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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Luke: Chapter 16)



16:1 {Unto the disciples} (kai pros tous mathētas). The three preceding parables in chapter 15 exposed the special faults of the Pharisees, "their hard exclusiveness, self-righteousness, and contempt for others" (Plummer). This parable is given by Luke alone. The kai (also) is not translated in the Revised Version. It seems to mean that at this same time, after speaking to the Pharisees (chapter 15), Jesus proceeds to speak a parable to the disciples (16:1-13), the parable of the Unjust Steward. It is a hard parable to explain, but Jesus opens the door by the key in verse 9.
{Which had a steward} (hos ēichen oikonomon). Imperfect active, continued to have. Steward is house-manager or overseer of an estate as already seen in Lu 12:42.
{Was accused} (dieblēthē). First aorist indicative passive, of diaballō, an old verb, but here only in the N.T. It means to throw across or back and forth, rocks or words and so to slander by gossip. The word implies malice even if the thing said is true. The word diabolos (slanderer) is this same root and it is used even of women, she-devils (1Ti 3:11).
{That he was wasting} (hōs diaskorpizōn). For the verb see on »15:13. The use of hōs with the participle is a fine Greek idiom for giving the alleged ground of a charge against one.
{His goods} (ta huparchonta autou). "His belongings," a Lukan idiom.

16:2 {What is this that I hear?} (ti touto akouō;). There are several ways of understanding this terse Greek idiom. The Revised Version (above) takes ti to be equal to ti estin touto ho akouō; That is a possible use of the predicate touto. Another way is to take ti to be exclamatory, which is less likely. Still another view is that ti is " Why": "Why do I hear this about thee?" See Ac 14:15 where that is the idiom employed. {Render} (apodos). Second aorist active imperative of apodidōmi, Give back (and at once).
{The account} (ton logon). The reckoning or report. Common use of logos. {Stewardship} (oikonomias). Same root as oikonomos (steward). This demand does not necessarily mean dismissal if investigation proved him innocent of the charges. But the reason given implies that he is to be dismissed: {Thou canst no longer} (ou gar dunēi).

16:3 {Within himself} (en heautōi). As soon as he had time to think the thing over carefully. He knew that he was guilty of embezzlement of the Master's funds.
{Taketh away} (aphaireitai). Present (linear) middle indicative of aphaireō, old verb to take away. Here the middle present means, He is taking away for himself.
{To beg I am not ashamed} (epaitein aischunomai). The infinitive with aischunomai means ashamed to begin to beg. The participle, epaitōn aischunomai would mean, ashamed while begging, ashamed of begging while doing it.

16:4 {I am resolved} (egnōn). Second aorist active indicative of ginōskō. A difficult tense to reproduce in English. I knew, I know, I have known, all miss it a bit. It is a burst of daylight to the puzzled, darkened man: I've got it, I see into it now, a sudden solution.
{What to do} (ti poiēsō). Either deliberative first aorist active subjunctive or deliberative future active indicative.
{When I am put out} (hotan metastathō). First aorist passive subjunctive of methistēmi, (meta, histēmi), old verb, to transpose, transfer, remove. He is expecting to be put out.
{They may receive me} (dexōntai). First aorist middle subjunctive of dechomai, common verb. Subjunctive with final particle hina. He wishes to put the debtors under obligation to himself.
{Debtors} (tōn chreophiletōn). A late word. In the N.T. only here and Lu 7:41 from chreos, loan, and opheiletēs, debtor. It is probable that he dealt with "each one" separately.

16:6 {Measures} (batous). Transliterated word for Hebrew "bath", between eight and nine gallons. Here alone in the N.T. Not the same word as batos ({bush}) in Lu 6:44.
{Thy bond} (sou ta grammata). Thy writings, thy contracts, thy note. {Quickly} (tacheōs). It was a secret arrangement and speed was essential.

16:7 {Measures} (korous). Another Hebrew word for dry measure. The Hebrew "cor" was about ten bushels. Data are not clear about the Hebrew measures whether liquid ({bath}) or dry ({cor}).

16:8 {His lord commended} (epēinesen ho kurios). The steward's lord praised him though he himself had been wronged again (see verse 1 "wasting his goods").
{The unrighteous steward} (ton oikonomon tēs adikias). Literally, the steward of unrighteousness. The genitive is the case of genus, species, the steward distinguished by unrighteousness as his characteristic. See "the mammon of unrighteousness" in verse 9. See "the forgetful hearer" in Jas 1:25. It is a vernacular idiom common to Hebrew, Aramaic, and the "Koinē".
{Wisely} (phronimōs). An old adverb, though here alone in the N.T. But the adjective phronimos from which it comes occurs a dozen times as in Mt 10:16. It is from phroneō and that from phrēn, the mind (1Co 14:20), the discerning intellect. Perhaps "shrewdly" or "discreetly" is better here than "wisely." The lord does not absolve the steward from guilt and he was apparently dismissed from his service. His shrewdness consisted in finding a place to go by his shrewdness. He remained the steward of unrighteousness even though his shrewdness was commended.
{For} (hoti). Probably by this second hoti Jesus means to say that he cites this example of shrewdness because it illustrates the point. "This is the moral of the whole parable. Men of the world in their dealings with men like themselves are more prudent than the children of light in their intercourse with one another" (Plummer). We all know how stupid Christians can be in their co-operative work in the kingdom of God, to go no further.
{Wiser than} (phronimōteroi huper). Shrewder beyond, a common Greek idiom.

16:9 {By the mammon of unrighteousness} (ek tou mamōnā tēs adikias). By the use of what is so often evil (money). In Mt 6:24 mammon is set over against God as in Lu 16:13 below. Jesus knows the evil power in money, but servants of God have to use it for the kingdom of God. They should use it discreetly and it is proper to make friends by the use of it.
{When it shall fail} (hotan eklipēi). Second aorist active subjunctive with hotan, future time. The mammon is sure to fail.
{That they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles} (hina dexōntai humas eis tas aiōnious skēnas). This is the purpose of Christ in giving the advice about their making friends by the use of money. The purpose is that those who have been blessed and helped by the money may give a welcome to their benefactors when they reach heaven. There is no thought here of purchasing an entrance into heaven by the use of money. That idea is wholly foreign to the context. These friends will give a hearty welcome when one gives him mammon here. The wise way to lay up treasure in heaven is to use one's money for God here on earth. That will give a cash account there of joyful welcome, not of purchased entrance.

16:10 {Faithful in a very little} (pistos en elachistōi). Elative superlative. One of the profoundest sayings of Christ. We see it in business life. The man who can be trusted in a very small thing will be promoted to large responsibilities. That is the way men climb to the top. Men who embezzle in large sums began with small sums. Verses 10-13 here explain the point of the preceding parables.

16:11 {Faithful in the unrighteous mammon} (en tōi adikōi mamōnāi). In the use of what is considered "unrighteous" as it so often is. Condition of the first class, "if ye did not prove to be" (ei ouk egenesthe). Failure here forfeits confidence in "the true riches" (to alēthinon). There is no sadder story than to see a preacher go down by the wrong use of money, caught in this snare of the devil.

16:12 {That which is your own} (to h–meteron). But Westcott and Hort read to hēmeteron (our own) because of B L Origen. The difference is due to itacism in the pronunciation of h–- and alike (long i). But the point in the passage calls for "yours" as correct. Earthly wealth is ours as a loan, a trust, withdrawn at any moment. It belongs to another (en tōi allotriōi). If you did not prove faithful in this, who will give you what is really yours forever? Compare "rich toward God" (Lu 12:21).

16:13 {Servant} (oiketēs). Household (oikos) servant. This is the only addition to Mt 6:24 where otherwise the language is precisely the same, which see. Either Matthew or Luke has put the logion in the wrong place or Jesus spoke it twice. It suits perfectly each context. There is no real reason for objecting to repetition of favourite sayings by Jesus.

16:14 {Who were lovers of money} (philarguroi huparchontes). Literally, being lovers of money. Philarguroi is an old word, but in the N.T. only here and 2Ti 3:2. It is from philos and arguros.
{Heard} (ēkouon). Imperfect active, were listening (all the while Jesus was talking to the disciples (verses 1-13).
{And they scoffed at him} (\kai exemuktērizon)
. Imperfect active again of ekmuktērizō. LXX where late writers use simple verb. In the N.T. only here and Lu 23:35. It means to turn out or up the nose at one, to sneer, to scoff. The Romans had a phrase, "naso adunco suspendere", to hang on the hooked nose (the subject of ridicule). These money-loving Pharisees were quick to see that the words of Jesus about the wise use of money applied to them. They had stood without comment the three parables aimed directly at them (the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son). But now they do not remain quiet while they hear the fourth parable spoken to the disciples. No words were apparently spoken, but their eyes, noses, faces were eloquent with a fine disdain.

16:15 {That justify yourselves} (hoi dikaiountes heautous). They were past-masters at that and were doing it now by upturned noses.
{An abomination in the sight of God} (bdelugma enōpion tou theou). See on »Mt 24:15; Mr 13:14 for this LXX word for a detestable thing as when Antiochus Epiphanes set up an altar to Zeus in place of that to Jehovah. There is withering scorn in the use of this phrase by Jesus to these pious pretenders.

16:16 {Entereth violently into it} (eis autēn biazetai). A corresponding saying occurs in Mt 11:12 in a very different context. In both the verb biazetai, occurs also, but nowhere else in the N.T. It is present middle here and can be middle or passive in Matthew, which see. It is rare in late prose. Deissmann ("Bible Studies", p. 258) cites an inscription where biazomai is reflexive middle and used absolutely. Here the meaning clearly is that everyone forces his way into the kingdom of God, a plea for moral enthusiasm and spiritual passion and energy that some today affect to despise.

16:17 {One tittle} (mian kerean). See on »Mt 5:18.

16:18 {Committeth adultery} (moicheuei). Another repeated saying of Christ (Mt 5:32; Mr 10:11f.; Mt 19:9f.). Adultery remains adultery, divorce or no divorce, remarriage or no marriage.

16:19 {He was clothed} (enedidusketo). Imperfect middle of endiduskō, a late intensive form of enduō. He clothed himself in or with. It was his habit.
{Purple} (porphuran). This purple dye was obtained from the purple fish, a species of mussel or murex (1Macc. 4:23). It was very costly and was used for the upper garment by the wealthy and princes (royal purple). They had three shades of purple (deep violet, deep scarlet or crimson, deep blue). See also Mr 15:17,20; Re 18:12.
{Fine linen} (busson).
{Byssus} or Egyptian flax (India and Achaia also). It is a yellowed flax from which fine linen was made for undergarments. It was used for wrapping mummies. "Some of the Egyptian linen was so fine that it was called "woven air"" (Vincent). Here only in the N.T. for the adjective bussinos occurs in Re 18:12; 19:8,14.
{Faring sumptuously} (euphrainomenos lamprōs).
{Making merry brilliantly}. The verb euphrainomai we have already had in 12:19; 15:23,25,32. Lamprōs is an old adverb from lampros, brilliant, shining, splendid, magnificent. It occurs here only in the N.T. This parable apparently was meant for the Pharisees (verse 14) who were lovers of money. It shows the wrong use of money and opportunity.

16:20 {Beggar} (ptōchos). Original meaning of this old word. See on »Mt 5:3. The name Lazarus is from Eleazaros, "God a help," and was a common one. "Lazar" in English means one afflicted with a pestilential disease.
{Was laid} (ebeblēto). Past perfect passive of the common verb ballō. He had been flung there and was still there, "as if contemptuous roughness is implied" (Plummer).
{At his gate} (pros ton pulōna autou). Right in front of the large portico or gateway, not necessarily a part of the grand house, porch in Mt 26:71.
{Full of sores} (heilkōmenos). Perfect passive participle of helkoō, to make sore, to ulcerate, from helkos, ulcer (Latin "ulcus"). See use of helkos in verse 21. Common in Hippocrates and other medical writers. Here only in the N.T.

16:21 {With the crumbs that fell} (apo tōn piptontōn). From the things that fell from time to time. The language reminds one of Lu 15:16 (the prodigal son) and the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mr 7:28). Only it does not follow that this beggar did not get the scraps from the rich man's table. Probably he did, though nothing more. Even the wild street dogs would get them also.
{Yea, even the dogs} (alla kai hoi kunes). For alla kai see also 12:7; 24:22. Alla can mean "yea," though it often means "but." Here it depends on how one construes Luke's meaning. If he means that he was dependent on casual scraps and it was so bad that even the wild dogs moreover were his companions in misery, the climax came that he was able to drive away the dogs. The other view is that his hunger was unsatisfied, but even the dogs increased his misery.
{Licked his sores} (epeleichon ta helkē autou). Imperfect active of epileichō, a late vernacular "Koinē" verb, to lick over the surface. It is not clear whether the licking of the sores by the dogs added to the misery of Lazarus or gave a measure of comfort, as he lay in his helpless condition. "Furrer speaks of witnessing dogs and lepers waiting together for the refuse" (Bruce). It was a scramble between the dogs and Lazarus.

16:22 {Was borne} (apenechthēnai). First aorist passive infinitive from apopherō, a common compound defective verb. The accusative case of general reference (auton) is common with the infinitive in such clauses after egeneto, like indirect discourse. It is his soul, of course, that was so borne by the angels, not his body.
{Into Abraham's bosom} (eis ton holpon Abraam). To be in Abraham's bosom is to the Jew to be in Paradise. In Joh 1:18 the Logos is in the bosom of the Father. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are in heaven and welcome those who come (Mt 8:11; 4Macc. 14:17). The beloved disciple reclined on the bosom of Jesus at the last passover (Joh 13:23) and this fact indicates special favour. So the welcome to Lazarus was unusual.
{Was buried} (etaphē). Second aorist (effective) passive of the common verb thaptō. Apparently in contrast with the angelic visitation to the beggar.

16:23 {In Hades} (en tōi Hāidēi). See on Mt 16:18 for discussion of this word. Lazarus was in Hades also for both Paradise (Abraham's bosom) and Gehenna are in the unseen world beyond the grave.
{In torments} (en basanois). The touchstone by which gold and other metals were tested, then the rack for torturing people. Old word, but in the N.T. only here, Lu 16:28; Mt 4:24.
{Sees} (horāi). Dramatic present indicative. The Jews believed that Gehenna and Paradise were close together. This detail in the parable does not demand that we believe it. The picture calls for it.
{From afar} (apo makrothen). Pleonastic use of apo as makrothen means {from afar}.

16:24 {That he may dip} (hina bapsēi). First aorist active subjunctive of baptō, common verb, to dip.
{In water} (hudatos). Genitive, the specifying case, water and not something else.
{Cool} (katapsuxēi). First aorist active subjunctive of katapsuchō, a late Greek compound, to cool off, to make cool. Only here in the N.T. but common in medical books. Note perfective use of kata- (down). A small service that will be welcome.
{For I am in anguish} (hoti odunōmai). The active has a causative sense to cause intense pain, the middle to torment oneself (Lu 2:48; Ac 20:38), the passive to be translated as here. Common verb, but no other examples in the N.T.

16:25 {Receivedst} (apelabes). Second aorist indicative of apolambanō, old verb to get back what is promised and in full. See also Lu 6:34; 18:30; 23:41.
{Evil things} (ta kaka). Not "his," but "the evil things" that came upon him.
{Thou art in anguish} (odunāsai). Like kauchāsai in Ro 2:17. They contracted -aesai without the loss of s. Common in the "Koinē".

16:26 {Beside all this} (en pāsi toutois).
{In all these things} (or regions).
{Gulf} (chasma). An old word from chainō, to yawn, our chasm, a gaping opening. Only here in the N.T.
{Is fixed} (estēriktai). Perfect passive indicative of stērizō, old verb (see on »Lu 9:51). Permanent chasm.
{May not be able} (mē dunōntai). Present middle subjunctive of dunamai. The chasm is there on purpose ({that not}, hopōs mē) to prevent communication.

16:27 {That you send him} (hina pempsēis auton). As if he had not had a fair warning and opportunity. The Roman Catholics probably justify prayer to saints from this petition from the Rich Man to Abraham, but both are in Hades (the other world). It is to be observed besides, that Abraham makes no effort to communicate with the five brothers. But heavenly recognition is clearly assumed. Dante has a famous description of his visit to the damned ("Purg". iii, 114).

16:28 {That he may testify} (hopōs diamarturētai). An old verb for solemn and thorough (dia-) witness. The Rich Man labours under the delusion that his five brothers will believe the testimony of Lazarus as a man from the dead.

16:29 {Let them hear them} (akousatōsan autōn). Even the heathen have the evidence of nature to show the existence of God as Paul argues in Romans so that they are without excuse (Ro 1:20f.).

16:30 {They will repent} (metanoēsousin). The Rich Man had failed to do this and he now sees that it is the one thing lacking. It is not wealth, not poverty, not alms, not influence, but repentance that is needed. He had thought repentance was for others, not for all.

16:31 {Neither will they be persuaded} (oud' peisthēsontai). First future passive of peithō. Gressmann calls attention to the fact that Jesus is saying this in the conclusion of the parable. It is a sharp discouragement against efforts today to communicate with the dead. "Saul was not led to repentance when he saw Samuel at Endor nor were the Pharisees when they saw Lazarus come forth from the tomb. The Pharisees tried to put Lazarus to death and to explain away the resurrection of Jesus" (Plummer). Alford comments on the curious fact that Lazarus was the name of the one who did rise from the dead but whose return from the dead "was the immediate exciting cause of their (Pharisees) crowning act of unbelief."


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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Luke: Chapter 16)



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