Luke 16

Listen to Luke 16

The Parable of the Dishonest Manager

1 He also said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had 1a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions.
2 And he called him and said to him, 'What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your 2management, for you can no longer be manager.'
3 And the manager said to himself, 'What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg.
4 I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.'
5 So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?'
6 He said, 'A hundred measures[a] of oil.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.'
7 Then he said to another, 'And how much do you owe?' He said, 'A hundred measures[b] of wheat.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, and write eighty.'
8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his 3shrewdness. For 4the sons of this world[c] are 5more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than 6the sons of light.
9 And I tell you, 7make friends for yourselves by means of 8unrighteous wealth,[d] so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.
10 9"One who is 10faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.
11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?
12 And if you have not been faithful in 11that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?
13 12No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."

The Law and the Kingdom of God

14 13The Pharisees, who were 14lovers of money, heard all these things, and they 15ridiculed him.
15 And he said to them, "You are those who 16justify yourselves before men, but 17God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men 18is an abomination in the sight of God.
16 19"The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then 20the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and 21everyone forces his way into it.[e]
17 But 22it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.

Divorce and Remarriage

18 23"Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 "There was a rich man who was clothed in 24purple and fine linen and 25who feasted sumptuously every day.
20 And at his gate 26was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
21 who desired to be fed with 27what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 The poor man died and was carried by 28the angels 29to Abraham's side.[f] The rich man also died and was buried,
23 and in 30Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and 31saw Abraham far off and Lazarus 32at his side.
24 And he called out, 33'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and 34cool my tongue, for 35I am in anguish in this flame.'
25 But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that 36you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.
26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.'
27 And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house--
28 for I have five brothers[g]--so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.'
29 But Abraham said, 'They have 37Moses and the Prophets; 38let them hear them.'
30 And he said, 'No, 39father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'
31 He said to him, 'If they do not hear 40Moses and the Prophets, 41neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'"

Luke 16 Commentary

Chapter 16

The parable of the unjust steward. (1-12) Christ reproves the hypocrisy of the covetous Pharisees. (13-18) The rich man and Lazarus. (19-31)

Verses 1-12 Whatever we have, the property of it is God's; we have only the use of it, according to the direction of our great Lord, and for his honour. This steward wasted his lord's goods. And we are all liable to the same charge; we have not made due improvement of what God has trusted us with. The steward cannot deny it; he must make up his accounts, and be gone. This may teach us that death will come, and deprive us of the opportunities we now have. The steward will make friends of his lord's debtors or tenants, by striking off a considerable part of their debt to his lord. The lord referred to in this parable commended not the fraud, but the policy of the steward. In that respect alone is it so noticed. Worldly men, in the choice of their object, are foolish; but in their activity, and perseverance, they are often wiser than believers. The unjust steward is not set before us as an example in cheating his master, or to justify any dishonesty, but to point out the careful ways of worldly men. It would be well if the children of light would learn wisdom from the men of the world, and would as earnestly pursue their better object. The true riches signify spiritual blessings; and if a man spends upon himself, or hoards up what God has trusted to him, as to outward things, what evidence can he have, that he is an heir of God through Christ? The riches of this world are deceitful and uncertain. Let us be convinced that those are truly rich, and very rich, who are rich in faith, and rich toward God, rich in Christ, in the promises; let us then lay up our treasure in heaven, and expect our portion from thence.

Verses 13-18 To this parable our Lord added a solemn warning. Ye cannot serve God and the world, so divided are the two interests. When our Lord spoke thus, the covetous Pharisees treated his instructions with contempt. But he warned them, that what they contended for as the law, was a wresting of its meaning: this our Lord showed in a case respecting divorce. There are many covetous sticklers for the forms of godliness, who are the bitterest enemies to its power, and try to set others against the truth.

Verses 19-31 Here the spiritual things are represented, in a description of the different state of good and bad, in this world and in the other. We are not told that the rich man got his estate by fraud, or oppression; but Christ shows, that a man may have a great deal of the wealth, pomp, and pleasure of this world, yet perish for ever under God's wrath and curse. The sin of this rich man was his providing for himself only. Here is a godly man, and one that will hereafter be happy for ever, in the depth of adversity and distress. It is often the lot of some of the dearest of God's saints and servants to be greatly afflicted in this world. We are not told that the rich man did him any harm, but we do not find that he had any care for him. Here is the different condition of this godly poor man, and this wicked rich man, at and after death. The rich man in hell lifted up his eyes, being in torment. It is not probable that there are discourses between glorified saints and damned sinners, but this dialogue shows the hopeless misery and fruitless desires, to which condemned spirits are brought. There is a day coming, when those who now hate and despise the people of God, would gladly receive kindness from them. But the damned in hell shall not have the least abatement of their torment. Sinners are now called upon to remember; but they do not, they will not, they find ways to avoid it. As wicked people have good things only in this life, and at death are for ever separated from all good, so godly people have evil things only in this life, and at death they are for ever put from them. In this world, blessed be God, there is no gulf between a state of nature and grace, we may pass from sin to God; but if we die in our sins, there is no coming out. The rich man had five brethren, and would have them stopped in their sinful course; their coming to that place of torment, would make his misery the worse, who had helped to show them the way thither. How many would now desire to recall or to undo what they have written or done! Those who would make the rich man's praying to Abraham justify praying to saints departed, go far to seek for proofs, when the mistake of a damned sinner is all they can find for an example. And surely there is no encouragement to follow the example, when all his prayers were made in vain. A messenger from the dead could say no more than what is said in the Scriptures. The same strength of corruption that breaks through the convictions of the written word, would triumph over a witness from the dead. Let us seek to the law and to the testimony, ( isaiah 8:19 isaiah 8:20 ) , for that is the ( 2 Peter. 1:19 ) Circumstances in every age show that no terrors, or arguments, can give true repentance without the special grace of God renewing the sinner's heart.

Cross References 41

  • 1. Luke 12:42
  • 2. See 1 Corinthians 9:17
  • 3. See Matthew 25:2
  • 4. Luke 20:34; See Luke 10:6
  • 5. See Matthew 25:2
  • 6. John 12:36; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; [Ephesians 5:8]
  • 7. [Luke 12:33; Matthew 6:20; Matthew 19:21; 1 Tim. 6:10, 17-19]
  • 8. ver. 11, 13; Matthew 6:24
  • 9. Matthew 25:21, 23
  • 10. Luke 19:17
  • 11. [1 Chronicles 29:14, 16]
  • 12. [See ver. 9 above]
  • 13. [Luke 11:39; Luke 20:47]
  • 14. 2 Timothy 3:2; [1 Timothy 6:10]
  • 15. Luke 23:35
  • 16. Luke 10:29
  • 17. 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Proverbs 21:2
  • 18. Proverbs 16:5
  • 19. Matthew 11:12, 13
  • 20. See Luke 4:43
  • 21. [Luke 15:1]
  • 22. Matthew 5:18
  • 23. See Matthew 5:32
  • 24. Esther 8:15; Revelation 18:16
  • 25. [James 5:5]
  • 26. [Acts 3:2]
  • 27. [Matthew 15:27]
  • 28. Luke 15:10; Matthew 18:10; Acts 12:15; Hebrews 1:13, 14; See Luke 12:8
  • 29. [John 13:23(Gk.)]
  • 30. See Matthew 11:23
  • 31. Matthew 8:11, 12
  • 32. [See ver. 22 above]
  • 33. ver. 30; John 8:33, 39, 53
  • 34. [Zechariah 14:12]
  • 35. [Isaiah 66:24]; See Matthew 25:41
  • 36. [Luke 6:24; Job 21:13; Psalms 17:14]
  • 37. ver. 31; Luke 24:27; Acts 26:22; Acts 28:23
  • 38. [John 5:45-47]
  • 39. ver. 24
  • 40. [See ver. 29 above]
  • 41. [Matthew 28:11-15; John 12:10, 11]

Footnotes 7

  • [a]. About 875 gallons
  • [b]. Between 1,000 and 1,200 bushels
  • [c]. Greek age
  • [d]. Greek mammon, a Semitic word for money or possessions; also verse 11; rendered money in verse 13
  • [e]. Or everyone is forcefully urged into it
  • [f]. Greek bosom; also verse 23
  • [g]. Or brothers and sisters

Luke 16 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.