What does Luke 7:41 mean?
ESV: "A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
NIV: "Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
NASB: A moneylender had two debtors: the one owed five hundred denarii, and the other, fifty.
CSB: "A creditor had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
NLT: Then Jesus told him this story: 'A man loaned money to two people — 500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other.
KJV: There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
NKJV: “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus is telling Simon the Pharisee a parable. This counters Simon's mental judgment of Jesus and His acceptance of honor from a repentant woman (Luke 7:36–39). Jesus uses this story to explain the connection between God's forgiveness of someone and their love for Him. The story is straightforward: a moneylender forgives two debtors; the man who owed more loves the moneylender more (Luke 7:42).

One denarius was roughly the daily wage of a laborer or soldier. The lesser debtor would have owed about two months' wages and the greater owed nearly two years' wages. Simon the Pharisee, rich enough to afford a banquet, would understand that forgiving loans implied something far deeper than mere money. Roman culture was caste-based: arranged in relatively strict layers without much ability to move upwards. By forgiving debt—almost surely for those poorer and of lower class than himself—the moneylender was dishonoring his higher caste. If too many lenders did this, the patronage-client system would fall apart.

An echo of this attitude remains in theologies teaching that salvation can be lost. Such teachers fear that Christians who fully understood their sins to be forgiven forever will disrespect their debt to Christ and rush into sin. That attitude not only conflicts with how the concept of "eternal security" is taught, but it also ignores passages such as this. Those who believe true salvation can be undone fail to understand the point of Jesus' parable: the release of great debt leads to love and a deeper commitment, not a desire to take advantage of the benefactor. Those who are truly saved don't sneer at Jesus' willingness to humble Himself for us.
Verse Context:
Luke 7:39–50 places Simon the Pharisee at center stage. Unlike the centurion (Luke 7:1–10), Simon misreads his standing in comparison to the greatness of Jesus. He's somewhere between the humble who accept Jesus and the arrogant who flatly reject Him (Luke 7:29–34). Simon has invited Jesus to dinner, given Him the minimum hospitality, and silently judged Him. This contrasts with the repentant woman who interrupts dinner to bless Jesus (Luke 7:36–38). Jesus goes where Simon doesn't expect: Simon understands neither forgiveness nor love.
Chapter Summary:
Luke 7 presents a chiasm: a set of themes mirrored around a reflection point. The humble centurion (Luke 7:1–10) contrasts the legalistic Pharisee (Luke 7:39–50). The widow of Nain (Luke 7:11–17) and the sinful women (Luke 7:36–38) have nothing to offer but gratitude for Jesus' blessings. In the center are John the Baptist and his disciples who struggle to trust that Jesus is worth following (Luke 7:18–23), then the sinners who do choose to follow Jesus and the religious leaders who refuse (Luke 7:24–35).
Chapter Context:
Luke 7 continues Jesus' mission primarily to the people of Galilee expressed as a series of pointed events and teachings punctuated by calls to follow Him. He has finished teaching the rigors of discipleship (Luke 6:17–45) and invited the crowd to place their faith in Him (Luke 6:46–49). Here, Luke describes different reactions to Jesus' miracles and message. Next, Jesus will reveal the mechanics of and reactions to His call (Luke 8:4–21) before showing His great authority over nature, demons, sickness, and worldly powers (Luke 8:22—9:17). After a final call to the disciples to deepen their faith (Luke 9:18–50), Jesus will turn toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51—19:27).
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
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