Luke Fifteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

publicans. See note on Luke 5:29.

Luke 15:2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Luke 15:3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,

parable. This chapter consists of three “lost-and-found” parables—the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. All were told in answer to the Pharisee's quibble about Jesus eating with sinners (Luke 15:2).

Luke 15:4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

that which is lost. Note the numerical sequence in the three parables: one out of a hundred sheep was lost, one out of ten coins (Luke 15:8) and one out of two sons (Luke 15:11). A less concerned shepherd would have let the lost sheep go, but “the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Similarly, a more careless woman would not have gone to so much trouble to find one lost coin when she still had nine, but the Lord “came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), and He knew the full redemption price must be paid. No human father could be unaffected by the loss of half his sons, but all he could do was pray. He could not go searching for the wandering son, like the shepherd or the woman, but God could!

Luke 15:5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

Luke 15:6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luke 15:8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?

ten pieces of silver. Each “piece of silver” (Greek drachma) was approximately a day's wage for a common laborer.

Luke 15:9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.

Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

joy in the presence. Each recovery of that which was lost became an occasion for rejoicing “with friends and neighbors” (Luke 15:6, 9, 25). The Lord was telling the self-righteous Pharisees that there is joy in heaven when even one sinner repents. The angels rejoice, but also there is rejoicing in their presence—no doubt by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Luke 15:11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:

Luke 15:12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

Father, give me. This story, commonly called the “parable of the prodigal son,” really is more about his “prodigal father.” The word “prodigal” does not mean wayward or rebellious, but rather lavishly generous and extravagant. The son indeed was very wasteful of his inheritance, which his father had generously given him ahead of time. But this human father is a picture of our heavenly Father—both generous and forgiving and prodigal in His blessings when His children come back to Him. Note especially Psalm 103:10, 13.

the portion of goods. Since the elder son commonly received a double inheritance, the portion allotted to the younger son was probably a third of his father's wealth.

Luke 15:13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

riotous living. The Greek word translated “riotous” is used only this once in the New Testament. It means “prodigal” or “wasteful;” hence the parable has become known a that of the “prodigal son.”

Luke 15:14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

Luke 15:15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

that country. Note the emphasis on the foreign character of the country where the lost son was dwelling—far country, that land, that country (Luke 15:13, 14, 15). The son was not in his own land, which tells us that he was not an unsaved man, but a true believer rebelling against God's will for his life.

Luke 15:16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

no man gave. It is important to note that the father, as much as he loved his son, did not send money or other assistance to his son while he was in the alien land. He could not rightly do anything to enable him to remain longer in his profligate life style. His son must first “come to himself” and be willing to return home on his own. In the meantime, he would pray for him and watch for him.

Luke 15:17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

Luke 15:18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,

Luke 15:19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

Luke 15:20 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.

Luke 15:21 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.

Luke 15:22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

Luke 15:23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:

Luke 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Luke 15:25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing.

Luke 15:26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.

Luke 15:27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.

Luke 15:28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.

Luke 15:29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:

serve thee. The word here is actually “slave for thee,” which betrays a bitter attitude of heart toward his father, despite his outward obedience. Instead of rejoicing at his brother's restoration, he was angry.

Luke 15:30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

Luke 15:31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

Son. The word here is the word for “child,” in contrast to the other occurrences of “son” in the parable, where Luke uses the word meaning a full-grown son (Luke 15:19, 21, 24, 25, 30). Yet this son was the eldest son. Perhaps the father meant it as a term of endearment. More likely, since Jesus intended to reflect the attitude of the Pharisees in the attitude of this elder son, He placed it on the father's lips to indicate that this son was acting childishly, with anger and selfishness instead of gladness and thankfulness. The Pharisees, with all their dignity and self-righteousness, were actually behaving like spoiled children!

Luke 15:32 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.