Luke Chapter Fifteen
I. Content of the Chapter
The Joy of The Holy Trinity for the Repentance of A Sinner
II. The joy that the Holy Spirit found the lost coin (v.8-10).
III. The joy that God the Father gained the prodigal son (v.11-32).
II. Verse by Verse commentary
Luke. 15:1 “Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.”
YLT: “And all the tax-gatherers and the sinners were coming nigh to him, to hear him,”
The Background: “all the tax collectors and the sinners” They were of the social strata that was despised by the pious Jews at that time (See Acts. 10:28).
Luke. 15:2 “And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, ‘This Man receives sinners and eats with them.’”
YLT: “and the Pharisees and the scribes were murmuring, saying This one doth receive sinners, and doth eat with them.’”
The Background: “the Pharisees and scribes” “The Pharisees” were of the strictest sect of Judaism. They boasted that they lived a holy life, were pious towards God and had the abundant knowledge of the Bible. “The scribes” were those who specially transcribed and taught the Old Testament. They were familiar with the Old Testament and the explanations of the elders to the Law. Most of the scribes were the Pharisees and not all of them were the Pharisees.
Literal Meaning: “complained, saying” They murmured and complained among themselves and did not talk in public.
“And eats with them” Eating with someone means not only the simple communion but also the reception and approval (See Acts. 11:3; 1Cor. 5:11; Gal. 2:12).
Spiritual Meaning: “the Pharisees” symbolize the traditional religious believers. “The scribes” symbolize men with knowledge and status in the circle of religion.
Religious ones only condemn others and are unaware that they themselves are in sin. They hold that God is righteous towards men and therefore everyone of God should preserve their purity and do not associate with sinners. However, the Lord Jesus always rejects men’s religious concepts.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The Pharisees measure the Lord with the traditional religious concepts and they could not follow the actions of the Lord. If we adhere obstinately to the old concepts of the Bible, we won’t follow the Lord’s new guidance.
2) Though men are unrighteous, they like God dealing with men with righteousness. Men blame God that He has shown mercy to men because they do not know God’s grace. Therefore the attitude of grace is criticized and blamed by men.
3) Though the Lord contacts with sinners, the Bible says that, He is separate from sinners (Heb. 7:26). Only the one who is separate from sinners is able to draw near to sinners.
Luke. 15:3 “So He spoke this parable to them, saying:”
YLT: “And he spake unto them this simile, saying,”
Meaning of Words: “parable”: illustration, comparison.
Literal Meaning: “so” shows that v.1-2 is the background and origin for the following three parables.
“Parable” is a way to express the profound truth with things that all are familiar with.
Spiritual Meaning: The three parables that the Lord has said in this chapter typify that the Holy Trinity loves sinners and finds and accepts sinners:
1) The Son came to the world, found sinners on the earth and brought sinners who had repented to the household of God (v.3-7).
2) The Spirit searches in the hearts of sinners until sinners are moved to repent to God (v.8-10).
3) God the Father accepts sinners who have repented and turned to Him and He makes merry and is glad (v.11-32).
Luke. 15:4 “‘What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?”
YLT: “`What man of you having a hundred sheep, and having lost one out of them, doth not leave behind the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go on after the lost one, till he may find it?”
The Background: “the one which is lost” Sheep are naturally stupid and clumsy and they are easy to get lost. Therefore they need to be shepherded and guided by shepherds.
Spiritual Meaning: “a hundred sheep” symbolize the world and they specially indicate the Jews. “One of them which is lost” symbolizes the sinner and her it specially indicates the tax collectors and sinners of the Jews. “The ninety-nine” symbolize those who are self-righteous and unwilling to repent and here they specially indicate the Pharisees and scribes of the Jews. “The shepherd that finds the sheep” is the type of Christ.
“Does not leave the nine-nine in the wilderness” “wilderness” symbolizes the world. “Leave in the wilderness” shows that Christ came to the world and dwelt among men (See John.1: 14).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Probably we hold that we are the smallest one among the very many Christians. However, the Lord values us and He will never forget us. If we get lost, He will go out sorrowfully and find us back.
2) The parable of the lost sheep shows that if men depart from Christ, they will lose His abundant shepherding, provision, rest, guidance, protection and etc (See Ps. 23).
Luke. 15:5 “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”
YLT: “and having found, he doth lay [it] on his shoulders rejoicing,”
Spiritual Meaning: “he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing” “lays it on his shoulders” It shows the power of the Lord to save us and the love of His salvation.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) When the shepherd finds the sheep, he does not punish the sheep and “lays it on his shoulders” and brings it to home. Every time we are found again by the Lord after we have departed from the Lord, we lie down in the bosom of the Lord and enjoy the Lord’s grace and then return to the church.
2) “On his shoulders” It implies that those who have been saved have the special position and the intimate relationship with the Lord. The ordinary men cannot know it.
Luke. 15:6 “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'”
YLT: “and having come to the house, he doth call together the friends and the neighbours, saying to them, Rejoice with me, because I found my sheep the lost one.”
Literal Meaning: the shepherd did not rejoice that he was exempt from the loss but rejoice that the sheep avoided swallowed by wild beasts.
Spiritual Meaning: “when he comes home” “house” typifies the household of God, i.e. the assembly.
“He calls together his friends and neighbors” “his friends and neighbors” are the type of the Holy Trinity and angels.
Luke. 15:7 “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”
YLT: “`I say to you, that so joy shall be in the heaven over one sinner reforming, rather than over ninety-nine righteous men, who have no need of reformation.”
Meaning of Words: “repentance”: the change of thoughts and minds.
Literal Meaning: “repent” means that one’s thoughts turn to God from the rebellion against God. “Need no repentance” It is the ironic word and it is said to the Pharisees (See v.2) that they are self-righteous (See Matt. 5:27-39; 7:36-50; 18:9) and do not think that they need to repent.
“Likewise there will be more joy in heaven” God’s care and joy to the repentance of sinners is in strong contrast with the attitude of the Pharisees and scribes (See v.2).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The self-righteous ones think that they are good and do not need to repent and therefore they won’t repent and “need no repentance”.
2) Confessing that one is the lost sinner and repenting could bring the Lord the fullness of joy. However, He cannot have this kind of joy from those who do not need the repentance.
Luke. 15:8 “‘Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?”
YLT: “`Or what woman having ten drachms, if she may lose one drachm, doth not light a lamp, and sweep the house, and seek carefully till that she may find?”
The Background: “one coin” was the drachma in the Greek currency system and it was equal to one Roman denarii. It was about the daily wage of a worker at that time (See Matt. 20:2).
“Search carefully” In the ancient times, the windows of houses were very small and there weren’t widows even in some houses and the land was the soil. Therefore it was difficult to find a coin.
It is said that in ancient time, the Jewish women liked to wear a string of adornment named semedi on the forehead. The semedi was made of silver. This string of semedi represented the token of engagement or marriage. Though it was not of great value, it was priceless in the sight of that woman who wore it. Therefore once one coin was lost, she must sweep the house and search carefully until she found it.
Spiritual Meaning: “woman” typifies the Holy Spirit. “Ten silver coins” symbolize the world and here they specially indicate the Jews. “One coin which is lost” symbolizes sinners and here it specially indicates the tax collectors and sinners of the Jews. “Nine coins” symbolize those who are self-righteous and unwilling to repent and here they specially indicate the Pharisees and scribes of the Jews.
“Light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully” “Light a lamp” symbolizes that the Holy Spirit lightens men by God’s words (See Ps. 119:105, 130). “Sweep the house” symbolizes that the Holy Spirit inspires men’s hearts. “Search carefully” symbolizes the anointing and working of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lightens, inspires and works in the hearts of sinners and makes sinners be aware of their positions and states and then they would repent.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The parable of the coin which is lost shows that we are God’s possession. He values us and is unwilling to leave us in darkness.
2) The coin which is lost loses its value of existence in the sight of its master. If we do not live at the Spirit’s (the woman’s) disposal, we will lose all the spiritual value.
Luke. 15:9 “And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!'”
YLT: “and having found, she doth call together the female friends and the neighbours, saying, Rejoice with me, for I found the drachm that I lost.”
Spiritual Meaning: “she calls her friends and neighbors together” “her friends and neighbors” are the type of the Holy Trinity and angels.
Luke. 15:10 “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’”
YLT: “`So I say to you, joy doth come before the messengers of God over one sinner reforming.’”
Luke. 15:11 “Then He said: ‘A certain man had two sons.”
YLT: “And he said, ‘A certain man had two sons,”
Spiritual Meaning: “a certain man” indicates the father, the type of God the Father. “Two sons” symbolize the world that is created by God.
Luke. 15:12 “And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' So he divided to them his livelihood.”
YLT: “and the younger of them said to the father, Father, give me the portion of the substance falling to [me], and he divided to them the living.”
Meaning of Words: “goods”: property; “livelihood”: the means of livelihood, this life, living.
The Background: according to the custom of the Jews, the elder son is given the double portion of all (See Deut. 21:17) and therefore “the portion of goods that falls to the younger son” should be one third of the goods. The father may divide the livelihood beforehand and he still keeps his livelihood until his death. Usually the father would not divide the goods practically during his lifetime.
Literal Meaning: “give me the portion of goods that falls to me” “the portion of goods that falls to me” indicates the possession that the son should inherit.
“So he divided to them his livelihood.” “Livelihood” in the original means life and it is also translated as this life (8:14), i.e. the present state of existence. It could also be translated as “the living” (Mark. 12:44) which includes the way of making a living. It indicates what the father relies on, i.e. the living and property of the father.
Spiritual Meaning: “the younger son” symbolizes the sinner and here he specially indicates the tax collectors and sinners of the Jews (See v.1). “Father” symbolizes God the Father. “Livelihood” symbolizes the inborn ability and wisdom, body and belongings that God has given men.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If we value what of “God” (“goods”) more than God Himself, God will surely give us them because they are the portion that fall to us. However, we should take care that the gaining of God’s “livelihood” would always make us depart from God Himself (See v.13).
2) Whenever we grasp things “of God” in our hands and do not allow God to control them, we are the prodigal sons. Even if we are still in the household of God, our hearts have already departed from God’s household.
Luke. 15:13 “And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.”
YLT: “`And not many days after, having gathered all together, the younger son went abroad to a far country, and there he scattered his substance, living riotously;”
Meaning of Words: “with prodigal living”: live a life of luxury; “waste”: scatter; “possession” is the same with “portion” in v.12 in the original.
Spiritual Meaning: “journeyed to a far country” “far” symbolizes the world that lies under the control of Satan.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The way for the world to fall is to be independent of God first (See v.12) and then to depart from God------“journeyed to a far country”.
2) Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting (Rom. 1:28)------“there wasted his possessions with prodigal living”.
Luke. 15:14 “But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.”
YLT: “and he having spent all, there came a mighty famine on that country, and himself began to be in want;”
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “Things that God gives us” are limited. However, God Himself is unlimited. Those who only seek the limited things that are given by God and lose the unlimited God will consequently “have spent all” and “begin to be in want”.
2) Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god (See Ps. 16:4).
Luke. 15:15 “Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.”
YLT: “and having gone on, he joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him to the fields to feed swine,”
The Background: “swine” is unclean and dirty in the sight of God (Lev. 11:7; 2Pet. 2:22). Generally speaking, the Jews did not feed swine at that time because swine could neither be sacrificed nor be eaten as food (the Jews do not eat pork) and therefore the one who kept the swine may be the Gentile.
Spiritual Meaning: “then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country” It symbolizes that he relies on the way and help of the world and men.
“And he sent him into his fields to feed swine.” “Fields” symbolize the world. “Feed swine” symbolizes the unclean business.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) There is a group of people in the society. They seem to be normal from their appearance, handling all kinds of professions diligently day and night. However most of their works are unclean and dirty.
2) The feature of swine is that it “keeps feeding” and in the end it becomes men’s food. The feature of the world is that they keep seeking earthly enjoyment and in the end they turn to be the devil’s enjoyment.
3) If believers depart from God and turn to seek the help from men, what they gain is merely like “feeding swine” that is unclean and dirty in the sight of God and despised by God’s people.
Luke. 15:16 “And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.”
YLT: “and he was desirous to fill his belly from the husks that the swine were eating, and no one was giving to him.”
Background: “pod” is the seed of
a kind of evergreen tree in
Spiritual Meaning: the verse typifies that the one who falls in sin lives a miserable and shabby life.
Luke. 15:17 “‘But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!”
YLT: “`And having come to himself, he said, How many hirelings of my father have a superabundance of bread, and I here with hunger am perishing!”
Spiritual Meaning: “he came to himself” “come to” is due to the Holy Spirit’s lightening and searching in his heart (See v.8).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) God always reminds men about something or speaks to men by the circumstances. Many times, the tough circumstances are the hidden blessings.
2) Sinner always comes to himself in his inward part first and then has the outward changes of behaviors.
3) Men’s awakening includes two aspects: one is to see the richness of God and the other is to see his own poorness.
4) The one who really comes to himself thinks over God instead of himself.
5) If one has not seen his own state that “he is extremely distressed”, it will be difficult for him to set his mind to believe in God.
Luke. 15:18 “I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,”
YLT: “having risen, I will go on unto my father, and will say to him, Father, I did sin to the heaven, and before thee,”
The Background: “I have sinned against heaven” The Jews usually dare not call God directly and therefore they use heaven to present God.
Spiritual Meaning: “I will arise” It symbolizes the determination of repentance of a sinner who comes to himself.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If men only come to themselves and have not changed their minds (repentance), it is still of effect.
2) Repentance is to come to God the Father and repent towards God. Repentance is neither repenting towards goodness nor giving up evil to return to good but turning one’s mind to God.
3) All sins not only sin against men but also sin against God Himself. And because one’s sin has sinned against God and then it sins against men.
4) If one really knows his state of corruption, he nearly walks on the way to be granted grace and be saved.
Luke. 15:19 “and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.’”
YLT: “and no more am I worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hirelings.”
Literal Meaning: the words of the prodigal son show that: 1) He was unaware of the love of his father. 2) He did not dare to hope to gain the blessing as a son. 3) He wanted to atone for mistakes by meritorious services.
Spiritual Meaning: “and I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” It symbolizes that men think that they are unworthy to gain God’s grace freely.
“Make me like one of your hired servants.” It symbolizes that men want to please God by the improvement of their behaviors.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Once a depraved sinner repents, he wants to work for God and serve Him in order to please Him. They are unaware that the thought is actually against God’s love and grace and it even humiliates God’s heart and will.
2) Men measure God’s salvation with the wrong concept of “hired servants”: if I give God what He deserves, He will give me what I deserve. If I work for God, He will give me the wage. God gives us according to that I give to Him.
Luke. 15:20 “‘And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.”
YLT: “`And having risen, he went unto his own father, and he being yet far distant, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and having ran he fell upon his neck and kissed him;”
Literal Meaning: “But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him” It did not take place by accident. The father must overlook at the gate every day and wait for the prodigal son to return home.
“And had compassion” Please note that his father had compassion before the younger son began to speak.
“And ran” “Ran” shows the urgency of the father. By running the father used the shortest time to shorten the distance.
“And fell on his neck and kissed him.” It was the warm and kind acceptance.
Please note that the description of the father in this verse is very vivid: 1) “saw” his eyes moved. 2) “had compassion” his heart moved. 3) “ran” his feet moved. 4) “kissed him” his mouth moved. The father moved from head to foot.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “And he arose and came to his father.” If the prodigal son only comes to himself in his heart and has not repented, he won’t be accepted by his father. We should have the outward behaviors to match up with the inner inspiration.
2) “When he was still a great way off, his father saw him.” It is not that the prodigal son knocks the door but that the father has already waited for the prodigal son at that gate. It is not that a sinner repents to God but that God waits for and accepts the sinner who has repented.
3) It is not that a sinner is forgiven because he prays to God and moves Him but that the moment a sinner repents, God forgives him.
4) A sinner thought that God was very awesome and should be feared when he repented. However, after he has repented he finds that how kindly and amiable God is!
5) The prodigal son (a sinner) returns to God the Father due to the Holy Spirit’s searching (See v.8). God the Father accepts the prodigal son who comes back due to Christ’s searching in His redemption (See v.4).
Luke. 15:21 “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.'”
YLT: “and the son said to him, Father, I did sin to the heaven, and before thee, and no more am I worthy to be called thy son.”
Literal Meaning: please note that in this verse the prodigal son did not finish the words that he had prepared and he lacked that “make me like one of your hired servants” (See v.19), showing that he was interrupted by his father.
Enlightenment in the Word: God only accepts a sinner’s confession and does not accept a sinner’s prayer to atone for a crime by good deeds. God likes that men admit their wrongness and does not like men to think that they could do something for Him.
Luke. 15:22 “‘But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.”
YLT: “`And the father said unto his servants, Bring forth the first robe, and clothe him, and give a ring for his hand, and sandals for the feet;”
Meaning of Words: “the best”: the first.
Literal Meaning: “But the father said to his servants” “But” fully shows the father’s love and grace. It was contrary to the thought of the prodigal son and it interrupted his nonsense.
“Bring out the best robe.” The father only mentioned “the best robe”, showing that the servants already knew the robe that the father had mentioned. “The” indicates that the special robe was prepared for the peculiar aim and time. “The best robe” is the symbol of nobleness and it represents the sonship. “Bring out” matches up with the father’s “ran” (See v.20).
“Put a ring on his hand” “Ring” is the symbol of authority and it represents the authority of son.
“And sandals on his feet.” The slaves were barefoot. “Sandals” is the symbol of freedom and the sandals represent the freedom of son.
Robe, ring and sandals, each of them symbolizes the position and acceptance (See Gen. 41:42; Zech. 3:4).
Spiritual Meaning: “servants” typify angels who are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation (Heb. 1:14).
“The best robe” symbolizes that Christ is the righteousness that satisfies God and He covers sinners who have repented (Jer. 23:6; 1Cor. 1:30; See Is. 61:10; Zech. 3:4).
“Ring” symbolizes the seal of the Holy Spirit with which believers who have been accepted by God have been sealed (See Eph. 1:13; Gen. 24:47; 41:42).
“Sandals” symbolize the power of God’s salvation that makes believers be separate from the dirty land.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) One’s being saved is according to the mind of God instead of our mind.
2) We should be condemned “but” God has justified us. We should be punished “but” God deals with us with His kindness.
3) Whenever a sinner turns back, immediately he is son in God’s sight.
4) “The best robe” replaces the filthy clothes of the prodigal son (See Is. 64:6).
5) The best robe on him, the ring on his hand and the sandals on his feet make the poor prodigal son match up with his rich father and be qualified to enter father’s household and sit with the father. God’s salvation is to adorn us with Christ and the Holy Spirit so that we could enjoy the fullness of His household.
6) Salvation shows the abundance of the household of God instead of our poorness. A man of God’s household could enjoy the abundance of God’s household joyfully and there is no need for us to dare that we may use it up.
Luke. 15:23 “And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry;”
YLT: “and having brought the fatted calf, kill [it], and having eaten, we may be merry,”
Meaning of Words: “kill”: sacrifice.
The Background: the Jews kept “the fatted calf” in the cattle-shed, especially for the use of significantly joyous and special occasions, e.g. the reception of noble guests and special feasts.
Literal Meaning: “the best robe” (v.22) makes the prodigal son be able to meet the requirements of the father so that the father is satisfied. “The fatted calf” makes the prodigal son be filled and no longer feels hungry. Therefore the father and son could rejoice together.
Spiritual Meaning: “the fatted calf” symbolizes the full Christ (See Eph. 3:8) who died for us on the cross and became the enjoyment of believers.
God’s salvation has two aspects: the best robe symbolizes the outer and objective aspect and the fatted calf symbolizes the inner and subjective aspect. It is our outer salvation that Christ is our righteousness. It is our inner salvation that Christ is our life and enjoyment.
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.”
YLT: “because this my son was dead, and did live again, and he was lost, and was found; and they began to be merry.”
Spiritual Meaning: “was dead and is
alive again, he was lost and is found” All sinners who were lost were dead in
the sight of God and they had been quickened together with Christ when they
were saved (See Eph. 2:1, 5; John. 5:24-25;
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The one who “was dead and is alive again and was lost and is found” is more precious than the original and natural one in the sight of the Holy Trinity and makes Him happier (See v.7, 10).
2) Keeping the natural good points and inborn goodness is of little spiritual value. Only Christ’s life of resurrection that has been manifested after the work of death of the cross is in accord with God’s eternal will.
3) “And they began to be merry.” Once the joy of salvation begins, it won’t end.
Luke. 15:25 “‘Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.”
YLT: “`And his elder son was in a field, and as, coming, he drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing,”
Spiritual Meaning: “his older son” symbolizes those who are self-righteous and do not repent and here it specially indicates the Pharisees and the scribes (See v.2) who rely on their works (what “in the field” stands for) and follow after the Law of righteousness (See Rom. 9:31-32).
Luke. 15:26 “So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.”
YLT: “and having called near one of the young men, he was inquiring what these things might be,”
Luke. 15:27 “And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.'”
YLT: “and he said to him Thy brother is arrived, and thy father did kill the fatted calf, because in health he did receive him back.”
Meaning of Words: “safe and sound”: in health, wholesome.
Luke. 15:28 “‘But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.”
YLT: “`And he was angry, and would not go in, therefore his father, having come forth, was entreating him;”
Spiritual Meaning: “But he was angry and would not go in.” The resentment of the elder son is just like the attitude of the Pharisees and the scribes who rejected the Lord Jesus.
There are two kinds of sins of men: the sin of behaviors and the sin of disposition. What the younger son had committed was the sin of behaviors and the elder son committed the sin of disposition. The sin of disposition includes selfishness, jealousy, pride, anger, unkindness, self-righteousness, viciousness and cruelty.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Darby said that “self-righteousness does not have a foothold where God takes delight in. If God deals with sinners with kindness, what is the use of our righteousness?”
2) We should examine ourselves carefully and we
should not have the spirit of the elder son who was angry outside and “would
not go in” when others enter the
Luke. 15:29 “So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.”
YLT: “and he answering said to the father, Lo, so many years I do serve thee, and never thy command did I transgress, and to me thou didst never give a kid, that with my friends I might make merry;”
Meaning of Words: “transgress”: neglect, pass away, past.
Literal Meaning: please note that the elder son looked forward to making merry with his friends and would not come home and be merry with the father.
Spiritual Meaning: “Lo, these many years I have been serving you” symbolizes that the Pharisees and the scribes were slaves under the Law and they kept the letters and ordinances of the Law.
Luke. 15:30 “But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.'”
YLT: “but when thy son this one who did devour thy living with harlots came, thou didst kill to him the fatted calf.”
Literal Meaning: please note that in v.29-30 the elder son did not call “father” but “your, your, you”. It shows that though he toiled and labored, he did not respect his father from his heart and on the contrary, he hated his father.
“This son of yours” The heart of the brother was so vicious that he even did not admit that the prodigal son was his brother. The parable shows that the Pharisees did not understand the love of God and in their hearts they held the exclusive sense of self-centered that was vastly different from the love of God.
Luke. 15:31 “‘And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.”
YLT: “`And he said to him, Child, thou art always with me, and all my things are thine;”
Enlightenment in the Word: those who lack the spiritual revelation do not know God’s presence (“you are always with me”) and Christ’s fullness (“all that I have”), i.e. the rewards that God will give men (“is yours”). Therefore in their religious life, they have never tasted Christ as their satisfaction and rejoice (See v.29) and they are jealous of the younger brothers who seem be less pious than them and gain the full enjoyment and they disdain to enter the full enjoyment with them together (See v.28).
Luke. 15:32 “It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”
YLT: “but to be merry, and to be glad, it was needful, because this thy brother was dead, and did live again, he was lost, and was found.’”
Please see the note of v.24.
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
The General View of the Parables of God’s Salvation
I. They typify the work of the Holy Trinity:
A. The Son of God the Lord Jesus found it and laid it on His shoulders (v.3-7).
B. The Holy Spirit lightened and found it (v.8-10).
C. The Father accepted the son (v.11-32).
II. They symbolize three kinds of relationship between men and God:
A. Sheep symbolize that men were taken care of by God (v.3-7).
B. Coins symbolize that men were possessions that were valued by God (v.8-10).
C. The son symbolizes that men were of God and were for the joy of God (v.11-32).
III. They symbolize three kinds of reasons and results of sin:
A. The sheep was lost in the wilderness because of ignorance (v.3-7).
B. The coin was lost in the darkness because it fell from the high (v.8-10).
C. The prodigal son was lost in sin because he departed from the household of the father (v.11-32).
IV. They symbolize three kinds of reasons and results of repentance:
A. One was laid on His shoulder because the Lord found him (v.3-7)------He takes the responsibility to men.
B. One was put on His head because the Holy Spirit lightened him (v.8-11)------He values men.
C. One was embraced by Him because of God’s acceptance (v.11-32)------He protects men.
V. They symbolize that God the Father likes sinners who repent more than those who are self-righteous and do not repent:
A. The lost sheep was found and it typifies that a sinner repents. The ninety nine sheep typify those who are self-righteous and do not repent (v.3-7).
B. The lost coin was found and it typifies that a sinner repents. The nine coins typify those who are self-righteous and do not repent (v.8-10).
C. The younger son returned home and it typifies that a sinner repents. The younger son typifies those who are self-righteous and do not repent (v.11-32).
The Shepherd Found the Lost Sheep
I. Having a hundred sheep (v.4a)------it typifies that the world are of the Lord.
II. He loses one of them (v.4b)------it typifies that a sinner is far away from the Lord and is lost in the world.
III. And go after the one which is lost (v.4c)------it typifies that the Lord came to find men.
IV. He has found it, rejoicing (v.5a)-----it typifies that the Lord likes sinners repenting.
V. He lays it on his shoulders, he comes home (v.5b)------it typifies that the power of the Lord brings sinners return to the household of God.
VI. He calls together his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him (v.6)-----it typifies that the Holy Trinity and angels are merry because a sinner has repented.
VII. There will be more joy over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance (v.7)------it typifies that the one who repents makes Him happier than those who are self-righteous and do not repent.
A Woman Found the Lost Coin
II. Having ten silver coins (v.8b)------it typifies that the world are of Him.
III. She loses one coin (v.8b)------it typifies that a sinner falls in the darkness.
IV. Light a lamp (v.8b)------it typifies the lightening of the Holy Spirit.
V. Sweep the house (v.8b)------it typifies that the Holy Spirit inspires one’s heart.
VI. Search carefully (v.8b)------it typifies that the anointment of the Holy Spirit is meticulous.
VII. Until she finds it (v.8c)------it typifies that until the Holy Spirit makes a sinner repent.
VIII. She calls her friends and neighbors together to rejoice with her (v.9-10)------it typifies that the Holy Trinity and angels are merry because a sinner has repented.
The Father Accepted the Prodigal Son
1. A father (v.11a)------he typifies God the Father.
2. Had two sons (v.11b)------it typifies that the world are of God.
3. The younger of them (v.12a)------he typifies a sinner.
4. He asked his father to give him the portion of goods (v.12b)------it typifies that he has received all the talents and properties from God.
5. Gathered all together (v.13a)------it typifies that men rebel against God and are unwilling to be at God’s disposal.
6. Journeyed to a far country (v.13b)------it typifies that men are far away from God.
7. There wasted his possessions with prodigal living (v.13c)------it typifies that a sinner falls in sin and hurts himself.
8. He had spent all (v.14a)------it typifies that men use up all that God has given them.
9. There arose a severe famine in that land (v.14b)------it typifies that nothing in the world could satisfy his heart.
10. And he began to be in want (v.14c)------it typifies the poorness and vanity of one’s hearts.
11. Joined himself to a citizen of that country (v.15a)------it typifies that he relies on men’s way.
12. He sent him into his fields to feed swine (v.15b)------it typifies that he lives a unclean and sinful life in the world.
13. He would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything (v.16)------it typifies that he lives an inhuman life.
14. He came to himself (v.17a)------it typifies that the awakening of the heart of a sinner.
15. How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger (v.17b)------it typifies that he years for God’s blessing.
16. I will arise and go to my father (v.18a)-----it typifies that he has an idea to turn to God.
17. I will say to the father, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you (v.18b)------it typifies that he feels that he has sinned against God.
18. I am no longer worthy to be called your son (v.19a)------it typifies that he feels that he is unworthy to gain God’s blessing freely.
19. Make me like one of your hired servants. (v.19b)------it typifies that he wants to make amends for his sins by his deeds.
20. He arose and came to his father (v.20a)------it typifies that he puts the inspiration of heart into practice.
21. When he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion (v.20b)------it typifies that God waits sinners to repent and He deals with sinners with kindness and mercy the moment sinners show their indication of repentance.
22. The father ran and fell on his neck and kissed him (v.20c)------it typifies that God’s remission is immediate and complete.
23. The son said…(v.21)------it typifies a sinner’s prayer of repentance.
24. But the father (v.22a)------it typifies that the response of the father surpasses all understanding of sinners.
25. Servants (v.22b)------they typify angels.
26. Bring out the best robe and put it on him (v.22b)------it typifies that a sinners puts on Christ as his robe of righteousness so that he could be justified before God (See Is. 61:10; 1Cor. 1:30).
27. Put a ring on his hand (v.22b)------it typifies that a sinner was sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (See Eph. 1:13).
28. Put sandals on his feet (v.22c)------it typifies that a sinner gains the benefit of gospel, i.e. the power of salvation that could make him be separate from the world (See Eph. 6:15).
29. Bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry (v.23)------it typifies that Chris was killed on the cross for sinners and became the enjoyment of both men and God.
30. This my son was dead and is alive again (v.24a)------it typifies that sinners were dead in their trespasses and sins and have been quickened together with Christ (See Eph. 2:1, 5).
31. He was lost and is found (v.24b)------it typifies that sinners were far away from God and did not seek God and now they turn back to God.
32. They began to be merry (v.24c)------it typifies that God and men have the fullness of joy together.
Three Phases of the Prodigal Son
A. He loved money more than his father (God).
B. He loved the pleasures of sin more than money.
C. He sought help from men instead of his father (God).
II. He came to himself (v.17-21)------the phase that he repented and turned to God:
A. He saw His poor state.
B. He yearned for the blessing of the household of his father (God).
C. He confessed his sin and repented to the father (God).
III. He was merry (v.22-24)------the phase that he enjoyed the joy of salvation:
A. He enjoyed the father’s (God) acceptance and abundant preparation.
B. He received Christ as his robe of righteousness.
C. He was sealed with the Holy Spirit.
D. He enjoyed the benefit of gospel, i.e. the power of salvation.
E. He enjoyed the life of Christ and enjoyed Him as the provision of life.
F. He enjoyed the heavenly joy in the household of the father (God).
Five Verbs Show the Progress of the Heart of A Sinner
II. “Began to be in want” (v.14)------the result of being far away from God must be the poorness and vanity of one’s spirit.
III. “I will arise” (v.18)------he was awakened because of the lightening of the Holy Spirit.
IV. “And he arose” (v.20)------he used his will to put his heart of repentance into practice.
V. “They began to be merry” (v.24)------a sinner has repented and then God and men are merry.
The One who Is Self-righteous and Does not Repent
II. Was in the filed (v.25b)------it typifies that he makes amends to please God by his deeds in the world.
III. He was angry when he heard that his father welcomed the return of his younger brother (v.25c-28a)------it typifies that he does not agree on the way of God’s redemption.
IV. He would not go in (v.28b)------it typifies that he is unwilling to enter God’s assembly.
V. He complained that the father did not repay his faithful service of many years (v.29a)------it typifies his self-righteousness that he thinks that he has already kept the Law of God and should be worthy of God’s reward.
VI. That I might make merry with my friends (v.29b)------it typifies that he desires something besides God.
The Comparisons of Two Sons
A. One was in the field (v.25) and the other fed swine in the field (v.15)------both of them were in the world.
B. One drew near to the house (v.25) and the other journeyed to a far country (v.13)------both of them departed from the household of God.
C. One had friends (v.29) and the other had harlots (v.30)------both of them desired others besides God.
D. His father came out and pleased with one (v.28) and his father waited for and looked forward to the other (v.20)------both of them were not in accord with the will of God.
E. One was lost in his self-righteousness (v.29) and the other was lost in sin (v.13-16)------both of them were prodigal sons.
II. The elder son was inferior to the younger son:
A. The younger son who was far away came back (v.20), however, the elder son who drew near to the house would not go in (v.28).
B. The younger son and his father began to be merry (v.24), however, the elder son was angry with his father (v.28).
C. The younger son felt that he sinned against his father (v.21), however, the elder son felt that his father owed him (v.29).
D. The younger son felt that he was unworthy to be called his son (v.21), however, the elder son felt that his father was unworthy to be called his father (v.29).
E. The younger son confessed his sin and was humble before his father (v.21), however, the elder son boasted and was proud before his father (v.29).
F. The younger son delighted himself in his father (v.24), however, the elder son delighted himself in his friends (v.29).
The Knowledge of The Heart of God the Father
II. Though men’s requests are unjust, He still gives them (v.12)------He gives men the will of freedom and respects men’s authority.
III. He waits for sinners and hopes that they could repent (v.20a).
IV. He accepts and forgives sinners who have repented (v.20b).
V. He gives men the adoption as sons (v.22)------He predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:5).
VI. He enjoys the joy of salvation with sinners who have repented together (v.23).
VII. He pleases with the sinner who is self-righteous and does not repent (v.28).
VIII. He is willing to give men all that He has (v.31)------He promises to give men the heavenly blessing.
IX. He does not think of the old wrongness of men and only looks at men’s present states (v.24, 32).
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Sharon Ren