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Parables…

I notice that James McGrath took up the ConservativeBible Project this morning, too. It must be going around. But today I have a serious question…

Regarding that “resourceful” manager of Luke 16, what does that parable really mean? Briefly, the rich man is getting ready to fire the bad steward, the bad steward – afraid of the unemployed life – decides to use the rich man’s money to make himself some friends upon whom he can hope to rely after he gets canned. When the rich man discovers this, he praises the manager’s resourcefulness using the enigmatic phrase, “for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” The parable closes with an exhortation to go and do likewise: “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

I’ve noticed that many of the parables don’t seem to make much sense to modern ears (and often those that do seem to were really meant to say something other than what seems natural to us). This one in particular doesn’t make much sense to me… Any ideas?

3 comments to Parables…

  • I have some problems with this parable too. What does the following phrase supposed to mean: “the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light?” For me the answer partly resides in Ecclesiastes 7:16–do not be overly righteous. Being overly righteous means you have not made friends with the mammon of unrighteousness and may end finding yourself in the same predicament as the steward of the parable.

  • It may have something to do with the poor being those who will inherit the kingdom of God. By using your money to their benefit, so that they will then speak up for you, one of the unrighteous rich, when the kingdom dawns.

    But you’re right, it’s a tough parable to make sense of (even for a New Testament scholar!), and presumably the challenges have a lot to do with many assumptions (cultural, economic and religious) that we simply don’t share with the earliest readers of the parable.

  • Yeah – that sounds reasonable. Thanks.

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