Below is a verse by verse commentary on the popular teaching of the Prodigal Son in the bible (Luke 15:11-32). Please read it carefully, verify it with your own Bible and pass it on to your family and friends. It could make an eternal difference in the lives of some. Many false concepts of our day are cleared up in Jesus' teaching of the prodigal son.
The Prodigal Son In The Bible, Verse By Verse
The Prodigal Son Wants His Inheritance To Leave Home
Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. (Luke 15:11) The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.” (Luke 15:12)
Even though it would be detrimental for the Father to give the youngest son (the Prodigal Son) his share of the property to go astray, the Father still did. God honors man’s free will and choice to do right or wrong. God will not force us to love and to be faithful to him. The Prodigal Son was about to wreck his life, and the loving Father let him do it.
Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. (Luke 15:13)
Prodigal means wasteful. It is from this verse that the younger son becomes known as the Prodigal Son. NOTE: it was in wild living with sin that all his money was spent. The Prodigal son found such in a distant country away from the Father’s holy presence.
After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. (Luke 15:14) So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. (Luke 15:15) He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. (Luke 15:16)
His money was all gone and his lifestyle would have to change. The Prodigal Son was so low he longed to fill his stomach with pig food, but got nothing. (This world can be mercilessly cruel.) Before he left the presence of the Father he longed for wild living, but now he was longing to have his stomach filled with animal food. When the devil tempts, he never reveals the ruinous end of sin!
False Teachers In The Church (2 Pet. 2:1-22)
The Prodigal Son Comes To His Senses
When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!” (Luke 15:17)
When the Prodigal Son woke up, so to speak, from the delusion he had been in, he realized the Father’s hired hands had food to eat that he didn’t have. (People in sin and away from God are in a deluded spiritual state or they would desire to be in God’s presence.) The misery, regret and pain of living outside of God’s will is also shown in the life of the Prodigal Son.
“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. (Luke 15:18) I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.” (Luke 15:19)
Now that the Prodigal Son came to his senses, after being brought very low, he was willing to turn from sin, admit he sinned and obediently serve the Father. That is repentance exemplified even though the word repent is not found in this teaching. NOTE: The Prodigal son needed to repent to become alive again.
So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)
Here is a wonderfully amazing truth about God and his eager willingness to receive a repentant backslider back home. It is because of God’s compassion that he does this. Notice also that before the Prodigal Son could say he even sinned and wanted to be made like a hired hand the Father took him back. The Prodigal Son was in deliberate sin for perhaps many years, but the Father was glad to have him back a changed person from when he left. Also, this is the only time the Father is ever pictured as running. He also is shown here to kiss the prodigal!
The Prodigal Son Returns To Salvation
and They Celebrate
The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” (Luke 15:21) But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. (Luke 15:22) Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. (Luke 15:23) For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:24)
After the Prodigal Son humbly spoke to the Father, the Father didn’t speak back to him here, but instead to his servants. He wanted them to quickly bring the best robe, a ring and sandals for his son who came to his spiritual senses. He also wanted to celebrate with a feast and the fattened calf. Why? Because the Prodigal Son is no longer spiritually dead and lost, but now spiritually alive again. There is rejoicing when a soul gets saved. Again sin, through the wild living he indulged in, had brought the Prodigal Son to a spiritually dead and lost condition, which clearly shows that sin can accurately be compared to deadly poison. Finally, even though the Prodigal Son was dead spiritually, he could still choose to act wisely and repent, which preceded him becoming alive again.
Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. (Luke 15:25) So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. (Luke 15:26) Your brother has come, he replied, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound. (Luke 15:27) The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. (Luke 15:28)
The older brother getting angry to the point of not celebrating against the Father’s will shows how people can unjustly get upset over the mercy shown to one who repents. The turn around of the younger brother no longer being spiritually dead and lost, but now spiritually alive again was the reason they were celebrating. The older brother should have been thrilled like the Father and rejoiced because the Prodigal Son's soul got saved again.
But he answered his father, “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. (Luke 15:29) But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” (Luke 15:30) “My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. (Luke 15:31) But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” (Luke 15:32)
The older brother candidly voices his reasons for being upset, that is, he never had even a lesser celebration even though he had been obedient to the Father unlike his younger brother. Jealousy and anger go hand and hand and can be seen here. Again, the Father tells why it was fitting to celebrate in the case of the Prodigal Son
Main Points In The Prodigal Son In The Bible
The prodigal son was no longer spiritually dead and lost, but now spiritually alive again. In order for the Prodigal Son to become spiritually alive again shows he was first spiritually alive before he departed from the presence of the Father to be with prostitutes. Then, it was through sin that he became spiritually lost and dead, which was reversed through sincere repentance.
Temptation lured him away from the Father. The devil could never snatch him out of the Father’s hand, but merely tempted him away with wild living (and probably the so-called boredom of being obedient to the Father. The Christian life is not boring, but the deceived sometimes think it is.) The Prodigal Son didn’t successfully resist those sexual temptations, but could have (James 4:7). Consequently, he became just another spiritual casualty in this intense spiritual war that is raging for eternal souls. The never perish John 10:28 promise doesn't apply to backsliders, but only to faithfully followers of Jesus.
This teaching of the Lord’s also proves there are two types of spiritually lost people: (1) Those who never came to first time salvation and (2) Those who once did but afterwards died spiritually and became lost [again] through sin’s destructive power such as what the Prodigal Son experienced. Certain sins bring forth spiritual death in the life of a real believer. See chapter 7 in The Believer's Conditional Security: Eternal Security Refuted.
This teaching also proves that a backslider can come back to salvation again, which is consistent with James 5:19,20 and Rom. 11:19-23.
The Prodigal Son was saved before he entered lifestyle sinning. Some would say if one turns away to that degree he was never really saved, but Jesus refuted that point of Calvinism with this teaching. We could also accurately say the Prodigal Son dove into wild living and didn’t just fall into it like some wrongly teach is what a saved person might do. The allurements and pleasures of sin (for a short time, Heb. 11:25) are shown here along with the devastation that wickedness leaves for those so deceived. The Prodigal Son made a complete mess out of his life, but was wise enough to go to God in such a wretched condition. Oftentimes one has to get very low like he was before a turning to God occurs. The Prodigal Son was certainly happy he turned to God and was glad to be back home once he was received by the Father.
The eternal security teachers declare that the Prodigal Son remained a son all during his wild living with the prostitutes. By doing so they miss the point of Jesus’ teaching that there are different kinds of lost people which he started to teach about at the beginning of Luke 15. Also, by teaching that way such teachers are indirectly saying there are Christians who sin with prostitutes -- a painfully clear proclamation of both a doctrine of demons and a license for immorality. Numerous times we are shown in other Scriptures that it is impossible to be sexually immoral and a Christian simultaneously (1 Cor. 6:9,10; Eph. 5:5-7; Gal. 5:19-21; Rev. 22:15; etc.). Finally, the Prodigal Son is not actually labeled a son by the Father when he was in unrepentant wickedness. It is glaringly unscriptural to say one is spiritually dead and lost and a son of God at the same time.
The Prodigal Son had the best possible life in the Father’s presence but got deceived away from such. It probably happened slowly as he dangerously pondered the devil’s temptations about what (he thought) would be an exciting new life where you can be happy and have lots of friends and fun. There you can party hardy and eat, drink and be merry like the multitudes. Dear reader, remember this: No one can sin and get away with it. The Prodigal Son was not going to be an exception.
What happened to the Prodigal Son is the very thing Paul warned the Roman Christians would also happen to them if they would start to live according to the sinful nature, that is, they would die spiritually. See Rom. 8:13. There is NO eternal security or the perseverance of the saints taught in the Bible. In fact, such a doctrine is the opposite to God’s truth. See also Gal. 5:19-21; 6:8:9; 1 Cor. 15:2; etc. A Christian should be repulsed at the mere notion or mention of eternal security. It should never be supported or even tolerated. To do so is a violation of Rev. 2:20.
To reiterate, God took the Prodigal Son back after he turned from his wickedness to humbly serve him. Such reversed his lost condition. There was instant restoration. God delights to show mercy (Micah 7:18), but with regard to salvation it must be accompanied by sorrow for one’s sins, turning from them and a willingness to serve the Father’s commands -- all of which we see in the Prodigal Son. See also 1 Thess. 1:9b.
The Prodigal Son did not have to confess his sins to a priest and say three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys (or the like) to get his sins forgiven. He got mercy and forgiveness directly from God without first going to any other person, including a female figure like Mary. The Father is filled with mercy and compassion for one who is repentant, as the Prodigal Son was. To represent the Father, under such circumstances, as wrathful is a horrible and dangerous distortion of vital truth related to salvation itself.
The Prodigal Son is one of about half a dozen parables in which Jesus taught about salvation and by doing so refuted Calvinism. For much more information related to salvation, please consult our books: The Believer’s Conditional Security and The Myth of Eternal Security. The Prodigal Son in the Bible is similar to many prodigals in our hour and we must draw from these truths.
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