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Thursday, July 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Luke 16

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Verses 1-12

Luk 16:1-12

Commentary On Luke 16:1-12

Galen Doughty

Luke 16:1-4 - Jesus now tells his disciples a parable. It is one of the most difficult parables that he told.

A rich man has a steward or manager of his estate who was handling all his master’s affairs. Someone comes to the master and reports that his steward is embezzling the master’s money or wasting it. The rich man calls him to account. He does it in a very Middle Eastern way. What’s this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management because you can no longer be my steward or manager. He does not say directly that you swindled me or robbed me. Or I have evidence against you and you are fired. He gives the manager time to save face in front of everyone. From a disciples’ standpoint this is about accountability. You have failed as a steward of my affairs now give an accounting of your service.

The manager knows he has been caught and the evidence is there to convict him. What does he do? He knows he can’t go work in the fields that is beyond his strength to do. He is too proud to beg. How will he get another job and save face with the people? He seizes on a plan to insure he still has a future and that someone will take him in or hire him when he is fired. He doesn’t quit as yet but he knows his time is short.

Luke 16:5-7 - He calls in his master’s debtors. They do not as yet know that the steward is in trouble with the master or that he will probably be fired. They assume he is acting on his master’s orders as always. They think the master is giving them a huge break with their debt! The first one the steward calls in and says halve your bill. You owed my master 100 measures of oil, write down 50. The NIV translates it as 800 gallons of olive oil is now reduced to 400; a huge amount of olive oil. The second one he reduces by 20%. He takes the bill of the man who owes 100 measures of wheat, NIV 1000 bushels, and reduces it to 80 measures, NIV 800 bushels. That is a considerable amount of wheat and a great reduction in the man’s bill.

The point is the debtors think the steward is acting on behalf of his master. Why wouldn’t they? They have no reason as yet to suspect his behavior in any way. The steward banks on the master’s mercy in reducing the bills. He knows he is merciful and he knows reducing the bills will please his master. He knows the man’s character and how consistent he is. Yes, he has stolen from the master. But he also knows by doing what he did he has caused the master to gain great face before the debtors and before all the town. People will now be talking about how generous and merciful the master is and not how corrupt and shameful the steward is. His master gets great credit and praise even though he did it all to save his own skin.

I think Jesus is saying that when we sin as disciples, when we get caught not acting as we should we need to always bank on the mercy and character of God. The shrewdest way back into the Lord’s service and good graces is to throw ourselves on his mercy. We need to call attention to him and not to us. This might be a stretch in interpreting the parable but I don’t know any better way to see it. This is to the disciples and not the crowds or the Pharisees. The manager is like a disciple who has been found unfaithful. His strategy is to call attention to the mercy of his master with people.

Luke 16:10-12 - Jesus now adds a saying about managing resources. Professor Bailey thinks this saying and the one about money that follows were not said in this context by Jesus because they don’t fit the parable. That is possible but difficult to prove. Luke has shown he is not reticent to place material in different contexts if it serves his purpose but it may be a stretch to say this saying of Jesus was uttered in a different situation.

The point of the saying is all about our character. The parable was about banking on the character of God even when we sin. This is about our character and how much God will trust us with responsibility. Integrity and honesty don’t change with the amounts. Character is consistent no matter what the circumstances. The end does not justify the means. God starts us out with a little responsibility before he will give us more. This is the principle of rewarding good deeds with greater and larger ones. Jesus is telling the disciples if we fail in little things God will not give us more to be responsible for until we learn how to handle the little things. All that we do matters to God. All that we have and manage God uses to test us and grow us so that we can take on more Kingdom responsibility and prove useful for his service.

Verses 1-13

Luk 16:1-13


Luke 16:1-13

1 And he said also unto the disciples,—This parable has been called the "Parable of the Unjust Steward"; it is here called the "Parable of the Unrighteous Steward." This parable is peculiar to Luke. Jesus had put to silence the murmuring Pharisees by the three foregoing parables; he now continues his discourse to his disciples, in the presence of the publicans and sinners, Pharisees and scribes. He introduces the parable with "a certain rich man" who had an unfaithful steward. "Steward," in the original, means one who distributes or dispenses affairs of a house; he is one who is a house manager or overseer of an estate (Luke 12:42); the steward kept the household stores under lock and seal, giving out what was required; he was usually given a signet ring from his master to show his authority; he could execute bonds and notes in the name of his master by using the signet ring.

and the same was accused unto him—This servant was "accused," which, in the original, meant "to throw across," or "to carry across"; hence to carry reports from one to another; to carry false reports, and to culminate or slander. The word implies "malice," but not necessarily falsehood. The accusation against him was that he "was wasting his goods." He was wasting that which belonged to his master. "Wasting" is from the same root word as "wasted" in Luke 15:13, as used of the prodigal son, in wasting his substance in riotous living. The accusation against him may have come from jealous tenants and other servants in the house. The steward is not represented as denying the accusation or attempting to prove it to be false.

2 And he called him, and said unto him,—The day of reckoning had come; the steward was to be discharged. He was asked: "What is this that I hear of thee? render the account of thy stewardship." These words in the original imply anger. "Render the account of thy stewardship" literally means "give back" that which you have fraudulently taken; there is also implied "and now give back my signet; for thou shalt no longer be my steward." The proprietor must dismiss him from his service because he has proved himself to be unfaithful. Some think that there is implied that if the steward should successfully prove his innocence he might be retained in his position.

3, 4 And the steward said within himself,—It seems that the steward was conscious of his guilt and began to reflect as to "what" he should do; as a shrewd and prudent man he will strive either to hold his place or he will seek to provide for himself a comfortable living. It seems that he chose the latter alternative. He began to make preparation for a comfortable living. He was not yet dismissed and he had opportunity to further his unrighteous practices. In reasoning with himself he said: "I have not strength to dig; to beg I am ashamed." He either had to go to work or beg; he felt that he did not have strength to work; that is, he was not able to engage in manual labor which in agricultural pursuits consisted largely in upturning the earth by digging. He may have been strong enough to do that kind of work, but he was not inclined to do so, and thus persuaded himself that he was not able "to dig." The other alternative was that of begging, but he was "ashamed" or had a sense of pride, and did not wish to put himself in the class of mendicants. It was better to beg than to practice dishonesty, but he had nursed his pride and did not wish to beg. He was not "ashamed" to cheat or lie, but he was "ashamed" to beg.

I am resolved what to do,—He had fully made up his mind, and continues to soliloquize and expresses himself in a positive way as to what he will do, he had just thought of a plan that he could execute, and he is determined to do it. His plan was that when he was dismissed from his stewardship he would be received into the houses of those whom he had befriended. He planned to make friends so that they would receive him into their hospitality, out of gratitude for what he had done for them; he still hoped to enjoy life in the homes of those whom he had laid under obligation to him by an unrighteous use of his master’s affairs. His plans as they are now revealed confirm the report that he was dealing falsely with his master’s goods.

5-7 And calling to him each one of his lord’s debtors,—He began speedily to execute his plan; he did not know just when he would be dismissed, so he must act in haste while he had the authority as a steward. He called each one of his "lord’s debtors"; that is, he called them one by one. It is not known whether one debtor knew what he had done for the other debtor; his plans are to deal with each one separately. The first debtor was asked how much he owed his lord. He answered: "A hundred measures of oil." Literally, a "measure" means a "bath." The "bath" was a Hebrew measure, but the amount is uncertain, as there were three kinds of measurements in use in Palestine. The original Mosaic measure corresponded with the Roman; that of Jerusalem was a fifth larger, and the common Galilean measurement was about a fifth larger than the Jerusalem. The first standard made the bath consist of about fifty-six pints, or about seven gallons. Some make the bath to contain between eight and nine gallons. This is supposed to be olive oil, as it was used for various purposes—food, cosmetics, embalming, light, surgery, etc. It was a great article of trade. (Revelation 18:13.) The steward said to the debtor to sit down and write quickly "fifty." He reduced the debt one-half. He called another and asked the same question. This one said that his debt was "a hundred measures of wheat." He was told to "write fourscore" instead of the one hundred. The original for "measure" here is different from that in verse 6; a measure here means a "cor" or "homer," and was the largest Hebrew dry measure, equal to ten "baths" or about eleven bushels. (Ezekiel 45:14.)

8 And his lord commended the unrighteous steward—The lord admired the shrewdness of his steward, though he himself was defrauded; he commended, or praised, not the injustice or dishonesty of the steward, but his prudence and practical shrewdness. (Psalms 49:18.) He had shown worldly foresight and had acted upon it. The unrighteous steward had been cunning in dishonesty; he had been prudent, though selfishly, and wrongly so. It should be kept clear that Jesus does not commend the dishonesty and trickery of this unrighteous steward; he does not commend the steward for his injustice or wrongdoing. "For the sons of this world are for their own generation wiser than the sons of the light." The lord of the steward does not excuse him from guilt, and he was apparently dismissed from his service; his shrewdness consisted in finding a place to go after he was dismissed; he was still an unrighteous steward even though his shrewdness was commended. "The sons of this world" are those who are studious and plan for the greatest possessions and pleasures of this world; they are opposed to "the sons of the light," who are those who are walking in the light. Men of the world act with better judgment oftentimes with respect to worldly affairs than do the disciples of Jesus with respect to spiritual affairs. This parable is spoken "unto the disciples." (Verse 1.)

9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends—Jesus makes his own application of the parable. We should be satisfied with his explanation sometimes the thought is lost amidst the drapery of the parable. The master of the unrighteous steward commended him for his prudent foresight, and Jesus, speaking to his disciples, said to them that they should use a like forethought in regard to their spiritual and eternal interests. Surely Christians should show better judgment in their relations with one another than "crooks" do in their dealings with one another; the devotees of material goods often use more sense in handling them than do Christians as custodians of eternal things.

by means of the mammon of unrighteousness;—"Mammon" is a word applied to wealth or riches; its probable derivation means trust; so the description of wealth, not merely as a possession, but also as something which is so generally made a ground of confidence. "Riches" is here personified as the "mammon of unrighteousness," which is about equivalent to unrighteous mammon. There is a contrast between the "mammon of unrighteousness" and "true riches." "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil" (1 Timothy 6:10) because it leads into every form of sin. Achan was tempted to his destruction by the "wedge of gold" and the goodly Babylonish garment. (Joshua 7:21.) Judas betrayed the Savior for thirty pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:15.) Ananias and Sapphira "lied to the Holy Spirit" and perished for the love of money. (Acts 5:3.) Demas, the companion of apostles, forsook them, "having loved this present world." (2 Timothy 4:10.) There is a right use of money and a wrong use; Jesus teaches the right use of money. He here teaches that his disciples should make such a use of their possessions as to secure heavenly treasures and gain friends, who, having gone before, would welcome them in the world to come to everlasting habitations.

10 He that is faithful in a very little—Jesus further instructs his disciples in lessons of faithfulness as stewards. The right use of money, which is seeking the welfare of others with it, applies not only to the rich, but also to the poor; the one who is faithful in a very little may be faithful in much; but if one is not faithful with little things, one will not be with larger things. The one who is unfaithful in the use of money here will not be faithful in dealing with spiritual and eternal things. One’s conduct in little things is a sure test of what he is likely to do with greater things; we do not expect one to be faithful in important things, if he has not been faithful in little things.

11 If therefore ye have not been faithful—If the disciples of Jesus have not been faithful "in the unrighteous mammon" then who will want to trust them with "true riches"? Here "unrighteous mammon" is put in contrast with "true riches." Riches are deceitful, fleeting, and uncertain; while "true riches" are real, substantial, spiritual, and eternal. If the disciples of Jesus are not faithful in a righteous use of money, the Lord could not trust them with the eternal verities of his gospel. The one who is dishonest and unfaithful in the discharge of duties with respect to earthly possessions must not expect to have heavenly treasures entrusted to him. One must prove oneself to be faithful with the proper use of material things before one can be trusted with spiritual things. Anyone who will not handle material things honestly will not handle the truth honestly.

12, 13 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another’s,—This argument is further expanded and enforced by Jesus. Here reference is again had to the mammon of unrighteousness; our faithfulness in that which God will make our own may be judged by our care of the things of others. Jesus repeats a self-evident truth when he says, "No servant can serve two masters." These masters have different wills and purposes; they contradict each other in their demands; hence, it is impossible for one servant to serve two such masters. It is like attempting to travel in two directions at the same time, or attempting to love two entirely contradictory characters. A servant is supposed to obey his master; this obedience is called love. If one attempts to serve two masters, he will hate one and love the other; or he will honor one and dishonor the other.

Verses 13-31

Luk 16:13-31

Commentary On Luke 16:13-31

Galen Doughty

Luke 16:13-15 - The Pharisees are listening to Jesus teach his disciples these sayings. Jesus repeats the saying about no one being able to serve God and money at the same time, something he had said in the Sermon on the Mount earlier in his ministry. He is warning the disciples and indicting the Pharisees at the same time. Money will compete for our heart’s allegiance and we cannot serve both it and God. You can only have one master and if you are a follower of Christ it can only be Jesus. He alone must be Lord!

The Pharisees hearing this, sneer at Jesus. That is an odd reaction. Are they showing their contempt toward Jesus at this point or are they thinking his saying is too simplistic? Or is Jesus getting too close to their attitudes and so they attack him and sneer at him as a defense? Are they acting like a politician who can’t answer their opponents position and doesn’t have a cogent position themselves so they attack the character of their opponent? I think that is the most likely scenario.

Luke says the Pharisees loved money so they sneer at Jesus. Jesus replies that the Pharisees are the ones who justify themselves in the eyes of people. It is all about outward appearances. God however knows their hearts! What people value God sneers at; God detests! Money, fame, popularity, position, power, influence; all these are the perks of this world and all these God detests! The Pharisees, Jesus says, are running after these worldly things all the while trying to appear spiritual and act like God approves of them and they are God’s favorites because of their righteousness! God is the one sneering at them!

Luke 16:16-17 - The NIV groups these next sayings under the heading additional teachings. That fits as these sayings appear random. However, Jesus often teaches this way and in so doing, he follows the pattern of the wisdom teachers in Proverbs or Ecclesiastes. Those books often seem random in their sayings with one theme following another not appearing to be connected. The Letter of James is the same way. Jesus imitated the wisdom teachers, the prophets, Moses, in fact all of Israel’s great teachers. His parables were unique to him. The truth is he could teach in various styles and be profound in each or he could be completely unique. He was unlike anyone before or after him!

This saying speaks of the turning of the page in the plan of God. He is saying up through John the Baptist Israel is in the time of the Law and the Prophets, the Old Testament timeframe. Since then the Kingdom of God has been proclaimed and preached. Jesus is saying the turning point between the Old and New Covenants is John and Jesus. This is born out in the way Luke treats his birth narratives. John’s birth announcement and Jesus’ have an Old Testament character to them. Everything changes when John starts his ministry and Jesus is baptized in the Jordan. Jesus reinforces that idea here.

The difficult part of this saying is the second sentence, especially the phrase, and everyone is forcing his way into the Kingdom. The word means to act violently or forcefully. Clearly Jesus does not mean that the way into the Kingdom of God is to violently force God to admit you to the Kingdom. That would violate everything he has said, especially the three parables of Luke 15! I think this saying is related to the saying at the end of the Great Banquet of the servants compelling people to come into the banquet. The saying is two-fold. First there will be opposition to entering the Kingdom from those who oppose it or want to prevent people from entering, namely the Pharisees. They see themselves as guardians of the Kingdom and the ones who deserve it. They want to refuse entry to the tax collectors, sinners and people of the land! In order to enter it there will be difficulties. For Jesus that means suffering. It means the same thing for his disciples. The second meaning concerns the Pharisees. They try and force their way into the Kingdom by thinking that their righteousness entitles them to entrance to the Kingdom. They are so scrupulous in keeping the Law that God must admit them. That is why Jesus adds the saying in Luke 16:17 about no part of the Law will pass away. If the Pharisees are bound to try and keep the Law of Moses in order to enter into the Kingdom of God then they must keep it perfectly. If they break one part they break it all! That is Paul’s argument in Romans 2. The problem is Jesus has already shown how the Pharisees constantly break not only the letter of the Law but also the spirit of the Law, especially justice and mercy! This is one of those sayings where Jesus says something in order to show its impossibility. No one can keep the Law perfectly and be without sin to force God’s hand in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Only the Messiah-Servant, Jesus himself will be able to accomplish this feat. He is not doing it to enter the Kingdom of God but to prove himself a fitting sacrifice for the human race. Plus, the Law exposes the character of the individual not just their actions. Jesus’ character is God’s character. The Pharisees’ character is that of a sinner that needs the grace of God! They are the older brother and they still can’t see it!

Luke 16:18 - Jesus now moves to a totally new subject and yet it is somewhat related. He forbids re-marriage even while permitting divorce. Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. I think Jesus is interpreting the Law of Moses for the Pharisees and showing how their tradition about divorce and re-marriage has twisted the Law’s design. In that sense this is a specific example of how the Pharisees have re-made the Law in their own image in order to do what they want and call themselves righteous before God. They think they are acting righteously to force God to let them enter the Kingdom! The Pharisees applied the Law of divorce and re-marriage only to women. A divorced woman could not re-marry or she was seen as an adulterous. Jesus says the same applies to a man. In other words you are allowed to divorce but there is no re-marriage under the Law! You can’t apply the Law to women in one way and men in another. The Law about divorce and re-marriage applies equally to both men and women. Jesus short circuits the Pharisees’ entire teaching about marriage and divorce. They had twisted the Law to suit themselves and allow serial polygamy. Jesus shows them God will have none of it! By following their tradition and interpretation they are guilty of adultery before the Law! And if they are guilty of adultery then they are not righteous and they cannot enter the Kingdom of God!

If that is the case then these two sayings are not disconnected but linked in a very profound way. Jesus is once again indicting the Pharisees and showing how their works righteousness is a dead end. He is re-enforcing the points he made in his parables from the Great Banquet on through the three parables dealing with the lost, and especially the older brother in the Two Lost Sons.

Luke 16:19-21 - Jesus now tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. It appears he is still talking to the Pharisees because the context has not shifted and Luke has not said he is speaking to another group of people. Apparently the disciples are there but so are the Pharisees. This makes some sense because this is about a rich man and his salvation and Jesus had already spoken to the Pharisees about their love of money. Part of what is happening here is that the current theology of the day said a rich person is favored by God and a poor person is not. A rich person has all the advantages in gaining the Kingdom because they can give more and so earn more favor with God. Jesus blows apart that whole theology in this parable.

Jesus describes the situation. There is a rich man who lives in luxury, dressed in fine clothes and eating choice food. At his gate lives a poor man named Lazarus who is covered in sores and who longs for the dog scraps that fall from the rich man’s table. In the Pharisees’ thinking the rich man is blessed of God and the poor man and his sores are cursed. To them the rich man will inherit the Kingdom and the poor man will be excluded. He is one of the uneducated people of the land!

Luke 16:22-24 - Lazarus dies and is carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom or side. Jesus is using the popular understanding of Sheol with a paradise side and a hades or hell side where there is torment for the souls of the dead who are apart from God. It is risky to build a final or complete picture of the afterlife from Jesus’ parable because we don’t know how much he is using popular notions of heaven and hell and how much he is actually teaching the Pharisees and his disciples about peoples’ condition after they die. He is not lying but he may be simply using ideas they would already believe and know to illustrate a point.

The Hebrew conception of Sheol in Jesus’ day had two sides; paradise and Hades or hell. This was not the ultimate lake of fire in Revelation but like a holding tank for rebellious souls until the final resurrection and judgment. The paradise side of Sheol is sometimes described in Jewish writings as Abraham’s bosom which Jesus uses here. The apostles later expand and clarify this idea and teach that we are personally present with Christ in heaven as a spirit before and until the resurrection. That is also reflected here as Jesus does not speak to the issue of the final resurrection in this parable. It is clear however that both Lazarus and the rich man are rewarded or punished in eternity for what they did here on earth. Their eternal condition after death is directly related to their temporal decisions and actions and especially to their relationship with God during their lifetimes. It is also clear that once they die their decisions are confirmed but there is no going back or changing. It’s like the store that says all transactions are final.

The idea of the angels carrying a soul to heaven comes from this parable. Whether that is accurate or is Jesus’ literary way of saying Lazarus went to heaven is impossible to know. The parable contains other images that are probably fanciful like the rich man talking to Abraham and being able to see Lazarus in paradise while he is in Hades. There is no evidence that anything like that is possible in other parts of the New Testament. Also, this parable is told to the Pharisees who would have accepted the premise of an afterlife whereas the Sadducees would not have.

The rich man is in torment apart from God in Hades. The picture Jesus paints is one of fire and pain and anguish. In other places he speaks of darkness and cold in the outer darkness. Both images are ones of suffering and pain because one is without God and eternally separated from him. The rich man pleads with Abraham to send Lazarus to cool his tongue because of the heat and pain. He is conscious and aware of his situation in Hades. That would be the worst, to live in eternal regret, knowing you could have made a different choice!

Luke 16:25-26 - Abraham reminds the man that he has received his reward because he focused on worldly wealth for the brief time of his life on earth. Lazarus had nothing and now is being comforted because of the injustice of his life. Jesus does not say so but from other parts of his teaching it is clear that Lazarus must have known God and worshipped him. Abraham speaks to the rich man and not God or an angel. That is curious. He represents faithful Israel in this parable because Abraham was a man of faith. He did not have the Law of Moses. Is Jesus subtlely hinting at that here, just as Paul will later flesh out in Romans? It is possible. Moses does not address the rich man and the Law never comes up which the Pharisees must have been surprised at. The issue is faith not works here!

Abraham then tells the rich man there is a great chasm separating the two men. No one can cross from either direction. Jesus is saying our eternal destinies are permanent and cannot be changed. What we do here determines that destiny but once it comes into play nothing can be changed. His picture of eternity here seems to rule out any idea of a last chance in hell to repent. Once one dies there is no going back. Even if parts of this parable are symbolic and not to be taken literally, Jesus’ teaching here contradicts the theology of universalism that God welcomes everyone into heaven no matter whether they receive Jesus or not.

Luke 16:27-31 - The rich man now pleads with Abraham to send someone to his father’s house to warn his brothers about the fate that awaits them if they do not repent. He does not want his family to end up in Hades and the torment of an eternity without God. Abraham says they have Moses and the Prophets, in other words, the Scriptures to warn them. His brothers can read just like everyone else! This is the first time Moses is mentioned. Again this is to the Pharisees who accepted both Moses and the prophets as Scripture.

The rich man pleads further with Abraham to send someone from the dead to warn them then they will repent and turn to God. He finally states the core issue. In his life he did not repent and turn to God, but Lazarus despite his poverty did. That is the real issue not who has wealth or God’s favor in this life. It is our relationship with God that Jesus says counts the most!

Abraham tells the rich man if they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets then they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead. If I am correct and Jesus is telling this parable to the Pharisees then this last statement is a chilling indictment by Jesus of the Pharisees. He’s saying they don’t listen to the Scriptures which speak of him as Messiah and they won’t listen even after he has risen from the dead. They will still not repent and believe. In fact they will continue to oppose Jesus and his followers even after the resurrection. Paul is exhibit A for their attitude. He at least believed when he saw the risen Christ, but the Pharisees of Judea refused to believe Jesus had risen and even spread the story the disciples had stolen his body. Jesus prophetically shows them their true hearts and warns them of their eternal fate if they do not believe in him as Messiah. They will end up like the rich man in hell!

Questions by E.M. Zerr For Luke Chapter Sixteen

1. What servant did the rich man have?

2. Tell the report that came to him.

3. State the accusation he then made to his steward.

4. What was he ordered to prepare to give ?

5. Of what change was he notified ?

6. What was the steward’s state of mind now ?

7. What two difficulties confronted him now?

8. Did he reach a resolution?

9. How many debtors were consulted?

10. What was their debt?

11. Tell what reductions were made.

12. For what was the steward commended?

13. Compare wisdom of two classes mentioned.

14. What are we advised to make for ourselves ?

15. By what means are we to do this?

16. What will these friends do for us?

17. When will they do this?

18. How is faithfulness affected by little or much ?

19. Unfaithfulness in one trust will deprive us of what?

20. How many masters can one serve?

21. What will interfere ?

22. Who is against God?

23. What is said of the Pharisees ?

24. Tell what they did to Jesus.

25. Of what did Jesus accuse them?

26. With whom were they not justified?

27. Why was that?

28. State difference between estimation of God and man.

29. What reached till time of John ?

30. What was preached after that?

31. In what way was the preaching received?

32. What is not to prove a failure?

33. Tell what would be easier than this.

34. When does separation become adultery?

35. What two men may become guilty?

36. Describe the clothing and fare of the rich man.

37. Who was contrasted with him?

38. State his condition.

39. With what was he fed?

40. What treatment did he have for his affliction?

41. Tell what happened to both men.

42. What did the angels do?

43. Tell what was done for the rich man.

44. Where did his spirit go?

45. State his condition.

46. Whom did he see?

47. What is said about the distance?

48. State the request he first made?

49. On what basis was it first denied ?

50. What was the next reason ?

51. State the next request the rich man made.

52. What did he wish to prevent?

53. Why did they not deserve this consideration?

54. State the argument of the rich man.

55. In going, what would Lazarus have needed to do ?

Luke Chapter Sixteen

By Ralph L. Starling

Jesus tells about a certain rich man

Who accused his servant of wasting his funds.

The servant thought, “What shall I do, my fate is sealed,

I’ll go to his creditors and make them a deal.

He asked the creditors “how much do you owe?”

When he was told he figured a less score.

When the Lord found out he was most pleased.

He told the servant he had acted wisely.

Jesus said, “He that is faithful in little will be faithful in much.

He that is faithful in much is one you can trust.

No man can serve two masters together.

You cannot serve God and money, but one or the other.”

The covetous Pharisees derided Him for this.

He said, “God knows you hearts, He will not miss!”

The Law and the Prophets were only “till John”

But now the kingdom of God is the only one.

Jesus tells about the rich man and the beggar Lazarus.

Both of them died and went to their own place.

The rich man tormented in Hell, Lazarus I peace.

The rich man appealed, “Get me out of this!”

Abraham replied, “Between us a great gulf is fixed.

Those with you, those with us, cannot be mixed.”

The rich man said, “Then warn my brothers of this torment.”

Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.”

Verses 14-31

Luk 16:14-31



Luke 16:14-31

14 And the Pharisees, who were lovers of money,—Jesus had dined with a Pharisee (Luke 14:1), and had received publicans and sinners. He had been criticized by the Pharisees (Luke 15:2) and had answered them with three parables, and had instructed his disciples on the righteous use of money. The Pharisees had heard what he had taught his disciples. They "were lovers of money." "Lovers of money" is from the Greek word which is used only twice in the New Testament —here and 2 Timothy 3:2—it is closly connected in meaning with "covetousness." (1 Corinthians 5:10-11; 1 Corinthians 6:10.) When the Pharisees heard what Jesus had said about the use of money "they scoffed at him." "Scoffed," in the original, is used only here and in Luke 23:35. Literally it means "to turn up the nose at one"; the Romans had a similar phrase, "to hang on the hooked nose," that is, to turn up the nose and make a hook of it on which (figuratively) to hang the subject of ridicule. These Pharisees mocked him and ridiculed his teaching with respect to the use of money.

15 And he said unto them, Ye are they—The Pharisees made great professions of righteousness and holiness before men, while their hearts were full of wickedness and covetousness. Jesus knew their hearts; he exposed the hypocrisy and covetousness of the Pharisees. He reminded them that "God knoweth your hearts." They might deceive men, but they could not deceive God; Jesus let them know that he knew what was in their heart; they were an abomination in the sight of God. These Pharisees were past masters at justifying themselves; Jesus rebuked their scoffing hearts with a withering scorn. They could deride his teaching and mock him personally, but he could show what the end would be with them. Luke has introduced some other matters before Jesus spoke his parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

16 The law and the prophets were until John:—Jesus here introduces the idea of a new dispensation which was drawing nigh. "The law and the prophets" belonged to the old dispensation. The entire testimony under the old dispensation is sometimes expressed more fully by "the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms." (Luke 24:44.) The law and the prophets were the sole fountains of religious truth down to John the Baptist; then the kingdom of God began to be preached, first by John, next by Jesus, and then by his disciples. The Pharisees boasted of being righteous according to the law and the prophets; they were in reality not so faithful to the law as they were faithful to their traditions of the law Jesus did not set aside the law, but fulfilled it. "Every man entereth violently into it." This is similar to Matthew 11:12. This seems to mean that everyone was striving to enter the preparatory state of the kingdom; people were attempting to force their way into the kingdom of God; they did not understand its nature, and were doing violence to the kingdom that Jesus preached by perverting and misapplying his teachings with respect to it.

17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away,—Jesus did not destroy the law; he did not set the law aside; he came to fulfill the law, and to take it away by fulfilling it or "nailing it to the cross." (Colossians 2:14.) The Pharisees had implied that he was destroying the law, but in reality he was establishing the law and giving the principles of righteousness by which all should be judged. Heaven and earth will pass away sooner than the law should fail; not the least part of the law, not "one tittle of the law" should fail. Matthew uses "one jot or one tittle" (Matthew 5:18), while Luke uses only "one tittle." "Tittle" is from the Latin "titulus," and means a term signified by a small point or line of the Hebrew letter. I indicates that the smallest requirements of the law must be fulfilled before it is taken out of the way.

18 Every one that putteth away his wife,—For other statements of Christ on this subject see Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9; Mark 10:11-12. The connection of this verse with what precedes or what follows is obscure. Jesus simply teaches the sanctity and binding force of the marriage bond; marriage with either of the separated parties involves the crime of adultery. It is adultery to marry the wife who is put away by her husband or to marry the husband who is put away by the wife. It seems that there is one exception to the rule here laid down, given by Jesus in Matthew 5:32 and perhaps another by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:15. Here Paul says that there may be grounds for separation other than that of fornication, but this does not grant the party the privilege to marry another. Many hold that, even when the one cause for separation exists, the innocent party may marry another.

19 Now there was a certain rich man,—Some have thought that this is not a parable, but a record from real life; they say that the name of one of the principal characters is given, which is not done in any of the parables of Jesus. Others claim that it is a parable; commentators generally have treated it as a parable. It does not matter whether it is regarded as a parable or not; the lesson taught by Jesus remains the same. There is no change in the points or in the lesson taught by regarding it as a parable or regarding it as a simple narration in real life. It is treated here as a parable. Luke records this, and he is the only one who does; he places it in his record in close connection with what Christ had taught with respect to the proper use of riches and the ridicule and scoffing of the covetous Pharisees against his teaching; it may be regarded as a further reply to the scoffing of the Pharisees. At least, it exposes their sin and folly and points out to them their future and appalling doom.

A "certain rich man" is given as one of the principal characters of the parable; he is mentioned first. Some have thought that "Dives" is the name of this character in the parable; however, "Dives" is the Latin word for "rich man." He is described as being "clothed in purple"; this is one of the marks of wealth. "Purple" is a term used by the ancients to include three distinct colors—namely, a deep violet, with a black or dusky tinge; a deep scarlet or crimson, the Tyrian purple; and the deep blue of the Mediterranean. The dye of the purple was fadeless and retained its freshness of color. Purple is also an emblem of royalty. "Fine linen" was a yellowish flax and the linen made from it was considered to be of the finest quality. It was used in making the tabernacle. (Exodus 25:4; Exodus 28:5; Exodus 35:6.) Some of the Egyptian linen was so fine that it was called "woven air." Later this term was applied to cotton and silken goods. He fared "sumptuously every day." Literally he made "merry in splendor each day"; some have translated it "he ate each day shiningly." He was a Jew, a descendant of Abraham whom he addressed as "Father Abraham" (verses 24, 30) and to whom Abraham responded, "Son" (verse 25). He is described, as many Pharisees lived and thought, as thinking he was entitled to every blessing because of his "father Abraham."

20, 21 and a certain beggar named Lazarus—This is the only parable of our Lord where a character has received a proper name. "A certain beggar" sets him apart from many beggars of that day. The term "beggar" designates his destitution of the necessary things of life; he was dependent upon charity for food. The original indicates deep poverty. "Lazarus" is an abbreviated form of "Eleazar" and means "God a help." This was a common name among the Jews. He "was laid" at the rich man’s gate; literally, "was thrown," or cast carelessly down by his bearers and left there; he did not place himself there; he was unable to handle himself. He was placed at the rich man’s "gate," or "gateway"; sometimes it is rendered "porch." To make the description more vivid and pathetic, Lazarus is described as being "full of sores."

and desiring to be fed with the crumbs—He was not fed from the crumbs, but "desired" to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. He was humble and was asking only for the bare necessities of life. He asked only for the crumbs from so much abundance of the rich man. Eagerly he desired the things that fell from the table, but he did not receive what he desired. The same thing is implied in the record of the prodigal son, where the same word is used, "he would fain" have been filled (Luke 15:16), but the pods did not satisfy his hunger. Moreover, "even the dogs came and licked his sores." This description reaches the climax in the dogs licking his sores. The only medical attention that this poor, helpless, hopeless man had was that from the dogs which came and licked his sores. It is not clear whether the licking of the dogs increased his misery or whether he received momentary relief by it. His very existence was a scramble with the dogs.

22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died,—Death was the first and the last relief that came to such a sufferer as Lazarus; the grace receives all alike. We do not know how long the suffering had continued; nothing is said of his burial, for that was of no moment in comparison to what immediately occurred to his soul at death. If he had a burial, it was so brief, obscure that no one knew of it. However, "he was carried away by the angels into Abraham’s bosom." The angels took him in charge and bore his soul away. "Abraham’s bosom" is equivalent to being with Abraham in paradise. Abraham, to the Jew, seems to be the personal center and meeting point of paradise. Some think that "Abraham’s bosom" was a name given to that part of the unseen world, or place of departed spirits, where the patriarchs and the righteous were in happiness. It is similar to the expression used by Jesus in Matthew 8:11. This description fully met the view of the pharisaic Jew with respect to the future blessedness of the good. Abraham was the father of the faithful and the head of the whole Jewish family, and to be with him after death implied happiness. "And the rich man also died; and was buried."

23 And in Hades he lifted up his eyes,—Finally they both died; the rich and poor meet in death; there is the meeting place for all. Death brings the rich and poor, the high and the low, the good and the bad, the wise and the foolish, all to a common level. They did not both dwell together here, and they are separated in their death. "In Hades" the rich man lifted up his eyes. "Hades," in the New Testament, is a broad and general conception, with an idea of locality bound up with it. It is the condition following death, which is blessed or the contrary, according to the moral character of the dead, and is divided into different realms, represented by "paradise" or "Abraham’s bosom," and "Gehenna." It simply means the unseen world, or the underworld. "Hades" in the Greek has the same meaning as "Sheol" in the Hebrew, both representing the region of the departed. "Hades" occurs ten times in the New Testament. (Matthew 11:23; Matthew 16:18; Luke 10:15; Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27; Acts 2:31; Revelation 1:18; Revelation 6:8; Revelation 20:13-14.) The story here needs no comment, nor rhetoric to make it awfully impressive. "Being in torments" designates the place to which the rich man had gone; "in torments" is put in contrast to "Abraham’s bosom"; Jesus puts this case in such terms as to make the great facts clear and unmistakable; he shows that the rich man is in misery, and that Lazarus is among the blessed and happy. The rich man was buried; it is natural to suppose that he was buried with the usual ceremonies that belong to the rich. "In Hades" he lifted up his eyes and saw "Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom." "He lifted up his eyes" shows that the rich man is conceived as being in the abyss, in the lower region of Hades, and looking up toward paradise. "Afar off" represents the distance, or a bridgeless gulf that separated him from Lazarus. He saw Lazarus in Abraham’s "bosom." Lazarus was reclining in honor at the banquet of bliss, while the rich man was agonizing in the misery of eternal punishment.

24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham,—Jesus represents the rich man as a Jew, as he addresses Abraham as "Father." He longs for relief from his sufferings and begs for at least a moment of relief from his anguish. He asks that Lazarus be sent with the smallest means of comfort; he even pleads for Abraham to have mercy on him in giving him a moment’s relief from his anguish. He wishes water to cool his tongue and says that he is "in anguish in this flame." He is continually and eternally tormented. We have here material and physical imagery of spiritual anguish, soul misery. It matters not what may be our views on the nature of this suffering, we must admit that it is terrible beyond anything we can imagine. The mind shrinks back aghast from the horrible torment which is here described.

25 But Abraham said, Son, remember—Abraham is represented as answering the rich man; he addressed him as "Son." This word literally means "child." The answer of Abraham is in great kindness, yet it was frank and severe, calm and firm. The rich man had addressed him as "Father Abraham," and Abraham does not deny the relationship. Joshua spoke to Achan and addressed him as "my son." (Joshua 7:19.) "Remember" is a fearful word at this time there was nothing that the rich man could remember that would be a satisfaction to him now. Memory keeps alive the unpleasant as well as the pleasant things of life. The rich man had only to be reminded of the past to understand the reason of his present misery. The rich man is told plainly that retribution has come. He has to remember that in his "lifetime" or earthly life he received his "good things," and that "Lazarus in like manner evil things." This is another contrast; he had in life exhausted his store of happiness; he had no more claim on the good things which were for him, and which he made the sole object of life. He had enjoyed to the fullest not only the necessities of life, but the rich abundance of luxuries; Lazarus had not enjoyed the meager necessities of life, and had none of the luxuries; the rich man had reveled in his wealth and Lazarus had suffered in his poverty. In this way Lazarus had received his "evil things." Abraham did not say "his" evil things, but just "evil things."

26 And besides all this, between us and you—In addition to all these things Abraham calls attention to a second reason why the request of the rich man could not be granted. It was literally impossible to comply with the request. "Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed." "Gulf" is the original word for "yawn," "or chasm," a "gaping opening." In medical language, which Luke frequently employed, it meant the cavities in a wound or ulcer. This "great gulf" separated the rich man and Lazarus; the separation was greater in their destinies than it could possibly have been in their lives on earth. It was a "great gulf," and was too deep to be filled up, too wide to be bridged over, too great for any passage from one side to the other. It was "fixed"; it could not be changed. The word in the original conveys the idea of fixedness. It was unchangeable in nature, unalterable in condition, and eternal in its establishment.

they that would pass from hence to you—It is not meant that any would want to cross from the side where Lazarus and Abraham were to the side where the rich man was if they knew the conditions on that side; it is not implied that they were ignorant of the conditions on the side of the rich man. Abraham simply means that there can be no passing from one side to the other. It might be that all who were on the side of the rich man would like to pass to the side where Lazarus was;but no one can do that. At death the destinies are determined; there can be no further preparation made, as there can be no passage from one side to the other. It simply means that when one goes to hell there is no way to get out.

27 And he said, I pray thee therefore, father,—This is the second request that the rich man makes of Abraham. The rich man now understood that his case was desperate, his destiny and doom sealed. There is no chance for repentance and salvation in the "intermediate state." In fact, the Bible is not clear as to whether there is an "intermediate state." The rich man had prayed first for himslf to Abraham, and his second prayer is for others. He remembered his brethren and the example that he had set them; he seems to have thought that they might come to that place of torment through his influence, and this added more to his misery and anguish. Their presence would give them an opportunity to reproach him and thus increase his own torment. Hell will be the more miserable because those who have influenced others to go there will forever be reproaching them and adding to their misery if possible. This time he asks Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house. He had nothing in common with Lazarus while on earth, but now he is pleading for Lazarus to render service to him. He knew that he could not escape from his place to go and warn his brethren, but he relied on the mercy of Abraham to send Lazarus to them.

28 for I have five brethren;—Perhaps these were five Pharisees who were following in the footsteps of the departed brother. Nothing can be inferred further than that they were headed in the direction of the rich man. His five brethren were still living. It has been argued by some that the rich man’s anxiety about his five brethren was a sign of improvement in him, and that his punishment had already purified his heart, and made him love his brethren; hence, the notion of "purgatory" has some endorsement in the Bible. However, such an idea is destitute of any truth. He did not want his five brethren to come to his doom. He thought perhaps they would turn if they were warned.

29 But Abraham saith, They have Moses and the prophets; —Abraham’s answer here is also decisive. The law of Moses was still in force. The expression, "Moses and the prophets," has reference to the Old Testament scriptures, and since they were still under the law, they should hear and do what the law required. "Let them hear them"; the verb "hear" is often used in the sense of "obey." They should take heed to follow Moses and the prophets. We have here one of the many testimonies of Jesus, including that of Abraham from the heavenly world, that the Old Testament scriptures are the word of God.

30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham:—The rich man argues the question with Abraham; he pleads for his brethren more than he pleaded for himself. He seemed to think that if one should return from the spirit world his brothers would surely listen to the message. Hence, he said: "If one go to them from the dead, they will repent." The meaning here seems to be that if one should come "from within," they would come nearer repenting than if one should go to them "from the outside." Arising from among the dead was more than a messenger going "from" the dead. The rich man was ignorant of the results from miraculous visions and messages; he had false views of repentance, supposing that something sudden and miraculous would produce it.

31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets,—The answer of Abraham is positive and final; the rich man had affirmed that "they will repent" if one should go to them from among the dead. Abraham tells him that they would not. If they would not hear God at one time, they would not hear him at another time. He had spoken to them through "Moses and the prophets"; if they would not hear them they would not "be persuaded, if one rise from the dead." As proof of this, Jesus was crucified, buried, and arose from the dead, yet the Jewish leaders still rejected him. The truth of God brought to the heart is necessary to repentance; and if it fails vain will be the efforts of men, living or dead, however miraculous. No stronger inducement now can be presented to men for repentance than that which God has presented.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Luke 16". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/luke-16.html.
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