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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
(\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
(\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
. 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

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

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
. 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
. 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

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
(\phronimōteroi huper\). Shrewder beyond, a common Greek

16:9 {By the mammon of unrighteousness} (\ek tou mamōnā tēs
. 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
(\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
. 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
\hē\ 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
. If you did not prove faithful in this, who will give
you what is really yours forever? Compare "rich toward God" (Lu

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
. {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

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

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
. 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
. 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

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
(\odunāsai\). Like \kauchāsai\ in Ro 2:17. They
contracted \-aesai\ without the loss of \s\. Common in the

16:26 {Beside all this} (\en pāsi toutois\). {In all these
(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

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)