Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
luk 16:1And he said also to his disciples - Not only to the scribes and Pharisees to whom he had hitherto been speaking, but to all the younger as well as the elder brethren: to the returning prodigals who were now his disciples. A certain rich man had a steward - Christ here teaches all that are now in favour with God, particularly pardoned penitents, to behave wisely in what is committed to them.
luk 16:3To beg I am ashamed - But not ashamed to cheat! This was likewise a sense of honour! "By men called honour, but by angels pride."
luk 16:4I know - That is, I am resolved, what to do.
luk 16:8And the lord commended the unjust steward - Namely, in this respect, because he had used timely precaution: so that though the dishonesty of such a servant be detestable, yet his foresight, care, and contrivance, about the interests of this life, deserve our imitation, with regard to the more important affairs of another. The children of this world - Those who seek no other portion than this world: Are wiser - Not absolutely, for they are, one and all, egregious fools; but they are more consistent with themselves; they are truer to their principles; they more steadily pursue their end; they are wiser in their generation - That is, in their own way, than the children of light - The children of God, whose light shines on their hearts.
luk 16:9And I say to you - Be good stewards even of the lowest talents wherewith God hath intrusted you. Mammon means riches or money. It is termed the mammon of unrighteousness, because of the manner wherein it is commonly either procured or employed. Make yourselves friends of this, by doing all possible good, particularly to the children of God: that when ye fail, when your flesh and your heart faileth, when this earthly tabernacle is dissolved, those of them who have gone before may receive, may welcome you into the everlasting habitations.
luk 16:10And whether ye have more or less, see that ye be faithful as well as wise stewards. He that is faithful in what is meanest of all, worldly substance, is also faithful in things of a higher nature; and he that uses these lowest gifts unfaithfully, is likewise unfaithful in spiritual things.
luk 16:11Who will intrust you with the true riches? - How should God intrust you with spiritual and eternal, which alone are true riches?
luk 16:12If ye have not been faithful in that which was another's - None of these temporal things are yours: you are only stewards of them, not proprietors: God is the proprietor of all; he lodges them in your hands for a season: but still they are his property. Rich men, understand and consider this. If your steward uses any part of your estate (so called in the language of men) any farther or any otherwise than you direct, he is a knave: he has neither conscience nor honour. Neither have you either one or the other, if you use any part of that estate, which is in truth God's, not yours, any otherwise than he directs. That which is your own - Heaven, which when you have it, will be your own for ever.
luk 16:13And you cannot be faithful to God, if you trim between God and the world, if you do not serve him alone. Mat 6:24.
luk 16:15And he said to them, Ye are they who justify yourselves before men - The sense of the whole passage is, that pride, wherewith you justify yourselves, feeds covetousness, derides the Gospel, Luk 16:14, and destroys the law, Luk 16:18. All which is illustrated by a terrible example. Ye justify yourselves before men - Ye think yourselves righteous, and persuade others to think you so.
luk 16:16The law and the prophets were in force until John: from that time the Gospel takes place; and humble upright men receive it with inexpressible earnestness. Mat 11:13.
luk 16:17Not that the Gospel at all destroys the law. Mat 5:18.
luk 16:18But ye do; particularly in this notorious instance. Mat 5:31; Mat 19:7.
luk 16:19There was a certain rich man - Very probably a Pharisee, and one that justified himself before men; a very honest, as well as honourable gentleman: though it was not proper to mention his name on this occasion: who was clothed in purple and fine linen - and doubtless esteemed on this account, (perhaps not only by those who sold it, but by most that knew him,) as encouraging trade, and acting according to his quality: And feasted splendidly every day - And consequently was esteemed yet more, for his generosity and hospitality in keeping so good a table.
luk 16:20And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, (according to the Greek pronunciation) or Eleazer. By his name it may be conjectured, he was of no mean family, though it was thus reduced. There was no reason for our Lord to conceal his name, which probably was then well known. Theophylact observes, from the tradition of the Hebrews, that he lived at Jerusalem. Yea, the dogs also came and licked his sores - It seems this circumstance is recorded to show that all his ulcers lay bare, and were not closed or bound up.
luk 16:22And the beggar - Worn out with hunger, and pain, and want of all things, died: and was carried by angels (amazing change of the scene!) into Abraham's bosom - So the Jews styled paradise; the place where the souls of good men remain from death to the resurrection. The rich man also died, and was buried - Doubtless with pomp enough, though we do not read of his lying in state; that stupid, senseless pageantry, that shocking insult on a poor, putrefying carcass, was reserved for our enlightened age!
luk 16:23He seeth Abraham afar off - And yet knew him at that distance: and shall not Abraham's children, when they are together in paradise, know each other!
luk 16:24Father Abraham, have mercy on me - It cannot be denied, but here is one precedent in Scripture of praying to departed saints: but who is it that prays, and with what success? Will any, who considers this, be fond of copying after him?
luk 16:25But Abraham said, Son - According to the flesh. Is it not worthy of observation, that Abraham will not revile even a damned soul? and shall living men revile one another? Thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things - Thou didst choose and accept of worldly things as thy good, thy happiness. And can any be at a loss to know why he was in torments? This damnable idolatry, had there been nothing more, was enough to sink him to the nethermost hell.
luk 16:26Beside this there is a great gulf fixed - Reader, to which side of it wilt thou go?
luk 16:28Lest they also come into this place - He might justly fear lest their reproaches should add to his own torment.
luk 16:31Neither will they be persuaded - Truly to repent: for this implies an entire change of heart: but a thousand apparitions cannot, effect this. God only can, applying his word.