Luke 16:5
So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?
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(5) So he called every one of his lord’s debtors.—The debtors might be either men who had bought their wheat and their oil at the hands of the steward; or, as the sequel renders more probable, tenants who, after the common custom of the East, paid their rent in kind. Who, we ask, are the “debtors,” in the interpretation of the parable? The Lord’s Prayer supplies the answer to that question. The “debtors” are those who have sinned against God, who have left undone the things which they were bound to do, who have made no return for the outward blessings they have received. The unfaithful Church or party tries to secure its position by working on the lower nature of those who have the sense of that burden upon them. It neither gives the sense of peace or pardon, nor asserts the righteous severity of God’s commandments. It keeps their consciences uneasy, and traffics in its absolutions.

Luke 16:5-7. So he called, &c. — In pursuance of this scheme he sent for all those of his lord’s debtors whom he could hope to oblige by so fraudulent a proposal, determining to lower the several articles in his book, which stood chargeable to the account of each of them: and said to the first, How much owest thou — How much hast thou agreed to pay for the rent of the ground thou occupiest, or of how much hast thou acknowledged the receipt? And he said, A hundred measures of oil — The word βατους, here rendered measures, is evidently derived from the Hebrew בתים, which we render baths, in the Old Testament. According to Bishop Cumberland, a bath contained about seven gallons two quarts and half a pint. And he said, Take thy bill Σου το γραμμα, thy writing; the writing in which thou hast promised the payment of so many baths as rent, or in which thou hast acknowledged the receipt of so many. The writing, whatever it was, was doubtless of the obligatory kind, and probably in the hand-writing of the tenant, or debtor, who thereby bound himself to pay these baths, and was signed by the steward, who here ordered him to alter, or write it over again, and make himself liable to pay only fifty, instead of a hundred. The word κορους, rendered measures, in the next verse, is the כור, or homer, of the Hebrews, containing about eight bushels and a half, standard measure. The twenty homers which he allowed the debtors to deduct, would contain one hundred and seventy bushels of wheat, and might be as valuable as fifty baths, or three hundred and seventy-eight gallons of oil; so that the obligation conferred on both those debtors might be equal.

16:1-12 Whatever we have, the property of it is God's; we have only the use of it, according to the direction of our great Lord, and for his honour. This steward wasted his lord's goods. And we are all liable to the same charge; we have not made due improvement of what God has trusted us with. The steward cannot deny it; he must make up his accounts, and be gone. This may teach us that death will come, and deprive us of the opportunities we now have. The steward will make friends of his lord's debtors or tenants, by striking off a considerable part of their debt to his lord. The lord referred to in this parable commended not the fraud, but the policy of the steward. In that respect alone is it so noticed. Worldly men, in the choice of their object, are foolish; but in their activity, and perseverance, they are often wiser than believers. The unjust steward is not set before us as an example in cheating his master, or to justify any dishonesty, but to point out the careful ways of worldly men. It would be well if the children of light would learn wisdom from the men of the world, and would as earnestly pursue their better object. The true riches signify spiritual blessings; and if a man spends upon himself, or hoards up what God has trusted to him, as to outward things, what evidence can he have, that he is an heir of God through Christ? The riches of this world are deceitful and uncertain. Let us be convinced that those are truly rich, and very rich, who are rich in faith, and rich toward God, rich in Christ, in the promises; let us then lay up our treasure in heaven, and expect our portion from thence.Called every one - As he was "steward," he had the management of all the affairs, and, of course, debts were to be paid to him.

Debtors - Those who "owed" his master, or perhaps "tenants;" those who rented land of his master.

5-7. fifty … fourscore—deducting a half from the debt of the one, and a fifth from that of the other.Ver. 5 See Poole on "Luke 16:1"

So he called every one of his Lord's debtors,.... Either the Gentiles, who were greatly indebted to God, having sinned against him, and the law, and light of nature, at a great rate; into whose affections, houses, and palaces, the Jews found ways and means to introduce themselves; and, in process of time, got leave to have synagogues built, and their worship set up again: or else the Jews, their countrymen; since these were under those stewards, tutors, and governors, and were debtors to do the whole law; and had, by breaking the law, contracted large debts; and against whom the ceremonial law stood as an handwriting: these the steward called

unto him, and said unto the first, how much owest thou unto my Lord? and it is observable, that the debts of these men, of the first, lay in oil, and of the other in wheat; things much used in the ceremonial law, in the observance of which they had been, greatly deficient; see

So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?
Luke 16:5-7. Τῶν χρεωφειλ.] of the debtors they had borrowed, the natural products named from the stores of the rich man. This agrees better with the word, the opposite of which is δανειστής (Luke 7:41; Plut. Caes. 12), than the notion of tenants.

From ἕνα ἕκαστον it is seen that subsequently the two debtors are mentioned by way of example.

τοῦ κυρίου ἑαυτοῦ] By the debtors of his own master he knew how to help himself.

πόσον ὀφείλεις κ.τ.λ.] Going to work promptly and surely, he questions their own acknowledgment of obligation, which must agree with the contents of the bond.

Luke 16:6. βάτους] ὁ δὲ βάτος (בַּת) δίναται χωρῆσαι ξέστας ἑβδομήκοντα δύο, Josephus, Antt. viii. 2. 9. Therefore equal to an Attic μετρητής.

δέξαι] take away. The steward, who has the documents in his keeping, gives up the bill (τὰ γράμματα, that which is written, in the plural used even of one document, see on Galatians 6:11), that the debtor may alter the number. Usually, that he may write a new bond with the smaller amount. But this is not contained in the words; moreover, for that purpose not the surrender of the document, but its destruction, would have been necessary.

καθίσας] pictorial. ταχέως belongs not to this graphic detail, καθίσας (Luther and others, including Ewald), but to γράψον; the latter corresponds to the haste to which the carrying out of an injustice urges.

Luke 16:7. ἑτέρῳ] to another. Comp. Luke 19:20.

κόρους] ὁ δὲ κόρος (כֹּר) δύναται μεδίμνους ἀττικοὺς δέκα, Josephus, Antt. xv. 9. 2.

The diversity of the deduction, Luke 16:6-7, is merely the change of the concrete picturing without any special purpose in view. Comp. already Euthymius Zigabenus.

Luke 16:5. ἕνα ἕκαστον: he sees them one by one, not all together. These debtors might be farmers, who paid their rents in kind, or persons who had got supplies of goods from the master’s stores; which of the two of no consequence to the point of the parable.—τῷ πρώτῳ, the first, in the parable = to one. Two cases mentioned, a first and a second (ἑτέρῳ), two, out of many; enough to exemplify the method. It is assumed that all would take advantage of the unprincipled concession; those who had accused him and those who had possibly been already favoured in a similar manner, bribed to speak well of him.

5. So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him] In the East rents are paid in kind, and a responsible steward, if left quite uncontrolled, has the amplest opportunity to defraud his lord, because the produce necessarily varies from year to year. The unjust steward would naturally receive from the tenants much more than he acknowledged in his accounts.

Luke 16:5. Ἕνα ἓκαστσν, every one) in order that he might put as many as possible under obligations to him; therefore two instances merely, for the sake of example, are subjoined in the following verses.

Verses 5, 6, and 7 simply paint in the details of the interesting picture of the parable. This singular plan of providing for himself by becoming a benefactor of the debtor, remarks Professor Bruce, was by no means the only possible one under the circumstances; but the Speaker of the parable made his hero make choice of it as the aim of the imaginary narrative was to teach the value of beneficence as a passport into the eternal habitations. Various explanations have been suggested to account for the difference in the gifts to the debtors. It is probable that when our Lord spoke the parable, reasons for these varied gifts were given, such as the circumstances of the debtors. It is scarcely now worth while to frame ingenious guesses respecting the details, which apparently do not affect the grand lessons which the story was intended to teach. Luke 16:5He called

Alford and Trench think that the debtors were together; but the words seem to me to indicate that he dealt with them separately. He called to him each one, and said unto the first; after that (ἔπειτα) another.

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