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committing many more. One lie will demand many more to make it appear like the truth; and one act of cheating will demand many more to avoid detection. The beginning of sin is like the letting out of waters; and no man knows, if he indulges in one sin, where it will end.
5 So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord ?
Called every one. As he was steward, he had the management of all the affairs, and of course debts were to be paid to him. * Debtors.' Those who owed his master, or perhaps tenants ; those who rented land of his master.
6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
An hundred measures. The measure here mentioned is the bath, which contained about seven gallons and a half of our measure. 'Oil.' Oil of olives, or sweet oil. It was much used for lamps, as an article of food, Ex. xxix. 2, and also for anointing, and of course as an article of commerce, 1 Kings v. 11. These were persons, doubtless, who had rented land of the rich man, and who were to give him a certain proportion of the produce. “Thy bill.' The contract or obligation. It was probably written as a promise by the debtor, and signed by the steward, and thus became binding. The bill or contract was in the hands of the steward, and he gave it back to him to write a new one. • Quickly.' He supposed that his master would soon remove him, and he was therefore in haste to have all things secure beforehand.
7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.
The measure here mentioned was ten times as great as the former, and contained about two bushels, or seventy-five gallons and a half,
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.
* The lord commended.' These are not the words of Jesus, as commending him, but a part of the narrative or parable. “The unjust steward.'' It is not said that his master commended him
because he was unjust, but because he was wise. This is the only thing in his conduct of which there is any approbation expressed, and this approbation was expressed by his master. *The children of this world.' Those who are devoted to this world, who live for this world only, and who are careful only to obtain property, and to provide for their temporal necessities. See Matt. xiii. 22; 2 Tim iv, 10. 'Are wiser.' More prudent, cunning, and anxious about their particular business. In their generation. That is, in their manner of living, or in managing their affairs. The word 'generation' sometimes means manner of life, Gen, vi. 9; xxxvii. 2. They turn their connections with others to good account, and make it subserve their worldly interests, while christians often fail to use the world in such a manner as to subserve their spiritual interests. Children of light.' Those who have been enlightened from above-who are christians. This may be considered as the application of the parable. It does not mean that it is more wise to be a worldly man than to be a child of light, but that those who are worldly show much prudence in providing for themselves, seize occasions for making good bai gains, are active and industrious, and exert themselves to the utinost to advance their interests : while christians often suffer opportunities of doing good to pass unimproved ; are less steady, firm, and anxious, about eternal things; and thus show less wisdom. 'Alas! this is too true; and we cannot but reflect here how different the world would be if all christians were as anxious, and diligent, and prudent, in religious matters, as others are in worldly things.
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.
'I say unto you.' 1, Jesus, say to you my disciples. “Make to yourselves friends. The steward had so managed his pecuniary affairs as to secure future comfort for himself; or so as to find friends that would take care of him beyond the time when he was put out of the office. So, says our Saviour to those who had property, use it so as to secure happiness and comfort beyond the time when you shall be rernoved from the present life. Have a reference, in the use of your money, to the future. Jesus, here, does not say that we should do it in the same way that the steward did, for that was unjust; but only that we should secure the result. This may be done by using our riches as we should do-that is, by employing them in works of mercy and benevolence, aiding the poor, contributing to the advance of the gospel, bestowing them where they will do good, and in such a manner that God will approve the deed, and will bless us for it. Commonly, riches are a hinderance to piety. But every thing may, by a proper use, be made to contribute to our wellare in heaven.
Health, wealth, talents, and influence, may be so employed, and this is what our Saviour doubtless means here. 'Of the.'' By means of the mammon. “Mammon. A Syriac word meaning riches. It is used also as an idol, the god of riches. 'Of unrighteousness. These words are a Hebrew expr unrighteous mammon--the noun being used for an adjective, as is common in the New Testament. The word 'unrighteous,' here, stands opposed to the true riches,' in ver. 11, and means deceitful, false, not to be trusted. It has this meaning often. See 1 Tim. vi. 17. Luke xii. 33. Matt. vi. 19; xix. 21. It does not signify, therefore, that they had acquired their property unjustly, but that property was deceitful, and not to be trusted. We cannot calculate on its continuance. It may give us support or comfort now, but it may be soon removed, or we taken from it; and we should, therefore, so use it as to derive benefit from it hereafter, 'When ye fail.' When ye are left, or when ye die, It refers to death, as if God then discharged his people, or took them from their stewardship, and called them to account. 'They may receive you. This is a form of expression denoting merely that you may be received. The plural form is used because it was used in the corresponding place in the parable, ver. 4. The direction is, so to use our worldly goods as that we may be received into heaven when we die. 'Everlasting habitations.' Heaven, the eternal home of the righteous, where all their wants will be supplied, and there can be no more anxiety, and no more removal from enjoyments, 2 Cor. v. 1.
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.
'He that is faithful.' This is a maxim that will almost universally hold true. A man that shows fidelity in small matters will also in large; and he that will cheat and defraud in small things will also in those of more trust and responsibility.
11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches
“Who will commit,' &c. Men who are dishonest and worldly, and who do not employ the deceitful mammon as they ought, cannot expect to grow in grace. God does not confer grace upon them, and their being unfaithful in earthly matters is as if they would be in much greater affairs, and would likewise misimprove the true riches. "True riches.' The graces of the gospel, the influences of the Spirit, eternal life, or religion. The riches of this world are false, deceitful, not to be trusted, ver. 9; the treasures of heaven are true, faithful, never failing, Matt. vi. 19, 20
12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?
Another man's. The word 'man's' is not in the original. It is, ' If ye have been unfaithful managers for another. It refers, doubtless, to God. The wealth of the world is his. It is committed to us as his stewards; and if, while intrusted with this, we are unfaithful, we cannot expect that he will confer on us the rewards of heaven. That which is your own. The riches of heaven, which, if once given to us, may be considered as ours—that is, it will be permanent, fixed, and will not be taken away as if at the pleasure of another. The meaning of the whole parable is, therefore, thus expressed: If we do not use the things of this world as we ought-with honesty, truth, wisdom, and integrity-we cannot have evidence of piety, and shall not be received into heaven. If we are true to that which is least, it is an evidence that we are the children of God, and he will commit to our trust that which is of infinite importance, even the eternal riches and glory of heaven.
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.
See Matt, vi, 24.
14 And the pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. 15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts : for that which is highly esteemed among men, is abomination in the sight of God.
“They derided him.' They ridiculed, or laughed at him. They were avaricious, and they ridiculed the doctrine that they ought to be benevolent with their property. “Justify yourselves.' Attempt to appear just. “That which is highly esteemed.' That is, mere external works, or actions performed merely to appear to be righteous. 'Is abomination. Is abominable, or hateful, There are many things esteemed among men which are not abomination in the sight of God; as truth, parental and filial affection, industry, &c. But many things, much sought and admired, are hateful in his sight. The love of wealth and show, ambition and pride, gay and splendid vices, and all the wickedness that men contrive to gild and to make appear like virtue, are abominable in the sight of God, and should be in the sight of men. Compare Luke xviii, 11-14. 1 Sam. xvi. 7.
16 The law and the prophets were until John : since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
See Matt. xi. 12–14. “Every man. Many men, or multitudes: meaning that it occupied general attention.
17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
See Matt. v. 18.
18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery : and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
See Matt. v. 32. These verses occur in Matthew in a different order, and it is not improbable that they were spoken by our Saviour at different times.
19 T There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
This narrative is to be considered as a parable, referring not to any particular case which had actually happened, but teaching that such cases might happen. The design of the parable was to impress all the truths he had just taught them more vividly on the mind, and to show the pharisees that with all their boasted righteousness, and external correctness of character, iney might be lost amidst all their wealth. Accordingly he speaks of no great fault in the rich man, no external degrading vice, no open breach of the law; but leaves us to infer, that the mere possession of wealth is dangerous to the soul; and that a man, surrounded with every temporal blessing, may perish for ever. •Clothed in purple. A purple robe or garment. This was an expensive as well as splendid colour, and was chiefly worn by princes, nobles, and those who were very wealthy. Compare Matt. xxvii. 28. Fine linen.' This linen was chiefly produced of the flax that grew on the banks of the Nile, in Egypt. Prov. vii. 16. Ezek. xxvii. 7. It was peculiarly soft and white, and was so expensive that it could be worn only by princes, by priests, or by those who were very rich. Gen. xli. 42. 1 Chron. xv. 27. Ex. xxvii. 5. “Fared sumptuously.' Feasted or lived in a splendid manner. 'Every day. Not merely occasionally, but constantly. This was a mark of great wealth, and in the view of the world, an evidence of great happiness.
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of sores, 21 And de