What is the significance of the robe, ring & sandals in Luke 15:22?

‘But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. — NIVUK

I know that, by giving those gifts, the father distinguished his son from the servants. (The son had said he no longer deserved to be called a son (v21) and so these gifts showed that he was still a son to his father (e.g. the servants probably did not wear sandals).)

But did each gift have a particular significance to Jesus' varied audience (v1-2)? And / or did the number of gifts (three) have any meaning?

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    @Caleb thanks for the corrections by why did you delete the jesus tag? Dec 18, 2014 at 11:01
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    Because its not about Jesus.
    – Caleb
    Dec 18, 2014 at 11:03
  • @Caleb: Uh, please correct me if I'm wrong, but who was the teller of the parable? Hint: It wasn't Mohammed! Feb 19, 2015 at 3:25
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    @rhetorician If you ask me the "teller" of the whole Bible, the centerpiece that is woven through every story is Jesus. But we're talking about tagging here man—and there all all sorts of things told by or about Jesus that don't benefit from the jesus tag. This one is about Jesus audience and the times and culture he was speaking to, not about his own person. Tags are a taxonomy for the site and should reflect the scope of each question. Just because the parable itself might be about Jesus or he was the speaker doesn't make this question about his person.
    – Caleb
    Feb 19, 2015 at 20:05
  • I think the robe means royalty, the ring authority, sandals quidance Feb 16 at 14:47

5 Answers 5


The robe, ring & sandals help show the father’s high level of love, honor and authority for the son. The robe and the ring are symbolic of how well the father will be treating his son (i.e. somewhat like Jacob and Pharaoh treated the favorite son Joseph). Jacob honored Joseph by getting him a long tunic, and the jealous brothers saw how Jacob was the favorite son. (Gen 37:3-4)

They hated him so much they sold him into Egypt. When in Egypt, Joseph heard of Pharaoh’s dreams and interpreted them for him, saying there would be seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. With that Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of Egypt, and while doing so, Pharaoh placed his own ring on Joseph’s finger. He then had him dressed in robes of fine linen. (Gen 41:41-43)

“In that ancient world a ring was not simply a matter of vanity. It was no mere item of excess wealth. A ring carried as great a significance to them as an engagement or wedding ring does in our world.” (prodigalprof)

“What does this giving of a ring mean? It is the granting of authority to a person. Whoever has such a ring has the power of attorney for his master. He has authority, his master’s authority, to make decisions and to help the master govern his realm. And when the father places the ring on the hand of his son, he not only welcomes him back home as a son, as was indicated by the robe, but he welcomes him back to responsibility and authority.”

The sandals signified he was NOT a servant but the son of the father. Servants wore no sandals so when the father refused to let his son be a mere servant, this is indicative of the benevolence and love of the father.


there were five gifts

  1. The robe: a sign of royalty in the house of the Father, a protection as well from the elements and danger

  2. The sandals: the son is not a servant but also the sandals to protect and guide our way back home.

  3. The ring: the commitment between God and man and father and son that has no beginning and no ending. It is also a representation of God's love. No beginning and no end.

  4. The sacrificed calf: in order for the sin to be forgive and repentance and sacrifice had to be offered. for Humanity that sacrifice was our Lord Jesus Christ. For without that sacrifice there is no salvation

  5. the Feast: to celebrate returning from the dead. For us the resurrection and Easter.


The significance is a sign of restoration for the son, and preservation of authority, power, and status for the father. It was a shameful and rebellious action for the younger son to ask for the inheritance before the father passed. Shameful, because the father had to sell part of his property in order to satisfy the whim of the child, and secure sufficient cash. Notice that when the son decides to go back and ask for a place as a servant, he never acknowledges the damage he caused to his father. The father's reputation was sullied. Notice, how the father in a preemptive move acts in a way to stop the townspeople from gossiping. As a person in a position of authority, the father rushed to encounter his son out of the gates of the town, with new robes, a ring, and sandals, all of those items are symbols of social status. By doing so, he silences the town. By embracing and kissing the son, he also forgives his sin--and by doing so redeems his child, and restores him to his former position, and status. This is a powerful parable depicting humanity's redemption, and restoration. Both Jew and Gentile are pictured here, both need redemption and restoration.

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    You have provided an opinion on the significance of the father's actions. What about the significance of the specific gifts given to the son? Jan 26, 2015 at 20:43

The sandals I think could also represent peace. Imagine walking around doing what you have to do with no shoes, you're back home but you're miserable. The peace that the Father gives us cannot be compared to any other peace the world offers. Often when people come back to God the devil can bombard their minds with things from the past that they did and they have no real peace of mind. God's peace to us is all wrapped up in forgiveness and the assurance that our sins are forgiven and taken away as far as the east is from the west and are remembered no more! When we walk in that peace we have confidence and joy.

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How will he be entitled to "the bullock for a sin offering" Leviticus 9:2 if the other son never broke a commandment Luke 15:29?

Mordecai can be seen as the type of the prodigal son.

The king then removed his signet ring (the very one he had taken back from Haman) and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther designated Mordecai to be in charge of Haman's estate. NET Esther 8:2

And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad. KJV Esther 8:15

The noun στολὴν is used widely for royal and priestly vestments in Gen. 27:15, 41:14,42,49:11, Exod. 28:2,3,29:21, Lev. 6:4,16:23,24,32, Num. 20:26; Deut. 22:5; Jdg. 17:10; 2 Sam. 6:14; 2 Chr. 23:13; 1 Es. 4:54; Est. 5:1,6:8,11,8:15, Jdt. 10:7; 16:7;8, 1 Ma. 6:15,10:21, Job 2:12,30:13; Sir. 6:29,31,50:11; Ps. Sol. 11:7; Jon. 3:6; Isa. 9:4,22:17,21; Jer. 52:33; Bar. 4:20,5:1; Ezek. 10:2,6,7 and Mk. 16:5.

The specific gifts that the father gives to the prodigal son, after the sacrifice of the fattened calf, have the meaning described in Revelation 1:6.

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (Rev. 1:6 KJV)

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