Luke 1 Commentary


From Jensen's Survey of the NT by permission

Luke 1:1  In as much as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us,

AMPLIFIED  SINCE [as is well known] many have undertaken to put in order and draw up a [thorough] narrative of the surely established deeds which have been accomplished and fulfilled in and among us,

Barclay  Since many have set their hands to the task of drawing up an account of the events which were completed amongst us,

CSB  Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us,

ESV   Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us,

GWN  Many have attempted to write about what had taken place among us.

KJV   Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

NET  Now many have undertaken to compile an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us,

NAB   Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us,

NIV  Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us,

NLT  Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us.

NJB  Seeing that many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have reached their fulfilment among us,

Wuest - Since it is well known and a fact of importance that many have undertaken to draw up in its historical sequence a narrative of events concerning which there has been a wide diffusion of knowledge among us,

YLT  Seeing that many did take in hand to set in order a narration of the matters that have been fully assured among us,

AN ACCOUNT OF WHAT
JESUS ACCOMPLISHED

Matthew and Luke are the two of the four Gospels which record the infancy of the Lord Jesus. Mark and John wait to introduce him at the beginning of his public ministry. In Matthew, the main focus is Joseph, while in Luke, the private experiences and sayings of Mary are given in detail. After a brief introduction (Luke 1:1-4), Luke explains the events of the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:5-2:52).

Liefeld explains that ""It was customary among the great Greek and Hellenistic historians, including the first-century Jewish writer Josephus, to explain and justify their work in a preface. Their object was to assure the reader of their capability, thorough research, and reliability." (Expositor's Bible Commentary)

Luke begins a very long sentence that continues through Luke 1:4. 

John Hannah has this outline

The preface to the Gospel  (Lk 1:1-4)

The sources for the Gospel  (Lk 1:1-2)

The research for the Gospel  (Lk 1:3)

The purpose for the Gospel  (Lk 1:4)

Luke 1:1-25 explains how God planned birth announcement of John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah.

Book Overview:  Only 8% deals with Jesus life before ministry  25% deals with His last week before He died. Luke is the longest single book in the NT. Luke and Acts constitute 28% of the NT, making Luke the most prolific of its contributors. It contains 4 beautiful hymns: Mary’s Magnificat (the true Ave Maria); Zacharius’ Benedictus; the Gloria in Excelsis of the heavenly host; & the Nunc Dimittis of Simeon [“now dismiss”, “I'm ready to be called home now”] Key Word: Jesus the Son of Man.  Key Verse: Lukes 1:3,4, Luke 19:10+ “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” So not only Jews but Samaritans & Gentiles; poor & rich; respectable & despised; tax collectors and religious leaders. Key Chapter: Luke 15:1-32 captures in 3 parables, the lost sheep/coin/son is the crux of the Gospel; that God through Christ has come to seek and save that which was lost. Those who believe His claims are challenged to count the cost of discipleship – Those who oppose will not be satisfied until the Son of Man hangs lifeless on a cross. Doctor Luke writes with the Greeks in mind – thus he translates the Aramaic terms, and explains Jewish customs and geography.  Thus he traces Jesus genealogy back, not to Abraham [Father of the Jews] (Matthew), but back to Adam [father of all mankind] You can tell Luke loves people: by the portraits of Zacharias, the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, the repentant tax collector Zaccheus, the 2 disciples on the Emmaus Road. He gave a special place to women in his writings: “Elizabeth, Mary, Anna, Martha & Mary, Bernice, Candace, Damaris, Dorcas, Drusilla, Joanna, Lydia, Priscilla, Sapphira, & Susanna.” He gave a special place to children in his writings: e.g. the child hood of John & Jesus (Sermon)

  • Lk 1:1-2:52 = 30 yrs of Jesus’ life;
  • Lk.3:1- Lk 19:28 = 3 yrs of Jesus’ life;
  • Lk.19:29 - Lk 24:53 = 1 week of Jesus’ life.

J C RyleSt. Luke's Gospel contains many precious things which are not recorded in the other three Gospels. For example, the histories of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the angel's announcement to the Virgin Mary, and, in general terms, the first two chapters of his Gospel. Only St. Luke records the conversions of Zacchaeus and the penitent thief, the walk to Emmaus, and the famous parables of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, the Rich Man and Lazarus, and the Lost Son. These are parts of Scripture for which every well-instructed Christian feels peculiarly thankful. And for these we are indebted to the Gospel of St. Luke. (Expository Thoughts Luke 1)

Darrell Bock - Luke begins his work as other ancient writers do, with a preface. The entire paragraph is one long Greek sentence. Luke explains his connection to the past and his desire to give his readers assurance about the instruction they have received. Luke discusses in Luke 1:1 the tradition he inherited. Then he traces in Luke 1:2 the origin of that tradition in eyewitnesses and servants who preach the Word. As the main clause, Luke 1:3 discusses how Luke wrote his account. The last verse reveals Luke’s purpose. He desires to give his reader, Theophilus, assurance about the events surrounding Jesus. (Baker Exegetical Commentary)

Steven Cole introduces his sermon series on Luke with these thoughts - Luke has a number of distinctive features. He devotes more space to the birth and infancy of Jesus than any other gospel. He alone mentions the incident from Jesus’ youth, when He was left behind at the Temple. On the other end of Jesus’ life, Luke alone mentions the ascension and, in his companion volume (Acts) traces the history of Jesus’ followers beyond that momentous event. Luke clearly has a universal emphasis, showing that the gospel is for every class, race, and nation. The angels tell the shepherds that the news of the Savior who has been born is “good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people” (Lk 2:10). The aged Simeon prophesies that this Child is God’s salvation which He has prepared in the presence of all peoples, “a light of revelation to the Gentiles” (Lk 2:32). As John the Baptist preaches, Luke alone (of the synoptics) cites Isaiah, that “all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Lk 3:6). When our Lord begins His ministry at Nazareth, He creates animosity by pointing out that Elijah was sent to a Gentile widow in Sidon and that the Gentile Naaman the leper was cleansed (Lk 4:25-27). Luke closes with Jesus’ commission that “repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations” (Lk 24:47). Not just Gentiles, but sinners of every stripe are the focus of Luke’s gospel. He uses the word “sinners” 16 times, more than Matthew (5), Mark (5), and John (4) combined....Luke is the only synoptic gospel to call Jesus “Savior” (Lk 2:11). He alone uses the word salvation (6 times) and ten times he uses the word for preaching the good news, which is only used once in the other gospels. Luke alone of the three uses the word grace (8 times) and Luke is the only Gospel writer to use the words “redemption” and “redeem” (J. Sidlow Baxter, Explore the Book[Zondervan], 5:254). The theme verse of Luke occurs in the context of the salvation of the despised tax collector, Zaccheus, where Jesus explains His mission: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk 19:10).....Luke has been called the Gospel of Prayer because of his emphasis, not only on our need to pray, but also on Jesus’ prayer life. Nine times Luke tells of prayers that Jesus offered in the crises of His life, and seven of these are unique to Luke (Scroggie, p. 370). It has also been called the Gospel of the Holy Spirit, who is named more in Luke than in Matthew and Mark together, and even more than in John (Baxter, p. 246). There is a marked emphasis on Jesus’ dependence on the Spirit. Thus Luke shows us Jesus as the Savior who was fully human, but who triumphed as man through dependence on prayer and the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:1-4)

Here is Pastor Cole's broad outline of Luke

1. Introduction: Purpose for writing (Lk 1:1-4).

2. The Advent of the Son of Man (Lk 1:5-4:13).

3. The Ministry of the Son of Man: Galilee (Lk 4:14-9:50).

4. The Rejection of the Son of Man: Toward Jerusalem (Lk 9:51-19:27).

A. Mounting opposition (Lk 9:51-11:54).

B. Instructions in view of the opposition (Lk 12:1-19:27).

5. The Suffering of the Son of Man (Lk 19:28-23:56).

6. The Triumph of the Son of Man (Lk 24:1-53).

In as much (1895)(epeideper from epeidḗ = since, and per = truly) is a conjunction since indeed, considering that, whereas, usually referring to a fact already known. Friberg adds that it is "a causal conjunction with reference to a well-known fact." BDAG adds it is an "intensified form of epeide, a marker of cause or reason." This is the only use in the NT.  Dr Luke uses epeideper to introduce the reason for his Gospel account.

Bock on epeideper - The conditional term epeidēper, (inasmuch as) is usually causally related to the action of the main clause: “since many have undertaken” (BDF §456.3). Those accounts laid the groundwork for why Luke writes. Ancient writers loved to show that what they were doing had precedents." (Ibid)

A triple compound particle (“since,” “truly,” “indeed”) expressing cause with reference to a fact already well known. (Cleon Rogers)

Vincent - "Only here in New Testament. A compound conjunction:  epei, since, de, as is well known, and per, giving the sense of certainty."

Many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us - Many refers to both to previous written and/or oral testimonies. Gilbrant notes that "The mention of "many others" (polloi) either shows that his work was an improvement on previous attempts, or demonstrates the importance of the work by citing the numerous times it has been treated."

A T Robertson on many - How many no one knows, but certainly more than two or three. We know that Luke used the Logia of Jesus written by Matthew in Aramaic (Papias) and Mark’s Gospel. Undoubtedly he had other written sources.

Undertaken ("have taken in hand" - KJV)( 2021)(epicheireo from epi = upon, in + cheir = hand) means to take in hand, to put the hand to, to set one's hand to some task, to endeavor to perform a task (in this case to write the Gospel account), to try, to undertake.  To take in hand, undertake, attempt, whether effective or not. The only uses are by Luke (Lk 1:1, Acts 9:29 = "attempting to put him to death," Acts 19:13 = "attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus.")

Vincent on epicheireo - The word carries the sense of a difficult undertaking (see Acts 19:13), and implies that previous attempts have not been successful. It occurs frequently in medical language. Hippocrates begins one of his medical treatises very much as Luke begins his gospel. “As many as have taken in hand (ἐπεχείρησαν) to speak or to write concerning the healing art.”

There are 4 uses of epicheireo in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (2Ch 20:11, Ezra 7:23, Esther 8:12, 9:25). Gilbrant adds that "This verb occurs 12 times in the Septuagint including 8 times in the Apocrypha. It generally means “to attack,” “to attempt,” or “to make an attempt on.” It was used with reference to attacking the Jewish people (2 Chronicles 20:11) and the temple (Ezra 7:23 [LXX 2 Esdras 7:23]), and the attempt to cause harm to the Jews in exile (Esther 9:25)."

A T Robertson on epicheireo -  Both Hippocrates and Galen use this word in their introduction to their medical works. Here only in the N. T., though a common literary word. Common in the papyri for undertaking with no idea of failure or blame. Luke does not mean to cast reflection on those who preceded him. The apocryphal gospels were all much later and are not in his mind. Luke had secured fuller information and planned a book on a larger scale and did surpass them with the result that they all perished save Mark’s Gospel and what Matthew and Luke possess of the Logia of Jesus. There was still room for Luke’s book. That motive influences every author and thus progress is made.

John MacArthur - It is important to note that Luke was not critical of those who had undertaken (a term often used in connection with literary endeavors) to compile an account (a phrase often used to refer to historical writing) of Jesus’ life and ministry. He did not pen his gospel as a corrective to those accounts, but because God prompted him to write a comprehensive narrative of the life of Christ and the spread of His salvation gospel. Luke’s reason for referring to his sources was twofold. First, it establishes his history as a legitimate, reliable account. He was a careful historian who used credible methods of research and writing, and based his content on the firsthand accounts of eyewitnesses. Second, Luke’s use of those sources places his gospel squarely in the orthodox tradition. His volume was not a bizarre, different, heretical gospel. Luke’s account was consistent with the teaching of the apostles (cf. Acts 2:42) and with those of eyewitnesses and especially the other Spirit-inspired gospel writers (cf. John 20:30–31; 21:24–25). (Luke Commentary)

To compile ("to set forth in order" = KJV) 392)(anatassomai from anti = + tasso = to put in order, to arrange) literally means to arrange in a row, to draw up again in order, to compose, to arrange in a series "a narrative that the sequence of events may be evident." It is used by Plutarch in classic Greek to denote going regularly through a thing again and so to rehearse it. Here Luke uses it to to arrange in proper order, that is, to arrange afresh so as to show the sequence of events. Luke's Gospel in fact is the most chronologically arranged of all 4 Gospels. 

A T Robertson on anatassomai  - This verb anataxasthai has been found only in Plutarch’s Moral. 968 CD about an elephant “rehearsing” by moonlight certain tricks it had been taught (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary). That was from memory going regularly through the thing again. But the idea in the word is plain enough. The word is composed of tassō, a common verb for arranging things in proper order and ana, again. Luke means to say that those before him had made attempts to rehearse in orderly fashion various matters about Christ. “The expression points to a connected series of narratives in some order (taxis), topical or chronological rather than to isolated narratives” (Bruce). “They had produced something more than mere notes or anecdotes” (Plummer)

Account (1335)(diegesis from diá = through or an intensifier + hēgéomai = to lead) is a narrative or message that tells the details of an act or course of events in an orderly sequence. BDAG says diegesis is "an orderly description of facts, events, actions, or words." It is used of a historical report in classic Greek. It is a discourse consisting of an orderly exposition or narration. NET Note explains that "This is sometimes translated "narrative," but the term itself can refer to an oral or written account. It is the verb "undertaken" (epicheireo) which suggests a written account, since it literally is "to set one's hand" to something." It indicates a narration of a verified and well-witnessed report. This is the only NT use of diegesis. There are 2 uses in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Judges 5:14, Hab 2:6. 

NET Note on diegesis - This is sometimes translated "narrative," but the term itself can refer to an oral or written account. It is the verb "undertaken" which suggests a written account, since it literally is "to set one's hand" to something (BDAG 386 s.v. evpiceire,w). "Narrative" is too specific, denoting a particular genre of work for the accounts that existed in the earlier tradition. Not all of that material would have been narrative.

Vincent on diegesis - Only here in New Testament. From διά, through, and ἡγέομαι, to lead the way. Hence something which leads the reader through the mass of facts: a narrative, as A. V., with the accompanying idea of thoroughness. Note the singular number. Many took in hand to draw up, not narratives, but a narrative, embracing the whole of the evangelic matter. The word was particularly applied to a medical treatise. Galen (a prominent Greek physician) applies it at least seventy-three times to the writings of Hippocrates (also a Greek physician).

A T Robertson on diegesis -  [Diēgēsis] means leading or carrying a thing through, not a mere incident. 

Gilbrant In classical Greek literature (diegesis) was used in a speech by Aristotle, for example, where it means “the statement of a case” (Liddell-Scott). Similarly, Luke described the many who had undertaken to compile a “narrative” (RSV); “declaration” (KJV); “account” (NIV), of the things concerning Jesus.

MISSION
ACCOMPLISHED

The things accomplished among us - "The things that have been fulfilled." Accomplished is in the perfect tense signifying that the things had been accomplished or fulfilled in the past and are still in existence. It speaks of permanence of the record of these things. Among us is explained by the words in the next sentence, who were eye-witnesses and ministers. In context the thing accomplished among us refers to the events fulfilled in the life of Jesus.

Among us - In other words these things concerning Jesus Christ did not occur in a corner or in secret but out in the open for all to see. This openness means that the validity of Jesus’ claims, as well as the claims made about him by others, are open to critical examination.

THOUGHT - God wants lost people to see His life giving Son among them. Today this happens as believers daily die to self and live supernatural Spirit filled/enabled lives which testify and point to the life of the Son in them. In a sense our lives "fulfill" Jesus' prophetic statement regarding His Spirit for He declared "He (THE HOLY SPIRIT) will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you." (Jn 16:14+). How does the Holy Spirit GLORIFY JESUS today? THROUGH YOUR LIFE LIVED IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT FOR THE GLORY OF THE LORD! Is your light shining brightly (cf Mt 5:16+, Php 2:14-15+) or is your light dim because you are sinning (cf 1 Th 5:19+, 1 Jn 1:6+, then confess 1 Jn 1:9+)? The lost need to see Jesus and you may be the only "Bible" many lost people ever read! What is the "Gospel" according to you, according to your life, your lifestyle, your practices before the pagans?

The NAS rendering does have a marginal note = "on which there is full conviction." This reflect the fact that  one of the other meanings of plerophoreo in the NT is "fully assured" (spoken of Abraham in Ro 4:21). The KJV translation reflects the alternate meaning of plerophoreo = things “most surely believed among us."  Most writers favor the sense of fully accomplished over fully assured. So the question arises to what is Luke referring that was "accomplished among us?" From Luke's record it is clear that the thing accomplished among them was the Father sending His only Son to be the Savior of sinners. 

Torrey adds that plerophoreo "is applied to a ship fully laden, to a tree in full bearing, etc. Hence it implies that fulness of evidence by which any fact is supported, and also that confidence, or feeling of assent, by which facts so supported are believed."

Accomplished (Fulfilled is a better translation)(4135)(plerophoreo  from pleres = full + phero = to bear or bring) means literally to bring to a full measure or to fulfill ("fulfill your ministry" - 2Ti 4:5+, "the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished" - 2 Ti 4:17+).  It can also have the nuance of full assurance, of being absolutely certain (Ro 4:21+ speaking of Abraham's faith).  The KJV translates plerophoreo with the nuance of full assurance - "surely believed," but most modern translations favor the nuance of fulfilled or accomplished.

Darrell L Bock adds that "fulfilled,” is the best (interpretation compared to the other possible interpretation of "full assurance") since Luke’s emphasis in his volumes is the fulfillment of God’s plan (Lk 1:20, 57; 2:6, 21–22; 4:21; 9:31; 21:22, 24; 24:44–47). The passive participle (that have been fulfilled) suggests God’s acts with its use of the “theological” passive (Marshall 1978: 41). These fulfilled events from the past continue to color how one should see the present. The effect of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection lives on (Ed: This comment reflects the use of the perfect tense which speaks of past completed action and ongoing effects). Luke will chronicle one of the immediate effects, the rise of the church, in his second volume." Vincent adds that "The word is chosen to indicate that these events happened in accordance with a preconceived design."

A T Robertson on plerophoreo in Luke 1:1 -  Papyri examples occur for finishing off a legal matter or a financial matter in full. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, pp. 86f.) gives examples from the papyri and inscriptions for completing a task or being convinced or satisfied in mind. The same ambiguity occurs here. When used of persons in the N. T. the meaning is to be convinced, or fully persuaded (Rom. 4:21; 14:5; Heb. 6:11; 10:22). When used of things it has the notion of completing or finishing (2 Tim. 4:5, 17). Luke is here speaking of “matters” ([pragmatōn]). Luke may refer to the matters connected with Christ’s life which have been brought to a close among us or accomplished. Bruce argues plausibly that he means fulness of knowledge “concerning the things which have become widely known among us Christians.” In Col. 2:2 we have “fulness of understanding” (tēs plērophorias tēs suneseōs). In modern Greek the verb means to inform. The careful language of Luke here really pays a tribute to those who had preceded him in their narratives concerning Christ.

Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Bible on the idea of fulfilled among us - Jesus did not drop onto the scene without context. As the Evangelists made clear, he instead came as the fulfillment of messianic prophecies made throughout the OT. (Ed: See fulfillment of Messianic Prophecies)

Morris - Others had written about Christ and His teachings before Luke did (Luke 1:1), including Matthew and Mark, both of whom had known Christ personally, a privilege probably not shared by Luke. Nevertheless, Luke's long association with the Apostle Paul and others who had known the Lord (Luke 1:2), together with his obvious ability in investigation and research, enabled him to write down an accurate account of his own. Many think that Luke may have drawn on Mark's account, as well as Matthew's or even some other hypothetical written source supposedly used by all of them (the so-called "Q-document," or some such record). Even if such a document really existed (which is very doubtful), it was not divinely inspired like those of Matthew, Mark and Luke, but simply a human record of events, from which they could draw in their research, as led by the Holy Spirit. This latter presumption is supported by Luke's claim that he had "perfect understanding of all things from above" (the latter being a legitimate alternative to "the very first").

J C Ryle - Christianity is a religion built upon facts. Let us never lose sight of this. It came before mankind at first in this shape. The first preachers did not go up and down the world, proclaiming an elaborate, artificial system of abstruse doctrines and deep principles. They made it their first business to tell men great plain facts. They went about telling a sin-laden world, that the Son of God had come down to earth, and lived for us, and died for us, and risen again. The Gospel, at its first publication, was far more simple than many make it now. It was neither more nor less than the history of Christ.

While Matthew speaks especially to the Jews, Luke speaks especially to the Gentiles. Godet, wrote that if Matthew is “A treatise on the right of Jesus to the Messianic sovereignty of Israel,” then Luke is “A treatise on the right of the heathen to share in the Messianic kingdom founded by Jesus.”

William Barclay - LUKE’S introduction is unique in the first three gospels because it is the only place where the author steps out upon the stage and uses the pronoun ‘I’. There are three things to note in this passage.

(1) It is the best bit of Greek in the New Testament. Luke uses here the very form of introduction which the great Greek historians all used. Herodotus begins, ‘These are the researches of Herodotus of Halicarnassus.’ A much later historian, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, tells us at the beginning of his history, ‘Before beginning to write I gathered information, partly from the lips of the most learned men with whom I came into contact, and partly from histories written by Romans of whom they spoke with praise.’ So Luke, as he began his story in the most sonorous (Ed: full, loud, and deep) Greek, followed the highest models he could find.

It is as if Luke said to himself, ‘I am writing the greatest story in the world and nothing but the best is good enough for it.’ Some of the ancient manuscripts are very beautiful productions, written in silver ink on purple vellum; and often the scribe, when he came to the name of God or of Jesus, wrote it in gold (ED: O that we too might handle the precious Word of God with such a sense of awe and reverence! May this lofty objective transform our daily reading from mundane to majestic by the power of the Spirit. Amen). The story is told of an old workman who, every Friday night, took the newest and shiniest coins out of his pay packet for Sunday’s offering in church. The historian, the scribe and the workman were all filled with the same idea—only the best is good enough for Jesus. They always gave their utmost for the highest. (Ed: Also the title of Oswald Chambers famous devotional writing!)

(2) It is most significant that Luke was not satisfied with anyone else’s story of Christ. He must have his own. Real religion is never a second-hand thing. It is a personal discovery. Professor Arthur Gossip of Trinity College, Glasgow, used to say that the four gospels were important, but beyond them all came the gospel of personal experience. Luke had to rediscover Jesus Christ for himself (Ed: But it is all based on careful, exacting scholarship, not speculation or hypotheses!)

(3) There is no passage of the Bible which sheds such a floodlight on the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture. No one would deny that the Gospel of Luke is an inspired document; and yet Luke begins by affirming that it is the product of the most careful historical research. God’s inspiration does not come to those who sit with folded hands and lazy minds and only wait, but to those who think and seek and search (ED: Beloved this same principle applies to our reading of the Word of God. We are unlikely to be led by our Teacher the Spirit into significant depth of understanding of the inspired Word if our only objective is to check off my daily "read through the Bible in a year" assignment! One verse paused over and pondered on, is of far more value to our soul than one chapter passes over quickly and mechanically!). True inspiration comes when the searching mind joins with the revealing Spirit of God. The word of God is given, but it is given to those who search for it. ‘Search and you will find’ (Matthew 7:7). (Luke 1 Commentary)

A few Insights on the Gospel of Luke from H A Ironside

Luke dwells much on the prayer-life of Jesus Christ, and prayer, of course, is connected with His Manhood. Jesus never makes a move but He looks first to His Father in heaven. We see Him praying, praying, praying, as every important occasion arises. In this Gospel we also see frequently the Lord Jesus Christ as a guest in the homes of various people. He sat with them and ate with them, and talked over their problems. No other Gospel presents Christ going out to dinner so often as Luke does. Jesus shares their joys and sorrows and partakes of the good things that are presented to Him. When you meet a man at the dinner-table you find out what he really is. I had read forty or fifty biographies of Martin Luther, but he always seemed to be a figure on a pedestal until I read "Luther's Table Talks." Then I felt that he and I were friends. I felt that I knew the man as I could not have known him otherwise. So these accounts of Christ at the dinner-table give us an understanding of His Manhood, which we would not get in any other way....

Luke gives us a great deal of information that is not found in the other Gospels. It is he alone who relates the stories of the visits of the angel Gabriel to Zacharias and to Mary. No one else tells us of the song of Mary, and the prophecy of Zacharias. The birth of Christ in a stable is recorded only here, as also the angel's announcement to the shepherds. The presentation of the Child Jesus in the temple at Jerusalem, and the welcome given by Anna and Simeon, also are mentioned only here. The first meeting in Nazareth, as recorded in chapter four; the great draught of fishes; the interview with the woman of the city in the house of Simon the Pharisee, as found in chapter seven; the beautiful incident of Mary at the feet of Jesus; and the mission of the seventy (Luke 10) are found only here. Much of the material of chapters eleven to eighteen inclusive is told only by Luke, as also the story of Zaccheus. It is he alone who mentions the coming of the angel to our Saviour to strengthen Him in His Gethsemane agony. And had it not been for Luke, we would never have known of the penitent thief, nor of the visit of our risen Lord with the two disciples on the way to and in their home at Emmaus. 

Then when we think of the parables, it is striking to note how many are only related in this Gospel. The story of the Good Samaritan, the rich fool, the barren fig-tree, the great supper (not to be confounded with the marriage of the king's son as given in Matthew) the lost coin, the prodigal son, the unjust steward, the story of Dives and Lazarus, the unjust judge and the widow, the Pharisee and the publican, and the parable of the pounds, are all given by Luke. The last-mentioned, while similar to the parable of the talents, is, nevertheless, quite a different story.

How much then we would be bereaved of, if Luke had not been moved by the Spirit of God to search out so many things that no other inspired writer has recorded. There is nothing redundant here. All is of great importance and cannot be overestimated, so far as its value to the Church of God is concerned, and also its importance in presenting the gospel of the grace of God in its manifold aspects... (Luke 1)

1. Six miracles peculiar to Luke.

(1) The draught of fishes, Lk 5:4-11.

(2) The raising of the widow's son, Lk 7:11- 18.

(3) The woman with the spirit of infirmity, Lk 13:11-17.

(4) The man with the dropsy, Lk 14:1-6.

(5) The ten lepers, Lk 17:11-19.

(6) The healing of Malchus' ear. Lk 22:50-51.

2. Eleven parables, peculiar to Luke.

(1) The two debtors, Lk 7:41-43.

(2) The good Samaritan, Lk 10:25-37.

(3) The importunate friend, Lk 11:5-8.

(4) The rich fool, Lk 12:16-19.

(5) The barren fig-tree, Lk 13:6-9.

(6) The lost piece of silver, Lk 15:8-10.

(7) The prodigal son, Lk 15:11-32.

(8) The unjust steward, Lk 16:1-13.

(9) The rich man and Lazarus, Lk 18:19-31.

(10) The unjust judge, Lk 18:1-8.

(11) The Pharisee and publican, Lk 18:9-14.

3. Some other passages mainly peculiar to Luke.

(1) Luke 1:1-2:52 and Lk 9:51- 18:14 are mainly peculiar to Luke.

(2) John the Baptist's answer to the people. Lk 3:10-14.

(3) The conversation with Moses and Elias, Lk 9:30- 31.

(4) The weeping over Jerusalem, Lk 19:41-44.

(5) The bloody sweat, Lk 22:44.

(6) The sending of Jesus to Herod, Lk 23:7-12.

(7) The address to the daughters of Jerusalem, 23:27-31.

(8) "Father forgive them", 23:34.

(9) The penitent robber, 23:40-43.

(10) The disciples at Emmaus, 24:13-31;

(11) Particulars about the ascension. 24:50-53.

4. The following words and phrases should be studied, making a list of the references where each occurs and a study of each passage in which they occur with a view of getting Luke's conception of the term.

(1) The "son of man" (23 times).

(2) The "son of God" (7 times).

(3) The "kingdom of God" (32 times).

(4) References to law, lawyer, lawful (18 times).

(5) Publican (11 times).

(6) Sinner and sinners (16 times).

Mr. Stroud estimates that 59 percent of Luke is peculiar to himself and Mr. Weiss figures that 541 have no incidences in the other gospels. (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary)

Luke 1:2  just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,

  • which. Luke 24:48. Mark 1:1. John 15:27. Ac. 1:3, 8, 21, 22; 4:20; 10:39–41. He. 2:3. 1 Pe. 5:1. 1 John 1:1–3.
  • and. Ac. 26:16. Ro. 15:16. Ep. 3:7, 8; 4:11, 12. Col. 1:23–25.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:2 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Amplified - Exactly as they were handed down to us by those who from the [official] beginning [of Jesus' ministry] were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word [that is, of the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God]

Barclay  telling the story just as those who were the original eye-witnesses and who became the servants of the word handed it down to us

CSB   just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us.

ESV just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us,

GWN   They received their information from those who had been eyewitnesses and servants of God's word from the beginning, and they passed it on to us.

KJV  Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

NET   like the accounts passed on to us by those who were eyewitnesses and servants of the word from the beginning.

NAB   just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us,

NIV   just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.

NLT  They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples.

NJB   as these were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word,

Wuest - even as they delivered them to us for safekeeping, those who from the beginning were personal witnesses of and ministered the Word,

YLT   as they did deliver to us, who from the beginning became eye-witnesses, and officers of the Word, --

SOURCE OF THE ACCOUNTS:
EYEWITNESS TESTIMONIES

Just as they were handed down to us - "Exactly as they were handed down to us" (Amplified) "Even as they delivered them to us for safekeeping" (Wuest). Luke stresses the validity of the facts handed down to him. This reminds us of Paul's words in First Corinthians

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered (paradidomi) to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed (paradidomi) took bread; (1Cor 11:23)

For I delivered (paradidomi) to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, (1Cor 15:3)

Just as 2531)(kathos from kata = down and os = as) means according to, according as, to the degree that. Louw Nida (1) In accordance with a degree specified by the context (1 Pe 4:13, Acts 11:29). (2) a marker of cause or reason, often with the implication of some implied comparison (Jn 17:2, Ro 1:28) (3) markers of similarity in events and states, with the possible implication of something being in accordance with something else - 'just as, in comparison to (Mt 27:10, Lk 11:30, Ro 8:26) 

Friberg summarizes kathos - (1) a comparative often with outos) (so, in this way) following according as, just as (Lk 11.30); (2) as expressing manner as, in proportion as, to the degree that (Acts 11.29); (3) as a causal because, since, in as much as (Jn 17.2; Rn 1.28); (4) temporally as, when (Acts 7.17); (5) to introduce indirect discourse in the sense of pw/j how (AC 15.14)

In the context of Luke 1 the idea is exactly as. Kathos speaks of equivalence, the idea here being what Luke received (by inspiration from the Spirit) he passed on with perfect precision! (See verbal plenary inspiration).

Kathos can convey the idea that just as it was written down in the past it is now being fulfilled as in Mark 1:2 (see comment). In other words what happens or happened is in perfect accord or perfect agreement with what was predicted to happen. For example, Mark 14:21 says "the Son of Man is to go JUST AS it is written of Him."  The NLT paraphrase has "JUST AS the prophet Isaiah had written" speaking in context of His death which had been prophesied in the Old Testament (esp Isaiah 53:1-12+). So JUST AS it was written, so it is now fulfilled.

ENGLISH Definition of  JUST AS.
(1) to an equal degree as; In precisely the same way as - Examples = "He's signing his name just as he's always done it."  Our house is just as nice as theirs. This one is just as good as that one. She performs just as well as he does.
(2) in the same way as, to the same degree as. Examples = Just as we hope to be forgiven, so we should forgive others. JUST AS is used for emphasizing that something is equally large, good, bad, etc.

NET NOTE on kathos - "even as" compares the recorded tradition of Luke 1:1 with the original eyewitness tradition of Luke 1:2. (In other words they are as we would say today "a perfect match.")

Gilbrant Kathōs has the kind of flexibility in usage that “as” exhibits in English. It is used for straightforward comparisons and contrasts: “as Moses lifted up the serpent” (John 3:14); “not as (ou kathōs) your fathers did eat manna” (John 6:58). Kathōs sometimes has the sense of “to the degree that.” For example, in Mark 4:33 Jesus was speaking the word in parables “as they were able to hear.” At times it can be translated “because” or “since,” as in Ephesians 4:32: “Forgiving one another, even as (because) God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven.” This causal sense is not easily separated, however, from the sense of “to the degree,” or “in the same way,” “just as,” or simply “as.” (See John 13:34; 15:12; Romans 1:28; 1 Corinthians 1:6.) Even the sense of “when” seems appropriate in one instance (Acts 7:17; compare 2 Maccabees 1:31 in the Septuagint).A frequent and important expression in the New Testament is kathōs gegraptai, “as it is written.” This phrase often introduces authoritative quotations of the Old Testament. (See Romans 1:17 for one example among many; cf. Mayer, “Scripture,” Colin Brown, 3:488.) (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Kathos - 113 verses - according(1), even(13), even so(1), how(2), just(92), only(1), proportion(1), so(2), what(1).

Matt. 21:6; Matt. 26:24; Matt. 28:6; Mk. 4:33; Mk. 9:13; Mk. 11:6; Mk. 14:16; Mk. 14:21; Mk. 16:7; Lk. 1:2; Lk. 2:20; Lk. 5:14; Lk. 6:36; Lk. 11:1; Lk. 11:30; Lk. 17:26; Lk. 19:32; Lk. 22:13; Lk. 22:29; Lk. 24:24; Jn. 5:23; Jn. 10:15; Jn. 12:50; Jn. 13:34; Jn. 15:9; Jn. 15:10; Jn. 15:12; Jn. 17:2; Jn. 17:11; Jn. 17:14; Jn. 17:16; Jn. 17:21; Jn. 17:22; Jn. 17:23; Acts 2:22; Acts 7:44; Acts 11:29; Acts 15:8; Acts 15:14; Acts 15:15; Acts 22:3; Rom. 1:13; Rom. 1:28; Rom. 2:24; Rom. 8:36; Rom. 9:29; Rom. 9:33; Rom. 11:26; Rom. 15:7; 1 Co. 1:6; 1 Co. 1:31; 1 Co. 2:9; 1 Co. 4:17; 1 Co. 5:7; 1 Co. 10:33; 1 Co. 11:1; 1 Co. 11:2; 1 Co. 12:11; 1 Co. 12:18; 1 Co. 13:12; 1 Co. 14:34; 1 Co. 15:38; 1 Co. 15:49; 2 Co. 1:5; 2 Co. 1:14; 2 Co. 6:16; 2 Co. 9:7; 2 Co. 10:7; 2 Co. 11:12; Gal. 2:7; Gal. 3:6; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 1:4; Eph. 4:4; Eph. 4:17; Eph. 4:21; Eph. 4:32; Eph. 5:2; Eph. 5:25; Eph. 5:29; Phil. 1:7; Phil. 2:12; Phil. 3:17; Col. 1:6; Col. 1:7; Col. 2:7; Col. 3:13; 1 Thess. 1:5; 1 Thess. 2:4; 1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Thess. 2:14; 1 Thess. 3:4; 1 Thess. 4:1; 1 Thess. 4:6; 1 Thess. 4:11; 1 Thess. 5:11; 2 Thess. 3:1; Heb. 3:7; Heb. 4:3; Heb. 4:7; Heb. 5:6; Heb. 8:5; 2 Pet. 3:15; 1 Jn. 2:18; 1 Jn. 2:27; 1 Jn. 3:2; 1 Jn. 3:3; 1 Jn. 3:7; 1 Jn. 3:23; 2 Jn. 1:4; 2 Jn. 1:6; 3 Jn. 1:2; 3 Jn. 1:3

Kathos in the Septuagint (almost 300x so only a portion is listed below)

Gen. 8:21; Gen. 18:5; Gen. 41:13; Gen. 44:2; Exod. 34:1; Num. 8:22; Num. 21:34; Num. 26:54; Deut. 2:29; Deut. 4:38; Deut. 11:21; Deut. 26:19; Jdg. 1:7; Jdg. 1:20; Jdg. 2:15; Jdg. 5:27; Jdg. 5:31; Jdg. 6:5; Jdg. 6:36; Jdg. 6:37; Jdg. 7:17; Jdg. 8:2; Jdg. 8:3; Jdg. 8:33; Jdg. 13:23; Jdg. 15:11; Jdg. 16:20; Jdg. 16:22; Jdg. 20:30; Jdg. 20:31; Jdg. 20:32; Jdg. 20:39; Ruth 1:8

Handed down (3860)(paradidomi from para = alongside, beside + didomi = give) conveys the basic meaning of to give over from one's hand to someone or something. Paradidomi was a technical term for passing on an official tradition (see 1 Cor. 11:2, 23; 15:3; Mark 7:13; Jude 1:3). Indeed, in the present context paradidomi refers to the passing on of a tradition which is based on the testimonies of those who saw and heard Jesus which substantiates the truth and trustworthiness of the message. The use of paradidomi in Paul's discussion of the the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-note refers to the transmitting of or passing on of his traditional instruction concerning the Gospel to the saints at Corinth. Paul like Luke is saying that he brought authoritative teaching, not something of his own origination. He did not design it, he only delivered what God had authored. All believers should be eternally grateful to God for assigning and enabling Paul and Luke to record these traditions and preserve them for the spiritual benefit of all future generations of God's children.

A T Robertson on handed down -  [paredōsan hēmin]). Second aorist active indicative of paradidōmi. Luke received this tradition along with those who are mentioned above (the many). That is he was not one of the “eyewitnesses.” He was a secondary, not a primary, witness of the events. Tradition has come to have a meaning of unreliability with us, but that is not the idea here. Luke means to say that the handing down was dependable, not mere wives’ fables. Those who drew up the narratives had as sources of knowledge those who handed down the data. Here we have both written and oral sources. Luke had access to both kinds.

Marvin Vincent on handed down - Not necessarily excluding written traditions, but referring mainly to oral tradition. Note the distinction between the many who attempted to draw up a narrative and the eye-witnesses and ministers who handed down the facts.

John MacArthur makes an important point regarding inspiration of the Bible in light of Luke's not having been a personal eyewitness of Jesus or the events of Jesus' ministry - Luke’s acknowledgement of his use of source material must not be misconstrued as a disclaimer of divine inspiration for his gospel. The process of inspiration never bypassed or overrode the personalities, life experiences, vocabularies, or writing styles of the Bible’s human authors; their unique traits are indelibly stamped on all the books of Scripture. The Spirit used Luke’s knowledge, gave him additional information, guided his selection of material, and controlled every word so that he wrote exactly what God wanted written (cf. 1 Cor. 2:12–13; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20–21). Therefore, his original account is infallibly and inerrantly true. (Luke Commentary)

J C Ryle adds that regarding the question of who and what were Luke's sources it is "Enough for us to know that Luke wrote by inspiration of God. Unquestionably he did not neglect the ordinary means of getting knowledge. But the Holy Spirit guided him, no less than all other writers of the Bible, in his choice of matter. The Holy Spirit supplied him with thoughts, arrangement, sentences, and even words. And the result is, that what Luke wrote is not to be read as the "word of man," but the "word of God." (1 Thessalonians 2:13.) Let us carefully hold fast the great doctrine of the plenary inspiration of every word of the Bible. Let us never allow that any writer of the Old or New Testament could make even the slightest verbal mistake or error, when, writing as he was "moved by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:21.) Let it be a settled principle with us in reading the Bible, that when we cannot understand a passage, or reconcile it with some other passage, the fault is not in the Book, but in ourselves. The adoption of this principle will place our feet upon a rock. To give it up is to stand upon a quicksand, and to fill our minds with endless uncertainties and doubts.....Let us close the passage with thankfulness for the Bible. Let us bless God daily that we are not left dependent on man's traditions, and need not be led astray by ministers' mistakes. We have a written volume, which is "able to make us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3:15) Let us begin Luke's Gospel with an earnest desire to know more ourselves of the truth as it is in Jesus, and with a hearty determination to do what in us lies to spread the knowledge of that truth throughout the world.  (Luke Commentary)

James S. Stewart - Luke makes it perfectly clear that the inspired writers were not miraculously freed from the necessity of hard historical research … Inspiration was not God magically transcending human minds and faculties; it was God expressing His will through the dedication of human minds and faculties. It does not supersede the sacred writer’s own personality and make him God’s machine; it reinforces his personality and makes him God’s living witness. (Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ)

Darrell Bock  - The early origin of oral and written traditions for the life of Jesus provides evidence against three common claims among skeptics:

(1) that vital biographical data about Jesus was lost before anyone managed to pen the Gospels,

(2) that Jesus was an obscure figure until the canonical books were written, and

(3) that Jesus never even existed, and that the biblical books represent whole-cloth fiction, the invention of a divine redeemer patterned after Greek mystery religions.

If authors were actively documenting the life of Christ shortly after his resurrection, and if Luke knew (and consulted) their writings, the skeptic faces an uphill climb when he attempts to cast doubt on the accessibility of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Furthermore, early historians who were outside the Christian movement gave evidence of Jesus’ existence (Josephus, Antiquities 18.63-64).....If Luke was seeking to answer the specific questions of a particular individual and otherwise educate him about Christianity, and if he conducted research in order to do so, what does this imply about the divine inspiration of Luke’s writings? Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God,” but doesn’t Luke’s prologue (1:1-4) imply that his writing was engendered by more mundane factors such as oral traditions, written traditions, verbal reports, the specific interests of Theophilus, and his own desires to set out a coherent account? The problem with this line of questioning is that it assumes that the biblical writings should not bear the marks of typical human writings. It is more proper to emphasize that Scripture is a product of both human and divine involvement, resulting in books that share characteristics with other ancient writings even as they convey without error the words and propositions God willed. Very rarely do biblical authors state any kind of awareness that they were authoring divinely-inspired Scripture, and yet the Bible affirms the reality of God’s involvement—a testimony that the church has embraced from the outset. (Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Bible)

Related Resources:

Those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses - From the beginning of Jesus' ministry. The primary sources of Luke's information were the apostles who had been with Jesus. Luke under the inspiration of the Spirit recorded this information, but not without supporting the facts with careful research (see Lk 1:3).

Liefeld Witnesses are important to Luke. While the concept of "witness" is not as prominent in Luke as in John (see esp. John 5:31-47), it is integral to Luke's historical and theological purposes.(Ibid)

Who were the specific eyewitnesses? We simply do not know. What we do know is that other writers testified to being eyewitnesses. Many think Luke was primarily referring to the apostles. For example the apostle John repeatedly emphasizes his witness of Jesus Christ...

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life and the life was manifested (has become known ~ been shined forth), and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us– what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.(1 John 1:1-3-note)

Were eyewitnesses - More literally became (ginomai) eyewitnesses.

Luke makes no claim to be an eyewitness of Jesus and thus he is not an apostle, for personal witness of Jesus was a necessary requirement to be an apostle (see apostolos).

In Acts Luke makes an allusion to witnesses...

We (Peter speaking Acts 10:34) are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. “God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, [that is,] to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. “And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. (Acts 10:39-42)

A T Robertson From the beginning apparently refers to the beginning of the ministry of Jesus as was true of the apostles (Acts 1:22) and of the early apostolic preaching (Acts 10:37–43). The Gospel of Mark follows this plan. The Gospel of Luke goes behind this in chapters 1 and 2 as does Matthew in chapters 1 and 2 (Ed: Describing the birth of Jesus).

Marvin Vincent on from the beginning - The official beginning, the commencement of Jesus’ ministry. Compare....

Acts 1:1 The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach,

Acts 1:21-22  “Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us–beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us–one of these [must] become a witness with us of His resurrection.” 

Comment: This time then deals primarily with His 3+ years of active ministry, beginning with His ministry's "inauguration" when He was baptized until the day of His ascension to the Father.

John 15:27 and you [will] testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

Eyewitnesses (only here in NT)(845)(autoptes from autós = himself, self + óptomai = see) is literally "self seeing" and thus one who has seen with his own eyes, an eyewitness, seeing something for oneself, one who has personal experience, those who know the facts at first hand. Luke abbreviates eyewitnesses to witnesses later in this writings (Lk 24:44-48+, Acts 1:8+). The medical term autopsy is derived from this Greek word with is an interesting association given that Luke was a physician (I am a pathologist who has performed autopsies!) The Gospel of Luke is like a carefully performed "autopsy" of Jesus' life, death, burial and resurrection. The point is that we can trust Luke's record. I know as a pathologist that if I issued an incorrect diagnosis on a tissue I was examining, there could be great harm done to the patient (even death). Luke is a physician but he knows that here he is dealing with the health of souls, not bodies, and thus he gives utmost attention to the details, even as he likely did as a physiciain. 

Peter uses a related but different word for eyewitnesses = epoptes.  (see 2 Peter 1:16+)

Cleon L Rogers on the use of autoptes - This reflects the conviction that the Christian faith is rooted not in speculative creation but in hist. reality (Ellis). The eyewitnesses are Luke’s guarantee of a true report (Du Plessis, 265). Used in medical language of a personal examination of disease or of the parts of the body. (New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek NT - original work by Rienecker)

Marvin Vincent on eyewitnesses - Personal knowledge and practical experience were necessary elements of an apostle. Eye-witnesses (autoptai). Only here in New Testament. Peter uses another word, epoptai (2 Pet. 1:16-note). Frequent in medical writers, of a personal examination of disease or of the parts of the body. Compare the modern medical term autopsy.

Darrell Bock makes an excellent point about the eyewitnesses This text highlights the oral and personal roots of the testimony about Jesus. Those who knew Him shared what they knew through the network of the church. Though critics claim that the accounts of Jesus’ life reflect a legend decades in the making—the result of religious hype and revisionist history—the NT authors commonly emphasized that their sources for information about Jesus were eyewitnesses (e.g., John 1:14; Acts 1:1-3; 1 Cor 15:1-8; Heb 2:3-4; 1 Pet 5:1-4; 1 John 1:1-4). Luke himself was not an eyewitness to Jesus’ life, but due to his affiliation with the apostle Paul (see the “we” passages in Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:16) he had easy access to those who were. For instance, Luke was with Paul in Caesarea for more than two years while they visited Philip the evangelist. As Leon Morris pointed out, “This period spent with such companions must have given opportunity for discovering much about Jesus and the early church” (Morris 1999, 18). Luke also knew Silas due to their mutual involvement in Paul’s missionary journeys (see Acts 15:40 and the “we” of Acts 16:10). Silas was a member of the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:22) and would have had detailed knowledge of eyewitness testimonies to the life of Christ. (Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Bible)

GALLEY-SLAVES
FOR JESUS!

Servants (5257)(huperetes from hupo = under, beneath + eretes = a rower) is literally and under oarsman and then a subordinate, a servant, an attendant (Lk 4:20), one who is in the service of another or an assistant in general. Huperetes describes a a helper who willingly submits himself to carrying out the will of the one over him. In John 7:32, 45, 46 it is used of the Temple "police" or guards.  The subordinate official who waits to accomplish the commands of his superior. In Classic Greek huperetes was a common sailor, distinguished from a naútes (3492), a seaman, sailor. These were the men down in the ship's, doing one thing -- rowing and with their eyes on one man, the man standing at the front of the hull, shouting "Row,Row, Row."! Servants of the word describes these men as focused on the word, listening and acting according to the word. "They not only had personal knowledge of the facts but also practical experience of the facts." (Plummer). 

Given that Luke is a physician, it is interesting that huperetes was the word was used of medical assistants or attendants. 

Marvin Vincent on huperetes used most commonly with the meaning of officer (Mt 5:25, etc) - Denoting a subordinate official, as a herald or an orderly, and in this sense applied to Mark as the “minister” or attendant of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:5). It furnishes an interesting instance of the expansion of a word from a limited and special meaning into a more general one; and also of the influence of the Gospel in lifting words into higher and purer associations. Formed with the verb eresso, to row, it originally signified a rower, as distinguished from a soldier, in a war-galley. This word for a galley-slave comes at last, in the hands of Luke and Paul, to stand for the noblest of all offices, that of a minister of the Lord Jesus (Luke 1:2; Acts 26:16; 1 Cor. 4:1). 

Huperetes - 20x in 20v - Usage: attendant(1), helper(1), minister(1), officer(1), officers(13), servants(3). -

Matt. 5:25; Matt. 26:58; Mk. 14:54; Mk. 14:65; Lk. 1:2; Lk. 4:20; Jn. 7:32; Jn. 7:45; Jn. 7:46; Jn. 18:3; Jn. 18:12; Jn. 18:18; Jn. 18:22; Jn. 18:36; Jn. 19:6; Acts 5:22; Acts 5:26; Acts 13:5; Acts 26:16; 1 Co. 4:1.

Huperetes is found 2x in the Septuagint - Pr 14:35 (servant), Isa 32:5 (rogue)

Servants of the word - The definitive article speaks of a specific word, the Word of God. A T Robertson rightly says "Here “the word” means the Gospel message, as in..."

Acts 6:4  “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Acts 8:4 Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.

Word (3055) (lógos/logos from légō = to speak with words; English = logic, logical) means something said and describes a communication whereby the mind finds expression in words. In the present context the word speaks of the Gospel message. 

Luke repeatedly uses the phrase the word as a synonym for the good news of Jesus - 

Luke 5:1; 8:11–13, 15; Acts 6:4; 8:4, 14, 25; 10:36; 11:1, 19; 13:5, 7, 44; 14:25; 15:7; 16:6, 32; 17:11; 18:5; 19:10). 

Luke documents the powerful effect of the good news of the Word several times in his writings - Luke 4:22; Acts 2:36–37; Acts 2:41, Acts 4:13–14 and the passages below...

Acts 6:7+ The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith. 

Acts 12:24+  But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied.

Acts 19:20+  So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing (was exercising force and efficacy). 

I like H A Ironside's suggestion on the meaning of the Word - The last term may be either the word of the gospel, or perhaps we should capitalize it and read "the Word," thus referring to Him who, though the Eternal Word, became flesh for our redemption. Whether we think of Christ's servants as ministers of the written word or of the living Word, it comes to one and the same thing, for Christ is the theme of all Scripture. He is the gospel personified.

Luke 1:3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;

  • seemed. Ac. 15:19, 25, 28. 1 Co. 7:40; 16:12. in. Luke 1:1. Ps. 40:5; 50:21. Ec. 12:9. Ac. 11:4.
  • most. Ac. 1:1; 23:26; 24:3; 26:25, Gr.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:3 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Amplified   It seemed good and desirable to me, [and so I have determined] also after having searched out diligently and followed all things closely and traced accurately the course from the highest to the minutest detail from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,

Barclay  I too made up my mind to carry out a careful investigation of all things from the beginning, and to write to you, Theophilus, your excellency, an orderly account of them

CSB   It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus,

ESV  it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,

GWN   I, too, have followed everything closely from the beginning. So I thought it would be a good idea to write an orderly account for Your Excellency, Theophilus.

KJV   It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

NET  So it seemed good to me as well, because I have followed all things carefully from the beginning, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,

NAB   I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus,

NIV  Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,

NKJV it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding==> of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus,

NLT   Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you, most honorable Theophilus,

NJB   I in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you, Theophilus,

Wuest - it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things from the beginning in the minutest detail, to write to you in a consecutive order, Your Excellency, Theophilus,

YLT   it seemed good also to me, having followed from the first after all things exactly, to write to thee in order, most noble Theophilus,

Warren Wiersbe - If ever a man wrote a book filled with good news for everybody, Dr. Luke is that man. His key message is, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10+). He presents Jesus Christ as the compassionate Son of man, who came to live among sinners, love them, help them, and die for them. In this Gospel you meet individuals as well as crowds, women and children as well as men, poor people as well as rich people, and sinners along with saints. It’s a book with a message for everybody, because Luke’s emphasis is on the universality of Jesus Christ and His salvation: “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10+). (Bible Exposition Commentary)

It seemed fitting (dokeo) - Luke used a similar phrase in Acts 15:22, 25, 28+. In the Luke 1:1-2 Luke refers to writers and witnesses, but now he begins to describe his own writing (the Gospel of Luke). The Amplified translation emphasizes Luke's desire to pen an authoritative and historically reliable gospel - 

It seemed good and desirable to me, [and so I have determined] also after having searched out diligently and followed all things closely and traced accurately the course from the highest to the minutest detail from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,

NET NOTE on it seemed fitting (good, proper) - When Luke says it seemed good to me as well he is not being critical of the earlier accounts, but sees himself stepping into a tradition of reporting about Jesus to which he will add uniquely a second volume on the early church when he writes the Book of Acts.

Robertson on it seemed good to me also (edoxe kamoi). - A natural conclusion and justification of Luke’s decision to write his narrative. They had ample reason to draw up their narratives. Luke has more reason to do so because of his fuller knowledge and wider scope. L

For me - Luke never mentions his name in this Gospel but there is uniform agreement that Luke the beloved physician (Col 4:14-note). Acts 1:1 begins "The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach," This leaves little doubt that he authored both this Gospel and the book of Acts.  The specific "Luke" is mentioned only 3 times in the NT - Col 4:14, 2 Ti 4:11, and Philemon 1:24. The fact that Luke was a physician accounts for Luke's use of elegant Greek and his attention to detail and accuracy. and traveled with Paul (see the “we” sections in Acts 16:10–17; 20:4–15; 21:1–18, and Acts 27:1–28:16). Luke was probably a Gentile a fact determined by comparing the following passages

Col 4:11 and [also] Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision (Jews), and they have proved to be an encouragement to me.

Col 4:14 Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and [also] Demas.

LUKE'S EMPHASIS ON
HISTORICAL ACCURACY

Having investigated everything carefully - Wuest version on investigated everything carefully - "having traced the course of all things from the beginning in the minutest detail." Luke sounds like a physician in this opening. The verb parakoloutheo "means to follow closely, and hence to trace accurately (see below). The idea is that Luke became thoroughly familiar with the whole affair. Luke clearly was a meticulous historian, often giving details that helped identify the historical context of the events he described (Luke 1:5; Lk 2:1+, 2; Lk 3:1, 2+; Lk 13:1–4+). Luke "had mentally followed along by the side of these events. Galen used this verb (parakoloutheo) for the investigation of symptoms. Luke got himself ready to write before he began by full and accurate knowledge of the subject." (Robertson)

Investigated (3877)(parakoloutheo from para = near + akolouthéo = to follow) means literally to follow beside, to attend closely or to accompany side by side. It means to follow along a thing in mind, to trace carefully. Parakoloutheo combines the idea of understanding with that of practicing perseveringly. In Luke 1:3 the metaphorical sense is the following a course of action with the mind. In 1 Ti 4:6 and 2 Ti 3:10 parakoloutheo conveyed the picture of discipleship or faithfully following another's teaching with special action and concentration. 

Vincent on use of parakoloutheo in 1 Ti 4:6 - To attend to or follow up, as a disease. So Plato, Rep. 406 B, παρακολουθῶν τῷ νοσήματι θανασίμῳ perpetually tending a mortal disease. To follow up a history or a succession of incidents, as Luke 1:3. The writer means that Timothy, as a disciple, has closely attended to his course of Christian instruction (cp similar use in 2 Ti 3:10).

Everything - The Greek word pas means all without exception. Here we see Luke's emphasis on leaving no stone unturned (so to speak), but investigating everything that God gave him access to. The point is that Dr Luke studied the life of Jesus in comprehensive detail.

Constable on having investigatedThis is one of the clearest proofs in the Bible that God did not always dictate the words of Scripture to the writers who simply copied them down. That view is the dictation theory of inspiration. He did this with some passages (e.g., Ex 20:1-17) but not most.

Steven Cole adds "Even though we who hold to the verbal inspiration of Scripture believe that Luke was inspired by the Holy Spirit, this does not mean that the Spirit dictated Luke’s message to him. Rather, the Spirit guided Luke as he carefully researched the history of Jesus’ life and ministry, and guided him as he wrote so that his words were exactly what God intended. Thus the inspiration of the Holy Spirit does not preclude the use of careful scholarship on Luke’s part." (Luke 1:1-4)

Related Resources:

Having investigated (3877)(parakoloutheo from para = near + akolouthéo to follow) means literally to follow closely or to accompany side by side. Parakoloutheo combines the idea of understanding with that of practicing perseveringly. Luke uses parakoloutheo to mean to follow closely in mind and so to investigate so as to attain knowledge. It indicates the mental tracing whereby one arrives at a knowledge of the matter. The perfect tense emphasizes the permanence of the state reached after the investigation.

Carefully (accurately) (199)(akribos) is an adjective which describes that which is characterized by exactness, thoroughness, precision, accuracy in addition to the associated idea of looking, examining, and investigating something with great care and alertness. Akribos pertains to strict conformity to standard, involving both detail and completeness, with focus on careful attention. Luke sought to record the life of Jesus with meticulous attention to detail. Robertson adds that akribos "means going into minute details, from [akron], the topmost point."

In classic Greek akribos was used by Galen to describe his accurate investigation before writing one of his works. Akribos was also used to indicate the accurate information gained by a doctor questioning the patient ("taking a medical history"). This would be a typical pattern for a man trained as a physician to observe and record details as when taking a history of the patient's symptoms and performing a physical examination in order to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.

From the beginning - Luke begins with Jesus' birth and records details not found in the other Gospels. As noted John and Mark skip over this time of Jesus' life and leave it to Luke and Matthew to provide insights into this time. 

Warren Wiersbe has an interesting note on Luke's use of the word anothen in this verse - The phrase from the very first (Gk. anothen) can be translated “from above,” as it is in John 3:31 and Jn 19:11. It speaks of the inspiration of the Spirit of God on the message that Luke wrote.

James Smith - The only satisfactory explanation of the depth, purity, wisdom, and existence of the Bible, and is given in Luke 1:3. "From the very first," or "From another." ABOVE. The Greek word (Anothen) is rendered in other places "from above." Luke had derived much knowledge from eye-witnesses. And that knowledge had been confirmed by revelation. Yet Luke here claims a Heavenly origin for his Gospel. Luke's Gospel was not traditional, but by revelation as well as inspiration. (Handfuls of Purpose)

From the beginning (509)(anothen from ano = above, upward, up + suffix "-then" = from) literally means from above with a secondary meaning of again. Anothen can speak of place or time.

Of place =  from higher (Mt 27:51, Jn 19:23), referring to heaven from God (Jn 19:11, James 1:17, Jn 3:31 = "he who comes from above is above all", Lxx of Job 3:4). In John 3:3, 7 means to be born "from above" (but see following). Of wisdom from above (Jas 3:15, 17). Of the veil of the Temple torn from above (top to bottom - Mt 27:51, Mk 15:38). 

Of time - Lk 1:3 (cp Acts 26:5 = "they have known about me for a long time").  In addition to meaning "born from above" John 3:3, 7 can mean born another time and this latter sense is how Nicodemus interprets it from his question in John 3:4. Many consider this an example of John's use of words that can have a double meaning (double entendre). 

BDAG summary of anothen - (1). in extension fr. a source that is above, (Mk 15:38) (2). from a point of time marking the beginning of something (Lk 1:3), (3)  for a relatively long period in the past = for a long time (Acts 26:5) (4). at a subsequent point of time involving repetition = again, anew (Gal 4:9)

Gilbrant In classical Greek anōthen indicates that which is “above.” Temporally it could indicate something from an earlier time and could mean “again.” Anōthen occurs over 21 times in the Septuagint. The Hebrew behind it is always a form of ‛al (or ma‛al), “height.” It is used of the “top” of the ark Noah built (Genesis 6:16). Anōthen is the direction of heaven (Genesis 27:39; 49:25; Jeremiah 4:28) and God (Job 3:4). It can also be used of putting something “over” something else (Numbers 4:6,25). (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Friberg on anothen - adverb; (1) of place from above (Jn 3.31; perhaps Jn 3.3, 7); a;.from top to bottom (Mt 27.51); (2) of past time from an earlier period, from the beginning, from the first (Acts 26.5); (3) of future time, indicating repetition anew, again (Gal 4.9; probably Jn 3.3, 7) (Analytical Greek Lexicon)

Anothen - 12x in 12v - Usage: above(5), again(2), all over(1), beginning(1), long time(1), top(2).

Matthew 27:51  And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.

Mark 15:38  And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

Luke 1:3  it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;

John 3:3  Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

William Barclay on anothen in this verse - When Jesus said that a man must be born anew Nicodemus misunderstood him, and the misunderstanding came from the fact that the word which the Revised Standard Version translates anew, the Greek word anothen, has three different meanings. (i) It can mean from the beginning, completely radically. (ii) It can mean again, in the sense of for the second time. (iii) It can mean from above, and, therefore, from God. It is not possible for us to get all these meanings into any English word; and yet all three of them are in the phrase born anew. To be born anew is to undergo such a radical change that it is like a new birth; it is to have something happen to the soul which can only be described as being born all over again; and the whole process is not a human achievement, because it comes from the grace and power of God. (John 3 Commentary)

John 3:7  "Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'

John 3:31  "He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.

John 19:11  Jesus answered, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin."

Acts 26:5+  since they have known about me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion.

Galatians 4:9  But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?

James 1:17+  Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

James 3:15+  This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.

James 3:17+  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

Anothen - 21x in the Septuagint - Gen. 6:16; 27:39; 49:25; Exod. 25:21f; 36:34; 37:20; 39:20, 31; 40:19; Num. 4:6, 25; 7:89; Jos. 3:16; 1 Ki. 7:3; Job 3:4; Isa. 45:8; Jer. 4:28; Ezek. 1:11, 26; 41:7

Exodus 25:20  “The cherubim shall have [their] wings spread upward, (Heb - ma'al) covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be [turned] toward the mercy seat.

Numbers 7:89  Now when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him.

Ezekiel 1:11  Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each had two touching another [being,] and two covering their bodies.

To write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus - Some feel this means precise chronological order, but others disagree  writing that "An orderly account does not necessarily mean that all events are recorded in the exact chronological sequence in which they occurred, but that the account produced is an orderly one. This could include, for example, thematic or topical order rather than strict chronological order." (NET Note)

Consecutive order ("an orderly account" = NKJV) (2517)(kathexes from katá = according to + hexḗs = following) means in order, one after the other, successively; in an orderly fashion; successively, consecutively in connected order. Kathexes stresses orderly arrangement and sequence. It indicates one thing following after another in order. The word does not occur in the Septuagint. 

BDAG says kathexes pertains "to being in sequence in time, space, or logic -- in order, one after the other."

Friberg summarizes kathexes - adverb; (1) denoting sequence in time, space, or logic in order, one after the other, point by point (Lk 1.3); (2) substantivally, with the article oi` kathexes the successors, those since (Acts 3.24); (3) idiomatically en to kathexes = literally in the next, i.e. afterward, later (Lk 8.1) 

In Luke 1:3 kathexes could refer to topical order or chronological order.

Robertson favors chronological order noting that "Chronological order in the main following Mark’s general outline. But in Lk 9:51 to Lk 18:10 the order is often topical. He has made careful investigation and his work deserves serious consideration." 

Bock thinks it less likely a reference to chronological order and more topical = "more likely Luke intends a reference to the orderliness of the story and its persuasive, divinely wrought character."

Kathexes - 5x in 5v - Usage: afterwards*(1), consecutive order(1), orderly sequence(1), successively(1), successors onward(1).

Luke 1:3  it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;

Luke 8:1  Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him,

Acts 3:24  "And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days.

Acts 11:4  But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence, saying,

Acts 18:23  And having spent some time there, he left and passed successively (in order of sequence - from place to place) through the Galatian region and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

John MacArthur - A good theologian is analytical, logical, and systematic. His goal is to persuade people to understand and accept doctrinal truth by means of a thoughtful, logical, progressive, consistent, persuasive explanation. Luke revealed himself to be a master theologian by writing his account in consecutive order. The New American Standard’s rendering implies that Luke’s gospel will be strictly chronological from beginning to end. Certainly it is generally chronological, starting with the birth of Christ, His circumcision and boyhood, moving on to His baptism and public ministry, and culminating with the cross and resurrection. (See the outline of Luke in the introduction in this volume.) There were instances, however, in which Luke arranged his material thematically to illustrate or expound a particular theological point (e.g., Luke’s record of John the Baptist’s arrest, Lk 3:15–20). So Luke’s narrative exhibits a basic chronological flow, but not to the exclusion of thematic, doctrinal discussion, in which he uses material out of chronological sequence. So the phrase in consecutive order is better understood as a reference to the logical, systematic nature of Luke’s writing. The New King James Version’s translation of this phrase, “an orderly account,” captures the essence of Luke’s purpose in writing. His goal was to persuade; to lead his readers to believe the gospel by means of his carefully researched, logical, systematic presentation of the truth concerning God’s saving purpose in Christ. (Luke Commentary)

Related Resource:

A T Robertson on most excellent Theophilus - The name means god-lover or god-beloved. He may have been a believer already. He was probably a Gentile. Ramsay holds that “most excellent” was a title like “Your Excellency” and shows that he held office, perhaps a Knight. So of Felix (Acts 23:26) and Festus (Acts 26:25). The adjective does not occur in the dedication in Acts 1:1.

Most excellent - This suggests whoever this was, he was in the upper class of society. This is great news for those who are wealthy in this world but poor in regard to the next world! Jesus said "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Mk 10:25). But Luke seems to imply in this passage and Jesus thankfully declared "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God." (Mk 10:27)

Most excellent (2903)(kratistos superlative from kratus = strong) is an honorary way to address high officials. Most noble. BDAG - "strongly affirmative honorary form of address." Used to address Theophilus, Claudius (Acts 23:26), Felix (Acts 24:3) and Festus (Acts 26:25).

Thomas Constable - The use of "most excellent" (Gr. kratiste) suggests that Theophilus was a real person of some distinction (cf. Acts 23:26; Acts 24:3; Acts 26:25). The name was common in the Greek world. He may have been Luke"s patron or publisher. (Expository Notes on Luke)

Luke 1:4  so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

Amplified [My purpose is] that you may know the full truth and understand with certainty and security against error the accounts (histories) and doctrines of the faith of which you have been informed and in which you have been orally instructed.

Barclay  - so that you might have in your mind a full and reliable account of the things in which you have been instructed.

CSB  so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.

ESV   that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

GWN   In this way you will know that what you've been told is true.

KJV   That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

NET   so that you may know for certain the things you were taught.

NAB   so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.

NIV  so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

NKJV  that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

NLT  so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.

Wuest -  in order that you may come to have a full and accurate experiential knowledge concerning the undoubted truth of the matters in which you were instructed.

YLT   that thou mayest know the certainty of the things wherein thou wast instructed.

LUKE'S PURPOSE FOR
HIS GOSPEL

So that (hina) introduces a purpose clause. Whenever you encounter a "so that" ask "so what?" and seek to determine the author's purpose (see discussion of the value of observing and interrogating terms of purpose or result).  God wants the world to really know the truth about His Son Jesus! 

Plummer - “Theophilus shall know that the faith which he has embraced has an impregnable historical foundation” 

Luke wants to give Theophilus a bedrock certainty by supplying him with a historically verified and completely accurate account of the life of Jesus. He does not just want him to know ABOUT Jesus, but to truly and deeply and personally know Jesus. Ultimately the truth of Luke's Gospel would serve to under gird the faith of Theophilus (and all of us) in line with Paul's conclusion 

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ (the word about Christ the Living Word!). (Ro 10:17)

John and Peter had a similar aim for their readers...

John 20:31+ but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

2 Peter 1:15; 16+  And I will also be diligent that (so that - ESV) at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind. For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

You may know (1921)(epiginosko from epí means upon but here intensifies the force of verb + ginosko = to know) (noun epignosis) means to know fully, to know with certainty, to become thoroughly acquainted with. Epiginosko means to possess more or less definite information about, and can imply a degree of thoroughness. To recognize a thing to be what it really is. The prefix "epi-" means upon so the idea can also be knowledge in addition to what Theophilus already possesses. Epi- also emphasizes a directive knowledge.

Amplified has "know the full truth and understand with certainty and security against error." Wuest has " the undoubted truth."

Luke is clearly going to great lengths in this preface to accentuate the complete accuracy of his historical record of the ministry of Jesus Christ, so it behooves to ponder deeply and often the words of this Gospel (as should of course be our attitude toward all the Gospels!).

NET NOTE on exact truth - Or "know the truth about"; or "know the certainty of." The issue of the context is psychological confidence; Luke's work is trying to encourage Theophilus. So in English this is better translated as "know for certain" than "know certainty" or "know the truth," which sounds too cognitive. "Certain" assumes the truth of the report....The meaning "have assurance concerning" is also possible here.

Exact truth (certainty)(803)(asphaleia from a = without + sphallo = to totter or fall) is a noun which means "make no slip" and describes that which displays firmness, security, safety. It can speak of a stable circumstance (safety, security), of detention that restricts movement (Acts 5:23+) or figuratively of a stable statement (certainty, truth) as in Luke 1:4.

Vincent - From ἀ, not, and σφάλλομαι, to fall. Hence steadfastness, stability, security against error.

Friberg - literally, a state of being secured from falling firmness, safety, security (1Th 5.3); as a legal technical term for keeping a prisoner securely guarded security (Acts 5.23); figuratively, of what qualified instruction affords certainty, truth, reliability (Lk 1.4)

There are two other uses in the NT

Acts 5:23+ saying, "We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we had opened up, we found no one inside."

1 Thessalonians 5:3+ While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.

Asphaleia - 9x in the Septuagint - Lev. 26:5 (live securely in your land); Deut. 12:10; Ps. 104:5; Prov. 8:14; Prov. 11:15; Prov. 28:17; Isa. 8:15; Isa. 18:4; Isa. 34:15

Deuteronomy 12:10 “When you cross the Jordan and live in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies around [you] so that you live in security,

Darrell Bock adds this note on asphaleia -  The word asphaleian, translated as “certainty” in the HCSB (Ed: And most of the other modern translations - see above), can be misunderstood by modern readers. In our age, people often think “scientific proof” when they hear someone talk about a quest for certainty. Raise the temperature of tap water to 212º F on your stovetop, for instance, and if you are at sea level you can know with certainty that it will boil. We cannot demonstrate the Bible in so sure a fashion. Nevertheless, Bible readers can be assured when reading the NT accounts that the sources accurately describe Jesus, both his teachings and his actions. The term “certainty” refers to assurance, a kind of emotional confidence, not absolute proof. That assurance was rooted in the diligent way Luke pursued his sources for Jesus’ life. This reassurance was Luke’s purpose in writing. (Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Bible)

The Importance of the Exact Truth and Believing the Exact Truth - “A man who lived on Long Island was able one day to satisfy a lifelong ambition by purchasing for himself a very fine barometer. When the instrument arrived at his home, he as extremely disappointed to find that the indicating needle appeared to be stuck, pointing to the sector marked ‘HURRICANE.’ After shaking the barometer very vigorously several times, its new owner sat down and wrote a scorching letter to the store from which he had purchased the instrument. The following morning on the way to his office in New York, he mailed the letter. That evening he returned to Long Island to find not only the barometer missing, but his house also. The barometer’s needle had been right--there was a hurricane!”

THOUGHT- The Bible says a "hurricane" is coming so that all must take shelter in the Ark named Jesus Christ "Who rescues us from the wrath to come." (1 Th 1:10+)  I am not a fan of the pagan singer Mick Jagger, but even he seems to have had some inkling of a coming storm in his song "Gimme Shelter!" in which the words "It's just a shot away" repeat again and again. Indeed eternity is "just a shot away" so to speak BUT in His great forbearance and longsuffering and mercy, God graciously offers to all in danger of perishing eternally "AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU"; behold, now is "THE ACCEPTABLE TIME," behold, now is "THE DAY OF SALVATION" (2 Cor 6:2, read the soul sobering words of John in Rev 20:11-15+) . Dear reader, have you taken shelter in Christ, the Rock of your Salvation (Ps 62:2, 6, 7, 95:1)?. 

The things (lógos/logos) - "Literally “words,” the details of the words in the instruction." (Robertson)

Vincent on the things - Properly words (so Wyc.), which Rev. gives in margin. If the word can mean thing at all, it is only in the sense of the thing spoken of; the subject or matter of discourse, in which sense it occurs often in classical Greek. Some render it accounts, histories; others, doctrines of the faith. Godet translates instruction, and claims that not only the facts of the Gospel, but the exposition of the facts with a view to show their evangelical meaning and to their appropriation by faith, are included in the word. There is force in this idea; and if we hold to the meaning histories, or even words, this sense will be implied in the context. Luke has drawn up his account in order that Theophilus may have fuller knowledge concerning the accounts which he has heard by word of mouth. That his knowledge may go on from the facts, to embrace their doctrinal and evangelical import; that he may see the facts of Jesus’ life and ministry as the true basis of the Gospel of salvation.

You have been taught - This indicates Theophilus had some knowledge of the truth about Jesus (whether a "God fearing" Gentile and not yet born again or a young convert we do not know) but Luke was writing "know the full truth and understand with certainty and security against error the accounts (histories) and doctrines of the faith." Luke's words in this passage remind me of Paul's words to Titus which speak of the stabilizing effect of the Word as he instructed Titus to select men who would hold "fast the faithful (trustworthy) word which is in accordance with the teaching (this is what Luke begins to propound to Theophilus), so that (term of purpose or result) he will be able (empowered) both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict." Theophilus would hold the Word recorded by Luke and that trustworthy Word would hold him when his faith was assaulted by error and persecution.

NET Note on have been taught, katecho - This term can refer merely to a report of information (Acts 21:24) or to instruction (Acts 18:25). The scope of Luke's Gospel as a whole, which calls for perseverance in the faith and which assumes much knowledge of the OT, suggests Theophilus had received some instruction and was probably a believer. 

Have been taught (2727)(katecheo from katá = down or intensive + echeo = sound, our English "echo") means to literally to resound, to sound down on or into the ears. From this the derived meaning is “to inform” or “to instruct orally (to the ears).” (Cf. 1 Cor. 14:9; Acts 21:21, 24; 18:25; Gal. 6:6) The idea is to re-sound, to re-echo, to teach by by insistent repetition into the ears as the Arabs do when learning the Koran (learning aloud). This word speaks of systematic teaching which is the basis of the critical discrimination and discernment. Katecheo was used to describe basic Christian instruction for new converts (Early Church Fathers writings - 2 Clement 17:1). The use of this word suggest that one of Luke's goals was to establish Theophilus in the faith and certainly this is one of the benefits for all believers of reading and meditating on this Gospel.

A B Bruce on Katecho - The word used here in a technical sense = formally and systematically instructed, or in the general sense of "have been informed more or less correctly"? (So Kypke.) The former is more probable. (Expositor's Greek Testament)

English word - catechisis

Robertson adds that "Those men doing the teaching were called catechists and those receiving it were called catechumens. Whether Theophilus was still a catechumen is not known. This Preface by Luke is in splendid literary Koiné and is not surpassed by those in any Greek writer (Herodotus, Thucydides, Polybius). It is entirely possible that Luke was familiar with this habit of Greek historians to write prefaces since he was a man of culture.

John MacArthur remarks that "In the remarkable providence of God, the Holy Spirit ensured that the book Luke wrote initially to one man ("most excellent Theophilus") would be disseminated around the world. The "beloved physician," (Col 4:14+) historian, theologian, and pastor had the privilege of becoming the instrument God used for the salvation and edification of millions throughout history (cf. Luke 24:44–53+)."

THOUGHT - Beloved, may this thought be an encouragement to all of us! to not grow weary in doing good. "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ Whom you serve."  (Col 3:23-24+) In this short lifetime, none of us will ever fully grasp what will be the eternal impact of God's work done in God's will for God's glory! 

Steven Cole has this conclusion to Luke's preface or prologue - J. C. Philpot wrote, "Right views concerning Christ are indispensable to a right faith, and a right faith is indispensable to salvation. To stumble at the foundation, is, concerning faith, to make shipwreck altogether; for as Immanuel, God with us, is the grand Object of faith, to err in views of His eternal Deity, or to err in views of His sacred humanity, is alike destructive (cited in “Free Grace Broadcaster,” Fall 1997, p. 19)." After careful research based on many eyewitnesses, Luke wrote his Gospel to show that Jesus is the eternal God who came in human flesh to seek and to save those who are lost. Faith in Jesus Christ is rooted in the accurate historical record that has come down to us in Luke’s Gospel. It is not an optional idea that you might want to consider if it grabs you. It is absolute truth to be believed and handed on to others. (Luke 1:1-4 Faith Rooted in History)

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Luke 1:5  In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.

  • Herod (KJV): Mt 2:1 
  • of the course (KJV): 1Ch 24:10,19 Ne 12:4,17, Abijah
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:5 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

IN THE DAYS OF HEROD:
DARK DAYS SPIRITUALLY

John Hannah outlines this next section:

   The annunciations  (Luke 1:5-56)

The announcement of the birth of John  (Luke 1:5-25)

The parents of John  (Luke 1:5-7)
The promise of John  (Luke 1:8-23)
The prospect of John  (Luke 1:24-25)

The announcement of the birth of the Son of Man  (Luke 1:26-38)

The appearance of the angel  (Luke 1:26-29)
The message of the angel  (Luke 1:30-33)
The reassurance of the angel  (Luke 1:34-38)

The assurance of the promised births  (Luke 1:39-56)

The arrival and salutation of Mary  (Luke 1:39-40)
The song of Elizabeth  (Luke 1:41-45)
The song of Mary  (Luke 1:46-55)
The return of Mary  (Luke 1:56)

The days of Herod - After Luke's prologue, he begins with two birth announcements that changed the world forever. Herod gives us the historical context and is a reference to Herod I also known as Herod the Great (great in evil would be apropos!), who played a major role in several events in the early life of Christ. These days of Herod would be toward the end of his rule. Easton's Bible Dictionary notes that "After a troubled reign of thirty-seven years, he died at Jericho amid great agonies both of body and mind, B.C. 4, i.e., according to the common chronology, in the year in which Jesus was born." It is interesting that Herod was not a Jew but an Idumean (Edomite). See Map of the Kingdom of Herod the Great - note that Idumea is south of Jerusalem.

Warren Wiersbe comments that "It was indeed a dark day for the nation of Israel. The people had heard no prophetic Word from God for 400 years, not since Malachi had promised the coming of Elijah (Mal. 4:5–6+). The spiritual leaders were shackled by tradition and, in some instances, corruption; and their king, Herod the Great, was a tyrant. He had nine (some say ten) wives, one of whom he had executed for no apparent reason. But no matter how dark the day, God always has His devoted and obedient people." (Bible Exposition Commentary)

Barton on Herod the Great (what a sad misuse of the word "great"!) - Herod had expanded and beautified the Jerusalem temple, but he had placed a Roman eagle (picture) over the entrance and also had built pagan temples. When he helped the Jews, it was for political purposes and not because he cared about them or their God. Evil and ruthless, Herod the Great later ordered a massacre of infants (Mt 1:16-18) in a futile attempt to kill the infant Jesus, whom some were calling the new "king of the Jews" (Mt 2:1-2). Herod the Great ruled from 37 to 4 b.c. (Life Application Bible Commentary – Luke)

Holman Bible Dictionary - Herod the Great.

Herod the Great was born about the year 73 B.C. and was a son of the desert, well adapted to the political intrigues of ambition, lust for power, and efficiency at warfare. He made a trip to Rome and was confirmed by the Senate as “king of Judea” in the year 40 B.C. He routed some persistently threatening robber bands in Galilee and gained the esteem of the Romans and even the support of some of the Jews by his decisive action. He finally brought Jerusalem under his control in the year 37 B.C.

His rule of Judea is usually divided into three periods: (a) The Period of Consolidation (37-25 B.C.), (b) The Period of Prosperity (25-13 B.C.), and (c) The Period of Domestic Troubles (13-4 B.C.).

During the period of consolidation, he had many adversaries, coming from at least four fronts. Jewish people refused to support him because he was not a full-blooded Jew, but a descendant of Esau. Herod also had difficulties with the Hasmonean family. See Hasmoneans. Chief among them was Alexandra, the evil and vicious daughter of Hyrcanus II. She interceded with Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt, who brought pressure on Mark Antony in an effort to put Herod under her control. This constant intrigue multiplied as time progressed.

Charges were brought against various members of the family. Within a short time Herod had executed Hyrcanus II, the son of Alexandra Salome who had returned from exile, Hyrcanus' daughter Alexandra, and her daughter Mariamne I, who was also Herod's favorite wife, the one whom he deeply and passionately loved. Mariamne had Maccabean blood flowing through her veins, was most beautiful, and Herod's hopes for establishing a dynasty rested with her and their two sons, Alexander and Aristobulus. Suspicious that Miriamne committed adultery and that her sons would use their Maccabean lineage for political advantage, Herod had them put to death. Herod also had executed Aristobulus III, son of Alexandra and brother of Mariamne soon after he was appointed by Herod to be high priest. Herod had him drowned at a celebration in Jericho soon after his inauguration.

Herod also faced an adversary in the person of Cleopatra, the famous queen of Egypt, but his craftiness enabled him to maintain his independence from her. Herod was successful in ingratiating himself to the Romans. By sheer force of personality and lack of hesitancy in executing even the close members of his own family, he strengthened his position as undisputed ruler of Palestine under the permission of Roman authority.

The second period of Herod's life involved the prosperity of his vast building programs. With the aid of the Romans the territory was extended to what had been unparalleled since the reign of Solomon (died 931 B.C.). His taxation of the people to support his building activity was extensive, but he virtually rebuilt every city in the land, even constructing entire cities from the ground up. He also built many palaces for himself.

Soon the now nearly four hundred-year-old Temple of Zerubbabel was pale in contrast to the magnificence of his new palaces and structures in Jerusalem. In the year 19 B.C. he embarked on an extensive remodeling of the Temple, which captured the imagination of the world of that day. It was frequently said that if one had not seen Herod's Temple, he had never seen a truly beautiful building (compare John 2:19-20 ).

The periods of Herod's life overlapped to some degree, but it was from the years 13-4 B.C. that his domestic troubles intensified and preoccupied him. Antipater, his firstborn son, and Salome, his sister, continually agitated the household and brought accusations against Alexander and Aristobulus, the sons of Herod and Mariamne. Finally, the charges of sedition could not be ignored. Herod brought charges against them before the Emperor in the year 12 B.C. Herod finally gave the order, and in 7 B.C. they were carried to Sebaste (Samaria) and strangled. Antipater continued to be an ambitious thorn in Herod's side. On his deathbed Herod gave the orders to execute Antipater, fearing that he would take the throne even before Herod himself died. Antipater was executed immediately. Herod himself died five days later (4 B.C.). He was seventy years old, a man racked with ill health and mental deterioration, now thought by some to be a form of progressive arteriosclerosis. He had reigned for 37 years since his confirmation by the Senate and 34 years since his capture of Jerusalem.

Herod, of course, was king of Judea under the Roman authority when Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1 ). He received the Wise Men and sent them on to the Christ child with orders to return to him and let him know where he could find the newly born “King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2-8 ). He gave the orders to kill the babies of Bethlehem two years old and under, in hopes of getting this One whom he saw as a successor to his throne (Matthew 2:16 ).

Herod had several wills. His final one designated Archelaus to succeed him as king of Judea (Matthew 2:22 ), another son Antipas to be tetrarch (governor) of Galilee and Perea, and another son Philip as tetrarch of the Northeastern Districts. The Romans banished Archelaus after a ten-year rule, and the kingdom was then transformed into an Imperial Province of the Roman Empire with Coponius as the first procurator (governor). Antipas continued to rule Galilee and Perea and was the one who had John the Baptist put to death (Matthew 14:1-12 ; Mark 6:16-29 ; Luke 9:9 ). Also, Jesus appeared before him during his trial, as Pilate the procurator sent Jesus to him for a possible decision (Luke 23:6-12 ). (Herod)

There was a priest named Zacharias Zacharias' name means “Yahweh has remembered” and considering they were barren in their old age one might have posited that Yahweh had forgotten them (child were considered a blessing). But Luke's record of God's providential working in the life of the godly Zacharias and Elizabeth emphasizes that indeed Yahweh remembered!

William MacDonald - Zacharias was a priest belonging to the division of Abijah, one of the twenty-four shifts into which the Jewish priesthood had been divided by David (1 Chr 24:10). Each shift was called on to serve at the temple in Jerusalem twice a year from Sabbath to Sabbath. There were so many priests at this time that the privilege of burning incense in the Holy Place came only once in a lifetime, if at all." (Believer's Bible Commentary)

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Barclay on Zacharias - Every direct descendant of Aaron was automatically a priest. That meant that for all ordinary purposes there were far too many priests. They were therefore divided into twenty-four sections. Only at the Passover, at Pentecost and at the Feast of Tabernacles did all the priests serve. For the rest of the year each course served two periods of one week each. Priests who loved their work looked forward to that week of service above all things; it was the highlight of their lives. A priest might marry only a woman of absolutely pure Jewish lineage. It was specially meritorious to marry a woman who was also a descendant of Aaron, as was Elizabeth, the wife of Zacharias. There were as many as 20,000 priests altogether and so there were not far short of 1,000 in each section. Within the sections all the duties were allocated by lot. Every morning and evening sacrifice was made for the whole nation. A burnt offering of a male lamb, one year old, without spot or blemish was offered, together with a meat offering of flour and oil and a drink offering of wine. Before the morning sacrifice and after the evening sacrifice incense was burned on the altar of incense so that, as it were, the sacrifices might go up to God wrapped in an envelope of sweet-smelling incense. It was quite possible that many a priest would never have the privilege of burning incense all his life; but if the lot did fall on any priest, that day was the greatest day in all his life, the day he longed for and dreamed of. On this day the lot fell on Zacharias and he would be thrilled to the core of his being. (Luke 1)

Of the division of Abijah -  There were 24 divisions of priesthood and the priestly division of Abijah was eighth on the list according to 1 Chr 24

Shemaiah, the son of Nethanel the scribe, from the Levites, recorded them in the presence of the king, the princes, Zadok the priest, Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, and the heads of the fathers’ households of the priests and of the Levites; one father’s household taken for Eleazar and one taken for Ithamar.  7 Now the first lot came out for Jehoiarib, the second for Jedaiah, 8 the third for Harim, the fourth for Seorim, 9the fifth for Malchijah, the sixth for Mijamin, 10 the seventh for Hakkoz, the eighth for Abijah, 11 the ninth for Jeshua, the tenth for Shecaniah, 12 the eleventh for Eliashib, the twelfth for Jakim, 13 the thirteenth for Huppah, the fourteenth for Jeshebeab, 14the fifteenth for Bilgah, the sixteenth for Immer, 15 the seventeenth for Hezir, the eighteenth for Happizzez, 16 the nineteenth for Pethahiah, the twentieth for Jehezkel, 17 the twenty-first for Jachin, the twenty-second for Gamul, 18the twenty-third for Delaiah, the twenty-fourth for Maaziah. 19 These were their offices for their ministry when they came in to the house of the LORD according to the ordinance given to them through Aaron their father, just as the LORD God of Israel had commanded him

MacArthur on the division of Abijah - "Luke’s note that Zacharias was part of the division of Abijah does not necessarily indicate that he was a descendant of Abijah. David, Zadok, and Ahimelech had organized the priesthood into twenty-four divisions (cf. 1 Chron. 24:4-19), the eighth of which was that of Abijah (v. 10). But after the Babylonian captivity, only four of the twenty-four priestly divisions returned to Judah (Ezra 2:36-38). For the sake of tradition, however, the Jews wanted twenty-four divisions, so the leaders divided the remaining four divisions into twenty-four and restored the former names to them. So Zacharias, while probably not in the family line of Abijah (Abijah was not one of the divisions that returned after the exile), nevertheless served in the division that bore his name." (John MacArthur - Luke Commentary)

Division (2183)(ephemeria from ephemeros = on or by the day) literally means daily order or course of duty; hence daily service of the temple. BDAG adds that ephemeria referred to "a class of priests who performed daily (hence the name) duties for a fixed period in the temple at Jerusalem." In the NT, this word is used only here and in Luke 1:8.

Gilbrant on ephemeria in the Septuagint (see uses below) - Ephēmeria is a compound word literally meaning “daily” (epi [1894], “by” or “on,” + hēmera [2232], “day”). This word does not appear before the First Century B.C. in classical Greek but it is used in the Septuagint in two ways. It can mean either the “service rendered by the priests” (1 Chronicles 25:8; 2 Chronicles 13:10; Nehemiah 13:30) or ephēmeria can stand for a “division” or “class” of priests (1 Chronicles 23:6; 28:13). 1 Chronicles 24:1-19 indicates there were 24 divisions of priests. Each division was composed of four to nine families, all of which traced their lineage to Aaron. Several of these classes never returned from exile (Jedaiah, Immer, Pashur, Harim). Consequently, to preserve the divisions the remaining families were divided into 24 groups. For this reason Josephus could refer to the four families of priests (Against Apion 2.8). Due to the large number of priests in each ephēmeria, it was necessary to determine which priest in a division would serve (offer incense) in the temple on a given day. The opportunity to offer incense came but once in a lifetime (Mishnah Tamid 5:2). This selection was accomplished through the casting of lots....Zechariah (Zacharias) had been chosen to offer incense in the temple. This honor had come late in life for him. Yet Zechariah’s service would be long remembered due to the promise which was given to him in the temple. (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Ephemeria - 21x in 19v in the Septuagint

1 Chr. 9:33; 23:6; 25:8; 26:12; 28:1, 13, 21; 2 Chr. 5:11; 13:10; 23:8, 18; 31:2, 15ff; 35:4; Neh. 12:9, 24; 13:30

Vincent explains that the word for division (ephemeria) was literally "daily service. The college of priests was divided into twenty-four courses (divisions). Each of these did duty for eight days, from one Sabbath to another, once every six months (Ed: In other words served only two one-week periods each year). The service of the week was subdivided among the various families which constituted a course (division). On Sabbaths the whole course (division) was on duty. On feast-days any priest might come up and join in the ministrations of the sanctuary; and at the Feast of Tabernacles all the twenty-four courses (divisions) were bound to be present and officiate. The course (division) of Abijah was the eighth of the twenty-four. See 1 Chr 24:10."

This section really is not a Birth announcement, but a Conception announcement!

And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth - So both Zacharias and Elizabeth were from priestly lines. Elizabeth means “God is my oath.” (or "My God is an oath")

A T Robertson -"To be a priest and married to a priest’s daughter was a double distinction” (Plummer). Like a preacher married to a preacher’s daughter."

MacArthur - "Priests were expected to marry an Israelite woman who was a virgin (cf. Lev. 21:7, 14; Ezek. 44:22). Zacharias went beyond that, however, and chose his wife from the daughters of Aaron. She was named Elizabeth, after Aaron’s wife, a name that means “My God is an oath” and celebrates the faithfulness of God. Since all qualified male descendants of Aaron were priests (Ex. 29:9; 40:13-15; Lev. 21:17-23; Num. 3:3; 18:7), she was familiar with the priesthood; most of the men in her family would have been priests."  (Ibid)

Spurgeon's exposition - You have here a very interesting couple, Zacharias and Elisabeth, a priest with a wife. I have often marveled why the Church of Rome should think it wrong that priests should be married, when it is evident that the priests under the law were so. The priests had grown so numerous that there was not room for them all to work at the Temple at one time; they were divided into twenty-four courses, and Zacharias would, therefore, come up to Jerusalem for a fortnight to take his share of the service. Zacharias and Elisabeth were notable for excellence of character: “They were both righteous before God.” Not only did they stand high in the esteem of men, but the great God, who reads the hearts of all, and sees how they live in secret, reckoned them to be righteous: “They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments”-that is, in the moral precepts of the law-“and ordinances”-that is in the ceremonial rites-“ of the Lord blameless.”

Luke 1:6  They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.

  • righteous: Lu 16:15 Ge 6:9 7:1 17:1 Job 1:1,8 9:2 Ro 3:9-25 Php 3:6-9 Tit 3:3-7 
  • walking: 1Ki 9:4 2Ki 20:3 Ps 119:6 Ac 23:1 24:16 1Co 11:2 2Co 1:12 Php 3:6 Tit 2:11-14 1Jn 2:3,29 3:7 
  • blamelessly: Php 2:15 Col 1:22 1Th 3:13 2Pe 3:14 
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:6 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Greek - esan (3PIAI) de dikaioi amphoteroi (both) enantion (in the sight of) tou theou poreuomenoi (PAP) en pasais tais entolais kai dikaiomasin tou kuriou amemptoi

ESV And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.

KJV  And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

NET  They were both righteous in the sight of God, following all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.

NLT  Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God's eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord's commandments and regulations.

YLT and they were both righteous before God, going on in all the commands and righteousnesses of the Lord blameless

RIGHTEOUS OLD 
TESTAMENT SAINTS

They were both righteous in the sight of God - Zechariah (Zacharias) and Elizabeth were wonderful examples of the godly remnant found throughout the Old Testament. They are an example of how a person was saved before Jesus inaugurated the New Covenant in His blood. Even though most of the nation of Israel was unsaved, God had a saved, godly remnant in every generation, those who were living righteously because they had been declared righteous by grace through faith.  So it is clear that even in the Old Testament or old dispensation God provided grace to be saved. Notice also that Zacharias and Elizabeth were described not as righteous in the sight of men but in the sight of God which is the only righteous standing that counts in time and eternity! (Contrast the parable picturing two classes of righteousness - Luke 18:9-14+ one righteous in his own eyes and the other humble before the Lord.) Now how were they righteous? Christ had not yet been crucified as a payment for sin. Justification is by faith not works, so clearly they were declared righteous because of their faith. But in Who was their faith, considering that Jesus had not yet been crucified as an atonement for their sins? As Paul instructs us in Galatians these two saints who lived prior to the crucifixion of Jesus were saved (justified, declared righteous) the same way Abraham was justified (Gal 3:6+). In some way the Scriptures had preached the Gospel to Zacharias and Elizabeth, just as the Scripture had preached the Gospel to Abraham (Gal 3:8+)! They were looking with eyes of faith (cp 2 Cor 5:7+) forward to the Cross, whereas believers today look back in faith to the same rugged Cross, both attaining justification by faith in Jesus.

In Romans Paul expands on the Old Testament way of salvation writing of Jesus "Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed." (Ro 3:25+) The NLT paraphrases it "This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. (Rom 3:25-26NLT)

Comment - God has passed over sins during the former times in His divine forbearance until the perfect substitutionary sacrifice should be offered by His Son Jesus Christ. This concept of God’s forbearance is also found in [Neh 9:30]. His passing over sin is seen in various times and places (Ge 15:12-16+; Ge 18:22-33; Acts 14:16+; Acts 17:30+). 

Spurgeon - You have here a very interesting couple, Zacharias and Elisabeth, a priest with a wife. I have often marveled why the Church of Rome should think it wrong that priests should be married, when it is evident that the priests under the law were so. The priests had grown so numerous that there was not room for them all to work at the Temple at one time; they were divided into twenty-four courses, and Zacharias would, therefore, come up to Jerusalem for a fortnight to take his share of the service. Zacharias and Elisabeth were notable for excellence of character: “They were both righteous before God.” Not only did they stand high in the esteem of men, but the great God, who reads the hearts of all, and sees how they live in secret, reckoned them to be righteous: “They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments”-that is, in the moral precepts of the law-“and ordinances”-that is in the ceremonial rites-“ of the Lord blameless.”.....There have been some good people who have lived in very bad times; never was there a worse reign than that of Herod; seldom or never a better man and woman than Zacharias and Elisabeth. Let no man excuse himself for sinning because of the times in which he lives. (ED: A GREAT EXHORTATION FOR ALL OF US IN A WORLD SEEMINGLY DROWNING IN SIN! THAT IS NOT AN EXCUSE FOR US TO JOIN THEM!) You may be rich in grace when others around you have none, even as Gideon’s fleece was wet with dew when the whole floor was dry. God help us, in these evil days, to be “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless”!

J R Miller - We have a picture here, of the godly home—yet the times were not favorable to this. It is not hard to live a beautiful life amid kindly and favoring circumstances. If a child has a sweet home with only gentle influences about it—an atmosphere of love and prayer—it is not strange that the child's life grows up into beauty. On the other hand, if the home is cold and unkindly, without love and prayer and godliness, it seems to us almost a miracle if a child grows up in it loving God and with a true and beautiful character. The "time of Herod" were not times when it was easy to be godly. The times were ungodly and the prevailing spirit was unrighteous. The holy lives which we find here in this story—are like lamps shining in the darkness. Amid the almost universal corruption of the priesthood, and the hypocrisy of the Pharisees; this old priest and his wife lived in piety and godly simplicity. The lesson is, that we may be holy and may live saintly lives—though everyone around us is evil. We need not be like those among whom we live. No matter how corrupt the times, or how unholy the influences, we ought always to strive to be holy and pure. (Devotional Hours with the Bible)

It is worth noting that (1) God had been silent for 400 years and (2) this was a time of godlessness and great hypocrisy among the religious leadership. And yet in spite of these facts, this couple choose to faithfully obey the Word of the God and to live blamelessly. Beloved it is possible to live righteously and blamelessly in midst of a godless culture who hates Jesus! This godly couple reminds me of Paul's exhortation to the saints at Philippi and to us who live in a time of incredible spiritual darkness and moral anarchy...

Do (present imperative = command to make this their habitual practice, something only possible by daily dying to self and relying wholly on the Holy Spirit) all things without grumbling or disputing (Ed: How easy it is to stumble over the hurdles of grumbling or disputing! It is "impossible" but praise God it is "Him-possible!" - the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit - outlined in the previous passage - Phil 2:13NLT-note); so that (term of purpose or result) you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world (Zacharias and Elizabeth were supernaturally radiant lights!), holding fast the Word of life, so that (term of purpose or result - the result of holding the Word is that it will hold you when the going becomes difficult) in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. (Phil 2:14-16-note)

Righteous (1342)(dikaios from dike = right, just) defines that which is in accordance with high standards of rectitude of which the perfect righteousness of God is the "gold" (God) standard. Their son John would be used to stimulate a turn to righteousness

“It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Lk 1:17)

All Luke's 17 uses -

 Lk. 1:6; Lk. 1:17; Lk. 2:25; Lk. 5:32; Lk. 12:57; Lk. 14:14; Lk. 15:7; Lk. 18:9; Lk. 20:20; Lk. 23:47; Lk. 23:50; Acts 3:14; Acts 4:19; Acts 7:52; Acts 10:22; Acts 22:14; Acts 24:15. 

Dikaios is that which is in right relation to another and so in reference to persons defines the one who is morally and ethically righteous, upright or just. Luke uses this same adjective in the next chapter to describe Simon

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for (prosdechomai in the present tense = he was continually looking with a sense of expectancy and anticipation for) the consolation (paraklesis - encouragement - ultimately a Person, Christ Jesus) of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. (Luke 2:25+)

Comment: Like Zacharias and Elizabeth, Simeon was saved by grace through faith and having undergone a "spiritual circumcision" of his heart, his eyes were no longer "horizontally focused" (on the things which are temporal and a world which is passing away and even its lusts - 2 Cor 4:18-note, 1 John 2:17-note) but "vertically focused" (see discussion of "Vertical Vision"), looking for the consolation of Israel for he loved His appearing (2 Ti 4:8-note). What (Who) you are looking for will determine what (Who) you are living for!

Paul alludes to this in Romans 3:25-note describing Christ "Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance (anoche) of God He passed over the sins previously committed."  So while Zechariah and Elizabeth were declared righteous prior to the Cross, Paul says "in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed." In other words they were saved on credit so to speak. 

Comment - From Adam to Christ, God saved those who put their faith in Him on the basis of whatever revelation He gave them. Abraham, for example, believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness (Gen. 15:6). But how could God do this righteously? A sinless Substitute had not been slain. The blood of a perfect Sacrifice had not been shed. In a word, Christ had not died. The debt had not been paid. God’s righteous claims had not been met. How then could God save believing sinners in the OT period (Zechariah and Elizabeth would still be considered in the "OT period")?  The answer is that although Christ had not yet died, the omniscient God knew that He would die, and therefore He saved men on the basis of the still-future work of Christ. Even if OT saints didn’t know about Calvary, God knew about it, and He put all the value of Christ’s work to their account (logizomai = "reckoned" as in Gal 3:6-note) when they believed God. In a very real sense, OT believers were saved on credit. They were saved on the basis of a price of redemption which was yet to be paid in full at Calvary (cp Jn 19:30-note "It is finished" = "Paid it Full" =  tetelestai). The OT saints looked forward to Calvary whereas we look back to it. So the OT period was a time of the forbearance of God. For at least 4000 years He held back His judgment on sin. Then in the fullness of time He sent His Son to be the Sin-bearer. When the Lord Jesus took our sins upon Himself, God unleashed the full fury of His righteous, holy wrath on the Son of His love. The whole OT is a testimony to the truth that God is "slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin" (Ex 34:6-7).

Herbert Lockyer - To Old Testament saints the promised blessing of redemption was future—they obtained it, but not within the limits of this present life. They had it "on credit."  (All the Promises of the Bible)

MacArthur - This means neither indifference nor remission. God’s justice demands that every sin and sinner be punished. God would have been just, when Adam and Eve sinned, to destroy them, and with them, the entire human race. But in His goodness and forbearance (see 2:4), He withheld His judgment for a certain period of time (cf. Ps 78:38, 39; Ac 17:30, 31; 2Pe 3:9). (Study Bible)

William MacDonald - He is not speaking, as some wrongly think, of sins which an individual person has committed before his conversion. This might suggest that the work of Christ took care of sins before the new birth, but that a man is on his own after that. No, he is dealing with the seeming leniency of God in apparently overlooking the sins of those who were saved before the cross. It might seem that God excused those sins or pretended not to see them. Not so, says Paul. The Lord knew that Christ would make full expiation, and so He saved men on that basis. (Believer's Bible Commentary)

Walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord - It is important to not misinterpret this passage. They were not righteous because they were walking blamelessly for that would be righteousness based on our works, the type the Pharisee's boasted in (cf Mt 5:20+)! The were righteous in the sight of God because He had declared them righteous. He had reckoned or credited Christ's righteousness to their "spiritual bank account" and they were now righteous in His eyes. An example of how this verse could be misinterpreted is discussed below (see Scofield).

Zacharias and Elizabeth are in good company Moses recording that "Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God." (Ge 6:9, cp God's charge to Abram - Ge 17:1). Similarly Job is similarly described "There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil" (Job 1:1)

Psalm 101 describes God's promise which applies to Zacharias a priest...

My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me. (Ps 101:6)

Comment - The Hebrew verb for "minister" is sharath which means to serve and is translated in the Septuagint with the verb leitourgeo which was used of a Christian's service to God through prayer, teaching, good works, etc (as in Acts 13:2).  Are you being used by God? If not among the reasons could be the fact that you are not walking blamelessly, walking by the Spirit (Gal 5:16-note), which is the only way that is a blameless walk is even possible!

Compare similar thoughts regarding walking blamelessly in the following passages...

How blessed (fully spiritually satisfied independent of one's circumstances) are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the law of the LORD. (See Spurgeon's comment Psalm 119:1)

The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD, But the blameless in their walk are His delight. (Proverbs 11:20)

Matthew Henry - God delights in such as aim and act with uprightness. 

He who walks blamelessly will be delivered (Hebrew = yasha' = saved, helped), But he who is crooked will fall all at once.(Proverbs 28:18)

Matthew Henry - Uprightness will give men holy security in the worst times; but the false and dishonest are never safe. 

For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God, Than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:10-11-note)

WALKING THE TALK
WALKING IN TRUTH

THOUGHT - While Bible truth is important, more important is what we do with that truth and how we respond to it, for only those who abide in it and walk by that truth in the power of the Spirit will  be blessed (cf this principle in 1 Ki 2:4). John warned "If we say that we have fellowship with Him (GOD) and yet walk (habitually, continually - present tense) in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;" (1 Jn 1:6+) James commanded his readers "prove (present imperative - obey as your habitual practice only possible by relying on the Holy Spirit) yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves" (James 1:22+) for the "one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does." (James 1:24+) Faith alone saves but the faith that truly saves is not alone! Zacharias and Elizabeth believed and looked intently at the perfect law but  they were also doers of the Word and not merely hearers only! And by God's grace and His Spirit's enabling power may all who read these notes be imitators of Zacharias and Elizabeth (cf Heb 6:12+) for the glory of God (Mt 5:16+). 

Note that Zacharias and Elizabeth's walking was present tense which has a dual significance (1) this tense speaks of their progressive sanctification -- see Three Tenses of Salvation and (2) this tense indicates that their holy walk was their daily practice, the habit of their lives. It is important to emphasize that their walk was not perfect, for no human other than Jesus could ever walk perfectly. What we need to understand is that their walk was more about the direction than perfection. Present tense speaks of the general direction of their walk, not the perfection of their walk. I cannot completely explain the spiritual dynamic for their blameless walk living as they did prior to the giving of the indwelling Spirit Who furnishes the desire and power (Php 2:13NLT-note) to believers today enabling us to walk blamelessly. And as an aside, oh, how much easier it is to walk blamelessly when both spouses are on the same "spiritual wavelength," as these two clearly were. Solomon wrote

"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. ." (Eccl 4:9-12)

Amos asks "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3KJV)

Blamelessly (faultless) ( 273)(amemptos from a = neg + mémphomai = find fault) means irreproachable, blameless, faultless, unblamable, without defect.  (All 5 NT uses -Lk. 1:6; Phil. 2:15; Phil 3:6; 1 Th 3:13; Heb. 8:7) Paul prays for a blameless walk for the saints in Thessalonica and this is a good prayer for us to pray for each other (God will answer this prayer in His will - see 1 Jn 5:14-15+). I wonder why we don't pray these prayers for each other at the end of our worship services? What might God be pleased to show us? (cf James 4:2+) Just asking...

Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; 12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; 13 so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming (parousiaof our Lord Jesus with all His saints. (1 Th 3:11-13+)

They were blameless yet barren (Lk 1:7) which does not sound like being blessed! But as the famous radio personality Paul Harvey used to say "And now for the rest of the story!" (Lk 1:11ff)

THOUGHT - And beloved that same thing can be said over your life. You have been faithful to God, but you fail to see the fruitfulness for God. Do not despair. Your story is still being played out and you have not yet seen the end of it. And ultimately we will not see the eternal fruit of a faithful life until we are in Heaven. May God open the ears of our heart to hear the consoling words of James "Therefore be patient (aorist imperative - "Just do it" like the Nike commercial says! But not in your power but in the power of the Holy Spirit), brethren, until the coming (parousia) of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient (aorist imperative) strengthen (aorist imperative) your hearts, for (JAMES EXPLAINS WHY WE SHOULD OBEY AND WHAT SHOULD MOTIVATE US) the coming (parousia) of the Lord is near (imminent!)." (James 5:7-8+)

Lord, please show me every day
         As you’re teaching me your way
         That you’ll do just what you say
         In your time.
(Play In His Time)

ILLUSTRATION - Many years ago I heard a true story about Shepherd’s Home for children with developmental disabilities where they taught that Jesus would save them and one day heal them of  all disabilities. The director said that his biggest problem was dirty windows because the disabled children would press their hands, noses and lips against the windows always looking to see if today might be the day that Jesus would return for them and take them home where they will be healed of all their disabilities.  Talk about having your priorities in the right place! Oh, to have the heart attitude of these precious little children! Amen! 

In the sight of God (before God - KJV) - Vincent notes that the phrase"Before God" is a Hebrew expression. Compare the following passages...

Genesis 7:1   Then the LORD said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you [alone] I have seen [to be] righteous before (Heb = panim = face; Lxx = enantios - opposite, before) Me in this time.

Acts 8:21+  “You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.

In the sight of (1799)(enopion from en = in + ops = the eye/see [cp optanomai = see, perceive with eyes, look at, implying not only the mere act of seeing but actual perception of what one sees]) means literally in sight, in front of, in the presence of. It conveys the picture of before the face and thus the idea of face to face! As Thomas à Kempis said "What thou art in the sight of God, that thou truly art."

THOUGHT - What difference would it make in your thoughts, words and deeds today if you walked about full cognizant of the fact that you were in essence "face to face" with God all through the day? God grant us all Your grace and Your Spirit's enabling power to walk today with a sense that we are continually face to face with Your Holy Presence. Amen

In all the commandments and requirements of the Lord - John MacArthur rightly says that "Zacharias and Elizabeth were shining examples of the godly remnant of believing Jews in the midst of an apostate nation. They were declared righteous by grace through faith according to the new covenant promise to be ratified in the death of Christ." (Ibid)

Bruce Barton - Zechariah and Elizabeth didn't merely go through the motions in following God's laws; they backed up their outward compliance with inward obedience. Unlike the religious leaders whom Jesus called hypocrites, Zechariah and Elizabeth did not stop with the letter of the law. Their obedience was from the heart, and that is why God viewed them as righteous. Does your life reflect careful obedience and high regard for God's will? As your life shows your love for God, others will be drawn to him. (Life Application Bible Commentary – Luke)

Commandments (1785)(entole from en = in, upon + téllo = accomplish, charge, command) refers to some type of demand or requirement. A general injunction, charge, precept of moral and religious nature. Of the 67 uses, all but three (Lk 15:29; Col 4:10; Titus 1:14) refer specifically to divine commandments.

Requirements (1345)(dikaioma from dikaióo = to justify <> díkaios = just, righteous <> dike = right) has 3 distinct meanings but in the present context it refers to what God has declared to be right. (Used this way also in Ro 1:32-note, Ro 2:26-note).

Lord (master, owner)(2962)(kurios from kuros = might or power) means the supreme one who is sovereign and possesses absolute authority, absolute ownership and uncontested power. Kurios is used of the one to whom a person or thing belonged, about which he has the power of deciding, the one who is the master or disposer of a thing (Mk 7:28) In classical Greek, kurios was used of the false gods, such as Hermes, Zeus, etc.

Wayne Detzler writes that kurios - In the earliest Greek this word meant "to have power or authority." Later it came to describe one who is in control. As classical Greek developed, it became a title for men of importance. Since the gods of ancient Greece were neither creators nor lords of their fate, pagan deities were not called "lord" until much later. By the time of Christ, kings had come to be called "lord." This was true of the Roman Emperor Caligula (A.D. 37-41). It was also true of Candace, the fabled queen of upper Egypt (Ac 8:27+). So too Herod the Great, Herod Agrippa I, and Herod Agrippa II were called "lord." (New Testament Words in Today's Language)

Scofield in his comment on righteousness has a sentence which could easily be misinterpreted - "In these words but one idea inheres: the righteous or just man is so called because he is right with God; and he is right with God because he has observed "all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly" (Luke 1:6) (Italics and bold added for emphasis) Notice that Scofield said they were "right with God" and then says "BECAUSE" which is usually a term of explanation, which in context would suggest they were "right with God" BECAUSE of their meritorious behavior. That is NOT what Dr Luke writes. There is no "BECAUSE" in the English or Greek of Luke 1:6!

A better statement is the one by the old Puritan Matthew Henry who rightly says "The father and mother of John the Baptist were sinners as all are, and were justified and saved in the same way as others (by grace through faith); but they were eminent for piety and integrity." 

J C Ryle on the righteousness of Elizabeth and Zacharias - It matters little whether we interpret this “righteousness” as that which is imputed to all believers for their justification, or that which is wrought inwardly in believers by the operation of the Holy Ghost, for their sanctification. The two sorts of righteousness are never disjoined. There are none justified who are not sanctified, and there are none sanctified who are not justified Suffice it for us to know that Zacharias and Elisabeth had grace when grace was very rare, and kept all the burdensome observances of the ceremonial law with devout conscientiousness, when few Israelites cared for them excepting in name and form. The main thing that concerns us all, is the example which this holy pair hold up to Christians. Let us all strive to serve God faithfully, and live fully up to our light, even as they did (AND WE NOW HAVE A LOT OF LIGHT IN THE FULL REVELATION OF GOD'S WORD!). Let us not forget the plain words of Scripture, “He that doeth righteousness is righteous.” (1 John 3:7+.) Happy are those Christian families in which it can be reported that both husband and wife are “righteous,” and exercise themselves to have a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men. (Acts 24:16.) (Expository Thoughts Luke 1)

Luke 1:7  But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.

  • they had. Ge. 15:2, 3; 16:1, 2; 25:21; 30:1. Jdg 13:2, 3. 1 Sa. 1:2, 5–8.
  • well. Ge. 17:17; Ge 18:11. 1 Ki. 1:1. 2 Ki. 4:14. Ro. 4:19. He. 11:11.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:7 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

ZACHARIAS AND ELIZABETH
BARREN AND OLD

But they had no child - A striking and somewhat unexpected contrast! Righteous and blameless and yet barren and ostensibly not blessed by God, as barrenness was held to be a sign of divine disfavor. In their case the lack of a child was clearly not a sign of judgment, even though that was how barrenness was commonly viewed in that time (cp Lev 20:20-21; Jer 22:30). The final act of this divine drama was about to be acted out for God would soon turn Elizabeth's barrenness to blessing. Beloved, are you walking blamelessly and yet you feel you are "barren" in regard to divine blessing? Then remember Zacharias and Elizabeth and don't give up. It's too soon to quit. Recall the words of William Cowper's great hymn

God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs, and works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, the clouds ye so much dread,
are big with mercy, and shall break In blessings on your head.


Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err, and scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.

Because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years - Because is a term of explanation. Here we see two reasons are given for no children. Note it was not because they had sinned. 

Allen Ross - they were now older, and still had not had a child.  In biblical narratives it is important to note that when God provides a child of promise, someone who will be great, or who will be used greatly, it is frequently through an unexpected or supernatural birth.  Here this couple re-lives the Abraham and Sarah story, not having a child until their old age.  The stress of being barren, which was considerable, would be replaced by the joy of a child, a true gift from God.

Barren (4723) (steiros from stereos = firm, solid, immovable; Root ster- = firm hence English "sterile") means not bearing children, incapable of bearing a child. In the Septuagint use in Isa 54:1, steiros is used figuratively to speak of the nation of Israel which will be fruitful in the future (Millenium) Used here in Galatians to describe that in contrast to Sarah's former barrenness, the spiritual line (which would be the Church) coming from Sarah was abundantly fruitful (and the Church continues to grow).  

Steiros - barren(3), barren woman(1). - Lk. 1:7; Lk. 1:36; Lk. 23:29; Gal. 4:27

Steiros in the Septuagint

Ge 11:30 ("Sarai was barren; she had no child."); Ge 25:21; Ge 29:31; Ex 23:26; Dt. 7:14; Jdg. 13:2 ; Jdg. 13:3; 1 Sa 2:5; Job 24:21; Ps 113:9; Isa. 54:1; Isa. 66:9;

There is an OT parallel in the birth of Samson

Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, so that the LORD gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years (Cp 400 YEARS WITH NO WORD AND NOW EVIL KING HEROD IS RULING AND ISRAEL WAS IN THE HANDS OF THE PAGAN ROMANS) . There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had borne no children. Then the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son.  “Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing (cf Lk 1:15 JOHN "WILL DRINK NO WINE". “For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”  (Jdg 13:1-5+)

Barclay on barrenness - The Jewish Rabbis said that seven people were excommunicated from God and the list began, "A Jew who has no wife, or a Jew who has a wife and who has no child." Childlessness was a valid ground for divorce. Not unnaturally Zacharias, even on his great day, was thinking of his personal and domestic tragedy and was praying about it. Then the wondrous vision came and the glad message that, even when hope was dead, a son would be born to him. (Luke 1)

Surgeon on barrenness - We do not, at the present time, understand the anguish which filled the heart of an Eastern woman who had no child. It was considered to be a disgrace, and many suffered very bitterly on that account; as did Hannah, and Rachel, and others besides.

J C Ryle applies their barrenness to our lives today - The grace of God exempts no one from trouble. “Righteous” as this holy priest and his wife were, they had a “crook in their lot.” Let us remember this, if we serve Christ, and let us count trial no strange thing. Let us rather believe that a hand of perfect wisdom is measuring out all our portion, and that when God chastises us, it is to make us “partakers of his holiness.” (Heb. 12:10.) If afflictions drive us nearer to Christ, the Bible, and prayer, they are positive blessings. We may not think so now. But we shall think so when we wake up in another world. (Expository Thoughts Luke 1)

NET NOTE on Elizabeth's barrenness - With this language, reminiscent of various passages in the OT, Luke is probably drawing implicit comparisons to the age and barrenness of such famous OT personalities as Abraham and Sarah (see, e.g., Gen 18:9–15), the mother of Samson (Jdg 13:2–5), and Hannah, the mother of Samuel ( 1 Sam 1:1–20). And, as it was in the case of these OT saints, so it is with Elizabeth: After much anguish and seeking the Lord, she too is going to have a son in her barrenness. In that day it was a great reproach to be childless, for children were a sign of God's blessing (cf. Gen 1:28; Lev 20:20–21; Ps 127 and Ps 128; Jer 22:30). As the dawn of salvation draws near, however, God will change this elderly couple's grief into great joy and grant them the one desire time had rendered impossible.

Darrell Bock on barren - Yet despite their righteousness, they have suffered the disappointment of barrenness, a condition Elizabeth will later refer to as a disgrace (Lk 1:25+). Elizabeth's feelings are perfectly understandable, but to be barren is not an indication of the presence of sin or of condemnation; it may be an opportunity for blessing, whether God grants a child late in life or allows a couple to pursue other opportunities of service. In Scripture, when God allows a woman to be barren, he often has something special in mind for her (Sarah, Ge 18:11; Rebekah, Ge 25:21; Rachel, Ge 29:31; Samson's mother, Jug 13:2, 5; Hannah, 1 Sa 1:1--2:36). Aware of this pattern, the rabbis of Judaism argued that when Scripture says, "She has not," God gave a child (Genesis Rabbah 38). So in the case of Elizabeth and Zechariah, God's action parallels the way he often worked among the fathers and mothers of Jewish faith. His word and plan are coming to pass again.

Advanced in years - The KJV has "they were both stricken in years!" The Wycliff translation is more accurate -  “Had gone far in their days.” This fact heightens the drama of the miracle to follow. Remember God is "Director" of this divine drama!

Advanced in years - In short, they were old and of an age at which child bearing was considered virtually an impossibility. Elizabeth's old age recalls Sarah's barrenness in old age making her very unlikely to ever become pregnant. God's power however always trumps what is impossible with men. Jehovah rhetorically asks "Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son." (Ge 18:14) Luke affirms this same truth later in this chapter writing "nothing will be impossible with God." (Lk 1:37)

Bock Elizabeth’s bearing of John was like the births of Isaac, Samson, and Samuel, great men of the OT who were born from formerly barren women. Their births were signs that God was doing something special in order to advance his purposes. (Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Bible)

The righteous life of Zacharias and Elizabeth and their faithfulness in old age which God blessed with fruitfulness are a beautiful illustration of the truth in Psalm 92. If you are old like I am be encouraged by God's promise to the righteous aged:

The righteous man (AND WOMAN) will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.  13 Planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God.  14 They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green,  (MY WIFE AND MY FAVORITE VERSE ONCE WE TURNED 70!) 15 To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. (Ps 92:12-15)

Spurgeon comments - The song now contrasts the condition of the righteous with that of the graceless. The wicked "spring as the grass", but The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, whose growth may not be so rapid, but whose endurance for centuries is in fine contrast with the transitory verdure of the meadow. When we see a noble palm standing erect, sending all its strength upward in one bold column, and growing amid the dearth and drought of the desert, we have a fine picture of the godly man, who in his uprightness aims alone at the glory of God; and, independent of outward circumstances, is made by divine grace to live and thrive where all things else perish. The text tells us not only what the righteous is, but what he shall be; come what may, the good man shall flourish, and flourish after the noblest manner. He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. This is another noble and long lived tree. "As the days of a tree are the days of my people", saith the Lord. On the summit of the mountain, unsheltered from the blast, the cedar waves its mighty branches in perpetual verdure, and so the truly godly man under all adversities retains the joy of his soul, and continues to make progress in the divine life. Grass, which makes hay for oxen, is a good enough emblem of the unregenerate; but cedars, which build the temple of the Lord, are none too excellent to set forth the heirs of heaven.

Verse 13 - In the courtyards of Oriental houses trees were planted, and being thoroughly screened, they would be likely to bring forth their fruit to perfection in trying seasons; even so, those who by grace are brought into communion with the Lord, shall be likened to trees planted in the Lord's house, and shall find it good to their souls (cf Isa 61:3b). No heart has so much joy as that which abides in the Lord Jesus. Fellowship with the stem begets fertility in the branches. If a man abide in Christ he brings forth much fruit (Jn 15:5). Those professors who are rooted to the world do not flourish; those who send forth their roots into the marshes of frivolous pleasure cannot be in a vigorous condition; but those who dwell in habitual fellowship with God shall become men of full growth, rich in grace, happy in experience, mighty in influence, honoured and honourable. Much depends upon the soil in which a tree is planted; everything, in our case, depends upon our abiding in the Lord Jesus, and deriving all our supplies from him. If we ever really grow in the courts of the Lord's house we must be planted there, for no tree grows in God's garden self sown; once planted of the Lord, we shall never be rooted up, but in his courts we shall take root downward, and bring forth fruit upward to his glory for ever.

Verse 14 - Nature decays but grace thrives. Fruit, as far as nature is concerned, belongs to days of vigour; but in the garden of grace, when plants are weak in themselves, they become strong in the Lord (SPIRITUALLY STRONG EVEN THOUGH PHYSICALLY WEAK), and abound in fruit acceptable with God. Happy they who can sing this Sabbath Psalm, enjoying the rest which breathes through every verse of it; no fear as to the future can distress them, for their evil days, when the strong man faileth (Isa 1:31, cf Isa 40:30), are the subject of a gracious promise, and therefore they await them with quiet expectancy. Aged believers possess a ripe experience, and by their mellow tempers and sweet testimonies they feed many. Even if bedridden, they bear the fruit of patience; if poor and obscure, their lowly and contented spirit becomes the admiration of those who know how to appreciate modest worth. Grace does not leave the saint when the keepers of the house do tremble; the promise is still sure though the eyes can no longer read it; the bread of heaven is fed upon when the grinders (teeth) fail; and the voice of the Spirit in the soul is still melodious when the daughters of music (hearing) are brought low. Blessed be the Lord for this! Because even to hoar hairs He is the I AM, Who made His people, He therefore bears and carries them.

They shall full of sap and very green. They do not drag out a wretched, starveling existence, but are like trees full of sap, which bear luxuriant foliage. God does not pinch His poor servants, and diminish their consolations when their infirmities grow upon them; rather does He see to it that they shall renew their strength (cf Isaiah 40:31+), for their mouths shall be satisfied with his own good things. Such a one as Paul the aged would not ask our pity, but invite our sympathetic gratitude; however feeble his outward man may be, his inner man is so renewed day by day (2 Cor 4:16+) that we may well envy his perennial peace.

Verse 15 - This mercy to the aged proves the faithfulness of their God, and leads them to shew that the Lord is upright, by their cheerful testimony to his ceaseless goodness. We do not serve a Master who will run back from his promise. Whoever else may defraud us, he never will. Every aged Christian is a letter of commendation to the immutable fidelity of Jehovah.

Advanced (4260) (probaino from pro = before + baino = step) means literally to go forward, to advance (as used in Mt 4:21 = "Going on", Mk 1:19+ = "Going on"). Luke however uses probaino figuratively and idiomatically to describe old (advanced) age. Note that God did some amazing things in the lives of people who were advanced - Elizabeth and Zacharias had a baby name John! Abraham and Sarah had a baby named Isaac, the son of promise!

Luke 1:7  But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years. 

Luke 1:18  Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.”

Probaino - 5x in the NT - Matt. 4:21; Mk. 1:19; Lk. 1:7; Lk. 1:18; Lk. 2:36

Advanced in years - This means old like yours truly!

THOUGHT - If you are a believer, why do you think God has left you alive on earth? Perhaps you might want to re-read the first entry in the Westminister Shorter Catechism which addresses this question and then the verses that follow: 

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Read Eph 2:10+ (cf Jn 4:34+), Jesus' command in Mt 5:16+, Paul's exhortation in Ephesians 5:16+ and Solomon's advice in Eccl 9:10, 12:13-14.

Related Resource:

Redeem the Time.


Barren But Not Bitter

August 17, 2003

Read: Luke 1:5-17 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 97-99; Romans 16

They were both righteous before God . . . . But they had no child. —Luke 1:6-7

Barrenness, whether physical or spiritual, can lead to bitterness in some of God’s people. It can develop in the heart of a disappointed couple who cannot have a child. It can also occur when people serve God and see no results.

A missionary couple who served diligently for many years with no visible fruit asked in frustration, “Have we wasted our lives?” A young pastor and his wife labored 5 years for a thankless, unresponsive congregation, pouring out their lives for their people. “Do they even care?” the woman asked.

Zacharias and Elizabeth, mentioned in Luke 1, are a model for anyone who is facing physical or spiritual barrenness. The aged couple had an impeccable reputation, having faithfully and obediently served the Lord for many years (Lk 1:6). They had prayed for children, but none came. Yet instead of becoming bitter, they kept serving and obeying the Lord. In His time, God honored Zacharias and Elizabeth with a son named John, the one who would prepare the way for the Messiah (Lk 1:13-17).

To avoid developing a bitter spirit in your life, faithfully serve and obey the Lord in the place where He has called you. Trust God to bless you in His time, in His way, and according to His plan.

Lord, keep me from being bitter
When things don't go my way,
And grant me Your grace and wisdom
To do Your will today.
—Fitzhugh

Be faithful—and leave the results with God.

By David Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


David Holwick - Old age is about stripping away the lies in order to teach us  the truth.

          1) The lie says life is a bell-curve - up, then inevitably down.

          2) Scripture teaches that life is meant to be up, all the way to heaven.

             There is a goal, and the goal determines the process we must go through to get there.

             Whatever is valued in heaven grows more and more valuable on earth.

             Whatever doesn't matter in heaven, matters less and less on earth.  The longer you live, the more it is so.

             One older person said, "They say we are going downhill, but they have it wrong.

             It is uphill.  That's why it is such hard work!"

Robert Browning wrote the poem "Rabbi ben Ezra" back in 1864:

           Grow old along with me!
             The best is yet to be,
           The last of life, for which the first was made;
             Our times are in his hand
             Who saith, "A whole I planned,
           Youth shows but half; trust God; see all, nor be afraid!" 

Luke 1:8  Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division,

  • he. Ex. 28:1, 41; 29:1, 9, 44; 30:30. Nu. 18:7. 1 Ch. 24:2. 2 Ch. 11:14.
  • in. Luke 1:5. 1 Ch. 24:19. 2 Ch. 8:14; 2 Ch 31:2, 19. Ezr. 6:18.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:8 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Barclay When he was acting as priest before God, when his section was on duty, in accordance with the custom of priestly duty,

CSB  When his division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God,

ESV Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,

GWN  Zechariah was on duty with his division of priests. As he served in God's presence,

KJV   And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,

NET  Now while Zechariah was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,

NAB   Once when he was serving as priest in his division's turn before God,

NIV   Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God,

NLT   One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week.

NJB  Now it happened that it was the turn of his section to serve, and he was exercising his priestly office before God

YLT And it came to pass, in his acting as priest, in the order of his course before God,

A PROVIDENTIAL
HAPPENING

Now it happened (it came to pass) - Things don't just happen by chance! This was not an accident, but was a providential act of God that occurred just when Zacharias happened to be on Temple duty! God is sovereign in history, including and especially in "His-Story" of providing a Redeemer for the sinful world. 

THOUGHT (ON DIVINE PROVIDENCE) - The word "providence" (pronoia) is found only once in the Bible, a usage which refers to human providence (Acts 24:2+), and yet Divine Providence permeates the pages of Holy Writ from Genesis to Revelation! This great truth ought to cause all of God's children to shout "Hallelujah! Our God Reigns!" R. C. Sproul said “God doesn’t roll dice.” Nothing happens by chance. Ever. 

Ray Pritchard adds that providence is “God’s gracious oversight of the universe.” Every one of those words is important. God’s providence is one aspect of his grace. Oversight means that he directs the course of affairs. The word universe tells us that God not only knows the big picture, he also concerns himself with the tiniest details. Here are five statements that unfold the meaning of God’s providence in more detail. He upholds all things. He governs all events. He directs everything to its appointed end. He does this all the time and in every circumstance. He does it always for his own glory. ( (The Invisible Hand -- Coming to Grips With God’s Providence)

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

His priestly service - Zacharias was of the Tribe of Levi and a descendant of Aaron. The genealogy records had not been destroyed as they were when the Romans burned the Temple in 70 AD).

THOUGHT - It would easy to miss the fact that Zacharias' disappointment at not having a son did not keep him from serving the Lord. Think about this --- it would have been easy for him to "blame" the Lord since he knew children were a gift of the LORD (Ps 127:3) . He presents a powerful example of pressing on when it might be easy to be "derailed" by the variegated trials of life. Thanks Zecharias for the example of steadfast service to Jehovah. It recalls Paul's charge to all of us to "be (present imperative - keep on keeping on! see our continual need for the Holy Spirit to obey) steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Cor 15:58+). Zecharias is illustration of this Pauline passage and calls for us to imitate his pattern (Heb 6:12+)

Brian Bell adds "This is the blessedness of duty! We need to be faithful. We never know when God’s angel may arrive! Interesting, that Luke’s opening and closing scene in his Gospel takes place in the Temple. (See Lk 24:53+)(Sermon)

In the appointed order of his division -  The Temple service of an order was for one week (from Sabbath to Sabbath) twice a year and at certain Feasts. 

Order (5010)(taxis from tasso = to set or arrange in order) described the orderly array of soldiers with the line being unbroken and intact. It refers to  an arrangement of things in sequence, fixed succession or fixed order (Lk 1:8 - describing the arrangement for Temple service, the fixed succession of the course of the priests) ("an arranging, arrangement, order" - Vine);

Division (2183) see discussion above of ephemeria

Steven Cole - If things seem spiritually dark in our day, and they certainly do, we should be encouraged to pray for true revival. As Isaiah reminds us, “the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; neither is His ear so dull that it cannot hear” (Is 59:1). What applies nationally to our need for revival also applies personally to you. If your situation seems spiritually hopeless, if your sins have overwhelmed you, cry out to God to save you. The theme of the Gospel of Luke is that the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Lu 19:10). If you feel lost and in despair, then you are a candidate for His gracious salvation.Thus God sovereignly takes the initiative in sending revival and often waits until things are hopeless so that no one will glory in himself, but only in the Lord. (Luke 1:5-17 When God Brings Revival)

Luke 1:9 according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.

  • He was chosen by lot. Ex. 30:7-8; 37:25–29. Nu. 16:40. 1 Sa. 2:28. 1 Ch. 6:49; 23:13. 2 Ch. 26:16; 29:11. He. 9:6.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:9 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Barclay in accordance with the custom of priestly duty, it fell to him by lot to go into the Temple of the Lord to burn the incense.

 BURNING INCENSE:
ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY

According to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot - Beloved, you can stake you life on the truth that "God is behind the scenes and controls the scenes He is behind!" And so this was no accident but directed by the Providence of God. Proverb 16:33 says "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD." While we cannot be absolutely certain, it is said that there were as many as 20,000 priests in the time of Jesus. The odds of 20,000 to 1 are nothing for God! Beloved, we need to remember the truth that God is in 100% control, 100% of the time, even when our life seems 100% out of control! 

THOUGHT FROM SPURGEON - If the disposal of the lot is the Lord’s whose is the arrangement of our whole life? If the simple casting of a lot is guided by Him, how much more the events of our entire life—especially when we are told by our blessed Saviour: “The very hairs of your head are all numbered: not a sparrow falls to the ground without your Father.” (Mt 10:29, cf Lk 12:6,7) It would bring a holy calm over your mind, dear friend, if you were always to remember this. It would so relieve your mind from anxiety, that you would be the better able to walk in patience, quiet, and cheerfulness as a Christian should. When a man is anxious he cannot pray with faith; when he is troubled about the world, he cannot serve his Master, his thoughts are serving himself. If you would “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” all things would then be added unto you. You are meddling with Christ’s business, and neglecting your own when you fret about your lot and circumstances. You have been trying “providing” work and forgetting that it is yours to obey. Be wise and attend to the obeying, and let Christ manage the providing. Come and survey your Father’s storehouse, and ask whether he will let you starve while he has laid up so great an abundance in his garner? Look at his heart of mercy; see if that can ever prove unkind! Look at his inscrutable wisdom; see if that will ever be at fault. Above all, look up to Jesus Christ your Intercessor, and ask yourself, while he pleads, can your Father deal ungraciously with you? If he remembers even sparrows, will he forget one of the least of his poor children? “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain thee. He will never suffer the righteous to be moved.”  (Morning and Evening)

"He Is In Control" - Flipping a coin, drawing straws, or taking a number out of a hat have long been ways of resolving disputes. I once read of an election in an Oklahoma town where the two leading candidates each received 140 votes. Rather than go through the expense of another election, city officials used a chance method to decide the winner, and everyone accepted the outcome. What the writer of Proverbs said proved to be true: "Casting lots causes contentions to cease, and keeps the mighty apart" (Prov. 18:18). Many people view all of this as nothing more than a matter of chance. But the amazing thing about what the Word of God calls "casting lots" is that the Lord is ultimately the One who controls the outcome. This was true in the story of Jonah, where God showed Himself to be Lord even through the actions of superstitious, unbelieving sailors. So, what does all of this say to us as believers? From the Christian's perspective, there is no such thing as chance. God is either directly or indirectly involved in everything that happens to us. He can therefore be trusted and obeyed in any circumstance, because even the smallest details are under His control. —Mart De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Things don't just happen to those who love God,
They're planned by His own dear hand,
Then molded and shaped, and timed by His clock;
Things don't just happen--they're planned. 
--Fields

Chosen by lot  (2975)(lagchano) speaks of what comes to someone always apart from his own efforts and here signifying to be selected through casting of lots.

The instructions for burning incense are found in Exodus

 Aaron shall burn (Lxx = thumiao used here by Luke) fragrant incense on it; he shall burn it every morning when he trims the lamps. When Aaron trims the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense. [There shall be] perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations. (Exodus 30:7-8)

Burning incense in the Temple was a great honor which was permitted to a given priest but once in a lifetime. As noted above in the instructions given in Exodus burning incense was a daily regulation which was performed once before the morning sacrifice (9 a.m.) and again before the evening sacrifice (3 p.m.). We don't know with certainty whether Zacharias was chosen for the morning or the evening offering. The incense was offered on the altar of incense directly in front of the veil that separated the holy place from the holy of holies (click diagram below to enlarge - note the Shekinah was not present in Herod's Temple - see diagram of its departure). 

Brian Bell - As he enters he sees only a few things in this room. The golden candlestick (menorah), the table of showbread, and the altar of incense.. On the altar is the sacred flame. Taking a censor full of incense he pours it on the perpetual altar-fire & says, “Lord, let my prayer come before you as incense; and the lifting of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” (Ps.141:2) Smelled great! (Ex.30:34-38).

 
CLICK TO ENLARGE
NOTE:  lampstand is on south side as entrance faced to the east.

Vincent on chosen by lot - Four lots were drawn to determine the order of the ministry of the day: the first, before day-break, to designate the priests who were to cleanse the altar and prepare its fires; the second for the priest who was to offer the sacrifice and cleanse the candlestick and the altar of incense; the third for the priest who should burn incense; and the fourth appointing those who were to lay the sacrifice and meat-offering on the altar, and pour out the drink-offering. There are said to have been twenty thousand priests in Christ’s time, so that no priest would ever offer incense more than once. It is worth noting that  many priests never enjoyed this privilege because the lot never fell to them. This is more evidence that God was providentially in control of the details. 

Casting lots was a method often used to reveal God’s purposes in a matter (cf. Jos 14:1, 2; 1Sa 14:38–43; 1Ch 25:8–31; Jon 1:7; Ac 1:26) and Pr 16:33 says "The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD."

Spurgeon - Certain offices of the priest were considered to be more honourable than others; and so, to prevent any jealousy, they cast lots as to which they should take in turn. It fell to the lot of Zacharias to burn incense; this did not happen by chance. “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord;” and there was a special reason why this good man should stand at the altar at this particular time.

Chosen by lots (2975)(lagchano)  means to obtain by lot (as used by Homer in Greek writings; eg, to obtain by fate by the will of the gods) and so to obtain something as a portion (to receive, to obtain. Lagchano speaks of what is obtained is not result of personal merit but an allottment as a free gift of God's grace (Acts 1:17, 15:8-11, 2 Pe 1:1 "received a faith of the same kind" - note)

Custom (1485)(ethos from etho = to be used, to be accustomed) refers to a usual or customary manner of behavior, habit, pattern of behavior which is more or less fixed by tradition or the usual practice. It may be established by law or otherwise generally sanctioned by the society. 

Gilbrant on the uses of ethos  - Ethos carries two basic meanings: (1) an informal sense of “custom,” i.e., “habit”; and (2) a formal “custom” or “law.” For example, Jesus’ “habit” (ethos) was to go to the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39; cf. NIV “as usual”). Here the informal sense is plain. The formal idea of “custom” is reflected in 4 Maccabees. Its writer recalls Antiochus’ unsuccessful efforts to make the Israelites “abandon their ancestral customs” (4 Maccabees 18:5RSV). The informal sense dominated classical literature, whereas the formal sense predominates in religious literature. This phenomenon may in large measure be explained by the role of tradition (paradosis) in the religion of Israel.  The New Testament picture mirrors the two senses of ethos as well. Luke, who uses ethos more than any other writer (of its 12 uses 10 are Luke’s), utilizes both meanings, although he favors the formal sense (only Acts 22:39 seems to be informal, cf. Hebrews 10:25). The customs of Moses and the “fathers” (Acts 6:14; 28:17; cf. John 19:40) are the heartbeat of the Jewish religion. If one were a Jew, one’s life revolved around the ethos of the religion (Acts 16:21; 21:21; 26:3; cf. Josephus Antiquities 15.8.4). Even Roman “customs” were understood as binding (Acts 25:16; cf. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law, pp.48f.).(Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Ethos - 12x in 12v - Usage: custom(6), customs(5), habit(1).

Luke 1:9  according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.

Luke 2:42  And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast;

Luke 22:39  And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him.

John 19:40  So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.

Acts 6:14  for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us."

Acts 15:1  Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."

Acts 16:21  and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans."

Acts 21:21  and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.

Acts 25:16  "I answered them that it is not the custom of the Romans to hand over any man before the accused meets his accusers face to face and has an opportunity to make his defense against the charges.

Acts 26:3  especially because you are an expert in all customs and questions among the Jews; therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.

Acts 28:17  After three days Paul called together those who were the leading men of the Jews, and when they came together, he began saying to them, "Brethren, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.

Hebrews 10:25  not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense - "The incense offering pictured the prayers of God’s people rising up to Him in a pleasing aroma. 

Psalm 141:2 "May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering."

Rev 8:3-4+ Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand.

 While the priest offered incense inside the holy place, outside the worshipers were praying. The most common prayer was that God would visit His people with salvation through the Messiah....There is debate about whether Zecharias would have been offering prayer for a son at this sacred moment in his priestly ministry. Most likely he was praying with everyone else for the deliverance of Israel, but in His grace, God answered his prayer for the Messiah to come and at the same time answered his prayers of many years for a son." (Cole) 

Temple (sanctuary) (3485)(naos) describes the holy place in which the golden altar of incense stood. The people were outside in the fore-courts. 

To burn incense was a high privilege and came only once in a lifetime for as A T Robertson says "It was only once in a lifetime that a priest obtained the lot of going." This again shows the Lord's providential control over the details. 

“It was the great moment of Zacharias’s life, and his heart was no doubt alert for the supernatural” (Ragg).

Burn incense - Hobart finds (this verb) used by medical writers for fumigating herbs. (Robertson)

Burn incense (only used here) (2370) (thumiao from thuo = to offer, to sacrifice) means make the incense offering, to burn aromatic substances as an offering to God. The word refers to rising smoke rather than the actual burning of a fire. Liddell-Scott - to burn so as to produce smoke. 

Thumiao - 66v in the Septuagint - 

Exod. 30:7; Exod. 30:8; Exod. 40:5; Exod. 40:27; 1 Sam. 2:15; 1 Sam. 2:16; 1 Sam. 2:28; 1 Ki. 2:35; 1 Ki. 3:2; 1 Ki. 3:3; 1 Ki. 11:8; 1 Ki. 16:28; 1 Ki. 22:43; 2 Ki. 12:3; 2 Ki. 14:4; 2 Ki. 15:4; 2 Ki. 15:35; 2 Ki. 16:4; 2 Ki. 16:13; 2 Ki. 17:11; 2 Ki. 18:4; 2 Ki. 22:17; 2 Ki. 23:5; 2 Ki. 23:8; 1 Chr. 6:49; 1 Chr. 23:13; 2 Chr. 2:4; 2 Chr. 2:6; 2 Chr. 13:11; 2 Chr. 26:16; 2 Chr. 26:18; 2 Chr. 26:19; 2 Chr. 28:4; 2 Chr. 28:25; 2 Chr. 29:7; 2 Chr. 29:11; 2 Chr. 30:14; 2 Chr. 32:12; 2 Chr. 34:25; Song. 3:6; Isa. 65:3; Isa. 65:7; Jer. 7:9; Jer. 11:12; Jer. 11:13; Jer. 11:17; Jer. 18:15; Jer. 19:4; Jer. 19:13; Jer. 32:29; Jer. 44:3; Jer. 44:5; Jer. 44:8; Jer. 44:15; Jer. 44:17; Jer. 44:18; Jer. 44:19; Jer. 44:21; Jer. 44:23; Jer. 44:25; Jer. 48:35; Hos. 11:2; Hab. 1:16

Most commentators feel this was the evening sacrifice because of the mention of the crowd. It is interesting that the same angel Gabriel appeared to Daniel "about the time of the evening offering." (Da 9:21+).

Warren Wiersbe makes an excellent point - The priests on duty drew lots to see which ministries they would perform, and Zacharias was chosen to offer incense in the holy place. This was a high honor that was permitted to a priest but once in a lifetime. The incense was offered daily before the morning sacrifice and after the evening sacrifice, about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. It was probably the evening offering that was assigned to Zacharias. You have probably noticed that God often speaks to His people and calls them while they are busy doing their daily tasks. Both Moses and David were caring for sheep, and Gideon was threshing wheat. Peter and his partners were mending nets when Jesus called them. It is difficult to steer a car when the engine is not running. When we get busy, God starts to direct us. (Bible Exposition Commentary)

Vincent on burn incense -  Only here in New Testament. The incensing priest and his assistants went first to the altar of burnt-offering, and filled a golden censer with incense, and placed burning coals from the altar in a golden bowl. As they passed into the court from the Holy Place they struck a large instrument called the Magrephah, which summoned all the ministers to their places. Ascending the steps to the holy place, the priests spread the coals on the golden altar, and arranged the incense, and the chief officiating priest was then left alone within the Holy Place to await the signal of the president to burn the incense. It was probably at this time that the angel appeared to Zacharias. When the signal was given, the whole multitude withdrew from the inner court, and fell down before the Lord. Silence pervaded the temple, while within, the clouds of incense rose up before Jehovah.

Beloved, it is that a beautiful picture of how believers today (who are His temple) should fall down before the Lord morning and evening offering the incense of prayers before Jehovah? Are you burning incense daily? The priest could do it only once in their life, but we have the opportunity of a lifetime every day! O my, how I am convicted that too often I lose sight of the high and holy privilege we as priests of the Most High God (1 Peter 2:9) now have under grace and not law. Not only can we continually offer "incense" John records the incredible fact that this incense is stored away in heaven...

And another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand. (Rev 8:3-4-note)

See Alfred Edersheim's The Morning and Evening Sacrifice (Luke 1:8-10) in his classic “The Temple, its Ministry,”). Edersheim has this note related to the fourth lot 

The Lot for Incense - After this the lot was cast for burning the incense. No one might take part in it who had ministered in that office before, unless in the very rare case that all present had previously so officiated. Hence, while the other three lots held good for the evening service, that for the incense required to be repeated. He on whom this lot fell chose from among his friends his two assistants. Finally, the third was succeeded by the fourth lot, which designated those who were to lay on the altar the sacrifice and the meat-offerings, and to pour out the drink-offering. The incensing priest and his assistance now approached first the altar of burnt-offering. One filled with incense a golden censer held in a silver vessel, while another placed in a golden bowl burning coals from the altar. As they passed from the court into the Holy Place, they struck a large instrument (called the ‘Magrephah’), at sound of which the priests hastened from all parts to worship, and the Levites to occupy their places in the service of song; while the chief of the ‘stationary men’ ranged at the Gate of Nicanor such of the people as were to be purified that day. Slowly the incensing priest and his assistants ascended the steps to the Holy Place, preceded by the two priests who had formerly dressed the altar and the candlestick, and who now removed the vessels they had left behind, and, worshiping, withdrew. Next, one of the assistants reverently spread the coals on the golden altar; the other arranged the incense; and then the chief officiating priest was left alone within the Holy Place, to await the signal of the president before burning the incense. It was probably while thus expectant that the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias. As the president gave the word of command, which marked that ‘the time of incense had come,’ ‘the whole multitude of the people without’ withdrew from the inner court, and fell down before the Lord, spreading their hands (The practice of folding the hands together in prayer dates from the fifth century of our era, and is of purely Saxon origin. See Holemann, Bibel St. i. p. 150, quoted by Delitzsch, u.s.) in silent prayer. (The Morning and Evening Sacrifice) (Entire volume of The Temple)

Spurgeon - Certain offices of the priest were considered to be more honourable than others; and so, to prevent any jealousy, they cast lots as to which they should take in turn. It fell to the lot of Zacharias to burn incense; this did not happen by chance. “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord;” and there was a special reason why this good man should stand at the altar at this particular time.

This verse helps substantiate that the ALTAR OF INCENSE was within the outer tabernacle, called the Holy Place. Why? because only the High Priest was allowed into the Holy of Holies and then only once/year. So it would have been impossible to fulfill God's requirement that there always be incense on this altar. Zacharias was not High Priest and would have been prohibited from entering the Holy of Holies. Heb 9:3-4 suggests the "golden altar of incense" is WITHIN the Holy of Holies. Yet we know that Scripture does not contradict Scripture, and from the passages in Ex 40:26, 40:1-5, 2Ki 6:22, we see that the ALTAR OF INCENSE was clearly in the outer tabernacle or the Holy Place. This apparent "discrepancy" is most reasonably resolved by the translation of the term in Heb 9:4 as "golden censer" or "censer of gold" as many of the versions (KJV, NKJV, DARBY, YOUNG'S, WEYMOUTH) have done. Thus once per year when the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies with blood not his own for performing atonement for himself and all the people, he also took a censer of incense

Luke 1:10  And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.

Barclay  The whole congregation of the people was praying outside at the hour when incense was offered. 

INCENSE AND CORPORATE
PRAYER ASCENDING

And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside - The crowd is described first in a state of prayerfulness and then again in Lk 1:21 in a state of expectancy. J C Ryle quotes Lightfoot who says that “When the priest came in unto the holy place to offer incense, notice was given to all, by the sound of a little bell, that the time of prayers was now.” (Lightfoot. Vol 12, p16)." (Luke 1

Spurgeon - While he, in the inner shrine, was burning incense, the multitudes in the outer courts were engaging in prayer. I think that is a very beautiful symbol,-the priest unseen, like the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy of Holies above, and the mass of the people engaged in prayer while the unseen priest is offering the sacred perfume before the altar of Jehovah.

Holman New Testament Commentary –Outside, the pious Jewish worshipers and priests joined in prayer, the rising incense giving assurance that God was listening to them. Luke repeatedly emphasized the power of prayer and the need to learn to pray, and to pray together. A praying church finds God's power coming to work among them and accomplish the church's mission.

Multitude (crowd, throng)(4128)(plethos from pletho = to fill - gives us English "plethora") means fullness or magnitude. is also used to express quantity, size, or number of something, e.g., an amount of money or length of time. In classic Greek it had the basic meaning of multitude. In the Gospels and Acts plethos usually means a quantity of people as in the present case. A bundle of sticks in Acts 28:3. Plethos describes the descendants of Abraham as like the stars of heaven in number. (Heb 11:12) Figurative used in James 5:20, 1 Peter 4:8 to describe a "multitude of sins."

All of Luke's uses of plethos

 Lk. 1:10; Lk. 2:13; Lk. 5:6; Lk. 6:17; Lk. 8:37; Lk. 19:37; Lk. 23:1; Lk. 23:27; Acts 2:6; Acts 4:32; Acts 5:14; Acts 5:16; Acts 6:2; Acts 6:5; Acts 14:1; Acts 14:4; Acts 15:12; Acts 15:30; Acts 19:9; Acts 21:36; Acts 23:7; Acts 25:24; Acts 28:3;

Were in prayer (4336)(proseuchomai  from pros = toward, facing, before [emphasizing the direct approach of the one who prays in seeking God’s face] + euchomai = originally to speak out, utter aloud, express a wish, then to pray or to vow. Greek technical term for invoking a deity) in the NT is always used of prayer addressed to God (to Him as the object of faith and the One who will answer one’s prayer) and means to speak consciously (with or without vocalization) to Him, with a definite aim (See study of noun proseuche). Proseuchomai encompasses all the aspects of prayer -- submission, confession, petition, supplication (may concern one's own need), intercession (concerned with the needs of others), praise, and thanksgiving.

The verb were in prayer is in the "Periphrastic imperfect indicative picturing the posture of the people while the clouds of incense rose on the inside of the sanctuary." (Robertson) (ED Note: Other sources have proseuchomai in the present tense which is similar and pictures the multitude in continuous prayer.)

Vine says that proseuchomai carries with it a notion of worship (but see the Greek word for worship = proskuneo) which is not present in the other words for prayer (eg, aiteo, deomai, both of which involve spoken supplication)

Wuest adds that the prefixed preposition pros "gives it the idea of definiteness and directness in prayer, with the consciousness on the part of the one praying that he is talking face to face with God...(thus proseuchomai) speaks also of the consciousness on the part of the one who prays, of the fact of God’s presence and His listening ear." (Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)

At the hour of the incense offering - "The "hour of the incense offering" is another way to refer to the time of sacrifice." (NET) There was a morning and an evening sacrifice occurring at 9AM and 3PM (some sources say 3:30PM) (CORRESPONDING TO 9TH HOUR IN JEWISH TIMING, THE VERY HOUR THE PASSOVER LAMB OF GOD WAS SACRIFICED! Mt 27:45) and the fact that there was such a multitude "makes it more likely that this incident took place in the afternoon" (HCSB Study Bible), but we cannot be dogmatic.

J R Miller - The old priest was in his place in the temple that day, and his particular duty was to burn incense on the golden altar. Incense was a symbol of prayer. While the priest was offering it on the altar the people were standing outside, engaged in prayer. The prayers arose to God purified and sweetened by the holy offering. It is a beautiful thought that prayers rise up to God—as perfume; that true prayer is fragrant in heaven. This symbol of incense teaches the acceptableness of prayer as it goes up to God. There is another thing that we should remember, however, in this connection. The burnt offering was offered at the same time that the incense was burning, and the incense itself was kindled by fire brought from the altar of burnt offering. Prayer needs the efficacy of Christ's atonement to make it acceptable. We can pray only in Christ's name and in dependence on His sacrifice.

Luke 1:11  And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.

  • appeared. Luke 1:19, 28; Luke 2:10. Jdg 13:3, 9. Ac. 10:3, 4. He. 1:14.
  • the altar. Ex. 30:1–6; 37:25–29; 40:26, 27. Le. 16:13. Re. 8:3, 4; 9:13.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:11 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Barclay  The angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 

AN ANGELIC ENCOUNTER

And an angel of the Lord appeared to him standing to the right of the altar of incense - We learn in Luke 1:19 this is Gabriel for  "The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news."" This is interesting because what do most of us do when we pray in church? We close our eyes. Zacharias' eyes were probably closed as he prayed passionately. Imagine his shock on opening his eyes and seeing an angel standing just to his right! 

Guzik quips "Zacharias must have thought, “Does this happen to everyone who does this? The other guys didn’t tell me anything about this!”

Bock - Angelic visitations to announce births of major figures are common in the Old Testament (Ge 16:10-11; 17:15-19; 18:10-15; 25:23; Jdg 13:3-21). This announcement is unusual, however, in that the father rather than the mother receives the message. The angel's arrival produces fear in the priest. He senses the presence of God's agent (Lk 1:29-30; 1:65; 2:9; 5:8-10, 26; 7:16; 8:37; 9:34) and is taken back by this surprising development. (Commentary)

Rod Mattoon calls this "Prayer time surprise" and comments on the setting

"Zechariah proceeds toward the golden altar. He is accompanied by two assistants. One of these men is carrying a golden bowl of burning coals from the brazen altar of burnt-offering, and is spreading them out on the altar of incense. The coals had to come from the brazen altar. If the coals or fire came from another place, it was considered as strange fire. This was the deadly mistake that Nadab and Abihu made in Leviticus 10. The Lord was trying to teach His people and us, that our prayers have value and are dependent upon the atonement of blood. This is why Christians can pray and come boldly before the throne of God's grace because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. After the assistant carries the coals to the altar he withdraws. The other assistant is carrying a golden censer filled with incense. He arranges the incense upon the altar, followed by solemn silence. A signal is given. The sacred moment has arrived for Zacharias to place the incense upon the coals, causing a cloud to arise in the Temple, and its fragrance to spread as the fire unleashes the aroma of the stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense that have been mixed together (Ex 30:34-38) As the holy smoke arises, Zacharias offers a fervent prayer for the peace of Israel and gratefulness for God's blessings. (Mattoon's Treasures – Treasures from Luke, Volume 1) (Lk 1:18)

An angel of the Lord - The word angel as noted below is literally a messenger and this angel had a "conception announcement" for Zacharias! And note that this is not Zacharias inhaling the incense and having a hallucination but is a literal angel. Plummer adds that "There is no use in trying to explain away the reality of the angel. We must choose between admitting an objective appearance and a myth." Note that the phrase Angel of the LORD is used several times in the Old Testament (e.g., Ge 16:7-11; Gen. 22:11-12; Ge 22:15-16; Ex. 3:2, etc >50x) to describe the pre-incarnate appearance of Christ, the Creator of the angel Gabriel who had appeared 500 years earlier to Daniel (Da 9:21-23+ = giving Daniel the great prophecy that predicted the time of coming of the Messiah - Da 9:24+, Da 9:25+, Da 9:26+, Da 9:27+)! .

Warren WiersbeLuke mentions angels twenty-three times in his Gospel. There are innumerable angels (Rev. 5:11), only two of which are actually named in Scripture: Michael (Dan. 10:13, 21; 12:1; Jude 1:9; Rev. 12:7) and Gabriel (Dan. 8:16; 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26). When Gabriel appeared by the altar, Zacharias was frightened, for the angel's appearance could have meant divine judgment. (Bible Exposition Commentary)

Related Resources:

Bock on an angel Skeptics immediately discount any text that involves supernatural beings, and they believe they have science on their side. But by definition supernatural beings are beings that are not bound by the natural world. Space and time do not confine them. Since science can deal only with realities confined to our space-time continuum, science can have nothing to say about the existence or nonexistence of supernatural beings such as angels. Thus readers are thrown back on their presuppositions and experiences. The biblical view is that angels exist and are sometimes used to impart knowledge of God’s will (Luke 2:9; Matt 1:20; Acts 5:19; 1 Cor 4:9; Heb 1:4; 1 Pet 3:22; Jude 6; Rev 5:2), and any reader who accepts this testimony at face value is not guilty of being pre-scientific. (Ibid)

Appeared - This is the same verb (horao) used by Paul to describe four separate supernatural post-resurrection appearances of Jesus (1 Cor 15:5, 6, 7, 8+)

Angel (32) (aggelos/angelos [gg in Greek is pronounced ng] possibly from ago = to bring) literally means a messenger (one who bears a message - Lk 1:11, 2:9, etc or does an errand). Most of the NT uses refer to heavenly angels (messengers) who are supernatural, transcendent beings with power to carry out various tasks. All uses of aggelos that refer to angels are masculine gender (the feminine form of aggelos does not occur.) The great news about angels is that they are "ministering spirits" (Heb 1:14), where the word "ministering" is leitourgikos which in Classic Greek referred especially to those who performed public duties or works of public use (public servants). The angels are literally "spirits for serving!"

Luke mentions angels in 46 verses in his writings (out of 172 verses that use angel in the NT) -

Lk. 1:11; Lk. 1:13; Lk. 1:18; Lk. 1:19; Lk. 1:26; Lk. 1:30; Lk. 1:34; Lk. 1:35; Lk. 1:38; Lk. 2:9; Lk. 2:10; Lk. 2:13; Lk. 2:15; Lk. 2:21; Lk. 4:10; Lk. 7:24; Lk. 7:27; Lk. 9:26; Lk. 9:52; Lk. 12:8; Lk. 12:9; Lk. 15:10; Lk. 16:22; Lk. 22:43; Lk. 24:23; Acts 5:19; Acts 6:15; Acts 7:30; Acts 7:35; Acts 7:38; Acts 7:53; Acts 8:26; Acts 10:3; Acts 10:7; Acts 10:22; Acts 11:13; Acts 12:7; Acts 12:8; Acts 12:9; Acts 12:10; Acts 12:11; Acts 12:15; Acts 12:23; Acts 23:8; Acts 23:9; Acts 27:23;

Vine writes that aggelos refer to "an order of created beings, superior to man, Heb 2:7; Ps. 8:5, belonging to Heaven, Mt. 24:36; Mark 12:25, and to God, Luke 12:8, and engaged in His service, Psa. 103:20. Angels are spirits, Heb. 1:14, i.e., they have not material bodies as men have; they are either human in form, or can assume the human form when necessary, cp. Luke 24:4, with Lk 24:23, Acts 10:3 with Acts 10:30."

Luke in his gospel and the book of Acts makes mention of angels far more than any other NT writer...

Luke 1:11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.

13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.

18 Zacharias said to the angel, "How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years."

19 The angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,

30 The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.

34 Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"

35 The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.

38 And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Luke 2:9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;

13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."

21 And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

Luke 4:10 for it is written, 'HE WILL COMMAND HIS angels CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,'

Luke 7:24 When the messengers of John had left, He began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

27 "This is the one about whom it is written, 'BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.'

Luke 9:26 "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

52 and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him.

Luke 12:8 "And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God;

9 but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

Luke 15:10 "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Luke 16:22 "Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.

Luke 22:43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.

Luke 24:23 and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive.

Acts 5:19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said,

Acts 6:15 And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel.

Acts 7:30 "After forty years had passed, AN angel APPEARED TO HIM IN THE WILDERNESS OF MOUNT Sinai, IN THE FLAME OF A BURNING THORN BUSH.

35 "This Moses whom they disowned, saying, 'WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND A JUDGE?' is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush.

38 "This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you.

53 you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it."

Acts 8:26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, "Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza." (This is a desert road.)

Acts 10:3 About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, "Cornelius!"

7 When the angel who was speaking to him had left, he summoned two of his servants and a devout soldier of those who were his personal attendants,

22 They said, "Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you."

Acts 11:13 "And he reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, 'Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here;

Acts 12:7 And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter's side and woke him up, saying, "Get up quickly." And his chains fell off his hands.

8 And the angel said to him, "Gird yourself and put on your sandals." And he did so. And he said to him, "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me."

9 And he went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.

10 When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.

11 When Peter came to himself, he said, "Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting."

15 They said to her, "You are out of your mind!" But she kept insisting that it was so. They kept saying, "It is his angel."

23 And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.

Acts 23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.

9 And there occurred a great uproar; and some of the scribes of the Pharisaic party stood up and began to argue heatedly, saying, "We find nothing wrong with this man; suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?"

Acts 27:23 "For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me,

To the right of the altar of incense - Right side is probably the south side and from the depiction above (click) Gabriel would have been standing between between the altar of incense and the golden lampstand.

Altar (2379)(thusiasterion from thusia = that which is offered as a sacrifice - see Altar) refers to any type of altar or object where gifts may be placed and ritual observances carried out in honor of supernatural beings. In the NT thusiasterion is employed to refer to a number of different types of altars, including the altar for burnt offerings in the Temple, the altar of incense, the altar which Abraham built, and the heavenly altar mentioned in the book of Revelation.

J C Ryle points out that "Nowhere in the Bible do we find such frequent mention of (ANGELS), as in the period of our Lord’s earthly ministry. At no time do we read of so many appearances of angels, as about the time of our Lord’s incarnation and entrance into the world. The meaning of this circumstance is sufficiently clear. It was meant to teach the church that Messiah was no angel, but the Lord of angels, as well as of men. Angels announced His coming. Angels proclaimed His birth. Angels rejoiced at his appearing. And by so doing they made it plain that He who came to die for sinners, was not one of themselves, but one far above them, the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:16-note). One thing, at all events, about angels, we must never forget. They take a deep interest in the work of Christ, and the salvation which Christ has provided. They sung high praise when the Son of God came down to make peace by His own blood between God and man (Lk 2:14-note). They rejoice when sinners repent, and sons are born again to our Father in heaven (Luke 15:10). They delight to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation (Heb 1:14-note). Let us strive to be like them, while we are upon earth,—to be of their mind, and to share their joys. This is the way to be in tune for heaven. It is written of those who enter in there, that they shall be “as the angels.” (Mark 12:25.) (Expository Thoughts Luke 1)

Luke 1:12  Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him.

  • he. Luke 1:29; Luke 2:9, 10. Jdg 6:22; 13:22. Job 4:14, 15. Da. 10:7. Mark 16:5. Ac. 10:4. Re. 1:17
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:12 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Barclay -  When Zacharias saw him he was deeply moved and awe fell upon him.


Annunciation of John the Baptist

A TROUBLING
FEARFUL SIGHT

Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel -  NLT paraphrases it "Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him." As were other saints when they saw an angel - Daniel in Daniel 8:16-17+ and Da 10:7-9+. Gideon when he saw the ultimate Messenger, the Angel of the LORD (Jdg 6:22-23+). Zacharias inward  parts were in commotion causing him to lose calmness of mind and ultimately to strike his spirit with fear, dread, and distress. Zacharias was "shook up" as we might say today! 

Mattoon quips "Through the fog of the incense, Zacharias may have wondered if he was seeing things." (Ibid)

Troubled (disturbed, stirred up) (5015)(tarasso) literally means to shake back and forth and therefore to agitate and stir up (like the pool in John 5:4,7+, Lxx = Ezek 32:2, 13, Isa 51:15). To shake together, stir up, disturb, unsettle, throw into disorder (Lxx = 2 Sa 22:8 = of earth shaking). Most of the NT uses of tarasso are figurative and describe the state of one's mind as stirred up, agitated or experiencing inward commotion. The passive voice is always used in the NT with a negative meaning, conveying the sense of emotional disturbance or inner turmoil, so that one is unsettled, thrown into confusion, or disturbed by various emotions, including excitement, perplexity, fear or trepidation. Tarasso describes Herod when heard of the birth of Jesus (Mt 2:3), Zacharias' fear when he saw the angel (Lk 1:12), the terror of the disciples when they witnessed Jesus walking on the water (Mt 14:26), Jesus' reaction to the lack of faith among the people before He raises Lazarus (Jn 11:33), in Jesus' command to not let their hearts be troubled (Jn 14:1) and of disturbing the faith of someone (Gal 5:10+). Tarasso emphasizes the intensity of the Lord's reaction to His impending death (Jn 12:27) and His response to Judas' imminent betrayal.

Luke uses tarasso 5x (out of 18 NT uses) - Lk 1:12, 24:38, Acts 15:24, 17:8, 17:13. 

THOUGHT BY MATTOON There is a great truth here. The visit of Gabriel was a wonderful blessing, but it did not seem that way at first to Zacharias. He was troubled and distressed. Let me say there may be times in your life when circumstances may trouble and distress you, but turn out to be a blessing later on in time. Job's life was shaken and shattered, but it yielded great blessings for him and greater, deeper faith in God. When life is most desperate, we need to cling to the Lord by faith.

Ed Comment: And I believe Job 23:12+ was the "SECRET" of Job's survival/patience - see commentary. Because of Job 23:12 Job could give the affirmation of Job 23:10+ ("But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.") even though he had just stated he could not perceive, behold or see God! So how did come to such a profound understanding of God? Where did the faith come from enabling him to make the incredible statement in Job 23:10+? IN A WORD, HIS WORD (cf Ro 10:17+)! (Read Job 23:8-9) 

Spurgeon on troubled

He was a good man, yet he was troubled at the sight of an angel. Consciousness of sin, even in an outwardly blameless man, makes us all tremble in the presence of anything heavenly. This bright spirit had come fresh from the courts of God; he was a courtier of the heavenly Temple, and he had come down on a sudden with a sweet and cheering message for the earthly priest; but the priest “was troubled, and fear fell upon him.” Brethren, we cannot know much of heaven here below, because it would cause us trembling; we are as yet unfit for all the glories of that upper state. Good John Berridge (Read John Berridge's incredible biography so you will know him when you get to Heaven!) wrote,-“

And now they range the heavenly plains,
And sing their hymns in melting strains;
And now their souls begin to prove
The heights and depths of Jesus’ love.

“Ah Lord, with tardy steps I creep,
And sometimes sing, and sometimes weep;
Yet strip me of this house of clay,
And I will sing as loud as they.”

Yes, and so will we; we will be as much at home as the happy saints, who dwell in light, when once we are delivered from this hampering flesh and blood.

And fear gripped him - Literally it reads that "fear fell upon him" which is a vivid description. We've all probably had somewhat similar experiences of the sudden onset of fear (however not because of angelic sightings!) Scripture records that Zacharias' reaction was not unusual as fear was the usual response when supernatural agents appeared - See Lk 1:29-30+, Lk 1:65+; Lk 2:9+; Lk 5:8–10+; Lk 9:34+; Lk 24:38+; Ex 15:16; Jdg 6:22-23+; Jdg 13:6, 22+; 2 Sa 6:9. 

J C Ryle on Zecharias' fear - The experience of this righteous man here, tallies exactly with that of other saints under similar circumstances. Moses at the burning bush, and Daniel at the river of Hiddekel,—the women at the sepulchre, and John at the isle of Patmos,—all showed like fear to that of Zacharias. Like him, when they saw visions of things belonging to another world, they trembled and were afraid. How are we to account for this fear? To that question there is only one answer. It arises from our inward sense of weakness, guilt, and corruption. The vision of an inhabitant of heaven reminds us forcibly of our own imperfection, and of our natural unfitness to stand before God. If angels are so great and terrible, what must the Lord of angels be? Let us bless God, that we have a mighty Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. Believing on Him, we may draw near to God with boldness, and look forward to the day of judgment without fear. When the mighty angels shall go forth to gather together God’s elect, the elect will have no cause to be afraid. To them the angels are fellow-servants and friends. (Rev. 22:9+.) Let us tremble when we think of the terror of the wicked at the last day. If even the righteous are troubled by a sudden vision of friendly spirits, where will the ungodly appear, when the angels come forth to gather them like tares for the burning? The fears of the saints are groundless, and endure but for a little season. The fears of the lost, when once aroused, will prove well-grounded, and will endure for evermore. (Expository Thoughts Luke 1)

Fear (5401)(phobos gives us English phobia, etc) is used in an active sense to describe that which causes fear, dread, alarm or terror. Luke uses phobos 11x (out of 42x in NT) - Lk 1:12; Lk 1:65; Lk 5:26; Lk 7:16; Lk 8:37; Lk 21:26; Acts 2:43; Acts 5:5; Acts 5:11; Acts 9:31; Acts 19:17. 

Gripped (1968)(epipipto from epi = upon + pipto = fall) means literally to fall upon (someone) or to press against (Mk 3:10) and is used both literally and figuratively in the NT.

Literal uses - In Mk 3:10 when they saw Jesus power to heal, they "pressed around Him in order to touch Him."  In Acts 20:10 "Paul went down and fell upon"  Eutychus who had fallen asleep and dropped three stories to his death until Paul's falling upon him brought him back to life. Epipipto described falling upon in order to embrace, as when the father embraced his repentant prodigal son (Lk 15:20) or as when the Ephesian elders "embraced Paul" knowing this was the last time they would see him (Acts 20:37, cp Acts 20:38, cp Lxx - Ge 45:14 = Joseph "fell on his brother Benjamin's neck" and then in Ge 46:29 Joseph "fell on [Jacob's] neck" and Ge 50:1 he "fell on his father's face.").

Figurative uses -  Of fear "falling" on someone (Lk 1:12, Acts 19:17, Rev 11:11 - when the 2 witnesses came to live and ascended to heaven!; Lxx - Ex 15:16 "terror and dread fell upon" Israel's enemies. Same idea in Josh 2:9; cp Ps 104:38) Figuratively of reproaches falling on someone (Ro 15:3 quoting Ps 68:10). Luke uses ekpipto figuratively three times to describe the Holy Spirit coming down upon or "falling upon" someone (Acts  8:16, 10.44, 11:15). In Josh 11:7 the Israelites "came upon them suddenly" to attack 3 kings.  Solomon wrote "the sons of men are ensnared at an evil time when it suddenly falls on them." (Ecc 9:12)

Gilbrant - Old Testament wisdom literature uses the word frequently. At times it is used figuratively (e.g., Job 4:13; 33:15; of fear of “falling”), but it can function literally (e.g. Job 6:16, of “falling [melting?] snow”). In the New Testament the word is used most often in a literal, concrete sense. Mark 3:10 and Acts 20:10,37 indicate a literal falling or pressing upon one’s neck as an expression of love or desire for affection or attention. Epipiptō is also used metaphorically when in Luke 1:12 abstractions like fear and darkness can be said to fall upon someone. Likewise, reproach may fall upon someone, as in Romans 15:3. Even this text bears out the fact that the word is never used in the New Testament with hostile intent. Another aspect of the word’s usage is seen in Acts (Acts 10:10,44; 11:15; 13:11; 19:7) which indicates a suddenness with which the “falling upon” occurs. (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Ekpipto - 37x in 36v in the Septuagint - 

Gen. 14:15; Gen. 15:12 (twice - "a deep sleep fell upon Abram and behold terro and great darkness fell upon him." Gen. 45:14; Gen. 46:29; Gen. 50:1; Exod. 15:16; Lev. 11:32; Lev. 11:37; Lev. 11:38; Num. 35:23; Jos. 2:9; Jos. 11:7; 1 Sam. 26:12; 1 Sam. 31:4; 1 Sam. 31:5; 2 Sam. 17:9; 1 Chr. 10:4; Neh. 6:16; Est. 7:8; Job 4:13; 6:16, 27; 13:11; 18:16; 33:15;Ps. 16:6; 55:4; 58:8; 69:9; 78:28; 105:38; Eccl. 9:12;  Jer. 48:32;; Dan. 4:5; Dan. 4:33; Dan. 10:7 ("a great dread fell on them")

Ekpipto - 11x in 11v - Usage: embraced*(2), fallen(1), fell(6), gripped(1), pressed around(1).

Mark 3:10+  for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him.

Luke 1:12  Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him.

Luke 15:20+  "So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

Acts 8:16+  For He (Spirit) had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Acts 10:44+  While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.

Acts 11:15+  "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning.

Acts 19:17+  This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified.

Acts 20:10+  But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, "Do not be troubled, for his life is in him."

Acts 20:37+  And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him,

Romans 15:3+  For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME."

Revelation 11:11+  But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them.

Luke 1:13  But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.

  • Do not be afraid, Zacharias. Luke 24:36–40. Jdg 6:23. Da. 10:12. Mat. 28:5. Mark 16:6.
  • for your petition has been heard Ge. 25:21. 1 Sa. 1:20–23. Ps. 118:21. Ac. 10:31.
  • your wife Elizabeth. Ge. 17:10; 18:14. Jdg 13:3–5. 1 Sa. 2:21. 2 Ki. 4:16, 17. Ps. 113:9; 127:3–5.
  • you will give him the name John Luke 1:60–63; Luke 2:21. Ge. 17:19. Is. 8:3. Ho. 1:4, 6, 9, 10. Mat. 1:21.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:13 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Barclay - The angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zacharias, because your request has been heard and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you must call him by the name of John.

AN ANGELIC ENCOUNTER
BREAKS 400 YEARS OF SILENCE!

But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard - And this is the first mention of the breaking of God's 400 years of silence since God had last spoken through His prophet Malachi. This is somewhat ironic for literally the last words in Malachi God predicted the coming of the forerunner John the Baptist (Malachi 4:5-6+, cf Malachi 3:1+), the very one God's messenger was now announcing to Zacharias! God went silent after a prediction and 400 years later first speaks (through His messenger) of the fulfillment of His prediction! Interesting!

As Spurgeon says "The best quietus to fear is answered prayer. If God has heard thee, be not thou again afraid."

Steven Cole adds that "It had been 400 years since God’s people had heard a word from God. As in the days just before Samuel’s ministry, “word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent” (1Sa 3:1). All this while, a faithful remnant among God’s people was praying that He would fulfill His longstanding promise of sending salvation through His Messiah. Then, suddenly, without advance notice, God broke into history and announced what He was about to do in the birth of John the Baptist. Although Luke does not explain the meaning of any of the Hebrew names for his Gentile readers, I cannot help but think that there is a divine significance to each of them. John means “God has been gracious,” and that was certainly fitting. Liefeld states, “That the child was named before his birth stresses God’s sovereignty in choosing him to be his servant” (ibid.). Commenting on Lk 1:15, Howard Marshall states, “The language expresses divine choice and care of a person from his very birth, but here in connection with Lk 1:41-44 a pre-natal sanctification of John is implied; even before he was born, the hand of God was on him to prepare him for his work. Thus in the strongest possible way the divine choice of John for his crucial task is stressed” (p. 58)." (Luke 1:5-17 When God Brings Revival)

J C Ryle links God's Word given via an angel to Zecharias with Daniel's incredible prophecy of 70 weeks - "(Gabriel) told the believing Israelite that the prophetic weeks of Daniel were at length fulfilled, (Da 9:25+)—that God’s choicest promise was at length going to be accomplished,—and that “the Seed” (Ge 3:15+, cp Gal 3:16+, Gal 4:4+) was about to appear in Whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed. (Ge 22:18) We must place ourselves in imagination in the position of Zacharias, in order to give the verses before us their due weight." ( Expository Thoughts - Luke 1) (Note that Ryle's comments were written in about 1870 and not by a dispensationalist but a literalist)

Do not be afraid (me phobou) is a present imperative with a negative meaning cease being afraid. Gabriel gave the same command to Mary (Lk 1:30+).  An unnamed angel told the shepherds "do not be afraid." (Lk 2:9-10+). Jesus commanded Simon (Peter) "Do not fear" (Lk 5:10+). Jesus told the synagogue official whose daughter had died "Do not be afraid" (Lk 8:50+) Compare Lk 12:4-5+, Luke 12:7+, Luke 12:32+. Clearly Jesus did not want His disciples to be fearful. 

For (term of explanation = why he did not need to fear) your petition has been heard - What petition? The immediate context ("and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son") supports that this was a specific answer of their prayers for children, even though they were older. (See another possible petition below) Perhaps they recalled God's miraculous gift of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah despite the fact that "Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age and Sarah was past childbearing" (Ge 18:11).

THOUGHT- How apropos is Zecharias name for it means "God remembers," and this is a good reminder to all of us that our prayers have not been forgotten by God. I prayed for two of my children to be saved for 20 years and God heard the petition (on day one) but he waited 20 years to answer affirmatively. Beloved, God is faithful!

J Vernon McGee - Zacharias was praying for a son. Elisabeth was praying for a son. I think that many people were praying that they would have a son. How do I know he is praying for a son? Because the angel said, “Your prayer is heard.”

THOUGHT: And remember they were old and yet they had not given up praying! Is there some prayer you have been praying for years and God seems silent? For many parents it is a "prodigal child" like my wife and I had been praying for 20 years. He was in and out of drug rehab units over most of that time. And toward the end of 20 years, he was seriously contemplating suicide. And yet God intervened 3 years ago and saved him and he has been saved and sober since then and God has blessed him with a wife, a newborn son and a new business! Dear parent, don't stop praying for your prodigal! It is always too soon to quit. When I was saved at age 39, I called my father and he related how he had been praying for me daily literally for 20 years! Don't give up beloved!)

J C Ryle - We learn here, for one thing, that prayers are not necessarily rejected because the answer is long delayed. Zacharias, no doubt, had often prayed for the blessing of children, and, to all appearance, had prayed in vain. At his advanced time of life, he had probably long ceased to mention the subject before God, and had given up all hope of being a father. Yet the very first words of the angel show plainly that the bygone prayers of Zacharias had not been forgotten (Expository Thoughts Luke 1)

Many commentators do not think Zacharias was praying for a son but for redemption of Israel. I agree with McGee's comment that even if Zacharias was not praying for a son as he offered incense, the godly couple had persisted in their prayer for God to give them a son. In a very real since In truth God answered prayers for a Messiah as well as the parent's prayers for a miracle baby who would play a major role preparing the way for the Messiah! In short the both answers would have been interrelated! 

Matthew Henry – “Prayers are filed in heaven, & are not forgotten though the thing prayed for is not presently given us. The time as well as the thing is the answer; and God’s gift always transcends the measure of the promise.”

This prayer will be answered but in a richer sense than Zacharias and Elizabeth ever dreamed!

Petition (1162)(deesis from deomai = to lack, be in need of) generally refers to urgent requests or supplications to meet a need and are exclusively addressed to God. Deesis prayers arise from one's sense of need (which reflects a humble heart) and in knowing what is lacking. Such an individual makes a plea to God to supply for the need. Deesis in the New Testament always carries the idea of genuine entreaty and supplication before God. It implies a realization of need and a petition for its supply. In Classical Greek deesis (in contrast to the Biblical uses) was not restricted to sacred uses, but was employed of requests preferred to men. In Ephesians 6:18 (note Eph 6:18KJV has supplication) Paul uses deesis twice in his exhortation for saints to pray for one another (implying there is great need on all of our parts! Do we really understand this truth?)

Deesis is used by Luke in Luke 2:37+ (of aged Anna!), Luke 5:33+ and Acts 1:14+ which describes the prayer meeting preceding the coming of the Holy Spirit!.

THE PROPHECY
OF JOHN'S BIRTH

And your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John - The angel promises Zacharias a son and tells him (the future tense here functioning like a command in context) to give him the Name John, which means "Jehovah has shown grace" or "Yahweh is gracious." How appropriate for the forerunner's name, for his life would also usher in what is known as the age of grace through the ministry of Jesus Christ who would give grace upon grace! (John 1:16-17+)

Zacharias and Elizabeth had surely suffered some degree of disgrace (Lk 1:25+) from other Jewish parents who had children and saw the failure to bear children as a sign of God withholding His blessing. The Jewish Rabbis said that seven people were excommunicated from God and the list began, "A Jew who has no wife, or a Jew who has a wife and who has no child."  And yet here the angel says name your son will be "Jehovah has shown grace" which counters their suffering disgrace. God is a God of grace and Peter's words would have been apropos to Zacharias and Elizabeth 

After you (Zacharias and Elizabeth or dear suffering saint put your name here ____________) have suffered for a little while , the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.  (1 Peter 5:10-11+)

Spurgeon on John - “The grace” or “the gift of God”, so the name John signifies; and it is a sweet name for anyone to bear. 

Nelson's NKJV Study Bible has an interesting note that "When God names a child, greatness usually follows (see Ge 16:8, 11, Ge 17:19; 1 Ki 13:2; Isa 7:14+, Isa 49:1, Mt 1:21, Lk 1:31)."

Bear (1080)(gennao from genos = offspring, in turn from ginomai = to become) means to beget, to bring forth, to give birth, to procreate a descendant, to produce offspring, to generate. To beget Is spoken of men (Mt 1:2-16), whereas to bear is spoken of women. 

Related Resource:


THOUGHT FROM MATTOONWe are reminded here that God answers prayer in His own way and in His own time. I'm sure that Zacharias had been praying for many years for a child, yet, his answer was delayed. Realize that delayed answers are not a denial to our prayers. Delays to our prayers test our earnestness and sincerity in praying and they reveal the wisdom of God. The Lord knew the best time to answer Zacharias' prayer. Beloved, our extremities and difficulties are God's opportunities to show Himself strong on our behalf. Are you going through the ringer right now? Are your trials overwhelming you? Realize that God can do the impossible. Pray! Read Lk 1:37+, Isaiah 65:24, Jeremiah 33:3+, Ps 91:15.

God worked in an "impossible" situation to bring about the fulfillment of all the prophecies concerning the Messiah. Beloved, if we want to have our prayers answered, we must be open to what God can do in impossible situations, and we must wait for God to work in His own time and way.

In his book An Unstoppable Force, Erwin McManus shares the story of how prayers resulted in what can only be called a miraculous recreation. Through prayer, an impossibility was changed to a fulfillment. While ministering in South Dallas, McManus's small congregation began to grow. Looking for a place to build a larger church building, the leadership spotted an acre of land for sale. Given its location near downtown Dallas, it seemed strange that the property was available. Excited at their good fortune, this small group of people, many on welfare, began to pray that the site would soon be theirs. Eventually, they were able to purchase the property after receiving financial help from an association of churches.

As the congregation began the process of obtaining building permits, they discovered the property had been declared unacceptable for construction by the city of Dallas. The acre of land in a prime location was nothing more than a worthless landfill. McManus grieved over this waste of precious time and money. He writes: We had bought an acre of garbage. Several core samples were taken. From what I understood, they went at least twenty-five feet deep and found nothing but trash. All I could do was ask our congregation to pray with me and believe that God was with us, and that He would even use the worst of human mistakes to perform the greatest of miracles.

After months of prayer, a woman from the congregation told McManus that since they had asked God to turn the land into something useful, surely it had been taken care of. Feeling God's confirmation of her words, McManus asked for more core samples to be taken. This time the researchers did their tests again and found soil.

McManus writes: How did this happen? Was it because the core sample was in a different part of the land or could it be that God had actually performed a miracle and changed the landfill to good land? What I do know is that the same realtor who sold the property to me came back and offered me three times the amount he had sold it for once he heard the clearance to build had actually come through. What I do know is that the previous owners could not build on the property, but we could. What I do know is that we were told the property was worthless and unusable. What I cannot tell you is what happened beneath the ground at 2815 South Ervay Street. All I can tell you is what I know—and that is that God took my failure and performed a miracle. Today Cornerstone Church worships on that acre of land in a sanctuary built by our own hands. Beloved, with God all things are possible. (Mattoon's Treasures – Treasures from Luke, Volume 1)

Luke 1:14  "You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.

A PROPHECY OF
FUTURE JOY

You will have joy and gladness - Joy and gladness - These are hallmarks of the future Messianic Kingdom

And it will be said in that day (THE DAY WHEN MESSIAH RETURNS), “Behold, this is our God for Whom we have waited that He might SAVE us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation (Described in Ro 11:26-27+; Zech 12:10-14+, Zech 13:1+).”  (Isaiah 25:9, cf Ps 14:7; 48:11).

Comment - If this text is read literally and in its proper context, it is very clear that Isaiah is NOT giving a prophecy about the Church but about the nation of Israel. Isaiah is a Jewish prophet and the word "us" refers to Jews, so in context a literal rendering is that God will save the nation of Israel in the future (albeit only a remnant - see Zech 13:8-9+)

The motif of joy runs through Luke’s gospel and rightly so for good news always bring joy and great news brings great joy! (Lk 1:44, 47, 58; Lk 2:10; Lk 6:23;Lk 8:13; Lk 10:17-21; Lk 13:17; Lk 15:5-10, 22-32; Lk 19:6, 37; Lk 24:52).

Isaiah 35 is one of the great descriptions of the Messianic or Millennial kingdom that follows the judgments prophesied in Isaiah 34:1-17. Isaiah records that...

1 The wilderness and the desert will be glad, and the Arabah (desert areas) will rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 2 It will blossom profusely and rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God (Israel is to recognize the earth’s newfound fruitfulness as coming from the Lord and attribute to Him the appropriate credit). 3 Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.

4 Say to those with anxious heart, "Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you." 5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. 6 Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy. (God’s restoration in the millennial age is to include physical restoration to the afflicted. Jesus’ first coming gave a foretaste of that future day) For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah. 7 And the scorched land will become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water. In the haunt of jackals, its resting place, grass becomes reeds and rushes. (Water is a precious commodity in Israel but in the Millennium, there will be no lack) 8 And a highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it. 9 No lion will be there, Nor will any vicious beast go up on it; These will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk there, 10 And the ransomed of the LORD will return, and come with joyful shouting to Zion, with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. (Isaiah 35:1-10-see in depth commentary)

Robert Stein says "This joy was not just personal feeling, but the eschatological joy brought by the arrival of the Messianic age." (New American Commentary)

John Martin on joy - An illustration of this is in Luke 15:1-32, where three times joy and rejoicing came because something lost had been found, a picture of salvation. And John the Baptist's ministry brought joy to the Israelites who believed his message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Lk 3:3). (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Joy (5479)(chara)(and rejoice) is a feeling of inner gladness, delight or rejoicing. Joy is a feeling of inner gladness, delight or rejoicing. Joy in the NT is virtually always used to signify a feeling of "happiness" that is based on spiritual realities (and independent of what "happens"). Joy is an inner gladness; a deep seated pleasure. It is a depth of assurance and confidence that ignites a cheerful heart. It is a cheerful heart that leads to cheerful behavior. Joy is not an experience that comes from favorable circumstances but is God’s gift to believers. Joy is a part of God’s very essence and as discussed below His Spirit manifests this supernatural joy in His children (Galatians 5:22+, Acts 13:52+, 1Th 1:6+). Joy is the deep-down sense of well-being that abides in the heart of the person who knows all is well between himself and the Lord. There is a chorus from an old spiritual song that is apropos "Happiness happens but joy abides."

Luke's uses of chara - Lk. 1:14; Lk. 2:10; Lk. 8:13; Lk. 10:17; Lk. 15:7; Lk. 15:10; Lk. 24:41; Lk. 24:52; Acts 8:8; Acts 12:14; Acts 13:52; Acts 15:3;

Gladness (20)(agalliasis  related verb - agalliao from agan = much + hallomai = jump; gush, leap, spring up = literally to jump much, leap for joy) means gladness or extreme joy, often accompanied by words and/or bodily movements, such as jumping, smiling, etc.  "Literally, “with exultation” as of those who leap for joy." (Jamieson) This quality of rejoicing refers to a demonstrative rejoicing (Arndt). It indicates the joy and happiness that arises from the experience of God’s saving action. Agalliasis speaks here of the joy at John's birth but it also has eschatological overtones denoting the the jubilation of God’s people when the Messiah returns at Second Coming. The idea is this person experiences excessive, ecstatic joy even with leaping and skipping. Gladness is manifest jubilant exultation, a quality of joy that remains unhindered and unchanged by what happens. Agalliasis describes an exceeding joy (independent of dire circumstances) which is enabled or energized by the Holy Spirit. Agalliasis - Luke has 3 of the 5 NT uses - Lk. 1:14; Lk. 1:44; Acts 2:46+; Heb. 1:9; Jude 1:24

Barclay writes that agalliasis "is the joy which leaps for joy. As it has been put, it is the joy of the climber who has reached the summit, and who leaps for joy that the mountain path is conquered." (Daily Study BibleBarclay's picture of jumping joy is great, as long as I'm "on top of the world". What about when I am in the valley? The word agalliasis teaches that believers do not have to be on a mountain top to experience this exceeding joy. In fact, believers, because of their new nature (partakers of the divine nature 2 Peter 1:4+), can experience this quality of joy even though they are walking through "the valley" of difficult circumstances!

And many will rejoice at his birth 

Will rejoice (5463)(chairo) means to be "cheer" full, calmly happy or well-off. Chairo implies and imparts joy. Chairo is used in a whole range of situations in which the emotion of joy is evoked. To be in a state of happiness and well being (often independent of what is happening when the Source is the Spirit!). Chairo means to enjoy a state of gladness, to be delighted.

Luke's uses of chairo - Lk. 1:14; Lk. 1:28; Lk. 6:23; Lk. 10:20; Lk. 13:17; Lk. 15:5; Lk. 15:32; Lk. 19:6; Lk. 19:37; Lk. 22:5; Lk. 23:8; Acts 5:41; Acts 8:39; Acts 11:23; Acts 13:48; Acts 15:23; Acts 15:31; Acts 23:26;

Luke 1:15  "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb.

  • great. Luke 7:28. Ge. 12:2; 48:19. Jos. 3:7; 4:14. 1 Ch. 17:8; 29:12. Mt 11:9–19. John 5:35.
  • and shall. Luke 7:33. Nu. 6:2–4. Jdg 13:4–6. Mat. 11:18.
  • filled. Zec. 9:15. Ac. 2:4, 14–18. Ep. 5:18.
  • even. Ps. 22:9. Je. 1:5. Ga. 1:15.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:15 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

AMP For he will be great and distinguished in the sight of the Lord. And he must drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit even in and from his mother's womb (Nu 6:3).

GREAT BEFORE GOD

For - Always pause to ponder and query this term of explanation. In this case the angel explains why they would have joy and gladness

He will be great in the sight of the Lord - Jesus comments later that "“I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Lk 7:28+, Mt 11:11)

THOUGHT - What other kind of greatness even matters? Greatness in the sight of men is not equal to greatness in the sight of God! We each need to honestly ask ourselves, "Do I value God's opinion of my life over men's opinion? Do I seek to be a man-pleaser or a God-pleaser? These are tough questions if we are brutally honest! This is one reason I love the prayer in Colossians 1:9-10+ that we might be supernaturally enabled ("filled with [CONTROLLED BY] the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding") to "walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (ONLY ONE WAY = WALKING LIKE JESUS WALKEDto please Him in all respects...." One thinks of the man named "Herod the Great" who was really Herod the Great Evil" who not surprisingly fathered a child Herod Antipas who beheaded the greatest man born among women (Mt 14:3-11) and played a role in the crucifixion of Christ, the greatest Man in all eternity! So we need to be very careful in appending the term "great" to any man on earth!  And John 3:30+ gives us a "clue" as to why John was great declaring "“He must increase, but I must decrease." A good attitude to emulate!

Hendriksen comments that "in view of the fact that Jesus himself, in describing the nature of true greatness, always links it with humility (Luke 7:6, 9; cf. Matt. 8:8, 10; Luke 9:46-48; cf. Matt. 18:1-5; Mark 9:33-37; and see also Matt. 15:27, 28), is it not altogether probable that this characteristic which was to mark John is also implied here in Luke 1:15? Without humility would it even be possible for anyone to be "great," especially "in the sight of the Lord"? (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke)

Rod Mattoon adds that "God's standard for greatness is much different than man's. Greatness comes from having several attitudes. (1). Serving Others (Mt 20:26, Mt 23:11) (2). A Spirit of Humility (Mt 23:12, Mt 18:4, Luke 9:48) (3). Submission to the Scriptures (Mt 5:19) 

Note that the world has a standard of "greatness" but this is a heavenly standard, God's estimate of greatness and between them there is a vast gulf, the world's being false and temporal, the Lord's being true and eternal. 

J C Ryle - The measure of greatness which is common among men is utterly false and deceptive. Princes and potentates, conquerors and leaders of armies, statesmen and philosophers, artists and authors,—these are the kind of men whom the world calls “great.” Such greatness is not recognized among the angels of God. Those who do great things for God, they reckon great. Those who do little for God, they reckon little. They measure and value every man according to the position in which he is likely to stand at the last day.

James Smith notes that this phrase great in the sight of the Lord "assures us that he must have been in a condition of—RIGHTNESS WITH GOD. No one can be great in the favour of God who is not right with Him. Reconciliation is needed to acceptance. LIKENESS TO GOD. It is possible to be justified before Him and yet not be fully conformed to Him. He made the first man after His own likeness. The second Man is the Lord from Heaven, after whose likeness we are now to be created by the same Spirit. READINESS FOR GOD. A man entirely separated for Him, with no interest to come between him and his service for God. He was in no way entangled, a free man to do His will. This is greatness. In himself. "He was filled with the Holy Ghost." Not the greatness of his own will, of purpose, or goodness, but the greatness of God dwelling in him. This implies—1 SELF-ABNEGATION. He died to himself that God might live and move in him. Not I, but Christ in me. Man's original greatness was lowered to the dust through sin, and eternally ruined. The way into greatness in the Divine eyes is not by self-reformation, but by self-abnegation. A going out of the ruined nature into the life of God. I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. 2 DIVINE POSSESSION. Filled with the Holy Spirit. Yielded up to the will of God as taught by His Spirit abiding within. Be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit. All true greatness comes from Him who alone is great. Great in wisdom, holiness, and power. "Thy gentleness hath made me great" (2 Sam. 22:36). 3. HEAVENLY WISDOM. To be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with the knowledge of His will, so that every thought and act may be in perfect harmony with the mind of God. He worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Ye are wise in Christ.  (Great) 3. Among his fellowmen. "Many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God." This greatness then lies in holiness and usefulness. It is not something given us for our own honour, ease, or aggrandisement, but whereby the power of God may come into contact with others. If you would have this greatness you must not seek it for yourself. He will not give His glory to another. Here we see—1. GREAT FAITHFULNESS. His ministry gives abundant evidence of his fearlessness and devotion to the work of God. Like the apostle of the Gentiles he could say, "This one thing I do" (Phil. 3:13) .2. GREAT POWER. Like the greater One who was to come after him, he spoke with power. His word was sharp, and quick, and powerful, because it was a word that burned in his bones. He was in vital sympathy with his message. It was to him no task committed to memory, but the living truth, blazing in a living soul, and dropping from his glowing tongue like coals of fire. 3. GREAT SUCCESS. "Many turned to the Lord." A Holy Ghost ministry is always a success. It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which is in you. The Spirit of your Father will never speak without telling effect. The secret of his success lay in his exalting the Lord and not himself. He must increase, and I must decrease. "Go thou and do likewise" (Luke 10:37).(Handfuls of Purpose)

In the sight of (1799)(enopion from en = in + ops = the eye/see [cp optanomai = see, perceive with eyes, look at, implying not only the mere act of seeing but actual perception of what one sees]) means literally in sight, in front of, in the presence of. Being in sight. This is a key word in Luke's writings - Lk. 1:15; Lk. 1:17; Lk. 1:19; Lk. 1:75; Lk. 1:76; Lk. 4:7; Lk. 5:18; Lk. 5:25; Lk. 8:47; Lk. 12:6; Lk. 13:26; Lk. 14:10; Lk. 15:10; Lk. 15:18; Lk. 15:21; Lk. 16:15; Lk. 23:14; Lk. 24:43; Acts 2:25; Acts 4:10; Acts 4:19; Acts 6:6; Acts 7:46; Acts 9:15; Acts 10:30; Acts 10:31; Acts 10:33; Acts 19:9; Acts 19:19; Acts 27:35. Only one other Gospel writer uses it and then only once (Jn 20:30)! 

THOUGHT - Before the face and thus the idea of face to face! Of doing something in someone’s presence - Jesus' entire life was lived as it were "Coram Deo" before the face of His Father. What would happen if we (enabled by His Spirit) were to live our lives with a similar mindset? As Thomas à Kempis once said "What thou art in the sight of God, that thou truly art."

Like parents, like son - Parents "both righteous in the sight of God," (Lk 1:6) and John "great in the sight of the Lord."

THOUGHT FROM J R Miller  - There are people who are great in their own eyes or in the eyes of their friends—who in God's sight are very small. It is well to have people's approval of us and our work—but it is incalculably better to have God's approval. We should strive always to be and to do—what Christ would have us to be and to do. It is well to ask ourselves quiet often—what God thinks of us. We like to please men; let us seek to please God. (Devotional Hours with the Bible)

Lord (master, owner)(2962)(kurios) describes the supreme one, the one who is sovereign and possesses absolute authority, absolute ownership and uncontested power.

The description of John the Baptist recalls to mind the OT description of one who took a Nazarite vow...

(Nu. 6:2-4) “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazarite, to dedicate himself to the LORD, 3 he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes. 4 ‘All the days of his separation he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from [the] seeds even to [the] skin. 

And he will drink no wine or liquor - One way John would be "great" would be that he as a "separated" man. Luke's point of mentioning "separation" from drink or liquor is that John would be a man consecrated or dedicated to the Lord. Since there is no mention that John should not cut his hair this would not fit the definition of a classic Nazarite vow (Nu 6:1-21) as described in the announcement of another "miracle baby" (cf Jdg 13:2+ = "wife was barren") named Samson “Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. 5“For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”(Jdg 13:4-5+)

THOUGHT - In a similar sense Paul describes the relationship between separation and service to God writing "Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from (AKA "SEPARATES") these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work." (2 Ti 2:21+) As D. L. Moody said that "God doesn't seek for golden vessels, and does not ask for silver ones, but He must have clean ones." Would you call yourself a "clean vessel?" If not, perhaps that is why you are not being used by the Lord to the degree you might desire! So, you must choose the type of vessel you will be. Cleansing yourself to become a vessel of honor like John the Baptist is your responsibility. Only separation will lead to significant service! (See His prophet Jeremiah in Jer 15:19, Malachi 3:3+, Eph 5:11+, 2 Cor 6:14-18 > 2 Cor 7:1+)

Wine (3631)(oinos) refers to a beverage (1) literally, of the juice of grapes, usually fermented (Lk 1.15); (2) figuratively, in apocalyptic symbolism; (a) as indicating the wrath of God outpoured in judgment (Rev 14.10); (b) as an enticement to immorality, like a love potion (Rev 17.2) (Friberg)

THOUGHT ON DRINK -  I do not say that it is the duty of every man to drink neither wine nor strong drink, but I beg every man to notice that if anyone was to be peculiarly consecrated to a holy calling, it was always to be so; “He shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink.” If there be nothing defiling about wine or strong drink, there is certainly nothing sanctifying about it; and the tendency seems to lie the other way, else it is a strange thing that men dedicated to God were so continually bidden to drink neither wine nor strong drink. (Spurgeon)

Liquor (4608)(sikera) means strong drink and describes a sweet intoxicating beverage usually made from something other than grapes (from grain, fruit, honey, or dates, e.g., barley beer) BDAG however comments "It is not possible to determine whether s. was considered any stronger than wine; the rendering ‘strong drink’ (so in many versions) may therefore be misleading." While Lk 1:15 is the only NT use, sikera is used 13 times in the Septuagint and every use translates the phrase "strong drink" - Lev. 10:9; Nu 6:3 (Nazarite vow); Nu 28:7; Dt. 14:26; Dt. 29:6; Jdg. 13:4, 7, 14; Isa. 5:11; Isa. 5:22; Isa. 24:9; Isa. 28:7; Isa. 29:9

Gilbrant on sikera Occasionally (IN SEPTUAGINT) shēkhār is translated methē or methusma, both of which can mean “strong drink.”...The range of meaning of sidera is the same as that of shākhar. Greek oinos, which translates Hebrew yayin, referred to “fermented beverages made from the juice of grapes” (Louw and Nida). Thus, sikera includes all other fermented drinks. Jerome translated shākhar as “all which is able to inebriate” (Leviticus 10:9, Vulgate). Sikera is generally viewed in a highly unfavorable light in the Septuagint. It destroys judgment (Isa28:7), leads to drunkenness, and is associated with revelry (Isa 5:11,12). Nazarites were forbidden to drink it (Numbers 6:3; Judges 13:4,7,14, Codex A). Priests were not to drink sikera while ministering (Lev 10:9). However, it was used for certain types of libations (Nu 28:7), and it was not strictly forbidden to all Israelites. They were permitted to buy sikera with the silver derived from their tithes (Dt 14:26). Sikera appears only once in the New Testament. John the Baptist was forbidden to drink oinos or sikera. It is evident from its connection with oinos that sikera retains its Septuagintal meaning. It is not just “beer” that is in mind. John was not allowed to drink any alcoholic beverages. (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

SPIRIT FILLED AND
CONTROLLED FROM BIRTH!

And he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb - This is the main reason John would be great! He had a supernatural source which he relied on. He would have the power of God on his life as did Elijah (Lk 1:17). This is Luke's first mention of the Holy Spirit, and he refers to the Holy Spirit more than Matthew, Mark, and John. It is worth noting that this was a "Spirit filled family" for both of John's parents were filled with the Spirit (Luke 1:41, 67).

Luke 1:41, 44 says " the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit....“For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy." This would support the premise that John was filled with the Spirit even before he was born.

John Calvin commented "Let us learn by this example that, from the earliest infancy to the latest old age, the operation of the Spirit in men is free.”

This passage mentioning no wine and instead filled with the Spirit is a beautiful parallel of Paul's command, first negative, then positive, calling for all saints to be "Nazarite-like," like John the Baptist, even from the day of our spiritual birth to the last day on earth! (Jn 3:3-6)!

And do not get drunk (negative command - present imperative with a negative) with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled (the positive command - present imperative = continually submit to Him allowing Him to control you!) with the Spirit, (Eph 5:18+)

THOUGHT - Both commands are passive voice, which means the effecting agent exerts its influence from outside of our own personality. But we are not spiritual puppets, so we still must make the daily (even moment by moment) choice to allow either the negative or the positive "power" to influence and control us. It is still our choice to whom we will surrender each morning -- to the world with its antichrist spirit or to the Word and the Spirit of the living God! It's up to you dear child of God! Choose wisely!

Filled (4092)(pimplemi from the obsolete pláō = to fill) to fill, to make full, to complete.

LITERAL FILLING - of a wedding hall = Mt 22:10, of a sponge = Mt 27:48, Jn 19:29, Lk 5:7+ = of boats. Of skins or jars filled with water in Septuagint (Lxx) of Ge 21:19, Ge 24:16).

FIGURATIVE FILLING - Most of the uses of this verb are by Luke (22/24) and most are used with in a figurative sense. Most describe persons filled with something (Spirit or an emotion) and are wholly affected, controlled or influenced by what fills them.

Time was filled up or completed  - Lk 1:23 and Lk 1:57

Filled with the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:15+ = of John the Baptist while still in mother's womb, Lk 2:4+ = day of Pentecost, Acts 4:8+ = of Peter, Acts 4:31+ = the praying believers, Acts 9:17+ = of Paul, Acts 13:9+ = of Paul).

Filled with an emotion (Lk 4:28+, Lk 6:11+ = filled with rage, Lk 5:26+ = filled with fear, Acts 3:10+ = wonder and amazement, Acts 5:17+ = jealousy, Acts 13:45+ = Jews filled with jealousy, compare Acts 19:29+ = city filled with confusion). Of time fulfilled or completed (Lk 1:23+ = days of priestly service ended, Lk 1:57+, Lk 2:6+ = pregnancy completed, Lk 2:21-22+, Lk 21:22+. The important takeaway on this verb is to see that what fills a person controls the behavior and actions of that person. Obviously Spirit filling leads to good, godly behavior, but the other emotions noted above lead to sinful, ungodly behavior. 

One of my favorite uses of this verb (other than being filled with the Spirit) is found in the prophecy in Habakkuk 2:14+ "For the earth will be filled (Hebrew = male= to be full; Lxx = pimplemi) with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea." And another verse that speaks of the glorious hope we have at Messiah's Second Coming and establishment of His Millennium (Messianic) Kingdom. "I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house (Millennial Temple - read Ezek 43:2-4, 5) with glory,' says the LORD of hosts." (Haggai 2:7) And all God's children shout "Hallelujah-Praise the Lord!"

J Vernon McGee - The son of Elisabeth and Zacharias was to be a Nazarite. One of the things the Nazarite vowed was that he would not drink strong drink or wine. He was to find his joy in the Holy Spirit and in God. That is the reason Paul, in Ephesians 5:18-note, says, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Get your joy from God, not from a bottle. There are a lot of bottle-babies today. I am not speaking of crib babies but of adult babies hanging over a bar. And there are some Christians today who have to be pepped up and hepped up in order to face life. We need to recognize that the Holy Spirit of God can give us the strength to face life. (E.g., read Ro 15:13-note)

Yet in his mother's womb - This reminds us of Jeremiah 1:5 where Jehovah tells his prophet "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." Note God's omniscience and His sovereignty over salvation. 


James Smith - WHAT CONSTITUTES TRUE GREATNESS.
"He shall be great in the sight of the Lord" (Luke 1:15).

Introduction. 

HEAVEN'S STANDARD.

1. "In the sight of the Lord," not in the sight of men.
2. There is the world's estimate of greatness, and there is God's estimate.
3. The one greatly differs from the other.
4. The former is false and fanciful, the latter true and eternal.
5. John's greatness was according to the standard of Heaven. In the Lord's estimation he was a great man.

USEFUL NOT GREAT.

1. Some are born great, others have greatness thrust upon them.
2. Most, if not all of us, have no aspiration for earthly greatness.
3. We have not the slightest expectation of ever becoming great in a worldly sense.
4. But that is not the reason why we desire it not.
5. We sympathise much with the poet who wrote:
   "Pay not thy praise to lofty things alone.
   The plains are everlasting as the hills."
6. The plains are as necessary as the hills.
7. What should we do if all the globe was but a collection of hills and mountains?
8. We have no ambition for earthly greatness.
9. For one thing, greatness fills the pillow with thorns.
10. We desire rather to be useful than great. 

USEFUL BECAUSE GREAT.

1. And we can be useful without earthly greatness.
2. But that is not so with respect to spiritual greatness. Note little word "and", verse 17.
3. Goodness and highest usefulness is conditioned on being "great in the sight of the Lord."
4. John was good and useful because he was great in the Lord's sight.

Four results of greatness: (1) Parents rejoice; (2) Fellows benefit; (3) Fulness of blessing; (4) Usefulness in service.

A Longing.

1. Do you not long that your parents might thank God you were ever given to them?
2. And that others of your fellows should thank God you were ever born?
3. Surely we all long for that privilege!
4. Well, all this is the outcome of becoming great in His sight.
5. Note that little word "for" and previous verse.

How to Get Power of Spirit.

1. Further, how we long to be filled with the Spirit.
2. How we long to have power in service.
3. How we long to be the instrument of the conversion of many.
4. Here you see all this is fruit of being great in His sight. (Ed: I think more accurately it is the "root"!)
5. Do you not think there is some connection between

a. Being great in the sight of the Lord,
b. Being filled with the Holy Spirit,
c. And turning many to righteousness?

PROPHECY THAT CAME TO PASS.

1. This was the prophecy of the angel who announced His birth.
2. Did the prophecy come to full fruition?
3. How many lives of promise become tragic failures?
4. Yes, listen to the words of Jesus. Looking back on the career of this man, the Lord Jesus endorsed the prophecy, declaring that it had become a fact. "Among those that are born of women there is none greater."

ELEMENTS OF TRUE GREATNESS.

1. If we want to know the elements of true greatness, the greatness God recognises, we do well if we turn to the life of this man.
2. Lives of great men like John remind us, we (or rather God) may make our lives sublime.
3. What was there about John worthy of such noble comment?
4. We have seven facts to bring to your notice.
5. And we make bold to declare that all the principles of John's life, character, and service might become ours.

I. He was a Man of Noble Birth (Luke 1:5). Descendant of Aaron.

1. He was a descendant of Aaron, belonging to the priestly family.
2. What a very great honour this was I
3. He was a noble man of noble birth.
4. Well begun is half done.

DISCOURAGED.

1. Ah, at that word you discourage me.
2. I am but of humble and lowly origin.
3. I am but one of the common folk.
4. No need now to proceed any further. But listen!

GREAT SOUL.

1. It was said of one that, he was "a man of mean estate" yet "his soul was great."
2. So you can have a great soul.

MORE NOBLE BIRTH.

1. But you can be of far nobler birth than John.
2. You can have the very life of the Creator in your soul.
3. The life of the King of kings within you.
4. "Partakers of Divine nature." Can you have anything greater than that?

GREATER THAN HE.

1. If you think we are romancing, listen to the Saviour (Luke 7:28).
2. The greatness referred to here is not that of character, but that of position.
3. The contrast is drawn between being within and being without the kingdom.
4. John the Baptist only stood upon the threshold, we go right in.
5. "He that is least within the Kingdom is greater than the greatest without."

YOU CAN BECOME A RELATIVE.

1. John was a relative to Jesus.
2. You, too, can become related to Him.

II. He was an Unworldly Man (Luke 1:80). "A man clothed in soft raiment?" No. This is seen in different ways:

a. His love of solitude.
b. His plain dress.
c. His plain food.

DIFFERENT TYPE.

1. Of course we know our type of holiness is different to that of John.
2. Concerning the dark middle ages, an historian writes: "In those days John the Baptist's life seems to have been the ideal of holiness far more than that of the Son of Man; to renounce the common food and the common joys of humanity was deemed far nobler than to turn earth's daily bread to Divine uses."
3. Yet according to his light, he was right.
4. He was a man who lived above the world.

III. He was a Man who had Control over his Appetites.

IV. He was a Man Filled with the Holy Spirit.

V. He was a Man with a Mission.

BORN FOR A PURPOSE.

1. He was born in order to do a specific work.
2. He did not go aimlessly through life.
3. So with us.
4. Every man's life is a plan of God.

Answered. He answered the purpose of his existence in

1. Introducing Jesus, and acting as
2. Fore-runner of Jesus.

SO WE:

1. Can we not make it easy for some to come to Jesus.
2. Can we not introduce others to Jesus?

VI. He was a Man Obedient to the Call. 

NOT ONLY KNEW.

1. He would be told by his parents the circumstances surrounding his birth.
2. And he obeyed the call.

ABRAHAM.

1. The call came to Abraham and the Lord said that if he would leave his home and obey the call, "I will bless thee and make thy name great."
2. Obedience, then blessing, then greatness. "Whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matt. 5:19) Mark, do and teach—obedience before teaching.

VII. He was a Man of Unwavering Firmness and Courage. Not "a reed shaken with the wind."

COURAGE.

1. In rebuking sin, even that of King Herod.
2. He laid down his life.

ELIZABETH FRY.

1. Elizabeth Fry, as a girl (born in 1780), "was of pleasing person, gentle in look and manner, loving, obedient, and possessed of an exquisite voice.
2. Yet she was timid and obstinate.
3. Yet it is said of her that "her natural timidity in after years, under Divine Grace, was transformed into a chastened courage, and her childish obstinacy, became a finely-tempered decision of character." All the result of the Holy Spirit's presence in her life.

VIII. He was a Man on Fire for God.

Luke 1:16  "And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.

  • Luke 1:76. Is. 40:3–5; 49:6. Da. 12:3. Mal. 3:1. Mat. 3:1–6; 21:32.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:16 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

A VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS
CRYING "RETURN!"

AMP  And he will turn back and cause to return many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God,

And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God - John's ministry was to announce and introduce Jesus to the people and in so doing to be calling people to conversion thus being used as an instrument in God's hand in preparing the people for the reception of their Messiah. Note many but not all. The truth is that when Jesus arrived on the scene we read "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him." (Jn 1:11+) Nevertheless this is a prophecy that the preaching of John the Baptist would point many Jewish people to the Lord their God.

THOUGHT - Is the Gospel you are preaching by your life and then your lips pointing others to Jesus and causing many lost sons, both Jews and Gentiles, to be born again and to enter into the Kingdom of God? Daniel promises an eternal  blessing - Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. (Da 12:3+, cf 1 Th 2:19-20+)

John prepared the way for the Messiah fulfilling (See also commentary on Mark 1:2-3)

Isaiah 40:3-5 A voice (John the Baptist) is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.  4 “Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley;  5 Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see [it] together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” 

Henry Morris - This prophecy was fulfilled 700 years later when John the Baptist came to "prepare the way" for Christ (Matthew 3:1-3)

Malachi 3:1+ (quoted by Luke 7:27+, Mt 11:10, Mk 1:2+) "Behold, I am going to send My messenger (John the Baptist), and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, Whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the Messenger of the covenant, in Whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.

Henry Morris - This prophecy was fulfilled in John the Baptist, over 400 years later. John did, indeed, "prepare the way" for Christ with his preaching. In fact, some (possibly all) of Christ's disciples were first John's disciples. A similar prophecy had previously been given by Isaiah (Isa 40:3,4)

Spurgeon - In the third chapter of this Gospel, you will find the record of John beginning to fulfill this prophecy concerning himself. (Luke 3:1-17, 18)

J C Ryle on turn - He is one who will “turn hearts,”—turn them from ignorance to knowledge, from carelessness to thoughtfulness, from sin to God

He will turn (cause to return) (1994)(epistrepho from epí = motion toward + strepho = twist, turn quite around or reverse) means literally to  turn around (Mk 8:33+), to turn toward (Rev 1:12), to return (in a figurative sense - of Peter in Lk 22:32+). The figurative sense as intended here in Lk 1:16-17 where the idea is a definite turn (or return) to God in conduct as well as in one's mind (cp similar idea in Mk 4:12+). 

Epistrepho conveys the idea of turning from idolatry and sin and to love and serve God and is used in that sense in the Septuagint of Mal 2:6-note

“True instruction was in his (Levi's) mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips (in stark contrast to the priests of Malachi's day); he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back (Lxx = epistrepho) from iniquity."

The faithful proclamation of the Word by John the Baptist and Levi of the OT would turn many back to God. Note that not all will turn back. 

This verb epistrepho is often associated with repentance and conversion as in Peter's exhortation to the Jews in Acts....

Therefore repent (aorist imperative = command which can be obeyed only in one energized by the Spirit. See Acts 5:31 = Jews and Acts 11:18 = Gentiles) and return (epistrepho in the aorist imperative = command which can be obeyed only in one energized by the Spirit), so that (term of purpose - Ask "What's the purpose?") your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;  and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you,(Acts 3:19-20+)

Luke frequently uses epistrepho - 18x (out of a total of 35 verses in the NT) 

Lk. 1:16; Lk. 1:17; Lk. 2:39; Lk. 8:55; Lk. 17:4; Lk. 17:31; Lk. 22:32; Acts 3:19; Acts 9:35; Acts 9:40; Acts 11:21; Acts 14:15; Acts 15:19; Acts 15:36; Acts 16:18; Acts 26:18; Acts 26:20; Acts 28:27 

Henry Morris - John was the first--and perhaps greatest--gospel preacher. The Lord used him to lead multitudes to Christ (see notes on Matthew 3:5,6, noting that "all Jerusalem and Judaea" came out to hear his message, repenting, confessing their sins, and being baptized). That his message focused on Christ as sin-bearing Savior is evident from John 1:7,8,29.+


A Family In Trouble

April 23, 2011

Read: Malachi 4:4-6; Matthew 1:1-2 |

He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. —Luke 1:16

Many of America’s 30 million white-tailed deer find themselves endangered not by guns, but by the cars of our expanding suburbs. I was reminded of their plight when a mature doe dashed through traffic just ahead of me. As I watched, I wondered what had driven her to take such a chance, and why she then stopped on the other side and looked back over her shoulder. As I drove by her, I turned to follow her gaze and saw two small fawns looking helplessly at their mother across the busy street. Instead of following, they turned and walked back into the woods.

This family is not alone. We too can find ourselves in circumstances of separation and danger we did not anticipate. Reading Malachi and Matthew reminds us that we are troubled children of troubled parents who desperately need the help of our Father in heaven. Sometimes we need His help to see and avoid repeating the sins of our fathers (Neh. 9:2-3). Sometimes we need His help to turn back to the example and care of loving parents (Luke 15:18).

Only from our heavenly Father can we find the perfect forgiveness, example, and inner grace we need. He knows we are all fallen children of fallen parents, and even now He offers us the help of His Spirit and the rescue of His Son.

Each day we learn from yesterday
Of God’s great love and care;
And every burden we must face
He’ll surely help us bear.
—D. De Haan

It’s never too soon to turn back to God.  

By Mart DeHaan  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Luke 1:17  "It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

  • before. Luke 1:16. John 1:13, 23–30, 34; 3:28. in. Mal. 4:5, 6. Mat. 11:14; 17:11, 12. Mark 9:11–13. John 1:21–24. Re. 20:4.
  • power. 1 Ki. 17:1; 18:18; 21:20. 2 Ki. 1:4–6, 16,
  • Elijah. Mat. 3:4, 7–12; 14:4.
  • turn. Luke 3:7–14. Mal. 4:6.
  • and the. Is. 29:24. Mat. 21:29–32. 1 Co. 6:9–11.
  • to. or, by. to make. 1 Sa. 7:5. 1 Ch. 29:18. 2 Ch. 29:36. Ps. 10:17; 78:8; 111:10. Am. 4:12. Ac. 10:33. Ro. 9:23. Col. 1:12. 2 Ti. 2:21. 1 Pe. 2:9. 2 Pe. 3:11–14. 1 John 2:28.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:17 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

AMP - And he will [himself] go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn back the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient and incredulous and unpersuadable to the wisdom of the upright [which is the knowledge and holy love of the will of God]—in order to make ready for the Lord a people [perfectly] prepared [in spirit, adjusted and disposed and placed in the right moral state]. 

RESTORATION
OF HEARTS

It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him - Remember that this is the angel Gabriel prophetically speaking to Zacharias telling him what will transpire in the life of his son John. The Gospel of John describes the Baptist going before Jesus...

There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him....15 John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.....23 He said, “I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”  (John 1:6-7, 15, 23+)

Spurgeon - Happy is the father of such a child! Happy is that man whose office it is to be the herald of Christ! Brethren, many of us are called to that office in a certain sense as we come in our Master’s name, and preach concerning him “’Tis all my business here below To cry, ‘Behold the Lamb.’” And in this way we may be partakers of John the Baptist’s joy.

Before (in front of) (1799)(enopion from en = in + ops = the eye/see) means literally in sight, in front of,It is he who will go before Him -

 

Luke recalls the prophecy of Malachi, the last words of the OT in which a promise was given of  the return of Elijah before the Day of the Lord. (cp Mt 3:4, 11:14; Mk 9:11, 12).  

Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.And he will restore (Hebrew shub/sub = movement back to point of departure; Lxx = apokathistano = restore to a previous condition)  the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse (note the OT ends with a "curse!" but the NT opens with Jesus Who became a curse for all who will believe in Him - Gal 3:13-note). (Mal 4:5-6-note)

In the spirit and power of Elijah - Elijah took a bold, uncompromising stand for the Word of God in the face of strong opposition from King Ahab (Read 1Ki 18:17-24). John  would also take a bold stand for the Word of God but unlike Elijah would not perform miracles but was a purely spiritual ministry (John 10:41). As McGee points out "Let us understand clearly that although John the Baptist went forth in the spirit and power of Elijah, he was not Elijah." The association of the word spirit (pneuma) and power (dunamis) is common in Luke's writing - Luke 1:35; Lk 4:14; cf. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; Acts 10:38.

Hendriksen has a good explanation on the meaning of in the Spirit and power of Elijah asking "Does this mean that John was Elijah? The answer is both "No" and "Yes." Not literally, as is clear from the fact that when John was asked, "Are you Elijah?" he truthfully answered, "I am not" (John 1:21+). But figuratively, so that Jesus even calls him Elijah (Mt. 11:13, 14; cf. Mt 17:12; Mark 9:12, 13). The solution is given here in Luke 1:17: The "spirit and power of Elijah" was going to be clearly displayed in John the Baptist. Cf. Elijah's boldness, "I have not troubled Israel but you [Ahab] have" (1 Ki 18:18), with the Baptist's (Mt. 14:4), "It isn't right for you [Herod Antipas] to have her [your brother Philip's wife Herodias]." And see also Mt. 3:7; Lk 3:7+, Lk 3:19+. (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke)

Jesus later said this was fulfilled in John

Matthew 11:13-14 “For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.

Matthew 17:11-12  And He answered and said, “Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.”

Henry Morris -  Luke 1:17 is paraphrased from Malachi 4:6. John was not Elijah returned to earth, but his message of repentance and reconciliation of the people to the God whom they had largely forsaken was delivered in the same spirit and power shown in Elijah. His wilderness lifestyle was also reminiscent of the prophet whom God had taken to heaven in the flesh. In no way does the coming of John the Baptist negate the still-in-effect prophecy of Elijah's future return to the earth (see Matthew 17:11; Revelation 11:3-6) to complete his mission.

 

Constable comments that Elijah had "led the people back to Yahweh after Ahab and Jezebel had pushed Israel’s apostasy farther than it had ever gone by instituting Baal worship as Israel’s official religion. John would possess the same spirit and power that Elijah had. "

MacArthur on spirit and power of Elijah - That statement is significant because the Jews believed that God would send a messenger before the Day of the Lord judgment and the Messiah’s coming to set up His kingdom (Mal. 3:1+).

“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.

Comment: Malachi's names means "the Lord's Messenger" who himself prophesies that God would send "My messenger who would "clear the way before" Him in keeping with Isaiah's prophecy "A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God." (Isa 40:3) The NT clearly identifies the Lord's future messenger as John the Baptist ( Mt 3:3; 11:10, 14; Mt 17:12-13.; Mk 1:2+; Lk 1:17; Lk 7:26, 27+; Jn 1:23+)

Power (1411)(dunamis from dunamai = to be able, to have power) power especially achieving power. It refers to intrinsic power or inherent ability, the power or ability to carry out some function, the power residing in a someone or something by virtue of its nature. Dunamis is the word used often by Paul to refer to divine energy, supernatural power. Vine  says that dunamis "denotes the ability requisite for meeting difficulties and for the fulfillment of the service committed to us." John the Baptist in and of himself did not have power to preach "Repent!" (Mt 3:2), but he did have the filling (cp Lk 1:15+) and thus the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish supernaturally what he could not have accomplished naturally.

THOUGHT - And beloved that same principle applies to you, but there is a caveat. Are you daily yielding to and allowing the Spirit to fill you and energize you? That is a daily question we ALL need to ask ourselves (yours truly included)!

John the Baptist was not Elijah returned to earth, but his message to Israel to repent and be reconciled to God was proclaimed in the same spirit and power shown in Elijah's ministry and John's life in the wilderness was similar to Elijah's life.

A T Robertson - John will deny that he is actually Elijah in person, as they expected (John 1:21+ "Are you Elijah?”), but Jesus will call him Elijah in spirit (Mark 9:12 = Matt. 17:12)

Elijah was to precede the Messiah, but as Jesus teaches John the Baptist although not the literal Elijah did fulfill the role of a "spiritual Elijah." Study the following passages and comments to help understand Luke's statement that John the Baptist would be in the spirit and power of Elijah:

Mark 9:11-13   They asked Him, saying, “Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”  And He said to them, “Elijah does first come and restore all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I say to you that Elijah has indeed come, and they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him.”

MacArthur - Jesus directly addressed the disciples’ question: the prophecies of Elijah’s coming had been fulfilled in John the Baptist. Though certainly not a reincarnation of Elijah (cf. Jn 1:21+), John came in the “spirit and power of Elijah,” and would have fulfilled prophecies if they had believed (see Mt 11:14; Lk 1:17+). Because they did reject both John the Baptist and Jesus, there will be another who will come in the spirit and power of Elijah before the second coming of Christ 

John Grassmick - The presence of Elijah at the transfiguration (Mk 9:4), the confirmation of Jesus as Messiah (Mk 8:29; 9:7), and His reference to the Resurrection (Mk 9:9) suggested that the end of all things was near. If so, where was Elijah who must come first to prepare the nation spiritually for the Messiah’s coming? (cf. Malachi 3:1–4; 4:5–6) Perhaps the disciples thought Elijah’s work of renewal would mean the Messiah would not need to suffer. In reply, Jesus made two things clear. First, He acknowledged on the one hand that Elijah does come (lit., “is coming”) first (before the Messiah) and restores (“is going to restore”) all things through spiritual renewal (Mal. 4:5–6). On the other hand this does not remove the necessity for the Son of Man to suffer much and be rejected (cf. Ps. 22; Isa. 53, esp. v. 3).Second, however (but in Greek is a strong adversative), Jesus declared that indeed Elijah has come already. In a veiled way Mark recorded how Jesus identified John the Baptist as the one who fulfilled at Jesus’ First Advent the role function expected of the end-time Elijah (cf. Mark 1:2–8+; Matt. 17:13; Luke 1:17). Jesus gave John his true significance which John did not even recognize about himself (cf. John 1:21; Matt. 11:14). (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Matthew 11:14 And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.

MacArthur - That is, he is the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5, 6 (see Mt 17:12, 13 below). The Jews were aware that Elijah had not died (cf. 2Ki 2:11). This does not suggest that John was Elijah returned. In fact, John himself denied that he was Elijah (Jn 1:21); yet he came in the spirit and power of Elijah (Lk 1:17). If they had believed, John would have been the fulfillment of the Elijah prophecies. (See Mk 9:13 above; Rev 11:5, 6-note.)

Barbieri - Those leaders wanted a kingdom, but not the kind Jesus was offering. So they were resisting the message and attempting to establish their own rule. But John’s message was true, and if the nation would accept it, and consequently accept Jesus, John would fulfill the prophecies of Elijah. Only if they accepted the message would John the Baptist be the Elijah who was to come (cf. Mal. 4:5). Because the nation rejected the Messiah, Elijah’s coming is still future (cf. Mal. 4:6 with Acts 3:21).

Matthew 17:10-13 And His disciples asked Him, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” (They knew that is what Malachi 4:5,6 had predicted) And He answered and said, “Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist.

MacArthur - The Jewish leaders had failed to recognize John the Baptist (though the disciples did, Mt 17:13). John came in the spirit and power of Elijah—and the Jewish leaders had killed him. The Messiah was “going to suffer” similarly.

Louis BarbieriElijah had already come in the person of John the Baptist and his ministry was not recognized. Instead of receiving John the Baptist, the religious leaders had rejected him. As they refused to acknowledge John’s ministry and instead rejected him, Jesus too would be rejected. At the first announcement concerning the birth of John, Zechariah his father had been told that he would go before the Lord “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17). The Lord’s earlier words concerning John (Matt. 11:14) affirmed that he would have been the predicted Elijah if the nation had responded in saving faith. Everything necessary to bring in Messiah’s kingdom had been performed. The only contingency was the acceptance by the nation of her rightful King. (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Constable - Jesus later explained that John fulfilled the prophecy of Messiah’s forerunner (Mal. 3:1). He would have completely fulfilled the prophecy of Elijah’s return if the Jews had accepted Jesus (Mal. 5:5–6; Matt. 11:10, 14).

TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous - Luke is quoting the first half of Malachi 4:6 "He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers" MacArthur explains this shows "that John the Baptist fulfilled that prophecy." The idea is that John would proclaim a message that would turn people from self to Savior, from idols to God (this pattern is  especially well demonstrated in 1Th 1:9-note) even as did his OT predecessor Elijah.

Robertson - Paternal love had died out. This is one of the first results of conversion, the revival of love in the home

Turn the hearts....and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous - "John’s preaching would call the children of Israel back from their disobedience, back from their apostasy, back from their rebellion, back from their sin, back from their self-righteousness to the Lord their God." (MacArthur) And John did so because he was empowered by the Spirit to boldly begin his ministry crying out (commanding) for the sons of Israel to "Repent!" (present imperative = make this your lifestyle!)  (Mt 3:2)

NET NoteTurn the hearts of the fathers back to their children points to horizontal relationships (fathers => children), while (turn) the disobedient to the wisdom of the just shows what God gives from above in a vertical manner.

Hendriksen has an excellent summary of the words "to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the frame of mind of the righteous" noting that there are two interpretations, the first being very unlikely:

(1) . The "fathers" are the patriarchs. The conversion of many people through John's ministry would cause the patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc.—from their heavenly abodes to look down with favor upon their formerly disobedient but now transformed children.

Support for this theory, according to which the souls of the departed are spectators who are constantly looking down upon the arena in which their struggling descendants are still living, is found by its proponents in Heb. 12:1 ("the cloud of witnesses").

Comment. We can understand that this type of interpretation would appeal to those who indulge in fanciful speculations concerning the life hereafter. One author points out its weakness as follows: "Some people think this refers to the contrast between a devout ancestry and an apostate posterity. As we see it, this view is incorrect, since on the basis of that interpretation it is impossible to understand how the heart of the fathers, who died long ago, can be turned back to the children." He correctly concludes: "We must think of the relation between parents and their children." And as to the similarly speculative interpretation of Heb. 12:1, for the correct view read F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (New International Commentary), Grand Rapids, 1964, pp. 345, 346.

(2). True conversion results, among other things, in revival of harmonious and loving relationships in the home.

Comment. This interpretation fits the historical background in Malachi. As a result of mixed marriages (Mal. 2:11+) and easy divorce (Mal 2:14+) family relationships had become disrupted. Conditions of this character continued into the new dispensation, as is clear from Christ's teaching on divorce and remarriage (Mt. 5:32; Mt 19:9). Nevertheless, family life is of the utmost importance, and this not only for the well-being, both spiritual and physical, of parents and children, but also for the true prosperity of the nation, the church, and society in general. From a spiritual point of view the generation gap is often ruinous.

To reverse this situation was one of the purposes of Malachi's preaching during the old dispensation, and of John's preaching at the beginning of the new dispensation. Given believing parents and similarly right-minded children, domestic harmony results; consequently also effective witness-bearing.

The end result of this ministry of the way-preparer will therefore be the bringing about of "a people well-prepared," that is, "fit for the Master's use" (2 Ti 2:21).

As some see it, the explanation given above is in conflict with the statement of Jesus recorded in such passages as Matt. 10:34-37 (cf. Luke 12:51-53; 14:26): "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother," etc. However, any suggestion of real conflict is baseless. It is, in fact, very easy to conceive of a twofold result of the preaching of the gospel, whether by the Baptist or by Jesus: (a) In many families there would be a sharp division, some siding with the truth, others opposing it. (b) In other families, however, those who had been opposed were going to be converted, so that parents and children would become united in spirit, all serving the Lord. (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke)

Turn (1994) (epistrepho from epí = motion toward + strepho = twist, turn quite around or reverse) means to turn around, to return and figuratively to convert. The idea is a definite turn to God in conduct as well as in one's mind, which is a description of conversion which is portrayed in many of the NT uses = Mt. 13:15; Mk 4:12; Acts 3:19; 11:21; 14:15; 15:19; 28:27; 1 Th 1:9-note; Jas 5:19–20.

Hearts (2588)(kardia)  does not refer to the physical organ but is always used figuratively in Scripture to refer to the seat and center of human life. The heart is the center of the personality, and it controls the intellect, emotions, and will. No outward obedience is of the slightest value unless the heart turns to God.

Disobedient (545)(apeithes from a = without + peitho = to persuade) (See related apeitheiaapeitheo) literally describes one who refuses to be persuaded (unpersuadable), thus picturing one who willfully disregards authority. Impersuasible, incompliant, contumacious. Apeithes pictures a stubborn, stiff-necked attitude and speaks of disbelief manifesting itself in disobedience. Apeithes is opposed to pistis or belief (trust). Apeithes describes someone who will not be persuaded, who stubbornly refuses to believe and obey the truth (John 3:36; Rom. 2:8; 11:30, 31; 1 Peter 2:8; 3:1, 20).

To the attitude (phronesis - mindset, understanding) of the righteous - The angel prophesies that John's preaching would confront the obstinate, hard hearts of sinners and transform their unrighteous ("upside down") thinking into ("right side up") righteous thinking. These individuals would be prepared for the Lord. The messenger John would prepare the people for the ultimate Messenger and Message, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Attitude (5428)(phronesis from phroneo = to have understanding, to think <> from phren = midriff, heart, mind, thought) describes practical understanding and discernment of the needs, problems principles of everyday life which leads to right action. This word is used in the Septuagint many times in Proverbs (see here) which is not surprising for this is God's wisdom literature. 

Vincent on phronesis - This is a lower word than sophia, wisdom (see on Jas. 3:13). It is an attribute or result of wisdom, and not necessarily in a good sense, though mostly so in the New Testament. Compare, however, the use of the kindred word φρόνιμος in Rom. 11:25; 12:16: wise in your own conceits; and the adverb φρονίμως, wisely, of the unjust steward, Luke 16:8. It is practical intelligence, which may or may not be applied to good ends. Appropriate here as a practical term corresponding to disobedient.

So as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord - A people prepared for the Lord certainly included all (or at least many) of Christ's twelve disciples (John 1:35-37+)

Make ready (2090)(hetoimazo from heteos = fitness - see related hetoimasia) means to make ready, specifically to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity. This verb also carries idea of willingness and eagerness as well as of readiness -- willing, eager and ready to welcome the Messiah and His message.

Make ready is in the perfect tense indicating that John's preaching would produce a state of readiness for Christ. 

Zacharias clearly believed Gabriel for later he in turn prophesied of his son John... 

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE (hetoimazo) HIS WAYS;  to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, (Lk 1:76-77-note)

Comment: It is worth noting that some think that John's message in Mt 3:1-8 was just one of repentance, but Luke clearly shows his message also included "forgiveness of sins" and Mt 3:8 shows that one's repentance would be shown to be a true heart change by the fact that the individual brought forth spiritual fruit (cp Eph 2:8-9 and Eph 2:10, John 15:5). 

Constable adds that "Luke spoke often of the people (Gr. laos) that God was preparing for Himself. These people prepared for the Lord included Jewish hearers but also those who formerly were not “a people” (1 Pet. 2:10), namely the Gentiles. They are the elect who would compose the church. With this word Luke constantly reminded his original Greek readers that God’s plan included Gentiles who responded to the gospel as well as Jews."

Comparing Elijah to John the Baptist
Elijah was a prophet of the Old Testament (1 Kgs. 17-21). John was a prophet of the New Testament (early chapters of the Gospels).
Elijah means "My God is Yahweh." John means "Yahweh is merciful."
Elijah judged Israel when the nation was in idolatry—he told the people to choose either Baal or the Lord God (1 Kgs. 18:25). John judged Israel and called the nation to repentance—he called for the people to confess their sins (Matt. 3:6).
Elijah performed miracles such as raising of the dead (1 Kgs. 17:17-24). It is not recorded that John
performed miracles.
Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind and a chariot (2 Kgs. 2:11). John was murdered by Herod
(Matt. 14:8).
Elijah was not a reincarnated John the Baptist (John 1:21, 25). John came in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17)
Elijah appeared, along with Moses, at the Transfiguration of the Lord (Matt. 17:3). John heard from heaven the voice of God say, "This is My beloved Son" (Matt. 3:16-17).
Elijah came to herald the second coming of Christ (Mal. 4:5-6). John came to herald the first coming of Christ (John 1:29).
Elijah would come to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children (Mal. 4:5-6). John came to do the same thing (Luke 1:17).

Luke 1:18  Zacharias said to the angel, "How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years."

  • Whereby. Luke 1:34. Ge. 15:8; 17:17; 18:12. Jdg 6:36–40. Is. 38:22.
  • for. Luke 1:7. Nu. 11:21–23. 2 Ki. 7:2. Ro. 4:19.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:18 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

AMP - And Zachariah said to the angel, By what shall I know and be sure of this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years. 

ASKING FOR 
A SIGN

A good subtitle for this section would be "How not to talk to an angel."

How will I know - Expressing a degree of doubt, Zacharias asked for a sign for which he is rebuked in Lk 1:20 (cp Lk 11:29).  Abraham also asked for a sign under similar circumstances "He said, “O Lord GOD, how may I know that I will possess it?” (Ge 15:8).

Eugene Peterson offers this paraphrase, “Do you expect me to believe this?” which captures the note of doubt and skeptical unbelief. Though it was quite true that both Zechariah and Elizabeth were old and past child-bearing years, the angel clearly expected Zechariah to believe what God had said. (Pritchard)

Mary's question in Lk 1:34 does not express doubt that she could give birth. She simply did not understand how it would happen since she had never been with a man and that was the only way she knew that one could become pregnant.

Elizabeth testified that Mary did not doubt the promise...

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” (Lk 1:45)

Ray Pritchard explains "Even though the promises made to Mary were much greater (and therefore should have been harder to believe), her response is different than Zechariah’s. When the angel finished his announcement, Mary simply replied, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Lk 1:34) Later she said, “I am the Lord’s slave. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). There is a subtle but important difference at work here. Zechariah wanted proof. Mary wanted understanding....Zechariah’s question really is, “Why should I believe something preposterous like this?” If we compare Zechariah to Mary, we are left with a question like this. Which is harder to believe, that an older couple, well past childbearing years, should have a child or that a virgin would conceive and give birth to a son? While both challenge the mind and both are humanly impossible, surely the virginal conception of Jesus is a miracle of a different order than Elizabeth getting pregnant. Yet she believed, and Zechariah didn’t. What are we to learn from this? (1) Even very strong believers will sometimes stumble through unbelief....Zechariah’s unbelief sprang not from any particular moral weakness but from something more basic. He simply couldn’t conceive of how his wife could conceive. To put it in modern terms, he didn’t have a category for a couple on Medicare having children. Because it didn’t fit his preconceptions, he simply could not and would not allow himself to think differently, not even when Gabriel showed up with a word from the Lord. (2) Sometimes long delays may cause us to doubt that our prayers will ever be answered. The very first thing the angel says is, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard” (Lk 1:14)...There will be times for all of us when it seems as if God has pressed the Mute button so that we do not hear from heaven for a long time. In those periods, let us not grow weary but continue to seek the Lord and to pray. (3) Man’s unbelief will not cancel God’s plans. If God is God, this must be true. The angel’s message contradicted everything Zechariah knew so he simply refused to believe it. 

Spurgeon - His faith was staggered by the apparent impossibility of the case, as ours too often is when outward providences appear to contradict the promise.

For (term of explanation) I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years - His doubt concerning the prophecy that he would have a son was because he and his wife were too old. But as God told Abraham (whose wife was also "too old")

"Is anything too difficult ("hard" in KJV, Hebrew word pala primarily means to be surpassing or extraordinary and is translated "wonderful" when used of Messiah in Isa 9:6-note!) for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son." (Ge 18:14, context Ge 18:10-15)

J Vernon McGee - I cannot help but laugh at a verse like this. A great many people do not find humor in the Bible, but there is—and this verse gives us a taste of it. Here is a man, a priest, who has gone to God in prayer. At the altar of incense he says, “Oh, God, give me a son.” Now when God says through the angel Gabriel, “I am going to give you a son,” Zacharias replies, “How do I know?” He says, “My wife is old and I am old, and I do not think we can have a child.” Yet he was praying for a son! Have you ever prayed like that? You ask God for something, but you really do not believe He is going to give it to you. This is one reason we do not receive answers to our prayers. We have no faith at all. This man Zacharias is quite human, and I cannot help but laugh at him because that’s the way I pray sometimes.

THE PROBLEM OF
DOUBT

Steven Cole (Luke 1:18-25 The Problem of Doubt) - Every thinking person has struggled with the problem of doubt. C. S. Lewis, who was an atheist before he was converted to Christianity, acknowledged that just as the Christian has his moments of doubt, so does the atheist. He wrote, “Believe in God, and you will have to face hours when it seems obvious that this material world is the only reality; disbelieve in Him, and you must face hours when this material world seems to shout at you that it is not all. No conviction religious or irreligious will, of itself, end once and for all this fifth-columnist in the soul. Only the practice of faith resulting in the habit of faith will gradually do that.” (Cited in “Focal Point,” July-September, 1989.)
Doubt comes in varying degrees. There is the doubt of the proud skeptic, who delights in his own intellect. He pits himself against God as if he is a match for the Almighty. He delights in upsetting the faith of weak believers. He sets forth his arguments against God’s existence or the Christian faith as if he is the first brilliant thinker in history to come up with such insights. Such doubters often find jobs teaching at American universities! The Bible dismisses such scoffers with the word, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Ps. 14:1).
Another level of doubt is that of the person who wants to believe, but he’s struggling with difficult questions and he has not yet come to see the glory and excellency of the Lord Jesus Christ as the all-sufficient Savior of sinners. While this person’s questions are often sincere, invariably they are mixed up with sin, especially the sin of wanting to run his own life apart from the lordship of Christ.
In dealing with this type of person, I often use John 7:17, where Jesus said, “If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself.” I’ll point out that while there are some tough questions, the core issue is one of the heart, of being willing to obey God. I encourage such people to read the gospel accounts with an open heart and ask the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?” If He is God in human flesh, who offered Himself as the sacrifice for sinners, then we must trust Him and submit ourselves to Him. Once our hearts are subject to Him, He will give us satisfactory answers to most of the tough questions.
Another type of doubt is that of the believer who has gotten his eyes off the Lord in the midst of a difficult situation. The disciples were there when they were being swamped by the storm at sea and they shouted, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He first rebuked the disciples, “Why are you timid, you men of little faith?” Then He rebuked the wind and the sea (Matt. 8:25-26). The distraught father was there when the disciples could not cast the demon out of his son. He entreated Jesus, “But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” Jesus responded, “If You can! All things are possible to him who believes.” The father cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:22-24).
All of us who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior have been there, too. We believe, but we get our eyes off the Lord and onto the trial that looms before us. If you put a penny close to your eye, it will block out the brilliance of the sun. If you let a trial consume your vision, it will block the glorious power of the Almighty God.
Zacharias was there that day in the temple when Gabriel, the angel who stands in God’s very presence, appeared to him and promised to give Zacharias and his wife, Elizabeth, a son. He should have been ecstatic with joy. Every day for years this devout couple had prayed, “Lord, if it would be Your will, give us a son.” But that had been years ago. Now it was too late. They were both long past the time when even couples who had children were able to conceive. Zacharias had reconciled himself to reality-they were not going to have a son. He had come to terms with God over the matter: “God is sovereign. He is free to bestow His blessings on whom He wishes. For some inscrutable reason, He has withheld that blessing from us.” And now, Zacharias was not willing to open himself to the roller coaster of hopes and fears that he had long left behind. And so he doubted the word of the angel.
 What can Zacharias teach us about the problem of doubt?
1. We all struggle with the problem of doubt.
A. Doubt is a problem, even for the righteous.

Zacharias was “righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord” (Lk 1:6). Being righteous in the sight of the Lord means that his godliness was not an outward show, like the “righteousness” of the Pharisees, but a matter of the heart. The man walked with God and he had done so for many years. The fact that such a godly man doubted shows us that none are exempt from the problem.
Other great men and women of faith in the Bible also had their moments of doubt. Sarah stumbled over a similar situation. When the Lord announced to Abraham that his wife would give birth to a son, Sarah, listening on the other side of the tent wall, laughed in doubt (Gen. 18:10-15).
The son of Zacharias, John the Baptist, had a time of doubt. He was languishing in prison and he began to wonder, “If Jesus is truly the Messiah, why am I, His messenger, here in prison?” So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Then He gently rebuked John’s doubt by adding, “And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me” (Luke 7:22, 23). Jesus went on to tell the crowd that among those born of women, there is no one greater than John. He was a godly man, but he had his time of doubt.
So doubt is a problem, even for those who are righteous in God’s sight. If godly men like Zacharias and John fell into doubt, we should be on guard, so that we do not fall. Since even the godly have fallen, we may wonder, “What is the source of doubt?”
B. Doubt does not stem from a lack of evidence, but from our sinful hearts.
Have you ever talked to someone who said, “If I just saw a miracle or had a direct word from God, I would believe”? It doesn’t work that way. Here, Zacharias had an angel suddenly appear and speak a direct revelation from God, but he did not believe. Later in Luke, the rich man in Hades pleaded with Abraham to send someone to warn his brothers, so that they would not also come to that awful place of torment. Abraham replied that his brothers had Moses and the prophets. But the rich man said, “No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!” But Abraham replied, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:27-31). Doubt is not a problem of evidence, but of the sinfulness of the human heart. Even those who are righteous struggle with the sinful nature.
You may wonder, “How does Zacharias’ question differ from Mary’s question (Lk 1:34)?” When the angel told her that she would become pregnant with Jesus, she asked, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel did not confront her for doubting. Abraham laughed and brought up the matter of his and Sarah’s old age when he was promised a son, but he was not corrected for doubting, while Sarah was (Gen. 17:17). Gideon twice asked God for a sign, and he was not rebuked. But Zacharias asked the angel for a sign, and was rebuked for his doubting. Why these differences?
I think John Calvin (Calvin’s Commentaries [Baker], 1:23) is correct when he brings up these varying cases and points out that the difference was not in the words spoken, but in the hearts of each person. He acknowledges that while God is free to punish one person and pardon another, as He sees fit, that is not the explanation here. Rather, God, who sees the hidden secrets of each person’s heart, knew that Zacharias was different than Abraham, Gideon, or Mary. Zacharias was limiting God by the normal course of human nature. He and Elizabeth were too old to have children. Case closed! But he should have acknowledged, as Gabriel says to Mary, “Nothing will be impossible with God” (Lk 1:37).
Our sinful hearts make us all prone to limit God by human potential. The disciples fell into this error when they were faced with the crowd of 5,000 hungry men, plus women and children. Jesus asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?” John explains that Jesus asked this to test Philip, since He knew what He was about to do. Philip did a quick calculation and concluded, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little" (John 6:5-7). Philip may have thought that he was giving a faith-stretching answer, because the disciples clearly did not have 200 denarii to buy bread. But he was limiting God to work through normal human means. But God had a completely different solution, namely, miraculously multiplying the few loaves and fishes they had on hand.
So even if we’ve walked with God for years, when we are faced with a seemingly impossible situation, we need to look to our hearts, which are prone to limit the Almighty by human possibilities. God has given us abundant evidence in Scripture that He is the God of the impossible. Nothing is too difficult for Him. The source of our doubts is not a lack of evidence. It is rather our, sinful hearts.
C. Doubt is often connected with disappointments or longterm trials.
We don’t know how long Zacharias and Elizabeth had been married, but it easily could have been 30 or 40 years. In that society, being childless was a matter of reproach (Lk 1:25). For many of those years, they had entreated God to give them a child and take away their reproach, but God did not answer. Now that they were physically too old to have children, they had come to terms with their disappointment. They had concluded that it must not be God’s will. So when the angel suddenly announced that they would have a child, Zacharias doubted. You’ve been there, haven’t you? You prayed for something so long and your request was denied for so long that you concluded, “It isn’t going to happen.” Then, maybe even after you stopped praying, suddenly there was a glimmer of hope that your prayers were about to be answered. But you didn’t want to get your hopes up, only to have them dashed again. So you protected yourself by saying, “Let’s wait and see.” But in your heart, you were doubting God.
A humorous story in the Book of Acts shows the early Christians falling into this same error. Herod Agrippa had executed the apostle James and then had arrested Peter, planning to put him to death just after the Passover. No doubt the church had prayed for James to be delivered, but their prayers had not been answered. They were disappointed, but when Peter was imprisoned, they called another prayer meeting. While they were praying, an angel miraculously delivered Peter from his prison cell. He went to where he surmised the church would be gathered, and stood outside knocking on the door. The servant girl recognized Peter’s voice and got so excited that she forgot to let Peter in. She ran in and announced that Peter was at the door. But everyone in the prayer meeting said, “You’re crazy! It must be Peter’s angel.” But Peter continued knocking. When they opened the door, they were amazed (Acts 12:1-17).
Thankfully, God in His grace often pours out His blessings in spite of our doubts! That was the case with Zacharias. God lovingly disciplined His servant, but Zacharias’ doubts could not thwart the sovereign plan of God. Part of the solution to our doubts is to understand the source of them, as I have been explaining. We’re all prone to doubts because of our sinful hearts, often coupled with disappointments and trials. But Luke also wants us to see that ...
 2. The solution for doubt is to see that God will do what He says He will do.
Darrell Bock comments, “Zechariah, righteous as he is, needs to learn that God will fulfill his promises when he sovereignly chooses to act.... The major lesson ... is that God will do what he promises in his own way” (Luke [IVP], p. 37). This is a tricky matter where it’s easy to fall off the horse both ways. On the one hand, some Christians deny God’s sovereignty by making their supposed faith sovereign. They command God around by faith, as if God is under obligation to obey because they barked the orders. Not so! God is sovereign, not the prayers of puny man.
On the other hand, it’s easy to yield to disappointment if God has not answered as we thought He should have, and our disappointment quickly leads us into doubt. The biblical balance is not to waver in unbelief if God doesn’t do something the way we thought He should have. We allow God to be sovereign, but we believe that if He said He would do something, He will do it, even if it takes a different form than we had expected.
Remember, Luke addressed his gospel to a man who was probably a young believer who needed assurance in his faith. The opposite of doubt is not a leap in the dark. The Christian faith is founded on solid historical evidence. Luke wrote to convince Theophilus and his other readers that God was in fact at work in this amazing history of Jesus’ birth and life. He structured these early narratives with this purpose in mind. There are two strands that come together to dispel our doubts by showing that God does what He says He will do.
A. We know through His prophetic word that God does what He says.
  Luke underscores this point in several ways. First, there is the structure of the first two chapters of his gospel. There is a parallel pattern here of two birth announcements (John the Baptist, 1:5-25; Jesus the Messiah, 1:26-38); a meeting between the two mothers, Mary and Elizabeth, which serves as the link (1:39-56); and, two birth stories (John, 1:57-80; Jesus, 2:1-40). Through this structure, Luke wants us to see that God is clearly at work in the births of these two men. He sovereignly broke into history and announced what He was about to do. Then He proceeded to do it.
This theme is further underscored in the angel’s announcement to Zacharias, where he cites the prophet Malachi’s prediction of the return of Elijah the prophet and says that John will fulfill that prediction. He also predicts a number of other features of John’s life and ministry which did, in fact, later happen. Luke is driving home the point that what God says He will do, He will do.
This is emphasized in one other way that is a bit more obvious in the Greek text than in the English. In verse 18, Zacharias expresses the reason for his doubt by saying, “I am an old man.” It is an emphatic expression, ego eimi in Greek. In verse 19, the angel responds by using the same emphatic expression, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; and I have been sent to speak to you ...” It’s a deliberate contrast between the feebleness of man’s word and the power of God’s Word. It’s as if Gabriel said, “You may be an old man, unable to father a child, but I am no less than the angel who stands in God’s very presence and comes to speak His word at His command.” Thus, clearly, the word of God overcomes the word of man.
Thus one way we can know that God will do what He says He will do is by observing His prophetic word. There are many prophecies in Scripture that were fulfilled later in Scripture. God spoke, and later God did what He said He would do. That should strengthen our faith. Scripture also contains many prophecies yet to be fulfilled. While some of the details may be fuzzy, the overall scheme is pretty clear, and it’s also clear that in our day it is all lining up just as God has said. The world is set up for a powerful leader to bring the nations together under a one-world government, as Revelation predicts. Through the computer revolution, the mechanism is in place to control all buying and selling by giving each person a mark, as the Bible also predicts. The move toward religious unity and tolerance will culminate in the one-world religion, the whore of Revelation 17. So as we see God’s “prophetic word made more sure” (2 Pet. 1:19), we should put our doubts to rest and trust in the Word of God.
 B. We know through His loving discipline that God does what He says.
  Although our doubts do not keep God from graciously blessing us according to His promise, He does lovingly discipline us in our doubts, that we may share His holiness. So the angel struck Zacharias dumb and, apparently, deaf (see Lk 1:62). By doubting God’s ambassador, he was doubting God Himself. God took that seriously. As a loving Father, He taught His erring child a lesson he would never forget. The angel specifically states Zacharias’ sin: “because you did not believe my words” (Lk 1:20). This is further underscored later in the narrative, when Elizabeth exclaims of Mary, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord” (Lk 1:45). That’s Luke’s point: Since God will fulfill His word, we should be believing, like Mary, not unbelieving, like Zacharias.
Zacharias’ chastisement was appropriate for his sin. He shut his mouth in silence when he should have praised God, so he would be silent until the day when his lips were loosed to praise God in front of others (Lk 1:67). Doubt has nothing to say; faith opens the heart and lips in praise to God.
Thankfully, doubt need never be fatal. We can recover if we will submit to God’s gracious discipline. During his months of silence, Zacharias submitted to God by meditating on His Word and being thankful for His faithfulness in fulfilling His gracious promises. This is evident from the stream of praise that gushes forth when he finally has his speech restored (1:68-79). It is loaded with references to Scripture and how God has fulfilled His promises. If Zacharias had spent those silent months grumbling about how unfair God was to strike him deaf and dumb, he wouldn’t have erupted in praise as he did.
We should learn from this godly man. When God graciously disciplines us for our doubting hearts, we can either grumble and chafe under it, or we can thankfully submit to His chastening. If, like Zacharias, we submit, we will grow stronger in faith and be filled with joyful, thankful hearts. Thus, We can overcome the problem of doubt if we will see that God does what He says He will do.
Conclusion
In the matter of faith and doubt, the crucial thing is not our feelings and not even our faith. The crucial thing is the object of our faith. You can have great faith in a faulty airplane, but it will crash in spite of your great faith because it’s not a trustworthy plane. You can have little faith in a sound airplane, just enough to get you on board, and that’s all it takes to get you where you’re going. It’s not your faith, but the object of it, that matters most.
Luke wants us to see that God is faithful to His promises, especially in the matter of sending the Lord Jesus Christ to be the promised Savior. We can trust such a God and such a Savior. He has a proven track record of keeping His word.
The doubts that we all have show us that we need a Savior because we are sinners. Only sinners would doubt the all-powerful, faithful, gracious, sovereign God who has given so many evidences of His trustworthy nature. And the good news of Luke is that it is precisely for sinners that Jesus came to this earth: “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). In your confusion and doubt, call out to Him to save you from your sin. He is mighty to save all who cry out, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner” (Luke 18:13).

Discussion Questions
  1. How can you discern whether a person’s doubts are honest questions or a smokescreen for his sin?
  2. What issues or questions cause you the most doubt? Why?
  3. Is it doubting to pray, “If it be Your will”? Why/why not?
  4. Faith is not a leap in the dark; it is based on solid evidence. How can we know when we’re demanding too much evidence?

Luke 1:19  The angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.

  • I am. Luke 1:26. Da. 8, 16; 9:21–23. Mat. 18:10. He. 4:14.
  • and to. Luke 2:10.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:19 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Gabriel (1043) is a transliteration of the Hebrew Gabriy'el which means "man of God," "warrior of God," "(mighty) man of God" or "strong man of God.” Gabriel's ministry involves making special announcements concerning God's plans, plans that impact not only Israel but the entire world. In Daniel 9:21 he conveyed one of the most incredible prophecies in the Bible, outlining the end time events in Daniel 9:24-note, Da 9:25-note, Da 9:26-note, Da 9:27-note, the last verse dealing with the Seventieth Week of Daniel which revealed the coming of the Antichrist which would inaugurate a 3.5 year Great Tribulation (cp Mt 24:15-note, Mt 24:21-note). 

The are only two good angels named in Scripture,  Gabriel and Michael (“Who is like God?”) (Da 10:13, 21, Da 12:1; Rev 12:7). There is one other angel named in the Bible, the fallen angel Satan.

Holman Bible Dictionary - The heavenly messenger who interpreted to Daniel the meaning of the vision of the ram and the goat. He appears four times in the Bible, each time bringing to human beings a message from the Lord. Twice he appeared to Daniel (John 8:15-27 ; John 9:20-27 ). In the New Testament he appeared to announce the births of John the Baptist (Luke 1:8-20 ) and Jesus (Luke 1:26-38). 

Gabriel - 4x 

Daniel 8:16  And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai, and he called out and said, "Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision."

Daniel 9:21-note  while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering.

Luke 1:19  The angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.

Luke 1:26  Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,

Related Resources on Gabriel:

I have been sent (649)(apostello from apo = from, away from + stello = to withdraw from, avoid) means to send off, to send forth, to send out. Gabriel was God's representative, sent with a commission to give God's message to Zacharias.

Uses of apostello by Luke -

Lk. 1:19; Lk. 1:26; Lk. 4:18; Lk. 4:43; Lk. 7:3; Lk. 7:20; Lk. 7:27; Lk. 9:2; Lk. 9:48; Lk. 9:52; Lk. 10:1; Lk. 10:3; Lk. 10:16; Lk. 11:49; Lk. 13:34; Lk. 14:17; Lk. 14:32; Lk. 19:14; Lk. 19:29; Lk. 19:32; Lk. 20:10; Lk. 20:20; Lk. 22:8; Lk. 22:35; Acts 3:20; Acts 3:26; Acts 5:21; Acts 7:14; Acts 7:34; Acts 7:35; Acts 8:14; Acts 9:17; Acts 9:38; Acts 10:8; Acts 10:17; Acts 10:20; Acts 10:36; Acts 11:11; Acts 11:13; Acts 11:30; Acts 13:15; Acts 15:27; Acts 15:33; Acts 16:35; Acts 16:36; Acts 19:22; Acts 26:17; Acts 28:28

Bring...good news (2097)(euaggelizo/euangelizo)  from eu = good, well + aggéllo = proclaim, tell; English = evangelize) means to announce good news concerning something. This use is not the proclamation of the "Gospel" as most of the other uses by Luke are (see below), but of the birth of a son to an "infertile" couple.

Luke uses euaggelizo in 25 of the 52 verses - 

Lk. 1:19; Lk. 2:10; Lk. 3:18; Lk. 4:18; Lk. 4:43; Lk. 7:22; Lk. 8:1; Lk. 9:6; Lk. 16:16; Lk. 20:1; Acts 5:42; Acts 8:4; Acts 8:12; Acts 8:25; Acts 8:35; Acts 8:40; Acts 10:36; Acts 11:20; Acts 13:32; Acts 14:7; Acts 14:15; Acts 14:21; Acts 15:35; Acts 16:10; Acts 17:18;

J Vernon McGee - The Word of God has the seal of God upon it. The Word of God carries authority. What Vernon McGee says is not important, but what the Word of God says is important. God speaks to us through His Word.

Luke 1:20  "And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time."

  • thou shalt. Luke 1:22, 62, 63. Ex. 4:11. Eze. 3:26; 24:27.
  • because. Luke 1:45. Ge. 18:10–15. Nu. 20:12. 2 Ki. 7:2, 19. Is. 7:9. Mark 9:19; 16:14. Re. 3:19.
  • which. Ro. 3:3. 2 Ti. 2:13. Titus 1:2. He. 6:18.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:20 Commentaries
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A SIGN AND A REBUKE
FOR UNBELIEF

Behold you shall be silent and unable to speak - In a sense this was a sign, but also was a rebuke. So for nine long months Zechariah was reminded every time he tried to speak and no sound came forth that by his unbelief he had offended God.

Be silent (4623)(siopao from siope = silence, a hush, properly, muteness, i.e. involuntary stillness, or inability to speak)  means to be silent, hold one's peace, say nothing (Mt 26:63; Mk 3:4; 9:34; 14:61; Acts 18:9). To stop speaking or become quiet (Mt 20:31; Mk 10:48; Lk 18:39, 19:40) and here in Luke 1:20 meaning to lose the ability to speak. In one use Jesus commands the wind (and waves) to "Hush!" or quieten down, becoming calm (Mk 4:39).

In classic Greek it was a command to “be silent” (Iliad 23.568; Odyssey 17.513) Socrates before a jury. (Cf Plato before the popular assembly on Aegina, on trial for his life "did not say a single word.")

Siopao - 10x in 10v -  become silent(1), hush(1), kept silent(4), quiet(2), silent(2).

Matthew 20:31  The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"
Matthew 26:63  But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God."
Mark 3:4  And He said to them, "Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?" But they kept silent.
Mark 4:39  And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.
Mark 9:34  But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.
Mark 10:48  Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Mark 14:61  But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, "Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?"
Luke 1:20  "And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time."
Luke 19:40  But Jesus answered, "I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!"
Acts 18:9  And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent;

Siopao - 28x in 26v in the Septuagint - 

Nu. 30:14; Deut. 27:9 (= "“Be silent and listen, O Israel! This day you have become a people for the LORD your God."); Jdg. 3:19; 1 Ki. 22:3; 2 Ki. 2:3; 2 Ki. 2:5; 2 Ki. 7:9; 2 Chr. 25:16; Neh. 8:11; Job 16:6; Job 18:3; Job 29:21; Job 30:27; Job 41:12; Isa. 36:21; Isa. 42:14; Isa. 62:1 (= "For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, And her salvation like a torch that is burning."); Isa. 62:6; Isa. 64:12; Isa. 65:6; Jer. 4:19; Lam. 2:10; Lam. 2:18; Lam. 3:28; Dan. 10:15; Amos 5:13

J C Ryle points out that "Few sins appear to be so peculiarly provoking to God as the sin of unbelief…Let us watch and pray daily against this soul-ruining sin. Concessions to it rob believers of their inward peace, weaken their hands in the day of battle, (and) bring clouds over their hopes. According to the degree of our faith will be our enjoyment of Christ’s salvation, our patience in the day of trial, our victory over the world. Unbelief, in short, is the true cause of a thousand spiritual diseases."

Adrian Rogers adds that "Unbelief is what locked the doors of the Promised Land to the children of Israel. For all the grumbling, bad attitudes, and discontentment that characterized their demeanor after leaving Egypt, it was their unbelief that kept them at a distance from God's promised reward. (Heb 3:19-note and note that in Heb 3:18-note unbelief in this context equated with disobedience!) Jesus, too, allowed the people's unbelief to tie His hands on His ministry visit to His hometown. The Bible clearly says, "He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief" (Matt. 13:58). The sovereign God has limited Himself to work according to the faith and belief of the people of God. When you go to the grocery store, you use dollars to pay for your purchases. But when it comes to the Christian life, you receive from God by faith. As I said before, faith is heaven's medium of exchange. It is by far the greatest asset we have. Unbelief, on the other hand, is our greatest stumbling block in life. Unbelief is the chief wickedness. Unbelief is the mother sin, the father sin, the parent sin. It is the sin of all sins. Unbelief caused Eve to sin against God in the Garden of Eden. She failed to believe the Word of God (Ed: And as in Heb 3:18-19, she disobeyed God)."

Spurgeon - Unbelief is very displeasing to God, and cannot be indulged in, even by the best of men, without involving them in chastisement. If we will not believe a promise, we shall not be permitted the comfort of it, and its fulfilment will be attended with some humiliating circumstance which will mark the Lord’s displeasure at our unbelief.

Behold (2400)(idou) is the second person singular aorist middle imperative of eidon which means to see, perceive, look at. In the NT idou is used as a demonstrative particle that draws attention to what follows. Idou in the middle voice means "you yourself look, see, perceive!" The aorist imperative is a command emphasizing "Do it now! Don't delay!"

Spurgeon reminds us that "Behold is a word of wonder; it is intended to excite admiration. Wherever you see it hung out in Scripture, it is like an ancient sign-board, signifying that there are rich wares within, or like the hands which solid readers have observed in the margin of the older Puritanic books, drawing attention to something particularly worthy of observation." I would add, behold is like a divine highlighter, a divine underlining of an especially striking or important text. It says in effect "Listen up, all ye who would be wise in the ways of Jehovah!"

Idou is used by the Biblical writers to (1) prompt or arouse the reader's attention (introducing something new or unusual), (2) to mark a strong emphasis ("Indeed!" Lk 13:16) and (3) to call the reader to pay close attention (very similar to #1) so that one will listen, remember or consider

THOUGHT - Dear reader, have you experienced this "Behold" in your life? If not, then read Acts 4:12, 16:31, Romans 10:9, 10, John 1:12, 13, Ephesians 2:8,9,10 so that you too might "Behold" the glory of the risen Son in your life (see the following comment) and experience a brand new life in Christ.

Luke frequently uses Behold (idou) six times in Luke 1 and 4 times in Luke 2 (He wants to grab out attention!) - 

Lk. 1:20, 31, 36, 38, 44, 48; 2:10, 25, 34, 48; 5:12, 18; 6:23; 7:12, 25, 27, 34, 37; 8:41; 9:30, 38f; 10:3, 19, 25; 11:31, 32, 41; 13:7, 11, 16, 30, 32, 35; 14:2; 15:29; 17:21, 23; 18:28, 31; 19:2, 8, 20; 22:10, 21, 31, 38, 47; 23:14f, 29, 50; 24:4, 13, 49; Acts 1:10; 2:7; 5:9, 25, 28; 7:56; 8:27, 36; 9:10,11; 10:17, 19, 21, 30; 11:11; 12:7; 13:11, 25, 46; 16:1; 20:22, 25; 27:24;

John Martin writes "A sign in the Old Testament was often associated with a confirming observable phenomenon which accompanied a word of prophecy. For the next nine months Zechariah’s attempts to speak would prove the reality of Gabriel’s message."  (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Spurgeon - Many a child of God is dumb, because of unbelief. Mary believed, and therefore she sang a holy, joyous song, — a sweet canticle of delight: “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” But Zacharias, because of his unbelief, was unable to speak. I wonder whether there is a man here who might have spoken for his God with power, but whose mouth is closed because of his unbelief. If so, may the Lord hasten the time when his dumbness shall be ended!

A J C Ryle quote reminds us not to be too hard on Zecharias - "The holiest actions of the holiest saint that ever lived are all more or less full of defects and imperfections. They are either wrong in their motive or defective in their performance, and in themselves are nothing more than “splendid sins,” deserving God’s wrath and condemnation." As Ray Pritchard says "Ryle has told the truth about the best of us and the rest of us! This side of heaven, we’re a pretty sorry lot, but that’s where God’s grace comes in. No one will be saved by what they do. Our only hope of heaven is to run to the cross and lay hold of Jesus Christ. And we won’t even do that unless God helps us to do it, and even then he must give us the strength to hang on and to keep believing." (Expository Thoughts Luke 1)

Until the day - Do we not see God's mercy in this time phrase? Zecharias' unbelief would result in a moment of muteness which would be relieved when God brought about the miraculous birth of their son. 

Because - Always pause to ponder and query this term of explanation, asking at least "What is Luke explaining?"

Fulfilled (completed) (4137)(pleroo) means to make complete in every detail, which is a description of every prophecy of our non-lying God. What promises of His are you finding it difficult to believe (like Zacharias did in this case)?

Proper time (due season) (2540)(kairos) means a point of time or period of time, time, period, frequently with the implication of being especially fit for something.

Luke uses Kairos 21x (almost 1/4 of all NT uses) - 

Lk. 1:20; Lk. 4:13; Lk. 8:13; Lk. 12:42; Lk. 12:56; Lk. 13:1; Lk. 18:30; Lk. 19:44; Lk. 20:10; Lk. 21:8; Lk. 21:24; Lk. 21:36;  Acts 1:7; Acts 3:19; Acts 7:20; Acts 12:1; Acts 13:11; Acts 14:17; Acts 17:26; Acts 19:23; Acts 24:25

J Vernon McGee - Zacharias, who has been so vocal, will be dumb for a period of time. Unbelief is always dumb. That is, it never has a message. I agree with Elizabeth Barrett Browning who said that one without faith should be silent. There are many babblers around who are everlastingly spouting off about their unbelief. If they haven’t anything to say, they should keep quiet. Let the man speak who believes in God and has something to say.

Wiersbe - You would think that the presence of an angel and the announcement of God’s Word would encourage Zacharias’ faith, but they did not. Instead of looking to God by faith, the priest looked at himself and his wife and decided that the birth of a son was impossible. He wanted some assurance beyond the plain word of Gabriel, God’s messenger, perhaps a sign from God. This, of course, was unbelief, and unbelief is something God does not accept. Zacharias was really questioning God’s ability to fulfill His own Word! Had he forgotten what God did for Abraham and Sarah? (Gen. 18:9–15; Rom. 4:18–25) Did he think that his physical limitations would hinder Almighty God? But before we criticize Zacharias too much, we should examine ourselves and see how strong our own faith is.Faith is blessed, but unbelief is judged; and Zacharias was struck dumb (and possibly deaf, Luke 1:62) until the Word was fulfilled. “I believed, and therefore have I spoken” (2 Cor. 4:13). Zacharias did not believe; therefore he could not speak. When he left the holy place, he was unable to give the priestly benediction to the people (Num. 6:22–27) or even tell them what he had seen. Indeed, God had given him a very personal “sign” that he would have to live with for the next nine months.(Ibid)

Luke 1:21  And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple.

WAITING AND
WONDERING

Zacharias was to offer incense in the Holy place and then come out and pronounce the Aaronic blessing on the multitudes in the court...

Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them: The LORD bless you, and keep you;  The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you;  The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’ So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I [then] will bless them. (Nu 6:23-27)

And the people were waiting for Zacharias - "The service of sprinkling the frankincense on the golden altar took but a short time, and the Talmud reports that the officiating priest remained in the Sanctuary only a brief time. He would then come out and dismiss the people with a benediction." (Lenski) Apparently when the priest would come out he would  pronounce the customary blessing upon them such as the one in Numbers 6:24-26.

The LORD bless you, and keep you;  LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you;  LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’ 

Guzik - After the incense priest finished, he came out of the holy place through the great doors of the temple, and met the other two priests right outside the doors. Then the incense priest raised his hands and blessed the people with the blessing from Numbers 6:24-26. The hundreds of gathered worshippers knew what to do; they responded by saying, “Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.” ii. After all this, the Levites got the worship singers and musicians started. They began with a blast from special silver trumpets; then a priest struck the cymbals, and the choir of Levites began to sing the Psalm of the day. The choir was made up of not less than twelve voices, which mingled young and old for a full range of sound and probably some great harmonies. (Luke 1)

The people would soon have a second surprise because Zacharias would not be able to pronounce the blessing because he could not speak.

Were waiting (expectantly) (4328) (prosdokao from prós = towards - adds the idea of “mental direction” to the already existing meaning of the verb + dokáo = look for denoting direction of one's mind toward something) means literally to look forward toward, to wait for, to look for, to anticipate. It means to give thought to something that is in the future and the context indicates whether one does this looking/waiting in a hopeful sense, with a longing, with fear (wait with anxiety, live in suspense), or in a neutral state of mind. It describes the attitude saints should have as anticipating, waiting with watchfulness, being in expectation. Prosdokao is in the present tense indicating that multitude was continually looking for Zacharias to emerge from the Temple. They were in a state of anticipation. Luke uses prosdokao in a similar sense in Luke 8:40 "And as Jesus returned, the people welcomed Him, for they had all been waiting (expectantly) for Him."

Prosdokao is found 16x in 15v in the NT and Luke has 11 of the uses so clearly this is one of his favorite verbs - Lk. 1:21; Lk. 3:15; Lk. 7:19; Lk. 7:20; Lk. 8:40; Lk. 12:46; Acts 3:5; Acts 10:24; Acts 27:33; Acts 28:6

In chapter 3 Luke uses prosdokao in reference to the people's looking for the Messiah writing…

Now while the people were in a state of expectation (prosdokao) and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he might be the Christ, (Luke 3:15, cp similar uses in Lk 7:19, 20 where "look" with expectancy = prosdokao)

Comment: How wonderful if Christ's church in America were in such a state! How much saltier salt and brighter light the church might be in a land growing spiritually darker each day!

In Acts 3 Luke uses prosdokao again recording the attitude of the lame man (who had been lame from his mother's womb) toward Peter…

And he began to give them his attention, expecting (prosdokao) to receive something from them. (Acts 3:5)

Prosdokao describes the attitude of those on the isle of Malta when Paul was bitten by the viper and they waited and watched expecting him to swell up. (Acts 28:6)

But they were expecting (prosdokao) that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.

Comment: In this context the waiting is with apprehension concerning impending danger or trouble. The point is that they watched expectantly because they knew it was a certainty (that Paul would fall over dead) and that it could happen any time! That's the idea inherent in the verb "looking." It's an attitude of expectancy and pictures one whose mind is continually turning to the future while enduring the present evil age around them. A characteristic mark of the genuine believer is that of habitual expectation of the "parousia" (of Christ) which in turn produces a powerful motive for godly, holy living. What you are looking for will (should) radically impact what you are living for. See related discussion of "Vertical Vision".

Fanny Crosby (who ironically was physically blind!) caught the "vision" of expectant living in this stanza from Blessed Assurance --

"Perfect submission, all is at rest; 
I in my Savior am happy and blest, 
Watching and waitinglooking above
Filled with his goodness, lost in his love." 
(Play hymn)

THOUGHT - Read that third line again and ponder how the various actions and attitudes are interrelated. If a blind saint can have this Godward "eyesight", how much more should those of us who can see the majestic mountains, the glorious sunsets, the countless stars, etc?

As an aside there are three other NT verbs with a meaning very similar to prosdokao:

Prosdechomai (4327) earnestly expect, look forward to, wait for, wait anxiously (Click in depth study)

Apekdechomai (553) to wait for with hope and patience (Click in depth study)

Anemeno (362) to wait for with patience and confident expectancy (Click in depth study)

The people....were wondering at his delay in the temple - Wonder is the feeling aroused by something strange, rare and surprising. Here wondering is in the imperfect tense picturing the people doing so again and again. One can see them looking at each other trying to understand why there was such a delay. Ryrie quips "The people probably wondered if Zacharias had died." This is alluded to in Exodus "It shall be on Aaron when he ministers; and its tinkling shall be heard when he enters and leaves the holy place before the LORD, so that he will not die." (Ex 28:35)

Did the high priest have a rope tied to him when he entered the Holy of Holies? (NOTE THIS ANSWER SPEAKS OF ENTRANCE INTO THE HOLY OF HOLIES, NOT THE HOLY PLACE WHICH IS WHERE ZACHARIAS WAS MINISTERING) There is a tradition that the high priest of Israel would enter the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle or temple with a rope tied to his foot and/or with bells around his waist (ED: Ex 28:34 = "a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around on the hem of the robe.") Tradition says that when the high priest went into the Holy of Holies on Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) during the last couple of centuries of the temple, a scarlet rope was tied to his foot. A priest in the Holy Place tended the other end of this rope, which had a purpose. If the high priest's sins were not atoned for properly, he would die in the presence of the Shekinah —the glory of God—that filled the Holy of Holies. Since nobody else could enter that part of the temple without also dying, the priests felt they needed a way to retrieve the body of the high priest, if necessary. That was the purpose of the rope—to pull the body out. The bells jingling would be the sign that the priest had fallen to the ground dead. If this tradition is true, it would be a powerful reminder of God's holiness and how we should praise Jesus for the direct access to God's throne He provides! However, the Bible does not record such a practice. In fact, the Bible has specific instructions regarding what the high priest can and cannot wear (Exodus 28-35). It seems highly unlikely that God would allow this practice.

Were wondering (2296)(thaumazo from thauma [from thaomai = to wonder] = wonder, admiration) means to wonder, or  be struck with astonishment. While it took a little time to throw incense on the heated altar this delay troubled the people Clearly the idea is they were wondering what had happened to Zacharias for he was in the Temple for longer than expected. His unexpected delay of course was the result of his unexpected encounter with the angel Gabriel. 

Delay (5549)(chonizo from chronos = a space of time) means to take time, to tarry, to linger, to delay, to defer. To take one's time. To put off one's arrival. To hesitate.

Chronizo was used in the Lxx of Dt 23:22 (similar use in Eccl 5:4) where Moses instructed the people not to "delay to pay" your vow to the LORD. In distress David cries out to God "You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay (Heb - achar - tarry; Lxx = chronizo), O my God. (Ps 40:17, cp similar prayers by David in Ps 70:5 and by Daniel in Da 9:19, both of which use chronizo in the Lxx)

THOUGHT - David's prayer is a good prayer for us to cry out when we are in distress and affliction - "You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay!" Amen!

Chronizo is used in the Septuagint to describe an even more famous holy man's delay in returning to appear before the multitude in Exodus 32 and the results were disastrous! 

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed (Lxx = chronizo) to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, "Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." (Ex 32:1)

Chronizo - 5x in 5v - Usage: is not coming for a long time(1), delay(2), delaying(1), long time(2).

Matthew 24:48  "But if that evil slave says in his heart, 'My master is not coming for a long time,'

Matthew 25:5  "Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.

Luke 1:21  The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple.

Luke 12:45  "But if that slave says in his heart, 'My master will be a long time in coming,' and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk;

Hebrews 10:37  FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY.

Chronizo - 15 verses in the Septuagint - Gen. 32:4; 34:19; Exod. 32:1; Deut. 4:25; 23:21; Jdg. 5:28; 2 Sam. 20:5; Ps. 40:17; 70:5; Prov. 31:21; Eccl. 5:4; Isa. 13:22; 51:14; Dan. 9:19; Hab. 2:3; 

Luke 1:22  But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute.

 But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them - Absolutely unable is the idea.

Unable (ou = absolute negation + dunamai) (1410) (dunamai) to possess capability for doing something, in this case speaking. Zacharias was absolutely unable to pronounce the Aaronic blessing on the multitudes and this alerted them that something supernatural had occurred. 

They realized (recognized, understood) (1921)(epiginosko) means to know fully or exactly. Luke uses epiginosko frequently - some 20 out of 44 NT uses - Lk. 1:4; Lk. 1:22; Lk. 5:22; Lk. 7:37; Lk. 23:7; Lk. 24:16; Lk. 24:31; Acts 3:10; Acts 4:13; Acts 9:30; Acts 12:14; Acts 19:34; Acts 22:24; Acts 22:29; Acts 23:28; Acts 24:8; Acts 24:11; Acts 25:10; Acts 27:39; Acts 28:1. Earlier in this chapter it was Luke's purpose that Theophilus might "know the exact truth about the things" he had been taught (Lk 1:4-note).

And they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple - Realized is epiginosko which intensifies the knowing, indicating they knew with certainty. But how could they be so certain? Since Zacharias was making signs, somehow he was able to play first century "Charades" acting out the word or phrase in order, while the crowd guessed.

Vision (3701)(optasia from optánomai = to appear) describes a coming into view or that which comes into view (cp "optical") - an apparition, a vision. In Scripture optasia refers to a mystical experience of a supernatural appearance. Paul described his vision of the glorified Jesus on the Damascus Road (Acts 26:19) and his rapture to the third heaven as a vision in 2 Cor 12:1 (see 2 Cor 12:2-8). Here and in Lk 24:23 optasia refers to angelic visions. 

BDAG - 1. an event of a transcendent character that impresses itself vividly on the mind, a vision, celestial sight, of that which a deity permits a human being to see, either of the deity personally or of something else usually hidden from mortals 2. state of being that is experienced by one who has a vision, trance 

Gilbrant It is difficult to make a clear distinction between dreams and visions in the Bible because visions are called dreams and dreams are called visions (e.g., Acts 2:17; 9:10,12). However, optasia is a waking vision while horama (3568) is a vision seen in a dream. Optasia also means intellectual or spiritual perception that comes by means of mystical or religious experience (Luke 1:22; 24:23; Acts 26:19; 2 Corinthians 12:1). (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Optasia is used in the Lxx of Da 9:23, Da 10:1, Da 10:7-8. In Da 9:23 Gabriel came to give Daniel understanding of the vision of the Seventy Weeks in Daniel 9:24-27. 

There are 3 words used for visions in the NT and they are used mainly by Dr Luke (horama [11/12 NT uses by Luke], optasia and horasis [1/2 NT uses]). One other word phantasma (apparition, specter, phantom) is not used by Luke (Mt 14:26, Mk 6:49).

As an aside - "Hórama differs from hórasis in that it contemplates the vision objectively and focuses upon its content presenting the vision as that which results from the act of appearing, namely, that which is manifested, what is seen. Hórasis, contemplates the vision subjectively and focuses upon its character presenting the vision as that which performs the act of appearing, that which appears, that which makes itself visible." (Zodhiates)

Optasia - 4x in 4v with 3 of the uses by Luke - translated as vision(3), visions(1).

Luke 1:22  But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute.

Luke 24:23  and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive.

Acts 26:19  "So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision,

2 Corinthians 12:1  Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.

James Newell has an excellent summary of Vision in the Bible - An experience in the life of a person, whereby a special revelation from God was received. The revelation from God had two purposes. First, a vision was given for immediate direction, as with Abram in Genesis 12:1-3 ; Lot, Genesis 19:15 ; Balaam, Numbers 22:22-40 ; and Peter, Acts 12:7 . Second, a vision was given to develop the kingdom of God by revealing the moral and spiritual deficiencies of the people of God in light of God's requirements for maintaining a proper relationship with Him. The vision of prophets such as Isaiah, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and John are representative of this aspect of revelation. Several Greek and Hebrew terms are translated by the English word vision. In some references, the literal sense of perception with the physical organs of sight is the intended meaning of the word (Job 27:11-12 ; Proverbs 22:29). In 2 Samuel 7:17 ; Isaiah 22:1 ,Isaiah 22:1,22:5 ; Joel 3:1 ; and Zechariah 13:4 , the Hebrew word refers to the prophetic function of receiving and delivering the word of God by the prophet. Vision in varying forms occurs approximately thirty times in the Book of Daniel. The term denotes the mysterious revelation of that which the prophet described as knowledge of the future. In Ezekiel, the words are used literally and metaphorically. Among the classical prophets (Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Obadiah, etc.) the vision was the primary means of communication between God and the prophet. By this avenue, the prophets interpreted the meaning of immediate events in the history of Israel. “Vision” and “Word of Yahweh” became synonymous in these prophetic writings (see Obadiah 1:1). (Holman Bible Dictionary)

Related Resources:

  • Torrey's Topical Textbook Visions
  • American Tract Society Vision
  • Bridgeway Bible Dictionary Vision
  • Charles Buck Dictionary Vision
  • Easton's Bible Dictionary Vision
  • Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible Vision
  • Hastings' Dictionary of the NT Vision Vision (2)
  • King James Dictionary Vision
  • Morrish Bible Dictionary Visions
  • Hawker's Poor Man's Dictionary Vision
  • Vines' Expository Dictionary Vision
  • Webster Dictionary Vision
  • Watson's Theological Dictionary Vision
  • International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Vision
  • McClintock and Strong's Bible Encyclopedia Vision

And he kept making signs to them, and remained mute - In the case of Zacharias we cannot be certain of the nature of the signs but it would be reasonable for him to gesture with his hands to somehow depict the vision of the angel. As Spurgeon says "By the signs he made, he impressed them with the fact that something extraordinary had happened." 

Kept making signs (1269)(dianeuo) means he was signifying by a nod of his head, beckon, or making signs by gesturing with some part of the body. Thayer - to express one's meaning by a sign, nod to, beckon to, wink at, (dia [which means "through" is used] because the sign is conceived of as passing through the intervening space to him to whom it is made) BDAG adds that dianeuo means " to express an idea through motion of a part of the body, such as head (‘nod’), eye, or hand (‘gesture’)." Dianeuo is used only in Luke 1:22 and once in the Septuagint in Ps 35:19 of a "wink" with one's eye = "Nor let those who hate me without cause wink maliciously." Luke uses the present tense which gives a pictures  Zacharias conitinually making signs in an attempt to get the crowd to understand what had happened in the Holy Place.

Remained (1265) (diameno from dia = intensifies meaning + meno = to remain or abide) means to remain permanently or to continue in the same place or condition, in this case "mute."

Mute (2974)(kophos from kopto = to cut down) literally means blunted or dull (as a weapon), but in the NT meaning unable to speak, speechless. (Mt. 9:32, 33; 12:22; 15:30, 31; Lk 1:22; 11:14; Septuagint = Hab. 2:18) Kophos in other contexts meant unable to hear, deaf (Mt. 11:5; Mk 7:32, 37; 9:25; Lk 7:22; Septuagint = Lev 19:14, Ps. 38:14, 58:4; Isa. 35:5; 43:8). Kophos is used figuratively to refer to spiritual deafness that would be healled - Isa. 29:18; Isa. 35:5; Isa. 42:18. 

Gilbrant adds that kophos "came to mean one who was dull or lacking in ability to speak or to hear. Jesus healed many who were unable to speak (Matthew 15:30), including one who was demon possessed (Matthew 12:22). The Septuagint uses kōphos of “dumb idols” which could not speak (Habakkuk 2:18). Jesus also healed those who were deaf (Matthew 11:5) and one who “was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech” (Mark 7:32). The Septuagint also uses kōphos to speak of the deaf when translating God’s words to Moses saying: “Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11)." (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Kophos - 15x in 12v - deaf(4), mute(6), mute man(3), one who(1), one who was deaf(1).

Matt. 9:32; Matt. 9:33; Matt. 11:5; Matt. 12:22; Matt. 15:30; Matt. 15:31; Mk. 7:32; Mk. 7:37; Mk. 9:25; Lk. 1:22; Lk. 7:22; Lk. 11:14

Kophos in the Septuagint - 

Ex 4:11; Lev. 19:14; Ps. 38:13; Ps. 58:4; Isa. 29:18; Isa. 35:5; Isa. 42:18; Isa. 42:19; Isa. 43:8; Isa. 44:11; Hab. 2:18;

Luke 1:23  When the days of his priestly service were ended, he went back home.

When the days of his priestly service were ended - His seven days of service. Imagine him carrying out his priestly service unable to speak. Of course he could still "speak" to God and no doubt even though mute he would have been offering gratitude to God Who had heard his petition.

Spurgeon - He did not make his infirmity an excuse for leaving his office, as many would have done. We must work on for the Lord as long as we have any ability left.

Priestly service (3009)(leitourgia from leitourgeo = to be a public servant, to perform religious or charitable function, to minister; English = liturgy - body of rites prescribed for public worship) generally used of a servant of a superior and suggests a function to be discharged or a necessary service to be rendered. The word was used in secular Greek to refer to a public service or office, such as in Athens and elsewhere, administered by the citizens at their own expense as a part of the system of finance. In the NT, leitourgia referred to service or ministry as of the public ministrations of the Jewish priesthood. Robertson on leitourgia - It is common in the papyri for the service of the Egyptian priesthood as we see it in the LXX of Hebrew priests (see also Heb. 8:6; 9:21; 2 Cor. 9:12; Phil. 2:17, 30).

Were ended (4092) See previous discussion of pimplemi. Time was filled up or completed (Lk 1:23 and Lk 1:57) The other 3 uses refer to filling with the Holy Spirit - Lk. 1:15; Lk. 1:41; Lk 1:67

He went back home - “to the hill country” (Luke 1:39) to tell (or better to write to) Elizabeth the good (miraculous) news. Can you imagine their joy!

Luke 1:24  After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying,

After these days - How long is not specified but presumably soon after he returned home. 

Became pregnant (conceived) (4815)(sullambano from sun/syn = together with + lambáno = to take, to seize) means literally to seize or take together and conveys the picture of clasping. Sullambano has several meanings depending on the context, the most common meaning being to arrest someone (7/16 uses) or take them into custody. To apprehend someone by virtue of a warrant from authority. The next most frequent use is to conceive (become pregnant) (5/16 uses) picking up on the basic meaning of clasping in a sexual sense. Luke uses sullambano 11/16 times -   Lk. 1:24; Lk. 1:31; Lk. 1:36; Lk. 2:21; Lk. 5:7; Lk. 5:9; Lk. 22:54; Acts 1:16; Acts 12:3; Acts 23:27; Acts 26:21; Phil. 4:3; Jas. 1:15

God kept His promise and Elizabeth conceived a son in her old age. “There is nothing too hard for the Lord” (Jer. 32:17-note) And in Jer 32:27-note “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” Beloved, what is there in your life that you think is too difficult for God? 

She kept herself in seclusion for five months - Why? I am not sure, but she certainly would have been the talk of the town if they knew she was pregnant. 

Kept herself (4032)(perikrupto from perí =  about, and krúpto =, to hide) means to conceal all around, i.e. entirely. To hide completely or carefully. Only use in the NT. The imperfect tense tense pictures her repeatedly hiding herself.

Luke 1:25 "This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked [with favor] upon me, to take away my disgrace among men."

  • hath. Luke 1:13. Ge. 21:1, 2; 25:21; 30:22. 1 Sa. 1:19, 20; 2:21, 22. He. 11:11.
  • to take. Ge. 30:23. 1 Sa. 1:6. Is. 4:1; 54:1–4.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:25 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Spurgeon - I do not wonder that, in her solemn joy, she shunned the gossips of the neighborhood and kept herself in seclusion. I do believe that there is many a soul which, when it has found Christ, feels itself much too full of joy to speak, and asks not for a crowded temple, but for a quiet chamber where the heart may pour itself out before God.

To take away (aphaireo - remove) my disgrace among men - This is an allusion to Rachel's declaration in Genesis, Moses recording...

So she conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach (Lxx = oneidos, same noun Luke uses in Lk 1:25).” (Ge. 30:23)

Disgrace (reproach) (3681)(oneidos) means notoriety, i.e. a taunt (disgrace), a reproach. BDAG has "loss of standing connected with disparaging speech."

Oneidos is used only here in the NT but there are 39 uses in the Septuagint - The first use is found in Rachel's statement recorded above. In 1 Sa 17:36 David said Goliath "has taunted the armies of the living God.”

Oneidos - 39x in the Septuagint - 

Gen. 30:23; 34:14; Lev. 20:17; 1 Sam. 11:2; 17:36; 2 Sa 13:13; Neh. 2:17; Job 19:5, 7; Ps. 22:6; 31:11; 39:8; 44:13; 57:3; 78:66; 79:4; 89:41; 109:25; 119:22; 123:4; Prov. 3:31; 6:33; 18:3, 13; 19:6; 26:6; Isa. 25:8; 30:3, 5, 6; 54:4; 59:18; Ezek. 16:57; 22:4; Joel 2:17; Mic. 2:6; 6:16

This noun is used in a Messianic psalm - (Ps 22:6) "But I am a worm and not a man, A reproach of men and despised by the people." See discussion of Psalm 22:6-I Am a Worm

Spurgeon observes that by Elizabeth's words in this verse we learn that  "The mother of John had more faith than her husband, but both were excellent persons. We may reasonably expect the best preachers to be born of pious parents. Would to God that in our household might be raised up those who will cry, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

Looked with favor upon ("with favor" added by translators)(1896)(epeidon or ephorao from epi = upon + horao = to look upon) means to fix one's gaze upon, to look at with concern, to regard. To look upon with favor (as Mary testified here in Lk 1:25). The first us in the Septuagint is Ge 4:4 where "the LORD had regard (Heb = shaah - gaze; Lxx = epeidon) for Abel and his offering." Hagar in desperate straits testified "You are the God Who sees (Heb = raah ; Lxx = eidon) me." (Ge 16:13NET). And again in the context of adversity/affliction, in Ex 2:25 "God saw (Heb = raah ; Lxx = eidon) the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them." In Ps 138:6 Jehovah "regards (Heb = raah ; Lxx = eidon) the lowly." And so you can see that this word is often associated with God's awareness of the state of those who are destitute or humble. 


Vance Havner - Reflections on the Gospel of Luke

"Thy Prayer Is Heard" Luke 1:5-25

ZACHARIAS had prayed through long, lean years for a son. He and Elizabeth had many qualifications for a life of blessing: good ancestry, they "were righteous before the Lord," not merely before men, they walked in all the commandments of the Lord blameless—not faultless, but living up to their light.

But there follows the sad statement: "And they had no child." Have you sought to live the blameless life, yet your piety seems to have borne no progeny—you are barren? Remember Zacharias. It was now too late, from the natural viewpoint, to have a son, but Zacharias had not forgotten his altar and his duty. He kept offering incense, a symbol of thanksgiving, when there seemed so little to be thankful for. Do not forsake your incense, and the angel will yet appear! The herald from heaven announces a son. God often waits until it is too late with us; it is never too late with Him. Poor Zacharias is doubtful. And doubt leads to dumbness—it always does. When we do not trust, we have no testimony. But God fails not, though Zacharias does. The baby is born, and when neighbors would name him for his father, Zacharias puts God first and names him by the Divine direction. Do not name things after yourself; give God the glory. Then dumbness gives way to delight: Zacharias speaks and so will you!

John was to drink neither wine nor strong drink, but was to be filled with the Spirit. Three times the New Testament sets wine and the Spirit in contrast (Luke 1:15; Acts 2:13; Eph. 5:18). Wine changes face, walk, talk—stimulates; so does the Spirit.

God was fulfilling here the prophecy made in Malachi 4:5-6. How marvelously His plans work out exactly on schedule! Zacharias, filled with the Holy Ghost, breaks into prophecy of a Jewish cast setting forth the glory of the coming Christ: "God has visited His people to redeem them." We must bear in mind here that Christ came first to Israel. Zacharias knows the Messiah is to be of the house of David, a testimony to His royal lineage. Prophecy is fulfilled, promises performed, the holy covenant remembered. Notice how complete is this redemption: freedom, "being delivered out of the hand of our enemies"; purpose, "that we might serve Him"; nature of this service, "without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him"; the duration, "all the days of our life." Then Zacharias turns to his own son who is to be called the prophet of the Highest, to go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation, light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. This salvation is through God's tender mercy, whereby the "dayspring from on high"—probably the Branch of Isaiah 11:1 and Zechariah 3:8—hath visited us.

John grows and waxes strong in the spirit in the desert solitude till the day of his appearing to Israel. There is some obvious difference between this and the closing verse of the next chapter, where Jesus, living a more social life, increases also in favor with man.

Luke 1:26  Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,

  • the sixth. Luke 1:24. the angel. Luke 1:19.
  • a city. Luke 2:4. Mat. 2:23. John 1:45, 46; 7:41.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:26 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Wuest  Now, in the sixth month there was sent on a mission from God the angel Gabriel to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,

GABRIEL'S SECOND
MISSION

See location of Nazareth on Map - this map also shows Galilee. See Gabriel announces to Mary that she will bear a Son

Galilee - was located about seventy-five to one hundred miles north of Jerusalem.

Nazareth (3478) (Nazara or Nazaret or Nazareth) is the name of the home town of Jesus fulfilling OT prophecies (not a single prophecy) that Jesus "shall be called a Nazarene." It was so obscure that Nathaniel asked "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Yes, not just any "good thing" but the greatest Person in time and eternity, the God-Man, Christ Jesus. Our Lord was called "Jesus of Nazareth" seven times in the NT (Matt. 26:71; Mk. 1:24; Lk. 4:34; 18:37; Jn. 1:45; Acts 10:38; 26:9)  Although Nazareth was small, it did have a Jewish synagogue and was the site of Jesus "inauguration message" in Lk 4:16. There are no uses in the Septuagint (see The Puzzling Problem of Nazareth)

Note that the adjective form of Nazareth is Nazarene (nazarenos) which is a different Strong's Number (3479). Nazarene is found 6 times in the NT all in the phrase "Jesus the Nazarene" (Mk. 1:24; 10:47; 14:67; 16:6; Lk. 4:34; 24:19) and once in the phrase "Jesus of Nazareth (Lk 4:34). There are no uses in the Septuagint.

At this time in history Nazareth was not a spot that religious pilgrims visited! In fact it could hardly be called a city for it was only a small rural village estimated to have a population at that time of no more than 400. In short, like Jesus Himself (Php 2:5-11) and His mother Mary, Nazareth was a humble, obscure village, hardly the place one would expect the King of kings to be born! Mark it down, beloved, this is the way God works, through the meek and humble. You may be "obscure" and little known in your church, but rest assured that God desires to use you in His good work because you are His masterpiece (see Eph 2:10-note and related article "Believers Are God's Masterpiece, His Poiema"). And remember! You may not see all of the effects of your work in His will in this short life, but such works will endure for eternity! (see John 15:8, 16)

John MacArthur adds that "Nazareth was not on any of the major trade routes; all the important roads bypassed it. It was well off the beaten path, far from the important centers of Jewish culture and religion. Moreover, Galilee, where Nazareth was located, was known as “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Isa. 9:1; Matt. 4:15) because of its proximity to Gentile regions. God’s choice of Nazareth to be Jesus’ birthplace reveals that He is the Savior of the world, not of the powerful and elite of one nation only, but of all “those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks” (1 Cor. 1:24; cf. Isa. 11:10; 42:6; Luke 2:32; Acts 10:34–35; 13:48–49; Rom. 15:9–12)."

Nazareth - 17x in 17v 

Matthew 2:23 and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: "He shall be called a Nazarene."

Henry Morris - No one prophet is mentioned here, but rather "the prophets" in general (Ed: See also the allusion to the prophets in John 1:45). As far as known, the despised town of Nazareth did not even exist in the days of the prophets, so it may be that this is a generic summary of the teaching of the prophets that the Messiah would be "despised and rejected of men" (Isaiah 53:3). Some have suggested that this refers to Isaiah 11:1, where He is called a "rod" (Hebrew netzer) out of the "stem" (or, apparently dead stump) of Jesse's family tree. However, see the note on Zephaniah 1:14, which, slightly modified, would yield a reading very closely akin to Matthew's quote.

Matthew 4:13 and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.

Ryrie - According to Luke 4:16-30, He left because they tried to kill him. Capernaum. A flourishing city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee and the base of His ministry in Galilee. 

Matthew 21:11 And the crowds were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee."

Matthew 26:71 When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth."

Mark 1:9+  In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
 24 saying, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are-- the Holy One of God!"

Henry Morris - It is interesting to note that the demons, like their master Satan, knew who Jesus was, even though His countrymen--and even His own human family--did not (Mark 1:34+).

Luke 1:26  Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,

Luke 2:4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
 39  When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth.
 51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

Luke 4:16  And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.
 34 "Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are-- the Holy One of God!"

Luke 18:37 They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.

John 1:45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote-- Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
 46 Nathanael said to him, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."

Acts 10:38 "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

Acts 26:9  "So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

Nazareth -  “branch.” (Ed: From the suggestion by some that "Nazarene" is a reference tot he Hebrew word for branch in Isaiah 11:1-note) Nazareth did not enjoy a place of prominence until its association with Jesus. It does not appear in the Old Testament. As He became known as “Jesus of Nazareth” (Matthew 26:71 ; Luke 18:37 ; Luke 24:19 ; John 1:45 ; Acts 2:22 ; Acts 3:6 ;Acts 10:38 ), His hometown became fixed in Christian memory. Nazareth was located in lower Galilee about halfway between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea. It lay in the hill country north of the Plain of Esdraelon. The hills formed a natural basin with three sides, but open toward the south. The city was on the slopes of the basin, facing east and southeast. Cana was about five miles to the northeast. A Roman road from Capernaum westward to the coast passed near Nazareth. Was a small village in Jesus' day, having only one spring to supply fresh water to its inhabitants. Today, the spring is referred to as “Mary's well.” The modern city has about 20,000 citizens, mainly Moslems and Christians. The angel went to Nazareth to announce to Mary and Joseph the coming birth of Jesus (Luke 1:26-28 ). Following Jesus' birth in Bethlehem and the sojourn in Egypt, Joseph and Mary returned with Jesus to Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23 ), where Jesus grew from boyhood to manhood (Luke 2:39-40 ; Luke 4:16 ), being stamped as a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23 ), apparently a midrashic play on the Hebrew term netser , “shoot” in Isaiah 11:1. Nazareth did not possess a good reputation, as reflected in the question of Nathanael, himself a Galilean (John 1:46 ). The early church received similar scorn as the Nazarene sect (Acts 24:5 ). Such lack of respect was likely due to an unpolished dialect, a lack of culture, and quite possibly a measure of irreligion and moral laxity. Jesus was rejected by His townspeople near the beginning of His public ministry, being cast out of the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30 ; see also Matthew 13:54-58 ; Mark 6:1-6 ). (Holman Bible Dictionary)

Related Resources:

THE PUZZLING PROBLEM
OF NAZARETH

You might be surprised to discover that Nazareth is not mentioned in the OT or even in the religious writings of the Talmud or the historical writings of Josephus. For this reason those skeptical of the Bible have attacked this as a point of proof that the Bible is not true. Lee Strobel addresses this in his book "The Case for Christ"

Many Christians are unaware that skeptics have been asserting for a long time that Nazareth never existed during the time when the New Testament says Jesus spent his childhood there. In an article called "Where Jesus Never Walked," atheist Frank Zindler noted that Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament, by the apostle Paul, by the Talmud (although sixtythree other Galilean towns are cited), or by Josephus (who listed forty-five other villages and cities of Galilee, including Japha, which was located just over a mile from present-day Nazareth). No ancient historians or geographers mention Nazareth before the beginning of the fourth century. (Frank Zindler, "Where Jesus Never Walked," American Atheist Winter 1996-1997, 34) The name first appears in Jewish literature in a poem written about the seventh century
A.D. This absence of evidence paints a suspicious picture. So I put the issue directly to McRay: "Is there any archaeological confirmation that Nazareth was in existence during the first century?"

This issue wasn't new to McRay. "Dr. James Strange of the University of South Florida is an expert on this area, and he describes Nazareth as being a very small place, about sixty acres, with a maximum population of about four hundred and eighty at the beginning of the first century," McRay replied. However, that was a conclusion; I wanted the evidence. "How does he know that?" I asked. Well, Strange notes that when Jerusalem fell in A.D. 70, priests were no longer needed in the temple because it had been destroyed, so they were sent out to various other locations, even up into Galilee. Archaeologists have found a list in Aramaic describing the twenty-four 'courses,' (divisions) or families, of priests who were relocated, and one of them was registered as having been moved to Nazareth. That shows that this tiny village must have been there at the time."

In addition, he said there have been archaeological digs that have uncovered first-century tombs in the vicinity of Nazareth, which would establish the village's limits because by Jewish law burials had to take place outside the town proper. Two tombs contained objects such as pottery lamps, glass vessels, and vases from the first, third, or fourth centuries.

McRay picked up a copy of a book by renowned archaeologist Jack Finegan, published by Princeton University Press. He leafed through it, then read Finegan's analysis: "From the tombs ... it can be concluded that Nazareth was a strongly Jewish settlement in the Roman period."

McRay looked up at me. "There has been discussion about the location of some sites from the first century, such as exactly where Jesus' tomb is situated, but among archaeologists there has never really been a big doubt about the location of Nazareth. The burden of proof ought to be on those who dispute its existence."

That seemed reasonable. Even the usually skeptical Ian Wilson, citing pre-Christian remains found in 1955 under the Church of the Annunciation in present-day Nazareth, has managed to concede, "Such findings suggest that Nazareth may have existed in Jesus' time, but there is no doubt that it must have been a very small and insignificant place."

So insignificant that Nathanael's musings in John 1:46 now make more sense: "Nazareth!" he said. "Can anything good come from there?' (The Case for Christ)

Luke 1:27  to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

GABRIEL APPEARS
TO THE VIRGIN MARY

John MacArthur rightly emphasizes that "The importance of the virgin birth cannot be overstated. A right view of the incarnation hinges on the truth that Jesus was virgin-born."

Virgin (3933)(parthenos) generally is used of a female who is beyond puberty but not married and still a virgin.  In 2 Cor 11:2 parthenos is used figuratively of the church, the bride pledged to Christ.. Some contexts do not focus on the meaning virginity. The clear sense of parthenos in Mt 1:23 quoted from Isa 7:14-note (Lxx uses parthenos for Heb - 'almah - see below) is of a woman who has not been intimate with a man (cp Lk 1:27).  Paul uses parthenos in First Corinthians to refer to a woman of marriageable age. In Mt 25:1, 7, 11 parthenos refers to young women of marriageable age.

J D Watson writes that "Even in all their excesses, the ancient Greeks highly valued virginity. It was, in fact, a characteristic of many of the goddesses of pagan religions. The chief examples were the Greek goddesses Artemis (Diana among the Romans) and Athene (Roman, Minerva) (Ed: cp Athena Parthenos). Athene's temple in Athens was actually named the Parthenon (see etymology)."

In Isa 7:14 quoted in Mt 1:23, and the Hebrew word for virgin is 'almah  (05959).  Almah has several meanings depending on the context - young woman of marriageable age (Ge 24:43), maiden (Pr 30:19), girl (Ex 2:8), virgin. While some argue that 'almah is by no means an unambiguous Hebrew term for a virgin, it is notable that a passage such as Genesis 24:43 describes not only a young woman of marriageable age but one who undoubtedly is a virgin. Thus the use of 'almah by no means excludes the possibility that the intended meaning in Isaiah 7:14 is a literal virgin. 'Almah is never employed of a married woman.

Charles Ryrie writes, "There is no instance where it can be proved that ʿ'almah designates a young woman who is not a virgin" (Basic Theology).

W A Criswell adds that "The Septuagint (Lxx) also uses parthenos to translate another Hebrew word meaning "virgin" (bethulah), again underscoring the fact that parthenos meant "virgin" in the Lxx and for Matthew (Ed: See Mt 1:23 below). It is clear that both Matthew and the Lxx translators understood that Isaiah was speaking of a virgin when he used `almah. And this is precisely the purity which both Matthew and Luke ascribe to Mary (cf. Mt 1:18-25; Lk 1:26-35)."

Related Resources on Virgin Birth: 

Given the importance of the Virgin Birth in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ you might want to refresh your doctrinal knowledge of the Humanity of Jesus Christ by listening to 3 excellent lectures from Dr Wayne Grudem. You could print out the accompanying outline to take notes. Only a portion of this material deals directly with the Virgin Birth but all three lectures will give you an excellent overview of the Humanity of Jesus Christ. 

John MacArthur - The most famous medieval Jewish interpreter, Rashi (1040–1105), who was an opponent of Christianity, made the following comment: “‘Behold the ˒almâ shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel’ means that our Creator shall be with us. And this is the sign: The one who will conceive is a girl (na˒ărâ) who never in her life has had intercourse with any man. Upon this one shall the Holy Spirit have power.” It should be noted that in modern Hebrew the word virgin is either ˒'almah or  bethulah. Why did not Isaiah use bethulah? Because it is sometimes used in the Old Testament of a married woman who is not a virgin (Deut. 22:19; Joel 1:8). ˒'Almah can mean “virgin,” and that is how the Jewish translators of the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) translated the word in Isaiah 7:14 (by the Greek parthenos, “virgin”)-several hundred years before the birth of Christ. The “sign” of which Isaiah spoke was given specifically to King Ahaz, who feared that the royal line of Judah might be destroyed by Syria and Israel. The prophet assured the king that God would protect that line. The birth of a son and the death of the kings would be the signs guaranteeing His protection and preservation. And in the future there would be a greater birth, the virgin birth of God incarnate, to assure the covenant with God’s people. Matthew did not give the term ˒almâ a Christian “twist,” but used it with the same meaning with which all Jews of that time used it. In any case, his teaching of the virgin birth does not hinge on that word. It is made incontestably clear by the preceding statements that Jesus’ conception was “by the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1:18, 20). (Matthew Commentary)

Clayton Harrop - One who has not engaged in sexual intercourse and thus particular reference to the belief that Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary by the miraculous action of God without a human father. In the Old Testament two words are generally translated virgin or maiden. The more common word, bethulah , (used about 60 times) is used in a literal way to refer to such virgins as Rebekah (Genesis 24:16 ), the daughter of Jephthah (Judges 11:37-38 ), and Tamar (2 Samuel 13:2 ). Specific command was given that the high priest must marry a virgin (Leviticus 21:13-14 ). The word was also used in a spiritual sense to refer to the nation, especially in the prophets (Isaiah 23:12 ; Isaiah 37:22 ; Jeremiah 14:17 ). In other places the word is often translated maid or maiden (Psalm 78:63 ; Psalm 148:12 ; Ezekiel 9:6 ). In these instances the word means girl, although the idea of chastity may still be involved. The other word in the Old Testament, almah , sometimes translated “virgin” occurs only seven times. Translators differ in their treatment of it. It is translated virgin four times in KJV (Genesis 24:43 ; Song ofSong of Solomon 1:3 ; Song of Song of Solomon 6:8 ; Isaiah 7:14 ). Only one of these is translated virgin (Isaiah 7:14 ) in NAS, and two, in NIV (Song of Song of Solomon 6:8 ; Isaiah 7:14 ). Some versions like REB do not translate this word as virgin in any passage. Isaiah 7:14 is of special interest because of its use in the Gospel of Matthew. Some believe the prophet wrote of a son to be born to his wife or to some other woman of the day and only then with a further reference to the birth of the Messiah. Others claim that the prophet had no reference to anyone in his day but only spoke of the coming Messiah. However, in its context in Isaiah, it seemingly was a message for King Ahaz. The word itself referred to a young woman, usually of marriageable age. God inspired Matthew to interpret Isaiah 7:14 for his day and ours in light of God's miraculous new work in Christ. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

J D Watson asks "Why is this doctrine important? Because the sin nature is transmitted through the earthly father through Adam, not by the mother through Eve. Adam was the representative of the race and was responsible for the Fall. If Jesus had been born of a man, he would have inherited sin, but as Paul makes clear, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:21-note)."

Related Resources:

Parthenos - 15x in 14v - Usage: chaste(1), virgin(9), virgin's(1), virgins(4).

Matthew 1:23 "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL (see Immanuel-Emmanuel)," which translated means, "GOD WITH US."

Matthew 25:1  "Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
 7 "Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.
 11 "Later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.'

Luke 1:27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

Acts 21:9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses.

1 Corinthians 7:25  Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy.
 28 But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you.
 34 and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
 36  But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry.
 37 But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well.
 38 So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better.

2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.

Revelation 14:4-note These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.

Comment Mounce - It seems best to take this description of chastity in a figurtaive sense, indicating that they have kept themselves pure from all defiling relationships w. the pagan world. They have resisted the seduction of the great harlot, Rome, w. whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication 

Parthenos - 53x in 51v in the Septuagint - 

Gen. 24:14, 16, 43, 55; 34:3; Exod. 22:16f; Lev. 21:3, 13f; Deut. 22:19, 23, 28; 32:25; Jdg. 19:24; 21:11f; 2 Sam. 13:2, 18; 1 Ki. 1:2; 2 Ki. 19:21; 2 Chr. 36:17; Est. 2:17; Job 31:1; Ps. 45:14; 78:63; 148:12; Isa. 7:14; 23:4; 37:22; 47:1; 62:5; Jer. 2:32; 18:13; 31:4, 13, 21; 46:11; 51:22; Lam. 1:4, 15, 18; 2:10, 13, 21; 5:11; Ezek. 9:6; 44:22; Amos 5:2; 8:13; Zech. 9:17

Gilbrant  on the Septuagint (Lxx) Usage of parthenos - The Hebrew term bᵉthûlāh is often translated by parthenos in the Septuagint. In fact, in 44 out of 50 appearances bᵉthûlāh is translated by parthenos. Of the remaining six texts three are not translated; two are translated as “innocent” or “virgin girl” (korasia aphthora, korasia parthenika; Esther 2:3,17). And on one occasion the Hebrew bᵉthûlāh is translated by numphē, “bride” (Joel 1:8), referring to a bride about to be married whose intended husband died. This last text is of particular interest because it seems to indicate that the Hebrew bᵉthûlāh could occasionally denote a young woman about to be married. The man she was betrothed to would be called her husband: “Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.” In this context the Septuagint translators did not use parthenos, “virgin,” as the equivalent. It is even more noteworthy, in light of this, that the Septuagint translates the Hebrew ‛almāh into parthenos, “virgin,” in the prophecy of Immanuel's coming in Isaiah 7:14-note. Thus, this demonstrates that for the Septuagint translators of Isaiah the Hebrew term means “virgin.” The meaning of the Hebrew term ‛almāh overlaps with bᵉthûlāh. For example, the terms are used similarly in Genesis 24:16 and 43 where verse 16 reads bᵉthûlāh while verse 43 has ‛almāh. The Septuagint translates both words with parthenos. The other five texts containing ‛almāh in the Old Testament (Exodus 2:8; Psalm 68:25 [LXX 67:25]; Song of Solomon 1:3; 6:8 [LXX 6:7]) are translated by neanis, “girl, young woman,” by the Septuagint translators. Matthew 1:23, like the Septuagint, uses parthenos in its rendering of Isaiah 7:14 (Immanuel prophecy). It emphasizes that the Virgin Birth was a fulfillment of this prophecy. The prophet’s words are thus interpreted in the New Testament as foretelling the Virgin Birth. The variety of interpretations throughout history that have tried to explain away the messianic nature of the prophecy are unsatisfactory. The prophecy is directed not only to Ahaz but to the “house of David,” the people to whom the promise was given that Messiah would come (Isaiah 7:13). That Immanuel is to be understood as the Messiah is further confirmed by Isaiah 8:8-10. Moreover, Immanuel must be identical to the divine child of 9:6 whom Isaiah calls “Mighty God” and “Eternal Father” (NASB). The “sign,” too, which is to be given to the house of David, is that the Messiah is to be born of a virgin. This is closely related to the fact that the Immanuel prophecy is actually a part of a judgment saying (Isaiah 8:17-22). The sign of the virgin, therefore, becomes a judgment of the king. In contrast to the majesty and splendor of an earthly king, Messiah, the son of David, comes not as the son of a king but as the son of a lowly virgin. “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1). The sign of the virgin is linked to the image of Messiah’s coming in humility that we encounter throughout the Book of Isaiah. (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

John MacArthur explains Jewish engagement - In Jewish practice, girls were usually engaged at the age of twelve or thirteen and married at the end of a one-year betrothal period. The betrothal, arranged by the parents, was a more binding legal arrangement than a modern engagement. Only death or divorce could sever the contract, and the couple could be referred to as husband and wife. If her betrothed husband died, the girl would be considered a widow. The couple did not live together or have sexual relations during the betrothal period. During that year the girl was to prove her faithfulness and purity, and the boy was to prepare a home for his bride-to-be. When the year was up there was a seven-day wedding feast (cf. Matt. 25:1–13; John 2:1–11), after which the couple began their life together as husband and wife. Only then was the marriage consummated. (Luke Commentary)

Engaged (3423)(mnesteuo from mnaomai = to remember) in the active voice means to woo and win for marriage, to ask in marriage, to pledge to marry. Mnesteuo is used only in the passive voice in the NT and means to be promised in marriage, to be betrothed, to become engaged. Mnesteuo is used in the NT only in Mt 1:18 (betrothed), Lk 1:27 and Lk 2:5. As used in by the NT writers mnesteuo described a legally binding arrangement, unlike the sense of of engagement as used today.

Zodhiates has an informative discussion of mnesteuo 

It is related to the verb used for “remember” because it was a ceremony which was to be remembered when a person was espoused or committed to another for marriage (Sept.: Deut. 22:23, 25, 27, 28). The betrothal ceremony perpetuated in a conventional fashion the recollection of the time when a woman was purchased from her family (Deut. 20:7). When a woman was designated (Ex. 21:8, 9) by the head of her family as the future wife of another man, the prospective bridegroom paid a certain sum of money (or service as in the case of Jacob). A contract, which was inviolable, was then entered into (Gen. 34:12; Ex. 22:17). Until the time of the actual marriage, the bride–to–be remained in her own family. It was not permissible to betroth her to any other man except by action amounting to divorce, and any violation of the rights established by the betrothal was as serious as if the two persons had been ceremonially married (Deut. 22:23, 24). In the OT, it is impossible to say with precision just how soon the wedding followed betrothal. In later times, in the case of a virgin, it was after the lapse of a year, and at least thirty days in the case of a widow. So, too, it is impossible to describe with any great precision the betrothal ceremony, but it certainly included the payment of a particular sum (1 Sam. 18:25) and the making of a betrothal contract (Ezek. 16:8) by the prospective bridegroom. The money payment belonged originally to the family of the woman, but gradually came to belong in part or wholly to the woman herself. The first advances might come from the family of either party. There is no clear evidence that the young woman had any right of appeal as to her family’s choice. The bridegroom himself did not conduct the negotiations, but the matter was in the hands of a third party such as his parents or some trusted servant or friend.

After the exile, the custom of the earlier period seems to have continued, although with certain modifications. The payment to the bride’s father on the part of the prospective groom had been increasingly regarded as the property, at least in part, of the bride. Such a payment during this period was often supplemented by a dowry in the true sense. No consent of the girl was demanded, nor do we know of the recognition of any legal age of consent, unless, as in somewhat later times, it was not expected that boys would marry before the age of eighteen or girls before twelve. In Talmudic times, there was a distinct tendency to combine the betrothal with the wedding. Today the Jews seem to combine the two ceremonies.

Probably the ceremony of betrothal in NT times involved the following acts:

  • First, a contract drawn up by the parents or by the friend of the bridegroom.
  • Second, the meeting of the two families concerned, with other witnesses, at which time the groom gave the bride jewelry (Gen. 24:53) and declared his intention to observe the terms of the contract already arranged.
  • Third, the payment of the mōhar (4119 - Ed Note: Gesenius Definition מֹהַר m. a price paid for a wife to her parents, Genesis 34:12; Exodus 22:16; 1 Samuel 18:25. Different from this is the use of the Arab. مَهْرُ i.e. a spousal gift promised to the future wife, and the Latin dos, i.e. the gift given by the parents to their daughter who is about to be married.) by the prospective bridegroom. This occurred during a ceremony at which a priest may have been present.

The status of the man and woman was now, as in Hebrew times, practically the same as that of married persons, although it was generally customary for the wedding ceremony proper to be celebrated at a later date. As in the older times, separation of betrothed persons demanded a divorce, and there seems to have been no taboo in their living together as man and wife previous to the wedding ceremony. The children of such a union would be regarded as legitimate. Insofar as the virgin Mary and Joseph are concerned, the use of the verb mnēsteúomai, to betroth (Matt. 1:18; Luke 1:27; 2:5), indicates a betrothal ceremony. There is no mention, however, of a subsequent wedding ceremony. It was during this period of betrothal that the angel appeared to Mary (Matt. 1:18). It is clearly stated, however, that the angel appeared to announce to Mary her conception by the Holy Spirit before she had sexual relations with Joseph. The same angel also appeared to Joseph to tell him of the supernatural conception of his betrothed, Mary (Matt. 1:24; see Luke 1:26ff.). (Zodhiates' Word Study Dictionary of the NT - This resource is highly recommended and in my opinion is superior to BDAG because it is so much more readable)

Related Resource:

  • Andy Woods on The 10 Steps in the Sequence of the Typical Hebrew Wedding - below is an excerpt of "Step 4"

    Fourth, this time of separation is known as the betrothal period. During this time of separation, the fidelity of the groom and the bride was tested. The test, of course, involved whether the bride and the groom would be loyal to each other despite the vast distance between them. If either failed the test during this time of separation, the betrothal contract would be dissolved. This ancient Jewish ritual explains Joseph's dismay and desire to end the engagement upon discovering Mary's pregnancy. The severity of this situation also explains why an angel had to be dispatched from heaven to assure Joseph that Mary's pregnancy had in fact been wrought by the Holy Spirit rather than caused by Mary's unfaithfulness to Joseph during the betrothal period (Mt 1:18-25). Just as the fidelity of the groom and bride are tested during this time of separation, the church's loyalty to Christ is currently being tested as the church is tempted to succumb to false teaching and worldly conduct (Jas 4:4+; 2 Cor. 11:2) during Christ's physical absence. The church demonstrates her loyalty to Christ during this time by maintaining both correct beliefs (orthodoxy) and correct practice (orthopraxy). 

A man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David - Joseph's name means increase or addition. By trade he was an ordinary carpenter but he was of the line of David, from which Messiah would spring forth (2 Sam. 7:12, 16; Ps. 89:35–36; Jer. 23:5; Matt. 22:42; Mark 10:47; Acts 2:30; 13:23; Rom. 1:3). As John MacArthur explains "Matthew’s genealogy of Christ traces His ancestry through Joseph (1:1–17), showing that he descended from David, thus Jesus is also “the son of David” (Matt. 1:1). Although Joseph was not Jesus’ natural father, his adoption of Jesus made Him legally part of David’s lineage. The genealogy in Matthew thus establishes Christ’s claim to the throne of David as Joseph’s legal heir." (Ibid)

Holman Bible Dictionary on Joseph - Several Josephs are mentioned in the New Testament, the most important being the husband of Mary, mother of Jesus. He was a descendant of David, a carpenter by trade (Matthew 13:55 ), and regarded as the legal or foster father of Jesus (Matthew 1:16 ,Matthew 1:16,1:20 ; Luke 2:4 ; Luke 3:23 ; Luke 4:22 ; John 1:45 ; John 6:42 ). Upon learning of Mary's pregnancy, Joseph, being a righteous man, sought to put her away without public disgrace. His response to God's assurances in a dream further demonstrated his piety and character (Matthew 1:18-25 ). Joseph took Mary to his ancestral home, Bethlehem, was with her at Jesus' birth, and shared in the naming, circumcision, and dedication of the child (Luke 2:8-33 ). Directed through dreams, Joseph took his family to Egypt until it was safe to return to Nazareth (Matthew 2:13-23 ). As dedicated father, he was anxious with Mary at the disappearance of Jesus (Luke 2:41-48 ). Joseph does not appear later in the Gospels, and it is likely that he died prior to Jesus' public ministry.

Mary - It is interesting that in Luke 1:6-note the mention of Zacharias and Elizabeth was accompanied by commendation (both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly) except that she was a virgin, which was a critically important commendation. If we read her own testimony in Luke 1:46-55 she undoubtedly was righteous and walking blamelessly also. Mary's lineage could also be traced to David as Luke explains in Luke 3:23-38. 

MacArthur - Luke’s genealogy of Jesus records His ancestry through His mother. Thus Jesus inherited from His adoptive father, Joseph, the legal right to David’s throne, while His physical descent from David came from His mother, Mary. In every legitimate sense—both legally and physically—Jesus Christ was the Son of David and born to be Israel’s true King.

Luke 1:28  And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."

  • Hail. Da. 9:21–23; 10:19.
  • highly favoured. or, graciously accepted, or much graced. Luke 1:30. Ho. 14:2. Ep. 1:6.
  • the Lord. Jdg 6:12. Is. 43:5. Je. 1:18, 19. Ac. 18:10.
  • blessed. Luke 1:42; Luke 11:27, 28. Jdg 5:24. Pr. 31:29–31. Mat. 12:48.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:28 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

AMP And he came to her and said, Hail, O favored one [endued with grace]! The Lord is with you! Blessed (favored of God) are you before all other women!

CSB  And the angel came to her and said, "Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you."

ESV  And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"

KJV  And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

NET  The angel came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you!"

NIV  The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

NLT Gabriel appeared to her and said, "Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you! "

Wuest  And having come to her, he said, Be rejoicing because you have been encompassed with favor. The Lord is with you. 

YLT  And the messenger having come in unto her, said, 'Hail, favoured one, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women;'

A REASON TO BE
FULL OF CHEER

Coming in - In other words Mary was in the house. Gabriel came in and said "Greetings" (like our "Hello").

Greetings (rejoice, hail) (5463)(chairo) means to be cheerful ("cheer full"). Chairo is used in a whole range of situations in which the emotion of joy is evoked. Chairo was used as here in greetings (welcome, good day, hail to you, I am glad to see you) in the imperative mood (present imperative in Lk 1:28) implying a wish for well being or happiness to the recipient. Oh, what a stark contrast with the greeting in Mt 26:49!

Favored one - This should have immediately countered any fear she may have had but in the next verse he adds "Do not be afraid," so she still must have had some fear. As noted below the word favored is from charis or grace which speaks of unmerited favor. The point is that in calling Mary favored one, this word indicates that there was nothing in Mary that merited this acknowledgment. Mary like all of us from Adam was a sinner (Ro 5:12, cf. Job 25:4; Ps. 14:1–3; Eccl 7:20; Isa. 53:6; Rom. 3:12, 23), regardless of what some might falsely teach. She needed grace just as all sinners need God's grace (Acts 15:11; 18:27; Rom. 3:24; 5:15, 17; Eph. 1:7; 2:5, 8; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:7). She was shown favor because God choose to show her favor, not because she deserved His favor. 

Mary like Noah of old "found favor in the eyes of the LORD." (Ge 6:8, cp Ex 33:13, Pr 3:3, 4) Joseph found favor because of the hand of the Lord on him (Ge 39:3, 4). Luke records that "David found favor in God's sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob." (Acts 7:46)

Favored one (one on whom it is freely bestowed) (5487)(charitoo from charis = grace) means to cause one to be the recipient of a benefit. The idea in this passage is to bestow grace or favor upon Mary. 

The only other NT use of charitoo is by Paul in Ephesians 1:6-note writing "to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." The idea in Ephesians is that God has extended His favor or grace to us in Christ. Thayer adds that charitoo means to "pursue with grace, compass with favor, to honor with blessings." Favored one is in the perfect tense which speaks of the abiding nature of this bestowal of grace which emphasizes that she is the recipient not the bestower of grace. 

NET Note - She is a model saint in this passage, one who willingly receives God's benefits. The Vulgate rendering "full of grace" suggests something more of Mary as a bestower of grace, but does not make sense here contextually.

Notice that the phrase in the KJV is not found in the more modern versions. NET Note says that this phrase also appears in (uk 1:42)  (where it is textually certain). This (Ed: the phrase in Lk 1:28) has the earmarks of a scribal addition for balance; the shorter reading, attested by the most important witnesses and several others." 

John MacArthur comments on the non-Biblical teaching regarding Mary

The salutation has been confiscated to form the basis of the familiar Roman Catholic prayer known as the Ave Maria (“Hail Mary”). The erroneous premise of that prayer, based on the Latin Vulgate’s rendering of favored one as gratia plena (“full of grace”), is that Mary has been granted and possesses fullness of grace, which she then bestows on others. In his encyclical Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum, Pope Pius X, in a bizarre distortion of truth, has called Mary not the recipient of grace, but the “Dispensatrix [dispenser] of all the gifts that Our Savior purchased for us by His Death and by His Blood; the supreme Minister of the distribution of graces; the distributor … of the treasures of His merits.” Pope Leo XIII agreed, declaring in his encyclical Octobri Mense that “Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God.” Pope Pius IX’s encyclical Ineffabilis Deus cited the Catholic Church’s belief that Mary is “the seat of all divine graces … adorned with all gifts of the Holy Spirit … an almost infinite treasury, an inexhaustible abyss of these gifts.” Summing up the Catholic view that Mary is the mediator of all graces Ludwig Ott writes, “Since Mary’s Assumption into Heaven no grace is conferred on man without her actual intercessory co-operation” (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma [St. Louis: B. Herder, 1954], 209). That false, unbiblical view of Mary is an integral part of the Roman Church’s practice of Mariolatry (the veneration and worship of Mary), which blasphemes the Lord Jesus by worshiping another. In reality Mary was a humble, redeemed sinner. She was not sinless from her conception until her bodily assumption into heaven, as Catholic dogma maintains, since as Jesus Himself declared, “No one is good except God alone” (Luke 18:19; cf. Rom. 3:10). Nor is Mary the co-redeemer of the human race, since sinners are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24; cf. 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:13–14; Heb. 9:12). She does not hear and answer prayers or intercede for anyone, since there is “one mediator … between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). The teaching of Roman Catholicism that “there is no surer or more direct road than by Mary for uniting all mankind in Christ and obtaining through Him the perfect adoption of sons, that we may be holy and immaculate in the sight of God” (Pope Pius X, Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum) is utterly false and blasphemous. The exalted, quasi-deified Mary of Roman Catholic dogma is far removed from the humble, unassuming “bondslave of the Lord” (Luke 1:38) revealed in Scripture. Gabriel’s pronouncement to Mary, “the Lord is with you,” speaks of God’s enabling of her (cf. Jdg. 6:12). It reinforces the truth that Mary was a recipient of God’s grace, not the dispenser of it to others. Only God gives grace to sinners, as Scripture indicates continually (cf. Ro 3:24; 1 Cor. 1:4; Eph. 2:8, and the repeated use of the phrase “the grace of God”). (Luke Commentary)


Question: "Is Mary the mother of God (Theotokos)?"

Answer: The phrase “mother of God” originated with and continues to be used in the Roman Catholic Church. One of the topics at the Council of Ephesus in AD 431 was the use of the Greek term Theotókos, or “God-bearer,” in reference to Mary. That council officially proclaimed Mary as the “mother of God,” and the doctrine was later included in the Catholic catechism. The idea behind calling Mary the “mother of God” is that, since Jesus is God and Mary is the mother of Jesus, she is the mother of God.

The major problem with this logic is that the term “God” implies the totality of Yahweh, and we know that Yahweh has no beginning and no end (Psalm 90:2). First Timothy 6:15-16 says that God is immortal. Being immortal, God never was “born” and never had a “mother.” The second Person of the Trinity, Jesus, did have a beginning to His earthlyministry when he was conceived in Mary’s womb and was born, but from eternity past He had always been the Son of God.

Philippians 2:6–7 gives us a bit more insight on what transpired when Jesus left heaven to become man. The New Living Translation says, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.” Jesus was already one with the Father, but He set aside His rights as Divinity and took the form of a baby (John 1:1). He went on to live the normal life of a Jewish boy, obeying His earthly parents (Luke 2:51).

A mother by definition precedes her child and at some point is more powerful than her child. So to call Mary the “mother of God” gives the misleading implication that Mary preceded and at one time was more powerful than the Lord God Almighty. Although Catholic doctrine tries to deny this implication, it is inescapable.

It is biblical to say that Mary was the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ during His incarnation on the earth. However, Catholics believe it is not enough to say that Mary was the mother of Jesus. Pope John Paul II, in a speech in 1996, encouraged people “not only to invoke the Blessed Virgin as the Mother of Jesus, but also to recognize her as Mother of God” (L'Osservatore Romano, 4 December 1996, p. 11). This is not biblical. The Lord God Almighty has no mother, since He has no beginning and no end (Genesis 1:1; Revelation 4:8). (Source: Gotquestions.org - highly recommended conservative, Biblically sound site)

Editorial Comment (Addendum to Gotquestions preceding explanation): The question one needs to ask is does the Bible itself, the Holy Spirit inspired, inerrant Word of God, ever refer to Mary as the "Mother of God?" If it does then clearly that would settle all disputes and disagreements regarding how one should refer to Mary. In this way we can allow God the Father to be the final Judge on this question. The answer to the question is that Scripture never refers to Mary by the term "Mother of God." Therefore clearly this is a man-made term. Scripture does refer to Mary as follows...

John 2:1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus (mater tou Iesou) was there;

John 2:3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

Acts 1:14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. 

(Note: The above translations are from the New American Standard Bible, but those versions that are approved by Catholic leaders such as the New American Bible (revised in 2011) and the New Revised Standard Version similarly NEVER refer to Mary by the moniker "the Mother of God.")

It follows that if we seek to be as accurate possible regarding what God teaches in His Word, then the most appropriate designation of Mary is that which was given by the Holy Spirit to the Apostle John and Doctor Luke, "the mother of Jesus."

Related Resources:


Vance Havner - "Blessed Among Women"   Luke 1:26-56

THE beautiful story of the annunciation of the birth of Christ to Mary has suffered from overemphasis among some and underemphasis among others....She was "highly favored" and "blessed among women" for exactly this reason: God had chosen her to be the virgin mother of His only begotten Son as pertaining to the flesh. There is a Mariolatry which ignores our Lord's own attitude toward His mother.

Genesis 3:15 now received fulfillment, and "the Seed of the woman" is coming to bruise the serpent's head. Isaiah 7:14 here comes to fulfillment in the Son "Immanuel." He is to reign over the house of Jacob from the throne of David, a prophecy yet to be fulfilled. Christ is at the right hand of the throne of God but not now on the throne of David.

It is significant that the first question asked about the virgin birth was asked by the virgin herself: "How shall this be?" Men have asked it ever since, but here is God's own answer: that it is the supernatural work of the Holy Ghost and the power of God. Much argument is focused on the supernatural birth instead of the supernatural Son. The Son of God required a birth in keeping with His deity. Who He is explains how He was born.

Mary goes to Elizabeth with the good news and breaks forth into the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). Very similar is Hannah's prophetic prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10, for both close with reference to Christ: "His king" with Hannah, and the "Help" promised Israel with Mary. The theme through both is the marvelous way in which God puts down the mighty and exalts those of low degree, even as He still does in His choosing of the saints (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Ghost, had already called Mary "the mother of my Lord." So she was, but mother of Him as man in no way elevates her to be worthy of adoration or worship. Bengel rightly says that she is addressed as a daughter of grace, not as the mother of it (Luke 1:28).

A beautiful little lesson in faith is gathered from verses 34, 37 and 45. "How shall this be?"—that is the query of men since the beginning when faced with the message of the supernatural power of God. The natural man cannot receive or comprehend how God works His wonders of grace!

The answer is "With God nothing shall be impossible" (v. 37). God is able to save (Heb. 7:25), to keep (Jude 24), to succor (Heb. 2:18), to deliver (Dan. 3:17), to do (Eph. 3:20), to subdue (Phil. 3:21).

Then verse 45: "And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her of the Lord." It is always so when we take Him at His word. He who promises will perform. Do not ask "How?" Take Him at His Word and it shall be done even as He has said.

Luke 1:29  But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.

  • she was. Luke 1:12. Mark 6:49, 50; 16:5, 6. Ac. 10:4.
  • and cast. Luke 1:66; Luke 2:19, 51.
  • what. Jdg 6:13–15. 1 Sa. 9:20, 21. Ac. 10:4, 17.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:29 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

AMP - But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled and disturbed and confused at what he said and kept revolving in her mind what such a greeting might mean.

KJV  And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

Wuest  But she was greatly agitated by reason of the word, and began reasoning what sort of an exotic greeting this might be.

She was very perplexed (greatly troubled, disturbed and confused) 1298)(diatarasso from dia = through + tarasso = to agitate or trouble) means literally to be stirred up throughout. Diatarasso is used figuratively (only here in Bible) and describes her mind as greatly disturbed, thrown into great confusion, utterly confounded.

The root verb tarasso was used in Luke 1:12-note describing Zacharias was "troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him." The verb diatarasso used to describe Mary is a more intense form of the verb which suggests she was even more upset than Zacharias!

Robertson on cast in her mind (KJV) - Imperfect indicative. Common verb for reckoning up different reasons. She was both upset and puzzled.

Luke uses the imperfect tense which pictures Mary running this over and over again in her mind trying to make sense of what she had heard.

Kept pondering (1260)(dialogizomai from dia = intensifies meaning +  logizomai - to reason, reckon, consider. Related to our English word "dialogue" a conversation between two or more people) means to consider, reason or reckon thoroughly, to think through, to deliberate by reflection. "To bring together different reasons." (Vine) To hold a discussion. To take full account of, to stop to consider, to distinguish between. To think about or reason in one's mind alone as was the case with Mary who had an inner wondering to herself about the angel's words (Mt. 21:25; Mk 2:6, 8; Lu 3:15; 5:21, 22; 12:17; Ps 77:6; 119:59). To reason with others with meaning to discuss but in some contexts meaning to argue or debate (Mt. 16:7, 8; Mk 8:16, 17; Lu 20:14). To deliberate in the sense of to take counsel or to devise (Lxx Pr 6:18, Jer 11:19)

Lawrence Richards - Dialogizomai and dialogismos have a negative tone in the NT. They suggest thinking issues through in a calculated, thorough way; but they are closely linked in Greek culture with the teaching of philosophers. In the NT, they suggest the efforts of unaided human beings to arrive at significant truth. These words are translated “thought(s)” in five passages (Mk 7:21; Lk 2:35; 12:17; 1 Co 3:20; Jas 2:4). (New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words)

Thayer notes that from the time of Plato dialogizomai signified "the thinking of a man with himself." The most common meaning in ancient Greek was deliberation or reflection.

Mounce - dialogizomai means “to discuss, consider, argue” about something. It is related to the English word “dialogue” and is used only in the Synoptic Gospels. It describes a kind of thorough consideration of issues that are often of a curious or a spiritual nature. It can refer to a conversation between several parties or to the thoughts of an individual. In both cases, there is an internal aspect to the process. When it refers to an individual, it is often used of deep reflection (lit., thinking in the heart) conveyed by the English “wonder.” For example, the Pharisees were wondering in their hearts about Jesus’ identity after he proclaimed that the paralytic’s sins were forgiven (Mk 2:6, 8; Lk 5:21, 22). Mary wondered about the greeting of the angel of the Lord (Lk 1:29), and the people wondered if John was the Messiah (Lk 3:15). See also Lk 12:17; 20:14.

W E Vine - DIALOGIZOMAI (διαλογίζομαι , (1260)), to bring together different reasons and reckon them up, to reason, is used in the N.T. (a) chiefly of thoughts and considerations which are more or less objectionable, e.g., of the disciples who reasoned together, through a mistaken view of Christ’s teaching regarding leaven, Matt. 16:7, 8 and Mark 8:16,17; of their reasoning as to who was the greatest among them, Mark 9:33, R.V., “were ye reasoning,” A.V., “ye disputed” (for ver. 34, see DISPUTE;) of the Scribes and Pharisees in criticising Christ’s claim to forgive sins, Mark 2:6, 8 (twice) and Luke 5:21, 22; of the chief priests and elders in considering how to answer Christ’s question regarding John’s baptism, Matt. 21:25; Mark 11:31 (some mss. have logizomai, here, which is nowhere else rendered “to reason”); of the wicked husbandmen, and their purpose to murder the heir and seize his inheritance, Luke 20:14; of the rich man who “reasoned” within himself, R.V. (A.V., “thought”), as to where to bestow his fruits, Luke 12:17 (some mss. have it in John 11:50, the best have logizomai; see ACCOUNT, NO. 4); (b) of considerations not objectionable, Luke 1:29, “cast in (her) mind;” 3:15, R.V., and A.V., marg., “reasoned” (A.V., “mused”).

NIDNTT - The vb. dialogizomai, calculate, consider, think through, is closely linked with it, and similarly the noun dialogismos, weighing, consideration, thought, discussion.....dialogizomai is used with a neutral connotation for consider, think over (e.g. Ps. 77:5), but more often with the depreciatory sense of harbour ill designs, intrigue (Ps 10:2; 35:20; 36:4).

Wayne Detzler - There are at least two main words that characterize “thinking” in the New Testament. One of them is dialogizomai, seen in our English word, “dialogue.” It refers to conversation. The poets used it to describe the content of their poems. Philosophers used “dialogue” as a method of teaching. By questions and answers pupils were brought to understand philosophical principles and concepts. A second word for “thinking” is dokeo. It has to do with the thought processes, believing, accepting a concept, developing an opinion, or giving an impression. A related idea is “appearance,” when one thinks something looks similar. This idea was perverted in the early church by the sect of Docetism. This sect taught that Jesus Christ was not a real man, but only appeared to be human. To summarize, dialogizomai speaks of opinions or thoughts which are developed and aired in discussion. On the other hand, dokeo deals with opinions as they develop in the mind.....No matter which word is used for “thinking” (dialogizomai or dokeo) in the New Testament, it is inevitably surrounded with skepticism. In the Gospels, Christ confounded the best thinking of the Pharisees and scribes. The apostolic Christians knew that the only correct thoughts were those which were subjected to the Spirit. In the epistles one sees an awareness that salvation is not thought out, but rather bought by the blood of Christ. (NT Words in Today's Language)

Dialogizomai is used only in the Gospels and can reflect good reasoning (Mary, people in Lk 3:15), reasoning with evil motives (Mt 21:25, Mk 2:6, 8, Mk 11:31, Lk 5:21, 22, Lk 20:44; Lxx of Ps 10:2, Ps 21:11, 35:20, Ps 36:4, Ps 140:8) or with a sense of complaining (Mt 16:7, 8, Mk 8:16, 17, Lk 12:17)

TDNT - dialogizomai in the Greek and Hellenistic World. The following are the main senses: 1. “to balance accounts,” 2. “to ponder,” and 3. “to discuss” (sometimes technically for “to hold a convention” for administrative or judicial purposes).

Dialogizomai - 16x in 16v - Usage: discuss(4), discussing(1), pondering(1), reason(1), reasoned(1), reasoning(7), wondering(1).

Matthew 16:7 They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, "He said that because we did not bring any bread." 8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, "You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread?

Matthew 21:25 "The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?" And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Then why did you not believe him?'

Mark 2:6 But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts,

Wuest - But what they thought in their hearts, was expressed in their faces, actions, and very personalities. There was a hostile atmosphere in the room, and our Lord sensed it.

Mark 2:8 Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, "Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?

Mark 8:16 They began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread.  17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart?

Comment: The imperfect tense in Mk 8:16 show that they kept it up!

Mark 9:33 They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, "What were you discussing on the way?"

Comment: The idea of dialogizomai here suggests that sidea have been taken and the issue has been discussed in detail. 

Mark 11:31 They began reasoning among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say, 'Then why did you not believe him?'

Luke 1:29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.

Luke 3:15  Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ,

Luke 5:21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, "Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?"  22 But Jesus, aware of their reasonings (dialogismos), answered and said to them, "Why are you reasoning in your hearts?

Luke 12:17 "And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?'

Luke 20:14 "But when the vine-growers saw him, they reasoned with one another, saying, 'This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.'

Dialogizomai - 9x in the Septuagint -2 Sam. 19:19; Ps. 10:2; 21:11; 35:20; 36:4; 77:5; 119:59; 140:8; Prov. 17:12

Psalm 10:2 In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted; Let them be caught in the plots (dialogismos) which they have devised (dialogizomai).

Psalm 21:11 Though they intended evil against You And devised a plot, They will not succeed.

Psalm 36:4 He plans wickedness upon his bed; He sets himself on a path that is not good; He does not despise evil.

Psalm 77:5 I  (Asaph) have considered the days of old, The years of long ago. (Look at where Asaph was in Ps 77:4)

 Psalm 119:59 I considered my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies. (O, how all God's children need to consider our ways that these thoughts might drive us to God's testimonies!)

Luke 1:30  The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.

  • Luke 1:13; Luke 12:32. Is. 41:10, 14; 43:1–4; 44:2. Mat. 28:5. Ac. 18, 9, 10; 27:24. Ro. 8:31. He. 13:6.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:30 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

AMP And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace (free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving-kindness) with God.  

Wuest  And the angel said to her, Stop fearing, Mary, for you found favor in the presence of God.

NOT FEAR
BUT FAVOR

Do not be afraid - Angels are awesome creatures when they are seen by mortal men and women and the most common reaction is fear. There is something fearful about the unseen world. It is one thing to read about it but quite another to see it up close and personal! But beloved, we will see not only the created angels someday, but best of all the Creator of all things Christ Jesus. If you are a believer the application of this passage is "Do not fear for you have found grace with God." Indeed, for us the best is yet to come so do not fear for "it is written, "THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." (1 Cor 2:9)

Do not be afraid is a repeated phrase in Luke's writings...all except Lk 12:4 are present imperative with a negative and passive voice - idea is either "Stop fearing" or "Don't start being afraid"

Luke 1:13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.

Luke 1:30 The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.

Luke 2:10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;

Luke 8:50 But when Jesus heard this, He answered him, "Do not be afraid any longer; only believe, and she will be made well."

Luke 12:4  "I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.

Luke 12:32  "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

Acts 18:9 And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent;

Acts 27:24 saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.'

NET NOTE on find favor - The expression found favor is a Semitism, common in the OT (Gen 6:8; 18:3; 43:14; 2 Sam 15:25). God has chosen to act on this person’s behalf.

Find (2147)(heurisko) means to learn location of something, either by intentional searching or by unexpected discovery learn whereabouts of something. The idea is to learn something previously not known, frequently involving an element of surprise, which was certainly the case with Mary's angelic encounter.

Found favor - Luke 1:28 records a similar address "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

Found favor - 32x - 

Gen. 6:8; 18:3; 19:19; 33:10; 39:4; 47:29; 50:4; Exod. 33:12f, 16f; 34:9; Num. 11:11, 15; 32:5; Jdg. 6:17; Ruth 2:10, 13; 1 Sam. 16:22; 20:3, 29; 27:5; 2 Sam. 14:22; Neh. 2:5; Est. 2:9, 15, 17; 5:8; 7:3; 8:5; Lk. 1:30; Acts 7:46

Find favor - 12x - Gen. 32:5; 33:8, 15; 34:11; 47:25; Exod. 33:13; Ruth 2:2; 1 Sam. 1:18; 25:8; 2 Sam. 15:25; 16:4; Prov. 3:4

Robertson on favor - Charis is a very ancient and common word with a variety of applied meanings. They all come from the notion of sweetness, charm, loveliness, joy, delight, like words of grace, Luke 4:22, growing grace, Eph. 4:29, with grace, Col. 4:6. The notion of kindness is in it also, especially of God towards men as here. It is a favorite word for Christianity, the Gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24) in contrast with law or works (John 1:16). Gratitude is expressed also (Luke 6:32), especially to God (Ro. 6:17).

Favor with God - This is more literally "favor beside God," which is even better. Beloved believer, like His grace was beside Mary because He was beside her, so too He has promised you ""I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU," so that we confidently say, "THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT SHALL MAN DO TO ME?" (Heb 13:5-6-note) In the Greek sentence actually has five negatives making God's promise very emphatic, "I will never, never, never leave thee." The promise to never leave was made to Joshua when he succeeded Moses [Dt 1:7-8, Jos 1:5,9] and is fulfilled in Jesus [Mt 28:20, Acts 18:9-10 1Ch 28:20]. 

Favor (grace) (5485)(charis from from chairo = to rejoice) is an act of gracious kindness, an advantage to the benefit of the recipient, bestowal of a privilege upon. Favor is friendly regard shown toward another especially by a superior, in this case THE Superior Being. The Greek word charis gives us our English charity which is apropos for beggars need "charity" even as sinners need grace, for we are all spiritual paupers outside of Christ. As Augustine said "God gives where he finds empty hands." Mary so to speak had "empty hands." Would you describe yourself as having "empty hands?" If so you are in a wonderful position to receive favor from God, for He is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6-note, 1 Peter 5:5-note) If you are meek and weak, you are "in a good way" in God's economy for as Jesus told Paul in this state me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." (2 Cor 12:9-note)

Henry Morris on favor - The Greek word for "favor" is the word normally translated as "grace," and this is actually the first mention of grace in the New Testament. The first mention of grace in the Old Testament is Genesis 6:8: "Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD." In both cases, a human believer was selected by God's grace to bring a new beginning into the world--Noah brought the post-Flood economy that would follow the judgment of the Flood on the sin of the world, Mary brought forth the Savior who, through the judgment of the cross, would carry away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Note also how these first two mentions of grace define the very word itself. Grace is not a reward that is earned from God, but a gift from God that is found. And it is found, not by working or searching but "through faith" (Ephesians 2:8). Both Mary and Noah believed, and therefore obeyed, the word of God.

Disciple's Study Bible - Out of His grace God selected Mary to become the mother of Jesus. God's grace is unmerited favor. His grace operates without regard to our being worthy of His blessing. Virtually all of God's relationships to us are expressions of His grace, in one way or another. Grace, or love, is the very heart of God's existence. Luke emphasized the grace of God throughout this chapter. Notice especially Luke 1:50,54,58,72,78.

Marvin Vincent has a lengthy note on favor/grace in this verse - Grace (χάριν). From the same root as χαίρω, to rejoice. I. Primarily that which gives joy or pleasure; and hence outward beauty, loveliness, something which delights the beholder. Thus Homer, of Ulysses going to the assembly: “Athene shed down manly grace or beauty upon him” (“Odyssey,” ii., 12); and Septuagint, Ps. 45:3, “grace is poured into thy lips.” See also Prov. 1:9; 3:22. Substantially the same idea, agreeableness, is conveyed in Luke 4:22, respecting the gracious words, lit., words of grace, uttered by Christ. So Eph. 4:29. II. As a beautiful or agreeable sentiment felt and expressed toward another; kindness, favor, good-will. 2 Cor. 8:6, 7, 9; 9:8; Luke 1:30; 2:40; Acts 2:47. So of the responsive sentiment of thankfulness. See Luke 6:32, 33, 34; 17:9; but mostly in the formula thanks to God; Rom. 6:17; 1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 2:14; 2 Tim. 1:3. III. The substantial expression of good-will; a boon, a favor, a gift; but not in New Testament. See Rom. 5:15, where the distinction is made between χάρις, grace, and δωρεὰ ἐν χάριτι a gift in grace. So a gratification or delight, in classical Greek only; as the delight in battle, in sleep, etc. IV. The higher Christian signification, based on the emphasis of freeness in the gift or favor, and, as commonly in New Testament, denoting the free, spontaneous, absolute loving-kindness of God toward men, and so contrasted with debt, law, works, sin. The word does not occur either in Matthew or Mark.

William Barclay - To be chosen by God (as was Mary) so often means at one and the same time a crown of joy and cross of sorrow (see Luke 2:35-note). The piercing truth is that God does not choose a person for ease and comfort and selfish joy but for a task that will take all that head and heart and hand can bring to it. God chooses a man in order to use him. When Joan of Arc knew that her time was short she prayed, “I shall only last a year; use me as you can.” When that is realized, the sorrows and hardships that serving God may bring are not matters for lamentation; they are our glory, for all is suffered for God. When Richard Cameron, the Covenanter, was caught by the dragoons they killed him. He had very beautiful hands and they cut them off and sent them to his father with a message asking if he recognized them. “They are my son’s,” he said, “my own dear son’s. Good is the will of the Lord who can never wrong me or mine.” The shadows of life were lit by the sense that they, too, were in the plan of God. A great Spanish saint prayed for his people, “May God deny you peace and give you glory.” A great modern preacher said, “Jesus Christ came not to make life easy but to make men great.” It is the paradox of blessedness that it confers on a person at one and the same time the greatest joy and the greatest task in all the world.

Luke 1:31  "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.

  • thou. Luke 1:27. Is. 7:14. Mat. 1:23. Ga. 4:4.
  • and shalt. Luke 1:13; Luke 2:21. Mat. 1:21, 25.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:31 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

AMP And listen! You will become pregnant and will give birth to a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus. 

Wuest  And behold: you shall conceive in your womb and you shall give birth to a son, and you shall call His name Jesus.

JESUS THE NAME
ABOVE ALL NAMES!

Behold (2400)(idou) is the second person singular aorist middle imperative of eidon which means to see, perceive, look at. In the NT idou is used as a demonstrative particle that draws attention to what follows. Idou in the middle voice means "you yourself look, see, perceive!" The aorist imperative is a command emphasizing "Do it now! Don't delay!" This is one of 6 uses of behold in Luke 1 - Luke 1:20; 31; 36; 38; 44; 48. 

Spurgeon reminds us that "Behold is a word of wonder; it is intended to excite admiration. Wherever you see it hung out in Scripture, it is like an ancient sign-board, signifying that there are rich wares within, or like the hands which solid readers have observed in the margin of the older Puritanic books, drawing attention to something particularly worthy of observation." I would add, behold is like a divine highlighter, a divine underlining of an especially striking or important text. It says in effect "Listen up, all ye who would be wise in the ways of Jehovah!"

Luke uses Behold frequently in his writings to arrest the reader's attention - 

Luke 1:20; 31; 36; 38; 44; 48; 2:10; 25; 34; 48; 5:12; 18; 6:23; 7:12; 25; 27; 34; 37; 8:41; 9:30; 38; 10:3; 19; 25; 11:31; 41; 13:7; 11; 16; 30; 32; 35; 14:2; 15:29; 17:21; 23; 18:28; 31; 19:2; 8; 20; 22:10; 21; 31; 38; 47; 23:14; 29; 50; 24:4; 13; 49 // Acts 1:10; 2:7; 5:9; 25; 28; 7:56; 8:27; 36; 9:10; 10:17; 19; 21; 30; 11:11; 12:7; 13:11; 25; 46; 16:1; 20:22; 25; 27:24

You will conceive - Matthew 1:18 gives the detail "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together (i.e., before they were intimate) she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit."

You will conceive (become pregnant) 4815)(sullambano from sun/syn = together with + lambáno = to take, to seize) means literally to seize or take together and conveys the picture of clasping. To bring together. 

Luke uses sullambano more than any other NT writer with a variety of meanings including conceiving (Luke 1:24, 31, 36, 2:21), to help (in sense of take hold of together) or come to the aid of (Luke 5:7), to catch or capture an animal (Luke 5:9), of the arrest of Jesus (Lk 22:54, Acts 1:16), of the arrest of Peter (Acts 12:3), of the arrest of Paul (Acts 23:27), of seizing of Paul in the Temple (Acts 26:21). 

Robertson on conceive in your womb  - Same idiom in Isa. 7:14 of Immanuel.

Henry Morris - The miraculous conception was unusual in that it took place directly in the womb rather than in the tubes, but it was uniquely miraculous in that no man was involved. "That holy thing" was placed directly in Mary's womb by God "the Holy Ghost" (Luke 1:35) and thus was uniquely "the seed of the woman" (Genesis 3:15). Just as the body of "the first Adam" was directly formed by God (Genesis 2:7), with no genetic connection to either father or mother, so the body of "the second Adam" (1 Corinthians 15:45) was directly formed by God (Hebrews 10:5) with no genetic connection to either parent. Since the very ground was brought under God's curse because of sin (Genesis 3:17), all the elements of the ground ("the dust of the earth") out of which the bodies of Adam and Eve and all their descendants had been formed were contaminated with the "bondage of corruption" (or decay--Romans 8:21,22). This was just as true of Mary's body as of Joseph's, so there could have been no natural genetic connection of Jesus' body to Mary's, any more than to Joseph's. The "holy thing" placed in Mary's womb by the Holy Spirit could have been nothing less than a special creation, just as was the body of Adam. Otherwise, like all men born of women, Jesus would have inherited both physical defects and the sin-nature of Adam and Eve. This could only have been prevented by a miraculous cleansing of the conceptus, and this, of course, would be a special creation. Jesus was the only begotten Son of God, as well as the son of Mary, but He was not the Son 

Disciple's Study Bible - Birth is a natural physical process. Natural processes do not seal off God's activity. He can interrupt natural processes or work through natural processes to achieve His will. God worked in a special way to allow the virgin Mary to conceive. He worked in a different, yet still miraculous, way to allow the aged, barren Elizabeth to conceive. He worked through natural processes to allow each to carry and bear her son.

Several hundred years prior the prophet Isaiah had written 

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin (Hb =  'almah; Gk = parthenos) will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14 Commentary)

Spurgeon on Isaiah 7:14 - And, first, we see here, in speaking of this birth of Christ, a miraculous conception. The text says expressly, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son.” This expression is unparalleled even in Sacred Writ; of no other woman could it be said beside the Virgin Mary, and of no other man could it be written that his mother was a virgin. The Greek word and the Hebrew are both very expressive of the true and real virginity of the mother, to show us that Jesus Christ was born of woman, and not of man. We shall not enlarge upon the thought, but still it is an important one, and ought not to be passed over without mentioning. Just as the woman, by her venturous spirit, stepped first into transgression,—lest she should be despised and trampled on, God in his wisdom devised that the woman, and the woman alone, should be the author of the body of the God-man who should redeem mankind. Albeit that she herself first tasted the accursed fruit, and tempted her husband (it may be that Adam out of love to her tasted that fruit), lest she should be degraded, lest she should not stand on an equality with him, God hath ordained that so it should be, that his Son should be sent forth “born of a woman,” and the first promise was that the seed of the woman, not the seed of the man, should bruise the serpent’s head (See Ge 3:15 - commentary. (From Birth of Christ - sermon on Isaiah 7:14)

In Mt 1:21 an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and declared "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins." (Mt 1:20, 21) So here we see His Name and as is so frequent in the Bible, the verse goes on to explain the significance or meaning of His Name. In obedience to the angel’s command, Mary and Joseph named their newborn Son Jesus (Luke 2:21)

Jesus (2424)(Iesous) is transliteration of the Greek Iesous, which in turn is the transliteration of the Hebrew name Jehoshua (Yehoshua) or Jeshua (Yeshua) which mean Jehovah is help or Jehovah is salvation. Stated another way the Greek Iesous corresponds to the OT Jehoshua (Yehoshua) which is contracted as Jeshua(Yeshua). Most of the NT uses of Iesous refer to our Lord Jesus. In the Gospels the single Name Jesus (Iesous) is used as His personal Name and is found 538 times. In the Epistles Jesus is usually (but not always - e.g., Ro 3:26; 4:24; 1Cor 12:3; 2Cor 11:4; Phil 2:10; 1Th 4:14; Heb 7:22; 10:19, etc) used in combination with Christ or Lord (see next paragraph). Jesus is known by Christ alone some 44 times in the Gospels.

NET Note on Jesus - The Greek form of the name Iēsous, which was translated into Latin as Jesus, is the same as the Hebrew Yeshua (Joshua), which means “Yahweh saves” (Yahweh is typically rendered as “LORD” in the OT).


Luke 1:31-41
The Spirit Of Christmas

February 1, 2012 — by David C. McCasland

The acts of generosity and good will that flourish in December often fade quickly, causing many to say, “I wish we could keep the Christmas spirit all year long.” Why does it seem that kindness and compassion are chained to the calendar? Is there an ever-flowing fountain of compassion deeper than warm holiday feelings that pass with the season?

In the first two chapters of Luke, it is striking that the Holy Spirit is mentioned seven times. His work is cited in the lives of the unborn John the Baptist (1:15), Mary (1:35), Elizabeth (1:41), Zacharias (1:67), and Simeon (2:25-27). Here, in what we often call “the Christmas story,” there is no mention of people having something just come to mind or of feeling strangely moved. Instead, the Holy Spirit is identified as the One who guided Simeon, filled Zacharias and Elizabeth, and created the baby in Mary’s womb.

Do we, like them, recognize the Spirit’s voice in the midst of all others? Are we alert to His promptings and eager to obey? Will we allow His warmth and love to fill our hearts and flow through our hands?

Today, the presence and power of Christ remain with us through the Holy Spirit, who is the true, eternal Spirit of Christmas—all year long.

Let the fullness of Thy Spirit
Fall upon us here this hour.
How we need a new anointing
Of the Holy Ghost and power. —Jarvis

Jesus went away so the Spirit could come to stay.

(Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


Hiding In Plain Sight Read: Luke 1:26-35 

You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. —Luke 1:31

A Baltimore congregation found the answer to its financial troubles on a church wall. And it had been “hiding” there for more than 25 years! Someone finally recognized a piece of art hanging in the chapel as a valuable woodblock print by Albrecht Dürer, dated 1493. The work shows the angel telling Mary she would give birth to God’s Son.

Some members just couldn’t believe they had underestimated the value of the old masterpiece, saying in effect, “If it were real, why would it be here?”

What about us? Are we underestimating the value of the event depicted on that woodblock print?

Jesus isn’t hiding. The truth that God came to earth in human form is plainly announced in His Word. It is reflected in our art and in our hymnbooks. But the significance of Christ’s birth is still neglected. We get so wrapped up in activities and programs that we miss the immeasurable worth of knowing who that Baby was.

What’s missing is our worship. Think about the meaning of His birth. Jesus is God! He came to save His people from their sins (Mt. 1:21) and give them eternal life (Jn. 3:14-18).

This Christmas, join with the wisemen and shepherds and give praise to Jesus—God who became Man.

He left His Father's throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace!
Emptied Himself of all but love
And bled for Adam's helpless race. —Wesley

Christ's birth brought the infinite God to finite man.

By Mart DeHaan  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


The Main Event

December 3, 1995

Read: Luke 1:26-38 

You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. —Luke 1:31

During the Great Depression that hit the United States in the 1930s, a family in the Midwest struggled to put food on their table. They had no money for luxuries.

One day posters all over town announced that a circus was coming. Admission would be $1. A boy in the family wanted to see the show, but his father told him that he would have to earn the money on his own. The youngster had never seen a circus before, so he worked feverishly and was able to buy a ticket.

On the day the circus arrived, he went to see the performers and the animals parade through town. As he watched, a clown came dancing over to him, and the boy put his ticket in the clown’s hand. Then he stood on the curb and cheered as the rest of the parade moved by.

The youngster rushed home to tell his parents what he had seen and how exciting the circus was. His father listened, then took his son in his arms and said, “Son, you didn’t see the circus. All you saw was the parade.”

That story is a parable of Christmas. Many people get excited about the festivities but miss the main event. During this season, let’s remember what happened in a humble stable and what Jesus’ birth means to us.

There's colorful wrapping and tinsel and greening,
Stores crowded with shoppers, so much to be done!
But how many sense a real spiritual meaning,
Or feel sincere worship for God's precious Son? —Donovan

Christ is the reason for the Season.

By Haddon Robinson  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


Celebrate Beginnings

March 24, 2005

Read: Luke 1:26-38 

You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. —Luke 1:31

Many churches observe March 25 as Annunciation Day. It commemorates the angel’s announcement to Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus, the Messiah. In our success-oriented society, this festival is a needed reminder to recognize and rejoice at the beginning of God’s work in a person’s life rather than holding our applause for the accomplishments.

Because we often read Luke’s gospel at Christmas, we may forget that 9 months of trust and waiting separated Mary’s response to Gabriel from the birth of Jesus. When we read her words of surrender in light of this timespan, they take on added meaning: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Mary must have received great encouragement when her cousin Elizabeth told her, “Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord” (v.45).

We can celebrate beginnings by giving a hug or handshake to a new believer who professes faith in Christ. We can write a note of encouragement to a friend who has chosen to obey God’s Word.

Let’s grasp every opportunity to celebrate the beginnings of God’s work in the lives of others.

It takes but a moment of time
And minimal energy spent
To pass an encouraging word
To one who'll be glad it was sent. —Hess

The human spirit soars with hope when lifted by an encouraging word.

By David McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Luke 1:32  "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;

  • be great. Luke 1:15; Luke 3:16. Mat. 3:11; 12:42. Phi. 2:9–11.
  • the Son. Luke 1:35. Mark 5:7; 14:61. John 6:69. Ac. 16:17. Ro. 1:4. He. 1:2–8.
  • give. 2 Sa 7:11–13. Ps. 132:11. Is. 9:6, 7; 16:5. Je. 23:5, 6; 33:15–17. Eze. 17:22–24; 34:23, 24; 37:24, 25. Am. 9:11, 12. Mat. 28:18. John 3:35, 36; 5:21–29; 12:34. Ac. 2:30, 36. Ep. 1:20–23. Re. 3:7.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:32 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

AMP  He will be great (eminent) and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His forefather David, 

Wuest This One shall be great, and Son of the Most High shall He be called, and God, the Lord, shall give to Him the throne of David His father,

JESUS - SON OF GOD
AND KING OF KINGS

He will be great - Only a four word description but even eternity shall not exhaust the depth and profundity of the greatness of Jesus. Interestingly, John the Baptist was described in a similar way "he will be great in the sight of the Lord" (Lk 1:15), but clearly the greatness of John pales in comparison to the infinite greatness of Jesus. 

The NET NOTE adds that "Jesus is greater than John, since he is Messiah compared to a prophet. Great is stated absolutely without qualification to make the point."

Great (megas) is a common adjective used in Luke's writings - 

Lk. 1:15, 32, 42, 49; 2:9f; 4:25, 33, 38; 5:29; 6:49; 7:16, 28; 8:28, 37; 9:46, 48; 12:18; 14:16; 16:26; 17:15; 19:37; 21:11, 23; 22:12, 24, 26f; 23:23, 46; 24:52; Acts 2:20; 4:33; 5:5, 11; 6:8; 7:11, 57, 60; 8:1f, 7, 9f, 13; 10:11; 11:5, 28; 14:10; 15:3; 16:26, 28; 19:27f, 34f; 23:9; 26:22, 24, 29; 

The Messiah will be called by God while in the womb (Psalm 22:10; Luke 1:30–33). (From Which psalms predict the coming of Jesus Christ?)

Paul writes Jesus "was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead." (Ro 1:4)

Son of the Most High...His father David - Jesus is the Son of God but by lineage He is the "son of David" which was the most common Messianic title in the usage of Jesus’ day. (see also Mt 1:1, 12:23, 21:9, 15) MacArthur adds that "Since a son bears his father’s qualities, calling a person someone else’s “son” was a way of signifying equality. Here the angel was telling Mary that her Son would be equal to the Most High God."

The Most High (compare Lk 1:76-note referring to John the Baptist) - In the OT this is the Name El Elyon: Most High God - Sovereign Over All

Most High in the NT is used most often by Luke - Mk. 5:7; Lk. 1:32; Lk. 1:35; Lk. 1:76; Lk. 6:35; Lk. 8:28; Acts 7:48; Acts 16:17; Heb. 7:1

NET Note makes an interesting comment - The expression Most High is a way to refer to God without naming him. Such avoiding of direct reference to God was common in 1st century Judaism out of reverence for the divine name.

Most High (5310)(hupsistos superlative of hupsos = height from hupsi = high, aloft) in a spatial sense means the highest (highest places). Figuratively of the highest possible status. In view of God's superior rank and power it is an appropriate descriptive Name of God. He is the Most High which also emphasizes His as dwelling in the highest heavens far exalted above all other things. Hupsistos is used in the plural in the phrase "in the highest" (in the "highest" regions, the abode of God) as in Hosanna in the highest (Mt 21:9, Mk 11:10)

The adjective hupsistos is used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew Name of God El Elyon -- "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High (hupsistos)." (Ge 14:18, 19, 20, 22, cp Nu 24:16 in connection with Balaam) And it is not surprising, that where there is truth, there is usually a counterfeit - thus the Greeks called Zeus hupsistos, the "highest" to be distinguished from their lesser false gods!

Hupsistos - 13x in 13v - Usage: highest(4), most high(9).

Matthew 21:9 The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!"

Mark 5:7 and shouting with a loud voice, he said, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!"

Mark 11:10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!"

Luke 1:32 "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;
 35 The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.
 76 "And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS;

Luke 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

Luke 6:35 "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

Luke 8:28 Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me."

Luke 19:38 shouting: "BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"

Acts 7:48 "However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says:

Acts 16:17 Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, "These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation."

Hebrews 7:1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,

Hupsistos - 60x in the Septuagint (Lxx) -

Gen. 14:18, 19, 20, 22; Nu. 24:16; Dt. 32:8; 2 Sa 22:14; Est. 8:12; Job 16:19; 25:2; 31:2, 28; Ps. 7:17; 9:2; 13:5; 18:13; 21:7; 46:4; 47:2; 50:14; 57:2; 71:19; 73:11; 77:10; 78:17, 35, 56; 82:6; 83:18; 87:5; 91:1, 9; 92:1, 8; 97:9; 107:11; 148:1; Isa. 14:14; 57:15; Lam. 3:35, 38; Dan. 2:18f; 3:26; 4:1f, 14, 17, 24f, 32, 34; 5:1, 18, 21; 7:18, 22, 25, 27; Mic. 6:6

The throne - A throne needs a King and a King needs a Kingdom so this word stands for the Kingdom of a the coming King. When Messiah returns He will reign in the Millennium as King of kings (Rev 19:16-note - which implies there will be other "kings!") Compare Ps 2:6-8, Ps 89:26-29. The Lord Jesus Christ is the rightful Heir to the throne of His father David through His legal father Joseph. 

I will give Him the throne of His father David - This answers to the prophecy in Samuel - 

even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you. 12“When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13“He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Sa 7:11-13)

John MacArthur sums up this previous section - Gabriel’s message to Mary introduces the pivotal point in redemptive history. How people respond to the Child of whom Gabriel spoke will determine their eternal destiny. As Simeon would later say to Mary, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel” (Luke 2:34), and the rest of the world as well. And as the Child Himself would warn, “Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24), since “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Luke 1:33  and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."

  • he. Ps. 45:6; 89:35–37. Da. 2:44; 7:13, 14, 27. Ob. 21. Mi. 4:7. 1 Co. 15:24, 25. He. 1:8. Re. 11:15; 20:4–6; 22:3–5.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:33 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Amp  And He will reign over the house of Jacob throughout the ages; and of His reign there will be no end. 

CSB He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.

ESV  and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

KJV  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

NET He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end."

NIV  and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

NLT And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!"

Wuest  and He shall reign as King over the house of Jacob forever and of His kingdom there shall not be an end.

YLT and he shall reign over the house of Jacob to the ages; and of his reign there shall be no end.'

KING OVER
ISRAEL

The Messiah’s throne will be eternal (Psalm 45:6–7a; Luke 1:31–33; Hebrews 1:8–9). (From Which psalms predict the coming of Jesus Christ?)

He will reign over the house of Jacob (cp Isa. 65:17–19; Zeph. 3:11–13; Zech. 14:16–21) - This is another way of saying He will rule over Israel, over the 12 Tribes. Beloved, Israel will exist as a distinct entity in the Millennial Kingdom. Sadly, many modern evangelical scholars have failed to interpret literally the end times prophecies regarding Israel and as a result have misinterpreted them as prophecies applying to the Church. Beloved, Jesus will reign over the house of Jacob.  Many take Paul's passage in Gal 6:16 (see study of Israel of God) as support that Israel has been replaced by the church, but this verse would be another piece of evidence that such an interpretation is simply not tenable! The point is that the church is never called the "house of Jacob" and to make this passage apply to the church is to disregard the simple literal reading of Luke's text. See related discussion - What is replacement theology / supersessionism?

NET NOTE - The expression house of Jacob refers to Israel. This points to the Messiah’s relationship to the people of Israel.

He will reign (936)(basileuo from basileus - a king) means literally to exercise supreme authority at a royal level, to reign over, to be king over (Rev 11:15, 17-note of Jesus' reign in the Millennial Kingdom). Basileuo is used figuratively of death personified as reigning from Adam until Moses (Ro 5:14, 17-note), of sin reigning in death and grace reigning through righteousness (Ro 5:21-note), in a command by Paul to "not let sin reign (don't let it be king, don't let sin completely control you, implying it will keep trying to usurp the throne from the Lordship of Jesus) in your mortal body" (Ro 6:12-note). Paul uses basileuo in biting irony of the "imagined exaltation" of the Corinthians which contrasted with the apostle's lowly lot (1 Cor 4:8). In 1 Cor 15:25 basileuo is used in an eschatological sense describing Jesus' Millennial reign in which He will abolish death. In another eschatological passage in Rev 5:10-note (cp Rev 20:4, 6-note) the saints of God are given the glorious promise of a priceless privilege that we shall "reign upon the earth." (contrast the tragic truth regarding those who deny Jesus in the related compound verb sumbasileuo in 2 Ti 2:12-note).

W E Vine basileuo - is used (I) literally, (a) of God, Rev. 11:17; 19:6, in each of which the aorist tense (in the latter, translated “reigneth”) is “ingressive,” stressing the point of entrance; (b) of Christ, Luke 1:33; 1 Cor. 15:25; Rev. 11:15; as rejected by the Jews, Luke 19:14, 27; (c) of the saints, hereafter, 1 Cor. 4:8 (2nd part), where the apostle, casting a reflection upon the untimely exercise of authority on the part of the church at Corinth, anticipates the due time for it in the future (see No. 2); Rev. 5:10; 20:4, where the aorist tense is not simply of a “point” character, but “constative,” that is, regarding a whole action as having occurred, without distinguishing any steps in its progress (in this instance the aspect is future); v. 6; 22:5; (d) of earthly potentates, Matt. 2:22; 1 Tim. 6:15, where “kings” is, lit., “them that reign”; (II), metaphorically, (a) of believers, Rom. 5:17, where “shall reign in life” indicates the activity of life in fellowship with Christ in His sovereign power, reaching its fullness hereafter; 1 Cor. 4:8 (1st part), of the carnal pride that laid claim to a power not to be exercised until hereafter; (b) of divine grace, Rom. 5:21; (c) of sin, Rom. 5:21; 6:12; (d) of death, Rom. 5:14, 17

Basileuo occurs in the Septuagint (Lxx) over 240 times - Here are a few uses of basileuo which is consistently understood to mean “to rule, reign”  and refers to political kings who rule (Ge 36:31), or to the Lord who reigns forever and ever (Ex 15:18). Here are a few notable uses several of which parallel the truth of Luke 1:33

Psalm 10:16 The LORD is King (shall reign) forever and ever; Nations have perished from His land.

Psalm 47:8 God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne.

salm 93:1 The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.

Psalm 96:10 Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity

Psalm 97:1 The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; Let the many islands be glad.

Psalm 99:1 The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake!

Psalm 146:10 The LORD will reign forever, Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

Basileuo - 21x in 18v - Usage: become kings(2), kings(1), reign(12), reigned(4), reigning(1), reigns(1). 

Matthew 2:22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee,

Luke 1:33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."

Luke 19:14 "But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.'
 27 "But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence."

Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:12  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,

Wuest - When the saint counts upon the fact that the power of the sinful nature over him is broken, he obeys the exhortation of Paul, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body.” “Reign” is basileuō , “to exercise kingly power.” The verb is present imperative with the negative mē, which construction forbids the continuance of an action already going on. It is, “Stop allowing the sinful nature to reign as king in your mortal body.” The sinful nature is a dethroned monarch. The believer has the responsibility of keeping it from mounting into the throne of his heart, the place which the Lord Jesus should occupy. The believer is well able to do this. His will is free (Ed: Yes, but as discussed below he must still learn to depend on the Spirit to give him the desire and the power! cp Php 2:13NLT-note). He has the divine nature and the Holy Spirit to urge him on, and give him the desire and the power to refuse the sinful nature and obey the Word. Paul says, “Order your behavior in the sphere of, by means of, the Spirit, and you will positively not fulfill the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16-note). Paul says, “Stop allowing the sinful nature to reign as king in your mortal body with a view to obeying it in the sphere of its passionate cravings.” Now, to what does the word “it” refer, to the sinful nature or the body? Logic would lead us to relate the pronoun to the sinful nature, but Greek grammar refers it back to the body, since the pronoun is neuter, the word “sin” is feminine, and the word “body,” neuter. The pronoun in Greek agrees with its antecedent in gender. It is true that the sinful desires originate with the evil nature, not with the physical body. But why does Paul in this instance relate them to the body? The answer is found in the fact that the sinful nature is an intangible, invisible entity, and cannot be watched. It is an unseen enemy whose tactics cannot be observed and therefore cannot be guarded against. But the saint is able to keep watch over the members of his body, what his eyes look at, his ears listen to, his mind thinks about, his hands do, and where his feet carry him. But not only will the saint who counts upon the fact that the power of the sinful nature is broken (Ro 6:11-note), stop allowing it to reign as king over him, but he will obey Paul’s exhortation, “neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin.” The verb is again present imperative with mē, “Stop yielding.” (Ed: As an aside remember that the ONLY WAY to obey these commands is by learning to lean on the power of the indwelling Spirit - cp Ro 8:13-note). The verb is paristēmi, “to place beside or near, to present, to proffer, to put at one’s disposal.” We are to stop putting the members of our body at the disposal of, at the service of the sinful nature. The word “instruments” is hopla. In classical Greek the word referred to the weapons of the Greek soldier. Paul thinks of the members of the Christian’s body as weapons to be used in the Christian warfare against evil. The saint, counting upon the fact that he has been disengaged from the evil nature, does two things, he refuses to allow it to reign as king in his life, and he stops putting his members at its disposal to be used as weapons of unrighteousness. Now, the saint who counts upon the fact that the divine nature has been implanted (cp 2 Peter 1:4-note), will obey Paul’s exhortation, “Yield yourselves to God, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” The word “yield” is again paristēmi, but in the aorist imperative, which commands a once for all action to be done at once. Paul says, “Put yourselves at once, and once for all, at the disposal of God, as those who are actively alive out from among those who are dead, and your members as weapons of righteousness, at the disposal of God.” This is a once for all act of the saint dedicating himself to God and His service, an act to be lived by, and upon the basis of its implications, moment by moment. The saint should live his life every day with the consciousness of that fact in his mind. When the saint obeys the instructions laid down in these verses relative to his adjustment to the evil nature and the divine nature, Paul says, “The sinful nature will not exercise lordship over you,” and he gives the reason (Ed: "for" a term of explanation in Ro 6:14), “You are not under law but under grace.” To be under law refers to an unsaved person who attempts to live in obedience to the law of God. To be under grace is to be a saved person who has been the subject of the surgical operation in which the power of the sinful nature has been broken and the divine nature implanted. The poet says, “Do this and live, the law commands, but gives me neither feet nor hands. A better word the gospel brings. It bids me fly and gives me wings.” Wings in Scripture, speak of supernatural power (Ed: Distributed by the indwelling Holy Spirit!)

1 Corinthians 4:8 You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you.

1 Corinthians 15:25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.

1 Timothy 6:15 which He will bring about at the proper time-- He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,

Revelation 5:10 "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth."

Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever."
 17 saying, "We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.
Revelation 19:6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.

Revelation 20:4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
 

Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Revelation 22:5 And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.

Kingdom (932) (basileia from basileus = a sovereign, king, monarch) denotes sovereignty, royal power, dominion. Basileia can also refer to the territory or people over whom a king rules. Kingdom of Heaven/God is both simple and complex and has been the subject of many non-Biblical interpretations (this summary makes no attempt to review these interpretations). It is as simple as the truth that wherever the King (God/Jesus) rules and reigns, there the kingdom is present! It is complex in that a number of references to Kingdom of God/Heaven have prophetic (eschatological) overtones, so it has a present and future aspect. It is also complex in the sense that the Kingdom of God/Heaven is described in both testaments from Genesis to Revelation (See Tony Garland's interesting related summary of Genesis and Revelation as Bookends). It follows that any attempt to give a Biblical definition of kingdom will be woefully lacking --indeed, it will take all eternity to comprehend God's Kingdom, a Kingdom which will endure forever and ever! Amen!

Will have not end (will absolutely never end) - In Revelation John using the prophetic (proleptic) aorist writes "Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” (Rev 11:15-note).

Luke 1:34  Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"

AMP And Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I have no [intimacy with any man as a] husband?

CSB  Mary asked the angel, "How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?"

ESV  And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

KJV Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

NET  Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?"

NIV  "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

NLT  Mary asked the angel, "But how can this happen? I am a virgin."

YLT And Mary said unto the messenger, 'How shall this be, seeing a husband I do not know?'

A HUSBAND I DO
NOT KNOW

A husband I do not know - This is the more literal reading and is Mary's testimony that she is a virgin, regardless of what the so-called "higher critics" have to say. Perhaps they should come down to the lowly position of humble, honest Mary and then they would have their eyes opened by the Spirit to see and know truth.

Zacharias asked "How will I know for certain?" (Lk 1:18-note) Mary asked "How can this be since I am a virgin?" The former question expressed skepticism, the latter expressed simple logic "in wonder filled faith." (Guzik)

John MacArthur - Mary knew of only one way that she could conceive a son—through sexual relations with a man. She also knew that she had not had such relations, as her question in verse 34, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” indicates. The concept of a pregnant virgin was utterly inconceivable to her; an impossibility, a contradiction in terms like a married bachelor, or a square circle.

Since I am a virgin - The Greek literally reads "seeing a husband I do not know," She says since a man I absolutely do not (ou = strongest negative) know. In effect Mary is making a strong declaration regarding her virginity.

NET Note adds that "The expression in the Greek text (epei andra ou ginosko) is a euphemism for sexual relations. Mary seems to have sensed that the declaration had an element of immediacy to it that excluded Joseph. Many modern translations render this phrase “since I am a virgin,” but the Greek word for virgin is not used in the text, and the euphemistic expression is really more explicit, referring specifically to sexual relations.

Henry Morris - Mary was not doubting the word of Gabriel (Luke 1:38), as had Zacharias (Luke 1:20), but inquiring as to how He might bring about such a "new thing in the earth" (Jeremiah 31:22), and Gabriel answered her question in his next statement.

NET Note -  The expression in the Greek text is a euphemism for sexual relations. Mary seems to have sensed that the declaration had an element of immediacy to it that excluded Joseph. Many modern translations render this phrase "since I am a virgin," but the Greek word for virgin is not used in the text, and the euphemistic expression is really more explicit, referring specifically to sexual relations. 

Luke 1:35  The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.

  • The Holy Spirit. Lk 1:27, 31. Mt. 1:20.
  • that. Job 14:4; 15:16; 25:4. Ps. 51:5. Ep. 2:3. He. 4:15; 7:26–28.
  • the Son of God. Luke 1:32. Ps. 2:7. Mat. 14:33; 26:63, 64; 27:54. Mark 1:1+. John 1:34, 49; 20:31. Ac. 8:37. Ro. 1:4. Ga. 2:20.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:35 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

AMP Then the angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a shining cloud]; and so the holy (pure, sinless) Thing (Offspring) which shall be born of you will be called the Son of God. 

CSB The angel replied to her: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.

ESV  And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy--the Son of God.

KJV  And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

NET The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God.

NIV  The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

NLT The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.

YLT  And the messenger answering said to her, 'The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore also the holy-begotten thing shall be called Son of God;

The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you - We must be honest that is verse is what I would call "holy ground," so we need to take off our shoes and marvel at the mystery and majesty in this description. Even as a physician I would dare not try to explain scientifically this supernatural working of God lest we lose the sense of wonder at such a miraculous work of God. As Robertson says "The wonder of Mary would increase at these words. The Miraculous Conception or Virgin Birth of Jesus is thus plainly set forth in Luke as in Matthew. The fact that Luke was a physician gives added interest to his report."

The Most High (hupsistos superlative of hupsos = height and Septuagint translation of the Hebrew = El Elyon) - Hupsistos figuratively speaks of the highest possible status a sense conveyed in the KJV rendering "the power of the Highest". Luke uses this descriptive Name of God () five times - Lk 1:32, 35, 76, Luke 6:35, Luke 8:28.  

Power (Miracles) (1411)(dunamis from dunamai = to be able, to have power) power especially achieving power. It refers to intrinsic power or inherent ability to carry out some function, the power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature. It is often translated miracle and certainly the Spirit's overshadowing Mary and her conception are nothing short of one of the greatest miracles in all time and eternity!

As creationist Henry Morris says "We cannot comprehend the mechanics of such a miracle; we can only believe God's Word."

MacArthur - The Spirit plays a prominent role in Luke’s narrative of the Lord’s birth (Lk 1:15, 41, 67; 2:25–27), and would also be the power source throughout His earthly life and ministry (cf. Lk 3:21–22; Mt. 3:13–17; Jn 1:32–34).

Bengel on overshadow you  - Denoting the mildest and most gentle operation of divine power, that the divine fire should not consume Mary, but make her fruitful. 

NET Note - The phrase will overshadow is a reference to God’s glorious presence at work (Exod 40:34–35; Ps 91:4).

Robertson on overshadow - A figure of a cloud coming upon her. Here it is like the Shekinah glory which suggests it (Ex. 40:38) where the cloud of glory represents the presence and power of God. Compare Ex 33:22; Mark 9:7. Compare the classical legend of Semele, who, being beloved of Jove, besought him to appear to her as he appeared in heaven, in all the terrors of the thunderer, and was consumed by his lightning. The metaphor in the word is taken from a cloud, in which God had appeared (Ex 40:34; 1 Ki 8:10)

In some way Luke's use of the word overshadow speaks of the divine power and influence that rested upon Mary. As the power came upon Mary to accomplish God's purposes, so too did it come upon the disciples at the birth of the church in Acts 1:8-note, Luke recording "you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

Overshadow (1982)(episkiazo from epi = upon + skia = shadow) "literally, as darkening by partially blocking out a source of light" (Friberg) and so to throw a shadow upon as in Acts 5:15. To cover as with a cloud. The more common literal use of episkiazo describes the transfiguration where a cloud formed (probably the Shekinah glory cloud) and overshadowed Jesus and the 3 disciples Peter and John and James. 

John MacArthur comments that episkiazo "means “to surround,” “to encompass,” or in a metaphorical sense, “to influence.” The creative influence of the Spirit of God would overshadow Mary to produce a child in her womb."....This was a creative act of the Holy Spirit, not the sort of divine-human cohabitation sometimes seen in pagan mythology.

The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery - On the basis of the LXX use of episkiazō (cf. Ex 40:35 and esp. Ps 91:4), the NT uses the image of “overshadowing” to depict not so much divine protection as a divine presence or power, such as that of the Holy Spirit at the conception of Jesus (Lk 1:35) or the cloud at the transfiguration (Mt 17:5). The popular power of such an image is seen in the effort to find healing power in the shadow of Peter (Acts 5:15).

Episkiazo - 5x in 5v - Usage: fall(1), overshadow(2), overshadowed(1), overshadowing(1). Here are the other 4 uses...

Matthew 17:5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!"

Mark 9:7 Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!"

Luke 9:34 While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.

Acts 5:15 to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow (skia ) might fall on (episkiazo) any one of them.

Episkiazo is used 4x in the Septuagint (Lxx) - Ex. 40:35; Ps. 90:4; 139:8; Pr. 18:11;

Exodus 40:35 Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud (Shekinah glory cloudhad settled on (episkiazo = overshadowed) it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

Comment: Note the strong parallel between the cloud at Mt Sinai and the transfiguration on the mount (cp Lk 9:28) which is further linked by the use of the same rare verb episkiazo!

Psalm 91:4 He will cover (episkiazo) you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

Spurgeon - A wonderful expression! Had it been invented by an uninspired man it would have verged upon blasphemy, for who should dare to apply such words to the Infinite Jehovah? But as he himself authorised, yea, dictated the language, we have here a transcendent condescension, such as it becomes us to admire and adore. Doth the Lord speak of his feathers, as though he likened himself to a bird? Who will not see herein a matchless love, a divine tenderness, which should both woo and win our confidence? Even as a hen covereth her chickens so doth the Lord protect the souls which dwell in him (cp Mt 23:37); let us cower down beneath him for comfort and for safety. Hawks in the sky and snares in the field are equally harmless when we nestle so near the Lord. His truth—his true promise, and his faithfulness to his promise, shall be thy shield and buckler. Double armour has he who relies upon the Lord. He bears a shield and wears an all surrounding coat of mail—such is the force of the word "buckler." To quench fiery darts the truth is a most effectual shield, and to blunt all swords it is an equally effectual coat of mail. Let us go forth to battle thus harnessed for the war, and we shall be safe in the thickest of the fight. It has been so, and so shall it be till we reach the land of peace, and there among the "helmed cherubim and sworded seraphim, " we will wear no other ornament, his truth shall still be our shield and buckler.

Psalm 140:7 "O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered (episkiazo - here the idea seems to be to shield) my head in the day of battle.

And for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God - For what reason? The clear implication is that this is a holy conception. God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit are intimately and mysteriously involved in his holy pregnancy. 

The holy Child (more accurately "the child to be born will be holy" = NET, ESV) - Holy (hagios) means set apart from the common. Yes Jesus was a baby but He was unique and thus the title "holy Child."

John MacArthur makes an interesting comment - Some have erroneously suggested the reason that Jesus was sinless was that He had no human father. But there is no biblical evidence that the sin nature is passed on genetically only through the father (Ed: I must confess this is an assumption I have held heretofore). All men and women are born sinners because “in Adam all die” (1 Cor. 15:22), since “through the one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience the many were made sinners” (Rom. 5:19). In a manner beyond human comprehension, Jesus was fully human, yet completely sinless from conception. The explanation of how that could be is shrouded in the unfathomable mystery of the incarnation.

The writer of Hebrews gives us a truth that parallels Luke's description of the child as holy and the Son of God...

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:3-note)

Son of God - A recognized title of the Messiah and used by Mark in the "title" of Gospel (Mk 1:1+). Jesus only rarely called Himself Son of God (Mt 27:43), more often referring to Himself as the Son of Man

Mt. 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8, 32, 40; 13:37, 41; 16:13, 27f; 17:9, 12, 22; 18:11; 19:28; 20:18, 28; 24:27, 30, 37, 39, 44; 25:31; 26:2, 24, 45, 64; Mk. 2:10, 28; 8:31, 38; 9:9, 12, 31; 10:33, 45; 13:26; 14:21, 41, 62; Lk. 5:24; 6:5, 22; 7:34; 9:22, 26, 44, 56, 58; 11:30; 12:8, 10, 40; 17:22, 24, 26, 30; 18:8, 31; 19:10; 21:27, 36; 22:22, 48, 69; 24:7; Jn. 1:51; 3:13f; 5:27; 6:27, 53, 62; 8:28; 9:35; 12:23, 34; 13:31)

Luke uses the phrase Son of God 8x  - Lk. 1:35; 3:38; 4:3, 9, 41; 22:70; Acts 8:37; 9:20


Two Bethlehems

December 13, 2005

Read: Luke 1:26-35

The power of the Highest will overshadow you. —Luke 1:35

The birth of Jesus Christ was unlike any other. Mary’s was an “other world” conception. The angel told her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). The child conceived in her was from outside our world. And it had to be so, because the boy born to Mary was Immanuel, “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).

The baby born in Bethlehem was of heavenly origin. God had entered the earth in the form and nature of Mary’s little son. He came into the world from above, and His incarnation made possible our redemption.

Now think about it. Our own new birth-our regeneration-comes from outside the world. Jesus said that we are born again “of the Spirit” (John 3:3,7-8). Our salvation is not from an earthly source, but from God Himself through Jesus by means of His Spirit. In a sense, then, our heart becomes a “Bethlehem stable,” a place where Jesus comes into the world. We open the door to Him by faith, and He is born in us by the blessed Holy Spirit.

We make Him known to others by His power in us. He affects every aspect of our lives. We are a “Bethlehem,” His place of entrance into today’s world.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.  -Crosby

Christ was born here below that we might be born from above.

By David Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


Overshadowed

November 22, 2013

Read: Luke 1:26-38

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you. —Luke 1:35

The assassination of US President John F. Kennedy stunned people around the globe 50 years ago today. The day after the shooting, an article in The Times (London) spoke of the reverberations being felt throughout world financial markets. It carried the headline, “All Other Events Overshadowed by US Tragedy.”

There are times in our lives when a death, a tragedy, or a sudden turn of events eclipses everything else. It happened to an unmarried young woman who was told that she would become the mother of the promised Messiah, God’s Son (Luke 1:26-33). When she asked how this could happen, the angel Gabriel said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you” (v.35).

The impossibility in Mary’s life was overshadowed not by darkness but by the brightness of God’s glory and power. Her response continues to leave us in awe: “Let it be to me according to your word” (v.38).

In the coming weeks, as we read again the Christmas story and consider the birth of Jesus into our world, it’s worth pondering the word overshadowed. It speaks so powerfully of the Lord’s presence in our hearts and His ability to outshine the darkest moments.

I’m overshadowed by His mighty love,
Love eternal, changeless, pure,
Overshadowed by His mighty love,
Rest is mine, serene, secure. —Ironside

In every situation, we are overshadowed by God’s mighty love and power.

By David McCasland  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Luke 1:36  "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.

AMP  And listen! Your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is now the sixth month with her who was called barren.

GABRIEL TELLS MARY OF
ELIZABETH'S MIRACLE BABY

Behold (idou) should always get our attention! It's as if the Holy Spirit is saying to Mary "Look at this!" "Don't miss this!" Behold is used 6 times by Luke in chapter 1 - Lk 1:20, 31, 36, 38, 44, 48.

Has also - 

What would this do to Mary's faith? Sure it would buttress it and/or increase it because if God could give barren Elizabeth a son in her old age, nothing is too difficult for God! (cf Ro 10:17).

Spurgeon - So was she (Mary) thus visited, and thus she believed with a wonderful faith, much too wonderful for me to describe in this place. But now let us see what Mary said when she went to visit her cousin Elisabeth.

Luke 1:37  "For nothing will be impossible with God."

  • with. Luke 18:27. Ge. 18:14. Nu. 11:23. Job 13:2. Je. 32:17, 27. Zec. 8:6. Mat. 19:26. Mark 10:27. Phi. 3:21.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:37 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Greek hoti ouk (absolutely nothing) adunatesei  (3SFAI) para tou theou pan rhema 

AMP  For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.

CSB For nothing will be impossible with God."

ESV  For nothing will be impossible with God."

KJV For with God nothing shall be impossible.

NET For nothing will be impossible with God."

NIV  For nothing is impossible with God."

NLT  For nothing is impossible with God. "

YLT  because nothing shall be impossible with God.'

Genesis 18:14  “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Jeremiah 32:27-note “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (How would you answer beloved?)

In the Greek text above note the emphatic position of the negative particle (ouk = absolutely nothing, "no exception clauses!") which gives "it emphasis as the lesson in the entire discussion. The remark is a call for faith." (NET Note

More literally the Greek reads "No word of God can fail."

I love the old ASV translation "For no word from God shall be void of power." Amen or oh my! This is great news and should motivate us to read, memorize and claim by faith the manifold "precious and magnificent promises" of God (2 Pe 1:4-note) which He has granted to us as His beloved children!

This passage recalls the last words (last words are lasting words) the aged Joshua gave to encourage the next generation of Israel...

"Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed. (Joshua 23:14)

Other translations - Nothing is ever impossible with God, Adams... Because no word of God shall be without power, HBIE ... For nothing is ever impossible with God, Berkeley.. . For there is nothing which God is not able to do, BB... because no event is impossible with God, Fenton ... no word, Alford ... no promise of God can fail, Phillips ... nothing is difficult for God, Murdock... not one word from God will prove powerless! TCNT... there is nothing that God cannot do, TEV.  Weymouth = "For no promise from God will be impossible of fulfilment."

The OT parallel truth is found in Gen 18:14  “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Brenton's translation of the LXX of Ge 18:14:  Shall anything be impossible with the Lord? At this time I will return to thee seasonably, and Sarrha shall have a son. 

My translation of LXX (Brenton ignores the Greek word "rhema" = spoken word. He also translates adunatei as future but it is actually present tense. He also translates "Theo" as Lord but it is actually "God"). That said here is my rendition = Is any spoken word [continually] too difficult for God?

Word (4487)(rhema from verb rheo = to speak - to say, speak or utter definite words) refers to the spoken word, especially a word as uttered by a living voice. Laleo is another word translated speak but it refers only to uttering a sound whereas rheo refers to uttering a definite intelligible word. Rhema refers to any sound produced by the voice which has a definite meaning. It focuses upon the content of the communication. 

NET Note says "In Greek, the phrase pan rhema ("nothing") has an emphatic position, giving it emphasis as the lesson in the entire discussion. The remark is a call for faith. 

Marvin Vincent has a long note - With God nothing shall be impossible (οὐκ ἀδυνατήσει παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ πᾶν ῥῆμα). Ῥῆμα, word, as distinguished from λόγος, word, in classical Greek, signifies a constituent part of a speech or writing, as distinguished from the contents as a whole. Thus it may be either a word or a saying. Sometimes a phrase, as opposed to ὄνομα, a single word. The distinction in the New Testament is not sharp throughout. It is maintained that ῥῆμα in the New Testament, like the Hebrew gabar, stands sometimes for the subject-matter of the word; the thing, as in this passage. But there are only two other passages in the New Testament where this meaning is at all admissible, though the word occurs seventy times. These are Luke 2:15; Acts 5:32. “Kept all these things” (Luke 2:19), should clearly be sayings, as the A. V. itself has rendered it in the almost identical passage, Lk 2:51. In Acts 5:32, Rev. gives sayings in margin. In Luke 2:15, though A. V. and Rev. render thing, the sense is evidently saying, as appears both from the connection with the angelic message and from the following words, which has come to pass: the saying which has become a fact. The Revised Version of the NT rendering of this passage is, therefore, right, though a little stilted: No word of God shall be void of power; for the Authorized Version errs in joining οὐκ and πᾶν, not every, and translating nothing. The two do not belong together. The statement is, Every (πᾶν) word of God shall not (οὐκ) be powerless. The A. V. also follows the reading, παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ, with God; but all the later texts read παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ, from God, which fixes the meaning beyond question.


Streams in the Desert - For with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37.) - FAR up in the Alpine hollows, year by year God works one of His marvels. The snow-patches lie there, frozen with ice at their edge from the strife of sunny days and frosty nights; and through that ice-crust come, unscathed, flowers that bloom.
Back in the days of the by-gone summer, the little soldanelle plant spread its leaves wide and flat on the ground, to drink in the sun-rays, and it kept them stored in the root through the winter. Then spring came, and stirred the pulses even below the snow-shroud, and as it sprouted, warmth was given out in such strange measure that it thawed a little dome in the snow above its head.
Higher and higher it grew and always above it rose the bell of air, till the flower-bud formed safely within it: and at last the icy covering of the air-bell gave way and let the blossom through into the sunshine, the crystalline texture of its mauve petals sparkling like snow itself as if it bore the traces of the flight through which it had come.
And the fragile thing rings an echo in our hearts that none of the jewel-like flowers nestled in the warm turf on the slopes below could waken. We love to see the impossible done. And so does God.
Face it out to the end, cast away every shadow of hope on the human side as an absolute hindrance to the Divine, heap up all the difficulties together recklessly, and pile as many more on as you can find; you cannot get beyond the blessed climax of impossibility. Let faith swing out to Him. He is the God of the impossible.—Selected.

Luke 1:38  And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

AMP  Then Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be done to me according to what you have said. And the angel left her.

CSB  "I am the Lord's slave," said Mary. "May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel left her.

ESV  And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

KJV And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

NET  So Mary said, "Yes, I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

NIV  "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

NLT  Mary responded, "I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true." And then the angel left her.

YLT  And Mary said, 'Lo, the maid-servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to thy saying,' and the messenger went away from her.

MARY THE HANDMAID
BELONGED TO THE LORD 

And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord - As discussed more below bondslave is the rare word doule which speaks of submission to one's master.  As God's doule Mary sought no life of her own, no will of her own, no purpose of her own and no plan of her own. All of her was subject to her loving Master. Her every thought, breath, and action was subject to the will of her Master. In sum, the picture of Mary as a bondslave of the Lord is one who is absolutely surrendered and totally devoted to her Lord. Mary understood the Lordship of Christ and that it was not an option! 

MacArthur makes an excellent point - Mary was in an extremely embarrassing and difficult position. Betrothed to Joseph, she faced the stigma of unwed motherhood. Joseph would obviously have known that the child was not his. She knew she would be accused of adultery—an offense punishable by stoning (Dt 22:13–21; cf. Jn 8:3–5). Yet she willingly and graciously submitted to the will of God. (Study Bible)

William Barclay - Mary's submission is a very lovely thing. "Whatever God says, I accept." Mary had learned to forget the world's commonest prayer -- "Thy will be changed" -- and to pray the world's greatest prayer -- "Thy will be done."

May it be done to me according to your word - In other words "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!" (Mt 6:10) This is an amazing expression of Mary's profound faith. Not even a "What if...?" No questions. Simply wholehearted acceptance of the Word of God. Mary is an example of one who was totally surrendered to God's will, an exemplary example for all saints of all ages!

Bondslave (maidservant) (1399)(doule from  deo = to bind) descrobes a female servant. It could refer to a voluntarily or involuntarily slave. This word conveys the idea of the slave's close, binding ties with the master, belonging to him, obligated (desirous) to do his will. Her will is ideally all together subsumed in the will of the master. This word used of Mary speaks of her humble station and also emphasizes serving another, and being in subjection. There are only 3 NT uses all by Luke - Lk 1:38, Lk 1:48+, Acts 2:18, Luke recording that "EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN (more literally "upon my servants and my handmaids"), I WILL IN THOSE DAYS ("Last days" = Acts 2:17+) POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT And they shall prophesy.  (Acts 2:18+)

NET Note on doule - Traditionally, "handmaid"; Greek "slave woman." Though doule is normally translated "woman servant," the word does not bear the connotation of a free woman serving another. BDAG notes that "servant' for 'slave' is largely confined to Biblical translations and early American times… in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished" (BDAG). The most accurate translation is "bondservant," sometimes found in the ASV for doulos, in that it often indicates one who sells himself or herself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force.

Ralph Earle adds that the Greek doule signifies that "Mary placed herself completely at God's disposal, even though she knew the outcome would bring shame and disgrace on her in the eyes of her neighbors." (Word Meanings)

Doule - 50x in 44v in the Septuagint (Lxx) - 

Ex 21:7; Lev. 25:44; Jdg. 19:19; Ruth 2:13; Ruth 3:9; 1 Sam. 1:11; 1 Sam. 1:16; 1 Sam. 1:18; 1 Sam. 8:16; 1 Sam. 25:24; 1 Sam. 25:25; 1 Sam. 25:27; 1 Sam. 25:28; 1 Sam. 25:31; 1 Sam. 25:41; 1 Sam. 28:21; 1 Sam. 28:22; 2 Sam. 14:6; 2 Sam. 14:7; 2 Sam. 14:12; 2 Sam. 14:15; 2 Sam. 14:16; 2 Sam. 14:19; 2 Sam. 20:17; 1 Ki. 1:13; 1 Ki. 1:17; 2 Ki. 4:2; 2 Ki. 4:16; 2 Chr. 28:10; Est. 4:17; Isa. 14:2; Isa. 56:6; Joel 2:29; Nah. 2:7;

Doule is used in the Septuagint (Lxx) of another woman in the OT - Hannah used the title maidservant 3x in one verse!

"She made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” (1 Sa 1:11)

Doule is used in the Septuagint (Lxx) in another context of the birth of a son...

Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.....Then he said, “At this season next year you will embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, O man of God, do not lie to your maidservant.”  (2 Ki 4:2, 16)

Mary had never heard Paul's words in First Corinthians for her body was not her own but belonged to the Lord: 

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Cor 6:19-20+)

And the angel departed from her - His mission of bringing the message of divine revelation to Mary was finished, so he went away.


GOD'S WAY IS BEST!
 And Mary said . . . be it unto me according to thy word . . . .      Luke 1:38
 When I was a fourth grader, one of my classmates suddenly died due to a ruptured appendix. All of us were shocked when we heard the news. We knew that adults died, and that some-times children also were taken, but the death of Donald, a boy our own age whom we knew so well, had a sobering effect upon us all. Naturally, the question was in everybody's mind why God had permitted him to die.
 
The day came for the funeral, and the whole class was to attend. Before leaving the school, however, our teacher, a fine Christian, told us a true story designed to help each of us ad-just to the tragedy. She knew that we were deeply concerned about why the Lord had allowed this thing to happen. She related an incident concerning a young woman whose husband had died many years before, leaving her alone with her precious little boy. One day this child became extremely ill, and it appeared that he too would pass away. The mother pleaded with the Lord for healing, and then, when about to close her prayer with the familiar words, "Not my will, but Thine be done," found herself exclaiming instead, "Lord, I can't say that. I want my little boy! I won't give him up!" God listened to her pleadings, and her son was spared. However, she lived to see him become an outlaw, and finally he was sentenced to the execution chamber. Her son broke her heart with his wicked life, and she often regretted the day she refused to say, "Not my will, but Thine be done."
 
We went to our classmate's funeral service, and I remember that my heart was touched when a man sang, "Safe in the Arms of Jesus." I knew that all was well with Donald. But most of all I remembered from that day to this that I must always live before God with a humble and yielded spirit, no matter what He sends in life.
 
May we ever be able to say with Mary of old,
"Be it unto me according to thy word!"
 
Have Thy way, Lord, have Thy way,
This with all my heart I say:
I'll obey Thee, come what may,
Dear Lord, have Thy way!
 —G. Bennard 
 
Don't ever put a question mark where God puts a period! (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


Significant Surrender

December 20, 2010

Read: Luke 1:26-38

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. —1 Peter 5:6

Throughout history, Mary the mother of Jesus has been held in high esteem. And rightly so! She was singled out by God to deliver the long-awaited Messiah.

But before we get lost in the significance of her life, let’s take a look at what it meant for her to surrender to the assignment. Living in a small backwater Galilean village where everyone knew everyone else’s business, she would have to live with the perceived shame of her premarital pregnancy. Explaining to her mother the visits of the angel and the Holy Spirit probably didn’t calm things down. To say nothing of the devastating interruption that her pregnancy would bring to her plans to marry Joseph. And while we are thinking about Joseph, what would she tell him? Would he believe her?

In light of these personal ramifications, her response to the angel who told her the news about her role as Jesus’ mother is amazing: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 ESV). Her words remind us that a life of significance is most often preceded by a heart eager to surrender to God’s will regardless of the cost.

What significant experience does God have in store for you? It starts with surrender to Him.

What shall I give You, Master? You have redeemed my soul; My gift is small but it is my all— Surrendered to Your control. —Grimes

Surrender to God precedes His significant work in your life.

By Joe Stowell  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


In The Safe Hands Of God

January 5, 2003

Read: Luke 1:26-38 | Bible in a Year: Genesis 13-15; Matthew 5:1-26

Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." —Luke 1:38

At age 16, Madame Jeanne Guyon (1648-1717) was forced into an arranged marriage with an invalid 22 years older. She found her marriage to be one of utter humiliation. Her husband was often angry and melancholy. Her mother-in-law was a merciless critic. Even the maid despised her. In spite of her best attempts at devotion to her husband and family, she was subjected to relentless criticism.

Forbidden by her husband to attend church, she sought God in His Word and worshiped Him in secret. She learned that even in the midst of her dreary circumstances she was “perfectly fine—within the safe hands of God.” In her book Experiencing The Depths Of Jesus Christ, she wrote, “Abandonment [to Christ] is the key to the fathomless depths. Abandonment is the key to the spiritual life.”

How can we respond to difficult circumstances with acceptance and abandonment? Mary’s response to the angel in Luke 1:38 shows us. The only way to have that same attitude is to believe that God’s will is “good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2), and to lay down our will and patiently submit to Him day by day.

This can be our prayer: Let it be to me according to Your word.

When we're abandoned to God's will,
We need not doubt nor fear;
We'll know that He is in control,
That He is always near. —Sper

He who abandons himself to God will never be abandoned by God.

By David Roper  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


The Call Of The Present

December 24, 2005

Read: Luke 1:26-38

Let it be to me according to your word. —Luke 1:38

The life of the mother of Jesus was simple and plain. She did the tasks that others did at her age, learning how to be a good homemaker for her future husband. There was nothing out of the ordinary about her external life-at least not revealed in Scripture.

Yet what treasures of grace lie concealed in Mary’s attitude! When the angel announced that her child would be called “the Son of God,” she responded, “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

Her answer contained all that our Lord requires-the pure, simple submission of the soul to His will. This was the secret of Mary’s deep spirituality: She abandoned herself to God’s will in the present and received the grace to do what God asked of her.

What is God asking you to do? It may be something magnificent, or something ordinary. It may be to respond actively to a command of Scripture, or to submit patiently to present suffering. “What God arranges for us to experience at each moment is the holiest thing that could happen to us,” commented the 18th-century writer Jean-Pierre de Caussade.

Are you able to accept each moment with grace and submission? Can you respond to the Lord as Mary said to the angel, “Let it be to me according to your word”?

May we learn the blessed secret
Of delighting in Your will,
Welcoming whate'er You send us,
Joy or sorrow, good or ill.  -Anon.

To know God's will is a treasure; to do God's will is a privilege.

By David Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


The Facts Of Life

December 14, 2007

Read: Luke 1:24-38

Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” —Luke 1:38

It seems that most of our struggles revolve around wanting something we don’t have or having something we don’t want. Our deepest longings and our greatest challenges are deeply rooted in trying to see the hand of God in these two facts of life. This is where Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus begins.

The aging Elizabeth longed for a baby. For the young and engaged Mary, however, pregnancy should have been a disgrace. But when both learned they would have a child, they accepted the news with faith in the God whose timing is perfect and for whom nothing is impossible (Luke 1:24-25,37-38).

As we read the Christmas story, we may be struck by the real-life context of the people whose names have become so familiar. Even while Zechariah and Elizabeth suffered their culture’s stigma of childlessness, they were described as “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord” (v.6). And the angel told Mary she had found favor with God (v.30).

Their example shows us the value of a trusting heart that accepts the mysterious ways of God and the presence of His mighty hand, no matter how perplexing our circumstances may be.

Though you cannot see the outcome,
Trust the Lord—He knows what’s best;
Be assured He sees your trial,
And He’s with you in your test.  —Hess

For the Christian, testing cannot be separated from trusting.

By David McCasland |(Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Luke 1:39  Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah,

AMP  And at that time Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country to a town of Judah,

CSB  In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah

ESV  In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah,

KJV  And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;

NET In those days Mary got up and went hurriedly into the hill country, to a town of Judah,

NIV At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,

NLT A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town

YLT  And Mary having arisen in those days, went to the hill-country, with haste, to a city of Judea,

MARY VISITS
ELIZABETH

Now at this time  - More literally "in those days."

NET Note - The expression In those days is another general time reference, though the sense of the context is that the visit came shortly after Mary miraculously conceived and shortly after the announcement about Jesus.

Mary arose - She set out.

Arose (450)(anistemi from ana = up, again + histemi = stand, to cause to stand) means literally to get up, to stand up, to stand again, to cause to rise (thus "to raise"), to stand or be erect (Acts 9:41). To rise from a lying or reclined position. To stand straight up from a prostrate position (Acts 14:10). Most uses of anistemi denote the act of getting up from a seated or reclined position especially in the preparation for a journey as in Lk 1:39, Lk 15.18, 20; 17.19. The most important use is of Jesus' resurrection - Jn. 11:23; 24; 20:9, etc.

Anistemi -  Favorite verb of Luke - 108x in the NT 27x by Luke in his Gospel and 45x in Acts -

 Lk. 1:39; Lk. 4:16; Lk. 4:29; Lk. 4:38; Lk. 4:39; Lk. 5:25; Lk. 5:28; Lk. 6:8; Lk. 8:55; Lk. 9:8; Lk. 9:19; Lk. 10:25; Lk. 11:7; Lk. 11:8; Lk. 11:32; Lk. 15:18; Lk. 15:20; Lk. 16:31; Lk. 17:19; Lk. 18:33; Lk. 22:45; Lk. 22:46; Lk. 23:1; Lk. 24:7; Lk. 24:12; Lk. 24:33; Lk. 24:46; Acts 1:15; Acts 2:24; Acts 2:32; Acts 3:22; Acts 3:26; Acts 5:6; Acts 5:17; Acts 5:34; Acts 5:36; Acts 5:37; Acts 6:9; Acts 7:18; Acts 7:37; Acts 8:26; Acts 8:27; Acts 9:6; Acts 9:11; Acts 9:18; Acts 9:34; Acts 9:39; Acts 9:40; Acts 9:41; Acts 10:13; Acts 10:20; Acts 10:23; Acts 10:26; Acts 10:41; Acts 11:7; Acts 11:28; Acts 12:7; Acts 13:16; Acts 13:33; Acts 13:34; Acts 14:10; Acts 14:20; Acts 15:7; Acts 17:3; Acts 17:31; Acts 20:30; Acts 22:10; Acts 22:16; Acts 23:9; Acts 26:16; Acts 26:30

A city in Judah - This could be Hebron (the largest city of this region of Judea) but we do not know with certainty. Click to enlarge the following map to see Mary's likely route to Elizabeth's house. She may have traveled on the King's Highway which paralleled the Jordan River down the Jordan Valley. 

NET Note - The author does not say exactly where Elizabeth stayed. The location is given generally as a town of Judah. Judah is about a three day trip south of Nazareth. 

Jamieson on went in a hurry -  the haste, not of trepidation, but of transport, not only at the wonderful announcement she had to make to her relative, but at the scarcely less astonishing news she expected to receive from her of her own condition.

Expositor's Greek Testament -  no time lost, a most natural visit from one woman with a high hope, to another, a friend, in a similar state of mind.

With haste(4710)(spoude  from speudo = move quickly, hasten, make haste) refers to eagerness, earnestness, willingness, zeal. Spoude implies more than mere earnest desire, but includes action as well as desire. Spoude "never takes 20 minutes to do a 10 minute job." (William Hill) It denotes Mary's quick movement accompanied by her eager interest in Elizabeth's receipt of divine providence. 

The distance from Nazareth to the Hill Country is estimated at over 65 miles (estimated because we do not know the city in the hill country - even further if it was actually Hebron -see note below) and if a person on foot could cover about 26 miles in a day, this would have been a journey of 3+ days. Mary must have had plenty of time to ponder what Gabriel had just revealed to her!

Luke 1:40  and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.

AMP  And she went to the house of Zachariah and, entering it, saluted Elizabeth..

TWO MIRACULOUSLY PREGNANT
WOMEN MEET

Greeted (782)(aspazomai) means to salute, embrace, pay respects. One imagines they embraced.

Robertson - Her first glance at Elisabeth showed the truth of the angel’s message. The two mothers had a bond of sympathy.

J C Ryle on Mary's visit to Elizabeth - We should observe in this passage, the benefit of fellowship and communion between believers. We read of a visit paid by the Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. We are told in a striking manner how the hearts of both these holy women were cheered, and their minds lifted up by this interview. Without this visit, Elizabeth might never have been so filled with the Holy Spirit, as we are here told she was; and Mary might never have uttered that song of praise which is now known all over the Church of Christ. The words of an old divine are deep and true--"Happiness communicated doubles itself. Grief grows greater by concealing--joy by expression." We should always regard communion with other believers as an eminent means of grace. It is a refreshing break in our journey along the narrow way to exchange experience with our fellow travelers. It helps us insensibly and it helps them, and so is a mutual gain. It is the nearest approach that we can make on earth to the joy of heaven. "As iron sharpens iron, so does the countenance of a man his friend." (Pr 27:17 - see William Arnot's note The Countenance of a Friend; Ray Pritchard's Accountability - How to Reach Your Full Potential) We need reminding of this. The subject does not receive sufficient attention, and the souls of believers suffer in consequence. There are many who fear the Lord and think upon His name, and yet forget to speak often one to another. (Malachi 3:16.) First let us seek the face of God. Then let us seek the face of God's friends. If we did this more, and were more careful about the company we keep, we would oftener know what it is to feel filled with the Holy Spirit. (Expository Thoughts Luke 1)

John Trapp - To whom she could not rest till she had imparted the good news, and both given and received some spiritual gift for mutual confirmation and comfort, Romans 1:11-12. Grief grows greater by concealing, joy by expression. Only the meeting of saints in heaven can parallel the meeting of these two cousins.

Bengel - The salutations of the saints and those of the ungodly are altogether different. No mere effort of reason can comprehend how powerfully moving and how effectual is the will of the saints, which draws its resources from God by faith and love, and then turns the tide of them on friends capable of receiving them [susceptible to them].

Luke 1:41  When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

  • the baby leaped . Luke 1:15, 44. Ge. 25:22. Ps. 22:10. was. Luke 1:67; Luke 4:1. Ac. 2:4; 4:8; 6:3; 7:55. Ep. 5:18. Re. 1:10.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:41 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

JOHN THE BAPTIST'S JOYFUL JUMPING:
HIS FIRST TESTIMONY OF JESUS!

When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting the baby leaped in her womb - As an expression of joy, John jumped for joy in the womb. He was filled with joy because he was filled with the Spirit (Luke 1:15-note). Joy (independent of circumstances) is a good "barometer" as to whether you are filled with the Spirit are not. See Gal 5:22-note, Acts 13:52, Ro 14:17-note,Ro 15:13-note, 1 Thes 1:6-note. So John begins to fulfill his role of pointing others to Jesus before he is even born! Are you fulfilling the "good work" which God has prepared for you before you were even born (more accurately even before you were created!)? (see Eph 2:10-note).

Leaped (4640)(skirtao) means to leap, spring, and was used especially of animals (Septuagint - "skip about like calves" - Mal 4:2 = those who fear God, who are saved will one day "skip" about). Leaping is often associated with joy and is an expression of it. Twice (Lk 1:41, 44) this verb describes the baby John leaping in Elizabeth's womb. In the only other NT use in Lk 6:23 skirtao describes the future promise for those who are persecuted on earth that - "You will leap [for joy,] for behold, your reward is great in heaven."

Skirtao - 5x in the Septuagint (Lxx) - Gen. 25:22; Ps. 114:4; Ps. 114:6; Jer. 50:11; Joel 1:17; Mal. 4:2;

Genesis 25:22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, "If it is so, why then am I this way?" So she went to inquire of the LORD.

Comment: Here skirtao is not associated with joy but with a struggle!

Psalms 114:4  The mountains skipped like rams, The hills, like lambs. 

Psalms 114:6  ) O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs? 

Jeremiah 50:11   “Because you are glad, because you are jubilant, O you who pillage My heritage, Because you skip about like a threshing heifer And neigh like stallions, 

John Trapp - Such comfort there is in the presence of Christ (though but in the womb) as it made John to spring. What then shall it be in heaven, think we?

J Vernon McGee - What we are dealing with here is miraculous, and there is no use trying to offer a natural explanation. You either believe what happened in these verses or you do not. I am so weary of people today, especially preachers, who try to appear intellectual by attempting to explain away the miracles in the Bible. You either accept the miracles of the Bible or you do not, and what took place in these verses was a miracle. This woman is filled with the Holy Spirit, and the babe leaps in her womb.

SPIRITED FILLED
BELIEVERS

And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit - This was a Spirit filled family! The mother Elizabeth. The father Zecharias (Lk 1:67-note), The baby John (Luke 1:15-note). Filling with the Spirit prior to Pentecost was not permanent as it was after the coming of the Spirit in Acts 2. And remember that what fills you controls you! If you are filled with wine your emotions and actions are affected! The same applies if you are filled with the Holy Spirit! But if you are filled with rage or anger or jealousy or fear, etc, then you can mark it down that (1) the Spirit of God is quenched/grieved (Eph 4:30-note, 1Th 5:19-note) and (2) your words and actions will be under the control of those emotions! (see Lk 4:28, 5:26, 6:11, Acts 5:17, 13:10, 13:45).

Luke gives more attention to the Holy Spirit than do Matthew and Mark.

Luke mentions Spirit filling a number of times so it must be a very important truth (and it is!) - Lk 1:15-note, 1:41, Lk 1:67-note, Acts 2:4, 4:8, 31, 6:3, 6:5, 7:55, 9:17, 11:24, 13:9). In Luke 4:1 Jesus is described as "full of the Holy Spirit" and as such He gives us the perfect example of how we are to imitate Him and walk in the same manner (and with the same supernatural power Source, read Peter's summary of Jesus' ministry Acts 10:36-38) (cp Paul's command in 1Cor 11:1-note and Peter's exhortation in 1 Peter 2:21-note). Are you a believer? Then John is addressing this exhortation to you = " the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. (1 Jn 2:6-see discussion) We often hear the phrase "WWJD?" for "What Would Jesus Do?" This is the wrong question! A better question is How did Jesus walk? He emptied Himself of His divine perogatives and functioned in dependence on prayer to His Father and power from the Spirit. That is the (only) pattern for a victorious Christian life! Too many believers are trying hard to live the Christ life in their own natural power, not realizing that they have access to the supernatural power of the indwelling Spirit. Activating that power depends first on being continually filled with (controlled by) the Spirit (Eph 5:18-note). This begs the question -- Are you Spirit filled? If not, why not? And if not do not be surprised that you are having a difficult time living the supernatural life in your natural power! A proper understanding and practice of this truth about Spirit filling will revolutionize your Christian life! It's a guarantee that the non-lying God Himself stands behind!

See Related Resources

Was filled (4092) See previous discussion of pimplemi. Used 5x in chapter 1 - Time was filled up or completed (Lk 1:23 and Lk 1:57) The other 3 uses by Luke in chapter 1 refer to filling with the Holy Spirit - Lk. 1:15; Lk. 1:41; Lk 1:67


Jim Cymbala on joy - Happiness ebbs and flows based on our changing circumstances. A new baby or grandchild is born, and we’re all smiles. We win a free vacation, and we’re ecstatic! The boss gives a big raise just when we need the extra money, and we’re elated. But the euphoria is only temporary. Inevitably something changes and takes our happiness with it. The baby gets sick; our vacation gets rained on; our job is eliminated by a corporate merger. The positive feeling is fleeting. At best we’re left feeling empty, and at worst, even angry. So how do we get our happiness back when the situation changes? We can’t wish happiness back. We can’t chase it. Trying harder to regain it only produces frustration. If circumstances alone make us happy, then our situation has to change for us to be happy again. Yet that’s precisely the reason we’re unhappy. We don’t, and never will, have control over the things that make for “don’t worry, be happy.” Happiness is circumstantial and elusive, but joy is not circumstantial. We can have joy even when we’re not happy. Some may hear Christians talking about joy and think that joy is just a religious word for happiness. But joy differs from happiness. If the situation is right, anyone can experience happiness. Even people who don’t know God or who curse God can be happy. But they don’t have joy, for that blessing in life has a totally different source. According to Scripture, the Holy Spirit produces joy. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23). Isn’t it interesting that joy is mentioned immediately after love? Obviously God doesn’t want us to live depressed, cranky, and bitter lives. He knows that happiness is fleeting, so through the Spirit, he gives us supernatural joy that transcends our circumstances. Joy is a beautiful gift that accompanies salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It is a gift imparted by the Holy Spirit to our innermost being. Inexpressible and Glorious Joy - If joy is a gift, we should expect to see more of it in the church, yet we’re often surprised when we do. However, when we recognize that true joy doesn’t come from our circumstances but rather from God, we begin to see joy as a blessing for everyday life. And that joy from the Spirit will make us distinctive to the culture around us.....Peter wrote: “Though you have not seen [Jesus], you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8–9, emphasis added). Does an “inexpressible and glorious joy” describe your church or mine? It should. The epistle to Rome is Paul’s great theological document regarding justification by faith and other weighty doctrinal matters. Yet toward the end of his letter, the apostle declares that the kingdom of God isn’t essentially about doctrinal positions such as Calvinism or Arminianism. The kingdom isn’t about who is right in the pretribulation or posttribulation rapture debate. Paul said that the kingdom of God is a matter of “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17, emphasis added). That is how important joy is; it makes us distinctive as followers of Jesus Christ. I’m not talking about emotionalism, however, not worked up frenzies or singing choruses endlessly until we create a certain vibe. I don’t want that, and neither do you. What the apostle Paul described was a life of joy that comes from the Spirit. He wrote to the Thessalonian believers, “You welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:6, emphasis added). (Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit - a convicting book. See my related article - A Spirit Filled Church)

Luke 1:42  And she cried out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!

  • Blessed are Luke 1:28, 48. Jdg 5:24.
  • blessed is. Luke 19:38. Ge. 22:18. Ps. 21:6; 45:2; 72:17–19. Ac. 2:26–28. Ro. 9:5. He. 12:2.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:42 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

CSB   Then she exclaimed with a loud cry: You are the most blessed of women, and your child will be blessed!

ESV   and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!

GWN  She said in a loud voice, "You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the child that you will have.

KJV   And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

NET   She exclaimed with a loud voice, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child in your womb!

NAB   cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

NIV   In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!

NLT   Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, "God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.

NJB  She gave a loud cry and said, 'Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

YLT  and spake out with a loud voice, and said, 'Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb;

ELIZABETH'S ECSTATIC EXCITEMENT
AT MARY'S BEATITUDE

And she cried out with a loud voice (anaphoneo) means Elizabeth filled with/controlled by the Spirit cried out with a loud voice.

Vincent - She lifted up her voice with a loud cry; thus rendering in the verb the force of ana, up ( (anaphoneo) ), besides picturing the fact more naturally. Elizabeth’s sudden and violent emotion at the appearance of Mary, and the movement of the child, prompted an exclamation which was followed by words ( said). The verb ἀναφωνέω occurs only here in the New Testament. It was a medical term for a certain exercise of the voice.

Loud (megas) Voice (shout, cry) (2906)(krauge from krazo = clamor or cry = a word like "croak" ~ suggests a rough and guttural sound = croaking of ravens = croak or cry out with a loud, raucous voice like donkey in Job 6:5, childbirth Is 26:17, war cry in Josh 6:16) in this case refers to Elizabeth's loud cry. Krauge even without megas can mean a loud cry so megas accentuates her excitement.

Blessed are you among women - Note carefully Elizabeth says "among women" and not "above women!" The NLT paraphrase is incorrect and misleading ("above all women") which makes the point that you always need to remember that the Bible translations (especially the paraphrases) do carry an element of interpretation or commentary. It is therefore wise to compare translations or even better to examine the original language. The NJB is similarly misleading. Note both versions add the word "all" but that Greek word (pas) is absent in the original Greek sentence. Indeed she was blessed in that she was given the privilege of bearing the Messiah.

This recalls the words of the angel in Luke 1:28-note.

Warren Wiersbe - Mary was blessed above women but among women, and certainly this is true. While we don’t want to ascribe to Mary that which only belongs to God, neither do we want to minimize her place in the plan of God. The thing that Elizabeth emphasized was Mary’s faith: “Blessed is she that believed” (Luke 1:45). We are saved “by grace … through faith” (Eph. 2:8–9). Because Mary believed the Word of God, she experienced the power of God. (Bible Exposition Commentary)

Constable - “Blessed” means specially privileged because of God’s favor. She evidently meant that Mary was the most blessed among women. She was most blessed because her Son would be most blessed among all people. “Fruit of the womb” is an old figure of speech for a child (cf. Gen. 30:2; Deut. 28:4).

And blessed is the fruit of your womb

Blessed (2127)(eulogeo from eu = good + lógos = word; see cognates eulogetos and eulogia) means speak good or well. When eulogeo is used by men toward men it means to speak well of with praise and thanksgiving (English "Eulogy" = an address in praise for one deceased ). To say good or positive things. The perfect tense signifies past completed action with ongoing effect (blessing). This is a different word than makarios in Luke 1:47.

Luke 1:43  "And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?

  • whence. Luke 7:7. Ru. 2:10. 1 Sa. 25:41. Mat. 3:14. John 13:5–8. Phi. 2:3.
  • my. Luke 20:42–44. Ps. 110:1. John 13:13; 20:28. Phi. 3:8.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:43 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

JESUS IS LORD
OF ALL!

And how has it happened to me - Notice Elizabeth's humility which is in concord with Luke's description that she was "righteous in the sight of God." O, how we all need to learn from this woman "righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord." (Lk 1:6-note) Notice her humility lead her to declare "my Lord" as discussed below. How easy it would have been for Elizabeth to be "green with envy" that Mary had been chosen to bear the Messiah, but to the contrary she sees Mary's visit as a wonderful thing. 

That (hina) - This serves to explain what "it" is in the first clause.

The mother of my Lord - Elizabeth is not only filled with the Spirit but here she is inspired by the Spirit Who has revealed to her that the baby in Mary's womb is Jesus, the long expected Messiah Whom she appropriately recognizes as "my Lord." (cp Jn 20:28, 13:13, Lk 20:42) So even though Jesus was but a baby in Mary's womb, to Elizabeth He was her Lord. Elizabeth instead of saying "My Lady" correctly focused on "My Lord." Bengel adds "she does not, however, call her, My Lady [i.e. as if she had lordship, like Christ, over all."

A T Robertson agrees that "Only by the help of the Holy Spirit could Elisabeth know that Mary was to be the mother of the Messiah." This shows us that she was not only filled with the Spirit, she was sensitive to His voice! Humble, not jealous, filled, sensitive! O that we all could have the demeanor of this godly woman Elizabeth!

J C Ryle - Those words "my Lord" are so familiar to our ears, that we miss the fullness of their meaning. At the time they were spoken they implied far more than we are apt to suppose. They were nothing less than a distinct declaration that the child who was to be born of the Virgin Mary was the long promised Messiah, the "Lord" of whom David in spirit had prophesied, the Christ of God. Viewed in this light, the expression is a wonderful example of faith. It is a confession worthy to be placed by the side of that of Peter, when he said to Jesus, "You are the Christ." (Mt 16:16, 17) Let us remember the deep meaning of the words, "the Lord," and beware of using them lightly and carelessly. Let us consider that they rightly apply to none but Him who was crucified for our sins on Calvary. Let the recollection of this fact invest the words with a holy reverence, and make us careful how we let them fall from our lips. There are two texts connected with the expression which should often come to our minds. In one it is written, "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Spirit." In the other it is written, "Every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (1 Corinthians 12:3.Philippians 2:11.) (Ryle)

Matthew Poole - Elisabeth in these words acknowledges both the incarnation of Christ, and the union of the Divine and human nature in the one person of the Mediator; she acknowledges Christ her Lord, and Mary to be his mother.

Jamieson -  High as was the distinction conferred upon herself, Elizabeth loses sight of it altogether, in presence of one more honoured still; upon whom, and on her unborn Babe, in an ecstasy of inspiration, she pronounces a benediction

Ellicott - “Great “as her own son was to be (Luke 1:15-note "he will be great in the sight of the Lord") in the sight of the Lord, here was the mother of One yet greater, even of the Lord Himself.

Ralph Earle - In Luke 1:15 Lord (kurios) is used for God, as it is very frequently in the Septuagint (Lxx) (to translate Yahweh, "Lord"). But here it refers to Jesus. In Luke's Gospel Lord is used for Jesus over 20 times. This is a tremendous affirmation of His deity. Marshall comments: "The use of kurios in narrative to refer to Jesus is distinctive of Luke" (p. 81). It is Luke's favorite way of emphasizing the deity of Jesus. (Ibid)

Lord (master, owner)(2962)(kurios from kuros = might or power) means a supreme one, one who is sovereign and possesses absolute authority, absolute ownership and uncontested power. Kurios is used of the one to whom a person or thing belonged, about which he has the power of deciding, the one who is the master or disposer of a thing (Mk 7:28) In classical Greek, kurios was used of the false gods, such as Hermes, Zeus, etc.

Luke uses almost 30% of the 717 uses of kurios in the NT. Luke 1:69, 78-79

Luke uses kurios 104x in 96 verses in the Gospel (Mt = 80x in 73v; Mark = 18x in 16v; John 52x in 50v) -

Mk. 1:3; Mk. 11:9; Mk. 12:11; Mk. 16:20; Lk. 1:6; Lk. 1:9; Lk. 1:11; Lk. 1:15; Lk. 1:38; Lk. 1:43; Lk. 1:45; Lk. 1:66; Lk. 1:76; Lk. 2:9; Lk. 2:23; Lk. 2:24; Lk. 2:26; Lk. 2:39; Lk. 3:4; Lk. 4:18; Lk. 4:19; Lk. 5:17; Lk. 10:2; Lk. 10:39; Lk. 12:47; Lk. 13:35; Lk. 16:5; Lk. 19:38; Lk. 22:61; Lk. 24:3. 

Constable suggests Luke uses kurios so often because his Greek readers would not have been familiar with the title Messiah or Christ.

Luke uses kurios 107x in 101v in the Book of Acts -

Acts 2:20; Acts 2:21; Acts 3:20; Acts 4:26; Acts 4:33; Acts 5:9; Acts 5:19; Acts 7:31; Acts 8:16; Acts 8:22; Acts 8:25; Acts 8:26; Acts 8:39; Acts 9:1; Acts 9:28; Acts 9:31; Acts 10:33; Acts 11:16; Acts 11:21; Acts 12:7; Acts 12:23; Acts 13:10; Acts 13:11; Acts 13:12; Acts 13:44; Acts 13:48; Acts 13:49; Acts 15:11; Acts 15:26; Acts 15:35; Acts 15:36; Acts 15:40; Acts 16:32; Acts 18:25; Acts 19:5; Acts 19:10; Acts 19:13; Acts 19:17; Acts 19:20; Acts 20:24; Acts 20:35; Acts 21:13; Acts 21:14; Acts 28:31;

Wayne Detzler writes that kurios - In the earliest Greek this word meant "to have power or authority." Later it came to describe one who is in control. As classical Greek developed, it became a title for men of importance. Since the gods of ancient Greece were neither creators nor lords of their fate, pagan deities were not called "lord" until much later. By the time of Christ, kings had come to be called "lord." This was true of the Roman Emperor Caligula (A.D. 37-41). It was also true of Candace, the fabled queen of upper Egypt (Ac 8:27). So too Herod the Great, Herod Agrippa I, and Herod Agrippa II were called "lord." (New Testament Words in Today's Language)

William MacDonald - The Bible never speaks of Mary as “the mother of God.” While it is true that she was the mother of Jesus, and that Jesus is God, it is nevertheless a doctrinal absurdity to speak of God as having a mother. Jesus existed from all eternity whereas Mary was a finite creature with a definite date when she began to exist. She was the mother of Jesus only in His Incarnation.

John Trapp on "would come to me" - That the Lord Himself should come among us, as He did in the flesh, and doth still by His Spirit. Oh, what a mercy!

Luke 1:44  "For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.

JOHN LEAPS FOR JOY
IN UTERO

Leaped for joy (20)(agalliasis  related verb - agalliao from agan = much + hallomai = jump; gush, leap, spring up = literally to jump much, leap for joy) means gladness or extreme joy, often accompanied by words and/or bodily movements, such as jumping, smiling, etc.  "Literally, “with exultation” as of those who leap for joy." (Jamieson) This quality of rejoicing refers to a demonstrative rejoicing (Arndt). It indicates the joy and happiness that arises from the experience of God’s saving action.

Agalliasis - Luke has 3 of the 5 NT uses - Lk. 1:14-note; Lk. 1:44; Acts 2:46; Heb. 1:9; Jude 1:24

The idea is this person experiences excessive, ecstatic joy even with leaping and skipping. Gladness is manifest jubilant exultation, a quality of joy that remains unhindered and unchanged by what happens. Agalliasis describes an exceeding joy (independent of dire circumstances) which is enabled or energized by the Holy Spirit.

Barclay writes that agalliasis "is the joy which leaps for joy. As it has been put, it is the joy of the climber who has reached the summit, and who leaps for joy that the mountain path is conquered." (Daily Study Bible)

Barclay's picture of jumping joy is great, as long as I'm "on top of the world". What about when I am in the valley? The word agalliasis teaches that believers do not have to be on a mountain top to experience this exceeding joy. In fact, believers, because of their new nature (partakers of the divine nature 2 Peter 1:4), can experience this quality of joy even though they are walking through "the valley" of difficult circumstances!


A Bad Christmas?

December 6, 2000 Read: Luke 1:26-45

As soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. —Luke 1:44

Just about the time Americans have devoured the last Thanksgiving turkey leftovers, sad-faced TV newscasters tell them that it “looks like a bad Christmas” this year. What they mean is that sales in retail stores may be down during the upcoming shopping season. And that makes for a “bad” Christmas.

We understand why this is news. Many companies need a year-end consumer spending frenzy to stay afloat financially. Yet there’s something in me that doesn’t like people talking about a “bad” Christmas, even when it refers to poor retail sales. How can the celebration of the birth of the Messiah, the Savior of the world, ever be bad?

Let’s look at that familiar story again. In the months before Jesus was born, Mary ventured to a nearby town to visit her relative Elizabeth, who also was expecting a child. As soon as Mary spoke, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy (Luke 1:44). There was excitement in the air for those who knew the true identity of Mary’s baby.

Let’s recapture that joyous excitement by refocusing our attention on the event we celebrate, rather than on the celebration of the event. It is Jesus’ birth we are honoring, and that always makes for a good Christmas.

Beyond all else the day should be
A day of holiest memory
When all the world should joyfully
See Christ, the Lord, in Christmas. —Anon.

Every Christmas is good when we focus on the good news of Jesus.

By Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Luke 1:45  "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord."

  • blessed. Luke 1:20; Luke 11:27, 28. 2 Ch. 20:20. John 11:40; 20:29.
  • that believed: for there. or, which believed that there, etc.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:45 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

THE BLESSEDNESS OF BELIEF
OF THE PROMISE OF MESSIAH

Blessed (3107)(makarios from root makar, but others say from mak = large or lengthy) means to be happy, but not in the usual sense of happiness based on positive circumstances. From the Biblical perspective Makarios describes the person who is free from daily cares and worries because his every breath and circumstance is in the hands of His Maker Who gives him such an assurance (such a "blessing"). As discussed below makarios was used to describe the kind of happiness that comes from receiving divine favor.

Blessed is she who believed - If you want to be blessed, believe God's word. If you say you believe God's word it will translate into obedience for God's Word. Don't delude yourself (James 1:22-note) Jesus associates blessing with obedience...

While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” (Luke 11:27-28)

Play Trust and Obey

A T Robertson - The word accents the actual inner state rather than the outward appearance as another sees it… It is important to note that in the discussion of righteousness which is to follow Jesus assumes the new heart (Ed: Or serves to challenge unbelievers to believe in Jesus and receive a new heart), which alone makes it possible to come up to the lofty ethical standard here set up.

Rob Morgan - Makarios (blessed) means happy, fortunate, blissful. Homer used the word to describe a wealthy man, and Plato used it of one who is successful in business. Both Homer and Hesiod spoke of the Greek gods as being happy (makarios) within themselves, because they were unaffected by the world of men-who were subject to poverty, disease, weakness, misfortune, and death. The fullest meaning of the term, therefore, had to do with an inward contentedness that is not affected by circumstances. That is the kind of happiness God desires for His children, a state of joy and well-being that does not depend on physical, temporary circumstances (cf Php 4:11, 12, 13-note). (From his sermon entitled "Blessed")

Markarios is used 50x in the NT with 17 uses by Luke -  

Lk. 1:45; Lk. 6:20; Lk. 6:21; Lk. 6:22; Lk. 7:23; Lk. 10:23; Lk. 11:27; Lk. 11:28; Lk. 12:37; Lk. 12:38; Lk. 12:43; Lk. 14:14; Lk. 14:15; Lk. 23:29;Acts 20:35; Acts 26:2

Note the clear association of blessing and believing. This should not surprise us because genuine belief is intimately related to immediate obedience and obedience is clearly associated with God's blessing. In fact (Spirit enabled) obedience (not legalistic obedience) is the secret of divine blessing. Are you allowing the Spirit of God to give you the desire and the power (Php 2:13NLT-note) to obey God? 

Who believed (4100)(pisteuo) means that she not only heard the promise but she accepted it internally, not just intellectually as true, genuine, or real but with a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of God to carry out with He had promised. Because she had this firm conviction in God's promise it affected her internal condition so that she experienced a state of blessedness wrought by the Spirit of God. Spurgeon has a sermon on genuine belief - John 8:30-32 Believing On Jesus, And Its Counterfeits

Mary knew by faith that what had been promised by Gabriel would be fulfilled. O, to have such a great faith!

J C Ryle adds "we should observe in these verses, the high praise which Elizabeth bestows upon the grace of faith. "Blessed," she says, "is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" We need not wonder that this holy woman should thus commend faith. No doubt she was well acquainted with the Old Testament Scriptures. She knew the great things that faith had done. What is the whole history of God's saints in every age but a record of men and women who obtained a good report by faith? What is the simple story of all from Abel downwards but a narrative of redeemed sinners who believed, and so were blessed? By faith they embraced promises. By faith they lived. By faith they walked. By faith they endured hardships. By faith they looked to an unseen Savior, and good things yet to come. By faith they battled with the world, the flesh, and the devil. By faith they overcame, and got safely home. Of this goodly company the Virgin Mary was proving herself one. No wonder that Elizabeth said, "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" Do we know anything of this precious faith? This, after all, is the question that concerns us. Do we know anything of the faith of God's elect, the faith which is the working of God? (Titus 1:2. Col.2:12.) Let us never rest until we know it by experience. Once knowing it, let us never cease to pray that our faith may grow exceedingly. Better a thousand times be rich in faith than rich in gold. Gold will be worthless in the unseen world to which we are all traveling. Faith will be owned in that world before God the Father and the holy angels. When the great white throne is set, and the books are opened, when the dead are called from their graves, and receiving their final sentence, the value of faith will at length be fully known. (Rev 20:11-15-note)  Men will learn then, if they never learned before, how true are the words, "Blessed are those who believed." (Ryle)

GOD KEEPS HIS
PROMISES!

God's Word Paraphrase - You are blessed for believing that the Lord would keep His promise to you.

A fulfillment (5050)(teleiosis) when speaking of an action refers to the "actualization of a promise" (accomplishment; achievement; completing of) as here in Lk 1:45. The only other NT uses of teleiosis refers to a completion of spiritual preparation ("perfection" in Heb 7:11)

Bock writes that "Mary is seen as a model believer because she believes what God says "will be accomplished.""

What had been spoken to her by the Lord - Recall it was an angel Gabriel who spoke to Mary and yet she received it as the word from the unseen God. Mary's faith was "the assurance of [things] hoped for (a child supernaturally conceived), the conviction of things not seen."  (Heb 11:1)

The verb had been spoken is perfect tense indicating past completed action with ongoing effect. God's promise was an enduring promise.

Matthew Henry says: “We must depend upon the performance of the promise, when all the ways leading up to it are shut up. ‘For all the promises of God in him are yea (yes), and in him Amen (so be it), unto the glory of God by us.’ ” (2 Cor. 1:20.)

    There shall be a performance of those things
      That loving heart hath waited long to see;
    Those words shall be fulfilled to which she clings,
      Because her God hath promised faithfully;
    And, knowing Him, she ne’er can doubt His Word;
    “He speaks and it is done.” The mighty Lord!

    There shall be a performance of those things,
      O burdened heart, rest ever in His care;
    In quietness beneath His shadowing wings
      Await the answer to thy longing prayer.
    When thou hast “cast thy care,” the heart then sings,
    There shall be a performance of those things.

    There shall be a performance of those things,
      O tired heart, believe and wait and pray;
    At eventide the peaceful vesper rings,
      Though cloud and rain and storm have filled the day.
    Faith pierces through the mist of doubt that bars
    The coming night sometimes, and finds the stars.

    There shall be a performance of those things,
      O trusting heart, the Lord to thee hath told;
    Let Faith and Hope arise, and plume their wings,
      And soar towards the sunrise clouds of gold;
    The portals of the rosy dawn swing wide,
    Revealing joys the darkening night did hide.
—Bessie Porter.


Warren Wiersbe - These words were spoken to Mary by Elizabeth, who in spite of her great age was pregnant with John the Baptist. God was doing great things for both of these women. God had announced great things to Mary and would do great things for her, not because she herself was great but because she put her faith in the true and living God who alone is great. How wonderful it would be if every Christian today would surrender to the Lord as Mary did (Luke 1:38). Then the Lord would do the “greater works” Jesus promised his church (John 14:12–14), and the unbelieving world would sit up and take notice. If we truly want to see “greater works” in our lives we must follow the example of Mary.

There is grace to receive. Whenever God wants to do something great in and through one of his children, he always begins with grace. He called the aged Abraham and Sarah to found the Jewish nation and in his grace gave them a son. He chose Moses to lead his people from Egypt to the Promised Land and graciously equipped him to do the job. He called Joshua to claim the Promised Land for Israel and gave him the grace he needed to defeat every enemy. God’s calling always includes his equipping and enabling, if we surrender to him and walk by faith. “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). If you are chosen by God to serve in some way, and you feel inadequate, that is a good sign! Just say with Paul, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). The servant who feels adequate will fail; the servant who feels inadequate will glorify God. “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (v. 9).

There is a promise to believe. We do not live on explanations; we live on promises. Dr. Bob Cook used to remind us, “If you can explain what’s going on, God didn’t do it.” Elizabeth’s husband, Zacharias, did not believe God’s promise and was mute until his son was born (Luke 1:18–20). Mary’s song of praise reveals that she knew the Old Testament Scriptures, especially Hannah’s praise song in 1 Samuel 2:1–11, for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). “I used to think that I should close my Bible and pray for faith,” said evangelist D. L. Moody, “but I came to see that it was from studying the Word that I was to get faith.” So let’s pray for faith and then open the Bible! When the Lord wants us to do something, he always gives us a promise from Scripture that will carry us through.

There is a purpose to achieve. Elizabeth said there would be a fulfillment of all God said he would do—and there was! The Lord told Mary that her Son would be the Savior (Jesus means “savior”) and the King (Luke 1:31–33), and God kept his word. “There has not failed one word of all His good promise,” said King Solomon (1 Kings 8:56). It has often been said that the Lord is not looking for better methods but for better men and women of faith. In Christian living and serving, it is faith that makes the difference, for “the just shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4). What God calls us to do may look impossible, but as the angel Gabriel told Mary, “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37). First Mary surrendered to the Lord (v. 38), experienced God’s grace, and claimed God’s promise. Then she rejoiced in the Lord, and so may we. “Then they believed His words; they sang His praise” (Ps. 106:12). Blessed are those who believe! (NT Words for Today - Devotionals)

No one is holy like the LORD,
For there is none besides You,
Nor is there any rock like our God.
1 Samuel 2:2

Luke 1:46  And Mary said: "My soul exalts the Lord,

  • 1 Sa. 2:1. Ps. 34:2, 3; 35:9; 103:1, 2. Is. 24:15, 16; 45:25; 61:10. Hab. 3:17, 18. Ro. 5:11. 1 Co. 1:31. 2 Co. 2:14. Phi. 3:3; 4:4. 1 Pe. 1:8.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:46 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

CSB  Luke 1:46 And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

ESV  Luke 1:46 And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord,

GWN  Luke 1:46 Mary said, "My soul praises the Lord's greatness!

KJV  Luke 1:46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

NET  Luke 1:46 And Mary said, "My soul exalts the Lord,

NAB  Luke 1:46 And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

NIV  Luke 1:46 And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord

NLT  Luke 1:46 Mary responded, "Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.

NJB  Luke 1:46 And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord

YLT  Luke 1:46 And Mary said, 'My soul doth magnify the Lord,

MARY'S SONG
THE MAGNIFICAT

Luke 1:46-55 - "Magnificat anima mea Dominum" which means "My soul magnifies the Lord!" It is interesting that Mary's Song (Psalm) is one of the few praise psalms in the NT.  Her opening words remind us of the words of David...

1 I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  
2 My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice.  
3 O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together. (Psalm 34:1-3)

THOUGHT - Praise is a good pattern for all of us! Like David, Mary's great desire was to magnify the Lord…NOT herself! She does this with some 20 references to God in her song.She praises God eight times for what He has done (“He has”)

Spurgeon adds this note on praise continually in my mouth - His praise shall continually be in my mouth, not in my heart merely, but in my mouth too. Our thankfulness is not to be a dumb thing; it should be one of the daughters of music. Our tongue is our glory, and it ought to reveal the glory of God. What a blessed mouthful is God's praise! How sweet, how purifying, how perfuming! If men's mouths were always thus filled, there would be no repining against God, or slander of neighbours. If we continually rolled this dainty morsel under our tongue, the bitterness of daily affliction would be swallowed up in joy. God deserves blessing with the heart, and extolling with the mouth--good thoughts in the closet, and good words in the world.

As Ralph Earle explains "Mary's song is called the Magnificat because the first word of it in Latin is magnificat, "magnifies" (the verb is usually first in a Latin sentence). In the Greek also the verb comes first here: megalunei, "makes great."

Constable has some interesting introductory comments - This “Magnificat” has strong connections with Hannah’s prayer of thanksgiving in 1 Samuel 2:1–10. However it also alludes to at least 12 other Old Testament passages. Mary’s familiarity with the Old Testament shows her love for God and His Word. A striking feature of this poem is the fact that Mary viewed God as overthrowing established authorities (v. 52). This would have been of special interest to Luke’s original readers. She viewed herself as occupying an important role in the history of salvation (v. 48).

Ray Pritchard outline Mary's "Psalm of Praise" in Luke 1:46-55 as follows:

  • Luke 1:46-50 - Mary gives here personal reasons for her praise - "Mary is reflecting on what it means to her to be chosen to bear the Messiah. She is praising God for his great mercy to her personally. Her words are personal and her point of view is turned inward." (Ray Pritchard)
  • Luke 1:51-55 - Mary gives Israel's reasons for her praise - "Mary seems to fade from view; she is praising God for the effects the coming of Christ will have on the world. Her point of view is outward and her words are global in their scope. Finally, we can observe the two stanzas by noting that each one ends with a reference to God’s mercy (Lk 1:50, 54)." 

There is similarity to Hannah's song of praise 

HANNAH'S SONG (It is a beautiful, powerful song worth taking the time to read) -  Then Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the LORD; My horn is exalted in the LORD, My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, Because I rejoice in Your salvation. (Lxx = soteria) 2 “There is no one holy like the LORD, Indeed, there is no one besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God.  3 “Boast no more so very proudly, Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; For the LORD is a God of knowledge, And with Him actions are weighed. 4 “The bows of the mighty are shattered, But the feeble gird on strength.  5 “Those who were full hire themselves out for bread, But those who were hungry cease to hunger. Even the barren gives birth to seven, But she who has many children languishes.  6 “The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up.  7 “The LORD makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts.  8 “He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap To make them sit with nobles, And inherit a seat of honor; For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, And He set the world on them.  9 “He keeps the feet of His godly ones, But the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; For not by might shall a man prevail.  10 “Those who contend with the LORD will be shattered; Against them He will thunder in the heavens, The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; And He will give strength to His king, And will exalt the horn of His anointed *(HEBREW =  mashiach; LXX = Christos = CLEARLY A MESSIANIC PROPHECY).” (1 Sa 2:1-10)

And Mary said: "My soul exalts the Lord" - ESV has ""My soul magnifies the Lord." Here Mary uses soul and in the next verse uses spirit which is difficult to interpret dogmatically but, setting aside detailed theological discussion and approaching this simplistically, this combination of soul and spirit supports the premise that Mary is singing these words with all of her being! I am reminded of the words of David who cries out "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. (Ps 103:1-see Spurgeon's comment below). Notice that the verb exalts or magnifies is in the present tense signifying that the Lord's praise was continually in her mouth (cf Ps 34:1)! O blessed state for all to attain! "Her heart filled to overflowing with thanksgiving for that which God had done for her" (Hendriksen) and considering what God has done for us, should we do any less?

THOUGHT - Let me suggest you take a few moments from your busy day and sing praise to your Lord from the depths of your soul as you watch Shane and Shane's incredible version of "Is He Worthy?" This song will cause you to dig deep into your soul as you sing to Him and likely your eyes won't be dry when you finish singing this great anthem of praise! You won't regret it and for the rest of your day may God grant that you continue to recall the refrain "He is worthy!" Amen! (Rev 4:11, Rev 5:2, 9, 12+) Your perspective on everything changes when you sing from the depths of your soul "He is Worthy!"

Soul (5590)(psuche) or psyche from psucho = to breathe, blow, English = psychology, "study of the soul") is the breath, then that which breathes, the individual, animated creature. Richard Watson says the soul is "that immortal, immaterial, active substance or principle in man, whereby he perceives, remembers, reasons, and wills" and in Mary's case sings praise to the Lord! 

Gotquestions summarizes Soul - "Simply stated, the human soul is the part of a person that is not physical. It is the part of every human being that lasts eternally after the body experiences death. Ge 35:18 describes the death of Rachel, Jacob’s wife, saying she named her son “as her soul was departing.” From this we know that the soul is different from the body and that it continues to live after physical death. The human soul is central to the personhood of a human being. As George MacDonald said, “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” In other words, personhood is not based on having a body. (See the full article  What is the human soul?)

  • Baker Evangelical Dictionary Soul
  • Holman Bible Dictionary Soul
  • Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible Soul
  • Hastings' Dictionary of the NT Soul Soul
  • Vines' Expository Dictionary Soul
  • International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Soul
  • Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia Soul
  • McClintock and Strong's Bible Encyclopedia Human Soul

Exalts (3170)(megaluno from megas - great) to make or declare great. Of course we don't make God great, but declare that He is great! In the literal sense it means to physically enlarge (as the tassels of one's garment - Mt 23:5)  It can mean to show great mercy to someone or to do him great kindness as below in Lk 1:58+. Most commonly in the NT megaluno means to magnify or praise (Luke 1:46; Acts 5:13; Acts 10:46; 19:17; 2 Cor. 10:15; Phil. 1:20; Sept.: 2 Sam. 7:26; Ps. 34:3; 69:31).To cause something or someone in this case to be held in great esteem. 

Megaluno - 8x in 8v- Usage: displayed...great(1), enlarged(1), exalted(1), exalting(1), exalts(1), held...in high esteem(1), high esteem(1), lengthen(1), magnified(1).

Matthew 23:5  “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels [of their garments.

Luke 1:46  And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, 

Luke 1:58  Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her. 

Acts 5:13+   But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem.

Acts 10:46+  For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered,

Acts 19:17+ This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified.

2 Corinthians 10:15  not boasting beyond [our] measure, [that is,] in other men’s labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you,

Philippians 1:20+ according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but [that] with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

Megaluno - 70x in the Septuagint (Lxx) - Note prominence of in the Psalms which is fitting for here in Luke 1:46 it introduces Mary's "Psalm of Praise." - 

Gen. 12:2; Gen. 19:19; Gen. 43:34; Num. 15:3; Num. 15:8; 1 Sam. 2:21; 1 Sam. 2:26; 1 Sam. 3:19; 1 Sam. 12:24; 1 Sam. 26:24; 2 Sam. 5:10; 2 Sam. 7:22; 2 Sam. 7:26; 2 Sam. 22:51; 1 Ki. 1:37; 1 Ki. 1:47; 1 Ki. 10:23; 1 Chr. 11:9; 1 Chr. 29:12; 1 Chr. 29:25; 2 Chr. 1:1; 2 Chr. 9:22; Ezr. 9:6; Job 7:17; Job 19:5; Ps. 12:4; Ps. 18:50; Ps. 20:5; Ps. 20:7; Ps. 34:3; Ps. 35:27; Ps. 40:16; Ps. 41:9; Ps. 57:10; Ps. 69:30; Ps. 70:4; Ps. 92:5; Ps. 104:1; Ps. 104:24; Ps. 126:2; Ps. 126:3; Ps. 138:2; Prov. 8:16; Eccl. 1:16; Eccl. 2:4; Eccl. 2:9; Isa. 42:21; Jer. 5:27; Jer. 31:13; Jer. 48:26; Jer. 48:42; Lam. 1:9; Lam. 2:13; Lam. 4:6; Ezek. 9:9; Ezek. 16:7; Ezek. 24:9; Ezek. 38:23; Dan. 2:48; Joel 2:20; Joel 2:21; Amos 8:5; Mic. 1:10; Mic. 5:4; Zeph. 2:8; Zeph. 2:10; Zech. 12:7; Zech. 12:11; Mal. 1:5;

Representative uses of megaluno in the Septuagint (Lxx) - 

Genesis 12:2 And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; (Lxx = megaluno) And so you shall be a blessing; 

Psalm 20:7 Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we will boast (Lxx = megaluno - we will glory in, exalt in) in the name of the LORD, our God. (Psa 20:7 NAU)

Psalms 34:3  O magnify (Lxx = megaluno - aorist imperative - command to magnify Jehovah) the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together. 

Psalm 35:27 Let them shout for joy and rejoice, who favor my vindication; And let them say continually, "The LORD be magnified (Lxx = megaluno - aorist imperative - command to magnify Jehovah), Who delights in the prosperity of His servant." 

Lord (master, owner)(2962)(kurios from kuros = might or power) means that God is the supreme One, the One Who is sovereign over everything and everyone and Who therefore possesses absolute authority, absolute ownership and uncontested power. In short there is no equal to Kurios! This truth should either encourage you (believer) or frighten you (unbeliever)! There is no middle ground with His Lordship! We do not make Jesus Lord as I sometimes hear! No, He is Lord and His Lordship is inseparable from His role as Savior and Redeemer. Now even though I equate Lord here with Jesus, there is clearly some ambiguity in the use and it could justifiably be seen as identifying the Father or the Son. Certainly the Father is described elsewhere as Savior (cf. Titus 1:4; 2:13; 3:6). 


Spurgeon's comment on Psalm 103:1

Bless the Lord o my soul - Soul music is the very soul of music. The Psalmist strikes the best keynote when he begins with stirring up his inmost self to magnify the Lord. He soliloquizes, holds self-communion and exhorts himself, as though he felt that dullness would all too soon steal over his faculties, as, indeed, it will over us all, unless we are diligently on the watch. Jehovah is worthy to be praised by us in that highest style of adoration which is intended by the term bless "All thy works praise thee, O God, but thy saints shall bless thee." Our very life and essential self should be engrossed with this delightful service, and each one of us should arouse his own heart to the engagement. Let others forbear if they can: "Bless the Lord, O MY soul." Let others murmur, but do thou bless. Let others bless themselves and their idols, but do thou bless the LORD. Let others use only their tongues, but as for me I will cry, "Bless the Lord, O my soul."

And all that is within me, bless his holy name. Many are our faculties, emotions, and capacities, but God has given them all to us, and they ought all to join in chorus to his praise. Half-hearted, ill-conceived, unintelligent praises are not such as we should render to our loving Lord. If the law of justice demanded all our heart and soul and mind for the Creator, much more may the law of gratitude put in a comprehensive claim for the homage of our whole being to the God of grace. It is instructive to note how the Psalmist dwells upon the holy name of God, as if his holiness were dearest to him; or, perhaps, because the holiness or wholeness of God was to his mind the grandest motive for rendering to him the homage of his nature in its wholeness. Babes may praise the divine goodness, but fathers in grace magnify his holiness. By the name we understand the revealed character of God, and assuredly those songs which are suggested, not by our fallible reasoning and imperfect observation, but by unerring inspiration, should more than any others arouse all our consecrated powers.


William Barclay - HERE we have a passage which has become one of the great hymns of the church-the Magnificat. It is saturated in the Old Testament; and is specially kin to Hannah’s song of praise in 1 Samuel 2:1–10. It has been said that religion is the opiate of the people; but, as Stanley Jones said, “the Magnificat is the most revolutionary document in the world.” It speaks of three of the revolutions of God. 

(i) He scatters the proud in the plans of their hearts. That is a moral revolution. Christianity is the death of pride. Why? Because if a man sets his life beside that of Christ it tears the last vestiges of pride from him. Sometimes something happens to a man which with a vivid, revealing light shames him. O. Henry has a short story about a lad who was brought up in a village. In school he used to sit beside a girl and they were fond of each other. He went to the city and fell into evil ways. He became a pickpocket and a petty thief. One day he snatched an old lady’s purse. It was clever work and he was pleased. And then he saw coming down the street the girl whom he used to know, still sweet with the radiance of innocence. Suddenly he saw himself for the cheap, vile thing he was. Burning with shame, he leaned his head against the cool iron of a lamp standard. “God,” he said, “I wish I could die.” He saw himself. Christ enables a man to see himself. It is the deathblow to pride. The moral revolution has begun.

(ii) He casts down the mightyhe exalts the humble. That is a social revolution. Christianity puts an end to the world’s labels and prestige. Muretus was a wandering scholar of the middle ages. He was poor. In an Italian town he took ill and was taken to a hospital for waifs and strays. The doctors were discussing his case in Latin, never dreaming he could understand. They suggested that since he was such a worthless wanderer they might use him for medical experiments. He looked up and answered them in their own learned tongue, “Call no man worthless for whom Christ died.” When we have realized what Christ did for all men, it is no longer possible to speak about a common man. The social grades are gone.

(iii) He has filled those who are hungry … those who are rich he has sent empty away. That is an economic revolution. A non-Christian society is an acquisitive society where each man is out to amass as much as he can get. A Christian society is a society where no man dares to have too much while others have too little, where every man must get only to give away. There is loveliness in the Magnificat but in that loveliness there is dynamite. Christianity begets a revolution in each man and revolution in the world. (Daily Study Bible - Luke)


The Song Of Mary

December 21, 1998

Read: Luke 1:39-56 | Bible in a Year: Micah 4-5; Revelation 12

Mary said: "My soul magnifies the Lord.. —Luke 1:46

Mary was troubled. She had just heard the words, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you” (Lk. 1:28). Comforting words, it would seem, but startling because they were spoken by an angel.

Mary was about to be presented with the most magnificent news ever, yet she was fearful. And when the angel told her she would have a baby, she exclaimed, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (v.34).

Those two facts about Mary—that she was troubled and that she questioned the angel—tell us she was a person like us, with normal concerns.

Yet, after listening to the angel, Mary called herself “the maidservant of the Lord,” and she said, “Let it be to me according to your word” (v.38). She was a humble, godly servant, with a willingness to do God’s will.

We see more of Mary’s heart in her eloquent prayer, known as the Magnificat, the Song of Mary (vv.46-55). Here she rejoiced in God’s holiness (v.49), His mercy (v.50), His strength (vv.51-52), His care for the hungry (v.53), and His goodness to His people (vv.54-55).

We can learn from Mary to trust God despite our concerns and fears, and to praise Him for His greatness. That’s what the song of Mary is all about.

God's unsearchable ways deserve our unbounded praise.

By Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior" Luke 1:46, 47
 
A Baltimore congregation found the answer to its financial troubles on a church wall. And it had been "hiding" there for more than twenty-five years! Someone finally recognized a piece of art hanging in the chapel as a valuable woodblock print by Albrecht DDrer, dated 1493. The work shows the angel telling Mary she would give birth to God's Son. Some members just couldn't believe they had underestimated the value of the old masterpiece, saying in effect, "If it were real, why would it he here?" What about us? Are we underestimating the value of the event depicted on that woodblock print? Jesus isn't hiding. The truth that God came to earth in human form is plainly announced in His Word. It is reflected in our art and in our hymnbooks. But the significance of Christ's birth is still neglected. Let's not get so wrapped up in activities and pro-grams that we miss the immeasurable worth of knowing who that Baby was. M. R. D. II
 
CHRIST'S BIRTH BROUGHT THE INFINITE GOD TO FINITE MAN.


James Smith - VISITED AND REDEEMED. Luke 1:46.

A PROPHETIC SONG.

I. The Visitor. The Lord God. (1) The need of a Visitor. —Man's lost and helpless condition. (2) The Promise. —"I will surely visit you" (Exod. 3:16). (3) The Wonder. —"What is man that Thou visitest him. ?" (Psa. 8:4). (4) The manner. —"God was in Christ reconciling the world" (2 Cor. 5:19).

II. The Visited. His People. (1) They knew Him not (John 1:11). (2) They knew not their time of visitation (Luke 19:44). (3) They rejected Him (John 19:14).

III. The Purpose. To Redeem. (1) Who? Thy Maker is thy Redeemer (Isa. 54:5). (2) How? By giving Himself a ransom (Matt. 20:28). (3) What from? (Titus 2:14). (4) What to? To God, to holiness, and to service (Luke 1:74-75).

Luke 1:47  And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

  • God my Savior . Luke 2:11. Is. 12:2, 3; 45:21, 22. Zep. 3:14–17. Zec. 9:9. 1 Ti. 1:1. Titus 2:10, 13; 3:4–6.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:47 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

GOD MY SAVIOR

In Luke 1:46 her soul exalts in the Lord and here it is her spirit that rejoiced. Mary's entire being was affected by the presence of Jesus in her womb. Imagine the effect He will have on us when we see Him in glory! I can only imagine!

And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior - As alluded to in comments on the previous passage Mary does not seem to make a major theological distinction between soul (v46) and spirit (v47). As Leon Morris said "We should not make a difference between soul and spirit, the change being nothing more than poetic parallelism." (TNTC) Rejoiced is the picture of her spirit jumping for joy. The source of her great joy is God my Savior. She says "MY" Savior indicating her personal possession of God as HER Savior. He is not God THE Savior but is God HER Savior (contrast the prevalent reaction by other Jews in Jn 1:11+). Mary was an Old Testament believer, one looking forward to Messiah's coming, while New Testament believers look back to His first coming, and anticipate eagerly His Second Coming (cf Titus 2:13+). Mary knew her need! Mary was not sinless, but like every human being born in the line of Adam (Ro 5:12+, cf 1 Cor 15:22) was in desperate need for a Savior to save her from the wages of sin which are eternal death (Ro 6:23+) and eternal separation from God and His glorious Kingdom (2 Th 1:9). Spurgeon agrees writing that Mary "needed a Saviour, you see. Though about to become the mother of Jesus, Mary did not think herself without sin. Her eyes still looked to Him Who should be her Saviour from guilt and condemnation." 

Robertson on spirit - One need not press unduly the difference between “soul” in verse 46 and “spirit” here. Bruce calls them synonyms in parallel clauses.

Ralph Earle on Luke 1:46, 47 - In these two lines (Lk 1:46-47) we have a good example of poetic parallelism, the main feature of Hebrew poetry in the OT. Both lines say essentially the same thing, Luke majors on joy and praise throughout his Gospel. (Incidentally, it is obvious that these two lines should have been put in the same verse!) (Adding on God my Savior) This phrase is a familiar one in the Septuagint (Lxx), where it represents the Hebrew expression "God of my salvation" (ED: THE EXACT GREEK PHRASE IS FOUND IN THE SEPTUAGINT OF Micah 7:7 and Hab 3:18 SO ONE COULD SAY MARY IS QUOTING OT SCRIPTURE HERE!). In the NT it is primarily Christ who is Savior. (Word Meanings)

John Phillips on Mary's exclamation of my Savior - So much for the so-called "immaculate conception of the blessed virgin Mary." Mary owned herself to be in need of a Savior (Lk 1:47)."

A non-Biblically based teaching proposes that Mary was free from original sin, but she herself proclaims her need for a Savior and her Son is named "Jesus (Jehovah Saves), for He will save His people from their sins.” (Mt 1:21). And Paul makes it very clear that all human flesh is born with Adam's "sin virus" writing "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to ALL men (AND WOMEN INCLUDING MARY), because ALL (HOW MANY?) sinned" (DID PAUL MEAN MARY ALSO SINNED? YES HE DID!) (Ro 5:12+). So if you have been taught that Mary was sinless, you have been taught a false doctrine based on the imperfect words of men and that doctrine is clearly and dogmatically refuted by the perfect Word of God. It is a dangerous thing to argue with God and His holy Word, because there can be eternal consequences! 

Liefeld - "Note that in beginning the Magnificat by praising ‘God my Savior,’ Mary answered the Roman Catholic dogma of the immaculate conception, which holds that from the moment of her conception Mary was by God’s grace ‘kept free from all taint of Original Sin.’ Only sinners need a Savior.” (Expositor's Bible Commentary)

Related Resource:

Rejoiced (Exulted, Jumped for joy) (21)(agalliao from agan = much + hallomai = jump; gush, leap, spring up) means literally to "jump much", "leap for joy", skip and jump with happy excitement and so to be exceedingly joyful, overjoyed or exuberantly happy. The idea is Mary demonstrated her excessive, ecstatic joy by leaping and skipping (if not literally certainly feeling like it!).  Barclay adds that agalliao "is the joy which leaps for joy. As it has been put, it is the joy of the climber who has reached the summit, and who leaps for joy that the mountain path is conquered."

In God my Savior My Savior in Greek is Soter which is has several meanings which could be translated - My Rescuer, My Deliverer, My Preserver, My Protector, My Healer!

Savior (4990)(soter from sozo = rescue from peril > from saos = safe; delivered) refers to the agent of salvation or deliverance, the one who rescues, delivers, saves and preserves. Anyone who saves or delivers can be called a deliverer or rescuer (a soter). Greeks used soter as a title of divinities such as Asclepius, the god of healing. Soter was used by the mystery religions to refer to their divinities. At an early date soter was used as a title of honor for deserving men, e.g., Epicurus (300BC) was called "soter" by his followers. Soter was used as a designation of the "deified" ruler, e.g., Ptolemy I Soter (323-285BC). In Jude 1:25+ and Titus 3:4+ (cp Titus 1:3+; Titus 2:10+, 1 Ti 1:1, 2:3, 4:10) soter refers to the Father indicating the participation of the Trinity in salvation and placing Jesus on a par with the Father clearly. Thus the term Soter is another testimony to the fact that Jesus is God (cp 2 Pe 1:1+, Titus 2:13+). Soter used frequently in the Septuagint (Lxx) to translate the word "salvation" in reference to God (Ps. 24:5; Ps. 25:5; Ps. 27:1; Ps. 27:9; Ps. 62:2; Ps. 62:6; Ps. 65:5; Ps. 79:9; Ps. 95:1; Isa. 12:2; Isa. 17:10; Isa. 45:15; Isa. 45:21; Isa. 62:11; Mic. 7:7; Hab. 3:18)

Mary's words are very similar to those of the prophet Habakkuk (in fact "the God of my salvation" in the Lxx is identical to Luke's Greek suggesting that this is actually an OT quotation of Hab 3:18 by Mary)

Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice (Lxx - agalliao and chairo) in the God of my salvation (HEBREW = yeshaLXX = soter). (Hab 3:18+)

In Luke 2:10-11+ the angel recognizes Jesus as the soter...

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people (Jews and Gentiles); for today in the city of David (Bethlehem) there has been born for you a Savior (soter), Who is Christ the Lord.

Luke's two other uses of Soter referring to Jesus as Savior are in Acts -

Acts 5:31+ “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 13:23+ “From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus,

THOUGHT - Consider taking a moment to lift your hands and heart in praise to Our great Deliverer...below is Rich Mullins' song I had never heard until this morning...I began to weep and praise and lift my hands as I pondered Mary's words in Luke 1:47 with Mullins' words of praise in the song...MY DELIVERER. Praise our Deliverer, Jesus, Who saves us, Who "rescues us from the wrath to come." (1 Th 1:10+)

Luke 1:48  "For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.

  • He has had regard. 1 Sa. 1:11; 2:8. 2 Sa. 7:8, 18, 19. Ps. 102:17; 113:7, 8; 136:23; 138:6. Is. 66:2. 1 Co. 1:26–28. Ja. 2:5, 6.
  • all generations. Luke 1:28, 42; Luke 11:27. Ge. 30:13. Mal. 3:12.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:48 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

CSB  because He has looked with favor on the humble condition of His slave. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed,

ESV   looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

GWN   because he has looked favorably on me, his humble servant. "From now on, all people will call me blessed

KJV   For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

NET  because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant. For from now on all generations will call me blessed,

NAB  For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.

NIV  for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,

NLT   For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed.

NJB  because he has looked upon the humiliation of his servant. Yes, from now onwards all generations will call me blessed,

YLT Because He looked on the lowliness of His maid-servant, For, lo, henceforth call me happy shall all the generations,

Brian Bell comments "A pregnant teen from Nazareth, engaged to marry a poor carpenter. What did Mary have to sing about? She sang about her Lord! It is both a song of present joy and a prophecy of future days. Mary knew the Scriptures for Mary’s song contains at least 15 OT quotations from or allusions in her song, especially from the Psalms and Hannah’s song that she’s known from infancy (1 Samuel 2) Mary hid God’s Word in her heart! And turned it into a song!

For - always pause to ponder this term of explanation. Luke explains that Mary is rejoicing because in spite of her “humble state” (Lk 1:48) she has been blessed by the Lord.

Ray Pritchard - Dr. E. Stanley Jones, the great Methodist scholar, author and evangelist, said that the Magnificat was “the most revolutionary document in the history of the world.” That’s quite a statement to make, isn’t it? But consider this. Years before Dr. Jones made that statement, William Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury, instructed his missionaries to India never to read the Magnificat in public when unbelievers were present. Why? Because in a country like India with all its poverty, this portion of Scripture, if taken out of context, would cause nothing but trouble.(from his sermon "Jesus The Revolutionary: Mary's Song" - Luke 1:48-55)

He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave He had regard ("He has looked with favor" - CSB) pictures God as gazing at Mary attentively with concern regarding her humble state, her low status in Jewish society, a status which would soon be changed forever! Notice the phrase His bondslave, indicating that Mary was God's possession (cf 1 Cor 6:19-20+); she was a doule (bondslave) belonging to God (Second time she acknowledges her state as a bondslave of the Lord - see Lk 1:38+). The word doule conveyed the idea of the slave's close, binding ties with their Master, not only belonging to Him but obligated to and desiring to do His will because of love for Him. In sum, the will of Mary the doule was consumed in the will of Her loving Master. She had no will of her own except to do His will! (A good pattern for all God's bondslaves to imitate). The mercy of the Lord which she experienced was so overwhelming and undeserved (read Lk 1:49–50) that she erupts in praise because of it.

THOUGHT- Beloved, can we not identify with Mary? Is not this emotive joy ours every Advent season as we remember Jesus is the real reason for the season? If joy does not fill us, it should, because we like Mary should realize that the mercy we received as a result of Jesus' first coming is just as undeserved, for we too were in a humble state outside of Christ! And so we should make the Spirit led choice to rejoice! We should never grow apathetic or lacksadaisical regarding our "so great a salvation!" (Heb 2:3+) And now can rejoice even more because we know Jesus is coming back! Jude links His future coming with future mercy exhorting us to "maintain ourselves in the love of God, while anticipating the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that brings eternal life." (Jude 1:21NET+)

Pritchard comments "isn’t that just like God to choose the most unlikely girl for the greatest privilege any woman would ever know? No wonder Mary says, “From now on all generations will call me blessed.” She didn’t know how true that statement was. After 2000 years we are still talking about Mary. Outside of Elizabeth, can you name even one other mother who lived in Israel in Mary’s day? The rest are all forgotten, but Mary is remembered forever." (Jesus The Revolutionary: Mary's Song)

He has had regard (looked upon) (1914)(epiblepo from epí = upon + blépo = look) means literally to look upon, to gaze at especially with a disposition to show favor, pity or partially. The "epi" prefix speaks of directing one's attention to (or upon). The ideas is to pay close attention and thus look attentively at, with implication of personal concern for the one looked at. Sadly this is the word chosen by the Septuagint (Lxx) translators to depict Lot's wife when she "looked back and she became a pillar of salt." (Ge 19:26, 28) Her "look" was not just a quick glance but a longing gaze and it cost her her life. I fear there is a little (or "lot") of Lot's wife in all of us! Epiblepo describes Jehovah when He "looked down on the arm of the Egyptians." (Ex 14:24) which was a demonstration of His regard for Israel (cp Lev 26:9 - "I will turn toward you..." in the Lxx = epiblepo - a promise to be fulfilled upon the nation of Israel in the endtimes)..

Humble state (low state) (5014)(tapeinosis is the noun derived from adjective tapeinos; cp the related derivative tapeinophrosune) means low, not high, not rising far from the ground. It speaks of Mary's condition as lowly or of low degree, low on the social scale, socially powerless, having little value (in the eyes of men but not God). The Greeks used tapeinos almost exclusively in a derisive way, most commonly of a slave.

For (gar) introduces a second explanation (Paul's writings are full of "for's"!). Mary explains why or how God showed that he had regard for her humble state. It would be by causing her to be counted blessed. This combination of humble and blessed is a perfect illustration of the fact that God's blessings have absolutely nothing to do with our earthly status or condition. When God blesses, He does so INDEPENDENT of the circumstances, in this case Mary's low estate socioeconomically! 

Behold from this time on all generations will count me blessed - Behold is introduced to grab Elizabeth's (and our) attention. From this time on signifies that from this point on things will be different for Mary! (cf same idea in Lk 5:10+, Lk 12:52+, Lk 22:18, 69+) Elizabeth was the first generation to count Mary blessed in Luke 1:42+ declaring “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb (JESUS)!" And again in Lk 1:45+ Elizabeth declares "blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” Indeed, this prophecy has been fulfilled as all subsequent generations of people have regarded Mary as specially favored (blessed) by God because of His having chosen her to give birth to His only begotten Son.

McGee encourages all us "Protestant friend, let us call her blessed. We don’t make her a goddess and kneel before her, but we do need to call her blessed. It was her glorious privilege to be the mother of the Son of God, to bring Him into the world. We should not play it down, but we should not play it up either. She was a wonderful person, and it was no accident that she was chosen by God. It was His definite decision, and God makes no mistakes." (Thru the Bible)

Behold (2400)(idou) is the second person singular aorist middle imperative of eidon which means to see, perceive, look at. In the NT idou is used as a demonstrative particle that draws attention to what follows. Idou in the middle voice means "you yourself look, see, perceive!" The aorist imperative is a command as if Mary is saying "Pay close attention to the next lines of my song!" 

Generations (1074)(genea gives us our English genealogy) literally refers to those descended from a common ancestor. 

Count...blessed (3106)(makarizo from makarios = blessed from makar = blessed) means to call or consider someone blessed, fully satisfied (independent of circumstances but some writers say because of favorable circumstances) or especially favored. Note that blessing should be distinguished from happiness. Happiness is a subjective, emotional response and depends on what "happens!" Blessing on the other hand is objective and reflects the "unalterable approval and reward of God." 

Ray Pritchard on "the original Christmas carols" - In the early centuries of the Christian church, the Bible was translated into Latin. From that time until the present, these four songs have been best known by their Latin titles. In each case, the title is simply the first word or two of the very first line of the song. The four songs in order are:

1. Mary’s Song —called the Magnificat—found in Luke 1:46-55

2. Zacharias' Song—called the Benedictus—found in Luke 1:67-80+

3. Angels’ Song—called the Gloria in Excelsis—found in Luke 2:14+

4. Simeon’s Song—called the Nunc Dimittis—found in Luke 2:29-32+

Luke 1:49  "For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name.

  • The Mighty One - Ge. 17:1. Ps. 24:8. Is. 1:24; Isa 63:1. Jer. 10:6; 20:11.
  • hath. Ps. 71:19–21; 126:2, 3. Mark 5:13. Ep. 3:20.
  • and. Ex. 15:11. 1 Sa. 2:2. Ps. 99:3, 9; 111:9. Is. 6:3; 57:15. Re. 4:8; 15:4.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:49 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

OUR GOD IS THE
MIGHTY AND HOLY ONE

For -- always pause to ponder this term of explanation. Why will all generations count Mary blessed? She explains.

For the Mighty One has done great things for me -  BDAG writes that "God's name is almost equivalent to God's being" which emphasizes how important it is that we understand the meaning of His names as best we can. In this passage the Name literally this reads "the Mighty." Mary's testimony here could/should be the testimony of every born again soul!  In context Mary is alluding to fact that she now was bearing  in her person the Messiah even though she was a virgin and is participating in what is surely one of the mightiest miracles in all eternity.

Bob Utley feels that the Name Mighty One "reflects the Patriarchal name of God, El Shadday (see notes) (cf. Ex 6:3)."

Jeremiah rightly says

"There is none like You, O LORD; You are great, and great is Your Name in might." (Jer 10:6)

Isaiah asks  

Who is this Who comes from Edom (REFERRING TO THE MESSIAH AT HIS SECOND COMING), With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, This One who is majestic in His apparel, Marching in the greatness of His strength? (MESSIAH ANSWERS ISAIAH'S QUERY) “It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” (Isa 63:1+)

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Mighty (strong) (1415)(dunatos from dunamai = to have power by virture of inherent ability) describes the inherent ability that God has by virtue of His omnipotence and infinite resources. God is powerful, able, strong. Luke alludes to God's mighty power in Luke 18:27+ recording "The things that are impossible with people are possible (dunatos) with God (SUCH AS THE VIRGIN BIRTH)." In Acts 18:24+ Luke describes Apollos as a man who "was mighty (dunatos) in the Scriptures." What a testimony, one we should all strive by the Spirit's power to attain to! And finally consider Paul's testimony regarding how he became "mighty" for as he said "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (dunatos)." (2 Cor 12:10+) Paul was dunatos because of Divine dunatos!

In the Septuagint (Lxx) dunatos is used several times to describe God

Psalm 24:8 "Who is the King of glory? The LORD strong (Lxx - kratos) and mighty (Lxx - dunatos), The LORD mighty (Lxx - dunatos) in battle."

Psalm 45:3 "Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty (Lxx - dunatos) One, In Your splendor and Your majesty!" 

Psalm 89:8 O LORD God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty (Lxx - dunatos) LORD? Your faithfulness also surrounds You.

Zephaniah 3:17+ The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior (a warrior who can deliver = Lxx = dunatos + sozo, = mighty to save). He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. 

Has done (past tense = has been accomplished) (4160)(poieo) conveys the idea of undertaking to do something that brings about an event or condition. In this case of course Mary is referring to the "The Holy Spirit (coming) upon (her), and the power of the Most High" overshadowing her (Lk 1:35+), so that "the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." (Mt 1:20).

And holy is His name - The very Name of God is holy -- how tragic to watch modern television which repeatedly uses Jesus' holy Name as a curse word! There is no fear of the "thrice holy" God before their eyes! Woe! They will be repaid in due time, not just in this life but throughout eternity! (cf eternal punishment)

Isaiah 6:3+  And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 

Revelation 4:8+  And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY (pantokrator), WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.” 

Revelation 15:4+ “Who will not fear (ANSWER? FOOLS!), O Lord, and glorify (FINALLY AND FULLY GIVE A PROPER OPINION REGARDING) Your Name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED (FINALLY AND FULLY IN THE REVELATION OF JESUS).” 

Holy (40)(hagios) carries the fundamental idea of separation, of purity and of abstinence from defilement. It means utterly pure, separated from sin. Applied to God, holiness is that characteristic that sets Him apart from His creation. There are many verses that speak of God being "on high," "reigning," "in his holy temple," "sitting on the throne" and these all picture God as separate from His creation and reigning over it. In short, "Holiness is that which makes God God." Reginald Showers calls God's holiness "the foundational truth of revelation." God's holiness is the most difficult attribute to define because it deals with the essence of God's character. Defining holiness is like defining God! It can't be done completely. We can describe holiness and find ample illustrations of it, but we can't define it entirely. This is what makes God God! As an indication of how important this attribute of God it note that holiness is the only attribute of God mentioned in triplicate (see verses above). Holy is used throughout the New Testament to speak of anyone or anything that represents God’s holiness and thus Christ as the Holy One of God, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father, holy Scriptures, holy angels, holy brethren, and so on.

What a contrast with the sad secular concept of "holy" - The secular and pagan use of hagios pictured a person separated and dedicated to the idolatrous "gods" (who in fact were no gods) and conveyed absolutely no idea of moral or spiritual purity as holy does when associated with God's Name! Man-made gods of wood and stone were just as sinful and just as degraded as the men who made them! The worshipper of the pagan god acquired the character of that pagan god and the debauched, degrading religious ceremonies connected with its "worship." (For example, I think of Dionysus or Bacchus "the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine, of fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, and theatre in ancient Greek religion and myth.')  The Greek temple at Corinth (Temple of Aphrodite) housed a large number of harlots who were connected with the so called "worship" of the Greek god (Contrast Our Body, His Temple). Thus, the set-apartness or holiness of the Greek worshipper was in character licentious, totally depraved, and sinful.

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You, I want to see You

To see You high and lifted up
Shining in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing holy, holy, holy
(Play)

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The Blessing Tree

December 25, 2007

Read: Luke 1:46-55

He who is mighty has done great things for me. —Luke 1:49

I read about a young couple whose business had failed, and they had little money to spend at Christmas. They were going to have to move out of their house after the new year. But they didn’t want their holiday season to be spoiled because of it. So they decided to throw a party. When the guests arrived, they saw a cedar tree decorated with one string of lights and small rolled-up pieces of paper tied to the limbs with ribbon.

“Welcome to our ‘blessing tree’!” they said, beaming. “In spite of hard times, God has blessed us in so many ways that we decided to dedicate our tree to Him. Each piece of paper describes a blessing He has given us this year.”

This couple has faced more trials since then, but they have chosen to stay focused on the Lord. They often remark that the Christmas with the “blessing tree” was one of their most beautiful, because they could testify as Mary did: “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. . . . He who is mighty has done great things for me” (Luke 1:47-49).

Whatever your difficulties, they needn’t spoil Christmas, for nothing can spoil Christ! Stay focused on Jesus and seek ways to share His blessings with others—perhaps through your own “blessing tree.” - Joanie Yoder | (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Jesus came—and came for me!
Simple words, and yet expressing
Depths of holy mystery,
Depths of wondrous love and blessing. 
—Havergal

To give meaning to Christmas, give Christ first place.

Luke 1:50  "AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM.

  • Ge. 17:7. Ex. 20:6; 34:6, 7. Ps. 31:19; 85:9; 103:11, 17, 18; 115:13; 118:4; 145:19; 147:11. Mal. 3:16–18. Re. 19:5
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries.

THE ADVANTAGE OF THE
FEAR OF THE LORD

AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM - This is a great promise conditioned upon a reverential fear of the Lord. One of God's great attributes is His boundless mercy but as with all of His attributes even His mercy can be "missed" by those who do not fear Him. This principle is repeatedly described in the Psalms, where is clear that "His mercy" is associated with salvation.

(Ps 25:14-commentary) The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant. 

(Ps 31:19) How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of men! 

(Ps 85:9) Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land. 

(Ps 103:11) For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 

Comment: See study of the Hebrew equivalent Lovingkindness (Steadfast Love) (02617hesed/chesed/heced

(Ps 103:17) But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting (FOREVER SOMETHING ONLY BELIEVERS CAN EXPERIENCE) on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, 18 To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them. 

(Ps 115:13) He will bless those who fear the LORD, The small together with the great. 

(Ps 118:4) Oh let those who fear the LORD say, “His lovingkindness is everlasting.” 

(Ps 145:19) He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them. 

(Ps 147:11) The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness. 

In essence when a person genuinely has a reverential awe of God it is because they are saved by His grace. Unbelievers do not reverentially fear God even as Paul says in Romans 3:18 quoting Psalm 36:1 which says '“THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.” The basic sinful condition of men and of their spiritual deadness is evidenced by the fact that, for the unsaved, there is no fear of God before their eyes. So one definition of a lost man is NO FEAR OF GOD. If you are truly born from above by the Spirit you fear God to some degree. You know that He is mighty to save and mighty to judge. You realize that the Lord is a great King, sitting high and lifted up on a throne, ruling the universe. But to those who do not know the Lord personally, they have no fear of God. If they were honest, they would say, “No, I do not fear God. To fear God never enters my mind. Since God is all loving, what is there to fear? If I want to steal something, I steal it. If I want to say something, I say it because I do not fear God.” When men no longer fear God, there is no restraint upon their evil desires.

Peter describes this "restraining" power of a healthy fear of God in giving this commandment to believers

"If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct (aorist imperativeyourselves in fear (See discussion of the Need for the Holy Spirit to obey this command) during the time of your stay on earth" (1 Peter 1:17+

We are commanded to continually pursue (present imperative)...holiness (Heb 12:14NET+) and Paul links our pursuit of holiness with the fear of God...

"Therefore, having these promises (2 Cor 6:16-18), beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness (HOW?) in the fear of God." (2 Cor 7:1+)

Mercy (compassion) (1656)(eleos) is the outward manifestation of pity and assumes need on the part of those who are recipients of the mercy (WHICH APPLIES TO EVERY BELIEVER, EVERY DAY FOR WE SIN EVERY DAY!) and sufficient resources to meet the need (WHICH ONLY GOD HAS) on the part of those who show it. The idea of God's mercy is that He shows kindness and concern for one who is in serious need, giving help to the wretched (Ro 7:24+) and relieve to the miserable (cf David in Ps 32:3-4,10) because of their sin. Here the essential thought is that mercy gives attention to those in misery. God’s mercy refers to his “loyal love” or “steadfast love,” (Hebrew - hesed) expressed in His faithful actions. Vincent adds that mercy is God’s “kindness and goodwill toward the miserable and afflicted, joined with a desire to relieve them” (Vincent). Whereas grace meets man’s need in respect to his guilt and lost condition; God mercy meets man's need with reference to his suffering as a result of his sin. How grateful all of us saved sinners are for His infinite mercy! 

Guy King has suggested that grace is needed for every service, mercy for every failure, and peace for every circumstance. Someone else has said, “Grace to the worthless, mercy to the helpless, and peace to the restless.” Hiebert defines mercy as “the self-moved, spontaneous loving kindness of God which causes Him to deal in compassion and tender affection with the miserable and distressed.” 

Generation (1074)(genea gives us our English genealogy) literally means birth or the circumstances related to one's origin and so it refers to those descended from a common ancestor. In the present context generation refers to the time span of one generation, which as a rule of thumb, is the time between birth of parents and the birth of their children. (cf Mt 1.17).

Fear of God takes two forms, a healthy, reverential awe of the creature before the Creator including the idea of fear of offending (Ro 11:20) or the terror and dread of the unregenerate sinner in the presence of the just and holy God (cf first reaction of fear in Ge 3:10+, cf Lk 12:5+).

Puritan Charles Bridges defines fear of God - It is that affectionate reverence by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father's law. His wrath is so bitter, and His love so sweet; that hence springs an earnest desire to please Him, and—because of the danger of coming short from his own weakness and temptations—a holy watchfulness and fear, 'that he might not sin against Him.

Fear (5399)(phobeo from phobos = fear source of our English "phobia") means to be in an apprehensive state that can range from mild uneasiness to stark terror as when one is frightened, terrified or alarmed. (Mt 10:31). Phobeo can be a fear of man (Lk 20:19, Mt 2:22, Mt 21:26, 46) as when Peter feared "the party of the circumcision" (Gal 2:12+) which motivated him "to withdraw and hold himself aloof." Pilate experienced fear when he was about to sentence Jesus to death (Jn 19:8). Fear of people kept religious leaders from laying hands on Jesus (Luke 20:19+) On the other hand Moses did not fear man (pharaoh - Heb 11:27)

Robert Haldane wrote, It is astonishing that men, while they acknowledge that there is a God, should act without any fear of His displeasure. Yet this is their character. They fear a worm of the dust like themselves, but disregard the Most High. ... They are more afraid of man than of God-of his anger, his contempt, or ridicule. The fear of man (Pr29:25) prevents them from doing many things from which they are not restrained by the fear of God. ... They love not His character, not rendering to it that veneration which is due; they respect not His authority. Such is the state of human nature while the heart is unchanged. (Exposition of Romans, p. 121)

But that is not the type of fear about which this passage speaks. The fear in this passage represents reverential awe, not cringing fright. It expresses the feeling of the person who is in the presence of One Who is infinitely superior (cf Peter's reaction to Jesus in Lk 5:8-9, 10+).  Reverential fear of God is a component of the one who is truly repentant (2Cor. 7:10–11) Godly fear motivates godly living as Paul says in (Phil. 2:12+) exhorting the believers at Philippi "So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling." And then Paul explains how it is even humanly possible (IT'S NOT HUMANLY POSSIBLE BUT ONLY DIVINELY POSSIBLE) live godly teaching that "it is God Who is at work (energeo - present tense = CONTINUALLY "ENERGIZING") in you (THE INDWELLING HOLY SPIRIT), both to will (SPIRIT GIVES US THE DESIRE) and to work (SPIRIT PROVIDES THE POWER) for His good pleasure." (Php 2:13+)

Related Resources:


Max Lucado - Spiritual Bankruptcy Luke 1:50
God does not save us because of what we’ve done. Only a puny god could be bought with tithes. Only an egotistical god would be impressed with our pain. Only a temperamental god could be satisfied by sacrifices. Only a heartless god would sell salvation to the highest bidders. And only a great God does for his children what they can’t do for themselves. God’s delight is received upon surrender, not awarded upon conquest. The first step to joy is a plea for help, an acknowledgment of moral destitution, an admission of inward paucity. Those who taste God’s presence have declared spiritual bankruptcy and are aware of their spiritual crisis.… Their pockets are empty. Their options are gone. They have long since stopped demanding justice; they are pleading for mercy. (The Applause of Heaven)

Luke 1:51  "He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.

  • He has done - Ex. 15:6, 7, 12, 13. Dt. 4:34. Ps. 52:9; 63:5; 89:13; 98:1; 118:15. Is. 40:10; 51:9; 52:10; 63:12. Re. 18:8.
  • He has scattered. Ex. 15:9–11; 18:11. 1 Sa. 2:3, 4, 9, 10. Job 40:9–12. Ps. 2:1–6; 33:10; 89:10. Is. 10:12–19. Je. 48:29, 30. Da. 4:37; 5:25, etc. 1 Pe. 5:5.
  • the thoughts. Ge. 6:5; 8:21. De. 29:19, 20. Ro. 1:21. 2 Co. 10:5.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:51 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

MARY'S PROPHECY:
OUR GOD IS STRONGER

Play Chris Tomlin's song in the background as you read Mary's magnificat...

Our God

Our God is greater, Our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, Awesome in power.
Our God, Our God.

He has done mighty deeds with His arm - Mary is speaking of her Son Jesus Christ Who was not yet born and describes these things as if He has already accomplished them. Of course the idea is that the things Mary prophetically describes are so certain to come to pass that she can speak of them as if they had in fact already been fulfilled (past tense) 

THOUGHT - Perhaps your faith is on a bit of a low ebb. We've all been there. But there is nothing like the reminder of the "mighty deeds" of our God in the past to remind us He is able to accomplish mighty deeds in the present (and in our life). Take a moment asking the Spirit to speak to your heart as you read meditatively and prayerfully the following truths about our mighty God (don't rush! Instead ruminate!) - Ex. 15:6, 7, 12, 13. Dt. 4:34. Ps. 52:9; Ps 63:5; Ps 89:13; Ps 98:1; Ps 118:15. Isaiah 40:10; Isaiah 51:9; Isaiah 52:10; Isaiah 63:12. Rev 18:8.

Pritchard observes "As you read Luke 1:51-55, you not only notice a change in focus, but you also notice a change in tenses. When Mary talks about herself, she uses the present tense; but when she talks about the world, she uses the past tense—"He has performed, He has scattered, He has brought down, he has filled.” What’s going on here? When she says “He,” Mary is talking about Jesus Christ. When she says “has,” she is talking about what Christ will do. But at this point, the Lord Jesus is still growing inside her body. How can she speak in the past about what Christ will do in the future? The answer is that Mary is using what the grammarians call the “prophetic aorist.” Sometimes the prophets would look into the future and be so certain of what they saw that they would use the past tense to describe what was for them an absolutely certain future event. She is so utterly convinced about what her Son, the Lord Jesus, will do when he comes, that she speaks of it as if it had already happened. In time, it is yet future; in Mary’s mind, it is an accomplished fact because God has willed it to happen..(from his sermon "Jesus The Revolutionary: Mary's Song" - Luke 1:48-55)

Mighty deeds (2904)(kratos) means strength or might, especially manifested power, the power to rule or control or dominion (power to rule, supreme authority, sovereignty, the right to govern or rule or determine). Krátos denotes the presence and significance of force or strength rather than its exercise. It is the ability to exhibit or express resident strength. There is surely a play on words here as the word kratos is the root of the word pantokrator (pas = all + kratos = "all power") the very word that the apostle John uses to describe the Lord Jesus Christ as He returns to "scatter" the proud that have arrayed against Him. (See notes below

Utley on mighty deeds with His arm - This is an anthropomorphic phrase. God does not have a physical body. It is used in the Bible to describe God’s power to act (cf. Ps. 98:1; 118:15–16; Isa. 51:9; 52:10).

Arm (1023)(brachion comparative of brachús 1024 = short) is literally the shorter part of the arm from the shoulder to the elbow.   in the NT figuratively expresses God's powerful activity in analogy to human activity. The arm of man is the principal organ or instrument with which he exerts his strength. 

Brachion is used in only 3 verses in the NT and 100 in the Septuagint (Lxx) -  Lu 1:51 Jn 12:38  Acts 13:17

Brachion in Septuagint - Gen. 24:18; Gen. 27:16; Gen. 49:24; Exod. 6:1; Exod. 6:6; Exod. 15:16; Exod. 29:22; Exod. 29:27; Exod. 32:11; Lev. 7:32; Lev. 7:33; Lev. 7:34; Lev. 8:25; Lev. 8:26; Lev. 9:21; Lev. 10:14; Lev. 10:15; Num. 6:19; Num. 6:20; Num. 18:18; Deut. 3:24; Deut. 4:34; Deut. 5:15; Deut. 6:21; Deut. 7:8; Deut. 7:19; Deut. 9:26; Deut. 9:29; Deut. 11:2; Deut. 18:3; Deut. 26:8; Deut. 33:20; Deut. 33:27; Jdg. 15:14; Jdg. 16:12; 2 Sam. 1:10; 2 Sam. 22:35; 2 Ki. 9:24; 2 Ki. 17:36; 2 Chr. 6:32; 2 Chr. 32:8; Job 26:2; Job 31:22; Job 35:9; Job 38:15; Job 40:9; Ps. 10:15; Ps. 18:34; Ps. 37:17; Ps. 44:3; Ps. 71:18; Ps. 77:15; Ps. 79:11; Ps. 89:10; Ps. 89:13; Ps. 89:21; Ps. 98:1; Ps. 136:12; Prov. 31:17; Cant. 8:6; Isa. 9:20; Isa. 15:2; Isa. 17:5; Isa. 26:11; Isa. 30:30; Isa. 40:10; Isa. 40:11; Isa. 44:12; Isa. 51:5; Isa. 51:9; Isa. 52:10; Isa. 53:1; Isa. 59:16; Isa. 62:8; Isa. 63:5; Isa. 63:12; Jer. 17:5; Jer. 21:5; Jer. 32:17; Jer. 32:21; Jer. 51:14; Ezek. 4:7; Ezek. 13:20; Ezek. 17:9; Ezek. 20:33; Ezek. 20:34; Ezek. 30:21; Ezek. 30:22; Ezek. 30:24; Ezek. 30:25; Dan. 2:32; Dan. 9:15; Dan. 10:6; Dan. 11:6; Dan. 11:15; Dan. 11:22; Dan. 11:31; Hos. 7:15; Hos. 11:3; Zech. 11:17

Representative uses in the Septuagint (Lxx) - note His fearful power, His power to deliver (redeem from bondage), His ability to judge figuratively depicted in the following passages that allude to His arm. 

Exodus 6:6 “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm (Heb = zeroa; Lxx = brachion)  and with great judgments.

Exodus 15:16   “Terror and dread fall upon them; By the greatness of Your arm (Heb = zeroa; Lxx = brachion) they are motionless as stone; Until Your people pass over, O LORD, Until the people pass over whom You have purchased. 

Deuteronomy 5:15 ‘You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; (Heb = zeroa; Lxx = brachion)  therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day. 

Psalm 71:18 And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength (Hebrew = zeroa = arm, shoulder, strength, power - translated with brachion in the Lxx) to this generation, Your power to all who are to come. (Same thing in Ps 77:15 and Ps 79:11 where "power" = zeroa; Lxx - brachion)

Psalms 89:10  You Yourself crushed Rahab like one who is slain; You scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm. (Heb = zeroa; Lxx = brachion) 

Psalm 98:1 A Psalm. O sing to the LORD a new song, For He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm (Heb = zeroa; Lxx = brachion) have gained the victory for Him.

Isaiah 51:5  “My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, And My arms will judge the peoples; The coastlands will wait for Me, And for My arm they will wait expectantly. 

He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart - This prophecy has been fulfilled countless times since it was uttered but one day it will be finally and fully finished. In that day Mary's Son will destroy all those rulers and nations who are opposed to the rule of God. Daniel describes it as occurring when the Stone (Jesus Christ) returns writing 

You (KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S DREAM) continued looking until a Stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue (SYMBOLIZING ALL THE GODLESS KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD) on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. 35 “Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors (THIS PICTURE FITS PERFECTLY WITH MARY'S PROPHECY "HE HAS SCATTERED" FOR CHAFF SCATTERS IN THE WIND AND THAT IS WHAT WILL OCCUR TO THE GODLESS PROUD NATIONS); and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the Stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth (THIS REFERS TO THE STONE, THE MESSIAH, ESTABLISHING HIS EARTHLY MESSIANIC KINGDOM)." .(Da 2:34-35+)

Ultimately this "scattering" will be fulfilled at Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as described by John in the Revelation:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses (THE ARMIES IS US BELOVED! IT IS THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN! WE RETURN WITH HIM TO WITNESS HIS VICTORY! THIS IS ABSOLUTELY MIND-BOGGLING! MAY GOD'S SPIRIT USE THIS INCREDIBLE TRUTH TO STIMULATE IN US A DEEP DESIRE TO LIVE FOR HIS GLORY NOW AND FOREVER! AMEN! ). 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. (pantokrator) 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Rev 19:11-16+)

Pantokrator is from pás = all + kratos = strength or might, especially manifested power, the power to rule or control) is literally the ruler over all or the One Who controls all things and Who has power over everything. The One in total control! Pantokrator thus describes God’s sovereign, omnipotent, irresistible power in the Person of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ as He returns to vanquish all resistance to the Kingdom of God. To reiterate, this certainty is what Mary is inspired by the Spirit to use the past tense of her prophetic announcements regarding Jesus Christ. 

As Ray Pritchard says "The Coming of Christ means the end of all human boasting. It’s the end of vanity and outrageous ambition. His Coming means an end to insatiable greed and uncontrolled lust for power. The mighty are brought down by the strong arm of the Lord. So it has happened across the centuries. Proud and daring men lift their heads to challenge the Almighty (Pantokrator), but he swats them down like flies. What happened to Saddam Hussein? What happened to Erich Honecker? What about Idi Amin? What about Vladimir Lenin? When was the last time you thought about Juan Peron? Or Pinochet? Or Ho Chi Minh? Or Mao Tse Tung? They come, they rise to power, and sooner or later, they disappear. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The arm of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” (Ibid)

Scattered (1287)(diaskorpizo from dia = an intensifies or denotes separation + skorpízō = to dissipate) means to scatter abroad or disperse. It is used of chaff being scattered to the wind on the threshing floor, meaning to winnow (Mt 25:24, 26). Metaphorically it means to squander (money, riches) which is what the prodigal son did in (Luke 15:13+) as id the rich man in  (Lk 16:1+). Mattoon says the idea of the verb is "to winnow, like a person that separates the grain from the chaff by throwing it up high into the air and letting the wind blow away the chaff." Jesus will one day in the future "winnow" the nations and their chaff will be carried away (scattered) without a trace as described above by Daniel (Da 2:35+)

Proud (arrogant) (5244)(huperephanos from huper = over, above, + phaíno = shine) is the haughty person pictured with his head held high above others. The man who is huperephanos is the one who shows himself above. This is one who because of his feeling of personal superiority, regards others with haughtiness. He is puffed up with a high opinion of himself, and thus regards others with contempt, as if they were unworthy of any social interactions. The noun huperephania is usually translated pride which is one of those sins which Jesus says proceeds out of a man's heart (Mark 7.22 = only NT use of huperephania).

Huperephanos is used in a similar sense (of scattered the proud) Ps 18:27 which says "You save an afflicted (Lxx = tapeinos = a humble) people, but haughty (Lxx = huperephanos) eyes You abase (Lxx =  tapeinoo = bring low, make humble)."

In Isaiah 2:12+ (and similar uses in Isa 13:11, Isa 29:20) we read "the LORD of hosts will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is proud (Lxx = huperephanos) and lofty And against everyone who is lifted up, That he may be abased (Lxx =  tapeinoo = bring low, make humble)." 

Thoughts (1271)(dianoia from dianoéomai = to agitate in mind in turn from dia = separation + noeo = to think over, nous = mind, intellect, thought, reason) means thinking through something, meditating, reflecting. It refers to the intellect, moral understanding or the way of thinking. It is the faculty of thinking, comprehending, and reasoning. Dianoia is the seat of perception and thinking, the faculty of understanding, feeling, desiring. TDNT adds that dianoia is the "common word for “thought” has such varied senses as (1) thought as a function, (2) the power of thought, the thinking consciousness, (3) the way of thought, (4) the result of thought, e.g., thought, idea, opinion, or judgment, (5) resolve of intention, and (6) the meaning of words or statements. The LXX uses it as an equivalent of kardia (HEART), and the usage is much the same in other Jewish works. (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament)

The heart of man's problem is man's depraved heart

"For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.  "All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man." (Mk 7:21-23+)

Heart (2588)(kardia)  does not refer to the physical organ but is always used figuratively in Scripture to refer to the seat and center of human life. The heart is the center of the personality, and it controls the intellect, emotions, and will. No outward obedience is of the slightest value unless the heart turns to God.

MacArthur commenting on kardia writes that "While we often relate heart to the emotions (e.g., “He has a broken heart”), the Bible relates it primarily to the intellect (e.g., “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders,” Matt 15:19). That’s why you must “watch over your heart with all diligence” (Proverbs 4:23-note). In a secondary way, however, heart relates to the will and emotions because they are influenced by the intellect. If you are committed to something, it will affect your will, which in turn will affect your emotions." (Drawing Near. Crossway Books) MacArthur adds that "In most modern cultures, the heart is thought of as the seat of emotions and feelings. But most ancients—Hebrews, Greeks, and many others—considered the heart to be the center of knowledge, understanding, thinking, and wisdom. The New Testament also uses it in that way. The heart was considered to be the seat of the mind and will, and it could be taught what the brain could never know. Emotions and feelings were associated with the intestines, or bowels." (MacArthur, J: Ephesians. 1986. Chicago: Moody Press)

Luke 1:52 "He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble.

  • Brought down...exalted -  Luke 18:14. 1 Sa. 2:4, 6–8. Job 5:11–13; Job 34:24–28. Ps. 107:40, 41; Ps 113:6–8. Ec. 4:14. Eze. 17:24. Am. 9:11. Mark 6:3. Ja. 1:9, 10; 4:10.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:52 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

 TWO STRIKING
CONTRASTS

The high are made low and the low are made high! 

He has brought down rulers from their thrones - Remember Mary is speaking in past tense as if these things have already transpired because they are so sure to transpire! One could read it Jesus as "will bring down rulers from their thrones." Ultimately this will be fulfilled at His Second Coming (read Rev 19:11-21+)

God lowers the high (1 Sa 2:4) and raises the low (1 Sa 2:7-8)! We see this pattern frequently in the NT (Mt 5:3, Mt 23:12, James 1:9, 10, 11+, James 4:6+, James 4:10+, 1 Pet 5:5+, 1 Pet 5:6+) and later in his Gospel Luke writes "For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted." (Lk 14:11+, context = Lk 14:10) and "everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk 18:14+). See Ray Pritchard's advent devotional "Get Off Your High Horse"

NET Note comments that "The contrast between the mighty and those of lowly position is fundamental for Luke. God cares for those that the powerful ignore (see Luke 4:18–19+)." 

Ray Pritchard - Some of you may have seen a movie last year called “Reversal of Fortune.” That’s what Mary is talking about here: The coming of Christ brings about a great reversal of fortune in society. The proud are brought low and the humble are lifted up. What men call luck, Mary calls the work of God. When someone loses it all, we talk about bad luck. When someone hits the jackpot, we say he had good luck. Not Mary. She understands that behind the faceless mystery called luck stands God himself. He lifts up, and no one can bring down. He brings down, and no one can lift up again. As John Calvin says, the princes of the world don’t understand this. They grow insolent, fat and lazy and greedy. They indulge in luxury, swell with pride and grow intoxicated with power. They soon forget that all they have comes from God. And to quote Calvin exactly, “If the Lord cannot tolerate such ingratitude, we should not be surprised.” (Jesus The Revolutionary: Mary's Song - Luke 1:48-55)

 

Brought down (destroyed) (2507)(kathaireo) means primarily to cause something or someone to be lowered or brought down from one point to another (literally buildings Lk 12:18+). Figuratively it means to destroy completely by tearing down and dismantling (speculations in spiritual matters - 2 Cor 10:5+; nations Acts 13:19+). There is an interesting use of kathaireo in Acts 19 (in a sense a partial fulfillment of Mary's prophecy) showing how God used Paul to "bring down" the pagan idol Artemis, Luke recording the complaints of the idol worshipping Ephesians...

“Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned (kathaireo) from her magnificence.” (Acts 19:27+)

Rulers (1413)(dunastes/dynastes [English = dynasty] from dunamai = to be able to, to be capable of, to be strong enough to do) denotes one who has a position to command others (ruler, potentate). It often refers to one in a relatively high position (politically speaking). In Luke 1:52 and Acts 8:27+ (Ethiopian court official) dunastes refers to human rulers. In the only other NT use in 1 Ti 6:15+ dunastes refers to God and is translated Sovereign

And has exalted those who were humble - He has lifted high to a place of honor those who the world sees as low position. This is a repeated pattern in Scripture. Ray Pritchard explains that "Throughout history whenever the Gospel has gone into a society, it has usually entered at a lower socioeconomic level. It’s a rare thing for the rich to be the first to embrace the Gospel. Poor folks usually make up the first church in any culture. Why? Because the poor have nothing in which to trust, so when they hear the Gospel they embrace it as truly good news. But the rich don’t see their need of Christ, so they ignore the Gospel....Whenever the Gospel has entered a society and made an impact on a significant group of people, it has always had the effect of lifting those people up economically. Whenever the Gospel goes in to the poor, it raises that group up in society. (Jesus The Revolutionary: Mary's Song)

James encourages those who have less than others writing...

But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. (James 1:9-10+)

Exalted (lifted up) (5312) (hupsoo from hupsos = height, elevation) means to lift up spatially, to raise high as of the serpent in the wilderness symbolizing Jesus on the Cross (Jn 3:14+, cf Jn 8:28, 12:32, 34). Figuratively, it can describe lifting one up to a place of honor, fame, power, or position (Jesus exalted to the right hand of God = Acts 2:33+, Acts 5:31+). Mary says that self-exaltation will result ultimately in humiliation a truth that Jesus reiterates later in Luke's Gospel...

Luke 14:11+  “For everyone who exalts (hupsoo) himself will be humbled (tapeinoo), and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” 

Luke 18:14+  “I tell you, this man (Lk 18:13) went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts (hupsoo) himself will be humbled (tapeinoo), but he who humbles (tapeinoo) himself will be exalted (hupsoo).” 

Humble (5011)(tapeinos) means low, not high, not rising far from the ground. It speaks of one's condition as lowly or of low degree. It described what was considered base, common, unfit, and having little value. It pictures one brought low, as for example by grief. Tapeinos is descriptive particularly of attitude and social positions. Wuest adds that tapeinos "is found in an early secular document where it speaks of the Nile River in its low stage in the words, “It runs LOW.” And so tapeinos means “not rising far from the ground.” Tapeinos describes the Christian who walks in Jesus' steps (1 Pe 2:21+) for declared " I am gentle and humble (tapeinos) in heart" (Mt 11:29+). Indeed, is not the best place for us as Christ followers at the foot of Jesus' Cross, for that is when grace can best "flow down!" (Read 2 Cor 12:9+, 2 Cor 12:10+, cf James 4:6+ = "gives grace to the humble [tapeinos])

This truth (divine exaltation of the humble) calls for believers to be willing to be humbled (both the following commands are in the passive voice indicating the power or source of our humbling comes from without which makes sense because the flesh would never humble itself since it is the very essence of pride and self-exaltation).

James 4:10+   Humble (tapeinoo in aorist imperative = "Just do it!" don't delay = only possible as we willingly submit to the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to obey this command) yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt (hupsoo) you. 

1 Peter 5:6+  Therefore humble (tapeinoo in aorist imperative - see our need above) yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt  (hupsoo) you at the proper time (cf 1 Peter 5:10+),

Gotquestions has an excellent discussion on humbling ourselves - John Bunyan, in the second part of his book The Pilgrim’s Progress, describes the time when Christiana and her companions must descend into the Valley of Humiliation. Bunyan describes that place as “a steep hill, and the way was slippery.” In other words, it’s never easy to humble oneself, and when our path demands humility of us, we can easily slip up. Humility can be defined as the absence of pride, just as darkness is the absence of light. We cannot become more humble by focusing on humility, as it becomes a source of pride when we believe we have achieved it. C.S. Lewis describes humility not as thinking less of ourselves, but as thinking of ourselves less. With that definition in mind, the Bible has much to say about seeing ourselves in proper perspective. Holding the biblical perspective humbles us.  Humility increases when we are willing to be humbled by God, circumstances, and others. Our sinful natures do not want to be humbled. We tend to protect our pride as though it were our best friend, but pride gets in the way of our relationship with God. He resists the prideful but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6+). He will work with us when we desire humility, but the development of humility will be painful. Despite the discomfort, we find an added measure of grace to sustain us as we suffer through the refining process (see The Refiner's Fire). (Read the full article - What does the Bible say about how to humble yourself?) (Bolding added)

Spurgeon exhorts believers to gladly accept a prone position (which is the root meaning of humility - see tapeinos above) in order that grace might flow down most efficaciously…

Humble hearts seek grace, and therefore they receive grace. Humble hearts yield to the sweet influences of grace, and so grace is bestowed on them more and more largely. Humble hearts lie in the valleys where streams of grace are flowing, and hence they drink of them. Humble hearts are grateful for grace and give the LORD (Jehovah) the glory of it, and hence it is consistent with His honor to give it to them.

Come, dear reader, take a lowly place. Be little in thine own esteem, that the LORD may make much of thee. Perhaps the sigh breaks out, "I fear I am not humble." It may be that this is the language of true humility. Some are proud of being humble, and this is one of the very worst sorts of pride.

We are needy, helpless, undeserving, hell-deserving creatures, and if we are not humble we ought to be.

Let us humble ourselves because of our sins against humility, and then the LORD will give us to taste of His favor. It is grace which makes us humble, and grace which finds in this humility an opportunity for pouring in more grace. (Ed: Read that profound truth again!)

Let us go down that we may rise.

Let us be poor in spirit that God may make us rich.

Let us be humble that we may not need to be humbled but may be exalted by the grace of God (Jas 4:10+, 1Pe 5:6+). (Faith's Checkbook)

Related Resources:

Luke 1:53  "HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed.

Greek of Luke 1:53 πεινῶντας ἐνέπλησεν ἀγαθῶν καὶ πλουτοῦντας ἐξαπέστειλεν κενούς.

Greek of Ps 107:9 ὅτι ἐχόρτασεν ψυχὴν κενὴν καὶ ψυχὴν πεινῶσαν ἐνέπλησεν ἀγαθῶν

  • filled. Luke 6:21. 1 Sa. 2:5. Ps. 34:10; 107:8, 9; 146:7. Eze. 34:29. Mat. 5:6. John 6:11–13, 35. Ja. 2:5. Re. 7:16, 17.
  • and sent away. Luke 6:24; 12:16–21; 16:19–25; 18:11–14, 24, 25. 1 Co. 1:26; 4:8. Ja. 2:6; 5:1–6. Re. 3:17, 18.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:53 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

JESUS THE BREAD OF LIFE
FILLS THE HUNGRY

Mary continues to show that she is a woman of the Book by quoting from Psalm 107:9 (See above for the Greek words in Lk 1:53 which are in common with the Greek words in the Septuagint (Lxx) of Ps 107:9).

For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good. 

Spurgeonthe hungry soul He has filled with what is good. As for thirst he gives satisfaction, so for hunger he supplies filling. In both cases the need is more than met, there is an abundance in the supply which is well worthy of notice: the Lord does nothing in a niggardly fashion; satisfying and filling are his peculiar modes of treating his guests; none who come under the Lord's providing ever complain of short commons. Nor does he fill the hungry with common fare, but with goodness itself. It is not so much good, as the essence of goodness which he bestows on needy suppliants. Shall man be thus royally supplied and return no praise for the largeness of love? It must not be so. We will even now give thanks with all the redeemed church, and pray for the time when the whole earth shall be filled with his glory.

HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS - Jesus will fill the hungry with a sufficient quantity and this applies literally but more important figuratively. Yes, Jesus provides literal bread (I think of the story of George Muller's orphan's who had no food for breakfast until Muller prayed and God immediately answered  - see illustration below). But ultimately Jesus provides for man's greatest need which is spiritual "bread" for He Himself is the "manna" that came down from Heaven (Jn 6:35+) and His Word is the daily bread we must take in in order to live spiritually (Mt 4:4, Lk 4:4+). Indeed, ultimately is the only "bread" that will satisfy our soul is the "Bread of Life" (cf Ps 42:1-2+)! Jesus promised "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied (chortazo)." (Mt 5:6+, cf Lk 6:21+) Are you hungry?

ILLUSTRATION OF JESUS FILLING THE HUNGRY - George Muller records the following in his journal - "One morning, all the plates and cups and bowls on the table were empty. There was no food in the larder and no money to buy food. The children (IN THE ORPHANAGE) were standing, waiting for their morning meal, when Müller said, “Children, you know we must be in time for school.” Then lifting up his hands he prayed, “Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat.” There was a knock at the door. The baker stood there, and said, “Mr. Müller, I couldn’t sleep last night. Somehow I felt you didn’t have bread for breakfast, and the Lord wanted me to send you some. So I got up at 2 a.m. and baked some fresh bread, and have brought it.” Mr. Müller thanked the baker, and no sooner had he left, when there was a second knock at the door. It was the milkman. He announced that his milk cart had broken down right in front of the orphanage, and he would like to give the children his cans of fresh milk so he could empty his wagon and repair it."

He has filled the hungry looks forward to later events in Luke's Gospel such as Jesus feeding the five thousand (Luke 9:10–17+) and the breaking of bread at the Lord’s Supper (Lk 22:14–20+ especially Lk 22:19+; Lk 24:13–35+; Acts 2:42, 46+; Acts 20:7, 11+). An amazing passage that seems to describe the Lord Jesus serving us in the future is found in Luke 12...

“Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. (Lk 12:37+)

Spurgeon - This is a wonderful passage. Christ has already had one turn as a servitor. He was Master and Lord, yet he washed his disciples’ feet; but he says that, if we are watchful and faithful, if we truly serve him, the day shall come when, in all his robes of glory, he shall gird himself, and serve us. I never read this verse without wondering at the marvelous condescension of our Lord. Even in the day of his appearing in glory, his thoughts will be more about his people than about himself: “He shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.”

He has filled (present tense)(1705)(empiplemi from en = in + pímplemi = to fill) means to fill in (or up) and so to make full and was used literally after they ate of the loaves and fishes in John 6:12+. At Lystra after healing a lame man and being acclaimed a god, Paul sought to draw attention to God declaring that God "did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying (empiplemi) your hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17+). Here in Luke 1:53 empiplemi is used metaphorically meaning that Jesus (and He Alone) satisfies the deepest needs of our hungry souls. Jesus satisfies all who come to Him with hungry hearts because He is the "Bread of Life" (Jn 6:35+). There is no better "soul food" than Jesus! God please grant that Jesus would be the sole satisfaction of our souls now and forever! Amen.

Here are 2 uses of empiplemi in the Septuagint (Lxx). Note especially in Jeremiah 31:14 what truly satisfies the hungry soul!

Ps 107:9  For He has satisfied (Lxx = empiplemi) the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good. 

Jeremiah 31:14+  “I will fill the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people (Israel) will be satisfied (Lxx = empiplemi) with My goodness,” declares the LORD. 

Comment - When will Jeremiah's prophecy be fulfilled for Israel? When Jesus returns to bring an end to the Time of Jacob's distress

In a partial fulfillment to Mary's prophecy Jesus declared “Blessed are you who hunger (peinao) now, for you shall be satisfied....(25) “Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry (peinao) (COMPARE "sent away the rich empty-handed")." (Luke 6:21; 25+) And in John 6:35+ "Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger (peinao), and he who believes in Me will never thirst." Mary's prophecy is ultimately consummated in the Revelation of Jesus Christ where John records the wonderful description of our future state of full satisfaction...

For this reason, they (Saints from Great Tribulation [Rev 7:14+] but ultimately all the redeemed of Christ) are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He Who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. They will hunger (peinao) no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 17 (WHY NO MORE HUNGER OR THIRST?) for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their Shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (Rev 7:15-17+) AND ALL GOD'S CHILDREN SHOUT "HALLELUJAH! THANK YOU JESUS OUR LORD! AMEN!

The hungry (a verb in present tense = continually hungry) (3983)(peinao from peín = hunger) means to feel the pangs of lack of food. The majority of the NT uses speak of literal hunger. Jesus elevated feeding the hungry to high level in His teaching in Mt 25:35, 37, 42, 44. The figurative use as in Mt 5:6+ signifies to have strong desire to attain some goal with the implication of an existing lack. In summary, peinao may refer to hunger for earthly produce (eg. Lazarus hungering for crumbs - Lk 16:19-31+) or to an intense desire for spiritual nourishment which is also necessary for the continuance of life. 

And sent away the rich empty-handed - Why? Because the rich did not want the "bread" that Jesus offered (cf Jn 6:61, 66, John 4:32+). They trusted in their wealth, and were like the church at Laodicea Jesus declaring...

‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth (THAT IS CERTAINLY A FORM OF SENDING AWAY THE RICH "EMPTY-HANDED"!. 17 ‘Because you say, “I am rich (plouteo = EARTHLY "RICHES" - SAME WORD USED HERE IN Lk 1:53), and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich (plouteo - HERE SPEAKING OF SPIRITUAL RICHES FOUND ONLY IN JESUS!), and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.(Rev 3:16-18+)

In Luke's Gospel we see a number of allusions to "sending away" the rich empty-handed...

But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. 25 “Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.  (Lk 6:24-25+)

Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” 16 And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. 17 “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you (SENDING AWAY THE RICH EMPTY-HANDED!); and now who will own what you have prepared?’ 21 “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”  (Lk 12:13–21+)

“Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. 20 “And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 22 “Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried (EMPTY-HANDED). 23 “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 “And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ 25 “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. (Lk 16:19-25+)

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. 2 And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. 3 And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; 4 for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.”  (Lk 21:1–4+)

Sent away (1821)(exapostello from ek = out, forth + apostéllo = send away or forth) means to send away or forth out of the place where one is. In some contexts as here in Lk 1:53 it means to remove someone or dismiss them. It is used this way in a parable by Jesus and gives us an interesting paradoxical parallel in that sent away and empty-handed are paired in that passage as they are here in Luke 1:53. The paradox is that the owners (the Jews) threw out the prophets and then threw out the heir (Jesus) and ultimately killed Him, so that the vineyard was taken away from them (Romans destroyed Temple in 70AD), and they ended up empty-handed just as described in Luke 1:53!

At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that they would give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but the vine-growers beat him and sent him away (exapostelloempty-handed (same word kenos). 11 “And he proceeded to send another slave; and they beat him also and treated him shamefully and sent him away (exapostello) empty-handed (same word kenos). (Lk 20:10, 11+  Read the complete parable Lk 20:9-16+)

The rich (4147)(plouteo from ploutos = wealth) means to be or to become wealthy, to be increased with goods. Jesus uses this same word warning of the fleeting value of earthly riches versus eternal riches in Luke 12:21+ “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Paul warned that "those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction." (1 Ti 6:9+Plouteo is used 12x in 12v: Lk. 1:53; Lk. 12:21; Ro 10:12; 1 Co. 4:8; 2 Co. 8:9; 1 Ti 6:9; 1 Tim. 6:18; Rev. 3:17; Rev. 3:18; Rev. 18:3; Rev. 18:15; Rev. 18:19. Bock wrote that "Luke wrote more on the topic of wealth than any other New Testament writer."

Empty-handed (2756)(kenos) means literally to be without something material and thus means empty or without content. It was used with this literal meaning (as in Mk 12:3 "they took him and beat him and sent him away empty handed" - see Luke's version above). More often kenos is used figuratively referring to things that lack effectiveness and thus are futile, useless, of no purpose or without result. Kenos is used to refer to endeavors, labors, acts, which result in nothing and thus are vain, fruitless, without effect and will not succeed as described. In Acts 4:25+ the companions of the apostles who had just been released by the Jewish religious leaders asked ‘WHY DID THE GENTILES RAGE, AND THE PEOPLES DEVISE FUTILE (kenos) THINGS?" Kenos can refer to being devoid of intellectual, moral, or spiritual value. For example Paul speaking of the value of God's grace declares "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain (kenos); but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me." (1 Cor 15:10+)


Poor Rich People - Martin Luther once observed, "Riches are the least worthy gifts which God can give a man. What are they to God's Word, to bodily gifts: such as beauty and health; or to the gifts of the mind, such as understanding, skill, and wisdom? Or what are they compared to spiritual treasures? Yet men toil for wealth day and night, and take no rest. Therefore God commonly gives riches to foolish people, to whom He gives nothing else!"

The children of a certain family, during a period of prosperity, were constantly left in the nursery in the care of servants. At length a depression came, the servants had to be discharged, and the parents once again cared for their little ones. One evening when the father returned home after a day filled with business worries, his little girl climbed up on his lap and, twining her soft, childish arms around his neck, said, "Papa, don't get rich again. You didn't come into the nursery when you were rich; but now we can be around you and get on your knee and kiss you. Please, please, don't get rich again, Papa!" The father suddenly realized how empty his life had been when he was busy making money but neglecting his family. He saw how he had actually been squandering his God-given time which should have been devoted to higher goals, and abiding values.

Some years ago in Bogota, Colombia, a tame pigeon swallowed a diamond and several emeralds worth $40,000 and flew away. The news item stated that the children of a millionaire had been playing with the stones when the bird snatched them. What a parable on wealth that is amassed at the expense of spiritual, moral, and personal values. Such riches soon "take wings and fly away." Jesus says that few rich men reach the kingdom. Com­pletely occupied with the affairs of this world, neglecting the things of the soul, they are "sent empty away" when their time to leave this earth arrives. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Carve your name high above shifting sands,
On rocks that defy decay;
All that you'll hold in your poor, dead hand
Is that which you've given away!
—Anon.

The real measure of our wealth is how much we would be worth if we lost our money!


Don’t Pray for a Life of Convenience - Thanking God for the good things He has given us comes pretty easy. But thanking Him for an enduring “inconvenience” can be difficult.

Moira MacLachlan (a pen name) experienced a shattering, life-altering event when she was raped and became pregnant. Because of her decision to raise the child, there would be a daily reminder of this violent disruption of life.

Moira cautiously likens her situation to Mary’s unexpected pregnancy. She writes, “This world considers any disruption of its thoroughly detailed preparation for a life of convenience a rational excuse for unbridled anguish and rebellion. To [the world], the thankful prayer I raise to God for the radical explosion that took place in my life is akin to insanity. The disruptions in the plans of Mary and me served to bring us both to the same conclusion: Sometimes God’s purpose in shattering the peace in our lives is to remind us that He has a purpose for everything.” Moira thanks God for her beautiful child, and concludes, “Don’t pray for a life of convenience, you might get it—and wouldn’t that be too bad? (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Luke 1:54  "He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy,

  • Luke 1:70–75. Ps. 98:3. Is. 44:21; 46:3, 4; 49:14–16; 54:6–10; 63:7–16. Je. 31:3, 20; 33:24–26. Mi. 7:20. Zep. 3:14–20. Zec. 9:9–11.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:54 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

GOD GIVES HELP
TO ISRAEL

He has given help to Israel His servant - What does this mean? Again He refers to the unborn Jesus, and the past tense of has given indicates the help He will give to Israel in the future is so sure that it can be spoken of as a completed act. But how does Jesus give help to Israel? He gives help because His coming as Redeemer is fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant made with Abraham ("the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his Seed....and to your seed," that is, Christ." Gal 3:16+), then with Isaac and then reaffirmed with Jacob (Israel). He gives help to Israel today for the faithful remnant of Israel, those Jews who believe in Jesus and receive the ultimate help of salvation. And finally Jesus will give help to Israel in the future as Paul describes in Romans 11 declaring 

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery–so that you will not be wise in your own estimation–that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; (See notes on Zechariah 12:10-14+, Zech 13:1+ and Zech 13:8-9+) just as it is written, “THE DELIVERER (JESUS) WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.” (See Isaiah 63:1-3+)  27 THIS IS MY COVENANT (see Jer 31:31-34+) WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.” (Ro 11:25-27+)

Phillips - The nation of Israel had fallen on hard times. The majority of Jews lived in the Diaspora. The homeland had been invaded repeatedly, and now cruel Herod sat on David's throne. For four centuries, God had been silent. Now He was about to speak and act as never before. The divine treaty that God had signed with Israel was unconditional, never to be revoked despite Israel's constant apostasies (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:9-21; 17:1-27). Two women, an old one and a young one, blended their voices, and Zacharias sat there dumb! Probably never in all of the nine long months did his dumbness afflict him more. (Exploring Luke)

Bruce Barton - The words “he has helped … Israel” are in the same verb tense as the previous verses—this is a future event so certain that it is mentioned in the past tense. This “help” for Israel is the Messiah, Who will come according to the promise [God] made to our ancestors. God kept his promise to Abraham to be merciful to God’s people forever (Genesis 22:16–18). Jesus’ birth fulfilled the promise, and Mary understood this as the Spirit revealed it to her. Some of God’s promises to Israel are found in 2 Sa 22:50–51; Ps 89:2–4; Ps 103:17–18; Micah 7:18–20+). (Life Application Bible Commentary)

Here is a example of a prophecy (among many which could have been given) from Micah which fulfills Mary's prophecy that Messiah give help to Israel in remembrance of His mercy...

Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity (ANSWER? NO ONE!) and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, (HOW CAN WE BE SURE?) Because He delights in unchanging love (hesed/chesed/heced = Jehovah's love that is unchanging because His covenant with Abraham is unconditional, unchanging! He is a Covenant Keeping God! Hallelujah!). 19 He will again have compassion on us (racham = tender, heartfelt concern cf IN REMEMBRANCE OF HIS MERCY); He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea. (COMPARE THE PROMISE QUOTED BY PAUL) 20 You will give truth to Jacob And unchanging love (hesed/chesed/heced) to Abraham, Which You swore to our forefathers From the days of old. (Micah 7:18–20+).

MacArthur comments on Micah 7:20 specifically the phrase which you swore to our forefathers (clearly an allusion to the covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) - In spite of Israel's unfaithfulness to God, the Lord intends to fulfill His unconditional promises in the Abrahamic Covenant made with Abraham and confirmed with Isaac and Jacob (cf. Ge 12, 15, 17, 22, 26, 28, 35). When enacted in conjunction with the Davidic Covenant, Israel will again be restored as a people and a nation to the land originally promised to Abraham. Jesus Christ, the ultimate descendant of David, will rule from Jerusalem over the world as King of kings and Lord of lords (cf. Rev 17:14; Rev 19:16). (The MacArthur Study Bible) (Bolding added for emphasis)

He has given help (482)(antilambano from antí = mutually or against + lambáno = to take, to hold) in the middle voice it means to take hold of another as by the hand and figuratively means to support them from falling. In middle voice it means come to the aid of, to help, to support, to assist. This verb is used only 3x in the NT - Lk 1:54, Acts 20:35 and 1 Ti 6:2. Mary could be alluding to a prophecy in Isaiah 41:9 which uses this same verb antilambano in the Septuagint (Lxx) and reads

"You (Israel - see context Isa 41:8) whom I have taken (Lxx = antilambano in middle voice = taken hold of to help) from the ends of the earth, and called from its remotest parts and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you." 

Comment - God has not rejected Israel as a nation contrary to what many teach today! God has plans to give Israel help and bring them from the ends of the earth for in Ezekiel God promises "After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations (cf Isaiah's "from the ends of the earth"), and they are living securely, all of them." (Ezek 38:8+) Israel is not living securely now, but in the Messianic Kingdom she will be restored and will be absolutely secure!

Antilambano - Used 54x in 53 verses in Septuagint (Lxx) - 

Gen. 48:17; Lev. 25:35; 1 Ki. 9:9; 1 Ki. 9:11; 1 Chr. 22:17; 2 Chr. 7:22; 2 Chr. 28:15; 2 Chr. 28:23; 2 Chr. 29:34; Ps. 3:5; Ps. 18:35; Ps. 20:2; Ps. 40:11; Ps. 41:12; Ps. 48:3; Ps. 63:8; Ps. 69:29; Ps. 89:43; Ps. 107:17; Ps. 118:13; Ps. 119:116; Ps. 139:13; Prov. 11:28; Isa. 9:7; Isa. 26:3; Isa. 41:9; Isa. 42:1; Isa. 49:26; Isa. 51:18; Isa. 59:16; Isa. 63:5; Isa. 64:7; Jer. 23:14; Ezek. 12:14; Ezek. 16:49; Ezek. 20:5; Ezek. 20:6; Dan. 6:27; Mic. 6:6

In remembrance of His mercy - "God is and has been faithful to Israel because of His unchanging character (cf. Mal. 3:6+) of mercy and covenant love (Hebrew hesed)."

Remembrance (3403)(mimnesko) means to bring to mind or think of again. It means to keep in mind for attention or consideration. Most of the NT uses convey this sense of recalling information from memory. In Acts 10:31+ (Rev 16:19+) the idea of mimnesko is to think of and call attention to someone or something and to make mention of. The dying thief asked Jesus to keep him in mind when He came into His Kingdom (So what did the thief believe? That Jesus would die but would rise again and live to rule. He believed Jesus was the King!). (Lk 23:42+) He was asking Jesus to be concerned about him or to think of him.

The verb mimnesko is used in the Septuagint (Lxx) of Habakkuk 3:2 "O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember (mimnesko) mercy." In Habakkuk this is a prayer for God to "remember mercy" and in Luke 1:54 it is His answer via Mary's prophecy "in remembrance of His mercy!"  

Mercy (1656)(eleos) is an attitude and emotion roused by the affliction of another - pity, compassion. Eleos speaks especially of gracious action demonstrating God's compassion. Eleos us used over 300 times in the Septuagint and frequently translates hesed or God's lovingkindness, His unchanging, steadfast covenant love for Israel.

Eleos (His remembrance of mercy) is used in Isaiah where we read of Yahweh's great promise of help to the nation of Israel who even now is dispersed throughout the world...

“For a brief moment I forsook you, But with great compassion (Lxx = eleos) I will gather you (cf Isa 26:20 - after the indignation of Jacob's Trouble Messiah will return and gather the believing remnant of Israel). “In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, But with everlasting lovingkindness (Hebrew = hesed; Lxx = eleos) I will have compassion on you,” Says the LORD your Redeemer." (Isaiah 54:7-8)

Comment - How could one read a promise like this and think that God is finished with the nation of Israel? The only way to misinterpret the clear promise of God to Israel is to fail to read the passage literally and instead to spiritualize or allegorize it like sadly so many do today!

Here is another promise that clearly demonstrates Jehovah's remembrance in mercy...

“If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. 5 “The LORD your God will bring you into THE LAND which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.  6 “Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart (NEW COVENANT - cf Ezek 36:26-27+) and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. (Dt 30:4-6+)

Spurgeon - The Interpreter's Bible - The person chosen to be the mother of the Lord Jesus was a lowly maid, but she was also a godly woman of no mean ability of mind, for her song is written in the highest style of poetry. To the humble and devout the visitations of the Holy Spirit are granted. The manner in which the angel saluted Mary was highly honourable to her, but affords no ground for the superstitious reverence of the Papists, for “he saluted her as a saint, and did not pray to her as a goddess.” Mary confessed herself a sinner needing salvation, for she rejoiced in God her Saviour; it never entered into her mind to claim the homage of mankind. It is a great blessing that in answer to earnest prayer the Holy Spirit will come into our hearts, and make us sing as joyfully as Mary did. Christ will dwell in our hearts by faith, and we shall be numbered with those favoured ones of whom Jesus said, “The same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

      My soul doth magnify the Lord,
         My spirit doth rejoice;
      To thee my Saviour and my God
         I lift my joyful voice.

      Down from above the blessèd dove
         Is come into my breast,
      To witness thine eternal love,
         And give my spirit rest.


      Hark, the glad sound, the Saviour comes,
         The Saviour promised long!
      Let every heart prepare a throne,
         And every voice a song.

      Our glad hosannas, Prince of Peace,
         Thy welcome shall proclaim;
      And heaven’s eternal arches ring
         With thy beloved name.

Luke 1:55  As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever."

  • Ge. 12:3; 17:19; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14. Ps. 105:6–10; 132:11–17. Ro. 11:28, 29. Ga. 3:16, 17.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:55 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

AN EVERLASTING
COVENANT

As He spoke to our fathers Abraham and his descendants - God literally spoke to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These are the "fathers" or the patriarchs of Israel. And this is a reference to the everlasting, unconditional covenant God cut with Abraham and his seed.

God's covenant promise to Abraham: 

Gen 12:3+ And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." 

Gen 15:17-20+ It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:  19 the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite 20and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim 21 and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.” (cf similar promise of land in Ge 17:8)

Comment - This is a literal promise of literal land to the literal nation of Israel and will not be fulfilled until the Messianic Kingdom. This promise is not made to the Church, but clearly the church will enjoy and share in the benefits and blessings of this promise throughout the 1000 year Millennial reign of Christ. For example, in a prophecy in Ezekiel, Jehovah promises the nation of Israel "You will live in THE LAND that I gave to your forefathers (WHEN? Ge 15:17-20. WHO? ABRAHAM, ISAAC, JACOB); so you will be My people, and I will be your God." (Ezekiel 36:28+)

Gen 17:19 But God said, "No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 

Gen 22:18 "And in your Seed (= CHRIST - Gal 3:16+) all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice." 

And his descendants = God's covenant promise to Abraham's son Isaac:

Gen 26:4  "And I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;

(Note Isaac's blessing on Jacob in Ge 28:4 that he might "possess THE LAND of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham.”)

And his descendants = God's covenant promise to Isaac's son Jacob

Gen 28:13-14  And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; THE LAND on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants (THE CHURCH IS NEVER SAID TO BE A DESCENDANT OF JACOB!). "Your descendants shall also be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 

Gen 35:10-12 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; You shall no longer be called Jacob, But Israel shall be your name.” Thus He called him Israel. 11 God also said to him, “I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you.  12 “THE LAND which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, And I will give the land to your descendants after you (WHO ARE JACOB'S DESCENDANTS? JEWS BUT ULTIMATELY ONLY THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN MESSIAH WILL INHERIT THESE PROMISES! THIS LAND PROMISE IS NOT GIVEN TO THE CHURCH IF THIS PASSAGE IS READ LITERALLY! cf Dt 1:8).” 

Comment - Beloved could God have been any clearer? To whom did He give THE LAND? To a man whose name He changed from Jacob to Israel (NAME CHANGES WERE CHARACTERISTIC OF MAKING COVENANTS)

Related Resources:

Forever (165)(aion) is the idiom "eis ton aiona" is more literally "to the age" meaning to the end of the age or forever. The promises God made to the nation of Israel will endure unto the end of this present age and forever and ever. Amen! (So be it!)

Luke 1:56  And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.

And Mary stayed (meno) with her about three months - Why did Mary stay 3 months? We know that travel was not easy so that long visits were common in the ancient world. Luke's timing is often given as an approximation as in this case. My wife (we had 4 children) used to complain that the baby was moving around a lot. Well, imagine Elizabeth filled with a Spirit filled baby! One hast to wonder if John was jumping around filled with the Spirit for 3 months because he was in the presence of the Messiah in Mary? Recall that in Lk 1:36 (cf Lk 1:26) Elizabeth had apparently  been pregnant 6 months and now with 3 months this would have been very near the time of John’s birth.

Jamieson comments "What an honored roof was that which, for such a period, overarched these cousins! and yet not a trace of it is now to be seen, while the progeny of those two women—the one but the honored pioneer of the other—have made the world new."

Then returned to her home - It is difficult to state with certainty, but Mary probably stayed with Elizabeth until John was born (but we cannot be dogmatic). To her home town Nazareth (Luke 1:26+), not to Joseph's house because they apparently were still betrothed and not formally married. Certainly Mary's tummy would have begun to show signs of baby Jesus' growth, and you can imagine the shock of Joseph. So shocked was he that God had to send an angel to avert a divorce disaster! Matthew records the sequence of events which took place after Mary returned to Nazareth... 

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed (mnesteuo - cf Lk 1:27+) to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly (divorce her privately). 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” 24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife (I.E., HE TOOK HER INTO HIS HOME), 25 but (HE DID NOT CONSUMMATE THE MARRIAGE BUT INSTEAD) kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.(Mt 1:18-25).

Utley says in view of the fact that she was beginning to look pregnant she returned home "Obviously to face ridicule. Belief always costs!"

William MacDonald agrees adding "No doubt she became the object of suspicion and slander in the neighborhood. But God would vindicate her; she could afford to wait." (Believer's Bible Commentary)

Lenski makes an interesting point - "We judge that Mary hastens home because she wanted to avoid the people who would soon throng the house of Elisabeth. "(Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel)

Luke 1:57  Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son.

John Hannah outlines this last section:  The advent of John  (Lk 1:57-80)

  • The birth of John  (Lk 1:57-58)
  • The naming of John  (Lk 1:59-66)
  • The song of Zacharias  (Lk 1:67-79)
  • The childhood of John  (Lk 1:80)

GOD ALWAYS KEEPS HIS
PROPHECY AND HIS PROMISE

As with the narrative of the announcement of John's conception, Luke is the only Gospel writer to also provide the events of John's birth.

John MacArthur observes that "Luke’s matter of fact statement that the time had come marks the beginning of the apex of redemptive history. The birth of Messiah’s forerunner would be followed by the birth of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who would accomplish the work of redemption and ratify the New covenant, providing the sacrifice that brought forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all believers from Adam on." (Luke Commentary)

Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth (gennao) - Now the time had come is  similar to expressions in (Lk 1:23, Lk 2:6, 21, 22). This phrase "combines two ideas: (1) that a certain time must elapse before something can happen, as shown by the fact that hēmerai ‘days’, and chronos ‘time’, always denote a period, never a moment; (2) that the time has come for something to happen, as intimated by eplēsthē ‘was fulfilled’." (UBS Handbook) John's birth was 6 months before Jesus (cf Lk 1:26+). The angel Gabriel had predicted John's birth (Luke 1:13+, Luke 1:19+) and now God keeps His promise. As someone has said God tests our faith so that we may trust His faithfulness. (cf 1 Pe 4:19+)

Happy the man whose hopes rely
On Israel’s God; He made the sky,
And earth and seas, with all their train;
His truth forever stands secure;
He saves the oppressed, He feeds the poor,
And none shall find His promises vain.
Isaac Watts

Had come (been fulfilled or completed) (4092)(For details see previous discussion of pimplemi) means to cause to be completely full, to come to the end of a period of time and in this case means the 266 days of gestation have been fulfilled and it was now time for parturition. Time was filled up or completed (Lk 1:23 and Lk 1:57) The other 3 uses by Luke in chapter 1 refer to filling with the Holy Spirit - Lk. 1:15; Lk. 1:41; Lk 1:67

She gave birth to a son - God had not forgotten His promise. Recall that Zacharias' name means "Jah has remembered!"

THOUGHT - Beloved, we have a promise keeping God and we have been granted (manifold) "precious and magnificent promises" which are like blank checks which are accessed by faith and obedience, just like the old hymn wisely says "Trust and obey for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, then to trust and obey!" Are you yourself being faithful to God and thereby laying hold of the faithfulness of His precious promises "in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." (2 Peter 1:4+) This is the way you will "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Pe 3:18+). This is the way you will experience progressive sanctification. As Puritan William Gurnall asked "What more powerful consideration can be thought on to make us true to God, than the faithfulness and truth of God to us?" And remember that our faithfulness in little things is a big thing.

Scripture repeatedly asserts that we can trust God's promises of He Who Alone is worthy of the title "the God of truth" (Ps 31:5, Isa 65:16) Whose every Word is truth (Jn 17:17)...

Joshua 21:45  Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.

1 Kings 8:56  “Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant.

2 Corinthians 1:20  For as many as are the promises of God, in Him (JESUS CHRIST) they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. (I like the old KJV rendering - "For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in him Amen" 2Co 1:20KJV) 

Since that is the truth about God's promises "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." (Heb. 10:23+) Because God is faithful, His promises are infallibly reliable! As Calvin said "God is always like Himself."

Moses centuries affirms God's faithfulness writing that "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent (change his mind); Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19) As Matthew Henry said "Though men are false, God is faithful."

Paul gives us the the NT version affirming God's faithfulness writing "Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie (apseudes = "the non-lying God!"), promised long ages ago, (Titus 1:1-2+

Trusting God's faithfulness dispels our fearfulness.

Play the great old hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness as you think about the times in your own life when God has shown you His faithfulness...

Great is Thy faithfulness
O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not
Thy compassions they fail not
As Thou hast been
Thou forever will be

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
And all I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me

Pardon for sin
And a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer
And to guide
Strength for today
and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord every morning new mercies I see
And all I have needed Thy hands hath
provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me
So faithful too me

Worship Him today by singing this hymn from John Newton  Come My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare

Thou art coming to a King, 
Large petitions with thee bring; 
For His grace and power are such, 
None can ever ask too much; 
None can ever ask too much. 

God's faithfulness applies to His…

  • Temporal blessings (1Ti 4:8+; Ps 84:11; Isa 33:16, Spurgeon)
  • Spiritual blessings (1Co 1:9)
  • Support in temptation (1Cor 10:13+)
  • Support in persecution (1Pe 4:12, 13+; Isa 41:10 Spurgeon)
  • Sanctifying discipline (He 12:4-12+)
  • Direction in difficulties (2Chr 32:22; Ps 32:8)
  • Enabling of His own to persevere (Jer 32:40)
  • Bringing to glory (1Jn 2:25+).
  • In the Old Testament, God’s faithfulness and covenant love are closely related (Deut 7:9)

Related Resources:


God's Faithfulness: Do you have a "Rushmore Reminder"? - These stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever. --Joshua 4:7 In 1941, sculptor Gutzon Borglum completed his work on Mount Rushmore. The 60-foot-high granite heads of four US Presidents now stand like sentinels of democracy over the Black Hills of South Dakota. The imposing likenesses of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt remind visitors of our nation's heritage and history. God told Israel's leader, Joshua, to take 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan River for a similar purpose (Josh. 4:1-7,20-24). The Lord wanted future generations to have a memorial to their national history. He wanted them to remember that as He parted the Red Sea to get them out of Egypt, He also parted the Jordan to get them into the Promised Land. He wanted them to live not only in the present, but with the reminder of the values, faith, and experiences of their founding fathers: Moses, Aaron, and Joshua. God understands our human nature and knows that "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" occurs all too often in our spiritual lives. We need physical reminders of spiritual truths. We need to pile up stones, write journals, and tell family stories to help us remember the miracle of God's provisions that neither we nor our children can afford to forget. Think About It -- How has God shown Himself to be faithful to you and your family in the past? How can you make sure you'll remember? With whom can you talk about it today? Precious memories of yesterday can be precious moments today. --M R De Haan II (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

The Father’s Faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23) - Hudson Taylor, the humble servant of God to China, demonstrated extraordinary trust in God’s faithfulness. In his journal he wrote: “Our heavenly Father is a very experienced One. He knows very well that His children wake up with a good appetite every morning… He sustained 3 million Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years. We do not expect He will send 3 million missionaries to China; but if He did, He would have ample means to sustain them all… Depend on it, God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” We may be faint and weary, but our heavenly Father is all-powerful. Our feelings may fluctuate, but He is unchangeable. Even creation itself is a record of His steadfastness. That’s why we can sing these words from a hymn by Thomas Chisholm: “Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, sun, moon, and stars in their courses above join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.” What an encouragement to live for Him! Our strength for the present and hope for the future are not based on the stability of our own perseverance but on the fidelity of God. No matter what our need, we can count on the Father’s faithfulness.

He who abandons himself to God
will never be abandoned by God.

Luke 1:58  Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her.

  • her neighbours. Luke 1:25. Ru. 4:14–17. Ps. 113:9.
  • they were rejoicing. Luke 1:14. Ge. 21:6. Is. 66:9, 10. Ro. 12:15. 1 Co. 12:26.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:58 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

DIVINE MERCY
ON DISPLAY

Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her - This does not suggest that the neighbors did not know she was pregnant (as some writers propose) because Luke 1:24 says "she kept herself in seclusion for five months." But that possibility cannot be completely excluded. It is important to note that God received the glory for His display of mercy.

Elizabeth alluded to the Lord's display of great mercy earlier testifying “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.” (Luke 1:25+)

Displayed...great  (Weymouth = had lavished His mercy upon)(3170)(megaluno from megas - great) to make or declare great. Megaluno is used in a similar way in the Septuagint in several passages that give glory to God...

1 Sa 12:24 “Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.

Ps 126:2  Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” 

Ryle on God's mercy - WE have in this passage the history of a birth, the birth of a burning and shining light in the Church, the forerunner of Christ Himself,—John the Baptist. The language in which the Holy Ghost describes the event is well worthy of remark. It is written that “The Lord showed great mercy on Elisabeth.” There was mercy in bringing her safely through her time of trial. There was mercy in making her the mother of a living child. Happy are those family circles, whose births are viewed in this light—as especial instances of “the mercy” of the Lord.

Mercy (1656)(eleos) is the outward manifestation of pity and assumes need (Elizabeth's barrenness and old age) on the part of those who are recipients (Elizabeth and Zacharias) of the mercy and sufficient resources to meet the need (Ps 127:3). And it is amazing that almost 20% of all the NT uses of eleos are found in Luke  1 (Lk 1:50, 54, 58, 72, 78) We do well to remember that God's Mercy is also when that which is deserved is withheld to the benefit of the object of the mercy.

Spurgeon - This is a very beautiful way of stating the case, “The Lord had shewed great mercy upon her.” Family events should be looked at in this light, and made the occasion of pious thanksgiving.)

Hendriksen - The visitors had heard “how kind [or merciful] the Lord had been” to Elizabeth. Literally, they had heard “that the Lord had magnified his mercy toward her.” This kind of language clearly shows that Luke is making use of Semitic—that is, Hebrew and/or Aramaic—sources. In the nativity account that is the rule, not the exception. Note also the emphasis, here as well as elsewhere (Luke 1:50, 54, 55, 72, 78) on God’s mercy or lovingkindness in action. (Baker NT Commentary-Luke)

Related Resource:

  • Mercy - God's Attribute
  • Mercy - notes by C H Spurgeon

MUTUAL JOY

And they were rejoicing with her - Recall that Elizabeth was not surprised that she gave birth to a boy and even knew his name would be John, because the angel had foretold this in Luke 1:13+. God is always good to His Word beloved no matter how seemingly incredible His promise may seem to be (cf Ps 111:7)! The removal of social stigma of Elizabeth's barrenness was a cause of rejoicing among the Jews. As discussed below sugchairo uses the prefix sun/syn which signifies that there was a strong element of joint joy. Robertson quips that "Joy demands fellowship" and certainly it is more pleasing to be around those who are rejoicing as it becomes "infectious."  This joy is a partial fulfillment of Luke 1:14+. Later in the description of Jesus’ birth, Luke would describe the shepherds’ joy (Lk 2:10+).

THOUGHT - Are you (am I) a joy for the saints to be around? Or is my affect and attitude a joy killer to others.

Barclay relates the custom of the time (cannot find this anywhere else so keep that in mind if you quote it) - “When the time of the birth was near at hand, friends and local musicians gathered near the house. When the birth was announced and it was a boy, the musicians broke into song, and there was universal congratulation and rejoicing. If it was a girl, the musicians went silently and regretfully away!”

Rod Mattoon adds - The birth of a baby boy in Israel was a very joyous occasion. As the time approached for the baby to be born, friends of the family and musicians would congregate near the home. When the baby was born, everyone would be informed of whether it was a boy or a girl. If it was a boy, the musicians would start playing their instruments and the people would sing. There was great rejoicing. On the other hand, if it was a girl, the musicians would leave in silence. There was a saying, "The birth of a male child causes universal joy, but the birth of a female child causes universal sorrow." Those same sentiments continue today as mothers are aborting their babies if they find out they are carrying a girl, especially in countries like China, India, and even in the United States. Let me say right here that I am the father of two sons and five daughters.

Rejoicing with (4796)(sugchairo from sun/syn = with, speaks of an intimate union +  chairo = to rejoice, be glad) means literally to rejoice with, to take part in joy, to feel (and express) joy with, to share joy with (Lk 1:58, Php 2:17 What a great thing to share!) Sugchairo describes a deep mutuality of purpose and feeling. In 1 Cor 12:26 sugchairo reflects the ideal unity of the Body of Christ to rejoice with one another. "To express pleasure over another’s good fortune, congratulate." (BDAG) Sugchairo is used twice in the form of commands in Jesus' stories of the man who rejoiced over finding his lost sheep (Luke 15:6) and of the woman who, rejoiced over finding her lost coin, both of these individual desiring that others share in their joy (Luke 15:9).

Sugchairo - 7x in 7v - Usage: rejoice(3), rejoices(1), rejoicing(1), share...joy(2).

Luke 1:58  Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her. 

Luke 15:6+  “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘‘Rejoice with (command - see Need for the Holy Spirit to obey NT commands) me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’

Comment: Note the context of the previous and following uses of shared joy - "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." (Lk 15:5)

Luke 15:9+ “When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with (command) me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’

1 Corinthians 12:26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

1 Corinthians 13:6+   does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;

Comment: Rejoices in the truth” refers to a joy that harmonizes with the facts.

Philippians 2:17+  But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.

Philippians 2:18+  You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.

A T Robertson - Joy is mutual when the service is mutual. Young missionaries offer their lives as a challenge to other Christians to match their money with their blood.

John Phillips - Paul had a stake in the Philippians and they had a stake in him. They were supporting him, helping to supply his financial needs, and ministering to him in prison. They were to rejoice in him just as he rejoiced in them.

The only use of sugchairo in the Septuagint is Genesis 21:6

Sarah said, "God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me." 

Rod Mattoon - Our responsibility as Christians is to trust in the Lord, His Word, and to be patient in waiting for Him to fulfill His Word. Mary had to wait patiently for the child to be bom in God's time. Rushing God's plan would have been bad for the baby. She needed to carry the child full term. In the same manner, we need to learn to wait on God and His timing. Beloved, give God the opportunity to lead, guide, direct your life, answer your prayers, and provide for your needs. The promise of the Rapture and the Second Coming may seem incredible, but He is going to return one day soon and remove the Christians from this planet. We are to patiently wait for His coming and serve Him until He returns. If you are sick, single, stressed, or strained financially, give the Lord time to answer your prayers and work in your life. Don't rush the Lord. God is powerful enough to do that which seems absolutely impossible. Never underestimate His power and the power of His Word. (Ps 27:14).


J C Ryle on rejoicing - We see in the conduct of Eliasbeth’s neighbors and cousins, a striking example of the kindness we owe to one another. It is written that “They rejoiced with her.”
How much more happiness there would be in this evil world, if conduct like that of Elisabeth’s relations was more common! Sympathy in one another’s joys and sorrows costs little, and yet is a grace of most mighty power. Like the oil on the wheels of some large engine, it may seem a trifling and unimportant thing, yet in reality it has an immense influence on the comfort and well-working of the whole machine of society. A kind word of congratulation or consolation is seldom forgotten. The heart that is warmed by good tidings, or chilled by affliction, is peculiarly susceptible, and sympathy to such a heart is often more precious than gold.
The servant of Christ will do well to remember this grace. It seems “a little one,” and amidst the din of controversy, and the battle about mighty doctrines, we are sadly apt to overlook it. Yet it is one of those pins of the tabernacle which we must not leave in the wilderness. It is one of those ornaments of the Christian character which make it beautiful in the eyes of men. Let us not forget that it is enforced upon us by a special precept: “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” (Rom. 12:15.) The practice of it seems to bring down a special blessing. The Jews who came to comfort Mary and Martha at Bethany, saw the greatest miracle that Jesus ever worked.—Above all, it is commended to us by the most perfect example. Our Lord was ready both to go to a marriage feast, and to weep at a grave. (John 2:1, &c. John 11:1, &c.) Let us be ever ready to go and do likewise.

Luke 1:59  And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father.

CIRCUMCISED IN OBEDIENCE
TO GOD'S WORD

And it happened that - This introductory phrase (egeneto, “it happened that”) is one of Luke's favorite words and is used some 69 times in the Gospel (e.g., Lk 1:5, 8, 23, 59, 2:6, 15, 46, 3:20-21, 5:1, 12, 17, etc) and about 54 times in the book of Acts (Acts 4:5, 5;7, 9:19, 32, 37, 43, etc). 

John's circumcision had no deep spiritual significance as the Jews were wont to teach, but it did reflect his parents obedience tot he law (see Leviticus 12:3-note).  

Rod Mattoon - The purpose of the circumcision was part of the covenant that God had with Abraham. It was a symbol of putting away the filth of the flesh and of the covenant agreement that God had with Abraham's descendants. It was an act of obedience to the Lord for the Jewish family.

That on the eighth day (as with Jesus - Lk 2:21+) they came to circumcise the child - Who is they? This did not just "happen" by accident but was actually a reflection of the infinite wisdom of God and their obedience to His Word.  Circumcision was the covenant mark for a Jewish male. Thus circumcision on the eighth day was not just random but was clearly stated in the Old Testament... 

“And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. (Ge 17:12)

Comment - For you skeptics, we see that Moses' information regarding circumcision on the 8th day was 100% scientifically accurate!

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying: ‘When a woman gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of her menstruation she shall be unclean. 3 ‘On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. (Lev 12:1-3+)

Paul alluded to this OT ordinance carried out on himself writing "circumcised the eighth day" (Php 3:5+). 

God, the Creator of everything, knew that an infant's coagulation factors would be low in the first 7 days of life and that circumcision in that time could result in uncontrollable bleeding and loss of the infant's life. Below is a diagram which demonstrates the progressive rise in prothrombin levels which are produced in the liver and are dependent on Vitamin K. Notice that the prothrombin levels reach 100% range on day eight. This is just another piece of the puzzle to support that the Bible is fully inspired, word for word! So much for evolution! Click diagram below to enlarge...

Circumcise (4059)(peritemno from perí = around + témno = cut off - see study of peritome) means literally to cut something off or away ("to cut off around"), signifying a removal of that which has been cut away.

And they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father - Something like "Zacharias, Jr!" Tradition dictated that the child should receive a family name, honoring a parent, a grandparent, or some other relative. (cf Mk 7:5, Tradition from Fiddler on the Roof) Note the pronoun they indicating this is not the will of Zacharias or Elizabeth but the Jewish crowd. Custom dictated that the firstborn son be named after his father.  Were going to call is in the imperfect tense which gives us a vivid picture of this scene and could be paraphrased they were "repeatedly trying to call him Zacharias." 

Stein - We find a parallel to this naming of John the Baptist at his circumcision in the following account about Jesus (Luke 2:21+), but it was more common to name a child at birth (cf. Ge 4:1; 21:3; 25:25–26). It was unusual to name a son after his father, since a man tended to be identified as (John) son of (Zechariah), i.e., (John), Bar-(Zechariah); and Zechariah Bar-Zechariah would have been strange. (New American Commentary - Luke)

Hughes quips "The relatives assumed that the boy would be “little Zechariah”—“big Zech and little Zech.” That was a nice thought, but a wrong one." (Preaching the Word - Luke)

Hendriksen - "In the old dispensation the naming of the child occurred in connection with its birth (Ge 21:1–3; 25:24–26; etc.). The present passage (and cf. Luke 2:21+) appears to be the earliest witness for the practice of connecting the naming of a child with circumcision."

Bob Utley on circumcision - This was practiced by all of Israel’s neighbors except the Philistines (Greek Aegean people). For most cultures it was usually a rite of passage into manhood, but not for Israel (it was instead an initiation rite into the covenant People). It was a sign of a special faith relationship with YHWH (Ge. 17:9–14). Each Patriarch circumcised his own sons (i.e. acted as priest for his own family). Robert Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament, p. 214, says the rite of circumcision connected the rite of blood-shedding with the act of circumcision. Blood was connected to covenant forming (cf. Ge. 15:17), covenant breaking (cf. Gen. 2:17), and covenant redemption (cf. Isa. 53). (The Gospel According to Luke)

Related Resource:

Luke 1:60  But his mother answered and said, "No indeed; but he shall be called John."

GENUINE OBEDIENCE
DOES NOT HESITATE

Elizabeth (and Zacharias) were as we say today "Swimming against the tide" which means to go against or disagree with a prevailing or popularly held opinion or perspective; to act or behave contrary to the majority of others. It means you do or say the opposite of what most other people are doing or saying. Obedience to God often involves "swimming against the tide," going against what the rest of the fallen world is doing or believing. It is uncomfortable and will seldom get the applause of others. Ultimately, we need to let the Word of Truth undergird our mind (Jn 17:17), the Spirit of Truth to enable our will (Php 2:13+), and the Glory of God to be our goal. 

Bock writes "WHEN GOD ACTS, we should listen. Zechariah has learned this lesson. When the birth of John was announced to him, he could not believe it, so the Lord gave him a sign for reflection: He would be unable to speak until all was fulfilled (Lk 1:18-20+). Then he would know that God does what He says (ED: AND MEANS WHAT HE SAYS!). The present passage shows the outcome of Zechariah’s reflection. As a righteous man, he has learned from his mistake. Through the pain of the discipline, he emerges a stronger man of God (Heb 12:10, 11+). Those who are arrogant, thinking they know it all, have no need for God or for instruction. Zechariah is not an arrogant man." (NIV Application Commentary - Luke)

But his mother answered - Zacharias though unable to speak had nevertheless clearly communicated God's wishes for their child's name. And Elizabeth did not hesitate for a moment to counter the crowd's call to name him after his father! She obeyed without hesitation. Delayed obedience is always disobedience!

No indeed; but he shall be called John - No indeed is a strong Greek negative ouchi which is a strengthened form of the strongest negative (ou) and could be translated "not so," "by no means," "not al all," "no you don't," or our modern idiom "mo way!". In short, Elizabeth is answering negatively about as forcefully as one can in the Greek! This matter was not open for discussion and could not be a group decision! Case closed! The phrase he shall be called while future tense, in context clearly conveys the force of an imperative or command. The angel from God told her husband "you will give him the name John." (Lk 1:13+) They resisted peer pressure (which is never easy) and obeyed God's clear word. This is a good pattern for all God's children to emulate (cf Heb 6:12+) - if peer pressure tries to coerce you to do something contrary to God's clear word, then in a word "DON'T!" Remember that to obey is always better than sacrifice (1 Sa 15:22), for as David declared "You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.  17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise." (Ps 51:16-17+)

THOUGHT FROM MATTOON - This may have seemed like an insignificant matter. It's just a name for a baby. There is, however, an important principle that is hidden here. This crowd is typical of the world today. How many times have servants of the Lord and the work of the Lord been given the wrong names or incorrectly labeled by the world? Those who are wicked have difficulty in calling that which is right or wrong by its correct name. People who are wicked tend to call that which is evil, good and that which is good is considered as evil. If a Christian has convictions and won't compromise with sin, he is considered as snooty, stuck-up, and judgmental. If he takes a stand against premarital sex and drunkenness, he is considered narrow minded, out of touch, or from another planet. If he stands against abortion, he is accused of being a dangerous nut and violating someone's rights. If he stands against homosexuality, he is accused of being a bigot and promoting hate crimes....Beloved, when a nation or an individual rejects the Word of God and the authority of Scripture, when people fail to recognize evil as "evil," that nation or person loses their common sense and invites God's judgment. (Pr 17:13)....Let us be like Elisabeth and speak up for the truth no matter how outnumbered we may be. May we stand up for what is right, even if we stand alone. What will you turn out to be? If you spend your life standing for Christ and for what is right, you will turn out to be a tremendous blessing to many people. 

NET Note - By insisting on the name specified by the angel, Elizabeth (Lk 1:60) and Zacharias (Lk 1:63) have learned to obey God (see Luke 1:13-note).

John - "the Lord's gracious gift" (Spurgeon) See "Behind the Name"

MacArthur on the names of John and his parents - The reason the baby’s name was nonnegotiable was because God Himself, as He had done in the cases of Isaac (Gen. 17:19), Isaiah’s son (Isa. 8:3), Hosea’s children (Hos. 1:4, 6, 9), and would shortly do in the case of Jesus (Matt. 1:21), had chosen it. Iōannēs (John) is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Jehohanan (or Johanan), which means, “God is gracious.” The name reflects God’s gracious salvation, in which John would figure prominently as Messiah’s forerunner. The names of his parents also unfold aspects of the plan of redemption. “Zacharias” means, “God remembers” (i.e., is faithful to His promises), while “Elizabeth” may mean, “my God has sworn” or “my God is an oath,” in other words, He is “the Absolutely Reliable One” (William Hendriksen, The Gospel of Luke [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978], 65). Both of those possible meanings of Elizabeth’s name also refer to God’s faithfulness. (Luke Commentary)

Allen Ross on John - The LORD God had named the child, “John,” and so the parents now comply with that instruction, much to the astonishment of everyone.  Two observations: First, the name “John” is a beautiful Hebrew name, more precisely Yohanan (pronounced Yo-kha-nan, a guttural sound kh in the middle--which is how the nickname Jack came from John).  It means, “Yah [the LORD] is merciful” or “Yah [the LORD] has been gracious.”  It is a good name for this child, because God showed favor/mercy to Elizabeth.  But the whole chapter is about the unfolding mercy of God in their lives, and in the human race.  To have the prophet named for the meaning of the message is typical of the Bible.  Second, God named the child.  Whoever names, or renames, in the Bible shows sovereignty.  This would be their child in one sense, but in the true sense John belonged to God.  God gave him, God named him, and God would fill him with His Spirit.

Mattoon on obedience - Obedience brings blessing as we have seen all throughout the Bible. The Israelites that marched around Jericho for one week found this out. The walls came down as promised because God's people did what they were told to do. Gideon's 300 men defeated the massive army of the Midianites with their horns and torches because they followed God's weird instructions. The disciples that obeyed Jesus and cast their nets on the other side of the boat after a long night of unsuccessful fishing found out the huge blessing that comes from obeying the Lord. Their nets were stuffed. Beloved, God looks at our obedience in little matters before He entrusts us with bigger responsibilities. Luke 16:10- He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

Luke 1:61  And they said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name."

TAKEN ABACK
THE CROWD DISSENTS

MacArthur observes that "For a group to participate in the naming of a child was not unusual; according to Ruth 4:17+, “The neighbor women gave him [the son of Boaz and Ruth] a name, saying, ‘A son [i.e., descendant] has been born to Naomi!’ So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.”...In Jewish culture, names were meant to be descriptive. Sometimes they reflected a person’s physical characteristics; for example, Esau means, “hairy,” and Jacob, “one who grabs the heel”—an obvious reference to what he did at his birth (Ge 25:26). Other names expressed the parents’ joy over their child’s birth, such as Saul and Samuel, both of which mean “asked for.” Other names, such as Elijah (“Yahweh is God”), reflected the parents’ faith. (Luke Commentary)

And they said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name." - Leifield suggests that "The objection from Elizabeth (Lk 1:60) was against custom and was apparently discounted, probably because she was only a woman." (Expositor's Bible Commentary)  In any event, while Luke does not state it, clearly Elizabeth stood firm despite attempts by relatives to name him something besides John. In short her obedience was not only immediate but persistent! Her actions remind me of a well-known Christian book entitled "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society"

Kent Hughes notes that "It is difficult for us to appreciate what a jolt this was to the family (ATTENDING THE BIRTH CELEBRATION), because in that culture children were always named after someone in the family. The double vehemence of the old couple was truly shocking....But there is more to this because by giving the boy a non-family name, God was indicating that his mission and power would come from outside the natural order. Who he was could not be explained by his being the child of his parents. The name John was meant to stir their spiritual imagina-tions." (Preaching the Word - Luke)

Luke 1:62  And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called.

  • Luke 1:22-note But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute.
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SIGNING TO
ZACHARIAS

And they made signs to his father - This is a strange thing to do considering that Zacharias was mute but he was not deaf! Well, maybe not because the Greek word kophos in Lk 1:22 has two main meanings (1) Incapable of speaking = mute (Mt 9.32) or (2) incapable of hearing = deaf (Mk 9.25). Luke is a doctor and thus this detail is not inconsequential, possibly serving to affirm that Zacharias had been struck both deaf and mute. While Spurgeon and the NET Note below think this is the explanation, not everyone agrees so we will have to wait until eternity future to ask him!

Spurgeon on they made signs - For he was deaf as well as dumb, a double chastisement for his unbelief, which was now to be graciously removed

NET Note - The crowd was sure there had been a mistake, so they appealed to the child’s father. But custom was not to be followed here, since God had spoken. The fact they needed to signal him (made signs) shows that he was deaf as well as unable to speak.

Made signs (only here in NT)(1770)(enneuo) means to signify by bodily movement, and such as to nod at, or make signs by hand gestures. The idea is to communicate silently and non-verbally by signals or signs. Uses twice in Septuagint of winking the eye (Pr 6:13, Pr 10:10).

Luke 1:63  And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, "His name is John." And they were all astonished.

ZACHARIAS SHOWS HE
HAS LEARNED THE LESSON

And he asked for a tablet  - The writing tablet requested by Zacharias would have been a wooden tablet covered with wax, not an Ipad.

Tablet (only here in the NT)(4093)(pinakidion) is a diminutive of pinax (board, tablet) and descriibes a writing tablet covered with wax. Not found in the Septuagint. 

And wrote as follows, "His name is John" - (Hebrew = Yohanan = "Jehovah is gracious" or "The LORD has given grace"). Notice that Zacharias is more definitive than Elizabeth's "but he shall be called John," with a terse, emphatic "His name is John!" God had named the child (Luke 1:13+) and Zacharias, having learned his lesson, obediently gives him that name.

And they were all astonished - Why were they so surprised? Because they had been so certain of what the boy's name would be. Tradition is a strong force in our minds! And they were struck with wonder that Zacharias, a Jewish priest, would break from tradition. 

This experience at John’s birth is paralleled at Jesus’ birth

When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child (JESUS). And all who heard it wondered (thaumazo) at the things which were told them by the shepherds. (Lk 2:17–18+)

Astonished (2296)(thaumazo) means struck with sudden and usually great wonder or surprise, and surprised so greatly as to seem incredible. 

Luke 1:64  And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God.

  •  his mouth. Luke 1:20. Ex. 4:15, 16. Ps. 51:15. Je. 1:9. Eze. 3:27; 29:21; 33:22. Mat. 9:33. Mark 7:32–37.
  • and he. Ps. 30:7–12; 118:18, 19. Is. 12:1. Da. 4:34–37.
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ZECHARIAS' TRIAL TERMINATES IN
AN UNTIED TONGUE THAT PRAISES GOD

At once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed - Don't miss the miracle! God unties his tongue! Note the reaction of those gathered for this occasion (see Lk 1:65)! At once is parachrema which means instantly, so unlike the so-called miracles of today "faith healers!". A miraculous reversal of Luke 1:20 and a fulfilment of the angel's prophecy. Zacharias' unbelief had been replaced by belief as one aspect of the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Heb 12:11+)! His faith brought obedience (see Obedience of faith) which brought blessing. We also do well to note that his first reflexive action was to offer praise to God, some of which is recorded in Luke 1:67-79+

Kent Hughes makes an interesting comment that "Significantly, Zechariah’s initial words did not include his son’s name but were an outpouring of praise to God. Think of the spiritual voltage here! Zechariah has endured nine months of speechless frustration, and during the last three a young woman kept talking and asking questions by making signs to him, and he could only respond by scribbling answers on his writing pad. Now all that pent-up frustration poured out in loud, emotional praise. In this way he foreshadowed the future God-glorifying ministry of his son." (Ibid)

NET Note on mouth and tongue - The mention of both mouth and tongue here is a figure called zeugma (The joining of two nouns to one verb when logically only one of the nouns goes with the verb) and emphasizes that the end of the temporary judgment came instantly and fully upon Zechariah's expression of faith in naming the child. He had learned to trust and obey God during his short period of silence. He had learned from his trial.

John Phillips quips that "The old priest's last word had been one of doubt; his first word now was one of delight. Then he had wanted a sign; now he wanted to sing." (Exploring Luke)

Opened (455)(anoigo from ana = again + oigo = to open) means to open, to open up, to open again, to give access to. In this passage it is used literally open Zacharias' mouth that he might begin to speak (cf Jesus in Mt 5:2). Figuratively it means to open one's eyes spiritually causing them to see into the unseen world (Acts 26:18+, 2 Cor 4:18+). The next two uses of anoigo by Luke are interesting -  "heaven was opened" (Lk. 3:21), "He opened the book " (Lk. 4:17). There is an interesting parallel in Acts when the Spirit came, filled the believers, and they began to praise God - "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance...speaking of the mighty deeds of God." (Acts 2:4, 11+) This would suggest that even now Zacharias praise to God was the fruit of his being filled with the Spirit which he clearly is in Lk 1:67+.

All of Luke's uses of anoigo - Lk. 1:64; Lk. 3:21; Lk. 4:17; Lk. 11:9; Lk. 11:10; Lk. 12:36; Lk. 13:25; Jn. 1:51; Acts 5:19; Acts 5:23; Acts 8:32; Acts 8:35; Acts 9:8; Acts 9:40; Acts 10:11; Acts 10:34; Acts 12:10; Acts 12:14; Acts 12:16; Acts 14:27; Acts 16:26; Acts 16:27; Acts 18:14; Acts 26:18.

At once (3916)(parachrema from pará = at, and chrḗma = something useful or needed) means suddenly, immediately, at the very moment, on the spot, forthwith, directly after something else has taken place. It sometimes has the implication of unexpectedness in certain context as the withering of the fig tree (Mt 21:19, 20). Note how most of the uses are in the context of a miraculous event and emphasize the absence of delay in the performance of the miracle (Lk 4:39+; Lk 5:25+; Lk 8:44, 47, 55+; Lk 13:13+; Lk 18:43+).

Parachrema is used to describe Peter's mother in law "immediately" getting up after Jesus rebuked the fever (Lk 4:39+), the paralyzed man "immediately got up" after Jesus healed him (Lk 5:25+), the woman's hemorrhage stopping "immediately" after she touched the fringe of Jesus' cloak (Lk 8:44, 8:55+), of the woman bent double "Immediately" standing erect after Jesus laid His hands on her (Lk 13:13+), of the blind man "immediately" receiving his sight at the command of Jesus (Lk 18:43, 42+), of Jesus' disciples misconception that "the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately (Lk 19:11+), before a cock crowed a second time Peter denied Jesus and immediately he crowed (Lk 22:60+), of the man lame from birth who Peter seized by the right "and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened (Acts 3:7+), of Sapphira lying to Peter and "immediately" falling dead at his feet (Acts 5:10), of Herod's being struck "immediately" by an angel because he did not give God the glory (Acts 12:23+), of Saul (Paul) made blind "immediately" (Acts 13:11+), of the sudden earthquake that liberated Paul and Silas from prison (Acts 16:25, 26+), and lastly of the immediate baptism of the jailer at Philippi (Acts 19:33+).

Parachrema - 18x in 18v - note most uses are by Dr Luke for this was one of his medical words and occurs most of in connection with disease or healing.

Matt. 21:19; Matt. 21:20; Lk. 1:64; Lk. 4:39; Lk. 5:25; Lk. 8:44; Lk. 8:47; Lk. 8:55; Lk. 13:13; Lk. 18:43; Lk. 19:11; Lk. 22:60; Acts 3:7; Acts 5:10; Acts 12:23; Acts 13:11; Acts 16:26; Acts 16:33

Parachrema - 8x in 8v in the Septuagint - 

Nu 6:9; Nu 12:4; 2 Sa 3:12; Job 39:30; Job 40:12; Ps. 40:15; Isa. 29:5; Isa. 30:13; 

He began to speak (laleo) in praise of God - Began to speak is imperfect tense speaks of his praising God over and over, again and again, a good patter for all of us! His first words were not to grumble or complain but to praise God! This is surely a Spirit filled man (Lk 1:67). He reminds me of David after he had sinned against God and in Psalm 51 asked "O Lord, open (Lxx = anoigo) my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise." 

Spurgeon - The dumb man in a moment not only spake, but sang for very joy. The Lord is a God of wonders.

Praise (bless) (2127)(eulogeo from eu = good + lógos = word; see cognates eulogetos and eulogia) means speak good or well. The present tense indicates Zacharias was continually praising God, a good pattern for our God's children to emulate.

Luke's frequent uses of eulogeo - Lk. 1:42; Lk. 1:64; Lk. 2:28; Lk. 2:34; Lk. 6:28; Lk. 9:16; Lk. 13:35; Lk. 19:38; Lk. 24:30; Lk. 24:50; Lk. 24:51; Lk. 24:53; Acts 3:26

Luke 1:65  Fear came on all those living around them; and all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea.

  • fear. Luke 7:16. Ac. 2:43; 5:5, 11; 19:17. Re. 11:11.
  • sayings. or, things. all the. Luke 1:39. Jos. 10:6, 40.
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ZACHARIAS AND HIS FAMILY
BECOME THE "TALK OF THE TOWN"

As Phillips observes "God had broken His long silence! There could be no doubt about that." (Exploring Acts)

Fear came on all those living around them - The NET Note says that "Fear is the emotion that comes when one recognizes something unusual, even supernatural, has taken place." The reaction by the people is similar to the that of the crowds in Mt 9:33 "After the demon was cast out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed, and were saying, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” There was clearly a sense that this was the work of God in their midst and a personal encounter with holy God by unholy people is a fearful thing! God's presence caused them to tremble with a holy awe much like Isaiah responded to his divine encounter in Isaiah 6:1-4, 5+. Compare a similar reaction in Acts 19:17+ in the context of Acts 19:12-16+ where the sons of Sceva were assaulted by the demons.

Luke records a similar reaction to the sense that God was present and active in the newly formed church in Acts 2 writing that "everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles." (Act 2:43+)

When Jesus raised the dead man in Lk 7:16+ "Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!”

Fear (awe) (5401)(phobos from phebomai = flee, withdraw) is used in an active sense to describe that which causes fear or terror. It is usually an emotion of severe distress aroused by intense concern of some impending pain, danger, etc, and is usually accompanied by a desire to flee because feeling inadequate or without sufficient resources. Fundamentally phóbos involves separating from, removing oneself and hence avoiding because of dread or fright. Phobos is used positively in relation to God, of avoiding or fleeing from what displeases the Lord, and embracing what is truly good and in His will. 

Phillips makes a good point writing that the people recognized that "God had broken His long silence! There could be no doubt about that."

And all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea - All these matters would surely be all the details of this miraculous conception announced by an angel to a priest whose wife Elizabeth was barren and of advanced age and how Zacharias' unbelief had resulted in him being struck mute, and then 9 months later instantly healed when he wrote John's name on a tablet. This miraculous news spread throughout Judea. It would also have included important news that John would be a forerunner of the Messiah (Lk 1:17+), which would in turn serve to heighten Messianic expectations among the Jews in Judea. And one has to believe this news found its way to the religious leaders in Jerusalem. 

The hill country of Judea - See location on map. The city Jerusalem is situated in the very middle; on which account some have, with sagacity enough, called that city the Navel of the country. 

Luke 1:66  All who heard them kept them in mind, saying, "What then will this child turn out to be?" For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him.

  • kept them in mind. Luke 2:19, 51; 9:44. Ge. 37:11. Ps. 119:11.
  • For the hand. Luke 1:80; Luke 2:40. Ge. 39:2. Jdg 13:24, 25. 1 Sa. 2:18; 16:18. 1 Ki. 18:46. Ps. 80:17; 89:21. Ac. 11:21.
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NET  All who heard these things kept them in their hearts, saying, "What then will this child be?" For the Lord's hand was indeed with him.

TREASURING THESE THINGS
IN THEIR HEARTS

All who heard them kept them in mind - Literally "in the heart." KJV has "laid them up in their hearts." Other translations have "the hearers treasured them in their heart, pondering" (Fenton), "No one who heard it could forget it" (Barclay). The point is that the supernatural events the people had witnessed and heard about made a deep impression. We see a similar description in Lk 2:19+ ("Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.") and Lk 3:15+ ("all were wondering in their hearts").

Hughes - They could sense God was at work, and an exhilarating reverence coursed through their souls. This resulted in ongoing spiritual conversations—an eminently healthy state. (Ibid)

Mind (2588)(kardia) is mainly the center and source of the whole inner life (Mt 18:35 ; Lk 16:15; 2 Cor 5:12; 1 Th 2:4; 1 Pt 1:22; 3:4). Of the emotions (source and seat of our emotional life) = Jn 16:6, 22; Ro 1:24; Heb 10:22. Of the will (source and seat of the volitional life) = Acts 11:23; Ro 2:5, 15; 2 Pt 2:14. Kardia may sometimes be translated mind (the rational life) =  Lk 24:25; Ac 7:23; Ro 1:21; 2 Cor 9:7, and approaches the sense conscience 1 Jn 3:20f. The heart is viewed as the human dwelling place of heavenly beings and powers (Ro 5.5; 2Cor 1.22; Eph 3.17). 

NET Note adds this note on mind in the present passage - "The term "heart" (kardia) could also be translated as "mind," or "thoughts," and the entire phrase be rendered as "kept them in mind," "thought about," or the like. But the immediate context is clearly emotive, suggesting that much more is at work than merely the mental processes of thinking or reasoning about "these things." There is a sense of joy and excitement (see the following question, "What then will this child be?") and even fear. Further, the use of kardia in Luke 1:66 suggests connections with the same term in Luke 2:19-+ where deep emotion is being expressed as well. Therefore, recognizing both the dramatic nature of the immediate context and the literary connections to Luke 2:19, the NET translation renders the term in Luke 1:66 as "hearts" to capture both the cognitive and emotive aspects of the people's response."

"What then will this child (paidion) turn out to be?"- Just what is this boy John going to become?  What is this child's future going to be? There was a sense of Messianic hope and expectation given the supernatural circumstances surrounding John's birth. In other words, there would have been a sense that "God is up to something!"

ILLUSTRATION - William Barclay shared a story about a teacher that pertained to this question. He said, "There was an old Latin schoolmaster who always bowed gravely to his class before he taught them. When he was asked why, he answered, 'Because you never know what one of these lads will turn out to be.'" The birth of any child is a birth of possibilities. What would become of John the Baptist? Concerning his early childhood and early adult years, Luke gives us one verse, Luke 1:80!

THOUGHT FROM MATTOON - "What will you turn out to be? What will you become?" We usually ask these questions to people that are young. We need to be asking these questions of ourselves right now, no matter what are age. I don't care if you are five, fifteen, twenty-five, fifty-five, or eighty-five. What will you become? What will you be ten years from now if Jesus tarries and you live that long? Will you be faithful to live for Christ or fizzle out? Beloved, what you are tomorrow is affected by what you have done and the choices you have made in your past. More importantly, what you are tomorrow is being determined by what you are and do today. The foundations of your life in the future are laid by your past and present. Yesterday is gone, but today is a new day. You can do something about today. If you have failed in the past, then today, you can make the decision to get your life right with God and others and take the steps to be faithful to the Lord from this time forth in your life. The power of being faithful to Christ rests in what happens today. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not here yet. You do, however, have today to make your life count for Jesus Christ. Your past may be filled with great blessings and achievements for Christ, but you can foul that up today. You cannot live in the past for that time is dead and used up. Today is a new day to live your life for the Lord and make your life count for Him. If you will take one day at a time to be surrendered to Christ, you will finish your life in victory and faithfulness. You will turn out to be a Christian that honors God.

THE HAND OF THE LORD
WITH JOHN THE BAPTIST

For the hand of the Lord (kurios) was certainly with him - Don't miss the "for" (gar) which is a term of explanation, which should always cause us to pause and ask what is the author explaining? What is Luke explaining in this case? That from the circumstances of John's supernatural angelic birth announcement, his miraculous conception and his birth, the good hand of the Lord was certainly with him.

What does the hand of the Lord signify? First note that this is the "good" hand (SAVING POWER of HIs Hand in Acts 11:21+), not the "bad" hand (JUDGMENT as in Acts 13:11+, Jdg 2:15, 1 Sa 5:6, 9, Isa 51:17), the latter being associated with God's displeasure. To the contrary, John experienced the good hand of the Lord signifying His presence, His power (cf Ezra  7:9, 7:28, Ezek 3:14), His provision (Ezra 7:6, Ps 104:28), His direction, His grace, His blessing, etc. No one is more secure than the one who is held in God’s hand (Jn 10:28). Merrill says that “The ‘hand of the Lord”‘ is always a metaphor for His power." The hand of the Lord that came upon John is an anthropomorphism expressing the direct control and divine empowerment that Yahweh exercised over John the Baptist. The hand of the Lord on John would enable him to accomplish his difficult ministry. 

THOUGHT - We too need the good hand of the Lord upon our life and ministry if we are to accomplish anything of God pleasing, God glorifying, and of eternal value! (cf 2 Cor 3:5, 6+, Jn 15:5, Jn 15:16). You ask then how can I assure the GOOD hand of the Lord is on me? There is more than one answer but for sake of time and space we will look at one very clear illustration. Ezra gives us the perfect "template" to follow in Ezra 7:9-10+ "For on the first of the first month he began to go up from Babylon; and on the first of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, because the good hand of his God was upon him. 10 For (TERM OF EXPLANATION = EXPLAINS WHY THE GOOD HAD OF THE LORD WAS UPON EZRA) Ezra had (1) set his heart (2) to study the law of the LORD (3) and to practice it (A DOER, NOT JUST A HEARER - James 1:22+), and (4) to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel." Notice it all begins with our HEART! Compare Proverbs 4:23+

God’s hand that holds the ocean’s depths
Can hold my small affairs;
His hand that guides the universe,
Can carry all my cares.
—Anon.

John Phillips has an interesting thought on the hand of the Lord with John - "The hand of the Lord was with him!" Or, as we would say, they held hands. If a couple is going to hold hands, one thing is necessary-closeness! It is very difficult to hold hands if two or three people manage to get in between. If John and the Lord were going to hold hands, nobody and nothing must come between.

It is notable the hand of the Lord was also on the prophet Elijah (1 Ki 18:46 = "the hand of the LORD was on Elijah, and he girded up his loins and outran Ahab to Jezreel.") for the angel had declared to Zacharias that John "will go as a forerunner before Him (MESSIAH) in the spirit and power of Elijah." (Lk 1:17+)

Related Resource:

  • See resources on The Hand of the Lord - The hand of the Lord is primarily an OT phrase. Study this great phrase which occurs 38x in 37 verses (NAS) - Ex. 9:3; Deut. 2:15; Jos. 4:24; Jos. 22:31; Jdg. 2:15; Ruth 1:13; 1 Sam. 5:6; 1 Sam. 5:9; 1 Sam. 7:13; 1 Sam. 12:15; 2 Sam. 24:14; 1 Ki. 18:46; 2 Ki. 3:15; 1 Chr. 21:13; Ezr. 7:6; Ezr. 7:28; Job 12:9; Ps. 75:8; Ps. 118:15; Ps. 118:16; Prov. 21:1; Isa. 19:16; Isa. 25:10; Isa. 41:20; (cf Isa 51:17) Isa. 62:3; Isa. 66:14; Jer. 51:7; Ezek. 1:3; Ezek. 3:14; Ezek. 3:22; Ezek. 8:1; Ezek. 33:22; Ezek. 37:1; Ezek. 40:1; Lk. 1:66; Acts 11:21; Acts 13:11

Luke 1:67  And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:

ZACHARIAS' PROPHETIC SONG
THE BENEDICTUS
Luke 1:67-80

Benedictus is from first word in the Latin Vulgate for Blessed (eulogētos = “blessed”; Latin = benedictus). As you read Zacharias' prophetic song notice the frequent allusions to other prophecies from the Old Testament. Here's the point -- this man was walking blamelessly before the Lord and one reason undoubtedly is because he was a Word Saturated man (THUS ABLE TO DRAW DEFTLY FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES), and this also relates to his being a Spirit Saturated man because filling with the Word is clearly linked with filling with the Spirit

THOUGHT - Zacharias' example begs the question - Are you in the Word of God daily? Better yet is the Word sinking down into your heart? If not, this might be part of the reason you are not Filled with the Spirit and as John MacArthur wrote "Being filled with the Spirit is the constant goal and lifelong pursuit of all believers (Eph 5:18+)." See the chart which clearly demonstrates the vital relationship between being Filled with the  Holy Spirit and being richly indwelt by His Holy Word. Paul commands us to continually imitate Jesus 1 Cor 11:1+. Paul also commands us to commands us to continually be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18+) and to continually be filled with the Word (Col 3:16+) - this is the way Jesus was enabled to resist the temptations of the devil. He DID NOT rely on His divine power, but on the divine provision, so that me might be able to imitate His pattern! Had He relied on His power, we could never have imitated Him! So we see that the filling (controlling) of the Spirit and the wielding of the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God - Eph 6:17+) is the "Jesus way" of defeating temptation in our lives! (See the commentary on Mark 1:12-13+ and the related commentary on Luke 4:1-14+) (See also The Holy Spirit-Walking Like Jesus Walked!)

And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying ("controlled by the Holy Spirit" - Amplified) - Zacharias was Spirit filled/controlled and the Spirit gave him  utterance so that he prophesied. One of the first "marks" of a man or woman who is filled with or controlled by the Holy Spirit is "holy speech" often delivered with boldness and without fear of possible reprisals! This entire family was Spirit filled - John in Lk 1:15+, Elizabeth in Lk 1:41+ and here Zacharias!  Prophesied can mean simply to speak forth (FORTHTELL) or to speak before (some event occurs), predicting something would happen before it happened (FORETELL). While much of Zacharias' "song" is a speaking forth, it is interspersed with eschatological overtones. The important point of this verb is that the prophet serves as a conduit so that the words he speaks are God's words, "for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God!" (2 Peter 1:21+)

It is notable that filling with the Spirit was often connected to speaking a message from God. In 2 Samuel 23:2, David declared,

“The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue.”

In Luke 2 we read of Simeon

And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,  29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word;  30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation,  31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,  32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.” (Lk 2:27-32+)

We see a similar pattern of Spirit controlled saints at Pentecost after being filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:4+) "began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance" and they spoke "of the mighty deeds of God.” (Acts 2:11+)

In Acts 2 clearly Peter was filled with the Spirit as he preached a sermon with about 3000 being saved. And then again in Acts 4:8-12+ Luke records

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, 9if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by this name this man stands here before you in good health. 11 “He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. 12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Was filled (4092) See previous discussion of this verb pimplemi. Luke uses it 5 times in this chapter. Two speaks of time being filled up or completed (Lk 1:23 and Lk 1:57) The other 3 uses refer to being filled with the Holy Spirit - Lk. 1:15; Lk. 1:41; Lk 1:67 John MacArthur adds that here in Luke 1 regarding filled with the Spirit "In every case where someone was Spirit-filled in Luke’s nativity account, the result was Spirit-directed worship." Cf. Eph 5:18–20.

Steven Cole observes that "Salvation is the theme of Zacharias' prophecy: He mentions "redemption" (Lk 1:68); "salvation" (Lk 1:69, 71, 77); and, "being delivered" (Lk 1:74).

Prophesied (4395) (propheteuo from próphemi = tell beforehand <> pró = before or forth + phemí = tell) means to speak under inspiration of God's Spirit (Lu 1:67; Acts 2:17, 18; 19:6; 21:9), foretell things to come, tell forth God’s message. Zechariah prophesied the coming of a Savior who would redeem his people and predicted that his son, John, would prepare the Messiah's way.

NET Note - The reference to prophecy reflects that Zechariah is enabled by the Spirit to speak God's will. He does so in this case through a praise psalm, which calls for praise and then gives the reason why God should be praised.  

John Phillips - Suddenly filled with the Spirit, this obscure priest took his place among the prophets. His long enforced silence had thrown Zacharias in upon himself, to meditate no doubt on some of the great passages of Scripture that he had known since boyhood but that now came home to him with new depths of meaning. For three months, he had been Mary's host. No doubt his writing tablet had been busy with questions. Elizabeth was soon to give birth to the Messenger; Mary would soon give birth to the Messiah. Now, his tongue untied, he recorded his musings

Related Resources:

Luke 1:68  "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,

  • Blessed. Ge. 9:26; 14:20. 1 Ki. 1:48. 1 Ch. 29:10, 20. Ps. 41:13; 72:17–19; 106:48. Ep. 1:3. 1 Pe. 1:3.
  • He. Luke 7:16; 19:44. Ex. 3:16, 17; 4:31. Ps. 111:9. Ep. 1:7.
  • Verse-by-Verse - Multiple Commentaries - Luke 1:67 Commentaries
  • Luke 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

NET   Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, because he has come to help and has redeemed his people.

GNT  Εὐλογητὸς κύριος ὁ θεὸς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, ὅτι ἐπεσκέψατο καὶ ἐποίησεν λύτρωσιν τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ,

NLT   Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people.

KJV   Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,

ESV  Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people

ASV  Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; For he hath visited and wrought redemption for his people,

CSB  Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and provided redemption for His people.

NIV  Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.

NKJ  Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people,

NRS  Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.

YLT  Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel, Because He did look upon, And wrought redemption for His people,

NAB  Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and brought redemption to his people.

NJB  Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited his people, he has set them free,

GWN Praise the Lord God of Israel! He has come to take care of his people and to set them free.

BBE  Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has come to his people and made them free,

ZECHARIUS' PROPHETIC
BENEDICTUS BEGINS

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel - NIV, NLT, GWN = "Praise the Lord, the God of Israel." As noted above the Latin Vulgate begins with Benedictus the name commonly given to Zacharias' prophecy. What better way to begin prophecy, speaking forth, than by praising the Lord God! It reminds me of David in Psalm 103:1-2 "Bless (begins