Unto the disciples (και προς τους ματητας kai pros tous mathētas). The three preceding parables in chapter 15 exposed the special faults of the Pharisees, “their hard exclusiveness, self-righteousness, and contempt for others” (Plummer). This parable is given by Luke alone. The και kai (also) is not translated in the Revised Version. It seems to mean that at this same time, after speaking to the Pharisees (chapter 15), Jesus proceeds to speak a parable to the disciples (Luke 16:1-13), the parable of the Unjust Steward. It is a hard parable to explain, but Jesus opens the door by the key in Luke 16:9.Which had a steward (ος ηιχεν οικονομον hos ēichen oikonomon). Imperfect active, continued to have. Steward is house-manager or overseer of an estate as already seen in Luke 12:42. Was accused (διεβλητη dieblēthē). First aorist indicative passive, of διαβαλλω diaballō an old verb, but here only in the N.T. It means to throw across or back and forth, rocks or words and so to slander by gossip. The word implies malice even if the thing said is true. The word διαβολος diabolos (slanderer) is this same root and it is used even of women, she-devils (1 Timothy 3:11). That he was wasting (ως διασκορπιζων hōs diaskorpizōn). For the verb, see note on Luke 15:13. The use of ως hōs with the participle is a fine Greek idiom for giving the alleged ground of a charge against one. His goods (τα υπαρχοντα αυτου ta huparchonta autou). “His belongings,” a Lukan idiom.
What is this that I hear? (τι τουτο ακουω ti touto akouō̱). There are several ways of understanding this terse Greek idiom. The Revised Version (above) takes τι ti to be equal to τι εστιν τουτο ο ακουω ti estin touto ho akouō That is a possible use of the predicate τουτο touto Another way is to take τι ti to be exclamatory, which is less likely. Still another view is that τι ti is “Why”: “Why do I hear this about thee?” See Acts 14:15 where that is the idiom employed.Render (αποδος apodos). Second aorist active imperative of αποδιδωμι apodidōmi Give back (and at once). The account (τον λογον ton logon). The reckoning or report. Common use of λογος logos (οικονομιας oikonomias). Same root as οικονομος oikonomos (steward). This demand does not necessarily mean dismissal if investigation proved him innocent of the charges. But the reason given implies that he is to be dismissed: Thou canst no longer (ου γαρ δυνηι ou gar dunēi). d
Within himself (εν εαυτωι en heautōi). As soon as he had time to think the thing over carefully. He knew that he was guilty of embezzlement of the Master‘s funds.Taketh away (απαιρειται aphaireitai). Present (linear) middle indicative of απαιρεω aphaireō old verb to take away. Here the middle present means, He is taking away for himself. To beg I am not ashamed (επαιτειν αισχυνομαι epaitein aischunomai). The infinitive with αισχυνομαι aischunomai means ashamed to begin to beg. The participle, επαιτων αισχυνομαι epaitōn aischunomai would mean, ashamed while begging, ashamed of begging while doing it.
I am resolved (εγνων egnōn). Second aorist active indicative of γινωσκω ginōskō A difficult tense to reproduce in English. I knew, I know, I have known, all miss it a bit. It is a burst of daylight to the puzzled, darkened man: I‘ve got it, I see into it now, a sudden solution.What to do (τι ποιησω ti poiēsō). Either deliberative first aorist active subjunctive or deliberative future active indicative. When I am put out (οταν μεταστατω hotan metastathō). First aorist passive subjunctive of μετιστημι methistēmi (μετα ιστημι meta δεχωνται histēmi), old verb, to transpose, transfer, remove. He is expecting to be put out. They may receive me (δεχομαι dexōntai). First aorist middle subjunctive of ινα dechomai common verb. Subjunctive with final particle των χρεοπιλετων hina He wishes to put the debtors under obligation to himself. Debtors (χρεος tōn chreophiletōn). A late word. In the N.T. only here and Luke 7:41 from οπειλετης chreos loan, and opheiletēs debtor. It is probable that he dealt with “each one” separately.
Measures (βατους batous). Transliterated word for Hebrew βατος bath between eight and nine gallons. Here alone in the N.T. Not the same word as σου τα γραμματα batos (bush) in Luke 6:44.Thy bond (ταχεως sou ta grammata). Thy writings, thy contracts, thy note. Quickly (tacheōs). It was a secret arrangement and speed was essential.
Measures (κορους korous). Another Hebrew word for dry measure. The Hebrew cor was about ten bushels. Data are not clear about the Hebrew measures whether liquid (bath) or dry (cor).
His lord commended (επηινεσεν ο κυριος epēinesen ho kurios). The steward‘s lord praised him though he himself had been wronged again (see Luke 16:1 “wasting his goods”).The unrighteous steward (τον οικονομον της αδικιας ton oikonomon tēs adikias). Literally, the steward of unrighteousness. The genitive is the case of genus, species, the steward distinguished by unrighteousness as his characteristic. See “the mammon of unrighteousness” in Luke 16:9. See “the forgetful hearer” in James 1:25. It is a vernacular idiom common to Hebrew, Aramaic, and the Koiné. Wisely (προνιμως phronimōs). An old adverb, though here alone in the N.T. But the adjective προνιμος phronimos from which it comes occurs a dozen times as in Matthew 10:16. It is from προνεω phroneō and that from πρην phrēn the mind (1 Corinthians 14:20), the discerning intellect. Perhaps “shrewdly” or “discreetly” is better here than “wisely.” The lord does not absolve the steward from guilt and he was apparently dismissed from his service. His shrewdness consisted in finding a place to go by his shrewdness. He remained the steward of unrighteousness even though his shrewdness was commended. For (οτι hoti). Probably by this second οτι hoti Jesus means to say that he cites this example of shrewdness because it illustrates the point. “This is the moral of the whole parable. Men of the world in their dealings with men like themselves are more prudent than the children of light in their intercourse with one another” (Plummer). We all know how stupid Christians can be in their co-operative work in the kingdom of God, to go no further. Wiser than (προνιμωτεροι υπερ phronimōteroi huper). Shrewder beyond, a common Greek idiom.
By the mammon of unrighteousness (εκ του μαμωνα της αδικιας ek tou mamōnā tēs adikias). By the use of what is so often evil (money). In Matthew 6:24 mammon is set over against God as in Luke 16:13 below. Jesus knows the evil power in money, but servants of God have to use it for the kingdom of God. They should use it discreetly and it is proper to make friends by the use of it.When it shall fail (οταν εκλιπηι hotan eklipēi). Second aorist active subjunctive with οταν hotan future time. The mammon is sure to fail. That they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles (ινα δεχωνται υμας εις τας αιωνιους σκηνας hina dexōntai humas eis tas aiōnious skēnas). This is the purpose of Christ in giving the advice about their making friends by the use of money. The purpose is that those who have been blessed and helped by the money may give a welcome to their benefactors when they reach heaven. There is no thought here of purchasing an entrance into heaven by the use of money. That idea is wholly foreign to the context. These friends will give a hearty welcome when one gives him mammon here. The wise way to lay up treasure in heaven is to use one‘s money for God here on earth. That will give a cash account there of joyful welcome, not of purchased entrance.
Faithful in a very little (πιστος εν ελαχιστωι pistos en elachistōi). Elative superlative. One of the profoundest sayings of Christ. We see it in business life. The man who can be trusted in a very small thing will be promoted to large responsibilities. That is the way men climb to the top. Men who embezzle in large sums began with small sums. Luke 16:10-13 here explain the point of the preceding parables.
Faithful in the unrighteous mammon (εν τωι αδικωι μαμωναι en tōi adikōi mamōnāi). In the use of what is considered “unrighteous” as it so often is. Condition of the first class, “if ye did not prove to be” (ει ουκ εγενεστε ei ouk egenesthe). Failure here forfeits confidence in “the true riches” (το αλητινον to alēthinon). There is no sadder story than to see a preacher go down by the wrong use of money, caught in this snare of the devil.
That which is your own (το μετερον to hūmeteron). But Westcott and Hort read το ημετερον to hēmeteron (our own) because of B L Origen. The difference is due to itacism in the pronunciation of hū - and η hē alike (long i). But the point in the passage calls for “yours” as correct. Earthly wealth is ours as a loan, a trust, withdrawn at any moment. It belongs to another (ι en tōi allotriōi). If you did not prove faithful in this, who will give you what is really yours forever? Compare “rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).
Servant (οικετης oiketēs). Household (οικος oikos) servant. This is the only addition to Matthew 6:24 where otherwise the language is precisely the same, which see note. Either Matthew or Luke has put the λογιον logion in the wrong place or Jesus spoke it twice. It suits perfectly each context. There is no real reason for objecting to repetition of favourite sayings by Jesus.
Who were lovers of money (πιλαργυροι υπαρχοντες philarguroi huparchontes). Literally, being lovers of money. Πιλαργυροι Philarguroi is an old word, but in the N.T. only here and 2 Timothy 3:2. It is from πιλος philos and αργυρος arguros (ηκουον ēkouon). Imperfect active, were listening (all the while Jesus was talking to the disciples (Luke 16:1-13).And they scoffed at him (και εχεμυκτηριζον kai exemuktērizon). Imperfect active again of εκμυκτηριζω ekmuktērizō lxx where late writers use simple verb. In the N.T. only here and Luke 23:35. It means to turn out or up the nose at one, to sneer, to scoff. The Romans had a phrase, naso adunco suspendere, to hang on the hooked nose (the subject of ridicule). These money-loving Pharisees were quick to see that the words of Jesus about the wise use of money applied to them. They had stood without comment the three parables aimed directly at them (the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son). But now they do not remain quiet while they hear the fourth parable spoken to the disciples. No words were apparently spoken, but their eyes, noses, faces were eloquent with a fine disdain.
That justify yourselves (οι δικαιουντες εαυτους hoi dikaiountes heautous). They were past-masters at that and were doing it now by upturned noses.An abomination in the sight of God (βδελυγμα ενωπιον του τεου bdelugma enōpion tou theou). See note on Matthew 24:15 and note on Mark 13:14 for this lxx word for a detestable thing as when Antiochus Epiphanes set up an altar to Zeus in place of that to Jehovah. There is withering scorn in the use of this phrase by Jesus to these pious pretenders.
Entereth violently into it (εις αυτην βιαζεται eis autēn biazetai). A corresponding saying occurs in Matthew 11:12 in a very different context. In both the verb βιαζεται biazetai occurs also, but nowhere else in the N.T. It is present middle here and can be middle or passive in Matthew, which see note. It is rare in late prose. Deissmann (Bible Studies, p. 258) cites an inscription where βιαζομαι biazomai is reflexive middle and used absolutely. Here the meaning clearly is that everyone forces his way into the kingdom of God, a plea for moral enthusiasm and spiritual passion and energy that some today affect to despise.
One tittle (μιαν κερεαν mian kerean). See note on Matthew 5:18.
Committeth adultery (μοιχευει moicheuei). Another repeated saying of Christ (Matthew 5:32; Mark 10:11.; Matthew 19:9.). Adultery remains adultery, divorce or no divorce, remarriage or no marriage.
He was clothed (ενεδιδυσκετο enedidusketo). Imperfect middle of ενδιδυσκω endiduskō a late intensive form of ενδυω enduō He clothed himself in or with. It was his habit.Purple (πορπυραν porphuran). This purple dye was obtained from the purple fish, a species of mussel or μυρεχ murex (1 Maccabees 4:23). It was very costly and was used for the upper garment by the wealthy and princes (royal purple). They had three shades of purple (deep violet, deep scarlet or crimson, deep blue). See also Mark 15:17, Mark 15:20; Revelation 18:12. Fine linen (βυσσον busson). Byssus or Egyptian flax (India and Achaia also). It is a yellowed flax from which fine linen was made for undergarments. It was used for wrapping mummies. “Some of the Egyptian linen was so fine that it was called woven air” (Vincent). Here only in the N.T. for the adjective βυσσινος bussinos occurs in Revelation 18:12; Revelation 19:8, Revelation 19:14. Faring sumptuously (ευπραινομενος λαμπρως euphrainomenos lamprōs). Making merry brilliantly. The verb ευπραινομαι euphrainomai we have already had in Luke 12:19; Luke 15:23, Luke 15:25, Luke 15:32. Λαμπρως Lamprōs is an old adverb from λαμπρος lampros brilliant, shining, splendid, magnificent. It occurs here only in the N.T. This parable apparently was meant for the Pharisees (Luke 16:14) who were lovers of money. It shows the wrong use of money and opportunity.
Beggar (πτωχος ptōchos). Original meaning of this old word. See note on Matthew 5:3. The name Lazarus is from Eleazaros “God a help,” and was a common one.Lazar in English means one afflicted with a pestilential disease. Was laid (ebeblēto). Past perfect passive of the common verb Ελεαζαρος ballō He had been flung there and was still there, “as if contemptuous roughness is implied” (Plummer). At his gate (εβεβλητο pros ton pulōna autou). Right in front of the large portico or gateway, not necessarily a part of the grand house, porch in Matthew 26:71. Full of sores (βαλλω heilkōmenos). Perfect passive participle of προς τον πυλωνα αυτου helkoō to make sore, to ulcerate, from ειλκωμενος helkos ulcer (Latin ulcus). See use of ελκοω helkos in Luke 16:21. Common in Hippocrates and other medical writers. Here only in the N.T.
With the crumbs that fell (απο των πιπτοντων apo tōn piptontōn). From the things that fell from time to time. The language reminds one of Luke 15:16 (the prodigal son) and the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mark 7:28). Only it does not follow that this beggar did not get the scraps from the rich man‘s table. Probably he did, though nothing more. Even the wild street dogs would get them also.Yea, even the dogs (αλλα και οι κυνες alla kai hoi kunes). For αλλα και alla kai see also Luke 12:7; Luke 24:22. Αλλα Alla can mean “yea,” though it often means “but.” Here it depends on how one construes Luke‘s meaning. If he means that he was dependent on casual scraps and it was so bad that even the wild dogs moreover were his companions in misery, the climax came that he was able to drive away the dogs. The other view is that his hunger was unsatisfied, but even the dogs increased his misery. Licked his sores (επελειχον τα ελκη αυτου epeleichon ta helkē autou). Imperfect active of επιλειχω epileichō a late vernacular Koiné verb, to lick over the surface. It is not clear whether the licking of the sores by the dogs added to the misery of Lazarus or gave a measure of comfort, as he lay in his helpless condition. “Furrer speaks of witnessing dogs and lepers waiting together for the refuse” (Bruce). It was a scramble between the dogs and Lazarus.
Was borne (απενεχτηναι apenechthēnai). First aorist passive infinitive from αποπερω apopherō a common compound defective verb. The accusative case of general reference (αυτον auton) is common with the infinitive in such clauses after εγενετο egeneto like indirect discourse. It is his soul, of course, that was so borne by the angels, not his body.Into Abraham‘s bosom (εις τον ολπον Αβρααμ eis ton holpon Abraam). To be in Abraham‘s bosom is to the Jew to be in Paradise. In John 1:18 the Logos is in the bosom of the Father. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are in heaven and welcome those who come (Matthew 8:11; 4 Maccabees 14:17). The beloved disciple reclined on the bosom of Jesus at the last passover (John 13:23) and this fact indicates special favour. So the welcome to Lazarus was unusual. Was buried (εταπη etaphē). Second aorist (effective) passive of the common verb ταπτω thaptō Apparently in contrast with the angelic visitation to the beggar.
In Hades (εν τωι αιδηι en tōi Hāidēi). See note on Matthew 16:18 for discussion of this word. Lazarus was in Hades also for both Paradise (Abraham‘s bosom) and Gehenna are in the unseen world beyond the grave.In torments (en basanois). The touchstone by which gold and other metals were tested, then the rack for torturing people. Old word, but in the N.T. only here, Luke 16:28; Matthew 4:24. Sees (εν βασανοις horāi). Dramatic present indicative. The Jews believed that Gehenna and Paradise were close together. This detail in the parable does not demand that we believe it. The picture calls for it. From afar (οραι apo makrothen). Pleonastic use of απο μακροτεν apo as απο makrothen means from afar.
That he may dip (ινα βαπσηι hina bapsēi). First aorist active subjunctive of βαπτω baptō common verb, to dip.In water (υδατος hudatos). Genitive, the specifying case, water and not something else. Cool (καταπσυχηι katapsuxēi). First aorist active subjunctive of καταπσυχω katapsuchō a late Greek compound, to cool off, to make cool. Only here in the N.T. but common in medical books. Note perfective use of κατα kata - (down). A small service that will be welcome. For I am in anguish (οτι οδυνωμαι hoti odunōmai). The active has a causative sense to cause intense pain, the middle to torment oneself (Luke 2:48; Acts 20:38), the passive to be translated as here. Common verb, but no other examples in the N.T.
Receivedst (απελαβες apelabes). Second aorist indicative of απολαμβανω apolambanō old verb to get back what is promised and in full. See also Luke 6:34; Luke 18:30; Luke 23:41.Evil things (τα κακα ta kaka). Not “his,” but “the evil things” that came upon him. Thou art in anguish (οδυνασαι odunāsai). Like καυχασαι kauchāsai in Romans 2:17. They contracted -αεσαι aesai without the loss of s. Common in the Koiné.
Beside all this (εν πασι τουτοις en pāsi toutois).In all these things (or regions). Gulf (χασμα chasma). An old word from χαινω chainō to yawn, our chasm, a gaping opening. Only here in the N.T. Is fixed (εστηρικται estēriktai). Perfect passive indicative of στηριζω stērizō old verb (See note on Luke 9:51). Permanent chasm. May not be able (μη δυνωνται mē dunōntai). Present middle subjunctive of δυναμαι dunamai The chasm is there on purpose (that not, οπως μη hopōs mē) to prevent communication.
That you send him (ινα πεμπσηις αυτον hina pempsēis auton). As if he had not had a fair warning and opportunity. The Roman Catholics probably justify prayer to saints from this petition from the Rich Man to Abraham, but both are in Hades (the other world). It is to be observed besides, that Abraham makes no effort to communicate with the five brothers. But heavenly recognition is clearly assumed. Dante has a famous description of his visit to the damned (Purg. iii, 114).
That he may testify (οπως διαμαρτυρηται hopōs diamarturētai). An old verb for solemn and thorough (δια dia -) witness. The Rich Man labours under the delusion that his five brothers will believe the testimony of Lazarus as a man from the dead.
Let them hear them (ακουσατωσαν αυτων akousatōsan autōn). Even the heathen have the evidence of nature to show the existence of God as Paul argues in Romans so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20.).
They will repent (μετανοησουσιν metanoēsousin). The Rich Man had failed to do this and he now sees that it is the one thing lacking. It is not wealth, not poverty, not alms, not influence, but repentance that is needed. He had thought repentance was for others, not for all.
Neither will they be persuaded (ουδ πειστησονται oud' peisthēsontai). First future passive of πειτω peithō Gressmann calls attention to the fact that Jesus is saying this in the conclusion of the parable. It is a sharp discouragement against efforts today to communicate with the dead. “Saul was not led to repentance when he saw Samuel at Endor nor were the Pharisees when they saw Lazarus come forth from the tomb. The Pharisees tried to put Lazarus to death and to explain away the resurrection of Jesus” (Plummer). Alford comments on the curious fact that Lazarus was the name of the one who did rise from the dead but whose return from the dead “was the immediate exciting cause of their (Pharisees) crowning act of unbelief.”
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 16". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany