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Luke 5:27-32

Context
The Call of Levi; Eating with Sinners

5:27 After 1  this, Jesus 2  went out and saw a tax collector 3  named Levi 4  sitting at the tax booth. 5  “Follow me,” 6  he said to him. 5:28 And he got up and followed him, leaving everything 7  behind. 8 

5:29 Then 9  Levi gave a great banquet 10  in his house for Jesus, 11  and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting 12  at the table with them. 5:30 But 13  the Pharisees 14  and their experts in the law 15  complained 16  to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 17  5:31 Jesus 18  answered them, “Those who are well don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. 19  5:32 I have not come 20  to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” 21 

Luke 15:1-32

Context
The Parable of the Lost Sheep and Coin

15:1 Now all the tax collectors 22  and sinners were coming 23  to hear him. 15:2 But 24  the Pharisees 25  and the experts in the law 26  were complaining, 27  “This man welcomes 28  sinners and eats with them.”

15:3 So 29  Jesus 30  told them 31  this parable: 32  15:4 “Which one 33  of you, if he has a hundred 34  sheep and loses one of them, would not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture 35  and go look for 36  the one that is lost until he finds it? 37  15:5 Then 38  when he has found it, he places it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 15:6 Returning 39  home, he calls together 40  his 41  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 42  who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people 43  who have no need to repent. 44 

15:8 “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins 45  and loses 46  one of them, 47  does not light a lamp, sweep 48  the house, and search thoroughly until she finds it? 15:9 Then 49  when she has found it, she calls together her 50  friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice 51  with me, for I have found the coin 52  that I had lost.’ 15:10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels 53  over one sinner who repents.”

The Parable of the Compassionate Father

15:11 Then 54  Jesus 55  said, “A man had two sons. 15:12 The 56  younger of them said to his 57  father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate 58  that will belong 59  to me.’ So 60  he divided his 61  assets between them. 62  15:13 After 63  a few days, 64  the younger son gathered together all he had and left on a journey to a distant country, and there he squandered 65  his wealth 66  with a wild lifestyle. 15:14 Then 67  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 68  one of the citizens of that country, who 69  sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 70  15:16 He 71  was longing to eat 72  the carob pods 73  the pigs were eating, but 74  no one gave him anything. 15:17 But when he came to his senses 75  he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have food 76  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 77  against heaven 78  and against 79  you. 15:19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me 80  like one of your hired workers.”’ 15:20 So 81  he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way from home 82  his father saw him, and his heart went out to him; 83  he ran and hugged 84  his son 85  and kissed him. 15:21 Then 86  his son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven 87  and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 88  15:22 But the father said to his slaves, 89  ‘Hurry! Bring the best robe, 90  and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger 91  and sandals 92  on his feet! 15:23 Bring 93  the fattened calf 94  and kill it! Let us eat 95  and celebrate, 15:24 because this son of mine was dead, and is alive again – he was lost and is found!’ 96  So 97  they began to celebrate.

15:25 “Now his older son was in the field. As 98  he came and approached the house, he heard music 99  and dancing. 15:26 So 100  he called one of the slaves 101  and asked what was happening. 15:27 The slave replied, 102  ‘Your brother has returned, and your father has killed the fattened calf 103  because he got his son 104  back safe and sound.’ 15:28 But the older son 105  became angry 106  and refused 107  to go in. His father came out and appealed to him, 15:29 but he answered 108  his father, ‘Look! These many years I have worked like a slave 109  for you, and I never disobeyed your commands. Yet 110  you never gave me even a goat 111  so that I could celebrate with my friends! 15:30 But when this son of yours 112  came back, who has devoured 113  your assets with prostitutes, 114  you killed the fattened calf 115  for him!’ 15:31 Then 116  the father 117  said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and everything that belongs to me is yours. 15:32 It was appropriate 118  to celebrate and be glad, for your brother 119  was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found.’” 120 

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

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

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

4 sn It is possible that Levi is a second name for Matthew, because people often used alternative names in 1st century Jewish culture.

5 tn While “tax office” is sometimes given as a translation for τελώνιον (telwnion; so L&N 57.183), this could give the modern reader a false impression of an indoor office with all its associated furnishings.

sn The tax booth was a booth located on the edge of a city or town to collect taxes for trade. There was a tax booth in Capernaum, which was on the trade route from Damascus to Galilee and the Mediterranean. The “taxes” were collected on produce and goods brought into the area for sale, and were a sort of “sales tax” paid by the seller but obviously passed on to the purchaser in the form of increased prices (L&N 57.183). It was here that Jesus met Levi (also named Matthew [see Matt 9:9]) who was ultimately employed by the Romans, though perhaps more directly responsible to Herod Antipas. It was his job to collect taxes for Rome and he was thus despised by Jews who undoubtedly regarded him as a traitor.

6 sn Follow me. For similar calls on the part of Jesus see Luke 5:10-11; 9:23, 59; 18:22.

7 sn On the phrase leaving everything see Luke 5:10-11; 14:33.

8 tn The participial phrase “leaving everything behind” occurs at the beginning of the sentence, but has been transposed to the end in the translation for logical reasons, since it serves to summarize Levi’s actions.

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

10 sn A great banquet refers to an elaborate meal. Many of the events in Luke take place in the context of meal fellowship: 7:36-50; 9:12-17; 10:38-42; 11:37-54; 14:1-24; 22:7-38; 24:29-32, 41-43.

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

12 tn Grk “reclining.” This term reflects the normal practice in 1st century Jewish culture of eating a meal in a semi-reclining position. Since it is foreign to most modern readers, the translation “sitting” has been substituted.

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

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

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

16 tn Or “grumbled”; a term often used in the OT for inappropriate grumbling: Exod 15:24; 16:7-8; Num 14:2, 26-35; 16:11.

17 sn The issue here is inappropriate associations (eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners) and the accusation comes not against Jesus, but his disciples.

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

19 sn Jesus’ point is that he associates with those who are sick because they have the need and will respond to the offer of help. A person who is well (or who thinks mistakenly that he is) will not seek treatment.

20 sn I have not come is another commission statement by Jesus; see 4:43-44.

21 sn Though parallels exist to this saying (Matt 9:13; Mark 2:17), only Luke has this last phrase but sinners to repentance. Repentance is a frequent topic in Luke’s Gospel: 3:3, 8; 13:1-5; 15:7, 10; 16:30; 17:3-4; 24:47.

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

23 tn Grk “were drawing near.”

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

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

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

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

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

29 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.

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

31 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.

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

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

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

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

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

37 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.

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

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

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

41 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.

42 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.

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

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

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

46 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.

47 tn Grk “one coin.”

48 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.

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

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

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

52 tn Grk “drachma.”

53 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.

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

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

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

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

58 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.”

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

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

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

62 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).

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

64 tn Grk “after not many days.”

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

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

67 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.

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

69 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.

70 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).

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

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

73 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).

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

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

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

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

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

79 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).”

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

81 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.

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

83 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.

84 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

93 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.

94 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.

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

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

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

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

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

100 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.

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

102 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

111 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!”

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

113 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.

114 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.

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

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

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

118 tn Or “necessary.”

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

120 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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