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Parable of the Prudent Steward    Listen to .mp3 propecy podcasts.

Lyn Mize

The parable of the prudent steward is one of the least understood parables in the New Testament. I have yet to read one satisfactory explanation of this parable by a Biblical commentator. This includes those commentators that have a general understanding of the parables of the kingdom. The primary reason for this failure of commentators to understand this parable is their failure to understand the Firstfruits Rapture, where unfaithful Christians will be separated from the faithful. These unfaithful Christians will then be provided a short period of time during the first half of the tribulation period to perform works appropriate for reward. The Lord is merciful and forgiving and desires that all Christians perform works meet for reward. I will do my best to explain the meaning of this parable via guidance from the Holy Spirit

Please read the text of the parable as follows before reading the introduction and the explanation of the parable.  

(Luke 16:1-18 KJV)  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. {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. {4} I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. {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? {6} And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. {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. {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. {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. {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? {12} And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? {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. {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. {16} The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. {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.  

Introduction  

In understanding a parable, we must first be able to identify the persons, groups, activities or periods foreshadowed by the characters or symbols in the parable. They are as follows:

Type
Antitype
Verse
Reason
Disciples
Church 1
Parables are addressed to the Church for our edification.
Rich Man
Jesus Christ
2
Jesus is often typified as a rich man in Scripture. Boaz in the book of Ruth is one example, and Joseph is another.

Steward


Christian 1
Christians during the current age are stewards over the Lord’s goods, and will be held accountable when the time of judgment comes.

Accuser


Satan 1
Accuser is one of Satan’s names. (Rev. 12:10) Satan does not tell 100% lies, and in this case the accusation is valid. This particular steward has mismanaged the Lord’s goods during the Church Age.
Lord’s Goods
Christian’s abilities & gifts 1
The Lord’s goods represent the spiritual gifts, talents, abilities and fruit of the Spirit that should be part of the Christian life.
The Call Midnight Cry 2
The time of the Midnight Cry is when the faithful are removed because they have been good stewards. It is also the time when the unfaithful steward is given a “two minute warning”, so to speak to shape up in his works. The time frame is the “hour of temptation” in Rev. 3:10.
Account
Judgment Seat of Christ 2
All Christians must give an account of stewardship at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is very important to note that the unfaithful steward is given a short time to continue working with the Lord’s goods.
Stewardship
Christian Life
2
The Judgment Seat of Christ is a judgment of how the Christian has performed with the Lord’s goods.
“What shall I do?”
During the tribulation period! 3
The steward will have a short time to work after he is warned that he must provide an accounting of his stewardship. He will have complete control over all of the Lord’s goods for a short time. (Please read my exegesis of the Church section of the Olivet Discourse)
“taketh away  stewardship”
Failure to enter the Kingdom of Heaven 3
The steward becomes very much aware that he could lose his stewardship. Most Christians do not recognize this at the present time, but they will be aware of this fact after the Firstfruits Rapture.
“Cannot dig”
Work in the earth. 3
All Christians are destined for the New Jerusalem, and will not be part of the earthly inheritance. Saved Jews & Gentiles will receive the earthly inheritance. The steward knows that his inheritance is not earthly.
“to beg”
To have no inheritance in the heavenly aspect of the kingdom. 3
The steward is ashamed to end up with no inheritance in the heavenly aspect of the kingdom, so he sets about dealing with the Lord’s goods. He will not receive a full measure of reward for his works, but he will realize a portion, for which he will be commended.
"resolved what to do"
Makes a decision to work. 4
The steward decides to be a “doer” instead of just a “hearer”. He decides to work with the ones that will inherit both the earthly and heavenly aspects of the kingdom, so he will be well received into their houses.
“put out of the stewardship”
Lose his position in the heavenly aspect of the kingdom. 4
The steward anticipates that he will lose his position in the heavenly aspect of the kingdom, so he begins to work with those that owe olive oil, and those that owe harvested grain or wheat. The olive tree typifies the Jews and the wheat typifies the Church. Both are present in the first half of the tribulation, and both will produce works (i.e., olive oil and wheat). The steward will be successful in securing both oil and wheat, though in lesser amounts than the faithful stewards that qualified for a full reward at the first call (i.e., Firstfruits Rapture). The steward will be commended for faithfulness in “a little”. It is significant that no mention is made of grapes or the vintage (i.e., Gentiles). This occurs in the last half of the tribulation when this steward is not present.
“houses”
The New Jerusalem & the Earthly Jerusalem 4
Since the steward is a Christian, he will have access to the New Jerusalem and the Earth during the Millennial kingdom. Those in the Church will reign from the New Jerusalem, and the Jews will reign from Jerusalem upon the Earth. Thus, “houses” is in the plural.
“lord’s debtors”
The 144,000 Jewish Firstfruits & the Church left on the earth at the Separation (i.e., Firstfruits) 5
The oil is olive oil, and the olive tree typifies the Jews. The wheat typifies the Church, which owes grain. At this point, neither has paid the debt of works that each owes. The oil and grain typify the works that both Jews and the Church should have produced. These works will be paid during the first half of the tribulation as a result of the prudent steward, “who called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him.”
“hundred measures of oil”
The full debt owed by the Jews for the inheritance of the double portion. 6
The Jews fail to qualify for both the heavenly and earthly aspects of the kingdom, but they do pay the 50 measures of oil and qualify for the earthly aspect. It is the 144,000 Jewish Firstfruits that pay their debt of works in the first half of the tribulation. They are the ones who go on to preach the gospel of the kingdom during the last half of the tribulation, which results in the grape and vintage harvest.
“fifty”
Number of jubilee or salvation. 6
The 144,000 produce 50 measures of oil to qualify for entrance into the earthly aspect. The 144,000 never occupy or reign from the New Jerusalem. They reign from the earthly Jerusalem.
“hundred measures of wheat”
The full debt owed by the Church for a full reward in the kingdom of heaven. 7
The 100 measures of wheat represent a full reward in the kingdom of heaven, and it is significant that only 80 measures are paid. Only the ones taken in the Firstfruits Rapture attained to the 100 measures of wheat. Consequently, no one left after the Firstfruits Rapture will qualify for the highest positions in the kingdom of heaven. It is significant that the Church was required to pay 80% and the Jews only 50%. More is required of them, since they were indwelled by the Holy Spirit, and they should have known better.
“lord commended”
Well done, thy good & faithful servant. 8
The commendation is an approval or praise at the Judgment Seat of Christ for his faithfulness during the tribulation period. He was faithful over a little, so he will be rewarded with being ruler over many things.
“unjust steward”
Christian that was unfaithful at the Separation or Firstfruits rapture but became faithful during the tribulation. 8
This Christian is called unjust because he was this way at the time of the Firstfruits Rapture, or Separation, but he did perform works during the tribulation period that deserved commendation at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Even though he was unwise at the Midnight Cry, he acted wisely or prudently during the tribulation period. This parable of the “unjust steward” that becomes the “prudent steward” runs parallel with the parable of the talents in the Olivet Discourse. Please read my exegesis of the Parable of the Talents for more insight into this parable.
“children of this world”
The Church 8
This phrase speaks literally of the Church Age, so the children (i.e., huios or sons) of the Church Age are “wiser” in this age than the children of light were in their “generation” or age.
“children of light”
The Jews in their generation. 8
The Jews had one age or 2000 years to perform works for the Lord. When John the Baptist came to them with Jesus Christ following, the Jews rejected both, and totally lost their inheritance in the kingdom of heaven. Even though most of the Church will be separated at the Firstfruits Rapture, most will awaken during the first half of the tribulation and will realize their inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.

The parable ends with verse 8. Continuing with the introduction, it is important to make a few comments on significant aspects of the parable. First, it is necessary in understanding the parable to know that even though the steward had mismanaged his master’s affairs up until that point, his actions after being confronted by the master (i.e., The Firstfruits Rapture) warranted a commendation by the master. The steward is then commended as a wise or prudent steward.

Second, it is important to see the parallels with other parables that describe the same events. The unrighteous steward in this parable is the same as the evil servant in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24:48-51. He is also the same as the first two servants in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. He is not the same as the third servant in the parable of the talents, as the third servant does not alter his behavior by trading with the “Lord’s goods” wisely.

Third, this parable says nothing about spirit salvation. It is a kingdom parable, and the whole issue is entering the kingdom of heaven as a servant king. Thus, the mention of what is owed by the debtors is not in relation to going to heaven, but it is related to entrance into either the earthly aspect or the heavenly aspect of the kingdom. All debtors are already spiritually saved and works become the issue.

Fourth, please keep in mind that the Lord does not commend someone for doing something that is evil. The actions of the steward after being confronted by the master were beneficial to both the steward and the master. The master received a 50% and 80% settlement on debts, and the steward was commended for faithfulness over a little. This is the same as the first two servants in the parable of the talents. They were found faithful over a few things, so they were given charge over many things.

We will now begin our verse-by-verse explanation of the parable of the prudent steward. The Lord has been teaching a series of parables, and He has just finished with the one on the prodigal son.

(Luke 16:1 KJV)  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.

The Lord is telling his disciples the parable. The parable applies to all Christians who would be disciples. The rich man is Jesus Christ, and the steward is the Christian in the current age that has mismanaged the affairs of his Master. He is the unfaithful Christian that has not conducted himself in accordance with his responsibilities as a steward of the Lord’s goods. The accuser is Satan who accuses the brethren night and day in accordance with the following Scripture:

(Rev 12:10 KJV)  And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Even though Satan is the Father of Lies, he does not tell 100% lies. Sometimes, he tells the truth, and in this case, the steward had “wasted his goods” up until the point in time when the call to accountability is issued. The Midnight Cry is the call to accountability, and the faithful stewards are rewarded immediately at the Firstfruits Rapture.

(Luke 16:2 KJV)  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.

The call in this verse occurs at the Midnight Cry when Jesus takes out his bride in the Firstfruits Rapture. The steward is made aware of his negligence, and he is confronted with the possibility that “thou mayest be no longer steward”. The “mayest” makes this a conditional warning that he may lose his stewardship, depending upon the accounting that is he to provide the Master after a short period of time. The parable is clear that the steward has an additional amount of time to provide his accounting, and his discharge would depend upon the accounting that he provides. The time period that the steward continues to oversee the Master’s goods is the first half of the tribulation period (i.e., 42 months). The final accounting is the Judgment Seat of Christ at the Main Harvest Rapture of the Church. The steward has already failed to qualify as the faithful and wise servant, as described in the Olivet Discourse as follows:

(Mat 24:45 KJV)  Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?

(Mat 24:46 KJV)  Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.

(Mat 24:47 KJV)  Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.

However, the steward can still qualify as the good and faithful servant, as described in the Olivet Discourse as follows:

(Mat 25:22 KJV)  He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.

(Mat 25:23 KJV)  His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

(Luke 16:3 KJV)  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.

At this point the steward has been confronted about his mismanagement and warned that he must provide an accounting of his stewardship over the Lord’s affairs. The steward contemplates his predicament and goes through the mental process of deciding what to do. The phrase “I cannot dig” refers to working in the earth, and this refers to the earthly aspect of the kingdom. The steward has no part in this aspect of the kingdom, and the phrase shows that he understands this. The phrase “to beg I am ashamed” shows that he is too ashamed to show up empty-handed and poverty-stricken in the heavenly aspect of the kingdom. It is significant that the prodigal son typifies the one who ends up with no inheritance in the kingdom of heaven. This is confirmed in Luke 15:30-31.

(Luke 16:4 KJV)  I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.

The steward resolves to work diligently in managing the Master’s affairs, and he decides to befriend the Lord’s debtors by giving them a discount. He determines in his own heart that by giving them a discount, they will be receptive to him “into their houses” when he is no longer the Master’s steward. “Their houses” in the parable represent both the heavenly and earthly aspects of the Kingdom of God. This is confirmed in the following verses where the debtors owed olive oil and grain (i.e., wheat). The olive oil refers to the works of Israel, as represented by the olive tree. The grain (i.e., wheat) refers to the works of the Church, as typified by the stalks of wheat. Israel as the Firstborn son had the double portion as its inheritance, but lost the heavenly portion because of unfaithfulness. There will be many in the Church that will also lose this portion of the kingdom because of unfaithfulness.

Note: I believe the key to understanding this parable is in understanding that the steward working in his own best interest is also working in the Master’s best interest. For example, the steward is merciful and forgiving of the Lord’s debtors, and he provides a way for them to settle their accounts and pay their debts. This is pleasing to the Lord, as He desires that they settle up with their debts, so they may also realize their inheritance in the kingdom of God. The Scriptures are clear that the mercy and forgiveness that we show in dealing with our fellow Christians and the Jews will reflect the mercy that the Lord shows to us at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Consequently, the steward is probably surprised to be commended by the Master for his prudent handling of the Lord’s goods in the short term after his warning.

(Luke 16:5 KJV)  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 begins to work very diligently and very quickly in managing the Master’s affairs—even though he is working in his own best interests as described in the above note. This is exactly what God wants us to do. I have actually had fellow Christians chastise me because I work in the Lord’s vineyard for rewards. This is not only pleasing to the Lord, but it is a significant aspect of His plan. The following verse confirms this:

(Heb 11:6 KJV)  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

There are numerous verses that exhort us to work for reward and to not lose it. Just look up the word “reward” in any concordance for an understanding of its importance to God.

The steward begins to call every one of the Lord’s debtors in an attempt to collect a significant portion of their debt and befriend them at the same time. The steward will be commended later by the Master for his prudence in doing this.

(Luke 16:6 KJV)  And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.

The first debtor represents the 144,000 Jewish Firstfruits who are saved immediately after the Firstfruits Rapture and perform works worthy of entrance into the earthly aspect of the kingdom. They pay 50% of their debt, and qualify for half of their inheritance, which is the earthly aspect of the kingdom. They lose the heavenly aspect of the kingdom, which is represented by the other 50% of their debt.

The word “quickly” represents the short amount of time that the steward has to transact business. Three and one-half years is a very short period of time in relation to the 2000 years of the Church Age, or even in relation to a lifetime of failure to work for the Lord.

(Luke 16:7 KJV)  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 next debtor represents the Main Body of the Church, which has been separated from the Firstfruits. Wheat typifies the Main Body of the Church, while barley typifies the Firstfruits of the Church. After the Firstfruits Rapture the Main Body of the Church still owes a debt of works to the Master. It is significant that the steward requires the Main Body of the Church to pay 80% of their debt instead of 50%. The 144,000 Jewish Firstfruits are just saved at the beginning of the tribulation period, but the Main Body of the Church has been saved spiritually for a much longer period of time. They have been indwelled by the Holy Spirit and they have had ample opportunity to repent and perform works (i.e., pay their debt). Therefore, they are required to pay 80% to settle up their debt of good works owed to the Lord.

(Luke 16:8 KJV)  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 commendation of the unjust steward takes place at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Even though he was “the unjust steward” at the Firstfruits Rapture, he has now “done wisely”. He has now been faithful in a few things, so he will be made steward over many things. He will not be made “ruler over all his goods” (Matthew 24:47), which is the reward for the “faithful and wise servant” at the Firstfruits Rapture.

The “children of this world” (i.e., age) are the members of the Church. They have been wiser in the Church Age “than the children of light” in “their generation”. “The children of light” are the Jews and “their generation” was the 2000 years that began with Abraham and ended with the coming of Jesus the first time.

The earth has been granted 6000 years, or six days to work before the seventh day of rest. The first 2000 years or two days were for the Gentiles. The second 2000 years or two days were for the Jews, and the third 2000 years or two days were for the Church. There are numerous types in the Old Testament that depict the Jews as being barren, while the Church is fruitful. The following verse sums up this state of affairs:

(Mat 21:43 KJV)  Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you (i.e., the Jews), and given to a nation (i.e., the Church) bringing forth the fruits thereof.

(Luke 16:9 KJV)  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.

In summarizing the parable to His disciples, Jesus exhorts the “unjust steward” to use the wealth of the world, which is the “mammon of unrighteousness”, to befriend God’s people, so that when the “mammon of unrighteousness” fails, God’s people will receive them into “everlasting habitations”. The correct translation of this phrase is “age of tabernacles”. The “age of tabernacles” is the millennial kingdom and refers to both the heavenly and earthly aspects. An accurate paraphrase of this verse is as follows:

(Luke 16:9 Paraphrase) And I say unto you unjust stewards, at the calling for accountability be sure to provide worldly necessities for your Christian brethren and Jewish fellowservants, so that when the world system ends, these Christian brethren and Jewish fellowservants will receive you favorably into the millennial kingdom (i.e., Age of Tabernacles).

(Luke 16:10 KJV)  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.

An accurate paraphrase of this verse reveals the meaning:

(Luke 16:10 Paraphrase) If you are faithful in this small thing, then you will be faithful in ruling over many things in my kingdom. If you are unfaithful in this little thing, then you will be unfaithful in ruling over many things in my kingdom.

(Luke 16:11 KJV)  If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

An accurate paraphrase of this verse is as follows:

(Luke 16:11 Paraphrase) If you are not faithful in providing the worldly needs for my Christian and Jewish servants during this time of trial that is coming upon the earth, then I will not commit to you rulership over the true riches in my coming kingdom.

(Luke 16:12 KJV)  And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?

An accurate paraphrase of this verse is as follows:

(Luke 16:12 Paraphrase) If you are not faithful in using the spiritual gifts that I have provided for you, then you will lose your inheritance.

(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.

An accurate paraphrase of this verse is as follows:

(Luke 16:13 Paraphrase) No disciple of mine can love and hoard wealth, and be a faithful servant at the same time. If you are a seeker after wealth, then you cannot be my faithful servant and share my inheritance.

(Luke 16:14 KJV)  And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.

The Pharisees were also hearing these things that Jesus was explaining to His disciples. They made fun of Him for what He was teaching.

(Luke 16:15 KJV)  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.

Jesus responded by telling them that they attempted to justify their actions in the sight of men, but their hearts were evil. Wealth was highly esteemed by men and the Pharisees sought after it, but worldly wealth is an abomination in the sight of God.

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

The Age of the Jews continued from Abraham until John the Baptist, and then John the Baptist preached the kingdom of God. Jesus and His disciples also preached the kingdom of God, and all kinds of men sought to enter it forcefully.

(Luke 16:17 KJV)  And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

Even though the age of the law and prophets ceased with the coming of John the Baptist, every minor detail of the Old Testament prophecies will be fulfilled without fail.

(Luke 16:18 KJV)  Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.

This verse appears to be inserted from out of nowhere with absolutely no relationship to the subject at hand. However, it is here for a reason and it must have a purpose. I think the verse was inserted by the Holy Spirit to emphasize God the Father’s faithfulness to Israel—even though Israel has been disobedient. Even though Israel has been set aside for a time, God the Father will take her back as His wife at the appropriate time. The book of Hosea teaches this important truth. I think this verse also teaches that Jesus Christ the Son will not take Israel as His bride, but His bride will be the Church. God has set Israel aside temporarily, but He will take her back at the appropriate time. Since Israel is the wife of God the Father, Israel cannot also be the wife of Jesus Christ.

In the book of Esther, Vashti typifies unfaithful Israel who is put away, but Esther typifies faithful Israel restored as the wife of God the Father. Ruth in the book of Ruth typifies the bride of Christ. The bride of Christ is not the Church, even though the whole Church has been betrothed or promised to Christ. The majority of the Church has committed spiritual harlotry before the wedding takes place, so the majority of the Church will be separated (i.e., divorced) before the wedding takes place.