And he spoke this parable to them, saying,…
I. Who are those that need no repentance? There are two modes of solving this difficulty, so as perfectly to harmonize the doctrine of the text with the general system of Divine truth. In the first place, there are those who have repented, and are no longer denominated penitents. In the next place, there is no necessity for taking the words in their absolute sense. Our Lord frequently speaks in an hypothetical or supposititious manner.
II. Why is there more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth than over ninety-nine just persons that need no repentance? Whether we can fully understand the causes of their joy is uncertain. There may be certain relations in which they exist that our more limited nature cannot comprehend, and which powerfully affect their minds with impressions of joy. We are a great deal more affected by recent than by remote causes. Now it is probable that all beings have a great similarity in this respect, and as repentance is a thing of recent occurrence, as it is the essential fact in the history of man's felicity, as it is the very gate to the celestial country, angels may feel a peculiar delight in an event so singular, and connected with infinite results. Then, again, it is probable that, like ourselves, angels are affected by contrast; and what contrast can be more striking than that exhibited by the impenitent and the penitent? Lastly, I would suggest a few hints which naturally arise out of the subject. In the first place, what an infinite value is stamped upon this transformation of the heart — repentance! The penitent becomes entitled to all the benefits which are comprehended in the enjoyment of the presence and blessing of God. Secondly, we see the importance of the gospel. This is the great instrument for producing repentance. Thirdly, it affords the most delighful encouragement to sinners to repent.
(R. Hall, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he spake this parable unto them, saying,