Luke 15:11-32

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Parable of the prodigal son.

Original post:

Luke 15:11-16

And he said, A certain man had two sons:

A. And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.

B. And he divided unto them his living.

C. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country,

D. and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

E. And when he had spent all,

D’. there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

C’. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country;

B’. and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat:

A’. and no man gave unto him.

Luke 15:17-23

A. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father,

B. and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

C. And he arose, and came to his father.

C’. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

B’. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

A’. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:

Luke 15:24-32

A. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.

B. And they began to be merry.

C. Now his elder son was in the field:and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.

D. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy fa ther hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath re ceived him safe and sound.

E. And he was angry,

F. and would not go in:

F’. therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

E’. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:

D’. But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath de voured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

C’. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

B’. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad:

A’. for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

4 thoughts on “Luke 15:11-32”

  1. I think there are two more Chiasms in the chapter:

    4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the NINETY AND NINE in the wilderness, and go after that which is LOST, until he find it?
    5 And when he hath FOUND it, he layeth it on his shoulders, REJOICING.
    6 And when he
    saying unto them, REJOICE with me; for I have FOUND my sheep which was LOST.
    7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over NINETY AND NINE just persons, which need no repentance.

    7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no REPENTANCE.
    8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she LOSE one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
    9 And when she hath FOUND it, she calleth her
    for I have FOUND the piece which I had LOST.
    10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that REPENTETH.

    The chiasmi focus on the rejoicing in the home after that which has been lost has been found. The need for all the of the friends and neighbours to come together and share in the occasion.
    Little wonder then, that the father in the following parable intreats (v28) the elder brother to come into the home and be merry.

  2. Comment on Luke 15:11-16
    The centre of this chiasm is WHEN HE HAD SPENT ALL
    The word SPENT is the same Greek word as CONSUME in James 4:3. This is of real interest as there are lots of links in James 4 to the Parable of the Prodigal Son:
    Luke 15:14 – James 4:3 (see above)
    Luke 15:15 – James 4:4 (friendship with the world is enmity with God)
    Luke 15:16 (FAIN) – James 4:2 (same Greek word: LUST)
    Luke 15:20 – James 4:8 (Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you)
    Luke 15:21-22 – James 4:10 (Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD and he shall lift you up)
    Luke 15:28 – James 4:11 (Speak not evil one of another brethren)

  3. This is fascinating and very helpful. I had wondered if the story was chiastic but hadn’t been able to break it down.

    One question about C and C’ in the elder son’s portion of the story: does the fact that C’ uses “Teknon” rather than “Huios” substantially impact the chiasm?

    1. Thanks for the question Mike. You have stimulated me to review the post and to compare with KE Bailey’s “Poet and Peasant”. I was not entirely convinced by Bailey but I have revised the post because I think it splits up the text too much. Not only should we look for precise repetition in the terms used but also we have to take into account the overall shape and sense of the passage. It seesm to me that there are three main sections and each is a chiasm. But see what you think.

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