Question & Answer Forum

Does the story of the prodigal illustrate the recovery of a swaying believer or the salvation of a lost sinner?

Most definitely the latter. The context confirms this. In the parable’s three parts, Christ replies to the Pharisees’ criticism, “This man receiveth sinners.” In verses 11-32, He compares His reception of such with the father’s reception of a rebellious son. These sinners, portrayed in the prodigal, were not believers who strayed, but the ungodly. To construe that this interpretation makes God the “Father” of sinners simply overburdens the allegorical framework of the parable. Describing a straying believer as “dead” though, is going too far. Also, the term “lost,” as chapter 19:10 shows, refers to the perishing, Further, the Savior interprets the sheep and silver as denoting ‘one sinner that repenteth.” Luke uses the word “sinner” 18 times, always describing the ungodly. Similarities do exist between the sinner’s conversion and the saint’s restoration, but some of the language true of one cannot be used of the other.

D. Gilliland


Why do the genealogies in Matthew and Luke differ?

Matthew presents the credentials of the King. The genealogy of Matthew 1 traces His lineage through David and Solomon. David typifies the “King of Glory,” strong and mighty in battle (Psalm 24:8), and Solomon typifies the glorious reign of the “King of peace” (Hebrews 7:2), the eternal Son of God (verse 3).

Luke presents a perfect Man Whose pathway leading to Calvary was the revelation of the heart of God (Luke 1:78). Matthew portrays Him as the “Seed of David;” Luke describes the virgin-bom “Seed of the Woman.” Luke’s genealogy traces Him through David’s son, Nathan, not Solomon. Throughout this list, “son” is not in the text except in verse 23 where “as it was supposed” qualifies it. In every other case, Luke says, “of Heli, of…” until he says, “of Adam, of God,” “the Son of God” (in the singular and with the article, this is used only of the Lord).

Matthew lists the genealogy of Joseph. Luke gives us the genealogy of Mary. Through Joseph legally and Mary personally, the despised Jesus of Nazareth was truly “born King of the Jews.”

N. Crawford


Why does Joseph’s genealogy have relevance to the Lord when Joseph was not His natural father?

Matthew begins with, ‘The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David.” His purpose is to present our Lord Jesus as the Son of David Who will reign as king, sitting on the throne of David. Matthew shows that Joseph had descended from David through Solomon, and therefore had the legal rights to the throne. Matthew lists 15 kings by name, but only David is referred to as king (verse 6). Jechonias is the last king named in the genealogy. Concerning him, Jeremiah 22:30 says, “No man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David.”

When Joseph obeyed the angel of the Lord and took Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:20,24), he also accepted her son as his. Our Lord Jesus thus inherited the legal rights to the throne of David. Since Joseph was not his natural father, He did not inherit the curse of Jechonias. It is wonderful how God worked it out!

W. Gustafson


To whom does “the great” and “the strong” refer in Isaiah 53:12?

The wording of the KJV presents a difficulty: our Lord as Victor is not on the level of “the great.” He is unrivaled. Most authorities have not given too much light on this verse. Undoubtedly, however, this delightful chapter concludes with the Servant of Jehovah coming forth as the mighty Victor. The Septuagint may give us a clearer understanding of this text. It reads, “Therefore shall He inherit the many” (that He delivered in conquest), “and He shall divide the spoils of the mighty” (that He conquered as the Victor). Another has put it, “He divides the portion as a great one, and He divides the spoil as a strong one.” The Victor shares the spoil with His friends. The spoil is evidently from the defeated foe. Isn’t David’s conquest in the valley a picture of this? David inherits the many by his victory as a great one. In the victory over the mighty He divides the spoil, as the strong one, with the delivered nation.

A. Hull


Does the institution of the Lord’s Supper follow Judas’ departure?

The historical records of Matthew and Mark place the institution of the Lord’s Supper after the Lord spoke of giving the sop to Judas (Matthew 26:20-29; Mark 14:17-26). John gives the conversation in fuller detail and adds that Judas, “having received the sop went immediately out” (John 13:30). Luke 22:14-38 does not contradict this. Typically, Luke develops a moral structure befitting the events he selects. John 13:32,33 contains the Lord’s wondrous statement regarding His cross, death, resurrection, and ascension into glory. He refers to the unending revelations of God glorified in Him in eternal oneness. This seems to be linked with Luke 22:22 (“Truly the Son of Man goeth”) and therefore to precede the institution of the Supper. Since He then addresses the disciples as little children (John 13:33), commencing the Upper Room ministry, it seems very reasonable to conclude that the Lord instituted the Supper between verses 32 and 33.

J. N. Smith