Luke 15
Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
Luke 15:1. Πάντες, all) Not merely very many; all who were in the place. [It is evident from this passage in what way the Saviour afforded to those who flocked together to Him, and joined themselves eagerly to Him, that very advantage, which He would have afforded to the people of Jerusalem, had they for their part been willing; namely, after the image of a hen, which protects and cherishes her young brood under her wings, so He cherished them.—Harm., p. 415.]

And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
Luke 15:2. Διεγόγγυζον, murmured among one another.

And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
Luke 15:3. Τὴν παραβολὴν τάυτην, this parable) Extending from verse 4 to 10. The former part declares the solicitude and joy which the Redeemer feels in behalf of His sheep: the second part, the same feelings on the part of God.

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
Luke 15:4. Τίς, what man) The lost sheep, the lost drachm (piece of money), and the lost son, express respectively the stupid (senseless) sinner, the sinner altogether ignorant of himself, and the knowing and wilful (voluntary) sinner.—ἐκατὸν, a hundred) From the greatness of the flock, the solicitude of the Shepherd for His one ewe sheep is evidenced—ἐν τῆ ἐρήμῳ in the wilderness) where the flock is pastured.—πορεύεται, goeth away) In the recovery of the soul, it is not man but God, who as it were labours. See Luke 15:8.—εὥς, even until) He does not previously give over the search: see Luke 15:8. It was for this reason that Jesus Christ followed sinners, even as far as to where their daily food was taken, even to their tables, where the greatest sins are committed.

And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
Luke 15:5. Ἑαυτοῦ, His own shoulders) He might have employed the agency of His servant; but love and joy render the exertion to Himself sweet and delightful.

And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
Luke 15:6. Ἐλθὼν εἰς τὸν οἶκον, having come home) It was evidently at the Ascension that Jesus Christ returned home; for heaven is His home: John 14:2. And it was at that time especially that He informed the heavenly beings as to His own doings (achievements) on earth: 1 Timothy 3:16. Hence the future, ἔσται, shall be, is used in Luke 15:7; but γίνεται there ariseth joy, present, in Luke 15:10.[154] Interchange the words with one another for a moment; you will then at once see the difference.—συγκαλεῖ, calleth together) Active here; but in Luke 15:9, συγκαλεῖται, Middle, she calleth together to herself.[155]—ΦΊΛΟΥς, ΓΕΊΤΟΝΑς friends, neighbours) Implying that there are different classes of the inhabitants of heaven, nay, even of the angels. See Luke 15:10. Men who are neighbours do not occupy the same, but an adjoining house; friends are those joined together by inclination (will).—τὸ) that sheep, which you know about. The heavenly beings are aware of the loss and recovery of souls.—[ΜΟΥ, my) Even whilst the sheep was lost, the right of the Shepherd over it remained unimpaired.—V. g.]—ἀπολωλὸς, which was lost) which I had lost (or destroyed), ἣν ἀπώλεσα, is the expression in Luke 15:9. The sheep, being a living creature, is lost as it were of its own accord, as contrasted with the drachm or piece of money.

[154] Appropriately, as Luke 15:7 is treating of the Redeemer’s work, the crowning of which at the ascension was still future; but Luke 15:10, the work of God, who even at that time, as at all times, rejoiced over repenting sinners.—E. and T.

[155] AD support συγκαλεῖται or συνκαλεῖται (Luke 15:9) of Rec. Text: and so Lachm. with Beng.; Tisch. συγκαλεῖ, with BLXΔ.—E. and T.

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Luke 15:7. Ὑμῖν, to you) Most weightily (impressively) the ‘murmuring’ [Luke 15:2] of the Pharisees is refuted by this joy.—χαρὰ) Joy, solemn and festive, upon hearing the tidings of the work of salvation accomplished on the earth.—[ἔσται, shall be) Future; whereby the return of Jesus to His Fatherland seems to be intimated.—V. g.]—ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, in heaven) The Shepherd, Jesus Christ, has even especially the spirits of just men as His “friends and neighbours,” inasmuch as they are sharers in this joy the more in proportion as they have the stronger tie of connection with men. In the 10th verse there is a gradation made (an ascending climax) to angels, who are named in that passage rather than men, because there Christ is not regarded as man [in His human nature, but only as God: note, Luke 15:3]. Nor are the angels said to know the fact from their intercourse with the man: for they are not all with the one man; but from the revelation of the Lord, which is equally capable of being vouchsafed to the spirits of just men. Comp. Hainlin’s Sol. Temp. f. 80, and Ven. Weisemann, H. E. P. 1, p. 106. So the other inhabitants of heaven are put in contradistinction to the angels, in Revelation 18:20; Revelation 19:1; Revelation 19:4; Revelation 19:6.—ἑνὶ, one) and much more joy over many; see Luke 15:1.—,) that is, μᾶλλον ἤ. See ch. Luke 18:14 [δεδικαιωμένος ἢ ἐκεῖνον, i.e. (μᾶλλον ἢ. So [156][157][158]. But [159] Orige[160] and Vulg., ΠΑΡʼ ἘΚΕῖΝΟΝ]. LXX., Psalms 118 :(117) 8, 9, [ἈΓΑΘῸΝ ΠΕΠΟΙΘΈΝΑΙ ἘΠῚ ΚΎΡΙΟΝ Ἢ, (i.e. μᾶλλον ἢ) ΠΕΠΟΙΘΈΝΑΙ ἘΠʼ ἌΝΘΡΩΠΟΝ, etc.] This clause is not added in Luke 15:10.—Οὐ ΧΡΕΊΑΝ ἜΧΟΥΣΙ, have no need) inasmuch as they are with the Shepherd, and have long ago obtained repentance. The righteous is in the (right) way; the penitent returns to the way.

[156] the Alexandrine MS.: in Brit. Museum: fifth century: publ. by Woide, 1786–1819: O. and N. Test. defective.

[157] Guelpherbytana: libr. Wolfenbuttel: Gospels def.: sixth cent.: publ. by Knittel, 1763.

[158] Guelpherbytana: libr. Wolfenbuttel: Gospels def.: sixth cent.: publ. by Knittel, 1763.

[159] the Vatican MS., 1209: in Vat. Iibr., Rome: fourth cent.: O. and N. Test. def.

[160] rigen (born about 186 A.D., died 253 A.D., a Greek father: two-thirds of the N. Test. are quoted in his writings). Ed. Vinc. Delarue, Paris. 1733, 1740, 1759.

Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
Luke 15:8. Γυνὴ, woman) There is signified Ἡ σοφία, Wisdom, or in other words, Koheleth (Ἐκκλησιαστὴς): or else רוח, the Holy Spirit, even as the Son is alluded to in the 4th verse, and the Father in the 11th verse. The relation in which man stands towards God (the aspect under which God views him) is various.—σαροῖ, sweeps) This cannot be done without dust, [though not on the part of God, but] on the part of man.

And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
Luke 15:9. Συγκαλεῖται, calleth together) forthwith.—τὰς φίλας καὶ τὰς γείτονας; female friends and neighbours) The angelic forces, viewed in themselves, have no distinction of sex. They are, however, regarded as acting either at home or abroad; Hebrews 1:14, note: when abroad, they are represented in man’s attire, which is suited to war: when at home, in the attire suited to peace, and which is that usually assigned to women.

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Luke 15:10. Γίνεται, there ensues [results, arises; not is, as Engl. Vers.]) not merely there shall ensue or arise [as in Luke 15:7, shall be, ἔσται]. In this passage heaven is most openly spoken of; as is also hell, in ch. Luke 16:23, which is the continuation of the same discourse. See the bond of connection between the two parts of the discourse, ch. Luke 16:1; Luke 16:14, etc.

And he said, A certain man had two sons:
Luke 15:11. Εἶπε δὲ, moreover He said) This parable has a degree of distinctness and separation from the first and second parables.

And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
Luke 15:12. Ὁ νεώτερος) ὁ ἕτερος) is the expression in Matthew 21:30. There is hereby signified a pair of sons different in character.—τὸ ἐπιβάλλον) So τοῦ καρποῦ τοῦ ἐπιβάλλοντός μοι λαβεῖν, 1Ma 10:29 (30).—μέρος, the portion) Each man receives his portion from God.—αὐτοῖς, to them) even to his elder son [as well as to the younger], though he was not asking for it; not giving up to him, however, as yet, the full actual enjoyment,[161] as appears from Luke 15:31.

[161] ‘Usufructus,’ which is both the usus and fructus; whereas usus is only the use, without the full enjoyment. In both usus and usufructus the ownership is not given, but still remains in the hands of another.—E. and T.

And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
Luke 15:13. Ἀσώτως) A word employed with great propriety. Ἄσωτος, ὁ δἰ αὐτὸν ἀπολλύμενος, i.e. one destroyed by himself, his own worst enemy; Aristot. b. iv. Eth. ch. 1, where ἀσωτία is excess of liberality conjoined with intemperance. [In this state, he was dead to his Fatherland, Luke 15:24.—V. g.]

And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
Luke 15:14. Αὐτὸς ἤρξατο, himself began) He was not among the last [as one might have expected from the ample means which he had taken with him to the “far country”] to feel the pressure of the famine.

And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
Luke 15:15. Τῶν πολιτῶν, of the citizens) although he did not himself become a citizen of that country. The man, whom a return to sound propriety of character is awaiting (is in store for), often, even in the midst of his wanderings (John 11:52, “The children of God—scattered abroad”), retains a something which distinguishes him from the ordinary (those who are distinctively and peculiarly) citizens of the world.—ἔπεμψεν, sent) A great indignity done to him.—χοίρους, swine) A mean condition of life, especially according to Jewish notions [of swine being ‘unclean’ animals].

And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
Luke 15:16. Γεμίσαι, fill) The greater was his emptiness, the greater in proportion was his appetite.—τῶν κερατίων) The Syriac Version has חרובא, from which the opinion seems in part to have originated, and in part is confirmed, namely, that of those who understand the word not of the husks of leguminous plants (pulse, beans, etc.), but of the fruit of the carob tree (“St John’s bread”), called καῤῥουβία (from which comes the French word carrouges), which was the food used by the poorest of men and by swine: as is the view of Maldonatus, Bochart, Drusius, Simonius, and before them, some one or other in the Greek Lexicon brought out by ten writers at Basle, 1584. Add Buxt. Lexicon Talm., who, col. 821, shows that חרוב is a species of tree. No doubt all κεράτια are siliquæ, leguminous plants; whether all siliquæ are to be called by the name, κεράτια, I know not.[162]

[162] i.e. All κεράτια are ‘siliquæ’ no doubt; but the carob is a ‘siliqua’ of a particular species, “Siliqua Græca.” Therefore it is not certain that this particular siliqua was called κεράτια.—E. and T.

And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
Luke 15:17. Εἰς, to) The supply of foods that ministered to the scattering of his senses (which the French not inappropriately term se divertir, [the word diversion implying that one is thereby turned aside from self-inspection]) had now failed. The commencement of his return to himself is immediately linked to the height of his misery: it is by the latter that his mad recklessness in sin is cooled down, so that the man returns to himself, and presently after [also] to God. His repentance is his conversion.—[ἐγὼ δὲ ὧδε, but I here) The word, ὧδε, after ἐγὼ δὲ, has the force of here, emphatically.—Not. Crit.]

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
Luke 15:18. Ἀναστὰς, having arisen) The first steps of repentance are herein accurately indicated.—Πάτερ, Father) The name, Father, remains the same [His willingness to receive us in that character, as our Father, remains], even though the sons he degenerate.—εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν, against heaven) Comp. Luke 15:7 [which implies that the inhabitants of heaven have a concern in the sinner’s recovery, and therefore also in the fall of the sinner, who accordingly in part sins against them].

And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
Luke 15:19. Ποίησόν με) Use me as.—ἓνα) any one you please [even in the lowest position].—μισθίων, of thy hired servants) who are taken even from among strangers and aliens.

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
Luke 15:20. Καἰ, and) No sooner said than done.—εἶδεν, saw) returning back, starving, naked. Comp. Luke 15:22.—[καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη, and He had compassion (the bowels of His compassion yearned over him). This truly is a forgiveness, not even attended with the lowering (contraction) of the countenance in displeasure, or with a frown on the brow, Jeremiah 3:4; Jeremiah 3:12.—V. g.]—δραμὼν, running) out from His house. Comp. ἐξενέγκατε, Bring forth (viz. out of the house) the best robe, Luke 15:22. Parents, under ordinary circumstances, are not readily disposed to run to meet their children.—κατεφίλησεν, kissed him warmly) [How could a son have looked for a more gracious salutation, if even he had managed his property (and behaved) in the best way, when he was abroad?—V. g.]

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
Luke 15:21. Εἶπε, said) The son did not abuse his Father’s graciousness, so as to prevent his proceeding to say what he had intended. Serious and earnest repentance does not satisfy itself with merely one thought unattended with cost or trouble.

But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
Luke 15:22. Εἶπε, said) The son does not speak out all that he had determined to say; either because that, owing to the gracious reception given him by his Father, who came forth to meet him, his filial confidence being enkindled, absorbed all slavish feelings: or else because the gracious kindness of the Father broke off the words of the son [before the latter had spoken all he had intended to say].—πρὸς τοὺς δούλους, to the servants) He answers the son in very act [not in mere words].—ἐξενέγκατε, Bring forth) in public. If this son had performed the greatest and best achievements, he could not have looked for a greater honour.—τὴν) that which is.—πρώτην) the first, the principal and best one. On the other hand, it is the second chariot [that is given by Pharaoh to Joseph], Genesis 41:43.

And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
Luke 15:23. Τὸν μόσχον τὸν σιτευτὸν) Jdg 6:25, τὸν μόσχον τὸν σιτευτὸν καὶ μόσχον δεύτερον ἑπταετῆ.[163] The article denotes pre-eminent excellence.—εὐφρανθῶμεν, let us enjoy ourselves [‘lætemur,’ rejoice: Engl. Vers. “be merry”]) This word is repeated with the greatest emphasis in Luke 15:24; Luke 15:32.

[163] The reading approved of in Grabe’s LXX.; but the Vatican copy has τὸν μίσχον τὸν ταῦρον.—E. and T.

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Luke 15:24. Οὗτος, this) This is a [triumphal] verse, or formula of words, and hymn, which has in it somewhat of rhythm, and seems to have been often repeated; see Luke 15:32 : it was accompanied with symphony (‘music’), Luke 15:25. The ancients used verse when strongly affected. See Genesis 37:33; 1 Chronicles 13 (12):18, [which are in the Hebraic form of poetry, parallelism.]

Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
Luke 15:25. Ἐν ἀγρῷ, in the field) as one serving [in the slave-like spirit] his Father: see Luke 15:29.—χορῶν, bands [of dancers]) joyously dancing [or exulting].

And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
Luke 15:27. Ὁ ἀδελφός σου, thy brother) what should have been a moving argument.—ἥκει) Hesychius says, ἥκει, i.e. ἔρχεται or ἦλθεν, he is come.—ἔθυσεν, hath killed) The servant [εἷς τῶν παίδων] is represented as mentioning the killing of the calf rather than the robe, the ring, and the shoes, because it has the chief connection [rather than these latter] with the music and dancing. It is owing to this also that the elder son alludes to it in Luke 15:30, before that he saw his brother so beautifully clothed.—ὑγιαίνοντα) Safe and sound. Joshua 10:21, בשלום, in peace, which the LXX. render ὑγιής.

And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
Luke 15:28. Οὐκ ἤθελεν, would not) Great perversity and unkindness on his part.—ἐξελθὼν, having come out) Great leniency and forbearance on the part of the Father.

And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
Luke 15:29. Τοσαῦτα ἔτη, these so many years) In antithesis to ὅτε, as soon as, in Luke 15:30.—δουλεύω, I serve) A confession of the slave-like spirit which influenced him. He does not add [in the spirit of Sonship], Father.—ἔδωκας, thou hast never given) much less wouldest thou kill [ἔθυσεν, mactavit, Luke 15:27],—ἔριφον, a kid) much less the calf, Luke 15:27.—φίλων, my friends) In antithesis to πορνῶν, harlots, Luke 15:30.

But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
Luke 15:30. Οὗτος, that son of thine) [Pointing to him contemptuously, as the Pharisee at the Publican]. See ch. Luke 18:11, where see the note.—ὁ καταφαγών σου τὸν βίον, who hath devoured thy living) The elder brother speaks invidiously.—ἦλθεν) He says, has come, speaking of him as he would of an alien: not, has returned.—αὐτῷ, for him) The Dativus commodi (Dative of advantage). [The elder brother means to say, for that profligate.—V. g.]

And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
Luke 15:31. Εἶπεν, He said) He makes a twofold reply to the elder son’s twofold complaint.—τέκνον, son) He addresses him by a loving title [Being filled with joy to overflowing on account of the return of His once-lost son.—V. g.]; nor does the Father immediately put away from Him (cast off) the envious brother.—πάντοτε, always) and it is not therefore necessary to rejoice with peculiar joy, as if something extraordinary had occurred: see Luke 15:7, at the end of the verse.—μετʼ ἐμοῦ, with Me) It is better to rejoice (enjoy one’s self) with the Father, than with a company of friends. See Luke 15:29 [ἵνα μετὰ τῶν φίλων μου εὐφρανθῶ].—πάντα, all things) This expresses the pre-eminent and peculiar privilege of the Jewish people.—τὰ ἐμὰ, which belong to Me) There is therefore no need that thou shouldest seek external friendships.—σά ἐστι, are thine) For the younger brother had received his share; and the elder-born had the priority of succession to the Father’s goods. Many things may possibly belong to the children of God, of which they are not privileged to have now the full enjoyment (usufructus). Therefore the elder brother ought not to have complained that a kid had never yet been given to him.

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
Luke 15:32. Ἔδει) Not only is the idea intimated hereby, Thou oughtest to have rejoiced; but this one, Rejoicing ought to have been commenced as it has been at our house. For it is a kind of apologetic defence against the complaint expressed in verse 30 [the killing of the fatted calf for such a profligate], with which comp. Luke 15:2 [in which the corresponding complaint of the Pharisees occurs, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.”]. [How wonderful is the condescending kindness of the Father (in thus gently expostulating with one who evinced so bad a spirit)!—V. g.] So ἔδει, in the sense it was befitting, not it would be befitting, Acts 1:16 [Peter, speaking of the past, ἔδει πληρωθῆναι τὴν γραφὴνπερὶ Ἰούδα, It was befitting, that the Scripture should be fulfilled concerning Judas].—ὁ ἀδελφός σου οὗτος, this thy brother) In antithesis to this thy son, in Luke 15:30 [which the elder brother had said contemptuously].

Gnomon of the New Testament by Johann Bengel

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