The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Luke 16

Luk 16:1

Cp 1Co 4:1-5: It is required that a steward be faithful. (Note: Judas was a steward, or manager: Joh 12:4-6.)

A RICH MAN: Also in v 19.

ACCUSED: "Diaballomai".

WASTING HIS POSSESSIONS: As the prodigal son did with his father's possessions, in Luk 15:13. The unfaithful manager is a practical example of the lesson in Jesus' parable of the prodigal son.

Luk 16:2

YOU CANNOT BE MANAGER ANY LONGER: At death, we cease our stewardship. This is not so much a threat as a warning: the time is coming when you must give account.

Luk 16:6

Suggestion: he was only refunding his own commission. This could explain why his lord commended him (v 8). Cp the vow of Zacchaeus, who seems to be giving back his own "commissions" or "skimmings" as a tax-collector: Luk 19:8.

Luk 16:8

The master commends the steward, not for stealing, but for giving back what he has stolen (as with Zaccheus: Luk 19:7-9).

Or, alternatively: The manager had done a wise or clever thing, but not necessarily a righteous one. His master acknowledges his cleverness, but he is nevertheless unjust. The manager's wisdom was a worldly, practical type of "wisdom", something like the subtlety of the serpent (sw Gen 3:1, LXX).

Luk 16:9

FRIENDS: His master's debtors (v 5), not the "wealth" itself. Cp idea in 1Ti 6:19: laying up for self a good foundation.

Luk 16:11

TRUE RICHES: That is, the "deposit" (of sound teaching): 1Ti 6:20; cp 2Ti 1:14.

Luk 16:13

YOU CANNOT SERVE BOTH GOD AND MONEY: "The brain takes all its impressions from without, and it can only receive so much -- each day a little. It may be compared to a book of blank pages, on which each day writes something on each page. The character of the writing depends upon the holder of the pen. If a man's whole strength is each day spent, from sunrise to the evening shade, in attending to mortal matters, the natural man holds the pen all the time, and a natural man's record is the result. The brain is filled with images of natural perishing life, which profit nothing for the time to come. But let God have the pen some part of the day; let the word be diligently read, let the soul ascend frequently to God in prayer, let the thoughts rest sometimes on the promises, let the business of God have some share of the day's counsel and strength, something then is written for God; and this process continued from day to day will fill up a good account. The mind will be in-lettered with the ideas of God. It will be assimilated to the affairs of God, and the man brought into a state of increasing ripeness for the calling to which we are called by the Gospel" (SC 97).

The elder son (Luk 15:25...) was serving "wealth", desiring inheritance and privilege. He was a hireling.

How we handle money reveals much about the depth of our commitment to Christ. That is why Jesus often talked about money. One-sixth of the gospels, including one out of every three parables, touches on money and stewardship. Jesus dealt with money matters because money matters. For some of us, though, it matters too much: "The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus" (v 14). They were highly "religious", but they could not see how money and its pursuit and acquisition could hold anything less than the preeminent place in a man's life, and for any man to question that preeminence was for them an undeniable proof of his folly.

Luk 16:14

THE PHARISEES, WHO LOVED MONEY: Their materialism, in Mat 9:14; 23:23; Luk 18:12: the subject of following parable.

Luk 16:15

WHO JUSTIFY YOURSELVES: Like the steward of the previous parable.

Luk 16:16

IS FORCING HIS WAY INTO IT: In hope (Phi 3:13,14) of its coming (2Pe 1:11).

INTO: Or "toward" (eis): examples in Luk 13:22; Mat 28:1; Joh 6:17; Act 27:40; 28:14.

Luk 16:17

The Law does not pass away until all is fulfilled. If they had truly known the Law, then they would have accepted gospel.

Luk 16:18

The Pharisees' laxness concerning marriage and divorce emphasizes their disrespect for the Law (v 17). The Law should have been standard even of Pharisees, unless they were hardhearted (Deu 24:1).

Luk 16:19

Context in which this parable is given (perhaps): the time right after Jesus hears of Lazarus' illness (Joh 11:6).

See Lesson, Rich man and Lazarus.

See Lesson, Rich man and Lazarus, paraphrase.

The only parable using a proper name. Also different from most parables, in that it is not related to natural events.

First principles: (a) Death state: Ecc 9:5; Psa 6:5; 146:4. (b) Resurrection: 1Co 15:16-18,32; Phi 3:10,11; Joh 6:39. (c) Punishment of death: Act 24:15; Rom 8:13; Psa 37:20.

Parables were made purposefully obscure: Mat 13:10-15,34; cp Pro 25:2.

A RICH MAN: Israel, exalted to God's favor (Deu 32:9-14), having God's oracles (Rom 3:1...). The Pharisees were wealthy; Jesus urges them to forsake their wealth (v 13) by using money wisely (v 9).

PURPLE: See Exo 39:2,24,29; Est 8:5.

LINEN: See Exo 39; Rev 18:6.

Luk 16:20

AT HIS GATE: The rich man even knew him by name (v 24), but did nothing to help him. Cp Act 3, the beggar at the Beautiful Gate.

LAZARUS: Sig "without help"; ref Gentiles (Eph 2:11,12; Mat 15:21-28). This parable is told by Jesus after he hears of Lazarus' illness: Joh 11:6. The real Lazarus had no help from man, but only of God: Joh 11:39.

Luk 16:21

WHAT FELL: The crumbs, as in Mat 15:26,27.

EVEN THE DOGS: Lazarus is identified with Gentiles, ie Mat 15:27.

HIS SORES: Not bound up, like those of the man who fell among thieves (Luk 10:34). But later (v 22) they will be!

Luk 16:22

ABRAHAM'S SIDE: Should be Abraham's bosom: supposedly a specific place in the Underworld (Hades: v 23) where the faithful are joined together with Abraham and all the faithful ones. But here = a special place of favor at a meal (Joh 1:18; 13:23; cp Luk 13:28-30; 14:7-24; 15:16,17,23,28; Mat 21:31), denied to Lazarus previously (Luk 16:20).

DIED AND WAS BURIED: Alternative translation (repunctuation) of vv 32,33: "The rich man died and was buried in Hades. Then (ie later, after a resurrection to judgment), being in torment..." (See Lesson, NT punctuation.) Lit, "AND (Gr kai) in Hades": thus, "died AND was buried AND was in Hades", ie, he remained in Hades... until... Or, "was buried, EVEN in Hades".

"Think of actors: they wear masks, they dress up. One looks like a philosopher while not being one; another seems to be a king but is no king; another appears to be a doctor and has not the faintest idea how to cure the sick; another pretends to be a slave despite being free; still another plays the part of a teacher yet does not know even how to write. They do not appear as they are, they appear to be something else. The philosopher is a philosopher only because of his abundant but false wig, the soldier is a soldier just because he sports a military uniform. These disguises help to create an illusion, to hide the reality.

"The world is a theater too. The human condition, richness, poverty, power, subjection are merely the pretenses of actors. But when the day is done and the night falls (which, however, we ought to call day: it is night for sinners and day for the just), when the play is over, when we all find ourselves confronted with our own actions and not with our riches or dignity or the honors we have had or the power we have wielded, when we are asked to give an account of our lives and our works of virtue, ignoring both the feats of our opulence and the humility of our need, when we are asked: 'Show me your deeds!', then the disguises will fall and we shall see who is truly rich and who is truly poor" (John Chrysostom, Homily on Lazarus).

Luk 16:23

HELL: Gr "Hades", not "Gehenna". "Hades": equivalent to Heb "Sheol", the grave! Burning only associated with "Gehenna" in NT (Mat 5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:9; 23;15,33; Mar 9:43,45,47; Luk 12;5; Jam 3:6), not with Hades (Mat 11:23; 16:18; Luk 10:15; Act 2:27,31; 1Co 15:55; Rev 1:18; 6:8; 20:13,14)!

TORMENT: Gr "basanos": developing idea, as (a) the black rock an assayer would use to test whether gold/silver coins were real or forgeries (rub the coin against it, and check the color); (b) checking any calculation in a financial transaction; (c) any type of testing; and finally (d) testing by means of torture. General concept of judgment, with painful accompaniment.

LOOKED UP: To lift up eyes, with ref to Abraham, suggests: surveying Land of promise, Kingdom hope (Gen 13:14; Deu 3:27).

Luk 16:26

A GREAT CHASM: The rich man had enforced such a "great chasm" before!

Luk 16:27

FATHER: Cp Joh 8:31-59.

Luk 16:28

FIVE BROTHERS: Caiaphas, the rich High Priest, had 5 brothers-in-law, who had all performed the office of the High Priest (Ant 20:9:423).

Luk 16:30

SOMEONE FROM THE DEAD: Which would be... Lazarus himself (Joh 11:47-57)!

Luk 16:31

EVEN IF SOMEONE RISES FROM THE DEAD: Christ points to his own resurrection: Mat 28:11; cp Act 4:10,17

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