16:1Now Jesus said to his disciples, “A certain rich person had a house manager who was accused of being wasteful with the rich person’s assets.16:2So he called him in and said, ‘What is this I’m hearing about you? Give your final report, because you are no longer my administrator.’
16:3“Then the house manager said to himself, ‘What am I going to do, now that my master is firing me? I don’t have the strength to dig and I’m too proud to beg.16:4I know what I’ll do! And when I’m let go, people will welcome me into their homes.’16:5So he summoned each one who owed his master money. And he said to the first one, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
16:6“ ‘A hundred measures of olive oil’, he replied.
“ ‘Quick, get your invoice,’ he said, ‘Sit down and write fifty instead.’
16:7“He then asked another how much they owed, and they said ‘A hundred bags of grain.’
“And he said, ‘Get your invoice and change it to eighty.’
16:8“The master had to commend the crooked house manager for his cleverness, because the people of this age are more savvy in their dealings with each other than are the people of light.16:9So I say to you, you’d better make friends with those who benefitted from cheating, so that when your wealth is gone they will welcome you into eternal dwellings.1
16:10“Whoever is trustworthy with the least is also trustworthy with the most, and whoever is unjust in the smallest matters is also unjust in the greatest matters.16:11So if you could not be trusted with the wealth of this world, who will trust you with true wealth?16:12And if you could not be trusted with someone else’s belongings, who will give you belongings of your own?16:13No domestic can serve two masters; they will despise one and love the other, or they will defend one and scorn the other. You cannot serve both God and Wealth.”
16:14Now the greedy Pharisees heard all of this and held Jesus in derision.16:15But he said to them, “You like to make yourselves look good in front of other people. But God knows your hearts, and what is impressive to people is disgusting to God.16:16The Law and the Prophets applied until the time of John. But from then on, the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is trying to take unlawful possession of it.216:17Yet it is easier for the sky and earth to pass away than for one tiny stroke of a letter in the Law to drop off.3
16:18“All who send away their wives in order to marry others are committing adultery, and the ones who are sent away and remarry are committing adultery.4
16:19“Now there was a certain rich person who dressed in purple and fine linen, living each day in happiness and luxury.16:20But there was also a destitute man named Lazarus who was put at the rich man’s door. He was covered with ulcers16:21and longed to fill himself with crumbs from the rich man’s table, and the dogs came and licked his sores.16:22Eventually the destitute man died, and he was carried away by the Messengers to the place of honor with Abraham. Then the rich man also died and was buried.
16:23“The rich man, being tormented in Hades, looked up and saw Abraham a great distance away, with Lazarus at the place of honor.16:24And he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me! Send Lazarus to dip his fingertip in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering in this inferno.’
16:25“But Abraham replied, ‘Child, remember that you received good things in your life, while Lazarus only received bad things. Now he is being comforted and you are suffering.16:26And besides, there is a wide chasm set between us, so that no one can cross over from one side to the other.’
16:27“ ‘Then I beg you, Father’, he replied, ‘that you would send him to my father’s house.16:28For I have five brothers, and he could warn them not to come to this place of torment.’
16:29“But Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them listen to them.’
16:30“ ‘Oh no, Father Abraham!’ he replied. ‘But if someone were to come to them from the dead, they would change their minds.’
16:31“ ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets’, said Abraham, ‘they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”
- 1This passage is notoriously difficult to understand. On the surface it could appear that Jesus is condoning lying and cheating, which of course cannot be true. But clearly ‘you’ (the disciples) are mapped to the house manager here, not the debtors who cheated their creditor. So then it would appear that Jesus is telling his disciples to think ahead, to plan for what follows this life. And in the context of responding to the Pharisees about their loathing of tax contractors, Jesus may also be telling the disciples to be careful how they treat them.
- 2The idea of the statement about “unlawful possession” is that though the kingdom of God has arrived, some are trying to take it for themselves without the right to do so. And as this is said directly to the Pharisees, the identity of the usurpers is clear.
- 3Jesus said that the Law only applied through the time of John, but what he says about “one tiny stroke” does not contradict it. He is saying that as incredibly difficult as it is for the tiniest part of the Law to end, the coming of the kingdom of God accomplishes that.
- 4This is a very abbreviated version of the account in Mt. 19:3-14, and the question the Pharisees raised was a very specific matter of a dispute between two rabbinical schools. Essentially, they wanted Jesus to take sides on the question of whether they could divorce a wife without just cause, so they could easily marry someone else. This was devastating for the divorced wife, who would be shamed and impoverished. So Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees’ cold-hearted attitude toward their wives, rather than making a cold-hearted rule for all marriages of all time.