Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Verse 9 (Luke 16:9)

The mammon of unrighteousness - Μαμωνα της αδικιας - literally, the mammon, or riches, of injustice. Riches promise Much, and perform Nothing: they excite hope and confidence, and deceive both: in making a man depend on them for happiness, they rob him of the salvation of God and of eternal glory. For these reasons, they are represented as unjust and deceitful. See the note on Matthew 6:24 , where this is more particularly explained. It is evident that this must be the meaning of the words, because the false or deceitful riches, here, are put in opposition to the true riches, Luke 16:11 ; i.e. those Divine graces and blessings which promise all good, and give what they promise; never deceiving the expectation of any man. To insinuate that, if a man have acquired riches by unjust means, he is to sanctify them, and provide himself a passport to the kingdom of God, by giving them to the poor, is a most horrid and blasphemous perversion of our Lord's words. Ill gotten gain must be restored to the proper owners: if they are dead, then to their successors.

When ye fail - That is, when ye die. The Septuagint use the word εκλειπειν in this very sense, Jeremiah 42:17 , Jeremiah 42:22 . See the note on Genesis 25:8 . So does Josephus, War, chap. iv. 1, 9.

They may receive you - That is, say some, the angels. Others, the poor whom ye have relieved will welcome you into glory. It does not appear that the poor are meant:

  1. Because those who have relieved them may die a long time before them; and therefore they could not be in heaven to receive them on their arrival.
  • Many poor persons may be relieved, who will live and die in their sins, and consequently never enter into heaven themselves.
  • The expression seems to be a mere Hebraism: - they may receive you, for ye shall be received; i.e. God shall admit you, if you make a faithful use of his gifts and graces. He who does not make a faithful use of what he has received from his Maker has no reason to hope for eternal felicity. See Matthew 25:33 ; and, for similar Hebraisms, consult in the original, Luke 6:38 ; Luke 12:20 ; Revelation 12:6 ; Revelation 16:15 .

    - Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible