The shrewd one (Lk 16:8-16:8)

“His master commended

This dishonest manager

Because he had acted

Shrewdly.

The children

Of this age

Are more shrewd

In dealing

With their own generation

Than are

The children of light.”

 

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

 

This parable story about the dishonest household manager or steward can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that this lord or master commended or praised this dishonest manager (καὶ ἐπῄνεσεν ὁ κύριος τὸν οἰκονόμον τῆς ἀδικίας) because he had acted shrewdly (ὅτι φρονίμως ἐποίησεν).  Once again, this term φρονίμως, meaning shrewdly, sensibly, wisely, or prudently, is unique to Luke among all the New Testament writers.  Jesus said that the children of this age (ὅτι οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου) were shrewder (φρονιμώτεροι) in dealing with their own generation (εἰς τὴν γενεὰν τὴν ἑαυτῶν εἰσιν) than are the sons or the children of light (ὑπὲρ τοὺς υἱοὺς τοῦ φωτὸς).  The sons of light are the righteous ones.  However, those people of this generation were more prudent, sensible, wise, or shrewd compared to the followers of Jesus, who tended to be imprudent in the eyes of the world.  Are you shrewd in business dealings?

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The lambs among the wolves (Lk 10:3-10:3)

“Go your way!

See!

I am sending you out

As lambs

Into the midst

Of wolves.”

 

ὑπάγετε· ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς ὡς ἄρνας ἐν μέσῳ λύκων.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that they were to go on their way (ὑπάγετε).  He was going to send them out (ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς) as lambs (ὡς ἄρνας) in the middle of wolves (ἐν μέσῳ λύκων).  There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 10:16, perhaps indicating a Q source.  This was part of the remarks that Jesus gave as the admonitions to his 12 apostles.  Matthew indicated that Jesus was going to send them out like sheep in the middle of wolves.  Luke did not mention as Matthew had that Jesus told them that they had to be as wise, intelligent, shrewd, or sensible as serpents.  At the same time, they had to be as innocent, simple, unsophisticated, sincere, or blameless, as doves.  This was a tall order.  Here there was a simple statement without any explanation.  Are you more like a lamb or a wolf?

Half wise and half foolish (Mt 25:2-25:2)

“Five of them

Were foolish.

Five of them

Were wise.”

 

πέντε δὲ ἐξ αὐτῶν ἦσαν μωραὶ καὶ πέντε φρόνιμοι.

 

This parable story is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said that 5 of these bridesmaids were foolish or stupid (πέντε δὲ ἐξ αὐτῶν ἦσαν μωραὶ), while 5 were wise, intelligent, sensible or prudent (καὶ πέντε φρόνιμοι).  Thus, we have the wise prudent sensible ones and the foolish or stupid ones, equally split among these maidens.  This was like a metaphor for all humans, since half were good and half were bad.

Wise simple sheep (Mt 10:16-10:16)

“See!

I am sending you out

As sheep

Into the midst of wolves.

So be wise

As serpents!

Be innocent

As doves.”

 

Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς ὡς πρόβατα ἐν μέσῳ λύκων· γίνεσθε οὖν φρόνιμοι ὡς οἱ ὄφεις καὶ ἀκέραιοι ὡς αἱ περιστεραί.

 

There is something similar in Luke, 10:3, perhaps indicating a Q source.  This is another admonition to his apostles.  Jesus was going to send them out (Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς) like sheep in the middle of wolves (ὡς πρόβατα ἐν μέσῳ λύκων).  Thus, they had to be as wise, intelligent, shrewd, or sensible as serpents (γίνεσθε οὖν φρόνιμοι ὡς οἱ ὄφεις).  They had to be as innocent, simple, unsophisticated, sincere, or blameless, as doves (καὶ ἀκέραιοι ὡς αἱ περιστεραί).  This was a tall order with this dichotomous speech.

The law (Sir 33:1-33:3)

“No evil will befall

The person

Who fears the Lord.

But in trials,

They will be rescued

Again and again.

The wise

Will not hate the law.

But the hypocritical one

Is like a boat in a storm.

The sensible person

Will trust in the law.

For such a one

The law is as dependable

As a divine oracle.”

Sirach notes that if you fear the Lord, no evil will happen to you. If there are trials, you will be rescued any number of times. The wise people do not hate the law. However, the hypocritical ones are like a boat in a storm. You cannot tell what will happen. The sensible person trusts in the law because it is dependable like a divine oracle.

The foolish ones (Sir 21:14-21:17)

“The mind of a fool is

Like a broken jar.

It can hold no knowledge.

When an intelligent person

Hears a wise saying,

He praises it.

He adds to it.

When a fool hears it,

He laughs at it.

He throws it behind his back.

A fool’s chatter is

Like a burden on a journey.

But delight is found

In the speech of the intelligent.

The utterance of a sensible person

Is sought in the assembly.

They ponder his words in their minds.”

Sirach says that the mind of a fool is like a broken jar that cannot hold any knowledge in it. This was the common idea of the mind as an empty jar that knowledge fills up. When an intelligent person hears a wise saying, he or she praises it and adds to it. On the contrary, when the fool hears the same thing, he laughs at it, throwing it behind his back. The fool’s chatter on a long journey is burdensome, but the speech of an intelligent person is delightful. Thus in an assembly, the presentations of a sensible person is often sought after, so that others might ponder his words.

The wise ones (Sir 20:27-20:31)

“The wise person

Advances himself

By his words.

Whoever is sensible

Will please the great men.

Whoever cultivates the soil

Will heap up their harvest.

Whoever pleases the great men

Will atone for injustice.

Favors blind the eyes of the wise.

Gifts blind the eyes of the wise.

Like a muzzle on the mouth,

They stop reproofs.

What is the value

Of hidden wisdom?

What is the value

Of an unseen treasure?

What value is either of them?

Better are those

Who hide their folly

Than those

Who hide their wisdom.”

Sirach gives us some indications about the wise people. They advance themselves by their words. They are sensible and thus please great men. They know how to cultivate the soil to get a great harvest. They atone for injustice. However, there is a down side. They should not be blinded by gifts and favors. Thus they might end up putting a muzzle on so that they stop criticizing the people who are giving these presents and favors. There is no value to hidden wisdom or unseen treasure. The foolish should hide their foolishness rather than the wise hide their wisdom.