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Jamieson Commentary on Luke 16:9-18

From the Commentary on the Whole Bible (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, 1871).

Luke 16

9. Make … friends of—Turn to your advantage; that is, as the steward did, "by showing mercy to the poor" (Da 4:27; compare Lu 12:33; 14:13, 14).

mammon of unrighteousness—treacherous, precarious. (See on Mt 6:24).

ye fail—in respect of life.

they may receive you—not generally, "ye may be received" (as Lu 6:38, "shall men give"), but "those ye have relieved may rise up as witnesses for you" at the great day. Then, like the steward, when turned out of one home shall ye secure another; but better than he, a heavenly for an earthly, an everlasting for a temporary habitation. Money is not here made the key to heaven, more than "the deeds done in the body" in general, according to which, as a test of character—but not by the merit of which—men are to be judged (2Co 5:10, and see Mt 25:34-40).

10. He, &c.—a maxim of great pregnancy and value; rising from the prudence which the steward had to the fidelity which he had not, the "harmlessness of the dove, to which the serpent" with all his "wisdom" is a total stranger. Fidelity depends not on the amount entrusted, but on the sense of responsibility. He that feels this in little will feel it in much, and conversely.

11, 12. unrighteous mammon—To the whole of this He applies the disparaging term "what is least," in contrast with "the true riches."

12. another man's … your own—an important turn to the subject. Here all we have is on trust as stewards, who have an account to render. Hereafter, what the faithful have will be their own property, being no longer on probation, but in secure, undisturbed, rightful, everlasting possession and enjoyment of all that is graciously bestowed on us. Thus money is neither to be idolized nor despised: we must sit loose to it and use it for God's glory.

13. can serve—be entirely at the command of; and this is true even where the services are not opposed.

hate … love—showing that the two here intended are in uncompromising hostility to each other: an awfully searching principle!

14-18. covetous … derided him—sneered at Him; their master sin being too plainly struck at for them to relish. But it was easier to run down than to refute such teaching.

15. justify yourselves—make a show of righteousness.

highly esteemed among men—generally carried away by plausible appearances. (See 1Sa 16:7; and Lu 14:11).

16. The law, &c.—(See Mt 11:13).

and every man presseth, &c.—Publicans and sinners, all indiscriminately, are eagerly pressing into it; and ye, interested adherents of the mere forms of an economy which is passing away, "discerning not the signs of this time," will allow the tide to go past you and be found a stranded monument of blindness and obstinacy.

17. it is easier, &c.—(See on Mt 5:17, 18)

18. putteth away his wife, &c.—(See on Mt 19:3-9). Far from intending to weaken the force of the law, in these allusions to a new economy, our Lord, in this unexpected way, sends home its high requirements with a pungency which the Pharisees would not fail to feel.

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