Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 15:14

Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.
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;   Destitution, Spiritual;   Emptiness-Fulness;   Home;   Moral Bankruptcy;   Pleasant Sunday Afternoons;   Poverty, Spiritual;   Poverty-Riches;   Prodigal Son;   Religion;   Son;   Spiritual;   Stories for Children;   Unsatisfied;   The Topic Concordance - Losing and Things Lost;   Salvation;   Seeking;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Parables;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Parable;   Swine;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Grace;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Christ, Christology;   Gospel;   Money;   CARM Theological Dictionary - Parable;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Harmony of the Gospels;   Imagery;   Jesus, Life and Ministry of;   Luke, Gospel of;   Parables;   Prodigal Son;   Repentance;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Love, Lover, Lovely, Beloved;   Parable;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Brotherhood (2);   Children of God;   Famine;   Famine (2);   Father, Fatherhood;   Gospel (2);   Impotence;   Justice (2);   Love (2);   Luke, Gospel According to;   Man (2);   Parable;   Redemption (2);   Religious Experience;   Repentance (2);   Righteous, Righteousness;   Yoke;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Famine;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Fare;  
Devotionals:
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for November 6;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

A mighty famine in that land - As he was of a profligate turn of mind himself, it is likely he sought out a place where riot and excess were the ruling characteristics of the inhabitants; and, as poverty is the sure consequence of prodigality, it is no wonder that famine preyed on the whole country.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 15:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/luke-15.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

A mighty famine - Famines were common in Eastern nations. They were caused by the failure of the crops - by a want of timely rains, a genial sun, or sometimes by the prevalence of the plague or of the pestilence, which swept off numbers of the inhabitants. In this case it is very naturally connected with the luxury, the indolence, and the dissipation of the people in that land,

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 15:14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/luke-15.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

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

This was the intrusion of the unexpected. Such things as wars, disasters, pestilence, and famine were far away from the prodigal's thoughts; but, alas, the unforeseen disaster laid him low and reduced him to want. The wisdom of the father which had seen the family through many similar perils was not in him, with the result of his being utterly unable to cope with the situation that came upon him.

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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 15:14". "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 when he had spent all,.... Sin strips a man of all that is good and valuable; of the image of God, of the knowledge of divine things, of natural holiness, of moral righteousness, and of strength to perform moral good; hence man is in a wretched and miserable condition, he is poor, and blind, and naked: and if man has spent all, and sin has stripped him of all, where is his free will? there is no good thing in man, but what comes from the grace of God; nor has he any thing to recommend him to God, or to offer to his creditor, to compound his debts with; nor can he prepare himself for conversion, or any good work:

there arose a mighty famine in that land; sin brings men into a starving and famishing condition; for in the far country, the land of sin, there is a famine of the word: though the Gospel is preached, it is only food to spiritual persons; unregenerate men have no desire to it, but neglect and despise it; and if they attend it, it has no place in them: they that are in this land, are aliens from the ordinances of God, the breasts of consolation, the goodness and fatness of his house; they are in a pit, wherein is no water; their taste is vitiated to every thing that is spiritually good; they live on bread of deceit, and labour after that which satisfies not; wherefore they look like skeletons, and are as the dry bones in Ezekiel's vision:

and he began to be in want; or was in want: when the above is the case, the sinner may be truly said to be in want; an unregenerate man is in want of every thing that is good; of wisdom and knowledge, of grace and holiness, of righteousness or clothing, of food, and of all the necessaries of life: and he may be said to "begin" to be in want, because man was not originally so, but was possessed of a natural fulness; and because sin is the beginning of want, as soon as one takes place, the other does: moreover, this man now began to see and feel himself to be in want, though as yet he was not rightly and truly sensible of his wants, at least of the way to redress them.

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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 15:14". "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

a mighty famine — a mysterious providence holding back the famine till he was in circumstances to feel it in all its rigor. Thus, like Jonah, whom the storm did not overtake till on the mighty deep at the mercy of the waves, does the sinner feel as if “the stars in their courses were fighting against” him (Judges 5:20).

in want — the first stage of his bitter experience, and preparation for a change.

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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 15:14". "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

When he had spent (δαπανησαντος αυτουdapanēsantos autou). Genitive absolute. The verb is here used in a bad sense as in James 4:3. See note on dapanē Luke 14:28.

He (δαπανηautos). Emphasis.

To be in want (hustereisthai). The verb is from αυτοςhusteros behind or later (comparative). We use “fall behind” (Vincent) of one in straitened circumstances. Plummer notes the coincidences of Providence. The very land was in a famine when the boy had spent all.

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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)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 15:14". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/luke-15.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Spent

See on cost, Luke 14:28.

In that land

Want is characteristic of the “far country.” The prodigal feels the evil of his environment. “He (with a shade of emphasis) began to be in want.”

To be in want ( ὑστερεῖσθαι )

From ὕστερος , behind. Compare our phrase of one in straitened circumstances, to fall behind.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 15:14". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/luke-15.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

He began to be in want — All his worldly pleasures failing, he grew conscious of his want of real good.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:14". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/luke-15.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in want1.

  1. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in want. Sooner or later sinful practices fail to satisfy, and the sense of famine and want mark the crises in our lives as they did in the life of the prodigal. The direst famine is that of the word of God (Jeremiah 2:13; Amos 8:11-13).

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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 15:14". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/luke-15.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 14. And when he had spent all] And left himself nothing at all, praeter coelum et coenum, but air to breathe in and earth to tread on, as that Roman prodigal boasted; who had made his own hands his executors, and his own eyes his overseers, drawing much of his patrimony through his throat, and spending the rest upon harlots, who left him as bare as crows do a dead carcase. Ruin follows riot at the heels.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/luke-15.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Luke 15:14

I. All may be lost by one transgression. The heart of this young man died away from his home. That home ceased to be sacred: the father was no longer paramount. Grace was gone. Prayer was given up. Good feelings faded, and now that temptation and combustible corruption came together, he was soon set on fire of hell.

II. In the figurative language of the parable, there arose in the far country a mighty famine. Extravagance soon brings the "noble to ninepence," and in the far country it is not far that ninepence will go. But there may be so mighty a famine and so great, that even the noble will not buy the loaf of bread. Of all the paths which at life's outset invite the inexperienced traveller, the surest to pierce through with many sorrows is the path of sensual indulgence.

J. Hamilton, Works, vol. ii., p. 313.


Reference: Luke 15:14.—J. Keble, Sermons from Lent to Passiontide, p. 419.


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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Luke 15:14". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/luke-15.html.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

14. λιμὸς ἰσχ.] On λιμός fem., see note on ref. Acts.

This famine is the shepherd seeking his stray sheep—the woman sweeping to find the lost. The famine, in the interpretation, is to be subjectively taken; he begins to be in want (no stress on αὐτός, which is inserted on account of the change of subject from the last clause),—to feel the emptiness of soul which precedes either utter abandonment or true penitence.

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Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 15:14". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/luke-15.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Luke 15:14. αὐτὸς ἤρξατο, himself began) He was not among the last [as one might have expected from the ample means which he had taken with him to the “far country”] to feel the pressure of the famine.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 15:14". 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 15:11"

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 15:14". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/luke-15.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

14.Spent all—In the original squandered all, just as he had previously (Luke 15:13)

gathered all. A mighty famine—The apostacy of man from God, of which this course of the son is an emblem, is the source of the evils which afflict human life, and the purpose of these evils is to bring the wanderer home first to himself and then to his father God.

Want—Happy for him that he was in want of what his father’s house could alone supply.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 15:14". "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 15:14. And when he had spent all. Probably very soon; the enjoyment of sin is brief. But it is not necessarily implied that all God’s gifts are wasted before repentance. The picture of ‘misery’ begins here; and the sense of destitution is emphasized.

A mighty famine. External circumstances hasten the consequences of sin, and are used by God to lead to repentance. Thus the Father seeks His son, by so ordering events that he shall feel his real condition: He began to be in want. This is the main point: conscious emptiness of soul must lead one way or the other; to despair or to repentance.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 15:14". "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 15:14. , a famine, an accident fitting into the moral history of the prodigal; not a violent supposition; such correspondences between the physical and moral worlds do occur, and there is a Providence in them.— : the most probable reading if only because is feminine only in Doric and late Greek usage.— : the result of wastefulness and prevalent dearth combined is dire want. What is to be done? Return home? Not yet; that the last shift.

 

 

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Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 15:14". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/luke-15.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

when he had spent = having spent. Greek. dapanao. Elsewhere only Mark 5:26. Acts 21:24. 2 Corinthians 12:15. James 4:3.

in = throughout. Greek. kata. App-104. Not the same word as in verses: Luke 15:4, Luke 15:7, Luke 15:25.

began to be in want. Contrast "began to be merry" (Luke 15:24).

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 15:14". "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 when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

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

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

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 15:14". "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

(14) There arose a mighty famine in that land.—This again was no unwonted incident. The famine which “came to pass in the days of Claudius Cæsar” (Acts 11:28) was more extensive and memorable than others, but it was far from standing alone. And now the pinch came. His treasure was gone, and for the fulness of bread there was hunger and “cleanness of teeth” (Amos 4:6). In the individual interpretation of the parable, the mighty famine is the yearning of the soul’s unsatisfied desire, the absence of its true food, of “the bread that cometh down from heaven.” (See Notes on John 6:32.) In its wider range it is the craving of humanity for what it cannot find when appetites are not satisfied, and their wonted supply ceases—the famine, not of bread and of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord (Amos 8:11); the want of a message from the Eternal Father to sustain the life of His children.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 15:14". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/luke-15.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
arose
2 Chronicles 33:11; Ezekiel 16:27; Hosea 2:9-14; Amos 8:9-12
Reciprocal: Psalm 107:12 - he brought;  Proverbs 18:9 - is brother;  Proverbs 21:20 - but;  Isaiah 57:17 - and he;  Hosea 2:6 - I will

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 15:14". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-15.html.