Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 15:21

And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
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;   Repentance;   Salvation;   Sin;   Young Men;   Thompson Chain Reference - Bible Stories for Children;   Children;   Conviction of Sin;   Home;   Penitence-Impenitence;   Pleasant Sunday Afternoons;   Prodigal Son;   Religion;   Repentance;   Son;   Stories for Children;   The Topic Concordance - Losing and Things Lost;   Salvation;   Seeking;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Afflictions Made Beneficial;   Confession of Sin;   Parables;   Pardon;   Repentance;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Parable;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Grace;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Christ, Christology;   Gospel;   Kingdom of God;   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;   Love, Lover, Lovely, Beloved;   Parable;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Brotherhood (2);   Children of God;   Confession (of Sin);   Father, Fatherhood;   Gospel (2);   Heaven ;   Justice (2);   Love (2);   Luke, Gospel According to;   Man (2);   Parable;   Quotations (2);   Religious Experience;   Repentance (2);   Righteous, Righteousness;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Forgiveness;   Guilt;  
Devotionals:
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for November 6;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Bring forth the best robe - Bring out that chief garment, την στολην την πρωτην, the garment which was laid by, to be used only on birth-days or festival times. Such as that which Rebecca had laid by for Esau, and which she put on Jacob when she made him personate his brother. See the notes on Genesis 27:15.

Put a ring on his hand - Giving a ring was in ancient times a mark of honor and dignity. See Genesis 41:42; 1 Kings 21:8; Esther 8:2; Daniel 6:17; James 2:2.

Shoes on his feet - Formerly those who were captivated had their shoes taken off, Isaiah 20:1; and when they were restored to liberty their shoes were restored. See 2 Chronicles 28:15. In Bengal, shoes of a superior quality make one of the distinguishing parts of a person's dress. Some of them cost as much as a hundred rupees a pair; £10 or £12. Reference is perhaps made here to some such costly shoes. It is the same among the Chinese: some very costly shoes and boots of that people are now before me.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/luke-15.html. 1832.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Bring forth the best robe - Bring out that chief garment, την στολην την πρωτην, the garment which was laid by, to be used only on birth-days or festival times. Such as that which Rebecca had laid by for Esau, and which she put on Jacob when she made him personate his brother. See the notes on Genesis 27:15.

Put a ring on his hand - Giving a ring was in ancient times a mark of honor and dignity. See Genesis 41:42; 1 Kings 21:8; Esther 8:2; Daniel 6:17; James 2:2.

Shoes on his feet - Formerly those who were captivated had their shoes taken off, Isaiah 20:1; and when they were restored to liberty their shoes were restored. See 2 Chronicles 28:15. In Bengal, shoes of a superior quality make one of the distinguishing parts of a person's dress. Some of them cost as much as a hundred rupees a pair; £10 or £12. Reference is perhaps made here to some such costly shoes. It is the same among the Chinese: some very costly shoes and boots of that people are now before me.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/luke-15.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the son said unto him, father,.... Or "my father", as the Syriac version reads; and the Persic version adds, "pardon me": sin lay heavy on him, and he wanted a view and application of pardoning grace, though he seems to be prevented making this request by the kiss he received from his father:

I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight; this is what he determined to say, and was allowed to say, having a deep sense of his sin and vileness, and which was increased by the love and kindness his father had shown him. The phrase is Jewish; See Gill on Luke 15:18 to which may be added, what is elsewhere saidF3T. Hieros Peah, fol. 16. 1. ,

"what is the sense of that passage, Psalm 12:4 "who have said, with our tongues we will prevail?" &c. it designs all the transgressions a man sins against earth; and if חוטאין בשמים, "they sin against heaven", and earth; what is the sense of that in Psalm 73:9 ?'

and am no more worthy to be called thy son: so much he was suffered to say, which fully expresses his sense of his vileness and unworthiness: but he was not allowed to say, "make me as one of thy hired servants"; because this could not be granted; for a son is always a son, and cannot become a servant; see Galatians 4:6.

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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 15:21". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/luke-15.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

4 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

(4) In true repentance there is a consciousness of our sins, joined with sorrow and shame, and from this springs a confession, after which follows forgiveness.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/luke-15.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Father, I have sinned, etc. — “This confession is uttered after the kiss of reconciliation” (Ezekiel 16:63) [Trench].

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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 15:21". "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

The son made his speech of confession as planned, but it is not certain that he was able to finish as a number of early manuscripts do not have “Make me as one of the hired servants,” though Aleph B D do have them. It is probable that the father interrupted him at this point before he could finish.

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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 15:21". "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

To be called thy son

He omits make me a servant. The slavish spirit vanishes in the clasp of the father's arms. Bengel suggests that the father would not suffer him to utter the news. I once heard Norman McLeod say in a sermon, “Before the prodigal son reached his home he thought over what he should do to merit restoration. He would be a hired servant. But when his father came out and met him, and put his arms round him, and the poor boy was beginning to say this and that, the just shut his mouth, and said, 'I take you to my heart, and that's enough.'”

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". "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.

The Fourfold Gospel

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 son1.

  1. Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: I am no more worthy to be called thy son. The son shows a manly spirit in adhering to his purpose to make a confession, notwithstanding the warmth of his father's welcome; in grieving for what he had done, and not for what he had lost; and in blaming no one but himself.

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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.
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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/luke-15.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Scofield's Reference Notes

sinned Sin.

(See Scofield "Romans 3:23").

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Luke 15:21". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/luke-15.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

Ver. 21. Father, I have sinned] Confess, and the mends is made. Homo agnoscit, Deus ignoscit. Acknowledge but the debt, and he will cross the book.

And am no more worthy, &c.] Infernus sum, Domine, said that holy martyr, Mr Hooper, at his death. Lord, I am hell, but thou art heaven I am soil, and a sink of sin, but thou a gracious God.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/luke-15.html. 1865-1868.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

21.] The intended close of his confession is not uttered;—there is no abatement of his penitence, for all his Father’s touching and reassuring kindness,—but his filial confidence is sufficiently awakened to prevent the request, that he might be as an hired servant.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". 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 15:21. εἶπε, said) The son did not abuse his Father’s graciousness, so as to prevent his proceeding to say what he had intended. Serious and earnest repentance does not satisfy itself with merely one thought unattended with cost or trouble.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". 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

Now the good thoughts and resolutions of the sinner ripen into action, and the first of it is an expression of his convictions and humiliation by a humble confession of his sins, with their aggravations, as committed against God, and that in the sight of God, and this God his Father, his unworthiness so much as of the name of a son to such a Father. The petitionary part of what he resolved upon, Luke 15:19, is not here again repeated, but to be understood. Men may by the common grace of God, denied to no man, have some good thoughts, but they die away, and come to no maturity, unless the Holy Spirit of God breathes upon them, and maintains and upholdeth them in the soul; but where the Lord designs a thorough change in a soul, the Spirit of the Lord comes, and convinceth the soul of sin and of righteousness: and where he doth so, the resolution ripens into action, and produces in the soul a true and hearty contrition, and confession of its sin, with humble petitions and a resignation of itself to the Lord’s will, and a casting of itself upon God’s free grace and mercy.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 15:21". 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

Обратите внимание, что не закончил еще сын свои отрепетированные слова покаяния, как отец прервал его, чтобы даровать прощение. Это характеризует Божье стремление прощать.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/luke-15.html.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

“And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight, I am no more worthy to be called your son.’ ”

No doubt very moved the son began to explain why he had come. He acknowledged that he had sinned against both God and his father, and that in such a way that he could not expect to be received as a son. That much he had to say in the parable lest the impression be gained that his sin did not matter. But not more, in order to demonstrate the father’s unconditional love.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/luke-15.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

21.The son said—He attempts to repeat the confession he had meditated; but before he is through, his father’s love smothers his words. So does God hasten to bless the earnest prayer of the heart, before the utterance of the lips.

No more worthy to be called thy son—Very properly does he take the place of a hired servant, for he has forfeited his sonship. And every one of the hired servants in the house has a sonship in the background. If this parable were to be acted over again and again, as a drama, or a tableau, each one of the hired servants of the house would have the right in turn to act the part of the original son, wandering and becoming alien, returning and becoming son. They are the hired servants only for the present enactment of the drama. They are all impersonated by this son, and are exalted in his exaltation.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". "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 15:21. Father, etc. The purposed confession is made, but the conclusion is omitted. ‘The terms are the same, “I have sinned”; but how different is the accent! Luther felt it profoundly: the discovery of the difference between the repentance of fear and that of love was the true principle of the Reformation’ (Godet).

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". "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 15:21. The son repeats his premeditated speech, with or without the last clause; probably with it, as part of a well-conned lesson, repeated half mechanically, yet not insincerely—as if to say: I don’t deserve this, I came expecting at most a hireling’s treatment in food and otherwise, I should be ashamed to be anything higher.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/luke-15.html. 1897-1910.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Luke 15:21. And the son said — The perturbation which the aged parent was in, with ecstasy of joy, hindered him from speaking; so the poor, ragged, meager creature, locked in his arms, began and made his acknowledgments with a tone of voice expressive of the deepest contrition. Father, I have sinned against heaven, &c. — As it commends the good father’s kindness, that he showed it before the prodigal expressed his repentance; so it commends the prodigal’s repentance, that he expressed it after his father had showed him so much love. When he had received the kiss, which sealed his pardon, yet he said, in a spirit of deep contrition, Father, I have sinned. Observe, reader, even those who have received the pardon of their sins, and the comfortable sense of their pardon, yet must have in their hearts a sincere sorrow for them, and with their mouths must make a penitent confession of them, even for those sins which they have reason to hope are pardoned. David wrote the fifty-first Psalm after Nathan had said, The Lord hath taken away thy sin: thou shalt not die. Nay, a comfortable sense of the pardon of sin should increase our sorrow for it; and that is ingenuous, evangelical sorrow, which is increased by such a consideration. Thus Ezekiel 16:61; Ezekiel 16:63, Thou shalt be ashamed and confounded when I am pacified toward thee. The more we see of God’s readiness to forgive us, the more difficult it should be to us to forgive ourselves. The son was going on with his confession and submission, but the father, grieved to see him in that miserable plight, interrupted him, and prevented his proceeding, by ordering his servants, some to bring out the best robe immediately, and a ring and shoes, that he might be clothed in a manner becoming his son; and others, to go and kill a fatted calf, that they might eat and rejoice, and all this without one word of rebuke. This kind treatment was far beyond what the prodigal did or could expect: he came home between hope and fear, fear of being rejected, and hope of being received; but his father was not only better to him than his fears, but better to him than his hopes; not only received him, but received him with respect. He came home in rags, and his father not only clothed but adorned him, putting on him, την στολην την πρωτην, the first, best, or principal robe, the garment laid by, and used only on festival occasions; and a ring on his hand — As a further token of his welcome reception into the family, and of his father’s love and regard. He returned barefoot, and with feet doubtless sore with travelling; but his father provided him with proper shoes, to render him easy and comfortable. He came faint and hungry; and his father not only fed but feasted him, and that with the best provision he had. Thus, for true penitents, who return to their duty, and cast themselves upon the divine mercy in Christ, God doth exceedingly above what they could have dared to ask or think. He clothes them when naked with the robe of righteousness, the garment of salvation, justifies their persons through faith in him who is the Lord their righteousness, and regenerates and sanctifies their nature by his saving grace, restoring them to his blessed image and likeness. And, as a token of their adoption into his family, sends into their hearts the Spirit of his Son, crying, Abba, Father, and sealing them to the day of redemption, signified by the ring put on the prodigal’s hand. Their feet also are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, that they may proceed forward with ease and comfort through the journey of life, however rough the road may be in which they have to travel: in other words, through faith in the gospel, and its encouraging declarations and promises, they obtain that peace and tranquillity of mind, that resignation, patience, and contentment, which enables them to persevere in the way of duty, whatever trials they may meet with therein: and they are fed with the bread of life, nay, feasted with the rich and abundant consolations of the gospel: while the whole family of God rejoices at their return to their heavenly Father’s house. Thus the father of the prodigal exhorts, Let us eat and be merry — Greek, και φαγοντες ευφρανθωμεν, eating, let us rejoice, or be cheerful. The English word, merry, both here and wherever else it occurs, whether in the Old or New Testament, implies nothing of levity, but a solid, serious, religious, heart-felt joy: indeed, this was the ordinary meaning of the word two hundred years ago, when our translation was made.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/luke-15.html. 1857.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

I have sinned = I sinned. Confession of sin is the necessary condition for receiving the blessing. Compare 2 Samuel 12:13. Psalms 32:5. Isaiah 6:5, Isaiah 6:6. Isaiah 5:8, &c. And so with Israel (Leviticus 26:40-42. Isaiah 64:6, Isaiah 64:7. Hosea 5:15; Hosea 14:1, Hosea 14:2).

in thy sight. Same Greek words as "before thee" in Luke 15:18.

son. Note the Figure of speech Aposiopesis (App-6), for he did not finish what he meant to have said.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". "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 the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. This humiliating confession he might have spared, if his object had been mere re-admission to the advantages of the parental roof. But the case depicted is one in which such heartless selfishness has no place, and in which such a thought would be abhorred. No, this confession was uttered, as Trench well remarks, after the kiss of reconciliation.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". "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

(21) Father, I have sinned against heaven.—The iteration of the self-same words comes to us with a wonderful power and pathos. The contrite soul does not play with its contrition, or seek to vary its expression. But the change is as suggestive as the repetition. Now that he has seen his father, he cannot bring himself to say again, “Make me as one of thy hired servants.” That had been a natural and right wish before; it would savour of unreality and hypocrisy now. This also has its analogue in the history of true penitents. In the first stirrings of contrition they stand afar off, and as they confess their sins hardly dare to hope for restoration to the blessedness of sons; but when they have felt the Father’s kiss, though still confessing that they are unworthy to be called sons, they cannot be satisfied with anything less than sonship.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/luke-15.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
Father
18,19; Jeremiah 3:13; Ezekiel 16:63; Romans 2:4
against
Psalms 51:4; 143:2; 1 Corinthians 8:12
Reciprocal: 2 Samuel 12:13 - I have sinned;  Ezra 9:6 - grown up;  Psalm 32:5 - I said;  Psalm 51:17 - thou;  Psalm 103:13 - Like;  Daniel 4:26 - the heavens;  Daniel 9:15 - we have sinned;  Hosea 14:2 - receive;  Zechariah 1:3 - and;  Matthew 6:9 - Our;  Matthew 8:8 - I am

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-15.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

21.Father, I have sinned against heaven. Here is pointed out another branch of repentance, namely, such a conviction of sin as is accompanied by grief and shame. For he who is not grieved for having sinned, and whose offense is not placed before his eyes, will sooner attempt any thing than think of returning to the path of duty. Displeasure with sin must therefore go before repentance. And there is great emphasis in this expression, that the young man is said to have come to himself, as one whom the wanderings of wild desires had hurried away into forgetfulness of himself. And certainly so far astray are the impulses of the flesh, that any one who gives himself up to them may be said to have gone out of himself, and to have lost his senses. For this reason transgressors are commanded to return to the heart, (538) (Isaiah 46:8.) Next follows a confession, (539) not such a one as the Pope has contrived, but one by which the son appeases his offended father; for this humility is absolutely necessary in order to obtain forgiveness of sins. This mode of expression, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, is of the same import as if he had said, that God was offended in the person of an earthly father. And certainly this is the dictate of nature, that every one who rebels against a father rises wickedly also against God, who has placed children in subjection to parents.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:21". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/luke-15.html. 1840-57.