Skip to content

Skip to secondary menu

Skip to table of contents

Jehovah’s Witnesses

English
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

According to Luke 15:1-32

15  Now all the tax collectors and the sinners kept gathering around him to hear him.+  And both the Pharisees and the scribes kept muttering: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”+  Then he told them this illustration, saying:  “What man among you with 100 sheep, on losing one of them, will not leave the 99 behind in the wilderness and go after the lost one until he finds it?+  And when he has found it, he puts it on his shoulders and rejoices.  And when he gets home, he calls his friends and his neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’+  I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents+ than over 99 righteous ones who have no need of repentance.+  “Or what woman who has ten drachma coins, if she loses one of the drachmas, does not light a lamp and sweep her house and search carefully until she finds it?  And when she has found it, she calls her friends* and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the drachma coin that I had lost.’ 10  In the same way, I tell you, joy arises among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”+ 11  Then he said: “A man had two sons. 12  And the younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that should come to me.’ So he divided his belongings between them. 13  A few days later, the younger son gathered all his things together and traveled to a distant country and there squandered his property by living a debauched life. 14  When he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred throughout that country, and he fell into need. 15  He even went and attached himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to herd swine.+ 16  And he longed to be filled with the carob pods that the swine were eating, but no one would give him anything. 17  “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, while I am dying here from hunger! 18  I will get up and travel to my father and say to him: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19  I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Make me as one of your hired men.”’ 20  So he got up and went to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was moved with pity, and he ran and embraced him* and tenderly kissed him. 21  Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.+ I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ 22  But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quick! bring out a robe, the best one, and clothe him with it, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23  Also bring the fattened calf, slaughter* it, and let us eat and celebrate, 24  for this son of mine was dead but has come to life again;+ he was lost and has been found.’ And they started to enjoy themselves.+ 25  “Now his older son was in the field, and as he returned and got near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26  So he called one of the servants to him and asked what was happening. 27  He said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father slaughtered the fattened calf because he got him back in good health.’* 28  But he became angry and refused to go in. Then his father came out and began to plead with him. 29  In reply he said to his father, ‘Look! These many years I have slaved for you and never once did I disobey your orders, and yet you never once gave me a young goat to enjoy with my friends. 30  But as soon as this son of yours arrived who squandered your belongings with prostitutes, you slaughtered the fattened calf for him.’ 31  Then he said to him, ‘My son, you have always been with me, and all the things that are mine are yours. 32  But we just had to celebrate and rejoice, for your brother was dead but has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

Footnotes

Or “her women friends.”
Lit., “fell upon his neck.”
Or “sacrifice.”
Or “safe.”

Study Notes

the two drachmas tax: Lit., “the double drachmas.” (See App. B14.) Various temple services were maintained through taxation. (Ex 30:12-16) Apparently, by Jesus’ day it had become customary for each adult male Jew to contribute a fixed amount as an annual temple tax.

ten: As shown in the study note on drachma coins in this verse, a drachma was worth almost a day’s wages. However, this lost coin may have had special value as one of a set of ten, perhaps an heirloom or part of a prized string of drachmas used for adornment. It was necessary to light a lamp to search for it because the window in a home, if there was one, was usually quite small. And houses at that time generally had clay floors, so the woman swept the floor to help her find the lost coin.

drachma coins: A drachma was a Greek silver coin. By the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the drachma probably weighed about 3.4 g (0.109 oz t). At that time, the Greeks equated the drachma with the denarius, but the Roman government officially reckoned the value of the drachma at three fourths of a denarius. The Jews paid an annual temple tax of two drachmas (a didrachma).—See study note on Mt 17:24; Glossary, “Drachma”; and App. B14.

drachma coins: A drachma was a Greek silver coin. By the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the drachma probably weighed about 3.4 g (0.109 oz t). At that time, the Greeks equated the drachma with the denarius, but the Roman government officially reckoned the value of the drachma at three fourths of a denarius. The Jews paid an annual temple tax of two drachmas (a didrachma).—See study note on Mt 17:24; Glossary, “Drachma”; and App. B14.

the drachma coin: See study note on Lu 15:8; Glossary, “Drachma”; and App. B14.

A man had two sons: Some aspects of the illustration of the prodigal son (also known as “the lost son”) are unique. It is one of the longest that Jesus gave. An outstanding feature is the family relationships he describes. In other illustrations, Jesus often referred to inanimate things, such as different kinds of seed or soil, or to the formal relationship between a master and his slaves. (Mt 13:18-30; 25:14-30; Lu 19:12-27) In this illustration, however, Jesus highlights the intimate relationship between a father and his sons. Many who hear this account may not have had such a kind, warmhearted father. This illustration portrays the deep compassion and love that our heavenly Father has for his earthly children, both those who remain with him and those who return to him after going astray.

the younger one: According to the Mosaic Law, the firstborn received a double share. (De 21:17) So if the older son in this illustration was the firstborn, it would mean that the inheritance of the younger son was half that of his older brother.

squandered: The Greek word used here literally means “to scatter (in different directions).” (Lu 1:51; Ac 5:37) At Mt 25:24, 26, it is rendered “winnow.” Here it is used in the sense of being wasteful, spending foolishly.

a debauched life: Or “a wasteful (reckless; wild) life.” A related Greek word is used with a similar meaning at Eph 5:18; Tit 1:6; 1Pe 4:4. Since the Greek word may also include the idea of a spendthrift, or wasteful, lifestyle some Bible translations use the expression “with prodigal living.”

to herd swine: These animals were unclean according to the Law, so this was a degrading, despicable occupation for a Jew.—Le 11:7, 8.

to herd swine: These animals were unclean according to the Law, so this was a degrading, despicable occupation for a Jew.—Le 11:7, 8.

carob pods: The fruit or pods of the carob have a shiny, leathery shell of a purplish-brown color and, in harmony with the literal meaning of their name in Greek (ke·raʹti·on, “small horn”), have a curved horn shape. Carob pods are widely used till this day as food for horses, cattle, and pigs. The degradation to which the young man had sunk was accentuated by his willingness even to eat the food of swine.—See study note on Lu 15:15.

against you: Or “in your sight.” The Greek preposition e·noʹpi·on, literally meaning “before; in the sight of,” is used in a similar way at 1Sa 20:1 in the Septuagint. In that verse, David asks Jonathan: “How have I sinned against your father?”

hired men: When he returned home, the younger son planned to ask his father to be accepted, not as a son, but as a hired man. Such a man was not part of the estate, as were the slaves, but was an outsider who was hired, often for just a day at a time.—Mt 20:1, 2, 8.

tenderly kissed him: Or “affectionately kissed him.” The Greek term rendered “tenderly kissed” has been understood to be an intensive form of the verb phi·leʹo, sometimes rendered “to kiss” (Mt 26:48; Mr 14:44; Lu 22:47) but more often having the meaning “to have affection for” (Joh 5:20; 11:3; 16:27). By greeting him in such a warm, friendly manner, the father in the illustration shows his willingness to welcome back his repentant son.

called your son: Some manuscripts add: “Make me as one of your hired men,” but the current main text reading has support in various early, authoritative manuscripts. Some scholars consider that the extra expression was added to make the verse harmonize with Lu 15:19.

robe . . . ring . . . sandals: This robe was not merely a simple article of clothing but the best one—perhaps a richly embroidered vestment of the sort presented to an honored guest. The act of putting a ring on the hand of his son shows the favor and affection of the father as well as the dignity, honor, and status accorded this restored son. A ring and sandals were not usually seen on slaves. Thus, the father was making it clear that his son was being welcomed back as a full-fledged member of the family.

squandered: Lit., “devoured.” The Greek word is here used to give a graphic description of how the younger son wasted his father’s belongings, or means of living.

Media

The Shepherd and His Sheep
The Shepherd and His Sheep

A shepherd’s life could be difficult. He was exposed to heat and cold as well as to sleepless nights. (Ge 31:40; Lu 2:8) He protected the flock from predators, such as lions, wolves, and bears, and safeguarded them from thieves. (Ge 31:39; 1Sa 17:34-36; Isa 31:4; Am 3:12; Joh 10:10-12) The shepherd kept the flock from scattering (1Ki 22:17), looked for lost sheep (Lu 15:4), carried feeble or weary lambs in his bosom (Isa 40:11) or on his shoulders, and cared for the sick and injured (Eze 34:3, 4; Zec 11:16). The Bible often speaks of shepherds and their work in a figurative way. For example, Jehovah is likened to a Shepherd who lovingly cares for his sheep, that is, his people. (Ps 23:1-6; 80:1; Jer 31:10; Eze 34:11-16; 1Pe 2:25) Jesus is called “the great shepherd” (Heb 13:20) and “the chief shepherd,” under whose direction the overseers in the Christian congregation shepherd the flock of God willingly, unselfishly, and eagerly.—1 Pe 5:2-4.

Carob Pods
Carob Pods

Carob pods grow on the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua), an attractive evergreen that is found throughout Israel as well as in the rest of the Mediterranean area. The tree reaches a height of up to 9 m (30 ft). The fruit, or pods, measure from 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 in.) in length and about 2.5 cm (1 in.) in width. As they mature, the green pods turn a purplish-brown color and look like shiny leather. Inside are several pealike seeds separated from one another by a sweet, sticky, edible pulp. Carob pods are widely used till this day as food for horses, cattle, and pigs.