Luke 16:19
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
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(19) There was a certain rich man . . .—Here, also, there is a certain appearance of abruptness. But the sneer of Luke 16:14 explains the sequence of thought. On the one side, among those who listened to our Lord, were the Pharisees, living in the love of money and of the enjoyments which money purchased; on the other, were the disciples, who had left all to follow their Master, poor with the poverty of beggars. The former had mocked at the counsel that they should make friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, who should receive them into everlasting habitations. They are now taught, and the disciples are taught also, what comes of the other friendship that men for the most part secure with money. It is clear that the section of Pharisees for whom the parable was specially designed, were such as those described as being “in king’s houses and in soft raiment, and living delicately” (see Notes on Matthew 11:8; Luke 7:25)—the scribes, i.e., who had attached themselves to the court of Herod Antipas, the Herodians, or those who, while differing from them politically, were ready to coalesce with them (Matthew 22:16; Mark 3:6), and reproduced their mode of life. In the rich man himself we find, generic as the description is, some features which must at least have reminded those who heard the parable, of the luxurious self-indulgence of the Tetrarch himself. There is the “purple garment,” rich with the dyes of Tyre, which was hardly worn, except by kings and princes and generals (see Notes on Matthew 27:28; Mark 15:17); the byssus, or fine linen of Egypt, coupled with purple in Revelation 18:12; Revelation 18:16, itself not unfrequently of the same colour. The “faring sumptuously” reminds us of the stately pomp of Herod’s feasts. (See Notes on Matthew 14:6; Mark 6:14; Mark 6:21, and the quotation from Persius cited in the latter.) If we assume that there is this sketch, as it were, of the Tetrarch’s character, it is obvious that the teaching of the parable receives a fresh significance. This, then, was what the scribes, even those that were not avowedly of the Herodian school, who should have been teachers of righteousness, were striving after. This was their highest ideal of happiness, and for this they were content to sacrifice their true calling here and their hopes of eternal life hereafter. It was meet that they should learn what was the outcome of such a life when it passed “behind the veil.” We may add, too, that this view enables us to trace a sequence of thought where all at first seems unconnected. The reference to the teaching of the scribes as to divorce (Luke 16:18), naturally suggested the most prominent and most recent instance in which their lax casuistry had shown itself most criminally compliant with the vices of an adulterous and incestuous prince.

Fared sumptuously.—More literally, was sumptuously merry. The word is the same as that in Luke 15:32, and we can hardly doubt that there is a designed contrast between the holy mirth and joy in the one case, and the ignoble revelry of the other. There was “good cheer” in each, but of how different a complexion!



Luke 16:19 - Luke 16:31

This, the sternest of Christ’s parables, must be closely connected with verses 13 and 14. Keeping them in view, its true purpose is plain. It is meant to rebuke, not the possession of wealth, but its heartless, selfish use. Christ never treats outward conditions as having the power of determining either character or destiny. What a man does with his conditions settles what he is and what becomes of him. Nor does the parable teach that the use of wealth is the only determining factor, but, as every parable must do, it has to isolate the lesson it teaches in order to burn it into the hearers.

There are three parts in the story-the conduct of the rich man, his fate, and the sufficiency of existing warnings to keep us from his sin and his end.

I. Properly speaking, we have here, not a parable-that is, a representation of physical facts which have to be translated into moral or religious truths-but an imaginary narrative, embodying a normal fact in a single case.

The rich man does not stand for something else, but is one of the class of which Jesus wishes to set forth the sin and fate. It is very striking that neither he nor the beggar is represented as acting, but each is simply described. The juxtaposition of the two figures carries the whole lesson.

It has sometimes been felt as a difficulty that the one is not said to have done anything bad, nor the other to have been devout or good; and some hasty readers have thought that Jesus was here teaching the communistic doctrine that wealth is sin, and that poverty is virtue. No such crude trash came from His lips. But He does teach that heartless wallowing in luxury, with naked, starving beggars at the gate, is sin which brings bitter retribution. The fact that the rich man does nothing is His condemnation. He was not damned because he had a purple robe and fine linen undergarments, nor because he had lived in abundance, and every meal had been a festival, but because, while so living, he utterly ignored Lazarus, and used his wealth only for his own gratification. Nothing more needs to be said about his character; the facts sufficiently show it.

Still less needs to be said about that of Lazarus. In this part of the narrative he comes into view simply as the means of bringing out the rich man’s heartlessness and self-indulgence. For the purposes of the narrative his disposition was immaterial; for it is not our duty to help only deserving or good people. Manhood and misery are enough to establish the right to sympathy and succour. There may be a hint of character in the name ‘Lazarus,’ which probably means ‘God is help.’ Since this is the only name in the parables, it is natural to give it significance, and it most likely suggests that the beggar clung to God as his stay. It may glance, too, at the riddle of life, which often seems to mock trust by continued trouble. Little outward sign had Lazarus of divine help, yet he did not cast away his confidence. No doubt, he sometimes got some crumbs from Dives’ table, but not from Dives. That the dogs licked his sores does not seem meant as either alleviation or aggravation, but simply as vividly describing his passive helplessness and utterly neglected condition. Neither he nor any one drove them off.

But the main point about him is that he was at Dives’ gate, and therefore thrust before Dives’ notice, and that he got no help. The rich man was not bound to go and hunt for poor people, but here was one pushed under his nose, as it were. Translate that into general expressions, and it means that we all have opportunities of beneficence laid in our paths, and that our guilt is heavy if we neglect these. ‘The poor ye have always with you.’ The guilt of selfish use of worldly possessions is equally great whatever is the amount of possessions. Doing nothing when Lazarus lies at our gate is doing great wickedness. These truths have a sharp edge for us as well as for the ‘Pharisees who were covetous’; and they are wofully forgotten by professing Christians.

II. In the second part of the narrative, our Lord follows the two, who had been so near each other and yet so separated, into the land beyond the grave.

It is to be especially noticed that, in doing so, He adopts the familiar Rabbinical teaching as to Hades. He does not thereby stamp these conceptions of the state of the dead with His assent; for the purpose of the narrative is not to reveal the secrets of that land, but to impress the truth of retribution for the sin in question. It would not be to a group of Pharisaic listeners that He would have unveiled that world.

He takes their own notions of it-angel bearers, Abraham’s bosom, the two divisions in Hades, the separation, and yet communication, between them. These are Rabbis’ fancies, not Christ’s revelations. The truths which He wished to force home lie in the highly imaginative conversation between the rich man and Abraham, which also has its likeness in many a Rabbinical legend.

The difference between the ends of the two men has been often noticed, and lessons, perhaps not altogether warranted, drawn from it. But it seems right to suppose that the omission of any notice of the beggar’s burial is meant to bring out that the neglect and pitilessness, which had let him die, left his corpse unburied. Perhaps the dogs that had licked his sores tore his flesh. A fine sight that would be from the rich man’s door! The latter had to die too, for all his purple, and to be swathed in less gorgeous robes. His funeral is mentioned, not only because pomp and ostentation went as far as they could with him, but to suggest that he had to leave them all behind. ‘His glory shall not descend after him.’

The terrible picture of the rich man’s torments solemnly warns us of the necessary end of a selfish life such as his. The soul that lives to itself does not find satisfaction even here; but, when all externals are left behind, it cannot but be in torture. That is not drapery. Character makes destiny, and to live to self is death. Observe, too, that the relative positions of Dives and Lazarus are reversed-the beggar being now the possessor of abundance and delights, while the rich man is the sufferer and the needy.

Further note that the latter now desires to have from the former the very help which in life he had not given him, and that the retribution for refusing succour here is its denial hereafter. There had been no sharing of ‘good things’ in the past life, but the rich man had asserted his exclusive rights to them. They had been ‘thy good things’ in a very sinful sense, and Lazarus had bean left to carry his evil things alone. There shall be no communication of good now. Earth was the place for mutual help and impartation. That world affords no scope for it; for there men reap what they have sown, and each character has to bear its own burden.

Finally, the ineffaceableness of distinctions of character, and therefore of destiny, is set forth by the solemn image of the great gulf which cannot be crossed. It is indeed to be remembered that our Lord is speaking of ‘the intermediate state,’ before resurrection and final judgment, and that, as already remarked, the intention of the narrative is not to reveal the mysteries of the final state. But still the impression left by the whole is that life here determines life hereafter, and that character, once set and hardened here, cannot be cast into the melting-pot and remoulded there.

III. The last part of the narrative teaches that the fatal sin of heartless selfishness is inexcusable.

The rich man’s thought for his brethren was quite as much an excuse for himself. He thought that, if he had only known, things would have been different. He shifts blame from himself on to the insufficiency of the warnings given him. And the two answers put into Abraham’s mouth teach the sufficiency of ‘Moses and the prophets,’ little as these say about the future, and the impossibility of compelling men to listen to a divine message to which they do not wish to listen.

The fault lies, not in the deficiency of the warnings, but in the aversion of the will. No matter whether it is Moses or a spirit from Hades who speaks, if men do not wish to hear, they will not hear. They will not be persuaded-for persuasion has as much, or more, to do with the heart and inclination than with the head. We have as much witness from heaven as we need. The worst man knows more of duty than the best man does. Dives is in torments because he lived for self; and he lived for self, not because he did not know that it was wrong, but because he did not choose to do what he knew to be right.

Luke 16:19. There was a certain rich man, &c. — Our Lord, in the last paragraph, having exposed those parts of the character of the Pharisees which were most odious in the sight of God, and the roots from whence their other wickedness sprang, namely, their hypocrisy and worldly spirit, proceeds now sharply to rebuke their voluptuousness and love of pleasure, and set before them the consequences thereof in a most awakening parable, in which he unveils before their sight the rewards and punishments of the eternal world. It is the most alarming of all Christ’s parables, and the characters in it are drawn in such lively colours that many have been of opinion, in all ages of the church, that it is not a parable, but a real history. But the circumstances of the story are evidently parabolical, and some ancient MSS., particularly that of Beza, at Cambridge, have, at the beginning, — And he spake unto them another parable. It matters not much, however, to us, in the application of it, whether it be a parable or a real history, since the important truths contained in it are equally clear and equally certain, in whichever light it be considered. Which was clothed in purple and fine linen — And on that account, doubtless, was highly esteemed, and that not only by those who sold these articles, but by most that knew him, as encouraging trade, and acting according to his quality. And fared sumptuously every day — Taking care, not only to gratify his vanity by the finery and delicacy of his dress, but his palate also with the most exquisite meats which nature, assisted by art, could furnish: and consequently was esteemed yet more, for his generosity and hospitality in keeping so good a table. The original expression, ευφραινομενος καθημεραν λαμπρως, is very expressive, signifying that he feasted splendidly, or, delighted and cheered himself with luxury and splendour every day. His tables were loaded with the richest dainties, the most delicate wines delighted his taste, and all things ministering to sensuality were plentifully provided. Who so blessed as he? for every day this same delight returned; every day presented a new scene of bliss.

16:19-31 Here the spiritual things are represented, in a description of the different state of good and bad, in this world and in the other. We are not told that the rich man got his estate by fraud, or oppression; but Christ shows, that a man may have a great deal of the wealth, pomp, and pleasure of this world, yet perish for ever under God's wrath and curse. The sin of this rich man was his providing for himself only. Here is a godly man, and one that will hereafter be happy for ever, in the depth of adversity and distress. It is often the lot of some of the dearest of God's saints and servants to be greatly afflicted in this world. We are not told that the rich man did him any harm, but we do not find that he had any care for him. Here is the different condition of this godly poor man, and this wicked rich man, at and after death. The rich man in hell lifted up his eyes, being in torment. It is not probable that there are discourses between glorified saints and damned sinners, but this dialogue shows the hopeless misery and fruitless desires, to which condemned spirits are brought. There is a day coming, when those who now hate and despise the people of God, would gladly receive kindness from them. But the damned in hell shall not have the least abatement of their torment. Sinners are now called upon to remember; but they do not, they will not, they find ways to avoid it. As wicked people have good things only in this life, and at death are for ever separated from all good, so godly people have evil things only in this life, and at death they are for ever put from them. In this world, blessed be God, there is no gulf between a state of nature and grace, we may pass from sin to God; but if we die in our sins, there is no coming out. The rich man had five brethren, and would have them stopped in their sinful course; their coming to that place of torment, would make his misery the worse, who had helped to show them the way thither. How many would now desire to recall or to undo what they have written or done! Those who would make the rich man's praying to Abraham justify praying to saints departed, go far to seek for proofs, when the mistake of a damned sinner is all they can find for an example. And surely there is no encouragement to follow the example, when all his prayers were made in vain. A messenger from the dead could say no more than what is said in the Scriptures. The same strength of corruption that breaks through the convictions of the written word, would triumph over a witness from the dead. Let us seek to the law and to the testimony, Isa 8:19,20, for that is the sure word of prophecy, upon which we may rest, 2Pe 1:19. Circumstances in every age show that no terrors, or arguments, can give true repentance without the special grace of God renewing the sinner's heart.There was a certain rich man - Many have supposed that our Lord here refers to a "real history," and gives an account of some man who had lived in this manner; but of this there is no evidence. The probability is that 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 narrative is to be collected from the previous conversation. He had taught the danger of the love of money Luke 16:1-2; the deceitful and treacherous nature of riches Luke 16:9-11; that what was in high esteem on earth was hateful to God Luke 16:15; that people who did not use their property aright could not be received into heaven Luke 16:11-12; that they ought to listen to Moses and the prophets Luke 16:16-17; and that it was the duty of people to show kindness to the poor. The design of the parable was to impress all these truths more vividly on the mind, and to show the Pharisees that, with all their boasted righteousness and their external correctness of character, they might be lost. Accordingly he speaks of no great fault in the rich man - no external, degrading vice - no open breach of the law; and leaves us to infer that the "mere possession of wealth" may be dangerous to the soul, and that a man surrounded with every temporal blessing may perish forever. It is remarkable that he gave no "name" to this rich man, though the poor man is mentioned by name. If this was a parable, it shows us how unwilling he was to fix suspicion on anyone. If it was not a parable, it shows also that he would not drag out wicked people before the public, but would conceal as much as possible all that had any connection with them. The "good" he would speak well of by name; the evil he would not "injure" by exposing them to public view.

Clothed in purple - A purple robe or garment. This color was expensive as well as splendid, and was chiefly worn by princes, nobles, and those who were very wealthy. Compare Matthew 27:28. See the notes at Isaiah 1:18.

Fine linen - This linen was chiefly produced of the flax that grew on the banks of the Nile, in Egypt, Proverbs 7:16; Ezekiel 27:7. It was especially soft and white, and was, therefore, much sought as an article of luxury, and was so expensive that it could be worn only by princes, by priests, or by those who were very rich, Genesis 41:42; 1 Chronicles 15:27; Exodus 28:5.

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, evidence of great happiness. It is worthy of remark that Jesus did not charge on him any crime. He did not say that he had acquired this property by dishonesty, or even that he was unkind or uncharitable; but simply that he "was a rich man," and that his riches did not secure him from death and perdition.

19. purple and fine linen, &c.—(Compare Es 8:15; Re 18:12); wanting nothing which taste and appetite craved and money could procure.Ver. 19-22. It is a question of no great concern for us to be resolved about, whether this be a history, or narrative of matter of fact, or a parable. Those that contend on either side have probable arguments for their opinion, and it may be they best judge who determine it to be neither the one nor the other, but a profitable discourse, that hath in it something of both. Our chief concern is to consider what our Lord by it designed to instruct us in. And certainly those do not judge amiss who think that this discourse hath a great reference to what went before, Luke 16:9,10, where our Saviour had been exhorting his hearers to make themselves

friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, as also to the Pharisees deriding him for his doctrine, Luke 16:14; our Lord by this discourse letting them know the danger of covetousness and uncharitableness, and also letting them know that what is highly esteemed among men may be abomination in the sight of God. He telleth them there was a certain rich man, who lived in great plenty and splendour; his clothing was purple and fine linen, that is, exceeding costly and splendid; his fare, or diet, was delicate and sumptuous, and that every day, from whence may easily be concluded, that if he had had a heart thereunto, he might have spared something for the poor. Nor were the objects of his charity far off.

There was a certain beggar named Lazarus, poor enough, for he was full of sores, and would have been glad of the offal of the rich man’s table; but the dogs were more charitable than their master; we read of nothing which the rich man gave him, but

the dogs came and licked his sores. What was the end of this? The beggar died, and he was by the angels carried into the bosom of Abraham, that is, into heaven; some will have the phrase signify, one of the chiefest mansions in heaven. Abraham was the father of believers, and an hospitable person while he lived upon the earth. Lazarus is expressed to have been conveyed to him. There are many things discoursed by men of wit and learning about this Abraham’s bosom, but the best centre here, that by it is meant heaven: and from hence two great points are proved:

1. That the soul is capable of an existence separated from the body, and therefore is not, as some atheists dream, a mere affection of that, and an accident, but a distinct spiritual subsistence.

2. That the souls of the good, when they depart from their bodies, immediately pass into an eternal state of blessedness.

There was a certain rich man,.... In Beza's most ancient copy, and in another manuscript of his it is read by way of preface, "he said also another parable": which shows, that this is not a history of matter of fact, or an historical account of two such persons, as the "rich" man and the beggar, who had lately lived at Jerusalem; though the Papists pretend, to this day, to point out the very spot of ground in Jerusalem, where this rich man's house stood: nor is it to be understood parabolically of any particular rich man, or prince; as Saul the first king of Israel; or Herod, who now was reigning, and was clothed in purple, and lived in a sumptuous manner: nor of rich men in general, though it greatly describes the characters of such, at least of many of them; who only take care of their bodies, and neglect their souls; adorn and pamper them, live in pleasure, and grow wanton, and have no regard to the poor saints; and when they die go to hell; for their riches will not profit them in a day of wrath, nor deliver from it, or be regarded by the Judge, any more than hills and mountains will hide them from his face: but by the rich man are meant, the Jews in general; for that this man is represented, and to be considered as a Jew, is evident from Abraham being his father, and his calling him so, and Abraham again calling him his son, Luke 16:24 of which relation the Jews much boasted and gloried in; and from his brethren having Moses and the prophets, Luke 16:29 which were peculiar to the Jewish people; and from that invincible and incurable infidelity in them, that they would not believe, though one rose from the dead, Luke 16:31 as the Jews would not believe in Christ though he himself rose from the dead, which was the sign he gave them of his being the Messiah: and the general design of the parable, is to expose the wickedness and unbelief of the Jews, and to show their danger and misery, for their contempt and rejection of the Messiah; and particularly the Pharisees are designed, who being covetous, had derided Christ for what he had before said; and, who though high in the esteem of men, were an abomination to God, Luke 16:14. These more especially boasted of Abraham being their father; and of their being the disciples of Moses, and trusted in him, and in his law; and thought they should have eternal life through having and reading the books of Moses and the prophets: these may be called "a man", because this was the name by which the Jews style themselves, in distinction from the Gentiles, whom they compare to beasts; See Gill on Matthew 15:26 and this they ground on a passage in Ezekiel 34:31 "and ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men": upon which their note is (e),

"ye are called, "men", but the nations of the earth are not called men.''

And they may be called a "certain" man, a famous man, a man of note, as the Jews, and especially the Pharisees, thought themselves to be; and therefore coveted the chief places in the synagogues, and at feasts, and loved salutations and greetings in market places, and to be called of men Rabbi, and master: as also a "rich man"; for the Jews in general were a wealthy people, lived in a very fruitful country, and were greatly indulged with the riches of providential goodness; and particularly the Pharisees, many of whom were of the great sanhedrim, and rulers of synagogues, and elders of the people; and who by various methods, amassed to themselves great riches, and even devoured widows' houses; see Luke 6:24 and they were also rich in outward means and ordinances, having the oracles of God, his word, worship, and service; and as to their spiritual and eternal estate, in their own esteem; though they were not truly rich in grace, not in faith, nor in spiritual knowledge, nor even in good works, of which they so much boasted; but in appearance, and in their own conceit, they were rich in the knowledge of the law, and in righteousness, which they imagined was perfect, and so stood in need of nothing; no, not of repentance, and especially of Christ, or of any thing from him:

which was clothed in purple and fine linen; or "byssus", which is said to (f) grow on a tree, in height equal to a poplar, and in leaves like a willow, and was brought out of India into Egypt, and much used there, as it also was among the Jews: hence we often read (g) of or "garments of byssus", or fine linen: the Jews in general dressed well; their common apparel were fine linen and silk; see Ezekiel 16:10 and so the Arabic version here renders it, "silk and purple"; and the Persic version, "silks and bombycines": and the priests particularly, were arrayed in such a habit; the robe of the ephod, and also its curious girdle, were of blue, purple, scarlet, and fine linen, and at the hem of it were pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet, Exodus 28:6. And as for the Pharisees, they loved to go in long robes, and to make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, which were fringes of blue, joined unto them; and which may figuratively express the fine outside show of holiness and righteousness, they made;

and fared sumptuously every day. The Jews in common lived well, being in a land that flowed with milk and honey; see Ezekiel 16:13 and especially the priests, who offered up lambs every day, besides other offerings, of which they had their part; as also the Pharisees, who were often at feasts, where they loved the chief places: and this may signify the easy and jocund life they lived; knowing no sorrow upon spiritual accounts, having no sense of sin, nor sight of the spirituality of the law, nor view of danger; but at perfect ease, and not emptied from vessel to vessel.

(e) T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 114. 2. & Kimchi in loc. (f) Philostrat. Vit. Appollon. l. 2. c. 9. (g) Targum in Genesis 41.42. in 2 Chron. 12. & in Ezekiel 44.17.

{6} There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in {h} purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

(6) The end of the poverty and misery of the godly will be everlasting joy, as the end of riotous living and the cruel pride of the rich will be everlasting misery, without any hope of mercy.

(h) Very gorgeously and sumptuously, for purple garments were costly, and this fine linen, which was a kind of linen that came out of Achaia, was as precious as gold.

Luke 16:19. After Jesus in Luke 16:15-18 has rebuked the Pharisees, He now justifies in opposition to them the doctrines, Luke 16:9-13, on account of which they had derided Him,—showing them in the following fictitious doctrinal narrative (which is not, as with Hengstenberg, to be transferred to the repast of Bethany) to what riches lead if they are not applied in the manner prescribed in Luke 16:9, to the ποιεῖν ἑαυτῷ φίλους.[206] Comp. Theophylact. De Wette (comp. Holtzmann) wrongly denies all connection with what goes before, and finds set forth only the thought: Blessed are the poor; woe to the rich (Luke 6:20; Luke 6:24), so that there is wanting any moral view of the future retribution, and hence the suspicion arises that in the first portion, Luke 16:19-26, “the well-known prejudice” of Luke, or of his informant, against riches and in favour of poverty, is arbitrarily introduced. Comp. Schwegler, I. p. 59; also Köstlin, p. 271, and Hilgenfeld, according to whom the parable no longer appears in its primitive form, and must have received from Luke an appendix hostile to the Jews. The moral standard of the retribution is at Luke 16:27 ff., so emphatically made prominent[207] that it is unreasonable to separate it from the first part of the narrative, and (Strauss, I. p. 632; comp. Schwegler, Baur, Zeller) to speak of the Essene-like contempt of riches (Josephus, Bell. ii. 8. 3).

δέ] transitional, but to put the matter now, so as to act upon your will, etc. See above.

καὶ ἐνεδιδύσκ.] a simple connective link, where the periodic style would have turned the phrase by means of a relative, as is done subsequently in Luke 16:20.

ΠΟΡΦΎΡ. Κ. ΒΎΣς.] His upper garment was of purple wool, his underclothing of Egyptian byssus (white cotton), which among the Hebrews was frequently used for delicate and luxurious materials.

Jesus does not give any name for the rich man, which is not to he taken, as by many of the Fathers, as a suggestion of reproach (Euthymius Zigabenus refers to Psalm 15:4), and in general, the absence of the name is to be regarded as unintentional; for the poor man, however, even a significant name readily presented itself to the sympathy of Jesus. Tradition calls the rich man Νινευής, which, according to a Scholiast, appeared also in certain MSS.; as, moreover, the Sahidic version has the addition: cujus erat nomen Nineue.

[206] The opinion, that by the rich man is meant Herod Antipas (Schleiermacher, Paulus), is a pure invention.

[207] See also H. Bauer in Zeller’s Theol. Jahrb. 1845, 3, p. 525, who, however, understands by the rich man the Jewish popular rulers, and by Lazarus the poor Jewish Christians (Ebionites), to the assistance of whom, in their bodily needs, the Gentile Christians (the κύνες) had come (Acts 11:29 f., Luke 24:17, and elsewhere). Such forced interpretations readily occur if the parable is to be explained according to assumed tendencies of the author. Zeller in the Theol. Jahrb. 1843, p. 83 f., explains riches and poverty in the parable before us in a spiritual sense of Judaism and heathenism; according to Schwegler, however, the similitude is, at least from ver. 27 onward, carried on in the anti-Judaic sense. Baur is of the same opinion, and lays stress upon the manner in which the conclusion exhibits the relation of the Jews (who did not believe in the risen Christ) to Christianity; comp. also Hilgenfeld, Evang. p. 201 f. Weizsäcker also finds in it the influence of Ebionitic ideas. Comp. on ver. 1, Luke 15:11. But in his opinion (see p. 215) the parable concerning Lazarus received a wider development, according to which it now typifies the unbelieving Judaism, which does not allow itself to be converted by Moses and the prophets, and does not believe, moreover, in the risen Christ; the rich Judaism as opposed to the poor Jewish Christianity (comp. p. 502). Thus, moreover, the whole parable, as given by Luke, is turned into a ὕστερον πρότερον on the ground of the abstractions of church history.

Luke 16:19-31. Parable of the rich man and Lazarus. This story is hardly a parable in the sense of illustrating by an incident from natural life a truth in the spiritual sphere. Both story and moral belong to the same sphere. What is the moral? If Jesus spoke, or the evangelist reported, this story as the complement of the parable of the unfaithful steward, then for Speaker or reporter the moral is: see what comes of neglecting to make friends of the poor by a beneficent use of wealth. Looking to the end of this second “parable,” Luke 16:31, and connecting that with Luke 16:17, we get as the lesson: the law and the prophets a sufficient guide to a godly life. Taking the first part of the story as the main thing (Luke 16:19-26), and connecting it with the reflection in Luke 16:15 about that which is lofty among men, the resulting aim will be to exemplify by an impressive imaginary example the reversal of positions in this and the next world: the happy here the damned there, and vice versâ. In that case the parable simply pictorially sets forth the fact of reversal, not its ground. If with some (Weizsäcker, Holtzmann, Feine, J. Weiss) we cut the story into two, an original part spoken by Jesus and an addition by a later hand, it will have two morals, the one just indicated, and another connecting eternal perdition with the neglect of the law and prophets by a worldly unbelieving Judaism, and eternal salvation with the pious observance of the law by the poor members of the Jewish-Christian Church. On this view vide J. Weiss in Meyer.

19. There was a certain rich man] He is left nameless, perhaps to imply that his name was not “written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Legend gives him the name Nimeusis. Dives is simply the Latin for ‘a rich man.’ Our Lord in the parable continues the subject of his discourse against the Pharisees, by shewing that wealth and respectability are very differently estimated on earth and in the world beyond. The parable illustrates each step of the previous discourse:—Dives regards all he has as his very own; uses it selfishly, which even Moses and the Prophets might have taught him not to do; and however lofty in his own eyes is an abomination before God.

in purple and fine linen] The two words express extreme luxury. Robes dyed in the blood of the murex purpurarius were very costly and were only worn by the greatest men—

“Over his lucent arms

A military vest of purple flowed

Livelier than Melibaean or the grain

Of Sarra (Tyre) worn by kings and heroes old

In time of truce.”

Byssus is the fine linen of Egypt (Genesis 41:42; Esther 8:15; Proverbs 31:22; Ezekiel 27:7; Revelation 18:12), a robe of which was worth twice its own weight in gold.

and fared sumptuously every day] Literally, “making merry (Luke 12:19) every day, splendidly.” Luther, lebte herrlich und in Freuden. It indicates a life of banquets. The description generally might well apply to Herod Antipas, vii. 25; Mark 6:14; Mark 6:21.

Luke 16:19. Ἄνθρωπος, a man) This parable (for it is a parable, though a true narrative may lie underneath it) not only condemns the abuse of external goods by covetousness and pride, but also condemns a proud contempt of the law and the prophets: comp. Luke 16:14 et seqq. The rich man is the exact representative of the Pharisees: Lazarus is an example of the poor in spirit: The state of both respectively in this life and in that which is to come is shown.—πορφύραν καὶ βύσσον, purple and fine linen) forming a beautifully blending of colours.

Verse 19. - There was a certain rich man. He is thus introduced by the Lord without any details respecting his age or place of residence - nameless, too! Seems he not to have been reading from that book where he found the name of the poor man written, but found not the name of the rich; for that book is the book of life?" (Sermon 178. 3 of St. Augustine). Tradition says his name was Nimeusis, but it is simply a baseless tradition. Which was clothed in purple and fine linen. The words which describe the life of Dives were chosen with rare skill; they are few, but enough to show us that the worldly hero of the story lived a life of royal magnificence and boundless luxury. His ordinary apparel seems to have been purple and fine linen. This purple, the true sea purple, was a most precious and rare dye, and the purple garment so dyed was a royal gift, and was scarcely used save by princes and nobles of very high degree. In it the idol-images were sometimes arrayed. The fine linen (byssus) was worth twice its weight in gold. It was in hue dazzlingly white. And fared sumptuously every day. With this princely rich man banquets were a matter of daily occurrence. Luther renders the Greek here, "lebte herrlich und in Freuden." Thus with all the accompaniments of grandeur this nameless mighty one lived, his halls ever filled with noble guests, his antechambers with servants. Everything with him that could make life splendid and joyous was in profusion. Some have suspected that our Lord took, as the model for his picture here, the life of the tetrarch Herod Antipas. The court of that magnificent and luxurious prince would certainly have well served as the original of the picture; but Herod was still living, and it is more likely that Jesus was describing the earth-life of one who had already been" dismissed" from his earthly stewardship, and who, when he spoke the parable, was in the world to come. Luke 16:19Was clothed

Imperfect, and frequentative; denoting his habitual attire.

Purple (πορφύραν)

Originally the purple fish from which the color was obtained, and thence applied to the color itself. Several kinds of these were found in the Mediterranean. The color was contained in a vein about the neck. Under the term purple the ancients included three distinct colors: 1. A deep violet, with a black or dusky tinge; the color meant by Homer in describing an ocean wave: "As when the great sea grows purple with dumb swell" ("Iliad," xiv., 16). 2. Deep scarlet or crimson - the Tyrian purple. 3. The deep blue of the Mediterranean. The dye was permanent. Alexander is said by Plutarch to have found in the royal palace at Susa garments which preserved their freshness of color though they had been laid up for nearly two hundred years; and Mr. St. John ("Manners and Customs of Ancient Greece") relates that a small pot of the dye was discovered at Pompeii which had preserved the tone and richness attributed to the Tyrian purple. This fixedness of color is alluded to in Isaiah 1:18 - though your sins were as scarlet, the term being rendered in the Septuagint φοινικοῦν, which, with its kindred words, denoted darker shades of red. A full and interesting description of the purple may be found in J. A. St. John's "Manners and Customs of Ancient Greece," iii., 224: sq.

Fine linen (βύσσον)

Byssus. A yellowish flax, and the linen made from it. Herodotus says it was used for enveloping mummies (ii., 86), a statement confirmed by microscopic examinations. He also speaks of it as a bandage for a wound (vii., 181). It is the word used by the Septuagint for linen (Exodus 25:4; Exodus 28:5; Exodus 35:6, etc.). Some of the Egyptian linen was so fine that it was called woven air. Sir Gardner Wilkinson says that some in his possession was, to the touch, comparable to silk, and not inferior in texture to the finest cambric. It was often as transparent as lawn, a fact illustrated by the painted sculptures, where the entire form is often made distinctly visible through the outer garment. Later Greek writers used the word for cotton and for silk. See Wilkinson's "Ancient Egyptians," first series, iii., 114 sq., and Rawlinson's "History of Ancient Egypt," i., 4:87, 512. A yellow byssus was used by the Greeks, the material for which grew around Elis, and which was enormously costly. See Aeschylus, "Persae," 127.

Fared sumptuously (εὐφραινόμενος λαμπρῶς)

Lit., making merry in splendor. Compare Luke 15:23, Luke 15:24, Luke 15:29, Luke 15:32. Wyc., he ate, each day, shiningly.

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