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Jehovah’s Witnesses

English
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

According to Luke 16:1-31

16  Then he also said to the disciples: “A rich man had a steward+ who was accused of handling his goods wastefully.  So he called him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Hand in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer manage the house.’  Then the steward said to himself, ‘What am I to do, seeing that my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg.  Ah! I know what I will do, so that when I am removed from the stewardship, people will welcome me into their homes.’  And calling to him each one of his master’s debtors, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’  He replied, ‘A hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take back your written agreement and sit down and quickly write 50.’  Next, he said to another one, ‘Now you, how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred large measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take back your written agreement and write 80.’  And his master commended the steward, though unrighteous, because he acted with practical wisdom; for the sons of this system of things are wiser in a practical way toward their own generation than the sons of the light+ are.  “Also, I say to you: Make friends for yourselves by means of the unrighteous riches,+ so that when such fail, they may receive you into the everlasting dwelling places.+ 10  The person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and the person unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much. 11  Therefore, if you have not proved yourselves faithful in connection with the unrighteous riches, who will entrust you with what is true? 12  And if you have not proved yourselves faithful in connection with what belongs to another, who will give you something for yourselves?*+ 13  No servant can be a slave to two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves to God and to Riches.”+ 14  Now the Pharisees, who were money lovers, were listening to all these things, and they began to sneer at him.+ 15  So he said to them: “You are those who declare yourselves righteous before men,+ but God knows your hearts.+ For what is considered exalted by men is a disgusting thing in God’s sight.+ 16  “The Law and the Prophets were until John. From then on, the Kingdom of God is being declared as good news, and every sort of person is pressing forward toward it.+ 17  Indeed, it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to go unfulfilled.+ 18  “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and whoever marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.+ 19  “There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and linen,+ enjoying himself day after day with magnificence. 20  But a beggar named Lazʹa·rus used to be put at his gate, covered with ulcers 21  and desiring to be filled with the things dropping from the table of the rich man. Yes, even the dogs would come and lick his ulcers. 22  Now in the course of time, the beggar died and was carried off by the angels to Abraham’s side. “Also, the rich man died and was buried. 23  And in the Grave he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and he saw Abraham from afar and Lazʹa·rus by his side. 24  So he called and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazʹa·rus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this blazing fire.’ 25  But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you had your fill of good things in your lifetime, but Lazʹa·rus for his part received bad things. Now, however, he is being comforted here, but you are in anguish.+ 26  And besides all these things, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to go over from here to you cannot, neither may people cross over from there to us.’ 27  Then he said, ‘That being so, I ask you, father, to send him to the house of my father, 28  for I have five brothers, in order that he may give them a thorough witness so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29  But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to these.’+ 30  Then he said, ‘No, indeed, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31  But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses+ and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’”

Footnotes

Or “what is your own.”

Study Notes

steward: Or “house manager; house administrator.” The Greek word oi·ko·noʹmos refers to a person placed over servants, though he himself is a servant. In ancient times, such a position was often filled by a faithful slave who was placed in charge of his master’s affairs. Therefore, it was a position of great trust. Abraham’s servant “who was managing all [Abraham] had” was such a steward, or household manager. (Ge 24:2) This was also true of Joseph, as described at Ge 39:4. The “steward” in Jesus’ illustration is referred to in the singular, but this does not necessarily mean that the steward represented only one particular person. The Scriptures contain examples of a singular noun referring to a collective group, such as when Jehovah addressed the collective group of the Israelite nation and told them: “You are my witnesses [plural], . . . yes, my servant [singular] whom I have chosen.” (Isa 43:10) Similarly, this illustration refers to a composite steward. In the parallel illustration at Mt 24:45, this steward is called “the faithful and discreet slave.”

steward: Or “house manager; house administrator.”—See study note on Lu 12:42.

measures: Or “bath measures.” The Greek word baʹtos is equated with the Hebrew bath measure by some scholars. Based on jar fragments bearing the designation “bath” in ancient Hebrew characters, the capacity of the bath measure is reckoned at approximately 22 L (5.81 gal).—See Glossary, “Bath,” and App. B14.

measures: Or “bath measures.” The Greek word baʹtos is equated with the Hebrew bath measure by some scholars. Based on jar fragments bearing the designation “bath” in ancient Hebrew characters, the capacity of the bath measure is reckoned at approximately 22 L (5.81 gal).—See Glossary, “Bath,” and App. B14.

large measures: Or “cor measures.” The Greek word koʹros is equated by some scholars with the Hebrew cor measure that contained ten bath measures. With the bath measure reckoned at 22 L (20 dry qt), the cor measure equals 220 L (200 dry qt).—See study note on Lu 16:6; Glossary, “Bath,” “Cor”; and App. B14.

discreet: The Greek word used here conveys the idea of understanding associated with insight, forethought, discernment, prudence, and wisdom in a practical sense. The same Greek word is used at Mt 7:24 and 25:2, 4, 8, 9. The Septuagint uses this word at Ge 41:33, 39 regarding Joseph.

the discreet one: Or “the wise one.” The Greek adjective phroʹni·mos used here conveys the idea of understanding associated with insight, forethought, discernment, prudence, and wisdom in a practical sense. Luke uses a form of the same Greek word at Lu 16:8, where it is rendered “wiser in a practical way.” The same Greek word is used at Mt 7:24; 25:2, 4, 8, 9. The Septuagint uses this word at Ge 41:33, 39 regarding Joseph.

acted with practical wisdom: Or “acted shrewdly (discreetly).” The Greek word phro·niʹmos is here rendered “with practical wisdom.” Forms of the related adjective are rendered wiser in a practical way later in this verse and “discreet” at Mt 7:24; 24:45; 25:2; and Lu 12:42.—See study notes on Mt 24:45; Lu 12:42.

this system of things: The Greek word ai·onʹ, having the basic meaning “age,” can refer to a state of affairs or to features that distinguish a certain period of time, epoch, or age. In this context, it refers to the present unrighteous system of things and a worldly way of life.—See Glossary, “System(s) of things.”

Riches: The Greek word ma·mo·nasʹ (of Semitic origin), traditionally translated “Mammon,” can also be rendered “Money.” “Riches” is here personified as a master, or a kind of false god, though there is no conclusive proof that the word was ever used as the name of a specific deity.

friends: That is, friends in heaven, Jehovah God and Jesus Christ, the only ones who can receive others into “everlasting dwelling places.”

the unrighteous riches: Lit., “the mammon of the unrighteousness.” The Greek word ma·mo·nasʹ (of Semitic origin), traditionally translated “mammon,” is generally understood to denote money or riches. (See study note on Mt 6:24.) Jesus evidently viewed this type of riches as unrighteous because they are under the control of sinful humans, they normally serve selfish ends, and they are often acquired by means of unrighteous actions. The possession of or desire for material riches can also lead to lawless acts. Literal riches can lose their value, so a person having such riches should not put his trust in them. (1Ti 6:9, 10, 17-19) Rather, he should use them to make friends with Jehovah and Jesus, who can receive a person into the everlasting dwelling places.

everlasting dwelling places: Lit., “everlasting tents.” Evidently referring to perfect dwelling places in the everlasting new world, whether this be in the heavenly Kingdom with Jesus Christ or on the Paradise earth under that Kingdom’s rule.

hate: In the Bible, the term “hate” has several shades of meaning. It may denote a feeling of hostility that is motivated by malice, prompting someone to harm others. Or it may refer to an intense feeling of dislike for or strong aversion to someone or something, thus causing a person to avoid having anything to do with that person or thing. Or the term may simply mean to love to a lesser degree. For example, when Jacob is said to have “hated” Leah and loved Rachel, the meaning is that he loved Leah less than he loved Rachel (Ge 29:31, ftn.; De 21:15, ftn.), and the term is used in this sense in other ancient Jewish literature. Therefore, Jesus did not mean that his followers were to feel hostility or loathing toward their families and toward themselves, as this would contradict the rest of the Scriptures. (Compare Mr 12:29-31; Eph 5:28, 29, 33.) In this context, the term “hate” could be rendered “love to a lesser degree.”

hate: That is, be less devoted to.—See study note on Lu 14:26.

be slaves: The Greek verb refers to working as a slave, that is, someone owned by only one master. Jesus was here stating that a Christian cannot give God the exclusive devotion that He deserves and at the same time be devoted to gathering material possessions.

Riches: The Greek word ma·mo·nasʹ (of Semitic origin), traditionally translated “Mammon,” can also be rendered “Money.” “Riches” is here personified as a master, or a kind of false god, though there is no conclusive proof that the word was ever used as the name of a specific deity.

the Prophets and the Law: The reversal of the usual order, “the Law and the Prophets” (Mt 5:17; 7:12; 22:40; Lu 16:16), occurs only here. The general meaning is evidently the same (see study note on Mt 5:17), although the prophetic aspect of the Scriptures seems to be given more emphasis here. Even the Law is said to have prophesied, emphasizing its prophetic character.

The Law and the Prophets: “The Law” refers to the Bible books of Genesis through Deuteronomy. “The Prophets” refers to the prophetic books of the Hebrew Scriptures. However, when these terms are mentioned together, the expression could be understood to include the entire Hebrew Scriptures.—Mt 5:17; 7:12; 22:40; see study note on Mt 11:13.

pressing forward: The Greek word used here conveys the basic idea of forceful action or endeavor. Some Bible translators have understood this in a negative sense (that of acting with or suffering violence), but the context, the Kingdom of God is being declared as good news, makes it reasonable to understand the term in the positive sense of “going after something with enthusiasm; seeking fervently.” These words evidently describe the forceful actions or endeavors of those who responded to the preaching of the good news about God’s Kingdom, which put them in line to become prospective members of that Kingdom.

one stroke of a letter: Certain Hebrew characters featured a tiny stroke that differentiated one letter from another. Jesus’ hyperbole thus emphasized that God’s Word would be fulfilled down to the smallest detail.

one stroke of a letter: In the Hebrew alphabet current in Jesus’ day, certain characters featured a tiny stroke that differentiated one letter from another. Jesus’ hyperbole thus emphasized that God’s Word would be fulfilled down to the smallest detail.—See study note on Mt 5:18.

sexual immorality: The Greek word por·neiʹa is a general term for all sexual intercourse that is unlawful according to the Bible. It includes adultery, prostitution, sexual relations between unmarried individuals, homosexuality, and bestiality.—See Glossary.

commit adultery: That is, marital sexual unfaithfulness. The Greek verb moi·kheuʹo is used in this quote from Ex 20:14 and De 5:18, where the corresponding Hebrew verb na·ʼaphʹ is found. In the Bible, adultery refers to voluntary acts of “sexual immorality” between a married person and someone who is not his or her mate. (Compare the study note on Mt 5:32, where the term “sexual immorality,” rendered from the Greek word por·neiʹa, is discussed.) During the time when the Mosaic Law was valid, having voluntary sexual relations with another man’s wife or fiancée was considered to be adultery.

commits adultery against her: Jesus here rejects the prevailing Rabbinic teaching that allowed men to divorce their wives “on every sort of grounds.” (Mt 19:3, 9) The concept of committing adultery against his wife was alien to most Jews. Their rabbis taught that a husband could never commit adultery against his wife—only a woman could be unfaithful. By putting the husband under the same moral obligation as the wife, Jesus dignifies women and elevates their status.

sexual immorality: The Greek word por·neiʹa is a general term for all sexual intercourse that is unlawful according to the Bible. It includes adultery, prostitution, sexual relations between unmarried individuals, homosexuality, and bestiality.—See Glossary.

commits adultery: The Greek verb moi·kheuʹo refers to committing marital sexual unfaithfulness. In the Bible, adultery refers to voluntary acts of “sexual immorality” between a married person and someone who is not his or her mate. (Compare the study note on Mt 5:32, where the term “sexual immorality,” rendered from the Greek por·neiʹa, is discussed.) During the time when the Mosaic Law was valid, having sexual relations with another man’s wife or fiancée was considered to be adultery.—See study notes on Mt 5:27; Mr 10:11.

a woman divorced: That is, a woman divorced except on account of sexual immorality.—See study note on Mt 5:32.

those conscious of their spiritual need: The Greek expression rendered “those conscious,” literally, “those who are poor (needy; destitute; beggars),” in this context is used about those who have a need and are intensely aware of it. The same word is used in reference to the “beggar” Lazarus at Lu 16:20, 22. The Greek phrase that some translations render those who are “poor in spirit” conveys the idea of people who are painfully aware of their spiritual poverty and of their need for God.

a beggar: Or “a poor man.” The Greek word can refer to one who is very poor, or destitute. The use of this word provides a stark contrast to the rich man in Jesus’ illustration. It is used in a figurative sense at Mt 5:3 in the phrase rendered “those conscious of their spiritual need,” literally, “those who are poor (needy; destitute; beggars) as to the spirit,” conveying the idea of people who are painfully aware of their spiritual poverty and of their need for God.—See study note on Mt 5:3.

Lazarus: Probably the Greek form of the Hebrew name Eleazar, meaning “God Has Helped.”

give what is holy to dogs . . . throw your pearls before swine: According to the Mosaic Law, pigs and dogs were unclean. (Le 11:7, 27) It was permissible to throw to dogs the flesh of an animal killed by a wild beast. (Ex 22:31) But Jewish tradition forbade giving to dogs “holy flesh,” that is, meat of animal sacrifices. At Mt 7:6, the expressions “dogs” and “swine” are used figuratively of people who do not value spiritual treasures. Just as swine have no appreciation of the value of pearls, individuals who do not value spiritual treasures may abuse the one sharing them.

children . . . little dogs: Since dogs were unclean according to the Mosaic Law, the Scriptures often use the term in a derogatory sense. (Le 11:27; Mt 7:6; Php 3:2; Re 22:15) However, in both Mark’s account (7:27) and Matthew’s account of Jesus’ conversation, the diminutive form of the term meaning “little dog” or “house dog” is used, softening the comparison. Perhaps this indicates that Jesus was suggesting an affectionate term for household pets in non-Jewish homes. By likening Israelites to “children” and non-Jews to “little dogs,” Jesus evidently wanted to indicate an order of priority. In a household that had both children and dogs, the children would be fed first.

dogs: According to the Mosaic Law, dogs were unclean. (Le 11:27) The dogs that licked the beggar’s sores were apparently scavengers that roamed the streets. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the term “dog” is often used in a derogatory sense. (De 23:18, ftn; 1Sa 17:43; 24:14; 2Sa 9:8; 2Ki 8:13; Pr 26:11) At Mt 7:6, the expression “dogs” is figuratively used of people who do not value spiritual treasures. Because dogs were unclean animals to the Jews and thus have an unfavorable figurative sense in the Bible, the mention of “dogs” in this illustration clearly indicates the low state of the beggar named Lazarus.—See study notes on Mt 7:6; 15:26.

to Abraham’s side: Lit., “to the bosom of Abraham.” The bosom position was one of special favor and close fellowship. (See study note on Joh 1:18.) This figure of speech is drawn from the practice of reclining on couches at meals in such a way that one would lean back on the bosom, or chest, of a special friend.—Joh 13:23-25.

to Abraham’s side: Lit., “to the bosom of Abraham.” The bosom position was one of special favor and close fellowship. (See study note on Joh 1:18.) This figure of speech is drawn from the practice of reclining on couches at meals in such a way that one would lean back on the bosom, or chest, of a special friend.—Joh 13:23-25.

the Grave: Or “Hades,” that is, the common grave of mankind.—See Glossary, “Grave.”

by his side: Lit., “in his bosom.”—See study note on Lu 16:22.

They have Moses and the Prophets: That is, the writings of Moses and the prophets, which were read every Sabbath in the synagogues (Ac 15:21) and should have led them to accept Jesus as God’s Messiah and King.

Media

Written Agreement Acknowledging a Debt
Written Agreement Acknowledging a Debt

In his parable of the unrighteous steward, Jesus referred to the practice of recording business transactions in a written agreement. (Lu 16:6, 7) The papyrus document shown here is written in Aramaic and is dated to about 55 C.E. It was found in a cave located in Wadi Murabbaat, a dry riverbed in the Judean Desert. The document describes the debt and the terms of repayment agreed to by Absalom son of Hanin and Zechariah son of Jehohanan. This type of document may have come to mind when people heard Jesus’ illustration.

Purple Dyes
Purple Dyes

Purple dye was obtained from shellfish or mollusks such as the Murex trunculus (left) and the Murex brandaris (right) shown here. The shells measure from 5 to 8 cm (2 to 3 in.) in length. In the neck of the flesh of these creatures is a small gland containing only a single drop of fluid, called the flower. This fluid initially has the appearance and consistency of cream, but on exposure to air and light, it gradually changes to a deep violet or reddish-purple color. These shellfish are found along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, and the shades of color acquired from them vary according to their location. The larger specimens were broken open individually, and the precious fluid was carefully removed, whereas the smaller ones were crushed in mortars. The amount of fluid acquired from each shellfish was small, so accumulating a large amount was a costly process. Hence, this dye was expensive, and garments dyed purple became the mark of wealthy people or those in high station.—Es 8:15.