The Parable Of The Unjust Steward

Hi J____,
Thank you for your question about the parable of the unjust steward. You ask:

This parable confuses many people because they have not yet learned that God is actually the Creator and maker of all things, good and evil. It confuses us all until we learn that we will live by all of these words which are proceeding out of the mouth of God via His Son. This parable will always confuse us until we learn that none of the parables and symbols of scripture mean what they say. Instead they mean what they mean.

Pro 16:4  The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
Isa 45:6  That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
Isa 45:7  I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

That is why Paul tells us “the natural man cannot discern the things of the spirit.”

1Co 2:12  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
1Co 2:13  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
1Co 2:14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

With all of this in mind let’s read this parable of the unjust steward and understand what Christ really is teaching.

Luk 16:1  And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
Luk 16:2  And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
Luk 16:3  Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
Luk 16:4  I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
Luk 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?
Luk 16:6  And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
Luk 16:7  Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.
Luk 16:8  And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
Luk 16:9  And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
Luk 16:10  He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
Luk 16:11  If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
Luk 16:12  And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?
Luk 16:13  No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Luk 16:14  And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.
Luk 16:15  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.

That Christ was not teaching His disciples to be unfaithful to their physical masters is made clear in these verses of this very parable.

Luk 16:10  He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
Luk 16:11  If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
Luk 16:12  And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?

And these words four chapters earlier.

Luk 12:42  And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give [ them their] portion of meat in due season?
Luk 12:43  Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.

What was He telling His disciples? What is the meaning of this parable? Here is the key verse that explains Christ’s point about the “wisdom” of this unjust steward.

Luk 16:8  And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

There it is. Christ admits that the unjust steward is a “child of this world” who is acting in complete accord with “his [ evil] generation.”

Luk 11:29  And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.

But, to his credit, this servant sees what is ahead. He has “discerned the signs of the times,” and in complete accord with the carnal mind he has been given, he immediately takes the necessary steps to make his expulsion from his stewardship as manageable, painless and as undemanding upon himself as possible.
This is the diligence and foresight with which Christ urges us to live our lives in every exhortation of His written words:

Mar 13:35  Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
Mar 14:38  Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
Mat 16:3  And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
Mat 24:33  So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
Luk 12:56  Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?

So Christ is using the diligence and ingenuity of a carnal unjust steward to tell us to be ingenious and diligent and resourceful. He is not instructing us to be unfaithful or dishonest with our masters. In Ephesians we are even told to be faithful to our masters and bosses “as unto Christ.”

Eph 6:5  Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
Eph 6:6  Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

Most of us for many years are predestined to have bosses “according to the flesh.”  We are commanded to render our efforts for which we are paid “as unto the Lord… as servants of Christ,” and we are told that in doing so we are “doing the will of God from the heart.” So that is how we are instructed to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”

Mat 6:33  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Seeing all these verses on this subject makes it clear that Christ is not commending the unjust steward for being unjust and being a thief, but for his resourcefulness, ingenuity and diligence in dealing with the imminent danger of losing his means of support.
This parable is actually an indictment of all of us who, at our own appointed time, use the knowledge of the sovereignty of God for an occasion and an excuse to become lackadaisical and complacent, and ask, “Why should I even bother praying to God for myself or others”, or “Why should I plan on doing anything if God has already ‘written in His book, my days before there were any of them’?” “Why should I get excited about ‘watching and discerning the times’ if God has already predetermined what I will do?”
The Biblical reason we should pray and cry out to God for our physical and spiritual needs; the reason we should go to work each day and work to feed our families, is precisely because that is exactly what this parable demonstrates. This parable of the unjust steward demonstrates that God has predestined that we do all of these things. It is only by diligently “providing for our own” that we obey the commandment we have been given to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” That is the message of these words…:

Luk 16:8  And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
… and it is also the message of these verses of God’s Word.
1Ti 5:8  But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
Mat 16:3  And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
Tit 3:8  This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

We don’t “do wisely, provide for our own, discern the times, carefully maintain good works, or fear and tremble before God” because we are doing anything of ourselves, but rather we do all of these things precisely “because it is God working [ these things] in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”

Php 2:12  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Php 2:13  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Now let’s consider the second part of your question. You ask:

It is the mistranslating and twisting of the meaning of the Greek word ‘aion,’ here translated as ‘everlasting,’ that has served so well to obfuscate and hide the meaning of this admonition of our Lord. An ‘aion’ is nothing more than a period of time. The unjust steward knew that there would be a period of time after his firing when he would need all the friends he could possibly find. That was his own resolution to his problem:

Luk 16:4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.

All Christ is saying is that just as the unjust steward used the money at his disposal to befriend all of his acquaintances, we too, should give our lives in service to others, and live lives that would exemplify and demonstrate that Christ is living His life in us. If we live such lives, God will see to it that when we need a friend, a friend will always be there, just as the friends of the unjust steward were there to receive him into their homes.

Col 1:24  Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:
Col 1:25  Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
Col 1:26  Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
Col 1:27  To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

We have already demonstrated that Christ’s point is not that we are to become thieves, but that we are to be resourceful and diligent in dealing with the obvious and imminent fact that we will be cast out of the synagogues and churches of this world.
When that happens, if we are faithful to God’s word, we will be careful that we “return good for evil.” It will be common knowledge among all who know us that our “mammon of unrighteousness,” our physical money, was never allowed to become our God. The entire community will recognize that our life is a life of service.  We will be careful never to blame anyone for their own evil actions. Even those who kill us are never to be blamed for their actions according to our Lord.

Luk 23:34  Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
“The mammon of unrighteousness” is called “unrighteous mammon” just two verses later.

Luk 16:11  If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

“The unrighteous mammon”, our physical money and our physical means which we possess in this world, is contrasted with “true riches” which are “the things that are above” or “the things of the spirit.”

Rom 8:5  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
Col 3:1  If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

We will never receive the things of the spirit if we cannot first give to others of our physical blessings. Here is how Paul put this same principle to the Romans when he was referring to collecting an offering from the saints at Corinth to present to the starving saints in Jerusalem:

Rom 15:25  But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.
Rom 15:26  For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.
Rom 15:27  It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.

So that is how we are to use any “unrighteous mammon” which may be placed into our stewardship in this physical life. Let ours always be lives of service and never lives which reflect a love of “filthy lucre” or “the mammon of unrighteousness.”

1Pe 5:2  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

This is a great mystery for most, but the spiritual application of this entire parable is that we, as God’s elect, are to sacrifice the desires of this age that we may receive the blessings and honors that are in store for that blessed and holy few who are in the first resurrection.

Rev 20:6  Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
I am copying an e- mail from the FAQ’s which was written several years ago, in answer to this same question. I hope you find all of this to be edifying.

Your brother in Christ,
Mike

What Must We Do To Enter Into Everlasting Habitations?

Hi G____,
Thank you for your question. You ask:

Luk 16 is Christ’s words, and here is what Christ said of His words:

Mat 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Mat 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away

So clearly, these are Christ’s words, and inasmuch as they applied “in that generation, and will never pass away,” they certainly are speaking about our time, and we too, can say “This generation will not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
Here now is the verses of which you inquire:

Luk 16:8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
Luk 16:9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

This is the chapter with the parable of the unjust steward. The message of that parable is the fact that the unjust steward used the mammon of this world to buy himself friends who would take him into their care when he was cast out of his stewardship.
Christ is not encouraging us to be unjust stewards. What He is encouraging us to do is to love our enemies and do good to all men, so that when we are cast out we, too, will be well received by those who have seen how we live by what we teach, and who have come to see that what we teach are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ.
How shall we act to be received into everlasting tents? The most wonderful thing about being in Christ is that you are finally open and honest with all men and all women in every situation. You finally have peace of mind in every situation. The way you act to be received into everlasting abodes when you are cast out of their synagogues, is you act like you should always be acting.

Gal 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

You act like Christ, and you follow His doctrine at all times:

Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Luk 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

The whole Christian world refuses to do the things that Christ says to do. Some even teach that Christ’s words were never intended for us, in spite of these words of the apostle Paul.

1Ti 6:3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
1Ti 6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
1Ti 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

Those who see no need for the words of Christ, will not be able to enter into everlasting [ Greek, aionian – a period of time]  abodes, but then neither will they have to concern themselves with being cast out. They will fit in very well with those who are of the synagogue of Satan who say they are [ spiritual] Jews, but are not.

Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

The book of Revelation is addressed to the Gentile churches of Asia, and they are told these words:

Rev 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and [ I know] the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
Rev 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

There are several examples of those in scripture who made friends of the mammon of this world and were received into aionian abodes during their time of being cast out. Abraham befriended both Pharaoh and Abimelech. Isaac did the same. While they were both cast out, they were still treated well by those who had cast them out. David befriended Jonathan, the son of King Saul, and when God’s rejected anointed cast David out by attempting to nail David to the wall with a spear, David’s friendship with Jonathan served David well. Christ Himself had befriended several well- placed women of substance, and while He was never received by the leaders of the synagogues, these women supported the ministry of Christ and His disciples:

Luk 8:1 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching  and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,
Luk 8:2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
Luk 8:3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.

Paul had a nephew who was able to overhear the conspirators who took an oath not to eat or drink until they had taken Paul’s life. Paul himself had favor with the centurion, and the chief captain.

Act 23:12 And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.
Act 23:13 And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.
Act 23:14 And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul.
Act 23:15 Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.
Act 23:16 And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.

This young man, and Paul himself, had access to the leaders of this world and was in a position to help to save Paul’s life.

Act 23:17 Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him.
Act 23:18 So he took him, and brought [ him] to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto [ him], and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee.
Act 23:19 Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went [ with him] aside privately, and asked [ him], What is that thou hast to tell me?
Act 23:20 And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly.
Act 23:21 But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee.

I hope this helps you to see that it is by obeying Christ, loving our enemies and by doing good to all men, that we are cast out of Babylon’s fellowship, and at the same time we are making friends of the mammon of this world. It is also by consenting to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; that we enter into tents for a ‘period of time,’ which ‘period of time’ is really the root meaning of the Greek word ‘aion.’
It is the doctrine which is according to godliness, which defines the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those words are found through out the gospels and through out the New Testament. It is those words which have made of twain one new man, in Christ.

Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off [ from Israel] are made nigh [ to the spiritual household of Israel] by the blood of Christ.
Eph 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [ between us];
Eph 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [ even] the law of commandments [ contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

It is those words of Christ which tell us what we are to do to enter into aionian abodes when we are cast out of the synagogues of Babylon.

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