Let's Study the Parables - 1 - The Good Samaritan


I’ve been anxious to start these threads for quite some time. I’m interested in doing a study on these forums of the parables. I’d like to study each parable individually looking at:

a) What is the Message behind the Parable?
b) What doctrines do we see being taught in each Parable?
c) Can a Parable be used to defend against Non-Catholic doctrines?

If you’d like to discuss Parables in General, I’ve got a thread dedicated to that here:

If you’d like to see what other Parables are being studied, you’ll find the Table of Contents here: This the first one, but you can check back there at any time.

With that in mind, I’d like to do a study on The Good Samaritan.

** The Good Samaritan**

Scripture: Luke 10:25-37
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

A couple of things that really strike me with this Parable:

  1. The priest and the Levite, due to purity laws, feel that by avoiding the wounded man, they are staying close to God (they would have been excluded from the Temple worship for at least a week as they had to purify themselves through a series of riturals). Jesus is indicating that they are actually separating themselves from God by avoiding the wounded man.

  2. The lawyer couldn’t even bring himself to admit that it was the Samaritan that was the neighbor. He could only admit “the one who showed mercy”.


I’ve started a study on The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). I hope you all enjoy it!



I will be watching and learning, thanks!!!


Another thing I found interesting in this Parable is St. Augustine’s take on it.

Our dear Auggy (in De verbis Domini sermones, 37) identifies the good Samaritan with Jesus, and the injured man with Adam, the source and symbol of all fallen mankind. Moved by compassion, He comes down to earth to cure man’s wounds, making them his own by purchasing (or redeeming) the cost of curing the man. (this comes from the Navarre Study Bible)

Of course, in continuing in this line of reasoning, if we help out our fallen brother, like the innkeeper, Jesus will repay us in kind!!!

What a wonderful story!!!

Of course, this is the part where others can add their two cents worth! (hint, hint) :wink:


I thought I’d post something I found interesting on RC.net’s web site:

Communicating with images and stories
Like the rabbis of his time, Jesus used simple word-pictures, called parables, to help people understand who God is and what his kingdom or reign is like. Jesus used images and characters taken from everyday life to create a miniature play or drama to illustrate his message. This was Jesus most common way of teaching. His stories appealed to the young and old, poor and rich, and to the learned and unlearned as well. Over a third of the Gospels by Matthew, Mark, and Luke contain parables told by Jesus. Jesus loved to use illustrations to reach the heart of his listeners through their imagination. These word-pictures challenged the mind to discover anew what God is like and moved the heart to make a response to God’s love and truth. Like a skillful artist, Jesus painted evocative pictures with short and simple words. A good picture can speak more loudly and clearly than many words. Jesus used the ordinary everyday to point to another order of reality – hidden, yet visible to those who had “eyes to see” and “ears to hear”. Jesus communicated with pictures and stories, vivid illustrations which captured the imaginations of his audience more powerfully than an abstract presentation could. His parables are like buried treasure waiting to be discovered (Matt. 13:44).

How can ordinary everyday images and stories, such as hidden treasure, a tiny mustard seed, a determined woman looking for her lost coin, a barren fig tree, the pearl of great price, the uninvited wedding guests, portray timeless and extraordinary truths? Jesus taught by use of comparisons. *To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed… (Mark 4:30-31). *God’s kingdom or reign is like what happens in Jesus’ stories. The comparisons have to do with a whole process, and not simply with an object or person alone. While his parables are rooted in a specific time and place, they nonetheless speak of timeless realities to people of every time and place. They underline the fact that God works in every age and he meets us in the ordinary everyday situations of life.


One would look at this Parable and assume that one’s actions have something to do with one’s Salvation.


I actually wrote a biblical exegesis paper on this parable a few years back. :slight_smile: It’s a great parable to look at!

A few observations:

(1) The lawyer asks “Who is my neighbor?” and that question appears to go unanswered. Jesus answers with the parable and then asks him “Who was neighbor to this man?” Jesus doesn’t answer the who so much as the how. How do you act like a neighbor to other people?

(2) It is significant that the man is going from Jerusalem to Jericho. Geographically, Jerusalem is higher above sea level than Jericho. Thus, the road between the two is downhill. Also, Jerusalem is the holy city and Jericho was the “worldly” city. Thus, it is symbolic of his fall from grace. This is what lead many of the Fathers to identify the man with Adam. The man is already headed in the wrong direction before he even gets beaten by the robbers.

(3) The man is not identified. We do not know if he is a Jew, Gentile, or Samaritan. We know nothing of him besides where he is traveling from and where he is headed. And, of course, the Hebrew word for “man” is “adam”. He is, in this sense, everyman.

(4) Here’s some of the allegorical parts (stolen from the Church Fathers, mostly Augustine):
[list]*]Jerusalem = Paradise
*]Jericho = the “world” (in the bad sense)
*]Man = Adam/the whole human race
*]Priest and Levite = The Law and the Prophets (which by themselves cannot save)
*]Samaritan = Jesus
*]Inn = the Church
*]Innkeeper = Paul
*]Two coins = Old & New Covenant OR the 2 Great Commandments[/list]

Here are the references to this parable from the Church Fathers, Doctors of the Church, and Magisterial documents:


Aquinas’s Catena Aurea compilation of the Church Fathers on this parable:




They were all headed down to Jericho.

They were going down from Jerusalem to Jericho.

They were leaving the Holy City for Sin, Pride, Power and Money City-- that is, Idolatry City.


Thanks! This is exactly the stuff I was looking for (the whole post, not just the stuff I kept in the quote box)!!! I like to see the allegories in the parables, but I’m having trouble understanding the “Paul equals the inkeeper one”. I’ll look at the two references when I have more time, though.

Thanks again!


I’ll have to review the purity laws. I don’t believe coming into contact with a wounded person would make a priest impure.


Look again at the text:

"A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

I think it’s safe to assume that the priest and the Levite didn’t come close enough to see if the man were alive. So assuming he was dead, they crossed over and passed on by


Not to derail, but in reference to C:. We had this parable read at the funeral of my Baptist father. It was a mix of Catholic’s and Baptist’s there and this parable transended all bounderies. Tim


As it should transend all bounderies, for it is the words of Christ, Who we all follow.

My point for using the reference C is that all Parables have various lessons, differing from parable to parable. This “Let’s Study the Parables” thread is going to be part of a series, with each thread studying a different Parable.

Some Parables, like the Prodigal Son, can be used to argue against Once Saved Always Saved theology. I wanted to begin with the Good Samaritan, specifically because it is a Parable that all Christian Faiths tend to agree on - although some faiths may ignore the emphasis placed on good works in order to maintain our state of salvation may be argued with this parable.


What I have heard and been taught is kind of like this

The walk the man took from Jerusalem to Jericho would be like walking through some ghetto at night. The man did it yet anyway thinking “Surely I can do it and I’ll be fine” Which is his pride, and like us thinking we can get away with sin. The man is in this ditch wounded and the priest and the lawyer don’t help him. And when it seems like all is lost this Samaritan comes, and instead of wanting his help the first thing he would of thought was “God don’t let this being touch me!” But the Samaritan binds his wounds and takes him to the inn and pays for him. We are the the man in the ditch, we think we can sin and get away with it but end up robbed and wounded. And then Jesus is the Samaritan. We have our times where we can’t face Christ for this or that reason. We are ignorant of him or not worthy or whatever the case may be. But he heals us none the less, even if we don’t want Him to touch us he still extends himself

I’m pretty sure thats how it went


That’s very good, em3bone!!!

You guys, Rock! :cool:


Thanks for the post Joe.
Like Notworthy, “Innkeeper=Paul” gave me pause also. After reading the Catena, I think Augustine is equating the innkeeper not just to Paul, but to all the Apostles and teachers.
Much more also did the Apostles spend, but those teachers also in their time have spent more who have interpreted both the Old and New Testament, for which they shall receive their reward."

Just prior to the above statement, he (Augustine) cites “the Apostle’s” epistle to the Corinthians to give an example of how St Paul spent more than the 2 cents when he made a pastoral judgment on a matter not covered in either of the 2 Testaments.

I am wondering if others (not just priests and religious) could do things that would be considered spending more than the “2 cents”. If so, what would they consist of?



Here’s what the Catholic Encyclopedia says about this parable:

The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:37)
The good samaritan is certainly authentic; it can be explained mystically in detail, and is therefore as much an “allegory” as a parable. If it was spoken by our Lord so was the wicked husbandmen. It does not exactly reply to the question “Who is thy neighbour?” but propounds and answers a larger one, “Whom in distress should I like to be neighbour to me?” and gives an everlasting instance of the golden rule. At the same time it breaks down the fences of legalism, triumphs over national hatreds, and lifts the despised Samaritan to a place of honour. In the deeper sense we discern that Christ is the Good Samaritan, human nature the man fallen among robbers, i.e., under Satan’s yoke; neither law nor Prophets can help; and the Saviour alone bears the charge of healing our spiritual wounds. The inn is Christ’s Church; the oil and wine are His sacraments. He will come again and will make all good. The Fathers, Sts. Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, are agreed in this general interpretation. Mere philanthropy will not satisfy the Gospel idea; we must add, “the charity of Christ presseth us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

They add an allegorical element that I missed. The oil & wine = the sacraments.


Feels strange to comment on my own post!!:eek: But the question has been running thru my head ever since last night. Then the following Scripture passage came to mind:

Luke 17:9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 17:10 So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’"

If the 2 denarii consists of God’s commands and teachings given in the 2 Testaments, then it could well be that whenever we do something for others that goes beyond His commands, we are “spending more”. An example might be fasting during Lent. We are required to obey Church regulations and fast on Ash Wed. and Good Friday. But we might choose to do it more often and offer it up for souls who are in danger of eternal damnation (on their way to Jericho).

“…whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.”(Lk 10:35). We will be rewarded by Jesus when He comes to us again - in eternity.



Before we get too bogged down in the symbology of the Parable (don’t get me wrong, I enjoy that type of studying), we must remember that the Parables were simple stories meant for the audience to understand.

We must not forget the central message that makes this such a beautiful parable.

It’s easy to do good for others who are “like us”. We can easily evangelize to those that we attend Church with. It’s not difficult to raise money for someone who is sick at our Church.

But we must remember that there are those that society views as “the wretched” that we must always be willing to help. For these people are our neighbors!!!


Of course! Sometimes we (or at least “me” :)) skip past the obvious meaning in an attempt to go more in depth. We don’t want to forget this obvious message!

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