Luke 16:15
And he said to them, You are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knows your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Ye are they which justify yourselves before men.—The character described is portrayed afterwards more fully in the parable of Luke 18:9-14. The word there used, “this man went down to his house justified rather than the other,” is obviously a reference to what is reported here. They forgot, in their self-righteousness and self-vindication, that they stood before God as the Searcher of all hearts.

That which is highly esteemed among men . . .—Literally, that which is high, or lifted up, among men. The word is at once wider and more vivid than the English.

Abomination . . .—The word is the same as in “the abomination of desolation” (Matthew 24:15), that which causes physically nausea and loathing. The word seems chosen as the expression of a divine scorn and indignation, which answered, in part, to their “derision,” and was its natural result. (Comp. the bold language of Psalm 2:4, Proverbs 1:26, Revelation 3:16.)

16:13-18 To this parable our Lord added a solemn warning. Ye cannot serve God and the world, so divided are the two interests. When our Lord spoke thus, the covetous Pharisees treated his instructions with contempt. But he warned them, that what they contended for as the law, was a wresting of its meaning: this our Lord showed in a case respecting divorce. There are many covetous sticklers for the forms of godliness, who are the bitterest enemies to its power, and try to set others against the truth.They derided him - The fact that they were "covetous" is here stated as the reason why they derided him, or, as it is literally, "they turned up the nose at him." They contemned or despised the doctrine which he had laid down, probably because it showed them that with their love of money they could not be the true friends of God, or that their profession of religion was really false and hollow. They were "attempting" to serve God and mammon, and they, therefore, looked upon his doctrine with contempt and scorn.

Justify yourselves - "Attempt" to appear just; or; you aim to appear righteous in the sight of people, and do not regard the heart.

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. The word used here is the one that in the Old Testament is commonly given to "idols," and denotes God's "abhorrence" of such conduct. These words are to be applied "chiefly" to what Jesus was discoursing about. There are many things esteemed among people which are "not" abomination in the sight of God; as, for example, truth, parental and filial affection, industry, etc. But many things, much sought and admired, "are" hateful in his sight. The love of wealth and show, ambition and pride, frivolous and splendid vices, and all the wickedness that people contrive to "gild" and to make appear like virtue - external acts that "appear" well while the heart is evil - are abominable in the sight of God, and "should be" in the sight of people. Compare Luke 18:11-14; 1 Samuel 16:7.

15. justify yourselves—make a show of righteousness.

highly esteemed among men—generally carried away by plausible appearances. (See 1Sa 16:7; and Lu 14:11).

By justifying here is to be understood either an appearing before men as just, and strict observers of the law, or a predicating of themselves as just: You (saith our Saviour) make a fine show, and great brags amongst men; but God’s eye goeth deeper, he knoweth the heart, what pride, and covetousness, and hypocrisy lodge there. Men do not know your hearts, but God knoweth them. All is not gold by God’s touchstone that glitters in man’s eyes. Nay, many things which are highly esteemed amongst men, as matters of great devotion and piety and merit, and which they applaud others for, are in the sight of God no better than abominations. This highly obliges all not to make their estimate of things, from the value and estimate which men put upon them; not every thing, but many things which are highly esteemed amongst men are abomination in the sight of God. And he said unto them,.... That is, Jesus said unto them, as the Syriac and Persic versions express it: "ye are they which justify yourselves before men": from the sins of injustice, unfaithfulness, covetousness, and all others; and would be thought, and appear to be righteous; but it is only in the sight of men, who can only see the outside of things, and judge thereby:

but God knoweth your hearts; and what is in them, the deceitfulness, hypocrisy, covetousness, and cruelty of them, which are hid from the eyes of men:

for that which is highly esteemed among men; or what is high in the account and esteem of men, as the outward appearance of these men for morality, religion, and holiness; their zeal for the ceremonies of the law, and the traditions of the elders:

is abomination in the sight of God; who knew full well from what principles, and with what views they acted, to gain popular applause, and amass riches to themselves, without any concern for the glory of God, and the good of men: see Isaiah 65:5.

{4} 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.

(4) Our sins are not hidden to God, although they may be hidden to men, yea although they may be hidden to those who committed them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 16:15. ἐνώπιον τ. .: cf. the statements in Sermon on Mount (Matthew 6) and in Matthew 23:5.—ὅτι, etc.: a strong statement, but broadly true; conventional moral judgments are very often the reverse of the real truth: the conventionally high, estimable, really the low; the conventionally base the truly noble.15. Ye are they which justify yourselves before men] Luke 7:39, Luke 15:29; Matthew 23:25, &c.

God knoweth your hearts
] Hence God is called “a heart-knower” in Acts 15:8; and “in thy sight shall no man living be justified,” Psalm 143:2. There is perhaps a reference to 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9.

highly esteemed] Rather, lofty.

abomination] Their ‘derision’ might terribly rebound on themselves. Psalm 2:4.Luke 16:15. Οἱ δικαιοῦντεςἀνθρώπων) Ye do some things that are just, and thence ye suppose yourselves to be just, ye feign that ye are so, and are regarded as such. The antithesis is γινώσκει, knoweth.—καρδίας, hearts) The heart is the seat of justice and of injustice. [This axiom is most powerfully effectual both in convicting the bad and confirming the sincere.—V. g.]—τὸ ἐν ἀνθρώποις ὑψηλὸν, that which is lofty [highly-esteemed] among men) What seems to men among their fellow-men the very height of justice (righteousness). Comp. ch. Luke 18:14 [πᾶς ὁ ὑψῶν ἑαυτὸν], “every one that exalteth himself.” This is the connection of the subsequent words, Justification of one’s self before men, and loftiness of heart, nourish covetousness, and deride heavenly simplicity and singleness of heart, Luke 16:15, and despise the Gospel [“the Kingdom of God is preached,” ἐυαγγελίζεται], Luke 16:16, and disregard the law, Luke 16:17, a fact (their disregard of the law) which is shown by an instance of the violation of the law most necessary to be spoken to the Pharisees [who were given to adultery], Luke 16:18. The narrative concerning the rich man and Lazarus comprises all these points.Verse 15. - And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts. The part the Pharisees played in public imposed upon the people. The great influence which they exercised was in great measure due to the respect generally felt for their strict and religious lives. The hypocrisy of this famous sect - it was probably in many cases unconscious hypocrisy - and the false colouring which it gave religion, contributed not a little to the state of things which led to the final disruption of the Jewish nation as a nation some forty years after these words were spoken. It is only a student of the Talmud who can form any notion of the Pharisee mind; a superficial study even of parts of this strange, mighty collection will show why our Lord was so seemingly hard in his rebukes of these often earnest and religious men; it will show, too, why the same Divine Master at times seemed to change his words of bitter wrath into accents of the tenderest sympathy and love. For that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. Especially alluding to that haughty pride of men in wealth and money, which, after all, is not theirs. Abomination

See on Matthew 24:15.

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