In Hebrews 12, the author argues from the account of Jacob and Esau to warn against apostasy. He suggests that if one sells their inheritance as Esau did, then there is no way to get it back, because it will belong to the one to whom it was sold and there is no replacement:

Heb 12:14-17 NKJV - Pursue peace with all [people], and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there [be] any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

Gen 27:34-40 NKJV - When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, "Bless me--me also, O my father!" But he said, "Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing." And [Esau] said, "Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing!" And he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?" Then Isaac answered and said to Esau, "Indeed I have made him your master, and all his brethren I have given to him as servants; with grain and wine I have sustained him. What shall I do now for you, my son?" And Esau said to his father, "Have you only one blessing, my father? Bless me--me also, O my father!" And Esau lifted up his voice and wept. Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: "Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth, And of the dew of heaven from above. By your sword you shall live, And you shall serve your brother; And it shall come to pass, when you become restless, That you shall break his yoke from your neck."

Luke 15 contains 3 related stories. I want to focus on the wayward son story which, like the Hebrews passage, seems related to the Esau story in Genesis 27.

Is Luke's use of the Esau story making the point that the inheritance was squandered but the family/covenant relationship and "salvation" were restored?:

Luk 15:20-24, 31-32 NKJV - "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. "And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.' "But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put [it] on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on [his] feet. 'And bring the fatted calf here and kill [it], and let us eat and be merry; 'for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry. ... "And he said to him [IE: To the older son], 'Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 'It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.' "

Is Luke saying, in effect, that by going astray the younger son spent his inheritance, which was irretrievable, but he was still welcomed back into the family? Or something less, or more, hopeful?

  • 1
    Curiosity? How, or on what basis are you relating the story of Esau to Luke 15?
    – Dave
    Aug 5, 2020 at 18:12
  • 1
    A father, two sons, a squandered inheritance, sibling rivalry... thematic stuff. I removed the word "clearly".
    – Ruminator
    Aug 5, 2020 at 18:21
  • Doesn't it seem that in the Esau account, Esau has changed his mind (repented) but Isaac has no way to fix it, even though he realized that Jacob had tricked him?
    – Ruminator
    Aug 5, 2020 at 21:21
  • How did the younger son forfeit his inheritance if verses 12 and 13 states that he asked, received, and wasted that inheritance?
    – agarza
    Oct 27, 2020 at 16:01
  • 1
    @agarza I modified the question.
    – Ruminator
    Oct 27, 2020 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


I think the two questions you ask about what Luke is saying gets it right. Side note, I don't think Luke is specifically drawing a comparison to Esau, but the comparison makes sense. The question seems to be, how does what Hebrews says of Esau work with what Luke 15 says about repentance? So...

By the time Esau pleaded with his father, Jacob had already been given what Isaac intended for Esau, he could not take it back. But there is a similarity in Luke 15:31. Note what the father says to the OLDER son: "all that is mine is yours".

The father had given the younger son his inheritance, that was squandered. Everything left belongs to the older son. The younger is forgiven, but has no inheritance! Again, the way you asked your last two Luke-focused questions sound right based on that key Luke 15:31 quote.

Regarding Hebrews, the greatest hope here is that it's a warning: You still have a chance to NOT be like Esau. Hebrews gives a similar warning regarding those who rebelled in the wilderness 3:7-8, &12. You still have a chance NOT to be like them. Hebrews 3:12 seems like a similar exortation to Hebrews 12:15

  • Hello Jessie and welcome to the site. Hebrews seems so black and white while Luke seems so gray.
    – Ruminator
    Oct 27, 2020 at 21:55

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