Luke Jewish New Testament and comment David H. Stern

chapter 16
1. Speaking to the talmidim, Yeshua said: “There was a wealthy man who employed a general manager. Charges were brought to him that his manager was squandering his resources.
2. So he summoned him and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Turn in your accounts, for you can no longer be manager.’
3. “‘What am I to do?’ said the manager to himself. ‘My boss is firing me, I’m not strong enough to dig ditches, and I’m ashamed to go begging.
4. Aha! I know what I’ll do — something that will make people welcome me into their homes after I’ve lost my job here!’
5. “So, after making appointments with each of his employer’s debtors, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my boss?’
6. ‘Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. ‘Take your note back,’ he told him. ‘Now, quickly! Sit down and write one for four hundred!’
7. To the next he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ ‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. ‘Take your note back and write one for eight hundred.’
8. “And the employer of this dishonest manager applauded him for acting so shrewdly! For the worldly have more sekhel than those who have received the light — in dealing with their own kind of people!
Sekhel, "common sense, practical intelligence, 'smarts'" in both Hebrew and Yiddish. "Have more sekhel" translates Greek phronimoteroi eisin, "are more prudent." Yeshua is not praising this corrupt manager's goal of "looking out for Number One," but his cleverness and intelligence in pursuing his mistaken goal. Further, his comment that the worldly are more creative in working toward their aims than those enlightened by trusting God are in pursuing the goals God has set forth for them seems to be true today as well as then. Many well-intentioned people are bound, when seeking solutions, by lack of imagination, freedom and grounding in reality.

9. “Now what I say to you is this: use worldly wealth to make friends for yourselves, so that when it gives out, you may be welcomed into the eternal home.
Yeshua urges his followers not to use the materials of this world in a wicked way but for noble ends, so that their friends, God the Father and Yeshua the Son, may welcome them into the eternal home, just as the manager can expect his newly purchased "friends" to welcome him into their worldly homes.

10. Someone who is trustworthy in a small matter is also trustworthy in large ones, and someone who is dishonest in a small matter is also dishonest in large ones.
11. So if you haven’t been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who is going to trust you with the real thing?
Worldly wealth, literally, "unrighteous mammon" (Greek mammonas, transliterating Aramaic mammona and Hebrew mammon, "wealth, riches")

12. And if you haven’t been trustworthy with what belongs to someone else, who will give you what ought to belong to you?
13. No servant can be slave to two masters, for he will either hate the first and love the second, or scorn the second and be loyal to the first. You can’t be a slave to both God and money.”
14. The P’rushim heard all this, and since they were money-lovers, they ridiculed him.
They ridiculed him, literally, "they turned up their noses at him."

15. He said to them, “You people make yourselves look righteous to others, but God knows your hearts; what people regard highly is an abomination before God!
God knows your hearts (as did Yeshua himself, Yn 2:25). Compare I Samuel 16:7, "A man looks on the outward appearance, but Adonai looks on the heart"; and 1 Chronicles 28:9, "Adonai searches all hearts and understands all the imaginations of the thoughts."

16. Up to the time of Yochanan there were the Torah and the Prophets. Since then the Good News of the Kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is pushing to get in.
Up to the time of Yochanan the Immerser there were the Torah and the Prophets giving their prophetic and predictive witness to the coming of the Kingdom of God. The verse does not mean thai the authority of the Torah and the Prophets came to an end when Yochanan appeared (an error even the notable Hebrew Christian thinker David Baron made). But since then, in addition to their witness (v. 31, Yn5:46, Ro3:2l), the Good News of the Kingdom of God, which is now "near," has been proclaimed directly, first by Yochanan (Mt 3:1-2) and now by Yeshua (Mt 4:17, Mk 1:15), with the result that everyone is pushing to get in.

17. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter in the Torah to become void.
18. Every man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and a man who marries a woman divorced by her husband commits adultery.
See Mt 19:3-9&N on divorce; but this pronouncement of Yeshua's is not primarily a teaching on divorce. Rather, it is an example demonstrating that the Torah and the Prophets continue to have authoritative force, as v. 17 has explicitly stated. The P'rushim are not to use their position of power to interpret Scripture in ways that contradict its intent.

Some commentators regard these four verses as disconnected remarks placed together by an editor. I see them as Yeshua's response to the Pharisees' reaction (v. 14) to his parable and teaching (vv. 1-13). Verses 15—18 are therefore all connected, and connected with the following story (vv. 19-31); note especially that vv. 16and3l deal with the Torah and the Prophets (see v. 16N). Thus there is a cumulative effect to what Yeshua is saying, with v. 18 presenting a telling example of how the Torah cannot become void, all the more when the Kingdom of God, God's active present rulership, is so near (see v. 18N).

19. “Once there was a rich man who used to dress in the most expensive clothing and spent his days in magnificent luxury.
20. At his gate had been laid a beggar named El‘azar who was covered with sores.
21. He would have been glad to eat the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table; but instead, even the dogs would come and lick his sores.
22. In time the beggar died and was carried away by the angels to Avraham’s side; the rich man also died and was buried.
Avraham's side. A rare phrase in early Jewish writing, but not unknown. The talmid whom Yeshua loved reclined at his side at the Last Supper (Yn 13:23-25). A Jewish work dating from around the time of Yeshua says, "After this suffering of ours, Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov will receive us, and all our ancestors will praise us" (4 Maccabees 13:17). Thus being at "Avraham's side" suggests both being in Gan-Eden (Paradise) and being present at the Messianic banquet (Mt 8:11, Rv 19:7-9).

23. “In Sh’ol, where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Avraham far away with El‘azar at his side.
Sh'ol, Greek Adis, the "place" of the dead until the final judgment. It is not wholly a place of punishment, but from this passage we learn that it includes one. In the end Sh'ol itself will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rv 20:13-15).

24. He called out, ‘Father Avraham, take pity on me, and send El‘azar just to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool my tongue, because I’m in agony in this fire!’
25. However, Avraham said, ‘Son, remember that when you were alive, you got the good things while he got the bad; but now he gets his consolation here, while you are the one in agony.
26. Yet that isn’t all: between you and us a deep rift has been established, so that those who would like to pass from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
A deep rift, and no one can cross. Yeshua, like Daniel 12:2, teaches distinct fates after death for the wicked and the righteous. See 14:14&N.

27. “He answered, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house,
28. where I have five brothers, to warn them; so that they may be spared having to come to this place of torment too.’
29. But Avraham said, ‘They have Moshe and the Prophets; they should listen to them.’
30. However, he said, ‘No, father Avraham, they need more. If someone from the dead goes to them, they’ll repent!’
31. But he replied, ‘If they won’t listen to Moshe and the Prophets, they won’t be convinced even if someone rises from the dead!’”
Moshe (that is, the Torah) and the Prophets; the phrase means the entire Tanakh (compare 24:44-45&N, Mt 5:17&N), which Yeshua says is sufficient to warn people to trust God. Later (24:25-27&N) Yeshua shows specifically how the Tanakh points to himself.

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