The Parable of the Unrighteous Steward – Luke 16:1-13 – Inductive Bible Study

Luke 16:1-13

1 Now He was also saying to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions.  2 “And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’  3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg.  4′I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.’  5 “And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?‘  6 “And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’  7 “Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’  8 “And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.  9 “And I say to you, make friendsfor yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so thatwhen it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings

10 ” He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.  11 “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealthwho will entrust the true riches to you?  12 “And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will 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 be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve Godand wealth.” 

  1. What title do you give to this parable?

The shrewd manager

Worldly wisdom

Proper use of wealth

Winning friends

Temporal versus eternal

Devotion to one master

What will money buy?

Whom will you serve?

Settling accounts

Planning for the future

  1. What other parables have similar characteristics or theme?

The talents

The creditor and two debtors

The good Samaritan

The lost son

The minas

  1. Who was Jesus speaking to when He gave this parable?

His disciples. V1

  1. What was the context for this parable?

Jesus is teaching with parables about various issues such as repentance, commitment, and suffering that accompany salvation.

  1. What are the main elements of the parable and what does each represent?
    1. rich man – God
    2. manager – every man
    3. reported to him – God’s omniscience
    4. squandering – wasteful, bad stewardship
    5. his possessions – blessings from God
    6. an accounting – the judgment
    7. your management – your life
    8. no longer be manager – death
    9. said to himself – self talk
    10. What shall I do – preparing for the accounting
    11. taking the management away – end of stewardship
    12. not strong enough to dig – unwilling to work
    13. ashamed to beg – unwilling to humble himself
    14. I know what I shall do – makes a plan
    15. people will welcome me – preparing for the future
    16. their homes – temporal rewards
    17. summoned – appointment
    18. master’s debtors – those with whom he had influence
    19. How much do you owe my master? –
    20. A hundred measures of oil –
    21. Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty –
    22. A hundred measures of wheat –
    23. Take your bill, and write eighty –
    24. unrighteous –
    25. acted shrewdly –
    26. sons of this age – unbelievers
    27. more shrewd – worldly savvy, wisdom
    28. their own kind – other unbelievers
    29. sons of light – believers
    30. make friends – the Lord, the angels, other believers, the poor
    31. means of the wealth of unrighteousness – material possessions
    32. when it fails – temporal nature of material possessions
    33. receive you – enter into His presence
    34. eternal dwellings – heaven
    35. faithful – been a good steward
    36. very little thing – earthly wealth
    37. in much –true riches
    38. unrighteous –
    39. unrighteous wealth – earthly riches
    40. who will entrust – only God entrusts true riches
    41. true riches – spiritual riches
    42. that which is another’s –
    43. that which is your own –
    44. two masters –
    45. hate the one –
    46. love the other –
    47. devoted to one –
    48. despise the other –
    49. cannot serve God –
    50. and wealth –
  1. What spiritual principle(s) does this parable teach?
    1. We are all stewards, both believers and unbelievers.
    2. God wants us to exercise our stewardship wisely
    3. Our stewardship with earthly wealth determines what true riches God will entrust to us.
    4. Unbelievers sometimes outperform believers. This should never be!
    5. Earthly wealth is not just a little thing. It is a very little thing!
    6. It is impossible to love both God and the world!
    7. Though money cannot buy friends or happiness, it most certainly can be wisely used in the pursuit of these.
    8. Godly principles can be learned from sinful examples.
    9. Earthly wealth is temporary, but the true riches are eternal.
    10. The enemy always tries to rush us into a decision.
  1. Cross references to this parable?

Rom 14:12

12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

Heb 9:27

27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,

1 Cor 4:1-2

Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.

Eph 3:2

2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you;

1 Peter 4:10

10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

1 Cor 3:13-15

13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Acts 17:31

31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

Prov 19:17

17 One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD,

And He will repay him for his good deed.

Eccl 11:1

Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.

Matt 6:19-21

19 ” Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;  21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matt 19:21

21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and  sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Matt 25:35-40

35’For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;  36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’  37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?  38’And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?  39’When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  40 ” The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

1 Tim 6:17-19

17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

Matt 6:1-4

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.  2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.  3 “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Heb 6:10

10 For God is not unjust so as to forget  your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.

Gal 6:9-10

9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Luke 21:33

33 ” Heaven and earth will pass away , but My words will not pass away .

Isa 40:8

8 The grass withers, the flower fades,

But the word of our God stands forever.

1 Thess 5:4-5

4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness;

1 Peter 2:9

9 But you areA CHOSEN RACE, A royalPRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION,A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

1 John 3:10

10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

Prov 20:6

6 Many a man proclaims his own loyalty,

But who can find a trustworthy man?

Prov 18:16

16 A man’sgift makes room for him

And brings him before great men.

1 John 2:15-17

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

Mark 4:18-19

18 “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word,  19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

  1. Questions or problems with the interpretation of this parable.
    1. How are believers to imitate unbelievers?
    2. Why was one debtor given a 50% reduction and another 20%?
    3. Why was this steward commended?
    4. How can we use earthly wealth to make friends?
    5. Name some “little things” it’s important to be faithful in.
    6. What’s an effective way to become faithful in the “big things”?
    7. What are some “big things” you want to be faithful in?
    8. Explain what V12 means and give an example of this principle.
    9. Why is it impossible to serve both God and wealth?
    10. Why are earthly riches referred to as unrighteous?
    11. Why did the steward urge the debtor to act quickly?
  1. Based on this parable, what changes in my life does Jesus want me to make?

Reevaluate our giving and adjust it if God so leads.

More Bible Studies
Join Our Newsletter

We want to help you study the Bible, obey the Bible, and teach the Bible to others. We have therefore created a library of almost one thousand (and growing) inductive Bible studies, which are available for free. This takes a lot of time and hard work.

Help us continue to create Bible study resources by supporting Study and Obey for as little as $1.


Sharing is caring!