555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

302. Who Is Represented by the "Elder Brother" in the Prodigal Parable?

Primarily, the Pharisees and chief priests, who were scandalized by seeing Christ associate with the lower classes and notorious sinners. It was a rebuke to selfishness and formalism—to those who believe they have the spiritual right of way and that less worthy persons, who had been basking in the divine goodness should be envious or critical of the cordial welcome that is extended to a redeemed sinner. The lesson applies to people in our own day who have no sympathy with the work going on at rescue missions, and are skeptical about the conversion of evildoers. The parable was a reproof to such persons, but it also conveyed a weighty lesson as to the evil of sin. Although the father forgave his younger son and gave him joyful welcome, he said to the elder, "All that I have is thine," thereby intimating that the younger son's lost patrimony could not be restored. The sinner is urged to repent, and is promised pardon, but the time he has wasted, and the health he has injured, and the mischief his example has done, are irreparable evils.