Luke 16
Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
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 16:1. Μαθητὰς, disciples) These disciples here are not inclusive of those Twelve who had left their all, and were rather to be accounted among those who were to be made friends of [with the mammon of unrighteousness, Luke 16:9]: but are those who had been publicans [ch. Luke 15:1]. And accordingly the Lord now speaks more weightily and sternly with the disciples, who had been publicans, than He had spoken for them (in their behalf) to others. The (prodigal) son, who has been recovered with joy, is not to have daily ‘music’ [in celebration of his recovery, ch. Luke 15:25, συμφωνίας], but is here taught to return to duty.—διεβλήθη) The verb has a middle force.[164] Information was given against the steward, and that on true grounds, whatever may have been the spirit that influenced the informer.—διασκορπίζων, [wasting] squandering) The Present, but including also the past. The same verb occurs, ch. Luke 15:13 [said of the prodigal, who “squandered [wasted] his substance with riotous living”]. The parable does not refer to all stewards: inasmuch as they rather, throughout the whole time of their stewardship, are bound to show fidelity, 1 Corinthians 4:2; but to those stewards who, in a long period of their stewardship, have mismanaged their business (abused their trust). The whole system of the world’s conduct, in the case of their external goods, is a squandering or waste, since their goods are not laid out (bestowed and deposited) in their proper places; although very many of the unjust [worldly stewards of God’s goods] seem to gather together [rather than to squander or scatter]. [For, indeed, whoever evinces alacrity in scattering abroad (in charity), he gathers together treasure in heaven.[165]—V. g.]

[164] Sometimes said of a true, sometimes of a false accusation. Unless Beng. means the sense of the Middle Voice, he got himself accused; i.e. by his bad conduct he brought himself into being accused before his master.—E. and T.

[165] Luke 12:33; Proverbs 11:24; Psalm 112:9.—E. and T.

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 16:2. Τί τοῦτο, what is this?) The rich man speaks as if something had happened which he was not expecting. This implies that God puts trust in man.—ἀκούω, I hear) from the complaints which have been made to Me concerning thee. God is represented as hearing of his proceedings, as if He did not see them Himself. Thus the steward was left to himself.[166]—τὸν λόγον) the account [‘libellum,’ the account-book].

[166] That is, to his own free agency, the rich master not interfering with him: just as God seems, as it were, not to interfere with man, and only to hear of man’s doings, though He really sees and controls all things.—E. and T.

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 16:3. Σκάπτειν· ἐπαιτεῖν, dig; beg) Death leaves no opportunity of either labouring or begging: Ecclesiastes 9:10 [There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest]. This accessory ornament of the parable [the digging and begging] is accommodated to the spiritual sense in the Apodosis, as far as the circumstances of the case admit.[167] The complete and utter ἀπορία, helplessness, of the steward is implied, if he is to have no place of refuge with the debtors of his Lord.—αἰσχύνομαι, I am ashamed) We may suppose him to mean, that he was ashamed to beg, by reason of excessive modesty, and a sense of his unworthiness.

[167] The Apodosis to the parable is in Luke 16:9; and ὅταν ἐκλίπῃ, when ye fail, there, corresponds to σκάπτειν οὐκ ἰσχύω, ἐπαιτεῖν αὐσχύνομαι, I cannot dig, to beg I am ashamed, in this ver., implying utter ‘failure’ of resources.—E. and T.

I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
Luke 16:4. Ἔγνων, I know [better the Eng. Vers. I am resolved]) He suddenly formed a plan.

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 16:5. Ἕνα ἓκαστσν, every one) in order that he might put as many as possible under obligations to him; therefore two instances merely, for the sake of example, are subjoined in the following verses.

And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
Luke 16:6. Δέξαι) receive from me.—γράμμα, thy bill) bond, or agreement to pay.—ταχέως, hastily) stealthily.—πεντήκοντα, fifty) A large present: comp. Luke 16:7. It is at a great cost that a friend is to be gained.

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 16:7. Σὐ δὲ, but thou) The conjunction indicates, that the steward did not transact business separately with every debtor.

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.
Luke 16:8. Ἐπῄνεσεν) Not merely did He ratify the measure adopted by the steward, but He approved of and praised it.—ὁ κύριος, the Lord) of the steward: see Luke 16:3; Luke 16:5.—τὸν οἰκονόμον τῆς ἀδικίας, the steward of injustice [i.e. Hebraicè, the unjust steward]) The steward is called unjust, not merely on account of the original squandering away of his master’s goods, but also on account of his newly-adopted plan, whereby he intercepted fifty baths (measures) of oil and twenty cori,[168] and bestowed them on the debtors, though the property did not belong to him but to another, viz. his master, in order that he might provide for himself. Compare with one another verses 4 and 9, in both of which ἵνα, ὅταν, in order that, when, occur [and mutually correspond]. Furthermore, from this injustice of the steward the mammon of injustice (unrighteousness) himself takes his denomination, Luke 16:9; in the same way as a little after the term unjust is first said of the man, and from him subsequently the term is applied to the mammon, Luke 16:10 [“He that is unjust,” ἌΔΙΚΟς], 11 [“in the unjust” or “unrighteous mammon”]. Moreover, the steward was unjust, not towards the debtors of his master, but towards his master himself: therefore man is regarded as “unjust,” who does not use mammon precisely for the advantage of God, so to speak, but for that of his own self. That injustice is either of a kind, coarse, nefarious, and calculated to accumulate punishment on him: such as is described in the verses after this parable, 10, 11; or else, softening the expression injustice by the parable [to accord with its qualified meaning in the parable], it is of a kind refined, noble, and inoffensive. For as the term just is used according to the aspect of it presented in Isaiah 49:24 [“Shall the lawful captive delivered” or “the captivity of the just—be taken from the mighty”], so is injustice here used.[169] To wit, those goods, which are denoted by the term mammon are the goods of another (“another man’s,” ἐν τῷ ἀλλοτρίω, Luke 16:12), in the same sense as spiritual and eternal goods on the other hand (on the opposite side) are our own (τὸ ὑμέτερον, Luke 16:12, “that which is your own”). Moreover, whosoever seeks and derives his own advantage from the goods of another is so far unjust. Therefore, it is admirable indulgence, and as it were an exceeding degree of connivance, that God concedes to us, nay even advises us, that we should acquire friends for ourselves by means of His goods. He would have the just right of demanding, that we who are His stewards should dispense His goods precisely and exclusively to His advantage, so to speak, so as not to derive any benefit from them ourselves; whereas, as it is, He wishes that we should, with a noble exercise of the discretion given us, blend with the consideration of His interest, or substitute for it, a regard to our own interest. So God waives His just right, exhibiting thereby great condescension, to which the case is similar of which Romans 3:4 treats; where see the note. When we, right or wrong, i.e. indefatigably[170] receive and embrace the right so waived by God, we incur the charge of injustice, but an injustice of such a kind as is not only not censured itself, but is even regarded as combined with praiseworthy prudence. O how much more unjust as also more imprudent are they, who in the case of the goods of God seek solely their own self-indulgence. All injustice is no doubt a sin against God; and so the injustice, which is ascribed to mammon, might be taken in the bad sense which is the ordinary one: as Lightfoot, who compares the case of Zaccheus [who restored the goods which he had wrongfully taken and in this sense made friends of the mammon of unrighteousness], shows the phraseology ממון שקר, to be most common. But at the same time in this passage the injustice lay in the very act itself of the steward, whereby he acquired friends for himself; and that act drives us to adopt the recondite meaning of injustice given above.[171] Moreover it is a frequent catachresis [not strictly proper use of a word] often combining at once sweetness and grandeur, whereby a term for a thing which is not good is, notwithstanding, used in a good sense, there being extant no other more appropriate term. For instance we have ἄλογον (strictly absurd, unreasonable) in the catachrestic sense, that which is not calculated upon: ἀχάριστον (ungrateful) catachrestically, that for which no sufficiently great thanks can be returned: So also, ἐξέστημεν (“we are beside ourselves” with Christian zeal and love) καταναρκᾶν, and ἐσύλησα, 2 Corinthians 5:13; 2 Corinthians 11:8 [“I robbed other churches, taking wages of them,” etc., “When I was in want I was chargeable (burdensome) to no man”]; and what comes nearer in point to the present case, διὰ κενῆς, Job 2:3; Job 9:17 [without cause]; 2 Kings 2:10, ἐσκλήρυνας αἰτήσασθαι [“Thou hast asked a hard thing;” strictly, σκληρύνω would imply a hardening of the heart]: Jeremiah 49:12 or 11, οὐ νόμος:[172] ΒΙΑΣΤΑΙ [in a good sense] ἉΡΠΆΖΟΥΣΙΝ in Matthew 11:21 : ἈΝΑΊΔΕΙΑ (importunity in a good cause) in Luke 11:8. If this interpretation be thought too far-fetched, the ‘Mammon’ may be supposed to be called unjust, because it does not justly admit of the appellation ‘goods’—ὍΤΙ, since) Jesus adds to the parable the reason for which the steward obtained such high commendation for prudence.—οἱ υἱοὶ) The sons of this world [“the children of this world”] (ch. Luke 20:34), are those who make this world, covered over as it is with thick darkness, and the world’s goods their chief aim: the children [sons] of light (1 Thessalonians 5:5; Ephesians 5:8), are they who though living in this world yet seek those goods of the light which the Father of lights bestows, Jam 1:17. This is a sublime sentiment, most worthy to come from the Divine lips of Jesus Christ.—ΦΡΟΝΙΜΏΤΕΡΟΙ, more prudent) The comparative is here used, and that in a not strict and a diminishing sense: For the prudence of the world does not deserve to be called prudence in the positive. The force of the comparative is already in the ὙΠῈΡ [ΤΟῪς ΥἹΟῪς ΤΟῦ ΦΩΤΌς] ὙΠῈΡ) Above. The sons of the light do not exceedingly care for this world. On this account the sons of this world easily excel them, and carry off from them the commendation (ἘΠῄΝΕΣΕΝ) of superiority in this respect; nor do the sons of the light always in very deed (in their actual conduct) evince as much prudence and vigilance even in spiritual matters [as the sons of the world evince in temporal matters]. See Matthew 25:5. They hardly have as much carefulness as is needed; the worldly have more than is necessary. [Hardly any son of the light would expend either fifty baths of oil or twenty cori of wheat, in order that he might gain for himself the favour of a certain (any particular) saint; but the men of this world at times acquire for themselves a friend or a patron at an enormous cost.—V. g.]—ΕἸς ΤῊΝ ΓΕΝΕᾺΝ, in respect to their generation) εἰς, in respect to, is a qualifying limitation. [In truth, even the smallest spark of the more sublime prudence is more excellent than the highest degree of worldly prudence. For the latter, whether you have regard to the affairs of politics, or of war, or merchandise, or literature, or works of art, etc., sets before it an object which is continually fleeting and transitory: Whereas, the former aims at reaching the farthest goal, which alone is of the greatest moment, however ordinarily treated as secondary and utterly neglected it be by the men of the world.—V. g.] The fruit of worldly prudence is brought to its termination in not many years. The antithesis to εἰς τὴν γενεὰν is αἰωνιους in Luke 16:9, everlasting habitations.

[168] Also translated in Engl. Vers. measures. But the Cor, Ezekiel 45:14, which the Hellenists write κόρος, is the same as the ancient homer חמר (a heap), the largest measure of dry goods. The Ephah is the tenth of this: and the bath in liquids answers to the ephah in dry goods.—E. and T.

[169] That is, not in the sense of what is positively unjust, but in the negative sense of God not insisting on that which is His rightful claim, viz. supreme Lordship over earthly goods, so that His interest solely, and man’s not at all, should be looked to: as in 2 Corinthians 12:13, Paul, when he did not avail himself of his rightful claim of maintenance from the Corinthians, says to them, “Forgive me this wrongἀδικίαν, the non-exercise of my right.—E. and T.

[170] ‘Improbe;’ Beng. refers to the double sense of improbum, that which is not our strict right, and that which is bold and excessively persevering. The same double sense holds good of the ἀδικιά here.—E. and T.

[171] And this sense alone gets over the difficulty, which there is in any other view, viz. that God commended the injustice of the steward.—E. and T.

[172] “They whose judgment was not to drink.” See Biel’s Thesaurus, νόμος being there משפט.—E. and T.

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.
Luke 16:9. Ποιήσατεἵνα ἵτανδέξωνται, make—that when—they may be about to receive you) All these words are repeated from Luke 16:4 [ποιήσωἵνα ὅτανδέξωνται].—φίλους, friends) Not merely are you to make single friends, each making one friend, but each should make more friends than one. See note on Luke 16:5. [A result which you will not truly be able to effect with gifts of mere pence or farthings.—V. g.] In this case, a thing which seldom happens, the debtor [the ‘friends’] loves the creditor [‘you’]. But, alas! what shall we say of the case of those, who not only are destitute of such friends, but who, by rapine and frauds, etc., make for themselves enemies, who sigh and cry to heaven against their oppressors.—ἐκ τοῦ μαμωνᾶ, out of [by means of] the mammon) not merely by the restoration of what has been [unjustly] taken away, but also by acts of beneficence, almsgiving, kindliness, indulgence, as Job did, Job 31:20.—ἵνα, that) Liberality alone is not sufficient: but yet this removes a great impediment in the way of entrance into the everlasting habitations [tabernacles].—ἐκλίπητε, ye shall have failed) viz. at death, when our stewardship is required of us [Ecclesiastes 9:10]. גרע LXX. render by ἐκλείπω, even in the case of the just. But in this passage He implies by the word, according to the force of the parable, such an ending of one’s office (as steward) and of one’s life, as would be wretched, if there were not friends already made, who should be ready to receive us.—δέξωνταί, they may be ready to receive) viz. the friends [may be ready to receive], either in this life, or in that which is to come.[173] The heirs of heavenly good things will say, The Father hath ordered that these good things should be ours (Luke 16:12, τὸ ὑμέτερον, “that which is your own”); we wish that these should belong to you also, seeing that ye have benefited us. The Divine judgment hath both many interceders for averting punishment, and many approvers of the sentence of condemnation passed (et deprecatores et subscriptores). See 1 Corinthians 6:2. [No doubt, it is not those only upon whom one may have conferred a benefit, that are indicated here, but all, without exception, who, before one dies, have already passed to everlasting habitations, or else who (though not having yet entered them) have their own appointed place there. For the cause of all these is a common cause. And benefits are laid out to the best account when bestowed on the sons and servants of GOD.—V. g.] If the friends had no part to play in this instance viz. in receiving their benefactors to everlasting habitations], what need would there be to make friends?—ΑἸΩΝΊΟΥς, everlasting) This is put in antithesis to the failure implied in ὅταν ἐκλίπητε.—ΣΚΗΝᾺς, tabernacles, or habitations) They are so called on account of their security, pleasantness, and the convenience of dwelling together, as it were, in one common mansion. There is not added their own [viz. habitations], as in Luke 16:4 [τοὺς οἴκους αὐτῶν], their own houses, because the σκηναὶ, habitations, belong to God.

[173] Some of the friends you have made may be still in this life when your stewardship shall come to its close, others may be in the world above. Both alike shall wish your eternal salvation.—E. and T.

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.
Luke 16:10. Ὁ πιστὸς, he who is faithful) The mention of mammon being repeated (Luke 16:9, and Luke 16:11), indicates that this has a close connection with what goes before. And yet it is not prudence now, as heretofore, but fidelity, which the Lord commends. For fidelity generates and directs prudence. Πιστὸς, ἀληθινὸν (נאמן), and πιστεύσει, are conjugates.—ἐν ἐλαχίστῳ, in that which is least) Theology concerns itself with the greatest and with the least things. For it is in this view that the antithetic word πολλῷ, “in much,” acquires also the force of a superlative, as רַב.—ἄδικος, unjust) In antithesis to πιστὸς, faithful.

If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
Luke 16:11. Ἑν, in the case of) i.e. when so small a matter is at stake.—ἀδικῳ, the unjust [unrighteous] The unjust mammon is opposed to the true [good]: and by a metonymy of the consequent [unjust] for the antecedent [worthless at least], it is used for that which is least and worthless; inasmuch as by reason of its worthlessness, it is committed and given even to unjust and faithless men; nay, to these especially, because they, with their whole soul and body, seize upon it and devote themselves to it, and esteem it as their one and only good, Luke 16:25. [Abraham says to Dives, “Thy good things”]. Every great thing has, through men’s instrumentality either lately or formerly, contracted some stain of injustice. What an amount of injustice must the transference of ownerships throughout so many ages have been liable to impart to the tenures of property, even though at the present time the possessors may hold their property in all good faith?—πιστοὶ, faithful) External goods are given by way of a test to prove them.—οὐκ ἐγένεσθε, ye have not become [Engl. Ver. not so well, “ye have not been”]) having laid aside the faithlessness which was in you. This is the signification of the verb γίνομαι [as distinguished from εἰμι].—τὸ ἀληθινὸν, the true) Jesus speaks according to the heavenly sense [perception of the relative value of things]. The true good is that which is spiritual and eternal. Its preciousness is not equally liable to be exposed to the risk of faithless stewardship (management). No loss is sustained in the case of [this] mammon.—τίς, who) i.e. not I, nor my Father will.—πιστεύσει, will commit) in this life, where the danger is of faithlessness.

And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?
Luke 16:12. Ἀλλοτρίῳ, that which is another’s) In the case of the external goods of the world, in the food needed for the belly. See 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Timothy 6:7. In a different point of view it is carnal things, not spiritual, which are called our own, 1 Corinthians 9:11 [If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?]. Nay, indeed, all the good things of God are alien to a man, before that he becomes a believer, even those which are inferior and prior to the rest: but when a man has become a believer, all things become his own, even the greatest and the highest goods.—τὸ ὑμέτερον, that which is your own) that which belongs to the sons and heirs of God: ch. Luke 6:20 [“Yours is the Kingdom of God”] 1 Corinthians 3:22 [“All things are yours,” etc.]. It virtually and in fact refers to the same thing as τὸ ἀληθινὸν, the true good, Luke 16:11.—ὑμῖν, unto you) This implies that he who fails to obtain salvation, might nevertheless have obtained it.—δώσει, will give) The verb πιστεύσει, will commit, corresponds to the noun τὸ ἀληθινὸν, Luke 16:11, and refers solely to this life, during which is the time of probation; the verb δώσει, will give, corresponds to the pronoun τὸ ὑμέτερον, that which is your own, and refers especially to the future life, in which there is no risk of faithlessness. Wherefore inasmuch as in the case of the one world faithlessness has place, but has not in the other, the cause why the true goods are not to be committed to those who have not evinced fidelity in the case of the unjust mammon, is the truth and exalted worth of the things which must not be exposed to any risk; and the cause why the goods which are their own, are not to be given to those who have not evinced faithfulness in the case of the goods which belong to another, is the unworthiness of those who had been intended to receive them as their own,—that unworthiness incapacitating them for so great an inheritance. No man can with the one and the same earnestness administer both things that are ‘unrighteous’ and things that are ‘true:’ or enjoy with one and the same soul both the things “that belong to another,” and the things that are “his own.”

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.
And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.
Luke 16:14. Καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι, the Pharisees also) His words were addressed to the disciples in the hearing of the Pharisees.—φιλάργυροι, covetous) A class of persons who are the most ready of all to take offence.—ἐξεμυκτήριζον, they began to deride Him) who was the teacher of singleness of heart. [Whereas they fancied themselves to be accomplished in (furnished with) such prudence as to be able admirably to combine the service of God and that of mammon.—V. g.]

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 16:15. Οἱ δικαιοῦντεςἀνθρώπων) Ye do some things that are just, and thence ye suppose yourselves to be just, ye feign that ye are so, and are regarded as such. The antithesis is γινώσκει, knoweth.—καρδίας, hearts) The heart is the seat of justice and of injustice. [This axiom is most powerfully effectual both in convicting the bad and confirming the sincere.—V. g.]—τὸ ἐν ἀνθρώποις ὑψηλὸν, that which is lofty [highly-esteemed] among men) What seems to men among their fellow-men the very height of justice (righteousness). Comp. ch. Luke 18:14 [πᾶς ὁ ὑψῶν ἑαυτὸν], “every one that exalteth himself.” This is the connection of the subsequent words, Justification of one’s self before men, and loftiness of heart, nourish covetousness, and deride heavenly simplicity and singleness of heart, Luke 16:15, and despise the Gospel [“the Kingdom of God is preached,” ἐυαγγελίζεται], Luke 16:16, and disregard the law, Luke 16:17, a fact (their disregard of the law) which is shown by an instance of the violation of the law most necessary to be spoken to the Pharisees [who were given to adultery], Luke 16:18. The narrative concerning the rich man and Lazarus comprises all these points.

The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
Luke 16:16. Ὁ νόμος, the law) Supply the predicate have prophesied (prophetizaverunt), [answering to the antithetic expression, εὐαγγελίζεται, the Gospel kingdom of God is preached.—καὶ πᾶς, and every one) Comp. ch. 15. [Then drew near all the publicans and sinners, etc.]—βιάζεται) with pious violence presses into it (assails it). Resolve the sentence thus, πᾶς (βιαζόμενος,) εἰς αὐτὴν διὰ τῆς βίας εἰσέρχεται.

And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
Luke 16:17. Δὲ, but) Although I, the Christ, am here, with the Gospel; yet I do not set aside the law; Matthew 5:17-18. He refutes the antinomian Pharisees. For there is no trace here or mention of any transition from the Pharisees to the Sadducees. In Luke 16:16-18 the Pharisees’ contempt and abuse of the law, and at the same time the everlasting obligation of the law are noticed; and it is to this that the scope of the whole narrative as to the rich man and his brothers appertains: comp. Luke 16:29 [“They have Moses and the prophets,” etc.].—πεσεῖν) διαπίπτειν נפל, Joshua 21:45 “There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken.” LXX. (43) οὐ διέπεσεν].

Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
Luke 16:18. Πᾶς ὁ ἀπολύων, every one who putteth away) The cause also of divorce either on the part of him who put away his wife, or on the part of the Pharisees and Judges, may have been “covetousness,” Luke 16:14, for the sake of the gain derived from the writing of divorcement. This abuse at that time prevailed to a great degree. [The express exception[174] (Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9) in the case of one put away on account of adultery did not belong to this place: for in that case it is not the husband but the unfaithful party (wife) who by the very act separates her own self from him.—V. g.]

[174] The Ed. Tert. Tubing. 1835, has ‘deserta,’ evidently a misprint for ‘diserta,’ as the Germ. Vers. has ausdrückliche.—E. and T.

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
Luke 16:19. Ἄνθρωπος, a man) This parable (for it is a parable, though a true narrative may lie underneath it) not only condemns the abuse of external goods by covetousness and pride, but also condemns a proud contempt of the law and the prophets: comp. Luke 16:14 et seqq. The rich man is the exact representative of the Pharisees: Lazarus is an example of the poor in spirit: The state of both respectively in this life and in that which is to come is shown.—πορφύραν καὶ βύσσον, purple and fine linen) forming a beautifully blending of colours.

And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
Luke 16:20. Ὀνόματι, by name) Lazarus was known by his own name in heaven; whereas the rich man is not designated by any name (is not accounted worthy of any name or reputation marked by a name), Luke 16:25 [‘Son’], but has merely a genealogy in the world, Luke 16:27-28. [This is not due to the parabolic nature of the narrative, for] Even in a parable a proper name has place: Ezekiel 23:4 [Aholah and Aholibah]. However that there was really at Jerusalem at that time such a person, named Lazarus, is recorded by Theophylact from the tradition of the Hebrews.—ἐβέβλητο, was lying)[175] disabled in his limbs. His hunger and nakedness is opposed to the sumptuous fare and fine clothing of the rich man. The character which marked the soul of Lazarus is to be gathered in part from his own external condition, and in part from the opposite character of the rich man.—πυλῶνα, gate) that of a great house: the poor man was removed to a distance from the rich man, at such a distance however, as that the rich man might have been moved to compassion, and Lazarus at the same time might see his table. The antithesis is “Abraham’s bosom,” [κόλπον, Luke 16:22], Comp. note Acts 12:13 [πυλὼν is more spacious than πύλη, and may include the adjoining hall or uncovered entrance].

[175] Rather, he had been laid by others, not being able to move himself.—E. and T.

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 16:21. Ἐπιθυμῶν, desiring) So far was he from having in his spirit aught that was lofty [τὸ ἐν ἀνθρώποις ὑψηλόν], Luke 16:15.—[ἀπὸ τῶν ψιχίων, of the crumbs) The freedom (immunity) which Lazarus enjoyed from every worldly desire is hereby indicated.—V. g.]—ἀλλὰ καὶ) nay (but) even. This particle, the words, not only so, having to be supplied in the former member, usually intensifies the force of the words which follow.—οἱ κύνες) the dogs, strictly so called [not figuratively]. The utter desertion of the naked and outcast Lazarus is herein denoted. The words, the angels, in Luke 16:22, form a powerful antithesis to the dogs here.—ἑρχόμενοι, coming) not for Lazarus’ sake, but for their own; as if he were a corpse [a carcase for them to prey upon].—ἀπέλειχον, began to lick off) The structure of the dog’s tongue and its saliva impart relief to a body that is not much diseased; but these exasperate the pain of a body covered over with ulcers (‘sores’).—ἓλκη) sores, full of matter.

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;
Luke 16:22. Ἀπενεχθῆναι) He was carried away, from the place that was strange to him (in which he was an alien) to his true country.—αὐτὸν, that he) i.e. his soul: inasmuch as Abraham also is designated in reference to the soul [not the body], although his bosom, and the finger of Lazarus, as also the tongue of the rich man, are mentioned.—εἰς τὸν κόλπον, into the bosom) as his own genuine son, the coheir and sharer of the same table with Abraham, who “sits down” to the banquet in the kingdom of the heavens [Matthew 8:11]. An abbreviated mode of expression: For the bosom presupposes the banquet; the banquet presupposes the kingdom of the heavens. Lazarus attained to the kingdom of the heavens; nay more, to the banquet: nay even to the bosom of Abraham. Lazarus afterwards having become more intimately united to Abraham, is said to be ἐν τοῖς κόλποις αὐτοῦ, Luke 16:23, in the plural.[176] The Jews used to call the good state of the dead the bosom of Abraham, and the garden of Eden, with which comp. Luk 32:43. See Lightfoot on this passage.—καὶ, also) Often two men die at the one time, who during life were next neighbours.—ἐτάφη, was buried) with great pomp. This formed the conclusion of those “good things,” which the rich man received: see Luke 16:25.

[176] An allusion to the folds of the garment on the bosom, or in the lap.—E. and T.

And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Luke 16:23. ᾼδη, hell) [‘inferno’]. Neither Abraham nor Lazarus were ἐν τῷ ᾅδῃ, although the death and descent of Christ [to hell] had not yet taken place.

ᾍδης and Gehenna differ,

As a whole, and a part differ;

As a thing present, and a thing about to be, viz. after the day of Judgment;

As a receptacle of individuals, and a receptacle of all the bad without exception.

ᾍδης is much wider in its meaning, than Gehenna, Comp. Genesis 37:35 [“I will go down into the grave (εἰς ᾍδου, to Hades) unto my son mourning”], where certainly Jacob is not expressing despair as to[the salvation of] his soul or that of Joseph [but merely his desire to follow Joseph to the unseen world of Hades]. In the first distinction which we have given between the words, ᾍδης itself and Gehenna itself are had regard to; in the third, it is the dwellers in each that are regarded. Abraham was ἐν τῷ ᾍδῃ in the widest sense of the term, as ᾍδῃς is used in the passage above quoted from Gen. But in Luke ᾍδῃς and the bosom of Abraham are opposed to one another.—ἐπᾴρας, having lifted up) A lamentable spectacle, presenting itself from the abyss.—[ἐν βασάνοις, in torments) And this, at a long interval before the last day; nay even preceding the death of Christ.—V. g.]—τὸν Ἀβραὰμ, Abraham) but not God Himself. For which reason also he cannot cry unto God, Have mercy on me.—κόλποις) The plural expressing the space from the breast to the knees.

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.
Luke 16:24. Αὐτὸς, himself). No longer now does he enjoy the attendance of slaves, but is a beggar himself.—πάτερ, father) Implying his “glorying in the flesh” [boasting of mere outward privileges of descent from the father of the faithful]: ‘Son’ in Luke 16:25 corresponds to ‘Father’ here.—πέμψον, send) Even as yet the self-indulger holds in little esteem Lazarus, even as yet in little esteem Moses: Luke 16:30.—ἵνα βάψῃ, that he may dip) This verb does not always imply a great abundance of water: from it is derived βαπτίζω. Not even the slightest mitigation is vouchsafed. This truly is “the wine of the wrath of God poured out, ἄκρατον, without mixture.” Revelation 14:10, (Chrysostom observes, ἡ τῆς ἐλεημοσύνης σταγὼν ἀμίκτως ἔχει πρὸς τὴν ἀπήνειαν, A drop of the Divine compassion is not mixed with the unfeeling hard-heartedness of this rich feaster.—γλῶσσαν, tongue) His tongue it was that had especially sinned.

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.
Luke 16:25. Τέκνον, ‘Son’) The correlative is introduced from the relative, Father Abraham. The proper name is not here added. For Abraham did not know him as his son any longer. Joshua also called the wretched Achan Son [after his guilt] in ch. Luke 7:19.—μνήσθητι, remember) The dead retain the recollection of former events: see Luke 16:27.—ἀπέλαβες) hast carried off according to thy desire [hast received as the portion which thou didst desire]. The rich man had not thought so during life. The price is large both of prosperity and adversity respectively:[177] for the sowing time is in this life.—τὰ ἀγαθὰ thy good things) חלקם, Psalm 17:14.—ἐν τῇ ζωῇ σου. So the LXX., ἐν τῇ ζωῇ αὐτῶν in the same passage.—τὰ κακὰ, evil things) There is not added here his [as thy was added in the case of the good things of the rich man].—νῦν δὲ, but now) An argument based on the principle of fair compensation, to explain why each should be so treated as he is.—ΠΑΡΑΚΛΕῖΤΑΙ, he is comforted) in respect to his former miseries: 2 Thessalonians 2:16. He has no leisure [non vacat, no time or opportunity] now for departing [to cool thy tongue].—ὀδυνᾶσαι, thou art tormented) in pure and unmixed pain.

[177] i.e. The former, when bought at the expense of eternal misery, is dearly purchased: the latter, when endured in faith for the sake of the better portion, is a good purchase.—E. and T.

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 16:26. Καὶ, and) An argument drawn from the impossibility of the case.—ἐπὶ) This accumulates fresh reasons for rejecting his request. Comp. ἐπὶ, ch. Luke 3:20 [“Herod added this yet to (Engl. Ver. above) all,” ἐπὶ πᾶσιν, and ch. Luke 24:21, σῦν πᾶσι τούτοις, beside all this.—ὑμῶν, you) [not thee] Therefore there are many in hell.—χάσμα, a gulf) viz. the distance that there is between the bosom of Abraham and hell.—ἐστήρικται, there is firmly fixed) By this word the prayer of the self-indulger is cut off hopelessly.—οἱ θέλοντες, they who wish) if they could.—διαβῆναι) διαβαίνω is said of one passing unrestrictedly and of one’s self: διαπερῶ is said of one who crosses[178] by being carried.—ΟἹ ἘΚΕῖΘΕΝ) Expressed in abbreviated form for ΟἹ ἘΚΕῖ, ἘΚΕῖΘΕΝ.

[178] Over a river or lake.—E. and T.

Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Luke 16:28. Πέντε, five) Perhaps there were five Pharisees, who had especially ‘derided’ their Lord, Luke 16:14, and who did not hear the law and the prophets, Luke 16:16; Luke 16:29; and who were like the rich feaster, if not externally, at least internally. Certainly the Lord knew the inmost character and also the number of such persons. See Luke 16:15. The sixth brother was he who was now crying aloud in hell: in contrast to those six, one individual, a seventh, viz. Lazarus, who also was of the posterity of Abraham, reached the bosom of Abraham.—ἀδελφοὺς, brethren) who are living securely and without concern about their state.—ἵνα μὴ, that they may not) In hell the classical adage, “Companions the solace of the wretched” [Solamen miseris socios”], etc., gives no comfort to the rich feaster. See, however, Ezekiel 32:31. The self-indulger, who previously had shown no compassion, now puts forth into exercise a kind of compassion, but one which does not correspond to the Divine compassion. He was worse when amidst his pleasures, than now, when amidst the tortures of hell.

Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
Luke 16:29. Λέγει, saith) Abraham gives no answer on the point, whether Lazarus could be sent by him to the brothers of the rich man. There is not, certainly, such a wide gulf separating from the earth either heaven or hell, as separates the two latter from one another.—Μωσέα, Moses) A personification for the Law, appropriately used here as being in antithesis to Lazarus. It is just the same as if they had Moses face to face. [Besides these means of conviction, we are supplied amply with the words of Christ and the writings of His witnesses, by whom also the resurrection from the dead is solemnly affirmed.—V. g.] The scope of this narrative is to commend Scripture, which the Pharisees despised, being ‘covetous,’ Luke 16:14, ‘justifying’ and “exalting themselves,” Luke 16:15, and despising the law, Luke 16:17, all which feelings of the Pharisees are utterly swept away by Scripture. Moses and the prophets are here considered especially, inasmuch (in so far) as they testify concerning Christ Jesus, Luke 16:16, whom the Pharisees were deriding, Luke 16:14.—ἀκουσάτωσαν, let them hear) This is said sternly. No man is compelled. It is in the believing hearing of the word that we are saved, not by means of apparitions. Herod, as being one not desirous to hear, is not permitted to see a miracle. The question as to men’s state after death is less openly and less at large treated of in the Old Testament [than in the New]; and yet that which is revealed on the subject must suffice for leading men (the Jews) to repent. They are mistaken who suppose that it is only by the revelation of those mysteries that the ungodly are to be gained over to religion.

And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
Luke 16:30. Οὐχὶ, nay) Therefore the rich man during his life did not know the plan of salvation; and the wretched man, after having left behind his luxury, brought with him into hell his low estimation for Scripture. Hence he gave a counsel (proposed a plan) by no means in accordance with true theology. He supposed that, as he himself was now affected, so the survivors will presently be sure to be affected. Do thou [reader] rather look upon Lazarus whilst still living; so there will be no need of Lazarus’ appearing after death. Ungodly men demand that in one moment the reality of things invisible should be shown to themselves, first of all, in a manner altogether palpable, and such as to exclude the possibility of faith:[179] they shrink back from laborious investigation, faith, and patience.—τὶς, one) Lazarus, or some one else.—ἀπὸ νεκρῶν, from the dead) Therefore the rich man had not believed, neither did his brothers then believe, that there is a hell or a state of blessedness. It is not professed Sadduceeism, as the tenet of a sect, which is to be inferred from this [as the condemning characteristic of the rich man], but practical atheism, wherewith even not merely the Sadducees, but the Pharisees also were tainted, with (i.e. notwithstanding) all their hypocrisy. They were really deriding mockers, Luke 16:14. And it is probable that five Pharisees are stigmatized in Luke 16:28 above the rest.—μετανοήσουσιν, they will repent) That there is need of repentance, all are aware, even without apparitions: for even the self-indulger knew this in hell; although he could not comprehend that Moses and prophets aim at enforcing this same truth.

[179] For where sight is, there is no scope for faith, which is trust or belief in things unseen.—E. and T.

And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Luke 16:31. Οὐδὲ ἐὰνἀναστῃ, πεισθἠσονται not even if—shall have risen from the dead, will they be persuaded) The rich man had said, ἐὰνπορευθη μετανοήσουσιν, if one shall have gone to them from the dead, they will repent: now the hypothetical antecedent increases in force [viz. ἀναστῇ taking the place of πορευθῇ]; whereas, however, the consequent decreases in force [πεισθήσονται taking the place of μετανοήσουσιν.] There are many proofs afforded from the unseen world (Matthew 27:53); but those proofs are not intended chiefly for his end, in order that mortals may repent. Another and a different Lazarus was raised to life, and yet they did not believe; John 11:44; John 11:53. Πείθεσθαι, as also ἀπειθεῖν, is at one time to be referred, for the sense in which it is to be taken, to the understanding, at another time to the will: often to both.

Gnomon of the New Testament by Johann Bengel

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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