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.
Jesus did not commend the unjust steward. It reads as if he did; but a due regard to the context will shew the matter in a different light. The statement, "the lord commended the unjust steward," is spoken by Christ. It is not Luke's record concerning Christ. It is Christ's statement about the lord of the unjust steward.
The Christadelphian, Sept 1871
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.
Christ means to say that as men cannot in the nature of things retain the wealth they have,-seeing they are bound to part company when death comes, the course of wisdom is to so use them that when the day of reckoning comes, everlasting results may come from them instead of results of destruction, which are the usual results, for, as he says,
"How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God."
The Christadelphian, July 1898
The apostle James (1:9, 10) exhorts the rich man to rejoice in his humiliation, and the poor man in his exaltation; for the same power, operating in the minds of the two, causes one to rejoice in his humiliation and the other in his exaltation.
And we see this brought about when the truth operates upon a rich man, and causes him to open his heart and purse for all necessary things connected with the truth of God, for its confliet with error in this world, and to consider that he himself has been bought with a price; that the price paid for his redemption was the precious blood of Jesus Christ; and to consider also that not only was he himself purchased, but that all that he possessed was purchased with him.
When in old times a man purchased a slave, if that slave had any property, the master became the possessor of the property as well as the person.
In Roman law, the slaves had in fact no property; but he that had property in the slave, had all that he possessed. And so Christ not only purchases the persons of those who are purchased with his blood, but also the things they possess.
And they come into a new relation to what they possessed before and now. While they were rebels and sinners against the authority of God, what they had was their own, and they did what they liked with it; but, when they are purchased by Christ Jesus, they should regard themselves as purchased by his blood, and that they are stewards of Jesus Christ, and that all they hold is held for him, and that they are bound so to administer their temporal affairs, that those for whom they administer them, shall introduce them into eternal habitations.
Christ says (Luke 16:9),
'Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.'
Now, 'the mammon of unrighteousness' in the Scriptures signifies riches; so it amounts to this-Make to yourselves friends who, when you fail, shall enable you to enter into everlasting habitations.
Well, we naturally ask, How can riches be used, so as to influence the only parties that can give us an introduction into everlasting habitations? Well, the apostle Paul, in his letter to Timothy, tells us how that may be done. In 1 Tim. 6:17, he says,
'Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.'
Charge them 'that they do good, that they be rich in good works; ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time (or age) to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.'
That is the way that, scripturally, the rich man can make use of his riches, so as to make to himself friends who will be able to give him eternal life, or an introduction to the everlasting habitations.
Well, who are those friends?
There are but two friends in the universe that a man is able to make, that will be able to introduce him into everlasting habitations; and these are the Father and the Son.
There is no one who can give us eternal life, but He who has given authority to the Son to give life to whomsoever he will; and if we can secure the friendship of the Son, we are sure, also, to secure the friendship of the Father; and we thus have two very influential and important friends; and when the time comes for those that are here called the rich, to make a report of their stewardship, and to show how they have used their means in connection with the truth, if they have used them well, they will be rewarded.
If their riches are not used in connection with the truth, they may as well throw them away into the river, as expect any eternal life from the use of their riches, apart from the truth, for it is only in relation to the truth-in its belief and obedience-that their gifts are sanctified.
The Christadelphian, Dec 1871
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.
It was good policy on the part of the steward to use his vanishing opportunity while it lasted, as to make it provide a future for him which it did not yield in itself. The point of Christ's remark lies here, that the children of light -- (those who embrace and profess the faith of the kingdom) -- do not, as a rule, make a similarly wise use of their vanishing opportunity.
They have only one life to live, and but a short time in which to use the power and opportunities they may have as stewards of the manifold grace of God. And yet, in most cases, they live as if this life would last for ever, and as if its one business were to provide for natural and personal wants. The consequence will be that, sowing to the flesh, they will reap corruption (Gal. vi. 8).
In this they are not so wise as the children of this world, who, when they see a thing is going from their hand, make the most of their chance, "making hay while the sun shines." That is the view Jesus wished to enforce by the parable, is evident from the remarks with which he accompanied it. "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 mammon of unrighteousness is a phrase by which Jesus defines worldly wealth. Why he so designates it, we need not concern ourselves to enquire beyond noting that, as a rule, wealth is acquired and used unrighteously, which sufficiently accounts for Christ's expression. The important question is, How can the Mammon of unrighteousness be turned into "friends" against a time of failure? The time of failure is certain, in view of the fact that everyone of us must shortly part with all that we have.
Death dissolves a man's connection with all he may have: and resurrection will not restore it. He will emerge from the ground a penniless man. How can wealth be so handled now as to be at such a time a "friend" providing us "everlasting habitations?". Jesus indicates the answer in saying, "He that is faithful in that which is least (mortal wealth) is faithful also in much (that which is to come).... If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's -- (the property of Christ in our hands now as stewards), -- who shall give you that which is your own?" (what a man receives in eternal life will in a peculiar sense be "his own").
Faithfulness, then, in the use of what we have now is the rule of promotion when the time comes to "give to every man according to his works." "Unrighteous mammon" used in the service of God will be found to have been turned into a friend for us in the day of account, when we have no longer any control over it. How it may be so used is abundantly indicated throughout the Scriptures. It is not confined to any particular form, but certainly does not consist in bestowing it wholly on one's own respectability and comfort, whether in self or family.
The mode is indicated in Paul's words to Timothy about the rich: "Charge them that are rich in this world ... that they do good; that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life" (1 Tim. vi. 17-19).
Jesus strongly recommends this application of the unrighteous mammon, by which a dangerous foe is turned into a friend. He emphasizes his exhortation by dogmatically asserting, "No servant can serve two masters ... Ye cannot serve God and mammon." The doctrine may be unacceptable, but it is true, as will be found in joy and grief by two different classes in the day of the issues of life.
There is no real ground for the difficulty that some feel about Christ parabolically holding up an unjust steward for imitation. He did not do so in the matter of the unjustness. The falsifier of his master's accounts is only introduced to illustrate the wisdom of providing for future need. The children of this world do it in their way, the children of light are exorted to do it in theirs, by a faithful use of "the unrighteous mammon."
Nazareth Revisited Ch 30.
11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
Mammon is universally worshipped.
Let us beware lest we fall down before him.
Niggardliness may accompany a purse of silver as well as a purse of gold. When a worthy object requires it, let us not give pence when we are able to give silver. God's eyes are upon us, and He will ultimately recompense us according to our doings.
Let us seek the friendship of the rich in faith rather than the rich in pocket. Let us "condescend to men of low estate." Let not our riches cause us to walk on stilts among our brethren.
To regard the rich more than the poor is very displeasing to Christ. The Word strongly condemns such an attitude (Jas. 2:1; Job 34:19). Here again it is possible for the poorly-off to be equally guilty with the opulent. Let us avoid
"having men's persons in admiration because of advantage."
Crouching at the feet of the well-to-do is as contemptible as the lofty look of the money-inflated man.
"God is no respector of persons . . . in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."
If we would please God we must imitate Him. The friends of mammon will avail us nothing in the day of judgment. Let us remember that Christ was poor, that he was sent to preach to the poor, and that it is with the poor that God's choice mainly lies.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, 1888
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.
How does Romanism promote crime?
Protestants are taught that sin destroys both body and soul, while Romanism teaches that sin does not destroy, provided the perpetrator of any crime will purchase a pardon from the priest, which is done by a sum of money so small, as to render it plain to every Catholic that for the benefit of the priest, the more sin the better.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Dec 1854
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.
In order to free our minds from the deadly bias of human ideas in considering Christ's commands, we must first clearly grasp one basic principle... Unless we get this clear at the outset, we shall have constant trouble with the commands of Christ and finally end in confusion and failure.
Paul strongly emphasizes the same thing in writing to the Corinthians, "Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (1 Cor. 1:20). And again, God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things to confound the mighty" (1 Cor. 1.27). And the reason he gives is short and to the point. "That no flesh should glory" (v. 29).
Not only are man's ideas vain, they are also profitless. We must put aside all that man has told us before we can listen intelligently to God. This is the first lesson and it's thorough appreciation is vital. "The whole world lieth in wickedness" (1 Jn. 5:19)-that is ungodliness, alienation from the mind and viewpoint of God...Thus separation from the world becomes a primary necessity.
Bro Growcott - The Fleeting Cross and the Eternal Crown
Judged by the tests that men apply
Men ask if the thing is respectable, if the learned approve; if it is popular and well supported. A negative answer on all these points is fatal to popular approval.
It was fatal in the first century. It is fatal in the present century. Here we have the Truth.
..."Yes, but you have no respectable people among you. You have no learned men. You are a poor uneducated lot".
We admit the charge. We have no human credentials or recommendations of any kind. When our case is examined, it is found we are nobody according to the current standard. But we have the Bible; we know it; we daily read it; we understand it; we believe it; and we try to obey it; and what other recommendation will prevail with God at last?
Jesus (the rejected; the unlearned, the killed but raised again) said,
'If any man hear my voice and follow me, him will my Father honour."
This is all we claim; this is all we try to enforce, that the belief of the Father's promises and obedience of His commandments is the sole ground of acceptance with Him; and with this qualification, we can afford to be without those adjuncts that are highly esteemed among men.
Nay, we can see that in the present state of things those adjuncts are liable to be barriers and hindrances to the way of truth and holiness. God so works that His claims should not rest on human prestige, but on His own authority.
If the learned in the land are against us, that is in our favour; for God never has chosen the wise of this world to do His work. He so tells us by Paul. If we have no standing or prosperity, we say, neither had Christ in his day. God so works His works that no flesh should glory.
We see nothing and claim nothing but this: that we believe what the Bible teaches, and try to do what it commands, and cannot consent to any departure from its standard.
17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
Context is v17. Put away - she has not been granted a legal divorce as required by the law (Deut 24:1-4). So the wife is separated and not free to marry. If a divorce had been granted she would not be under bondage but loosed and free to remarry (1 Cor 7:15, 27,28).
19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
Dives not a literal person
...there is no evidence that the story had any such basis in fact. The Pharisees may have believed it, because from their point of view it appeared probable and intelligible, but they did not perceive all its bearings, nor could they. To them it was as a parable, but to us, it is impossible, and, therefore, a fable, and this may be the reason why in Scripture it is not called a parable.
Jesus evidently planned it from a tradition of the Pharisees, and under the mask of that tradition, turned certain particulars of the story to point to certain truths,*
The Rich Man...
'...represents the "workers of iniquity" whom Jesus was addressing; and who at that time were "first," being the rulers and leaders of the people, and wore purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. These were they who sought to enter into the kingdom, but should not be able. They would then, when the door was shut, cry Lord, Lord, open to us! We have eaten and drank in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets! But all this will avail them nothing.
It was their malice that brought them to his presence; and their fears of the people that permitted him for a time to go at large in their streets. "Depart from me, I know not whence ye are, ye workers of iniquity"-"Depart from me, I say, ye cursed into the enduring fire prepared for the devil and his emissaries"-this is all the response the "upper ten thousand" of the nation will be able to elicit from the King when he promotes "the blessed of the Father to the possession of the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world."
Nazareth Chapter 30
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
This parable illustrates Yahshua's teaching in Luke 13.
"Behold there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last."
'... represents "the blessed of the Father," who in the forty-second generation were "the last," the helpless among the people - the poor of the flock - and therefore "named Lazarus," or God's help, for he alone is their helper, pulling down the mighty from their thrones, and exalting them of low degree; filling the hungry with good things, while the rich he sends empty away. -Luke 1: 52. of this class were the least of the King's brethren.
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
They were full of sores and desiring to be fed from the leavings of the rich and ruling class of the nation. They were hungry, but their princely superiors gave them no meat; they were thirsty, but gave them no drink; strangers at their gates, but they took them not in; naked, but they clothed them not; sick in prison but they visited them not. These were their sores which experienced no relief at the hands of the purple-clad and luxurious livers of their age.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
I will believe the words of Jesus, come what may! He teaches that men are to be rewarded according to their works, when he comes and raises them from the dead. This being incontrovertibly true, it follows that between death and resurrection, men are neither "comforted" nor "tormented."
This being inevitable, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus doth not represent the relation of things subsisting,-being the righteous and the wicked in a state between death and resurrection. ... the parable is a shadowy representation of the reality that will obtain in regard to the rich-man class and the Lazarus class, after the resurrection of the two classes from the death state.
But another question suggests itself here, in connection with this contemporaneous comforting of Lazarus and tormenting of the rich man after resurrection, namely, where are the said comforting and tormenting to be developed?
... according to the parable, heaven and hell are within speaking distance!
Seeing then that we can get no information from the devil and his angels, we will now put our question to the holy Prophets and Apostles. Where, O ye faithful and infallible exponents of the truth, are the rich despisers of your testimonies to be tormented; and your righteous brethren to be contemporaneously comforted in the presence of Abraham, after resurrection?
"the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth; much more, the wicked and the sinner."
Letters from Bro Thomas
Ambassador of the coming age, Feb 1869
The reader will remember that before the Judgment Seat of Christ in the wilderness of Teman, there were two classes of saints in Christ Jesus constitutionally; the one class consisting of "the called, the chosen, and faithful;" or as Paul styles them in 1 Cor. 3 12, "gold, silver, and precious stones," which are made manifest as such in the day when things are revealed by fire; and the other class consisting of "the called," but not "chosen," because not "faithful;" or, as Paul styles them in the same place, "wood, hay, and stubble".
The constitution and destiny of these two classes, though originally built upon the same foundation, is widely divergent. The gold, silver, and precious stones, of the New Jerusalem community, are fire proof. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they can dwell with devouring fire, and with the burnings of Olahm; fire having no power over their bodies to singe a hair of their heads, nor to leave its smell upon them.
Not so, however, the wood, hay, and stubble. They cannot continue to exist in fire, being in nature destructible. The judicial inspection of his house-hold, having separated the refuse and the vile, from those "accounted worthy to obtain of the aion, and of the resurrection;" the rejected, by virtue of the sentence pronounced upon them by Christ, saying, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into the aionian fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels," forthwith enter upon their journey to the place of exile or torment; or, in the words of Jesus, "they go away into aionian punishment;" while the righteous, by their being quickened, enter into aionian life.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
When... the poor brethren in Christ are comforted, the mean-spirited rich, their former oppressors, are represented as piteously supplicating the favour; but no mercy will be shown them; for "he shall have judgment without mercy that hath showed no mercy;" and "with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again."
If it be asked, what is meant by being "tormented in this flame?" We answer, to be the subject of "weeping and gnashing of teeth," because of being thrust out of the kingdom: the thrusting out being two-fold; first, by the Roman power when the Mosaic constitution of Israel's commonwealth was subverted; and second, by their exclusion from the kingdom subsequently to their resurrection to judgement. In short, what is testified in Luke 13: 24-30, without a figure, is parabolically represented in Luke 16: 19-31.*
Abraham being in the kingdom when this answer is returned, shows that the place of torment is not accessible at will, nor territorially continuous with Palestine; in other words, the Mediterranean Gulf separates the Lake of Fire countries from the kingdom of Israel. They are the countries invaded by the King of kings upon the white horse with his hosts of the heaven, styled, in Apoc ch. 14:10, "the holy angels and the Lamb;" in whose presence the countries are kindled into flame; and the resurrected exiles, and the worshippers of the Beast, are all tormented with fire and brimstone; and made to drink of the unmixed wine of the wrath of the Deity, poured out into the cup of his indignation.
Thus "Death and Hades," or the condemned resurrected exiles, are cast into the lake of fire, which is to them "the Second Death;" for by the fiery judgments of the lake, death and corruption overtake them a second time, and their "sorer punishment" is consummated according to their works (ch. 20:13-15; 21:8; Heb. 10:26-29).
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
They "shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and they themselves thrust out."
Now the parable represents a perfect and entire change of fortune with respect to those two classes; for Abraham is represented as saying to the rich Israelite, "Son, remember that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." Here it will be perceived that the classes change situations - the hungry are filled with good things, that is, "are comforted;" while the rich are sent empty away, that is, "are tormented" even worse than the poor whom in their previous lifetime they had despised. *
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
"Far off" from where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets then are. Far off as to distance; and as the kingdom is to be established in the land of Israel, it will be far off in relation to that country; from which, having risen from the dead, they are expelled from the presence of the Lord. But this country of their exile is a place where an unquenchable, or an enduring, fire is prepared for the devil and his emissaries:
"for, behold the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh, and the slain of the Lord shall be many."-Isaiah 66: 15-16.
28 For I have 5 brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
...the number of Dives'* brethren as five, in order that he being represented as in torments, should be the sixth, the number six being the one in Scripture, judgment and suffering are chiefly associated with.
#Dives is latin for rich man (not a proper name). 'Rich man' is rendered 'Dives' in the latin vulgate Bible.
This prominently appears in the punishments to be inflicted at the second advent, at which the picture represented by Dives and Lazarus will become the fact. See under the sixth seal, the sixth trumpet, the sixth vial, and the sixth angel which came out from the altar.-(Rev. 14:8.)
Consider it also in view of six, six, six, the number of the beast, not as the exposition of its name, but as the symbol of her, who, like Dives, has been clothed in fine linen and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones and pearls, but is now being wrecked, ruined, and in fear of that torment, weeping and wailing hastening upon her, when "thou heaven and ye holy apostles and prophets" who have been trodden under her feet as the poor, the despised and rejected, will be comforted, while she will be tormented.
Compare it also as associated with the sufferings of Christ. On the sixth day he was crucified, six hours was he dying, and at the sixth hour darkness came over the land. So also with the sixth of a hin of water, as the symbol in Ezekiel for that scarcity of it which he prophesied was to come for a punishment.-(4:11, 16, 17.)
So far, therefore, from the passage, "I have five brethren," proving the story a narrative of facts, it but proves it a narrative of figures. And more than this, it presents us with a certain evidence and illustration of the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, from which we may perceive, in the microscopical view of little things imperceptible to the naked eye, the same author's finger, the same impress of the divine mind as we see in the bold outlines of Scripture, and the same great harmony involving the greater in the less as we see in the history of nations the evolutions of prophecy. *
*Ambassador of the coming age, Jan 1869
29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
Moses and the prophets saw the kingdom of Yahweh afar off. This is the subject of the parable - a contrast between The poor in spirit who suffer now but receive the kingdom in the day of Israel's consolation, and the well to-do blind leaders who enjoy good things now and justified in their own eyes but unsanctified.
Bro Thomas 'The Rich Man and Lazarus'.
This is the great lesson of the parable put into the mouth of Abraham. Jesus considers the claims of Moses and the prophets to be established on such grounds, that the submission of true and docile reason is inevitable, and in effect says that a man standing out against those claims is beyond reach of conviction.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 31
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
'...the dead are truly in a state of death, not only having no capacity for any rational function whatever, but having no existence of any kind, except in the history which their life has written in the book of God's indelible memory. It is the great doctrine of the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments, that on the foundation of this history, their existence will be resumed by the Resurrection power God has given to Christ, at whose command the dead will be re-organised and come forth for judgment in accordance with what he may deem the deserts of mortal life; incorruption of nature and consequent deathlessness, with every attendant circumstance of glory, honour, and joy, being awarded to those of whom he approves; and condemnation to second death, corruption and final perdition to those whose case in his judgment calls for so terrible a fate.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 31
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
LAZARUS AND THE RICH MAN.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come. June 1851
This is part of a discourse, contained in the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of Luke, delivered by Jesus in the presence of "the publicans and sinners," "the Pharisees and Scribes," and his disciples. It contains the parables of the lost sheep, of the piece of silver, of the prodigal son, of the unjust steward, and of "a certain rich man," and "a certain beggar named Lazarus."
These are parables illustrative of the things of the kingdom in relation to the joy there will be among the angels when they shall see repentant publicans, sinners, and prodigals in the kingdom; of the condemned state of the covetous pharisees; and of the "weeping and gnashing of teeth," or "torment," that awaits them when they shall see Abraham and the prophets in God's kingdom and themselves excluded. These were the matters of stirring interest propounded by the Lord Jesus to his contemporaries of the House of Judah in the course of his "preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God" in all the towns and villages of Israel.
The letter before us directs our attention particularly to the case of the rich man and the beggar; we shall therefore give it all the consideration it deserves. It is a parable; consequently not a true history of two men, but a comparison or similitude illustrative of the truth. That it is a parable is unquestionable. It was addressed to the covetous pharisees who disregarded the Law and the Prophets, and in speaking to them and their disciples we are informed, that "without a parable Jesus spake not unto them." That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,
"I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world."
The parables of Jesus were illustrations of the things of the kingdom of God spiritually discernible. Even the unsophisticated and simple-minded apostles were under the necessity of soliciting an explanation of them in private. Without this assistance they found it impossible to understand his doctrine; for before he had called them to be his apostles their minds had been darkened like the rest by the leaven of the scribes and pharisees.
The interpretations of the Lord Jesus were the explanations of the Spirit through him. By the light of these spiritual interpretations they were able to discern, or understand, the meaning of the parables. If the parables were mere narratives of facts, their meaning would have been obvious to the popular mind; but seeing that they represented something different from the signification of the words and phrases spoken-that they had a hidden meaning-an interpretation of these dark sayings became absolutely necessary to the comprehension of them.
The apostles were greatly astonished at the Lord Jesus that he did not speak plainly to the people, and without enigma. "Why," said they, "speakest thou to them in parables?" As if they had said, "If thou desirest that they should understand, and be converted, and receive forgiveness of sins in recognizing thee as the king of Israel, why dost thou not teach them so as that a child might understand thy speech?" such a result as this, however, he was desirous to avoid.
The generation of Judah and Benjamin, the forty-second generation from Abraham, was then in its youth. It was like the generations that had preceded it, both crooked and perverse; and as the narratives of the evangelists and apostles, and the history of Josephus, prove, more obdurately wicked than all that had gone before. It was determined therefore to judge the nation by the calamities to be visited upon the generation contemporary with Jesus and his apostles.
Yahweh consequently did not purpose to give them light enough to lead them to a repentance by which his indignation and wrath against the guilty nation might be turned aside. The leaders of the people had caused them to err. They had made the word of God of none effect by their tradition. They had taken away "the key of knowledge," and had substituted the mythology of the Greeks, which had made the people's heart gross, their ears dull, and their eyes blind. The people were blind, and their leaders were blind, nevertheless they said "We see;" therefore their sin remained.
This was the moral condition of the nation in the days of Jesus. The minority acknowledged his claims to the throne of David, and recognized in him the Son and prophet of Yahweh; but the nation, the great and overwhelming majority of the nation, rejected him, and constituted itself the fit and proper instrument blindly to carry into effect the predetermination of God concerning his son. In answer therefore to the inquiry, "Why speakest to them in parables?" the Lord Jesus replied,
"Because it is given unto you to understand the mysteries (secrets) of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath to him shall be given, and he shall have greater abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing (saying they see) see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: for this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see what ye see, and have not seen; and to hear what ye hear, and have not heard."
The parables then were illustrative of "the secrets of the kingdom of heaven," which the multitude could not understand, because the key of knowledge was lost. They had "the knowledge," for it was in "the Law and the Prophets;" but neither the learned nor the unlearned could interpret it aright. Thus were fulfilled the words of Isaiah,
"they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord hath poured out upon them the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed their eyes: the prophets, and their rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all hath become to them as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned."-Isaiah 29: 9-12.
"The Key" to the understanding of the knowledge of this book they had lost. They had lost sight of the true doctrine of the Kingdom; and had embraced the vain philosophy of their Greek and Roman masters, which taught immediate reward and punishment in Elysium and Tartarus at the instant of death. They expected Elijah to come and restore all things, and the kingdom to be re-established with observation, when the Messiah should appear and sit upon the throne of his father David; but they understood not that "he must first suffer many things and be rejected of their generation;" and by a resurrection from the dead be raised up to sit upon David's throne. -Acts 2: 30.
Neither did they understand that they who were to possess the kingdom with him must first be righteous men, and then immortal by a resurrection from among the dead. They supposed when Messias came he would promote them to the honour and glory of his kingdom, little dreaming that "the first shall be last" then; and that certain poor peasants of Galilee, and dogs of Gentiles from afar, should be first in the kingdom and empire of Shiloh.
The kingdom of God rightly understood is "the key" to the parables, and indeed, not to the parables only, but to the whole Bible; for the Bible is in truth the Book of the Kingdom of God. It is nonsense for men to talk of understanding the Bible if they do not understand the true doctrine of the kingdom. As well might one say that he understood Turner's Elements of Chemistry though entirely ignorant of chemical science, or acquainted only with Alchemy. The leaders and people of Israel were mere alchemists in theology; they sought after the stone of Greek philosophy, and stumbled at the princely stone, and bruised themselves to death.
It is not to be wondered at that the moderns should find the interpretation of the parables beyond their skill. They are alchemists like their prototypes of the forty-second generation of Israel. The exposition of the parables relating to the kingdom is as impossible to them as the analysis of the alkalis and of water were to the alchemists of the age of Paracelsus. The fact is that the moderns generally understand less of the kingdom of God than the ancient scribes, pharisees, and lawyers. They have resolved it into a kingdom of grace and a kingdom of glory, with an intermediate state, or not, according to their taste.
They tell us not to pray "Thy kingdom come," because it is already come. It came, they say, on the Day of Pentecost! It is the kingdom of grace, or the church; the very reign of favour itself! Where is the throne? In reply, they point to the throne of the invisible majesty, somewhere in the milky way, which they call the throne of David, and tell us that there is the Lord Jesus reigning over the House of Jacob forever! They teach also the Greek philosophy, or mythology rather, concerning souls. At the instant of death they translate them to heaven or hell-a theory by which the real kingdom of God is entirely superseded.
Pledged to this leaven they can see nothing in the Bible pertaining to the future free from the fermentation of immortal-soulism, and its consequences, an intermediate state with its separate localities for the souls, or disembodied ghosts, of the righteous and wicked dead. As if conscious of the weakness of their theories, they seize with avidity upon every text (and they are but few) not to prove what they affirm, but out of which they think they can create difficulties for those who repudiate their dogmas.
Among these texts are the two presented to us by our correspondent in Newark. The opposition there, as here, can explain nothing. They can only twist ropes of sand, and on the ghosts of seven pillars erect castles in the air. We repeat it, that these aerial-castle builders being ignorant of the real kingdom of God, and consequently of the gospel of the kingdom, cannot interpret the parables, much less able are they to interpret the rich man and the beggar, the most difficult of all.
They have first adopted their theory on the plea of reconciling, or rather of harmonizing Christ and Plato, that the doctrine of Jesus might be less objectionable to "philosophy;" and have then put the scripture to the torture to compel it to speak according to their wishes. This is just the reverse of what they ought to have done. They should have put their philosophy on the scripture rack, and if it would not confess according to what is written, have condemned it to an auto da fe, because of its cancerous and destructive heresy. Having omitted to do this, they have committed an egregious blunder; and imposed the burden upon us of supplying their deficiency.
The rich man and Lazarus is a parable illustrating a mystery of the kingdom of God. Now the question is, what is that mystery, or hidden thing, which it illustrates? Our answer is, that it illustrates the saying contained in the thirteenth of Luke and thirtieth verse, and in the nineteenth of Matthew and thirtieth verse, also the twentieth chapter and sixteenth verse, namely,
"Behold there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last." If it be enquired when and where? We reply, when the "first which shall be last" "shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and they themselves thrust out."
If it be asked, what is meant by being "tormented in this flame?" We answer, to be the subject of "weeping and gnashing of teeth," because of being thrust out of the kingdom: the thrusting out being two-fold; first, by the Roman power when the Mosaic constitution of Israel's commonwealth was subverted; and second, by their exclusion from the kingdom subsequently to their resurrection to judgement. In short, what is testified in Luke 13: 24-30, without a figure, is parabolically represented in Luke 16: 19-31.
The rich man and the beggar in the similitude represent two classes of Israelites. The former represents the "workers of iniquity" whom Jesus was addressing; and who at that time were "first," being the rulers and leaders of the people, and wore purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. These were they who sought to enter into the kingdom, but should not be able. They would then, when the door was shut, cry Lord, Lord, open to us! We have eaten and drank in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets! But all this will avail them nothing. It was their malice that brought them to his presence; and their fears of the people that permitted him for a time to go at large in their streets. "Depart from me, I know not whence ye are, ye workers of iniquity"-"Depart from me, I say, ye cursed into the enduring fire prepared for the devil and his emissaries"-this is all the response the "upper ten thousand" of the nation will be able to elicit from the King when he promotes "the blessed of the Father to the possession of the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world."
The beggar in the parable represents "the blessed of the Father," who in the forty-second generation were "the last," the helpless among the people-the poor of the flock-and therefore "named Lazarus," or God's help, for he alone is their helper, pulling down the mighty from their thrones, and exalting them of low degree; filling the hungry with good things, while the rich he sends empty away.-Luke 1: 52. of this class were the least of the King's brethren. They were full of sores and desiring to be fed from the leavings of the rich and ruling class of the nation. They were hungry, but their princely superiors gave them no meat; they were thirsty, but gave them no drink; strangers at their gates, but they took them not in; naked, but they clothed them not; sick in prison but they visited them not. These were their sores which experienced no relief at the hands of the purple-clad and luxurious livers of their age.
Now the parable represents a perfect and entire change of fortune with respect to those two classes; for Abraham is represented as saying to the rich Israelite, "Son, remember that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." Here it will be perceived that the classes change situations-the hungry are filled with good things, that is, "are comforted;" while the rich are sent empty away, that is, "are tormented" even worse than the poor whom in their previous lifetime they had despised. When, however, the poor brethren in Christ are comforted, the mean-spirited rich, their former oppressors, are represented as piteously supplicating the favour; but no mercy will be shown them; for "he shall have judgment without mercy that hath showed no mercy;" and "with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again."
The parable then brings to view two states-a present, or lifetime-state; and a future, or state of comfort or torment, as the class may be. The "now," when the righteous shall be comforted, appears to be when the two classes, contemporary with the days of his flesh, shall both stand in his presence, when He as King, attended by all his holy angels, shall sit on the throne of his glory.-Matthew 25: 31; 2 Thessalonians 1: 7-8. This has not come to pass yet. There must therefore be a resurrection of these two classes of Israelites, according to the words of the prophet. -Daniel 12: 1-2.
When this happens, the rich will see the poor in Abraham's bosom, and themselves, like Cain, driven out of the country where the kingdom will then be "into a place of torment," in the parable termed "this place of torment." But where will this be? "Far off" from where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets then are. Far off as to distance; and as the kingdom is to be established in the land of Israel, it will be far off in relation to that country; from which, having risen from the dead, they are expelled from the presence of the Lord. But this country of their exile is a place where an unquenchable, or an enduring, fire is prepared for the devil and his emissaries:
"for, behold the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh, and the slain of the Lord shall be many."-Isaiah 66: 15-16.
The Devil and his emissaries are thus alluded to in the Apocalypse. "The great Dragon was cast out (of the heaven, chapter 12: 8,) that old Serpent, surnamed the Devil and Satan, who misleads the whole empire: he was cast out into the earth and his emissaries were cast out with him." This is a symbolic representation of what came to pass in that great revolution when the face of the Roman world was changed by Constantine. The Devil and his emissaries here represent "the Accusers of the brethren," or party hostile to the kingdom of God and the power of his Christ.
This party reappears in the fourteenth of Revelation, and is referred to in these words, "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation: and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth unto ages of ages," (eis aionas aionon.) This tormenting in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb, is the war waged between them and the Beast and the kings of the earth and their armies, or "the goats."
The result of the war is thus expressed, "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet, &c. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword, &c"-Revelation 19: 19-20. That is, the territory on which the dominions exist, symbolized by the Beast and the False Prophet, shall become a lake of fire burning with the flame of artillery in war. This territory is Germany, or "the land of Magogue," Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Hungary, and Greece. "I will send," says God, "a fire upon Magogue, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles."-Ezekiel 39: 6. So that the lightnings of heaven will be added to the flames of war.
This contest with the nations results in the prostration of all the thrones, or kingdoms of the world, and their transfer to Jesus and the Saints. This overthrow is described as the laying hold on the Dragon, that old Serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and the binding him for a thousand years. -Revelation 20: 2. But at the end of this period of peace and blessedness, the Devil, or sin-power, reappears on the arena. He invades the Land of Israel with his hosts, but is driven back, or cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, the territory where the Beast and False Prophet met their fate a thousand years before, and there he is tormented as they were day and night unto the ages of the ages-eis tous aionas ton aionon.
During this war death and the grave, that is, the unrighteous dead surrendered by the grave, are thrust out and exiled to the seat of the war, and thus cast into the Lake of fire to encounter death by fire and sword. Their fall is to them their Second Death; "for whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire," which is the Second Death.
This territorial lake of fire is "the place of torment" "far off" from the territory of the kingdom, where Abraham and the Lazzaroni "are comforted." The premillennial and postmillennial judgments upon the nations are consummated in this place; and while these judgments are in progress, the unrighteous who have died under Times of Knowledge, having been raised from among the dead, are driven like Cain from the presence of the Lord to partake in the torment with which the nations are being judged. In the exegesis of the parable we confine ourselves to the rich and beggar classes of Israel; because it is concerning them alone that the Lord is speaking.
The judgment of Gentiles must be considered under a different aspect. The unrighteous in Israel of the forty-second generation (for we are considering this more particularly) will be raised to enduring shame and contempt; will weep and gnash their teeth at the cruel destiny they have brought upon themselves by their own madness and folly; and will be "thrust out" of the Land of Promise, and exiled to the papal countries as the place of their enduring punishment; where they will be subject to all the evils of the premillennial wrath and fury of their offended and insulted King, for whose death they clamoured when Pilate would have let him go. Then they were zealous for the favor of Caesar; with Caesar then they will perish, when "God shall rain upon the wicked snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest: for this is the portion of their cup."-Psalm 11: 6; Isaiah 30: 30, 33; Ezekiel 38: 22.
In the parable the postmillennial judgment of dead men is not brought into view. We shall therefore merely remark here in passing, that "the rest of the dead" not raised to everlasting or enduring shame and contempt at the premillennial coming of the Lord; and the unrighteous dead, who, having died under the millennial reign, are raised at the end thereof, -these, we say, will meet their doom in common with the rebel nations, "Gog and Magog," which will be exterminated at the end of the thousand years. If the reader study the twenty-fifth of Matthew, he will perceive a commingling of individual convicts with the nations of the left, styled the goats.
Combined personal and national judgment at the premillennial and postmillennial epochs is the order of things in relation to wicked men and wicked nations whose iniquity is full. The wickedness of the goat-nations will be extreme and malignant, when this new element of hatred against God and his King is introduced among them by the resurrection and exile of the old enemies of the Lord. Serpents, and a generation of vipers were they in their former life-time; death and resurrection will not have changed them. When they awake from the dust they will be serpents still; and willing instruments of all evil they may be permitted to do. They must arise to judgment; for the earth's surface is at once the arena of the reward of the righteous, the punishment of sin, and the destruction of the devil and his works.
Having illustrated the principle of the first being last, and the last first by the changed condition of the rich man and the beggar, Jesus proceeds to extract a moral precept from the premises for the benefit of those rich men who had not then as yet become tenants of the tomb. Abraham was requested by the sufferer to send the beggar to his father's house to testify to his five brethren, lest they should be thrust out and exiled to the country of his wretched existence. Now this is the precept put into the mouth of Abraham, to which also we would do well to take heed, "They have Moses and the prophets: let them hear them."
But knowing how little regard they had for Moses and the prophets, he concluded that if this was all the testimony to be granted them, their case was hopeless. Therefore he added, "Nay father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent." But Abraham is made to say, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." This saying was verified in the fact, that though Jesus rose from the dead, and they were notified of its reality by the state-guard, and by the apostles, yet they were not, and would not be persuaded to acknowledge him, and accept repentance and life through his name.
The parable represents by anticipation the relations of things between the "first" and the "last" which will actually obtain when the kingdom is established in the Land of Israel. The things set forth are beyond the resurrection, not before it. At the time of the supposed conversation the parable represents the parties as dead. It is a fictitious conversation between suppositious dead men concerning what is in relation to the then living; and what will be hereafter in regard to themselves then dead. We have an example in Isaiah of the dead holding discourse in the parable against the king of Babylon. The dead kings of the nations are there made to address him in these words-"Art thou also become weak as we? Art thou become like unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations. For thou hast said in thy heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the Mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms! That made the world as a wilderness, that destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?"
Here the dead kings are made to rejoice over their fallen adversary by anticipation; for at the time Isaiah penned this parable the kings were not even born, and Belshazzar had not fallen from the political heaven. It was written in the reign of Ahaz or Hezekiah, about 130 years before Nebuchadnezzar, "the destroyer of the Gentiles," began his conquests, and about 200 before Belshazzar was slain in the midst of his revels. The parable was therefore prophetic of what should be when the time of the fall of the Chaldean dynasty should arrive; and so also the parable of the rich man and the beggar is prophetic, not historical; but an anticipative fictitious narrative, prophetic of what shall obtain when the kingdom of God is established in the land.
In regard to certain expressions in this parable, we may remark that two things are affirmed of the beggar-"he died;" and "was carried." Query, was he carried into Abraham's bosom by the angels as soon as he died, or when? If as soon as he died, then he was laid in the cave of Machpelah; for there the dust once called Abraham was deposited. This, however, is not testified, therefore we cannot confirm it. To a man instructed in the kingdom there is but one other alternative, namely, Abraham is supposed to have been raised, and the beggar also, and the two brought together by the angels: but they were both really dead, an idea that is kept up in the conversation.
The rich man also died, and was buried. He had a pompous funeral, which the beggar had not. Lazarus is not even said to have been put under ground, unless we take the words "was carried" to signify his being placed there. The rich man was buried "in hell," that is "in the unseen"-en to hado-in the grave or tomb. Before falling into dust, he is supposed to have a vision of the future. He lifts up his eyes, and sees. He exists bodily as it were.
He suffers physically, for his tongue is hot, and being in flame he is scorched. Lazarus is also corporeal, and not a shade; for he has a finger. This the sufferer perceives, and desires that the tip of it may be moistened with water, and applied to his tongue. These incidents are enough to prove that the scene has nothing to do with "disembodied spirits," for all parties here are corporeal, and proximate to water in abundance.