Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 15:11

And He said, "A man had two sons.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   God Continued...;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Joy;   Penitent;   Prodigal Son;   Readings, Select;   Salvation;   Young Men;   Thompson Chain Reference - Bible Stories for Children;   Children;   Home;   Parables;   Pleasant Sunday Afternoons;   Prodigal Son;   Religion;   Son;   Stories for Children;   Truth;   The Topic Concordance - Losing and Things Lost;   Salvation;   Seeking;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Parables;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Parable;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Grace;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Christ, Christology;   Gospel;   CARM Theological Dictionary - Parable;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Heir;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Harmony of the Gospels;   Imagery;   Jesus, Life and Ministry of;   Luke, Gospel of;   Mammon;   Parables;   Prodigal Son;   Repentance;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Love, Lover, Lovely, Beloved;   Parable;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Brotherhood (2);   Children;   Children of God;   Fall (2);   Father, Fatherhood;   Goodness;   Gospel (2);   Heir Heritage Inheritance;   Ideas (Leading);   Justice (2);   Love (2);   Luke, Gospel According to;   Man (2);   Neighbour (2);   Parable;   Premeditation;   Prophet;   Reconciliation;   Redemption (2);   Religious Experience;   Repentance (2);   Righteous, Righteousness;   Son, Sonship;   Turning;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Certain;   Heritage;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Parable;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Son of God;  
Devotionals:
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for November 6;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And he said - Jesus, to illustrate still farther the sentiment which he had uttered, and to show that it was proper to rejoice over repenting sinners, proceeds to show it by a most beautiful and instructive parable. We shall see its beauty and propriety by remembering that the “design” of it was simply to “justify his conduct in receiving sinners,” and to show that to rejoice over their return was proper. This he shows by the feelings of a “father” rejoicing over the “return” of an ungrateful and dissipated son.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/luke-15.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And he said, A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of thy substance that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

Jewish law did not require the father to honor such a request, but in keeping with the analogy that God allows men to choose their ways without coercion, this father honored the request. As the younger son received one-third of the estate and the older brother two-thirds, after the custom of the times, the father simplified things by giving to both sons their inheritance.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/luke-15.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And he said,.... The Syriac and Persic versions read "and Jesus said again"; he added another parable to the two former, at the same time, of the same import, with the same view, and on the same occasion; setting forth the different characters of the Scribes and Pharisees, and of the publicans and sinners; and what little reason the one had to murmur, at his conversation with the other:

a certain man had two sons; by "the certain man" is meant, God the Father: God indeed is not a man, nor is he to be represented by any human image; but inasmuch as man is the image of God, God is sometimes compared to man, and is called a man of war, an husbandman, &c. which no ways contradict his being a spirit; and true it is, that the second person only assumed human nature; and therefore, whenever a divine person is spoken of as man, Christ is commonly intended: but though the Father never appeared in an human form, yet he seems here to be designed; because the character of a Father, and having sons, more properly belong to him; and the reception of sinners, and the forgiveness of them for Christ's sake, agree with him: and besides, Christ is distinguished from the Father in this parable; and he and his blessings of grace, are signified by other things: by the "two sons" are meant, not angels and men, as that angels are the elder, and men the younger son; for though angels are called the sons of God, and may be said to be elder than men, with respect to creation; and good angels may be said to have been ever with God, and always serving him, and never sinned against him; yet they are never called the brethren of men, nor men their brethren; and besides, are never angry at the return and reception of repenting sinners; for this would be to represent them just the reverse of what they are said to be, in the preceding verse: nor are the Jews and Gentiles here intended, which is the more received and general sense of the parable: those who go this way, suppose the Jews to be the elder brother; and indeed they were so, with respect to external privileges; and were with God, being his household and family; all he had were theirs, that was external; and the character of the elder brother throughout the parable, agrees with the far greater part of that nation; and it is certain, that they did resent the calling of the Gentiles: and these suppose the Gentiles to be the younger brother, who indeed were brought into a church state, later than the Jews; and might be said to be afar off in a far country, and to have spent their substance in idolatry and wickedness; to have been in the utmost distress, and in the most deplorable condition: but to this sense it may be objected, that the Gospel was not as yet preached to the Gentiles; nor were they brought to repentance; nor were they openly received into the divine favour; nor as yet had the Jews murmured at, and resented the kindness of God to them: rather standing and fallen professors may be designed: since the former are very apt to carry it toward the latter, in like manner as the elder brother is represented in this parable, as carrying himself towards the younger: but the true sense, and which the context and occasion of the parable at once determine, is, that by the elder son are meant, the Scribes and Pharisees, and self-righteous persons, among the Jews; and by the younger, the publicans and sinners among the same people; as it is easy to observe, the same are meant by the two sons in the parable in Matthew 21:28. Now these are called the sons of God because the Jews in general were so by national adoption; and the self-righteous Pharisees looked upon themselves as the children of God, and favourites of heaven, in a special sense; and God's elect among them, even those that lay among publicans and sinners, were truly so; and that before conversion; for they were not only predestinated to the adoption of children, but were really taken into the relation of children, in the covenant of grace; and as such were given to Christ, and considered by him, when he assumed their nature, and died for them; and are so antecedent to the spirit of adoption, who is sent to witness their sonship to them; and which is consistent with their being children of wrath, as the descendants of Adam, and their being the children of God openly and manifestatively, by faith in Christ Jesus.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/luke-15.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

2 And he said, A certain man had two sons:

(2) Men by their voluntary falling from God, having robbed themselves of the benefits which they received from him, cast themselves headlong into infinite calamities: but God of his singular goodness, offering himself freely to those whom he called to repentance, through the greatness of their misery with which they were humbled, not only gently receives them, but also enriches them with far greater gifts and blesses them with the greatest bliss.
Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/luke-15.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Luke 15:11-32. III. The prodigal son.

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/luke-15.html. 1871-8.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

11. And he said, A certain man had two sons:

[A certain man had two sons.] It is no new thing so to apply this parable, as if the elder son denoted the Jew, and the younger the Gentile. And, indeed, the elder son doth suit well enough with the Jew in this, that he boasts so much of his obedience, "I have not transgressed at any time thy commandment": as also, that he is so much against the entertainment of his brother, now a penitent. Nothing can be more grievous to the Jews than the reception of the Gentiles.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/luke-15.html. 1675.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Had (ειχενeichen). Imperfect active. Note εχωνechōn (Luke 15:4), εχουσαechousa (Luke 15:8), and now ειχενeichen The self-sacrificing care is that of the owner in each case. Here (verses 11-32) we have the most famous of all the parables of Jesus, the Prodigal Son, which is in Luke alone. We have had the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and now the Lost Son. Bruce notes that in the moral sphere there must be self-recovery to give ethical value to the rescue of the son who wandered away. That comes out beautifully in this allegory.

Copyright Statement
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)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "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

And he said, A certain man had two sons1:
    SECOND GREAT GROUP OF PARABLES. (Probably in Perea.) D. PARABLE OF THE LOST SON. Luke 15:11-32

  1. A certain man had two sons. These two sons represent the professedly religious (the elder) and the openly irreligious (the younger). They have special reference to the two parties found in Luke 15:1,2)--the the publicans and sinners, and the Pharisees.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/luke-15.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE TWO SONS

‘A certain man had two sons.’

Luke 15:11

Let us apply the parable to our own times and our own land. There is no need to dwell on the attitude of the Eternal Parent. He has not changed. But what of the two sons among us to-day?

I. The younger son’s position.—In this wealthy and nominally Christian country there is a grievously large portion of the community which, whether viewed from a social or from a religious standpoint, is in the position of the Prodigal Son. Three characteristics in the parable graphically depict that position.

(a) He is in a far country. The gap which separates the upper and middle classes from the poor, the destitute, the outcast, is very wide and very deep. The rich are more and more living together in special parts of the towns, in favoured suburbs, in pleasant watering-places and country localities. The poor herd together in their ever-growing thousands, as near as possible to their places of work.

(b) He wastes his substance in riotous living. It has been stated that gambling among the rich is on the decrease. Certainly the enormous sums once staked on horses are rarely known now, while heavy gambling at lotteries and cards and other play has somewhat lessened. But among the poor it is not so. Here gambling has undoubtedly grown. Women and even boys indulge in it. But it is in strong drink that the most ruinous waste occurs.

(c) He suffers want, and companies with swine.—Never has there been a wealthier nation than ours. Yet multitudes of our people live in abject poverty. London is the richest city in the world; yet in London in 1888 more than one out of every five deaths was in a charitable institution, and it has been estimated that not less than one out of every four of our London population dies dependent on charity. Mr. C. Booth has made a careful calculation that 32.1 per cent, or nearly one-third of Londoners, are either paupers or fighting a hand-to-mouth battle for life.

Now let us see—

II. The elder brother’s attitude.—There are two things about him which specially strike us.

(a) His position of privilege. ‘Son, thou art ever with me,’ says the father, ‘and all that I have is thine.’ These words must be allowed their full meaning. They must not be watered down. How great is our position of privilege in comparison with that of many of our brothers! We have had opportunities of growth in every good way. Our environment, our training, the countless circumstances which mould body and mind so powerfully in youth, were all in our favour. Different, indeed, have been the opportunities of many of society’s prodigals. The younger son in the parable doubtless lost his privileges by his own fault. It was by his own reckless and headstrong will that he left his home and went into the far country. But these were both there.

(b) His lack of love. It does not seem fanciful to point out that we have no mention of the elder brother ever trying to prevent the younger from taking that ruinous journey. We do not read that he ever started to find him and tried to persuade him to return. He does not seem to have had any solicitude about his absence; for when, broken and contrite, he returned, the elder brother found fault with the father’s joyful celebration of the event. He will not even call him ‘my brother,’ but styles him ‘this thy son.’ He makes a statement about his having companied with harlots, for which, so far as we know, he had no proof. And he refused, though we trust he did not persist in his refusal, to come in to the festal board and greet his brother.

Do you say this is a picture of lamentable selfishness—a selfishness absolutely unnatural and reprehensible in its callous indifference? But does not this same sin lie with accusing weight at the door of the Christian Church? Yea, more, does it not strike home to the consciences of Christians here, renewed men, with a mighty power of convincing truth, ‘Thou art the man’?

Rev. C. H. R. Harper.

Illustration

‘What Louis Kossuth, the Hungarian patriot, said, is true, “If the doctrines of Christianity that are found in the New Testament could be applied to human society, the solution of the social problem would be got at.”’

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/luke-15.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:

Ver. 11. And he said] A third parable to the same purpose: and all to persuade us of God’s readiness to receive returning sinners. This is not so easily believed, indeed, as most men imagine.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/luke-15.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Luke 15:11

The Fatherland.

I. Of all God's cords the finest, and perhaps the strongest, is the cord of love. The true home of humanity is God—God trusted, communed with, beloved, obeyed.

II. Far from home, humanity is still in the hand of God. Not only is it subject to His righteous and irresistible sovereignty, but it has a place in His deep and desirous compassion.

III. It would be rash to say that where the home is right the inmates never go wrong. Still, the promises to believers include their children, and the instances are anomalous and few where a hopeful outset ends in a worthless old age. In order to make your home the preparation for heaven, the first thing is to strengthen that cord of love by which you ought to hold your child, even as our heavenly Father holds His children.

J. Hamilton, Works, vol. ii., p. 261.


The Parable of the Prodigal Son. Regarding the son here as a type of man, and the father as a type of God, as He is seen in His Son and set forth in the Gospel, let us now study these, the two prominent figures in this beautiful parable, beginning with the prodigal.

I. His conduct. In the condition of the prodigal we have a picture of the misery into which sin, having estranged us from our heavenly Father, has plunged its wretched votaries. Type of the sinner who departs from God, and a beacon to such as feel irksome under the restraints of a pious home, he seeks happiness only to find misery: ambitious of an unhallowed liberty, he sinks into the condition of the basest slave.

II. His change of mind. Sin is here represented as a madness; and who acts so contrary to sound reason, his own interests and the reality of things, as a sinner? Happy such as through the Spirit of God, working by whatever means, have come to themselves, like the prodigal; and are seated, like the maniac who dwelt among the tombs, at the feet of Jesus clothed and in their right mind.

III. His distress. "I perish," he said, "with hunger."

IV. His belief. "Behind yonder blue hills, away in the dim distance, lies my father's house—a house of many mansions, and such full supplies that the servants, even the hired servants, have bread enough and to spare."

V. His resolution. "I will arise and go to my father." Remove the prodigal, and setting conscience on the bench, let us take his place. No prodigal ever sinned against an earthly, as we have done against our heavenly Father. Well, therefore, may we go to Him, with the contrition of the prodigal in our hearts and his confession on our lips:—"Father, I have sinned against heaven and in Thy sight." The Spirit of God helping us thus to go to God, be assured that the father, who, seeing his son afar off, ran to meet him, fell on his neck and kissed him, was but an image of Him who, not sparing His own Son, but giving Him up to death that we might live, invites and now waits your coming.

T. Guthrie, The Parables in the Light of the Present Day, p. 57.


The Father.

I. How the father received his son. As soon as the wanderer is recognised, on flying feet the old man runs to meet him; and ere the son has time to speak a word, the father has him in his arms, presses him to his bosom, and covering his cheek with passionate kisses, lifts up his voice and weeps for joy. And this is God—God as He is drawn by the hand and seen in the face of Him whom He sent to seek and save us, to bring us back, to open a way of reconciliation,—the God who, unwilling that any should perish, invites and waits our coming.

II. How the father treated the prodigal. The ring he gave him signifies here the espousals between Christ and His Church; it may be the token of her marriage, the passport of those who are blessed to go to the marriage supper of the Lamb. (2) The naked foot was a sign of servitude. Therefore the order to put shoes on his feet was tantamount to the declaration from the father's lips that the prodigal was not to be regarded as a servant, but as a son; that to him belonged all the privileges and possessions of sonship; that he who had never lost his place in the father's heart was now to resume it at his table and in his house.

III. How the father rejoiced over the prodigal. Grief retires from observation; joy must have vent. In this parable, so true in all its parts to nature, this feature of joy stands beautifully out. To these servants the father had never told his grief; but now the prodigal is come back, and his heart is bursting with joy, he tells them of it. So God rejoices in His ransomed; and let them rejoice in Him. The sun that shines on you shall set, and summer streams shall freeze, and deepest wells go dry—but not His love. His love is a stream that never freezes, a fountain that never fails, a sun that never sets in night, a shield that never breaks in fight: whom He loveth, He loveth to the end.

T. Guthrie, The Parables in the Light of the Present Day, p. 77.


References: Luke 15:11.—J. Keble, Sermons from Lent to Passiontide, p. 420; Homilist, new series, vol. ii., p. 50. Luke 15:11-13.—J. P. Gledstone, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xviii., p. 140; Ibid., vol. xxii., p. 78. Luke 15:11-24.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. xiii., p. 199; Preacher's Monthly, vol. i., p. 373; H. Batchelor, The Incarnation of God, p. 25. Luke 15:11-32.—H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xii., p. 268; Expositor, 1st series, vol. ix., p. 137; J. Oswald Dykes, Sermons, p. 234; R. C. Trench, Notes on the Parables, p. 390; H. Calderwood, The Parables, p. 48; A. B. Bruce, The Parabolic Teaching of Christ, p. 280. Luke 15:12.—Preacher's Monthly, vol ii., p. 253.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/luke-15.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Luke 15:11. A certain man had two sons: Our Lord next delivered the parable of the lost or prodigal son, which of all his parables is perhaps the most delightful; not only as it enforces a doctrine full of inexpressible comfort, but because it abounds with the tender pardons, is finely painted with the most beautiful images, and is to the mind what a charming diversified landscape is to the eye.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/luke-15.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

In the two former parables of the lost sheep and lost goat, was represented to us the great pains and care which Christ takes for the recovery of lost sinners. In this third parable of this prodigal son, is shadowed forth unto us, with what great readiness, joy, and gladness, our heavenly Father receives repenting and returning sinners.

In the face of the prodigal, as in a glass, we may behold, first, a riotous sinner's aversion from God.

Secondly, a penitent sinner's conversion to God.

Thirdly, a pardoned sinner's acceptance and entertainment with God.

From the whole learn, 1. What is the nature of sin, and the practice of sinners. Sin is a departing from God, and every sinner does voluntarily and of his own accord depart from him: He took his journey into a far country.

Learn, 2. The great extravagancy which sinners run into when they forsake God, and give up themselves to the conduct of their lusts and vile affections; he wasted all his substance with riotous living; that is, spent his time, and consumed his treasure, in riot and excess.

Observe, 3. That sin will certainly bring men into streights, but streights do not always bring men off from sin: he began to be in want, yet thinks not of returning to his father's house.

Observe, 4. That sinners will try all ways, and go through the greatest hardships and difficulties, before they will leave their sins, and return home to their heavenly Father: He joined himself to a citizen of that country; and went into the fields to feed swine. He chooses rather to feed at the hog's trough, than to feast in his father's house.

Observe, 5. At last the happy fruits of a sanctified affliction: they put the prodigal upon serious consideration: He came to himself; upon wise consultation; I perish with hunger: and upon a fixed resolution; I will arise and go to my father. Serious consideration, and solid resolutions, are great steps to a sound conversion, and thorough reformation.

Observe, 6. The affectionate tenderness and compassion of the father towards the returning prodigal: though he had deserved to be sharply reproved, severely corrected, and finally rejected and shut out of doors; yet the father's compassion is above his anger: not a word of his miscarriages drops from his father's mouth, but as soon as ever the son looks back, mercy looks out and the father expresses,

1. His speedy readiness to receive his son, He ran unto him: the son did only arise and go, but the father made haste and ran; mercy has not only a quick eye to spy out a penitent, but a swift foot; it turns to embrace a penitent.

2. Wonderful tenderness, He fell upon his neck: it had been much to have looked upon him with the eye, more to have taken him by the hand, but most of all to fall upon his neck. Divine mercy will not only meet a penitent, but embrace him also.

3. Strong affectionateness: He kissed him; giving him thereby a pledge and assurance of perfect friendship and reconciliation with him.

Learn hence, that God is not only ready to give demonstrations of his mercy to penitent sinners, but also to give the seals and tokens of his special reconciled favor to them; they shall now have the kisses of his lips, who formerly deserved the blows of his hand: The father ran unto him, fell on his neck, and kissed him.

Observe, lastly, the great joy that appeared in the whole house, as well as in the father's heart, upon this great occasion, the prodigal son's returning: They all began to be merry, there was music and dancing.

Learn hence, that sincere conversion brings the soul into a joyful, into a very joyful state and condition. The joy that conversion brings is an holy and spiritual joy, a solid and substantial joy, a wonderful and transcendent joy, an increasing and never-fading joy. Our joy on earth is an earnest of the joys of heaven, where there will be rejoicing in the presence of our heavenly Father and his holy angels to all eternity: because we were dead, but are now alive again; we were lost, but are found.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/luke-15.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

11.] ἄνθ. τιςour heavenly Father, the Creator and Possessor of all: not Christ, who ever represents Himself as a Son, although frequently as a possessor or lord.

δύο υἱούς, not, in any direct or primary sense of the Parable, the Jews and the Gentiles: that there may be an ulterior application to this effect, is only owing to the parable grasping the great central truths, of which the Jew and Gentile were, in their relation, illustrations,—and of which such illustrations are furnished wherever such differences occur.

The two parties standing in the foreground of the parabolic mirror are, the Scribes and Pharisees as the elder son, the publicans and sinners as the younger;—all, Jews: all belonging to God’s family. The mystery of the admission of the Gentiles into God’s Church was not yet made known in any such manner as that they should be represented as of one family with the Jews;—not to mention that this interpretation fails in the very root of the Parable; for in strictness the Gentile should be the elder, the Jew not being constituted in his superiority till 2000 years after the Creation.

The upholders of this interpretation forget that when we speak of the Jew as elder, and the Gentile as younger, it is in respect not of birth, but of this very return to and reception into the Father’s house, which is not to be considered yet. Bp. Wordsworth’s objections (in loc.) do not touch the reasons here given. The relations of elder and younger have a peculiar fitness for the characters to be filled by them, and are I believe chosen on that account; νεώτερον δὲ ὀνομάζει τὸν ἁμαρτωλὸν ὡς νηπιόφρονα καὶ εὐεξαπάτητον. Euthym(96)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/luke-15.html. 1863-1878.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 15:11. Jesus Himself has very definitely declared the doctrinal contents of the two foregoing parables, Luke 15:7; Luke 15:10. In order now by more special detail and by all the liveliness of contrast to make palpable this doctrine, and especially the growth and course of sin, the growth and course of repentance, the joy of God thereupon, and the demeanour of the legally righteous towards this joy, He adds a third parable, as distinguished and complete in its psychological delicacy and its picturesque truth in depicting human circumstances and affections as in its clear and profound insight into the divine disposition,—the pearl among the doctrinal utterances of Jesus, which are preserved to us by Luke alone, and among all parables the most beautiful and most comprehensive. The parable has nothing to do with Matthew 21:28-30 (in opposition to Holtzmann, p. 155), nor is it a new form of the parable of the lost sheep (Eichthal). By the youngest son Jesus denotes generally the sinner who repents, by the eldest son generally the legally righteous; not specially by the former the publicans, and by the latter the Pharisees (so also Wittichen, Idee Gottes als d. Vaters, p. 35 ff.); the application, however, of the characteristic features in question to both of these could not be mistaken any more than the application of the doctrine declared in Luke 15:7. The interpretation of the two sons—of the eldest by the Jews, of the youngest by the Gentiles, in accordance with the relation of both to Christianity (already Augustine, Quaest. Ev. ii. 33; Bede, and others; recently carried out in great detail, especially by Zeller in the Theol. Jahrb. 1843, p. 81 f.; Baur, ibid. 1845, p. 522 f.; Baur, d. kanon. Evang. p. 510 f.; comp. Schwegler, Nachapost. Zeitalter, II. p. 47 f.; Ritschl, Evang. Marcions, p. 282 f.; Volkmar, Evang. Marcions, p. 66 f., 248; Hilgenfeld, Evang. p. 198; Schenkel, p. 195)—confuses the applicability of the parable with its occasion and purpose, and was in the highest degree welcome to the view which attributed to the gospel a tendential reference to later concrete conditions; but, in accordance with the occasion of the whole discourse as stated at Luke 15:1-2, and in accordance with the doctrine of the same declared at Luke 15:7; Luke 15:10, it is wholly mistaken, comp. Köstlin, p. 225 ff. It did not at all enter into the purpose of the compilation to refer to such a secondary interpretation (in opposition to Weizsäcker). Moreover, the more this parable is a triumph of the purely ethical aspect of the teaching of Jesus, and the more important it is on the side of practical Christianity, so much the more have we to guard against attaching undue significance to special points which constitute the drapery of the parable, and to details which are merely artistic (Fathers, and especially Catholic expositors down to the time of Schegg and Bisping, partially also Olshausen). Thus, for example, Augustine understood by the squandered means, the image of God; by the λιμός, the indigentia verbi veritatis; by the citizen of the far country, the devil; by the swine, the demons; by the husks, the doctrinas saeculares, etc. So, in substance, Ambrose, Jerome, and others. Diverging in certain particulars, Theophylact and Euthymius Zigabenus.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/luke-15.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Luke 15:11. εἶπε δὲ, moreover He said) This parable has a degree of distinctness and separation from the first and second parables.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". 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

Ver. 11-16. The scope of this excellent parable is apparently to magnify the grace of God, who is willing to receive and to treat kindly the greatest transgressors, seriously repenting, and turning unto God; but in it we are also,

1. Instructed in the original state of man, like that of a child in his father’s house, happy and wanting nothing.

2. The most miserable estate of fallen men, such especially as run to great excess of riot.

3. The true way of a sinner’s returning to God.

4. The readiness of our gracious Father to receive, and his wonderful kindness in the receiving and embracing, repenting and returning sinners.

5. The envy that is sometimes found in good souls to others receiving (as they think) more favour from God than they do.

6. The gentleness and meekness of God in dealing with us, notwithstanding our infirmities and misbecoming passions.

God is again here represented under the notion of a man who had two sons: some that are his children by regeneration as well as creation; he having given them that believe a right to be called the sons of God, John 1:12. Others that are his sons by creation only. The latter are here represented under the notion of a younger son. This younger son is represented as dissatisfied with living in his father’s house, desiring his portion, &c. All men and women by nature were equally the sons of God, being all in Adam, who was so. All men swerved from him; in Adam all sinned, all died. But some again by grace are returned to their Father’s house. Others challenge a relation to God, as his creatures, but are not of their Father’s house, but desire only a portion of the good things of this life. Some desire honours, some riches, all of them life and health, &c. God, like a liberal father, gives some of these good things to one, others to another; to some more than one kind of them: whatever they have of this nature is from him who maketh his sun to shine and his rain to fall upon the just and unjust. Wicked men, when they are thus furnished by God, quickly take their

journey into a far country, are more alienated and estranged from God by lewd and wicked practices than they were by nature; waste their substance, the health of their bodies, their time of life, their estates, their great and honourable capacities, by giving up themselves to lewd and riotous kinds of life, to the high dishonour of Almighty God. It pleaseth God by his providence sometimes to bring these men into straits; when they are so brought, they will take any base, sordid course to relieve themselves, rather than they will think of returning to their heavenly Father; of themselves they will rather choose to serve swine. But if they be such as belong to God’s election of grace, the providence of God will not leave them. Though there be little food for a soul in the husks of sensible satisfactions, yet they shall not have a bellyful of them. God will bring them off from satisfaction in any thing, and make every condition uneasy to them.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 15:11". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/luke-15.html. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And he said, “A certain man had two sons,” ’

The parable is about two sons. But it is so easy to lose sight of the elder son (partly due to the vividness of the story, and partly because in our sinfulness we relate most closely to the younger son). Yet to Jesus the elder son was important, for he represented many of those to whom He spoke. He wanted them to come to repentance too.

However, it is the younger son who dominates the first part of the parable, and he is therefore the one whom we have to consider first.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/luke-15.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

PARABLE THIRD.

The Prodigal Son—The knowing and wandering sinner.

11.And he said—This phrase may imply, by distinctly marking off the ensuing parable, that it was spoken at a different time from the two previous. We prefer to consider all three as occurring in parts of one discourse, though perhaps separated by intervening remarks which are not recorded. It is, we think, very probable that few or none of our Lord’s discourses are reported without some abridgement.

This has been called by some the pearl among parables; by others a gospel in the Gospel. And it is one of those passages, preserved by Luke alone, which seem to remind us that Luke was not a Jew but a Gentile.

A certain man—God the Father, as the woman impersonates the Holy Spirit, and the shepherd the blessed Son.

Two sons—Let the reader not forget what we have said, that these are Christ’s defences of his receiving publicans and sinners; or rather his rebuke of the Jewish hierarchy for not receiving them, while they murmured at his doing so. The two sons are, first, the scribe and his class; and, second, the publican or (Gentile) sinner, and his class. These may be so extended as to make the former the Jews and the latter the Gentiles. But this would, indeed, be an extended and not the simple primary meaning.

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/luke-15.html. 1874-1909.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 15:11. In the unrighteous mammon. In your use of it, i.e., ‘faithful in that which is least.’

Who will commit to your trust! Such unfaithfulness proves us unfaithful in much (Luke 15:10), according to the judgment of God, who will not therefore entrust us with the true riches. The word ‘riches’ is properly supplied in the translation, although the literal sense is ‘the true,’ that which is real, as opposed to the deceitful nature of earthly wealth.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/luke-15.html. 1879-90.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

A certain man had two sons. By the elder son is commonly expounded the Jewish people, who for a long time had been chosen to serve God; and by the younger son, the Gentiles, who for so many ages had run blindly on in their idolatry and vices. (Witham) --- Some understand this of the Jews and Gentiles, others of the just and sinners. The former opinion seems preferable. The elder son, brought up in his father's house, &c. represents the Jews; the younger prodigal is a figure of the Gentiles. (Calmet)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/luke-15.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

And He said. This parable is peculiar to this gospel. Seenote on Luke 15:8.

man (as in Luke 15:4). Here representing the Father (God).

two sons. See the Structure (V3, above).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "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

And he said, A certain man had two sons:

And he said, A certain man had two sons:

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/luke-15.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(11) And he said, A certain man had two sons.—We enter here on one of the parables which are not only peculiar to St. Luke’s Gospel, but have something of a different character, as giving more than those we find in the other Gospels, the incidents of a story of common daily life. As with the Good Samaritan, it seems open to us to believe that it rested on a substratum of facts that had actually occurred. It is obvious that in the then social state of Palestine, brought into contact as the Jews were with the great cities of the Roman empire, such a history as that here recorded must have been but too painfully familiar.

In the immediate application of the parable, the father is the great Father of the souls of men; the elder son represents the respectably religious Pharisees; the younger stands for the class of publicans and sinners. In its subsequent developments it applies to the two types of character which answers to these in any age or country. On a wider scale, but with a less close parallelism, the elder son may stand for Israel according to the flesh; the younger for the whole heathen world. Looking back to the genealogies of Genesis 5:10; Genesis 9:18, and even (according to the true construction of the words) Genesis 10:21, they correspond respectively to the descendants of Shem and those of Japheth. It is obvious from the whole structure of the parable that the elder son cannot represent the unfallen part of God’s creation; and, so far as it goes, this tells against that interpretation of the ninety and nine sheep, or the nine pieces of silver.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/luke-15.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And he said, A certain man had two sons:
Matthew 21:23-31
Reciprocal: 2 Samuel 12:1 - There were;  Jeremiah 35:16 - GeneralMatthew 21:28 - A certain;  Luke 15:25 - his

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-15.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

This parable is nothing else than a confirmation of the preceding doctrine. (520) In the first part is shown how readily God is disposed to pardon our sins, and in the second part (which we shall afterwards treat in the proper place) is shown the great malignity and obstinacy of those who murmur at his compassion. In the person of a young prodigal who, after having been reduced to the deepest poverty by luxury and extravagance, returns as a suppliant to his father, (521) to whom he had been disobedient and rebellious, Christ describes all sinners who, wearied of their folly, apply to the grace of God. To the kind father, (522) on the other hand, who not only pardons the crimes of his son, but of his own accord meets him when returning, he compares God, who is not satisfied with pardoning those who pray to him, but even advances to meet them with the compassion of a father. (523) Let us now examine the parable in detail.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:11". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/luke-15.html. 1840-57.