Luke 16:9

ESV And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.
NIV I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
NASB And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it is all gone, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.
CSB And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of worldly wealth so that when it fails, they may welcome you into eternal dwellings.
NLT Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.
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.

What does Luke 16:9 mean?

This is Jesus' first spiritual application regarding the parable of the dishonest manager. The steward of a rich man is about to be fired. He quickly relieves some of the burden of his master's debtors. He does it in a way that won't lead to retaliation and creates friends—possible employers—for himself (Luke 16:1–7). The master is impressed with the manager's cleverness, even if he doesn't approve of what happened (Luke 16:8).

Jesus explains that people of the world think about their future and know how to use even challenging situations to their benefit. "Sons of light"—God-followers—need to emulate that understanding but in a way that wisely creates benefits for them in God's kingdom (Luke 16:8).

This comment, however, is puzzling. How would a faithful Christian acquire "unrighteous wealth"? And how would its use cause God to welcome someone to heaven?

The phrasing of the statement matches the steward's words in Luke 16:4: "so that when," as well as the idea of being received into a house or dwelling place. Entering heaven is the spiritual application of what the manager did.

"Unrighteous" carries the meaning of injustice, but it's unclear what Jesus means by this. He may be referring to how the world often builds and uses wealth unjustly, while the disciples are to use money wisely and judiciously.

"So that when it fails" spiritualizes the steward's threat of being fired and dismissed from his home. The story at the end of the chapter, the story of the rich man and Lazarus, is clearer. The rich man's money fails to keep him alive—not unlike the "rich fool" of Luke 12:13–21.

Unlike the steward who is homeless in the world and the rich man who is sent to hell, if the disciples use their money wisely, they will find themselves in heaven, receiving confirmation of their goodness from those whom they blessed.

This is a hard interpretation. It matches that of the rich man and Lazarus, where Abraham seems to say the rich man is in hell because he did not bless the beggar Lazarus with his worldly wealth. In several other stories, Jesus' words could superficially be misread to mean that what we do with our money will determine whether we go to heaven or hell (Matthew 25:35–40; Luke 19:11–27).

The widow who put in her last coins provides a good way to interpret Jesus' meaning (Luke 21:1–4). Salvation has always been by God's grace through our faith in what He promises (Ephesians 2:8–9). What promises people needed to have faith in has changed depending on what God has revealed at that time and place (Hebrews 11). At this time, the Jews needed to have faith that God was their God and would bless them if they followed the Mosaic law (Leviticus 26). But biblical faith doesn't mean simple intellectual agreement. "Faith" means "trust:" to fully encompass that belief and live it out as truth (James 2:14–17). Giving to the poor is a significant part of the Mosaic law (Deuteronomy 24:19–22) and giving to others generously is a manifestation of loving others. Jews who tithed, showed charity, and trusted God with their last two copper coins lived out their faith in His provision with their money. The lives of those who benefitted from their giving testified to their love of others, part of the greatest commandment.
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: