What Happened to the Elder Brother?

Full Question

Did the prodigal son’s elder brother ever go into the feast?


Scripture does not say. If Jesus told the disciples the choice of the prodigal son’s elder brother, St. Luke chose not to pass on that detail in his Gospel. Perhaps St. Luke, or possibly Christ himself, chose not to reveal that detail so that those who hear the parable have to think about that very question. Does the elder brother honor his father’s wishes to celebrate his brother’s return or not? What would you do if the choice were yours? If that detail had been given, the possibilities for meditating upon the parable might have been diminished.

By Michelle Arnold



  1. Peter Aiello Reply

    If the elder brother represents Israel at that time, he does not enter the feast because national Israel rejected Christ as its Messiah. The younger brother represents the publicans and sinners that entered the feast.

  2. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Dumb question. It’s allegorical, just like the fig tree.
    Ever wonder why the first author of the NT, writing a decade or two before the first gospel (Mark), knows nothing of these parables and stories? Paul knows nothing of Jesus’ virgin birth, family, baptism, disciples, ministry, miracles, parables, or sermons. Nothing! He only knows of the crucifixion and for Paul this is a celestial event, just as his Jesus is a celestial demigod. Paul’s only evidence for the crucifixion is scripture and his own revelations (delusionary visions). Paul does not know a flesh and blood historical being. He is apparently creating a mystery religion with different levels to be achieved by secret teaching. To spread the word faster, they needed a story for the simpler folk, so Mark, a couple decades later creates a flesh and blood Jesus, modeling him on mythical heroes of old. Matthew embellishes, and Luke modifies the theology, and John rewrites the whole character and changes key events to fit his theology.
    Ask yourself why Paul knows nothing of Jesus the man, and then ask why the Church put the NT together in the order they did, rather than in the order the texts were written. When you read the texts in chronological order, the whole flavor changes,

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