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Bible Commentaries
Luke 15

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

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Verse 1

THE MURMURING PHARISEES V. 1, 2

1) "Then drew near unto him," (esan de auto engizones) "Then there drew near to him," in response to His appeal, Luke 14:35, or "were drawing near," Matthew 9:10.

2) "All the Publicans and sinners," (pantes hoi teklonai kai hoi hamartoloi) "All the tax-collectors and lawless ones," all kind of moral and ethical law­breakers, tax-gatherers, who were known for unscrupulous behavior in tax foreclosure business, and for sensual, immoral manner of life, Romans 3:23.

3) "For to hear him." (akouein autou) "To hear or just listen to him," which should have caused the Pharisees and scribes, religious people "of the cloth" to rejoice, instead of find fault, Luke 14:35; Luke 19:10.

Verse 2

1) "And the Pharisees and scribes murmured," (kai diegonguzon hoi te Pharisaioi kai hoi grammateis) "And the scribes (writers and guardians of the archives) and the Pharisees murmured out of reason," audibly among themselves, one to another.

2) "Saying, This man receiveth sinners," (legontes hoti houtos hamartalous prosdechetai) "Repeatedly complaining that this man (Jesus) receives," keeps company or associates with "lawless people," people who are morally and ethically sinners. This Jesus did, as they repented of their sins and began to follow Him, Matthew 21:32.

3) "And eateth with them." (kai sunesthiei autois) "And he eats in company, colleague, or intimate association with them." Indeed He did for, "He that would have friends must show himself friendly," Proverbs 18:24. He sought to win the "bad," not the good, Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32.

Verse 3

THE LOST SHEEP PARABLE V. 3-7

1) "And he spake," (eipen de) "Then he told," spoke or related audibly.

2) "This parable unto them, saying," (pros autous ten parabolen tauten legon) "Directly to them (to these audibly goose-jabbering, fault-finding, griping, murmuring complainers), to the self-righteous, unsaved Pharisees and scribes, Matthew 5:20; Romans 10:2-4.

Verse 4

1) "What man of you, having an hundred sheep," (tis anthropos eks humon echon probata) "Just what man out of you all having, herding, or holding," in your control or oversight, "a hundred sheep," a flock of necessary size to support a large family.

2) "If he lose one of them," (kai apolesas eks auton hen) "And when he loses one out of them," out of the flock. Like sheep, men wander from God, go astray, Isaiah 53:6. Parents are to be concerned for that lost sheep of their family.

3) "Doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness," (ou kataleopei ta enenekonta ennea en te eremo) "Does not leave the ninety and nine in the desert," in the pasture area, the oversight of another, or in a fold with another shepherd keeping watch over them. The shepherd did not simply abandon them, without someone else to protect them.

4) "And go after that which is lost," (kai poreuetai epi to apolotos) "And go forth after (in search of) the one which has been and is lost," separated in isolation from the flock. Often half a dozen different flocks were kept in the same fold at night, with different shepherds taking turns watching them.

5) "Until he find it." (heos heure auto) "Until he finds or locates it?" Ezekiel 34:6-11. If a man so cares for his sheep, why should the Christ not seek the lost human soul. This is the prevailing idea, Matthew 12:12. Man is much better than a sheep, see?

Verse 5

1) "And when he hath found it," (kai heuron) "And when he has found it," located and rescued it, out of care and anxiety for its safety.

2) "He layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing." (epitithesen epi tous omous autou chairon) "He places it upon his shoulder, continually rejoicing," tenderly he carries it, doesn’t drive it, with abiding joy. No blows are struck for the straying and no harsh words are spoken; He simply gives it rest and finds joy in doing it, Isaiah 40:1-2.

Verse 6

1) "And when he cometh home," (kai elthon eis ton o on) "And when he comes into the home," or to his residence, where he at least resides as a shepherd, bearing the sheep that was lost, that had gone astray, himself rejoicing, 1 Thessalonians 5:16.

2) "He calleth together his friends and neighbors," (sugkalei tous philous kai geitonas) "He calls together the friends and the neighbors;" So great is his joy that he has to share it. One is not only to bear and share one another’s burdens but also their joys, Galatians 6:2; Psalms 107:2.

3) "Saying unto them, Rejoice with me;" (legon autois sugchareti moi) "Saying to them, rejoice along with me," or come and share my joy. It was too good to keep to himself. Let us "rejoice with those that rejoice," Romans 12:15; Psalms 126:5-6.

4) "For I have found my sheep which was lost." (hoti heuron to probaton mou to apolotos) "Because I found my sheep that had been lost," Psalms 119:176; 1 Peter 2:25, And the Pharisees and scribes would have rejoiced at the repentance of the publicans and harlots, if they themselves had only experienced forgiveness of sins; But they had not, the best they could do was to murmur and find fault with Jesus, Matthew 5:20; Matthew 21:32; Psalms 107:2. It is a solemn thought that all sheep, even the lost ones, belong to God 1) By creation, 2) By daily sustenance, yet they need rescuing, Ezekiel 18:4; Acts 17:28.

Verse 7

1) "I say unto you, that," (lego humin) "I tell you al I,"

2) "Likewise joy shall be in heaven," (hoti hutos chara en to ourano estai) "That there will be (or exist)a joy of this kind in heaven," in the presence of angels, Matthew 18:10-11, or a similar joy will come to be in heaven, when a sinner repents on earth, so that his name is written in heaven, Luke 10:18-20.

3) "Over one sinner that repenteth," (epi heni hamartolo metanoounti) "Over even one sinner (moral and ethical law-breaker) who repents," so that they may be saved, Matthew 3:2; Luke 13:3; Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30-31; Luke 16:30.

4) "More than over ninety and nine just persons," (e epi enenekonta ennea dikaiois) "Than over ninety nine just or righteous persons," persons who have already become right with God, already been saved, who have "peace with God," through "repentance to God and faith in Jesus Christ," Acts 20:21.

5) "Which need no repentance." (oitines ou cherian echousin metanoias) "Who have or hold no need of repentance," who have already been rescued from this alienation from God, Romans 2:4-5; 2 Corinthians 7:10. This does not mean that some live so good that they do not need repentance for "all have sinned," and come short of the "glory (glory presence) of God," and all must repent and be born again to enter heaven, Luke 13:3; Luke 13:5; John 3:5. The "just ones" that need no repentance are those safe in the fold, already brought under the shepherd’s fold care.

Verse 8

1) "Either what woman having ten pieces of silver," (e tis gune drachmas echousa deka) "Or what woman having ten pieces of silver," worth a Roman penny, Matthew 18:28, in custodial care. Silver as a precious metal symbolizes the worth of a soul, that every soul is of value to God, for all souls are His, by right of both creation and His daily care, though astray in sin and lost, Ezekiel 18:4; Acts 17:28.

2) "If she lose one piece," (ean apolese drachmen mian) "if she loses one piece," one drachma of the ten of silver, or one tenth of what she had in her custody, right in her own tent, house, or home, by carelessness.

3) "Doth not light a candle, and sweep the house," (ouchi haptei luchnon kai saroi ten oikian) "Does not light a lamp and sweep the house or residence," Psalms 119:105. The houses of the middle east were usually without windows and a coin was not easy to find without a diligent housecleaning effort by the light of a candle, even in the daytime. She seeks light to help her find and recover the lost coin. Even so a Christian needs a vision, prayer, and Divine light in searching for the lost, Luke 10:1; John 4:34-36; Proverbs 29:18.

4) "And seek diligently till she find it?" (kai zetei epimelos heos ou heure) "And search carefully (with meticulous care) until she finds it?" For losing even one coin from the ten on her headband signified loss of position and honor to her husband, with whose treasure she was entrusted, Psalms 126:5-6; Ecclesiastes 11:1-6.

The sweeping of the earth floor, usually covered with straw, was a diligent and meticulous job. Even the loss of one piece or coin from the headband was considered to be an unfaithful act toward her marriage vows. Note both the sheep and the coin were sought until they were found. Had it not been for the seeking Shepherd and the seeking woman, there would never have been an occasion to rejoice over a recovered loss in their own home.

Verse 9

1) "And when she hath found it," (kai heurousa) "And having found it," and recovered it; note, she does not give up. Patience, forbearance, and perseverance is needed in finding precious souls that are lost, as well as precious metals, John 4:34-36; Galatians 6:9; Psalms 126:5-6; 1 Corinthians 3:8; Revelation 22:12.

2) "She calleth her friends and her neighbors together," (sugkalei tas philas kai geitonas) "She cal Is together the friends and neighbors," those residing nearby, to share her joy with them also, as the four lepers did when they found food for themselves and to spare, 2 Kings 7:9.

3) "Saying, Rejoice with me;" (legousa sugcharete moi) "Saying, again and again, rejoice along with me in company with me," share my joy with me, Romans 15:12.

4) "For I have found the piece which I had lost." (hot I heuron ten drachmen hen appaloosa) "Because I found the silver-piece (the drachma) which I lost." Yes, she admitted that she lost it, for it was she who had been custodian of it. 0 that fathers, mothers, husbands, and wives with lost companions, children, or loved ones would say, "I lost him or her," let them wander from God, through my carelessness; God forgive, 1 John 1:8-9.

Let it be recalled that just as the coin bare the image of the king or the ruler, so do men bear the image of God, though it be marred and scarred by sin. It is worth redeeming, cost the death of Jesus, and calls for witnessing of the saints, Acts 1:8; Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 9:21-22.

Verse 10

1) "Likewise I say unto you," (houtos lego humin) "Just like this, I tell you all," or very similar to this I assure you all.

2) "There is joy in the presence of the angels of God," (ginetai chara enopion ton angelon tou theou) "There is (exists) or comes to be joy before the angels of God," or in the presence of the angels of God, in heaven, Luke 10:20; 1 Peter 1:12.

3) "Over one sinner that repenteth." (epi heni hamarotlo metanoounti) "Over even one lawless one (alien from God) who repents," who comes to repent and who is repenting, over one repenting sinner; Even while he yet repents, rejoicing begins in the glory land, as it appears that ones name is then written "when he repents and believes," when he becomes a child of God, a new creature in Christ Jesus, 2 Corinthians 5:21. Paul writes of certain ones who "were in Christ before me," Romans 16:7. This exposes the mistaken notion held by some that ones name is written in heaven, in the Lamb’s book of life, before he is ever born, or has been given a name. It is the "Book" that existed before the foundation of the world, Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 21:27. But men’s names are written in that book when they repent, at which moment exceeding rejoicing goes on before and around the throne of God, in the presence of the holy angels, who are appointed as servants to and for the redeemed, Hebrews 1:14; Psalms 34:7.

Verse 11

THE LOST SON PARABLE V. 11-16

1) "And he said," (eipen de) "Then he said," or stated to them, to the Jews, Pharisees and scribes in particular, Luke 15:2. This is the third parable showing how one may be lost, 1) The sheep by straying, 2) The coin by carelessness, and 3) The son by stubbornness.

2) "A certain man had two sons;" (anthropos tis eichen duo hulos) "There was a certain man who had two heir-sons;" That certain man was God, the Father. The two sons, the self-righteous of the Jews, and the young of the Gentiles, who came to receive Him, Acts 15:14.

Verse 12

1) "And the younger of them said to his father," (kai eipen ho neoteros auton to patri) "And the younger of them said to the father," The younger representing the Gentile or the publican. The younger was the more impulsive, wild in estate demands, covetous to be his own master, impatient, expressing what was forbidden, "Thou shalt not covet," Exodus 20:17; and a love for the world, 1 John 2:17.

2) "Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me." (pater dos moi to epiballon meros tes ousias) "Father dole to me the share of the property falling to me," because the son wanted to be independent of his father and his father’s God, a thing the Jewish father did, sometimes before his death, as Abraham did, Genesis 25:6. The law prescribed that the elder son should receive a double portion, two-thirds in this instance, of the property, Deuteronomy 21:17. In this instance the father reserved this to himself during his life, Luke 15:31; 1 Chronicles 5:11.

3) "And he divided unto them his living." (ho de dieeles autois ton bion) "Then he divided to them the living," the heir-share of the estate, had a clear understanding what should be the portion from which he cared for the sisters and mother, and from which he offered sacrifices on their behalf. The mother had perhaps recently died.

Verse 13

1) "And not many days after," (kai met ou pollas hemeras) "And after not many days," of delay, or very soon thereafter, showing the rapidity of covetous experiences of degeneracy, of moral and ethical anarchy, showing what he had in his heart in the request that he pressed upon his father, 1 Timothy 6:10.

2)"The younger son gathered all together," (sunagagon panta ho neoteros huios) "The younger heir son having gotten all things assembled," or gathered together, expressing sin’s gathering to walk away from God, whom the father represents, showing his lust and carnal love for the world more than parental respect and holiness of life, 1 John 2:17-19.

3)"And took his journey into a foreign country," (apedemesen eis choran makran) "And departed (journeyed) into a far country," far removed from home and father, and his brother he left behind, and from the high-level of ethics and morality he left behind, Ephesians 2:11-12.

4) "And there wasted his substance with riotous living." (kai ekei dieskorpisen ten ousian autou zon asotos) "And out there (in the far country) he scattered his property (like a drunk or mentally unbalanced person), living riotously, carelessly, wastefully." So that the term prodigal came to mean a "waster," a "dissipater," Proverbs 28:19; Proverbs 23:5.

Verse 14

1) "And when he had spent all," (dapanesantos de autou panta) "Then when he had spent all things," without finding satisfaction in it, which he had inherited, with his wasteful, riotous conduct, spent all and gained nothing, Isaiah 55:2; Amos 8:11-12. This was a crisis in his life.

2) "There arose a mighty famine in that land," (egeneto limos eschura kata ten choran ekeinen) "There came to be a severe famine throughout that country," a famine for food, and a greater famine of the soul, a famine that sin causes, an hunger of soul, that grows worse and worse, Jeremiah 2:13-19.

3) "and he began to be in want." (kai autos erksato hustereisthai) "And he began to be in a state of want," for food, clothing, and shelter, the very necessities of physical life, and a want of the soul that was more probing, tormenting; His soul felt empty, abandoned, helpless, the fruit of a chosen sinful course, yet the calf of God came to repentance, 2 Corinthians 7:10; Romans 2:4-5.

Verse 15

1) "And he went," (kai poreutheis) "And going forth," in a state of want, hunger, nakedness, and cold.

2) "And joined himself to a citizen of that country;" (ekollethe heni ton politon tes choras ekelnes) "He was joined, by contract agreement, to a citizen of that (far) country," a countryman engaged in a dirty, unclean business; Raising unclean animals, according to Jewish Law; He sponged off of an heathen, perhaps a Gentile, forced to do dirty work, feeding swine, Leviticus 11:7; Deuteronomy 14:8.

3) "And he sent him Into his fields to feed swine." (kai epempsen auton eis ous agrous autou boskein choirous) "And he sent him into the fields to feed his pigs;" to do the work of a slave, and in a work very vile or repulsive to the Jews. Yet it was the sin-fruit of a deliberate obstinate son who would "do his own thing," be his own man, independent of his father and the will of his father’s God. He chose the way of unclean swine, in despair, brought by his own course of life, Leviticus 11:7, as an hog "wallowing in the mire," 2 Peter 2:22.

Verse 16

1) "And he would fain have filled his belly," (kai epethumei gemesai ten koilean autou) "And he longed (desired, wanted) to fill his stomach," as starving, famishing Lazarus "desired to be fed with crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table," Luke 16:21.

2) "With the husks that the swine did eat:" (ek ton keration hon esthion hoi choiroi) "Out of or from the husks which the pigs ate," the unsavory, unpalatable fruit of the carab tree, which hogs ate; He craved even to eat the "husks" from the hog feed, still used as hog-food in Cyprus today.

3) "And no man gave unto him," (kai oudeis edidou auto) "And no one (in charge) doled out anything to him," for him to eat. There is really no true friendship among the wicked; Not only had his happy hour "friends" of harlotry and riotous living deserted him, Luke 15:13; Luke 15:30, but also since "no man gave to him," to satisfy his hunger, it is evident that he stole the hog feed husks, just to eat. How low and base the sin of carnal covetousness does lead, only hell will finally tell! Jeremiah 30:14; Every fool who follows "good-time-friends," in sin against God, one day comes to self condemning remorse, in this life, or in hell forever.

Swine food, semi-starvation, or going home were three alternatives he had to consider. He chose the wiser, to go back home.

Verse 17

HIS REPENTANCE V. 17-19

1) "And when he came to himself, he said," (eis heauton de elthon ephe) "Then coming to himself he said," indicating that he had been "beside himself," coming, arousing to a state of sensibility, by the spirits conviction of a guilty, defiled conscience that was given to evil imaginations continually, Genesis 6:5; though like Saul he had "kicked against the pricks," Acts 9:5.

2) "How many hired servants of my father’s," (posoi misthioi tou patros mou) "How many hired servants of my father’s;" He recalled the father’s compassionate care and mercy, and provision for the servants back home, now better fed, better clothed, and better sheltered than he was. Even his father’s servants did not have to steal to have satisfying food. The lesson is that a servant of God, the Father, is eternally richer than a run away sinner. A thief who steals food from his employer.

3) "Have bread enough and to spare," (perisseuontou arton) "Have abundance of bread," not husks, an excess of bread. What a testimony to the kind of home, not realizing what the bondage of sin held for him in loneliness, hunger, remorse, and deserted fair-weather friends, until he had "spent all," and came to be (to exist) in want, impoverished, Proverbs 28:13, knowing the "way of the transgressor is hard,"

4) "And I perish with hunger!" (ego de limo hode apollumai) "Yet I am perishing with hunger." Because of the quality of food. In exclamatory emotions he said it! Evidently sobbing with shame and remorse, and regret he said it! In repentance of soul he said it!!! Though a son, he now realized the folly, the vanity, and the futility of sin, a thing sinners must come to realize before they can be saved. The husks of the world do not satisfy the soul. A remorseful recognition of and regret for sin is the first element of repentance.

Verse 18

1) “I will arise and go to my father," (anastas poreusomai pros ton patera mou) "I will rise up and go to my father," of my own will and accord, the second element of repentance, a turning from sin. At the "I will" a change began in his soul, Isaiah 55:7; Hosea 14:1-2.

2) "And will say unto him," (kai ero auto) "And I will say to him," will acknowledge or confess to him’ In resolute purpose he chose the right course of action, to be reconciled with his father.

3) "Father, I have sinned against heaven," (pater hemarton eis ton ouranon) "Father I sinned against heaven," the God of heaven; upon both leaving my father’s house, and in riotous living, Luke 15:13; Luke 15:21; Whose property I am; To whom I belong; Whose image I bear, though marred and scarred by sin. I am his in two ways: 1) By right of creation, Ezekiel 18:4; Ezekiel 2) and by His daily care for me, Acts 17:28.

4) "And before thee," (kai enopion sou) "And in your presence," or before you, in leaving home, disobeying you, and trusting self. All sin is first against heaven, the God of heaven, and second against one’s self and his fellowman, as expressed by David, Psalms 51:4; For sin against God, rebellion against his character and attributes, is expressed in wrong toward one’s fellowman who bears God’s image.

Verse 19

1) "And am no more worthy," (ouketi eimi akscos) I am or exist no longer worthy," because of my poverty and my sinful behavior. He was still a son, though in anarchy, rebellion, at enmity with heaven and his father, Romans 8:7. He was still down in the hog pen, in a foreign country, resolving to go back home.

2) "To be called thy son" (klethenai huios sou) "To be addressed as your heir-son:" I have forfeited the right. He wanted to be known as the son of his father and his father’s home again; For he had acted in the past as a child of wrath, a child of the devil, Ephesians 2:3.

3) "Make me as one of thy hired servants." (poleson me hos hena ton misthion sou) "Just make me as one of your hired servants," cause me to be treated as they are treated. And to serve along with them. Humility, "here expressed, is the way to exaltation, even from the filth and mire of an hog pen in an heathen land, James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:6; Luke 18:14; Proverbs 3:34.

Verse 20

THE RETURN TO THE FATHER V. 20-22

1) "And he arose and came to his father," (kai anastas elthen pros ton patera heauton) "And rising up he came of his own choice directly to his father;" Confessions to self and good resolutions, two elements of genuine repentance are ideal, but avail nothing until one arises or acts, seeks personal pardon, by calling on the Lord, Luke 13:3; Luke 13:5; Romans 10:9-13.

2) "But when he was yet a great way off," (et! de autou makran apechontos) "Then while he was yet far away," from his father’s home or residence, with determined steps; Reconciliation with God has been provided already, through Jesus Christ on the cross, but each responsible sinner must repent and trust in Jesus Christ or call on God for himself, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.

3) "His father saw him, and had compassion," (eipen auton ho parer autou kai esplagchnisthe) "His father saw him and was moved with pity," Isaiah 65:24; His bowels of affections were moved, for his son’s sins, his bruised and swollen feet, and his weary, sin-sick soul, and penitence evident in the way he walked.

4) "And ran, and fell on his neck," (kai framon epepesen epi ton trachelon autou) "And he ran, and fell upon his neck," an oriental sign of reconciliation, James 4:8; Nehemiah 9:17, with an expression of paternal love that, though spurned by a wayward son, had never died. Like the father, God seeks still the redemption of all men through His Word, the witness of His people, and the call of the spirit, John 20:21; Acts 1:8; Revelation 22:17.

5) "And kissed him," (kai katephilesen auton) "And fervently (very affectionately) he kissed him," repeatedly, in sincerity, welcoming him back to his fellowship, to acknowledge him still as his son, His redeemed son, or returning backslidden son; Matthew 11:28-30; Psalms 129:8; Proverbs 27:14.

It was a Divine "welcome home" that awaits every earnest penitent that comes to the Lord, whatever his past has been, without questions asked, John 7:17; John 6:37.

Verse 21

1) "And the son said unto him, Father,” (eipen de ho huios auto pater) "Then the son said to him, Father," proceeded to carry through his confession resolution that he had worded down in the hog pen of a foreign land, perhaps repeated a thousand times on his way home.

2) "I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight," (hemarton eis ton ouranon sou) "I sinned against heaven and before your presence," Psalms 51:4, to cause God and you to be ashamed or offended. Only grace from God enables one to confess "I have sinned," then to ask pardon or forgiveness for the sin. ’

3) "And am no more worthy to be called thy son." (ouketi eimi aksios klethenai huios sou) "I am no longer worthy to be called an heir-son of you." But the love with which he was received restrained his further resolve, "make me as a hired servant."

Verse 22

1) "But the father said to his servants," (ei pen de ho pater pros tous doulous autou) "Then the father said directly to his slave-servants," directing them, indicating acceptance and forgiveness of the prodigal’s sins, 1 John 1:8-9.

2) "Bring forth the best robe," (tachoe eksenegkate stolen ten ptoten) "You all bring out quickly the first order robe," for the son who returned in rags, the robe of first priority order, for special occasion. One also that is a son-robe, not a servant-robe, so happy was the father, Isaiah 61:10.

3) "And put it on him:" (kai endusate auton) "And you all clothe him," or dress him properly, as a returned, reconciled son, one now righteous, Zechariah 3:3-5; Revelation 3:18; Revelation 12:1.

4) "And put a ring on his hand," (kai dote daktulion eis ten cheira autou) "And give (for him) a ring on his hand," on a finger of his hand, a symbol, sign, or emblem of a free man, for slaves wore no rings, Genesis 41:42. It was a symbol of love eternal.

5) "And shoes on his feet:" (kai hupodemata eis tous podas) "And (give) sandals to put on his feet," to separate him from the slaves, for slaves wore no rings, went barefooted, or in the poorest of sandals. He was now shod for comfort in service and fellowship; These were tokens of reconciliation.

Verse 23

THE REJOICING V. 23, 24

1) "And bring hither the fatted calf," (kai pherete ton moschon ton siteuton) "And bring the fatted calf carefully," that one kept fatted for some special feast or anniversary.

2) "And kill it; and let us sat, and be merry:" (thusate kai phagontes euphranthomen) "You all kill it, and let us eat and be merry," with a festal banquet. The return of the lost son, like that of the lost sheep, and lost coin, when found was an occasion of special joy, feast, and a festivity in this instance, Luke 15:6. Note, the term "Let us," includes the servants who too were to rejoice at the rescue and reconciliation of the lost, as they entered into the joy of their lord, Matthew 25:21-22.

Verse 24

1) "For this my son was dead," (hoti houtos ho huios mou nekros en) "This heir son was dead," whether dead to or in fruitless, barren service, as a backslidden child of God, or one dead in trespasses and sins, God’s compassion accepts all who come, as this one did, Ephesians 2:1-3; Revelation 3:11; Ephesians 4:14; Romans 6:13.

2) "And is alive again" (kai anezesen) "And he lives again," and is alive. And he was later said to have been "lost and is found," Luke 15:32. He was lost to love and duty, but is now restored to a renewed way of life.

3) "He was lost, and is found." (en apololos kai heurethe) "He was (existed as) having been lost, and he came to be and is found," lost to me, and to himself. As the lost sheep and lost coin, each with intrinsic, literal value to their owner, but not while lost, Luke 15:4; Luke 15:6; Luke 15:8-9.

4) "And they began to be merry." (kai erksanto euphrainesthai) "And they began to be merry," or very much gladdened, to rejoice, much like that at the hour of the marriage of the Lamb, Revelation 19:7-9. Like the joy in the presence of the Lord forever, Psalms 16:11.

But what of the elder brother? Let us now hear from him.

Verse 25

THE PHARISEE-LIKE SON V. 25-32

1) "Now his older son was in the field:" (en de ho huios autou ho presbuteros en agro) "Then his older heir-son was in the field," engaged in his father’s business, Luke 15:29. The elder son represents the jealous, proud, arrogant Pharisees and Jews, the very ones to whom the three parables were spoken, Luke 15:13.

2) "And as he came and drew nigh to the house," (kai hos erchomenos engisen te oikia) "And as he was coming he came near to the house," where feast preparations were under way. The elder son, though a son, also needed repentance, pardon and forgiveness, as surely as the younger, Luke 15:21; Luke 13:3; Luke 13:5. He came from the fields he had chosen to till, Luke 15:29.

3) "He heard musick and dancing." (ekousen sumponias kai choron) "And he heard symphonic music and dancing," which shocked an heart out of tune, Proverbs 25:20; Daniel 6:18, indicating merriment expressed in rhythmic musical form and antiphonal marching, called dancing, not necessarily sinful or unbecoming for a child of God, in special times of thanksgiving, and gratitude to God for sins forgiven.

Verse 26

1) "And he called one of the servants," (kai proskalesamenos hena ton paidon) "And he called directly to him one of the [ads," young men, perhaps a young servant about the house, one who hurried about to help prepare the Thanksgiving feast with musical festivities, Psalms 107:2; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16.

2) "And asked what these things meant." (epunthaneto ti an eie tauta) "And he inquired just what these things might mean," might be, what the significance of all the festivities were all about, a thing the "natural man" seems not to be able to comprehend, except to be convicted by it, 1 Corinthians 2:9; John 13:35. These festive sounds and music were not common in his father’s sad house, from which his prodigal brother had gone away.

Verse 27

1) "And he said unto him," (ho de eipen auto) "Then he explained to him," the servant who understood advised the elder brother.

2) "Thy brother is come;" (hot! ho adelphos sou ekei) "That his brother has come," showed up, returned from afar, safe and sound, in good health, in grace with your father again, has made things right with him, Luke 15:20-22.

3) "And thy father hath killed the fatted calf," (kai ethusen ho pater sou ton moschon ton siteuton) "And your father has killed the fatted calf," ordered us to kill it and we are preparing for a festival of thanksgiving, for there had been rejoicing in heaven over the lost, and now there was rejoicing in that home over the lost one that was found, Luke 15:4-9.

4) "Because he hath received him safe and sound." (hot! hugiainonta auton apelaben) "Because while he was (still) healthy, he received him back, safe and sound in health," and what is better, now safe and sound in his soul, is the overriding idea. He had been pardoned and restored, upon his voluntary return and confession of sins, a thing the despised publicans and harlots had also done, at which point Jesus had received them, Matthew 21:31-32. Yet the pride-filled, self-righteous Pharisees, despisers of others, found fault against Jesus, whom God had sent, for His receiving the penitent, alien sinners; While they themselves rejected Him, Luke 7:29; Luke 18:9; Matthew 5:20; Romans 10:2-3.

Verse 28

1) "And he was angry," (orgisthe de) "Then he was angry," with the enmity and venom of sin in his unholy, self righteous soul, Romans 8:7; Ephesians 2:1-3.

2) "And would not go in:" (kai ouk ethelen eiselthein) "And he did not wish or care to enter," to enter into the merriment, joy, and festivities; He thus became the lost son, Isaiah 65:5; Luke 18:11. He would have no part in forgiveness toward an erring brother, therefore had no forgiveness of the seething malice, envy, jealousy, and anger of his own soul, Matthew 6:15.

3) "Therefore came his father out, and entreated him." (ho de ’pater autou ekselthon parekalei auton) "So then his father came out (and) besought, invited, or urged him," with compassion, longsuffering, and forbearance, after the nature of God, as Jesus had entreated the Jews, Pharisees in particular, John 1:11-12; Matthew 23:37-39; Ephesians 4:1-3; 2 Corinthians 5:20.

Verse 29

1) "And he answering said to his father," (ho de apokritheis eipen to patri) "Then replying, he said to the father," in bitterness, in resentment, with a feigned higher wisdom, in a sulky manner, as a "party-pooper."

2) "Lo, these many years do I serve thee," (idou tosauto ete douleou soi) "Behold, (take note) so many years I serve you," do work for you, like a slave. Note, he is so insolent that he does not address him as "father," an attitude of dishonor and disrespect greater than the younger son ever showed. For on both his leaving and return he did address him as "father," Luke 15:12; Luke 15:21.

3) "Neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment:" (kai oudepote entolen sou parelthon) "And at no time at all transgressed I (any) command of you," telling him off, about how good he was, much as that one prayed to God in the temple that day, Luke 18:9-12. "Bully for him!" He had only set aside all the commandments of God doing the mechanical things of the law, simply in his own covetous way, continually breaking the 10th commandment, thereby breaking all the nine above it, Exodus 20:17; Mark 7:1-13.

4) "And yet thou never gavest me a kid," (kai emoi oudepote edokas eriphon) "And to me (my honor) you never at any time even gave a goat," a kid, in contrast with a fatted calf, for me to celebrate my pride and selfishness, and envy, and malice, and self-determination to work my own way to heaven; "Give me," here, is the same nature of sin’s greed that the younger son had, Luke 15:12, See.

5) "That I might make merry with my friends:" (hina meta ton philon Mou euphrantho) "in order that I might be merry with my friends," respectable friends, very different from the disreputable associates of my brother. And none of this did the father deny. This feast was not given to honor the returning prodigal, who had not a merit of behavior to honor, but to express the father’s joy of the son’s reconciliation, and sins confessed. If heaven’s presence has resounding joy at the repentance of one sinner, why should not every member of this household rejoice at such at hour, Luke 15:7; Luke 15:10.

Verse 30

1) "But as soon as this thy son," (hote de ho huios son houtos) "Then when this your son," this son of yours, whom he did not even acknowledge as his brother.

2) "Was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots," (ho kataphagon sou ton bion meta pornon elthen) "The one who has devoured your living estate with harlots came," came home, returned from a riotous life, like a tramp. He was blaming his father for giving the younger son part of the estate, that he had taken and squandered, and would not himself give his own brother a second chance, showing lack of compassion, charity, or divine love, Matthew 6:14-15.

3) "Thou hast killed for him the fatted calf." (ethusas auto ton siteuton moschon) "You killed for him (his honor) the fatted calf." Only a soul filled with the bitterness of gall and vinegar could speak so reproachfully to a father of old age. He was accusing the father of making the prodigal a person of superior honor to himself, the elder son. Let it be understood that a restored forgiven, backslidden or born again, former murderer, adulterer, liar or thief, is more acceptable before God than a pious, self-righteous, bitter, religious, unforgiving hypocrite, like this elder son typified, among the Pharisee Jews, Mark 7:5-6.

Verse 31

1) "And he said unto him," (ho de eipen auto) "Then he said to him," the father said with compassion and forbearance to the bitter, elder son.

2) "Son, thou art ever with me," (teknon ou pantote met’ emou el) "Child, you are at all times with me," therefore there was no real occasion for extraordinary joy, my own son. Though the son did not recognize him as father, the father did recognize him as his son, his child, with charity and affection.

3) "And all that I have is thine." (kai panta ta ema sa estin) "And all my things (of the estate) are (now) yours," by inheritance assignment, by my will. The truly righteous are never impoverished by pardon and favor shown to the fallen, to sinners, by the righteous. For compassion for the fallen and gifts to the needy are much more honorable than to those who can repay, Matthew 20:14; Luke 14:13-14.

Verse 32

1) "It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad:" (euphranthenai de kai charenai edei) "It became us to be merry and to rejoice at length," and in depth, Isaiah 35:10. It was and is the right thing to do, to express forgiveness and reconciliation, even as God has for Christ’s sake forgiven us, Ephesians 4:30; Luke 6:33-37; Acts 11:18.

2) "For this thy brother was dead," (hoti hi adelphos sou outos nekros en) "Because this your brother was dead," in contrast with "thy son," Luke 15:30. A dead corpse, or like a lifeless corpse, unfruitful, once without holiness, barren to truth and right, Ephesians 2:1-3; Ephesians 2:11-12; Ephesians 4:18. The father reminded him, he is "still your brother."

3) "And is alive again;" (kai ezesen) "And he came to life," is now alive, with a new nature, a new attitude, 2 Corinthians 5:17.

4) "And was lost, and is found." (kai apololos kai heurethe) "And having been lost, he was also found," like the lost sheep, and the lost coin, Luke 15:4-10. And just as the shepherd, the woman, their friends, and heaven rejoiced at the home-coming of the lost sheep and finding of the lost coin, so should I, the father, and my household rejoice at the return and confession of this one spiritually lost and dead son, who is now found and alive; Such was a laudable, a praiseworthy conclusion, 2 Corinthians 5:17; Luke 10:18.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Luke 15". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/luke-15.html. 1985.
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