Luke 16

Listen to Luke 16
1 Jesus told this story to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money.
2 So the employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.’
3 “The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? My boss has fired me. I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg.
4 Ah, I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.’
5 “So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’
6 The man replied, ‘I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.’ So the manager told him, ‘Take the bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons. ’
7 “‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ was the reply. ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take the bill and change it to 800 bushels. ’
8 “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light.
9 Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.
10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.
11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?
12 And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?
13 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
14 The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at him.
15 Then he said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.
16 “Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in.
17 But that doesn’t mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned.
18 “For example, a man who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery. And anyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”
19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury.
20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores.
21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.
22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried,
23 and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.
24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’
25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish.
26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’
27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home.
28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’
29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’
30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’
31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises 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.

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. Greek 100 baths . . . 50 [baths].
  • [b]. Greek 100 korous . . . 80 [korous].
  • [c]. Or you will be welcomed into eternal homes.
  • [d]. Or everyone is urged to enter in.
  • [e]. Greek into Abraham’s bosom.
  • [f]. Greek to Hades.

Luke 16 Commentaries