This parable is considered to be one of the more difficult to interpret, since on the face of it Yeshua appears to be commending dishonest behavior. One meaning, provided by Yeshua himself (but which may be a latter addition by revisionists) is- "use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves",
This additional application was espoused by most early church writers including Asterius of Amasea, who wrote, "When, therefore, any one anticipating his end and his removal to the next world, lightens the burden of his sins by good deeds, either by canceling the obligations of debtors, or by supplying the poor with abundance, by giving what belongs to the Lord, he gains many friends, who will attest his goodness before the Judge, and secure him by their testimony a place of happiness."
The seeming commendation of dishonesty is usually explained in one of two ways. It is either pointed out that Yeshua 'commends the dishonest manager for his shrewdness, not the shrewd manager for his dishonesty' - i.e. the manager's principle is the right one, even if he goes about it in the wrong way. An alternative is to interpret the story as not involving deceit by introducing elements not present in the text. For example, it has been asserted that records of a loan were sometimes inflated in order to get round the prohibition against usury; thus a loan of four hundred gallons of oil might be written up as eight hundred, so that the loan would appear to be without interest. The manager thus might be reducing the loans to their original amount - entirely honestly but no more pleasingly to his master.
Of course, these explanations miss the point of Yeshua's story entirely. Again, we can look to context to provide the true meaning of this parable. Like the Parable of the Prodigal Son, this parable is aimed squarely at the Pharisees and Torah-Teachers who continually grumble at the presence around Yeshua of sinners and other rabble. In fact, in Luke 15:1-2, the Bible tells us, "Now, all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to him, to hear him, and the Pharisees and the Torah-Teachers grumbled, saying, This one receives sinners and eats with them." It is in this context that Yeshua tells this and several other parables (including the Prodigal Son).
….Yeshua said: "There was a wealthy man (God) who employed a general manager (The Pharisees). Charges were brought to him that his manager was squandering his resources. So he summoned him and asked him, `What is this I hear about you? Turn in your accounts, for you can no longer be manager.' "`What am I to do?' said the manager to himself. `My boss is firing me, I'm not strong enough to dig ditches, and I'm ashamed to go begging (a playful dig at the pride of the Pharisees). Aha! I know what I'll do -- something that will make people (sinners and publicans) welcome me into their homes after I've lost my job here!' "So, after making appointments with each of his employer's debtors, he said to the first, `How much do you owe my boss?' `Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,' he replied. `Take your note back,' he told him. `Now, quickly! Sit down and write one for four hundred!' To the next he said, `And you, how much do you owe?' `A thousand bushels of wheat,' he replied. `Take your note back and write one for eight hundred.' "And the employer of this dishonest manager applauded him for acting so shrewdly!
According to Matthew, Yeshua taught (Matthew 23:2-4):
In this story, Yeshua does not deem the action of the steward as dishonest. Quite the contrary, he praises the steward's shrewdness in recognizing and carrying out the generosity of his master. What Yeshua was saying in this parable was that the self-righteous Pharisees and Torah-Teachers, in whom God has entrusted his mercy, would do better to display it to help t sinners, rather than grumbling about their presence around Yeshua.
"The Torah-teachers and the Pharisees sit in the seat of Moses. So, whatever they tell you, take care to do it. But don't do what they do, because they talk but don't act! They tie heavy loads onto people's shoulders but won't lift a finger to help carry them."