Evaluate this argument for the connection:

The context of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is answering the question “… who is my neighbor?” (ESV) The question arises from Leviticus 19:18, “… you shall love your neighbor as yourself …” (ESV) which has the word רֵעַ translated neighbor. However, this is also the primary word for friend in the Old Testament (Olyan, S. M. (2017). Friendship in the Hebrew Bible. (J. J. Collins, Ed.) (p. 4). New Haven; London: Yale University Press).

enter image description here Figure 1. The senses of רֵעַ in the Old Testament (Tanakh) generated with Logos Bible Software

Of further interest is the apparent connection of the word to John 21:15-17. The use of two Greek words for love in this passage would make sense to have a purpose by how they are used, but attempts to differentiate the meaning of the two Greek words do not fit the context of Jesus restoring Peter. However, the verb φιλέω has an associated noun for friend φίλος. The verb associated with is רָעָה, which means to associate with, thus the associated meanings of the noun, friend, neighbor, countryman. However, this verb has a homonym meaning to pasture, graze, or tend. Also note that the Hebrew influenced Aramaic that Jesus and Peter spoke used the participle for a present tense meaning as in this passage. But the participle can have mean a noun such as shepherd. Thus, Peter’s “I love you” equals “I’m your shepherd” and Jesus made a play on Peter’s words.

The word Jesus would use is , אָהֵב, the word in the Shema portion (Deuteronomy 6:5) that the layer quoted in the context of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:27). But, the Hebrew verb can mean like as well as love. Thus, Jesus’ statement “…do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15, ESV) had a double cutting edge, even more so in Hebrew than what is present in Greek and English. It can mean, “Do you like me more than these things, your former life of fishing?,” which is even more convicting when Jesus leaves “than these” off in the following questions. The second meaning is “do you love me more than these other disciples,” pointing to Peter’s pride of thinking himself beter than the others rather than showing concern, feeding the others.

That is also the point Jesus makes with the parable of the Good Samaritan, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” (Luke 10:36, ESV) Thus, the question the layer needed to ask wasn’t “who is my neighbor?” but “am I a good neighbor?” Jesus also expanded the word to mean more than countryman to hated Samaritan.

  • 1
    This is a reasonable (though long) argument. I would agree, generally, that the type of love that Jesus exemplified and taught was much broader than any of us are capable of even faintly grasping. One of the best illustrations of this is His statement," Father forgive them for they know not what they do" = forgiveness without confession nor request?
    – Dottard
    Nov 12, 2022 at 19:56
  • Dottard: That's what I am looking at. A connection in language and principle. I agree this is a principle throughout the Gospels. But, these two passages have an interesting connection in language. When I see these kinds of connections, it tells me that the Jesus of the Gospels is the historic Jesus.
    – Perry Webb
    Nov 12, 2022 at 20:33

1 Answer 1


Note: This question cannot be answered objectively since the answer is not exactly clear. However, the site rules allow for subjective questions when they are constructive and not liable to cause a lot of controversy. Since this question remains unanswered and has no close-votes, we can be assured that it is not provocative.

I would answer that readers may legitimately see a connection between Luke 10:25-37 and John 21:15-17. However the connection is not obvious. I would guess the connection is in the eye of the beholder rather than intended by the Author of the scriptures for readers to see, if that is what the OP suggests.

Regarding the word אָהֵב, it us understood as "like" rather rarely accord to Strong, so "love" is pretty clearly what is meant. About רֵעַ, it can indeed mean friend or fellow, as well as neighbor. So "who is my רֵעַ?" could mean something like, "who among my mere neighbors is my friend?" We should also be aware of the verse that precedes the command to love one's neighbor. "Who is my neighbor?" also asks if 19:18 is a subset of 19:17 - in other words does it apply only to "one's people" or also to foreigners and Samaritans:

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against members of your people.

About the OP's concluding paragraph, I think we should understand "who is my neighbor?" as a kind of generic question, probably often asked in relation to the commandment of Leviticus 19:18. The ancient rabbis frequently debated the application of this verse.

Finally, I used to have the feeling that "which of these three proved to be a neighbor to the man?" is not the exactly the right question. The point Jesus was getting to was "which of these three loved his neighbor as himself?" The answer is that the Samaritan did. But in another sense Jesus was pointing out that the Samaritan indeed acted as a true neighbor and even as one of "your people" (Lev. 19:17)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.