The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Luke 15:11-32 (NRSV)

Luke 15:11-32

11 Then Jesus[a] said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with[b] the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[c] 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends.30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father[d] said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’” 

Historical and Literary World

Luke 15:11-32 is considered a parable which is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels. The important detail that makes this a parable and not a narrative is that Jesus is telling the story of the Prodigal Son. If any other person were to be narrating this story, it would be a narrative. It is predicted that Luke took place during the late 50’s A.D.E. or early 60’s A.D.E. and the possible settings for this writing are Antioch, Achaia, and Ephesus. These parables were directed to the Theophilus. From what we know about Luke, we can assume that the author of Luke is the same author as Acts of the Apostles because of the language and structure of writing. This book focuses on loss and redemption. In Luke, it has a rebel son who represents the lost, people who stray away from God, the father represents God, and the older son represents people who follow the Bible to the T and expect to be rewarded for it. Having the lost come back to god shows that as long as one is humbled to his actions, God will always be there: if mistakes are realized, God will welcome back with open arms and can be redeemed. It’s not about being the perfect Christian to God, as the older son was to his father, but about being a genuine follower/believer is what Jesus was trying to convey with this parable.

Barker, Kenneth L., and John MacArthur. “Context.” The Prodigal Son. December 14, 2011. Accessed December 12, 2016. http://lukeprodigalson.blogspot.com/p/historical-context.html.

Collection, Royal. “Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) – The Prodigal Son.” Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) – The Prodigal Son. 2016. Accessed December 11, 2016. https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/800038/the-prodigal-son

Bibliography

Barker, Kenneth L., and John MacArthur. “Context.” The Prodigal Son. December 14, 2011. Accessed December 12, 2016. http://lukeprodigalson.blogspot.com/p/historical-context.html.

Collection, Royal. “Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) – The Prodigal Son.” Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) – The Prodigal Son. 2016. Accessed December 11, 2016. https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/800038/the-prodigal-son.

Cross, John R. “7. The Lost Son (Luke 15:11-32).” Bible.org. 2007. Accessed December 11, 2016. https://bible.org/seriespage/7-lost-son-luke-1511-32.

Kren, Emil, and Daniel Marx. “The Return of the Prodigal Son.” Web Gallery of Art. Accessed December 11, 2016. http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/r/rembrand/14biblic/69newtes.html.

“Rembrandt Van Rijn: Biography and Chronology.” Rembrandt Painting. Accessed December 11, 2016. http://www.rembrandtpainting.net/rembrandt_life_and_work.htm.

Wellman, Jack. “Parable of the Prodigal Son: Summary, Meaning and Commentary – Christian Crier.” Patheos. April 22, 2014. Accessed December 12, 2016. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2014/04/22/parable-of-the-prodigal-son-summary-meaning-and-commentary/.

Zondervan. “Intro to Luke.” Biblica. 2016. Accessed December 11, 2016. http://www.biblica.com/bible/online-bible/scholar-notes/niv-study-bible/intro-to-luke/.

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