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Parable of the Unjust Steward

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Title: Parable of the Unjust Steward  
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Subject: Parables of Jesus, Matthew 6:24, James Eckford Lauder, Gospel of Luke, Parable of the empty jar
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Parable of the Unjust Steward

Jan Luyken etching of the parable, Bowyer Bible.

The Parable of the Unjust Steward (also called the Shrewd Manager) is a parable of Jesus which appears in only one of the Canonical gospels of the New Testament. According to Luke 16:1-13 a steward who is about to be fired curries favor with his master's debtors by remitting some of their debts.


  • Passage 1
  • Interpretation 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5




  • Biblical Art on the WWW: The Shrewd Manager

External links

  1. ^ Daryl Koehn, "Integrity as a Business Asset", Journal of Business Ethics, (2005) 58: 125–136
  2. ^ The Catholic Study Bible, Oxford University Press, 1990, footnote to Luke 16 v 1-8a
  3. ^ a b c d e Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke, Eerdmans, 1997, ISBN 0-8028-2315-7, pp. 590-595.
  4. ^ a b c John Phillips, Exploring the Gospel of Luke: An expository commentary, Kregel Publications, 2005, ISBN 0-8254-3377-0, pp. 216-217.
  5. ^ Asterius of Amasia, Sermon 2: The Unjust Steward, Sermons (1904) pp. 45-71.
  6. ^ a b c William Tyndale, The Parable of the Wicked Mammon (1528), also printed in The Works of the English reformers: William Tyndale and John Frith, Volume 1 (1831), pp. 83–161.
  7. ^ Mike Pincombe and Cathy Shrank, The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature, Oxford University Press, 2009, ISBN 0-19-920588-4, p. 109.
  8. ^ J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on the Gospels, with the text complete, London: Wertheim, Macintosh, and Hunt, 1859, p. 199.
  9. ^ Charlesworth, James, ed. (1992). Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls. New York: Doubleday. p. 181.  


See also

David Flusser, in a book titled Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls, has taken the phrase "sons of light" to mean the Essenes; their closed economic system is contrasted with that of other people who were less strict.[9]

Let us contend earnestly for the glorious doctrines of salvation by grace, and justification by faith. But let us never allow ourselves to suppose that true religion sanctions any trifling with the second table of the law. Let us never forget for a moment, that true faith will always be known by its fruits. We may be very sure that where there is no honesty, there is no grace.[8]

The Anglican theologian J. C. Ryle, writing in 1859, rejected a number of allegorical interpretations of the parable, and gave an interpretation similar to that of Tyndale:

English Reformer William Tyndale was at pains to emphasise the consistency of this parable with the doctrine of justification by faith, writing a booklet on the parable called The Parable of the Wicked Mammon (1528),[6] based on an exposition by Martin Luther.[7] Tyndale saw "good works" as the result of faith.[6] Tyndale also pointed out that the steward was not praised by Jesus for his conduct, but merely provided as an example of wisdom and diligence, so that "we with righteousness should be as diligent to provide for our souls, as he with unrighteousness provided for his body."[6]

When, therefore, any one anticipating his end and his removal to the next world, lightens the burden of his sins by good deeds, either by canceling the obligations of debtors, or by supplying the poor with abundance, by giving what belongs to the Lord, he gains many friends, who will attest his goodness before the Judge, and secure him by their testimony a place of happiness.[5]

The parable shares the theme of other passages where "Jesus counsels the disposition of possessions (and hospitality) on behalf of the poor with the understanding that, while mammon will vanish, eternal treasure will have thus been secured."[3] When death comes, "the power we have to do good with our money ceases, so we should do good with it now"[4] so that the friends we have made on earth will be waiting for us in heaven.[4] This interpretation was also espoused by early church writers, such as Asterius of Amasia:

The manager in the parable is probably a slave or freedman acting as his master's agent in business affairs.[3] As his master's representative, the agreements he signs with the debtors are therefore binding.[3]

[3] for the manager's "shrewdness," Jesus labels the manager "dishonest."[4] However, although the master has "a certain grudging admiration"[3] but not all scholars agree with this interpretation.[2]

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