Luke 16–18

“Luke 16–18,” New Testament Teacher Resource Manual (2002), 93–97


The Life of Jesus Christ


Events in these chapters likely occurred within this period

First year of the Lord’s ministry

Second year

Third year

Christ’s birth

First Passover

Second Passover

Third Passover

Final Passover and last week


The Savior taught that we become true disciples in God’s kingdom by consecrating our lives to the will of Heavenly Father. As you study Luke 16–18, consider the commitments the Savior requires of His followers and how they apply to us.

Prayerfully study Luke 16–18and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 124–25, 129–30.

Suggestions for Teaching

Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for Luke 16–18.

Luke 16:1–15. The Lord has given us all our possessions and abilities, and we must use them to do His work.

(35–40 minutes)

Invite a student who has developed a talent to share it with the class. This could be done as part of the devotional. Ask students to think about the following questions:

  • Which of your hobbies, interests, or activities do you spend the most time on?

  • How many total hours do you think you have spent on it during your life?

Invite several students to share their answers. Ask:

  • Why do you spend so much time on this talent or hobby?

  • What kinds of blessings have you received as a result of dedicating so much time to it?

  • Has it helped you draw closer to God in any way?

  • Are there ways it has drawn you away from God?

Invite students to read Luke 16:1–7, and ask:

  • What did the steward in this parable spend his time doing when he learned he might lose his position?

  • Even though the steward was unjust, how did the rich man speak to him in verse 8?

  • What do you think the unjust steward did that was worthy of this praise?

  • In what ways could the “children of this world” be considered wiser than the “children of light”?

Read the commentary for Luke 16:8 in The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles (p. 124). Read Luke 16:10–12 and ask: What does this parable teach about God’s feelings toward those who are faithful in completing their tasks? Testify of the value of devoting effort toward a worthwhile goal and of how God is able to use the services of those who can be trusted to further His work.

While God is interested in our commitment, there are some goals that should receive greater attention than others. Read Luke 16:13–14and Matthew 22:35–38and ask:

  • Where should our devotions be centered?

  • How did the Pharisees respond to the Savior’s teaching?

  • Read Luke 16:15. What reasons does this verse give for their attitude?

Ask students to read Luke 16:19–25and look for what this parable teaches about devoting our time and efforts toward the things of God rather than the riches of the world.

  • How does this lesson apply in your life?

  • What implications does this lesson have for the activities and interests to which you devote your time?

Encourage students to review their activities. Ask them to consider how they could use their talents to help build the kingdom of God and serve others. Read Luke 16:13, and cross-reference it to Alma 39:12–14. According to these verses, what is the value of wealth and possessions after we die? Testify that if we serve God instead of mammon (worldliness), our reward will be eternal.

Note: Do not imply to students that time spent at hobbies, developing talents, being involved in leisure activities, and so forth is always time wasted. Students need a righteous balance in their lives.

Luke 16:19–31. After death everyone enters the spirit world, where the wicked are in hell (spirit prison) and the righteous are in paradise. Jesus Christ’s Atonement bridges the gulf between spirit prison and paradise.

(20–25 minutes)

Divide your classroom in two by separating the chairs or marking off two areas with tape or string. Invite the girls to sit in one section and the boys to sit in the other. Discuss how we sometimes classify or group people based on common characteristics.

  • What are some other characteristics that we could use to group members of the class? (Age, height, hair color, hobbies or interests.)

  • What kinds of groups exist in your school?

  • Who decides which groups you fit into?

Tell students that the scriptures often classify people into two groups: the wicked and the righteous. Briefly discuss these two groups and ask:

  • To which group do you most want to belong? Why?

  • Who decides who is classified as righteous?

  • In what ways do the wicked separate themselves from the righteous?

Invite students to read the parable in Luke 16:19–31.

  • What symbols did Jesus use to teach about wickedness and righteousness?

  • What important doctrine is taught in verses 22–26 regarding the wicked and the righteous after they die? (They are in separate places in the spirit world.)

Read Luke 16:26–31and ask:

  • What did the rich man want Lazarus to do for him?

  • Why do you think he wanted his family to hear the gospel?

  • What details of this parable show that the rich man finally understood that our actions in this life affect what happens to us in the next life?

Ask: What does “Abraham’s bosom” in verse 22 refer to? Read Alma 40:11–12 with students to show that when the righteous die they are received into paradise. Ask: What does “hell” in verse 23 refer to? Read Alma 40:13–14 to show that the unrighteous are cast into outer darkness, which in these verses is another name for spirit prison (see 1 Peter 3:19). Draw on the board the following diagram:



Abraham’s Bosom (Paradise)

Hell (Spirit Prison)

  • Read Luke 16:26. Is there any way to bridge the gulf between paradise and spirit prison?

  • Read 1 Peter 3:18–19. What did Christ do for the spirits in prison?

Draw the following diagram beside the first, and explain that Christ’s Atonement bridges the gap between paradise and spirit prison.

gulf is bridged

Gulf is bridged

Abraham’s Bosom (Paradise)

Hell (Spirit Prison)

Read to students Doctrine and Covenants 138:29–30, 57–59. Testify that because of Christ’s Atonement, everyone is given an opportunity to hear the gospel message. Explain that those who don’t receive the chance on earth will have the opportunity to hear the gospel in the spirit world and receive the ordinances of salvation by proxy so they can join the righteous in paradise. Read Alma 34:32–34and ask:

  • What group will not be able to repent and hear the gospel in the next life?

  • If the Atonement bridges the gap between the wicked and the righteous in the spirit world, can it bridge the gap between them during mortality? How?

Invite students to share experiences in which they witnessed someone change and join with those who were trying to be righteous.

Luke 17:1–10. Obeying the commandments and serving others helps us increase our faith and accomplish difficult tasks.

(15–20 minutes)

Ask a student to demonstrate a talent she or he has never practiced. (For example, ask someone who doesn’t play the piano to play it for the devotional, or ask someone who cannot juggle to try to juggle for the class.) Ask:

  • How difficult is this task?

  • Does it seem impossible to you?

  • Why can some people do the task well while others can’t?

As with physical abilities, developing spiritual capacities can be demanding and difficult. Ask students to read Luke 17:1–4.

  • According to these verses, what did the Savior require of His Apostles?

  • Why can that be such a hard principle to live?

  • Read verse 5. What were the Apostles convinced they needed in order to obey the Savior’s counsel?

Consider asking some of the following questions:

  • What does verse 6 teach us about the power of faith?

  • What challenges do some people face that might compare in difficulty to moving a sycamine tree?

  • How can the power of faith help you overcome challenges?

Explain to students that the Savior taught the Apostles a parable to help them understand how to increase their faith. Just as when we practice we develop skills and talents, when we obey the principles the Savior taught, we can increase our faith. Read the parable of the unprofitable servant in Luke 17:7–9and ask:

  • What did the servant do in the parable?

  • How can service and obedience increase our faith?

Invite students to consider the times in their lives when they have been obedient or when they have given service. Ask: What happened to your faith during those times? Testify that as we exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will find our spiritual weaknesses becoming our strengths (see Ether 12:27). Point out that as we grow stronger, the glory for our accomplishments should go to Jesus Christ. Read Luke 17:10and ask: How is the title “unprofitable servant” appropriate for what we have been discussing?

Luke 17:11–19. It is important to express gratitude for the blessings we receive.

(25–30 minutes)

Ask students to consider which of the following best describes their use of thank-you notes: (a) I write them the day I receive a gift, (b) I usually procrastinate writing them,(c) I feel guilty but usually do nothing, or (d) I don’t feel the need to write them. Discuss their answers. Ask:

  • How does it feel when someone else expresses gratitude to you?

  • What are some of the kindest gestures of thanks you have received?

Read Luke 17:11–14 and ask:

  • What is leprosy? (The word leprosy in the Bible probably describes a number of skin diseases that may or may not include modern leprosy; see also Bible Dictionary, (“leprosy,” p. 724.)

  • Why would it have been difficult to be a leper? (Besides having to endure the symptoms of their disease, lepers were considered ritually unclean under the law of Moses. They had to live away from others, wear special clothing, and shout a warning to all that they were unclean so that no one would accidentally touch them. See Leviticus 13:44–46.)

  • Think of yourselves in the place of the lepers in verses 13–14. What would you feel if this happened to you? (Discuss with students the greatness of Christ’s mercy.)

  • Read verses 15–19. How important is it to show gratitude to the Lord for our blessings?

Read the following from President David O. McKay:

“Gratitude is deeper than thanks. Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts” (“The Meaning of Thanksgiving,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1964, 914).


  • What does this teaching add to your understanding of the Savior’s experience with the lepers?

  • Do you think it is possible that the nine lepers felt thankfulness but didn’t show it? Why?

  • What evidence is there that the one leper felt gratitude?

  • Why do you think it is significant that the leper who showed gratitude was a Samaritan? (Samaritans were considered unworthy by many Jews, but the Lord accepts righteous gifts of all His children.)

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 59:7, 21. What did the Savior teach in these verses about ingratitude?

  • All the lepers were “cleansed” (v. 14), but what special blessing came to the grateful one in verse 19? (He was made “whole.” Explain to students that the word whole in this verse comes from a Greek word that can also be translated “saved.”)

  • What does the fact that the grateful leper was made whole teach about the relationship between faith and gratitude?

leper giving thanks

Ask students to think about times when the Savior’s power healed or blessed them.

  • How is His influence in your life similar to His influence on these lepers?

  • In what ways are we like the nine lepers?

Read to the class this statement by Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Ingratitude is a distressing sin which kindles the Lord’s anger. (See D&C 59:21.) …

“When the Savior healed the ten lepers and only one thanked him, he pointed out the nine ingrates as a lesson to all when he said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed?’ (Luke 17:17.) Adults as well as the youth are often guilty, being disobedient and unthankful to their Heavenly Father who gives them all. Many fail to show their gratitude through service, through family prayers, through the payment of their tithes, and in numerous other ways God has a right to expect” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 58–59).

Encourage students to prayerfully consider whether they show God enough gratitude. Encourage them to offer a prayer sometime in which they only express gratitude without asking for any blessings.

We should express gratitude not only to the Savior but to all those who bless and help us. Ask each student to spend several minutes writing a “gratitude note” to a family member, friend, or classmate. Encourage the students to pay attention to the feelings they have as they write their notes and when they deliver them. Conclude class by singing “Because I Have Been Given Much” (Hymns, no. 219) and telling students of the joy that comes from expressing gratitude.

Luke 17:20–37; 18:1–14(see also Matthew 24:17–41; Mark 13:15–16, 21). Because we do not know the exact time of the Second Coming, we should be prepared for it throughout our lives.

(20–25 minutes)

Before class set a hidden alarm clock or other alarm to go off several minutes after you begin teaching. (If an alarm is not available, ask a student to ring a bell or make some other noise several minutes into the lesson.) Begin class as usual, without making any reference to the alarm. Get students to talk about current events in their school, community, ward, or branch by asking questions such as these:

  • What important events are happening in the news?

  • What interesting plans do you have for the week?

  • Are there any exciting announcements or information you would like to tell others?

When the alarm sounds, stop all discussion immediately. Tell students that the alarm represents the Second Coming, and ask them to imagine what life would be like if the Second Coming happened right now. Read Luke 17:34–37and the Joseph Smith Translation of Luke 17:36–40and look for what these passages teach about the suddenness of the Second Coming. Ask questions such as these:

  • Why won’t everyone be ready for the Second Coming?

  • What kinds of things will people be doing when it happens?

  • Who do you think will be most surprised? Why?

Read Luke 17:20–25, and then share with students the following explanation by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

“Prophecies foretelling the events incident to the first and second comings of the Messiah were confused in the minds of the Jews. They falsely assumed that at his first coming he would come with an outward display of power which would overthrow and destroy all earthly kingdoms. Accordingly, basing their inquiry on a false premise, and with some apparent sarcasm, they demand an answer to this mocking question: ‘If thou art the promised Messiah, as you have repeatedly claimed to be, when will thy power be manifest, when will the Roman yoke be broken, when will the kingdom of God actually come?’” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:539).

Read Luke 17:26–33and ask:

  • What do we know about the time of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?

  • What is the Savior telling us in these verses? (We must always be prepared because He will come suddenly.)

  • Why is the message to prepare more helpful or important than a message revealing the exact time of the Second Coming?

The Savior used the following accounts to teach about His Second Coming. Give a brief overview of each, and then divide the class into four groups and assign each group one of the accompanying blocks of scripture:

Have them read the passages and look for how each one teaches about preparing for the Second Coming. Invite each group to share with the class what they discover.