Luke 16:1 Commentary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Luk 16:1-13. The Unjust Steward.
1. And he said also unto his disciples ] In interpreting the two following parables it is specially necessary to bear in mind the tertium comparationis, i.e. the one special point which our Lord had in view. To press each detail into a separate dogmatic truth is a course which has led to flagrant errors in theology and even in morals.
a certain rich man, which had a steward ] The rich man and the steward are both men of the world. It is only in one general aspect that they correspond to God and to ourselves as His stewards (Tit 1:7) who are ‘required to be faithful,’ 1Co 4:1-5. No parable has been more diversely and multitudinously explained than this. For instance in the steward some have seen the Pharisees, or the publicans, or Judas Iscariot, or Christ, or Satan, &c. To enter into and refute these explanations would take up much space and would be quite fruitless. We cannot be wrong if we seize as the main lesson of the parable the one which Christ Himself attached to it (8-12), namely, the use of earthly gifts of wealth and opportunity for heavenly and not for earthly aims.
was accused ] In Classic Greek the word means ‘was slandered.’ Here it has the more general sense, but perhaps involves the notion of a secret accusation.
that he had wasted ] i.e., had squandered upon himself.
This section forms a great episode in St Luke, which may be called the departure for the final conflict, and is identical with the journey (probably to the Feast of the Dedication, Joh 10:22) which is partially Luk 9:51-56. And it came to pass, when the time was come that he touched upon in Mat 18:1 to Mat 20:16 and Mar 10:1-31. It contains many incidents recorded by this Evangelist alone, and though the recorded identifications of time and place are vague, yet they all point (Luk 9:51, Luk 13:22, Luk 17:11, Luk 10:38) to a slow, solemn, and public progress from Galilee to Jerusalem, of which the events themselves are often grouped by subjective considerations. So little certain is the order of the separate incidents, that one writer (Rev. W. Stewart) has made an ingenious attempt to shew that it is determined by the alphabetic arrangement of the leading Greek verbs ( ἀγαπᾶν , Luk 10:25-42; αἰτεῖν , Luk 11:1-5; Luk 11:8-13, &c.). Canon Westcott arranges the order thus: The Rejection of the Jews foreshewn; preparation, Luk 9:43 toLuk 11:13; Lessons of Warning, Luk 11:14 toLuk 13:9; Lessons of Progress, Luk 13:10 toLuk 14:24; Lessons of Discipleship, Luk 14:25 xvii. 10; the Coming End, Luk 17:10 toLuk 18:30.
The order of events after ‘the Galilaean spring’ of our Lord’s ministry on the plain of Gennesareth seems to have been this: After the period of flight among the heathen or in countries which were only semi-Jewish, of which almost the sole recorded incident is the healing of the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman (Mat 15:21-28 ). He returned to Peraea and fed the four thousand. He then sailed back to Gennesareth, but left it in deep sorrow on being met by the Pharisees with insolent demands for a sign from heaven. Turning His back once more on Galilee, He again travelled northwards; healed a blind man at Bethsaida Julias; received St Peter’s great confession on the way to Caesarea Philippi; was transfigured; healed the demoniac boy; rebuked the ambition of the disciples by the example of the little child; returned for a brief rest in Capernaum, during which occurred the incident of the Temple Tax; then journeyed to the Feast of Tabernacles, during which occurred the incidents so fully narrated by St John (Joh 7:1 to Joh 10:21). The events and teachings in this great section of St Luke seem to belong mainly, if not entirely, to the two months between the hasty return of Jesus to Galilee and His arrival in Jerusalem, two months afterwards, at the Feast of Dedication; a period respecting which St Luke must have had access to special sources of information.
For fuller discussion of the question I must refer to my Life of Christ, ii. 89-150.
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The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".