Luke 16 forms a profound chiastic structure:
1A: Luk 16:1-9, Parable of the unjust steward;
1B: Luk 16:10-12, Faithfulness in what is least;
1C: Luk 16:13, No servant can serve two masters;
CENTRAL AXIS: Luk 16:14-15, What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God;
2C: Luk 16:16-17, The law and the kingdom;
2B: Luk 16:18, Faithfulness in marriage;
2A: Luk 16:19-31, Parable of the rich man and Lazarus.
Let’s start with the A pairs: What do the two parables have to do with each other? In each one, a man who loved money more than his master (God in the case of the rich man) lost his place due to unfaithfulness. We can see this easily in the case of the unjust steward. In the case of the rich man, the place of the children of Abraham, is the bosom of Abraham after death – a place of comfort. But the rich man, by disobedience to Torah from a heart which did not love God (for the Torah commands that we care for the poor), lost his place of comfort and instead suffered in flames.
The B pairs expound on what it means to be a faithful steward of the gifts God gives us. What is 1) least, 2) unrighteous mammon, or worldly wealth, and 3) what is another man’s, are all equated. Do we realize that money, gold, silver, material possessions, these things do not belong to us? They belong to another. We are stewards of them. They are the very least of the things we are stewards of, and it is by our stewardship of worldly wealth that we are judged ready to steward greater gifts — the true riches. How many men seek after worldly wealth as if it was the true riches! It is not!
Now, it is so very interesting that this section on faithfulness in stewardship, is paired with a seemingly out of place teaching on divorce and adultery, in a chapter dealing exclusively with stewardship of worldly wealth. But it is not out of place. Because Luk 16:18 is paired with Luk 16:10-12, we see right away that our marriage is another issue of stewardship in which faithfulness is required. In fact, just as material possessions are not our own but are given to us by God to steward, men, our wives are likewise not our own but belong to God, and are given to us by God to steward. We must be just as faithful in our relationship with our wives as we are in our stewardship of worldly wealth!
The C pairs combine no servant can serve two masters (Luk 16:13) with the Law and the kingdom (Luk 16:16-17). We learn that we serve whom we love. If we love God, we will serve Him, but if we love money, we will serve it. This has to do with the Law and the kingdom, because citizens of God’s kingdom serve Him. Kingdoms have kings, who have the right to give commands and expect obedience, Amen? As King, He has given us His Law to obey. Not one tittle will pass away of His Law. So God wants us to serve Him (we do that by obeying His Law) not because of fear of punishment — not because those who do not either love or obey Him will suffer torment as the rich man did. Not because of religious duty or obligation. But because we are crazy in love with Him, we obey Him in all things (Joh 14:15)!