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The Unjust Steward (Manager)

16 Now Jesus was also saying to the disciples, “There was a certain rich man who had a manager [of his estate], and accusations [against this man] were brought to him, that this man was squandering his [master’s] possessions. So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management [of my affairs], for you can no longer be [my] manager.’ The manager [of the estate] said to himself, ‘What will I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig [for a living], and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I will do, so that when I am removed from the management, people [who are my master’s debtors] will welcome me into their homes.’ So he summoned his master’s debtors one by one, and he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred [a]measures of [olive] oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write [b]fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred [c]measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ And his master commended the unjust manager [not for his misdeeds, but] because he had acted shrewdly [by preparing for his future unemployment]; for the sons of this age [the non-believers] are shrewder in relation to their own kind [that is, to the ways of the secular world] than are the sons of light [the believers]. And I tell you [learn from this], make friends for yourselves [for eternity] by means of the [d]wealth of unrighteousness [that is, use material resources as a way to further the work of God], so that when it runs out, they will welcome you into the eternal dwellings.

10 “He who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little thing is also dishonest in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of earthly wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? 12 And if you have not been faithful in the use of that [earthly wealth] which belongs to another [whether God or man, and of which you are a trustee], who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand devotedly by the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon [that is, your earthly possessions or anything else you trust in and rely on instead of God].”

14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were sneering and ridiculing Him. 15 So He said to them, “You are the ones who declare yourselves just and upright in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts [your thoughts, your desires, your secrets]; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.(A)

16 “The Law and the [writings of the] Prophets were proclaimed until John; since then the gospel of the kingdom of God has been and continues to be preached, and everyone tries forcefully to go into it. 17 Yet it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for a single stroke of a letter of the Law to fail and become void.

18 “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.(B)

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “Now there was a certain rich man who was habitually dressed in expensive purple and fine linen, and celebrated and lived joyously in splendor every day. 20 And a poor man named Lazarus, was laid at his gate, covered with sores. 21 He [eagerly] longed to eat the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 22 Now it happened that the poor man died and his spirit was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s [e]bosom (paradise); and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades (the realm of the dead), being in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom (paradise). 24 And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in severe agony in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things [all the comforts and delights], and Lazarus likewise bad things [all the discomforts and distresses]; but now he is comforted here [in paradise], while you are in severe agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you [people] a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to come over from here to you will not be able, and none may cross over from there to us.’ 27 So the rich man said, ‘Then, father [Abraham], I beg you to send Lazarus to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—in order that he may solemnly warn them and witness to them, so that they too will not come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have [the Scriptures given by] Moses and the [writings of the] Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 He replied, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent [they will change their old way of thinking and seek God and His righteousness].’ 31 And he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to [the messages of] Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Instructions

17 Jesus said to His disciples, “Stumbling blocks [temptations and traps set to lure one to sin] are sure to come, but woe (judgment is coming) to him through whom they come!(C) It would be better for him if a millstone [as large as one turned by a donkey] were hung around his neck and he were hurled into the sea, than for him to cause one of these [f]little ones to stumble [in sin and lose faith].(D) Pay attention and always be on guard [looking out for one another]! If your brother sins and disregards God’s precepts, solemnly warn him; and if he repents and changes, forgive him. Even if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him [that is, give up resentment and consider the offense recalled and annulled].”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith [our ability to confidently trust in God and in His power].” And the Lord said, “If you [g]have [confident, abiding] faith in God [even as small] as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree [which has very strong roots], ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea’; and [if the request was in agreement with the will of God] it would have obeyed you.(E)

“Which of you who has a servant plowing or tending sheep will say to him when he comes in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat?’ Will he not instead say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and appropriately clothe yourself [for service] and serve me while I eat and drink; then afterward you may eat and drink?’ He does not thank the servant just because he did what he was ordered to do, does he? 10 So you too, when you have done everything that was assigned and commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants [undeserving of praise or a reward, for we have not gone beyond our obligation]; we have merely done what we ought to do.’”

Footnotes

  1. Luke 16:6 Gr baths, a Hebrew unit of measure equaling about 7-8 gal.
  2. Luke 16:6 It is possible that the manager was releasing the debtors from unlawful interest he was charging them (cf v 2)
  3. Luke 16:7 Gr kors, one kor equals 10-12 bushels.
  4. Luke 16:9 Gr mamona, from Aram mammon, signifying riches, wealth, etc., personified as an object of worship.
  5. Luke 16:22 Or lap. The Greek word basically means a fold, and could refer either to the fold of a robe over the chest or to the fold of a lap, formed when the legs are placed together. In either case, being “in Abraham’s bosom” (v 23) is an image reflecting a blissful place of comfort and security.
  6. Luke 17:2 I.e. believers.
  7. Luke 17:6 Jesus used this moment to emphasize that a person’s confident, abiding faith combined with God’s will and power can produce absolutely amazing results. God is fully capable of doing that which man regards as impossible (Mark 14:36; James 4:3).

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