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Luke Sixteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Luke 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.

Luke 16:2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.

Luke 16:3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.

Luke 16:4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.

Luke 16:5 So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?

Luke 16:6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.

Luke 16:7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.

Luke 16:8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

wisely. It is obvious that the Lord's commendation of the unjust steward was not for his dishonesty but for his practical wisdom in using his personal means to provide for his earthly future. As Jesus said, it is commonly true that men of this world exhibit more acumen in such matters than Christians do.

Luke 16:9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

mammon of unrighteousness. Mammon was an Aramaic term meaning “wealth” or “money.” As “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10), mammon can easily become “the mammon of unrighteousness.” As the Lord says (Luke 16:13): “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Nevertheless, He exhorts the “children of light” to make friends with this mammon of unrighteousness. That is, we should use it for spiritual purposes that will make eternal friends.

everlasting habitations. As the unjust steward was using mammon to assure his own future earthly habitation, so the believer can use whatever wealth (or other gifts he may have) to win others to forgiveness in Christ. Then, when his own life “fails,” he will find many friends waiting for him in “everlasting habitations” in heaven.

Luke 16:10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

faithful also in much. The context indicates that the Lord is stressing here the vital importance of faithfulness in the use of our money. This will be a measure of our faithfulness in other matters. As the next verse says, this will determine whether He will commit to our trust “the true riches” in the age to come.

Luke 16:11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

Luke 16:12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?

Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Luke 16:14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.

Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

Luke 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

until John. John the Baptist was not the last Old Testament prophet, for the law and the prophets were in existence until John. John was the first New Testament prophet, preaching the kingdom of God (Matthew 3:1-2) through the work of Jesus Christ (John 1:15-18, 29-34).

Luke 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

one tittle. See note on Matthew 5:17-18.

Luke 16:18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.

Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

rich man. Whether or not this is an actual event or intended as a parable, it is clear that its description of life after death is intensely real and relevant.

Luke 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

beggar named Lazarus. One indication that Jesus was relating a real event is that the name of the beggar is given. No other parable includes personal names. At the same time the rich man is left unnamed, suggesting that personal identities are forgotten in hell. “The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot” (Proverbs 10:7).

laid. Lazarus was “laid” (literally “thrown down”) daily at the rich man's gate.

Luke 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

Luke 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

carried by the angels. When a believer dies, he does not die alone. Angels have guarded him in life (Hebrews 1:14), and they will accompany his spirit in death, transporting him to the presence of the Lord. “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place” (Psalm 68:17).

Abraham's bosom. In the age before the cross and Christ's victory over sin and death, the spirits of Jewish believers were transported, not to heaven, but to a separate compartment in the great pit at the heart of the earth, there to rest in peace awaiting the coming of Christ “and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1). This company of faithful was apparently under the care of “Father Abraham” (Luke 16:24).

Luke 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

hell. “Hell” (Greek hades, equivalent to the Hebrew sheol) is not the ultimate hell (Greek gehenna) referred to in Matthew 10:28, the same as the “lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). Hades is another compartment in the pit at the earth's center, where the spirits of the unsaved dead are confined, until the day of judgment. They were not set free, of course, when Christ freed the spirits of the faithful, but are still there.

Abraham afar off. Although the two compartments were impassably separated from each other, they were within the range of mutual sight and sound. This also reveals that disembodied spirits are somehow still recognizable and capable of inter-communication, even though such phenomena are presently beyond our limited understanding.

Luke 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

Father Abraham. Abraham was also a rich man; obviously the criterion for either comfort or torment after death is not merely that of wealth or poverty.

water. Since it seems physically impossible—at least to our limited understanding—that both tormenting fire and cooling water could co-exist at the center of the earth, or that disembodied spirits could feel either one, it is possible that both are spiritual. That is, the fires may be the burning flames of a tormented conscience and hopeless future; and the waters are the waters of life and salvation. Once this life is past, however, there is an impassable gulf between (Luke 16:26), so that one's destiny is already set for eternity.

tormented in this flame. Lazarus had begged for crumbs from the rich man; now the rich man begged for a drop of water from Lazarus.

Luke 16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

remember. This admonition informs us that memories will persist in hell, and therefore eternal regrets and resentments. Surely this is part of the torment that will endure forever.

Luke 16:26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

Luke 16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:

Luke 16:28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

Luke 16:29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

Luke 16:30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.

Luke 16:31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

hear not Moses. The criterion is doubly true today, for we have not only Moses and the prophets but the New Testament as well. Christ's teaching, through this narrative (or parable, whichever it be) proved prophetic, for when He did come back from the dead, His enemies still were not persuaded, and did all they could to prevent His disciples from preaching His resurrection. On the other hand, there were many hearts that were still open, and such testimony did persuade them. The record says that “with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus;” and it also says that “the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 4:33; 6:7).