Bible Notes

"Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him" (Luke 15:1)—The Jewish publicans (i.e., "tax-collectors" or "customs officers") employed by the Romans were shunned by their own countrymen as men who had bartered their national pride for Roman profit. It may be noted that the Roman officials who hired them were known in Latin as "publicani," and it is from this term that our English word "publican" is derived. Then the word rendered "sinners" in Luke 15:1 was often used in the first century as a semitechnical term to describe those who belonged to the lowest class of society, and so were thought of by the other Jews as outcast or degraded.

"The Pharisees and scribes" (Luke 15:2; cf. Matt. 23:2)—When considered in accord with the social and religious standards of first century Judaism, "the Pharisees and scribes" stood in complete contrast to the lowly and reputedly, and often actually, degraded "publicans and sinners" mentioned in the previous verse. The Pharisees, as their name (literally "Separatists" or "Separated ones") implies, separated themselves from those who gave less meticulous obedience to the Mosaic law, and were the most influential party—while the scribes (who were really lawyers) belonged to the most outstanding profession—of the day.

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Testimony of Healing
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