Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
Luke 16

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verse 1

Unto the disciples (κα προς τους μαθητας). 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 κα (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 verse Luke 16:9.

Which had a steward (ος ηιχεν οικονομον). Imperfect active, continued to have. Steward is house-manager or overseer of an estate as already seen in Luke 12:42.

Was accused (διεβληθη). First aorist indicative passive, of διαβαλλω, 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 (slanderer) is this same root and it is used even of women, she-devils (1 Timothy 3:11).

That he was wasting (ως διασκορπιζων). For the verb see on Luke 15:13. The use of ως with the participle is a fine Greek idiom for giving the alleged ground of a charge against one.

His goods (τα υπαρχοντα αυτου). "His belongings," a Lukan idiom.

Verse 2

What is this that I hear? (τ τουτο ακουω;). There are several ways of understanding this terse Greek idiom. The Revised Version (above) takes τ to be equal to τ εστιν τουτο ο ακουω; That is a possible use of the predicate τουτο. Another way is to take τ to be exclamatory, which is less likely. Still another view is that τ is " Why": "Why do I hear this about thee?" See Acts 14:15 where that is the idiom employed.

Render (αποδος). Second aorist active imperative of αποδιδωμ, Give back (and at once).

The account (τον λογον). The reckoning or report. Common use of λογος.

Stewardship (οικονομιας). Same root as οικονομος (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 δυνη).

Verse 3

Within himself (εν εαυτω). 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 (αφαιρειτα). Present (linear) middle indicative of αφαιρεω, old verb to take away. Here the middle present means, He is taking away for himself.

To beg I am not ashamed (επαιτειν αισχυνομα). The infinitive with αισχυνομα means ashamed to begin to beg. The participle, επαιτων αισχυνομα would mean, ashamed while begging, ashamed of begging while doing it.

Verse 4

I am resolved (εγνων). Second aorist active indicative of γινωσκω. 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 (τ ποιησω). Either deliberative first aorist active subjunctive or deliberative future active indicative.

When I am put out (οταν μετασταθω). First aorist passive subjunctive of μεθιστημ, (μετα, ιστημ), old verb, to transpose, transfer, remove. He is expecting to be put out.

They may receive me (δεξωντα). First aorist middle subjunctive of δεχομα, common verb. Subjunctive with final particle ινα. He wishes to put the debtors under obligation to himself.

Debtors (των χρεοφιλετων). A late word. In the N.T. only here and Luke 7:41 from χρεος, loan, and οφειλετης, debtor. It is probable that he dealt with "each one" separately.

Verse 6

Measures (βατους). Transliterated word for Hebrew bath, between eight and nine gallons. Here alone in the N.T. Not the same word as βατος ( bush ) in Luke 6:44.

Thy bond (σου τα γραμματα). Thy writings, thy contracts, thy note.

Quickly (ταχεως). It was a secret arrangement and speed was essential.

Verse 7

Measures (κορους). 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 ).

Verse 8

His lord commended (επηινεσεν ο κυριος). The steward's lord praised him though he himself had been wronged again (see verse Luke 16:1 "wasting his goods").

The unrighteous steward (τον οικονομον της αδικιας). 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 verse Luke 16:9. See "the forgetful hearer" in James 1:25. It is a vernacular idiom common to Hebrew, Aramaic, and the Koine.

Wisely (φρονιμως). An old adverb, though here alone in the N.T. But the adjective φρονιμος from which it comes occurs a dozen times as in Matthew 10:16. It is from φρονεω and that from φρην, 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 (οτ). Probably by this second οτ 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 (φρονιμωτερο υπερ). Shrewder beyond, a common Greek idiom.

Verse 9

By the mammon of unrighteousness (εκ του μαμωνα της αδικιας). 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 εκλιπη). Second aorist active subjunctive with οταν, future time. The mammon is sure to fail.

That they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles (ινα δεξωντα υμας εις τας αιωνιους σκηνας). 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.

Verse 10

Faithful in a very little (πιστος εν ελαχιστω). 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. Verses Luke 16:10-13 here explain the point of the preceding parables.

Verse 11

Faithful in the unrighteous mammon (εν τω αδικω μαμωνα). 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" (ε ουκ εγενεσθε). Failure here forfeits confidence in "the true riches" (το αληθινον). 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.

Verse 12

That which is your own (το υμετερον). But Westcott and Hort read το ημετερον (our own) because of B L Origen. The difference is due to itacism in the pronunciation of υ- and η alike (long). 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 (εν τω αλλοτριω). If you did not prove faithful in this, who will give you what is really yours forever? Compare "rich toward God" (Luke 12:21).

Verse 13

Servant (οικετης). Household (οικος) servant. This is the only addition to Matthew 6:24 where otherwise the language is precisely the same, which see. Either Matthew or Luke has put the λογιον 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.

Verse 14

Who were lovers of money (φιλαργυρο υπαρχοντες). Literally, being lovers of money. Φιλαργυρο is an old word, but in the N.T. only here and 2 Timothy 3:2. It is from φιλος and αργυρος.

Heard (ηκουον). Imperfect active, were listening (all the while Jesus was talking to the disciples (verses Luke 16:1-13).

And they scoffed at him (κα εξεμυκτηριζον). Imperfect active again of εκμυκτηριζω. 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.

Verse 15

That justify yourselves (ο δικαιουντες εαυτους). They were past-masters at that and were doing it now by upturned noses.

An abomination in the sight of God (βδελυγμα ενωπιον του θεου). See on Matthew 24:15; 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.

Verse 16

Entereth violently into it (εις αυτην βιαζετα). A corresponding saying occurs in Matthew 11:12 in a very different context. In both the verb βιαζετα, occurs also, but nowhere else in the N.T. It is present middle here and can be middle or passive in Matthew, which see. It is rare in late prose. Deissmann (Bible Studies, p. 258) cites an inscription where βιαζομα 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.

Verse 17

One tittle (μιαν κερεαν). See on Matthew 5:18.

Verse 18

Committeth adultery (μοιχευε). 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.

Verse 19

He was clothed (ενεδιδυσκετο). Imperfect middle of ενδιδυσκω, a late intensive form of ενδυω. He clothed himself in or with. It was his habit.

Purple (πορφυραν). This purple dye was obtained from the purple fish, a species of mussel or μυρεξ (1Macc. 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).

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 occurs in Revelation 18:12; Revelation 19:8; Revelation 19:14.

Faring sumptuously (ευφραινομενος λαμπρως).

Making merry brilliantly . The verb ευφραινομα we have already had in Luke 12:19; Luke 15:23; Luke 15:25; Luke 15:32. Λαμπρως is an old adverb from λαμπρος, brilliant, shining, splendid, magnificent. It occurs here only in the N.T. This parable apparently was meant for the Pharisees (verse Luke 16:14) who were lovers of money. It shows the wrong use of money and opportunity.

Verse 20

Beggar (πτωχος). Original meaning of this old word. See on Matthew 5:3. The name Lazarus is from Ελεαζαρος, "God a help," and was a common one. Lazar in English means one afflicted with a pestilential disease.

Was laid (εβεβλητο). Past perfect passive of the common verb βαλλω. He had been flung there and was still there, "as if contemptuous roughness is implied" (Plummer).

At his gate (προς τον πυλωνα αυτου). 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 (ειλκωμενος). Perfect passive participle of ελκοω, to make sore, to ulcerate, from ελκος, ulcer (Latin ulcus). See use of ελκος in verse Luke 16:21. Common in Hippocrates and other medical writers. Here only in the N.T.

Verse 21

With the crumbs that fell (απο των πιπτοντων). 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 κα ο κυνες). For αλλα κα see also Luke 12:7; Luke 24:22. Αλλα 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). Imperfect active of επιλειχω, a late vernacular Koine 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.

Verse 22

Was borne (απενεχθηνα). First aorist passive infinitive from αποφερω, a common compound defective verb. The accusative case of general reference (αυτον) is common with the infinitive in such clauses after εγενετο, 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). 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; 4Macc. 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 (εταφη). Second aorist (effective) passive of the common verb θαπτω. Apparently in contrast with the angelic visitation to the beggar.

Verse 23

In Hades (εν τω Hαιδη). See 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 (εν βασανοις). 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 (ορα). 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 (απο μακροθεν). Pleonastic use of απο as μακροθεν means

from afar .

Verse 24

That he may dip (ινα βαψη). First aorist active subjunctive of βαπτω, common verb, to dip.

In water (υδατος). Genitive, the specifying case, water and not something else.

Cool (καταψυξη). First aorist active subjunctive of καταψυχω, 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- (down). A small service that will be welcome.

For I am in anguish (οτ οδυνωμα). 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.

Verse 25

Receivedst (απελαβες). Second aorist indicative of απολαμβανω, 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). Not "his," but "the evil things" that came upon him.

Thou art in anguish (οδυνασα). Like καυχασα in Romans 2:17. They contracted -αεσα without the loss of ς. Common in the Koine.

Verse 26

Beside all this (εν πασ τουτοις).

In all these things (or regions).

Gulf (χασμα). An old word from χαινω, to yawn, our chasm, a gaping opening. Only here in the N.T.

Is fixed (εστηρικτα). Perfect passive indicative of στηριζω, old verb (see on Luke 9:51). Permanent chasm.

May not be able (μη δυνωντα). Present middle subjunctive of δυναμα. The chasm is there on purpose ( that not , οπως μη) to prevent communication.

Verse 27

That you send him (ινα πεμψηις αυτον). 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).

Verse 28

That he may testify (οπως διαμαρτυρητα). An old verb for solemn and thorough (δια-) witness. The Rich Man labours under the delusion that his five brothers will believe the testimony of Lazarus as a man from the dead.

Verse 29

Let them hear them (ακουσατωσαν αυτων). 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).

Verse 30

They will repent (μετανοησουσιν). 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.

Verse 31

Neither will they be persuaded (ουδ' πεισθησοντα). First future passive of πειθω. 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."

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 16". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/luke-16.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
Ads FreeProfile