Vol. 19, No. 40 – October 18, 2020
C. The Parable of the Prodigal Son, vs. 11-32, (continued).
3) The resentful brother and insightful father, vs. 25-32.
Luke 15:25, “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.”
We are introduced to a new character in this parable, the “older son,” PRESBUTEROS HUIOS, for older or elder son. This is in comparison to the younger son who is the main character. Apparently, the elder son did not see his brother return home nor his father’s initial reception of the repentant brother, because he was out “in the field,” EN AGROS. “Field” once again speaks to living inside of sin and Satan’s cosmic system. In vs. 15, we saw that the younger brother sold himself into slavery in the world, where he was “in the fields to feed the swine.” There, the younger brother was living in immoral sin, (lasciviousness), inside of Satan’s cosmic system. Here, the older son was out working in the fields of his father, telling us that he maintained close proximity with the father. Therefore, this is the picture of the believer who is not operating in immoral sin like the younger brother was, but of the believer who is operating in approbation lust, (Asceticism), and human good, which is still part of Satan’s cosmic system. Approbation sin is the lust of praise for the things you do, which amounts to human good works. Therefore, the elder brother is also living in sin and Satan’s cosmic system, as we will see also in the following verses.
Now, when the elder son came back to his father’s “house,” OIKOS, after the days works, he “heard,” AKOUO, “music and dancing,” SUMPHONIA KAI CHOROS.
SUMPHONIA, συμφωνία is where we get our word symphony from and means, “music.” It is only used here in Scripture. In classical Greek it means, “concord or unison of sound,” the idea of “harmonious union” applied to music. Its cognates mean, “agreement.” So, we understand that there was a band or orchestra playing music at this occasion of celebration.
This reminds us of the analogy of Rom 6:13, which we noted above. When we are operating in sin, human good, or evil, we are playing in Satan’s band; we are instruments of unrighteousness. When we repent, are restored to fellowship with God, and remain there, we are playing in God’s band once again, and are “instruments of righteousness.” 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.”
CHOROS, χορός is where we get our word choreography from. It means, “dancing, company of dancers, chorus, troop, or dance.” It too is only used here in the NT. Whether these where performers dancing for entertainment or the people partaking in the celebration we do not know. But some were merrily dancing. Dancing is seen in the OT for preceding the men returning home from some victory, Ex 15:20; Judges 11:34. There, it represents our victory in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins that we should celebrate when we or someone else rebounds and recovers.
It was also primarily used in religious worship for the Israelites, as we see David dancing at the arrival and placement of the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem, 2 Sam 6:5, 12-19. A synonymous but different word is used in Luke7:32; Mat 11:17; 14;6; Mark 6:22, that emphasizes non-religious and sometimes seductive dancing, especially the latter two passage that spoke of Herodias dancing for Herod.
Therefore, this music playing and dancing is a picture of the scene in heaven where God, the elect angelic race, and humans celebrate at the restoration of a wayward son, just as we too should celebrate here on earth.
Psa 150:4, “Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.”
Luke 15:26, “And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be.”
When the elder brother heard the celebration and did not know why it was occurring, “he summoned” a servant. “Summoned,” is the Greek Verb PROSKALEOMAI , προσκαλέομαι that means, “summon, call to oneself, or invite.” He did so to “one of the servants,” HEIS HO PAIS. PAIS does mean servant but it is also used for “child, son, or daughter.” So, this might have been another brother or sister. In analogy, he’s calling a fellow believer.
Next, he “began inquiring,” which is the Ingressive Imperfect, Middle, Indicative of the Verb PUNTHANOMAI, πυνθάνομαι that means, “ask, inquire, question, or learn.” The Ingressive Imperfect stresses the beginning of the action that continues for some time. From this we see the anxiousness of the elder son in his questioning about the situation. Therefore, we do not see a relaxed mental attitude (RMA) here.
“What these things could be,” TIS HOUTOS EIMI. EIMI is in a rare construction here in the Present, Active, Optative Mood. There are fewer than 70 Optative moods in the NT. Here, it is an Oblique Optative that is used as the direct question giving it an added degree of emphasis. Therefore, we see the anxious nature of this inquiry once again, and we see the sin of jealousy starting to boil up.
Luke 15:27, “And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound’.”
Here, the servant or other brother or sister answers the elder brother’s question. It has three parts:
1) “Your brother has come,” HO ADELPHOS SU HEKO that means, “has come or is present.” It is the announcement that the wayward brother has returned home / repented through rebounding with the start of recovery. This should have caused the elder brother to be excited with much joy. But, as we will see, it does not.
2) “Your father has killed the fattened calf,” SU HO PATER THUO HO SITEUTOS HO MUSCHOS. As in vs. 23, the literal meaning is that his father has called for and provided a celebration for the returning of the wayward son. As we noted in analogy, God the Father has provided the sacrificial lamb for our sins through His Son Jesus Christ upon the Cross that we are to partake of and celebrate in.
3) “Because he has received him back safe and sound,” HOTI APOLAMBANO AUTOS HUGIAINO. “Safe and sound,” is one Greek Verb HUGIAINO, ὑγιαίνω in the Present, Active, Participle, Accusative that means, “be in good health, be sound, wholesome, or correct.” In the Septuagint, this word is used often for SHALOM in greetings, salutations, and farewells. It means, “peace or well-being.” Therefore, not only does this word mean the younger son was in physical good health, but also “correct or sound,” spiritually, in that he had repented to get back into a right relationship with the father. Jesus used this word also in Luke 5:31, for the statement, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.” As such, the fact that someone is restored to a right relationship with God should be celebrated.
Therefore, spiritually we see that the repentant wayward son or daughter of God returns home into a right relationship with God the Father, having been restored to fellowship, having been cleansed of all unrighteousness, and is now walking soundly in the light of Jesus Christ, which is to be celebrated. Yet, this arrogant, approbation loving, elder brother did not see it that way, because he was blinded by his own human good and personal sin. The believer with true humility is delighted to see other people repent and become successful.
Yet, this older brother is full of blind arrogance. We will see this in vs. 29, “I have never disobeyed your orders.” This is human good being parlayed into evil by arrogance. Also, in vs. 30, we will see the older brother slander the younger brother; “we don’t know how the wealth was spent.” Therefore, the older son is in self‑righteous, mental attitude, and moral arrogance, along with having the arrogance of unhappiness. This has made him the enemy of grace and leads to further sins including anger within his soul.
Remember that the elder son is representing the Pharisees and scribes here, who had been criticizing Jesus, cf. Luke 15:2. Jesus used the figure of the older brother to condemn the attitude of the Pharisees and Scribes who condemned Jesus for unacceptable fraternizing with tax-collectors and sinners.
The lesson we learn from this is that we must be careful not to not accept the repentance of our fellow believers, where we hold their past sins and failures against them for many reasons. Instead, we are to forgive and forget, and move on with them in harmonious chorus.
But in this parable, it is out of jealousy that the elder brother thinks and acts in sinful ways. He thought that he was doing everything right, yet his comparison was against himself, rather than against the righteousness of God.
2 Cor 10:12, “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.”
We must be careful to compare our behaviors and actions against God’s standards and not to our own standards. Instead, we are to have the Divine viewpoint of forgiveness of sins for the repentant wayward son or daughter, where we do not hold grudges against them looking for further proof of their repentance. Nor should we not forgive them out of some self-righteous jealousy, where we think they should be punished or damned because of their sin, where we should be exalted because of our “righteousness.” That form of thinking amounts to self-righteousness which is sin, human good, or evil in God’s eyes. God is not willing that any sinner should remain alienated and lost, cf. 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Tim 2:4. He welcomes back the lost sheep into the fold, the lost son into His household, the repentant sinner into His fellowship, just as we should too.
“Our view of sinners should be one of great sorrow, for they have rejected the grace of God and are lost. Likewise, our attitude when a sinner repents and is restored to God should be one of great joy. Too often we find that these attitudes are reversed.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
Luke 15:28, “But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him.”
Here, we see the emotional revolt of the soul of the jealous older brother, as “he became angry,” which is the Aorist, Passive Deponent, Indicative of the Verb ORGIZOMAI, ὀργίζομαι that means, “to be angry or to be angry at someone.” It is used 8 times in Scripture, which is the number the means, “superabundant,” and signifying a new beginning. Here, we see the extent of the brother’s anger and the indication that there is a new sin begun in his soul at this moment. As such, we see that the sinful mental attitude of jealousy leads to receiving the sinful mental attitude of anger, which will lead to a further sinful action as noted below.
Prov 6:34, “For jealousy enrages a man, and he will not spare in the day of vengeance.”
ORGIZOMAI represents an inner mental attitude of indignation, wrath, hatred, and fury usually targeted at a specific person, thing, or event. As, you know there can be righteous anger or indignation, but that too must be controlled within your soul. Yet, here we have the unrighteous or sinful type of anger. Here, the older brother of the Prodigal Son was very angry because of his uncontrolled contempt for his wayward younger brother and because of his discontent with his father for celebrating his brother’s return. Nevertheless, we are not to have this type of anger in our lives because, as here, it leads to further sin and wicked behaviors especially towards others.
Mat 5:22, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”
Eph 4:26, “Be angry, and yet do not sin (Psa 4:4); do not let the sun go down on your anger.”
Eph 4:31, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
Col 3:8, “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.”
Eph 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Next, we see that due to his anger the elder brother “was not willing to go in,” OUK THELO EISERCHOMAI
THELO means, “to wish to have, desire, to purpose to do, or to be willing.” With the negative OUK, the elder son was “not willing” to enter the house party. Here, it is in the Imperfect tense for incomplete / ongoing action, the Active voice to indicate the elder brother performs the sinful action, and the Indicative mood for the reality of the situation. Therefore, we see his free will decision to take negative action because of his sinful mental attitude of jealous anger towards his brother and father. This tells us that mental attitude sins lead to negative actions, either verbally or mentally, if the anger goes unchecked. We also see that it is the elder son’s free will volition to act upon his sinful mental attitude, just as it is our free will that chooses to sin.
As such, we see that the elder son’s attitude did not coincide with his father’s. Instead, the elder son was furious and bitter. He did not welcome his brother back, and in fact, refused to enter the house while the celebration was going on.
Ironically, when the prodigal brother was “out,” the older brother felt “in.” Yet, now when the prodigal was celebrating within, the older brother refused to join and stayed out. This tells us that our spiritual life should never be based on others, either good or bad. In other words, we should not think that we are in a right relationship with God just because someone else is in wrong relationship with God because of their sin that we think is worse than ours. On the flip side, when we see the love, mercy, grace, and compassion of God in the life of a previous sinner, we should never be jealous, angry, or bitter towards them thinking that they do not deserve it, especially compared to your perceived “good spirituality.”
Principles of Sinful Anger
In our parable, anger is a mental attitude sin. It stems from temptations of the Old Sin Nature, “the flesh,” Gal 5:19-21.
Gal 5:19-21, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
It is a negative mental attitude reaction to some thing or someone, or it may be directed toward no one or thing in particular. As a mental attitude sin, it expresses antagonism, hatred, exasperation, resentment, irrationality, etc. It can be mental, emotional, or both. There are two Greek nouns that refer to anger both as a mental attitude and as an emotional revolt of the soul. They are ORGE and THUMOS. They also have cognate verbs to describe the action of anger.
ORGE, ὀργή that is translated, “anger or wrath,” is related to the inner disposition as evidence by passion, impulse, and especially outward expressions of displeasure or anger. It can be used to describe being under the influence of passion or anger. We are warned in James 1:19, not to have the sinful type of ORGE in our lives.
James 1:19, “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.”
THUMOS, θυμός means, “great anger, wrath, rage, or passion.” Only Luke used THUMOS in the Gospels, Luke 4:28, to describe a typical response of the opponents of the gospel as rage, see also Acts 19:28.
Luke 4:28, “And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things.”
Acts 19:28, “When they heard this and were filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’”
Paul used it 5 times. On four of these, it is a deplorable human condition, combined with other such base sins, 2 Cor 12:20; Gal 5:20; Eph 4:31; Col 3:8.
In Eph 4:31, both types of anger are related to bitterness, clamor, slander, and malice.
Eph 4:31, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
Therefore, anger is a sin which motivates other sins like gossiping, maligning, slandering, judging, etc. It is unjustifiable and becomes a reaction of antagonism, which makes it a sin that leads to the sinful reaction of irritation, exasperation, and irrationality. If your reaction to a situation is from emotional revolt of the soul, then it leads to emotional anger and you react in a sinful way towards others. As such, anger is never an isolated sin, Prov 29:22, “An angry person stirs up strife, and a hot tempered person abounds in transgression.”
If anger continues and you have bitterness or vindictiveness, your vindictiveness will come out either verbally or as some form of retaliation or revenge. In addition, jealousy motivates anger and anger motivates cruelty. A person cannot be angry without being cruel and unfair, cf. Prov 27:4.
Prov 27:4, “Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, but who can stand before jealousy?”
Anger is also related to foolishness, Eccl 7:9, “Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools.” Satan had anger and it turned a genius into a fool. Anger turns any person into a stupid fool. A person is never smart when angry, which is why many stupid and embarrassing things are said and done in anger. Most people who spend their time in anger have a temporary loss of self-esteem or it is a manifestation that no self-esteem existed in the first place and therefore they have self-pity that leads to all kinds of foolish behaviors and actions. If you have to deal with some problem, you must have your senses about you. Do not lose your temper!
In fact, many criminal activities are the function of the arrogant, angry, and foolish person. Anger always adds wrong to wrong, sin to sin, as anger destroys the virtue in the subject. Therefore, anger destroys the function of impersonal love. Impersonal love maintains the virtue of the subject, but sinful anger destroys the function of impersonal love that then leads to causing harm against others in anger.
We also see:
1) In Eph 5:26, that anger destroys marriage.
2) In Amos 1:11, anger can destroy a nation, Amos 1:11, “So decrees the Lord, ‘for three sins of Edom, even for four, I will not revoke its punishment. Because he pursued his brother with a sword, stifling all compassion, because his anger raged continually and he maintained his anger forever.’”
3) In Eph 4:30-31, anger is associated with grieving the Holy Spirit. Eph 4:30-31, “Stop grieving the Holy Spirit, the god by whom you have been sealed to the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and slander be removed from you, together with all evil.”
4) In Col 3:8, anger is a violation of the Royal Family Honor Code. Col 3:8, “But now you also put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.”
5) In 1 Tim 2:8, anger hinders effective prayer. 1 Tim 2:8, “Therefore, I desire that men in every place pray, lifting up holy hands without anger and without dissension.”
6) In Prov 22:8, anger results in self‑induced misery. Prov 22:8, “He who sows iniquity will reap vanity, and the rod of his fury will perish.” You fail to interpret history or your circumstances correctly, become frustrated and then angry, which results in self‑induced misery.
7) In Heb 12:15, anger is the source of chain sinning. This is hidden, hypocritical anger. 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.”
8) Anger causes misery to those in your periphery, Amos 1:11; Prov 21:19; 22:24; 25:24; 29:22; 30:33.
Prov 30:33, “For the churning of milk produces butter, and pressing the nose brings forth blood; so the churning of anger produces strife.”
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#20-108 & 20-109 & 20-110
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life.
So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!