Luke Chapter Sixteen
In chapter 16, the effect of grace on conduct is presented, and the contrast that exists (the dispensation being changed) between the conduct that Christianity requires with regard to the things of the world, and the position of the Jews in that respect. Now this position was only the expression of that of man made evident by the law. The doctrine thus embodied by the parable is confirmed by the parabolic history of the rich man and Lazarus, lifting up the veil that hides the other world in which the result of men's conduct is manifested.
Man is the steward of God (that is, God has committed His goods to man). Israel stands especially in this position.
But man has been unfaithful; Israel had indeed been so. God has taken away his stewardship; but man is still in possession of the goods to administer them, at least, in fact (as Israel was at that moment). These goods are the things of earth-that which man can possess according to the flesh. Having lost his stewardship by his unfaithfulness, and being still in possession of the goods, he uses them to make friends of his master's debtors by doing them good. This is what Christians should do with earthly possessions, using them for others, having the future in view. The steward might have appropriated the money due to his master; he preferred gaining friends with it (that is, he sacrifices present to future advantage). We may turn the miserable riches of this world into means of fulfilling love. The spirit of grace which fills our hearts (ourselves the objects of grace) exercises itself with regard to temporal things, which we use for others. For us it is in view of the everlasting habitations. "That they may receive you" is equivalent to "that you may be received"-a common form of expression in Luke, to designate the fact without speaking of the individuals that perform it, although using the word they.
Observe that earthly riches are not our own things; heavenly riches, in the case of a true Christian, are his own.
These riches are unrighteous, in that they belong to fallen man, and not to the heavenly man, nor had any place when Adam was innocent.
Now, when the veil is lifted from the other world, the truth is fully brought to light. And the contrast between the Jewish dispensation and the Christian, is clearly unfolded; for Christianity reveals that world, and, as to its principle, belongs to heaven.
Judaism, according to God's government on earth, promised temporal blessing to the righteous; but all was in disorder: even the Messiah, the head of the system, was rejected. In a word, Israel, looked at as set under responsibility, and to enjoy earthly blessing on obedience, had entirely failed. Man, in this world, could no longer, on that footing, be the means of bearing testimony to the ways of God in government. There will be a time of earthly judgment, but it was not yet come. Meanwhile, the possession of riches was anything rather than a proof of God's favour. Personal selfishness, and alas! indifference to a brother in distress at his door, was, instead, the characteristic of its possession among the Jews. Revelation opens the other world to our view. Man, in this world, is fallen, wicked man. If he has received his good things here, he has the portion of sinful man; he will be tormented, while the other one whom he had despised will find happiness in the other world.
It is not a question here of that which gives title to enter heaven, but of character, and of the contrast between the principles of this world and the invisible world. The Jew made choice of this world; he has lost this and the other also. The poor man whom he had thought contemptible is found in Abraham's bosom. The whole tenor of this parable shews its connection with the question of Israel's hopes, and the idea that riches were a proof of the favour of God (an idea which, false as it may be in every case, is intelligible enough if this world is the scene of blessing under the government of God). The subject of the parable is shewn also by that which is found at the end of it. The miserable rich man desires that his brethren might be warned by some one who had risen from the dead. Abraham declares to him the uselessness of this means. It was all over with Israel. God has not again presented His Son to the nation who rejected Him, despising the law and the prophets. The testimony of His resurrection met with the same unbelief that had rejected Him when living, as well as the prophets before Him. There is no consolation in the other world if the testimony of the word to the conscience is rejected in this. The gulf cannot be crossed. A returning Lord would not convince those who had despised the word. All is in connection with the judgment of the Jews, which would close the dispensation; as the preceding parable shews what the conduct of Christians should be with regard to things temporal. All flows from the grace which, in love on God's part, accomplished the salvation of man, and set aside the legal dispensation and its principles by bringing in the heavenly things.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Luke》
The parable of the unjust steward. (1-12) Christ reproves the hypocrisy of the covetous Pharisees. (13-18) The rich man and Lazarus. (19-31)
Commentary on Luke 16:1-12
(Read Luke 16:1-12)
Whatever we have, the property of it is God's; we have only the use of it, according to the direction of our great Lord, and for his honour. This steward wasted his lord's goods. And we are all liable to the same charge; we have not made due improvement of what God has trusted us with. The steward cannot deny it; he must make up his accounts, and be gone. This may teach us that death will come, and deprive us of the opportunities we now have. The steward will make friends of his lord's debtors or tenants, by striking off a considerable part of their debt to his lord. The lord referred to in this parable commended not the fraud, but the policy of the steward. In that respect alone is it so noticed. Worldly men, in the choice of their object, are foolish; but in their activity, and perseverance, they are often wiser than believers. The unjust steward is not set before us as an example in cheating his master, or to justify any dishonesty, but to point out the careful ways of worldly men. It would be well if the children of light would learn wisdom from the men of the world, and would as earnestly pursue their better object. The true riches signify spiritual blessings; and if a man spends upon himself, or hoards up what God has trusted to him, as to outward things, what evidence can he have, that he is an heir of God through Christ? The riches of this world are deceitful and uncertain. Let us be convinced that those are truly rich, and very rich, who are rich in faith, and rich toward God, rich in Christ, in the promises; let us then lay up our treasure in heaven, and expect our portion from thence.
Commentary on Luke 16:13-18
(Read Luke 16:13-18)
To this parable our Lord added a solemn warning. Ye cannot serve God and the world, so divided are the two interests. When our Lord spoke thus, the covetous Pharisees treated his instructions with contempt. But he warned them, that what they contended for as the law, was a wresting of its meaning: this our Lord showed in a case respecting divorce. There are many covetous sticklers for the forms of godliness, who are the bitterest enemies to its power, and try to set others against the truth.
Commentary on Luke 16:19-31
(Read Luke 16:19-31)
Here the spiritual things are represented, in a description of the different state of good and bad, in this world and in the other. We are not told that the rich man got his estate by fraud, or oppression; but Christ shows, that a man may have a great deal of the wealth, pomp, and pleasure of this world, yet perish for ever under God's wrath and curse. The sin of this rich man was his providing for himself only. Here is a godly man, and one that will hereafter be happy for ever, in the depth of adversity and distress. It is often the lot of some of the dearest of God's saints and servants to be greatly afflicted in this world. We are not told that the rich man did him any harm, but we do not find that he had any care for him. Here is the different condition of this godly poor man, and this wicked rich man, at and after death. The rich man in hell lifted up his eyes, being in torment. It is not probable that there are discourses between glorified saints and damned sinners, but this dialogue shows the hopeless misery and fruitless desires, to which condemned spirits are brought. There is a day coming, when those who now hate and despise the people of God, would gladly receive kindness from them. But the damned in hell shall not have the least abatement of their torment. Sinners are now called upon to remember; but they do not, they will not, they find ways to avoid it. As wicked people have good things only in this life, and at death are for ever separated from all good, so godly people have evil things only in this life, and at death they are for ever put from them. In this world, blessed be God, there is no gulf between a state of nature and grace, we may pass from sin to God; but if we die in our sins, there is no coming out. The rich man had five brethren, and would have them stopped in their sinful course; their coming to that place of torment, would make his misery the worse, who had helped to show them the way thither. How many would now desire to recall or to undo what they have written or done! Those who would make the rich man's praying to Abraham justify praying to saints departed, go far to seek for proofs, when the mistake of a damned sinner is all they can find for an example. And surely there is no encouragement to follow the example, when all his prayers were made in vain. A messenger from the dead could say no more than what is said in the Scriptures. The same strength of corruption that breaks through the convictions of the written word, would triumph over a witness from the dead. Let us seek to the law and to the testimony, Isaiah 8:19,20, for that is the sure word of prophecy, upon which we may rest, 2 Peter 1:19. Circumstances in every age show that no terrors, or arguments, can give true repentance without the special grace of God renewing the sinner's heart.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Luke》
 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.
To beg I am ashamed — But not ashamed to cheat! This was likewise a sense of honour! "By men called honour, but by angels pride."
 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
I know — That is, I am resolved, what to do.
 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.
And the lord commended the unjust steward — Namely, in this respect, because he had used timely precaution: so that though the dishonesty of such a servant be detestable, yet his foresight, care, and contrivance, about the interests of this life, deserve our imitation, with regard to the more important affairs of another.
The children of this world — Those who seek no other portion than this world: Are wiser - Not absolutely, for they are, one and all, egregious fools; but they are more consistent with themselves; they are truer to their principles; they more steadily pursue their end; they are wiser in their generation - That is, in their own way, than the children of light - The children of God, whose light shines on their hearts.
 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.
And I say to you — Be good stewards even of the lowest talents wherewith God hath intrusted you. Mammon means riches or money. It is termed the mammon of unrighteousness, because of the manner wherein it is commonly either procured or employed. Make yourselves friends of this, by doing all possible good, particularly to the children of God: that when ye fail, when your flesh and your heart faileth, when this earthly tabernacle is dissolved, those of them who have gone before may receive, may welcome you into the everlasting habitations.
 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.
And whether ye have more or less, see that ye be faithful as well as wise stewards. He that is faithful in what is meanest of all, worldly substance, is also faithful in things of a higher nature; and he that uses these lowest gifts unfaithfully, is likewise unfaithful in spiritual things.
 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
Who will intrust you with the true riches? — How should God intrust you with spiritual and eternal, which alone are true riches?
 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?
If ye have not been faithful in that which was another's — None of these temporal things are yours: you are only stewards of them, not proprietors: God is the proprietor of all; he lodges them in your hands for a season: but still they are his property. Rich men, understand and consider this. If your steward uses any part of your estate (so called in the language of men) any farther or any otherwise than you direct, he is a knave: he has neither conscience nor honour. Neither have you either one or the other, if you use any part of that estate, which is in truth God's, not yours, any otherwise than he directs.
That which is your own — Heaven, which when you have it, will be your own for ever.
 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 you cannot be faithful to God, if you trim between God and the world, if you do not serve him alone. Matthew 6:24.
 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.
And he said to them, Ye are they who justify yourselves before men — The sense of the whole passage is, that pride, wherewith you justify yourselves, feeds covetousness, derides the Gospel, Luke 16:14, and destroys the law, Luke 16:18. All which is illustrated by a terrible example.
Ye justify yourselves before men — Ye think yourselves righteous, and persuade others to think you so.
 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
The law and the prophets were in force until John: from that time the Gospel takes place; and humble upright men receive it with inexpressible earnestness. Matthew 11:13.
 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
Not that the Gospel at all destroys the law. Matthew 5:18.
 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
There was a certain rich man — Very probably a Pharisee, and one that justified himself before men; a very honest, as well as honourable gentleman: though it was not proper to mention his name on this occasion: who was clothed in purple and fine linen - and doubtless esteemed on this account, (perhaps not only by those who sold it, but by most that knew him,) as encouraging trade, and acting according to his quality: And feasted splendidly every day - And consequently was esteemed yet more, for his generosity and hospitality in keeping so good a table.
 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, (according to the Greek pronunciation) or Eleazer. By his name it may be conjectured, he was of no mean family, though it was thus reduced. There was no reason for our Lord to conceal his name, which probably was then well known. Theophylact observes, from the tradition of the Hebrews, that he lived at Jerusalem.
Yea, the dogs also came and licked his sores — It seems this circumstance is recorded to show that all his ulcers lay bare, and were not closed or bound up.
 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;
And the beggar — Worn out with hunger, and pain, and want of all things, died: and was carried by angels (amazing change of the scene!) into Abraham's bosom - So the Jews styled paradise; the place where the souls of good men remain from death to the resurrection.
The rich man also died, and was buried — Doubtless with pomp enough, though we do not read of his lying in state; that stupid, senseless pageantry, that shocking insult on a poor, putrefying carcass, was reserved for our enlightened age!
 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
He seeth Abraham afar off — And yet knew him at that distance: and shall not Abraham's children, when they are together in paradise, know each other!
 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, have mercy on me — It cannot be denied, but here is one precedent in Scripture of praying to departed saints: but who is it that prays, and with what success? Will any, who considers this, be fond of copying after him?
 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.
But Abraham said, Son — According to the flesh. Is it not worthy of observation, that Abraham will not revile even a damned soul? and shall living men revile one another? Thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things - Thou didst choose and accept of worldly things as thy good, thy happiness. And can any be at a loss to know why he was in torments? This damnable idolatry, had there been nothing more, was enough to sink him to the nethermost hell.
 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.
Beside this there is a great gulf fixed — Reader, to which side of it wilt thou go?
 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Lest they also come into this place — He might justly fear lest their reproaches should add to his own torment.
 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Neither will they be persuaded — Truly to repent: for this implies an entire change of heart: but a thousand apparitions cannot, effect this. God only can, applying his word.
── John ‘Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Luke》
Chapter 16. The Way of Managing Wealth
Digging the Ground
Ashamed to Beg for Bread
I. Parable of the Dishonest Servant
II. Derision of the Pharisees
III. The Rich Man and Lazarus
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
The Unjust Steward (Lk 16:1-16)
1. In Luke 15, Jesus responded to the murmuring of the Pharisees and
scribes by telling three parables...
a. "The Lost Sheep" - Lk 15:1-7
b. "The Lost Coin" - Lk 15:8-10
c. "The Prodigal Son" - Lk 15:11-32
-- These parables answered the charge that Jesus received sinners
and ate with them, beautifully illustrating "The Father's Yearning
Love For The Lost" (Hendriksen)
2. At the beginning of Luke 16, we find that Jesus now turns to his
a. He tells the parable of "The Unjust Steward" - Lk 16:1
b. He makes the application of the parable - Lk 16:8b-13
c. And responds to the derision of the Pharisees who heard Him - Lk
3. The parable of "The Unjust Steward" is considered by many to be
a. It has caused much perplexity
b. It has made some wonder if Jesus was commending the unjust
steward for dishonesty
...but the main point of the parable should be clear enough when we
consider it carefully
[And that is exactly what I hope to do as we begin noticing first...]
I. THE PARABLE ITSELF
A. A WASTEFUL STEWARD - Lk 16:1-2
1. A rich man hears that his steward was wasting his goods
2. The steward is told to give an account of his stewardship and
then be relieved
B. A SHREWD STEWARD - Lk 16:3
1. The steward reasons within himself concerning his dilemma:
a. "What can I do?"
b. "I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg"
2. He determines to so act as to ensure that others will receive
him into their homes
a. He calls for his master's debtors
b. He has them change their bills to reflect smaller debts
1) This cheats his master even more
2) But ingratiates him to his master's debtors by lowering
c. It may be the steward simply removed what interest had
incurred with the debts
1) Though usury was forbidden by the Law (Ex 22:25; Deu
23:19), this prohibition was often circumvented
2) It was common at that time for a rich man to have his
steward do it, and then deny knowledge of it if came to
light (i.e., "plausible deniability")
3) If it was only interest being removed, what the steward
did not only pleased the debtors, but the master
couldn't publicly object
-- cf. The Parables Of Jesus, Simon Kistemaker, p. 228-229
3. The unjust steward is commended by his master for his
a. Not that the master approved of the action per se
b. But he could not deny that the steward was shrewd enough to
know how to use what he had to his best advantage
[The purpose of the parable is not to commend the steward for his
"dishonesty" (note: he is called the "unjust" steward, though that
appellation might refer to his conduct prior to being found out for his
wastefulness), but for his "shrewdness". He used what was at his
disposal to plan for the future! That is the point Jesus is making, as
we go on to see...]
II. THE PARABLE APPLIED
A. JESUS' COMMENT CONCERNING SHREWDNESS - Lk 16:8b
1. "For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their
generation than the sons of light."
2. The word "shrewd" means...
a. Characterized by keen awareness, sharp intelligence, and
often a sense of the practical
b. Disposed to artful and cunning practices; tricky
-- The first definition reveals that being shrewd does not
always mean evil
3. Jesus' observation is that:
a. People of the world are generally very resourceful with
things of this world
b. Such is not always the case with the people of God
B. JESUS' APPLICATION OF THE PARABLE - Lk 16:9
1. This verse is difficult, but let's begin with explanations for
some of the terms:
a. "unrighteous mammon"
1) The word "mammon" is the Aramaic word for "riches"
2) It may be called "unrighteous" because it is often used
for evil purposes, or because it is uncertain,
undependable - cf. 1 Ti 6:17
b. "when you (it) fails"
1) When your riches fail
2) Or when you fail due to lack of riches
c. "they may receive you"
1) "they" refer to the "friends" made through the use of
2) Some interpret this to refer to God and Jesus, others
think those you have helped
d. "into everlasting habitations" - i.e., heaven itself
1) Either that God and Jesus will receive you into heaven
2) Or those souls you may have helped will welcome you into
2. With these definitions in mind, here are two explanations
worthy of note:
a. "The only friends who can receive us into heaven are the
Father and the Son. These are, then, the friends we must
secure. During life our means must be so used as to please
God and to lay up eternal treasure. If we use it as a trust
of the Lord we will secure such a friend. Instead of
hoarding we must make heavenly friends." (B. W. Johnson)
b. "Worldly possession are the Christian's stewardship. If he
has been wasting them in self-indulgence, he must take
warning from the parable and so employ them in deeds of
usefulness and mercy that, when the stewardship is taken
from him, he may have obtained for himself a refuge for the
future. But how can those whom the Christian had befriended
receive him into heaven? The key to the difficulty is found
at Mt 25:35-40 where our Lord altogether identifies himself
with his poor and unfortunate disciples, and returns on
their behalf a heavenly recompense for any kindness which
has been shown them on the earth. Only in this secondary
and subordinate sense can those whom the Christian has
benefited receive him into heaven. Nor does the passage
teach that there is any MERIT in almsgiving, since the
thing given is already the property of another (Lk 16:12).
Almsgiving is only a phase of the fidelity required of a
steward, and the reward of a steward is not of merit but of
grace. See Lk 17:7-10; Mt 25:21." (J. W. McGarvey)
3. The main point of the parable, in either case, is make proper
use of material riches...
a. Use them with a view to eternity!
b. Be aware of the danger of riches!
4. This is made clearer as we go on to consider...
C. JESUS' ADMONITION TO FAITHFULNESS - Lk 16:10-12
1. He starts by stating two maxims - cf. Lk 16:10
a. "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in
b. "He who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much"
2. He then applies it to the matter of "mammon" - Lk 16:11
a. If we haven't been faithful in our handling of "mammon"
b. How can we expect to be entrusted with "true riches"
-- Remember the parable of "The Talents"? - cf. Mt 25:14-30
3. He then reminds us that what riches we have are not our own
- Lk 16:12
a. If we aren't faithful with that which belongs to another...
b. Then who will give us what is ours?
-- At the present we are simply stewards; nothing we have is
really ours, but God's!
D. JESUS' WARNING CONCERNING TWO MASTERS - Lk 16:13
1. Perhaps another reason why Jesus refers to material riches as
"unrighteous" mammon is because it tends to draw people away
2. While mammon desires to be our master, so does God
3. Since we cannot serve two masters, we can't serve both God and
-- This may imply we must control mammon (and not vice versa)
through proper use
[In warning about the danger of mammon and the need to use it properly,
a reaction comes not from the disciples, but the Pharisees who were
III. THE PHARISEES' DERISION AND JESUS' RESPONSE
A. THE PHARISEES DERIDE JESUS - Lk 16:14
1. The reason is because they were lovers of money
2. We should therefore expect all lovers of money to react in a
similar way to what Jesus is teaching in this passage
3. Indeed, even some worldly Christians don't take Jesus
seriously when it comes to material riches
B. JESUS RESPONDS - Lk 16:15
1. They seek to justify themselves before men, but God knew their
a. They may have taken issue with Jesus, professing
b. But the real reason: they were lovers of money!
2. God and man do not always see things alike
a. There are things that man esteems highly (like money)
b. But such things may be an abomination to God (e.g., money
when improperly used)
1. The parable of "The Unjust Steward" is designed to stimulate our
thinking about the proper use of material riches...
a. What is praised is not the dishonesty of the steward, but his
b. Especially in his use of money to ingratiate himself to future
2. Jesus teaches us to be shrewd in our use of material riches...
a. Use them with a view to eternity, demonstrating that you can be
faithful with true riches, and with what will one day be truly
b. By using mammon properly, it becomes our servant rather than our
3. In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul had similar things to say
about material riches...
a. There is a dangerous side to material riches - 1 Ti 6:9-10
b. But when properly used, they can help store up for ourselves a
good foundation for the time to come, and lay hold on eternal
life! - 1 Ti 6:17-19
-- Not that riches can earn or merit salvation, but improper use can
certainly keep us from it! (cf. 1 Ti 6:9-10)
Are you shrewd with the use of the riches presently entrusted to your
stewardship? Are you using them to make friends (e.g., pleasing God)
who can receive you into everlasting habitations when your material
riches are no more? Remember the words of Jesus:
"Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous
mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?"
-- Lk 16:11
The Rich Man And Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31)
1. We come now to a familiar story told by Jesus: "The Rich Man And
a. Commonly referred to as parable, though I have my doubts
1) It is the only one in which names of actual individuals are
2) One was certainly a real-life person, Abraham
b. Some try to avoid its teaching concerning life after death by
saying it is only a parable
1) E.g., "Jehovah's Witnesses"
2) Who do not believe in life after death for the wicked
c. But even if this story is a parable, parables told by Jesus were
1) Not fantasy stories
2) But illustrations based upon events that were actually
-- So not only is there the ultimate point to be gleaned, but there
is much we can learn about life after death from this "parable"!
2. There are similarities with this story and "The Unjust Steward"...
a. Both start out by saying "There was a certain rich man..."
b. The previous parable stressed the proper use of wealth; this
story illustrates one who did not "make friends...by unrighteous
c. Both call us to repent before it is too late
[Let's begin our study by considering...]
I. THE PARABLE ITSELF
A. THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS IN LIFE...
1. A certain rich man - Lk 16:19
a. Clothed in purple and fine linen
b. Fared sumptuously every day
2. A certain beggar named Lazarus - Lk 16:20-21
a. Full of sores
b. Laid at the rich man's gate, hoping to be fed crumbs from
the rich man's table
c. Dogs came and licked his sores (adding to his misery, or
providing what little comfort he enjoyed?)
B. THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS IN DEATH...
1. They both die - Lk 16:22
a. Lazarus is carried away by angels to Abraham's bosom (what
b. The rich man was buried (what an understatement by way of
2. The rich man in torment - Lk 16:23-26
a. He is in "Hades", but sees Abraham afar off and Lazarus in
1) The origin of the word "Hades" is uncertain...
a) Either from IDEIN (seen) with a negative prefix A-,
meaning "the unseen, invisible"
b) Or from AIANES, meaning "gloomy, gruesome"
2) In Classical Greek...
a) Homer used the word as a proper name for the "god of
b) In other literature, it stood for "the underworld" as
the abode of all the dead
1/ Which was divided into two parts (similar to Luke
2/ These two parts were:
a/ The "Elysian fields", the abode of the good
b/ "Tartarus", the place of punishment for the
3) In the NT, "Hades" is found only eleven times...
a) Ten times it is translated "hell" or "hades" (Mt 11:
23; 16:18; Lk 10:15; 16:23; Ac 2:27, 31; Rev 1:18;
6:8; 20:13,14), and once it is the "grave" (1 Co
b) Some believe that "Hades" is the realm of ALL the
dead (similar to the concept of the Greeks), and made
up of two separate parts...
1/ With Paradise (at least prior to the Ascension of
Christ) for the righteous
2/ And Tartarus for the wicked - cf. 2 Pe 2:4,9
c) Others believe the term "Hades" refers only to the
place of the WICKED
1/ That it is not clear in Lk 16:22-23 whether Hades
was just the abode of the rich man, or also that
of Lazarus and Abraham
2/ And in Ac 2:26-27,31 we may have a case of
synonymous parallelism, with only the resurrected
body of Christ in view ("soul" being used to refer
to the body, and "Hades" is referring to the
grave, as "Sheol" in the Hebrew sometimes does)
d) In any case, "Hades" is used at least on several
occasions in the New Testament...
1/ As the place of the wicked - Lk 16:23
2/ As a place where the wicked are in torment - Lk
3/ As a temporary place, to be thrown into "the lake
of fire" after the Judgment - Re 20:13-14
b. The rich man pleads with Abraham for relief - Lk 16:24-26
1) That he might send Lazarus to dip his finger in water
and cool his tongue
2) But Abraham reminds him how conditions have now been
3) Besides, there is a gulf that prevents one from going to
one place to the other
3. The rich man pleads with Abraham for his five brothers - Lk
a. That Abraham might send Lazarus to warn them of this place
b. Abraham says they have Moses and the prophets (i.e., the
word of God)
c. The rich man fears that will be inadequate to convince them
d. Abraham says that if they won't listen to Moses and the
prophets, neither would they be persuaded though one rise
from the dead
[While the condition of the dead is described here in very literal,
earthy terms, the story of "The Rich Man And Lazarus" does reveal
truths about life after death. What those truths are we shall see as
we continue with...]
II. THE PARABLE APPLIED
A. THE MAIN POINT...
1. The importance of heeding the Word of God! - Lk 16:29
a. Only by heeding the Word of God can one escape the torment
b. The rich man had not done so; for his brothers, it would be
their only hope
2. If God's Word doesn't move you to repentance, a miracle won't
either! - Lk 16:31
a. Some people say they would believe if they only saw a
b. But many people saw Jesus' miracles, and did not believe;
even His resurrection from the dead did not convince some!
-- This may explain why the apostles depended upon the
Scriptures more than miracles to convince people Jesus was
the Messiah - cf. Ac 17:1-3
B. OTHER LESSONS TO BE DRAWN...
1. A few points adapted from those listed by J. C. Ryle:
a. A man's worldly condition is no test of his state in the
sight of God
1) One may be rich, but not rich toward God - Lk 12:21
2) One may be poor, but rich in faith! - Ja 2:5
b. Death is the common end to which all classes of mankind
must come ("the same event happens to them all" - cf. Ecc
c. The souls of believers are specially cared for by God in
the hour of death ("...carried by angels to Abraham's
bosom" - Lk 16:22)
d. The reality of hell
1) This story depicts the intermediate state of the wicked,
between death and the resurrection
2) We learn that the wicked...
a) Do not cease to exist ("he lifted up his eyes and
saw") - Lk 16:23
b) Are aware of where they are, and what is going on
around them ("I am tormented in this flame") - Lk 16:
c) Recognize others ("Father Abraham...send Lazarus...")
- Lk 16:
d) Remember those who have yet to follow them in death
("for I have five brothers") - Lk 16:
e. Unconverted men find out the value of a soul, after death,
when it is too late
1) Jesus tried to teach the value of the soul before it was
too late - Mt 16:26
2) When we will learn? Now, or when it is too late?
f. The greatest miracles would have no effect on men's hearts,
if they will not believe God's word
1) This relates to the main point of the story
2) Which emphasizes the importance of heeding the Word of
God, and not depending upon some sort of miracle!
2. A lesson NOT to be drawn from this parable is that it is
sinful to be rich...
a. The rich man was not the only person in this story who had
been rich in his life
1) Abraham had been very rich! - cf. Gen 13:2
2) But he was also very hospitable - cf. Gen 18:1-8
b. The difference is that Abraham...
1) Was a man of faith (which comes by heeding the word of
God - Ro 10:17)
2) Was a man who "made friends...by unrighteous mammon"
1. Why did Jesus tell this story?
a. Was it directed to His disciples in particular?
b. Or was it told with the Pharisees in mind?
2. While the disciples would learn from it, I suspect the Pharisees
were the intended audience...
a. They were "lovers of money" - Lk 16:14
b. They had just derided Jesus for His parable and the application
of "The Unjust Steward"
-- The story of "The Rich Man And Lazarus" illustrates the folly of
trusting in one's wealth
3. May this story also serve to remind us of...
a. The reality of punishment prepared for the wicked
b. The importance of preparing our soul for eternity
c. The place the Word of God has in that preparation!
As James wrote in his epistle...
"Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness,
and receive with meekness the implanted word,
which is able to save your souls.
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only,
- Ja 1:21-22
Are you heeding the Word of God which is able to save your soul?