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Luke 15:25-32

Context

15:25 “Now his older son was in the field. As 1  he came and approached the house, he heard music 2  and dancing. 15:26 So 3  he called one of the slaves 4  and asked what was happening. 15:27 The slave replied, 5  ‘Your brother has returned, and your father has killed the fattened calf 6  because he got his son 7  back safe and sound.’ 15:28 But the older son 8  became angry 9  and refused 10  to go in. His father came out and appealed to him, 15:29 but he answered 11  his father, ‘Look! These many years I have worked like a slave 12  for you, and I never disobeyed your commands. Yet 13  you never gave me even a goat 14  so that I could celebrate with my friends! 15:30 But when this son of yours 15  came back, who has devoured 16  your assets with prostitutes, 17  you killed the fattened calf 18  for him!’ 15:31 Then 19  the father 20  said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and everything that belongs to me is yours. 15:32 It was appropriate 21  to celebrate and be glad, for your brother 22  was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found.’” 23 

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

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

3 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.

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

5 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14 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!”

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

16 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.

17 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.

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

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

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

21 tn Or “necessary.”

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

23 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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