Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 15:17

But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   Employee;   God Continued...;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Joy;   Penitent;   Prodigal Son;   Readings, Select;   Repentance;   Salvation;   Servant;   Sin;   Young Men;   Thompson Chain Reference - Bible Stories for Children;   Children;   Home;   Insanity;   Pleasant Sunday Afternoons;   Prodigal Son;   Religion;   Sanity, Spiritual;   Sin;   Son;   Stories for Children;   The Topic Concordance - Losing and Things Lost;   Salvation;   Seeking;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Afflictions Made Beneficial;   Parables;   Repentance;   Servants;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Parable;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Grace;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Christ, Christology;   Gospel;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Hospitality;   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 - Confession;   Conversion;   Love, Lover, Lovely, Beloved;   Parable;   Repentance;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Abounding;   Brotherhood (2);   Children of God;   Confession (of Sin);   Father, Fatherhood;   Gospel (2);   Hunger;   Individual;   Justice (2);   Love (2);   Luke, Gospel According to;   Man (2);   Parable;   Redemption (2);   Religious Experience;   Repentance (2);   Righteous, Righteousness;   Slave, Slavery (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Hireling, Hired Servant;   Servant;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Hunger;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Forgiveness;  
Devotionals:
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for November 6;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

When he came to himself - A state of sin is represented in the sacred writings as a course of folly and madness; and repentance is represented as a restoration to sound sense. See this fully explained on Matthew 3:2; (note).

I perish with hunger! - Or, I perish Here. Ὡδε, here, is added by BDL, Syriac, all the Arabic and Persic, Coptic, Ethiopic, Gothic, Saxon, Vulgate, all the Itala, and several of the fathers.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/luke-15.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

He came to himself - This is a very expressive phrase. It is commonly applied to one who has been “deranged,” and when he recovers we say he has “come to himself.” In this place it denotes that the folly of the young man was a kind of derangement - that he was insane. So it is of every sinner. Madness is in their hearts Ecclesiastes 9:3; they are estranged from God, and led, by the influence of evil passions, contrary to their better judgment and the decisions of a sound mind.

Hired servants - Those in a low condition of life - those who were not born to wealth, and who had no friends to provide for them.

I perish - I, who had property and a kind father, and who might have been provided for and happy.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/luke-15.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

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

The glory of this prodigal is that he told himself the truth. Instead of a false braggadocio by which he might have screwed up his courage to stick it out, he simply faced up to the facts of his hunger, loneliness, and hopelessness. The "life" which he no doubt expected when he left home had turned into "death" for 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 15:17". "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 came to himself,.... An unregenerate man, whether while a voluptuous man, or a self-righteous man, is not himself; he is beside himself; and is no other than a madman. The man that pursues his worldly lusts and pleasures, promises himself liberty, while he is a slave; he ruins himself, his soul, body, and estate, and chooses to do it rather than part with his lusts; he takes delight in doing mischief himself, and in seeing it done by others; he proclaims his folly publicly, declares his sin, and glories in it; all which a man in his right mind would never do. The self-righteous person trusts in his own heart, which is the greatest madness and folly in the world; he compasses himself about with sparks of his own kindling, and sacrifices to his own net; he dresses himself in his rags, and pleases and prides himself with them, when a robe of righteousness, and garments of salvation, are provided; which no man in his senses would ever do. But when the Spirit of God comes to work upon a sinner's heart in conversion, he brings him to himself; which a man may be said to be, when he is brought to true evangelical repentance for sin; and that is, when he has a true sense of it, as committed against God, and a godly sorrow for it, and makes an hearty and ingenuous acknowledgment of it, and forsakes it; and when he is brought to a sense of the insufficiency of his own righteousness, and is made willing to part with it, and desires to be found in Christ, and in his righteousness alone, which he is encouraged to lay hold on, and receive by faith, trust to, and rejoice in; when he has his spiritual senses exercised on Christ, and to discern between good and evil; and is brought to the feet of Jesus, as to submit to his righteousness, so to serve him; when he is all this, then, like the man in the Gospel, he is clothed, and in his right mind:

he said, how many hired servants of my father's; who, according to some, were the Scribes and Pharisees, men of a servile disposition, and of mercenary views; and were, by profession, the servants of God, and had plenty of bread, because they had all the external means and ordinances: but these are designed by the elder brother in the parable; and besides, this man had endeavoured to live as they did in this far country. It may be queried, whether the ministers of the Gospel are not intended, since these are the servants of the most high God; are labourers hired by him, and are worthy of their hire, and abound with Gospel provisions for the service of others. But to this it may be objected, the desire of this man to be made as one of them, Luke 15:19 which petition expresses his humility; whereas to be a servant, in this sense, is to have the highest place and office in his father's house. Rather therefore the meanest of the saints, and household of God, are here meant, who have the least degree of evangelical light, whose faith is weak, and their consolation small; and who, though they are sons, yet by reason of that legality and mercenariness that appear in their frames and services, differ little from servants: and yet these, in comparison of him, who was in a hungry and starving condition,

have bread enough, and to spare; as the doctrines, promises, and ordinances of the Gospel, the fulness of grace that is in Christ, and Christ himself the bread of life; which are more than enough for them, and sufficient for the whole family in heaven, and in earth; and even the meanest and weakest believer may be said to have enough and to spare, because he has an interest in all these; though by reason of the weakness of his faith, it is but now and then he has a full and comfortable meal; but this is infinitely better than to be starving, as this man was:

and I perish with hunger. The Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions add, "here"; in this far country, in the citizen's fields, among his swine, and their husks: all mankind are in a lost and perishing condition; for having sinned against God, they have exposed themselves to the curses of the law, and are destitute of a justifying righteousness, and are in the way, to ruin and destruction; but all are not sensible of it, being ignorant of God, and his righteousness, of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and of the insufficiency of their own righteousness; but some are sensible of it, and in their own apprehensions are ready to perish: these see sin in its true light, without a view of pardon; an angry God without a smile; injured justice without a righteousness; and a broken law without a satisfaction for the violation of it; and such was this man's case. The Jewish writersF1R. Chayim in Lib. Chayim, par. 4. c. 6. apud Maii Jud. Theolog. loc 15. p. 243. say,

"a sinner is like to a son that runs away from his father, and turns his back upon him, who yet afterwards repents, and has a mind to return to his father's house:'

so it was now with the publicans and sinners, signified by this man.

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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 15:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/luke-15.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(3) The beginning of repentance is the acknowledging of the mercy of God, which encourages us to hope expectantly.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/luke-15.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

came to himself — Before, he had been “beside himself” (Ecclesiastes 9:3), in what sense will presently appear.

How many hired, etc. — What a testimony to the nature of the home he had left! But did he not know all this ere he departed and every day of his voluntary exile? He did, and he did not. His heart being wholly estranged from home and steeped in selfish gratification, his father‘s house never came within the range of his vision, or but as another name for bondage and gloom. Now empty, desolate, withered, perishing, home, with all its peace, plenty, freedom, dignity, starts into view, fills all his visions as a warm and living reality, and breaks his heart.

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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 15:17". "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

But when he came to himself (εις εαυτον δε ελτωνeis heauton de elthōn). As if he had been far from himself as he was from home. As a matter of fact he had been away, out of his head, and now began to see things as they really were. Plato is quoted by Ackerman (Christian Element in Plato) as thinking of redemption as coming to oneself.

Hired servants (μιστιοιmisthioi). A late word from μιστοςmisthos (hire). In the N.T. only in this chapter. The use of “many” here suggests a wealthy and luxurious home.

Have bread enough and to spare (περισσευονται αρτωνperisseuontai artōn). Old verb from περισσοςperissos and that from περιperi (around). Present passive here, “are surrounded by loaves” like a flood.

I perish (εγω δε λιμωι ωδε απολλυμαιegō de limōi hōde apollumai). Every word here counts: While I on the other hand am here perishing with hunger. It is the linear present middle of απολλυμιapollumi Note εγωegō expressed and δεde of contrast.

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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 15:17". "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

Came to himself

A striking expression, putting the state of rebellion against God as a kind of madness. It is a wonderful stroke of art, to represent the beginning of repentance as the return of a sound consciousness. Ackermann (“Christian Element in Plato”) observes that Plato thinks of redemption as a coming to one's self; an apprehending of one's self as existent; as a severing of the inmost being from the surrounding element. Several passages of Plato are very suggestive on this point. “He who bids a man know himself, would have him know his soul” (“Alcibiades,” i., 130). “' To see her (the soul) as she really is, not as we now behold her, marred by communion with the body and other miseries, you should look upon her with the eye of reason, in her original purity, and then her beauty would be discovered, and in her image justice would be more clearly seen, and injustice, and all the things which we have described. Thus far we have spoken the truth concerning her as she appears at present; but we must remember also that we have seen her only in a condition which may be compared to that of the sea-god Glaucus, whose original image can hardly be discerned, because his natural members are broken off and crushed, and in many ways damaged by the waves; and incrustations have grown over them of sea-weed and shells and stones, so that he is liker to some sea-monster than to his natural form. And the soul is in a similar condition, disfigured by ten thousand ills: but not there, Glaucon, not there must we look.'

“'Where, then?'

“'At her love of wisdom. Let us see whom she affects, and what converse she seeks, in virtue of her near kindred with the immortal and eternal and divine; also, how different she would become, if wholly following this superior principle, and borne by a divine impulse out of the ocean in which she now is, and disengaged from the stones and shells and things of earth and rock, which, in wild variety, grow around her, because she feeds upon earth, and is crusted over by the good things of this life as they are termed. Then would you see her as she is'” (“Republic,” 611).

Have bread enough and to spare ( περισσεύονται ἄρτων )

Lit., abound in loaves. Wyc., plenty of loaves.

Perish

Better, I am perishing. The best texts insert ὧδε , here, in contrast with the father's house, suggested by the father's servants.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". "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 came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

And coming to himself — For till then he was beside himself, as all men are, so long as they are without God in the world.

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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 15:17". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/luke-15.html. 1765.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE PRODIGAL SON

‘He came to himself.’

Luke 15:17

I. Let us follow the sinner in his rebellion.—Mark that—

(a) Sin is vicious in principle.

(b) Sin is ruinous in operation.

(c) Sin is ever multiplying its destructive issues.

II. Let us watch the sinner in his repentance.—There are four elements of repentance here requiring analysis.

(a) Reflection. ‘And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare!’ Sin creates a sort of moral insanity. While spurred by appetite and in the race after indulgence, the mind is actuated by a species of frenzy. ‘I perish with hunger!’ There is the memory of a better past in that exclamation. This same recalling of bright hours bows the spirit into the dust.

(b) Resolution. ‘I will arise and go to my father.’ He no sooner discerns his hapless state than he determines to leave it. You are to imagine him prostrate, brooding in indecision or despair. But he will lie no longer in inaction. He protests, ‘I will arise,’ and he rises.

(c) Recognition of guilt. His resolution, while unenfeebled by hesitation, was not formed in insensibility to his evil. He sees most distinctly the relation of sin towards God and towards himself.

(d) Return to God. His was no empty vow.

II. Let us behold the sinner in his restoration.

(a) Notice God’s recognition of the earliest beginnings of penitence. ‘When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him.’ He had not seen his father, but ‘his father saw him.’ Unconsciously to the son, the love of the father has been drawing him all the way. If he had lost the image of his father from his memory he would never have attempted to return.

(b) Observe God’s welcome to the repenting.

(c) Now turn to behold how God lavishes His affection on the accepted penitent. The father is not going to treat his son as a ‘hired servant.’ God’s forgiveness must must be Godlike. God’s love is always greater in experience than in our most sanguine wishes and brightest hopes.

(d) Listen to God’s exhortation to His universe to share His joy. ‘Bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat and be merry.’ A feast betokens gladness among all nations. The occasion is great, and great is to be the exultation. ‘Let us eat and rejoice.’

The father does not ask his household to be glad and he himself remain only a spectator of the universal delight. It is ‘Let us eat and rejoice.’

It is God’s own joy that He would have His creatures share and proclaim.

—Archbishop Alexander.

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/luke-15.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 17. And when he came to himself] For till then he had been beside himself, and not his own worthy. Nebulo rascal (saith one) cometh of Nabal; fool of φαυλος: ανοια et ανομια are of near affinity. Evil is Hebrew for a fool, &c. Wickedness is called the "foolishness of madness," Ecclesiastes 7:25.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/luke-15.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Luke 15:17

There are two tests to which we have a right to submit every new religion. There are two questions which we have a right, and which it is our duty, to put to every one who claims to come to us as a teacher from God. And these two questions are: (1) "What have you to tell us concerning the nature of God?" and, (2) "What have you to tell us concerning the nature of man?" Now, of these tests it is clear which is the simplest and most easy to apply: obviously the second. We do know the nature of man, or think we do. Of the Divine nature we are necessarily and naturally in comparative ignorance. We do know something of human life, and of its circumstances; and, therefore, he who tells us that concerning man's nature which we know to be untrue has lost his claim upon our attention when he goes on to tell us something concerning God.

I. Consider, in the light of this test, as regards its theory of humanity, the religion of the Bible. There is a theory concerning man's nature and condition on which the whole of this book, and all it professes to teach us, is based. I bring this religion to the test of one admitted and notorious fact in the nature and condition of man, in order to see how it explains that fact, and how it proposes to deal with it. The fact is the admitted and notorious fact of the exceptional unhappiness of man. Our Lord, in this parable, confronts Himself with this fact, as every teacher of the Gospel, or good news, must do if he is to win the attention of men. The hero of this story, the prodigal son, is, as you see, a sufferer; but he is more than that, he is an exceptional sufferer. All the other creatures described in the parable—the lower servants of the father—have bread and to spare; he alone suffers hunger. And more than that, he is a strangely exceptional sufferer, for he who suffers is infinitely superior to those who are happy. All animals that we know of, save man, seem to be subject to this twofold law. Each animal has its instincts, its desires, its appetites, and in the climate or element in which it exists there are corresponding objects of gratification for those appetites and those desires. Man is pained from two different sources—one is the pain of satiety, and the other the pain of remorse. Give the man all the portion of goods that can fall to him, or that in his wildest dreams of covetousness or ambition he can desire for himself; when he has enjoyed these to the very full, and just because he has enjoyed them, there begins to be felt a famine in his enjoyment, and there does come the weariness of satiety into his heart and soul.

II. The Bible theory of man is this, that he is not his true self, that he is a creature not in his proper and true element. It tells us that it has been the curse and the disorganisation of the nature of man, that in the exercise of the strange and mysterious spiritual power—free will, he has wandered away from the Father's home, and claimed the selfish and solitary possession of the goods that the Father lavished upon him; it tells us that the origin of all human sin and sorrow has been this, that he has said, "Give me the portion of goods that faileth to me. The Bible tells us that misery is the result of this vain effort of man to do in this world of God without the God who made him; that all his misery, his weariness, is but the sublime discontent of the soul that was made to rest in its God, and cannot rest in anything less than God.

III. Our religion is a historical religion. It bases itself upon one life in the past, it is ever renewing and revealing itself in many lives ever since that life was lived on earth. It bases itself on one life, and that life was a perfect life, the life of one who, all through His existence, as far as we know it, was a life unstained by impurity, a life unvexed and unharassed by sensual or evil impulses, it was a life that was passed in entire and complete obedience to the will of the Father. The life that He lived, that perfect life of obedience—for which all its sorrow only came from without, and only came from the fact that all around Him were not like Him, equally obedient—that life, He tells us, He can supernaturally give to us, "I am come that ye might have life, and that ye might have it more abundantly."

Archbishop Magee, Oxford and Cambridge Journal, Dec. 2nd, 1880.

We take the text as something to remind us that we have fallen far, but not hopelessly; that, great as is our present depression beneath the condition which our race was created, so great may yet be our rise; and that the very end and purpose of all Christ's work and suffering in this world, was to bring us back to our better selves; to restore us to the holiness, happiness, and peace, which man lost when man fell. Let us remember that the human race was itself when it was at its best. Man was himself before he fell. We were created in God's image, and our fall brought us into a state of sin and misery.

I. As for sin, you know there is a double burden there. Two things go to make the burden of our sinfulness: original sin, and the countless actual sins we have done. Our first parents had no inherited burden of guilt. They started fair. We do not. They had not to bear that load which all of us have to bear; that load which crushes down so many of our race, and which many a one has hardly a hope of escaping. Now, what we need as regards all this is to be brought back to our better self; brought back to where human nature was before it fell; and Christ, in His great atoning work, does that. He puts His redeemed ones so effectually in that condition, that they can never leave it again. Not the unstable and speedily lost purity of the days in Eden; but an enduring, an irrefragable holiness, never to be lost more.

II. The Fall brought us also into an estate of misery. And we remember from childhood the sad but too true tale of the items that make up human misery. Looking back, we discern a day when it was different. Once man walked in communion with God, and was free and happy in that communion. In his unfallen state, Adam would not have known what any one meant who had spoken to him of the wrath and curse of God; and least of all would he have been able to understand, till sad experience taught him, what is meant by the pangs of an accusing conscience—what is meant by the burden of remorse. And now let us thankfully mark that the Redeemer takes away, even here, in part, and fully hereafter, each of these things that go to make the sum of the sorrow into which man came when he fell. The manifold ills and trials of life may still remain; but even in this world He lightens them, takes the worst sting from them; do but trust Him as we ought, and God will keep him in perfect peace "whose mind is stayed upon Himself," and even where these ills and cares are most heavily felt, the Holy Spirit makes them work together for the soul's true good.

A. K. H. B., Counsel and Comfort from a City Pulpit, p. 55.


The Hunger of the Soul.

The truth here expressed is this: that a life separated from God is a life of bitter hunger, or even of spiritual starvation.

I. Consider the true grounds of the fact stated; for as we discover how and for what reasons the life of sin must be a life of hunger, we shall see the more readily and clearly the force of those illustrations by which the fact is exhibited. The great principle that underlies the whole subject and all the facts pertaining to it is, that the soul is a creature that wants food, in order to its satisfaction, as truly as the body. No principle is more certain, and yet there is none so generally overlooked, or hidden from the sight of men. Our blessed Lord appears to have always the feeling that He has come down into a realm of hungry, famishing souls. You see this in the parable of the prodigal son, and that of the feast or supper. Hence, also, that very remarkable discourse in John vi., where He declares Himself as the living Bread that came down from heaven; that a man may eat thereof and not die. it is the grand endeavour of the Gospel to communicate God to men. They have undertaken to live without Him, and do not see that they are starving in the bitterness of their experiment. When Christ is received, He restores the consciousness of God, fills the soul with the Divine light, and sets it in that connection with God which is life—eternal life.

II. Consider the necessary hunger of a state of sin, and the tokens by which it is indicated. A hungry herd of animals, waiting the time of their feeding, do not show their hunger more convincingly, by their impatient cries and eager looks and motions, than the human race do theirs, in the works, and ways, and tempers of their selfish life. I can only point out a few of these demonstrations. (1) The common endeavour to make the body receive double, so as to satisfy both itself and the soul too, with its pleasures. Hence the drunkenness, and high feasting, and crimes of excess. Men are hungry everywhere, and they compel the body to make a swine's heaven for the comfort of the godlike soul. (2) Again, we see the hunger of sin by the immense number of drudges there are in the world. It makes little difference generally whether men are poor or rich. Some terrible hunger is upon them, and it drives them madly forward, through burdens, and sacrifices, and toils that would be rank oppression put upon a slave. (3) Notice, again, how many contrive in one way and another, to get, if possible, some food of content for the soul that has a finer and more fit quality than the swine's food with which they so often overtask the body—honour, power, admiration, flattery, society, literary accomplishments. The Spirit of God will sometimes show us, in an unwonted manner, the secret of these troubles, for He is the Interpreter of the soul's troubles. He comes to it whispering inwardly the awful secret of its pains—"Without God and without hope in the world." He bids the swineherd look up from his sensual object and works, and remember his home and his Father; tells him of a great supper prepared, and that all things are now ready, and bids him come. Conscious of that deep poverty he is in; conscious of that immortal being whose deep wants have been so long denied; he hears a gentle voice of love saying, "I am that Bread of life... I am the living Bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live."

H. Bushnell, The New Life, p. 32.


References: Luke 15:17.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii., No. 1000; J. Thain Davidson, ForewarnedForearmed, p. 247; J. Jacob, Church of England Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 63; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines of Sermons, p. 66; J. Keble, Sermons from Lent to Passiontide, p. 436; H. W. Beecher, Sermons, 3rd series, p. 473; W. Hay Aitken, Mission Sermons, vol. ii., p. 139; Ibid., 2nd series, p. 139. Luke 15:17-19.—J. Armstrong, Parochial Sermons, p. 220; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 85.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/luke-15.html.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

17. εἰς ἑαυτὸν ἐλθών] Similar expressions seem to occur in the Heb. Deuteronomy 30:1 (where Sy(97). renders “Redi in temetipsum;” but Gesen. understands an accus. “si revocabis ea”); 1 Kings 8:47; Isaiah 46:8. Before this, he was beside himself. The most dreadful torment of the lost, in fact that which constitutes their state of torment, will be this εἰς ἑαυτὸν ἐλθεῖν, when too late for repentance.

He now recalls the peace and plenty of his Father’s house.

μίσθιοι, for he now was a μίσθιος, but in how different a case!

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". 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 15:17. εἰς, to) The supply of foods that ministered to the scattering of his senses (which the French not inappropriately term se divertir, [the word diversion implying that one is thereby turned aside from self-inspection]) had now failed. The commencement of his return to himself is immediately linked to the height of his misery: it is by the latter that his mad recklessness in sin is cooled down, so that the man returns to himself, and presently after [also] to God. His repentance is his conversion.—[ ἐγὼ δὲ ὧδε, but I here) The word, ὧδε, after ἐγὼ δὲ, has the force of here, emphatically.—Not. Crit.]

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". 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

Every sinner is beside himself; his reason lackeys to his lust and passion, he is governed by appetite, and that rageth in him, while his understanding is blind, and cannot discern between good and evil; and when he hath in any measure discerned any thing, his will is stubborn, and chooseth the evil. Conversion is but the return of a soul to itself. The first thoughts of which conversion arise from a soul’s consideration, what a poor miserable creature it is, ready to perish for ever, while never a poor soul belonging to God, no, not the meanest servant in his family, wanteth any good thing that is necessary for him. These things increase in a soul thoughts of returning to his heavenly Father, through the operation of the Holy Spirit of God; for of ourselves we are not sufficient so much as to think one good thought.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 15:17". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/luke-15.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

Придя же в себя Т.е. образумившись. Когда его непрестанное согрешение привело его к банкротству и голоданию, он научился здраво думать. В этом положении у него появилась возможность получить спасение (см. пояснения к Мф. 5:3-6).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/luke-15.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Came to himself; came to have just views of things. Men must feel that they are lost, before they will be found; and unless they believe that away from God they will perish, they will never return to him. Nor, if they do believe this, will they ever return to him till they steadfastly resolve to do it.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/luke-15.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

“But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish here with hunger!’ ”

But while feeding and looking after the pigs he had plenty of time to think, and eventually he ‘woke up’. He ‘came to himself’. He recognised what a fool he had been, and what a fool he now was, and how he had sinned against his father, and against God. These latter were the marks of genuine repentance. And he also recognised how well off his father’s servants were compared with his own position. He had not only forfeited his sonship (in Jewish eyes he had forfeited it the moment that he began to use his inheritance recklessly and disobediently instead of for the family honour) but he had even fallen to a level below his father’s lowest servant. At least they were properly clothed and well fed, while he starved and was in rags.

What a difference there now was from the arrogant young man who had so loudly demanded his inheritance. Now he was humbled and willing to be a servant. There was a lesson here even for the disciples. For Jesus was constantly telling His own disciples that they must learn to desire to be servants (Luke 22:24-27). And it had all been brought about by adversity. The fire that Jesus had kindled (Luke 12:49) was working on his life.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/luke-15.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

17.Came to himself—For all this time he has been in an insanity or a dream. Would it were so; for then he would have been unfortunate or irresponsible. Had he but waked in the morning from a troubled dream, he would have smiled over his own imaginary miseries, and have gone down in a sweet morning innocence to meet his father’s kiss, from lips that spoke of love but not of forgiveness.

He said—The he who says this is the God-given reason, the secret conscience; long silent or unheard, now awakened by suffering, and speaking.

Hired servants—He thinks of hired servants because that has been so long his own condition. His father had, it seems, no slaves. The Greek word here is . See note on Luke 7:2. Commentators make a very needless difficulty of the explanations of this word hired servants in the true economy of grace. If it be true that all our salvation is of grace, it is equally true that the saved are rewarded according to their works. God pays man for his services. And this none the less from the fact that he provides for man all his power, and confers upon his works all their rewardable value. See note on Luke 19:16. We may note, first, That the hired servants in the father’s house, are the Church; second, they labor for him, and by him are rewarded with the true bread; third, they have no right, as from birth, in the house, and are only adopted members of the family. All these traits are plainly to be found in converted Gentiles; and thus here we have again the defence of our Lord for receiving sinners, that is, Gentiles, whose coming to him on the banks of the Jordan at these times had excited the murmurings of the scribes and Pharisees. (Luke 15:1-2.) Not only St. James but St. Paul in the right passage will say that men are justified by works. The son was a laborer as well as the hireling.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". "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 15:17. Came to himself. This implies that he had been beside himself before. A life of sin is in a certain sense irrational. The free will of the sinner is brought out, as it could not be in the two other parables. The seeking and saving, though necessary to make the prodigal come to himself, are kept in the back ground. The third scene now opens: the prodigal’s penitence. Notice, that the man came to himself more readily among the swine than among the harlots (Luke 15:30).

He said. As the result and evidence of his coming to himself. He regards matters in their true light. The facts of the case are considered; and he does not attempt to philosophize about his father’s mercy, etc., as alas too many sinners do, when seeming to repent.

How many hired servants.—These were the temporary laborers occupying the lowest place on the estate. The servants (Luke 15:22.) would include those more trusted and honored. He was himself now only a ‘hired servant.’

Of my father’s. His penitent thought is based on the feeling, lost while he was beside himself, that he still has a father. The sinner will thus reflect and repent only when he has some ground for this feeling. The true ground is to be found in Jesus Christ

Have bread enough, etc. These lowest servants have abundance, and I (a son still, though so unworthy) perish with hunger. The contrast is made at every point. God’s Providential care is alluded to in this part of the parable.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". "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 15:17. = either, realising the situation; or, coming to his true self, his sane mind (for the use of this phrase vide Kypke, Observ.). Perhaps both ideas are intended. He at last understood there was no hope for him there, and, reduced to despair, the human, the filial, the thought of home and father revived in the poor wretch.— : passive, with gen. of the thing; here only in N.T. = are provided to excess, have more given them than they can use.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/luke-15.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

came to himself. Compare "came to his father" (Luke 15:20).

to. Greek. eis. App-104.

have bread enough and to spare, or abound in food.

I perish = I (emph.) am perishing.

with hunger = from the famine. The texts add hode = here.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". "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 came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

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

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

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". "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

(17) And when he came to himself.—The phrase is wonderfully suggestive. The man’s guilt was, that he had been self-indulgent; but he had been living to a self which was not his true self. The first step in his repentance is to wake as out of an evil dream, and to be conscious of his better nature, and then there comes the memory of happier days which is as “Sorrow’s crown of sorrow.” The “hired servants” are obviously those who serve God, not in the spirit of filial love, but from the hope of a reward. Even in that lower form of duty they find what satisfies their wants. They have not the craving of unsatisfied desire which the son feels who has cast away his sonship. He envies them, and would fain be as they are.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/luke-15.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
when
8:35; 16:23; Psalms 73:20; Ecclesiastes 9:3; Jeremiah 31:19; Ezekiel 18:28; Acts 2:37; 16:29; Acts 16:30; 26:11-19; Ephesians 2:4,5; 5:14; Titus 3:4-6; James 1:16-18
How
18,19; Lamentations 1:7
Reciprocal: Deuteronomy 30:1 - thou shalt call;  1 Kings 8:47 - Yet if they;  2 Kings 7:4 - if they save us;  2 Chronicles 6:37 - Yet if;  Job 36:9 - he;  Psalm 32:5 - I said;  Psalm 50:22 - consider;  Psalm 73:28 - But;  Psalm 119:59 - thought;  Proverbs 21:29 - he directeth;  Proverbs 27:7 - to;  Ecclesiastes 7:14 - but;  Isaiah 29:24 - also;  Isaiah 46:8 - bring;  Jeremiah 8:6 - saying;  Ezekiel 18:14 - considereth;  Hosea 2:7 - I will;  Haggai 1:5 - thus;  Haggai 2:18 - Consider;  Matthew 21:29 - he repented;  Mark 14:72 - Peter;  Acts 12:11 - was come;  Romans 2:4 - goodness;  Romans 6:21 - whereof;  Romans 10:3 - submitted;  2 Corinthians 7:9 - I rejoice;  2 Timothy 1:7 - a sound;  2 Timothy 2:26 - recover

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-15.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

17.And when he came to himself. Here is described to us the way in which God invites men to repentance. If of their own accord they were wise, and became submissive, he would draw them more gently; but as they never stoop to obedience, till they have been subdued by the rod, he chastises them severely. Accordingly, to this young man, whom abundance (534) rendered fierce and rebellious, hunger proved to be the best teacher. Instructed by this example, let us not imagine that God deals cruelly with us, if at any time he visits us with heavy afflictions; for in this manner those who were obstinate and intoxicated with mirth are taught by him to be obedient. In short, all the miseries which we endure are a profitable invitation to repentance. (535) But as we are slow, we scarcely ever regain a sound mind, unless when we are forced by extreme distress; for until we are pressed by difficulties on every hand, and shut up to despair, the flesh always indulges in gaiety, or at least recoils. Hence we infer, that there is no reason to wonder, if the Lord often uses violent and even repeated strokes, in order to subdue our obstinacy, and, as the proverb runs, applies hard wedges to hard knots. It must also be observed, that the hope of bettering his condition, if he returned to his father, gave this young man courage to repent; for no severity of punishment will soften our depravity, or make us displeased with our sins, till we perceive some advantage. As this young man, therefore, is induced by confidence in his father’s kindness to seek reconciliation, so the beginning of our repentance must be an acknowledgment of the mercy of God to excite in us favorable hopes.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:17". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/luke-15.html. 1840-57.