In Luke 15, Jesus gives one parable of a man that lost 1/100 sheep, and rejoiced when that sheep was found. And another parable of a woman who lost 1/10 silver coins, and rejoices much when she finds her lost coin.

In order for something to be "lost", it must be in one's possession at some point beforehand; and these parables confirm that in the sense of salvation. So, in regards to this, I have a two part question: Will all that are "lost" be saved? And in what sense were we previously in the Father's possession? Is there any scripture that talks about this?

I know my 2nd question could mean those who had previously come to God, but have fallen away, and came to God again, but I think He is particularly talking about those who have not yet come to God. I think this could be clarified when Jesus says He came to seek that which was lost in relation to a Chief tax collector.

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    why are all the fun questions asked when i'm in class :( May 3, 2012 at 17:39
  • hey, I'm at work :p May 3, 2012 at 17:40
  • Yeah, but I actually have to pay attention to what i'm doing. :) May 3, 2012 at 17:42
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    I think you are taking the idea of lost too literally. The sheep went astray and was found. I think a verses that you may need to consider are John 6:37 and John 10:29 May 3, 2012 at 17:42
  • @DoubtingThomas me too. Problem is I work from home and it is super easy to be distracted by questions like this one. May 3, 2012 at 17:52

2 Answers 2


Christ's parables can be dangerous to interpret outside of the interpretation given in the context. In almost every case there is one thing taught in a parable and everything else is just filler. The term "parable" can be loosely translated "to throw alongside", the idea is that a story is thrown alongside a single truth. In this context the teaching is:

Luke 15:10 There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

I do not believe that the 99 or the 9 can be tied to any specific group. What Christ is teaching is that even the most "insignificant" sinner is worth everything in the eyes of God.

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    for the record, I noticed you used code ticks to format your quote - in case you weren't aware, there's actually a blockquote formatting trick for markdown. You can select the text and press Control-Q May 3, 2012 at 22:12
  • Still getting used to the formatting. Is there a meta page on that? May 3, 2012 at 22:32
  • Help on editing -- Click the orange question mark in the answer panel and choose Advanced Help. May 3, 2012 at 23:03
  • @NathanBunney Use ">" for Scripture quotations.
    – daviesgeek
    May 4, 2012 at 16:31

+1 Very good question.

Who are the sheep?

Matthew 10:27 - My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me

So the sheep are those who hear the voice of Jesus and follow him. So "sheep" cannot refer to those who have not yet come to God. Also, when Jesus said that he came "to seek and to save the lost", he, in all likelihood, was referring to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

"I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 15:24)

The chief tax collector, was himself a Jew and every Jew was part of the house of Israel. He was "lost" in the sense that he was a sinner. So Jesus' statement doesn't mean those people who have not yet come to God.

Will all the lost sheep be saved?

Yes, if we understand "sheep" correctly. Now, I mentioned that the sheep are those who hear the voice of Jesus and follow him. Now, in the original Greek, the words used in that quote are in the present tense. This means that the statement could be better understood as follows-

My sheep continue to hear my voice, I continue to know them, and they continue to follow me

So then, the sheep are those who continue to follow Jesus throughout their life. There are others, who after getting "saved" (i.e. freed from sins, because salvation = freedom from sins (Matthew 1:21) ), suffer a shipwreck in their faith (1 Tim 1:19) and no longer follow Christ. There are still others, who "endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away" (Mark 4:17). These are not the ones who continue to follow Jesus and therefore, they would not be regarded as his sheep.

So note that while a sheep is someone who gets salvation from sins, not everyone who experiences salvation from sins is a sheep! We shall know only at the end of our lives whether we have been sheep or goats (Matthew 25:32). Till then, we can hope that we shall continue to follow him. His grace is always available to us.

Hope this helps!

  • This definitely helps. Only thing I would argue is that we can't tell in this parable if Jesus is referring to "the lost sheep of Israel" or just literal sheep (since He also gives the same parable using plain coins). But if the tax guy was a Jew, and in light of Matt 15:24, that could definitely be what he meant. Thanks :) May 11, 2012 at 0:28

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