Luke 16:9 Difficult one

9] And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations. RSV-CE

I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, 6 so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. NAB

NAB Footnote:

6 [9] Dishonest wealth: literally, “mammon of iniquity.” Mammon is the Greek transliteration of a Hebrew or Aramaic word that is usually explained as meaning “that in which one trusts.” The characterization of this wealth as dishonest expresses a tendency of wealth to lead one to dishonesty. Eternal dwellings: or, “eternal tents,” i.e., heaven. his opposed to the teachings.

9 And I say to you: Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity; that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings Douay Rheims

Douay Rheims footnote:

9 “Mammon of iniquity”… Mammon signifies riches. They are here called the mammon of iniquity, because oftentimes ill gotten, ill bestowed, or an occasion of evil; and at the best are but worldly, and false; and not the true riches of a Christian.

9 “They may receive”… By this we see, that the poor servants of God, whom we have relieved by our alms, may hereafter, by their intercession, bring our souls to heaven.

Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 9. Make for yourselves friends, &c. Not that we are authorized to wrong our neighbour, to give to the poor: evil is never to be done, that good may come from it. (St. Thomas Aquinas) — But we are exhorted to make the poor our friends before God, by relieving them with the riches which justly indeed belong to us, but are called the mammon of iniquity, because only the iniquitous man esteems them as riches, on which he sets his affections; whilst the riches of the virtuous are wholly celestial and spiritual. (St. Augustine, de quæst. Evang.) — Of the mammon of iniquity. Mammon is a Syriac word for riches; and so it might be translated, of the riches of iniquity. Riches are called unjust, and riches of iniquity, not of themselves, but because they are many times the occasion of unjust dealings, and of all kind of vices. (Witham) — Mammon signifies riches. They are here called the mammon of iniquity, because oftentimes ill-gotten, ill-bestowed, or an occasion of evil; and at the best are but worldly, and false: and not the true riches of a Christian. — They may receive. By this we see, that the poor servants of God, whom we have relieved by our alms, may hereafter, by their intercession, bring our souls to heaven. (Challoner) — They may receive you into their eternal tabernacles. What a beautiful thought this! What a consolation to the rich man, when the term of his mortal existence is approaching, to think he shall have as many advocates to plead for his admittance into the eternal mansions of rest, as he has made friends among the poor by relieving their temporal wants. The rich give to the poor earthly treasures, the latter return in recompense eternal and infinite happiness. Hence we must infer, that the advantage is all on the side of the giver; according to the saying of our Lord, happier is the condition of him who gives, than of him who receives. (Haydock)

So…I haven’t seen a good explaination of what “make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon”…

Does anyone actually know what this means?

I believe that unrighteous mammon means earthly wealth versus heavenly wealth, not because wealth is of itself bad, but because it can so easily become our idol. It makes me think of the passage that the love of money is the root of many evils. So instead of doting on our wealth or using it selfishly, we should use it for good purposes, while we are on earth. It can be viewed as storing up wealth in Heaven rather than on earth, as Jesus tells us we should do in the Sermon on the Mount. In the preceeding parable, the unjust steward used his master’s wealth to make friends who would take care of him when he was fired. If we use our wealth for good works, our friends (God and His angels) will welcome us to Heaven.

SyCarl, i think, has nailed it pretty much on the head.

The Douay Rhiems is a good version, and I generally go with it.

We have two kinds of wealth, that which we earn and become “rich” in worldly things… but this money does not grant us righteousness, just physical subsistance. Notice it does not say “sinful wealth”, but rather “unrighteous wealth”… the two terms are NOT synonymous. So we are to be charitable with our friends and those around us rather than hoard our money. In so doing we form the friendship and bonds that we will encounter in eternal life

(remember, catholicism is founded in the idea that the church is one BODY, a COMMUNION of saints. If a part of the body is not helping other parts of the body and fulfilling it’s role, then it is not useful and highly welcome in the body).

agreed 100%

He means give alms.

So you are saying that he meant only excess money is bad. Unrighteous Mammon is wealth that is not doing good for anyone. So according to Jesus. It is sinful to save great amounts of money for yourself?

1 Timothy 6:10

[10] For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.

Matt 19:24

[24] Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

So is the goal of becoming rich fundamentally sinful? Are we teaching our children evil if we direct them to become financially wealthy?

In context of the verse 16:9, which was what i originally responded to, the verse does NOT state that it is inherently sinful to be wealthy or to save money for yourself. In fact, it’s financially responsible to keep enough savings to see yourself through hard times if need be.

The reverse of that is that it IS sinful to love money more than God or our fellow man. If we allow our love of money to blind us to the suffering of others then we are idolizing money over the will of God, and are therefore in sin.

So no, it is not a sin to have a savings account or money. It IS a sin to love money more than God. The verse originally quoted is merely suggestive that it is right and good for us to be charitable (of our own volition) so that we may have stored up “righteous mammon” in heaven.

Matthew 19:16 – And behold … what good deed shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
Matthew 19:21 Jesus said to him, if you will to be perfect, go and sell all you have, and give to the poor; Then you shall have treasure in heaven, then come and follow me.

When one has that which they can give, there is a need to give. Even though Jesus says, “sell all that you have”, one needs to realize that Jesus had Judas keep a purse for purchase of necessities for him and his disciples. Jesus was poor, to be sure, by choice.

The poor are often present in this world as opportunities to feed, clothe, and comfort our lord. That is the poor who believe in him, or come to believe in him.

When the earlier passage talks of ill gotten Mammon, I think what it is referring to is the wealth beyond mere necessity.
For example, the farmer who had a bumper crop – and so built a bigger barn against the many years of the future.
The problem with that approach is that it ignores those who have need, now. One can be obsessed or glory in their self-sufficiency. (The American WAY!) The law, however, explicitly taught that farmers were to leave part of the harvest for gleaners – the poor – who could share at least to a small extent (through working) over the leavings of God’s blessing – the idea being that we are all dependent on God, and God being merciful in feeding the rich – means the rich need to be merciful so as to be like God.

But the whole of the Israelite system of family government was geared toward looking out for one’s brother. The eldest was given a double portion of inheritance, as I understand it, not because he is the favorite – but because he is the eldest and most responsible for his brothers. Should the father die or go away, the eldest held a responsibility to the rest of the family.

Just so, if the elder brother failed to perform his duty – his attachment to the wealth (which is his) becomes sinful. The wealth is ill gotten for the simple reason that someone else suffered needlessly since it was not used as God intended.

Now, merely add that Jesus says to his disciples – that you are my brothers, and the explanation is complete.
There is nothing wrong with saving up wealth, so long as you use it to the benefit of those in need. God does not give wealth for the purpose of hoarding, or prideful boasting against necessity.

Even the great wealth collected in Egypt was effectively used to enslave people in the end – although the initial idea and purpose was good.

In the second passage I quoted, I think Jesus is pointing out that he–himself – is the treasure one really wants.
When one finds a treasure, they sell all that they have so that they may obtain the treasure, be it a pearl, a poor child in need of adoption, or Jesus Christ himself. There are different kinds of wealth of different value, the most Valuable being eternal life.

Here is the downside to using the definition provided by the NAB rather than by a credible and time tested translation like the D.R. translation.

The term is NOT “dishonest wealth” or “ill gotten Mammon.” It is “Mammon of inequity.”

There is a STRONG and fundamental difference between the terms. ill gotten or dishonest wealth is stolen, gained through illicit means. We should have NOTHING to do with such wealth. The bible is CERTAINLY not advocating that if we have “stolen” or otherwise sinfully gained money that we should then use that money to gain friends for ourselves. The proper action, if one comes accross ill gotten or dishonest money would be to return that money to its proper owner.

So please please please. Pick up a copy of the D.R. translation and stop using one with such poor and “modernized” translations that it changes the fundamental meaning of a scripture like this to something that is less than moral.

I have the D.R.
I also have the K.J.V.

Luke 16:9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations

Seems like the KJV dis-agrees with the Douay, slightly, here… hmmm…

On the other hand, the Greek holds –

Luke 16:9 και εγω υμιν λεγω εαυτοις ποιησατε φιλους εκ του μαμωνα της αδικιας ινα οταν εκλιπη δεξωνται υμας εις τας αιωνιους σκηνα

εκ ek = "out"
του tou = "of the (him)"
μαμμον-α mammona =“mammon” (neuter/collective)
της tHs = of the (her)
α-δικι-ας adikias = non-just(ice) (feminine)

Literally, it says:
out of the mammon * the non-justice [kind].

The brackets being extra words required to disambiguate the phrase in english… otherwise it would read “the mammon the injustice”… which is TOO literal.

Perhaps the awkward “of mammon of injustice” is most correct.

The Greek is explicit, that a particular kind of injustice (wrong relationship) is expected, rather than saying all money of no equity is bad. (sort of a tautology…)

Why read the D.R. when one can read the Greek original or the Latin translation?

BTW. Exactly how DOES the latin read here?

Luke 16:9 16:9 Et ego vobis dico : facite vobis amicos de mammona iniquitatis : ut, cum defeceritis, recipiant vos in æterna tabernacula

iniquitatis – sounds like iniquity, not quite inequity – but I don’t know Latin – ask Copland3.*

Probably because for those of us who don’t speak latin or greek, the D.R. is the best available resource out there. I would never touch a KJV of any kind. Anything that began with the work of hellaciously translated bishop’s bible is sure to contain numerous errors (as the KJV does)

iniquitatis – sounds like iniquity, not quite inequity – but I don’t know Latin – ask Copland3.

Yeah, iniquity. I typed it incorrectly because i was going to fast. :blush:

The KJV isn’t a good translation? I thought the RSV was directly related to the KJV? Is this incorrect?

As stated, the KJV began with the same translational notes that the bishop’s bible used. The bishops bible is rife with errors, and the KJV shares many of the same. Hence, I don’t use any translation of any generation descendant from the Bishop’s bible work. The DR is a direct translation from Jerome’s vulgate, so I generally stick to that (online) or the Ignatius Press version (physical copy since I haven’t found a nice copy of a DR for my bookshelf).

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit