IV. The Repudiation of the Son of Man by Men, Luke 9:51-19:27.
I. Instruction in the Light of Rejection, Luke 12:1-19:27.
13. Concerning God’s love for sinners, Luke 15:1-32.
a. The Parable of the Lost Sheep, vs. 1-7.
b. The Parable of the Lost Coin, vs. 8-10.
c. The Parable of the Prodigal Son, vs. 11-31.
1) The wayward son and waiting father, vs. 11-16.
2) The repentant and restored, vs. 17-24.
3) The resentful brother and insightful father, vs. 25-32.
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2) The repentant and restored, vs. 17-24.
Luke 15:17, “But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!’”
When this young man was brought to his lowest of lows, “he came to his senses,” which is an idiom that in the Greek is the Aorist, Active, Participle of the Verb ERCHOMAI with EIS HEAUTOU that literally states, “he came to himself.” In other words, he realized his depravity and destitute along with the reality of trying to do things his own way that ultimately led to his failure. This realization, (reality check), led him back to His father. Therefore, when we are brought to our lowest point, we realize our depravity and seek alternative solutions – God!
In this case, the young man thought to himself, “how many,” the Interrogative Pronoun POSOS, “of my fathers,” the Genitive use of EGO HO PATER, “hired men,” the noun MISTHIOS, “hired person or common laborer,” only used by Luke here and vs. 19, “have more than enough bread,” using the Present, Middle, Indicative of the Verb PERISSEOU and the noun ARTOS. We noted PERISSEOU, “To be more than enough, to have an abundance of, etc.,” in Luke 9:17, regarding the left-over pieces of bread after Jesus fed more than 5,000. This reminds us that God’s provisions for us are more than enough both in the physical and spiritual life, especial with Jesus being the “Bread of life,” John 6:35, 48, 51.
Realizing the abundance that the father has, he compared his own plight to that, “but I am dying here with hunger!” This phrase uses the contrasting Conjunction DE, “but,” with Personal Pronoun EGO, the Verb APOLLUMI in the Present, Middle, Indicative, which we have noted several times in this chapter for the word “lost,” that means, “destroy, ruin, kill, lose, be lost, perish, etc.,” with the Noun LIMOS, “hunger or famine.” We could say, “but I am lost in famine,” to be consistent with the parables of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin, yet, “I am dying here with hunger” is a good translation. And that is where God found him.
As we noted previously, this indicates no relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, because he did not have His Word resident within his soul. This physical hunger and starvation, is the analogy of spiritual hunger as a result of sin, carnality, reversionism, and or apostasy within the soul that results in the loss of previous doctrine that was stored in the soul, along with the fact that no new nutrients of spiritual food were coming in. Therefore, he was about to die.
By analogy, this also indicates that this young man was on the verge of the third stage of divine discipline, the “Sin Unto Death,” Psa 7:14-16; 1 Cor 11:30; 1 John 5:16-17.
Psa 7:14-16, “Behold, he travails with wickedness, and he conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood. 15He has dug a pit and hollowed it out, and has fallen into the hole which he made. 16His mischief will return upon his own head, and his violence will descend upon his own head.”
1 Cor 11:30, “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.”
1 John 5:16, “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.”
The “sin leading to death” or better, “sin face‑to‑face with death,” which we call the “Sin Unto Death,” (SUD), is God’s maximum discipline for the believer who has repeated sin in their life or a sinful lifestyle where there is no repentance / Rebounding. It is maximum Divine discipline from the integrity of God towards the perpetual sinning believer. As you know, God has never made a judgment of anyone that excludes the love of God. Therefore, God’s judgment of this person is always fair.
Divine discipline results from the believer using his own volition to create his own failures in life after salvation. In the three stages of Divine disciple, “weak, sick, sleep,” the SUD is the highest form of disgrace that can occur for the believer. It implies loss of reward and blessing and ashamedness at the judgment seat of Christ. Yet, even in the SUD, God’s grace and love are found!
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A. Definition and description.
1. Divine discipline is the sum total of punitive action taken by the justice of God in grace to correct, to punish, to encourage, to train, and to motivate the believer’s free will back to the plan of God. Therefore, Divine discipline is distinguished from Divine judgment, in that discipline is for believers only, but judgment is directed toward all categories of the human race and angels under certain circumstances, Heb 12:5-8.
Heb 12:8, “But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” Cf. Deut 8:5; 2 Sam 7:14; Prov 13:24; 19:18; 23:13f.
2. When believers get out of fellowship through sin, human good, or evil, we bring suffering on ourselves.
a. This suffering is in the form of Divine discipline that includes three potential stages of Divine Discipline as noted in 1 Cor 11:30, “some are weak and sick and a number sleep.”
b. It also includes the law of volitional responsibility with its self‑imposed, self‑induced, and self-indulged forms of misery. Bad decisions not only destroy future options in life, but they result in tremendous misery manufactured by ourselves, for which we must take the responsibility. The resultant discomfort, misery, and unhappiness may last for a short or long period of time. This is the law of “you reap what you sow,” Gal 6:7-8; Cf. Prov 22:8.
Gal 6:7, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8For the one who sows to his own flesh (Old Sin Nature) will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
c. If we do not use the most basic Problem Solving Device of Rebound, 1 John 1:9, we will continue in a state of carnality, cosmic living, or reversionism. Carnality is a brief stay in the cosmic system; reversionism is a prolonged residence in the cosmic system. Only in time are we, members of the Royal Family of God, disciplined in the form of suffering.
d. If the believer persists in the three categories under the law of volitional responsibility, i.e., self‑imposed, self‑induced, and self-indulged misery, it is obvious that God will add to it if you do not come around through Rebound.
3. Punishment from God often follows the failure to Rebound from our sins. Our every sin originates from our free will. Though temptation may come from the Old Sin Nature or another source, we make the decision to sin! All wrong decisions come from some form of arrogance or lust. (See Old Sin Nature Chart on our website.)
4. While God is the source of Divine discipline, man’s free will is the source of suffering under the law of volitional responsibility. God uses His sovereignty and perfect judgment to know when it is time to warn us that we are out of fellowship, and to bring us back to reality with varying categories of punishment.
5. All Divine discipline, except the Sin Unto Death, is always designed to correct, to train, and to motivate.
6. Although Divine discipline is suffering, we should not look at it that way, as we associate with suffering, but it is teaching from the grace of God, Job 5:17. All of us must learn certain things the hard way through Divine discipline, Psa 119:75; Heb 12:11.
Job 5:17, “Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.”
Psa 119:75, “I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.”
Heb 12:11, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
So, you can learn the easy way, from your Pastor‑Teacher, Eph 4:11-16, or you can learn directly from God, the hard way by which you hurt, Prov 3:11-12.
Prov 3:11-13, “My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD Or loathe His reproof, 12For whom the LORD loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. 13How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding.”
7. During the Church Age, the Age of Grace, God has designed the spiritual gift and office of Pastor-Teacher to also provide discipline where necessary, 1 Tim 5:20; 2 Tim 4:2-3.
1 Tim 5:20, “Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.”
2 Tim 4:2, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
B. Purpose for Divine Discipline.
1. The purpose of Divine discipline is twofold in Rev 3:19, to “reprove” and “discipline” the wayward son.
a. “Reprove” is the Greek Word ELEGCHO that means, “to expose, prove guilty, convict, condemn, reprove or rebuke.” This is the action taken by both God, in the suffering we endure through adverse situations He brings upon us, and the Pastor-Teacher when one of his sheep goes astray. In the case of the Pastor-Teacher, he can do this privately or if necessary, publicly behind the pulpit, as we noted in 1 Tim 5:20 and2 Tim 4:2. Reproving and Rebuking are both verbal tongue lashing done privately and publicly if necessary. Whether it is from God or the Pastor, it is designed to expose the sin, human good, or evil the child of God is entering into and call it out for what it is, along with its destructive behavior and consequences.
It is best when the child of God is exposed to their own sin, human good, or evil, so that they can recognize it and then Rebound and make the appropriate corrections or adjustments in their lives (repent). Sometimes this exposure may need to be brought before the congregation so that they too are not negatively influenced by that child’s sin, human good or evil.
b. “Discipline” is the Greek verb PAIDEUO that means, “to train children, to chasten, correct, to instruct, teach, discipline; whip, scourge, or beat.” So, you can see that there is both a learning component and a punishment component. It means to train up a child, which includes educating them about their wrong thoughts and actions. It can come through the teaching of God’s Word or through overt suffering or difficulties brought into our lives. If they do not wake up as a result, God will bring in further punitive action to that child, “Weak, Sick, and the Sin Unto Death.” The one who heeds the training from the reproof and discipline will “be zealous and repent, Rev 3:19.” That is, change their way of thinking and get back into the Plan of God. Therefore, Divine discipline is designed to motivate the believer to recover residence inside God’s Power System, the only place we as members of the Royal Family of God can execute His plan for our lives.
2. Divine discipline is a warning that the believer is out of bounds and not executing God’s plan, but functioning in Satan’s cosmic system. The boundaries of God’s plan are defined in terms of God’s Power System.
a. As a perfect plan, God’s plan must be executed in bounds, not out of bounds. Just as the referee blows the whistle, the flag is thrown, and the penalty is given when a player is out of bounds in a sports game, so God blows the whistle on us through the administration of punishment: Divine discipline.
b. If you cannot learn from humility, you learn from hurting. Learning from hurting is the limited lesson of motivation to rebound and recover from the cosmic system.
c. The believer must recover from the cosmic system to live inside God’s Power System. Only inside God’s Power System is logistical grace provision exploited to the glory of God, with momentum in the spiritual life.
d. The cosmic believer who does not learn from Divine discipline is eventually removed from this life under painful circumstances, 1 Cor 11:30; 1 John 5:16-17.
C. Recovery from Divine Discipline.
1. When the believer uses Rebound, God exercises one of three options on his behalf, though the purpose for the suffering has changed from discipline to blessing. All suffering for blessing is designed to accelerate spiritual growth.
a. The removal of all disciplinary suffering.
b. Discipline suffering is diminished, but is now designed for blessing. The reason the suffering is reduced is so that you can bear it. God never gives us more than we can bear in fellowship, 1 Cor 10:13.
1 Cor 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
c. Disciplinary suffering continues at the same intensity, but is now designed for blessing. It continues at the same intensity because you can bear it and gain blessing from it, Job 5:17‑18.
Job 5:17-18, “Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. 18For He inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds, and His hands also heal.”
In summary, most of our suffering comes from ourselves under the law of volitional responsibility. But when we ignore the suffering incurred from the law of volitional responsibility and continue to live in the dungeon of the cosmic system, then God brings us back to reality.
The arrogance complex of sins inside of Satan’s cosmic system is so great and powerful that it divorces us from reality. So, God first administers warning discipline. When that does not work, He adds intensified discipline. At this point, God now uses the believer for an entirely different purpose. No longer can he fulfill God’s plan. However, God keeps him alive, though obnoxious, psychotic, neurotic, or sociopathic for people testing for those believers advancing through the valley of Momentum Testing. Eventually, if he does not wake up, God takes him home under the Sin Unto Death.
2. Case histories of believers who have faced the sin face‑to‑face with death.
a. Certain believers in Philippi, Phil 3:18‑19.
b. Certain believers in the church at Laodicea, Rev 3:16.
c. King Saul, 1 Chron 10:13‑14. This is occult reversionism resulting in the sin face‑to‑face with death.
d. 1 Cor 11:27‑28, 30‑31, describes participating in the communion service in a state of perpetual carnality resulting in the sin face‑to‑face with death. You have a choice between using the rebound technique or dying from divine discipline.
e. King Hezekiah had an evil foreign policy of going to Egypt for help, Isa 30:1‑3. So, God put him under the sentence of the sin which terminates with death, Isa 38. He rebounded and was given more time to live.
f. The case of the incestuous Corinthian, 1 Cor 5:1‑10, who recovered, 2 Cor 7:8‑11.
g. The case of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1‑10. Their life in perpetual carnality was manifest by lying to God.
h. The case of Hymenaeus and Alexander, 1 Tim 1:19‑20, who also lived in perpetual carnality.
Never the less, God’s discipline is designed to warn us, train us and wake us up to the reality of our negative situation so that with our free will volition we get back into the Plan of God, walking in fellowship with Him being filled with the Holy Spirit producing Divine Good, John 15:1-5, 8, while storing up blessings and rewards for time and eternity, 1 Cor 3:10-15.
Heb 12:11, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
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In the these passages, we have several “3s.” Three is the number of Divine completeness and perfection. So, the use of three in these passages indicates the actions are complete in God’s eyes creating perfection in restoration of relationship experientially with God and man.
Luke 15:17, “But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!’”
We begin by seeing three adjustments that come to the repentant son’s life:
1) First comes a recognition. “When he came to his senses,” vs. 17, it suggests he had been out of his mind in rebellion and sin. What he thought was pleasure, was only for a season, Heb 11:25, that resulted in pain and suffering. And now he came back to his right mind in repentance to God. He began to recognize something; he recognized the goodness of God. Longing for the food given to swine, he realized his father had more to offer than the man of this world. He recognized the generosity of his father compared to the stinginess of the man from a distant land, (i.e., Satan and his cosmic system). So, he saw that living apart from God and His graciousness amounts to craziness, depravity, sin, and suffering. A sinner cannot repent until he sees the insanity of sin in the light of God’s great goodness.
2) Second comes a resolution. The son decides that his place is rightly with his father rather than the world. Even more so, he decides to make one of the greatest confessions in the Bible. He confesses his sin to God, as we all should. And, he confessed without conditions or qualifications. He makes no excuses. He offers no explanations. He had sinned, period!
Psa 51:4, “Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.”
The problem with many confessions is that they express regret for the consequences of sin, rather than regret for sin itself. That is the difference between worldly sorrow and godly repentance, 2 Cor 7:10. Most people are sorry for getting caught in their sin, rather than for their sin.
2 Cor 7:10, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
3) Third comes a resignation. This young man sees his sins and himself in light of God’s mercy, kindness, love, and greatness. He knows his depravity, so he relinquishes any thoughts or proprietorship of sonship. He would be content as a servant in his father’s house. Given his sin, he cannot claim to be a son; he can only hope to serve.
In true repentance, the person who turns to God begins to see God possibly as they never have before. They realize the greatness, mercy, kindness, and graciousness of His love. They see His generous character and understand His holiness, especially in comparison to the wretchedness of their sin.
When the sinner is brought low and humbled, they come to know God is generous, so they come to Him and make no demands of Him. They only ask in humble repentance for His forgiveness, which He freely gives. Therefore, the repentant person does not ask to be exalted or glorified, but only to have a servant’s place, and are content to receive the lowest place in the kingdom of heaven, Psa 84:10.
Psa 84:10, “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”
Luke 15:18, “‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight”’.”
Discipline leads to recovery for the insightful believer who repents.
“Self-realization of the hopeless and futile predicament of the sinful life is the first step towards true repentance. One must see that his own actions have led him away from the loving father (God). One must realize that the seeming pleasures of the sinful life are fleeting and unsatisfying, while life with the Father is full and rich. One must understand that a life of sin offers only destruction, while life with the Father offers life indeed. Until a sinner can be convicted of the reality that he travels a dead-end road, true repentance cannot come to pass.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary).
Interestingly, for the repentant young man, we see him doing three things, just as we will see the father doing three things in response in vs. 20. Remember, three is the number of Divine Perfection.
1) He begins by “getting up,” which uses the Aorist, Active, Participle of the Verb ANISTEMI that means, “raise, raise up, bring to life, stand up, appear, or to rise again.” This word is often used for resurrection. Therefore, here it is figurative for the repentance of this young man that leads him back to the resurrected life. So, the first actionable thing he does in repentance is to pick himself up out of the sinful life he was living to get back into the resurrected life of holiness and righteousness.
2) He decides he “will go to my Father,” which uses the Future, Middle, Indicative of the Verb POREUOMAI, “to go, depart, travel, order one’s life, walk, etc.,” with PROS EGO HO PATER. This continues the picture of resurrection through repentance, when all believers will be raised to eternal glory and be in the presence of God forever. But, this also tells us that this young man will return to a relationship / fellowship with the father. For the believer it means to get back into the Word and fellowship of God.
3) “Will say to him,” uses the Future, Active, Indicative of the Verb EREO that means, “say or speak.” This is the analogy of the confession of his sins, the rebound technique, when we HOMOLEGEO our sins to God the Father, 1 John 1:9. The application of 1 John 1:9, is the process by which God forgives and cleanses our sins experientially that also restores our fellowship with Him.
Here, the son says the following to the “father,” PATER, that reflects our prayer life, as we are to address all of our prayers, especially the confession of our sins, to God the Father, Mat 6:9; Luke 11:2.
“I have sinned,” uses the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb HAMARTANO, “to sin, err, or miss the mark.” This is the first time Luke uses the word, see vs. 21, and he will use it again for our Lord’s teaching on forgiving our fellow brothers and sisters, Luke 17:3-4. It is also the word used by John in 1 John 5:16-18, when speaking about the Sin Unto Death. Notice, there are no penance in view; no making up for his sins, and no excuses for his sins. He simply and plainly is confessing his sins.
“Against heaven and in your sight,” EIS HO HOURANOS KAI SU ENOPION that means, “before, in the sight or presence of, etc.” Heaven is the abode or dwelling place of God. Therefore, this confession is to God the “Father who is in heaven,” Mat 6:9, and in the sight of his earthly father. The second part is a recognition in humility, of the pain he caused his earthly father. For forgiveness of our sins by God, we only need to confess them to the father, 1 John 1:9, as we have sinned “against” God and God alone. But, we are also command to make amends with those we have hurt due to our sins, Mat 5:23-24. This is not for forgiveness from God, but to reconcile with others while freeing our souls of any guilt or worry due to our sins.
Mat 5:23-24, “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”
Luke 15:19, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”
“I am no longer worthy,” EIMI OUKETI AXIOS, “worthy, deserving, fit, good enough, suitable to, etc.” BDAG defines it as “having a relatively high degree of comparable worth or value, corresponding, comparable, worthy, of things, in relation to other things.” Here, with the negative OUKETI, it means we do not have those things. Pertaining to our verse it means, “we are not correspondingly fitting or appropriate, worthy, fit, or deserving.”
The thing this young man thought he was unworthy of being was “to be called your son,” KALEO in the Aorist, Passive, Infinitive, with SU HIOUS. He was relinquishing his authority and position as his son. He did not think himself worthy of being called, (treated like), a son by his father. He was demonstrating true humility. Therefore, we see that repentance is found in the humble heart.
“Make me as one of your hired men,” POIEO EGO HOS HEIS HO SU MISTHIOS. We noted MISTHIOS, “hired person or laborer,” in vs. 17, as these are the only two usages of this word in the NT. Therefore, instead of being treated like a son, he thought he should be treated like a hired servant.
This statement shows the young man’s new found humility, as a result of being brought to his lowest point and then turning back to his father, i.e., repenting. But the fact is, just like the believer, he will never lose his sonship. He will always be his father’s son, just as we can never lose our salvation and resultant sonship, no matter how much or how badly we sin. We will always be sons and daughters of God, Luke 20:34-36; John 1:12; Gal 3:26; 1 John 3:1-2.
John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
Gal 3:26, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Luke 20:34-36, “Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”
1 John 3:1-2, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”
Since this young man cannot lose his sonship, he states, “he is not worthy to be called his son.” KALEO here means his status in society, reputation, authority, and power as a son. This reminds us, that if we do not act like the children of God that we are, others will not see us as children of God / believers. Instead, we will look and act just like a sinner or unbeliever. So, reputation is in view here, where this son recognized his sinful life style was not honoring his status of being a son of God, and therefore he should not be considered as one. Paul had this similar thought when remembering his past as a persecutor of the church, 1 Cor 15:9.
1 Cor 15:9, “For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”
Yet, the fact is, both the believer who sins and Paul have been given the position of being children of God, and in Paul’s case the addition of being an apostle. This position / status in Christ cannot be taken away regardless of our sins; past, present, or future.
Nevertheless, all of this is demonstrating the young man’s new found humility and integrity, where he takes full responsibility for his sinful actions, and is not “banking on,” (relying or counting on), his status of being a son to reinstate him to his prior place of prominence. No! He is willing to face the consequences of his sinful actions and believes that he should have consequences for his prior sinful and hurtful actions.
“Take note of the humility in his rehearsed speech. He acknowledged his affront without minimizing or justifying or shifting blame. He didn’t say, “I made a mistake.” He took responsibility for making a wrong moral decision, one that estranged him from his father and his God. He also acknowledged the consequences of his decision. His admission, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son,” wasn’t a platitude; it was a fact. He had legally forfeited his status as the man’s son. Later Jewish tradition permitted parents in similar circumstances to hold a funeral service for their children. Moreover, the son’s request for mercy was equitable for the father. He left his lofty expectations in the pigsty with his sin. Instead of asking to be restored as a son, he offered to become a hired hand. The boy’s speech demonstrated maturity, responsibility, humility, and compassion for those he harmed. He truly “returned to his senses.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary).
And with that, later we will see the forgiveness he receives from his father and the restoration to prominence as a result.
Luke 15:20, “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”
In the first half of this passage, we see that thought turns into action for the truly humble and repentant heart.
“So he got up,” KAI ANISTEMI. This is where we see thought leading to action. This tells us that we need to take appropriate action to recover from our sins, once we have had the mental attitude of repentance from our sins.
Interestingly, ANISTEMI is used once again and means, “to raise, raise up, bring to life, etc.,” which is one of the words in the NT for resurrection, 1 Thes 4:14, 16. Therefore, we see a type of resurrection for this young man. He has come back to the spiritual life that he left for sin, and is once again living the resurrection life here on earth. This is the sense of Eph 5:14, “For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper (i.e., sinful believer), and arise from the dead (i.e., get back into the spiritual life that you have been given), and Christ will shine on you.”
“Came to his father,” ERCHOMAI PROS HO PATER. This is analogues for the believer to approach the Father in prayer as the first step in getting back into a relationship with Him that is followed by taking in His Word and applying it consistently, as you walk with Him daily. It speaks of the restoration of fellowship we have with God after we repent / confess our sins / Rebound, 1 John 1:6-9.
1 John 1:6-7, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Therefore, there is action we must take in our lives to get into fellowship with God experientially and remain there. That action is called in 1 John “confessing our sins” and then “walking in the light,” which means apply Bible Doctrine in our lives and saying no to sin temptation.
Therefore, as a result of this young man taking action after his mental repentance, he returns to his father. Next, we see the father’s reaction. Notice that before, the son even has an opportunity to confess his sins, his father responds to his positive volition.
Luke 15:20, “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”
In the first half of this passage, we saw that thought turns into action for the truly humble and repentant heart. In the second half of our verse, it shifts from the viewpoint of the repentant son to the viewpoint of the loving and forgiving father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him,” which for “a long way off,” uses the Adverb MAKRAN, “far, far off, or distant,” that can denote a sense of distance both spatially (space) and temporally (time), figuratively and literally. The Greeks used it as a preposition to mean “far away from someone or something.” In the NT it often reveals the removal of the separation between God and the individual, as we see in this parable. For example, a scribe is said to be not far from the kingdom of God, Mark 12:34; According to Acts 17:27, God is “not far from every one of us.”; And, in Eph 2:13, 17 the Gentiles who were once “far off” from God have been brought near and united to those Jewish Christians from whom they had been separated. Therefore, this means that even before the act of confession, when the son and father were still apart physically, which is analogues for being apart spiritually, we see that they are being brought together.
With this we have the Present, Active, Participle, Genitive of Separation of the Verb APECHO that indicates that something is distant from something else. Interestingly, we see this verb used in three ways:
1) In classical Greek, APECHO was at times used as a technical term for “having received payment in full of an outstanding debt.” Our Lord used it this way in a negative context in Luke 6:24; Mat 6:2, 5, 16, for the legalistic hypocrites and arrogant rich who received their reward in full. Yet here, it gives the understanding of the father’s attitude of forgiveness of the son’s debt as being paid in full.
2) It is also used in the NT, to refer to abstaining from sin, Acts 15:20; 1 Thes 4:3; 5:22; 1 Tim 4:3; 2 Peter 2:11. So, from that usage we see the son’s attitude of repenting from his past sins and determining to not sin in the future, thereby reconciling with his father.
3) In our passage, it also speaks literally of the distance between these two men, the gap of which the father was about to close.
So, from these three applications of the word APECHO, along with the added emphasis of the Adverb MAKRAN, related to our relationship with God the Father, we see that:
1) When we confess our sins, the payment for the sin has been paid in full, (as we know at the Cross of Jesus Christ), therefore we have experientially received forgiveness of those sins.
2) When we confess our sins, it is a proclamation of our repentance; that we are removing ourselves from the sin and sinful actions with the desire to abstain from sinning going forward.
3) When we confess our sins, the gap in our relationship with God the Father experientially is removed, and we are entered into fellowship with Him once again.
Next, we note that even when the repentant young man was still a long way off, “his father saw him.” This tells us by analogy that even when we are still a long way off from God our Father due to our sins, He “sees,” EIDON, “saw, perceived, etc.,” us well before we fully recover. In other words, God sees our process of discipline, repentance, and recovery long before we do.
Then, knowing what his son had gone through and of his repentant heart, (in this case, because of the wisdom of the father when he saw his son return), the father, “felt compassion for him.” “Com-passion,” is the Aorist, Passive, Indicative of the Verb SPLANCHNIZOMAI, σπλαγχνίζομαι that means, “have compassion, feel sympathy, or have mercy,” which we have noted in Luke 7:13; 10:33. It speaks of the compassion one has for another when seeing the other in dire straits, Mat 18:27; Luke 10:33.
Mat 18:27, “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.”
Luke 10:33, “But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion.”
Our Lord also displayed His compassion of other as He was always willing to extend His merciful touch to all, Mat 9:36; 14:14; Luke 7:13.
Mat 9:36, “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.”
Mat 14:14, “When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.”
Luke 7:13, “When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep”.”
Therefore, this is analogues for God the Father knowing what we are going through and our heart of repentance leading Him to have “compassion” for us and motivating Him to act on our behalf. Here, it is describing human emotions in the strongest of terms in order to bring out the totality of mercy with which God has towards the repentant sinner.
As a result of the father’s compassion for his repentant son, he too takes a mental attitude thought and turns it into an action, as he “ran and embraced him and kissed him,” which are the Verbs TRECHO, “run, strive to advance, exert effort, make progress,” the Verb EPIPIPTO, “fall upon, approach eagerly, or come upon,” with EPI AUTOS HO TRACHELOS, “upon his neck or throat,” and the Verb KATAPHILEO, “to kiss affectionately or repeatedly,” with AUTOS, “him.” KATAPHILEO is a compound word for emphasis from KATA, “according to,” and PHILEO, “affectionate or familial love,” cf. Luke 7:38; Acts 20:37. Each Verb is in the Aorist tense to view the entirety of the action and the Active Voice, as the father performs these actions.
Therefore, there are three things the father did:
1) He ran towards his son. This tells us that God our Father comes quickly to the repentant believer. He does not leave him hanging out to dry, (i.e., letting him wallow in his sin and crawl on his knees or grovel for forgiveness). No! He comes to us bringing His love, mercy, forgiveness, and healing. This is the ministry of God the Holy Spirit which begins to work within us once we have repented / confessed our sins mentally, and even before in His convicting ministry. As you know, even our faith to believe is from God and our faith to repent is from God. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.
2) He embraced / hugged his son. God the Father fully embraces or wraps Himself around the repentant believer by first forgiving us of our sins, Rom 15:3.
Rom 15:3, “For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACH-ED YOU FELL ON ME (Psa 69:9).”
And then by embracing us where EPIPIPTO indicates a literal falling or pressing upon one’s neck as an expression of love or desire for affection. By analogy, we see this in multiple ways including the filling of God the Holy Spirit, which results from the confession of our sins when we compare 1 John 1:6-9, with Eph 5:1-18.
3) He kissed him affectionately or repeatedly. God our Father shows the repentant believer His grace and love over and over again, as now the repent believer, who was a lost member of the family of God, returns to his heavenly Father. As a result, the Father warmly embraces us and enters us back into the closest of intimate relationship with Him. This means we are once again entered into fellowship with God and walk in the Light of Jesus Christ. And it is all God’s doing not our own. All we did was apply non-meritorious faith to confess our sins and turn back to God once again. And when we are restored to fellowship with God, the discipline turns into blessing and God the Holy Spirit mightily works within our souls once again.
“The Jews understood the father as the one who mourned for a lost son (see the example of Jacob, Genesis 37:35 and of David, 2 Samuel 18:33). In this parable the father did not reject the son, nor did he accept him with punishment, denigration, scolding, or any other type of grudging action. Instead, the father gladly accepted the son back. The important thing was not that he had gone away, but that now he was back.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
And, keep in mind that all of this occurred before the son had the chance to verbally confess his sin to his father. This tells us that God is lovingly and patiently waiting for the repentant to return and working in the repentant’s life so that he is able to return. And, when the repentant does return, there is much love expressed towards him or her; first, so that they are able to return, secondly to receive the repentant with joy, and thirdly so the repentant can maintain his return by walking in fellowship and in the light of Jesus Christ, as we will see further below.
Luke 15:21, “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son’.”
Now that the father has met the son on the road to recovery, just as our heavenly Father meets us on the road to recovery from our sins, the son has the opportunity to turn his mental attitude into action by actually confessing his sins, just as we are to confess our sins to God the Father. In addition, this scene of the father running to the wayward son reminds us of what Jesus did in the Garden of Eden when Adam and the woman committed the first sin in human history. In that scene, Jesus met them in the cool of the evening, sacrificed a lamb for them and had them dress themselves, put on, the skins from that lamb. This is all a picture of what Jesus did for us upon the Cross for our positional sanctification, as well as our experiential sanctification, that is effective for the forgiveness of our sins when the believer confesses them to God our Father.
Notice the address of this confession of the son is to the “father,” PATER once again, which indicates, as we have previously noted, that the prayer of confession of sin, just as all prayers are, is addressed to God the Father, cf. Mat 6:6, 8-9; John 15:16; 16:23.
Mat 6:6, “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
Mat 6:8, “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
Mat 6:9, “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name’.”
John 15:16, “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”
John 16:23, “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.”
“I have sinned,” is the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb HAMARTANO, as in vs. 18, that means, “to sin, to err, to miss a mark, etc.” In classical Greek, it was used in a variety of non-moral usages that give us a sense of the moral usage. For example, in throwing a spear at a target it meant to miss the mark. It was used when trying to find the correct road yet you could not. It was used in understanding a point being made that you did not know. And, in failing to keep something you were not able; therefore, it was to lose. Each of these has analogy for the spiritual life and our fellowship with God.
As we have stated, according to Scripture, all sin is against God and most often directed against Him, as we see this young man confessing, “I have sinned against heaven,” EIS HO HOURANOS, Luke 15:18, 21. And as we noted in vs. 18, to sin against heaven means sin against God “who is in heaven,” Mat 6:9.
Yet, sin can also be directed against other people, Mat 18:15, 21; Luke 17:3-4, or even oneself, 1 Cor 6:18. But even if that is the case, to sin against another person, especially a Christian, or self, is to sin against God, 1 Cor 8:12.
1 Cor 6:18, “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.”
1 Cor 8:12, “And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.”
“And in your sight,” in the Greek is KAI ENOPION SU, which indicates the father being witness to the young man’s sins, and that he sinned against his earthly father. In humility, not only is he confessing his sins to God the Father, but apologizing by confessing before his earthly father, the one he also sinned against. Only the confession of sin to God the Father results in cleansing of the soul in 1 John 1:9. Confessing to humans who you have sinned against is for the purpose of human reconciliation and the removal of ongoing guilt in your soul, as we also noted in vs. 18.
Therefore, we see the principle of the wayward son or daughter confessing their sins to God the Father after their heavenly Father has met them on their road to recovery, so that He can help them to complete the journey of repentance, as we noted in vs. 20.
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There are four results of Rebound.
1. The believer is restored to fellowship with God.
2. The believer recovers the first power option – the filling of the Holy Spirit.
3. The believer resumes the function of his spiritual life.
4. Spiritual skills now become operational in the believer’s life.
Now, the wayward son who has recovered, can walk in the light of Jesus Christ once again and apply the spiritual knowledge and skills God has provided him.
And remember, because of the Divine disciple the reversionist son was under, he woke up to the reality of his sins and repented. In doing so, God turns any remaining suffering due to the discipline into suffering for blessing. Under Divine discipline the status of the believer is Arrogance; the issue is Sin; the suffering is Unbearable; and the solution is Rebound. For the believer in recovery the status is Humility; the issue is Grace; the suffering is Bearable; and the solution is the Faith-Rest life.
There are four mechanics in the Rebound technique.
- Name it, 1 John 1:9.
- Isolate it, Heb 12:15.
- Forget it, Phil 3:13.
- Keep moving, Phil 3:14.
Therefore, Rebound is related to the use of the Faith‑Rest Drill.
1. Stage One is the forgiveness stage once we name the sin to God the Father.
a. Name the sins you know and God forgives all sin, human good, and evil, in your life, 1 Cor 11:31; Jer 3:13; Psa 32:5, 38:18; 1 John 1:9.
Jer 3:13, “Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God and have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice, declares the LORD.”
Psa 32:5, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD;” and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.”
Psa 38:18, “For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin.”
b. There is no place for guilt or any system of penance. If you add anything to rebound, you have not been forgiven. Adding anything to just naming the sin to God indicates many forms of arrogance. Instead of being forgiven you have intensified the sin factor in your life.
c. Apologies to other people for sins against them have nothing to do with rebound and the forgiveness of your sins. It has to do with your reconciliation with others that prevents you from further sinning in the future.
d. If you are not restored to fellowship with God inside of His power system for your life, you will not be able to endure the suffering for discipline that is turned into suffering for blessing. Therefore, rebound is a license for God to forgive us, not a license for us to sin as we please. Rebound frees us to get back into the plan of God and keep moving.
e. In Stage One of the Faith‑Rest Drill, the believer claims promises of forgiveness such as 1 John 1:9. In Stage Two, faith applies the doctrinal rationale of the imputation of that sin to Jesus Christ on the cross for judgment. In Stage Three, you reach the doctrinal conclusion that you are forgiven of not only all your sins, but also all your human good and evil, which were rejected at the cross as God’s solution to the problem between God and man.
2. Stage Two is the isolation of sin, Heb 12:15.
Heb 12:15, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.”
a. Mental attitude sinning is chain sinning. You are lighting one sin on the next sin. Your mental sins lead to verbal sins, which cause others to have mental attitude sins. Now you have contaminated, polluted, or defiled, (MIAINO) others and your discipline will be intensified.
b. The “root of bitterness” refers to arrogance within the soul that leads you to sin mentally, verbally and overtly, 1 John 2:16; James 4:16.
1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”
James 4:16, “But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.”
“Bitterness” due to the arrogance complex of sins, fragments your thinking and thinking of others around you that first results in mental attitude sins. Mental attitude sins motivate chain sinning. When we see others sinning, we catch on to sinning from them, just as we would catch a common cold.
c. Rebound is God’s gracious provision to break the power of the cosmic system and sin, and decontaminate you from sin, human good, and evil.
d. “Coming short or falling back from the grace of God,” is the believer’s reentry into the cosmic system post-salvation every time we sin, making the believer the enemy of God, James 4:4.
James 4:4, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
e. The contamination of one believer in the cosmic system results in using his influence to convert other believers to Satan’s system. Many believers with momentum inside the Plan of God are lured by the siren song of other believers and unbelievers in the cosmic system, where they follow them only to crash and burn.
f. Therefore, once you have confessed a sin to God, that sin is to be isolated from mental attitude reaction in order to avoid chain sinning and perpetuation in the cosmic system.
g. After rebound, the sin is forgiven. So do not take a forgiven sin and use it as the means of losing impersonal love towards others, whereby you enter into that sin again and cause others to follow you in sin and go down with you. You cannot have impersonal love and entertain mental attitude sins at the same time.
3. Stage Three is to forget the sin once you name it to God the Father, Phil 3:13.
Phil 3:13, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”
a. Those things which lie behind include: self-absorption related to guilt, reaction to victimization or unjust treatment, utilization of defense mechanisms instead of Problem Solving Devices, reaction to the sins of others that shock us, etc.
b. If we allow the past to dictate our future, we will never progress inside the Plan of God. We need to not allow our past sins and failure to loom large over our heads in regret, guilt, or even lusting for the past. If we do, we will fall right back into the sin we have just escaped and been forgiven for.
c. Therefore, we need to forget our past sins and failures and focus on the present and future walk that we have with God, so that we can apply His Word to our lives as we apply love towards Him, impersonal love towards all of mankind, and love towards ourselves.
d. Forgetting our past sins means we forgive ourselves of our sins too, providing for us to move forward in the plan of God.
e. Forgetting does not mean the sin will be erased from our memories. It means we do not condemn ourselves because of our sins nor repeat them. And it means that we learn from our past sins and failures, so that we do not repeat them.
4. Stage Four is to keep moving, Phil 3:14-16.
Phil 3:14-16, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.”
This is accomplished by perception and application of Bible doctrine.
Phil 3:18‑19, then describes the failure to keep moving.
Phil 3:18-19, “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.”
This is the result of not apply rebounding and its principles.
Phil 3:20-21, then tell us of the hope and confidence we are to be walking in every day inside the Faith-Rest life.
Phil 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”
This is living in the resurrection life that God has given to us at the moment of our salvation. Even though we will not receive our resurrection bodies until the Rapture of the Church, we still have a resurrection life that we are to understand and walk in every day. Rebound gives the wayward son forgiveness of his past sins and entrance back into the unique spiritual life of the Church Age that he was not able to walk in. This is why the confession of our sins to God called “Rebound,” is such an important aspect of the spiritual life, and has been since the first two humans sinned in the Garden of Eden.
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Luke 15:21, “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son’.”
“I am no longer worthy to be called your son,” EIMI OUKETI AXIOS KALEO SU HIOS. AXIOS, ἄξιος is an Adjective that can mean, “worthy, deserving, fit, good enough, suitable to, etc.
Notice once again, that before the son can get all the words out of his mouth, as he intended to say in vs. 19b, “Make me as one of your hired men,” the father interjects to remind him that he is still his son and restores him to fellowship as a son, vs. 22.
No one is worthy to be called anyone’s son, especially God’s. God knew in eternity past that you were not worthy. The younger son’s big problem is arrogance, not wild living. Emotion is a sign of his arrogance. He insulted his father’s honor in the last half of vs. 19. This phrase tells us that “we are not correspondingly fitting or appropriate, worthy, fit, or deserving to be called God’s sons and daughters.” But, that does not mean that we are disqualified from being so, because it is not dependent on us. Our sonship with God is based solely on Him and His great plan of salvation, which includes the completed work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross. Therefore, even though we are not worthy to be called sons or daughters of God, we are called that because we are given that position from the moment we believed in Jesus Christ as our Savior; as the father will demonstrate in the following verses.
True humility results in true recovery with God. In these passages, we have seen the son’s reaction where he demonstrated that his humility and conviction of sin was sincere. He did not seek to take advantage of his father’s gracious reception, just as we are not to take advantage of God’s grace in the experiential forgiveness of our sins, but rather he confessed his wrongdoing, just as we should do.
In this, the son noted three implications from his sin.
1. He realized he had sinned against heaven, i.e., God Himself. This tells us that sin does far more than affect our human situation, it is a Divine offense. God has defined what sin is, cf. Rom 3:20, and when we sin, we are defying the Almighty.
Rom 3:20, “Because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”
2. The son confessed that he had sinned before his father. This tells us that Sin is rarely private and personal. It almost always involves others. Sometimes our sins hurt the ones we love the most. For example: adultery can lead to far more than the pain suffered by the betrayed spouse, as the children of a broken home have scars throughout their lives, and even the parents of the guilty have to deal with the heartbreak they feel. As such, a seemingly private sin can inflict pain upon an entire community.
3. The son recognized that he was no longer worthy to be called a son. He had forfeited his sonship, even though sonship can never be forfeited. But the point is, sin leaves us with no valid claims of any right to God’s fellowship. Once we have turned our back upon Him, it is only through His gracious action that we are able to be restored.
Therefore, the implications of sin include: offending God in heaven, causing harm or hurt to our family, and forfeiting our rights to relationship with God. Even though sin can cause so much grief, God, in His grace, has provided a process of healing and recovery for both the sinner and those affected by sin.
Luke 15:22, “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet’.”
As we saw in vs. 20, we also see here. Before the son has the opportunity to complete his pre-rehearsed repentance process, the father interrupts him and takes it from there. The son was going to add from vs. 19, “make me as one of your hired men.” But, before the words could come out of his mouth, his father instructs one of his servants to perform three tasks that signified to the son his complete forgiveness, restoration to fellowship, and continued sonship, just as our heavenly Father does when we are on the road of repentance. Therefore, the father is giving proof to his repentant wayward son that he is completely restored to fellowship, just as we are when we confess our sins to God the Father.
Here, we have three things, (Divine Perfection), that were given to the repentant son by his father that signified his restoration to the status of sonship, that speaks to the things we are restored to by God our Father when we repent from our sins.
“Here’s where the gospel defies every human expectation. We think the son might be chastised. We think the father would have been generous simply to allow the son back as a servant. We think the son could and perhaps should have been cut off. He has spent his inheritance; how can he come back asking for anything? But the father in the story, a reflection (although faint) of God the Father, pours out the storehouses of his grace and mercy at the faraway sign of his son’s repentance! The distant sighting of a sinner’s return elicits the fountain of God’s love! The sinner who turns finds that he turns right into the waiting arms of his God. God receives the penitent with the riches of heaven: the robes of Christ, the signet of sonship, the banquet of salvation! A kingdom for a beggar—that’s what heaven is! It makes the riches of God’s grace all the more glorious. My friend, if you’ve wasted your life in sin, turn to the merciful arms of God the Father. The Father will be tender and compassionate. You may come to him without fear. He will receive you.” (Christ-Centered Exposition)
Now, the first thing we note is that the father says to do these things, “quickly,” which is the Adverb TACHU, ταχύ that means, “quickly, swiftly, without delay, or soon.” It speaks of the immediacy of this restoration to fellowship that applies to all three articles placed on the repentant young man. Therefore, all three of these figurative things are given to us the moment we confess our sins in repentance of our sins.
1) “Bring out the best robe and put it on him.”
“Bring out,” is the Verb EKPHERO, ἐκφέρω in the Aorist, Active, Imperative of Command that means, “carry or bring out, or produce.” It is from EK, “out from,” and PHERO, “carry, bear, endure, produce, bring, etc.” Here, it too has the sense of immediacy. This is the only time Luke uses this word in his writings. It speaks to the restoration of fellowship in the family, as we are restored to perfect righteousness once we confess our sins to God the Father.
“The best robe,” HO PROTOS, is a Number meaning, “first, foremost, leading, most important, or chief,” with the Noun STOLE, στολή which means, “a flowing robe or festal robe.” The robe given to the son was a long, flowing garment typically associated with wealth. “It is a stately robe reaching to the feet or sweeping the ground like a train. It was a fine garment of special solemnity, beauty, or richness commonly associated with priests in their sacerdotal duties in the sanctuary. Such garments were also worn by men who were afforded special dignity or honor,” (Complete Biblical Library Greek Dictionary)
STOLE is used in Mark 12:38; Luke 20:46 for Jesus’ warning regarding the Pharisees whose arrogance brought them to wear long robes. But otherwise, it is used in a positive sense as here and Mark 16:5; Rev 6:11; 7:9, 13-14; 22:14, for the clothing adorned by the righteous.
“And put it on him,” in the Greek is KAI with the Aorist, Active, Imperative of ENDUO, “dress, clothe, put on, etc.” This represents that once we confess our sins, we will be adorned / clothed with God’s righteousness experientially, giving us experiential sanctification, as we are entered back into fellowship with God.
Therefore, the robe represents being restored to perfect righteousness (e.g., our status inside God’s Power System), as a result of our repentance, including the confession of our sins. It represents God’s grace plan for our restoration to fellowship with Him.
2) “And put a ring on his hand,” which uses the connecting Conjunction KAI with the Aorist, Active, Imperative of the Verb DIDOMI, “give, hand over, entrust, give back, etc.,” with the noun DAKTULIOS, that means, “ring or signet ring.” This word is only used her in the NT. It is used in the Septuagint for the Hebrew word TABBA’ATH that means, “signet ring,” that was worn to show identity and authority, Gen 41:42; Esther 8:8-10.
Gen 41:42, “Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck.”
They would put this ring “on his hand,” EIS AUTOS HO CHEIRA. In the ancient world, a ring like this one was equivalent to a debit or credit card today; one that the parents would procure, due to their good credit and status, and then allow the children to use. It was called a signet ring, which had the family’s emblem on it that could be used to make an imprint that would be taken by a merchant who would later charge the family for the goods bought. Therefore, the ring bore the family’s signet and was not merely a token of authority, it gave the son literal authorization to conduct business on behalf of the family.
In this scene, the ring indicated full restoration to privilege, position, and authority as a son. This tells us that it is God’s perfect credit that is assigned and restored to the repentant believer, so that we His children can purchase the things necessary for life. In other words, it is restoration back to applying God’s logistical grace blessings in our life, both for physical and spiritual necessities. The signet ring represents the fact that you can draw on God’s logistical grace blessings. It also indicates the authority we have to execute the spiritual life as royalty inside of God’s family. This reminds us of our royal priesthood and ambassadorship.
3) “And sandals on his feet,” uses KAI again, but this time it applies the Granville Sharp rule that includes this statement with the two previous as Imperatives of Command, even though there is not a verb in this phrase. Then, we have HUPODEMA, ὑπόδημα that means, “shoes or sandals,” it is used predominately for the narrative of John the Baptist who said he “is not worthy to untie the sandals of Jesus,” Mat 3:11; Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; John 1:27; Acts 13:25. It is an expression of great humility, in recognition of the person of Jesus Christ and His mission here on earth during His first Advent. In other words, Jesus, who was also God, was given a great plan, work, and service to accomplish by God the Father. Jesus had to put on those sandals and walk in them. Therefore, we see that HUPODEMA or “sandals” means the work and service we have inside of God’s plan for our life. Then we have “on his feet,” EIS HO POUS, were feet also speaks figuratively for our daily walk in Christ.
Therefore, we see that:
1) The robe represents being restored to status and fellowship; including to perfect righteousness, (e.g., our status inside God’s Power System).
2) The signet ring represents the fact that we are restored to apply our logistical grace blessings. You can draw on your logistical grace blessings, so that you can operate inside your royal ambassadorship and priesthood.
3) The sandals represent the fact that we are restored to our daily walk in the light of Jesus Christ, where we have the opportunity for service and production.
Note once again, that all of this is the doing of the father, not the son. The son merely repented in non-meritorious faith. Just as everything involved and received in our repentance is from our Heavenly Father when we apply non-meritorious faith in Him and His Word.
Luke 15:23, “And bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.”
After the father had displayed to everyone, and especially his wayward son, the immediate restoration of the repentant son, with three acts that speak to our restoration with God when we confess our sins to the Father, the father had one more blessing, as noted in this verse.
“And bring the fattened calf,” KAI PHERO HO SITEUTOS MOSCHOS. PHERO is in the Aorist, Active, Imperative for yet another mandate from the father. PHERO means, “carry, bear, endure, bring, or lead.” Even though used in the literal sense here to “bring,” it also has the figurative sense of “bearing and endure,” such as sacrificing so that fruit could be brought forth. For example, Jesus’ sacrifice would bear much fruit, cf. John 12:24. See also Luke 23:36. Therefore, we are to remember that Jesus died for our sins on the Cross when we confess our sins, giving us experiential sanctification in restoration of fellowship and service.
John 12:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Luke 23:26, “When they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus.”
“Fattened,” is the Adjective SITEUTOS, σιτευτός that means, “fed, fatted, or fattened.” It is only used in this narrative and used 3 times, Luke 15:23, 27, 30. It describes the calf here, with the analogy of the foods prepared for sacrificial religious or festive occasions of celebration. It tells us that this calf was raised with special care specifically for consumption at feasts, just as Jesus came into the world and was raised with special care to be our sacrificial lamb upon the Cross.
“Calf,” is the Noun MOSCHOS, μόσχος that means, “calf or young bull.” It is used three times in this narrative with “fattened,” as noted above, and three time in the rest of the NT, twice in Hebrews, Heb 9:12, 19; and Rev 4:7.
In Hebrew 9:11-22, it speaks of Jesus’ sacrifice as better than that of goats and calves, as prescribed by the Law, which established the new covenant with man that has cleansed all things. It is used in Rev 4:7, to describe the faces of the four living creatures who praise Jesus day and night.
Therefore, with the analogy of the “fattened calf,” we see the bringing forth of the sacrifice for our sins that would provide cleansing for the repentant believer. It reminds us that we are to go back to the Cross of Jesus Christ to remember and realize our sins have been forgiven, and through Him we have cleansing for restoration to fellowship with God.
In the ancient world, they would typically select an animal from the herd to fatten up in anticipation of a special occasion. They kept it in a special pen and fed it wheat grain for a month or longer. A well-fed calf would have provided for dozens of people, so the analogy is also that the sacrifice of Jesus is sufficient for all to partake of.
Next there are three things that they are to do with the calf, 1) Kill it, 2) Eat it, and 3) Celebrate with it.
1) “Kill it,” Is the Aorist, Active, Imperative of THUO that means, “sacrifice, slaughter, or kill.” It too is used three times in this narrative, but is also used in both the Gospels and Epistles. Luke’s only other use is in Luke 22:7, to note the feast of Unleavened Bread when the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed, which began the process of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. Matthews used it once as part of the invitation to the wedding feast, Mat 22:4.
Luke 22:7, “Then came the first day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.” Cf. Mark 14:12.
Mat 22:4, “Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast’”.”
1 Cor 5:7, “Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.”
In addition, John uses it once in John 10:10, in reference to the thief who approaches the sheep only “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” The thief steals the sheep to gratify his own appetite, but the good shepherd cares for the sheep’s welfare.
Therefore, to “kill the fattened calf,” reminds us of God’s provision through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. This we are to remember when in repentance.
2) “Let us eat,” is the Aorist, Active, Participle, Nominative of the Noun ESTHIO meaning, “to eat or get sustenance.” It is a very common word that is used in contrast in this parable. In vs. 16, the sinful young man under discipline longed to eat the food of the swine he was feeding. Yet, here, he would eat of the sacrificial calf, which figuratively notes he would partake in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Cf. John 6:26-58.
John 6:51, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
When we confess our sins in repentance, we are reminded of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that we are partaking of for the forgiveness of our sins experientially. As a Participle, it gives this verb noun like characteristics. This means that “eating” is also a position we stand in. Because of our faith in the confession of our sins, we are restored to fellowship with God through the work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross. With a cleansed heart and soul, we are able to partake / walk in the light once again.
3) “Celebrate,” is the Aorist, Passive, Subjunctive of the Verb EUPHRAINO, εὐφραίνω that means, “to be glad, rejoice, or be merry.” It is used in this narrative four times, vs. 23, 24, 29, 32, and two other times in Luke, Luke 12:19; 16:19. It is also used in Acts 2:26, and the Epistles of Paul, Rom 15:10; 2 Cor 2:2; Gal 4:27; as well as in Rev 11:10; 12:12; 18:20, for both human and heavenly rejoicing. It is associated with rejoicing at a banquet, as here, and speaks to the celebration we are to have knowing that Jesus paid for our sins and we are forgiven of our sins, and once again fellowshipping with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, as David did in Psa 16:8-11, as retold by Peter on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2:25-28.
Acts 2:25-26, “For David says of Him, “I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. 26therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope.”
Therefore, we are to rejoice in the Lord, knowing that our sins have been forgiven experientially and we once again walk in the light of God and have fellowship with Him.
This passage gives us the picture of the restoration we receive when we repent from our sins utilizing 1 John 1:9; Mat 6:12; or Luke 11:4a, because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross for the payment of the penalty for our sins, that we partake of in faith, (first for our salvation and then for the forgiveness and cleansing of our sins post-salvation when we confess them), that we are to rejoice in; knowing that the work has been completed by Jesus once and for all time and which we receive the benefits thereof, (forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration to fellowship with God).
Phil 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”
Luke 15:24, “‘For this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.”
In this passage, we see the father making a great proclamation about the repentant son with a double emphasis. The first statement is from the son’s perspective; the second is from the father’s perspective.
“For this son of mine was dead,” uses the Imperfect, Active, Indicative of the Verb EIMI, for ongoing past action, with the Adjective NEKROS for “dead,” that can also mean lifeless or useless. Here, it is used figuratively for the son who was lost, perished, or given up as dead. This goes back to the application in the ancient world where the son took his father’s inheritance as if the father was dead. Therefore, in this father-son relationship the son was also figuratively dead to the father where there was no longer any fellowship between the two. So is the wayward sinner, who is living inside of sin and Satan’s cosmic system. Even though the believer maintains their eternal life regardless of their sins, experientially it is as if they were still spiritually dead because they do not participate in their relationship with God. As sons and daughters of God the Father, when we walk in sin, it is like being spiritually dead, cf. Rom 6:13; Eph 2:1-6; 5:14; Rev 3:1. We have no fellowship with Him.
Rom 6:13, “And do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
Yet, for the repentant believer, they have, “come to life again,” KAI with the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb ANAZAO, ἀναζάω that means, “live again or revive.” It is a compound word from ANA, “again,” and ZAO, “I live.” It is used here and in vs. 32, in this parable, and in Rom 7:9; 14:9; Rev 20:5. It is synonyms with ANISTEMI and EGEIRO that are used for resurrection. This word is used in opposition to death. Therefore, this gives us the imagery of resurrection for the wayward son, as we have noted previously in this parable, yet this is not the typical word for resurrection. Instead, it is emphasizing having a new life, as in Rom 14:9, “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
To live again emphasizes a radical change of circumstance. Because the wayward son, who is a believer, already has resurrection life, this word is used to emphasize the fact that he has returned to that new life, which he had left due to sin. Therefore, when we sin, we live experientially as if we were spiritually dead, and when we repent through the confession of our sins, we are restored to living the new life that is found in Christ, the new resurrection life, cf. 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15.
Also note that “was dead and has come to life” emphasizes the son’s actions. As a sinner he was living like a spiritually dead individual, yet in repentance he has regain the experience of living the new life in Christ, the resurrection life of the believer. The next analogy emphasizes the father’s actions.
The analogy is double emphasized which brings us back to the first two parables in this chapter about the lost and found, “he was lost and has been found.” “Lost,” is the Perfect, Active, Participle, Nominative of the Verb APOLLUMI once again that means, “kill, put to death, to be lost, etc.” We noted it in vs. 4, 6, 8-9, in the previous two parables, and in vs. 17, in this parable, and it is used in vs. 32. So, we have the imagery of comparison between being lost and being dead. Here, it means having sin upon the soul and being in darkness with no relationship with God experientially.
Then we have “has been found,” that uses the Aorist, Passive, Indicative of the Verb HEURISKO, “find, discover, obtain, or ascertain,” just as used in the previous two parables. So, emphasizing the father’s actions of having lost his son and now finding him, tells us of the restoration of fellowship from God’s perspective. To him the sinful believer is lost – interruption of relationship, and the repentant son is found, restored to fellowship once again.
After the great preparations and proclamation, “they began to celebrate,” ARCHO in the Aorist, Middle, Indicative with the Present, Middle, Infinitive of EUPHRAINO once again. The Middle voice says the action that they performed had a benefit back to them. Therefore, as our heavenly Father, Son, and Spirit, along with the heavenly host, both angelic and human celebrate when a wayward son repents, it has a result back to them in that they experience the joy and happiness of the situation and celebration. This is the comparison to vs. 7, 10, from the previous two parables about the lost and found.
Luke 15:7, “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
Luke 15:10, “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The father did not mourn or regret the return of the son, he celebrated the restoration. Therefore, once again, we see the great joy that God, along with the angelic realm and believers who are already in heaven, has when one of His children return in repentance, as He provides them forgiveness and restoration to fellowship with Himself. It gives God great joy to see the sinner return.
“We may sometimes feel our confessions and repentance will result in our loss, more pain, or something worse. These parables challenge us not to think that way. Though we find ourselves in the pig trough, the reward of coming back to God will be far and away greater than anything we risk losing from that trough! If we repent, God will be our Father. And unlike our human fathers, who have sometimes failed us, God will be the perfect Father who will never fail us, never forsake us, never punish us for his own convenience, but clothe us, love us, and rejoice over us. There’s no father like this Father. So, come to God ready to be loved!” (Christ-Centered Exposition)
“This should have been the end of the story. In the first parable, the shepherd found his lost sheep and everyone celebrated. In the second story, the woman found her missing coin and everyone celebrated. When the prodigal son returned home, everyone celebrated—except for one person. Act 3 begins.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights)