Bible Study Brief 1: A Parable Told in Response to a Lawyer's Question

These Bible Study Briefs are deliberately informal. They are structured so that they can be considered in a short twenty-minute session or become the basis for an hour-long discussion.

The studies are intended to provide you with accessible, usable, and brief Bible studies on topics that touch on the peculiar needs, problems, and dilemmas that confront Christians in the legal profession.

No formal leader is required. After reading the brief scriptural passage (perhaps with a couple of different translations available in the group to add nuances of meaning), use the questions as prods for discussion. Please add your own questions, because the concerns and interests of each study group are different.

Some discussion "Do's":

  1. Do resist the temptation to make Bible study a mere intellectual inquiry or to parade your finely tuned analytical skills.
  2. Do provoke each other into finding concrete ways to apply and incorporate scriptural insights into your lives.
  3. Do commit yourselves to encouraging each other to stick to these commitments through friendship and prayer.

We're grateful to the Christian Legal Society for sharing these Bible Study Briefs with us.


Legislation often seems designed not to increase the obligations owed by persons to one another, but to define and thereby limit them. True or false? The Parable of the Good Samaritan has become so familiar that many of us have lost its rather radical religious message. Jesus’ parable is told in response to the questions of a lawyer seeking to ascertain the exact perimeters of his obligations under the Law of Moses. Study this familiar parable once more, but this time, emphasize the gospel context in which the story was told.


Luke 10:25-37

  1. Does Jesus claim in this passage to offer a new ethic or an unusual summary of the law? What implications does your answer have?
  2. How does Jesus define the scope of “duty”? (Compare with tort law concepts of duty, especially the “Good Samaritan” doctrine.) Is this a legal concept? In what way (if at all) is Jesus’ answer responsive to this lawyer’s question?
  3. Verse 29 states that the lawyer pressed the issue “desiring to justify himself.” Compare this with the idea of “limiting constructions” or “saving constructions” in law today. Do we offer limiting construction of moral obligations in order to justify ourselves?
  4. Corollary (special for philosophy majors): Does Jesus recognize an action/inaction distinction for ethical conduct? In not, haven’t the priest and the Levite behaved as immorally as the robbers?
  5. Compare the passage with Mark 10:17-22, another in which Jesus shoots down a “limiting construction” of God’s demands.
  6. So what? How, specifically, will your answers to any of these questions affect your life this week?

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