Luke 15

The Parable of the Lost Sheep and Coin

Now all the tax collectors
See the note on tax collectors in 3:12.
and sinners were coming
Grk “were drawing near.”
to hear him.
But
Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.
the Pharisees
See the note on Pharisees in 5:17.
and the experts in the law
Or “and the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 5:21.
were complaining,
Or “grumbling”; Grk “were complaining, saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.
“This man welcomes
Or “accepts,” “receives.” This is not the first time this issue has been raised: Luke 5:27–32; 7:37–50.
sinners and eats with them.”

So
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.
Jesus
Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
told them
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.
this parable:
Grk “parable, saying.” The participle λέγων (legōn) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.
“Which one
Grk “What man.” The Greek word ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos) is used here in a somewhat generic sense.
of you, if he has a hundred
This individual with a hundred sheep is a shepherd of modest means, as flocks often had up to two hundred head of sheep.
sheep and loses one of them, would not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture
Or “desert,” but here such a translation might suggest neglect of the 99 sheep left behind.
and go look for
Grk “go after,” but in contemporary English the idiom “to look for” is used to express this.
the one that is lost until he finds it?
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.
Then
Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
when he has found it, he places it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
Returning
Grk “And coming into his…” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
home, he calls together
A touch of drama may be present, as the term calls together can mean a formal celebration (1 Kgs 1:9–10).
his
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.
friends and neighbors, telling them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.’
I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner
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.
who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people
Here δικαίοις (dikaiois) is an adjective functioning substantivally and has been translated “righteous people.”
who have no need to repent.
Or “who do not need to repent”; Grk “who do not have need of repentance.”


“Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins
This silver coin is a drachma, equal to a denarius, that is, a day’s pay for the average laborer.
and loses
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 (apolesē) in the conditional clause to improve the English style.
one of them,
Grk “one coin.”
does not light a lamp, sweep
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.
the house, and search thoroughly until she finds it?
Then
Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
when she has found it, she calls together her
Grk “the”; in context the article is used as a possessive pronoun (ExSyn 215).
friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice
Rejoice. Besides the theme of pursuing the lost, the other theme of the parable is the joy of finding them.
with me, for I have found the coin
Grk “drachma.”
that I had lost.’
10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels
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.
over one sinner who repents.”

The Parable of the Compassionate Father

11  Then
Here δέ (de) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
Jesus
Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
said, “A man had two sons.
12 The
Grk “And the.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
younger of them said to his
Grk “the”; in context the article is used as a possessive pronoun (ExSyn 215).
father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate
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.”
that will belong
L&N 57.3, “to belong to or come to belong to, with the possible implication of by right or by inheritance.”
to me.’ So
Here δέ (de) has been translated as “so” to indicate the father’s response to the younger son’s request.
he divided his
Grk “the”; in context the article is used as a possessive pronoun (ExSyn 215).
assets between them.
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).
13 After
Grk “And after.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
a few days,
Grk “after not many days.”
the younger son gathered together all he had and left on a journey to a distant country, and there he squandered
Or “wasted.” This verb is graphic; it means to scatter (L&N 57.151).
his wealth
Or “estate” (the same word has been translated “estate” in v. 12).
with a wild lifestyle.
14 Then
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.
after he had spent everything, a severe famine took place in that country, and he began to be in need.
15 So he went and worked for
Grk “joined himself to” (in this case an idiom for beginning to work for someone).
one of the citizens of that country, who
Grk “and he.” Here the conjunction καί (kai) and the personal pronoun have been translated by a relative pronoun to improve the English style.
sent him to his fields to feed pigs.
To a Jew, being sent to the field to feed pigs would be an insult, since pigs were considered unclean animals (Lev 11:7).
16 He
Grk “And he.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
was longing to eat
Or “would gladly have eaten”; Grk “was longing to be filled with.”
the carob pods
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).
the pigs were eating, but
Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.
no one gave him anything.
17 But when he came to his senses
Grk “came to himself” (an idiom).
he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have food
Grk “bread,” but used figuratively for food of any kind (L&N 5.1).
enough to spare, but here I am dying from hunger!
18 I will get up and go to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned
In the confession “I have sinned” there is a recognition of wrong that pictures the penitent coming home and “being found.”
against heaven
The phrase against heaven is a circumlocution for God.
and against
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).”
you.
19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me
Or “make me.” Here is a sign of total humility.
like one of your hired workers.”’
20 So
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.
he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way from home
Grk “a long way off from [home].” The word “home” is implied (L&N 85.16).
his father saw him, and his heart went out to him;
Or “felt great affection for him,” “felt great pity for him.”
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.
he ran and hugged
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.
his son
Grk “him”; the referent (the son) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
and kissed him.
21 Then
Here δέ (de) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
his son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven
The phrase against heaven is a circumlocution for God. 1st century Judaism tended to minimize use of the divine name out of reverence.
and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
The younger son launches into his confession just as he had planned. See vv. 18–19.
22 But the father said to his slaves,
See the note on the word “slave” in 7:2.
‘Hurry! Bring the best robe,
With the instructions Hurry! Bring the best robe, there is a total acceptance of the younger son back into the home.
and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger
Grk “hand”; but χείρ (ceir) can refer to either the whole hand or any relevant part of it (L&N 8.30).
and sandals
The need for sandals underlines the younger son’s previous destitution, because he was barefoot.
on his feet!
23 Bring
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.
the fattened calf
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.
and kill it! Let us eat
The participle φαγόντες (fagontes) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.
and celebrate,
24 because this son of mine was dead, and is alive again – he was lost and is found!’
This statement links the parable to the theme of 15:6, 9.
So
Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the result of the father’s remarks in the preceding verses.
they began to celebrate.

25  “Now his older son was in the field. As
Grk “And as.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
he came and approached the house, he heard music
This would have been primarily instrumental music, but might include singing as well.
and dancing.
26 So
Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the result of the older son hearing the noise of the celebration in progress.
he called one of the slaves
The Greek term here, παῖς (pais), describes a slave, possibly a household servant regarded with some affection (L&N 87.77).
and asked what was happening.
27 The slave replied,
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.
‘Your brother has returned, and your father has killed the fattened calf
See note on the phrase “fattened calf” in v. 23.
because he got his son
Grk “him”; the referent (the younger son) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
back safe and sound.’
28 But the older son
Grk “he”; the referent (the older son, v. 25) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
became angry
The aorist verb ὠργίσθη (ōrgisqē) has been translated as an ingressive aorist, reflecting entry into a state or condition.
and refused
Ironically the attitude of the older son has left him outside and without joy.
to go in. His father came out and appealed to him,
29 but he answered
Grk “but answering, he said.” This is somewhat redundant in contemporary English and has been simplified to “but he answered.”
his father, ‘Look! These many years I have worked like a slave
Or simply, “have served,” but in the emotional context of the older son’s outburst the translation given is closer to the point.
for you, and I never disobeyed your commands. Yet
Here καί (kai) has been translated as “yet” to bring out the contrast indicated by the context.
you never gave me even a goat
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!”
so that I could celebrate with my friends!
30 But when this son of yours
Note the younger son is not “my brother” but this son of yours (an expression with a distinctly pejorative nuance).
came back, who has devoured
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.
your assets with prostitutes,
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.
you killed the fattened calf
See note on the phrase “fattened calf” in v. 23.
for him!’
31 Then
Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events in the parable.
the father
Grk “he”; the referent (the father) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and everything that belongs to me is yours.
32 It was appropriate
Or “necessary.”
to celebrate and be glad, for your brother
By referring to him as your brother, the father reminded the older brother that the younger brother was part of the family.
was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found.’”
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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