καὶ ἐπῄνεσεν ὁ κύριος τὸν οἰκονόμον τῆς ἀδικίας ὅτι φρονίμως ἐποίησεν· ὅτι οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου φρονιμώτεροι ὑπὲρ τοὺς υἱοὺς τοῦ φωτὸς εἰς τὴν γενεὰν τὴν ἑαυτῶν εἰσιν.
It sins rather against natural probability to suppose the steward’s master acquainted with his new misconduct. The steward in his final statement, of course, put as fair a face as possible on matters, presenting what looked like a true account, so as to make it appear he was being unjustly dismissed, or even to induce the master to cancel his purpose to dismiss. And those who had got the benefit of his sharp practice were not likely to tell upon him. The master therefore may be supposed to be in the dark; it is the speaker of the parable who is in the secret. He praises the steward of iniquity, not for his iniquity (so Schleiermacher), but for his prudence in spite of iniquity. His unrighteousness is not glozed over, on the contrary it is strongly asserted: hence the phrase τὸν ο. τῆς ἀδικίας, which is stronger than τ. ο. τὸν ἄδικον. Yet however bad he still acted wisely for himself in providing friends against the evil day. What follows— ὅτι οἱ υἱοὶ, etc.—applies the moral to the disciples = go ye and do likewise, with an implied hint that in this respect they are apt to come short. The counsel would be immoral if in the spiritual sphere it were impossible to imitate the steward’s prudence while keeping clear of his iniquity. In other words, it must be possible to make friends against the evil day by unobjectionable actions. The mere fact that the lesson of prudence is drawn from the life of an unprincipled man is no difficulty to any one who understands the nature of parabolic instruction. The comparison between men of the world and the “sons of light” explains and apologises for the procedure.