Luke 16:9 ...Make to yourselves friends of the mammon

KJV Verse: 

Luke 16:9 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.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Also I myself to you teach: For one's selves, make friends out of the Mr. Moneybags of that injustice. Because, when he abandons, they might welcome you for themselves into this era's pavilions. 

Hidden Meaning: 

In this verse, the parable is explained, but it seems that every commentary I have read gets it wrong. It this verse, Jesus accepts the worldly as beneficial to the "self" of this world, the children of this era" or "children of this lifetime". However, this "self" is not our higher being "the children of light". 

In this story, who is the "Mr. Moneybags of the misdeed"? The only rich person in the story is not the steward, but his employer. His misdeed was firing the steward based on a slander. How did the steward make friends with him? By publicly doing the act that he was falsely accused of. He did this so he could be invited into the households of other rich men.

All of these ideas are addressed in this verse, This view makes the verse and lesson much easier to understand. The clear connections to the previous verse, Luke 16:8, and the story are lost because of mistranslation. Biblical translation tries to force it into a convoluted statement about the afterlife, which makes little sense. 

The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

The pronoun "I" is added to add emphasis that he is referring to his own words. It is unnecessary because the first-person indication is part of the verb ending. Jesus sometimes uses it humorously to refer to himself in an exaggerated way, as "I, myself'.

The word translated as "say" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently.

The Greek pronoun "to you" here is plural and in the form of an indirect object, "to you", "for you", etc.

The Greek word translated as "Make" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service.

"To yourselves" is a special reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself," and so on. It is a 3rd person pronoun, himself or themselves, but it works for the first and second person with the sense of "one's self", which doesn't work as well in plural in English. The sense would be "for yourselves." However, in Jesus's view, the "self" is the role you play in this world (see this article).

The term translated as "friends" is the adjective form one of three or four words in Greek for "love". The actual word means "embraced". This is usually described as "brotherly love". It is in the form of an adjective used as a noun. In English, we would say "loved ones".

The Greek preposition translated as "of" means "out of" or "from." In Greek, they use the genitive case instead of a preposition for the types of phrases with usually use with "of." The sense here is "out of" or "from among".

"Mammon" is not from any Greek term, and there is some debate about both its source and its meaning. In interpreting it, we are going to assume Jesus uses words we can understand and uses specific words, like this, not to confuse but to clarify his meaning, and, when possible, to entertain. The Aramaic source words mean "wealth" and "money", but Jesus readily uses the Greek words for wealth and for money, both generally and specifically. If that was his meaning, he would have used those words? There are several suggestions that the term is a personification of the idea of wealth and property like our Mr. Monopoly or, Mr. Moneybags. This seems to work in the context in which this word appears.

"Of unrighteousness" is a Greek noun that means "wrongdoing", "injustice", "a wrongful act," and "offense." Today, we would probably say "injustice".  This is the word that was translated as an adjective "unjust" in the previous verse, Luke 16:8. The entire description of this parable as that of the "unjust steward" seems based on a mistranslation as well as a misinterpretation of the story.

The following seems to be the answer the Jesus gives to a question about his first statement.

The word translated as "that" is not the simple demonstrative pronoun, but a word that means "there", "where," and "in order that."

The Greek word translated as "when" introduces a phrase that explains a certain condition so "whenever" or "since."

The key word here is translated as "you fail". The verb is a rare one for Jesus, only used here and one other place. It seems chosen for the humor. The word primarily means to "forsake", "desert", "abandon" not "fail". It is not likely in the second person but the third person. The form could be the second person singular but all second person pronouns here are plural. The sense is "when he forsakes" or "when he deserts". The "he" being the Mr. Moneybags. Again, going back to the story, the Mr. Moneybags deserted the steward.

The word translated as "they may receive" is not a rare one. However, "receive" is a little misleading since it means "receive" in the sense of "welcome." The form, however, is the middle voice, indicating that they are doing it by or for themselves. They are welcoming you out of their own self-interest.

The word translated as "into" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

Another key word here is translated as "everlasting". It is an adjective based on the word that means "age" or "eon." It has the sense of "perpetual" or "ageless, but this word is the adjective form of the Greek word mistranslated as "world" in the previous verse's "children of the world", or, more correctly, "the sons of this era" or "sons of this lifetime". Since these tents belong to this era son’s, the “they” who receive you are this sons of this era, who are different than the “sons of light”.

A word that Jesus only uses here is translated as "habitation" (and "dwelling" or "home" in other NT translations). All of these translations miss the point completely. If Christ had wanted to say dwelling or home, he would have used the common words that he has used scores of times that mean "house" or "dwelling". Instead, he uses this word only here. This word means "tent" but it has the specific meaning of a tent used for entertainment, as we would say "a pavilion". In the era, they set up tents as dining pavilions, which, again, refers back to the story and the concern about being invited into the houses of others. However, the word also means a stage for a play, which is particularly funny. It has a double meaning "this era's pavilions" are a "perpetual stage."  

Wordplay: 

The words translated as "everlasting habitation" has a double meaning of "this era's pavilions", that is, dining and entertainment areas,  as a "perpetual stage."  

Vocabulary: 

Καὶ (conj/adv) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

ἐγὼ (pron 1st sg masc/fem nom ) "I" is from ego, which is the first person singular pronoun meaning "I". It also means "I at least", "for my part", "indeed," and for myself.

ὑμῖν (pron 2nd pl dat) "To you" is from humas (humas) and humôn (humon), which is a plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

λέγω, (verb 1st sg pres ind act) "Say" is from legô (lego) means "pick up", "choose for oneself", "pick out," and "count," but it used to mean "recount", "tell over", "say", "speak", "teach", "mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," nominate," and "command."

ἑαυτοῖς (adj pl masc dat)  "To yourselves" is from heautou, is a reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself", "itself" "themselves," and "ourselves." It is an alternative to autos.

ποιήσατε (2nd pl aor imperat act) "Make" is from poieô ( poieo), which means "to make", "to produce", "to create", "to bring into existence", "to bring about", "to cause", "to render", "to consider", "to prepare", "to make ready," and "to do."

φίλους (adj pl masc acc) "Friends" is from philos, which as an adjective means "loved", "beloved", "dear", "kith and kin", "nearest and dearest", "friends," and (of things) "welcome" and "pleasant."

ἐκ (prep) "From" is from ek, which means 1) [of motion] "out of", "from", "by", "away from;" 2) [of place] "beyond", "outside of", "beyond;" 3) [of succession] "after", "from;" 4) [of rest] "on", "in," 5) [of time] "since", "from", "at", "in;" 5) [of materials] "out of", "made from."

τοῦ μαμωνᾶ [uncommon] (noun sg masc gen) "Mammon" is from mamonas, which is not from any Greek term. There is some debate about both its source and its meaning. The most accepted view is that it is from Aramaic mamona, "riches" or "wealth," probably from Hebrew mamon, "security", "that which is trusted," or "deposit" or Hebrew matmon, "treasure." The term comes possibly from Akkardian "mimmu" meaning "property." It has also been suggested that mammon was the name of a Syriac god of wealth.

τῆς ἀδικίας (noun sg fem gen) "Of unrighteousness" is from adikia, which means "wrongdoing", "injustice", "a wrongful act," and "offense."

ἵνα (conj/adv) "That" is from hina (hina), which means "in that place", "there", "where", "when", "that", "in order that", "when," and "because."

ὅταν (conj) "When" is from (hotan), which means "whenever (as a condition)," and "since (as a cause)."

ἐκλίπῃ [uncommon](3rd sg aor subj act or verb 2nd sg aor subj mp) "Ye fail" is from ekleipo which means "leave out", "pass over", "forsake", "desert", "abandon", "fail one," [of the moon] "eclipse", "faint", "leave off", "cease", "be wanting", "be left", "remain," or "depart."

δέξωνται ( 3rd pl aor subj mid) "They may receive" is from dechomai, (dechomai) which means "welcome", "accept," and "entertain" when applied to people. (It means "take", "accept," and "receive" when applied to things.)

ὑμᾶς (pron 2nd pl acc) "You" is from humas (humas) and humôn (humon), which is a plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

εἰς (prep) "Into" is from eis (eis), which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

τὰς αἰωνίους  (adj pl fem acc) ."Everlasting" is from aiônios (aionios), which means "lasting for an age", "perpetual," and "eternal." From "aion" which is used in the bible to mean an "age."

σκηνάς [unique] (noun sg fem gen)  "Habitations" is from skene, which means "tent", "booth", "home of a stage", "acting", "unreality," and "entertainment in a tent."

Related Verses: 

Aug 14 2018