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Lesson 23
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Lesson 23  

I.       Observation

A.     Outline

The Shrewd Steward (16:1-13)

Additional Teachings (16:14-18)

The Rich Man and Lazarus (16:19-31)

Sin, Faith, Duty (17:1-10)

B.     Key Words/Phrases

Steward, dealt shrewdly, make friends, unrighteous mammon, faithful, serve, good things, evil things, comforted, tormented, offenses, little ones, sins, repents, forgives, seven times, faith, unprofitable servants, duty.

II.    Segment Analysis

1. Note that the steward’s dishonesty goes back to his mishandling of the master’s goods (1). The master could not condone the steward’s dishonesty, and that is why he dismissed him. Therefore, the master commended the unfaithful steward not because he was dishonest, but because he prudently prepared for the future by making friends for himself (8). In fact, reducing the debtors’ debt may not be a dishonest act because the amount forgiven was probably the steward’s own commission.

2. The people of this world, whose minds are on material riches and selfish gain, tend to be better managers of wealth, i.e. in the secular sense. But the Lord is not commending the dishonest handling of wealth that often characterizes worldly shrewdness. Rather, He uses the shrewdness of the present age (“more shrewd in their generation”) as an analogy to teach believers about managing wealth wisely for the sake of eternity.

3. We need to be good stewards of our God-given possessions by investing them in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. Instead of spending our wealth for our own enjoyment, we ought to use it for the Lord’s work and for helping the poor and needy.

4. All three things refer to material possessions. They are “the least” because their value is insignificant compared to the rewards we will receive in the future. They are “the unrighteous mammon” because they are often used for ungodly purpose. They are also “another man’s,” meaning that we do not own them but God has entrusted them to us. We must be faithful over our material possessions by using them wisely to accomplish the Lord’s will.

5. Loving and serving mammon means laying up treasures on earth so as to “take life easy, eat, drink, and be merry” (Lk 12:13-21 NIV). It means having our minds on earthly things and serving our fleshly desires (Phil 3:18,19).

6. Just as a slave can only serve one master, we can only serve either God or mammon. Either master demands total loyalty. It is not possible to love both because they are conflicting. The materialistic pursuits of this life that comes from our lusts are contrary to the spiritual growth that God has called us to (Gal 5:17). We cannot love one without giving up the other (Rom 8:5-8; Jas 4:2-5).

8. Secular values are contrary to God’s standard.

9. Entering God’s kingdom involves great effort (Lk 13:24). The discussion on entering God’s kingdom is related to the contrast between human values and God’s will in verse 15. Those who “press into” God’s kingdom are those who make an effort to change their values to conform to the kingdom’s standard.

10. The Lord’s teaching here continues the theme of differing values. Men may choose to abide by their secular values, reject God’s will for themselves (cf. Lk 7:30), and remain outside the kingdom of God. But only God’s law (spiritual values of God’s kingdom) will endure forever, and only those who are willing to change their values may enter the eternal kingdom.

11a. 1. Divorcing and remarrying (cf. Mk 10:11-12; note the exception of divorcing on the grounds of sexual immorality in Mt 5:32; 19:9). 2. Marrying a woman who is divorced from her husband (cf. Mt 19:9).

11b. Jesus cited the issue of divorce and remarriage as a specific example of the conflict between popular values and God’s law. Although divorce displeases God, the Pharisees considered it an acceptable practice (Mt 19:7-8). This example illustrates Jesus’ point that what men highly esteem is an abomination in the sight of God (15).

12. See 25. The problem with the rich man wasn’t his wealth, but his love of money. Because he chose to serve mammon, he did not obey God’s command, for he indulged daily in luxury and failed to love his neighbor. He did not forsake all things by giving to God ownership of his possessions but instead misused what was entrusted to him for selfish purposes (cf. 14:33; 16:12).

13. How we use our riches in this life will have eternal consequences. Those who love money like the Pharisees (14), indulge in pleasure like the rich man (19), and reject the law of God like the rich man’s brothers (28-31) will suffer in Hades.

14. Even a great miracle cannot change a callous heart.


16. The NIV renders “offenses” as “things that cause people to sin.” These refer to behaviors or speech that become others’ stumbling block in faith.

17. Rebuke and forgive (3).

19. The apostles asked the Lord for greater faith because total forgiveness, as required by the Lord in verse 4, seemed to be an impossible task. But the Lord teaches how God can help us overcome hindrances in carrying out His will if we put our faith in Him (cf. Php 4:13).


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