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Luke 15

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The Parable of the Lost Sheep and Coin

15:1 Now all the tax collectors 1  and sinners were coming 2  to hear him. 15:2 But 3  the Pharisees 4  and the experts in the law 5  were complaining, 6  “This man welcomes 7  sinners and eats with them.”

15:3 So 8  Jesus 9  told them 10  this parable: 11  15:4 “Which one 12  of you, if he has a hundred 13  sheep and loses one of them, would not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture 14  and go look for 15  the one that is lost until he finds it? 16  15:5 Then 17  when he has found it, he places it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 15:6 Returning 18  home, he calls together 19  his 20  friends and neighbors, telling them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 15:7 I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner 21  who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people 22  who have no need to repent. 23 

15:8 “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins 24  and loses 25  one of them, 26  does not light a lamp, sweep 27  the house, and search thoroughly until she finds it? 15:9 Then 28  when she has found it, she calls together her 29  friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice 30  with me, for I have found the coin 31  that I had lost.’ 15:10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels 32  over one sinner who repents.”

The Parable of the Compassionate Father

15:11 Then 33  Jesus 34  said, “A man had two sons. 15:12 The 35  younger of them said to his 36  father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate 37  that will belong 38  to me.’ So 39  he divided his 40  assets between them. 41  15:13 After 42  a few days, 43  the younger son gathered together all he had and left on a journey to a distant country, and there he squandered 44  his wealth 45  with a wild lifestyle. 15:14 Then 46  after he had spent everything, a severe famine took place in that country, and he began to be in need. 15:15 So he went and worked for 47  one of the citizens of that country, who 48  sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 49  15:16 He 50  was longing to eat 51  the carob pods 52  the pigs were eating, but 53  no one gave him anything. 15:17 But when he came to his senses 54  he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have food 55  enough to spare, but here I am dying from hunger! 15:18 I will get up and go to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned 56  against heaven 57  and against 58  you. 15:19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me 59  like one of your hired workers.”’ 15:20 So 60  he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way from home 61  his father saw him, and his heart went out to him; 62  he ran and hugged 63  his son 64  and kissed him. 15:21 Then 65  his son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven 66  and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 67  15:22 But the father said to his slaves, 68  ‘Hurry! Bring the best robe, 69  and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger 70  and sandals 71  on his feet! 15:23 Bring 72  the fattened calf 73  and kill it! Let us eat 74  and celebrate, 15:24 because this son of mine was dead, and is alive again – he was lost and is found!’ 75  So 76  they began to celebrate.

15:25 “Now his older son was in the field. As 77  he came and approached the house, he heard music 78  and dancing. 15:26 So 79  he called one of the slaves 80  and asked what was happening. 15:27 The slave replied, 81  ‘Your brother has returned, and your father has killed the fattened calf 82  because he got his son 83  back safe and sound.’ 15:28 But the older son 84  became angry 85  and refused 86  to go in. His father came out and appealed to him, 15:29 but he answered 87  his father, ‘Look! These many years I have worked like a slave 88  for you, and I never disobeyed your commands. Yet 89  you never gave me even a goat 90  so that I could celebrate with my friends! 15:30 But when this son of yours 91  came back, who has devoured 92  your assets with prostitutes, 93  you killed the fattened calf 94  for him!’ 15:31 Then 95  the father 96  said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and everything that belongs to me is yours. 15:32 It was appropriate 97  to celebrate and be glad, for your brother 98  was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found.’” 99 

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1 sn See the note on tax collectors in 3:12.

2 tn Grk “were drawing near.”

3 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.

4 sn See the note on Pharisees in 5:17.

5 tn Or “and the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 5:21.

6 tn Or “grumbling”; Grk “were complaining, saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.

7 tn Or “accepts,” “receives.” This is not the first time this issue has been raised: Luke 5:27-32; 7:37-50.

8 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “so” to indicate that Jesus’ telling of the parable is in response to the complaints of the Pharisees and experts in the law.

9 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

10 sn Them means at the minimum the parable is for the leadership, but probably also for those people Jesus accepted, but the leaders regarded as outcasts.

11 tn Grk “parable, saying.” The participle λέγων (legwn) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.

12 tn Grk “What man.” The Greek word ἄνθρωπος (anqrwpo") is used here in a somewhat generic sense.

13 sn This individual with a hundred sheep is a shepherd of modest means, as flocks often had up to two hundred head of sheep.

14 tn Or “desert,” but here such a translation might suggest neglect of the 99 sheep left behind.

15 tn Grk “go after,” but in contemporary English the idiom “to look for” is used to express this.

16 sn Until he finds it. The parable pictures God’s pursuit of the sinner. On the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, see John 10:1-18.

17 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

18 tn Grk “And coming into his…” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

19 sn A touch of drama may be present, as the term calls together can mean a formal celebration (1 Kgs 1:9-10).

20 tn Grk “the”; in context the article is used as a possessive pronoun (ExSyn 215). It occurs before “neighbors” as well (“his friends and his neighbors”) but has not been translated the second time because of English style.

21 sn There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. The pursuit of the sinner is a priority in spite of the presence of others who are doing well (see also Luke 5:32; 19:10). The theme of repentance, a major Lukan theme, is again emphasized.

22 tn Here δικαίοις (dikaioi") is an adjective functioning substantivally and has been translated “righteous people.”

23 tn Or “who do not need to repent”; Grk “who do not have need of repentance.”

24 sn This silver coin is a drachma, equal to a denarius, that is, a day’s pay for the average laborer.

25 tn Grk “What woman who has ten silver coins, if she loses.” The initial participle ἔχουσα (ecousa) has been translated as a finite verb parallel to ἀπολέσῃ (apolesh) in the conditional clause to improve the English style.

26 tn Grk “one coin.”

27 tn Grk “and sweep,” but καί (kai) has not been translated since English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements in a series of three or more.

28 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

29 tn Grk “the”; in context the article is used as a possessive pronoun (ExSyn 215).

30 sn Rejoice. Besides the theme of pursuing the lost, the other theme of the parable is the joy of finding them.

31 tn Grk “drachma.”

32 sn The whole of heaven is said to rejoice. Joy in the presence of God’s angels is a way of referring to God’s joy as well without having to name him explicitly. Contemporary Judaism tended to refer to God indirectly where possible out of reverence or respect for the divine name.

33 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

34 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

35 tn Grk “And the.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

36 tn Grk “the”; in context the article is used as a possessive pronoun (ExSyn 215).

37 tn L&N 57.19 notes that in nonbiblical contexts in which the word οὐσία (ousia) occurs, it refers to considerable possessions or wealth, thus “estate.”

38 tn L&N 57.3, “to belong to or come to belong to, with the possible implication of by right or by inheritance.”

39 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “so” to indicate the father’s response to the younger son’s request.

40 tn Grk “the”; in context the article is used as a possessive pronoun (ExSyn 215).

41 sn He divided his assets between them. There was advice against doing this in the OT Apocrypha (Sir 33:20). The younger son would get half of what the older son received (Deut 21:17).

42 tn Grk “And after.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

43 tn Grk “after not many days.”

44 tn Or “wasted.” This verb is graphic; it means to scatter (L&N 57.151).

45 tn Or “estate” (the same word has been translated “estate” in v. 12).

46 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “then” to indicate the sequence of events in the parable. Greek style often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” but English style generally does not.

47 tn Grk “joined himself to” (in this case an idiom for beginning to work for someone).

48 tn Grk “and he.” Here the conjunction καί (kai) and the personal pronoun have been translated by a relative pronoun to improve the English style.

49 sn To a Jew, being sent to the field to feed pigs would be an insult, since pigs were considered unclean animals (Lev 11:7).

50 tn Grk “And he.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

51 tn Or “would gladly have eaten”; Grk “was longing to be filled with.”

52 tn This term refers to the edible pods from a carob tree (BDAG 540 s.v. κεράτιον). They were bean-like in nature and were commonly used for fattening pigs, although they were also used for food by poor people (L&N 3.46).

53 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.

54 tn Grk “came to himself” (an idiom).

55 tn Grk “bread,” but used figuratively for food of any kind (L&N 5.1).

56 sn In the confession “I have sinned” there is a recognition of wrong that pictures the penitent coming home and “being found.”

57 sn The phrase against heaven is a circumlocution for God.

58 tn According to BDAG 342 s.v. ἐνωπιον 4.a, “in relation to ἁμαρτάνειν ἐ. τινος sin against someone Lk 15:18, 21 (cf. Jdth 5:17; 1 Km 7:6; 20:1).”

59 tn Or “make me.” Here is a sign of total humility.

60 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the result of the son’s decision to return home. Greek style often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” but English style generally does not.

61 tn Grk “a long way off from [home].” The word “home” is implied (L&N 85.16).

62 tn Or “felt great affection for him,” “felt great pity for him.”

sn The major figure of the parable, the forgiving father, represents God the Father and his compassionate response. God is ready with open arms to welcome the sinner who comes back to him.

63 tn Grk “he fell on his neck,” an idiom for showing special affection for someone by throwing one’s arms around them. The picture is of the father hanging on the son’s neck in welcome.

64 tn Grk “him”; the referent (the son) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

65 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

66 sn The phrase against heaven is a circumlocution for God. 1st century Judaism tended to minimize use of the divine name out of reverence.

67 sn The younger son launches into his confession just as he had planned. See vv. 18-19.

68 tn See the note on the word “slave” in 7:2.

69 sn With the instructions Hurry! Bring the best robe, there is a total acceptance of the younger son back into the home.

70 tn Grk “hand”; but χείρ (ceir) can refer to either the whole hand or any relevant part of it (L&N 8.30).

71 sn The need for sandals underlines the younger son’s previous destitution, because he was barefoot.

72 tn Grk “And bring.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

73 tn Or “the prize calf” (L&N 65.8). See also L&N 44.2, “grain-fattened.” Such a calf was usually reserved for religious celebrations.

74 tn The participle φαγόντες (fagontes) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

75 sn This statement links the parable to the theme of 15:6, 9.

76 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the result of the father’s remarks in the preceding verses.

77 tn Grk “And as.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

78 sn This would have been primarily instrumental music, but might include singing as well.

79 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the result of the older son hearing the noise of the celebration in progress.

80 tn The Greek term here, παῖς (pais), describes a slave, possibly a household servant regarded with some affection (L&N 87.77).

81 tn Grk “And he said to him.” Here δέ (de) has not been translated. The rest of the phrase has been simplified to “the slave replied,” with the referent (the slave) specified in the translation for clarity.

82 tn See note on the phrase “fattened calf” in v. 23.

83 tn Grk “him”; the referent (the younger son) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

84 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the older son, v. 25) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

85 tn The aorist verb ὠργίσθη (wrgisqh) has been translated as an ingressive aorist, reflecting entry into a state or condition.

86 sn Ironically the attitude of the older son has left him outside and without joy.

87 tn Grk “but answering, he said.” This is somewhat redundant in contemporary English and has been simplified to “but he answered.”

88 tn Or simply, “have served,” but in the emotional context of the older son’s outburst the translation given is closer to the point.

89 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “yet” to bring out the contrast indicated by the context.

90 sn You never gave me even a goat. The older son’s complaint was that the generous treatment of the younger son was not fair: “I can’t get even a little celebration with a basic food staple like a goat!”

91 sn Note the younger son is not “my brother” but this son of yours (an expression with a distinctly pejorative nuance).

92 sn This is another graphic description. The younger son’s consumption had been like a glutton. He had both figuratively and literally devoured the assets which were given to him.

93 sn The charge concerning the prostitutes is unproven, but essentially the older brother accuses the father of committing an injustice by rewarding his younger son’s unrighteous behavior.

94 sn See note on the phrase “fattened calf” in v. 23.

95 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events in the parable.

96 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the father) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

97 tn Or “necessary.”

98 sn By referring to him as your brother, the father reminded the older brother that the younger brother was part of the family.

99 sn The theme he was lost and is found is repeated from v. 24. The conclusion is open-ended. The reader is left to ponder with the older son (who pictures the scribes and Pharisees) what the response will be. The parable does not reveal the ultimate response of the older brother. Jesus argued that sinners should be pursued and received back warmly when they returned.



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