The parable of the dishonest manager


#1

Im just after some help interpreting Luke-16, The parable of the dishonest manager.
I’ll copy it down for quick reference.
NRSV Catholic edition.
Then Jesus said to his disciples,'There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were braught to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, “What is this that i hear about you? Give me an account of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.” Then the manager said to himself, “What will i do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when i am dissmissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.” So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, “How much do you owe my master?” He answered, “A hundred jugs of olive oil.” He said to him, “Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.” Then he asked another, “And how much do you owe?” He replied, “A hundred containers of wheat.” He said to him, “Take your bill and make it eighty.”
And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.
And i tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.
‘Whosoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whosoever is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for the slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.’

So the questions i have are, Is Jesus saying its right to act shrewdly in being dishonest with wealth to make friends for ourselves?
Is the master in the parable a representation of Jesus himself?
And what exactly is Jesus refering to when he uses the term dishonest wealth? Is he refering to all worldly wealth in general? Or maybe more specifically money made for example by a dishonest car dealer or somwon like that.
Its a tricky one to understand this, Lord help us.
Id appreciate any help.


#2

I’ve never heard it called the dishonest manager before. :smiley:

The master praises his unjust steward for using his remaining time in employment to make friends so he can have somewhere to live when he loses his job. Jesus is explaining that the people of this world know how to provide for their own future better than the children of light. (Think how many Christians aren’t preparing for the next life).

The master is not Jesus.

Luke 16:8 ‘The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.’

Not dishonest wealth, he calls money tainted.


#3

Two points:

Though the manager’s actions were self-serving, it is not at all clear, and I would not assume, that he was dishonest. It may be that the rich man had given the manager authority to bargain with debtors as he saw fit. The manager might, for example, reduce a debt in order to gain some other advantage for the rich man (loyalty, obedience, a debt of gratitude, and perhaps returning the favor at a future time). In this view, the manager was shrewd but not dishonest. He was doing his job in a manner that was customary in that time and culture. The rich man may even have been pleased if he saw that the manager’s actions were likely to increase the rich man’s profits.

My understanding of “dishonest wealth” is that one cannot rely on wealth in times of trouble, you never know if you will still possess it when you need it, and of course you can’t take it with you when you die. So Jesus was not saying that wealth is evil, but rather that we should not put our faith in it, rest our hopes in it, or let it possess us.


#4

Thanks,
In the parable Jesus did describe the manager as dishonest. I was thinking maybe Jesus was making the point that the manager was right to change his masters debters bills to get himself out of a pickle,.It was a cunning and shrewd move even though alittle dishonest, so praise worthy anyway. The only thing is it hard to imagine Jesus condoning any kind of dishonesty.
So i think i get it now. The message is, Jesus isnt condoning the dishonest managers dishonesty. Like Nelka said, hes making the point that people of this age are more shrewd in dealing in their worldly affairs than the children of light in heavenly affairs.
But he sais make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone they will welcome you into the eternal homes.
So if buy dishonest wealth Jesus means unreliable or untrustworthy wealth, or maybe you could call it deceptive wealth, which is worldly wealth in general, Then i suppose a practical example of making friends that may welcome you into the eternal homes would be to use the dishonest wealth for charitable purposes. Like helping the poor or for evangelisation.
It makes sense to me now, Thanks heaps to both of you. Cheers.


#5

I struggled with this passage also because of that verse, until I read the Companion Bible notes.

Luke 16:

8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

----Jesus concludes this tale of evil cunning, which probably sounded like completely reasonable and righteous behavior to the Pharisees (some might even have been taking notes ;)). In this case, he got revenge plus carved out for himself an ill-gotten personal advantage.

Turns out I’ve often congratulated myself and others on ‘sticking it to the big guy’. And as much as I puzzled over this verse before finding the solution below, not until now did I make the connections to my own behaviors from the story itself. Better late than never, eh? Conviction, (examination of the past), confesson, and another slice of Freedom. Whatta deal! :slight_smile: ----

((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.))

From Commentary in the Companion Bible AV of 1611:

"And=And, Do I say unto you?.. Is this what I say to you? In vv. 10-12, the Lord gives the reason why He does not say that; otherwise these verses are wholly inconsequent, instead of being the true application of vv. 1-8.

  1. Do I say to you, ‘Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations’ ?

10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?

13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.


#6

Just thought to do a search on the “everlasting habitations” that is nebulous, to me. For me, it now reads with far more meaning with:

  1. Do I say to you, ‘Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting darkness of error’ ?

Strong’s #s:

G4633 skene skay-nay’ - apparently akin to G4632 and G4639;

a tent or cloth hut (literally or figuratively). KJV: habitation, tabernacle.

G4639 skia skee’-ah - apparently a primary word;

“shade” or a shadow (literally or figuratively (darkness of error or an adumbration)). KJV: shadow.


#7

Thanks Jeanne. Yeah so i suppose you could look at it this way, The manager was being fired from his position of manager and evicted from the rich mans home, so he had nowhere to go, not strong enough to dig and ashamed to beg. So he dishonestly changed the rich mans debtors bills to make friends with them so they will welcome him into their homes.
So the dishonest manager was shrewd in dealing with dishonest wealth or worldly unreliable wealth.
As in the example the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the children of light.
We all get evicted from this world sooner or later so its wise for the children of light to make friends in the eternal habitations in heaven through means of the dishonest or worldly wealth. By using it to help their beloved poor friends and family still here on earth. Because we all get evicted from this world sooner or later.
So it goes hand in hand with what Jesus said “What you failed to do unto the least of these brothers of mine you failed to do unto me”
Makes good sense. Can kind of prick your concience a bit too.


#8

The word used here for “wealth” is μαμωνᾷ (transliterated as mamona), which the Douay Rheims translates as “mammon.” There’s only one other place in the NT that this word is used, and that’s Matthew 6:24:

No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Interestingly, the same lesson is being taught in this passage. Luke 16:13:

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

So, it seems to me that since the same word and the same lesson are found in these two passsages, then it would be helpful to understand Luke 16 by understanding Matthew 6.

Consider Matthew 6:19-21:

Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.

That sounds an awful lot like what Jesus is talking about in the Luke 16 parable.

The passage you seem to have particular trouble with is Luke 16:9:

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.

The Douay Rheims reads this passage the following way, per the notes at the bottom:

Give alms to the righteous poor, so that they may intercede on your behalf when you fall from grace.

The phrase “mammon of iniquity” is understood to mean “worldly wealth” in that such wealth, not being the true wealth of heaven, is often a source of temptation and failure. Nevertheless, Christ understands that it is worldly wealth that causes oppression of the poor, and that by sharing that wealth with them, you are able to ease their burdens. So He commands us do so in order to make friends of them, that they might “receive you into everlasting dwellings.”

In other words, we give up worldly wealth (by giving alms) in order that we might gain eternal wealth. He strengthens this idea by noting that we cannot serve both God and worldly wealth, we cannot have two masters. For, where your treasure is, so is your heart.


#9

I suspect that the Enemy has gotten a lot of mileage out of this parable because of that one verse rendered incorrectly or ambiguously (verse 9). Many commentarors have also tried to ‘squeeze good’ out of this verse that goes against Christ’s teachings, but a couple ‘took the road less traveled’.

Expositor’s Greek Testament

"Luke 16:9. ἐγὼ: the use of the emphatic pronoun seems to involve that here begins the comment of Jesus on the parable, Luke 16:8 being spoken by the master and a part of the parable.

But J. Weiss (in Meyer) views this verse as a second application put into the mouth of Jesus, but not spoken by Him, having for its author the compiler from whom Luke borrowed (Feine’s Vork. Lukas)."

So, the easist way to make sense of it might be to consider verses 16:8-9 as both being spoken by the ‘lord/master’ of the business.

8 And the lord/master commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser [more shrewd, not Wisdom] than the children of light [the Chosen of Israel].

9 And I (the lord/master) say unto you [the Israelites], Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail [to obey the Law], they may receive you into everlasting habitations [Edit: chg’d ‘hell’ to ‘of Shadow’.]

10 [Then Jesus said,] He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

((If the manager had been a true Christian, he would have taken care of the riches of the unjust master as if they were his own. Not coveted and stolen from him - twice.))

I’m beginning to lean more toward J. Weiss’ assesstment rather than Bullinger’s which turns v. 9 into a sarcastic question by Jesus. Bullinger’s way can work, but the other seems, to me, to be the most apparent source of the conflict.


#10

Cant serve God and mammon, but it seems the mammon will try to rule over us if we want it to or not.

We got to pay the bills, pay the rent or mortgage, support our kids, pay for our cars and put fuel in them, feed and clothe ourselves. And it can be quite a distraction, alot of our attention can go into striving after these things and we can forget whats the most important things to strive after.

Iv been having a hard time lately because things havnt seemed to be working out for me financially. Or worldly ambitions like sports and business ventures just seem to be getting no nowhere. When i try to go after some sort of financial gain or ambition theres all these roadblocks in place and distractions and this unseen force that is trying to tackle me to the ground. So i get nowhere with them. I seem to lack the strength to push through…

But ahh I think God maybe is just trying to keep me on the right track.
Im finding if i be selfless and just give to charity and dont think about how i will get by without the money, the money just comes to me, one way or another.
It seems to be when i start witholding funds for charitable purposes, that i start to go under finacially and think this isnt working out. So i know it probably sounds weird to some people but for me the solution for not having enough money is to give more. Especially to the poor.


#11

Luke 16.9 Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

Jesus actually explains what this parable means in the verse above.

I still find this parable difficult, because the manager was so dishonest.But at least in the end he decided to help others, rather than just himself and that is central to Jesus’s message, share your wealth.

I guess the master could be an allegory for the world, and all the things that God provides mankind. Some people waste and some hoard, but it is best to share and think of our fellow human beings when we have extra goods and money. You can’t take it with you!


#12

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