Gospel of Luke ~ Chapter 16
Outline of the Book:
I. Preface: The Method and Purpose of Writing, Luke 1:1-4.
II. The Identification of the Son of Man with Men, Luke 1:5-4:13.
III. The Ministry of the Son of Man to Men, Luke 4:14-9:50.
IV. The Repudiation of the Son of Man by Men, Luke 9:51-19:27.
I. Instruction in the Light of Rejection, Luke 12:1-19:27.
14. Concerning wealth, Luke 16:1-31.
a. The unrighteous steward, vs. 1-9.
b. Principles on the righteous treatment of wealth,vs. 10-13.
c. Rebuke of the Pharisees’ love of money, vs. 14-18.
d. The rich man and Lazarus, vs. 19-31.
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Luke 16:25, “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony’.”
Here, we have Abraham’s reply regarding the reality of both men’s situation. Abraham starts by addressing the rich man as “child,” TEKNON, τέκνον that means, “child, descendant, or posterity.” This confirms his Jewish heritage, and that heritage does not save anyone, Mat 8:12.
Mat 8:12, “But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
“Remember,” is the Aorist, Active, Imperative of the Verb MNAOMAI, μνάομαι that means, “be mindful of, to turn one’s mind to a thing, remember, or to court or woo (as turning the mind to seek a bride).” Because the rich man did not turn to his Lord for salvation, he is in this place. Nevertheless, Abraham wants him to remember the kind of life he had on earth compared to Lazarus and how the rich man loved money and wealth more than God, thereby never coming to faith for salvation. Here, we see that those in the afterlife can and will remember their life on earth. For the unbeliever, there will be much regret for squandering their opportunities for salvation. And for some believers there will be temporary shame for lost opportunities to glorify God, 1 John 2:28.
Luke first used MNAOMAI in Luke 1:54, “He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy.” As noted above, the rich man rejected the Lord’s mercy, and “during his life he received his good things.” In other words, he lived a “good” worldly life inside of Satan’s Cosmic System, and Abraham wants him to remember that “good life,” where he rejected the Lord, so as to show the justice of God for the position he is currently in.
The contrast in lifestyles here on earth:
“Received your good things” is the Verb APOLAMBANO in the Aorist, Active, Indicative, with the Pronoun SU and the Adjective AGATHOS. With this is “in your lifetime,” EN SU HO ZOE. Notice the Personal Pronoun is used 3 times in this statement, showing that this is what the rich man valued during his life here on earth, rather than valuing a relationship with God.
Jesus warns in Luke 6:24, “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.”
In contrast is Lazarus’ life who Abraham says only received “bad things,” the Adjective KAKOS that means, “bad, evil, wicked, worthless, depraved, etc.” Therefore, while the rich man was living “high off the hog,” that is, a good life of wealth and riches in time, Lazarus had a life filled with bad things happening to him, both physically and materially. Lazarus endured these things under suffering for blessing. This shows that it is not what you have in life that matters.
Jesus points out here that those who live for this life of wealth and riches, fun and enjoyment, have a good chance of missing out on the faithful belief in the Savior for salvation, while those who have had a difficult life have a better chance of faithfully receiving the Savior for salvation. Cf. Mat 19:16-24; Mark 10:23-25; Luke 12:16-21; 18:18-25; James 1:11.
Mat 19:23-24, “And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”.”
The contrast in lifestyles in the eternal state:
In this portion, Abraham gives Lazarus’ eternal state first, “but now he is being comforted here,” DE NUN PARAKALEO HODE. PARAKALEO typically means, “to call or invite,” which Lazarus was called or invited to salvation which he received. But, here it is used in its third of five applications for the act of “exhorting or encouraging” with the idea of “console or comfort.” It shows the contrast of his earthly life that was filled with bad things happening to him. Now, in the eternal state truly good things are happening to him. But remember, it is not because of the bad things that happened to him that he is now being comforted, it is because he believed. As such, all of our suffering will be turned to comfort when we reach the presence of God. Suffering will give way to glory. The first will be last, and the last will be first.
In contrast, Abraham states the rich man’s eternal state, “and you are in agony,” which uses DE SU ODUNAOMAI. We noted ODUNAOMAI in vs. 24, as the rich man described his own suffering. Here, Abraham confirms it that he is in pain and torment physically, mentally, spiritually, and soulishly, as we noted in vs. 24, all due to the absence of a relationship with God in the eternal state. And, just like Lazarus, it is not because he lived a wealthy life that he is now suffering. It is because he rejected God’s plan for his salvation. He chose to live a worldly life rather than accepting His Messiah / Savior / King, and living for Him.
James 5:1-7, “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 2Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! 4Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you. 7Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.”
Therefore, we see Abraham pointing out the contrast between the two individuals in both time and eternity. Because the rich man squandered his time on earth, he is now in the Place of Torments. Abraham points to the contrast between time and eternity to show that it does matter what we do in time, because it will determine our eternal state. Likewise, once we are in the eternal state our fate is sealed forever, and it cannot be changed. It is too late!
Luke 16:26, “‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us’.”
Abraham, points out the futility of the rich man’s request by giving another reason for the impossibility of the request for mercy being fulfilled in the eternal state. He starts by saying, “and besides all this,” meaning what he just stated about their time on earth that resulted in their eternal state.
He then points out a feature, (part of the topography), that once existed in Hades, “between us and you there is a great chasm fixed,” METAXU HEMEIS KAI HUMEIS MEGAS CHASMA, (only used here in the NT), STERIZO. This feature may still exist, but is no longer needed, as Abraham’s Bosom is now in heaven, as we have noted previously in this study.
The Verb STERIZO means, “fix, set firmly, establish; support, confirm, strengthen.” This chasm has been established by God the Creator.
Chasm is the noun CHASMA, χάσμα, which is a figurative extension of CHASKO, “yawning,” that is not used in the NT. It is a deep, unbridgeable valley or trough between two points in Hades, Abraham’s Bosom/Paradise and the Place of Torments. It references the impassable space between these two parts of the supernatural abode of the dead. Interestingly, this account differed from the teaching of the Jewish rabbis, who claimed that only a finger’s breadth separated the places of Paradise and of torment. Jesus once again debunks their false teaching.
Abraham tells why the chasm was there, speaking from both vantage points.
1) “So that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able,” HOPOS HO THELO, “to wish or desire, purpose to, or willing to,” DIABAINO, “go through, cross, or go over,” ENTHEN, “from here,” only used here and Mat 17:20, PROS HUMEIS ME DUNAMAI, “be able, have power to do so, have the capacity for.” As such, we see that those who resided in Abraham’s Bosom, who may have wanted to visit or help those in the Place of Torments, are prohibited from doing so.
2) “and that none may cross over from there to us,” MEDE, “nor, not even, neither, etc.,” DIAPERO, “pass over or cross,” EKEITHEN, “from there,” PROS HEMEIS, “to us.” This tells us that those in the Place of Torments cannot cross over to the other compartment in Hades, Abraham’s Bosom.
This barrier is a reflection of the barrier between the rich man and Lazarus that had existed during their lifetimes, i.e., pride, arrogance, and selfishness on the part of the rich man that prohibited from granting mercy to the poor and humble Lazarus, was now permanently fixed. The gulf which the rich man could have bridged while alive was now uncrossable. It also shows that there was no fellowship between the saved and the lost in the afterlife.
Therefore, there is neither help coming to those who reside in the Place of Torments nor is there any escape from the Place of Torments. It indicates that for those who reside in the Place of Torments, their fate is sealed for all of eternity without diminish or reprieve. There are no second chances or further opportunity to repent after death.
In addition, the gulf cannot be crossed because it symbolizes the separation between light and darkness. 1 John makes it clear that sin and righteousness are utterly incompatible, 1 John 1:5-2:11. As such, there will be no communication between those in heaven and those in hell because sin cannot have contact with God’s holiness.
Luke 16:27, “And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house-”
The rich man’s suffering is intensified by his overwhelming regret that leads him to have a small heart of compassion, but only for his brothers. “I beg you,” is the Present, Active, Indicative of EROTAO that means “ask, request, etc.”
He wanted Abraham, addressing him once again as “father,’ PATER, to “send him,” PEMPO AUTOS, speaking of Lazarus, to his “father’s house,” PATER OIKOS.
Once again, we see the arrogance of his request as in vs. 24, where he is petitioning Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house to warn them. Why does this guy continue to think he can boss Lazarus around? He continues in his arrogance of feeling superior to Lazarus based on their previous life here on earth. Yet, Lazarus is now far superior to him in the eternal state. The arrogant always view themselves as superior to others.
In addition, why does he only request for the message to be brought to his family and not for others, especially those less fortunate than they, as Lazarus was. Remember what Jesus taught about service towards others in Mat 5:46-47; Luke 6:32-33.
Mat 5:46-47, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
Luke 6:32-33, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”
“Although this seems to indicate the delayed dawning of virtue upon the part of the rich man, his request had several underlying insinuations which show he had not changed much. First, there was an implied accusation. The rich man was saying, “I was not sufficiently warned, otherwise, I would not be here.” Second, part of the motivation for the request was indeed selfish. The rich man desired to relieve himself of the obligation he felt toward his brothers, and desired that they not join him in torment (which would simply add to his misery).” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary.)
Therefore, even though the rich man had regret and sympathy for his brothers, he still did not have a righteous heart, nor will he ever have one, as his state of being cannot be changed in eternity. He will always be an arrogant wretch.
Luke 16:28, “For I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment’.”
“Five Brothers,” is PENTE ALDEPHOS. Five is the number of grace in the Bible. It is by the grace of God than anyone is saved. The first use of PENTE in the NT is Mat 14:17, for the five loaves to feed the crowd, along with the two fish, cf. Luke 9:13f, signifying that Jesus is the bread of life for salvation. The rich man desired that his brothers be saved, but was it for the right reasons.
“In order that he may warn them,” uses the Verb DIAMARTUROMAI, διαμαρτύρομαι from the root Verb MATUREO for “bearing witness” and comes to mean, “charge, warn, testify, confirm, witness, etc.” This type of witness would warn them of the tragedy of their brother, “so that they will not also come to this place of torment’.” “Place of torment,” is the noun TOPOS, “place, location, region, etc.” with the Noun BASANOS that we noted in vs. 23, that means, “torture, torment, or great pain.” It is synonymous to the Verb ODUNOAMAI that we noted in vs. 24-25, which has given this compartment in Hades where all unbelievers reside its name.
So, he wants Lazarus, the one he never showed an ounce of mercy towards, to be the messenger boy for him, to warn his brothers about going to the “Place of Torments.” Yet, we do not see him desiring to have the Gospel preached to them, even though we know that is the information necessary for anyone to avoid the Place of Torments. This is just more subtle clues from our Lord that the unbeliever remains in the self-centered arrogance and rejection of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Luke 16:29, “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them’.”
Here we have Abraham’s denial of the rich man’s request, but with the proper potential for answering it. Because the rich man was not desiring for the Gospel to be preached, Moses clarifies the issue, that it is the Gospel that keeps people from the Place of Torments, as he says, “They have Moses and the Prophets,” ECHO MOUSES KAI HO PROPHETES. This means the two parts of the Hebrew Bible to witness to them, the Law and Prophets. The third part of the Hebrew Bible is the poetical books like Psalm, Song of Solomon, Proverbs, etc. Interestingly, having these two witnesses fulfills the Law, Deut 17:6; 19:15; Mat 18:16; 2 Cor 13:1; Heb 10:28.
Deut 17:6, “On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.”
Deut 19:15, “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.”
As such, Abraham states that all they need to know in order to escape the judgment of Place of Torments is found in the Bible, just as it is today, cf. Luke 16:16, “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”
“Let them hear them,” is the Aorist, Active, Imperative of the Verb AKOUO that mean “to hear,” but also “to learn through the ear gate.” It is equivalent to the Hebrew SHEMA that applies obedience to the Scriptures. If one did not obey a command, it is said they really had not heard it. Interestingly, as the rich man used the Imperative mood to entreat, with a bit of mandating, his superior Abraham to have Lazarus perform several tasks for him, Abraham gives a mandate for the rich man’s brothers to learn / obey the Gospel from the Bible. In fact, this is how everyone learns the Gospel of Jesus Christ, through the Bible, whether personally read or as witnessed to them by a believer.
Therefore, through two of the three witnesses found in the Hebrew Bible, they had more than enough information and opportunity to be saved and escape the judgment of the Place of Torments, as the rich man desired. If they deny these two witnesses, they are rightly and justly condemned to Hell.
Luke 16:30, “But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’”
Here, we have the rich man’s rebuttal to Abraham’s instructions. “No, father Abraham,” is OUCHI PATER ABRAAM. OUCHI indicates a strong objection by the rich man, by no means or not at all. He most likely is objecting strongly here because he knows his brothers, and like himself, the rich man assumes his brothers will reject the teaching in the Bible. Therefore, he desires an alternative course of actions, “but if someone goes to them from the dead,” ALLA EAN TIS POREUOMAI PROS AUTOS APO NEKROS. This act would have been accomplished in the form of a miracle and would have been a type of sign for them. This is what Paul called out the Jews for in 1 Cor 1:22, “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom.” Instead of having faith to believe, many look for signs, miracles, and wonders. But if your faith is based on those things then you are on a slippery slope as Jesus warned in Mat 24:24; John 4:48.
John 4:48, “So Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe”.”
Mat 24:24, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”
Nevertheless, God did show the people of Jesus’ generation and the early Church many signs, miracles, and wonders through Jesus and Apostles, so that they would be without excuse and lead many to the Gospel or bolster their faith, Acts 2:22; 5:12; Rom 15:19; 2 Cor 12:12; Heb 2:4.
Acts 2:22, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know.”
Acts 5:12, “At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico.”
Rom 15:19, “In the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”
Heb 2:4, “God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”
But remember, signs, miracles and wonders can be counterfeited by Satan and the Antichrist to lead many astray, 2 Thes 2:9. That is why we are warned not to base our faith on them, rather, we need to learn the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the Bible and believe.
2 Thes 2:9, “That is, the one, (the Lawless one / Antichrist), whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders.”
Therefore, this indicates that the rich man implied in his request that the God-ordained warnings, (i.e., Moses and the Prophets), were inadequate and impotent. In his former life his master had been money and wealth, vs. 13, and although this master failed him without reward or hope in the eternal state, he was unable to submit to the other master, God. He felt that the testimony of the dead would be more effective than the message of God Himself through His inspired Word.
As such, the objectionable rebuttal by the rich man rejects the teaching of Abraham too, showing his arrogance once again, thinking he knows better than Abraham about spiritual things. In that, the rich man is convinced that if some miracle is performed, (i.e., a dead person goes back to his brothers and tells them about the Place of Torments), his brothers would come to faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Luke 16:31, “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead’.
Finally, we have Abraham’s rebuttal to the rich man’s. This is like the Angelic Conflict where God will have the final rebuttal to Satan’s rebuttal. Abraham’s rebuttal is, “If they reject the Scriptures, they will reject the witness of a dead person too.”
It starts with a first class conditional “if” statement with the Conjunction EI, “if,” and the negative Particle OUK meaning “if they do not.” The thing they may not do is, “listen to Moses and Prophets,” which uses AKOUO MOUSES PROPHETES once again, meaning they do not learn the gospel from two of the three parts of the Hebrew Bible.
The “then” statement is, “they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.” This phrase begins with the Negative OUDE, “and not, nor, or neither,” and ends in the Greek structure with the Future, Passive, Indicative of the Verb PEITHO meaning, “to be convinced, persuaded, etc.” In English, we combine them for “Neither will they be convinced or persuaded.”
Then we have a third class “if” statement using EAN, “if,” with the Subjunctive Mood of the Verb ANISTEMI meaning, “raise, raise up, bring to life, stand up, appear, or to rise again,” with the added emphasis of EK NEKROS, “from the dead.” This gives us a hypothetical situation for the potential of someone rising from the dead to go witness the gospel to the rich man’s five brothers.
Putting it all together Abraham’s rebuttal is, “if they do not listen to the Gospel as told in the Hebrew Bible, neither will they be convinced or persuaded if someone rises from the dead to tell them about the Place of Torments in order to avoid its judgment.”
- “Part of the task of preaching, or acting as God’s spokesman, is indeed to warn the hearers of the coming consequences of their present course of life. The Old Testament prophets are full of such admonitions (Isaiah 1:16-20; Jeremiah 4:13-18; Amos 2:4, 5; Zephaniah 2:1-3; see especially Ezekiel 3:16-21 for the responsibility of the prophet to warn). Paul took his role as one who warned very seriously (Acts 20:31; 1 Corinthians 4:14). The teachings of Jesus frequently contained a note of warning (Matthew 10:28; Mark 9:42-48). Modern preachers who neglect this side of God’s message are not fulfilling their responsibility.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary.)
- “The words of Abraham foreshadowed two miraculous events which were yet to come in the life of Jesus. John 11 tells of Jesus’ bringing His friend Lazarus back from the dead. While the result for many was belief (John 11:45), for the religious leaders it began the plot to murder the miracle worker (John 11:53). Later Jesus himself suffered death and was brought back from the dead. The response of many was again faith (John 20:26-29), but not so with the religious leaders (Matthew 28:11-15). Faith is more than a sense of wonder at miraculous signs. Faith requires commitment and a change of life.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary.)
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