Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 15:20

So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   God Continued...;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Joy;   Kiss;   Penitent;   Prodigal Son;   Readings, Select;   Repentance;   Salvation;   Sin;   Young Men;   Thompson Chain Reference - Bible Stories for Children;   Children;   Family;   Fathers';   Home;   Love;   Parental;   Parents;   Paternal Love;   Penitence-Impenitence;   Pleasant Sunday Afternoons;   Prodigal Son;   Religion;   Returning to God;   Salutations;   Social Life;   Son;   Stories for Children;   The Topic Concordance - Losing and Things Lost;   Salvation;   Seeking;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Anger of God, the;   Compassion and Sympathy;   Mercy;   Mercy of God, the;   Parables;   Pardon;   Repentance;   Salutations;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Parable;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Grace;   Kiss;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Christ, Christology;   Compassion;   Gospel;   CARM Theological Dictionary - Parable;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Zacchaeus;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Compassion;   Harmony of the Gospels;   Imagery;   Jesus, Life and Ministry of;   Kiss;   Luke, Gospel of;   Mercy, Merciful;   Neck;   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;   Courtesy;   Death of Christ;   Father, Fatherhood;   Gospel (2);   Greetings;   Justice (2);   Kiss (2);   Love (2);   Luke, Gospel According to;   Man (2);   Neck;   Parable;   Personality;   Pity;   Pity Compassion;   Religious Experience;   Repentance (2);   Righteous, Righteousness;   Sympathy;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Abba;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Fly;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Salutations;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Children of God;   Gesture;   Grace;   Kiss;   Neck;   Salvation;  
Devotionals:
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for November 6;   Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for July 8;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

And kissed him - Or, kissed him again and again; the proper import of καταεφιλησεν αυτον . The father thus showed his great tenderness towards him, and his great affection for him.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/luke-15.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

He arose, and came - Was coming. But here is no indication of “haste.” He did not “run,” but came driven by his wants, and, as we may suppose, filled with shame, and even with some doubts whether his father would receive him.

A great way off - This is a beautiful description - the image of his father‘s happening to see him clad in rags, poor, and emaciated, and yet he recognized “his son,” and all the feelings of a father prompted him to go and embrace him.

Had compassion - Pitied him. Saw his condition - his poverty and his wretched appearance - and was moved with compassion and love.

And ran - This is opposed to the manner in which the son came. The beauty of the picture is greatly heightened by these circumstances. The son came slowly - the father “ran.” The love and joy of the old man were so great that he hastened to meet him and welcome him to his home.

Fell on his neck - Threw his arms around his neck and embraced him.

And kissed him - This was a sign at once of affection and reconciliation. This must at once have dissipated every doubt of the son about the willingness of his father to forgive and receive him. A kiss is a sign of affection, 1 Samuel 10:1; Genesis 29:13. This is evidently designed to denote the “readiness of God” to pity and pardon returning sinners. In this verse of inimitable beauty is contained the point of the parable, which was uttered by the Saviour to vindicate “his own conduct” in receiving sinners kindly. Who could “blame” this father for thus receiving his repenting son? Not even a Pharisee could blame him; and our Saviour thus showed them, so that “they” could not resist it, that “God” received returning sinners, and that it was right for “him” also to receive them and treat them with attention.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/luke-15.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And he arose, and came to his father. But while he was yet afar off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: I am no more worthy to be called thy son.

The inimitable Charles Hodge, distinguished preacher and author, has written a book on, "Will God Run?" giving the answer as "Yes! Yes! God will run! To save them who come unto him." The only one who came to meet the returning prodigal was his father.

God did not save him because he repented, nor because he walked all the way back home, but for one reason, and get this, people, He forgave him because he was his son! We are saved by grace, and don't you forget it![4]

ENDNOTE:

[4] Charles Hodge, Will God Run? (Dallas: Christian Publishing Company, 1965), p. 45.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "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 arose,.... This shows that his resolution to arise was not of nature, but of grace, by its being put into execution; for it was made and executed, not in his own strength, but in another's. He did not confer with flesh and blood; nor listen to discouragements which might present; as the distance of the way, the danger in it, the cold reception, if not rejection, he might expect from his father: but he arose immediately; he arose and stood upon his feet, in obedience to the heavenly call, being assisted by divine grace; he arose, and quitted the far country, the citizen, swine, and husks, and denied both sinful and righteous self;

and came to his father; his own father; "the father of himself", as in the Greek text, who was so before he came to him; a sense of which he had, and was what encouraged him the rather to go to him: and this coming to him denotes a progression towards him; for as yet he was not come to him, but was at some distance, as the next clause expresses; and means not so much attendance on ordinances, as some inward secret desires after God:

but when he was yet a great way off. This is not to be understood of his state of alienation from God, which is before signified by his being in a far country; but the distance he observed, as conscious of his vileness, and unworthiness; and the humility he expressed on a view of himself; and a sense he had of his need of divine grace: and which is grateful to God; he looks to such that are of an humble, and of a contrite spirit, and dwells among them, and gives more grace to them:

his father saw him; he saw him when in the far country, spending his substance with harlots, and in riotous living; he saw him when among the swine and husks; he saw him when he came to himself, and all the motions and determinations of his heart; he saw him in his progress towards him, and looked upon him with an eye of love, pity, and compassion, as it follows,

and had compassion: God is full of compassion, and pities him, as a father does his children; yea, as a woman's heart of compassion yearns after the son of her womb: he had compassion on him, and his heart of pity moved towards him, he being as one grieved in spirit for his sins, and wounded with a sense of them, and wanting a view of pardon, as starving and famishing, and as naked, and without clothing.

And ran; to him, which shows the quick notice God takes of the first motions of his own grace in the hearts of sensible sinners; the speedy relief he gives to distressed ones; and this points out his preventing grace and goodness.

And fell on his neck; expressive of the strength of his affection to him, Genesis 45:14 and of his great condescension and grace to fall on that neck which had been like an iron sinew, so stiff and rebellious; though now, through divine grace, was made flexible and pliable, and subject to him, and willing to bear the yoke, and to do whatever he would have him; and this was grateful to his father:

and kissed him; as a token of love; and as owning the relation he stood in to him; as a sign of reconciliation and friendship; and was an admission of him to great nearness to his person; and an application and manifestation of great love indeed to him; and a strong incentive of love in the son to him again; see 1 John 4:19.

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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 15:20". "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 great way off — Oh yes, when but the face is turned homeward, though as yet far, far away, our Father recognizes His own child in us, and bounds to meet us - not saying, Let him come to Me and sue for pardon first, but Himself taking the first step.

fell on his neck and kissed him — What! In all his filth? Yes. In all his rags? Yes. In all his haggard, shattered wretchedness? Yes. “Our Father who art in heaven,” is this Thy portraiture? It is even so (Jeremiah 31:20). And because it is so, I wonder not that such incomparable teaching hath made the world new.

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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.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "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

To his father (προς τον πατερα εαυτουpros ton patera heautou). Literally, to his own father. He acted at once on his decision.

Yet afar off (ετι αυτου μακραν απεχοντοςeti autou makran apechontos). Genitive absolute. ΜακρανMakran agrees with οδονhodon understood: While he was yet holding off a distant way. This shows that the father had been looking for him to come back and was even looking at this very moment as he came in sight.

Ran (δραμωνdramōn). Second aorist active participle of the defective verb τρεχωtrechō The eager look and longing of the father.

Kissed (κατεπιλησενkatephilēsen). Note perfective use of καταkata kissed him much, kissed him again and again. The verb occurs so in the older Greek.

sa120

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "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

His father

An affecting touch in the Greek: his own father.

Ran

Trench cites an Eastern proverb: “Who draws near to me (God) an inch, I will draw near to him an ell; and whoso walks to meet me, I will leap to meet him.”

Kissed

See on Matthew 26:49.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "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 he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

And he arose and came to his father — The moment he had resolved, he began to execute his resolution.

While he was yet a great way off, his father saw him — Returning, starved, naked.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/luke-15.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

And he arose, and came to his father1. But while he was yet afar off, his father saw him2, and was moved with compassion3, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him4.

  1. And he arose, and came to his father. Repentance is here pictured as a journey. It is more than a mere emotion or impulse.

  2. But while he was yet afar off, his father saw him. Being evidently on the lookout for him.

  3. And was moved with compassion. Seeing his ragged, pitiable condition.

  4. And ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. Giving him as warm a welcome as if he had been a model son.

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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 15:20". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/luke-15.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 20. When he was yet a great way off] Tantum velis et Deus tibi praeoccurret, You may be so will and God will run to you, saith a Father. The prodigal was but conceiving a purpose to return, and God met him, Isaiah 65:24.

And kissed him] One would have thought he should have kicked him, or have killed him rather, but God is Pater miserationum, father of mercy, he is all heart. The prodigal came, the father ran; God is slow to anger, swift to show mercy.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/luke-15.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Luke 15:20. When he was yet a great way off, But he keeping yet at a distance. When he came within sight of home, his nakedness, and the consciousness of his folly, made him ashamed togo in; he skulked about, therefore, keeping at a distance, till his father spied him, and shewed the most affecting paternal kindness towards him. But see on Luke 15:24.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/luke-15.html. 1801-1803.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

20.] What he has resolved, he does: a figure not of the usual, but of the proper course of such a state of mind.

μακρ. ἀπέχ.] Who can say whether this itself was not a seeking? whether his courage would have held out to the meeting?

On what follows, see especially Jeremiah 3:12; James 4:8; Genesis 46:29; 2 Samuel 14:33.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". 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 15:20. καἰ, and) No sooner said than done.— εἶδεν, saw) returning back, starving, naked. Comp. Luke 15:22.—[ καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη, and He had compassion (the bowels of His compassion yearned over him). This truly is a forgiveness, not even attended with the lowering (contraction) of the countenance in displeasure, or with a frown on the brow, Jeremiah 3:4; Jeremiah 3:12.—V. g.]— δραμὼν, running) out from His house. Comp. ἐξενέγκατε, Bring forth (viz. out of the house) the best robe, Luke 15:22. Parents, under ordinary circumstances, are not readily disposed to run to meet their children.— κατεφίλησεν, kissed him warmly) [How could a son have looked for a more gracious salutation, if even he had managed his property (and behaved) in the best way, when he was abroad?—V. g.]

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". 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 15:18"

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 15:20". 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

увидел его отец его Ясно, что отец ждал и надеялся на возвращение своего сына.

побежав Очевидны рвение отца и радость от возвращения сына. Это – изумительное качество Бога, которое выделяет Его из всех ложных богов, придуманных людьми и бесами. Он не безразличен и не враждебен, но по сущности является Спасителем, страстно желающим видеть покаяние грешников и радующимся, когда они каются. См. пояснения к 1Тим. 2:4; 4:10. От Быт. 3:8 до Отк. 22:17, от грехопадения до осуществления брачных отношений Христа с Невестой, Бог стремился и будет стремиться спасать грешников, каждый раз радуясь покаянию и обращению грешника.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/luke-15.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Ran and fell on his neck; this represents the readiness with which God receives returning sinners. To be saved, men must not only resolve, but they must return to God; taking all the blame and shame of their departure to themselves, and ascribing righteousness to him, they must surrender all their interests for time and eternity to his care, guidance, and disposal.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/luke-15.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

“And he arose, and came to his father. But while he was yet afar off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”

So he rose and came to his father. That was all that was needed, a turning of the back on the old life and a response to his father in order to beg forgiveness. For even while he was some good distance away his father saw him. He knew his son immediately in spite of his rags and his bare feet. And moved with compassion he ran, and flung his arms round him, dirty as he was, and kissed him (compare Acts 20:37). This was a sign of acceptance and forgiveness (2 Samuel 14:33; Genesis 45:14-15). It was his son. He could do no other.

By this Jesus was openly saying that when we turn from our old ways and seek Him, God is like this. He welcomes us with open arms just as we are, and takes us as His own.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/luke-15.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

20.He arose—What worth is a wish, or a purpose, without the volition and the act? He arose, for in this meditation he had been sitting, or even lying, on the ground; a picture of misery, an object of wrath, a despondent, shiftless son of despair.

He came—This is the approach of the son to God, even before his justification. It is right. As an approach it is acceptable to God, who has the feeling of mercy, and the purpose of pardon, in his heart; but that pardon has not yet reached the son, and is not yet consummated. Works conditional to justification, though they are performed by the man as unjustified and unregenerate, are conducive to salvation; are required and approved in their place by God; and do bring the sinner to that point at which he receives pardon and eternal life.

A great way off—Before he has reached the threshold of the Church of God. The movements of the father’s love are here depicted with great life, in order that the Pharisees, who hear this, may feel how they were opposed to the heart of God when they murmured at Christ’s receiving publicans and sinners. Luke 15:1-2.

Saw him—Descried and knew; knew him, as with a father’s eye, before the servants had recognized him.

Had compassion—The infinite heart of God is moved by man’s sincere repentance. Hence let no fatalism say that our prayer affects us, but not God. God is a living God, and deals with us differently, according as we deal with him. Note, also, that this father had a father’s heart, even when the son was a swineherd. He would have embraced him ever, but that he had gone over to the embraces of the harlots. The atonement was not made to soften the heart of God: it was given by God’s tender heart to remove the difficulty which inflexible justice placed in his way; preventing the performance of the merciful desires of his divine heart. But note, finally, that the tenderness of the father’s heart would not have saved the son from the dying of famine, a miserable swineherd, if he had not said, “I will arise and go to my father,” and done what he said. For him otherwise God had nothing but abandonment; and famines to send after him.

Ran—The old father is young in heart and so in limb. He does, in his affection, entirely outstrip his son’s young limbs in their shame and tardiness.

Fell on his neck—In the oriental style. See Genesis 35:14. The same urgent manner was customary among the Greeks in the times of Homer. It was a sign of reconciliation after enmity and offence.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/luke-15.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Since the father saw his son while he was still a great distance from his house, he had apparently been scanning the distant road daily hoping to see him. The father"s compassion reflects some knowledge of his son"s plight. Perhaps he had kept tabs on him since he left home. The father put feet to his feelings by running out to meet his Song of Solomon, even though it was undignified for an older man to run in Jesus" culture. Embracing and kissing him continually also expressed the father"s loving acceptance (cf. Genesis 45:14-15; Genesis 33:4; 2 Samuel 14:33; Acts 20:37). This attitude also contrasts with the elder brother"s attitude and the Pharisees" attitude. The father initiated the restoration of fellowship before the son could articulate his confession. The word translated "kissed" (Gr. katephilesen) may mean either "kissed many times" or "kissed tenderly." [Note: Morris, p242.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/luke-15.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 15:20. And he arose, etc. The action corresponds to the resolve, in the parable, but not always in reality. This is the last scene; the return.

A great way off. The father seems to have expected him; God certainly expects the penitent sinner.

His father saw him, etc. Graphic and true to nature. The father’s conduct is itself a seeking of the lost son. God is waiting to be gracious; He comes to meet us in His mercy; He manifests it before our penitent utterances.

And kissed him. The token and seal of love. ‘The Saviour and mediator is concealed in the kiss’ (Riggenbach).

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/luke-15.html. 1879-90.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Luke 15:20. And he arose and came to his father — Having taken the resolution of returning to his father, he put it immediately in execution; setting out just as he was, barefooted, and all in rags, and being obliged, doubtless, to beg his way. But did his father receive him? Was he welcome? Yes, heartily welcome. And, by the way, we have here an example, instructing parents, whose children have been foolish and disobedient, if they repent and submit themselves, not to be harsh and severe with them; but to be governed, in such a case, by the wisdom that is from above, which is gentle and easy to be entreated. Herein let them be followers of God, and merciful as he is. The passage, however, is chiefly designed to set forth the grace and mercy of God to poor sinners, that repent and return to him, and his readiness to forgive them. But when he was yet a great way off — Having only come within sight of home, and his nakedness, and the consciousness of his folly, probably, making him ashamed to proceed further, his father — Happening to be looking that way; saw him — Before any of the rest of his family were aware of the circumstance; and had compassion — εσπλαγχνισθη, his bowels yearned, to observe the wretched condition he was in; and immediately, as if he had forgotten the dignity of his own character, and all the injuries he had received, he ran to his child, and fell on his neck and kissed him. The son advanced diffidently and slowly, under a burden of shame and fear; but the father ran to meet him with his encouragements. This shows our heavenly Father’s desire of the conversion of sinners, and his readiness to meet them that are coming toward him. His eyes are on those that go astray from him, he is continually looking to see whether they will return to him, and marks and cherishes the first inclinations which they manifest so to do.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/luke-15.html. 1857.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

came to his father. Compare "came to himself" (Luke 15:17).

his = his own.

and. Note the Figure of speech Polysyndeton (App-6).

ran. Compare Isaiah 6:6, "Then flew". See note on Luke 15:21, and compare Isaiah 65:24.

kissed = fervently kissed. Same word as in Matthew 26:49.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "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 arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

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

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

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

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "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

(20) When he was yet a great way off.—In the story of the parable we must think of the wanderer as coming back weary, foot-sore, hungry, and in rags. In the interpretation, the state of the penitent is that of one who is poor in spirit, hungering and thirsting after righteousness (Matthew 5:3; Matthew 5:6), with knees that are feeble and hands that hang down (Hebrews 12:12), conscious of his nakedness and needing something else than the “filthy rags” of his own righteousness (Isaiah 64:6) to cover it. And he is yet “a great way off”—not as yet near the home of peace, the light of the Father’s countenance—but even there, there comes to him the joy of all joys, the love of the Father finds him, and he is conscious of the love. There is the contact of his soul with the Divine Presence which answers to the Father’s kiss.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/luke-15.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
But
Deuteronomy 30:2-4; Job 33:27,28; Psalms 86:5,15; 103:10-13; Isaiah 49:15; 55:6-9; Isaiah 57:18; Jeremiah 31:20; Ezekiel 16:6-8; Hosea 11:8; Micah 7:18,19; Acts 2:39; Ephesians 2:13,17
and fell
Genesis 33:4; 45:14; 46:29; Acts 20:37
Reciprocal: Genesis 21:16 - Let;  Genesis 45:15 - Moreover;  Judges 10:16 - his soul;  2 Samuel 14:33 - kissed Absalom;  Psalm 32:5 - forgavest;  Song of Solomon 1:2 - him;  Song of Solomon 6:12 - soul;  Isaiah 30:18 - wait;  Isaiah 57:15 - to revive the spirit;  Jeremiah 31:18 - surely;  Lamentations 3:32 - GeneralEzekiel 33:11 - I have;  Hosea 14:8 - I have;  Joel 2:18 - and pity;  Jonah 3:10 - God saw;  Mark 8:2 - compassion;  Luke 23:43 - To day;  John 1:38 - turned;  Philemon 1:12 - mine;  James 1:5 - and upbraideth

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-15.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

20.And while he was still afar off. This is the main point of the parable. If men, who are by nature prone to revenge, and too tenacious of their own rights, are moved by fatherly love kindly to forgive their children, and freely to bring them back, when they are sunk in wretchedness, God, whose boundless goodness exceeds all the affection of parents, (536) will not treat us more harshly. (537) And certainly nothing is here attributed to an earthly father which God does not promise with respect to himself. Before they call, says he, I will answer, (Isaiah 65:24.) That passage too of David is well known,

I said, I will acknowledge against me my unrighteousness to the Lord and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin,
(
Psalms 32:5.)

As this father, therefore, is not merely pacified by the entreaties of his son, but meets him when he is coming, and before he has heard a word, embraces him, filthy and ugly as he is, so God does not wait for a long prayer, but of his own free will meets the sinner as soon as he proposes to confess his fault.

It is wretched sophistry to infer from this, that the grace of God is not exhibited to sinners until they anticipate it by their repentance. “Here,” say they, “is held out to us a father ready to pardon, but it is after that his son has begun to return to him; and therefore God does not look, and does not bestow his grace, on any but those who begin to seek him.” It is, no doubt, true that, in order to his obtaining pardon, the sinner is required to have grief of conscience, and to be dissatisfied with himself; but it is wrong to infer from this, that repentance, which is the gift of God, is yielded by men from their own movement of their heart. And in this respect it would be improper to compare a mortal man to God; for it is not in the power of an earthly father to renew the stubborn heart of his son, as God changes hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. In short, the question here is not whether a man is converted by himself, and returns to him; but only under the figure of a man is commended the fatherly gentleness of God, and his readiness to grant forgiveness.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:20". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/luke-15.html. 1840-57.