Luke 15

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Luke 15
CodexGigas 527 Luke.jpg
The Latin text of Luke 14:30–19:7 in Codex Gigas (13th century)
BookGospel of Luke
Christian Bible partNew Testament
Order in the Christian part3

Luke 15 is the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The book containing this chapter is anonymous, but early Christian tradition uniformly affirmed that Luke composed this Gospel as well as the Acts of the Apostles.[1] This chapter records three parables of Jesus Christ: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost or 'prodigal' son.[2][3] Biblical commentator Heinrich Meyer refers to this chapter, the following chapter and Luke 17:1–10 as a "new, important, and for the most part parabolic set of discourses" linked by the murmuring of the Pharisees and Jesus' responses to them and to his disciples.[4]


The original text was written in Koine Greek. This chapter is divided into 32 verses.

Textual witnesses[edit]

Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter are:

Murmuring of the Pharisees and scribes[edit]

Verse 2[edit]

And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying,
"This Man receives sinners and eats with them."[5]

Meyer notes and compares the murmuring of the Pharisees and scribes (verses 1–2) with the murmurings of the Israelite community in the wilderness in Exodus 16:1–8 and 17:3.[4] Eric Franklin suggests that in eating with them, "Jesus is anticipating their inclusion within the kingdom of God".[6]

Parable of the Lost Sheep[edit]

Etching by Jan Luyken showing the triumphant return of the shepherd, from the late 18th century Bowyer Bible

Verses 3–7 record this parable, which appears in two of the canonical gospels of the New Testament, as well as in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas.[7] According to the Gospels, a shepherd leaves his flock of ninety-nine sheep in order to find the one sheep who is lost. It is the first member of a trilogy about redemption that Jesus tells after the Pharisees and religious leaders accuse him of welcoming and eating with "sinners".[8] Compared with Matthew's version of this parable,[9] Luke emphasises the shepherd's responsibility for the loss (verse 3: if he loses one of them; in Matthew, one of them goes astray), the unconditional nature of the search, and the joy which was brought about by the sinner's repentance.[6]

These verses have been used in the United States in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. A common refrain from the political right, which is commonly Christian in the US, is to retort "All Lives Matter" to diminish care for violence against black people. However, the Parable of the Lost Sheep shows that care should be given first to those who are in immediate need.

Parable of the Lost Coin[edit]

In this parable, a woman sweeps her dark house looking for a lost coin (engraving by John Everett Millais).

This parable, in verses 8–10, appears only Luke's Gospel. It recounts a story about a woman with ten silver coins (Greek drachmae) losing one. She then lights an oil lamp and sweeps her house until she finds it, rejoicing when she does. It is a member of a trilogy on redemption that Jesus tells after the Pharisees and religious leaders accuse him of welcoming and eating with "sinners".[8] The New King James Version notes that married women often wore such coins in a ten-piece garland.[10]

Parable of the Prodigal Son[edit]

The Return of the Prodigal Son (1773) by Pompeo Batoni

The Prodigal Son, also known as Two Sons, Lost Son, the Running Father,[11] and the Loving Father, is one of the parables of Jesus which also appears only in Luke's Gospel (verses 11-32). It tells of a father who gives the younger of his two sons his share of the inheritance before he dies. The younger son, after wasting his fortune (the word 'prodigal' means 'wastefully extravagant'), goes hungry during a famine. He then repents and returns home with the intention of begging to be employed and renouncing his kinship to his father. Regardless, the father immediately welcomes him back as his son and holds a feast to celebrate his return. The older son refuses to participate, stating that in all the time the son has worked for the father, he did not even give him a goat to celebrate with his friends. His father reminds the older son that everything the father has is the older son's, but that they should still celebrate the return of the younger son as he has come back to them. It is the third and final part of a cycle on redemption, following the Parable of the Lost Sheep and the Parable of the Lost Coin.

Liturgical usage[edit]

In Western Catholic tradition, this parable is usually read on the fourth Sunday of Lent (in Year C),[12] while in the Eastern Orthodox Church it is read on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Holman Illustrated Bible Handbook. Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee. 2012.
  2. ^ Section headings in the New International Version and New King James Version
  3. ^ Halley, Henry H. Halley's Bible Handbook: an Abbreviated Bible Commentary. 23rd edition. Zondervan Publishing House. 1962.
  4. ^ a b Meyer, H. A. W., Meyer's NT Commentary on Luke 15, accessed 29 June 2018
  5. ^ Luke 15:2 NKJV
  6. ^ a b Franklin, E., Luke in Barton, J. and Muddiman, J. (2001), The Oxford Bible Commentary, p. 947
  7. ^ Gospel of Thomas: 107 Lamb translation and Patterson/Meyer translation.
  8. ^ a b Richard N. Longenecker, The Challenge of Jesus' Parables, Eerdmans, 2000, ISBN 0-8028-4638-6, pp. 201–204.
  9. ^ Matthew 18:12–14
  10. ^ New King James Version (1982), footnote c at Luke 15:8
  11. ^ Scripture Union, The Running Father, published for reading on 5 September 2012, accessed 3 August 2020
  12. ^ "Lent 4C". Retrieved 2013-09-12.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Luke 14
Chapters of the Bible
Gospel of Luke
Succeeded by
Luke 16