on Luke 16 :1
A steward - Οικονομος, from οικος, a house, or οικια, a family, and νεμω, I administer; one who superintends domestic concerns, and ministers to the support of the family, having the products of the field, business, etc., put into his hands for this very purpose. See on Luke 8:3 (note).
There is a parable very like this in Rab. Dav. Kimchi's comment on Isaiah, Isaiah 40:21 : "The whole world may be considered as a house builded up: heaven is its roof; the stars its lamps; and the fruits of the earth, the table spread. The owner and builder of this house is the holy blessed God; and man is the steward, into whose hands all the business of the house is committed. If he considers in his heart that the master of the house is always over him, and keeps his eye upon his work; and if, in consequence, he act wisely, he shall find favor in the eyes of the master of the house: but if the master find wickedness in him, he will remove him, מן יפקדתו min pakidato, from his Stewardship. The foolish steward doth not think of this: for as his eyes do not see the master of the house, he saith in his heart, 'I will eat and drink what I find in this house, and will take my pleasure in it; nor shall I be careful whether there be a Lord over this house or not.' When the Lord of the house marks this, he will come and expel him from the house, speedily and with great anger. Therefore it is written, He bringeth the princes to nothing." As is usual, our Lord has greatly improved this parable, and made it in every circumstance more striking and impressive. Both in the Jewish and Christian edition, it has great beauties.
Wasted his goods - Had been profuse and profligate; and had embezzled his master's substance.
on Luke 16 :1
His disciples - The word "disciples," here, is not to be restricted to the twelve apostles or to the seventy. The parable appears to have been addressed to all the professed followers of the Saviour who were present when it was delivered. It is connected with that in the preceding chapter. Jesus had there been discoursing with the scribes and Pharisees, and vindicating his conduct in receiving kindly publicans and sinners. These "publicans and sinners" are here particularly referred to by the word "disciples." It was with reference to "them" that the whole discourse had arisen. After Jesus had shown the Pharisees, in the preceding chapter, the propriety of his conduct, it was natural that he should turn and address his disciples. Among them there might have been some who were wealthy. The "publicans" were engaged in receiving taxes, in collecting money, and their chief danger arose from that quarter - from covetousness or dishonesty.
Jesus always adapted his instructions to the circumstances of his hearers, and it was proper, therefore, that he should give "these disciples" instructions about their "special" duties and dangers. He related this parable, therefore, to show them "the danger of the love of money;" the guilt it would lead to Luke 16:1; the perplexities and shifts to which it would drive a man when once he had been dishonest Luke 16:3-7; the necessity of using money aright, since it was their chief business Luke 16:9; and the fact that if they would serve God aright they must give up supreme attachment to money Luke 16:13; and that the first duty of religion demanded that they should resolve to serve God, and be honest in the use of the wealth intrusted to them. This parable has given great perplexity, and many ways have been devised to explain it. The above solution is the most simple of any; and if these plain principles are kept in view, it will not be difficult to give a consistent explanation of its particular parts. It should be borne in mind, however, that in this, as well as in other parables, we are not to endeavor to spiritualize every circumstance or allusion. We are to keep in view the great moral truth taught in it, that we cannot serve God and mammon, and that all attempts to do this will involve us in difficulty and sin.
A steward - One who has charge of the affairs of a family or household; whose duty it is to provide for the family, to purchase provisions, etc. This is, of course, an office of trust and confidence. It affords great opportunity for dishonesty and waste, and for embezzling property. The master's eye cannot always be on the steward, and he may, therefore, squander the property, or hoard it up for his own use. It was an office commonly conferred on a slave as a reward for fidelity, and of course was given to him that, in long service, had shown himself most trustworthy. By the "rich man," here, is doubtless represented God. By the "steward," those who are his professed followers, particularly the "publicans" who were with the Saviour, and whose chief danger arose from the temptations to the improper use of the money intrusted to them.
Was accused - Complaint was made.
Had wasted - Had squandered or scattered it; had not been prudent and saving.
on Luke 16 :1
16:1 And he said also to his disciples - Not only to the scribes and Pharisees to whom he had hitherto been speaking, but to all the younger as well as the elder brethren: to the returning prodigals who were now his disciples. A certain rich man had a steward - Christ here teaches all that are now in favour with God, particularly pardoned penitents, to behave wisely in what is committed to them.