Luke 16:14-18

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

November 7, 2001


Jesus had been invited to a Pharisee’s house for supper (Luke 14:1). While He was there, He dealt with some of the pride and snobbishness of the Pharisees. He talked to the “sinners” who had shown up to let them know that it was going to take a full commitment to be His disciple. When the Pharisees became offended that Jesus was talking to “sinners”, He responded by telling them about God’s heart towards the lost. God wants to have the “lost” be “found”.

Last time, we saw Jesus finally turn and begin to teach His own disciples.

Jesus told the parable of the “unjust steward” who was going to be fired for doing a bad job with his boss’s finances. When the man realized he would be out on the street, he used his position to endear himself to his boss’s creditors. Jesus then told the disciples that they too needed to have a healthy approach to the use of money. They needed to learn to be careful about what they did with their money. They needed to see that the money God had entrusted to them could be a tool for God to use so that others could come to trust in Jesus.

Then Jesus ended with,

(Luke 16:13 KJV) 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.
In the end, we need to be careful that money doesn’t become our “god”. Jesus wants us to be sure that God is our master, and not our money.

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

covetousphilarguros (“love” + “silver”) – loving money, avarice

This word (or a close form of it) is found two other places in Scripture –

(2 Tim 3:1-2 KJV) This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. {2} For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
(1 Tim 6:10 KJV) For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

they deridedekmukterizo – to deride by turning up the nose (or, snout), to sneer at, to scoff at

Why would the Pharisees turn up their noses at the teaching of Jesus?

He had nailed them. They were convicted.

Perhaps they were those who were offended at the concept of someone telling them what to do with their money.

Instead, Jesus taught that we are stewards, God has entrusted His riches to us, and we are responsible to use them wisely and for the things that God wants us to use them for.

Perhaps they were blind to the fact that their money had indeed become their “god”.

Maybe they were living to make money, rather than living to serve God.


Be careful to recognize conviction

It seems to me that the Pharisees were having a problem because they were being convicted by the words that Jesus was speaking.

There’s the old Eskimo saying, “Throw a rock into a pack of dogs, and the one that cries out is the one that got hit”

Sometimes it’s easier to stick our noses in the air and criticize rather than face the truth that I’ve got a problem and need to change.
Perhaps this is because sometimes we get the idea that people are just overly critical:


Maranatha Magazine carried the following humorous story about criticism:

“The wife of a hard-to-please husband was determined to try her best to satisfy him for just one day. ‘Darling,’ she asked, ‘what would you like for breakfast this morning?’ He growled, ‘Coffee and toast, grits and sausage, and two eggs—one scramble and one fried.’ She soon had the food on the table and waited for a word of praise. After a quick glance, he exclaimed, ‘Well, if you didn’t scramble the wrong egg!”

But there are going to be times when people who love you will confront you about something that might need to change in your life.
(Prov 15:31-32 KJV) The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. {32} He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.
I don’t like criticism. I hate criticism. But sometimes I am blind to areas of my life that need work.

I heard of a person who spoke at a large conference once. As the person got up to speak, it was obvious that there was something incredibly embarrassing about their appearance. It was obvious to everyone who was at the conference. It was hard to listen to what the person was saying because their appearance was so distracting. But even worse than the person’s appearance was the fact that no one had bothered to tell the speaker about their appearance before they got up on stage.

Sometimes I respond to criticism by simply getting angry and thinking that this is just a critical, mean person that’s talking to me. But in my rare, wiser moments, I sometimes realize that this is something I need to be hearing.

:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts:

they which justifydikaioo – to render righteous or such he ought to be; to show, exhibit, evince, one to be righteous, such as he is and wishes himself to be considered; to declare, pronounce, one to be just, righteous, or such as he ought to be

beforeenopion – in the presence of, before; of occupied place: in that place which is before, or over against, opposite, any one and towards which another turns his eyes

knowethginosko – to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel; to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of. Present tense – continuous action

The Pharisees were quite accomplished at “looking good” before other people, but inside their hearts were in horrible shape.

(Mat 23:23-28 KJV) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Tithing your herbs is an outward thing. Having judgment, mercy, and faith are inner qualities.

{24} Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. {25} Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. {26} Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. {27} Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. {28} Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Jesus is probably the only one who can say this because only God can know what’s in a person’s heart.


Appearances can be deceiving

It’s not impossible for a person to appear to be the greatest human that ever lived, yet inside they are the farthest thing from it.
When Samuel was sent by God to pick out the next king from Jesse’s sons, the oldest son Eliab looked pretty promising –
1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for [the LORD seeth] not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
I don’t think we can take this and try to judge whether or not a person has a good heart or not.
The point is not about how we view others, the point is about how we view ourselves.
God doesn’t want me working to put up a front to others. He wants genuine Christians.
The Emperor's Seeds
Once there was an emperor in the Far East who was growing old and knew it was coming time to choose his successor. Instead of choosing one of his assistants or one of his own children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young people in the kingdom together one day. He said, “It has come time for me to step down and to choose the next emperor. I have decided to choose one of you.” The kids were shocked! But the emperor continued. “I am going to give each one of you a seed today. One seed. It is a very special seed. I want you to go home, plant the seed, water it and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring to me, and the one I choose will be the next emperor of the kingdom!”
There was one boy named Ling who was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his mother the whole story. She helped him get a pot and some planting soil, and he planted the seed and watered it carefully. Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other youths began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Ling kept going home and checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by. Still nothing. By now others were talking about their plants but Ling didn’t have a plant, and he felt like a failure. Six months went by—still nothing in Ling’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Ling didn’t say anything to his friends, however. He just kept waiting for his seed to grow.
A year finally went by and all the youths of the kingdom brought their plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling told his mother that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she encouraged him to go, and to take his pot, and to be honest about what happened. Ling felt sick to his stomach, but he knew his mother was right. He took his empty pot to the palace.
When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by all the other youths. They were beautiful—in all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the other kinds laughed at him. A few felt sorry for him and just said, “Hey nice try.”
When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the emperor. “Today, one of you will be appointed the next emperor!”
All of a sudden, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified. “The emperor knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me killed!” When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name. “My name is Ling,” he replied. All the kids were laughing and making fun of him. The emperor asked everyone to quiet down. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, “Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!”
Ling couldn’t believe it. Ling couldn’t even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor?
Then the emperor said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds which would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grown, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new emperor!”

Edited from More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice. Copyright 1995 by Youth Specialties, Inc.

The people that our King will use will be people who are genuine.  We may not always be victorious, awesome, powerful people.  But God wants us to be real people.  Then, when God does a work, people will see that God has done it, and they won’t have to wonder if it’s a fake.

:15 for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

that which is highly esteemed hupselos – high, lofty; metaph. eminent, exalted; in influence and honour

abomination bdelugma – a foul thing, a detestable thing; of idols and things pertaining to idolatry. The verb bdelussomai is to feel nausea because of stench, to abhor, to detest.

This is the word used to describe the “abomination of desolation” (Mat. 24:15), when something would happen in the temple of God, something so horrible and foul, that it would bring desolation to the temple. We know that the antichrist will stand in the holy place and declare himself to be God to fulfill this.

in the sight of enopion – in the presence of, before; of occupied place: in that place which is before, or over against, opposite, any one and towards which another turns his eyes

This word is used twice in this verse – “before men” and here, “in the sight of God”

The Pharisees were more concerned about what was done “in the sight of men” rather than “in the sight of God”.


God’s standards aren’t like ours

People admire things like money, position, and power.
God has different standards –
(Micah 6:8 KJV)  He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
We need to seek God and learn to value the things He values.
(Isa 55:6-9 KJV)  Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: {7} Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. {8} For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. {9} For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

the law and the prophets – a way of referring to the Old Testament.

John – meaning John the Baptist, the one who came before Jesus to prepare people for Jesus’ coming.

the kingdom of God – the message about Jesus, God’s love for His people, and that the time has come for people to repent and get right with God.

With the Pharisees, they seemed to have the idea that you were either perfect like they were, or you were hopeless.  God’s message was that people everywhere should change their ways, to repent.

is preachedeuaggelizo – to bring good news, to announce glad tidings

pressethbiazo – to use force, to apply force; to force, inflict violence on

The word is found one other place –

Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

Apparently, this is what Jesus is saying –

(Luke 16:16 NLT) "Until John the Baptist began to preach, the laws of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and eager multitudes are forcing their way in.

The sinners had made their presence at this meal, trying to get close to Jesus.

(Luke 15:1-2 KJV) Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. {2} And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

easiereukopoteros (“good” + “labor”) – with easy labour; easy

to passparerchomai – to go past, pass by; metaph. to pass away, perish

tittle keraia – a little horn; extremity, apex, point; used by grammarians of the accents and diacritical points. Jesus used it of the little lines or projections, by which the Hebrew letters in other respects similar differ from one another; the meaning is, “not even the minutest part of the law shall perish”.

to failpipto – to descend from a higher place to a lower; to fall (either from or upon); to fall out, fall from i.e. shall perish or be lost; to perish, i.e come to an end, disappear, cease

(Luke 16:17 NLT) But that doesn't mean that the law has lost its force in even the smallest point. It is stronger and more permanent than heaven and earth.

God wasn’t changing the rules with Jesus.  The Law was still in effect.  Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not get rid of it.

:18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.

This seems to be out of place, as if Jesus is switching subjects. I think instead He’s giving and example of how the Law doesn’t pass away. In fact, there’s a sense in which Jesus makes the requirements of the law more difficult than the Pharisees.

putteth awayapoluo – to set free; to let go, dismiss, (to detain no longer); to let go free, release; used of divorce, to dismiss from the house, to repudiate. The wife of a Greek or Roman may divorce her husband.

marriethgameo – to lead in marriage, take to wife; to get married, to marry

committeth adultery moicheuo – to commit adultery; to be an adulterer; to commit adultery with, have unlawful intercourse with another’s wife.


Understanding broad statements

I think we need to be careful when we see general statements like this.
They will apply to most of the circumstances, but there may be other Scriptures that bring in a balance.
Does this mean that there can never be “divorce”? No. Jesus is simply making a general statement aimed at the audience before Him. They need to hear this statement.
We’ve recently covered this topic of divorce and remarriage several times and have seen there are at least two exceptions to the “no divorce” rule.

(Mat 5:31-32 KJV) It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: {32} But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.


(1 Cor 7:15 KJV) But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

So why does Jesus make such a broad statement without clarifying it?  Because He’s speaking to a specific audience that needs to hear something strict like this.




The word “adultery”, or its various forms (adulterer, adulteress, etc.) is found 69 times (in KJV) in the Bible (88 in NIV). This is a major subject in the eyes of God.
The first time we see the word is in the Ten Commandments –

(Exo 20:14 KJV) Thou shalt not commit adultery.

In the second occurrence, we are told of the punishment for adultery –

(Lev 20:10 KJV) And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

Solomon tells us that it is a foolish thing –

(Prov 6:32-35 KJV) But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. {33} A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. {34} For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. {35} He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.

Usually, a person doesn’t take too much time to think of the consequences of their actions. But life would sure be a lot easier if we truly thought about what we were doing. Are we aware of all the people that our actions will hurt? How about the deep hurt to our spouse? How about the turmoil we would bring into our children’s lives? How about other family members, parents, grandparents? What about our own integrity, our name becoming that of an “adulterer”? How about others who are just on the edge, looking for someone else to stumble so they would have an excuse to do the same?

Even if you’re not currently being tempted with adultery, it doesn’t hurt to keep a list handy of what the consequences of that sin would bring.

Jesus’ teachings on adultery seem to focus on two main areas. In His teachings, Jesus seems to “raise the bar”, showing us that it is far easier than we think to commit adultery.

First, the simple act of looking on a woman for the purpose of lust is the same as adultery –

(Mat 5:27-28 KJV) Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: {28} But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Secondly, Jesus taught that a misuse of the divorce laws (as here) results in adultery.

Should we be concerned about “adultery”.  I would imagine so.  Just as with all the things that God wants to do in our lives.