The Life and Teachings
of Jesus
A Restatement of the Gospels

82. Parable of the Good Samaritan (continued)

        29But the lawyer, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”b
        30Jesus replied, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a certain priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35And on the morrow 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.' 36Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”
        37He answered, “He who showed mercy on him.”
        And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
        (Lk. 10:29–37)

b   “But the lawyer, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'”—The lawyer in asking this question knew that Jewish law defined one's neighbors as other Jews, “the children of one's people.” (“You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”—Leviticus 19:18) He also knew that if Jesus taught that non-Jews were one's neighbors he would be placing himself in conflict with Jewish law. Jesus answers this attempt to ensnare him with one of his greatest parables, The Good Samaritan.
        Whatever the lawyer's motives, the question is a good one. Since Jesus has just affirmed the great commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself,” the question “Who is my neighbor?” is really equivalent to the question, “Who should we love as we love ourselves?” For many, one's neighbors consist only of those who live in their immediate neighborhood. For others it is those of one's town or region, race or nationality. Jesus in The Parable of the Good Samaritan expands the neighbor concept to include the whole world—even our enemies.

Lk. 10:29  But the lawyer, desiring / But he, desiring (RSV)
Lk. 10:30  “A certain man (KJV) / “A man (RSV) • fell into the hands of robbers, (Rieu) / fell among robbers, (RSV)
Lk. 10:31  a certain priest (KJV) / a priest (RSV)
Lk. 10:35  And on the morrow he (KJV) / And the next day he (RSV)
Lk. 10:36  proved to be a neighbor (NASB) / proved neighbor (RSV)
Lk. 10:37  He answered, “He / He said,“He (RSV) • answered, “He who / answered, “The one who (RSV)   (164:1/1809–10)