The Parable of Persistent Widow – Luke 18:1-8 – Inductive Bible Study
1 Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, 2 saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. 3 “There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘ Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ 4 “For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.'” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; 7 now, will not God bring about justice for His electwho cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? 8 “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
- What title do you give to this parable?
The reluctant judge
Persistent prayer pays
God will supply justice
Contrast of two judges
- What other parables have similar characteristics or theme?
The wheat and the tares
The growing seed
The absent householder
The creditor and two debtors
The good Samaritan
A friend in need
The lost son
The unjust steward
The Pharisee and the tax collector
- Who was Jesus speaking to when He gave this parable?
He was speaking to His disciples Luke 17:22 And He said to the disciples, ” The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.
- What was the context for this parable?
Jesus was teaching them about the events surrounding His Second Coming. Specifically, here, He is referring to the prayer of the saints during the time period between His two advents. Following this parable, He gives another parable relating to proper prayer.
- What are the main elements of the parable and what does each represent?
- a certain city –
- judge – God
- did not fear God – unrighteous
- did not respect man – he didn’t care what people thought about him
- widow – a Christian in need
- kept coming to him – persistent prayer
- Give me legal protection from my opponent – the prayer request
- For a while he was unwilling – no immediate answer
- afterward he said to himself – God’s attentiveness to the prayers of the saints
- because this widow bothers me – influenced by her requests
- I will give her legal protection – answers her request
- unrighteous – stark contrast with God
- will not God bring about justice – the argument of the lesser to the greater
- for His elect – true believers
- cry to Him day and night – persistent prayer
- will He delay long over them – God is eager to answer our prayers
- He will bring about justice for them– God is just
- quickly – His answers are not delayed, but always on His perfect timetable
- However –
- when the Son of Man comes – His Second Coming
- will He find faith on the earth? – general lack of true faith at His return
- What spiritual principle(s) does this parable teach?
- Some things that motivate men are a healthy fear of the Lord, a desire to impress other men, and sometimes simply by a wish to not be bothered, but to be left alone.
- Jesus often uses extreme comparisons to make His point.
- Good causes don’t always win a receptive human ear.
- God wants us to be brash, bold, and persistent in prayer.
- Though God sometimes delays, when He acts, He does so swiftly.
- When God delays in answering a prayer, the delay is for my benefit, not harm.
- Contrasts in the parable
i. Unjust judge → righteous Father
ii. reluctant judge → willing Father
iii. widow had no standing → elect are sons and fellow heirs
- Like the widow, we are helpless and have nowhere else to turn.
- God’s elect have many adversaries in the world.
- Though she alone advocated for herself, we have a mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ.
- She was discouraged from asking while we are commanded to ask.
- The execution of God’s justice will come as an unwelcome surprise to His adversaries.
- Cross references to this parable?
1 Sam 12:23
23 “Moreover, as for me , far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way.
2 Peter 3:8-9
8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
1 Thess 5:17 pray without ceasing;
12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;
23 Abraham came near and said, ” Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 “Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” 26 So the LORD said, ” If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.” 27 And Abraham replied, “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes. 28 “Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the whole city because of five?” And He said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29 He spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose forty are found there?” And He said, “I will not do it on account of the forty.” 30 Then he said, “Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak; suppose thirty are found there?” And He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” 31 And he said, “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord; suppose twenty are found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it on account of the twenty.” 32 Then he said, ” Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it on account of the ten.”
8 “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
1 Tim 5:5
5 Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.
7 ” Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
1 John 5:14-15
14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go. 28 Then Pharaoh said to him, ” Get away from me! Beware, do not see my face again, for in the day you see my face you shall die!”
6 On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen;
All day and all night they will never keep silent.
You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves;
7 And give Him no rest until He establishes
And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
2 Peter 3:4
4 and saying, ” Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”
- Questions or problems with the interpretation of this parable.
- How does the last half of V8 fit with the rest of the parable?
- What is the purpose of prayer?
- Explain how our prayers influence God.
- Why does God often delay in answering our prayers if He is not at all reluctant to?
- Based on this parable, what changes in my life does Jesus want me to make?
Be bold in prayer and ask God for big things!
Absent Master of the House
Barren Fig Tree
Cost of Discipleship
Creditor and Two Debtors
The Growing Seed
Pharisee and Tax Collector
Rich Man and Lazarus
The Lost Coin
Wicked Vine Growers