Synopsis of Parable:
A rich man had too much fruit, so he built a bigger barn and said to himself, "I have saved everything, laugh and grow fat." God declined his wishes, saying "tonight you will die." Jesus likens this man as one who lays up treasure for himself and not God.
Parable Given in Response to:
A man had just asked Jesus to help him split his brother and his inheritance equally.(Luke 12:13.)
|↓Rich Man||Person on Earth||Luke 12:16|
|↓Ground||Person's Labor||Luke 12:16|
|↓Earthly Treasures||Earthly Treasures||Luke 12:18|
The Parable of the Rich Fool
As presented in the King James Version of Luke 12:16-21
Luke 12:16And he spake a parable unto them, saying,
Explanation of the Interpretation of Symbols
The Rich Man is anyone on Earth Back to Top ↑
A simple and obvious interpretation for a simple parable. Anyone can be like the rich man in this parable, and it does not matter how righteous that a person might be.
A ruler once came to Jesus, and he kept all the important commandments.(Luke 18:18-21.) And yet
Jesus told him to do one more thing,
And yet, there are still people who left everything behind and followed Jesus. Peter himself says so,
The Ground is a Person's Labor Back to Top ↑
The ground in this parable represents the man's labors. It is where he grew his fruits, and it is where he built the barns to store his fruit. It is how he made his living.
This can be compared easily to modern day currency. Instead of earning fruit, we earn dollars. Instead of storing dollars in a barn (a specialized location for fruit), we store them in a bank (a specialized location for dollars). That is not to say that the fruit and barns are currency and banks, respectively. But rather to say that the ground is what the man put all his labor into, and what he used to gain that fruit and store that fruit.
This interpretation, while not common, is also not uncommon. Most denominations do not assign an interpretation to this symbol. Regardless, this interpretation changes nothing about the overall meaning or morals about this parable.
The Earthly Treasures are Earthly Treasures Back to Top ↑
Amazing interpretation, is it not? By earthly treasures symbol, we mean the fruits that the rich man had grown and put into barns.(Luke 12:17.)
The rich man had plenty, so much that he couldn't even store it all. So he decided to tear down his barns and make them bigger to store the goods. He had no intention of selling them (immediately); he meant to store them. Thus, when the man dies, all of that fruit is useless for him. Not one ounce of it prolonged his life or improved his enjoyment of life, because they were not utilized (either sold or eaten) yet. In fact, with the rich man deciding to tear down his barns, the fruit probably added stress to his life. He has to answer some questions, such as, "where will I store the fruit while the bigger barn is being built?"
Such things can be stressful. Many people worry about their retirement accounts during economic downturns. The rich fool in this parable had quite the retirement saved up, so much so he could not fit it all into his buildings! None of it did any good for him.
This parable is very simple, and so putting forth an interpretation of a symbol like this, which changes nothing from most denominational teachings on this parable, is very safe. This interpretation will change nothing for most believers, it just puts a name to a symbol.
In Conclusion Back to Top ↑
There is not too much to dissect in the Parable of the Rich Fool. It is a simple parable that plays out much like a story. A man saves up a lot of treasure, but for him, it is all useless, for he dies the same day he realizes it. None of it goes with him into death. Notably, this parable is one of a few is not directly about the Kingdom of God.
Directly after this parable, Jesus gives his sermon on not being anxious or worried: