the second time on this occasion, we may then confidently suppose that He paused in His discourse a moment or so before He proceeded to deliver the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man.
General Remarks on the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.—Manifestly this parable was uttered by reason of that which took place Luke 16:14-15, with a look at the Pharisees. It stands in this place very congruously, for it has the unmistakable purpose of teaching these people to see of how little value it is to show one’s self pious before men when one is reprobate before God; to give them to feel the baseness of an unloving temper, of which they had already made themselves guilty in their judgment of the publicans, Luke 15:2; but especially to draw their attention to the terrible consequences of the misuse of earthly good, to which their hearts clave so closely. The intention of the parable, therefore, is not to give a special instruction about future retribution—although we thankfully accept the rays of light that fall upon this also, yet it is immediately obvious that the whole parable is veiled in the costume of the Jewish eschatology—but to proclaim the great truth, that if one neglects the application of wealth to beneficent purposes, this becomes the source of eternal calamity. So far, this parable is the obverse of the foregoing, and stands in a natural connection with it. Whoever, like the Steward, makes himself friends of the unrighteous Mammon, is received into the eternal tabernacles; whoever, out of pride and selfishness, does not expend his treasure to this end, is appointed to everlasting torment!
In particular, the first part of the parable, Luke 16:19-26, has this definite purpose, while Luke 16:27-31 must be regarded more as an appendix, which in a parabolical form occupies the place of an application of the whole delineation. In this representation, also, some (De Wette, Strauss, the Tübingen school) have been disposed to see a proof that the Saviour found in earthly riches something to be reprobated, and in poverty itself something meritorious, and have appealed for the truth of this to the fact that here there is no more mention of the moral demerit of the rich man than of the piety of the poor man, and that Abraham only refers to the different lot of the two here below (Luke 16:25), which is now reversed. Yet the onesidedness and superficiality of this inference is obvious of itself. Faults of the rich man in act, definite examples of his want of love, it is true, do not appear in the parable; yet from this very fact appears the beauty of the representation, the deep earnestness of the moral: not the good which the rich man does, but the good which he omits, is sufficient to condemn him before God. Could the Saviour make His teaching, Luke 16:9, more impressive than by a representation which shows how a man who omitted this, and gave ear not to love but to selfishness, became everlastingly unhappy? In order to be banished into eternal torment, it was not even necessary that one should have maltreated a poor Lazarus upon earth; even those who allowed him to pine helplessly away and left him to the care of the dogs would have to give a heavy reckoning of it! Just such an apparently blameless gormandizer was the one to be held up as a mirror to the Pharisees who appeared pious before men; in the rich man too there was nothing, so the common opinion was, to blame, and yet—he came to the place of torment. Besides, there are not wanting indirect proofs of the moral condemnableness of the rich man; in Gehenna he still desires bodily refreshment; he repeatedly imagines himself capable of directing Lazarus, as if the latter were in his service; nay, in the entreaty that one might go from the dead to his brothers (Luke 16:30), there is implied the indirect confession that he himself had not been converted. As respects Lazarus now, he is in this delineation not the chief but a subordinate character, who appears more as suffering than as acting. But hardly would the Saviour have represented him as carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom if he could have shown to his ancestor no other letter of recommendation than his former poverty. And have we here liberty so entirely to overlook the high significance which is implied in his humble silence?
It is, finally, entirely unnecessary, with some expositors, to assume that the Saviour here wished to give a true history of a living or deceased man. Even if it is true, according to tradition, that at that time there had been a well-known beggar at Jerusalem who bore the name of Lazarus, yet it is entirely accidental that the poor man in the parable had the same name with him. The conjecture, indeed, is obvious that the Saviour in naming him so was thinking especially of His but just deceased friend at Bethany, whither His own journey was now directed; but this does not admit of proof. But least of all have we here to find allusion to Annas, with his five sons and his son-in-law, Caiaphas, whose Sadducean frivolity the Saviour in such a way is supposed to have held up to view. Such a thing, certainly, was not according to His spirit, and might also have had the appearance of a personal feud. Had this set at that moment risen before the Saviour’s mind, He would, perhaps, have chosen other numbers, in order to avoid even the appearance of so unseemly an allusion. But that here something higher than an isolated historical truth, that the highest ideal really lies at the basis of this whole parabolic discourse, we hope we need not now for the first time remind our readers.
Luke 16:19. A certain rich man.—The omission of the name is no sign of reprobacy (Euthym. Zigab. and others), but a means of generalizing the representation. That the Saviour undertook to draw from life one of Sadducean sentiments is entirely without proof. “Nullum adest vestigium vel mentio transitus ullius a Pharisœis ad Sadducœos,” says Bengel with justice; and it can scarcely be doubted that among the Pharisees also there were not a few to whom the description of the rich man’s sumptuous manner of life was fully applicable, comp. Psalms 73:4-9. As entirely without proof is it that our Lord had the history of historical characters of earlier times, Saul, Laban, or others, in mind.—In purple and fine linen.—The first the designation of the Syrian upper garments; the other of the Egyptian upper garments. Fine linen, byssus, an Egyptian linen that was sold for twice its weight in gold, mentioned also in Revelation 18:12, in association with silk, comp. Pliny, H. iv. 19, 1, and many other passages gathered by Wetstein, ad loc. That the rich man was accordingly clothed above his position (Starke), we do not for this reason alone need to assume. But that under the byssus garment no heart full of love and sympathy beat, appears sufficiently from the sequel of the parable.
Luke 16:20. Named Lazarus.—Perhaps a symbolical name, לֹא עֵזֶר, the Helpless, Forsaken (Olshausen, Baumgarten, Cramer, Lange). According to Lightfoot and Meyer, a contracted name, which denotes Deus auxilium (Eleazar, Godhelp). If we assume that the Saviour was in His thoughts with the dying friend at Bethany (see above), then the giving of the name is sufficiently explained. In no event is there here (De Wette) a traditional confusion with John 11:0.
Laid at his gate, ἐβέβλητο.—He had been laid there by others, who either wished to rid themselves of him, or to secure to him what fell from the rich man’s table (Stier, Meyer), and he remained lying there helpless, as if for a daily silent reproach to the unloving temper of the rich man.—Full of sores (entirely covered therewith, ἡλκωμένος)—Desiring to be fed.—Comp. Matthew 15:27. Whether this wish was fulfilled or not the Saviour does not directly say; yet quite early the gloss crept into the text, καὶ οὐδεὶς ἐδίδου αὐτῷ, See the Vulgate and Luke 15:16. Critically untenable, yet as an explanation correct, so far as this, that the wish of Lazarus, as a rule, was not fulfilled, as appears from what follows.
Luke 16:21.Nay, even the dogs came and licked his sores.—The enigmatical ἀλλὰ καὶ οἱ κ. appears to be best understood in such a sense that thereby not a diminution but an augmentation of his misery is stated. That the poor man got no crumbs at all from the rich man’s table, the parable, it is true, does not say; how could he indeed have then remained lying at the gate without famishing? But although he now and then got only the crumbs and scarcely the crumbs, he yet saw even this meagre fare partially disputed him by the dogs. Understand masterless dogs which ran around on the streets of the capital [as everywhere in Western Asia, comp. Psalms 59:6.—C. C. S.], and allured by so rich a fall of crumbs as that from the table of the rich man, now robbed even the poor beggar of a part of that which perhaps had now and then fallen to his share. [The crumbs are, of course, not the trifling fragments which would fall from one of our tables, but the soft part of the thin cakes of bread in use in the East, which the wealthy, it appears, are sometimes accustomed to wipe their fingers with, and throw it under the table, themselves eating only the crust—C. C. S.] These wild and unclean brutes, moreover, licked his sores, and thereby increased the pain of the helpless Lazarus. To describe his suffering as mitigated through the compassion of the brutes, would be directly opposite to the intention of our Lord. The antithesis of ἀλλά and ἐπιθυμῶν gives us occasion here to suppose a climax in the mournful scene, rather than an anti-climax. Neither is the suffering of the rich man in Sheol mitigated by anything; and even though we assume that it was the Saviour’s intention to oppose the compassion of the brutes for the fate of Lazarus to that of the rich man, a sympathy of this kind, if it stopped there, must have heightened his misery the more. Comp. Meyer, ad loc. [It is undoubtedly true that the mention of the dogs licking the sores of Lazarus is meant to heighten our conception of his misery. There are two ways now of heightening this; one is to represent the dogs licking his sores as a new infliction, the other is to represent his misery as so great that the very dogs had pity on him. The latter, which is the common view, appears at once more forcible and more natural, to say nothing of its agreement with the effects of the touch of a dog’s tongue, whose grateful smoothness every one is acquainted with. The view of the author, therefore, though supported by Meyer, is justly rejected by Bleek, De Wette, and Alford.—C. C. S.]
Luke 16:22.And it came to pass.—With this transition the theatre of the history is at once transferred into another world. “En subita mutatio: qui modo non hominum tantum, sed et canum ludibrium fuerat, repente Angelorum ministerio honoratur.” Grotius.—Carried by the angels.—As, of course, is understood, as to his soul. That Lazarus is not buried at all, but carried, soul and body, into Abraham’s bosom, where he now lives again and is happy (Meyer), is an explanation incapable of proof. Respecting other Israelites, concerning whom it is said that they have come into Abraham’s bosom, no one doubts that nevertheless their bodies, as usual, were committed to the earth. Why then should it have been otherwise with Lazarus? No, his burial was (Euthymius) so mean, that in comparison with that of the rich man it deserves no mention, and the contrast lies rather in the honor that was shown to the two, to the rich man here, to the poor man yonder—to the rich man by pall-bearers, to the poor man by angels—to the rich man as to his body, to the poor man as to his soul.—Into Abraham’s bosom.—A metaphorical expression of the blessedness which immediately after death was prepared for pious Israelites in common with their blessed ancestor (John 8:56). In all probability the expression is synonymous with Paradise, Luke 23:43 (Light foot). In Sheol, the general appellation for the abode of departed spirits, the Jews, as is known, distinguish, on the one hand, a place of punishment, Gehenna; on the other hand, Paradise, for the pious. We have to understand the rich man as being in the former; Lazarus as being in the other. The two are so near one another that the inhabitants can see each other and hold converse. See De Wette, Bibl. Dogm. §§ 178–182.
Luke 16:28. And in Hades, ἐν τῷ ᾅδῃ.—General designation of the abode of departed spirits, while from the immediately following ἐν βασάνοις it appears that he found himself in that special place which is named the place of punishment, the γέεννα τ. πυρός. As this was conceived as being in the deepest part of Hades, one would have had to look up (Lange) in order to be able to discover the condition of the blessed. The rich man is now represented as awakening from a condition of momentary unconsciousness to full consciousness, and one of the objects which he first discovers in Abraham’s bosom (κόλποις, the customary plural of the Greeks also) is the familiar Lazarus reposing there.
Luke 16:24.Father Abraham.—He knows Abraham, therefore, and recognizes him as his ancestor; as Abraham also afterwards does not refuse to address him as τέκνον, without, however, this merely outward relationship availing him anything. He desires that Lazarus may be sent to him to cool with a single waterdrop his burning tongue. The gastronome feels him self now so severely punished, precisely in that part of his frame with which he had so long sinned, and desires only a brief refreshment, “perhaps only so slight a one because he had seen the man in the uncleanness of his sores” (Lange). It is noticeable that he still imagines himself able to direct Lazarus, whom he had all his life lightly esteemed. Even so does he afterwards despise Moses also (Luke 16:30). Only his external condition, what surrounds him, is altered, but not his individuality.
Luke 16:25. Son, remember.—It looks very much as if, according to Abraham’s declaration, Lazarus is only comforted for the reason that he has suffered on earth, and the rich man only tormented for the reason that he on earth had received only good. But in order to be fair, this answer must be complemented with all which the parable gives us on good grounds to conjecture of the moral condition of both, while at the same time the antithesis between τὰ and τὰ κακά without a pronoun, is not to be overlooked. What the rich man had enjoyed was really his good, had been in his eyes the highest good; the κακά, on the other hand, which came upon Lazarus, were not actually his, but as providences of God he had borne them with meekness.—Now he is here comforted.—The ὧδε received into the text strengthens the local character of the representation, but the νῦν by no means warrants us in assuming that it is not an irrevocable and final term that is spoken of (Stier). One may surely, in a place of torment, still have room for reflections, without, for that, a better future being disclosed along with this possibility. Or was, forsooth, the παράκλησις of Lazarus also merely something provisional ?
Luke 16:26. And besides all this.—Statement of the ground why it is literally impossible to him to fulfil the rich man’s wish, even if he desired it. Χάσμα, literally a cleft when “two places are so parted from one another by a torrent or fall of earth, that an unfathomable depth or immeasurable breadth is between,” 2 Samuel 18:17; Zechariah 14:4. The here-indicated thought of an irrevocable separation is in itself intelligible enough, but the form in which the Saviour here expresses it is entirely peculiar. The Greeks, it is true, know of a χάσμα in Tartarus; this; however, is not regarded as a space separating two regions; but the Rabbins speak only of a dividing wall between the two parte of Hades, or of an intervening space of an hand-breadth, nay, even only of a hair’s breadth. Then also the hope of, perhaps, even yet getting over this χάσμα is very much weakened by the statement of the particular purpose for which this cleft is established, namely, for the very purpose (ὅπως) of rendering the transition from one to the other side impossible. For the explanation of the imagery, compare the well-known passage of Virgil, Æneid, 6:126.:
“Facilis descensus Averni,
Noctes atque dies patet atri janua Ditis:
Sed revocare gradus, superasque evadere ad auras,
Hoc opus, hic labor est.”
Luke 16:27. I pray thee, therefore.—It appears almost as if the unhappy man sought some mitigation of this torment in continuing the conversation, although he could scarcely have hoped for the granting of his petition. For the second time he addresses himself to Abraham, that he may send Lazarus to his brethren. Perhaps he remembers that he by word and example had encouraged them in their sinful life, and feels himself, therefore, the more constrained to adventure an attempt for their delivery.—Ὅπως διαμαρτύρηται αὐτοῖς, here without definite object (otherwise, Acts 20:21, and elsewhere). Διαμαρτύρομαι. Wahl; per deum hominumque fidem testor vel affirmo; de adhortantibus: graviter moneo. An actual statement that sin is so terribly punished, he does not consider as any longer necessary for his brothers, but so much the more ardently does he long that by irrefragable testimony that may be confirmed to them, which they know indeed, but in their hearts do not believe.
Luke 16:29. They have Moses and the prophets.—This time the compassionate τέκνον is omitted, and the tone becomes sterner, in order in the last answer of Abraham, Luke 16:31, to pass over into a distinct and inexorable refusal. Moses and the prophets here appear as the summary of a Divine revelation of all that which was needful for Israel in order to find the way to life. To hear these means, of course, not simply to listen to them externally, but designates also at the same time an actual obedience and following of their precepts. That the Hagiographa are included in this mere summary of the Old Testament is, of course, understood.
Luke 16:30. Nay, Father Abraham.—The unhappy one now pretends to know his brothers better than Abraham himself, but acknowledges at the same time thereby that he had not repented, and therefore his condemnation was a righteous one.
Luke 16:31. If they hear not Moses and the prophets.—Comp. Isaiah 34:16; Isaiah 34:16; John 5:45. A reference to Elijah’s appearance (Baumgarten-Crusius) is by no means contained here. But the resurrection of Jesus, which was announced to the Jews without moving them to faith, may in a certain measure serve as an indirect confirmation of this declaration of our Lord. The enmity against Lazarus also, who had risen from the dead, John 12:10, although he, it is true, had brought them no positive intelligence from Hades, affords the proof that no extraordinary signs can constrain the impenitent man to faith when he once refuses to give heed to the word of God and His ambassadors extraordinary. As to the rest, this conclusion of the parable must have shamed the Pharisees the more deeply the less it gave them ground to hope that their unappeasable thirst for miracles (John 4:48) would afterwards find yet more satisfaction. Quite natural, therefore, that they now again give unmistakable signs of how deeply they are offended with the word of the Saviour, which gave Him then occasion for the immediately succeeding warning in reference to σκάνδαλα.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The distinction which appears to exist between the Saviour and Paul, when the former brings forward with emphasis the perfect inviolableness and eternal validity of the law, the other proclaims the abrogation of the law through the New Testament, by no means warrants the hypothesis that the Master thought differently, respecting this question of controversy, from His highly enlightened Apostle, and that, therefore, Christianity in Paul took a step beyond Jesus. On the contrary, here also the well-known rule is applicable: “distingue tempora, et concordabit scriptura.” The Saviour, who was speaking to His contemporaries in Israel, could not do otherwise than emphasize the relative truth that the law and the prophets remain in force; but Paul, who appeared in the midst of heathenism, must immediately proclaim that the ministry which preaches condemnation, the ministration of the letter, was abrogated. The word of the Saviour aims exclusively at the spirit, the heart; the eternal substance; the word of the Apostle, on the other hand, at the form, the letter, the external constraining authority of the Old Testament. How far Paul was in principle from Antinomism appears from Romans 3:31.
2. “ Whosoever putteth away his wife committeth adultery.” According to this saying literally interpreted, it certainly appears as if our Lord declared Himself unconditionally against all divorce, and as if the Roman Catholic Church were fully right when she permits at the most a separatio quoad torum et mensam, but never quoad vinculum. We must, however, complement this declaration of the Saviour from Matthew 19:9; Matthew 19:9, and assume that the transgression by which marriage is dishonored by the one party gives to the other party also liberty—we by no means say obligation—to regard it on his or her side also as broken. Whether it is more Christian to make use of this permission or not, this is not to be deduced from the letter of the Saviour’s words, although we believe that it is in His spirit if the question is answered negatively. But, certainly, he who in the case stated avails himself of his liberty for a divorce, is not on this account alone to be condemned, and the innocent party, therefore, of two married people separated on this legitimate ground, need not be forbidden to conclude a new connection. The limitation μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ is therefore here also by no means to be left out of consideration, for in the case of πορνεία an actual divorce has already taken place, so that the legal one is only the normal continuation of it, and the injured spouse in this case does not abandon “ his wife,” but an adulteress, who has ceased to conduct herself as his wife. In short: “Jesus negatives the question whether the man could arbitrarily divorce the woman, and declares Himself against every one-sided and arbitrary divorce.” De Wette.
3. The parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man is the sublimest delineation of this side and of that side of the grave in its astounding antitheses. What is the trilogy of a Dante, in which he sings Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, compared with the trilogy of this parable, which places with few but speaking strokes the great whole of Earth, Gehenna, and Paradise at once before our eyes ? In the vesture of a figurative discourse which is taken from the eschatology of His time, the Saviour gives here the most astonishing disclosures, and lifts the veil which covers the secrets of the future.
4. The antithesis which in the parable takes place between the rich man and the poor man on earth, exhibits to us the picture of the most mournful reality. Comp. Proverbs 22:2. The Saviour, like Moses, is far from wishing to annihilate the distinction between the rich and the poor as if by a stroke of magic, Deuteronomy 15:7-11; Mark 14:7. He permits the antithesis here on earth to exist, and therein one of the greatest riddles of the righteous administration of Providence. But at the same time He removes the stumbling-block, inasmuch as He depicts to us this life not as the life, but only as the first half of our being, and inasmuch as He causes the light of eternity to rise over the dark night of this earth.
5. Although it is not the immediate purpose of this parable (see above), to give a special instruction about future things, yet many a question about the other world is here answered in a satisfactory manner. So much is shown to us at once: after death the life of the pious continues uninterruptedly, as well as that of the ungodly. Far from teaching a sleep of souls, the Saviour declares on the other hand that consciousness continues beyond the grave. The rich man sees, it is true, his external condition altered, but in his inner man he has remained the same. He knows who and where he is; he recognizes Lazarus; can speak of his father’s house, and his five brothers, and their moral condition is to him not unknown. Quite as puffed up as before, he looks down upon Lazarus, and his character yonder, therefore, still shows the same shadows as here. The pain which he suffers consists in a righteous retribution of the evil which he has done here; to Lazarus the crumb was refused, to him a drop is forbidden. [A refinement hardly borne out by the text.—C. C. S.] Traces of true repentance he does not show, but he does of suffering and despair. He calls not on God but on father Abraham, and is not grieved at his sins but only at their consequences. Natural feeling for his brethren makes him tremble at the thought that they also may come to the place of torment, but indirectly he still excuses himself as if he had been in this life not sufficiently warned. No wonder that when such an inward difference exists between him and the blessed, an outward cleft also exists which can no more be filled up than passed over. Although the Saviour here speaks of the condition immediately after death, not of that after the Parusia, it appears, however, that according to His conception the sharp separation beyond the grave, between the children of light and those of darkness, becomes in any event a cleft and abyss. As well the doctrine of purgatory, as that of the Apocatastasis, is opposed by this parable, and according to the last word of Abraham to the rich man, we can on this side expect nothing more for the unbeliever than an irrevocable silence.
6. The happiness of the life to come consists, according to this parable, in this, that the redeemed of the Lord is comforted (παρακαλεῖται, Luke 16:25). The soul, freed from the earthly probationary suffering, is carried by angels to a happier place. What the Saviour here teaches of the ministerium angelorum is indirectly confirmed by such passages as Luke 15:10; Hebrews 1:14, a. o. Paradise, which is here spoken of as the destined place of the blessed, must be carefully distinguished from the third heaven, 2 Corinthians 12:4, the dwelling-place of the perfected righteous. The Paradise is, on the other hand, in the intermediate state a place of incipient, although very refreshing, rest, in which the Jews conceived all the saints of the Old Testament as united in joy. By the bosom of Abraham, we are to understand the most swelling part of the garment, which is made by casting it around upon the breast. Here also, as in Matthew 8:11-12; Luke 13:25-29, and other passages, future blessedness is designated under the image of a feast, where the favorite of the father of the family, in this case Abraham, so lies upon his couch that he can rest upon his bosom. The ideas of refreshment and fellowship are therefore here most intimately united. The poor Lazarus rests in the bosom of the rich Abraham, as if to show that not poverty or riches in itself, but faith and obedience, constitute the ground of their blessedness. This blessedness is experienced in union with others of the same character, as is also true of the state of perdition (comp. the μεταξὺ ἡμῶν καὶ ὑμῶν); but the thought of the fate of the damned does not disturb the rest of the blessed. With full composure Abraham can address the rich man, Lazarus can hear him without rejoicing, but also without giving him hope. How much more sublime is this representation than that in the Koran, e.g., where the blessed scoff at the damned, and gloat over the contemplation of their torments!
7. In our predilection for the first and chief end of the parable, we must not overlook the dogmatic and Christological importance of its second purpose. It is noticeable how the Saviour here also in unequivocal tone gives testimony for the sufficientia scripturœ V. T. A fortiori may this testimony be extended also to the Scriptures of the New Testament. United, these means of grace are, for the enlightenment, for the renewal and sanctification, of the sinner, so perfectly adequate, that it is as inconceivable as fruitless to expect even yet more powerful voices of instruction. That, moreover, if the word is to accomplish this purpose, the operation of the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary, is by no means denied by our Lord. The word is the seed for the new birth, yet sunshine and rain from above must make the seed fruitful upon the field. But there is no operation of the Spirit to be expected where the power of the word is lightly esteemed; the narrative shows sufficiently, that any extraordinary awakening, which any one believes himself able to bring to pass in any other way than that of the living κήρυγμα, is of brief duration and doubtful significance. No sufferer can, therefore, reckon upon being saved by God in extraordinary ways, if he has despised the common way described in God’s word; and could even the sign of Jonah be again repeated, it would be in vain for him who despises the preaching of Jonah.
8. In the conclusion of this parable the Saviour utters at the same time a condemnation of all extraordinary attempts which are made in our time also by knocking-spirits, table-tippings, appearances of ghosts, somnambulism, &c., to come upon the trace of the secrets of the future world. Such a superstition is the less to be excused, because it is commonly united with secret unbelief in God’s word and testimony. It appears in this, moreover, only too plainly, that even those who fancy themselves in possession of such extraordinary energies and revelations, yet are often not converted, and therefore their obstinacy itself confirms the last word which Abraham has here uttered.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The truth, recognized by the conscience, opposed by the sinful heart.—The enmity of the Pharisees against the preaching of the law of love.—The Pharisaical temper exists in every natural man; they wish to appear righteous before God.—“God knoweth your hearts;” this truth may be considered: 1. As a certain; 2. as a terrifying; 3. as a comforting, truth.—The heaven-wide distinction between the judgment of God and the judgment of man, 1 Samuel 16:7.—The Old Testament period, a period of preparation.—So soon as the kingdom of God is proclaimed with power it is vehemently opposed.—The inviolableness of the law: 1. In what sense? 2. with what right? 3. for what purpose, does the Saviour proclaim the inviolableness of the law?—Married life transfigured by the Spirit of Christ.—Divorce not something relatively good, but a necessary evil.
The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them both.—How poor a rich man, how rich a poor man, may be: 1. In the present; 2. in the future, world.—The rich man, a. poor in true joy; b. in sympathizing love; c. in well-grounded hope; d. in eternal happiness.—The poor man, a. rich in calamities; b. rich in pain; c. rich in everlasting consolation.—The comedy and the tragedy of earthly life only a few steps removed from one another.—How the good living of the earth does not soften, but hardens, the heart.—The inexcusableness of an unloving temper exhibited in the person of the rich man: 1. The poor man is alone; 2. hard by the door; 3. well known; 4. daily before his eyes; 5. incapable of labor; 6. modest enough not to complain; 7. content even with crumbs; 8. an object of the attention of the dogs, and yet is he contemned by the rich man.—Death the end of the inequality of life. Comp. Job 3:17-19.—Death to one the greatest gain, to the other the most terrible loss.—The care of angels for the dying saint, on its undoubtedly certain, on its indescribably consoling, side.—What avails the last honor shown the dying sinner, if it is immediately after death followed by eternal ignominy?—The awakening in the morning of eternity: 1. What there continues of that which we here possess at every awakening: a. our consciousness, b. our personality, c. our memory; 2. what there falls away of that which we here recover at every awakening: a. the illusive joy of the sinner, b. the perplexing trial of the saint, c. the work of the grace of God on both; 3. what there begins of that which we here at every awakening see approaching somewhat nearer: a. a surprising meeting again, b. a righteous retribution, c. an eternal separation.—The mutual beholding of each other by the blessed and the damned.—The carnal relationship with Abraham is in the spiritual world not denied, but it avails nought.—The Jus talionis in the future life.—The sorrow of the damned: 1. Over that which they lack; 2. behold; 3. endure; 4. expect.—Woe to the man who knows no higher good than that which he has received in this life!—The great cleft: 1. Its depth; 2. its duration; 3. its two opposing sides.—Not earthly suffering opens the way to heaven, but the manner in which it is borne.—The terrible recollection, in the place of torment, of relatives whom one has left behind on earth.—If natural relationship does not become a spiritual one, it becomes at last only a source of suffering the more.—If sinners really believed how terrible hell is, they would without doubt be converted.—God’s word the only and adequate means for the conversion of the sinner. Whoever contemns this means, has no other to expect.—One risen from the dead even would not be able to bring the sinner to true faith.—Whoever expects another means of grace, outside of those ordained by God; 1. Such an one miscalculates fearfully; 2. such an one sins deeply.
Starke:—Quesnel:—There comes a time when God, in turn, scoffs at those who have scoffed at His truth.—The avaricious man likes to deck himself with feathers of hypocrisy.—Cramer:—There are two kinds of pride—spiritual and worldly; neither pleases God, both are an abomination to Him.—Brentius:—The New Testament age requires New Testament people. Heathen sumptuousness of living prophesies for Christendom nothing good.—Hedinger:—Piety goes often a-begging, but is rich in God.—Quesnel:—Sickness of body serves often for healing of the soul; happy he whom the Chief Physician counts worthy to be thus cured.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—Shame on you, ye uncompassionate rich! The rational man is shamed by irrational beasts!—Those who become everlastingly glorious, must before have been wretched.—Ah, how is the leaf turned after death!—Canstein:—False trust in the outward fellowship of the covenant with God is found even in the damned.—Hedinger:—In cruel eternity all grace and comfort has an end. Proverbs 11:7.—The condemned have in their pain longing for mitigation, but obtain it not, and the vain longing will increase their pain.—They who, through a bad example, give others too occasion to sin, will, in hell, on this account, be tormented by their consciences.—Majus:—Each one must indeed have concern for the salvation of his friends, but early and betimes. James 5:20.—Canstein:—Evil men will not accommodate themselves to God’s dispensation, but despise and censure it, and will, according to their own fancy, manage yet more conveniently for themselves.—Hedinger:—Out of love to atheists and those who do not like the Scriptures, God will do no miracles.—Ungodly men do not change, and fear not God, even in hell: let no one wonder at this.—Nova. Bibl. Tub.:—Faith is content with the word of God, which is full of miracle and proof; but unbelief nothing will suit.—Heubner:—God will hereafter destroy all seeming.—The more lofty one’s schemes have been, the deeper will he fall.—Riches easily mislead to living well without doing well.—To be voluptuous and without love is quite enough to be damned for.—Of rich men like Dives, there are enough; of poor men like Lazarus, few.—Death for the pious sufferer a wished-for friend, who brings him redemption.—How various is the entering of men into the other world!—Short pleasure followed by eternal torment.—God punishes not with vehement indignation, but with composed righteousness.—Whoever seeks heaven in earthly things will hereafter lose the true heaven.—One need not be poor and full of sores, and yet may be like Lazarus.—Take heed against building the foundation of salvation on natural kindness of heart.—The damned torment one another.—It may be that the dead think oftener of the living than the living of them.—Faith is content with the proofs which God gives, but unbelief has never enough of them.—Man has no right to prescribe to God how He will lead him to salvation.—Here have we also the ground why Christ, after His resurrection, did not appear to the unbelieving.
On the Pericope, comp. four sermons of Chrysostom on this section. Ed. Montfaucon, tom. 1.—The sermon of Massillon, Sur le Mauvais Riche.—Lisco:—Of the unbelief of false citizens of the kingdom.—How we have to judge the complaint of the inaccessibleness of the Christian means of salvation.—Schultz:—Our soul retains in the future life its consciousness and its memory.—Florey:—Four declarations in the New Testament, which this Gospel proclaims and confirms to us: 1. Matthew 2:0; Matthew 2:0. 1 John 3:0; 1 John 3:0. James 4:0; James 4:0. 2 Timothy 3:14-15.—Wolf:—That death alters the fate of earthly-minded men, but not their temper.—Dettinger:—Eternity—how it judges, how it parts, how it brings together.—Ruling:—The gulf between the child of the world and the child of God is not filled up by death, but only fixed in reverse order.—Fuchs:—1. The poor Lazarus, a. a poor man, but also a rich man, b. a sick man, but also a well man, c. a sojourner, but also a citizen; 2. the rich man, a. a rich man and yet a poor man, b. a well man and yet a sick man, c. a citizen and yet a vagrant.—L. A. Petri:—The worldly man’s wretched life and fate: 1. Poor in life; 2. wretched in death; 3. lost in eternity.—Rautenberg:—Death on two sides: 1. Oh death, how bitter art thou! 2. oh death, how beneficent art thou!—Von Kapff:—What Jesus here teaches of the condition, of souls after death: 1. Of those that live without God; 2. of those that live in God.—Uhle:—Some glimpses over the grave out into the still realm of the dead.—Couard:—Voluptuousness: 1. Its nature; 2. its source; 3. its consequences.—Saurin:—The sermon Sur le suffisance de la Révélation. Serm., tom. i. p. 404.
[Luke 16:16.—Εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται. Van Oosterzee translates this: thut Gewalt dawider, “uses violence against it.” For his vindication of this rendering, see Exegetical and Critical remarks.—C. C. S.]
Luke 16:18; Luke 16:18.—The second πᾶς of the Recepta is merely a mechanical repetition of the first, and therefore properly omitted by Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, [Meyer, Tregelles.]
Luke 16:20; Luke 16:20.—The words of the Recepta, ἧν…ὅς, are wanting in B., D., [Cod. Sin.,] L., X., and on this ground were already suspected by Griesbach and Lachmann. With Tischendorf [Tregelles] we believe we should omit them and give the preference to the shorter reading. [Meyer contends for the Recepta.—C. C. S.]
Luke 16:25; Luke 16:25.—Ὧδε, which is wanting in the Recepta, is supported by a preponderance of external authority. [All the uncials.]
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Luke 16". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26