Lu 16:1-31. Parables of the
Unjust Steward and of the Rich Man and Lazarus, or, the Right Use of
1. steward—manager of his estate.
had wasted—rather, "was wasting."
3. cannot dig … to beg,
ashamed—therefore, when dismissed, shall be in utter
4. may receive me, &c.—Observe his
one object—when cast out of one home to secure another.
This is the key to the parable, on which there have been many differing
5-7. fifty … fourscore—deducting a
half from the debt of the one, and a fifth from that of the other.
8. the lord—evidently the steward's
lord, so called in Lu 16:3, 5.
commended, &c.—not for his
"injustice," but "because he had done wisely," or prudently;
with commendable foresight and skilful adaptation of means to
children of this world—so Lu 20:34; compare Ps 17:14 ("their portion in this life"); Php 3:19 ("mind earthly things"); Ps 4:6, 7.
their generation—or "for their
generation"—that is, for the purposes of the "world" they are
"of." The greater wisdom (or shrewdness) of the one, in adaptation
of means to ends, and in energetic, determined prosecution of them,
is none of it for God and eternity—a region they
were never in, an atmosphere they never breathed, an undiscovered
world, an unborn existence to them—but all for the purposes of
their own grovelling and fleeting generation.
children of light—(so Joh
12:36; Eph 5:8; 1Th 5:5). Yet
this is only "as night-birds see better in the dark than those of the
day owls than eagles" [Cajetan and Trench]. But we may learn lessons from them,
as our Lord now shows, and "be wise as serpents."
9. Make … friends of—Turn to your
advantage; that is, as the steward did, "by showing mercy to the poor"
4:27; compare Lu 12:33;
mammon of unrighteousness—treacherous,
precarious. (See on Mt 6:24).
ye fail—in respect of life.
they may receive you—not generally,
"ye may be received" (as Lu 6:38,
"shall men give"), but "those ye have relieved may rise up as
witnesses for you" at the great day. Then, like the steward, when
turned out of one home shall ye secure another; but better than he, a
heavenly for an earthly, an everlasting for a temporary habitation.
Money is not here made the key to heaven, more than "the deeds done in
the body" in general, according to which, as a test of
character—but not by the merit of which—men are to be
5:10, and see Mt 25:34-40).
10. He, &c.—a maxim of great
pregnancy and value; rising from the prudence which the steward
had to the fidelity which he had not, the "harmlessness
of the dove, to which the serpent" with all his "wisdom" is a
total stranger. Fidelity depends not on the amount entrusted,
but on the sense of responsibility. He that feels this in little
will feel it in much, and conversely.
11, 12. unrighteous mammon—To the whole
of this He applies the disparaging term "what is least," in contrast
with "the true riches."
12. another man's … your own—an
important turn to the subject. Here all we have is on trust as
stewards, who have an account to render. Hereafter, what the faithful
have will be their own property, being no longer on probation,
but in secure, undisturbed, rightful, everlasting possession and
enjoyment of all that is graciously bestowed on us. Thus money is
neither to be idolized nor despised: we must sit loose to
it and use it for God's glory.
13. can serve—be entirely at the
command of; and this is true even where the services are not
hate … love—showing that the two
here intended are in uncompromising hostility to each other: an
awfully searching principle!
14-18. covetous … derided
him—sneered at Him; their master sin being too plainly struck
at for them to relish. But it was easier to run down than to
refute such teaching.
15. justify yourselves—make a show of
highly esteemed among men—generally
carried away by plausible appearances. (See 1Sa 16:7; and
16. The law, &c.—(See Mt 11:13).
and every man presseth,
&c.—Publicans and sinners, all indiscriminately, are eagerly
pressing into it; and ye, interested adherents of the mere forms of an
economy which is passing away, "discerning not the signs of this time,"
will allow the tide to go past you and be found a stranded monument of
blindness and obstinacy.
17. it is easier, &c.—(See on Mt 5:17, 18)
18. putteth away his wife, &c.—(See
on Mt 19:3-9). Far from intending to weaken the
force of the law, in these allusions to a new economy, our Lord, in
this unexpected way, sends home its high requirements with a pungency
which the Pharisees would not fail to feel.
19. purple and fine linen,
&c.—(Compare Es 8:15; Re 18:12); wanting nothing which taste and
appetite craved and money could procure.
20, 21. laid—having to be carried and
full of sores—open, running, "not
closed, nor bound up, nor mollified with ointment" (Isa 1:6).
21. desiring to be fed with—but was not
[Grotius, Bengel, Meyer, Trench, &c.]. The words may mean indeed
"was fain to feed on," or "gladly fed on," as in Lu 15:16 [Alford,
Webster and Wilkinson, &c.]. But the context rather favors
licked, &c.—a touching act of
brute pity, in the absence of human relief. It is a case of heartless
indifference, amidst luxuries of every kind, to one of God's poorest
and most afflicted ones, presented daily before the eye.
22. died—His burial was too unimportant
to mention; while "the rich man died and was buried"—his
carcass carried in pomp to its earthly resting-place.
in to Abraham's bosom—as if seen
reclining next to Him at the heavenly feast (Mt 8:11).
23. in hell—not the final place of the
lost (for which another word is used), but as we say "the unseen
world." But as the object here is certainly to depict the whole
torment of the one and the perfect bliss of the other, it
comes in this case to much the same.
seeth Abraham—not God, to whom
therefore he cannot cry [Bengel].
24. Father Abraham—a well-founded, but
unavailing, claim of natural descent (Lu 3:8; Joh 8:37).
mercy on me—who never showed any
send Lazarus—the pining victim of his
that he may—take me hence? No; that he
dares not to ask.
dip … tongue—that is the
least conceivable and the most momentary abatement of his
torment; that is all. But even this he is told is (1)
25, 26. Son—stinging acknowledgment of
the claimed relationship.
thou … Lazarus, &c.—As it is
a great law of God's kingdom, that the nature of our present desires
shall rule that of our future bliss, so by that law, he whose "good
things," craved and enjoyed, were all bounded by time, could look for
none after his connection with time had come to an end (Lu 6:24). But by this law, he whose "evil
things," all crowded into the present life, drove him to seek, and
find, consolation in a life beyond the grave, is by death released from
all evil and ushered into unmixed and uninterrupted good (Lu 6:21). (2) It is impossible.
26. besides all this—independently of
a great gulf fixed—By an
irrevocable decree there has been placed a vast impassable abyss
between the two states, and the occupants of each.
27-31. Then he said—now abandoning all
hope for himself.
send him to my father's house,
&c.—no waking up of good in the heart of the lost, but bitter
reproach against God and the old economy, as not warning him
sufficiently [Trench]. The answer of
Abraham is, They are sufficiently warned.
30. Nay—giving the lie to Abraham.
but if one went unto them from the dead, they
will repent—a principle of awful magnitude and importance.
The greatest miracle will have no effect on those who are determined
not to believe. A real Lazarus soon "rose from the dead," but
the sight of him by crowds of people, inclined thereby to Christ, only
crowned the unbelief and hastened the murderous plots of the Pharisees
against the Lord of glory; nor has His own resurrection, far more
overpowering, yet won over that "crooked and perverse nation."