Jesus’ description of the contagious joy of the shepherd after he found his one lost sheep is very interesting. He said, “When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’” (Luke 15:5-6). The word translated friends in verse 6 is transliterated into English as philos. This is an adjective (friendly, loving) that eventually was brought into common practical use as a noun (a friend, an individual with whom one shares a bond, one who is like a brother). The word is used 28 other times in the New Testament. Verses containing the word include Luke 7:6; Matthew 11:19 (see also Luke 7:34); John 15:13-15, where it appears three times, or once in each verse; Luke 23:12; Acts 19:31; James 2:23; 4:4; 3 John 14, where it appears twice. Significantly, we also see the word in Luke 15:9 in its feminine form (see below). The Greek term represented by the English word neighbors in Luke 15:6 is present a total of just four times in the New Testament (here and in Luke 15:9; also in Luke 14:12; John 9:8). The word refers to those living in the same land; people living nearby. A different word for neighbor is used in Luke 10:25-37 where Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan.
It is noteworthy that when the shepherd found his lost sheep, he called his male friends and neighbors together and celebrated with them. We would expect this, given the culture of Jesus’ day. Of course, the joy of finding something that previously was lost is not something known to men alone, and Jesus indicated this in the very next parable He told (see Luke 15:8-10). The woman who found her lost coin called her “women friends and neighbors together” (v.9) so they could rejoice with her.
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