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The Gospel of Luke addresses issues that
were important to the church in the time in which it was written.  These were both social and theological
issues.1
The Gospel of Luke includes parables that the other Gospels do not include,
with one of those parables being the parable of the prodigal and his brother.2
This parable is about a son leaving with all of his inheritance, spending all
of it and then returning and repenting to his father.3
In this popular parable of the prodigal and his brother, the father’s
compassionate response to his youngest son returning after spending his whole
inheritance demonstrates that those who repent will be forgiven for their sins
and welcomed back with open arms because they have been found again.

            There are multiple things about the
Gospel of Luke that still do not have a definite answer and one of those things
is when it was written. The Gospel of Luke is believed by most scholars to have
been written between 80-90 CE.4
The identity of the author is another topic that is still not known. 5
The location in which the author of the Gospel of Luke wrote the Gospel is also
not known for sure, but scholars have narrowed down the location to either
Antioch in Syria or Caesarea on the Palestinian coast.6
During this time there was a lot going on and the author of the Gospel of  Luke wrote the Gospel in way that would pass
on Jesus’s mercy through the in-depth and creative way of telling Jesus’s story.7 LM1 The
Gospel of Luke also starts and ends in Jerusalem.8 LM2 The
economic conditions varied greatly in the time in which the Gospel of Luke was
written.9
The conditions ranged from poor to rich, with the wealthy being mentioned a lot
throughout the Gospel.10
Since the Gospel of Luke was not the first Gospel written, there was an
availability for the author to use the other Gospels as sources.11

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            There were different sources used to
help write the Gospel and this Gospel addresses a targeted audience. Some of
the sources that the author of the Gospel of Luke is thought to have used was
the Gospel of Mark.12
It is also thought that the author of the Gospel of Luke was influenced to
write what he did by different traditions and having knowledge of others
stories that had already been told.13
Through the writing of the Gospel of Luke, the audience being addressed was
most likely people that spoke Greek because that would allow them to understand
the concepts that were being written about.14
It was also believed that the audience was made up of Gentiles15and
others who were sophisticated and well-off.16
The background of the Gospel of Luke is important, but the religious context of
it allows for a better understanding of this Gospel and what lessons are
brought forth.

            There is pertinent information that
the Gospel of Luke brings in order to have a better understanding of the Gospel
as a whole. Information about the author is just one of the things that aid in
the understanding of the Gospel. It can be inferred that the author might have
been a God-fearer.17
A God-Fearer is a person who is extremely interested in the teaching that were
being taught about God and the ethical standards that surrounded those stories.18
Another topic that furthers the understanding of this Gospel is the fact that
there were religious and cultural influences during the time of the Gospel. One
of the influences is that there was a gap between the rich and the poor and the
gap was still growing.19
Along with this influence, there was a religious influence. The religious
influence was hindered when the Jewish people rejected the Gospel on the
grounds that they did not believe that Jesus had power.20
This particular influence caused problems especially with the people who
believed that Jesus would be the one who would fulfill the promises made.21
The information behind the author is not the only way in which the
understanding of the Gospel as a whole can be achieved, but it can also be
achieved through the authors views.

            The author of the Gospel of Luke
expresses his views along with providing guidance for his audience. The way in
which he expresses his Gospel is through a Christian view.22
Through his Christian view, the author of the Gospel of Luke offers guidance
for his audience on possible problems that can arise in their life. One point
of guidance that is offered is that the audience will be part of God’s
salvation plan and that they have always been part.23
With Christianity expressed and the guidance that is given, there are things
that can be inferred about the audience.

            The information about the audience
of the Gospel helps to better understand the topics that are included in the
Gospel of Luke. The probable social situation of the audience was well-off
Christians that most lived in more of an urban community.24
Some possible questions and concerns were that the readers wanted to confirm
that what they were believing in was true, along with wanting help on ways to
argue in order to defend what they believe in.25
The author of the Gospel of Luke included many different genres of literature
in his Gospel to help display his messages.

            The author of the Gospel of Luke
uses many different genres within his Gospel, but the genre in which the
father’s compassion to his returning son is displayed is in a parable. The
genre of a parable is to communicate a story or narrative that conveys a lesson
that needs to be learned.26
The
parable of the prodigal and his brotherLM3 
helps to convey some of the goals of the author of the Gospel of Luke. The
passage demonstrates how things can be lost and then found again and the joy
that accompanies the finding of a lost thing, whether a material good or a lost
child.27
The parable also demonstrates how important repentance is and how God will be
pleased when a person returns to him after being lost in anyway.28
Through this parable the goals of the author of the Gospel of Luke are further
expressed and fulfilled. One of the goals that is further explained is that God
welcomes back to his covenant those who have strayed from  him in any way.29
It also reaffirms that any outsider, whether it be someone who is poor or
another form, will be welcomed into God’s kingdom and that it is this
acceptance that is the most important thing.30
The author also wants to demonstrate the equality of people, and through this
parable it is seen that no one is better than someone else and that God values
each person the same and for these reasons is way all humans should treat and
value each other the same as they would want to be treated.31  This is especially seen when the father
displays compassion when welcoming his son back even though it was the opposite
of what expectations would have been,32
so the father is treating the son how he would have wanted to be treated. The
welcoming back of the son and having a big feast is also demonstrating the joy
that God would have when a sinner returns to him.33
All of this information is important information in order to better understand
the passage and confirm the intended message.

            The Parable of the Prodigal Son and
His Brother begins in chapter 15 verse 11 with a man having two sons and the younger one
wanting his share of his father’s land, which was supposed to be shared between
the two sons.34 LM4 The
giving of the share to the youngest son would have been a surprise to people of
that time because the father had not died yet,35so
the son was asking for his part of the land, or his inheritance, before it was
should have been given.36
The giving of the inheritance was seen as the son leaving his family and
cutting all relationships that he had.37
The younger son spending all of his share in a distant land can be seen as a
loss of himself.38
After this loss of himself, he attempts to find work along with food.39
The work in which he took part in was considered shameful40
and he was seen as being lower than the pigs because they had access to food
while he did not.41  The problem of not having food lead to his
thoughts in verses 18-19, which is when he decides to return to his father.42
These verses say how he has sinned against heaven and before his father, which
demonstrates the repentance that the son has for his actions, along with
displaying how the relationship between God and humans are connected.43
In verse 19, the son is asking to be treated as a servant instead of a son
because he is no longer worthy of the title of son,44
but when planning what he is going to say, he plans on starting with “Father,”
which actually causes a different response then what was anticipated45
because the father did not need penance since it was enough joy to have his son
back home with him.46
With the returning to his father, he is fixing the wrongs in which he has done
by not only coming to himself, but by also returning to the person that he had
did the wronged action towards.47
The son had realized that he had not just sinned against his father, but that
he also had sinned against God.48
This action leads to other important actions.

            The actions of the father
demonstrates the compassion that he has for his son, with the first action
being that he runs and meets his son.49
This excitement from the father to see his son is said to be the same
excitement that is displayed by God when someone who has ventured away from him
returns to him.50
The father is willing to give his best robe to his son, which was a significant
sign of acceptance.51
This gift was not the only thing that was given up for the son, but also the
father gave up one of his calves by saying to kill the fattened calf so that
there could be a celebration.52
These actions of the father demonstrate that the son is more important than any
of the wrongs that he has committed.53
Even though the father was so accepting and forgiving of his son returning, the
older son did not feel the same way.54

The older of the two sons reacts to the
return of his brother in a very angry way. One of the things that he does is
that he refuses to attend the party that the father had for the return of the
youngest son.55
The older son feels as if he is a servant and is never rewarded for his
actions.56
The actions of the older son caused the father to go to him and talk to him.
The father explained that everything that he has is also the older son’s. This
statement demonstrates the father’s faithfulness to both sons.57
The father was trying to fix the relationship between the family. The younger
son repents and uses “Father”, while the older son is supposed to say “brother”
again because of the repentance given.58
The parable as a whole allows its readers to best understand the lesson that
was intended, which includes welcoming everyone back no matter what they might
have done.

            The Gospel of Luke includes many different
passages that all have different messages to convey. Within the Gospel of Luke,
the Parable of the Prodigal and his Brother conveys multiple lessons that all
incorporate into an overall message. One of the lessons include some of the
necessary things that have to happen when someone is trying to repent for an
action that they have committed. Another lesson is that all people are loved
the same, which was displayed through the younger son’s reacceptance by the
father. The parable demonstrates this reacceptance by considering the younger
son still his son and this recognition would stay the same no matter what the
action was that the son performed.59 The author of the Gospel of Luke accurately
demonstrates the excitement and joy that someone has when they find something
that has been lost, especially when it is a child that is found again. It was
displayed that a repentance was not necessary and that the son was like a
sinner returning and being invited back to the love of God.60 The father could not have been any happier
to see his son return and with the return of the son came acceptance back into
the family and forgiveness of all previous actions.  LM5 

 

 

1 David L. Tiede and Christopher R.
Matthews, The HarperCollins Study Bible,
Revised Edition:

The Gospel According to Luke (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins
Publishers, 2006), 1759.

2 Luke Timothy Johnson, Sacrina Pagina vol. 3, ed. Daniel J. Harrington
(Collegeville, MN:

            Liturgical Press, 1991), 3-4.

3 Harold W. Attridge et al., eds. The HarperCollins Study Bible, Revised
Edition (San Francisco,

            CA: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006),
1794-95.

4 Daniel J. Harrington, The Gospel According to Luke (New York,
NY: William H. Sadlier Inc.,

            1983), 12.

5
Tiede and Matthews, The HarperCollins Study Bible, 1759.  

6 Harrington, The Gospel According to Luke, 12.

7 Jerome Kodell, Collegeville Bible Commentary: The Gospel According to Luke (Collegeville,

            MN: Liturgical Press, 1989), 7.

8
John T. Carroll, “The Gospel of Luke: A Contemporary Cartography,” Interpretation:
A

journal
of Bible and Theology 68,
no. 4 (2014): 368, doi:10.1177/0020964314540109.

9 Carroll, “The Gospel of Luke,” 373.

10 Carroll, “The Gospel of Luke,” 373.

11 Michael R. Cosby, Interpreting Biblical Literature: An Introduction to Biblical Studies

            (Grantham, PA: Stony Run Publishing,
2009), 297.

12
Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New
Testament 2nd ed. (Downers

            Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press,
2014), 1.

13
John Barton and John Muddiman, eds.
The Oxford Bible Commentary (Oxford,
NY: Oxford

            University Press, 2001), 923.

14
Johnson, Sacrina Pagina, 3.

15
Johnson, Sacrina Pagina, 3.

16
Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, 1.

17
Harrington, The Gospel According to Luke, 11.

18
Harrington, The Gospel According to Luke, 11.

19
Harrington, The Gospel According to Luke, 10.

20
Barton and Muddiman, The Oxford Bible Commentary, 925.

21
Barton and Muddiman, The Oxford Bible Commentary, 925.

22
Kodell, Collegeville, 7.

23
Kodell, Collegeville, 8.

24
Kodell, Collegeville, 8.

25
Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, 1.

26
Johnson, Sacrina Pagina, 4.

27
J Bradley Chance, “Luke 15: Seeking the Outsiders,” Review & Expositor 94, no. 2 (1997):

249.

28
Chance, “Luke 15,” 250.

29
Johnson, Sacrina Pagina, 241.

30
Harrington, The Gospel According to Luke, 15.

31
Leander E. Keck et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible Vol. 9
(Nashville, TN: Abingdon

Press,
1995), 305.

32
Attridge et al., The HarperCollins Study Bible, 1794,
Footnote 15.19.

33
Keck et al. The New Interpreter’s Bible, 305.

34
Attridge et al., The HarperCollins Study Bible, 1794.

35
Attridge et al., The HarperCollins Study Bible, 1794,
footnote 15.12.

36
Johnson, Sacrina Pagina, 236.

37
Kodell, Collegeville, 80.

38
Johnson, Sacrina Pagina, 241.

39
Attridge et al., The HarperCollins Study Bible, 1794.

40
Attridge et al., The HarperCollins Study Bible, 1794,
footnote 15.15-16.

41
Kodell, Collegeville, 80.

42
Attridge et al., The HarperCollins Study Bible, 1794.  

43
Johnson, Sacrina Pagina, 237.

44
Attridge et al., The HarperCollins Study Bible, 1794.

45
Johnson, Sacrina Pagina, 237.

46
Keck et al. The New Interpreter’s Bible, 305.

47
Keck et al. The New Interpreter’s Bible, 304.

48
Keck et al. The New Interpreter’s Bible, 302.

49
Kodell, Collegeville, 81.

50
Johnson, Sacrina Pagina, 241.

51
Johnson, Sacrina Pagina, 237.

52
Attridge et al., The HarperCollins Study Bible, 1794

53
Kodell, Collegeville, 81.

54
Kodell, Collegeville, 81.

55
Kodell, Collegeville, 81.

56
Johnson, Sacrina Pagina, 241.

57
Kodell, Collegeville, 81.

58
Keck et al. The New Interpreter’s Bible, 303.

59
Keck et al. The New Interpreter’s Bible, 305.

60
Keck et al. The New Interpreter’s Bible, 305.

 LM1The
word Christian was not used until after Jesus died. The gospels are written to
help people believe in Jesus Christ. Find a way to incorporate this into this
part.

 LM2??

 LM3There
is no need to capitalize this.

 LM4Please
say more here. His share of what?

 LM5As
you explain these lessons, please link them to this parable more directly.

Are people really loved the same by parents and others?

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