The Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Bible

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one of the most famous and well-loved stories in the Bible. The story tells the tale of a young man who leaves his home and squanders his inheritance on wild living. When he finally comes to his senses, he returns home to beg forgiveness from his father. His father welcomes him back with open arms, and even celebrates his return with a feast.

This story has been interpreted in many different ways over the centuries, but at its heart it is a message of love and redemption. No matter how far we have strayed from God or from our loved ones, we are always welcome back home. This is a message that applies to all of us, no matter what.

What is the main message of the Parable of the Prodigal Son?

The main message of the Parable of the Prodigal Son is that God loves us unconditionally and always welcomes us back with open arms. No matter how far we may stray from Him, He is always there for us, waiting with open arms to forgiven us and take us back. This story is a reminder of just how much our Heavenly Father loves each one of His children.

Where is the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Bible?

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15. The story is also told in a slightly different form in Matthew 18:21-35 and Luke 7:36-50. Because of the biblical influence on all literature, you will hear elements of the Prodigal son story in many places a literary device in other works, there are certainly similar themes that arise in other stories. The idea of a young person leaving home and then returning after a period of time is a common one, and often has religious or spiritual overtones. In many ways, the prodigal son story can be seen as a parable about forgiveness and redemption, two concepts that are found throughout literature.

Prodigal Son KJV

And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Luke 15:11-32 KJV King James Version: Scriptures marked KJV are from the 1769 King James Version of the Holy Bible (also known as the Authorized Version). Published in 1769; public domain.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son NIV

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”

Luke 15:11-32 NIV. Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son: The Message Bible Paraphrase by Eugene Peterson

Then he said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’ “So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any. “That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father. “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’ “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time. “All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’ “The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’ “His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours— but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!'”

Luke 15:11-32 MSG. Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Prodigal Son NiRV translation for Kids

Jesus continued, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger son spoke to his father. He said, ‘Father, give me my share of the family property.’ So the father divided his property between his two sons. “Not long after that, the younger son packed up all he had. Then he left for a country far away. There he wasted his money on wild living. He spent everything he had. “Then the whole country ran low on food. So the son didn’t have what he needed. He went to work for someone who lived in that country, who sent him to the fields to feed the pigs. The son wanted to fill his stomach with the food the pigs were eating. But no one gave him anything. “Then he began to think clearly again. He said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food! But here I am dying from hunger! I will get up and go back to my father. I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven. And I have sinned against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired workers.”‘ So he got up and went to his father. “While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him. He was filled with tender love for his son. He ran to him. He threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattest calf and kill it. Let’s have a big dinner and celebrate. This son of mine was dead. And now he is alive again. He was lost. And now he is found.’ “So they began to celebrate. “The older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants. He asked him what was going on. “‘Your brother has come home,’ the servant replied. ‘Your father has killed the fattest calf. He has done this because your brother is back safe and sound.’ “The older brother became angry. He refused to go in. So his father went out and begged him. “But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve worked like a slave for you. I have always obeyed your orders. You never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But this son of yours wasted your money with some prostitutes. Now he comes home. And for him you kill the fattest calf!’ “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me. Everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad. This brother of yours was dead. And now he is alive again. He was lost. And now he is found.'”

Luke 15:11-32 NIrV

The Parable of the Prodigal Son ESV

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Luke 15:11-32 ESV. English Standard Version: Scripture quotations marked “ESV” are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

FAQ about the Parable of the Prodigal Son

If you’ve ever been curious about the Parable of the Prodigal Son, this FAQ is for you! We answer some common questions Christians have about the story, including what it means and how to apply it to their own lives. Whether you’re a new Christian or just looking for a refresher on this popular Bible story, this FAQ has everything you need to know.

What is a prodigal son?

Answer: The term “prodigal son” is used to describe a person who has strayed from the path of righteousness and squandered their resources. In the Bible, the parable of the prodigal son is told by Jesus to explain the concept of forgiveness. In the story, a father Welcomes his wayward son back with open arms, despite all he has done wrong. This teaches us that God is always willing to forgive us, no matter how far we have strayed. If you are feeling lost and Alone, know that God loves you and is waiting for you to come home.

Who is the prodigal son in the Bible?

Answer: The prodigal son is the younger of two sons who asked for their inheritance from their father while he was still alive. (The older son did not). So the younger son got his share of the family estate and left home to live a wild, reckless life. After squandering his money, he found himself reduced to feeding pigs, so he decided to go back home and beg his father to take him on as a servant. His father saw him coming from a long way off and ran out to greet him. Instead of rebuking him, the father welcomed him back with open arms and had a great feast prepared in celebration. The older son was angry and refused to go into the feast because his brother was there.

What does the parable of the prodigal son mean for Christians today?

This parable is often seen as a representation of God’s love and forgiveness. It teaches that no matter how far we have strayed from God or how badly we have sinned, He will always be willing to forgive us if we are willing to repent and come back to Him. The parable of the prodigal son is a powerful story that teaches us about the boundless love of God. No matter how far we may stray from Him, God will always welcome us back with open arms. This parable also reminds us of the importance of forgiveness – both receiving it from God and extending it to others. As Christians, we are called to show the same kind of love and forgiveness that our Heavenly Father has shown us.

Is the parable of the prodigal son historical or fictional story?

It is a fictional story that Jesus Christ told to illustrate God’s love and forgiveness in Luke 15:11-32. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is found only in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus tells the story to illustrate God’s great love and mercy. The parable may have been based on a true story, but it is not historical fact. He used them as a way to teach important spiritual truths in a way that His listeners could understand. Parables are simple stories with a moral or spiritual lesson. In many ways, they’re like modern-day fables. And like fables, they often use animals or other everyday objects to illustrate the point being made.

What did the prodigal son spent his money on?

There’s no way to know for sure what the prodigal son spent his money on, but it’s safe to assume that he didn’t use it wisely. From the story, we know that he squandered his inheritance and ended up living a miserable life as a result. It’s possible that he spent his money on gambling, alcohol, or other vice. Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that he didn’t handle his money in a responsible way.

Was the prodigal son saved?

Yes, the prodigal son was saved. He repented of his sins and returned to his father’s home. His father welcomed him back with open arms and forgave him for his transgressions. He recognized his sin, repented, and returned to his father. When he did, his father welcomed him with open arms and celebrated his return. This story shows us that no matter how far we stray from God, we can always come back to Him and He will forgive us.

Will we meet the prodigal son in heaven?

It’s very likely this story was based on someone Jesus knew personally, in which case we will meet the real life prodigal sone when we get to heaven. This story is often used as an analogy for our relationship with God. We may wander away from Him, but He is always ready to take us back if we turn to Him in repentance. And, just as the prodigal son was welcomed home by his father, we will be welcomed into heaven by our Heavenly Father when we die.

Biblical Reference about The Parable of the Prodigal Son

For further Bible study, here are some online resources to deepen your understanding of this scripture passage.

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