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The New John Gill Exposition of Luke 16:9-18

The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible

Luke 16:9-18

Luke 16:9

And I say unto you…
These are the words of Christ, as are also the latter part of the preceding verse, accommodating and applying the parable to his disciples, and for their instruction:

make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness:
by "mammon" are designed riches, wealth, and substance; (See Gill on 6:24) and is called "mammon of unrighteousness", because such wealth is often unrighteously detained, and is not made use of to right and good purposes, by the owners of it; or because, generally speaking, it is possessed by unrighteous men; and, for the most part, used in an unrighteous manner, in luxury, pride and intemperance, and is the root, instrument, and means of such unrighteousness: or it maybe rendered "mammon of hurt", or "hurtful mammon"; as it often is to those who are over anxious and desirous of it, or other disuse or misuse of it: or, as best of all, "mammon of falsehood", or "deceitful mammon"; so in the Targum F23, frequent mention is made of (rqvd Nwmm) , "mammon of falsity"; and stands opposed to "true riches" in (Luke 16:10) for worldly riches are very empty and fallacious; wherefore deceitfulness is ascribed to them; and they are called uncertain riches, which are not to be depended upon. (Matthew 13:22) (1 Timothy 6:17) unless it should be rather thought that it is so called, because gotten in an unrighteous way; as it was by Zacchaeus, and might be by Matthew, one of the disciples, Christ now speaks to, and the publicans and sinners, who were lately become his followers, and whom he advises, as the highest piece of wisdom and prudence, to dispose of in such a manner, as of it to "make" themselves "friends"; not God, Father, Son, and Spirit. These indeed are friends to the saints, but they are not made so by money; reconciliation and redemption are not procured this way; nor is the favour of the judge to be got by such means; the only means of reconciliation, are the blood and death of Christ; though indeed acts of beneficence, rightly performed, are well pleasing to God: nor are the angels meant, who are very friendly to all good men; nor rich men, to whom riches are not to be given, (Proverbs 22:16) but rather riches themselves, which, if not rightly used, and so made friends of, will cry, and be a witness against the owners of them, (James 5:1-3) though it may be the poor saints are intended; who by their prayers are capable of doing either a great deal of hurt, or a great deal of good; and it is the interest of rich men to make them their friends:

that when ye fail:
of money; or "that fails", as the Ethiopic version reads; or rather, when ye leave that, that is, when ye die; so in (Jeremiah 42:22) "know certainly that ye shall die"; the Septuagint renders it, (ekleiqete) , "ye shall fall by the sword", &c.

they may receive you into everlasting habitations:
the mansions of glory, which are many, and of an eternal duration: this is to be understood of their being received thither, not by the poor, to whom they have been benefactors; for though these may now pray for their reception to glory when they die, and will hereafter rejoice at their reception thither; yet they themselves will not be receivers of them, or their introducers into the everlasting tents, or tabernacles: nor are the angels intended, who carry the souls of the righteous into Abraham's bosom, and will gather the elect together at the last day; for not they, but God and Christ, receive the saints to glory: the words may be rendered impersonally, "you may be received"; in a way of welldoing, though not for it; mention is made of the "everlasting tabernacles", in


``Their glory also will I take unto me, and give these the everlasting tabernacles, which I had prepared for them.'' (2 Esdras 2:11)

and so the phrase may be rendered here, as opposed to the earthly and perishable tabernacles of the body (2 Corinthians 5:1) (2 Peter 1:13,14)

Luke 16:10

He that is faithful in that which is least…
In quantity and quality, especially the latter; in that which is of little value and worth, at least when compared with other things:

is faithful also in much:
in matters of greater consequence and importance: the sense of the proverb is, that, generally speaking, a man that acts a faithful part in a small trust committed to him, does so likewise in a much larger; and being tried, and found faithful in things of less moment, he is intrusted with things of greater importance; though this is not always the case: for sometimes a man may behave with great integrity in lesser matters, on purpose that he might gain greater confidence, which, when he has obtained, he abuses in the vilest manner; but because it is usually otherwise, our Lord uses the common proverb; and of like sense is the following;

and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much:
that man that acts the unfaithful part in a small matter, and of little worth, generally does the same, if a greater trust is committed to him.

Luke 16:11

If therefore ye have not been faithful…
This is the application of the above proverbial expressions, and seems to be directed to the disciples of Christ, though not without a view to the covetous Scribes and Pharisees, who were in hearing of it, and were disturbed at it, (Luke 16:14) and the meaning is, that whereas some of them might have been unfaithful, and have acted the unjust part of gathering of riches, as Matthew, and other publicans, that were now become the followers of Christ; if therefore they should be unfaithful

in the unrighteous mammon;
in the disposing of it to improper uses, which was either unrighteously gotten, and therefore called, as it sometimes was, (evrd Nwmm) , "mammon of ungodliness", or "ungodly mammon" F24; or, which was fallacious, deceitful, vain, and transitory:

who will commit to your trust the true riches;
or mammon? that is, how should you expect to be intrusted with the riches of grace, as the blessings and promises of the covenant of grace, the graces of the Spirit of God, which truly enrich persons, and are solid and durable? or the riches of glory, the better and more enduring substance in heaven, signified by a kingdom, and an inheritance that fadeth not away? so the Jews call the good things of another world, and say F25, that

``all the good things of this world are not (twytma twbwj) , "true good things", in comparison of the good things of the world to come.''

And they use the same distinction with respect to "mammon", as here:

``the holy, blessed God, they say F26, gives him, (tma lv) (Nwmm) , "mammon of truth", or true mammon; and he makes it (rqv) , "false", or deceitful:''

or rather the rich treasure of the Gospel is meant, called a treasure in earthen vessels, and the unsearchable riches of Christ; and is comparable to, and of more worth than gold, silver, and precious stones. And so the Syriac version renders it, "who will trust you with the truth?" with the truth of the Gospel.

Luke 16:12

And if ye have not been faithful in that which is
another man's…
Which is not a man's own, but what is committed to him by another; (Myrxa Nwmmb) , "with the mammon of others F1", to speak in the language of the Jews; and of mammon, our Lord is speaking, and here of another man's, of which they were only stewards, as he in the preceding parable was: hence we read F2 of (Nwmm yrmwv) , "keepers of mammon", who were intrusted with another's substance; and such are here supposed, which, if unfaithful in,

who shall give you that which is your own?
that is, should you unjustly detain, or make an ill use of another man's substance lodged in your hands, how can you expect but that you will be dealt with in like manner by others, who will not pay you yours, they have in their possession, but convert it to their own use? A like distinction of another's and a man's own, may be observed among the Jews:


``there are (say they F3,) four sorts of men in respect of giving alms; he that would give, but would not have others give, his eye is evil, (Myrxa lvb) , "in that which is other men's" (i.e. as the commentator observes F4, lest the goods of others should be increased, and they get a good name); he that would that others should give, but he will not give himself, his eye is evil, (wlvb) , "in that which is his own"; he that gives, and would have others give, he is a "good man"; he that neither gives, nor would have others give, he is an "ungodly man";''

see (Romans 5:7,8) . Interpreters generally understand by "that which is another man's", in the first clause, the things of this world, which men are possessed of, because these are not of themselves, but from another, from God; and they are but stewards, rather than proprietors of them; and they are for the good of others, and not for themselves; and are not lasting, but in a little while will pass from them to others: and by "that which is your own", they understand the good things of grace and glory, which, when once bestowed on man, are his own property, and for his own use, and will never be alienated from him, but will always abide with him: but if he is unfaithful in the former, how should he expect the latter to be given to him?

Luke 16:13

No servant can serve two masters…
(See Gill on 6:24).

Luke 16:14

And the Pharisees also who were covetous…
Or lovers of money, the love of which is the root of all evil; and that they were, is evident from their devouring widows' houses, under a pretence of making long prayers for them, (Matthew 23:14)

heard all these things;
as well as the disciples, being in company with them, (Luke 15:2) even the parable concerning the unjust steward, and the application of it; and the directions given about using the things of this world, and the distributing of them to the poor, and showing a greater concern for riches of an higher nature:

and they derided him:
lift up their nose, or drew it out to him, as the word signifies, in a sneering way; they rejected and despised what he said about their injustice, in their stewardship; the calling of them to an account for it, and the turning of them out of it; and concerning the true use of worldly riches, and the contempt of them; they looked upon themselves safe and secure in the good opinion of the people, and happy in the enjoyment of worldly things; and looked upon him as a weak man, to talk in the manner he did.

Luke 16:15

And he said unto them…
That is, Jesus said unto them, as the Syriac and Persic versions express it: "ye are they which justify yourselves before men": from the sins of injustice, unfaithfulness, covetousness, and all others; and would be thought, and appear to be righteous; but it is only in the sight of men, who can only see the outside of things, and judge thereby:

but God knoweth your hearts;
and what is in them, the deceitfulness, hypocrisy, covetousness, and cruelty of them, which are hid from the eyes of men:

for that which is highly esteemed among men;
or what is high in the account and esteem of men, as the outward appearance of these men for morality, religion, and holiness; their zeal for the ceremonies of the law, and the traditions of the elders:

is abomination in the sight of God;
who knew full well from what principles, and with what views they acted, to gain popular applause, and amass riches to themselves, without any concern for the glory of God, and the good of men: see (Isaiah 65:5) .

Luke 16:16

The law and the prophets were until John…
Till the time that John the Baptist began his ministry; for till then, the law and the prophets, with the Hagiographa, or holy writings, for into these three parts the Jews divided the books of the Old Testament, were the only writings they had; and which contained the whole of the revelation granted to them; and which they wrested, and put false glosses on; and therefore it was no wonder that they derided Christ, and despised his ministry: and whereas spiritual things were promised in these writings, under the notion of temporal ones; which they not understanding, might imagine the doctrine of Christ, concerning the contempt of worldly riches, was contrary to: and since they valued themselves on having the law and the prophets, Christ observes, that

since that time, the kingdom of God is preached;
the Gospel, and the mysteries of relating to the kingdom of the Messiah, his person, office, and grace; and to the kingdom of grace, which lies not in outward, but in inward and spiritual things; and to the kingdom of heaven, or glory hereafter; and which is a superior dispensation to that of the law and the prophets, and sets things in a clearer, plainer, and better light:

and every man presseth into it;
the Gospel dispensation, the kingdom of the Messiah; "that he may enter into it", as the Syriac and Persic versions add; which the Scribes and Pharisees did all they could to hinder; see (Matthew 23:13) large multitudes crowded the ministry of John, of Christ, and of his apostles; the people flocked in great numbers to hear the word, and seemed disposed to embrace the doctrines of the Gospel, and the ordinances of it; they pressed on one another to hear it, and through many difficulties, discouragements, and obstacles, the Pharisees threw in their way; there was scarce a man but seemed very desirous of attending upon the preaching of it, and pressed hard for it; and with much force and violence, with great eagerness and endeavour broke his way to it; though a different sense is given by others reading the words, and "every one suffers violence to himself for it", as the Arabic version; or "is oppressed for it", as the Ethiopic; that is, suffers reproach, contradiction, and persecution, for the sake of hearing it.

Luke 16:17

And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass…
This is said by Christ, lest it should be thought by his saying, that the law and the prophets were until John, that they were no longer, nor of any more use; but were now abrogated and laid aside; whereas heaven and earth might sooner pass away, and the whole frame of nature be dissolved:

than one tittle of the law to fail;
which, and the prophets, in all the precepts, promises, types, figures, prophecies… thereof, had their full accomplishment in the person, miracles, obedience, sufferings, and death of Christ; see (Matthew 5:18) .

Luke 16:18

Whosoever putteth away his wife…
For any other cause than for adultery, as the Jews used to do upon every trifling occasion, and for every little disgust: by which instance our Lord shows, how the Jews abused and depraved the law, and as much as in them lay, caused it to fail; and how he, on the other hand, was so far from destroying and making it of none effect, that he maintained the purity and spirituality of it; putting them in mind of what he had formerly said, and of many other things of the like kind along with it; how that if a man divorces his wife, for any thing else but the defiling his bed,

and marrieth another, committeth adultery:
with her that he marries: because his marriage with the former still continues, and cannot be made void by, such a divorce:

and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband;
the phrase "from her husband", is omitted in the Syriac and Persic versions:

committeth adultery;
with her that he marries, because notwithstanding her husband's divorce of her, and his after marriage with her, she still remains his lawful and proper wife; (See Gill on 5:32). The Ethiopic version reads this last clause, quite different from all others, thus, "and whosoever puts away her husband, and joins to another, commits adultery", agreeably to (See Gill on 10:12).

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FOOTNOTES:

F23 Targum in Job xxvii. 8. & in Isa v. 23. & xxxiii. 15. & in Ezek. xxii. 27. & in Hos. v. 11.
F24 Targum in Hab. ii. 9.
F25 Tzeror Hammor, fol. 23. 2.
F26 Shemot Rabba, sect. 31. fol. 134. 4.

F1 Jarchi in Pirke Abot, c. 5, sect. 13.
F2 T. Hieros. Succa, fol. 53. 1.
F3 Pirke Abot, c. 5. sect. 13.
F4 Jarchi in ib.

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