Disclaimer: In some of our articles, especially under the Modern Issues section, we present readers with challenging issues to examine, reflect upon and research. The material is neither supported nor rejected by us, and no one is responsible for its content, other than the original source. Therefore readers are requested not to make any complaints, but to take time to reflect on the material from an Orthodox perspective.


(please note comments after certain verses)

Is there a parable in the Gospel that applies better to the current situation in the world, when today, the learned of the law (the pharisees of old) have courted with the rich and the powerful of the world, and when caught choose to dig in their heels even deeper into their unrighteousness?The parable in Luke 16 1-15 presents the devious wisdom of those who, then as well as today, court and get cozy with, and try to please, and receive favors from the powerful and the wealthy of this world. Its intent is quite clear because it concludes: “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”.The parable builds up the case of the devious “wisdom” that leads to the inevitable conclusion: one cannot serve two masters, and those who allow themselves to get corrupted with the world and by the world, and betray Him to His enemies, are indeed the most despised before the face of God. The path this steward chose is a path of no return, thus it is “better for him to follow through in his wisdom” (iniquity) all the way to his pitiful end.The verses were clearly addressed to the pharisees there-present, who rather than repenting, “derided Him”, getting even more determined to continue in their unrighteousness. For them there is no end other than to go and seek refuge with the wealthy and the rich and the powerful they serve and “seek comfort and secure a spot in their everlasting place of rest”, because certainly there will be no place for them in God’s kingdom.

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.

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.

(here the steward is given a chance to confess and repent)

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.

(the steward does not even try to consider repentance, but starts to think of “ways out”, saying “what am i going to do now? i cannot do honest work, and i am too proud to start begging”)

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

(the steward digs in his heels)

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?(the steward starts devising his devious plan)

6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty

.(the steward starts to put in practice his devious plan)

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.

(the steward continues to put in practice his devious plan)

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.

(the Lord commends steward’s “wisdom” – praises him in a hypocritical way – making the point of really how far off he has strayed and how blind he has become, even to the point of considering himself “wiser then the children of light”)

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.

(the Lord scorns the hypocrite)

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.

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

(the Lord continues to scorn the hypocrite even more, asking him how can he be trusted to look after His “true riches” if he could not even serve his “unrighteous mammon” (worldly) affairs faithfully? or it can be interpreted that after trying to serve the unrighteous mammon unfaithfully, what other worldly master is ever going to trust him with his own “unrighteous mammon” affairs anyways? – here the Lord exposed the fallacy of his reasoning, suggesting that once you start serving the unrighteous mammon there is no option but to do it to the end – a vicious circle)

12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?(the Lord denounces the hypocrisy of the steward yet again pointing to him that if he could not faithfully look after that which is his Lord’s, which master is going to trust him again?)

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.

(the Lord reveals the hypocrite’s deception)

14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.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.

(and now we know who the hypocrites the Lord referred to are …)

Download PDF