Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 16:5

And he summoned each one of his master's debtors, and he began saying to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?'
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Covetousness;   Dishonesty;   Embezzlement;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Malfeasance in Office;   Probation;   Servant;   Steward;   Worldliness;   Scofield Reference Index - Parables;   Thompson Chain Reference - Business Life;   Credit System;   Debts;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Creditors;   Parables;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Parable;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Parables;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Christ, Christology;   Heaven, Heavens, Heavenlies;   Wealth;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Luke, Gospel of;   Parables;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Debt;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Almsgiving ;   Asceticism (2);   Bill;   Circumstantiality in the Parables;   Common Life;   Discourse;   Foolishness;   Friendship;   Honesty ;   Laughter;   Loans;   Mammon;   Paradox;   Premeditation;   Property (2);   Spiritualizing of the Parables;   Steward, Stewardship;   Token;   Trade and Commerce;   Wealth (2);   Wicked (2);   Winter ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Lord;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Lazarus;   Steward;   Trade;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Called every one - As he was “steward,” he had the management of all the affairs, and, of course, debts were to be paid to him.

Debtors - Those who “owed” his master, or perhaps “tenants;” those who rented land of his master.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 16:5". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/luke-16.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And calling to him each one of his lord' s debtors, he said to the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, A hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bond, and sit down quickly and write fifty. Then he said to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, A hundred measures of wheat. He saith unto him, Take thy bond, and write fourscore.

The size of this operation is evident in the large amounts owed. The measures used here for oil and wheat were "the bath, which was about 9 gallons, and the cor, which was about 11 bushels."[13] Thus, the transactions mentioned involved some 900 gallons of olive oil and about 1,100 bushels of wheat. Summers is doubtless correct in the view that "This was a business venture in which the steward helped several retailers cheat a wholesaler with whom they traded."[14] Certainly, these amounts are much greater than would have been expected of mere tenants on the lord's estate.

This lowering of the bills is the perfect analogy of the manner in which the scribes and Pharisees lowered the standards of righteousness as a device for keeping their hold upon the people: allowing divorce on any pretext (Luke 16:18), and by countless devices making void the law of God (Matthew 23:16). And, although the scribes and Pharisees were the deceitful stewards in view here the analogy may be extended throughout Christian history to include countless others who have marked down the gospel and perverted God's law.

This crooked device of the unjust steward was known to Pharaoh who proposed to Moses that God's command to go three days' journey into the wilderness might be honored by going "not very far away" (Exodus 8:28). It is, of course, a device of Satan; and it is still being employed against the truth. Jesus Christ commanded faith, repentance, confession, and baptism into Christ as preconditions of salvation; but the unjust steward still offers salvation to men for "faith only" or "confession only." The moral requirements of Christianity are still being marked down in the matter of easy divorce for any cause, or none at all, just as the Pharisees were doing. The worship of Jesus Christ is demanded of all who would be saved, in terms of a full hundred measures of oil, or of wheat. That worship requires that men sing, pray, study God's word, give their means to support the truth, and faithfully observe the Lord's supper. And, despite this, there are great systems of "Christian" religions that reduced the requirements in various particulars.

It should be noted that the unjust steward moved with all possible dispatch and diligence to put his evil plan in operation. That same line that records his resolution defines also his summary action to fulfill it. He acted then and there, not putting it off a single day.

Furthermore, he exhibited the most efficient thoroughness in the implementation of his scheme. "He called EVERY ONE of his lord's debtors." None was skipped, or overlooked.

Sit down quickly ... emphasizes the urgency of the steward's plans and the speed with which they were prosecuted.

Thus it is clear enough that in quite a number of the most important qualities, that unjust steward was fully entitled to commendation, not for his dishonesty, BUT FOR THOSE QUALITIES. And what were they?

1. He told himself the truth.

2. He took account of his own need which would not diminish merely because he had lost his job.

3. He accurately appraised the necessity to make some provision against that future need, even as Christ himself commanded (Revelation 3:18).

4. He used those things which he yet controlled in order to meet that inevitable future need.

5. He acted at once with all possible speed.

6. He acted with brilliant efficiency and thoroughness.SIZE>

It is in these qualities that the steward provides an example of what all men should do with reference to the eternal needs of the soul; and, sadly enough, these are exactly the things that countless millions of men will not do with reference to those very needs.

[13] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 759.

[14] Ray Summers, Commentary on Luke (Waco, Texas: Word Books, Publisher, 1973), p. 190.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 16:5". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/luke-16.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

So he called every one of his Lord's debtors,.... Either the Gentiles, who were greatly indebted to God, having sinned against him, and the law, and light of nature, at a great rate; into whose affections, houses, and palaces, the Jews found ways and means to introduce themselves; and, in process of time, got leave to have synagogues built, and their worship set up again: or else the Jews, their countrymen; since these were under those stewards, tutors, and governors, and were debtors to do the whole law; and had, by breaking the law, contracted large debts; and against whom the ceremonial law stood as an handwriting: these the steward called

unto him, and said unto the first, how much owest thou unto my Lord? and it is observable, that the debts of these men, of the first, lay in oil, and of the other in wheat; things much used in the ceremonial law, in the observance of which they had been, greatly deficient; see Exodus 29:40

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 16:5". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/luke-16.html. 1999.

Vincent's Word Studies

He called

Alford and Trench think that the debtors were together; but the words seem to me to indicate that he dealt with them separately. He called to him each one, and said unto the first; after that ( ἔπειτα ) another.

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The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 16:5". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/luke-16.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

The Fourfold Gospel

I am resolved what to do1, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they2 may receive me into their houses.

  1. I am resolved what to do. A way of escape comes to him in a sudden flash of discovery.

  2. They. The lord's debtors.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 16:5". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/luke-16.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

5 So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?

Ver. 5. How much owest thou?] Some are ever owing; and may say of debt, as the strumpet Quartilla did of her virginity, Iunonem meam iratam habeam, si unquam me meminerim virginem fuisse. Petron.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 16:5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/luke-16.html. 1865-1868.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

5.] It is more natural to suppose that these χρεοφειλέται had borrowed, i.e. not yet paid for these articles of food out of the stores of the rich man, than that they were contractors to the amounts specified.

τοῦ κ. ἑαυτοῦ, of his own lord,—shewing the unprincipled boldness of his plan for saving himself; as we express the same when we say, ‘he robbed his own father.’

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 16:5". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/luke-16.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Luke 16:5. ἕνα ἓκαστσν, every one) in order that he might put as many as possible under obligations to him; therefore two instances merely, for the sake of example, are subjoined in the following verses.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 16:5". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/luke-16.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Ver. 5 See Poole on "Luke 16:1"

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 16:5". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/luke-16.html. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

“And calling to him each one of his lord’s debtors, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe to my lord?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bond, and sit down quickly and write fifty’.”

The first debtor he approaches admits to owing a hundred measures of oil. The measure would be between five and ten gallons. Thus the debt is considerable. So he suggests a fifty percent discount on condition he pays immediately. To the debtor such an opportunity appears too good to miss, so he agrees. Both appear to be satisfied, the one because of his discount, and the other because he has obtained immediate payment. And the estate manager no doubt makes it clear as to whom he really owes this generosity. It should be noted that as the estate manager he would almost certainly have the right to allow such discounts, especially if large late payment penalties had been added to the amount due, and it is clear that there was a large mark up on oil.

The listening crowds might not know much about business, but they would know enough to recognise that this was an astute bit of business which indicated exceptionally high margins which had been reduced, and the cancellation of large penalties, not the making of a huge loss. The rogue had simply become more reasonable. (We can almost see them looking at each other and nodding knowingly. All would have suffered under such treatment, or have known someone who had).

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Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Luke 16:5". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/luke-16.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

5.So he called—His purpose is to gain the favour of the tenants by cancelling a large part of the rents due This was a fraud upon his landlord; but he was one of the children of this world. (Luke 16:8.)

Every one—So that they might all be in the plot and none be on the landlord’s side.

Debtors—Who owed for rents.

 

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 16:5". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/luke-16.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Luke 16:5. : he sees them one by one, not all together. These debtors might be farmers, who paid their rents in kind, or persons who had got supplies of goods from the master’s stores; which of the two of no consequence to the point of the parable.— , the first, in the parable = to one. Two cases mentioned, a first and a second ( ), two, out of many; enough to exemplify the method. It is assumed that all would take advantage of the unprincipled concession; those who had accused him and those who had possibly been already favoured in a similar manner, bribed to speak well of him.

 

 

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Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 16:5". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/luke-16.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

called. Separately.

every = each.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 16:5". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/luke-16.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?

So he called everyone of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first. How much owest thou unto my lord?

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 16:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/luke-16.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(5) So he called every one of his lord’s debtors.—The debtors might be either men who had bought their wheat and their oil at the hands of the steward; or, as the sequel renders more probable, tenants who, after the common custom of the East, paid their rent in kind. Who, we ask, are the “debtors,” in the interpretation of the parable? The Lord’s Prayer supplies the answer to that question. The “debtors” are those who have sinned against God, who have left undone the things which they were bound to do, who have made no return for the outward blessings they have received. The unfaithful Church or party tries to secure its position by working on the lower nature of those who have the sense of that burden upon them. It neither gives the sense of peace or pardon, nor asserts the righteous severity of God’s commandments. It keeps their consciences uneasy, and traffics in its absolutions.

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 16:5". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/luke-16.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?
his
7:41,42; Matthew 18:24
Reciprocal: Genesis 41:34 - and take;  2 Samuel 3:12 - Make

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 16:5". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-16.html.