I'm currently studying the parable of the Good Samaritan, and I'm wondering why it was chronologically placed in Luke 10 which seems to indicate the encounter with the expert in the law occurred before Jesus entered Jerusalem as king.

The question asked by the expert in the law is "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" and Jesus asks him what his interpretation of scripture is.

The expert replies - "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and "Love your neighbour as yourself".

This is the same answer Jesus gave when asked what the greatest commandment was (Matthew 22:35–40 and Mark 12:28–34).

It seems to me there is a connection between the two stories.

In my mind I'd always thought Jesus was the one who originally summed up the whole of the Law in this way.

It makes more sense to me that the parable of the Good Samaritan should sit somewhere in Luke 20 when the authority of Jesus is questioned. It would line up with Mathew and Mark better.

Otherwise are we to assume that Jesus was quoting the expert when he gives his answer in Mathew and Mark?

Doesn't it make more sense that the expert in the law in Luke's good Samaritan had heard Jesus sum the law up in this way - but he wanted more clarification as to who his neighbour was... Therefore the encounter in Luke is more likely to have taken place in Jerusalem?

Or am I simply wrong in thinking there is a connection between these accounts?

  • 1
    Incidents in the four gospel accounts are juxtaposed to other incidents for a spiritual purpose. Geographical and temporal data seem always to be subservient to the spiritual purpose of the account, that is to say, to the setting forth of Jesus Christ in a particular aspect of His Person.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


Let me make some general points about the scriptures that I hope will help your understanding.

  1. The gospel writers did not necessarily describe everything that Jesus did in chronological order. They grouped teachings according to themes and intent, to convey particular messages.
  2. It is very unlikely that Jesus gave any particular teaching only once. As he traveled around he almost certainly repeated key teachings many times. The gospel writers would not have listed all the times he said a particular thing (why waste ink and paper saying something that was already written). So they may have recorded a saying the first, second or ninety-ninth time he said it. See above.
  3. The summary of the law may not be unique to Jesus. Certainly the two parts are both Old Testament quotes, and the combination may have been known before Jesus.
  • I agree with all your points very helpful indeed. In respect to point one isn't it widely accepted that Luke used the Gospel of Mark for his chronology? If he did then why place such a similar story so much earlier in his account? Doesn't the Good Samaritan fit better on the back of the greatest commandment? I picture this exchange taking place in Jerusalem after Jesus turned the tables over and was part of interrogation by the Pharisees to trap him. Is it okay to ignore Luke puts it in chapter 10 and hold this position?
    – user41260
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 15:35
  • @964769, you might not have understood what DJ said. You're trying to impost chronological order where none exists. The Gospel writers were not writing histories, they were writing testimonies. It also helps to understand that such existential qustions as "who is my neighbor" and "what is the greatest commandment" were common discussion topics among the scholars of the time. Christ's answer, while absolutely relevant to His gospel, may not have been unique at all.
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 15:10
  • @JBH I understand the point DJ made it's good. I'm asking, if we do away with chronology, is it possible this encounter took place in Jerusalem? I know the historical context is always secondary to the spiritual truth behind the text, but I find it helpful to imagine the audience, tension and atmosphere. Obviously in Jerusalem there's a lot more tension and hostility. It doesn't change the meaning of the story, but it feels a little different. The idea that Christ's summary maybe wasn't unique to him is helpful in seeing these stories as not linked as I first thought they might be - thanks
    – user41260
    Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 15:21
  • @964769, ah! Thanks for the clarification! That would be a good modification to your question as it will provide better context for more answers.
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 16:37

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