Luke 16 is of 3 parts. Jesus opens with the Parable of the Shrewd Manager in verses 1 thru 15. It might read like that man is a thief. He is. But, that’s not at all the point here. The parable has only one point, and it is that which Jesus closes with in verse 9. It is #9, New Life instruction to ‘use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves,’ and how can you do that, but to be kind and generous with it. Further, note that being trusted with wealth, as verse 10 commences with, must mean to be kind and generous with worldly wealth, serving God with it, and not money itself, as verse 13 says. A further ‘take’ might be that since this dishonest manager was so readily able to ‘give’ some of his master’s wealth away to gain friends, it might be that we should see our wealth as being God’s, and be just as casual with it, willingly giving away 20%, and even 50%, of some assets, as this manager did. Think on that for a while! With verses 16 thru 18, Jesus is stating that a change of dispensations is taking place, and that of the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament is giving way to that which is now the New Testament and #10, the Kingdom. But, the Law is still in full force, so as to reveal men’s sins, and to aid in bringing them to repentance. One of the most prevalent sins of the day, then, appears to be much like one today… the breaking of the 7th Commandment of God thru divorce and adultery.
Chapter 16 closes with the Rich Man and Lazarus in verses 19 thru 31. First, this does not appear to be a parable, but possibly an actual true story! Second, we have no other parable anywhere, where a person is named, as this Lazarus is here. Technically, persons employed in parables remain nameless, so that they could be ‘anybody’! Third, it is because of the mention and description of the #3, severe judgment of hell, people object, and want to make it merely a parable. But, by what we’ve seen in Matthew and Mark already, this is an actual description of what the real hell is like! And, the purpose for telling this here is for the very purpose that we read about right here… to convince people that they need to #6, repent, as verse 30 makes perfectly clear. See, too, how that it is the perfect take-away from the Parable of the Shrewd Manager, that the chapter opened with, and plays perfectly on the idea that, one should be kind and generous with their worldly wealth. This rich man had every opportunity, and should have been liberally giving to the relief of Lazarus, who was right outside the rich man’s gate! That is not say that the rich man would have saved himself, had he been doing so. But, it is to say that had he been repentant at some point in life before, he would have been converted and become a ‘person of light’, as verses 8 speaks of, and had compassion for one so unfortunate as Lazarus was. Do not miss this: Hell is a ‘place of torment,’ where one is in ‘agony’ in ‘fire;’ perfectly matching the description Jesus gives elsewhere, where it is absolutely certain that He is not speaking in a parable. See Mt.5:29+30, 10:28, 13:42+50, 18:8+9, 23:33, 25:41+46 and Mk. 9:42-48 for clarity on this issue. This very #3, severe judgment helps to make God’s salvation so very dear to any who have received it! It’s what the Book is all about!
Harold F Crowell