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A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments, by Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset and David Brown [1882] at

Luke Chapter 16

Luke 16:1

luk 16:1


steward--manager of his estate.

accused--informed upon.

had wasted--rather, "was wasting."

Luke 16:3

luk 16:3

cannot dig . . . to beg, ashamed--therefore, when dismissed, shall be in utter want.

Luke 16:4

luk 16:4

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 views.

Luke 16:5

luk 16:5

fifty . . . fourscore--deducting a half from the debt of the one, and a fifth from that of the other.

Luke 16:8

luk 16:8

the lord--evidently the steward's lord, so called in Luk 16:3, Luk 16:5.

commended, &c.--not for his "injustice," but "because he had done wisely," or prudently; with commendable foresight and skilful adaptation of means to end.

children of this world--so Luk 20:34; compare Psa 17:14 ("their portion in this life"); Phi 3:19 ("mind earthly things"); Psa 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; Th1 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."

Luke 16:9

luk 16:9

Make . . . friends of--Turn to your advantage; that is, as the steward did, "by showing mercy to the poor" (Dan 4:27; compare Luk 12:33; Luk 14:13-14).

mammon of unrighteousness--treacherous, precarious. (See on Mat 6:24).

ye fail--in respect of life.

they may receive you--not generally, "ye may be received" (as Luk 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 judged (Co2 5:10, and see Mat 25:34-40).

Luke 16:10

luk 16:10

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.

Luke 16:11

luk 16:11

unrighteous mammon--To the whole of this He applies the disparaging term "what is least," in contrast with "the true riches."

Luke 16:12

luk 16:12

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.

Luke 16:13

luk 16:13

can serve--be entirely at the command of; and this is true even where the services are not opposed.

hate . . . love--showing that the two here intended are in uncompromising hostility to each other: an awfully searching principle!

Luke 16:14

luk 16:14

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.

Luke 16:15

luk 16:15

justify yourselves--make a show of righteousness.

highly esteemed among men--generally carried away by plausible appearances. (See Sa1 16:7; and Luk 14:11).

Luke 16:16

luk 16:16

The law, &c.--(See Mat 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.

Luke 16:17

luk 16:17

it is easier, &c.--(See on Mat 5:17-18)

Luke 16:18

luk 16:18

putteth away his wife, &c.--(See on Mat 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.

Luke 16:19

luk 16:19

purple and fine linen, &c.--(Compare Est 8:15; Rev 18:12); wanting nothing which taste and appetite craved and money could procure.

Luke 16:20

luk 16:20

laid--having to be carried and put down.

full of sores--open, running, "not closed, nor bound up, nor mollified with ointment" (Isa 1:6).

Luke 16:21

luk 16:21

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 Luk 15:16 [ALFORD, WEBSTER and WILKINSON, &c.]. But the context rather favors the former.

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.

Luke 16:22

luk 16:22

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 (Mat 8:11).

Luke 16:23

luk 16:23

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].

Luke 16:24

luk 16:24

Father Abraham--a well-founded, but unavailing, claim of natural descent (Luk 3:8; Joh 8:37).

mercy on me--who never showed any (Jam 2:3).

send Lazarus--the pining victim of his merciless neglect.

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) unreasonable.

Luke 16:25

luk 16:25

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 (Luk 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 (Luk 6:21). (2) It is impossible.

Luke 16:26

luk 16:26

besides all this--independently of this consideration.

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.

Luke 16:27

luk 16:27

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.

Luke 16:30

luk 16:30

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."

Next: Luke Chapter 17