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The Gospel of Luke 17:11-19 in the New Testament

The Gospel of Luke in the New Testament is a telling of the origins of Jesus Christ, the miracles, the death, and the resurrection. One of the illustrations that refer to Jesus’s teachings and the overall concept of receiving salvation is Luke 17:11-19. The 19th chapter tells the story of the ten lepers. The story portrays the different reactions to the miracles of God, refers to certain aspects of the healing power of Jesus, and ultimately teaches about the importance of true faith. The passage exemplifies that while faith is the way to receive God’s grace, gratitude is the concept that truly saves one’s soul. The one leper who came back to thank Jesus for healing him was the one who did not forget where the miracle came from and who is to receive gratitude for it.

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Background and Aftermath

The passage itself tells the story of Jesus’s journey to Jerusalem. In order for the circumstances to be clear, it is essential to examine the context. Initially, Jesus decided to go to Jerusalem, which is why he sent messengers to the village of the Samaritans, who were not welcoming towards them and Jesus (Luke 9:51-56, NRSV). This exemplifies that the Samaritans, who did not want to facilitate Jesus’s journey to Jerusalem, were not connected to the Son of God both religiously and ideologically. Moreover, the passage illustrates the aim of going to Jerusalem, and the story of the ten lepers takes place during the travel. It is well known that Jerusalem is associated with the death of Jesus Christ through crucifixion (Luke 23:26-43, NRSV). The journey itself has been represented by the multiple good deeds that would become reasons for God’s word to be spread and faith to become prevalent.


The characters present in the Gospel of Luke, specifically in Luke 17:11-19, are Jesus and the ten lepers. However, no information is given about nine of the men. It is evident that since the distinction is made between the one being Samaritan compared to the rest of them, it is evident they are Jews, and they already know Jesus based on the fact that they had recognized the Son of God and asked for help. In terms of personal qualities, it is certain that the only individual who returned is the one who has strong faith and has recognized Jesus as the one who is to be praised for his healing. Moreover, since Jesus commanded all lepers to go to priests and they did so, this exemplifies the authority that ultimately influenced the ten men into following the directive and doing as told.


Little is known about the lepers, except that one of them is Samaritan. Samaritans, as exemplified earlier, have not been welcoming of Jesus and his messengers. Thus, the unlikely event in which the only individual who was willing to thank the Son of God for healing him was the Samaritan shows how faith and unity are synonymous. Ironically, the Jews, who were supposed to be the ones closer to the teachings of Jesus and more grateful for being cured of an otherwise incurable disease, forgot the source of their salvation. Instead, they did not make to effort to thank the Lord and praise him for granting them mercy after asking directly for it. Despite the differences and the stereotypes that can exemplify Jesus’s lack of desire to heal a Samaritan, the miracle has shown that one’s origins cannot determine one’s character. The same theme is one of the most significant ones in the New Testament.


The dialogue between the lepers and Jesus is illustrated through an exchange of phrases. First, the ten men asked for mercy before Jesus responded by telling them to go to the priests (Luke 17: 12-14, NRSV). The second dialogue, which is only illustrated through Jesus’s answers initiated by a monologue, is directed towards the Samaritan, who was the one who returned to show gratitude. First, the Son of God manifested confusion of the one individual thanking his being the Samaritan (Luke 17:16, NRSV). Then, Jesus said that the man’s faith was what truly healed him (Luke 17:19, NRSV). Consequently, the speech is exemplified by Jesus and the lepers.


The passage illustrated one primary and two secondary genres. The secondary ones are dialogue and command. The dialogue between the lepers and Jesus and then Jesus and the Samaritan, as exemplified prior, is an exchange of phrases followed by gratitude and Jesus’s answer. The command is portrayed through the Son of God’s initial directive towards the ten men to go to priests who would be able to witness their healing (Luke 17:14, NRSV). The passage, however, is a parable of how faith and subsequent gratitude towards God is what ultimately grants salvation and healing not only of the body but also the soul.


There are certain cues in regards to the specific location where the event took place, yet the name of the exact village is unknown. Instead, it is stated that the meeting took place in a village where the lepers met Jesus and asked for mercy (Luke 17: 12-14, NRSV). There is, however, a mention of the geographical location, which, as suggested prior, was on the way to Jerusalem. Specifically, Jesus was somewhere between Samaria and Galilee (Luke 17:11, NRSV). The two regions are neighboring locations, which also explains why the group of ten lepers consisted of both Jews and a Samaritan, two nations with contrasting views yet united due to a common disease.

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Historical Background of Leprosy

Leprosy has been mentioned multiple times in the Bible, primarily due to Jesus’s miracles which involved healing people suffering from this disease. Moreover, it is present in the Old Testament, where specific instructions call for priests to inspect individuals with skin sores and deem them unclean if leprosy is detected (Leviticus 13:2-3, NKJV). This illustrates that priests were ultimately the deciding factors in terms of whether a person has leprosy and is to be isolated from society or is healed. This is exemplified through Jesus’s command aimed towards the lepers to see their priests as their disease heals on the way (Luke 17:14, NRSV). Since priests would not only be able to attest that the condition has been eradicated but also witness the miracles facilitated by God, the lepers would be able to praise Jesus while attesting their health and ability to return to their villages and families safely.

Historical Background of Samaritans

As mentioned prior, Jesus specifically mentioned that the one leper who returned to express gratitude was, surprisingly, the Samaritan. The verse is not accidental in emphasizing that this was an uncommon situation. Samaritans were not keen on welcoming Jesus as messengers came to the city and told the news of his possible arrival. The reason why people were not willing to welcome the Son of God was his journey to Jerusalem. The disciples were ready to burn the city down for the offensive response, but the Lord did now allow it (Luke 9:51-56, NRSV). The background of the relationship exemplifies two critical aspects. First, Jesus does not seek vengeance because an individual belongs to a particular religious branch and is merciful towards those who are not merciful towards him. Second, as the only person who returned to thank him was the Samaritan, the story refers to the idea that one’s true intentions and faith are not necessarily shaped by their origins and community.


The story of the ten lepers covers multiple vital topics that refer to Jesus’s mercifulness, genuine faith, and gratitude. The significance of the passage is often illustrated through the common habit of turning to religion and God during hard times and forgetting to do so when the challenges are not present. The power of gratitude is substantial since the initial aim after experiencing salvation is to return to the common way of life that one has been deprived of due to unavoidable circumstances, specifically a disease, as exemplified in Luke’s gospel. However, the only person who did not forget who was the source of salvation and returned to show gratitude has shown true faith that remained strong even after the problem had disappeared. The passage is a parable suggesting that one must not forget the origins of the blessings and have gratitude once these blessings are present. This is the path to healing, both physically and spiritually, which are equally valuable and are to be cherished.


New King James Version. (1983). Thomas Nelson. Web.

New Revised Standard Version. (1989). National Council of the Churches of Christ. Web.

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