How did the Good Samaritan inherit eternal life?


#1

Strangely, there is no mention that the Good Samaritan became a Jew or a Christian, the priest and Levite seemed to be in the wrong. Yet the parable sets out to explain the greatest commandments, by definition, we can do nothing greater to inherit eternal life.

How does this fit in with Catholic teaching?

Luke 10
The Parable of the Good Samaritan

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’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]”

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 was attacked by 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, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] 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.”


#2

Eric,

Does the parable say that the Samaritan ‘inherited eternal life’? Or does it simply say that he acted as a loving neighbor should?

The parable is teaching the lesson that, by following the Law, one does not necessarily inherit eternal life. The priest and the Levite were following the Mosaic Law, which forbade contact with a dead body. Their actions showed a lack of love of their (Jewish) brother. The Samaritan – whom the Jews would have looked down upon as a sinner – was the only one who showed the victim compassion and love.

It’s a parable about how not to act; Jesus is talking to a scribe, and since he wanted “to justify himself,” Jesus is (gently?) knocking him down a peg. “They’re all your neighbors; love others as the Samaritan did,” is Jesus’ reply.

This fits perfectly well with Catholic teaching: we are called to love our enemies, which is the message Jesus teaches with this parable…


#3

How does it not fit? :shrug:


#4

The expert in the law asks a very clear question…

Luke 10
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?”

Why would Jesus give a misleading answer, to the most important question anyone can ask? Surely living by the greatest commandments must lead to eternal life.

If the Good Samaritan did not inherit eternal life, the greatest commandments seem to have little meaning.


#5

No – the expert in the law didn’t ask “what must anyone do to inherit eternal life?”, he asked “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”. Big difference there, in the context of Israelites under the Mosaic law!

Jesus’ answer, then, is neither misleading nor inaccurate: for a Jew living under the Mosaic covenant, the two great commandments are critical! In fact, for a Christian, these two commandments are critical!

If the Good Samaritan did not inherit eternal life, the greatest commandments seem to have little meaning.

Aah… and there’s the rub! You’ve hit upon one of the great errors of our contemporary culture: somehow, we believe that “being a good person” or “being nice to others” or “doing good works” is sufficient for salvation. It’s not. What is needed is faith in Christ (whether explicitly or implicitly). Only in that context do ‘good works’ (e.g., the various ways in which we show our love of our neighbor) mean anything that’s relevant to our salvation. Those who think “I’m a nice guy; I help people in need; surely, I’m bound for heaven” may be in for a big shock at their particular judgment!

Regardless, the parable wasn’t about how the Samaritan could inherit eternal life; it was about how a *believer *(in the context of the narrative, a Jew; in the context of our reading of Scripture, all Christians) might inherit eternal life. It’s an important principle of exegesis to remember only to read what is being said in Scripture, and not make assumptions about what is not said. Jesus does talk to Samaritans in the Gospels, and talks to them about what is necessary for salvation (e.g., the woman at the well); but here, He’s talking to a Jew – and a Jewish scholar at that. His message answers the particular question as asked. :wink:


#6

The theological virtues are infused by God: love, faith, hope. Whosoever has this true virtue of love must also have faith and hope. So the good Samaritan was in a state of grace, having all three of these virtues, because his act was an expression of true love of neighbor. If he died in that state, then he will have eternal life. The only way to lose that state is by actual mortal sin.

Someone who falls into actual mortal sin loses the virtues of love and hope, but faith is not always also lost. Such a person may retain a true faith, though it is not a faith enlivened by love and hope.

So a person can die with true faith in Jesus, but if he does not also have love and hope, he does not die in a state of grace.

Exterior works are sometimes essential to salvation. The eternal moral law has both positive and negative precepts. The positive precepts (“You shall…”) require one to act. So if you are the Samaritan passing by the person in need, you must help. It could be a mortal sin to refuse to help, if you are able.

Works, in and of themselves, do not save, but they are often required for salvation: Keep holy the Sabbath, Worship the one true God, Honor your father and mother; love your neighbor.


#7

Point taken, but…

Aah… and there’s the rub! You’ve hit upon one of the great errors of our contemporary culture: somehow, we believe that “being a good person” or “being nice to others” or “doing good works” is sufficient for salvation. It’s not.

Fine, but…

What is needed is faith in Christ (whether explicitly or implicitly). Only in that context do ‘good works’ (e.g., the various ways in which we show our love of our neighbor) mean anything that’s relevant to our salvation.

Did Jesus only give half an answer in reply to the lawyer who asked, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

Jesus could well have said to the expert in the law, as well as good deeds, you must repent, be baptised and follow me, but those further instructions seem to have been omitted from the parable.


#8

No, he gave a complete answer in relation to the scribe’s question. The scribe asked, Christ answered. He didn’t go into every last particular thing because, frankly, that could take a whole lifetime by itself. He answered the specific issue the scribe was dealing with, and the one which Christ knew would have the greatest and most influential impact on him.

Also, we don’t know how much they talk about. The parable is what’s recorded, but it couldn’t have taken more than five or ten minutes to relate, even if the scribe asked follow up questions. For all we know, this was the first in a long line of discussions between Christ and the scribe. The NT authors make it quite clear that they’re basically giving a footnotes version of Christ’s ministry, so for all we know this was only part of a much greater discourse. (I don’t recall the specific verse offhand, sorry, but it essentially says that there’s not enough paper in the world to allow them to write down all of what Christ said and did.)

You seem to think that what is recorded is all that was said, but that couldn’t be further from the Truth. The authors wrote down the things the Holy Spirit lead them to view as most important and crucial; but Christ’s teachings and work are in no way limited to just what is recorded in the Bible.

Jesus could well have said to the expert in the law, as well as good deeds, you must repent, be baptised and follow me, but those further instructions seem to have been omitted from the parable.

That’s because he hadn’t even defined those for the Apostles yet, so why would he tell them to a scribe, who has even less of a chance of understanding what he means than the Apostles (who didn’t even get it all until the Holy Spirit was given to them.) Imagine you’ve never heard of the Baptism of the Spirit; what would your reaction be if you were told you had to go through it to be saved? He tried explaining it to Nicodemus, one of the most learned Jewish scholars at the time, and even he couldn’t grasp it.

Jesus was addressing a specific question, with a specific purpose, and a specific idea he was trying to get across. You cannot take any passage of scripture in exclusion to the others, you have to look at it as a cohesive whole. If Christ answered every question posed about salvation with a 100% complete list of every last thing it would have been pointless because it would have been overwhelming. It would have done more harm than good, much as having a problem over explained prevents a person from grasping the root cause even today.


#9

Did Jesus only give half an answer in reply to the lawyer who asked, what must I do to inherit eternal life?
[/quote]

Fair enough question. My response above, regarding faith in Christ, is a response to the 21st-century critique of Christian theology; it’s not a response to the scribe in Luke 10. It’s us who look at this parable and think that ‘being nice’ is all that’s needed; it’s us who look at Jesus’ answer and (based on our current culture) think that He’s saying simply ‘be excellent to one another.’ He isn’t; and so, our cultural perspective causes us to mis-read Luke 10.

Of course, given that this is a proper interpretations for Christians (indeed, for all Gentiles) in the 21st century, it does not follow that this was the particular answer for the 1st century AD Jewish scribe. Jesus’ answer, then, wasn’t “half an answer” – it was an appropriate answer for that man in that place and time.

Jesus could well have said to the expert in the law, as well as good deeds, you must repent, be baptised and follow me, but those further instructions seem to have been omitted from the parable.

He could have. Yet, it seems that you’re overlooking the context of the discussion in Luke 10. This is a teacher of the Law: he is asking Jesus a question with respect to the Mosaic Law. He’s trying to determine whether Jesus Himself knows the Law. (If He doesn’t answer to the scribe’s satisfaction, then the scribe will walk away, having concluded that Jesus is not a good teacher, since He doesn’t know what He’s talking about.) Therefore, the scribe is asking for an answer from the Mosaic Law, and Jesus gives him an answer from that context.

(It’s interesting to see Luke’s choice of words here. The teacher is ‘testing’ Jesus – Luke uses the same word (ἐκπειράζων) that he used in describing what the devil did to Jesus during the temptations in the desert (see Luke 4). This is a test to see if Jesus knows God’s word as found in the covenant with Moses.)

Jesus ‘passes’ the scribe’s ‘test’. Then, the scribe ups the ante: he wishes to ‘justify himself’. That is to say, now that it’s been established what is necessary, the scribe wants Jesus to proclaim – publicly! – that the scribe (and his peers, ostensibly) are actually doing what God calls for Jews to do in order to be saved. The scribe expects Jesus to say that the scribe’s neighbors are his fellow sons and daughters of Abraham.

(After all, if Jesus gives him that answer, then the scribe can just turn away and say, “there’s nothing to see here, folks; we scribes already know the Mosaic law and are already following it (to salvation) – if you have any questions, come see us, not this two-bit preacher!”)

But, to his surprise, that’s not the answer that Jesus gives him. Jesus doesn’t tell him that he’s already doing what needs to be done – and moreover, from the perspective of ‘doing’ the right things, his enemies (the Samaritans) are capable of ‘doing things’ better than he is!

The scribe asked the question, “who is my neighbor?” and at the conclusion of His parable, Jesus asks the question back to him: “who was the neighbor to the victim?” (that is, who was the neighbor of that Jewish man?). The scribe thought that the answer would be ‘a priest’ or ‘a Levite’, but Jesus demonstrates that the answer is ‘your enemy, a Samaritan’. That’s the answer for a 1st century Jew, who held Gentiles at a distance, thinking them unclean and unloved by God. Jesus shows the scribe that he is not yet justified in the eyes of God, and that he still has a ways to go in order to follow the Mosaic covenant.

The answer, therefore, is an answer particularly applicable to Jews in 1st century Palestine. Trying to fit the answer into a 21st century context – and doing so without nuance or understanding of context – causes us to misinterpret the passage horribly!


#10

Jesus is the good Samaritan, His mount the Holy Spirit, and the Inn the Church.

Peace


#11

My question is why would an “expert in the law” ask Jesus such a question? The Law is not designed or followed to “inherit eternal life.” Rather, the purpose of the Law was and is to enable us to lead the best moral life here on Earth that we can. It is a “tree of life for those who cling to her” in the sense of providing for us a means to live according to G-d’s design. Obedience to the Law is for our own good and, since it is the eternal Word of G-d, it is more than worthy of obedience insofar as how we treat others as well as our relationship with G-d.


#12

The question was “how do I inherit eternal life” & Jesus gave the parable which answered the question.


#13

It fits in fine with Catholic teaching. Why would it not? The Church does not teach that one must be Catholic (or Jewish) to be saved, if that is your point.


#14

Actually… no.

Jesus told the parable in response to the scribe’s follow-up question, which was, “and who is my neighbor?”

We “inherit eternal life” by loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind; and by loving our neighbor as ourselves.


#15

=Eric Hyom;12980423]Strangely, there is no mention that the Good Samaritan became a Jew or a Christian, the priest and Levite seemed to be in the wrong. Yet the parable sets out to explain the greatest commandments, by definition, we can do nothing greater to inherit eternal life.

How does this fit in with Catholic teaching?

Luke 10
The Parable of the Good Samaritan

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’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]”

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 was attacked by 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, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] 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.”

In SUMMARY

Jesus Teaches us to “Repent AND Convert”:thumbsup:

This ties in closely with the “narrow gate”

Matthew 7: 13-20
“13] Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. [14] How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it! [15] Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. [16] By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? [17] Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. [18] A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. [19] Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. [20] Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them”

God Bless you,

Patrick

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#16

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