The meaning of Luke 16:16-18

Updated: Jan 27

In Luke’s chapter 16, three verses that fall between the parable of the dishonest manager and the parable of Lazarus and the rich man have been identified as Jesus making generic teachings.  Such identifiers come from bold headings that are found in some versions of the Holy Bible, which are additions by translators.  The original text does not include such prompts.


The verses state:  “16 The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.” 17 “It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.” 18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”


All are quotes of Jesus, but they are not teaching.  They are re-statements of the Law of Moses, directed at the Pharisees.  As such, Jesus is telling the Pharisees they are trying to rewrite the Law to justify their worship of Mammon.  Jesus is telling the Pharisees that they have divorced God (their symbolic bride) and remarried the Second Temple (the divorced woman), thus becoming adulterers in the eyes of God.  Jesus states the Law to those who proclaim their faith through knowledge of the Law.  Therefore, Jesus is not teaching a generality as some tidbits, of which everyone should be aware.  He is (pardon the expression) “bitch-slapping” the Pharisees, calling them out for trying to change the Law, while cheating on God.


R. T. Tippett.

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