Who Was the Original Good Samaritan?
We sometimes hear about people being Good Samaritans, but where does the term come from? Here’s the story as recorded by a first-century physician known only as Luke:
“Now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, ‘Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? How do you understand it?’ The expert answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.’
“But the expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him up, and went off, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, but when he saw the injured man he passed by on the other side. So too a Levite [a temple employee], when he came up to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan [disdained by the local population] who was traveling came to where the injured man was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him. He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way.” Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ The expert in religious law said, ‘The one who showed mercy to him.’ So Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do the same’” (Luke 10:25–37).