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Bible verses about Parable of the Two Debtors
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 13:45-46

Though it is one of the better known parables, the Pearl of Great Price also happens to be misunderstood frequently. The common explanation is that the merchant represents a Christian, and the pearl of great price is the Kingdom of God to which he gives his all so he can be a part of it. Another interpretation is that the pearl is Christ, and a Christian gives his all to Him. As meaningful as these interpretations may be, another is far more meaningful, and the evidence given in the narrative favors it.

In this parable the merchant is seriously and deliberately searching the world to secure the best and costliest gems. It is the very business of his life. He travels widely with zeal and a lofty purpose because he can do so and appreciate the best when he sees it.

The common interpretation shows the sinner, the merchant, diligently searching the world and sacrificing all to find the Kingdom of God or Christ. This cannot be true! On several counts it is totally out of alignment with Scripture as well as experience. This approach puts the seeker totally in control of his destiny.

Three scriptures disprove that we are the merchant seeking to "buy" the Kingdom of God, Christ, or eternal life.

Romans 3:11: There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.
Luke 19:9-10: And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
John 6:44: No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

It is Christ who seeks the sinner! The Shepherd seeks the sheep, not vice versa. Furthermore, if the pearl is either Christ, the Kingdom of God, or eternal life, it contradicts other scriptures regarding God's grace. Notice II Corinthians 9:15, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" Romans 6:23 adds, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Finally, in Luke 7:41-42 Jesus says in the Parable of the Two Debtors:

There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price shows the merchant willing to buy a pearl at high cost. Can we possibly buy the Kingdom of God or eternal life or forgiveness if we have nothing with which to buy? If we think we have something with which we might barter with God, or if we think we have something to sell in order to buy from Him, then grace ceases to be grace!

The Bible consistently reveals we have no righteousness, skills, or intellect that is of any value in purchasing anything from God. Isaiah 64:6 confirms this: "But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags." Peter's denunciation of Simon Magus plainly shows that men cannot buy the things of God. "But Peter said to him, 'Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!" (Acts 8:20).

We are not the active agent in choosing Christ. John 15:16 specifically refers to Christ's apostles, but the principle extends to us: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you." Jesus clearly states in Luke 19:10, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."

By this time it ought to be clear that Jesus Christ is the merchant, the price paid was His life, and the church (the individual Christian in a very narrow sense) is the pearl. The church is one pearl, one body, composed of those He has sought out through the ages to be a habitation for God by His Spirit and who will be His bride at His return. This beautiful and meaningful little parable shows some of the extent of His labor of love for us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Parables and a Pearl


 

Luke 7:36-47

This woman perceived and appreciated a greatness in Jesus that motivated her to so abase herself as to weep, cleanse His feet with her tears, kiss, and anoint them! Notice her emotion, courage, devotion (oblivious of public opinion), and humility (in performing the task of a slave). We can safely guess that Jesus had turned this woman from a life of sin. She may have been among the crowds who were convicted by His messages. When she heard He was nearby, she rushed to Simon's home, ignoring the scorn of others to express her gratitude to the One who had set her aright.

Her deed expressed her love and gratitude, springing from her recognition of or faith in His greatness as contrasted to her unworthiness. She felt obligated to respond in a way so memorable that God recorded it for all humanity for all time to witness. Note that the Bible shows human lips touching Jesus only twice: here and Judas' kiss of betrayal.

In contrast, Simon the Pharisee, evidently a man of some substance and ambition, was moved to invite the popular Jesus to his home. Self-concerned and inhospitable, he did not offer Jesus even the customary services a host normally provided visitors to his home.

From the context we can assume that he felt himself to be at least Jesus' equal. His conclusion that Jesus was no prophet probably suggests he felt superior to Him, that He was no more than an interesting celebrity. This biased self-evaluation in relation to Jesus produced in him no sense of obligation and thus no corresponding gratitude, humility, or act of love—let alone common courtesies.

Had he a heart at all? The scene unfolding at his respectable table scandalized him, but God thought it so inspiring, He recorded it for our benefit. Simon judged, "She is a sinner." "No, Simon," Jesus replied, "she was a sinner." In this lies a major clue to the difference between the two people.

Simon and the woman had something in common, according to the parable: Both were debtors to the same creditor, and neither could meet His obligation.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Passover, Obligation, and Love


 

Luke 7:36-38

This episode demonstrates a contrast between two attitudes of mind and heart. Simon, conscious of no need, had neither love toward Christ nor a desire for forgiveness. His impression of himself was that he was a good man in the sight of God and men. The woman, on the other hand, seems aware of nothing except her sinfulness and her great need of forgiveness. This resulted in mournful weeping over her destitution and love for the One who could fill her need.

Perhaps nothing shuts us off from God more firmly than human self-sufficiency (Revelation 3:17). It is a strange phenomenon that the more clearly we see our sins the better person we are. Perhaps the most damaging of all sins is to be conscious of no sin. The supreme lesson in this vignette is that the woman's attitude not only resulted in forgiveness but also played a major role in producing gratitude and loving devotion for Christ in her.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part Three: Mourning


 

Luke 7:36-50

The setting of the Parable of the Two Debtors is the house of Simon, a Pharisee, who had invited Jesus to eat with him. To show respect for Jesus, a woman stops in uninvited, but Simon calls her a sinner, one notoriously wicked, a prostitute (Luke 7:36-39). These three real people are reflected in the three fictitious characters of Jesus' parable (verses 41-42): a creditor, a debtor who owes 500 denarii, and another who owes 50.

The forgiving creditor represents Jesus Christ. The professedly righteous man owing 50 denarii represents Simon. The person in debt for 500 denarii represents the woman sinner.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Two Debtors


 

Luke 7:36-50

Simon's pharisaic sensibilities were shocked by the sinner's action (Proverbs 26:12)—and even more by Christ's attitude toward her. He was complacent and self-absorbed, and his self-righteousness manifested itself in pleasure with his own "goodness" and "importance" (Isaiah 65:5; II Corinthians 10:12). Although he invited Jesus to eat at his house, it was not to learn from Jesus or to honor Him, as his lack of effort to supply the traditional courtesy of water to wash His feet shows. Jesus could have regarded this serious breach of etiquette as a direct insult.

Simon also shows Jesus no warmth or concern when He arrives at his house; in that day's culture, a polite kiss was appropriate in greeting. Neither does he pour oil on Jesus' head, another widespread custom among the Jews. The oil was a sweet or olive oil prepared to give off a pleasant smell, as well as to render the hair more smooth and elegant. His negligence of concern toward Jesus exposed Simon's true spiritual bankruptcy.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Two Debtors


 

Luke 7:37-38

The woman's entrance is not as rude as it may seem to us, as it was customary for an uninvited guest to join a gathering in a house as an observer. Her silence reveals her appropriate behavior; she came to learn from Jesus and receive forgiveness rather than to talk or eat. Knowing she was a sinner, she wept in repentance, washed Jesus' feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair. "Began to wash" in Luke 7:38 means "to water with a shower," and "kissed" implies kissing repeatedly. The "fragrant oil" of verse 46 was a mixture of various aromatic substances, far more costly and precious than the "oil" commonly used for anointing the head.

Her conduct, compared with Simon's, is dramatically different. While he shows comparatively "little" love, she shows "much" (see I John 2:10). She expresses abundant appreciation for the forgiveness Jesus offers and openly displays her love for Him. What a contrast to Simon's disregard of extending the common courtesies to Jesus!

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Two Debtors


 

Luke 7:42

Simon admits that the one forgiven more would feel the most obligated and should love more. Jesus succeeds in causing Simon, by his own admission, to pronounce judgment on himself for misconstruing the woman's act, doubting Christ Himself, and dishonoring his guest.

All three people knew the woman had many sins, but Jesus' declaration that her sins were forgiven—in contrast to Simon's condemnation—conveys great love. She, in turn, responds by expressing lavish love upon Him. Christ was willing to forgive Simon as He did the repentant woman. However, while both debtors in the parable are forgiven, Luke gives no indication that Simon repented.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Two Debtors


 

Luke 7:44

Christ wants Simon to realize that her loving and faithful attitude is what is required for forgiveness (II Corinthians 7:9-10). His emphasis is on the words "you" and "this." Jesus could discern Simon's attitude. Simon saw nothing but the woman's past reputation as a reckless, rejected, sleazy woman. Then Jesus delicately and graciously exposes Simon's callousness, hatred, and poor judgment. He also points out to him the depth of her repentance and faith. Her past may have been full of sin, but because of her genuinely repentant attitude, display of love, and obvious faith in Him (Hebrews 11:6), Jesus discerns a desire in her to change from her old ways and begin living God's way of life.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Two Debtors


 

Luke 7:49

Simon's guests are surprised to hear Jesus taking on the divine prerogative to forgive sin (see Luke 5:20-25). He says that it is her faith that brought forgiveness—not her tears, kisses, or ointment. His last comment to her is "Go in peace" or "Go into peace." She receives Christ's command to enjoy that peace and live in the full realization of the peace that passes all understanding.

We are all debtors in the sight of our just Creditor. All have sinned, so none of us has a way to discharge our debt on our own (Romans 3:23). Christ can forgive all who truly repent of their sins and turn to Him in faith (Acts 13:38-41). Through His willingness to take our debt and blot it out with His own blood, we receive the remission of our sins. Once freed from sin's oppressive debt, we must show our gratitude to Him by living in holiness and loving service to others, glorifying Him in a life of righteousness (II Peter 1:2-4).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Two Debtors


 

 




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