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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Luke 16

Introduction

Luke 9:51 to Luke 18:14 .— Lk. now more than atones for his great omission (of Mark 6:45 to Mark 8:26) by a great insertion. This section is mainly peculiar to Lk. It describes incidents of the last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem.

Verses 1-9

Luke 16:1-1 Samuel : . Parable of the Unjust Steward (Lk. only).— It has been suggested that a better title would be “ The Shrewd Agent.” At any rate the epithet “ unrighteous” has as much reference (if not more) to Luke 16:1 as to Luke 16:5-Judges :. A steward in danger of dismissal for mismanagement of his master’ s estate seeks to provide for the future by making friends with the tenants. That this is at his master’ s expense has nothing to do with the point of the parable- , it is a parable, not an allegory. The agent summons the tenants, who are under bond to pay part of their rent in kind (or perhaps they are merchants having supplies of goods on credit) and encourages them to alter their contracts in their own favour. Who is “ the lord” that praises the overseer for his action? Apparently it is the landlord ( cf. Luke 16:5), himself a man of the world, though some commentators, e.g. Wellhausen and J. Weiss, say it is Jesus ( cf. Luke 18:6). In any case the steward’ s cleverness is commended (along the lines of Matthew 10:16), and the comment is made (by Jesus) that “ the children of this world” display more shrewdness and common-sense, at least in their everyday and present life affairs, than “ the children of light.” (There is a Johannine ring about this antithesis.) The former are keener on temporal, than the latter on eternal, well-being. Men are more resourceful, resolute, and zealous about material gain (and we may add sport) than in social and moral reform, or the spread of the Kingdom of God. An interesting but not convincing interpretation of the parable is given in Latham, Pastor Pastorum, pp. 386– 398. Luke 16:9 refers not to general alertness or worldly wisdom, but to a wise use of money, especially money wrongly acquired, and we could understand it better if it were addressed to tax-gatherers (like Zacchæ us). Unjust gains cannot always be restored to their owners, but they can be given in alms, and so win friends or even heaven. It is perhaps better to take the parable as ending with Luke 16:8, and Luke 16:9 as a comment on it, a link with Luke 16:10-1 Chronicles :, and a prelude to Luke 16:19-Obadiah :.

Luke 16:1 . accused: the papyri have the Gr. word diaballô in the sense of “ complain,” so we need not assume any malice or falsehood in its use here.

Luke 16:4 . they: the tenants or debtors of Luke 16:5

Luke 16:8 . The emphasis is on wisely (which is not “ honestly” ).

Luke 16:9 . when it fails: we should probably read “ when you fail,” i.e. die.— the eternal tabernacles: in contrast to the houses of Luke 16:4. The parallel does not necessarily stamp the verse as a moralising accretion to the parable.

Verses 10-13

Luke 16:10-1 Chronicles : . The Right Use of Money. Lk. only, except Luke 16:13 (= Matthew 6:24), which is brought in by the verbal link “ mammon.” The note here is fidelity. There is some connexion with Luke 16:1-1 Samuel : in the subject— property and its obligations. In money matters one must be beyond reproach. If a man is untrustworthy here, how shall he be entrusted with the true wealth, the Messianic Kingdom? Luke 16:11-2 Kings : are parallel sayings; “ your own” corresponds to “ the true riches,” and “ that which is another’ s” is therefore wealth which is regarded as lent to men only for a season. We are reminded of the Parable of the Talents.

Luke 16:11 . unrighteous mammon: wealth is stigmatised as dishonest because it is so often the origin and cause of dishonesty.

Verses 14-18

Luke 16:14-Job : . Words to Pharisees.

Luke 16:14 f. Lk. only. The verses seem introduced by Lk. to indicate that the preceding and succeeding parables were directed against Pharisees. They also illustrate his antipathy to the rich. Poverty and righteousness are identified, as in many of the Psalms. In Lk.’ s source the parable of Luke 16:19-Obadiah : may have illustratively followed Luke 16:15.

Luke 16:16 . Cf. Matthew 11:12 f.* The coming of John marks a crisis in the religious history of the world; he separates the Law from the Kingdom. And yet the Law has not been abrogated ( Luke 16:17, cf. Matthew 5:18 *); what seems subversion, e.g. Christ’ s teaching on divorce, is really preservation. The underlying teaching is that the Gospel fulfils and perfects the Law.

Luke 16:18 combines the first case of Mark 10:11 * with the second case of Matthew 5:32 *, and may be the original form.

Verses 19-31

Luke 16:19-Obadiah : . Parable of Dives and Lazarus (Lk. only).— The story may have originally ended at Luke 16:23 or at Luke 16:25, and been intended simply to illustrate the contrasted lot of poor and rich in this world and the next. Cf. Luke 6:21 ; Luke 6:24. Inequality is redressed apart from moral considerations. We need not suppose that Dives was specially cruel; if Lazarus had only got harsh treatment at his door he would have shifted his pitch. Certain points are (as usual in the parables) ignored, e.g. the fate of the godly rich or the wicked poor, and the unequal balance of temporal comfort and eternal woe. To the rich man’ s deprivation is added punishment, so that we have to assume that he was not only rich but wicked. “ The five brothers are types of unbelieving, unrepentant Judaism,” and the object of the addition ( Luke 16:26-Obadiah :) to the parable is to show that their unbelief is without excuse. Moses and the prophets really testified to the Messiahship of Jesus and therefore how to avoid Gehenna. It is scarcely necessary to find in Luke 16:31 an allusion to the resurrection of Jesus, or even to the raising of Lazarus (John 11).

Luke 16:20 . Lazarus: the name (= Eleazar) may have been chosen for its meaning, “ God is his help.”

Luke 16:21 . crumbs: the word is not in the Gr., and we should rather understand the pieces of bread which took the place of table napkins after the eaters had dipped their hands in the dishes.

Luke 16:22 . into Abraham’ s bosom: i.e. reclining next to Abraham in the celestial banquet.

Luke 16:23 . Hades: here equivalent to Gehenna, not simply a places of shades, but of torment, which is emphasised by Paradise being within sight. Note that judgment here follows immediately on death, and is unalterable ( Luke 16:26). “ The description of the realms beyond death is without parallel in the reserve with which the conditions of the future are elsewhere veiled” (Carpenter).

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Luke 16". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/luke-16.html. 1919.