Luke 15:23
And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
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(23) Bring hither the fatted calf.—It is interesting to remember the impression which this part of the parable made on one of the great teachers of the Church as early as the second century. Irenaeus (see Introduction) saw in it an illustration of what seemed to him the special characteristic of St. Luke’s Gospel, viz., the stress which it lays on the priestly aspect of our Lord’s work and ministry. We note, after our more modern method, (1) that in the framework of the story, the definite article points to “the calf” that had been fattened as for some special feast of joy. It answers accordingly to the “feast of fat things” of Isaiah 25:6 - i.e., to the joy of the full fruition of the presence of God; and there is, perhaps, in the command to “kill it” (the word used is the technical one for slaying a sacrificial victim) a half-suggestion that this was only possible through a sacrifice and death. The fatted calf thus comes to represent to us that of which the Eucharistic feast is at once a symbol, a witness, and a pledge.

15:17-24 Having viewed the prodigal in his abject state of misery, we are next to consider his recovery from it. This begins by his coming to himself. That is a turning point in the sinner's conversion. The Lord opens his eyes, and convinces him of sin; then he views himself and every object, in a different light from what he did before. Thus the convinced sinner perceives that the meanest servant of God is happier than he is. To look unto God as a Father, and our Father, will be of great use in our repentance and return to him. The prodigal arose, nor stopped till he reached his home. Thus the repenting sinner resolutely quits the bondage of Satan and his lusts, and returns to God by prayer, notwithstanding fears and discouragements. The Lord meets him with unexpected tokens of his forgiving love. Again; the reception of the humbled sinner is like that of the prodigal. He is clothed in the robe of the Redeemer's righteousness, made partaker of the Spirit of adoption, prepared by peace of conscience and gospel grace to walk in the ways of holiness, and feasted with Divine consolations. Principles of grace and holiness are wrought in him, to do, as well as to will.Be merry - Literally, "eating, let us rejoice." The word "merry" does not quite express the meaning of the Greek. "Merriment" denotes a light, playful, jovial mirth. The Greek denotes simply "joy - let us be happy, or joyful." 23. the fatted calf—kept for festive occasions. See Poole on "Luke 15:22"

And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it,.... By which Christ is designed, in allusion to the calves offered in sacrifice, which were offered for sin offerings, and for peace offerings, and for burnt offerings; and were one of the sacrifices on the day of atonement: so Christ has offered up himself in soul and body, freely and voluntarily, in the room and stead of his people, an offering and sacrifice to God, of a sweet smelling savour; which is well pleasing to him, and effectual to the purposes for which it was offered, and therefore will never be repeated; and has hereby satisfied law and justice, procured peace and reconciliation, and made full atonement and expiation for all their sins and transgressions: or else in allusion to the feasts and liberal entertainments of friends, when the fatted calf made a considerable part, Genesis 18:7 Christ is the best provision that can be set before a believer, or he can feed upon; yea, the best that God can give, or saints desire: he is true and real food, spiritual, savoury, satisfying, and durable; what both gives and preserves life; nourishes, strengthens, refreshes, delights, and fattens. Now by "bringing it hither", is meant preaching Christ; opening the Scriptures concerning him; setting him before believers, as their only proper food, both in the ministry of the word, and in the Lord's supper: and "killing" him does not design either the slaying of him in purpose, promise, and type, from the foundation of the world; nor the actual crucifixion of him by the Jews; but the setting him forth in the Gospel in a ministerial way, as crucified and slain, for saints by faith to feed and live upon:

and let us eat and be merry: for as the Jews (f) say,

"there is no mirth without eating and drinking:''

this is a mutual invitation or encouragement to eat of the fatted calf: the parties called upon to eat of it are the Father, the servants, and the returned son. The Father, to whom the salvation of his people, by the death of Christ, is as a feast; his heart was set upon this from everlasting; and he was infinitely well pleased with Christ, as the surety of his people from all eternity; his eye was upon him as such throughout the several dispensations before his coming; he sent him forth with great pleasure in the fulness of time; and not only did not spare him, but it even pleased him to bruise him; and he accepted of his sacrifice with delight; and takes pleasure in seeing his people feed upon their crucified Saviour; and this is expressive of that communion which God admits his people to with himself, and which, as it is signified by walking and talking, and sitting and dwelling, so by eating together; and is in consequence of union to him; and is only enjoyed by true believers; and is the greatest blessing on earth, and what is next to heaven. The servants, the ministers of the Gospel, they are among the "us", who are to eat; and it is but reasonable they should, and it is even necessary that they do eat, and live upon a crucified Christ themselves, whose business it is to set him forth as such to others: and especially the returned son makes a principal guest at this entertainment; for whom it is made, and for whose sake chiefly the invitation to eat is given: by which is meant not corporeal eating, but eating by faith; which supposes food to eat, of which there is plenty in the Gospel provision; a principle of life infused, for a dead man cannot eat; and spiritual hunger and thirst, otherwise there will be no appetite; and the grace of faith; which is the hand that takes, and the mouth that receives, and eats spiritual food: and believers have full and free liberty to eat of it; nor should they object their own unworthiness, but consider the suitableness of the food unto them; that it is on purpose prepared for them; that they are in their Father's house, and at his table; and the invitation to eat is hearty and cordial; and both the Father and Christ give this food, and bid welcome to it; and there is a necessity of eating it, for without this there can be no living in a spiritual sense: it is hereby that life is supported and maintained; without this the saints must be starving; it is this which preserves from hunger, and satisfies it, and nourishes up unto eternal life. The manner of eating, or the circumstance attending it, is "mirth", both in Father, son, and servants; and as corporeal, so spiritual eating should be with joy, and with a merry heart, Ecclesiastes 9:7 and indeed is the most proper means of stirring and increasing spiritual joy and pleasure; see the note on the latter part of the following verse, See Gill on Luke 15:24.

(f) T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 9. 1.

And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
Luke 15:23. τὸν μόσχον τὸν σιτευτόν: always one fattening for high-tides; could not be used on a better occasion.

Luke 15:23. Τὸν μόσχον τὸν σιτευτὸν) Jdg 6:25, τὸν μόσχον τὸν σιτευτὸν καὶ μόσχον δεύτερον ἑπταετῆ.[163] The article denotes pre-eminent excellence.—εὐφρανθῶμεν, let us enjoy ourselves [‘lætemur,’ rejoice: Engl. Vers. “be merry”]) This word is repeated with the greatest emphasis in Luke 15:24; Luke 15:32.

[163] The reading approved of in Grabe’s LXX.; but the Vatican copy has τὸν μίσχον τὸν ταῦρον.—E. and T.

Verses 23, 24. - And bring hither the fatted calf. There was a custom in the large Palestinian farms that always a calf should be fattening ready for festal occasions. And let us eat... And they began to be merry. Who are intended by these plurals, us and they? We must not forget that the parable-story under the mortal imagery is telling of heavenly as well as of earthly things. The sharers in their joy over the lost, the servants of the prodigal's father on earth, are doubtless the angels of whom we hear (vers. 7, 10), in the two former parables of the lost sheep and of the lost drachma, as rejoicing over the recovery of a lost soul. Luke 15:23The fatted calf

The article denoting one set apart for a festive occasion. Tynd., "that fatted calf."

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