Luke 16 - Outline of Luke (MENU page)
Luke has seven chief divisions:
I. The Evangelist's Introduction, 1:1-4.
II. The human relationships of Jesus, 1:5- 2:52.
III. The baptism, ancestry, and testing of Jesus, 3:1- 4:13.
IV. The ministry of the Son of man as Prophet-King in Galilee, 4:14- 9:50.
V. The journey of the Son of Man from Galilee to Jerusalem, 9:51- 19:44
VI. The final offer of the Son of man as King to Israel, His rejection and sacrifice, 19:45- 23:56.
VII. The resurrection, the resurrection ministry, and the ascension of the Son of man, 24:1-53.
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Parable of the unjust steward.
(This parable is unique to Luke's Gospel.)
1. And he said also unto his disciples,
There was a certain rich man, which had a steward;
{cp. Luk 12:42; 1Cor 4:2}
and the same was accused unto him
that he had wasted his goods
{substance}. {cp. Luk 15:13}
2 And he called him, and said unto him,
How is it that I hear this of thee?
give an account of thy stewardship;
{cp. Rom 14:12}
for thou mayest be no longer steward.
3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do?
for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship:
I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
4 I am resolved what to do,
that, when I am put out of the stewardship,
they may receive me into their houses.
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?
6 And he said, An hundred measures
{GK=batos, a 'bath'} of oil.
(A 'bath' is a unit of liquid volume. One bath is about 10 gallons.)
And he said unto him, Take thy bill,
and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou?
And he said, An hundred measures
{GK=koros, a 'cor'} of wheat.
(A 'cor' is a unit of dry volume. One 'cor' is about 80 gallons.)
And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore {ie., eighty}.
8 And the lord commended
{applauded} the unjust {unrighteous} steward,
because he had done wisely
for the children
{sons} of this world {GK=aion, age}
are in their generation
{GK=genea, time of life}
wiser than the children
{sons} of light.
The steward's 'lord' was the rich man (of v.1). Although the steward had wasted the rich man's goods, and further defrauded his lord to endear himself to the debtors, the rich man "commended the unjust steward because he had done wisely" in providing for himself. Both men thought and acted according to the self-serving wisdom of this age. (The story ends, without saying how the rich man dealt with his unjust employee. cp. Luk 12:58,59)
     The wisdom of this age, inspired by the subtil god of this age (Gen 3:1), disregards the wisdom and Word of God. Therefore, the sons of this age seek to satisfy themselves in their earthly life. eg., Psa 49:10-20; Isa 5:20,21; Jer 8:8,9; 9:23,24
     The sons of light live according to the wisdom and Word of God. No longer of this world, they live to please God, not themselves. But while they remain in the world, their honest simplicity makes them targets for worldly wise neighbors. eg., Psa 119:130; Joh 8:12; Eph 5:8-13; Php 2:15; 1Joh 3:10
9 And I say unto you,
Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness;
that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much:
and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon,
who will commit to your trust the true [riches]?
{cp. 2Cor 6:10; Eph 1:18}
12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's,
{cp. 1Pet 4:10}
who shall give you that which is your own?
{cp. 1Cor 2:12}
13 No servant can serve two masters:
for either he will hate the one, and love the other;
or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.
Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
{cp. Rom 8:5-9; Jam 4:4}
Make to yourselves friends of the mammon {riches, money} of unrighteousness...
Our Lord counsels believers (the children of light) to make righteous use of the worldly economy (in contrast to its characteristic dishonesty and greed, eg., Jam 5:1-6). A believer may win 'friends' (to Christ) through honest business practices, and by charitable use of earned profits (eg., to show the love of Christ in practical ways, and in financial support of missionaries and ministries which proclaim the Gospel; 1Tim 6:17-19).
...that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
Whereas the children of this world live for the present age, believers live for the age to come. When the believer's body 'fails' in death, he enters into his eternal home with the Lord, and with all who belong to Christ at His coming (2Cor 5:8; 1The 2:19). How wonderful, upon entering heaven, to be greeted by others who were won to faith in Christ, because your worldly wealth was invested for the Lord's glory. Mat 6:19-21
...Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Whether serving in business or in ministry, the believer is to live entirely for God's glory (1Cor 10:31). We must not allow the love of money to distract us from our walk with Him, or to distort the message which He has commissioned us to proclaim. 1Tim 6:9-12; 1Pet 5:2; Gal 1:10; cf. 2Tim 4:10
Jesus answers the Pharisees.
(This interaction came in response to the parable above.)
14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, {Mat 23:14; Luk 12:1}
heard all these things: and they derided
{mocked} him.
15 And he said unto them,
Ye are they which justify yourselves
{declare yourselves righteous} before men;
but God knoweth your hearts:
{cp. Prov 20:6; Rom 3:20; Jer 17:9,10}
for that which is highly esteemed
{exalted} among men
is abomination
{detestable, idolatrous} in the sight of God. {cp. Psa 10:3; Prov 16:5; Titus 1:16}
16 The law and the prophets [were] until John:
since that time the kingdom of God is preached,
and every man presseth into it.
{See the Book Notes on Mat 11:11-15.}
17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass,
than one tittle of the law to fail.
{cp. Mat 5:18-20}
God's written Word will be fulfilled, to the smallest detail. God will hold all men accountable for what is written (both the moral Law and the prophecies of the Messiah's comings), for they are without excuse for ignoring or modifying His Word.
     The next verse provides an example: Although men make excuses for circumventing the Law, God will hold men accountable to His standard, which remains unchanged.
Jesus' teaching concerning divorce.
(Cf. Mat 5:31,32; 19:3-11; Mark 10:2-12; 1Cor 7:10-15)
18 Whosoever putteth away his wife,
and marrieth another, committeth adultery:
and whosoever marrieth her
that is put away from [her] husband committeth adultery.
The rich man and Lazarus.
(This account is unique to Luke's Gospel.)
Many regard this as a parable. If so, it is the only parable in which an individual is named. Therefore, it seems likely that Lazarus was a real man, who was known to Jesus' hearers, and that this is an account which provides an accurate glimpse into the realm of the spirits of dead men.
19. There was a certain rich man,
which was clothed in purple and fine linen,
and fared sumptuously every day:
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus,
which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 And desiring
{passionately longing} to be fed with the crumbs
which fell from the rich man's table:
moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
'Lazarus' is the GK form of the HB name 'Eleazar' meaning 'whom God helps.'
Lazarus' help came from the Lord, not from the nearby rich man. cp. Psa 121:1-8
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died,
and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom:
the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell
{GK=hades} he lift up his eyes, being in torments,
and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
'Hades' is often translated as 'hell' in the KJV Bible. However, 'hell' is properly understood as the place of burning {GK=gehenna} or the 'Lake of Fire,' which is the ultimate destination of the unsaved, following the final Judgment (Rev 20:11-15).
     'Hades' (equivalent to HB=sheol) can refer to the 'grave' (the temporary burial place of the decaying bodies of dead men, v.22c), and/or to the temporary holding place of the conscious spirits of dead men (v.23). All unsaved men will be raised (body and spirit) to appear at the Great White throne judgment.
     In OT times, the spirits of saved and unsaved dead men were held in 'hades' which was divided into two sections. The section for the saved was called 'Paradise' (eg., Luk 23:43) or 'Abraham's bosom' (v.22). Upon His ascension, Christ took those held 'captive' in paradise, with Him to heaven (Eph 4:8-10). Since that time, the spirits of those who die "in Christ" are immediately in His presence (2Cor 5:8), in paradise which is now in heaven (2Cor 12:1-4), where they await bodily resurrection at Christ's return for His own (1The 4:13-18).
     In this account of the rich man and Lazarus (prior to Christ's death, resurrection and ascension), 'hades' is in the OT configuration, divided between the saved and unsaved. In the next verse, the rich man calls out to Abraham on the other side of the divide.
24 And he cried and said,
Father Abraham,
{cp. Luk 3:8; Joh 8:33-39,53-56; Rom 4:12}
have mercy on me,
{Jam 2:13}
and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water,
and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
{cp. Mark 9:42-48}
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime
receivedst thy good things,
{Job 21:13,14; Luk 6:24-26}
and likewise Lazarus evil things:
{v.19-21; cp. v.9,10; Luk 10:27,36-37}
but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed:
so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot;
neither can they pass to us, that [would come] from thence.
27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father,
that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them,
lest they also come into this place of torment.
29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets;
let them hear them.
{cp. v.16; Joh 5:39-47; 2Tim 3:13-17}
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham:
but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
{cp. Acts 5:29-33}
Through this account the Lord taught:
  1. the conscious existence of human beings after death,
  2. the reality of torment (even in anticipation of the final judgment),
  3. the finality of decisions made in this life (there is no second chance),
  4. the impossibility of the dead communicating with the living (v.26),
  5. the adequacy of God's written Word, and the importance of heeding it (v.29-30).
    [points a.-d. were adapted from Ryrie S.B.]

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