Parable of the Good Samaritan

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Luke 10:25-37

(New International Version, 1984)

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ (Deuteronomy 6:5); and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Leviticus 19:18)

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Harmonization with other Gospels

Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-37

(New International Version, 1984)

Matthew 22:34-40:

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ (Deuteronomy 6:5) 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Leviticus 19:18)

40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Mark 12:28-34:

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Deuteronomy 6:5) 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’(Leviticus 19:18) There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

According to John Calvin's Commentary on Matthew, Mark, Luke, Vol 3:

"They all agree in this, that the scribe put a question for the sake of tempting Christ; but he who is described by Matthew and Mark goes away with no bad disposition; for he acquiesces in Christ’s reply, and shows a sign of a teachable and gentle mind: to which must be added, that Christ, on the other hand, declares that he is not far from the kingdom of God. Luke, on the other hand, introduces a man who was obstinate and swelled with pride, in whom no evidence of repentance is discovered. Now there would be no absurdity in saying that Christ was repeatedly tempted on the subject of true righteousness, and of keeping the Law, and of the rule of a good life." [1]

Calvin also notes that "In the form of the question, too, Luke differs somewhat from Matthew and Mark; for, according to him, the scribe inquires what men must do to obtain eternal life, but according to the other two Evangelists, he inquires what is the chief commandment in the law. But the design is the same, for he makes a deceitful attack on Christ, that, if he can draw any thing from his lips that is at variance with the law, he may exclaim against him as an apostate and a promoter of ungodly revolt. [2]

Distinctives of Luke's Gospel

Klein, Blomberg & Hubbard, Jr.'s Introduction to Biblical Interpretation enumerates the parable as one example of the uniqueness of Luke's gospel: "...a reading of all of Luke discloses his particular interest in showing Jesus as the friend of sinners and outcasts in Jewish society - most notably Samaritans, Gentiles, tax collectors, prostitutes, poor people, and women. See, for example, the otherwise unparalleled stories of the Good Samaritan, Mary and Martha (10:38-42), the prodigal son (15:11-32), the rich man and Lazarus (16:19-31), the nine Jewish and one Samaritan lepers (17:11-19) and the Pharisee and the tax-collector (18:9-14). Interpretation and application of a given passage in the Gospels should stress the particular emphases of the Gospels in which it occurs, rather than blurring its distinctives by immediately combining it with other parallels. God chose to inspire not a harmony of the Gospels but four distinct ones, and we should respect this choice rather than undermine it by our interpretation." (p.403)

Social Concern & The Role of the Church

Millard J. Erikson's Christian Theology, 2nd Edition notes this parable demonstrates a function of the church in its responsibility "to perform acts of Christian love and compassion for both believers and unbelievers. It is clear Jesus cared about the problems of the needy and the suffering. He healed the sick and raised the dead on occasion. If the church is to carry on his ministry, it will be engaged in some form of ministry to the needy and the suffering. That Jesus expected this of believers is evident in the parable of the good Samaritan...The good Samaritan, although he had nothing to do with the assault on the man going down to Jericho, took it upon himself to to care for the victim's needs even at personal cost and danger. Since love of neighbor is closely linked by the law to love God, the Christian church must be concerned about hurt and need in the world." (p 1067)

Good Samaritan and Genres of the New Testament

Klein, Blomberg & Hubbard, Jr.'s Introduction to Biblical Interpretation view the parable as a biblical genre of narrative fiction. The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of two-thirds of Jesus parables that are traidic in structure, "That is, they present three main is a master figure (King, master, father, shepherd) and two are contrasting subordinates (servants, sons, sheep). Consider the shepherd with his one lost and ninety-nine safe sheep (Lk 15:3-7) (and) the man who was robbed and beaten, the pair of clerics who ignore him and the Samaritan who helps him...with the good Samaritan, interpreters should strive to preserve all three standards of meaning...From the example of the priest and Levite comes the principle that religious status or legalistic casuistry does not excuse lovelessness: from the Samaritan we learn we must show compassion to those in need; from the man in the ditch emerges the lesson that even an enemy is a neighbor." (p. 414)