All the publicans and sinners (παντες οι τελωναι και οι αμαρτωλοι pantes hoi telōnai kai hoi hamartōloi). The two articles separate the two classes (all the publicans and the sinners). They are sometimes grouped together (Luke 5:30; Matthew 9:11), but not here. The publicans are put on the same level with the outcasts or sinners. So in Luke 14:2 the repeated article separates Pharisees and scribes as not quite one. The use of “all” here may be hyperbole for very many or the reference may be to these two classes in the particular place where Jesus was from time to time.Were drawing near unto him (ησαν αυτωι εγγιζοντες ēsan autōi eggizontes). Periphrastic imperfect of εγγιζω eggizō from εγγυς eggus (near), late verb. For to hear (ακουειν akouein). Just the present active infinitive of purpose.
Both and (τε και te διεγογγυζον kai). United in the complaint.Murmured (διαγογγυζω diegogguzon). Imperfect active of δια diagogguzō late Greek compound in the lxx and Byzantine writers. In the N.T. only here and Luke 19:7. The force of ουτος dia here is probably between or among themselves. It spread (imperfect tense) whenever these two classes came in contact with Jesus. As the publicans and the sinners were drawing near to Jesus just in that proportion the Pharisees and the scribes increased their murmurings. The social breach is here an open yawning chasm. This man (προσδεχεται houtos). A contemptuous sneer in the use of the pronoun. They spoke out openly and probably pointed at Jesus. Receiveth (προσδεχομαι prosdechetai). Present middle indicative of the common verb υπεδεχατο prosdechomai In Luke 12:36 we had it for expecting, here it is to give access to oneself, to welcome like και συνεστιει αυτοις hupedexato of Martha‘s welcome to Jesus (Luke 10:38). The charge here is that this is the habit of Jesus. He shows no sense of social superiority to these outcasts (like the Hindu “untouchables” in India). And eateth with them (αυτοις kai sunesthiei autois). Associative instrumental case (συν autois) after πιλος sun - in composition. This is an old charge (Luke 5:30) and a much more serious breach from the standpoint of the Pharisees. The implication is that Jesus prefers these outcasts to the respectable classes (the Pharisees and the scribes) because he is like them in character and tastes, even with the harlots. There was a sting in the charge that he was the “friend” (philos) of publicans and sinners (Luke 7:34).
This parable (την παραβολην ταυτην tēn parabolēn tautēn). The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:3-7). This is Christ‘s way of answering the cavilling of these chronic complainers. Jesus gave this same parable for another purpose in another connection (Matthew 18:12-14). The figure of the Good Shepherd appears also in John 10:1-18. “No simile has taken more hold upon the mind of Christendom” (Plummer). Jesus champions the lost and accepts the challenge and justifies his conduct by these superb stories. “The three Episodes form a climax: The Pasture - the House - the Home; the Herdsman - the Housewife - the Father; the Sheep - the Treasure - the Beloved Son” (Ragg).
In the wilderness (εν τηι ερημωι en tēi erēmōi). Their usual pasturage, not a place of danger or peril. It is the owner of the hundred sheep who cares so much for the one that is lost. He knows each one of the sheep and loves each one.Go after that which is lost (πορευεται επι το απολωλος poreuetai epi to apolōlos). The one lost sheep (απολωλος apolōlos second perfect active participle of απολλυμι apollumi to destroy, but intransitive, to be lost). There is nothing more helpless than a lost sheep except a lost sinner. The sheep went off by its own ignorance and folly. The use of επι epi for the goal occurs also in Matthew 22:9; Acts 8:26; Acts 9:11. Until he find it (εως ευρηι αυτο heōs heurēi auto). Second aorist active subjunctive of ευρισκω heuriskō common verb, with εως heōs common Greek idiom. He keeps on going (πορευεται poreuetai linear present middle indicative) until success comes (effective aorist, ευρηι heurēi).
On his shoulders (επι τους ωμους αυτου epi tous ōmous autou). He does it himself in exuberant affection and of necessity as the poor lost sheep is helpless. Note the plural shoulders showing that the sheep was just back of the shepherd‘s neck and drawn around by both hands. The word for shoulder (ωμος ōmos) is old and common, but in the N.T. only here and Matthew 23:4.Rejoicing (χαιρων chairōn). “There is no upbraiding of the wandering sheep, nor murmuring at the trouble” (Plummer).
Rejoice with me (συνχαρητε μοι suncharēte moi). Second aorist passive of συνχαιρω sunchairō an old and common verb for mutual joy as in Philippians 2:17. Joy demands fellowship. Same form in Luke 15:9. So the shepherd calls together (συνκαλει sunkalei note συν sun again) both his friends and his neighbours. This picture of the Good Shepherd has captured the eye of many artists through the ages.
Over one sinner that repenteth (επι ενι αμαρτωλωι μετανοουντι epi heni hamartōlōi metanoounti). The word sinner points to Luke 15:1. Repenting is what these sinners were doing, these lost sheep brought to the fold. The joy in heaven is in contrast with the grumbling Pharisees and scribes.More than over (η επι ē epi). There is no comparative in the Greek. It is only implied by a common idiom like our “rather than.” Which need no repentance (οιτινες ου χρειαν εχουσιν μετανοιας hoitines ou chreian echousin metanoias). Jesus does not mean to say that the Pharisees and the scribes do not need repentance or are perfect. He for the sake of argument accepts their claims about themselves and by their own words condemns them for their criticism of his efforts to save the lost sheep. It is the same point that he made against them when they criticized Jesus and the disciples for being at Levi‘s feast (Luke 5:31.). They posed as “righteous.” Very well, then. That shuts their mouths on the point of Christ‘s saving the publicans and sinners.
Ten pieces of silver (δραχμας δεκα drachmas deka). The only instance in the N.T. of this old word for a coin of 65.5 grains about the value of the common δηναριυς dēnarius (about eighteen cents), a quarter of a Jewish shekel. The double drachma (διδραχμον didrachmon) occurs in the N.T. only in Matthew 17:24. The root is from δρασσομαι drassomai to grasp with the hand (1 Corinthians 3:19), and so a handful of coin. Ten drachmas would be equal to nearly two dollars, but in purchasing power much more.Sweep (σαροι saroi). A late colloquial verb σαροω saroō for the earlier σαιρω sairō to clear by sweeping. Three times in the N.T. (Luke 11:25; Luke 15:8; Matthew 12:44). The house was probably with out windows (only the door for light and hence the lamp lit) and probably also a dirt floor. Hence Bengel says: non sine pulvere. This parable is peculiar to Luke.
Her friends and neighbours (τας πιλας και γειτονας tas philas kai geitonas). Note single article and female friends (feminine article and πιλας philas). εως ου ευρηι Heōs hou eurēi here as in Luke 15:4, only ου hou added after εως heōs (until which time) as often.Which I lost (ην απωλεσα hēn apōlesa). First aorist active indicative of απολλυμι apollumi She lost the coin (note article). The shepherd did not lose the one sheep.
There is joy (γινεται χαρα ginetai chara). More exactly, joy arises. Futuristic present of γινομαι ginomai (cf. εσται estai in Luke 15:7).In the presence of the angels of God (ενωπιον των αγγελων του τεου enōpion tōn aggelōn tou theou). That is to say, the joy of God himself. The angels are in a sense the neighbours of God.
Had (ειχεν eichen). Imperfect active. Note εχων echōn (Luke 15:4), εχουσα echousa (Luke 15:8), and now ειχεν eichen The self-sacrificing care is that of the owner in each case. Here (verses 11-32) we have the most famous of all the parables of Jesus, the Prodigal Son, which is in Luke alone. We have had the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and now the Lost Son. Bruce notes that in the moral sphere there must be self-recovery to give ethical value to the rescue of the son who wandered away. That comes out beautifully in this allegory.
The portion (το μερος to meros). The Jewish law alloted one-half as much to the younger son as to the elder, that is to say one-third of the estate (Deuteronomy 21:17) at the death of the father. The father did not have to abdicate in favour of the sons, but “this very human parable here depicts the impatience of home restraints and the optimistic ambition of youth” (Ragg).And he divided (ο δε διειλεν ho de dieilen). The second aorist active indicative of διαιρεω diaireō an old and common verb to part in two, cut asunder, divide, but in the N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 12:11. The elder son got his share also of the “substance” or property or estate (της ουσιας tēs ousias), “the living” (τον βιον ton bion) as in Mark 12:44, not “life” as in Luke 8:14.
Not many days after (μετ ου πολλας ημερας met' ou pollas hēmeras). Literally, after not many days. Luke is fond of this idiom (Luke 7:6; Acts 1:5).Took his journey (απεδημησεν apedēmēsen). First aorist active indicative of αποδημεω apodēmeō (from αποδημος apodēmos away from home). Common verb. In the N.T. here and Matthew 21:33; Matthew 25:14; Mark 12:1; Luke 20:9. He burned all his bridges behind him, gathering together all that he had. Wasted (διεσκορπισεν dieskorpisen). First aorist active indicative of διασκορπιζω diaskorpizō a somewhat rare verb, the very opposite of “gathered together” (συναγογων sunagogōn). More exactly he scattered his property. It is the word used of winnowing grain (Matthew 25:24). With riotous living (ζων ασωτως zōn asōtōs). Living dissolutely or profligately. The late adverb ασωτως asōtōs (only here in the N.T.) from the common adjective ασωτος asōtos (α a privative and σωζω sōzō), one that cannot be saved, one who does not save, a spendthrift, an abandoned man, a profligate, a prodigal. He went the limit of sinful excesses. It makes sense taken actively or passively (prodigus or perditus), active probably here.
When he had spent (δαπανησαντος αυτου dapanēsantos autou). Genitive absolute. The verb is here used in a bad sense as in James 4:3. See note on dapanē Luke 14:28.He (δαπανη autos). Emphasis. To be in want (hustereisthai). The verb is from αυτος husteros behind or later (comparative). We use “fall behind” (Vincent) of one in straitened circumstances. Plummer notes the coincidences of Providence. The very land was in a famine when the boy had spent all.
Joined himself (εκολλητη ekollēthē). First aorist passive of κολλαω kollaō an old verb to glue together, to cleave to. In the N.T. only the passive occurs. He was glued to, was joined to. It is not necessary to take this passive in the middle reflexive sense.The citizens (των πολιτων tōn politōn). Curiously enough this common word citizen (πολιτης politēs from πολις polis city) is found in the N.T. only in Luke‘s writings (Luke 15:15; Luke 19:14; Acts 21:39) except in Hebrews 8:11 where it is quoted from Jeremiah 31:34. To feed swine (βοσκειν χοιρους boskein choirous). A most degrading occupation for anyone and for a Jew an unspeakable degradation.
He would fain have been filled (επετυμει χορταστηναι epethumei chortasthēnai). Literally, he was desiring (longing) to be filled. Imperfect indicative and first aorist passive infinitive. Χορταστηναι Chortasthēnai is from χορταζω chortazō and that from χορτος chortos (grass), and so to feed with grass or with anything. Westcott and Hort put γεμισαι την κοιλιαν αυτου gemisai tēn koilian autou in the margin (the Textus Receptus).With the husks (εκ των κερατιων ek tōn keratiōn). The word occurs here alone in the N.T. and is a diminutive of κερας keras (horn) and so means little horn. It is used in various senses, but here refers to the pods of the carob tree or locust tree still common in Palestine and around the Mediterranean, so called from the shape of the pods like little horns, Bockshornbaum in German or goat‘s-horn tree. The gelatinous substance inside has a sweetish taste and is used for feeding swine and even for food by the lower classes. It is sometimes called Saint John‘s Bread from the notion that the Baptist ate it in the wilderness. No man gave unto him (ουδεις εδιδου αυτωι oudeis edidou autōi). Imperfect active. Continued refusal of anyone to allow him even the food of the hogs.
But when he came to himself (εις εαυτον δε ελτων eis heauton de elthōn). As if he had been far from himself as he was from home. As a matter of fact he had been away, out of his head, and now began to see things as they really were. Plato is quoted by Ackerman (Christian Element in Plato) as thinking of redemption as coming to oneself.Hired servants (μιστιοι misthioi). A late word from μιστος misthos (hire). In the N.T. only in this chapter. The use of “many” here suggests a wealthy and luxurious home. Have bread enough and to spare (περισσευονται αρτων perisseuontai artōn). Old verb from περισσος perissos and that from περι peri (around). Present passive here, “are surrounded by loaves” like a flood. I perish (εγω δε λιμωι ωδε απολλυμαι egō de limōi hōde apollumai). Every word here counts: While I on the other hand am here perishing with hunger. It is the linear present middle of απολλυμι apollumi Note εγω egō expressed and δε de of contrast.
I will arise and go (αναστας προρευσομαι anastas proreusomai). This determination is the act of the will after he comes to himself and sees his real condition.I did sin (ημαρτον hēmarton). That is the hard word to say and he will say it first. The word means to miss the mark. I shot my bolt and I missed my aim (compare the high-handed demand in Luke 15:12).
No longer worthy (ουκετι αχιος ouketi axios). Confession of the facts. He sees his own pitiful plight and is humble.As one (ως ενα hōs hena). The hired servants in his father‘s house are high above him now.
To his father (προς τον πατερα εαυτου pros ton patera heautou). Literally, to his own father. He acted at once on his decision.Yet afar off (ετι αυτου μακραν απεχοντος eti autou makran apechontos). Genitive absolute. Μακραν Makran agrees with οδον hodon understood: While he was yet holding off a distant way. This shows that the father had been looking for him to come back and was even looking at this very moment as he came in sight. Ran (δραμων dramōn). Second aorist active participle of the defective verb τρεχω trechō The eager look and longing of the father. Kissed (κατεπιλησεν katephilēsen). Note perfective use of κατα kata kissed him much, kissed him again and again. The verb occurs so in the older Greek.
The son made his speech of confession as planned, but it is not certain that he was able to finish as a number of early manuscripts do not have “Make me as one of the hired servants,” though Aleph B D do have them. It is probable that the father interrupted him at this point before he could finish.
The best robe (στολην την πρωτην stolēn tēn prōtēn). Στολη Stolē is an old word for a fine stately garment that comes down to the feet (from στελλο stello to prepare, equip), the kind worn by kings (Mark 16:5; Luke 22:46). Literally, “a robe the first.” But not the first that you find, but the first in rank and value, the finest in the house. This in contrast with his shabby clothes.A ring (δακτυλιον daktulion). Common in classical writers and the lxx, but here only in the N.T. From δακτυλος daktulos finger. See χρυσοδακτυλιος chrusodaktulios in James 2:2. Shoes (υποδηματα hupodēmata). Sandals, “bound under.” Both sandals and ring are marks of the freeman as slaves were barefooted.
The fatted calf (τον μοσχον τον σιτευτον ton moschon ton siteuton). The calf the fatted one. Σιτευτον Siteuton is the verbal adjective of σιλευω sileuō to feed with wheat (σιτος sitos). The calf was kept fat for festive occasions, possibly in the hope of the son‘s return.Kill (τυσατε thusate). Not as a sacrifice, but for the feast. Make merry (ευπραντωμεν euphranthōmen). First aorist passive subjunctive (volitive). From ευπραινω euphrainō an old verb from ευ eu (well) and πρην phrēn (mind).
And is alive (και ανεζησεν kai anezēsen). First aorist active indicative of αναζαω anazaō to live again. Literally, he was dead and he came back to life.He was lost (ην απολωλως ēn apolōlōs periphrastic past perfect active of απολλυμι apollumi and intransitive, in a lost state) and he was found (ευρετη heurethē). He was found, we have to say, but this aorist passive is really timeless, he is found after long waiting (effective aorist) The artists have vied with each other in picturing various items connected with this wonderful parable.
As he came and drew nigh (ως ερχομενος ηγγισεν hōs erchomenos ēggisen). More exactly, “As, coming, he drew nigh,” for ερχομενος erchomenos is present middle participle and ηγγισεν ēggisen is aorist active indicative.Music (συμπωνιας sumphōnias). Our word “symphony.” An old Greek word from συμπωνος sumphōnos (συν sun together, and πωνη phōnē voice or sound), harmony, concord, by a band of musicians. Here alone in the N.T. And dancing (και χορων kai chorōn). An old word again, but here alone in the N.T. Origin uncertain, possibly from ορχος orchos by metathesis (ορχεομαι orcheomai to dance). A circular dance on the green.
Servants (παιδων paidōn). Not δουλοι douloi (bondslaves) as in Luke 15:22. The Greeks often used παις pais for servant like the Latin puer. It could be either a hired servant (μιστιος misthios Luke 15:17) or slave (δουλος doulos).He inquired (επυντανετο epunthaneto). Imperfect middle, inquired repeatedly and eagerly. What these things might be (τι αν ειη ταυτα ti an eiē tauta). Not “poor” Greek as Easton holds, but simply the form of the direct question retained in the indirect. See the direct form as the apodosis of a condition of the fourth class in Acts 17:18. In Acts 10:17 we have the construction with αν ειη an eiē of the direct retained in the indirect question. So also in Luke 1:62: See Robertson, Grammar, p. 1044.
Is come (ηκει hēkei). Present indicative active, but a stem with perfect sense, old verb ηκω hēkō retaining this use after perfect tenses came into use (Robertson, Grammar, p. 893).Hath killed (ετυσεν ethusen). Aorist active indicative and literally means, did kill. Difficult to handle in English for our tenses do not correspond with the Greek. Hath received (απελαβεν apelaben). Second aorist active indicative with similar difficulty of translation. Note απο apo in compositions, like re- in “receive,” hath gotten him back (απ ap -). Safe and sound (υγιαινοντα hugiainonta). Present active participle of υγιαινω hugiainō from υγιης hugiēs to be in good health. In spite of all that he has gone through and in spite of the father‘s fears.
But he was angry (ωργιστη ōrgisthē). First aorist (ingressive) passive indicative. But he became angry, he flew into a rage (οργη orgē). This was the explosion as the result of long resentment towards the wayward brother and suspicion of the father‘s partiality for the erring son.Would not go in (ουκ ητελεν εισελτειν ouk ēthelen eiselthein). Imperfect tense (was not willing, refused) and aorist active (ingressive) infinitive. Entreated (παρεκαλει parekalei). Imperfect tense, he kept on beseeching him.
Do I serve thee (δουλευω σοι douleuō soi). Progressive present tense of this old verb from δουλος doulos (slave) which the elder son uses to picture his virtual slavery in staying at home and perhaps with longings to follow the younger son (Robertson, Grammar, p. 879).Transgressed (παρηλτον parēlthon). Second aorist active indicative of παρερχομαι parerchomai to pass by. Not even once (aorist) in contrast with so many years of service (linear present). A kid (εριπον eriphon). Some MSS. have εριπιον eriphion diminutive, a little kid. So margin of Westcott and Hort. B has it also in Matthew 25:32, the only other N.T. passage where the word occurs. That I might make merry (ινα ευπραντω hina euphranthō). Final clause, first aorist passive subjunctive of the same verb used in Luke 15:23, Luke 15:25.
This thy son (ο υιος σου ουτος ho huios sou houtos). Contempt and sarcasm. He does not say: “This my brother.”Came (ηλτεν ēlthen). He does not even say, came back or came home. Devoured (καταπαγων kataphagōn). We say, “eaten up,” but the Greek has, “eaten down” (perfective use of κατα kata -). Suggested by the feasting going on. With harlots (μετα πορνων meta pornōn). This may be true (Luke 15:13), but the elder son did not know it to be true. He may reflect what he would have done in like case.
Son (Τεκνον Teknon). Child.Thou (συ su). Expressed and in emphatic position in the sentence. He had not appreciated his privileges at home with his father.
It was meet (εδει edei). Imperfect tense. It expressed a necessity in the father‘s heart and in the joy of the return that justifies the feasting. Ευπραντηναι Euphranthēnai is used again (first aorist passive infinitive) and χαρηναι charēnai (second aorist passive infinitive) is more than mere hilarity, deep-seated joy. The father repeats to the elder son the language of his heart used in Luke 15:24 to his servants. A real father could do no less. One can well imagine how completely the Pharisees and scribes (Luke 15:2) were put to silence by these three marvellous parables. The third does it with a graphic picture of their own attitude in the case of the surly elder brother. Luke was called a painter by the ancients. Certainly he has produced a graphic pen picture here of God‘s love for the lost that justifies forever the coming of Christ to the world to seek and to save the lost. It glorifies also soul-saving on the part of his followers who are willing to go with Jesus after the lost in city and country, in every land and of every race.
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 15". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Lent