What the Prodigal Understood - Bible Study

This short Bible study addresses the 5 things the Prodigal son understood before coming "Home" and equates it to Salvation.

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Before doing this Bible study, please read the 1-minute introduction 5 Things the Prodigal Understood

The story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 5:11-19 is an excellent tool for explaining what happens in a human heart before that person is ready to come "home" to Christ.

1. The prodigal took responsibility for himself. 
After foolishly squandering his father's inheritance, something he'd never earned, the prodigal realized he needed to get a job.

Luke 15:14-15: After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.

People often blame heredity or environment for their sins, but before we can be saved, we need to take responsibility for our sins.

James 1:13-15: When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

2. He came to the end of himself, realized his poverty and
3. He remembered his father's goodness.
Luke 15:17: When he came to his senses, he said, "How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!"

The unsaved man thinks he's already good enough for heaven, or he thinks he's capable of earning his way. He must come to the end of himself, realize his spiritual poverty, and believe in the goodness of the Lord.

This short Bible study addresses the 5 things the Prodigal son understood before coming "Home" and equates it to Salvation.

4. He realized he'd sinned against God and against his father.

Luke 15:21: The son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you."

This understanding is essential for our salvation:

Acts 3:19: Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

5. He admitted he was unworthy to be his father's son. 

Luke 15:21: "I am no longer worthy to be called your son." 

Coming to Christ requires a humble understanding of our unworthiness before a holy God.

Romans 3:12: All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.

Romans 3:23: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When we come before God admitting we can't earn our salvation, admitting we are a sinner unworthy of salvation, and admitting that God is good, that is when we find mercy. God gives us what we don't deserve and cannot earn: 

Ephesians 2:8-9: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 


Meaning of prodigal:  Even though most folks use the word "prodigal" to mean a wayward person or a person returning from a bad life, prodigal actually means spending wastefully or extravagantly.

If you have questions about salvation or if you would like to share more about salvation with an unbeliever, I've written two evangelistic posts that might be helpful:
Can a Simple Misunderstanding Keep You From Heaven?
This is about an incident I experienced on a hospital visit.
Are There Many Ways to Heaven?
This incorporates some of my own confusion about salvation.

copyright 2013, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com, edited and updated in 2022


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Privilege, Responsibility, and Influence in Marriage

Women who think submission makes them less of a person haven't understood the responsibilities of leadership and the power of their influence.

Before doing this Bible study, please read:

Many women who object to submission focus on the leadership of the husband and overlook the responsibility it carries with it. 

The Responsibility of Leadership

Women who think submission makes them less of a person haven't understood the responsibilities of leadership and the power of their influence.
Note this sequence of events:

Genesis 3:6: "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it."

Adam was standing next to Eve when she ate the fruit, but he didn't stop her. He joined her. I encourage you to read all of Genesis 3 to fully understand the context.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22: "For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."

Romans 5:14: "Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come."

Women who think submission makes them less of a person haven't understood the responsibilities of leadership and the power of their influence.

Even though Eve was the first to sin and she tempted Adam to sin, Adam is always designated as the one through whom sin and death entered the world. 

He tried to blame Eve, but God held Adam responsible because he was the leader of his family and he failed to lead. For more perspective on Adam's blame game, see The Fourth Oldest Sin: It's Your Fault.

Don't misunderstand: Eve was fully responsible for her personal sin, but Adam carries the responsibility for the fall of mankind because he failed to lead. 

A good explanation from Answers in Genesis:

“As the leader it was Adam’s responsibility to protect and provide for his family. This leadership role was clearly demonstrated when God talked with Adam and Eve following their sin. Even though Eve sinned before Adam, God questioned Adam first (Genesis 3:9). This was because of the leadership role God ordained for husbands in marriage. Adam, as the leader of the family, was held responsible, not only for his own sin of eating from the tree, but also because he did not provide adequate protection for his wife, allowing her to sin. In the New Testament, Adam is clearly presented as both progenitor and representative of all mankind…Just as sin and death came through one man, Adam, it is also through one man, Jesus Christ, that grace and righteousness are given as free gifts to sinners. The naming of Christ as the Last Adam and the multiple comparisons of Adam to Christ would be invalid and nonsensical if original sin came through Eve…Interestingly, although Eve was the first to sin, the solution to sin came through “her Seed” (Genesis 3:15). The Seed, Jesus Christ, was born of a virgin named Mary. He paid the price for sin and will redeem those who receive the salvation He offers…Scripture makes it clear that that sin and death entered this world through Adam, and thus he is to blame for original sin.”

A Military Analogy

My husband was in the military for 22 years. When he was a company commander, each soldier in his company was held responsible for violating orders or breaking the law. However, if a soldier's actions affected a mission of the company, my husband was also held responsible. 

There's an acronym used in the military: RHIP, Rank has its privilege. But there's an acronym not used that is just as true: RHIR. Rank (leadership) has its responsibilities.

Personal Application

My husband and I recently made some important decisions about our future. We discussed these issues as equals. We debated different aspects, we prayed, and sought counsel. But in the end, my husband made the final decision, and he will bear the responsibility for that decision in a way I will not. 

I consider that a privilege and a protection husbands don't have. Adam was held responsible for the sin of mankind in a way Eve was not. And our husbands are held responsible for our families in a way we are not.

In addition, women are given an incredible position of influence with our children and husband, and that influence is every bit as important as the husband's leadership. Eve used it for evil, but we can use it for good. To read more, see For the Love of a Woman.

Copyright, Gail Burton Purath 2021, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com 

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Acting Maturely

Dear Christians, we need to deal with childish behaviors like pouting if we want to grow up in our faith and bless our relationships.

Before doing this study, please read the 1-minute Bible Love Note Pouting is Childish

Instead of behaving like adults, we sometimes revert to childish ways. It’s easy to recognize this childishness in others but not as easy to admit we sometimes do the same. 

Do you ever give your parents, children, spouse, or siblings the silent treatment? Do you huff off in the middle of a conversation? Do you yell, wallow in self-pity, or refuse to discuss things? 

1. When we act immaturely in our relationships, we are acting worldly. 

The passage below is addressing factions in the church in Corinth, but the principle applies to all relationships. 

1 Corinthians 3:1-3: "Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?" 

2. Our behavior reveals whether we are interested in growing up in our faith. 

Hebrews 5:12-14: "Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."

3. We should be transforming. 

When we become Christians, God’s Spirit works in us to transform our patterns of behavior. 

2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"

Dear Christians, we need to deal with childish behaviors like pouting if we want to grow up in our faith and bless our relationships.
4. If we aren’t transforming, we’re not yielding to God’s Spirit.

Paul’s instructions below are a concise explanation of growing in Christ. We work hard (“with fear and trembling”) at conforming to His will and His ways, but we don’t do it on our own. He is working in us. But there’s an important condition: if we are not seriously yielding our old selfish ways to Him and seeking His ways, we will not grow up in our faith. 

Philippians 2:12-13: "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."

Colossians 3:12: "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

So next time you start pouting, yelling, or acting in some other childish way, stop and ask God’s help to act like a grown-up Christian. 

For additional study, I recommend these collections of 1-minute devotions:

Overcoming Bitterness

Scriptures and Resources for Conquering Anger 


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