Parable of the Rich Fool
The parable has been depicted by artists such as Rembrandt.
One of the multitude said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." But he said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?" He said to them, "Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man's life doesn't consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses."— Luke 12:13–15, World English Bible
In Luke's account Jesus then responds with the parable:
He spoke a parable to them, saying, "The ground of a certain rich man brought forth abundantly. He reasoned within himself, saying, 'What will I do, because I don't have room to store my crops?' He said, 'This is what I will do. I will pull down my barns, and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. I will tell my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease, eat, drink, be merry."' "But God said to him, 'You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared—whose will they be?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."— Luke 12:16–21, World English Bible
The rich farmer in this parable is portrayed negatively, as an example of greed. By replacing his existing barn, he avoids using agricultural land for storage purposes, thus maximising his income, as well as allowing him to wait for a price increase before selling. St. Augustine comments that the farmer was "planning to fill his soul with excessive and unnecessary feasting and was proudly disregarding all those empty bellies of the poor. He did not realize that the bellies of the poor were much safer storerooms than his barns."
Arland J. Hultgren comments that the parable "provides an example of what one ought not to be like. The person whose identity is tied up with his or her possessions, status, and/or achievements—and is driven by acquiring them—can so easily end up unaware of the call of God and the need of the neighbor." The farmer's conversation with himself is self-centred: first-person pronouns occur 11 times.
Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.
"The psalmist's repose is not the worldling's serenity nor the sensualist's security, but the repose of the quiet conscience and the trusting heart".
- Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke, Eerdmans, 1997, ISBN 0-8028-2315-7, pp. 487–491.
- Gospel of Thomas: Lamb translation and Patterson/Meyer translation
- Arthur A. Just, Luke, InterVarsity Press, 2003, ISBN 0-8308-1488-4, p. 208.
- Arland J. Hultgren, The Parables of Jesus: A Commentary, Eerdmans, 2002, ISBN 0-8028-6077-X, pp. 104-109.
- John Clifford Purdy, Parables at Work, Westminster John Knox Press, 1986, ISBN 0-664-24640-0, pp. 41-43.
- Psalm 116:7
- Ellicott's Commentary on Psalm 116, accessed 20 June 2018
- Media related to Parable of the Rich Man at Wikimedia Commons