Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 15:32

But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.'"
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Heaven;   Jealousy;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Joy;   Penitent;   Prodigal Son;   Readings, Select;   Salvation;   Self-Righteousness;   Young Men;   Thompson Chain Reference - Dead;   Life-Death;   Prodigal Son;   Sin;   Son;   The Topic Concordance - Losing and Things Lost;   Salvation;   Seeking;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Conversion;   Parables;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Parable;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Grace;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Christ, Christology;   Ethics;   Gospel;   Life;   CARM Theological Dictionary - Parable;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Harmony of the Gospels;   Imagery;   Jesus, Life and Ministry of;   Luke, Gospel of;   Parables;   Prodigal Son;   Repentance;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Love, Lover, Lovely, Beloved;   Parable;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Brotherhood (2);   Candlestick;   Children of God;   Complacency;   Debt, Debtor (2);   Father, Fatherhood;   Gospel (2);   Justice (2);   Life ;   Love (2);   Luke, Gospel According to;   Man (2);   Parable;   Personality;   Regeneration (2);   Religious Experience;   Reward (2);   Righteous, Righteousness;   Salvation;   Sanctify, Sanctification;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Meet, to Be;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Alive;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Death;   Fare;   Joy;   Meet;   Perdition;  
Devotionals:
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for November 6;   Today's Word from Skip Moen - Devotion for June 13;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

This thy brother - Or, This brother of Thine. To awaken this ill-natured, angry, inhumane man to a proper sense of his duty, both to his parent and brother, this amiable father returns him his own unkind words, but in a widely different spirit. This son of mine to whom I show mercy is Thy brother, to whom thou shouldst show bowels of tenderness and affection; especially as he is no longer the person he was: he was dead in sin - he is quickened by the power of God: he was lost to thee, to me, to himself, and to our God; but now he is found: and he will be a comfort to me, a help to thee, and a standing proof, to the honor of the Most High, that God receiveth sinners. This, as well as the two preceding parables, was designed to vindicate the conduct of our blessed Lord in receiving tax-gatherers and heathens; and as the Jews, to whom it was addressed, could not but approve of the conduct of this benevolent father, and reprobate that of his elder son, so they could not but justify the conduct of Christ towards those outcasts of men, and, at least in the silence of their hearts, pass sentence of condemnation upon themselves. For the sublime, the beautiful, the pathetic, and the instructive, the history of Joseph in the Old Testament, and the parable of the prodigal son in the New, have no parallels either in sacred or profane history.

The following reflections, taken chiefly from pious Quesnel, cannot fail making this incomparable parable still more instructive.

Three points may be considered here: I. The degrees of his fall. II. The degrees of his restoration; and, III. The consequences of his conversion.

    I. The prodigal son is the emblem of a sinner who refuses to depend on and be governed by the Lord. How dangerous is it for us to desire to be at our own disposal, to live in a state of independency, and to be our own governors! God cannot give to wretched man a greater proof of his wrath than to abandon him to the corruption of his own heart.

Not many days, etc., Luke 15:13. The misery of a sinner has its degrees; and he soon arrives, step by step, at the highest pitch of his wretchedness.

The first degree of his misery is, that he loses sight of God, and removes at a distance from him. There is a boundless distance between the love of God, and impure self-love; and yet, strange to tell, we pass in a moment from the one to the other!

The second degree of a sinner's misery is, that the love of God being no longer retained in the heart, carnal love and impure desires necessarily enter in, reign there, and corrupt all his actions.

The third degree is, that he squanders away all spiritual riches, and wastes the substance of his gracious Father in riot and debauch.

When he had spent all, etc., Luke 15:14. The fourth degree of an apostate sinner's misery is, that having forsaken God, and lost his grace and love, he can now find nothing but poverty, misery, and want. How empty is that soul which God does not fill! What a famine is there in that heart which is no longer nourished by the bread of life!

In this state, he joined himself - εκολληθη, he cemented, closely united himself, and fervently cleaved to a citizen of that country, Luke 15:15.

The fifth degree of a sinner's misery is, that he renders himself a slave to the devil, is made partaker of his nature, and incorporated into the infernal family. The farther a sinner goes from God, the nearer he comes to eternal ruin.

The sixth degree of his misery is, that he soon finds by experience the hardship and rigour of his slavery. There is no master so cruel as the devil; no yoke so heavy as that of sin; and no slavery so mean and vile as for a man to be the drudge of his own carnal, shameful, and brutish passions.

The seventh degree of a sinner's misery is, that he has an insatiable hunger and thirst after happiness; and as this can be had only in God, and he seeks it in the creature, his misery must be extreme. He desired to fill his belly with the husks, Luke 15:16. The pleasures of sense and appetite are the pleasures of swine, and to such creatures is he resembled who has frequent recourse to them, 2 Peter 2:22.

    II. Let us observe, in the next place, the several degrees of a sinner's conversion and salvation.

The first is, he begins to know and feel his misery, the guilt of his conscience, and the corruption of his heart. He comes to himself, because the Spirit of God first comes to him, Luke 15:17.

The second is, that he resolves to forsake sin and all the occasions of it; and firmly purposes in his soul to return immediately to his God. I will arise, etc., Luke 15:18.

The third is, when, under the influence of the spirit of faith, he is enabled to look towards God as a compassionate and tender-hearted father. I will arise and go to my father.

The fourth is, when he makes confession of his sin, and feels himself utterly unworthy of all God's favors, Luke 15:19.

The fifth is, when he comes in the spirit of obedience, determined through grace to submit to the authority of God; and to take his word for the rule of all his actions, and his Spirit for the guide of all his affections and desires.

The sixth is, his putting his holy resolutions into practice without delay; using the light and power already mercifully restored to him, and seeking God in his appointed ways. And he arose and came, etc., Luke 15:20.

The seventh is, God tenderly receives him with the kiss of peace and love, blots out all his sins, and restores him to, and reinstates him in, the heavenly family. His father - fell on his neck, and kissed him, Luke 15:20.

The eighth is, his being clothed with holiness, united to God, married as it were to Christ Jesus, 2 Corinthians 11:2, and having his feet shod with the shoes of the preparation of the Gospel of peace, Ephesians 6:15, so that he may run the ways of God's commandments with alacrity and joy. Bring the best robe - put a ring - and shoes, etc., Luke 15:22.

    III. The consequences of the sinner's restoration to the favor and image of God are,

First, the sacrifice of thanksgiving is offered to God in his behalf; he enters into a covenant with his Maker, and feasts on the fatness of the house of the Most High.

Secondly, The whole heavenly family are called upon to share in the general joy; the Church above and the Church below both triumph; for there is joy (peculiar joy) in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. See Luke 15:10.

Thirdly, God publicly acknowledges him for his son, not only by enabling him to abstain from every appearance of evil, but to walk before him in newness of life, Luke 15:24. The tender-hearted father repeats these words at Luke 15:32, to show more particularly that the soul is dead when separated from God; and that it can only be said to be alive when united to him through the Son of his love. A Christian's sin is a brother's death; and in proportion to our concern for this will our joy be at his restoration to spiritual life. Let us have a brotherly heart towards our brethren, as God has that of a father towards his children, and seems to be afflicted at their loss, and to rejoice at their being found again, as if they were necessary to his happiness.

In this parable, the younger profligate son may represent the Gentile world; and the elder son, who so long served his father, Luke 15:20, the Jewish people. The anger of the elder son explains itself at once - it means the indignation evidenced by the Jews at the Gentiles being received into the favor of God, and made, with them, fellow heirs of the kingdom of heaven.

It may also be remarked, that those who were since called Jews and Gentiles, were at first one family, and children of the same father: that the descendants of Ham and Japhet, from whom the principal part of the Gentile world was formed, were, in their progenitors, of the primitive great family, but had afterwards fallen off from the true religion: and that the parable of the prodigal son may well represent the conversion of the Gentile world, in order that, in the fullness of time, both Jews and Gentiles may become one fold, under one Shepherd and Bishop of all souls.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 15:32". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/luke-15.html. 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

But it was meet to make merry and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again, and was lost, and is found.

Thy brother ... In these words, the father brought the elder son back to the basic fact of his oneness with his brother, a unity denied by the contemptuous "thy son" (Luke 15:30), as the elder brother called him. All men are inherently sinful and unworthy of God's blessings; and there is no greater sin than the self-righteousness which denies such a truth.

This marvelous story teaches eternal truth, including: (1) the fact that God is willing to forgive prodigals and self-righteous bigots alike, provided that they will receive his mercies and enter the feast of the kingdom. (2) It is easier to confess to God than to many a man. (3) The great joys of God's kingdom are those of new life in those once dead to sin, and the finding of that which was lost.

Barclay made two observations from this parable which are worthy to be remembered. He said:

It should never have been called the parable of the prodigal son, for the son is not the hero ... It should be called the parable of the loving father, for it tells us rather about a Father's love than a son's sin.[7]

The other comment regards the nature of men.

"When he came to himself ..." Jesus believed that so long as a man was away from God, and against God, he was not truly himself; he was only truly himself when he was on the way home.[8]

The authenticity of this chapter is proclaimed inherently within it. God's love for the lost, from whatever cause, the Father's concern in sending his Son to save men, and the episode of the Father's entreaty of the elder son, terminated while the entreaty was still in progress, together with philosophical and theological overtones of the greatest magnitude - all these things are utterly beyond the art of any forger. The early church, with its rising percentage of Gentile members, would never have concluded this parable (if any of them had invented it) with the father still entreating the elder brother. The issue of whether or not the elder brother would attend the feast was decided very quickly after the resurrection; and, therefore, this parable clearly goes back to the Lord Jesus Christ who spoke it.

[7] William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1956), p. 213.

[8] Ibid., p. 212.

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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 15:32". "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

It was meet that we should make merry,.... Both father, son, and servants; See Gill on Luke 15:23, Luke 15:24 and this elder brother also, because of the relation he stood in to him: and if he had had the same spiritual affection the apostle had for his brethren and kinsmen, according to the flesh, Romans 9:3 and he would have rejoiced at the conversion and return of sinners by repentance:

and be glad; as his father was, and the angels in heaven be; see Luke 15:10

for this thy brother, though he would not own him as such,

was dead, and is alive again, and was lost, and is found:, Luke 15:24 and so the parable is concluded, the elder brother being silenced, and having nothing to say against such strong reasoning.

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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 15:32". "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

It was meet — Was it possible he should simply take his long vacant place in the family without one special sign of wonder and delight at the change? Would that have been nature? But this being the meaning of the festivity, it would for that very reason be temporary. In time, the dutifulness of even the younger son would become the law and not the exception; he too at length might venture to say, “Lo, these many years do I serve thee”; and of him the father would say, “Son, thou art ever with me.” In that case, therefore, it would not be “meet that they should make merry and be glad.” The lessons are obvious, but how beautiful! (1) The deeper sunk and the longer estranged any sinner is, the more exuberant is the joy which his recovery occasions. (2) Such joy is not the portion of those whose whole lives have been spent in the service of their Father in heaven. (3) Instead of grudging the want of this, they should deem it the highest testimony to their lifelong fidelity, that something better is reserved for them - the deep, abiding complacency of their Father in heaven.

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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 15:32". "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

It was meet (εδειedei). Imperfect tense. It expressed a necessity in the father‘s heart and in the joy of the return that justifies the feasting. ΕυπραντηναιEuphranthēnai is used again (first aorist passive infinitive) and χαρηναιcharēnai (second aorist passive infinitive) is more than mere hilarity, deep-seated joy. The father repeats to the elder son the language of his heart used in Luke 15:24 to his servants. A real father could do no less. One can well imagine how completely the Pharisees and scribes (Luke 15:2) were put to silence by these three marvellous parables. The third does it with a graphic picture of their own attitude in the case of the surly elder brother. Luke was called a painter by the ancients. Certainly he has produced a graphic pen picture here of God‘s love for the lost that justifies forever the coming of Christ to the world to seek and to save the lost. It glorifies also soul-saving on the part of his followers who are willing to go with Jesus after the lost in city and country, in every land and of every race.

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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 15:32". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/luke-15.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

This thy brother was dead, and is alive — A thousand of these delicate touches in the inspired writings escape an inattentive reader. In Luke 15:30, the elder son had unkindly and indecently said, This thy son. The father in his reply mildly reproves him, and tenderly says, This thy brother - Amazing intimation, that the best of men ought to account the worst sinners their brethren still; and should especially remember this relation, when they show any inclination to return. Our Lord in this whole parable shows, not only that the Jews had no cause to murmur at the reception of the Gentiles, (a point which did not at that time so directly fall under consideration,) but that if the Pharisees were indeed as good as they fancied themselves to be, still they had no reason to murmur at the kind treatment of any sincere penitent. Thus does he condemn them, even on their own principles, and so leaves them without excuse. We have in this parable a lively emblem of the condition and behaviour of sinners in their natural state. Thus, when enriched by the bounty of the great common Father, do they ungratefully run from him, Luke 15:12. Sensual pleasures are eagerly pursued, till they have squandered away all the grace of God, Luke 15:13. And while these continue, not a serious thought of God can find a place in their minds. And even when afflictions come upon them, Luke 15:14, still they will make hard shifts before they will let the grace of God, concurring with his providence, persuade them to think of a return, Luke 15:15,16. When they see themselves naked, indigent, and undone, then they recover the exercise of their reason, Luke 15:17. Then they remember the blessings they have thrown away, and attend to the misery they have incurred. And hereupon they resolve to return to their father, and put the resolution immediately in practice, Luke 15:18,19. Behold with wonder and pleasure the gracious reception they find from Divine, injured goodness! When such a prodigal comes to his father, he sees him afar off, Luke 15:20. He pities, meets, embraces him, and interrupts his acknowledgments with the tokens of his returning favour, Luke 15:21. He arrays him with the robe of a Redeemer's righteousness, with inward and outward holiness; adorns him with all his sanctifying graces, and honours him with the tokens of adopting love, Luke 15:22. And all this he does with unutterable delight, in that he who was lost is now found, Luke 15:23,24. Let no elder brother murmur at this indulgence, but rather welcome the prodigal back into the family. And let those who have been thus received, wander no more, but emulate the strictest piety of those who for many years have served their heavenly Father, and not transgressed his commandments.

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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 15:32". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/luke-15.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

But it was meet to make merry and be glad1: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive [again]; and [was] lost2, and is found.

  1. But it was meet to make merry and be glad. See Acts 11:18.

  2. For this thy brother was dead, and is alive [again]; and [was] lost,
  3. and is found. Here the story ends. He are not told how the elder brother acted, but we may read his history in that of the Jews who refused to rejoice with Jesus at the salvation of sinners. At the next Passover they carried their resentment against him to the point of murder, and some forty years later the inheritance was taken from them. Thus we see that the elder brother was not pacified by the father. He continued to rebel against the father's will till he himself became the lost son.

    A comparison of the three preceding parables brings out many suggestive points, thus: (1) The first parable (Luke 15:3-7) illustrates Christ's compassion. A sentient, suffering creature is lost, and it was bad for "it" that it should be so. Hence it must be sought, though its value is only one out of a hundred. Man's lost condition makes him wretched. (2) The second parable (Luke 15:8-10) shows us how God values a soul. A lifeless piece of metal is lost, and while it could not be pitied, it could be valued, and since its value was one out ten, it was bad for the "owner" that it should be lost. God looks upon man's loss as his impoverishment. (3) The first two parables depict the efforts of Christ in the salvation of man, or that side of conversion more apparent, so to speak, to God; while the third (Luke 15:11-32) sets forth the responsive efforts put forth by man to avail himself of God's salvation-- the side of conversion more apparent to us. Moreover, as the parabolic figures become more nearly literal, as we pass from sheep and coin to son, the values also rise, and instead of one from a hundred, or one from ten, we have one out of two!

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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 15:32". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/luke-15.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

The story of the prodigal son stands prominent, if not foremost, among the parables of our Savior. So touching, so simple, so true to nature, and coming home so closely to the experience and the feelings of every parent and child, and also placing, as it does, in so clear a light, those traits in the divine character on which the fate of every sinner depends, it is, perhaps, the greatest of all written compositions. The subject which it is the last and highest attainment in theology to understand,--the mercy of God in the forgiveness of sin,--it places, once for all, in such a position, that the whole world can see, and the very humblest understand it; and yet the sublime and affecting truth is so protected by its very defencelessness, that the most determined unbeliever cannot make it the subject of either question or cavil. In every age, it has touched and awakened the careless, raised the despairing, and established the penitent in hope and happiness; and perhaps the page on which the parable is recorded has exerted more influence upon mankind than any other page that ever was penned.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Luke 15:32". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/luke-15.html. 1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Ver. 32. Was lost, and is found] Of himself he left his father; yet is he called the lost son.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 15:32". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/luke-15.html. 1865-1868.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

32.] ἔδει—not σε, but generally—it was right. The Father still asserts the restored sonship of his returned prodigal— ὁ ἀδελ. σου οὗτος. We may remark that the difficulties which have been found in the latter part of the parable, from the uncontradicted assertion in Luke 15:29, if the Pharisees are meant,—and the great pride and uncharitableness shewn, if really righteous persons are meant,—are considerably lightened by the consideration, that the contradiction of that assertion would have been beside the purpose of the parable; that it was the very thing on which the Pharisees prided themselves; that, besides, it is sufficiently contradicted in fact, by the spirit and words of the elder son. He was breaking his Father’s commandment even when he made the assertion,—and the making it is part of his hypocrisy.

The result of the Father’s entreaty is left purposely uncertain (see Trench, Par. in loc.):—is it possible that this should have been the case, had the Jewish nation been meant by the elder brother? But now, as he typifies a set of individuals who might themselves be (and many of them were) won by repentance,—it is thus broken off, to be closed by each individual for himself. For we are all in turn examples of the cases of both these brothers, containing the seeds of both evil courses, in our hearts: but, thanks be to God, under that grace, which is sufficient and willing to seek and save us from both.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 15:32". 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 15:32. ἔδει) Not only is the idea intimated hereby, Thou oughtest to have rejoiced; but this one, Rejoicing ought to have been commenced as it has been at our house. For it is a kind of apologetic defence against the complaint expressed in verse 30 [the killing of the fatted calf for such a profligate], with which comp. Luke 15:2 [in which the corresponding complaint of the Pharisees occurs, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.”]. [How wonderful is the condescending kindness of the Father (in thus gently expostulating with one who evinced so bad a spirit)!—V. g.] So ἔδει, in the sense it was befitting, not it would be befitting, Acts 1:16 [Peter, speaking of the past, ἔδει πληρωθῆναι τὴν γραφὴνπερὶ ἰούδα, It was befitting, that the Scripture should be fulfilled concerning Judas].— ἀδελφός σου οὗτος, this thy brother) In antithesis to this thy son, in Luke 15:30 [which the elder brother had said contemptuously].

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 15:32". 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 15:25"

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 15:32". 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

о том надобно было радоваться Здесь подводится итог и выражается суть всех трех притчей.

брат твой См. пояснение к ст. 30.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Luke 15:32". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/luke-15.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

It was meet; suitable, proper. Had the elder son felt right, he would have thought so; and instead of murmuring, would have partaken of the joy. So with the scribes and Pharisees: had they felt right, instead of murmuring at Christ for receiving penitent sinners, they would have rejoiced with him and all the good on earth and in heaven, with exceeding joy.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Luke 15:32". "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 it was right to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive again, and was lost, and is found.”

And then He pointed out how right it was to rejoice in the conversion of sinners. It was right for the elder brother to rejoice because his younger brother had come back repentant and would escape the dreadful life that had recently been his (note his emphasis on ‘your brother’). He could lose nothing, and gain much, by rejoicing with him. For let him recognise what had happened. One who had been dead had found life again. One who had been lost was now found. Was that not good reason to celebrate from an honest and unselfish heart?

By these strong phrases Jesus was also assuring all who heard Him that any of them who turned in repentance towards God, seeking forgiveness, would also find life and would be ‘found’. So His message was to both, to those who were far off, and to those who were near while not being near enough.

We are deliberately not told what decision the elder brother came to. For the intention was that every one among His listeners who saw themselves as like the elder brother had to decide for themselves. That was a major point of the parable.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Luke 15:32". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/luke-15.html. 2013.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 15:32. It was meet to make merry, etc. The form is general, giving justification for the joy, and yet leaving it to the choice of the elder son whether he will share in it.

The elder son represents the Pharisees, and puts forward their claims. These are not directly contradicted in the parable for good reasons. (1.) The Lord would represent the forbearance of God toward the Pharisee as well as His pardoning love toward the prodigal; hence severe rebuke is excluded. (2.) The claim rested upon a correct principle: ‘the doers of the law shall be justified’ (Romans 2:13), but the character of the elder son is so portrayed as to indicate that he failed to stand on that principle. The law was not yet abolished, and the words of the wise Teacher were adapted to the circumstances of His auditors.—It is not said that the son went in. This also opposes the view that He represents the Jewish people. The New Testament loses no opportunity for prophesying the ultimate salvation of Israel, and such a prediction would least of all fail in a parable where love and forbearance alone are depicted. The parable was itself the Father’s entreaty to the elder son, and with each of those whom He represented the responsibility of answering was left. All of us, in whom sin remains, are represented by one or the other of those two sons. Both were offenders, ye the Father calls both sons, and would save both lasses of sinners here depicted.

Luke 16

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 15:32". "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 15:32. It was meet that we should make merry and be glad — Both reason and natural affection justify me in calling the whole family to rejoice on the present occasion. For this thy brother was dead, &c. — As thy brother is returned to us sensible of his folly, and determined to lead a new life in future, his arrival is like his reviving after death, at least, it is his being found after he was really lost. For which reason our joy ought to bear a proportion to the greatness of this occasion. There is a beautiful opposition between the father’s words here, and those of the elder son, Luke 15:30. The latter had there indecently said to his father, This thy son. The father, in his reply, mildly reproves him, and tenderly says, This thy brother — As if he had said, “Though he hath devoured my living with harlots, he is thy brother, as well as my son: wherefore thou shouldest not be angry because he hath repented and is returned, after we thought him irrecoverably lost. Thus the goodness with which the father bore the surly peevishness of his elder son was little inferior to the mercy shown in the pardon that he granted to the younger: and we have herein a moving intimation that the best of men ought to look on the most abandoned sinners as, in some respect, their brethren still, and should especially remember the relation, when there appears any inclination in such sinners to return.” Jesus having thus set before them the affectionate behaviour of an earthly parent toward his undutiful children, left every one to judge whether such weak and wicked creatures can love their offspring with more true tenderness than the great Father Almighty loves his, or can show them more indulgence for their benefit. Indeed, “in this inimitable composition, the amazing mercy of God is painted with captivating beauty; and in all the three parables, the joys occasioned among heavenly beings by the conversion of a single sinner are represented; joys even to God himself, than which a nobler and sweeter thought never entered into the mind of rational creatures. Thus high do men stand in the estimation of God; for which cause they should not cast themselves away in that trifling manner wherein multitudes destroy themselves; neither should any think the salvation of others a small matter, as some who are intrusted with their recovery seem to do. Had the Pharisees understood the parable, how criminal must they have appeared in their own eyes, when they saw themselves truly described in the character of the eldest son, who was angry that his brother had repented! Withal, how bitter must their remorse have been, when they found themselves, not only repining at that which gave joy to God, the conversion of sinners, but excessively displeased with the methods of his procedure in this matter, and maliciously opposing them! If these parables had been omitted by Luke, as they have been by the other three historians, the world would certainly have sustained an unspeakable loss.” — Macknight.

Many have considered this parable in a view of peculiar application to the Jews and Gentiles; and have observed, that the murmurs of the Jews against the apostles for preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, are represented by the conduct of the elder brother. This was certainly a case comprehended in our Lord’s design, but he undoubtedly had something more in his intention: he meant to show, that had the Pharisees been as eminently good as they themselves pretended to be, yet it would have been very unworthy their character to take offence at the kind treatment which any sincere penitent might receive. Thus does he here, and in many parallel texts, condemn their conduct on their own principles, though elsewhere, on proper occasions, he shows the falsehood of those principles, and plainly exposes their hypocrisy and guilt. But our Lord had still a further design in delivering this parable; he intended to give us, as he has done, a lively emblem of the character and condition of sinners in their fallen state. Like this prodigal, they are impatient of the most necessary restraints, fondly conceited of their own wisdom; and when enriched by the bounties of the great common Father, they ungratefully run from him, saying to him, in effect, Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. Sensual pleasures are eagerly sought; and perhaps all their earthly possessions and hopes are quickly paid as the price of them: while the means of obtaining these pleasures continue, not a serious thought of God can find place in their minds. And even when afflictions come upon them, still they make hard shifts, before they will let the grace of God, concurring with his providence, persuade them to think of a return. When they see themselves naked and indigent, enslaved and undone, then they come to themselves, and recover the exercise of their reason. Then they remember the blessings they have thrown away, and attend to the misery they have incurred. And hereupon they resolve to return to their heavenly Father, and put the resolution immediately in practice: they arise and go unto him. Behold with wonder and pleasure the gracious reception they find from divine injured goodness! When such a prodigal comes to his Father, the Father sees him afar off: he pities, meets, embraces him, and interrupts his acknowledgments with the tokens of his returning favour. He arrays him with the robe of the Redeemer’s righteousness, imputed and implanted, with pardon and holiness, adorns him with all his sanctifying graces, and honours him with the tokens of adopting love, and all the glorious privileges and immunities of his children. And all this he does with unutterable delight, in that he who was lost is now found. Let no elder brother murmur at this indulgence, but rather welcome the prodigal back into the family. And let those who have been thus received wander no more, but emulate the strictest piety of those who for many years have served their heavenly Father, and made it their daily care, not to transgress his commandments, but to walk before him in all well-pleasing.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Luke 15:32". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/luke-15.html. 1857.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

It was meet. Compare Acts 11:18.

thy brother. Contrast with "thy son" (Luke 15:30).

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 15:32". "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

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

It was meet that we should make merry and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. Should he simply take his long-vacant place in the family, without one special sign of wonder and delight at the change? Would that have been nature? But this being the meaning of the festivity, it would for that very reason be temporary. In time, the dutifulness of even the younger son would become the law and not the exception: he too at length might venture to say, "Lo, these many years do I serve thee;" and of him the father would say, "Son, thou art ever with me." And then it would not be "meet that they should make merry and be glad" - as at his first return.

Remarks:

(1) The estrangement of the human spirit from God is the deepest and most universal malady of our nature. It may take the form either of impatience of divine authority or of want of sympathy with the things wherein He delighteth. But important as is the distinction between these two forms of estrangement from God, they naturally run into each other, and are inseparable. In placid and amiable natures, what shows itself chiefly is disrelish of spiritual things. This may not take any active form, and in that case it is only perceptible in the heart's entire satisfaction without God. No fellowship with Him, or even thought of Him, is necessary to such. They get on perfectly well, and even better, when every such thought is away. This is truly a godless life, but it is the life of many of the most attractive and accomplished members of society. In young men it is apt to take the form of dislike of the restraints which divine authority imposes, and a desire to get free from them. But in all, it is the same malady at bottom, with which our fallen nature is smitten.

(2) The extent to which men go from God varies as much as men themselves; but the freedom they assert in this condition is but bondage under another name.

(3) It is not every discovery of the folly, and bitterness of departure from God that will move the heart to retrace its steps; often matters go from bad to worse before any decisive change is resolved on; and in most cases it is only when the soul is brought to extremities that it says in earnest, "I will arise and go to my Father." And when, upon so doing, we are welcomed back, and feel the bond that binds us to our Father even firmer and dearer than if we had never departed, we find ours to be just such a case as the sweet Psalmist of Israel sings of: "Such as sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the Most High: therefore he brought down their heart with labour: they fell down, and there was none to help. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.-O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" (Psalms 107:10-15.)

(4) The pardon of sin is absolutely gratuitous, and reaches down to the lowest depths of estrangement from God and rebellion against his precepts. The one thing required is to "arise and go to our Father." "Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: Only acknowledge thine iniquity, and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon thee."

(5) The sense of reconciliation to God, instead of checking, only deepens the grief of the pardoned believer for the sin that has been forgiven: "That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth anymore because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God." (Ezekiel 16:63). 'True repentance,' says Dr. Owen, 'waters a free pardon with tears, detests forgiven sin, and aims at the ruin of that which we are assured shall never ruin us.'

(6) The deeper sunk and the longer estranged from God any sinner is, the more exuberant is the joy which his recovery occasions. All heaven is represented as ringing with it, while he himself breaks forth into such songs as these - "He brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song into my mouth, even praise unto our God: Many shall see it, and fear, and trust in the Lord" (Psalms 40:2-3). But,

(7) This joy over returning prodigals is not the portion of those whose whole lives have been spent in the service of their Father in heaven. Yet, instead of grudging the want of this, they should deem it the highest testimony to their life-long fidelity, that something better is reserved for them-the deep, abiding complacency of their Father in heaven.

(8) In giving such an interpretation of the parable of the Prodigal Son as, in our judgment, bears consistency with all Scripture truth on its face, we have not adverted to interpretations which seem to us to miss the mark. The notion of not a few, that the younger son represents the Gentiles, who early strayed from God, and the older son symbolizes the Jews, who abode true to Him; is rejected by the best expositors; and no wonder, since the publicans and sinners, whose welcome back to God is illustrated by the reception of the prodigal, were Jews and not Gentiles. Clearly this parable has to do, not with nationalities, but with classes or characters. But most interpreters-even such as Trench-misapprehend, we think, almost entirely the truth intended to be taught by the conduct of the older son-who, he thinks, 'represents a form of legal righteousness, not altogether false, but low; who has been kept by the law from gross offences,' etc. Let the reader judge whether this interpretation, or that which we have given is the more consistent and eligible.

(9) Was ever teaching like this heard on earth? Did even the Mouth that spake as never man spake utter such words of grace to the vilest-for fullness and melting tenderness of love-on any other recorded occasion? This is the Gospel within the Gospel, as it has been well called; and it will stand, while the world lasts, an evidence which no unsophisticated mind can resist, that He who uttered it must have come forth from the very bosom of the Father to declare it, and that him that cometh to Him He will in no wise cast out.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 15:32". "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

(32) It was meet that we should make merry.—The Greek expresses moral necessity rather than mere fitness. “We must needs rejoice;” it could not be otherwise. The repetition of the same words that had been used before, “he was dead . . .” is singularly-emphatic. This, and nothing more or less than this was the true account of the change that had passed over the wanderer; and this ought to be a source of joy to all his kindred. There is, perhaps, a touch of tenderness as well as reproof in the way in which the scornful “this thy son” is met by “this thy brother.” The elder son had forgotten that fact, and had almost disclaimed his own sonship in his scorn for the offender.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 15:32". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/luke-15.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
was meet
7:34; Psalms 51:8; Isaiah 35:10; Hosea 14:9; Jonah 4:10,11; Romans 3:4,19; 15:9-13
for
24; Ephesians 2:1-10 Reciprocal: Genesis 4:6 - GeneralDeuteronomy 28:63 - rejoiced over;  Deuteronomy 30:9 - rejoice over thee;  Proverbs 23:15 - even mine;  Song of Solomon 3:11 - in the day of the;  Jeremiah 31:20 - Is Ephraim;  Ezekiel 18:23 - not that;  Micah 7:18 - he delighteth;  Zephaniah 3:17 - will rejoice;  Zechariah 4:10 - for they;  Matthew 8:22 - and;  Matthew 18:11 - GeneralMatthew 26:29 - until;  Luke 9:60 - Let;  Luke 15:5 - rejoicing;  Luke 15:7 - joy;  Luke 15:30 - this;  Luke 19:10 - GeneralJohn 5:25 - when;  John 8:11 - go;  John 15:11 - my;  Acts 9:17 - Brother;  Acts 15:3 - they caused;  Acts 16:34 - and rejoiced;  Acts 21:20 - they glorified;  Romans 6:13 - alive;  2 Corinthians 5:14 - then;  2 Corinthians 7:9 - I rejoice;  Galatians 1:24 - GeneralColossians 2:13 - dead;  2 Thessalonians 1:3 - are;  1 Timothy 5:6 - dead;  Philemon 1:11 - profitable;  1 John 3:14 - we have;  Revelation 3:1 - and art

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 15:32". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-15.html.