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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Luke 15

 

 

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Verse 1

Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

Then - but when, is not stated and cannot be determined. See remarks prefixed to Luke 9:51.

Drew near , [ eesan (Greek #1510) de (Greek #1161) engizontes (Greek #1448)]. The phrase implies something habitual. See the note at the same imperfect tense in Luke 1:22, etc.

Unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. Strange auditory for such a Preacher! In fact, among the marvels of this most marvelous History, none is more marvelous than the fact that the most sunken classes of society-we might almost say, its refuse and scum-seem, as by some spell, to have been attracted to the Holy, Harmless, Undefiled One, the Separate from sinners! What could the secret of this be? What but the discovery in Him of a compassion for their case against which they had found every other breast steeled. 'Abandoned of men, we had thought ourselves much more so of God: Heaven and earth seemed alike shut against us, and we were ready to conclude that, as outcasts from both, we must live on the wretched life we are living, and then lie down and die without hope. But compassion for the chief of sinners beams in that Eye, and streams forth from those Lips; God is in that Heart, Heaven in that Voice; Never man spake like this Man: As He speaks, God, Himself seems to draw near even to us, and say to us in accents of melting love, Return unto Me, and I will return unto you: Who and what He is, we are too ignorant to tell; but we feel what He is to us; when He is with us, we seem to be in the precincts of heaven.' How far these were the thoughts and feelings of that class would of course depend on the extent to which they were sick of their evil ways, and prepared to welcome divine encouragement to turn from them and live. But that what drew to Him "all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him" must have something of this nature-that of Him and Him alone, if we except His like-minded Forerunner, they saw clearly it could not be said, "No man careth for my soul" - will be evident from the sequel.


Verse 2

And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

They were scandalized at His procedure, and insinuated-on the principle that a man is known by the company he keeps-that He must have some secret sympathy with their character. But what a truth of unspeakable preciousness do their lips, as on other occasions, unconsciously utter! And Jesus will show them how divine the deed is. Here, accordingly, follow three parables, illustrating the principle on which He drew them to Himself and hailed any symptoms in them of return to God. The three parables, though the same in their general import, present the sinner each of them under a different aspect. The first, as Bengel acutely and laconically remarks, represents him, in his stupidity, as a silly sheep going astray; the second, like lost property, as 'unconscious of his lost condition;' the third, as 'knowingly and willfully estranged from God.' The first two, as Trench well observes, set forth the seeking love of God; the last His receiving love.

This parable occurs again, and is recorded in Matthew 18:12-14; but there it is to show how precious one of his sheep is to the good Shepherd; here, to show that the shepherd, though it stray never so widely, will seek it out, and when he hath found, will rejoice over it.


Verse 3

And he spake this parable unto them, saying,

And he spake this parable unto them, saying,


Verse 4

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness. Instead of saying, ''Tis but one; let it go; enough remain,' will he not bend all his attention and care, as it were, to the one object of recovering the lost sheep?

And go after that which is lost, until he find it? - pointing to all the diversified means which God sets in operation for recovering sinners, and the patience and perseverance with which He continues to ply them.


Verse 5

And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 6

And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. It is a beautiful principle of our nature, that deep feeling, either of sorrow or of joy, is almost too much for one to bear alone, and that there is a feeling of positive relief in having others to share it. This principle our Lord here proclaims to be in operation even in the divine procedure.


Verse 7

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

I say unto you, That likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. It is not angels who are meant here as needing no repentance. The angels' place in these parables is very different from this. The class here meant, as needing no repentance, are those represented by the prodigal's well-behaved brother, who have "served their Father many years," and not at any time transgressed His commandment-in the outrageous sense of the prodigal. (But see the notes at Luke 15:29; Luke 15:31.) In other words, such as have grown up from childhood in the fear of God and as the sheep of His pasture. Our Lord does not say "the Pharisees and scribes" were such; but as there was undoubtedly such a class, while "the publicans and sinners" were confessedly the strayed sheep and the prodigal children, He leaves them to fill up the place of the other class, if they could.


Verse 8

Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?

Either what woman, having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently until she find it?


Verse 9

And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.

And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.


Verse 10

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Likewise (that is, on the same principle), there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Note carefully the language here employed: it is not, 'joy among' or 'on the part of,' but "joy before" [ enoopion (Greek #1799)] or "in the presense of the angels of God." True to the idea of the parables, it is the Great Shepherd, the Great Owner Himself, Whose properly the joy is over His own recovered property; but so vast and exuberant is it (Zephaniah 3:17), that as if He could not keep it to Himself, He "calleth His friends and neighbours together" - His whole celestial family - "saying, Rejoice WITH ME, for I have found MY sheep, I have found MY property which was lost. In this sublime sense it is "joy," before "or in the presence of the angels:" they only 'catch the flying joy,' sharing it with Him! The application of this to the reception of those publicans and sinners that stood around our Lord is grand in the extreme: 'Ye turn from these lost ones with disdain, and because I do not, ye complain at it; but a very different feeling is cherished in heaven: There, the recovery of even one such outcast is watched with interest and hailed with joy; nor are they left to come home of themselves or perish; for, lo! even now the great Shepherd is going after His lost sheep, and the Owner is making diligent search for His lost property; and He is finding it too, and bringing it back with joy, and all heaven is full of it.' Let the reader mark what sublime claims for Himself our Lord covertly puts in here-as if in Him these outcasts beheld, though all unknown to themselves, nothing less than Heaven disclosing itself in the habiliments of earth, the Great Shepherd above, clothed in a garment of flesh, come "to seek and to save that which was lost!"


Verse 11

And he said, A certain man had two sons:

And he said, A certain man had two sons:


Verse 12

And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

And the younger of them - as the more thoughtless, said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me - weary of restraint, punting for independence, unable longer to abide the check of a father's eye. This is man, impatient of divine control, desiring to be independent of God, seeking to be his own master-that sin of sins, as Trench well says, in which all subsequent sins are included as in their germ, because they are but the unfolding of this one.

And he divided unto them his living. Thus God, to use the words of the same penetrating and accurate expositor of the parables, when His service no longer appears a perfect freedom, and man promises himself something far better elsewhere, allows him to make the trial; and he shall discover, if need be by saddest proof, that to depart from Him is not to off the yoke, but only to exchange a light yoke for a heavy one, and one gracious Master for a thousand imperious tyrants and lords.


Verse 13

And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

And not many days after (intoxicated with his new-found resources, and eager for the luxury of using them at will), he took his journey into a far country - away from the paternal eye, beyond all danger rebuke or interference from home,

And there wasted his substance with riotous living , [ asootoos (Greek #811)] - or 'to the destroying of himself.' His brother's charge against him, that he had "devoured his father's living with harlots," shows what is meant, But ah! this reaches deeper than sensuality. Since the whole story is designed to set forth the degradation of our sonship, and the prostitution of our powers to purposes unworthy of our dignity and true destiny, we must understand the language as intended to express all that life of estrangement from God, self-seeking and low desire which are common, in different forms and degrees, to all who live "without God," who "have their portion in this life," who mind "earthly things." So long as his substance lasted, the inward monitor would be silenced, and the prodigal would take his ease, eat, drink, and be merry. At times, he would hear the whisper of expostulation, "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is net bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not?" (Isaiah 55:2). But though his means were fast fading, he would say to himself, "The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars" (Isaiah 9:10). So long as anything remained, he would hold out, "Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way: ye saidst thou not, There is no hope: thou hast found the life of thine hand: therefore thou wast not grieved" (Isaiah 57:10).


Verse 14

And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land - a mysterious providence holding back the famine until he was in circumstances to feel it in all its rigour. Thus, like Jonah, whom the storm did not overtake until on the mighty deep at the mercy of the waves, does the sinner feel as if "the stars in their courses were fighting against" him (Judges 5:20).

And he began to be in want - the first stage of his bitter experience, and preparation for a change.


Verse 15

And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. His pride, it seems, was not yet humbled; he could not brook the shame of a return. Glad to keep life in any how, behold the son sunk into a swine-herd; among the Jews, to whom swine's flesh was prohibited, emphatically vile! He, says Trench, who begins by using the world as a servant, to minister to his pleasure, ends by reversing the relationship.


Verse 16

And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks [ toon (G3588) keratioon (G2769)] that the swine did eat , [ kai (Greek #2532) epethumei (Greek #1937) gemisai (Greek #1072)] - rather, 'was fain to fill,' or ate greedily of the only food he could get. These husks, or pulse-pods, were in the East the food of cattle and swine, and in times of distress were the nourishment of the very poorest people, as Stier remarks.

And no man gave unto him - that is, no one minded him, to give him anything better than this. "All thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not: for I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of thine iniquity; because thy sins were increased" (Jeremiah 30:14). This was his lowest depth: he was perishing unpitied; he was alone in the world; he was ready to disappear from it unmissed. But this is just the blessed turning-point-the midnight before dawn of day. "Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God" (Jeremiah 2:19). "The Lord brought upon Manasseh's people the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto Him; and He was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God" (2 Chronicles 33:11-13; and see 2 Chronicles 12:7-8).


Verse 17

And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

And when he came to himself - as if before he had been "beside himself." How truly does the wise man say, "Madness is in the heart of the sons of men while they live, and after that they go to the dead" (Ecclesiastes 9:3). But in what sense men far from God are beside themselves will presently appear more clearly.

He said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough, and to spare, and I perish with hunger! What a testimony to the nature of the home he had left! But did he not know all this before he departed, and every day of his voluntary exile? He did, he did not. His heart being wholly estranged from home and steeped in selfish gratifications, his father's house never came within the range of his vision, or but as another name for bondage and gloom. Now empty, desolate, withered, perishing-home, with all its peace, plenty, freedom, dignity, starts into view, fills all his vision as a warm and living reality, and breaks his heart.


Verse 18

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,

I will arise and go to my father. The change has come at last, and what a change!-couched in terms of such exquisite simplicity and power as expressly framed for all heart-broken penitents.


Verse 19

And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. Mark the term, "Father." Though "no more worthy to be called his son," the prodigal sinner is taught to claim the degraded and defiled, but still existing relationship, asking, not to be made a servant, but remaining a son to be made "as a servant," willing to take the lowest place and do the meanest work. Ah! and is it come to this? Once it was, 'Any place rather than home.' Now, 'O that home! could I but dare to hope that the door of it would not be closed against me, how gladly should I take any place and do any work, happy only to be there at all!' Well, that is conversion-nothing absolutely new, yet all new; old familiar things seen in a new light, and for the first time as realities of overwhelming magnitude and power. By what secret super-natural power upon the heart this change upon the sinner's views and feelings is effected, the parable says not, and could not say, without an incongruous and confusing mixture of the figure and thing figured-the human story and the spiritual reality couched under it. We have that, however, abundantly elsewhere, (Philippians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 15:10, etc.) The one object of the parable is to paint the glad WELCOME HOME of the greatest sinners, when-no matter for the present how-they "arise and go to their father."


Verse 20

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

And he arose, and came to his father. Many a one says, "I will arise," yet sits still. But this is the story of a real conversion, in which purpose is presently tuned into practice.

But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and ran. O yes! when the face is turned homeward, though as yet far, far away, our Father recognizes his own child in us, and bounds to meet us-not saying, 'Let him come to me and sue for pardon first,' but Himself taking the first step.

And fell on his neck, and kissed him. What!? In all his filth? Yes! In all his rags? Yes! In all his haggard, shattered wretchedness? Yes! "Our Father who art in heaven," is this Thy portraiture? It is even so! And because it is so. I wonder not that such incomparable teaching hath made the world new. "Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he a pleasant child? For since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 31:20).


Verse 21

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. This humiliating confession he might have spared, if his object had been mere re-admission to the advantages of the parental roof. But the case depicted is one in which such heartless selfishness has no place, and in which such a thought would be abhorred. No, this confession was uttered, as Trench well remarks, after the kiss of reconciliation.


Verse 22

But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

But the father said. The son has not said all he purposed, but the explanation of this given Trench, etc., appears to us to miss the mark-that the father's demonstrations had rekindled the filial, and swallowed up all servile feeling. It is, in our judgment, rather because the father's heart is made to appear too full to listen at such a moment to more in this strain.

To his servants. We know who these represent, in all the three parables spoken on this occasion: they are "the angels of God" (Luke 15:7-10).

Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him. Compare Zechariah 3:4-5, "And He answered and spake unto those that stood by, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment ... And they clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by." See also Isaiah 61:10; Revelation 3:18.

And put a ring on his hand. Compare Genesis 41:42.

And shoes on his feet. Slaves went barefoot. Thus have we here a threefold symbol both of freedom and of honour as the fruit of perfect reconciliation.


Verse 23

And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:

And bring hither the fatted calf (kept for festive occasions), and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry - denoting the exultation of the whole household: "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth" (Luke 15:10). But though the joy ran through the whole household, it was properly the father's matter. Accordingly it is added,


Verse 24

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. Now, twice his son. "He was lost" - both to his Father and to himself, lost to his Father's service and satisfaction, lost to his own dignity, peace, profit. But he "is alive again" - to all these.

But what of the older brother all this time? That we are now about to see.


Verse 25

Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.

Now his elder son was in the field - engaged in his father's business. Compare Luke 15:29, "Lo, these many years do I serve thee."


Verse 26

And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.

And he called one of the servants. [The Stephanic form of the received text has "his servants;" but our Version properly follows the Elzevir form, "the servants," which has decisive weight of external evidence, while the internal evidence is even more decisive.]

And asked what these things meant.


Verse 27

And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.

And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.


Verse 28

And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him. As it is the older brother who now errs, so it is the same paternal compassion which had fallen on the neck of the younger that comes forth and pleads with the older. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him" (Psalms 103:13).


Verse 29

And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:

And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment. These last words are not to be pressed beyond their manifest intention-to express the constancy of his own love and service as a son toward his father, in contrast with the conduct of his brother. So Job, when resenting the charge of hypocrisy, brought against him by his friends, speaks as if nothing whatever could be laid to his charge: "When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold," etc. (Job 23:10-12). And David too (Psalms 18:20-24); and the Church, in a time of persecution for righteousness' sake (Psalms 44:17-22). And the father in the sequel of this parable (Luke 15:31) attests the truth of his son's protestation.

And yet thou never gavest me a kid ('I say not a calf, but not even a kid,') that I might make merry with my friends. Here lay his misapprehension. It was no entertainment for the gratification of the prodigal: it was a father's expression of the joy he felt at his recovery.


Verse 30

But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. Mark the unworthy reflection on the common father of both, implied in these expressions - "thy son," "thy living;" the one brother not only disowning the other, but flinging him back upon his father, as if he should say, 'If such be the emotions which his return awakens, take him, and have joy of him!'


Verse 31

And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. The father resents not the insult-how could he, after the largeness of heart which had kissed the returning prodigal? He calmly expostulates with him, 'Son, listen to reason. What need for special, exuberant joy over thee? Saidst thou not, "Lo, these many years do I serve thee"? Wherefore then set the whole household a rejoicing for thee? For thee is reserved what is higher still-the tranquil life-long satisfaction of thy father in thee, as a true-hearted faithful son in thy father's house; nor of the inheritance reserved for thee is anything alienated by this festive and fitting joy over the once foolish but now wise and newly recovered son.'


Verse 32

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

It was meet that we should make merry and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. Should he simply take his long-vacant place in the family, without one special sign of wonder and delight at the change? Would that have been nature? But this being the meaning of the festivity, it would for that very reason be temporary. In time, the dutifulness of even the younger son would become the law and not the exception: he too at length might venture to say, "Lo, these many years do I serve thee;" and of him the father would say, "Son, thou art ever with me." And then it would not be "meet that they should make merry and be glad" - as at his first return.

Remarks:

(1) The estrangement of the human spirit from God is the deepest and most universal malady of our nature. It may take the form either of impatience of divine authority or of want of sympathy with the things wherein He delighteth. But important as is the distinction between these two forms of estrangement from God, they naturally run into each other, and are inseparable. In placid and amiable natures, what shows itself chiefly is disrelish of spiritual things. This may not take any active form, and in that case it is only perceptible in the heart's entire satisfaction without God. No fellowship with Him, or even thought of Him, is necessary to such. They get on perfectly well, and even better, when every such thought is away. This is truly a godless life, but it is the life of many of the most attractive and accomplished members of society. In young men it is apt to take the form of dislike of the restraints which divine authority imposes, and a desire to get free from them. But in all, it is the same malady at bottom, with which our fallen nature is smitten.

(2) The extent to which men go from God varies as much as men themselves; but the freedom they assert in this condition is but bondage under another name.

(3) It is not every discovery of the folly, and bitterness of departure from God that will move the heart to retrace its steps; often matters go from bad to worse before any decisive change is resolved on; and in most cases it is only when the soul is brought to extremities that it says in earnest, "I will arise and go to my Father." And when, upon so doing, we are welcomed back, and feel the bond that binds us to our Father even firmer and dearer than if we had never departed, we find ours to be just such a case as the sweet Psalmist of Israel sings of: "Such as sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the Most High: therefore he brought down their heart with labour: they fell down, and there was none to help. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.-O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" (Psalms 107:10-15.)

(4) The pardon of sin is absolutely gratuitous, and reaches down to the lowest depths of estrangement from God and rebellion against his precepts. The one thing required is to "arise and go to our Father." "Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: Only acknowledge thine iniquity, and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon thee."

(5) The sense of reconciliation to God, instead of checking, only deepens the grief of the pardoned believer for the sin that has been forgiven: "That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth anymore because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God." (Ezekiel 16:63). 'True repentance,' says Dr. Owen, 'waters a free pardon with tears, detests forgiven sin, and aims at the ruin of that which we are assured shall never ruin us.'

(6) The deeper sunk and the longer estranged from God any sinner is, the more exuberant is the joy which his recovery occasions. All heaven is represented as ringing with it, while he himself breaks forth into such songs as these - "He brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song into my mouth, even praise unto our God: Many shall see it, and fear, and trust in the Lord" (Psalms 40:2-3). But,

(7) This joy over returning prodigals is not the portion of those whose whole lives have been spent in the service of their Father in heaven. Yet, instead of grudging the want of this, they should deem it the highest testimony to their life-long fidelity, that something better is reserved for them-the deep, abiding complacency of their Father in heaven.

(8) In giving such an interpretation of the parable of the Prodigal Son as, in our judgment, bears consistency with all Scripture truth on its face, we have not adverted to interpretations which seem to us to miss the mark. The notion of not a few, that the younger son represents the Gentiles, who early strayed from God, and the older son symbolizes the Jews, who abode true to Him; is rejected by the best expositors; and no wonder, since the publicans and sinners, whose welcome back to God is illustrated by the reception of the prodigal, were Jews and not Gentiles. Clearly this parable has to do, not with nationalities, but with classes or characters. But most interpreters-even such as Trench-misapprehend, we think, almost entirely the truth intended to be taught by the conduct of the older son-who, he thinks, 'represents a form of legal righteousness, not altogether false, but low; who has been kept by the law from gross offences,' etc. Let the reader judge whether this interpretation, or that which we have given is the more consistent and eligible.

(9) Was ever teaching like this heard on earth? Did even the Mouth that spake as never man spake utter such words of grace to the vilest-for fullness and melting tenderness of love-on any other recorded occasion? This is the Gospel within the Gospel, as it has been well called; and it will stand, while the world lasts, an evidence which no unsophisticated mind can resist, that He who uttered it must have come forth from the very bosom of the Father to declare it, and that him that cometh to Him He will in no wise cast out.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 15:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/luke-15.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, January 28th, 2020
the Third Week after Epiphany
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