Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
PARABLES OF THE
STEWARD AND OF THE
LAZARUS, OR, THE
1. steward--manager of his estate.
had wasted--rather, "was wasting."
3. cannot dig . . . to beg, ashamed--therefore, when dismissed, shall
be in utter want.
4. may receive me, &c.--Observe his one object--when cast out of
one home to secure another. This is the key to the
parable, on which there have been many differing views.
5-7. fifty . . . fourscore--deducting a half from the debt of the
one, and a fifth from that of the other.
8. the lord--evidently the steward's lord, so called in
Lu 16:3, 5.
commended, &c.--not for his "injustice," but "because he had done
wisely," or prudently; with commendable foresight and
skilful adaptation of means to end.
children of this world--so
("their portion in this life");
("mind earthly things");
Ps 4:6, 7.
their generation--or "for their generation"--that is, for the purposes
of the "world" they are "of." The greater wisdom (or shrewdness) of the
one, in adaptation of means to ends, and in energetic, determined
prosecution of them, is none of it for God and eternity--a
region they were never in, an atmosphere they never breathed, an
undiscovered world, an unborn existence to them--but all for the
purposes of their own grovelling and fleeting generation.
children of light--(so
Yet this is only "as night-birds see better in the dark than those of
the day owls than eagles" [CAJETAN and TRENCH]. But we may learn lessons from them, as our Lord
now shows, and "be wise as serpents."
9. Make . . . friends of--Turn to your advantage; that
is, as the steward did, "by showing mercy to the poor"
Lu 12:33; 14:13, 14).
mammon of unrighteousness--treacherous, precarious. (See on
ye fail--in respect of life.
they may receive you--not generally, "ye may be received" (as
"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
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
and Lu 14:11).
16. The law, &c.--(See
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
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
19. purple and fine linen, &c.--(Compare
wanting nothing which taste and appetite craved and money could
20, 21. laid--having to be carried and put down.
full of sores--open, running, "not closed, nor bound up, nor
mollified with ointment"
21. desiring to be fed with--but was not
TRENCH, &c.]. The words may mean indeed "was
fain to feed on," or "gladly fed on," as in
WILKINSON, &c.]. But the context rather favors the
licked, &c.--a touching act of brute pity, in the absence of human
relief. It is a case of heartless indifference, amidst luxuries of every
kind, to one of God's poorest and most afflicted ones, presented daily
before the eye.
22. died--His burial was too unimportant to mention; while "the rich
man died and was buried"--his carcass carried in pomp to its earthly
in to Abraham's bosom--as if seen reclining next to Him at the heavenly
23. in hell--not the final place of the lost (for which another word
is used), but as we say "the unseen world." But as the object here is
certainly to depict the whole torment of the one and the
perfect bliss of the other, it comes in this case to much the same.
seeth Abraham--not God, to whom therefore he cannot cry
24. Father Abraham--a well-founded, but unavailing, claim of natural
mercy on me--who never showed any
send Lazarus--the pining victim of his merciless neglect.
that he may--take me hence? No; that he dares not to ask.
dip . . . tongue--that is the least conceivable and the
most momentary abatement of his torment; that is all. But even this
he is told is (1) unreasonable.
25, 26. Son--stinging acknowledgment of the claimed relationship.
thou . . . Lazarus, &c.--As it is a great law of God's
kingdom, that the nature of our present desires shall rule that of
our future bliss, so by that law, he whose "good things," craved
and enjoyed, were all bounded by time, could look for none after his
connection with time had come to an end
But by this law, he whose "evil things," all crowded into the present
life, drove him to seek, and find, consolation in a life beyond the
grave, is by death released from all evil and ushered into unmixed and
(2) It is impossible.
26. besides all this--independently of this consideration.
a great gulf fixed--By an irrevocable decree there has been placed
a vast impassable abyss between the two states, and the occupants of
27-31. Then he said--now abandoning all hope for himself.
send him to my father's house, &c.--no waking up of good in the heart
of the lost, but bitter reproach against God and the old economy, as not
warning him sufficiently [TRENCH].
The answer of Abraham is, They are sufficiently warned.
30. Nay--giving the lie to Abraham.
but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent--a principle
of awful magnitude and importance. The greatest miracle will have no
effect on those who are determined not to believe. A real Lazarus
soon "rose from the dead," but the sight of him by crowds of people,
inclined thereby to Christ, only crowned the unbelief and hastened the
murderous plots of the Pharisees against the Lord of glory; nor has His
own resurrection, far more overpowering, yet won over that "crooked and