The Good Samaritan

Workshop Leaders’ Bible Study

This workshop leader’s Bible study is a historical, theological, and contextual introduction to the Good Samaritan rotation of Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest workshop rotation program.  It is intended to provide workshop leaders with:

·        A historical context for understanding the Bible story.

·        A Biblical context for reading and teaching the story.

·        The theological basis for the concepts to be taught to the children.

In Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest program, workshop leaders attend a one-hour Bible study two weeks prior to the start of a new rotation.  This Bible study helps workshop leaders understand how the concepts to be taught to the children are derived from the Bible story and how the lessons in the rotation fit together to reinforce the concepts.  It also provides an opportunity for the workshop leaders to grow in their own faith and understanding of the Bible.

It will be helpful to have a chalkboard, whiteboard, or flip chart for writing down questions or observations during the Bible study.

Note:  This is not a comprehensive study of the text, but only a few notes to help provide context and background for workshop leaders.  Consult titles cited in the reference list at the end of these notes for more information.


Scripture: Luke 10:25-37


Memory verse for this rotation:

            “Love your enemies, and be good to everyone who hates you.  Ask God to bless anyone who curses you, and pray for everyone who is cruel to you.”  Luke 6:27-28 (CEV)


Prayer Concerns & Prayer

·        If workshop leaders do not know each other, give them an opportunity to introduce each other and say which workshop they will be leading.

·        Begin the Bible study by praying for God’s guidance as teachers begin a new rotation.

Reading the text

Ask a workshop leader to read the text aloud.  Since this rotation focuses on an entire chapter, you might want to divide the reading among three or four workshop leaders.

Ask the workshop leaders what questions came to mind as they heard the story or read it before the Bible study.  Write down any questions that arise and will need to be answered during the Bible study.


Historical, Theological, and Biblical Contexts

Background on Luke

            Luke is one of the Four Gospels.  The book itself does not identify the author but tradition traces authorship of both Luke and Acts to a physician who was a friend of Paul’s (Culpepper, 4).  Luke was probably a Gentile who knew Greek well and was quite familiar with the OT and Jewish practices (Culpepper, 9).  The writing of the Gospel is dated to the mid-eighties AD.



            Luke’s gospel is similar in form to ancient biographies.  It contains seven main sections as indicated below (Culpepper, 10).


Luke 1:1-4                   The Prologue

Luke 1:5-2:52              The Infancy Narrative

Luke 3:1-4:13              Preparation for the Ministry of Jesus

Luke 4:14-9:50            The Ministry in Galilee

Luke 9:51-19:27          The Journey to Jerusalem

Luke 19:28-21:38        The Ministry in Jerusalem

Luke 22:1-24:53          The Passion and Resurrection Narratives


Christological Emphases: Jesus’ many titles in Luke

“The Lukan Jesus is compassionate, a friend to outcasts.  Luke also relates Jesus to the history of Israel, the Scriptures, contemporary world history, and the unfolding of God’s redemptive purposes in human history.  Jesus is the Savior sent to seek and to save the lost” (Culpepper, 4).  Some of the many titles used for Jesus in Luke are:

  1. Son of God: Occurs six times.  Luke uses this title “indirectly to define Jesus’ relationship to God as Son to the Father, while treating it as a mystery known to the spiritual beings (Gabriel, the devil, and the demons) and a scandal to his adversaries” (Culpepper, 14).
  2. Prophet – One Greater Than the Prophets:  Jesus fulfills Moses and others but is greater.  This identity is tied to his relationship with John (Culpepper, 15).
  3. Lord: Occurs 103 times in Luke (Culpepper, 16).  This title “subtly infuses the Gospel with the church’s post-Easter confession of the risen Lord.  Luke affirms the confession of Jesus as Lord.  Even from his birth, Jesus is the Lord who would rise from the dead” (Culpepper, 17).
  4. Messiah or Christ:  similar to Son of God – Jesus’ identity as Messiah is treated by Luke as “privileged knowledge” that “is known to the narrator, the reader, and the angels and demons, but not to the other characters” (Culpepper, 17).  It means “the anointed one” or “the Christ” (Culpepper, 17).
  5. Son of Man:  occurs 25 times and with one exception “the term occurs only on the lips of Jesus in Luke” (Culpepper, 18).  Used when describing Jesus’ earthly ministry, in predicting his suffering and death, and in referring to his future coming in glory (Culpepper, 18).
  6. Savior:  Although significant to Luke, “the title occurs only twice in the Gospel, both times in the infancy narrative” however, “Jesus is repeatedly identified as God’s salvation or as the one who saves: (Culpepper, 19).



  1. God’s Redemptive Purposes:  “Luke sets the life of Jesus both in its historical context and in a theological context.  All that happens in the Gospel and in Acts is ultimately a part of God’s redemptive plan for the salvation of all humanity”  (Culpepper, 20).  Three related emphases are the sovereignty of God, the fulfillment of Scripture, and the scope of Jesus’ redemptive work (Culpepper, 20).
  2. Salvation for All Alike:  More than in any other gospel, in Luke Jesus makes it clear that salvation is for all people.  He reaches out to and includes the most outcast in society:  sinners, Samaritans, tax collectors, and women (Culpepper 21-22).  This inclusiveness challenges the established religious and societal order in a scandalous way.
  3. The Blessings of Poverty and the Dangers of Wealth:  “Luke refers to the poor and the rich more than does any other Gospel” (Culpepper, 25).  Jesus turns upside down the idea that the rich are blessed by God and maintains instead that God will “lift up the poor and cast out the rich” (Culpepper, 25).  In his version of the beatitudes Luke does not spiritualize them as Matthew does but “faces the economic realities of poverty” (Culpepper, 25).
  4. Table Fellowship:  In Luke, Jesus is often found eating with others (often outcasts) – “the meals in Luke become a ‘type scene’” repeated frequently with some differences (Culpepper, 26).  The connection of these meals to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is then easily made.  “The Table becomes the place where disputes over greatness are set aside and divisive barriers are overturned by means of voluntary servanthood (22:24-27)” (Culpepper, 26).  Jesus is present with us as risen Lord when we break bread together as a community (Culpepper, 26).
  5. The Role of a Disciple:  Jesus is our model for discipleship.  How we understand who Jesus the Christ is will determine how we understand who we should be as disciples.  In the Lukan narrative, Jesus is obedient to God in all things.  “He is empowered by the Spririt, he is compassionate toward the poor and oppressed, he heals and forgives, he prays, an he dies a model martyr’s death” (Culpepper, 27).
  6. The Importance of an Accurate Witness:  In the NT, the idea of witness is developed from meaning “an eyewitness, to one who can testify to the gospel, to one who dies for the sake of the gospel.”  Luke’s use of the term witness links the first two meanings (Culpepper, 30).  In Luke it is clear that the disciples as witnesses are “guided and empowered by the Spirit” (Culpepper, 30).  “The Gospel of Luke plays an important role in shaping the biblical doctrine of the Spirit in that it affirms that the Holy Spirit was active before the birth of Jesus, the Spirit rested upon Jesus during his ministry, and Jesus charged the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Spirit had come upon them” (Culpepper, 30).

Luke 10:25-37


            The story of the Good Samaritan is a part of the section covering Jesus’ Journey to Jerusalem in Luke and is often connected by interpreters to the story of Mary and Martha which immediately follows.  Reading these two stories together allows us a better understanding of what it truly means to follow Jesus Christ.  In the Parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus speaks of discipleship as a matter of active loving of one’s neighbor – v. 28 “Do this and you will live”.  In the Mary and Martha story we learn of the importance of loving the Lord – of sitting and listening at His feet.  Being a disciple of Christ requires that we both go out and do and sit and listen. (Culpepper, 232)

            Matthew and Mark both have accounts of the lawyer’s questioning of Jesus that include a statement of the great commandment. (Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-31)   Luke, however, is the only gospel to include with this the story of the Good Samaritan.


Interesting Words/Phrases/Ideas (using NRSV)

·       V. 25 “lawyer” – considered an expert in Scripture because civil and religious law were essentially the same (Culpepper, 227). 

·       V. 25 “test” – the lawyer is challenging Jesus’ honor with a question.  In verses 21-34 Jesus has made some bold claims about himself and the lawyer is now challenging his ability to answer a simple question (Culpepper, 227).

·       V. 25 “inherit eternal life” – “Inheritance was the reward promised to those who belonged to the covenant people.  God had promised to make them a great people, to bless them, and to give them a land (Gen. 12:1-3).”  Over time the inheritance was pushed into the future and came to mean the gift of eternal life in God’s kingdom (Culpepper, 227).

·       Note pattern of question/question then answer/answer then question/question then answer/answer.  Jesus challenges the lawyer back with his own question.  This method of questioning was a normal rabbinical teaching method.

·       V. 27 – The great commandment combining Deut. 6:4-9 and Leviticus 19:18.  Note the sequence of the three loves: God, neighbor and self.  As Culpepper says “ when one loves God, one lives out love for others as well . . . Three loves, therefore, characterize the life of one who is already experiencing a measure of that life that will characterize the age to come:  love of God, neighbor, and self.  Only in this sequence of priority, however, does each require the others” (228).

·       V. 28 “Do this and you will live.”  Reading and understanding are not enough – one must act and do in order to have eternal life.

·       V. 29 – lawyer is trying to trap Jesus by questioning him about established societal boundaries.  He really is asking about the limits of neighborliness.

·       V. 30 Jerusalem to Jericho road:  descended nearly 3,300 feet in 17 miles.  Extremely dangerous and a perfect place for bandits to attack travelers. (Culpepper, 229).

·       V. 31 Priest – Temple official and highest religious leader.  See Kerygma resource.

·       V. 32 Levite – temple helper – see Kerygma resource.  No reasons given why Priest and Levite did not stop – probably related to their temple duties and the need to avoid being ritually unclean.  It is important not to focus too much on making the priest and Levite out to be the bad guys.

·       “By storytelling conventions, the audience can expect that in a series of three, the third character will break the pattern created by the first two” and the expectation would be that the third person would be a Jewish layperson thereby setting up a criticism of the clergy (Culpepper, 229).

·       Samaritans were “descendants of the mixed marriages that followed form the Assyrian settlement of people from various regions in the fallen northern kingdom” (Culpepper, 229).  They considered themselves true descendants of Abraham but were looked at as impure by Jews.  See Kerygma resource.  By placing a Samaritan as the hero, “Jesus demolished all boundary expectations”  (Culpepper, 229).  It is difficult to think of a suitably outcast group in today’s world.  The Samaritan was “ceremonially unclean, socially an outcast, and religiously a heretic” (Craddock, 151).

·       V. 34 – Note careful detail and great care that Samaritan takes of the man emphasized by all the active verbs in this verse.

·       V. 36-37  Jesus turns the question about neighbor around and throws it back at the lawyer.  Instead of saying who is your neighbor, he asks the lawyer who acted as a neighbor to the beaten man. The lawyer must admit that it was the Samaritan although he avoids actually calling him by name.

·       Neighbor:  being a good neighbor is active – it involves doing.  We express our love for God and for others by showing mercy regardless of any boundaries placed on us or on others by society.  Such neighborliness is done without any thought of reward or payback.  With his story Jesus shows us that “Eternal life – the life of the age to come – is that quality of life characterized by showing mercy for those in need, regardless of their race, religion, or region – and with no thought of reward”  (Culpepper, 230).



How are the Gospel’s themes played out in these particular passages?

·       God’s redemptive purpose:  References to Deuteronomy and Leviticus passages remind us that in the fulfillment of scripture, God’s plans are being accomplished (Culpepper, 21).

·       Salvation for all alike:  The Samaritan represents the outcasts who are so often brought to our attention in Luke.  Jesus breaks down all societal boundaries in this parable.

·       Role of disciples:  This story along with the accompanying story of Mary and Martha emphasizes the dual role of the disciple as one who listens to and learns from Jesus and then goes out to do and to follow.

Workshop Summaries

Ask each workshop leader to summarize his or her workshop.  As they do so, point out the concepts that each lesson reinforces.  Ask workshop leaders if they have any questions about the logistics or practical application of their lesson.



·       In Holywood the children will view the Good Samaritan story on video and discuss characteristics of a good neighbor.  They will also make a plan for how they can help others recognizing that Jesus said to go and do as the Good Samaritan did.

God wants us to love God, love our neighbors, and love ourselves.

·       In Creation Station the children will learn about how this concept relates to lessons learned already in the Ten Commandments and will talk about ways to show such love.

·       In Antioch Arcade the children will hear the Good Samaritan story and then play a Question & Answer game reinforcing the facts and ideas from the story.  They will also discuss who our neighbors are.

·       In Praising Puppets the children will act out a skit reminding us that God loves us and wants us to love God and others.

Those who love God and their neighbors receive eternal life through Jesus Christ.

·       In Creation Station the children will talk about how doing as God commands will give us a place in God’s kingdom.

We are good neighbors when we show kindness and mercy toward others no matter who they are.

·       In Creation Station the children will make a collage of faces that represent our neighbors and talk about how to treat others with love as Jesus commanded.

·       In Apostles’ Playhouse the children will learn about being a good neighbor by singing, dancing, and acting out the story with the help of a Good Samaritan song.

·       In Good News the children will hear the Good Samaritan story and explore what it means to help your neighbor by drawing a mural of the story or by hearing the story “Barrington Bunny.”

·       In Praising Puppets the children will act out a skit about showing kindness to others even when we don’t like them.

Disciples of Jesus Christ must listen to his teachings and then go out and live them.

·       In Apostles’ Playhouse the children will think about ways they can be good neighbors to others.

·       In Antioch Arcade the children will talk about ways to reach out to their neighbors and explore excuses that sometimes keep them from helping.

·       Good News:  In their journal time the children will write about a time they have helped someone in need or a way they can help someone in the future.

God's disciples help others in need without expecting a reward.

·       Apostles’ Playhouse:  While making a music video the children will learn about how the Good Samaritan helped his neighbor without expecting a reward.

·       In Praising Puppets the children will act out a skit about helping others even when it is hard or not convenient for us.


Review Questions

Return to the questions that were gathered at the start of the hour.  Have they been answered?  Are there any further questions about the Bible story or about the lessons?

Closing Prayer

Close the Bible study with a prayer.


Craddock, Fred. “Luke.” Interpretation. James Luther Mays, et al. editors. (Louisville, John Knox Press, 1990). (pp. 1-12, 21-37).

Culpepper, R. Alan. “Luke.” The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. IX. Leander Keck, et al. editors. (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1995). (pp.3-37 and 49-67).