Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 15:10

In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Angel (a Spirit);   Heaven;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Joy;   Penitent;   Praise;   Repentance;   Salvation;   Thompson Chain Reference - Angels;   The Topic Concordance - Losing and Things Lost;   Repentance;   Salvation;   Seeking;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Angels;   Joy of God over His People, the;   Parables;   Repentance;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Angel;   Parable;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Angels;   Parables;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Angel;   Christ, Christology;   Heaven, Heavens, Heavenlies;   Presence of God;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Angel;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Angels;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Gospel;   Imagery;   Jesus, Life and Ministry of;   Luke, Gospel of;   Mammon;   Parables;   Salvation;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Angel;   Joy;   Love, Lover, Lovely, Beloved;   Parable;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Angels;   Angels (2);   Attributes of Christ;   Benevolence;   Character;   Children of God;   Complacency;   Doctrines;   Fall (2);   Father, Fatherhood;   Gospel (2);   Guilt (2);   Heaven ;   Ideas (Leading);   Love (2);   Man (2);   Organization (2);   Religious Experience;   Reward (2);   Sanctify, Sanctification;   Sinners;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Angel;   Chief parables and miracles in the bible;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Angel;   Joy;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Atonement;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for November 14;  

The Biblical Illustrator

Luke 15:10

Joy in the presence of the angels of God

Joy among the angels over repenting sinners

I.
THE CLASS REPRESENTED AS BEING SPECIALLY EXCITED BY THE EMOTION OF JOY OVER A SINNER’S REPENTANCE. “The angels of God”--uncorporeal, immaculately holy, composed of various orders, active messengers of God to men.

II. Why do the angels rejoice when a sinner repents?

1. Because true repentance culminates in that holiness of heart and life which is the chief glory of the angels.

2. Because the moral character of a sinner’s influence is for ever changed by his conversion.

3. By repentance and conversion a sinner escapes eternal retribution for his sins, and secures moral fitness for eternal life.

III. WHAT LESSONS DO WE LEARN FROM THESE FACTS?

1. That we manifest the spirit of the angelic race when we labour to lead sinners to Christ and rejoice over their conversion.

2. That the preaching with which the angels sympathize is of that type best calculated to bring sinners to repentance.

3. The appalling peril of a sinner over whose repentance no angels have rejoiced. Sin has but one logical issue--eternal death. Give the angels a chance to rejoice to-day over your repentance. (S. V. Leach, D. D.)

Heaven’s joy over the repenting sinner

I. The truth here declared.

1. The joy mentioned is special.

2. The joy is shared, originated by God Himself.

II. THE CAUSE OF THE ANGELIC JOY.

1. A sinner.

2. Not the sinner while engaged in sin.

3. One sinner that repenteth.

4. Repentance stands before us here showing plainly two sides.

III. WHY SUCH GLADNESS SHOULD BE SHOWN.

1. When a sinner repents, God’s purpose is effected.

2. Christ’s kingdom is enlarged.

3. A soul is saved.

Conclusion:

1. Behold the value of a single soul.

2. Observe the necessity of repentance. (W. S. Bruce, M. A.)

Angels and men

I. THE NATURE AND CHARACTERISTICS OF ANGELS. Spiritual beings of high dignity and capacities.

1. Their might. They excel in strength. The army of God.

2. Their power. Great mental endowments.

3. Their purity.

II. THEIR JOY AT THE RECOVERY AND CONVERSION OF SINNERS.

1. It proceeds from their superior knowledge of what man’s place in the intelligent universe is: his Divine origin, and sublime destiny.

2. The conversion of a sinner brings joy to the angelic hosts, because thereby their liege Lord is honoured, His name exalted, His grace magnified, His rule acknowledged, and His word found not to have returned to Him void.

3. Their happiness is to see happiness, and conversion is the first step to a sinner’s happiness.

III. THE DUTY DEVOLVING UPON OURSELVES, TO DO THAT WHICH MAY AUGMENT BOTH THEIR JOY AND OURS. We must engage in good works, and endeavour, each in his own vocation and ministry, to lead sinners to repentance. (D. Moore, M. A.)

Angels joyful over the repentance of a sinner

I. VIEW THE SCENE ON EARTH WHICH THE TEXT SPREADS BEFORE US. What is its nature? To the carnal eye it presents nothing that is attractive or worthy of regard. It opens to our view, not an individual in a state of hilarity and mirth, indulging himself in sensual delights; but a poor weary, heavy-laden sinner, repenting of his transgressions.

1. Repentance includes brokenness of heart.

2. Self-abhorrence enters into the spirit of true repentance.

3. Godly sorrow for sin is an essential ingredient of evangelical repentance.

4. The spirit of prayer is always associated with repentance.

5. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is connected with scriptural repentance.

II. LET US GLANCE AT THE HEAVENLY SCENE.

1. Angels are benevolent beings; partaking largely of the moral qualities of the Deity, of the beneficence and compassion of His nature, they feel interested and delighted in whatever promotes the welfare and happiness of God’s intelligent creatures.

2. Angels are joyful at the repentance of a sinner, because a splendid victory is achieved.

3. Angels are joyful at the event, because an immortal being is saved.

4. There is joy among the angels at this occurrence, because God is glorified in it--each person in the Trinity. (Essex Remembrancer.)

Angels rejoice over repenting sinners

I would employ this subject in order--

I. TO REMIND CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS OF CERTAIN DUTIES WHICH THEY OWE. We learn, then, from the words before us, that the repentance of sinners is, to these holy beings, an occasion of rejoicing; and this may be supposed to arise, in the first place, from the reverence and love which they indulge for the character and authority of God. In a kingdom where the sovereign, ruling in equity and in mercy, dwells generally in the affections of his loyal subjects, when rebellion and treason lay down their arms and sue for mercy, the circumstance is surely hailed by every loyal subject as a matter of sincere rejoicing.

2. The joy indulged by angels over the repentance of a sinner, may be considered as arising, secondly, from that spirit of benevolence, that love to human nature, which forms, of course, one principal feature in their character, as it is an attribute of that God, whom, in this respect as well as in others, they must be considered to resemble. They, therefore, rejoice over the repentance of a sinner, because it is the beginning of his own salvation, and also, because it is the beginning of blessedness which is likely to extend, in a greater or less degree, to all around him.

3. The joy indulged by angels over the repentance of a sinner may be considered as arising, thirdly, from the interest they take in the spread of the Redeemer’s kingdom.

4. Another reason, probably, which has sometimes been referred to, why angels rejoice over the repentance of a sinner is, that they may have been instrumental, though in a way unknown to us, in bringing that sinner to repentance. For it has been said, there is nothing extravagant in supposing that He who so frequently employs, in the salvation of the souls of men, the instrumentality of human agents, should sometimes employ, though in a way unknown by us, the instrumentality of angels; and if so, we find in this circumstance another reason why angels indulge the joy referred to in the text, over the repentance of a sinner.

II. That while these words supply admonition and instruction to Christian believers, they ARE ALSO DESIGNED AND FITTED TO SUPPLY ENCOURAGEMENT TO PENITENTS.

III. BY WAY OF ADMONITION AND REPROOF, TO ADDRESS A WORD OR TWO TO THE IMPENITENT AND UNCONVERTED. First of all observe what a contrast there is between the joy that angels express on the repentance of a sinner and your unconcern about your own repentance. Once more I would observe, still addressing myself to persons of the same description, if, according to the declaration of my text, there be “joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth,” then may we not suppose that, if there be such a thing as joy in hell, there is joy there over every one that goeth on in his iniquity? (J. Crowther.)

The joy of heaven over a repentant sinner

I. In the first place, ATTEND TO THE EVENT ITSELF THUS EXPRESSED--“a sinner that repenteth.” In the first part of this statement we are all included, being all sinners. From the second part we may be excluded, for we may not be all penitents. There are also stupid unconcerned sinners, who look no farther than the body. There are light-minded, careless sinners, whom sorrow never clouds, to whom pleasure in every form is welcome, and into whose hearts no serious thought ever enters. And there are worldly-minded sinners, who have no time, no inclination, and no leisure, for religion. There are also procrastinating sinners, who admit the necessity, but delay the duty, of repentance. Nay, there are even, in some measure, convinced and awakened sinners, whose convictions have not terminated in conversion. Like Cain, they complain, and they wander, and they reckon somehow, that God is hard, and that they are suffering more than they can bear. Like Esau, they weep, but it is for an earthly portion, and because they succeed not according to what they reckon due to their talents, their skill, or their industry. Or, like Ahab, they may clothe themselves in sackcloth, and sit in ashes, and walk steadily for a season, but still their hearts are not right with God. The repentance supposed is not a seeming but a real repentance, and is in complete harmony with the law and the gospel. The law is honoured by the terror which it produces: the gospel is honoured by the peace which it maintains. God is obeyed, and the penitent himself praises God, and says, He hath delivered mine eyes from tears, my feet from falling, and my soul from hell.

II. Let us proceed now, then, to meditate on THE JOYFULNESS OF THE EVENT MENTIONED IN THE TEXT. “There is joy,” says our Lord, “in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Think, then, in the first place, of the high character, of the high rank of the order of beings now spoken of as rejoicing--Angels, who occupy a higher place in the scale of creation than men.

2. In the second place, we may consider the intensity, the universality of the feeling that is produced. It might be true to say of the angels in heaven, that they rejoice, though the joy was but slight or transient, although it pervaded only a part of the heavenly host. The idea, however, conveyed to us here is the idea, not of a slight or of a transient, but of a deep and of a permanent impression, and it is the idea, moreover, not of joy only among a few, but of joy among all, of but one feeling and one expression of feeling, through all the innumerable company of angels.

3. Again we may think, in the third place, of the season at which such joy is stated as commencing, not when the sinner enters heaven, not when his repentance issues in eternal life.

4. I have only to state in the last place that each case of conversion is supposed here to be of sufficient magnitude to produce this joy. There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Numbers are not necessary in order to convey to us the idea of value or importance. No doubt there was great joy on the day of Pentecost; and when thousands were converted, no doubt there was great joy afterwards, when 5,000 were added to the Church; no doubt there was great joy again, when a multitude of the priests and of the people believed; but still each individual as marked in heaven’s book, may be considered as a fit occasion for praising God, and as serving to minister to the delight of angels. Or we shall even take it in another light--you may suppose that one soul converted may, in special circumstances, or at particular seasons, or because of the individual character, be of great importance, even as the conversion of Paul included within itself the conversion of thousands--even as Paul was a chosen vessel, and took many from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. (J. Geddes, D. D.)

The birth of a soul a cause of joy

Let it admonish us to beware that we repine not at the bringing in of any into the state of grace. Shall heaven smile and earth frown? Shall the angels be glad and we sad? Shall we mock, scorn, deride, yea persecute our brethren for no other cause but this; that they have made heaven merry by their repentance and turning? Wretched creature, cursed caitiff, that dares thus do. Is there not joy in the whole family upon the birth of a little infant? Is not the father glad that a child is born unto him, the mother glad she is delivered, the servants glad that the family is enlarged, the children glad that their number is increased? If any be discontented it is some baseborn, an Ishmael--the son of the bondwoman not of the free. (N. Rogers.)

Joy in heaven over repenting sinners

I. WHO REJOICE?

1. God the Father.

2. The Son of God.

3. The blessed angels.

II. WHY DO THEY REJOICE?

1. God the Father rejoices--

2. The Son of God rejoices--

3. The angels rejoice--

Inferences:

1. From this subject we infer the incalculable worth of the human soul.

2. From this subject we infer that the consequence of dying in an impenitent state will be unspeakably dreadful.

3. From this subject we infer that all who repent will certainly persevere and be saved. Suppose, for one moment, that such may fall and perish? Would God, would Christ, would angels then rejoice to see sinners repent?

4. What an astonishing view does this subject give us of the benevolence of angels. Though they are perfectly happy, and though our character and conduct must to them appear inconceivably hateful, yet they forget themselves to think of us; they forget their own happiness to rejoice in ours.

5. From this subject we may learn whether we are prepared for heaven. We presume none will deny that preparation for heaven implies something of a heavenly temper. If, then, we are thus prepared we have something of such a temper. Like the angels, we are pleased with God’s sovereignty, and rejoice when sinners repent. We desire and pray that the kingdom of God may come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (E. Payson, D. D.)

Joy of the angels

This assurance, coming from the lips of Jesus Himself, exhibits Christianity, both in its spirit and in its grandeur.

I. THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTIANITY. The fact which Jesus teaches hero is that gladness and surprise, that joy and gratified affection, with which love welcomes at last its alienated but unsurrendered objects. In one word, my friends, our Saviour, in the passage before us, shows the identity of the great sentiment of love in heaven and upon earth, in the depths of Divine love and in the heart of man. He appeals to those affections which are most profoundly interwoven in our being. He exhibits the spirit and power of the gospel as not above or foreign to the elements of our own consciousness, but intimately allied to it. He based this appeal upon that which can be demonstrated from the most familiar and common experience. But let me say further, under this head, that by the light of this central love and compassion we should interpret the different parts as well as the grand whole of the gospel. All the sayings of Jesus Christ are to be interpreted in harmony with that spirit; we must take the deep essence and substance of the gospel. We are to receive what grows out of that--what most accords with its general sentiment. And I say what most accords with the general sentiment of the gospel, with the deep spirit and substance of the gospel, is this simple doctrine, that God cares for the sinner, for the vilest and most abandoned sinner who is upon earth. In a mother’s heart there is a love that cannot be altered and exhausted, and that will claim that abandoned sinner when he comes back. So in the Infinite bosom, and in the bosoms of all heavenly beings, their exists the same love; the spirit that sent Jesus Christ on earth is that spirit; the purpose of Christ’s mission is to declare that spirit. That is the peculiarity of the gospel over and above everything else. Precisely where man’s faith falls and man’s hope falters, is it that the gospel becomes clear and strong.

II. THE GRANDEUR OF CHRISTIANITY. CONSIDER ITS GRANDEUR AS ILLUSTRATED in the announcement of Jesus. The declaration in the text reveals two things--the nature of man and his spiritual relations. It exhibits man as a living soul, and as a member of the great family of souls. It strips away all conventionality from him. Christianity is primal democracy, lifted far above anything that either pro or con bears that name in our day as a party distinction. It is the great doctrine of man higher than his conditions, nobler than any material good. Why? Because he is a living soul; because within him there are deathless powers; because he is allied to God by a nature that no other being on this earth bears, and faculties that no other creature on this footstool possesses. And this is the source of ‘its great achievement in modern civilization. Subtile theorists ask what Christianity has done for the progress of man. Christianity has thus sown the seeds of all progress, laid the foundation of all truth in government, and of all righteousness in society. It has been the master-key to all the grand efforts that man has made to be delivered from bondage, from oppression, from social wrong. It is the soul of liberty; it is the oriflamme that leads the hosts of humanity forward from effort to effort, to higher and higher social attainments. This is what Christianity has contributed to civilization and progress; it is the spring of all the, noble efforts of all time. In the next place, it reveals the relations of man to the whole spiritual universe--his relationship to all spiritual beings. Christianity is the complement of scientific truth in the spiritual facts it reveals to us; and nothing is more grand than man’s relation to spiritual beings--than the fact that the universe is filled up with blessed intelligences. I do not need to see them, or hear them, to be convinced of this fact; I know by surer sight than the eye, by more certain hearing than the ear, that they exist; I know it by my vital consciousness of a God and of a heaven. And Christianity interprets that fact. It shows man, poor, wretched, vile as he may be, linked with these innumerable relations. And what else does it show? It shows identity of nature in all spiritual things on earth and in heaven. Oh, if you could tear all the Bible in strips, but leave this one saying of Christ, what mighty truth and consolation there would be in it! “There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.” How much that reveals to us--lets in upon us. Joy in heaven! Then there are beings in heaven capable of joy, just like ourselves--beings in sympathy with us. Joy in heaven! Oh, forlorn and wayward brother! you are despised of men, and scorned, and perhaps feel that you ought to be; you have sinned vilely and grossly; but do you know what you are? There might be joy not only in that earthly home that nestles among the hills where your poor mother is praying for you to-day, but also great joy in heaven. What a revelation of an identity of nature--of a celestial sympathy! Moreover, there is not only sympathy, but there is solicitude there. God is anxious for your return. (E. H. Chapin, D. D.)

Joy in heaven over a repentant sinner

I. THE OBJECT OVER WHICH ANGELS REJOICE.

1. A sinner. Vile, apostate, rebellious man.

2. A sinner in a particular state of mind. A sinner that repenteth. What is repentance? It is a state of mind adapted to our condition: such a disposition as is suited to our state. It is an affecting discovery of our situation, our wants, our danger. It is a bewailing of our sad condition. With an almost broken heart the sinner comes to the Saviour’s feet, crying, with emotions of heart never before felt, with emotions which no language can fully express--“O save me, I have sinned, I have sinned! O save me, or I perish!”

II. THE GROUNDS OF THIS STRANGE JOY.

1. We may trace it to love. Love, when fixed on a right object, and exercised in a right manner, is a source of happiness. It is so on earth; and love makes heaven chiefly what it is as a world of joy.

2. Another ground of this joy of angels over a repenting sinner is their delight in the Divine glory.

3. They behold in the repentance of a sinner the advancement of the great work of grace, and receive in him a new pledge of its final accomplishment.

III. THE PROBABLE REASONS FOR WHICH OUR LORD HAS MADE US ACQUAINTED WITH IT.

1. It was no doubt to vindicate His own conduct in calling and saving heinous transgressors.

2. It shows us that there is something in repentance which is pleasing to God--that there is something in repentance of an excellent character.

3. These things are recorded to comfort and encourage the broken heart. (C. Bradley, M. A.)

Repenting sinners, a source of joy in heaven

I. In the first place, then, WE HAVE THE SPECTACLE WHICH IS HERE PRESENTED, A SINNER REPENTING. Not the most noteworthy object, some of the wise ones of this world would be tempted to say--not the most noteworthy object earth could present to the eye of God. There are many fairer and brighter scenes upon earth to attract the regard of her God and King. Man’s vagrant gaze is always wandering hither and thither in search of some scene of interest, or some form of beauty, on which for a moment it may rest; but who thinks of gazing with interest and hope, unless instructed out of the gospel of Christ, upon one sinner that repenteth? No; it is the halls of science, and the temples of art, and the statesman’s cabinet, and the battle-field of nations, which centre all man’s regard. Wherever the battle-cry of keenly conflicting interest is swelling on the ear, where brave words are being spoken, and brave deeds being done, thither man’s eye restlessly turns. It is the rising and the setting suns of empire, the waxing and the waning tide of greatness; the rise, culmination, and decline of those stars that lead man’s social progress; the chiefs and the heroes who are set far on in the van of the world--these offer to man the theme of his loftiest contemplations. And perhaps it is by the cradle of social reforms--it is by the birthplace of political revolutions and reformations that man’s purest and holiest vigils are held. My brethren, I am not here to deny the interest which may attach to any of these scenes or occasions. There is not one of these elements, so pregnant with future results to society, which are at work now, seething and surging in that great moral fermenting vat which we call society, that the angels do not look upon. That great battle which is being fought in every age, and perhaps never more earnestly fought than now--the battle which the ancients, for want of a better name, called the battle of the Gods and Titans--what we know as the battle of Chaos and Creation, Anarchy and Order, Might and Right, Slavery and Liberty--all these they look upon; nothing of this is hidden from their gaze. We do rightly to take deep interest in all these things, to let our hearts be stirred by them all. All these, God’s angels look upon; nothing is hidden from their sight. But one thing they see through all these--amidst all these great interests of society--one thing they see, which for them has more momentous interest, because they see that it has more pregnant consequences; it is the spectacle of one sinner that repenteth, one poor man, it may be. All that interest, remember, is concentrated upon the individual. I say there is that man wrestling in the sweat and agony of his soul with his spiritual tyrants and task-masters, he is bidding them defiance, he is casting them forth; but no trumpet-call summons the world to be spectator of his conflicts. There is nothing to distinguish his battle, so as to attract the eye of the man of this world. No, it will be in silence, silence that sometimes gives no outward indications of what is passing--silence, perhaps, only broken by these pleadings of a broken and contrite spirit, half uttered, half articulate, which God sees and answers as prayers--perhaps it may be thus that the repentant sinner will carry on and complete the work. Repentance is just the first stage and the first sign of that new life of the Christian, that life of which the Saviour said, “Ye must be born again”--that life which cannot come into a human spirit save by the work ofGod’s living Spirit within man’s heart. No man can work this transformation of himself, no man is strong enough to wrestle with this great monster of evil by himself. I say repentance is just the first stage of that new Divine life of which the Saviour spoke, in which a man, being freed from sin, has progressively his fruit unto holiness, and the end thereof life everlasting.

II. Direct your thoughts to THE JOYFUL WATCHERS OF THE SPECTACLE HERE PRESENTED. The progress of a soul through the various stages of its redemption excites, for the most part, very little interest upon earth. It connects itself with no great human interests, and it ministers no aid to purely human designs. But how differently is it regarded in heaven! Scribes and Pharisees, if they like, may mock at repentance; sophists and infidels, if they like, may jest at the penitent tear, or the pleading and struggling groan of a broken and contrite spirit; but I say to you, Christ says to you by my lips--I am speaking His own words--that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over even one repenting sinner.” Brethren, we should teach ourselves to believe this. We cannot see it; nature does not seem to care for us; all we look upon seems to take little care for us in regard to our spiritual experience, but God and His angels watch us earnestly, and no sigh is breathed and no tear falls that is not caught and cherished by the spirits that are before the throne. I say this repentance, the soul turning away from sin by the power of the grace of Christ which it has received, awakens supreme interest, is a matter of intense importance to all dwellers in the spiritual world. Aye! as the soul thus rises from the dust to adorn herself with the only jewels that Christ cares for--jewels of penitence, humility, and charity--methinks there are God’s angels then harping with their harps, prepared to celebrate with vestal strains the indissoluble union of a repenting and ransomed spirit with its Lord. Those are the joyful watchers of the spectacle.

III. Now, in the third and last place, in bringing these remarks to a conclusion, I dwell upon the rising interest to which I have already averted more fully. Let us inquire WHAT IS THE SECRET OF THIS INTEREST WHICH THEY FIND IN THE SPECTACLE OF A REPENTING SINNER, and of their exulting joys. Of course we can only understand a portion of this matter, and only a portion of that portion can be brought within the limits of a brief discourse.

1. But, first, I should say that the angels of God who look upon all that is passing upon earth, all the scenes of interest that earth presents--scenes in which we are bound to take an interest, in which certainly the Christian ought not to be behindhand in his interest as compared with his fellow-men--look upon a repenting sinner as the directest and completest result of Christ’s working upon earth, and, therefore, they abundantly rejoice. He who was with God, who was God, by whom all things were made, became flesh and dwelt among us; and here, in a sinner repenting, you have the directest result of His Incarnation.

2. A second reason is this. In a sinner repenting we must remember there is a rising up of a fresh witness to God’s righteousness, a fresh subject of God’s kingdom in the universe, and, therefore, do the angels rejoice.

3. Lastly, in a sinner repenting, the angels see the widening of the kingdom of the Redeemer. They see that He sees increasingly of the travail of his soul, and is satisfied, and, therefore, one thinks they rejoice. He is their King as well as ours; their Master as well as ours. (J. B. Brown, B. A.)

Joy of the angels over even one repentant sinner

How loving are the angels to men; for they rejoice over one sinner that repenteth. There she is, in that garret where the stars look between the tiles. There is a miserable bed in that room, with but one bit of covering, and she lieth there to die! Poor creature! many a night she has walked the streets in the time of her merriment; but now her joys are over; a foul disease, like a demon, is devouring her heart! She is dying fast, and no one careth for her soul! But there, in that chamber, she turns her face to the wall, and she cries, “O Thou that savedst Magdalene, save me; Lord, I repent; have mercy upon me, I beseech thee.” Did the bells ring in the street? Was the trumpet blown? Ah! no. Did men rejoice? Was there a sound of thanksgiving in the midst of the great congregation? No; no one heard it; for she died unseen. But stay. There was one standing at her bedside, who noted well that tear; an angel, who had come down from heaven to watch over this stray sheep, and mark its return; and no sooner was her prayer uttered than he clapped his wings, and there was seen flying up to the pearly gates a spirit like a star. The heavenly guards came crowding to the gate, crying, “What news, O son of fire? “ He said, “‘Tis done.” “And what is done?’ they said. “Why, she has repented.” “What! she who was once a chief of sinners? has she turned to Christ?” “‘Tis even so,” said he. And then they told it through the streets, and the bells of heaven rang marriage peals, for Magdalene was saved, and she who had been the chief of sinners was turned unto the living God. It was in another place. A poor neglected little boy in ragged clothing had run about the streets for many a day. Tutored in crime, he was paving his path to the gallows; but one morning he passed by a humble room, where some men and women were sitting together teaching poor ragged children. He stepped in there, a wild Bedouin of the streets; they talked to him; they told him about a soul and about an eternity--things he had never heard before; they spoke,of Jesus, and of goodtidings of great joy to this poor friendless lad. He went another Sabbath, and another; his wild habits hanging about him, for he could not get rid of them. At last it happened that his teacher said to him one day, “Jesus Christ receiveth sinners.” That little boy ran, but not home, for it was but a mockery to call it so--where a drunken father and a lascivious mother kept a hellish riot together. He ran, and under some dry arch, or in some wild unfrequented corner, he bent his little knees, and there he cried, that poor creature in his rags, “Lord, save me, or I perish”; and the little Arab was on his knees--the little thief was saved I He said--“Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly”; and up from that old arch, from that forsaken hovel, there flew a spirit, glad to bear the news to heaven that another heir of glory was born to God. I might picture many such scenes; bat will each of you try to picture your own? You remember the occasion when the Lord met with you. Ah! little did you think what a commotion there was in heaven. If the Queen had ordered out all her soldiers, the angels of heaven would not have stopped to notice them; if all the princes of earth had marched in pageant through the streets, with all their robes, and jewellery, and crowns, and all their regalia, their chariots, and their horsemen--if the pomps of ancient monarchies had risen from the tomb--if all the might of Babylon and Tyre and Greece had been concentratedinto one great parade, yet not an angel would have stopped in his course to smile at those poor tawdry things; but over you the vilest of the vile, the poorest of the poor, the most obscure and unknown--over you angelic wings were hovering, and concerning you it was said on earth and sung in heaven, “Hallelujah, for a child is born to God to-day.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Why should angels rejoice in the success of redemption?

To this question we reply generally, that redemption is the mightiest display of the Divine attributes; and that, wrapt as angels are in admiration and adoration at their Maker, whatever sets forth His properties must be to them a fresh source of praise and ecstasy. Without doubt we must add to this general account, the affection which they entertain towards men as members of the family of creation, their consequent desire for their happiness, and their knowledge that happiness is secured by repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But probably the joy in question results mainly from the glory accruing to God, or from the manifestation which redemption puts forth of the attributes of Deity. And therefore we shall chiefly labour to show you how the scheme of our salvation was a new discovery of God to heavenly beings, and why, therefore, there should be joy in the presence of those beings whensoever a sinner takes hold of the obedience proffered in the gospel. Now, the wisdom, the power, and the goodness of God--under which all His other attributes are comprehended--these constitute the glorious majesty of our Creator; and of these, weare bold to affirm, our redemption is the noblest manifestation. If this be once proved, you will readily understand why angels rejoice over penitent sinners. Angels must be gladdened by every exhibition of the high prerogative of their Maker; and if redemption be signally such an exhibition, then redemption--as wrought out for all, or as applied to individuals--must signally minister to their joyousness. (H. Melvill, B. D.)

In the heavenly empire

A pious Armenian calling on Mr. Hamlyn, a missionary at Constantinople, remarked, that he was astonished to see how the people were waking up to the truth; how even the most cultivated were seeking after it as for hidden treasure. “Yes,” said he, “it is going forward; it will triumph; but, alas! I shall not live to see it, alas! that I am born an age too soon.” “But,” said Mr. Hamlyn, “do you remember what our Saviour said, ‘There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth’? You may not live to see the truth triumphant in this empire; but should you, by Divine grace, reach the kingdom of heaven, and be with the angels, your joy over your whole nation, repentant and redeemed, will be infinitely greater than it could be on earth.” He seemed astonished at this thought; but after examining the various passages to which I referred him, he yielded to the evidence with the most lively expressions of delight. “O fool, and slow of heart,” said he, “to read the gospel so many times without perceiving such a glorious truth! If this be so, no matter in what age a Christian is born, nor when he dies.”

The greatness of repentance

Repentance is a great thing, or the angels of God would not rejoice over it. It is no insignificant matter. If we did not understand it, and all the consequences that flow from it, and did not quite perceive all the reasons why angels rejoice, yet we should naturally conclude that it must be great from this fact. Suppose we entered a strange city end found the bells ringing out a merry peal from every tower, the cannon roaring out their harsh joy from every fort, the streets at night blazing with illuminations, every countenance cheerful, the whole land vocal with joy, and all keeping jubilee together; why, we should say, “This great and intelligent people would not rejoice thus over a trifle; some great thing must have taken place”; if we did not know what it was. Oh! enter heaven when a sinner has repented, and find it all jubilee! Must it not be a great thing that would fill heaven thus with bliss? The repentance of a sinner does it. And then mark, it is not the conversion of a nation like China, with its three hundred millions of inhabitants, nor India with its myriads of idolaters, nor blood-stained Madagascar, nor Tahiti, nor New Zealand: not the conversion of an empire, but the conversion of a single soul. Not merely the soul of some great persecutor, like Saul of Tarsus, whose conversion may at once change the aspect of a country, and release it from intolerance and murder, and introduce it to liberty and joy. Not the conversion of a mighty monarch, who, once a despot, is now become through Christianity the father of his country. Not the conversion of a philosopher, whose great name might be supposed to add celebrity to Christianity. Not the conversion of a great poet, who had prostituted his genius to celebrate vice, and now consecrates it to the glory of God who gave him the intellect. No, but the conversion of “a sinner,” apart from all the personal circumstances in which that sinner might be found: any sinner; the inhabitant of a workhouse--the pauper’s child--or the pauper himself; for it is repentance, stript of all that is adventitious, all that might otherwise gather around it. It is the dropping of all these, and it is the bowing down of any human heart in the attitude of submission to God, and in the purpose of forsaking sin: it is that, which angels rejoice over. (J. A. James.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Luke 15:10". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/luke-15.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Likewise I say unto you,.... As before, in Luke 15:7

there is joy in the presence of the angels of God; who are the friends and neighbours of Christ: See Gill on Luke 15:6,

over one sinner that repenteth; which they have knowledge of, either by immediate revelation from God, or by observation in the church where they attend: the reason of this joy is, because there is one rescued out of the hands of Satan and his angels, between whom and them, there is an implacable enmity; and because another subject is added to Christ's kingdom, and by which it is enlarged, the prosperity of which they greatly desire; and because another heir is born in that family, to which they belong, and they have another social worshipper with them: and this joy is said to be "in the presence of" them; and so may design the joy of others, as of Father, Son, and Spirit, which is in their sight and knowledge; and also the joy there is among themselves.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/luke-15.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Likewise — on the same principle.

joy, etc. — Note carefully the language here - not “joy on the part,” but “joy in the presence of the angels of God.” True to the idea of the parables. The Great Shepherd. The Great Owner Himself, is He whose the joy properly is over His own recovered property; but so vast and exuberant is it (Zechariah 8:17), that as if He could not keep it to Himself, He “calleth His friends and neighbors together” - His whole celestial family - saying, “Rejoice WITH ME, for I have found My sheep-My-piece,” etc. In this sublime sense it is “joy,” beforeor 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 the same, ye murmur 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 the 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 Himself our Lord covertly puts in here - as if in Him they beheld, all unknown to themselves, nothing less than heaven 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”)!

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/luke-15.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

There is joy (γινεται χαραginetai chara). More exactly, joy arises. Futuristic present of γινομαιginomai (cf. εσταιestai in Luke 15:7).

In the presence of the angels of God (ενωπιον των αγγελων του τεουenōpion tōn aggelōn tou theou). That is to say, the joy of God himself. The angels are in a sense the neighbours of God.

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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)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/luke-15.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

The Fourfold Gospel

Even so, I say unto you, there is joy1 in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth2.

  1. There is joy. See Ezekiel 33:11.

  2. In the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. By thus reaffirming the heavenly joy (Luke 15:7), Jesus sought to shame the Pharisees out of their cold-blooded murmuring (Luke 15:2)

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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/luke-15.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Scofield's Reference Notes

angel (See Scofield "Hebrews 1:4").

sinner Sin. (See Scofield "Romans 3:23").

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Luke 15:10". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/luke-15.html. 1917.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE DOCTRINE OF SIN

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

Luke 15:10

We are to speak of sin.

I. What do we mean by sin?—There is first of all the philosophic definition of sin; that sin is the serviceable and necessary foil of goodness, that sin is the whetstone on which the axe of goodness is ground. Doubtless there is truth in this view, though not the whole truth. Almighty God is seated above the water floods, be the earth never so unquiet. He is always bringing the good out of the evil. God, we must believe, always overrules the errors, and sins, and mistakes of mankind for good. We can never, however, take that view of sin as a whole, because we look at the Cross of Jesus. When we look at the Cross of Jesus Christ, we see that sin is the hateful and appalling antithesis of all goodness, not merely the necessary factor of its evolution.

II. There is in human life no more instructive study than of the education of the human race in the idea of sin.—It is there of course in the natural man; you will find it amongst the heathen. Then you turn to that wonderful nation, the elect people of God, which was entrusted with the supreme duty of preserving the religious idea for the rest of mankind. You will find accordingly, when you study the Old Testament, an extraordinary deepening in the whole idea of sin, but especially a deepening in the sense of its gravity. Then we turn to the Christian revelation. The Christian revelation gathers up within it all that is true of the Jewish revelation, with these added points of gravity. In Christ is revealed the model life, and the revelation of the model life reveals the gravity of sin, and in Christ upon the Cross is revealed the appalling nature of sin; for if the Cross is the measure of the love of God, the Cross is no less the measure of the sinfulness of sin. So we see it all gathered up into the Sinless Sufferer, into the ideal Penitent, into the broken heart of Jesus, as He uttered that cry, as the expression of what sin really is, in the eyes of the All Holy God: ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me.’ And this education in the gravity of the idea of sin goes on still. God is always educating His children individually in the idea of sin, and I mention this because some people are unnecessarily distressed because, as they seem to progress in the spiritual life, they also seem to be more and more conscious of sin. It is obvious that it must be so.

III. Let us turn to the great divisions of sin.—There are, as you know, two great divisions: there is racial sin, or, as theologians call it, original sin: and there is actual sin.

(a) There is racial sin.—Do we not all know that very often the citadel is betrayed before ever the assault from outside has taken place? Do we not all know that there is no need to struggle to be evil? Let yourself go. Strive no longer. Let the stream carry you down, and you will easily fall into the abyss. Do we not know that the very word ‘virtue’ expresses it; that if we are to persist, it means a hard battle right to the end, lest we be swept off our feet as the stream rushes by. There is a tendency to sin within. There is racial sin.

(b) There is actual sin—that appalling revelation of the evil we actually commit. Sin against God, sin against man, sin against ourselves, sins of omission, sins of commission. Sins when we turn within the innermost shrine of our being, and there is the awful unveiling of the sins of thought, and of what we might be but for the grace of God

IV. The penalty of sin.—I am absolutely convinced, after twenty-five years’ ministry to those who have been burdened with the weight of their sin, and indeed from one’s own inner experience of sin, that sin carries with it its own nemesis. I do not mean that nemesis always overtakes the sinner in this life; but it does so, so frequently, that we may infer that, sooner or later, either here or hereafter, it will do so. The nemesis is in the sin.

V. One point of practical application.—Inasmuch as sin can only be cured by its discovery, there is no duty more incumbent upon all God’s people than the duty of careful self-examination.

Rev. G. F. Holden.

Illustration

‘When we hear St. Paul say, “I am the chief of sinners,” we begin to wonder what can be our own position, and we also begin to wonder whether the great Apostle is not using hyperbolical language. Not at all. St. Paul is expressing exactly what he meant and felt. He had drawn so near to the ideal standard of our Lord Himself that his whole sense of sin had become deepened. So also we get sometimes in the phrases of God’s servants remarks about sin which sound almost unreal, if not revolting. If ever there was a saint of God; if ever there was one man on whom the Cross was laid all through his life; if ever there was one whose whole heart and mind and soul were dedicated to Almighty God, it was surely Dr. Pusey; and yet we find him saying this: “I am scarred and seamed all over with sin, so that I am a monster unto myself. I can feel only of myself like one covered with leprosy from head to foot.” What is the real meaning of such language as this? It is just this: that as we progress in holiness, as we draw nearer to God, so our whole standard is altered, and we begin to see the truth about sin.’

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/luke-15.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 10. See Luke 15:7. The tears of sinners are the wine of angels, saith Bernard: who himself, for a certain time after his conversion, remained as it were deprived of his senses, by the excessive consolations he had from God.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/luke-15.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Luke 15:10

The Brightness of Penitence.

The ordinary law of sympathy—"to weep with those that weep"—is naturally suspended in this instance. When our weeping is for our sins, the angels are glad over us. For, indeed, then our sorrow is not the chief thing that happens to us, but only an accidental accompaniment of what is happening. Our word Repentance carries with it certainly a sorrowful sound, but the Greek original name for Repentance has not the least touch of sorrow in its associations, but signifies only that grand change of the mind, with its aims and thoughts, its reflections and its activities, which is the real essence of Repentance.

I. The angel, perhaps, could not sorrow in sympathy with a sorrow which was nothing but deserved retribution; but he rejoices with all the joy of his intense nature over the sorrow which works such a miracle. And this joy of the angels is not theirs only. It soon echoes back to earth again, and fills the heart of him who is repenting. He rejoices over his own sorrow.

II. Many kinds of necessary renunciation are accompanied by sorrowfulness, and make themselves felt with bitterness, but not so the renunciation of sin. True to human nature, the great artist draws his Antigone, as she passes to her death for what was no crime, sorrowing most acutely for the life and light she leaves behind her, for the wedded love and the love of children, and her aspirations for a diviner justice all unfulfilled. She would stoop to no baseness, but that did not make her joyous. She would die for her right, but sorrow is king over all and after all. Self-conquest is noble, but you must add something to self-conquest to make you joyful. The world is certainly not a home for immortal souls, but they that renounce it must have something else to look for before they can be happy. And what is this something else which gives life to self-conquest and glory to self-renunciation? It is Faith, the Faith which explains to you what you have found in exchange for that which you have given up; the Faith which assures you that your returning is not your own work, but that you have been loved and sought and found at last by a higher power and a more devoted being than you have known before.

Archbishop Benson, Boy Life: Sundays in Wellington College, p. 130.


The words are Christ's own; not those of prophet or priest, or excited orator, saying a poetic thing not to be construed literally. We must take the words as soberly true. There are beings somewhere, higher than men, a little higher, creatures of God Almighty, good and kind beings, who feel a real interest in our leaving off to do evil and beginning to do well.

I. The joy spoken of in the text is, broadly speaking, the triumph of right over wrong. A tide of true gladness spreads through the Paradise of God, when it is known there that a human being, who can make his choice, who must make his choice, between life and death, between good and evil, has chosen life and good. We are not surprised at all that the angels rejoice over one repenting sinner. We have witnessed, many times, the same sort of feeling here. Every good man and woman who comes to know of it is appreciably gladdened when old or young, who has been wrong, honestly determines and tries to be right. Not only is this the best reason why any of us should be glad: probably, in a little while, it will seem the only one. After all differences are forgotten, there will abide, as the one vital and eternal difference—just right or wrong—on God's side or no. And no human soul that is on the wrong side can ever be other than (in the long-run) miserable. We must be brought to God; or it can never be well with us, here or anywhere.

II. Notice several reasons for the rejoicing of the angels. When a sinner turns to God, here is the saving from utter destruction of a thing of inestimable value. (2) In a soul brought to God the angels behold a being capable of being infinitely happy or miserable, and all this for time without end, brought to the right side of the line between happiness and misery. (3) The angels, we may well believe, rejoice at the salvation of a sinner, because in that they see an exemplification of the successful working of the grand machinery of Redemption. As some special friend of some great inventor would watch with joy the triumph of the engine he had thought out, even so (comparing spiritual things with earthly) we can imagine the angels looking on with earnest interest at the grand instrumentality of Redemption at its work in this world, and gladdened whensoever another soul saved shows it is doing the work it was meant for.

A. K. H. B., From a Quiet Place, p. 154.


References: Luke 15:10.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv., No. 203 W. Cunningham, Sermons, p. 20; Homilist, new series, vol. iv. p. 600, Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 274; D. Moore, Christian World Pulpit, vol. i., p. 210; Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. i., p. 45; Todd, Lectures to Children, p. 20.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/luke-15.html.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 1544

ANGELS REJOICE OVER PENITENTS

Luke 15:10. I say unto you, There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

HOWEVER paradoxical the observation may appear, man is really an enemy to his own happiness. He loves sin, which is the source of all misery: and hates repentance, which is the only remedy for that misery. He cannot persuade himself that that which he professes to seek after, is to be found in penitence and self-denial. But, had we no other proof of the blessedness which attaches to true repentance, it were sufficient to know, upon the authority of Jesus Christ himself, that the very angels in heaven rejoice over any sinner in whom this good work is begun.

We will take occasion from our text to shew you,

I. What is that repentance which causes joy in heaven—

It is not every kind or degree of repentance that produces this effect: none but that which is effectual to the sinner’s salvation, will excite these benevolent emotions in the breasts of angels. It consists in,

1. Sorrow for sin—

[This is absolutely necessary. If sin be not our burthen and grief, we have not the smallest spark of true repentance. There is a great difference indeed between the sorrow of the world, and that which is caused by a sense of sin. But in this there must be an agreement, that sin must lie as a heavy burthen upon the soul; and under a sense of it we must experience brokenness of heart and contrition: for it is “the broken and contrite heart, and that only, which God will not despise.”]

2. Hatred of sin—

[Many will be sorry that they have brought themselves to shame and trouble, when they have no aversion to the sins which they have committed. Many also will hate sin in others, when they do not hate it in themselves. When David, for instance, was totally unhumbled for his own enormous wickedness, he was so indignant against the man who was supposed to have taken the poor man’s lamb, that he would have had him put to death for his offence. And Jehu was extremely zealous against the idolatry of Ahab, while yet he was very indulgent to his own crimes. But if we are truly penitent, we shall hate our own sins more than any; and shall be disposed to seek their utter destruction, even though they be dear as a right hand, or a right eye. It will teach us to say with David, “I hate every false way.”]

3. A lothing of oneself on account of sin—

[Sin is a disorder that defiles and debases the whole soul. That is no exaggerated description of the prophet, who says of us, that “from the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in us, but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores.” Now we may conceive in a measure, what lothing we should feel if we saw a person full of sores and ulcers: and such is the disgust which a view of our own souls should create within us. This is repeatedly mentioned as the experience of the Lord’s people, even after that God is pacified towards them [Note: Ezekiel 20:43; Ezekiel 16:63.]: and every one who really knows himself, will exclaim with Job, “Behold, I am vile, I repent, and abhor myself in dust and ashes [Note: Job 40:4; Job 42:6.].”]

4. A fleeing to Christ from the guilt and power of sin—

[As long as we retain a hope of healing our own souls, we have not that “repentance which is unto life:” we evidently have low thoughts of sin, both of its guilt and power. We must be brought to an utter despair of washing away our sin by our tears, or of breaking its force by our resolutions. We must see that there is no hope for us but in the atoning blood of Christ, and in his all-sufficient grace: and we must rely simply on him, saying, “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength [Note: Isaiah 45:24.].”]

The importance of this to man is obvious: but it is not so clear,

II. Why the angels take so deep an interest in it—

Whether the spirits of departed men have any knowledge of what passes in this world, may well be doubted: but it is certain that the angels are intimately connected with mankind, and take a lively interest in the things relating to them. They view the return of a penitent with peculiar delight;

1. Because it tends so greatly to the benefit of man—

[The angels cannot but be apprised of the misery into which the once happy, but now apostate, spirits are fallen: and they know that a participation of that misery is reserved for impenitent sinners. Whether they feel any pity towards a sinner in the midst of his rebellion, we cannot say: but we apprehend, that they rather look upon him with holy indignation, and stand ready to execute any judgment that God may see fit to inflict upon him [Note: Acts 12:23.]. But their benevolent hearts rejoice, if they see any one fleeing from the impending judgments, and setting his face in good earnest towards the heavenly kingdom. They congratulate him in their minds, and exult in the thought of having him to all eternity a partner of their joys.]

2. Because it opens fresh scope for the exercise of their own love—

[It is essential to benevolence to delight in opportunities of exerting itself for the benefit of the objects beloved. Now, as soon as ever a sinner repents and becomes an “heir of salvation, angels are sent forth to minister unto him.” “They encamp round about him” for the purpose. If they behold him turning out of the path of duty, as Balaam; or lingering in a place of danger, as Lot; or in any respect likely to “dash his foot against a stone;” they will lend him their friendly aid in such a way as shall tend most to his eternal welfare. How they act upon us, we are not told: but of their agency there can be no doubt. It is highly probable that they are busily employed in counteracting the devices of those wicked spirits, who are ever seeking to destroy us. In a dying hour, we are sure they encompass the bed of a true penitent, and watch for the dismission of his spirit from its house of clay, in order that they may bear it in triumph to the realms of bliss. Nor are their labours of love then terminated: for in the day of judgment they will gather together the saints wheresoever they were scattered, in order to present them before the throne of their Judge, and expedite the final completion of their happiness. These offices being so congenial with their own feelings, they rejoice in every thing that affords them an opportunity to perform them.]

3. Because it brings the highest glory to God—

[The contemplation of the Divine glory is doubtless the highest source of their felicity. Now in the return of a penitent sinner they behold all the persons of the Godhead shining forth in the brightest splendour. They behold all the wisdom and power and grace of the Father glorified, whenever his eternal counsels respecting the salvation of a soul are accomplished. They behold the infinite virtue of the Son’s atonement, whenever the iniquities of a repenting prodigal are blotted out. They behold the wonderful “love of the Holy Spirit, and the invincible efficacy of his operations, when a creature, once bearing the impress of Satan himself, is transformed into the image of his God. When they had first a clear prospect of these things at the incarnation of our Lord, they sang, “Glory to God in the highest;” and every fresh manifestation of this mercy has filled them with additional and increasing joy.]

Address—

1. To the impenitent—

[Think what painful reflections your state suggests to those benevolent spirits; ‘There are those infatuated people, laden with sins; on the brink of eternity; followed with overtures of mercy; assured that if they die in their present state they must perish for ever; and yet continuing impenitent! What a miracle of mercy it is that God does not instantly cut them down, and assign them the portion they deserve!’ Think too how the evil angels are exulting over you; ‘There they are; we have them fast in our chains; we shall soon have them as partners of our misery; then how shall we triumph over our God! Yes; the Father’s counsels with respect to them will all be frustrated; the blood of Christ will have been shed in vain; the Spirit’s operations will have been successfully resisted: though we shall be in hell ourselves, we will enjoy our triumphs even there; for we shall have robbed man of his happiness, and God of his glory.’ O brethren, consider whether ye are willing to afford such a triumph to your bitterest enemy: and beg of Jesus, who is “exalted to give repentance and remission of sins,” that he will bestow these blessings upon you.]

2. To the penitent—

[Let others deride or condemn your change, we will congratulate you upon it [Note: Psalms 126:3.]. The angels would feel no joy at your acquiring a large estate: No; “if a beggar were elevated from a dunghill to a throne,” they would not account it worth one single thought. But if the poorest or vilest person in the universe repent, it fills them with unfeigned joy. They have not so much joy in the very presence of God, but it is capable of being augmented by such a sight as this. Nor is it a day of Pentecost alone that attracts their attention. Even a solitary instance of conversion is sufficient to exhilarate their souls. Go on then, my brethren, sowing in tears; and you shall ere long, in conjunction with the holy angels, reap a harvest of eternal joy.]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/luke-15.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Luke 15:10. γίνεται, there ensues [results, arises; not is, as Engl. Vers.]) not merely there shall ensue or arise [as in Luke 15:7, shall be, ἔσται]. In this passage heaven is most openly spoken of; as is also hell, in ch. Luke 16:23, which is the continuation of the same discourse. See the bond of connection between the two parts of the discourse, ch. Luke 16:1; Luke 16:14, etc.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/luke-15.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

See Poole on "Luke 15:8"

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 15:10". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/luke-15.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

As God, angels, and all holy beings rejoice at the repentance of sinners, all who repent, and all who are successful in leading others to repent, are increasing the happiness of heaven.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/luke-15.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

“Even so, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

But a greater joy than both is found in Heaven when a sinner repents. Here the rejoicing of the lost sinner who repents is in ‘the presence of the angels’ (compare Luke 15:7). All Heaven is involved in the rejoicing. The one who is found is precious to Heaven. And we have in this parable the lesson that both men and women are to be involved in seeking the lost. It is not a ‘men only’ preserve. Each seeks within their own sphere.

The Rabbis would later tell the story of a man who searched for what was lost, but they represented it in terms of a man seeking the Law of God. They had no equivalent of a loving God seeking man.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/luke-15.html. 2013.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 15:10. He that is faithful, etc. Lest it should seem strange that so much importance is attached to the proper use of perishing and unrighteous wealth, remember the great principle: ‘He that is faithful,’ etc.

That which is least, or ‘a very little.’ This refers to earthly possessions, and the faithfulness is the wise and prudent conduct suggested by the parable.

In much. In this case this is equivalent to: ‘the true riches,’ ‘your own,’ the inheritance and possession of the sons of the light. But the principle is general, and capable of a great variety of applications. This verse opposes the view that the service of mammon is meant in the parable, for according to that interpretation it is by being unfaithful to mammon that true fidelity is to be reached.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/luke-15.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Luke 15:10 repeats the moral of Luke 15:7, but without comparison which, with a smaller number, would only weaken the effect.— . .: the angels may be referred to as the neighbours of God, whose joy they witness and share. Wendt (L. J., i., 141) suggests that Luke uses the expression to avoid anthropopathism, and because God has no neighbours.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/luke-15.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Before the angels. By this it is plain that the spirits in heaven have a concern for us below, and a joy at our repentance, and consequently a knowledge of it. (Challoner)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/luke-15.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

is = becomes, or takes place, or results. Same as "arose" in Luke 15:14.

in the presence of = before. It does not say that the angels rejoice; but it is the divine joy in their presence.

God. App-98.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/luke-15.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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!"

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/luke-15.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
there
2:1-14; Ezekiel 18:23,32; 33:11; Matthew 18:10,11; 28:5-7; Acts 5:19; 10:3-5; Hebrews 1:14; Revelation 5:11-14
one
7:47; 13:5; 2 Chronicles 33:13-19; Matthew 18:14; Acts 11:18; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Philemon 1:15
Reciprocal: 1 Chronicles 16:31 - Let the heavens;  Psalm 51:17 - thou;  Psalm 96:11 - the heavens;  Song of Solomon 5:1 - friends;  Song of Solomon 6:13 - What;  Isaiah 49:13 - O heavens;  Isaiah 55:7 - the wicked;  Isaiah 55:12 - the mountains;  Ezekiel 1:10 - the face of a man;  Micah 7:18 - he delighteth;  Matthew 3:2 - Repent;  Matthew 4:17 - Repent;  Matthew 21:31 - did;  Mark 2:17 - I came;  Mark 6:12 - preached;  Luke 2:13 - a multitude;  Luke 5:32 - GeneralLuke 15:6 - his;  John 4:34 - My meat;  John 8:11 - go;  Acts 17:30 - but;  Acts 20:21 - repentance;  Acts 26:20 - repent;  1 Corinthians 7:16 - O wife;  2 Corinthians 7:9 - I rejoice;  Galatians 1:24 - GeneralPhilippians 1:4 - with;  1 Timothy 1:16 - for a;  1 Timothy 3:1 - desireth;  1 Peter 1:12 - which things;  Revelation 11:15 - and there;  Revelation 12:12 - rejoice;  Revelation 21:12 - twelve angels

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-15.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Luke 15:10.There will be joy in the presence of the angels. If angels mutually rejoice with each other in heaven, when they see that what had wandered is restored to the fold, we too, who have the same cause in common with them, ought to be partakers of the same joy But. how does he say that the repentance of one ungodly man yields greater joy than the perseverance of many righteous men to angels, whose highest delight is in a continued and uninterrupted course of righteousness ? I reply, though it would be more agreeable to the wishes of angels (as it is also more desirable) that men should always remain in perfect integrity, yet as in the deliverance of a sinner, who had been already devoted to destruction, and had been cut off as a rotten member from the body, the mercy of God shines more brightly, he attributes to angels, after the manner of men, a greater joy arising out of an unexpected good.

Over one repenting sinner. The word repentance is specially limited to the conversion of those who, having altogether turned aside from God, rise as it were from death to life; for otherwise the exercise of repentance ought to be uninterrupted throughout our whole life, (511) and no man is exempted from this necessity, since every one is reminded by his imperfections that he ought to aim at daily progress. But it is one thing, when a man, who has already entered upon the right course, though he stumble, or fall, or even go astray, endeavors to reach the goal; and another thing, when a man leaves a road which was entirely wrong, or only starts in the right course. (512) Those who have already begun to regulate their life by the standard of the divine law, do not need that kind of repentance which consists in beginning to lead a holy and pious life, though they must groan (513) under the infirmities of the flesh, and labor to correct them.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:10". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/luke-15.html. 1840-57.