on Luke 16 :8
The lord commended - Viz. the master of this unjust steward. He spoke highly of the address and cunning of his iniquitous servant. He had, on his own principles, made a very prudent provision for his support; but his master no more approved of his conduct in this, than he did in his wasting his substance before. From the ambiguous and improper manner in which this is expressed in the common English translation, it has been supposed that our blessed Lord commended the conduct of this wicked man: but the word κυριος, there translated lord, simply means the master of the unjust steward.
The children of this world - Such as mind worldly things only, without regarding God or their souls. A phrase by which the Jews always designate the Gentiles.
Children of light - Such as are illuminated by the Spirit of God, and regard worldly things only as far as they may subserve the great purposes of their salvation, and become the instruments of good to others. But ordinarily the former evidence more carefulness and prudence, in providing for the support and comfort of this life, than the latter do in providing for another world.
on Luke 16 :8
The lord commended - Praised, or expressed admiration at his wisdom. These are not the words of Jesus, as commending him, but a part of the narrative or parable. His "master" commended him - saw that he was wise and considerate, though he was dishonest.
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." This passage cannot be brought, therefore, to prove that Jesus meant to commend his dishonesty. It was a commendation of his "shrewdness or forethought;" but the master could no more "approve" of his conduct as a moral act than he could the first act of cheating him.
The children of this world - Those who are "devoted" to this world; who live for this world only; who are careful only to obtain property, and to provide for their temporal necessities. It does not mean that they are especially wicked and profligate, but only that they are "worldly," and anxious about earthly things. See Matthew 13:22; 2 Timothy 4:10.
Are wiser - More prudent, cunning, and anxious about their particular business. They show more skill, study more plans, contrive more ways to provide for themselves, than the children of light do to promote the interests of religion.
In their generation - Some have thought that this means "in their manner of living, or in managing their affairs." The word "generation" sometimes denotes the manner of life, Genesis 6:9; Genesis 37:2. Others suppose that it means "toward or among the people of their own age." They are more prudent and wise than Christians in regard to the people of their own time; they turn their connection with them to good account, and make it subserve their worldly interests, while Christians fail much more 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 bargains; are active and industrious; try to turn everything to the best account, and thus exert themselves to the utmost 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.
on Luke 16 :8
16:8 And the lord commended the unjust steward - Namely, in this respect, because he had used timely precaution: so that though the dishonesty of such a servant be detestable, yet his foresight, care, and contrivance, about the interests of this life, deserve our imitation, with regard to the more important affairs of another. The children of this world - Those who seek no other portion than this world: Are wiser - Not absolutely, for they are, one and all, egregious fools; but they are more consistent with themselves; they are truer to their principles; they more steadily pursue their end; they are wiser in their generation - That is, in their own way, than the children of light - The children of God, whose light shines on their hearts.