Luke 2 Commentary

NOTE: This Verse by Verse Commentary page is part of an ongoing project to add notes to each verse of the Bible. Therefore many verses do not yet have notes, but if the Lord tarries and gives me breath, additions will follow in the future. The goal is to edify and equip you for the work of service (Eph 4:12-13-note) that the Lord God might be glorified in your life and in His Church. Amen (Isa 61:3b, Mt 5:16-note)

Luke 2:1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.

  • Caesar: Lu 3:1 Ac 11:28 25:11,21 Php 4:22 
  • all: Mt 24:14 Mk 14:9 16:15 Ro 1:8 

Here are the pericopes for Luke 2

  1. The Birth of Jesus                           Luke 2:1-7
  2. The Shepherds and the Angels      Luke 2:8-20
  3. Jesus Presented in the Temple      Luke 2:21-40
  4. The Boy Jesus at the Temple         Luke 2:41-52


In those days (see value of querying expressions of time) - The days of the birth of the long expected Messiah. God is sovereign over everything, including the timing of events! You can stake your life on it!

Proverbs says that "The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes" (Pr 21:1) and so in Luke's account we see God moving the heart of  Augustus who, by his edict calling for a census, sets the historical stage for the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem. God through the edict caused Joseph to go from Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to fulfill Micah 5:2

Spurgeon - Little did any idea enter into Caesar’s head that he was accomplishing the purpose of God by bringing Mary to Bethlehem, at that particular time, so that her child might be born there. But God can accomplish the purpose of his providence, and of his grace, in any way that he pleases and although Caesar is not aware of all that is involved in his action, his decree, which he intends simply to be a means of registering his subjects, and of filling his exchequer, is to be overruled by God for the fulfillment of the prophecy, uttered centuries before the event happened, that Christ must be born at Bethlehem. It may seem, to some of you, a strange thing that there should be an imperial edict, issued from Rome, which should have an important influence upon the place of birth of the Child; yet I do not doubt that, in God’s esteem, the whole of the great Roman Empire was of very small account in comparison with his Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ; and today, the thrones and dominions of the mightiest monarchs are only like the small cogs of the wheels of divine providence where the welfare of even the least of the Lord’s people is concerned. He reckons not events according to their apparent importance; the standard of the sanctuary is a very different measure from that which worldlings use. When any purpose of God is to be accomplished, all other things will be subordinated to it.

God prompts Caesar to issue a decree, an imperial edict. Indeed, Our God Reigns (notice the main word in sovereign!)

Decree (1378)(dogma from dokéo = to think) refers to a fixed and authoritative decision or requirement (see the "decree" [dogma] of the emperors in Lu 2:1, Acts 17:7 = "the decrees of Caesar").

Caesar (2541)(kaisar - of Latin origin) refers to the emperor of Rome. It was originally a surname of Julius Caesar, later taken as a title by the chief Roman ruler. 

Gilbrant on kaisar The proper noun Kaisar is the Greek transliteration of the Latin word Caesar. “Caesar” was originally the family name of Gaius Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar was the final leader of the Roman Republic. He was assassinated on March 15, 44 B.C., by opponents in the Roman Senate who were concerned that he had amassed too much power. In his testament he had adopted his nephew Octavian, who assumed not only the name “Caesar” but also the military support and ultimately the political power previously held by Julius Caesar. By the year 27 B.C. Octavian had gained for himself the Republic’s ancient sacral title “Augustus” and was officially known as Imperator Caesar divi filius Augustus (“the Emperor Caesar Augustus, sacred son of god”). Caesar Augustus, as he was popularly called (cf. Luke 2:1), gradually consolidated virtual monarchic power in the imperial office, bringing the Roman Republic to a close and founding what is known as the “Principate.” Following his death in A.D. 14 each of his successors took the name “Caesar” as their imperial title. For an excellent brief summary of the political and military intrigue surrounding Julius and Augustus Caesar and the transition from the Republic to the Principate, see Koester, History, Culture and Religion of the Hellenistic Age, pp.298-307.  Kaisar is used in the New Testament to refer to Augustus (Luke 2:1); Tiberius (Luke 3:1 - A.D. 14–37), who was emperor during Jesus’ ministry; Claudius (Acts 17:7 and Acts 18:2 - A.D. 41–54 ); and Nero (probably the Caesar to whom Paul appealed in Acts 25:8-12, mentioned specifically in the subscript to 2 Timothy - A.D. 54–68). As mentioned above, “Caesar” was a name when applied to Augustus, but a title when referring to his imperial successors. It is possible that the title “Caesar” is used figuratively to refer to any human ruler or to the state in general in Jesus’ famous aphorism, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Mark 12:13-17; cf. Matthew 22:15-22; Luke 20:20-26). However, the context of the politically sensitive issue of paying taxes to support the Roman occupation makes this figurative use unlikely. (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Kaisar - Usage: Caesar(21), Caesar's(8). 29x in 23v - Matt. 22:17; Matt. 22:21; Mk. 12:14; Mk. 12:16; Mk. 12:17; Lk. 2:1; Lk. 3:1; Lk. 20:22; Lk. 20:24; Lk. 20:25; Lk. 23:2; Jn. 19:12; Jn. 19:15; Acts 17:7; Acts 25:8; Acts 25:10; Acts 25:11; Acts 25:12; Acts 25:21; Acts 26:32; Acts 27:24; Acts 28:19; Phil. 4:22

The reign of the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus was a time of relative peace on earth (the Pax Romana) and is one aspect of the "fullness of time" of which Paul spoke in Galatians 4:4-note writing "But when the fullness of the time came, God (Notice Who is in control of TIME! Our God is sovereign!) sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law."  This "time was full" because several events converged by God's providential working: (1). Roman civilization had brought peace and a road system (2). Grecian civilization provided a language--the lingua franca (3). Jews proclaimed monotheism and messianic hope in the synagogues of the Mediterranean world. There was a remnant of Jewish men and women who anticipated the time was at hand and who were actively "looking for redemption in Jerusalem" (for example, godly Simeon was "looking for the consolation of Israel" - Lu 2:25-note). Sadly most of the "chosen people" did not recognize the fullness of time as explained by Jesus Himself in Luke 19:44 when He declared "you (Jews) did not recognize the time (kairos) of your visitation (epskope - see word study - what a word picture! Verb form used by Mary in Lk 1:78 - she was "looking" for the Messiah!)." If they had read and interpreted literally the prophecy of Daniel they would have recognized Messiah the Prince (see Da 9:24-note; Da 9:25-note; Da 9:26-note; Da 9:27-note).

Wiersbe Augustus Caesar was ruling, but God was in charge, for He used Caesar's edict to move Mary and Joseph eighty miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem to fulfill His Word. Rome took a census every fourteen years for both military and tax purposes, and each Jewish male had to return to the city of his fathers to record his name, occupation, property, and family. When Mary said "Be it unto me according to Thy word" (Luke 1:38), it meant that from then on, her life would be a part of the fulfillment of divine prophecy. God had promised that the Saviour would be a human, not an angel (Gen. 3:15; Heb. 2:16), and a Jew, not a Gentile (Gen. 12:1-3; Num. 24:17). He would be from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10), and the family of David (2 Sam. 7:1-17), born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14) in Bethlehem,' the city of David (Micah 5:2).All of this occurred just as the Scriptures said, and Caesar unknowingly played an important part. A.T. Pierson used to say, "History is His story," and President James A. Garfield called history "the unrolled scroll of prophecy." If God's Word controls our lives, then the events of history only help us fulfill the will of God. "I am watching over My word to perform it," promises the Lord (Jer. 1:12, NASB) (The Bible Exposition Commentary)

Caesar Augustus -  (LatinImperātor Caesar Dīvī Fīlius Augustus 23 September 63 BC–19 August 14 AD) was the founder of the Roman Principate and considered the first Emperor, controlling the Roman Empire from 27 BC until his death in AD 14.

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that a census be taken - See note on census.

Census be taken (583) (apographo from apo = from + grapho = to write))  is used here literally of citizens enrolled or registered, e.g., as occurred in an official registration in tax lists. Also used in Luke 2:3, Luke 2:5 and once in Heb 12:23. Agographo is translated in the NAS: census be taken(1), enrolled(1), register(1), register for the census(1). Caesar had a census on earth but God has a more important census in heaven the writer of Hebrews recording

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled (perfect tense = speaks of past completed action with ongoing effect or result. In past when we believed we were in a sense "enrolled" and our enrollment will endure forever and ever amen!) in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of [the] righteous made perfect, (Heb. 12:22-23-note)

INHABITED EARTH: oikoumene ~ the inhabited earth when it has political reference in the NT, speaks of the Roman Empire or the Roman world. Such a decree does not reflect ignorance on the emperor's part, but arrogance. As great as the Roman empire was, he certainly knew that Rome could not gather taxes beyond its own boundaries. He did believe, however, that the rather limited part of the "world" ("inhabited world") which was controlled by Rome was all that deserved the designation. Thus is the pride of so many rulers of empires!

Who stands out in this huge census?  Jesus.

Luke 2:2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

  • taxing (KJV): Ac 5:37 
  • governor (KJV): Lu 3:1 Ac 13:7 18:12 23:26 26:30 

The KJV translates it "(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)"

Luke's Gospel is not only good news but it is a historically accurate record of the events surrounding the birth, life and death of the Messiah.

Henry Morris - Caesar Augustus, the first and probably greatest true emperor of Rome, consolidated power under himself and effectively terminated the days of the Roman republic in the period from 44 B.C. (when Julius Caesar was assassinated) until 27 B.C. He died in A.D. 14. Thus, Jesus was born in the later mid-years of his reign. 

First Census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria - Critics of the inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible appeal to this passage as an example of an error. See discussions below for explanation. 

Ryrie on Quirinius was governor of Syria - Apparently he was governor of Syria twice: from 4 B.C. to A.D. 1, when this census was taken, and again in A.D. 6-10. 

Steven Cole on Quirinius - There are some difficult problems which scholars have raised about Luke’s historical accuracy. One concerns the census in the time of Quirinius mentioned in chapter 2. There is no record that Augustus ever ordered such a census, and there is dispute over whether Quirinius was indeed governor of Syria at the time when Jesus was born. The fact that there is no independent record of such a census does not mean that it did not happen. We lack many historical records from the reign of Caesar Augustus. And the same is true regarding the years of Quirinius’ governorship. As one scholar has pointed out, “The probabilities are against Luke’s having been careless of a point so easily checked when he was affirming to a prominent leader his own care for accuracy, and was using historical detail to substantiate his central message.” Another scholar, William Ramsay, asked “how, if Luke made such a glaring error in the facts surrounding the birth of Christ, did these inaccuracies escape the attention of the enemies of the Gospel in Roman times?” (W. T. Dayton, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible [Zondervan], 3:1006). (Luke 1:1-4)

Norman Giesler addresses a question critics raise noting that "Luke states that the census decreed by Augustus was the first one taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. However, Quirinius did not become governor of Syria until after the death of Herod in about A.D. 6. Is this an error in Luke’s historical record?  Luke has not made an error. There are reasonable solutions to this difficulty. First, Quintilius Varus was governor of Syria from about 7 B.C. to about 4 B.C. Varus was not a trustworthy leader, a fact that was disastrously demonstrated in A.D. 9 when he lost three legions of soldiers in the Teutoburger forest in Germany. To the contrary, Quirinius was a notable military leader who was responsible for squelching the rebellion of the Homonadensians in Asia Minor. When it came time to begin the census, in about 8 or 7 B.C., Augustus entrusted Quirinius with the delicate problem in the volatile area of Palestine, effectively superseding the authority and governorship of Varus by appointing Quirinius to a place of special authority in this matter. It has also been proposed that Quirinius was governor of Syria on two separate occasions, once while prosecuting the military action against the Homonadensians between 12 and 2 B.C., and later beginning about A.D. 6. A Latin inscription discovered in 1764 has been interpreted to refer to Quirinius as having served as governor of Syria on two occasions.  It is possible that Luke 2:2 reads, “This census took place before Quirinius was governing Syria.” In this case, the Greek word translated “first” (prōtos) is translated as a comparative, “before.” Because of the awkward construction of the sentence, this is not an unlikely reading. Regardless of which solution is accepted, it is not necessary to conclude that Luke has made an error in recording the historical events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Luke has proven himself to be a reliable historian even in the details. Sir William Ramsey has shown that in making reference to 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 islands he made no mistakes! (When Critics Ask)

Gotquestions asks "Does Luke’s Claim that Jesus Was Born in Bethlehem at the Time of Quirinius’ Census Match the Historical Record?"

This is a question that has been a point of controversy among biblical scholars and skeptics for centuries. History tells us that Caesar Augustus reigned over the Roman Empire from 27 BC to AD 14 and ordered a census to be conducted during his tenure. Herod the Great reigned until 4 BC, meaning Jesus has to be born sometime before that time. The mention of Quirinius as governor of Syria in Luke chapter 2 appears to cause a problem as history records that Quirinius held this office between AD 6–7, at least 10 years after the birth of Jesus according to Matthew and Luke. There are at least three possibilities here for how we can interpret what is written in Luke 2:2:

(1) Luke made a historical error. This would presuppose that Luke was not inspired by the Holy Spirit in all his writings.

(2) The Greek word for “first” in Luke 2:2 is protos and can be translated “before.” Thus Luke 2:2 could actually be translated, “This was the census taken before Quirinius was governor of Syria.”

(3) Quirinius actually ruled Syria on two separate occasions and there were actually two censuses taken. The “first census” mentioned in Luke 2:2 occurred during his first term as governor, and another was ordered during his second term as governor mentioned in Acts 5:37, which probably took place between AD 6–7 (Josephus links this census to an uprising under Judas of Galilee). With Luke being the author of both Luke and Acts and wanting to write in “consecutive order” (Luke 1:3), it would seem unlikely for Luke to make such a mistake in dating.

Further, the Christian doctrine of the inerrancy of the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20–21) leads us to accept explanation (2) or (3) as the most likely, with the most evidence pointing to explanation (3). The Bible is true and spoken from God’s mouth (God-breathed), and we accept it as truth more than the historical writings of the Romans or even the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus. (See Gotquestions an excellent resource)

What Year Was Jesus Christ Born?

The Bible does not provide the exact day or even the exact year in which Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But a close examination of the chronological details of history narrows the possibilities to a reasonable window of time.

The biblical details of Jesus’ birth are found in the Gospels. Matthew 2:1 states that Jesus was born during the days of Herod the king. Since Herod died in 4 B.C., we have a parameter to work with. Further, after Joseph and Mary fled Bethlehem with Jesus, Herod ordered all the boys 2 years old and younger in that vicinity killed. This indicates that Jesus could have been as old as 2 before Herod’s death. This places the date of His birth between 6 and 4 B.C.

Luke 2:1–2 notes several other facts to ponder: “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.” We know that Caesar Augustus reigned from 27 B.C. to A.D. 14.

Quirinius governed Syria during this same time period, with records of a census that included Judea in approximately 6 B.C. Some scholars debate whether this is the census mentioned by Luke, but it does appear to be the same event. Based on these historical details, the most likely time of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem is 6–5 B.C.

Luke mentions another detail concerning our timeline: “Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23). Jesus began His ministry during the time John the Baptist ministered in the wilderness, and John’s ministry started “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas” (Luke 3:1–2).

The only time period that fits all of these facts is A.D. 27–29. If Jesus was “about thirty years of age” by A.D. 27, a birth sometime between 6 and 4 B.C. would fit the chronology. More specifically, Jesus would have been approximately 32 years old at the time He began His ministry (still “about thirty years of age”).

What about the day of Christ’s birth? The tradition of December 25 was developed long after the New Testament period. It’s the day Christians have agreed to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but the exact day of His birth is unknown.

What is known is that biblical and historical details point to an approximate year of birth. Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea approximately 6–5 B.C. to Mary, His mother. His birth changed history forever, along with the lives of countless people around the world.

Luke 2:3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

Register for the census (583) (apographo - see note above)  

His own city - His hometown or native city, his ancestral hom. This is a reference to the fact that the genealogical records of families in Judah were traditionally kept in their ancestral home towns. Rome was not just seeking to determine how many people lived in Judah but wanted to assure that all paid their taxes!

Octavian was ruling and declared himself ''Augustus Caesar'' = he was declaring himself God. At the same time God was saying ''O no. My Son is God.''

  • Herod the Great (who began rebuilding the 2nd Temple in 20BC) ruled until 4BC, the same year that Jesus was born.
  • Herod Antipas followed from 4BC to 39AD
  • Herod Agrippa I: 39-44AD
  • Herod Agrippa II: 39-44AD--ruling during Paul's 3 missionary journeys and when Jerusalem was destroyed.

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,

  • Joseph (KJV): Lu 1:26,27 3:23 
  • of the city (KJV): Lu 4:16 Mt 2:23  Joh 1:46 
  • unto (KJV): Ge 35:19 48:7 Ru 1:19 2:4 4:11,17,21,22 1Sa 16:1,4 17:12,58 1Sa 20:6 Mic 5:2 Mt 2:1-6 Joh 7:42 
  • he was (KJV): Lu 1:27 3:23-31 Mt 1:1-17 


Click below for excellent map with captions relating to events of Jesus' birth. Here is another map but without captions.

See Luke 1 Commentary for word study on Nazareth including The Puzzling Problem of Nazareth.

Butler Joseph, barely introduced in Lk 1:27, enters center stage. Taxation followed his lineage, so he obediently traveled the ninety miles to Bethlehem, David's home, where the Scriptures said Messiah would be born (Mic. 5:2). (Holman New Testament Commentary – Luke)

Went up - Bethlehem was 2,564 feet above sea level,  so travelers from Nazareth which is (1,830 feet above sea level) would go up. Robert Stein adds that "A traveler always “goes up” to Jerusalem (Lk 2:22; 18:31; 19:28; Acts 11:2; 13:31; 15:2; 21:12, 15; 25:1, 9) and “goes down” from Jerusalem (10:30; Acts 11:27; 25:7) because Jerusalem lies 2,500 feet above sea level." (NAC)

The city of David....Bethlehem (house of bread) - In fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy in Micah

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, [Too] little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.”  (Micah 5:2-commentary)

Comment - Notice that phrase "from you One will go forth" which speaks of Messiah's birth. And while He came to be Ruler, Israel rejected His rule. Therefore the prophecy "to be Ruler in Israel" was not fulfilled at His birth but will be fulfilled at His Second Coming when He returns as Deliverer (Ro 11:26) and King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:16-note). At that time "all Israel will be saved" (Ro 11:26-note) referring not to all Jews of all time but to all Jews who at the time of His return had come to believe in Him as Messiah and Savior and which will only be a remnant (1/3 - Zech 13:8; Note that many Jews will have been saved prior to the Second Coming but this verse does not refer to those.). At His return Messiah's rule over Israel would be fully and finally consummated. See related notes on Isa 11:1, notes on Isaiah 11:10, and notes on Jer 33:15. 

How did the Jewish writers interpret Micah 5:2? James Gloag observes that even "Jewish writers in general… have adopted the Messianic application of this passage. They, however, avoid the reference to Jesus by supposing that Bethlehem is mentioned here as the birth-place of the Messiah only indirectly, denoting merely that he was to be descended from David; and the eternal duration here mentioned alludes not to the person but to the name of the Messiah. According to the rabbinical fancies, there were seven things created before the world existed; and one of these is the name of the Messiah. Other Jewish writers grant that Bethlehem is to be the birth-place of the Messiah, but they regard the prophecy as still unfulfilled, and look forward to its accomplishment in the future." (The Messianic Prophecies - Paton James Gloag - Google Books)

Related articles - 

Wikipedia article on O Little Town of Bethlehem (includes the story of how it came to be written)

O Little Town of Bethlehem
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel

Luke 2:5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

  • Dt 22:22-27 Mt 1:18,19 


Mary was engaged and with child or pregnant with Jesus not by Joseph but "by the Holy Spirit." (Mt 1:18, 19). This is the miraculous virgin birth.

Related Articles:

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 agreement, unlike the sense of of engagement as used today.

Mnesteuo is used 8x in 7v in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew verb for betroth (aras) - Deut. 20:7; Deut. 22:23; Deut. 22:25; Deut. 22:27; Deut. 22:28; Hos. 2:19-20 (3 uses of mnesteuo)

Hosea 2:19-20 “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion,  And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD. 

MacArthur writes that three uses of "the term (Ed: Hebrew = aras) emphasizes the intensity of God’s restoring love for the nation. In that day, Israel will no longer be thought of as a prostitute. Israel brings nothing to the marriage; God makes all the promises and provides all the dowry. These verses are recited by every orthodox Jew as he places the phylacteries on his hand and forehead (cf. Dt 11:18). The regeneration/conversion of the nation is much like that of an individual (cf. 2Co 5:16–19, Ed: Zechariah alludes to that conversion in Zech 12:10 and Paul in Ro 11:26-note - see also "Will all Israel be saved in the end times?").

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)

The Jewish writer Alfred Edersheim adds this note on betrothal:

We read in the Gospel that, when the Virgin-mother “was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily” (Matt. 1:18, 19). The narrative implies a distinction between betrothal and marriage—Joseph being at the time betrothed, but not actually married to the Virgin-mother. Even in the Old Testament a distinction is made between betrothal and marriage. The former was marked by a bridal present (or Mohar, Gen. 34:12; Ex. 22:17; 1 Sam. 18:25), with which the father, however, would in certain circumstances dispense. From the moment of her betrothal a woman was treated as if she were actually married. The Union could not be dissolved, except by regular divorce; breach of faithfulness was regarded as adultery; and the property of the woman became virtually that of her betrothed, unless he had expressly renounced it (Kidd. 9. 1). But even in that case he was her natural heir. It is impossible here to enter into the various legal details, as, for example, about property or money which might come to a woman after betrothal or marriage. The law adjudicated this to the husband, yet with many restrictions, and with infinite delicacy towards the woman, as if reluctant to put in force the rights of the stronger (Kidd. 8. 1, etc.). From the Mishnah (Bab. B. 10. 4) we also learn that there were regular Shitre Erusin, or writings of betrothal, drawn up by the authorities (the costs being paid by the bridegroom). These stipulated the mutual obligations, the dowry, and all other points on which the parties had agreed. The Shitre Erusin were different from the regular Chethubah (literally, writing), or marriage contract, without which the Rabbis regarded a marriage as merely legalised concubinage (Cheth. 5. 1). The Chethubah provided a settlement of at least two hundred denars for a maiden, and one hundred denars for a widow, while the priestly council at Jerusalem fixed four hundred denars for a priest’s daughter. Of course these sums indicate only the legal minimum, and might be increased indefinitely at pleasure, though opinions differ whether any larger sums might be legally exacted, if matters did not go beyond betrothal. The form at present in use among the Jews sets forth, that the bridegroom weds his bride “according to the law of Moses and of Israel;” that he promises “to please, to honour, to nourish, and to care for her, as is the manner of the men of Israel,” adding thereto the woman’s consent, the document being signed by two witnesses. In all probability this was substantially the form in olden times. In Jerusalem and in Galilee—where it was said that men in their choice had regard to “a fair degree,” while in the rest of Judæa they looked a good deal after money—widows had the right of residence in their husband’s house secured to them.

Luke 2:6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.

While they were there - While Joseph and Mary were at Bethlehem. Here we see another evidence of the providence of God orchestrating all the events in the fullness of time (Gal 4:4) and the perfect fulfillment of OT prophecy. 

Completed (fulfilled) (4092)(pimplemi from the obsolete pláō = to fill) to fill, to make full, to complete. Here pimplemi is used of time fulfilled or completed (Lk 1:57, 2:6 = pregnancy completed, compare Lk 1:23 = days of priestly service ended,  Lk 2:21-22, Lk 21:22).

NET Note - Greek "And it happened that while." The introductory phrase egeneto, "it happened that", common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times).

Spurgeon - Now hath heavenly glory wedded earthly poverty; and, henceforth, let no man dare to despise the poor and needy, since the son of the Highest is born in a stable, and cradled in a manger. How low the King of glory stoops, and how gloriously he uplifts the lowly to share his glory! (Ed: cp Mk 10:45, Php 2:5-11-note)

Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

  • she: Isa 7:14 Mt 1:25 Ga 4:4 
  • wrapped: Lu 2:11,12 Ps 22:6 Isa 53:2,3 Mt 8:20 13:55 Joh 1:14 2Co 8:9 
  • the inn: Lu 10:34 Ge 42:27 43:21 Ex 4:24 


First-born (firstborn) (4416) (prototokos from protos = first, foremost, in place order or time; rank dignity + titko = beget, to bear, bring forth) can mean first-born chronologically (Lk 2:7), but in most of the other NT uses refers primarily to position, rank, priority of position and emphasizes quality or kind, not time with the idea of "preeminence".

Henry Morris - Many years later, that same body would be " a linen cloth, and a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain." (Luke 23:53). cloths (swaddled)(4683)(spargannoo from spárganon = a swathing or swaddling band) means to wrap in swaddling clothers. Swaddling clothes were narrow strips of cloth wrapped around an infant. 

Wikipedia on swaddling - "Swaddling is an age-old practice of wrapping infants in blankets or similar cloths so that movement of the limbs is tightly restricted. Swaddling bands were often used to further restrict the infant. Swaddling fell out of favor in the 17th century."

Criswell - "Swaddling clothes" were narrow strips of cloth wrapped around an infant. That Christ was born and placed "in a manger" led to the tradition that He was born in a stable. Early tradition indicates that He was born in a cave, which may have been used as a stable.

Robert Stein - The irony of the most important event in history taking place in a manger should not be lost sight of; it reveals how God elevates the lowly and humble and rejects the proud and mighty of this world. Compare Phil 2:6–7. For Luke this theme of reversal was of major importance. (NAC)

Got questions -  What does it mean that baby Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes?

Swaddling clothes are cloths and bands used in the practice of swaddling, or essentially “wrapping” an infant tightly in cloth. The idea behind swaddling is that it helps the baby transition from the womb (a very snug place) to the outside world. Swaddling clothes are still used today, but with some modifications. In general, swaddling has been proved to help infants sleep better, to prevent them from scratching themselves, and to reduce the risk of SIDS. In ancient times, like today, a swaddled infant was safe if wrapped and watched properly. Many cultures still practice swaddling today.

The biblical passage that refers to swaddling clothes is Luke 2: “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7ESV). We can assume from the fact that she swaddled the baby Jesus that Mary was an attentive and loving mother. The angel who spoke to the shepherds on the hillside mentions swaddling clothes as part of the sign to the shepherds that they had found the Messiah (Luke 2:12).

There are some interesting theories about Luke’s detail of Jesus’ swaddling clothes. Some have postulated that the swaddling clothes were a foreshadowing—a prophetic reference—of Jesus’ burial cloths. The Greek word sparganoo is the root word used in the phrase “swaddling clothes,” and it means “to clothe in strips of cloth.” But this word sparganoo is never used in the New Testament to refer to burial cloth. In the descriptions in the Gospels of Jesus’ burial, we see variations on the phrase “wrapped in linen cloth,” and different Greek words are used for the binding. The swaddling clothes could prefigure Jesus’ burial (the Magis’ gift of myrrh in Matthew 2:11 is a clearer bit of foreshadowing), but the link can’t be proved linguistically.

When the Son of God came into our world, He was entrusted to responsible, loving parents who sought to meet His every need. Baby Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes according to the custom of the day, an action that showed the tender care and affection of His mother.

Butler The only available space for the child was in the animal trough attached to the wall that their room shared with the animals' quarters. The promised king came to his people but did not have enough power to secure a resting place for his birth (Ed: He had laid aside His divine prerogatives - Php 2:5-7). The descendants of David descended to a stable to find a place to lay the head of the King of kings. This is how God used earth's lowest to bring salvation from heaven's highest. (Holman New Testament Commentary– Luke)

No room for them in the inn - Because so many had returned to Bethlehem for the census, the small city was overflowing with people. There was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn, which forced them to take refuge in the only place available—a shelter for animals. (Although the Bible never mentions animals being present at the birth of Christ, Luke does say that the baby Jesus was laid in a manger—and the presence of a manger strongly implies the presence of animals.)

Inn (2646)(kataluma from kata = intensifier + luo = to loose) means literally an unloosing of what was bound or a place of unyoking and thus a place of rest, hence a lodge or inn..   This was a locally recognized place to stay overnight while on a journey and could be either in the open air or in a building. Kataluma is used elsewhere only in Luke 22:11 and Mark 14:14 where it means guest room or dining room, referring to a room in someone’s house made available to Jesus and His disciples to celebrate the Passover meal.

Zodhiates adds that kataluma "was so–called because of the ancient travelers who on arrival loosened their own belts or girdles, sandals, and the saddles or harnesses of their animals. In the ancient Greek writings, the place of entertainment is called katáluma, where animals and burdens are loosened. See Sept.: Ex. 4:24. Guests were highly regarded in biblical times (Judg. 19:9, 15)." (Zodhiates' Word Study Dictionary of the NT)

Manger (5336)(phatne)means a manger, a crib, a feeding trough (Liddell-Scott has "feed box" or "stall")

Phatne - 4x all in Luke - Luke 2:7, 12, 2:16, 13:15 

Gotquestions discusses the inn - Traditionally, the “inn” referred to in Luke 2:7 is thought to be a kind of commercial hotel. And the place where Mary and Joseph took shelter was a stable somewhere in the vicinity. However, we don’t know for sure if that was the case, because the Greek word translated as “inn” (kataluma) can also be translated as “guest room.” This translation would lead us to envision more of a private home filled with guests, plus a separate area used to house the family’s animals.

Sometimes the place for animals was located on the lower level of a house, away from where the people lived. So, when Luke refers to “no room in the kataluma,” he could have meant there was no room on the upper level, which was already full of sleeping visitors or family. Archaeological findings have also revealed homes that merely had a wall separating the front of the house from the back, where animals were kept safe. Both of these floor plans imply an indoor animal shelter connected to the house in some way. Regardless, there was a manger or feeding trough in the place where Christ was born, and that was used as a resting place for the newborn Jesus, as stated in Luke 2:7.

There is also a theory that the shelter in which Jesus was born was a place in the northern part of Bethlehem called Migdol Eder. This was a watchtower with a place underneath that shepherds used during the lambing season to shelter the newborn lambs that would later be used as sacrifices in the Jerusalem temple. The prophet Micah, who foretold Bethlehem as the place of the Messiah’s birth, also mentions Migdol Eder: “As for you, watchtower of the flock [Hebrew, Migdol Eder], stronghold of Daughter Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem” (Micah 4:8). This theory is used to explain why, when the heralding angels gave the sign that the baby would be “wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger,” the shepherds seemed to know exactly where to look. And it would be apropos for the Messiah to be born in the same place where the sacrificial lambs were born.

Whether the actual location of Jesus’ birth was an indoor animal shelter, a separate barn, or a tower used for lambing, the Bible is clear that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born in a humble setting in the town of Bethlehem. (Where Was Jesus born?)

Question: "Why was Jesus born in a manger?"

It is a common saying at Christmastime that Jesus Christ was “born in a manger.” Of course, it wasn’t possible for Him to actually be born in the manger, but that’s where Mary laid Him after His birth (Luke 2:7). Although we are not sure of the exact location of where Jesus was born, we do know that it was near Bethlehem and that there was a manger, or feeding trough, there.

God promised the Savior’s virgin birth immediately after mankind’s first sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15). Hundreds of years later, the prophet Micah foretold the birth of Christ in the small town of Bethlehem: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2). This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus’ earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, were called to Bethlehem for a census of the entire Roman territory (Luke 2:1–5). While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Jesus to be born (Luke 2:6).

Because of the crowds that had come to Bethlehem, there was no room at the inn for Mary and Joseph (Luke 2:7). While tradition says that the inn was a sort of hotel, we don’t know that for sure. In fact, the Greek word translated “inn” (kataluma) could be translated “guest room.” This fact has led some to believe that Jesus may not have been born in a stable or barn, but in a house with a lower floor serving as a nighttime shelter for the families’ animals. If that were the case, it wouldn’t be surprising to find a manger located in that area of the house. When Luke states that there was no room in the kataluma, he could mean there was no room on the upper level, which would have been full of other people sleeping.

In any case, Jesus was born at night, in some sort of keeping-place for animals. After He was delivered, Mary His mother wrapped Him in cloths and laid Him in a manger (Luke 2:7). Later that same night, shepherds from nearby fields found Him just as the angels told them they would (Luke 2:10–12).

So, why was the Savior and King born in a place where animals were kept? And why was He then laid in the animals’ food trough? Surely, God’s Son deserved a high-profile birth in the most elegant of surroundings. But, instead, God’s own Son made His appearance on earth in the lowliest of circumstances. This humble birth conveys an amazing message to creation: the transcendent God condescended to come to us. Instead of coming to earth as a pampered, privileged ruler, Jesus was born in meekness, as one of us. He is approachable, accessible, available—no palace gates bar the way to Him; no ring of guards prevents our approach. The King of kings came humbly, and His first bed was a manger. 

Recommended Website -

Vance Havner - No Room for Jesus Luke 2:1-7

AS Christmas day brings us around to the blessed story of the Savior's birth, it reminds us of a circumstance connected with that event which still is timely in its application. When Joseph and Mary came to Bethlehem, they were forced to put up in a stable "because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:7).

Today, amid this commercialized Christmas, this overworked headache of expensive giving, God's great gift, the first Christmas gift, stands often unrecognized. It is easy enough to sing Christmas carols and put on pageants, the tribute of our lips, but how many of us honestly face Christ Himself and His challenge of discipleship at any cost? There is room for many things today, room even for much about Jesus, but is there room for Him?

Let it be observed that so far as we know, this innkeeper may not have been unkind or discourteous to Joseph and Mary. I don't read that he drove them away when they came to him. He may have been very polite and even expressed his regrets, but just the same, there was no room for them. So today, most people turn down the Lord because they are preoccupied. They have nothing against Him, they may even speak well of Him, but there is no room—their hearts and homes are filled with other things. So today, men have bought land and oxen and married wives and cannot entertain the Lord Jesus—their time and thoughts are already taken up with other things; maybe not bad things, but things too important for what they are worth.

This innkeeper may have said, "Come back tomorrow—some other day." So men say that at some "more convenient season" they will accept the Lord. They do not really mean to pass Him up, the house is just too full now—and after they have straightened up things a bit and made more room, then He will be welcomed. But days lengthen into weeks and months and years, and life has gone, and there has never been room enough for Jesus.

What other guests do you have in your heart and home that shut out Jesus? For certainly the reason why there is no room is because there are others in His place. Is there anybody or anything in all this universe important enough to take His place? Eternity lies ahead, and you had better admit the guest who can spend it with you. You will need Him out there! Remember the man who cleaned out his house but left it empty, and seven evil spirits returned. It is not even enough to clear out undesirable guests! If Jesus does not take the place of what goes out, one's latter state will be worse than the first. God cannot use an empty heart; a vacant life will soon be devil-filled.

I beg of you, on this Christmas day, do not make of it a hollow mockery by paying a wordy tribute to the Christ while you refuse Him your heart. It does no good to go to church and listen to cantatas if you have barred and bolted your heart against the Christ. Today He would graciously enter as Savior and Lord. One day He will come as Judge, and then you cannot escape Him. Be sure to put the Christ in Christmas!

Luke 2:8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.

POSB there was the unbelievable appearance of a real angel to shepherds. In the eyes of many, an angel would never appear to a shepherd. Shepherds would seldom be found praising and worshipping God; as a result they were looked upon as anything but worshippers. Their reputation was lowly at best, and religious people snubbed and ignored them. They were despised because they were unable to attend services and to keep the ceremonial laws of washing and cleansing. Their flocks just kept them too busy. What a beautiful foretaste of the salvation to come: God gave the first message of His Son to common shepherds, those looked upon as sinners. The angel's appearance was that of splendor and glory. This was the Shekinah glory. The angel's message was one of reassurance and good news. He proclaimed the Messiah's birth and charged the shepherds to visit the child. He gave them a sign: they would find the babe lying in a manger.  (Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible - Commentary)

Butler Luke quickly shifts scenes from the king lying where animals eat to burly men protecting animals in their natural homes. Shepherding had changed from a family business as in David's time (1 Sam. 16:11) to a despised occupation. Many shepherds were accused of robbery and using land they had no rights to. Shepherding was also a lonely occupation, particularly at night, as a shepherd stood his watch, making sure sleeping sheep did not wake up and wander and that prowling predators did not attack and devour the sheep. Only God would visit those in such a low occupation and raise them to witness to his salvation. Yet, shepherds had a tender side, counting the sheep constantly (Jer. 33:12-13), lifting the weak on their shoulders (see Isa. 40:11), and creating crude pens where the sheep could sleep (John 10:1). (Ibid)

Walter Leifeld There may be several reasons for the special role of the shepherds in the events of this unique night. Among the occupations, shepherding had a lowly place (SBK, 2:114). Shepherds were considered untrustworthy and their work made them ceremonially unclean. Thus the most obvious implication is that the gospel first came to the social outcasts of Jesus' day. This would accord with a recurring emphasis in Luke. Moreover, it may be significant that in the Lord's instructions to Nathan about giving David the covenant the Lord reminds David, who was to become Messiah's ancestor, that he was called from the shepherd's life (2Sam 7:8). Finally, in both testaments shepherds symbolize those who care for God's people, including the Lord himself (Ps 23:1; Isa 40:11; Jer 23:14; Heb 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 5:2). The shepherds of Luke 2 may, therefore, symbolize all the ordinary people who have joyfully received the gospel and have become in various ways pastors to others. (Expositor's Bible Commentary – Volume 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke)

Shepherds (4166)(poimen  A T Robertson says poimen is from a root meaning to protect) (See verb poimaino = to shepherd) literally describes one who cares for a flock. One who herds, feeds, and tends a flock. A herdsman. A sheep herder. The main responsibility of the shepherd was to keep the flock intact, to protect and to provide for the sheep.

Marvin Vincent - Luke’s Gospel is the gospel of the poor and lowly. This revelation to the shepherds acquires additional meaning as we remember that shepherds, as a class, were under the Rabbinic ban, because of their necessary isolation from religious ordinances, and their manner of life, which rendered strict legal observance well nigh impossible.

Spurgeon - These men were probably poor and illiterate, but that did not hinder God from revealing himself to them, nor prevent the coming of his Son to them. They were engaged in their ordinary calling, “keeping watch over their flock by night,” when this great blessing came to them. Seldom does such a blessing as this come to idlers. It was not while they were gadding abroad, and wasting their time, but while they kept watch over their flock that “the angel of the Lord came upon them.” First one angel led the way, and then a multitude of the heavenly host followed and these poor men, perhaps troubled with the common superstition of the Jews that the appearance of God, or any supernatural visitation, would always be followed by death, “were sore afraid.”

Steven Cole - Have you ever considered why the text does not read (Luke 2:8), “Now there were in the same region scribes and Pharisees, keeping watch over their scrolls and religious rituals”? Nor does it say, “There were in the same region kings and princes keeping watch at the palace.” God chose to reveal the birth of the Savior to simple shepherds who were going about their job. Why shepherds? That God chose simple shepherds to be the first to know of the birth of the Savior is even more strange by human standards because in Israel, shepherding was a lowly task. Shepherds had not been schooled in the law and thus were considered ignorant. Their work made them ceremonially unclean. According to one Jewish treatise, shepherds were not trustworthy enough to be used as witnesses. According to another, help was not to be offered to shepherds and heathen (see Godet, Luke [I. K. Funk & Co., 1881], p. 81). So why did God choose shepherds as the first ones to receive the angels’ revelation concerning the Messiah’s birth?   In the first place, God chose shepherds to show that...The gospel is for the simple, not for the sophisticated. God puts His cookies on the bottom shelf. Because of that, the sophisticated and scholarly sometimes miss the truth of it. They’re looking too high; it’s beneath them to stoop to the lowest shelf, and so they miss what God offers freely to all. If it were any other way, men could boast before God. If the gospel were some complicated philosophy that required a high I.Q. and years of study to grasp, then those who had attained it could congratulate themselves on how much more intelligent they were than the rest of the population. Those who were illiterate or not as intellectually gifted as others could never hope to qualify for salvation. But the beauty of the good news about Christ is that it was first announced to lowly shepherds. They probably couldn’t read and write. They weren’t leadership material. But God’s love in Christ extended to them. The danger is that we will miss the gospel because it is so simple (1 Cor. 1:26-31)....In the second place, God chose shepherds as the first to receive the good news because...The gospel involved the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. We do not know the exact date of Jesus’ birth, but a December date is reasonable (Harold Hoehner, Chronological Aspects cf the Life cf Christ [Zondervan, 1977], pp. 25-27.) It is probable that the very sheep these men were tending in the fields that night were being prepared for slaughter at the Passover in Jerusalem a few months later. Thus it is symbolic that the shepherds who were watching the Passover lambs would be invited to Bethlehem to view the Passover Lamb of God (1 Cor 5:7), provided for the salvation of the world. The Bible teaches that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), eternal separation from God. A holy God cannot accept sinners in His presence unless their sin has been paid for. If He did, He would not be just. In His love for us, God sent His own Son, born sinless through the miracle of the virgin birth, to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Just as when the Jews were delivered from Egypt, and were spared from the angel of death if they had the blood of the Passover lamb on their doorposts, so every person who applies the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, to his life will be saved from God’s judgment. So God revealed His good news to shepherds because (A.) the gospel is for the simple, not the sophisticated; and (B.) the gospel involved the sacrifice of the Lamb of God.  C. The gospel provided us with a Good Shepherd and calls us to shepherd others. (Luke 2:8-20  The Simplicity Of Christmas)

Keeping watch (present tense = continually)("watching watches") (5442)(phulasso  means to watch, to carry out the function as a military guard or sentinel (cp Acts 23:35, 28:16), to keep watch, to have one's eye upon lest one escape, to guard to keep safe (from being snatched away, from being lost). The NT uses phulasso of guarding truth (eg, 1Ti 5:21, 6:20, 2Ti 1:14-notePhulasso is the verb used to describe the shepherds "keeping watch (phulasso) over their flock by night (Lk 2:8), which congers up the image of savage wolves seeking to devour the helpless sheep. Elsewhere we read of the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd Who keeps watch over His sheep.

The verb phulasso is accompanied by the related noun (5438phulake which refers to the act of keeping watch, guarding (Lxx - Nu 1:53; 3:7, 28) and the combined phrase phulassontes phulakas = guard a guarding, keep watch, do guard duty. 

Vincent - Keeping watch (phulassontes phulakas). Phulake is sometimes used of a watch as a measure of time, as in Matt. 14:25; Mark 6:48; Luke 12:38. So possibly here. See Rev. in margin, night-watches. There is a play upon the words: watching watches. There was near Bethlehem, on the road to Jerusalem, a tower known as Migdal Eder, or the watch-tower of the flock. Here was the station where shepherds watched the flocks destined for sacrifice in the temple. Animals straying from Jerusalem on any side, as far as from Jerusalem to Migdal Eder, were offered in sacrifice. It was a settled conviction among the Jews that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, and equally that he was to be revealed from Migdal Eder. The beautiful significance of the revelation of the infant Christ to shepherds watching the flocks destined for sacrifice needs no comment.

What Christmas is All About - By David McCasland  Fifty years ago A Charlie Brown Christmas was first broadcast on American television. Some network executives thought it would be ignored, while others worried that quoting the Bible would offend viewers. Some wanted its creator, Charles Schulz, to omit the Christmas story, but Schulz insisted it stay in. The program was an immediate success and has been rebroadcast every year since 1965.

When Charlie Brown, the frustrated director of the children’s Christmas play, is discouraged by the commercial spirit of the holiday season, he asks if anyone can tell him the real meaning of Christmas. Linus recites Luke 2:8-14 including the words, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Lk 2:11-14KJV). Then Linus says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

During this season filled with our own doubts and dreams, it’s good to ponder afresh God’s great love expressed in the familiar story of Joseph, Mary, the baby Jesus, and the angels who announced the Savior’s birth.

That’s what Christmas is all about.

Father in heaven, as we approach Christmas, may we grasp in a deeper way Your amazing gift to us.

God broke into human history to offer us the gift of salvation!

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.

  • lo (KJV): Lu 1:11,28 Jud 6:11,12 Mt 1:20 Ac 27:23 1Ti 3:16 
  • and the (KJV): Ex 16:7,10 40:34,35 1Ki 8:11 Isa 6:3 35:2 40:5 60:1 Eze 3:23 Joh 12:41 2Co 3:18 4:6 Rev 18:1 
  • and they (KJV): Lu 1:12 Isa 6:4,5 Ac 22:6-9 26:13,14 Heb 12:21 Rev 20:11 


Butler Shift the spotlight once more from earth's lowly shepherds enduring a dark night to heaven's most glorious messenger. With the angel came God's glory, his shining majesty, the side of God humans can see and to which they can respond in confession, worship, and praise (see Isa. 60:1-3). As with Zechariah (Lk 1:12-13) and Mary (Lk 1:29-30), gazing at God's glorious angel terrified the shepherds. (Holman New Testament Commentary)

An angel of the Lord - Note that this is not THE Angel of the LORD (a frequent Christophany in the OT) but AN angel, a messenger from God to simple men, who proclaimed to them the incarnation of THE Angel of the LORDUnlike Lk 1:11, 19, 26 the angel is not identified.

Robertson on stood before - Stepped by their side. The same word in Acts 12:7 of the angel there. Paul uses it in the sense of standing by in Acts 22:20. 

Glory (1391)(doxa rom dokeo = to think) in simple terms means to give a proper opinion or estimate of something and thus the glory of God expresses all that He is in His Being and in His nature, character, power and acts. He is glorified when He is allowed to be seen as He really is which is exactly what this angel did! To be where God is will be glory. To be what God intended will be glory. To do what God purposed will be glory.

Glory of the Lord - this phrase occurs 38x in 37v most of the occurrences being in the Old Testament - the manifestation of God’s presence among His people

Exod. 16:7; Exod. 16:10; Exod. 24:16; Exod. 24:17; Exod. 40:34; Exod. 40:35; Lev. 9:6; Lev. 9:23; Num. 14:10; Num. 14:21; Num. 16:19; Num. 16:42; Num. 20:6; 1 Ki. 8:11; 2 Chr. 5:14; 2 Chr. 7:1; 2 Chr. 7:2; 2 Chr. 7:3; Ps. 104:31; Ps. 138:5; Isa. 35:2; Isa. 40:5; Isa. 58:8; Isa. 60:1; Ezek. 1:28; Ezek. 3:12; Ezek. 3:23; Ezek. 10:4; Ezek. 10:18; Ezek. 11:23; Ezek. 43:4; Ezek. 43:5; Ezek. 44:4; Hab. 2:14; Lk. 2:9; 2 Co. 3:18; 2 Co. 8:19

Spurgeon on they were terribly frightened - For such is the condition, even of gracious souls, that the near approach of the divine glory begets in them trembling and alarm. Oh, how wondrously changed shall we be when we are able to bear even the glories of heaven! (1 John 3:2-note, Php 3:20-note, 1 Cor 15:51-52) Have you ever thought of this, dear friends? The beloved apostle, John, saw Christ in his glory, and he wrote, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet, as dead“ (Rev 1:17-note) and these shepherds, even at the sight of “the angel of the Lord,” “were sore afraid.” You and I, beloved, must undergo a marvelous change before we shall be able to be at home with God in his glory; but that change shall, through his abundant grace, take place ere long.

NET Note on terribly frightened - Greek "they feared a great fear" (a Semitic idiom which intensifies the main idea, in this case their fear).

Frightened  (5399)(phobeo) means to cause fear to be aroused and so to be alarmed, intimidated by something awe-inspiring. Put yourself in their place and just imagination your reaction to this sight!

The Shepherds - By David Roper The angel bypassed Jerusalem, the religious center of Israel. He didn’t go to Herodium, Herod’s villa near Bethlehem. He appeared instead to a band of shepherds tending their flocks (Luke 2:8-9).

Back then no one thought God would be interested in shepherds, or that shepherds would be interested in God. Shepherds were notoriously irreligious, ranked by the rabbis with prostitutes and other “habitual sinners.” They were outcasts, barred from the synagogue and polite society. They assumed that God would never accept them, and they feared Him.

But God spoke to them. I think He knew that these shepherds, like so many people who appear indifferent to spiritual things, were quietly longing for God.

All of us have a longing for something more. And no matter how hard we try to appear self-sufficient, sooner or later we run out of something essential—love, money, time, or life. Isolation, loneliness, and fear of death lead us to acknowledge our need for a Savior. But where can we find Him?

The angel’s words to the shepherds were simple and direct: “There is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). You can find Him too.

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord, the newborn King. —Anon.

God's gift to a dying world is the life-giving Savior.

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;

  • Do not be afraid: Lu 1:13,30 Da 10:11,12,19 Mt 28:5 Rev 1:17,18 
  • I bring: Lu 1:19 8:1 Isa 40:9 41:27 52:7 61:1 Ac 13:32 Ro 10:15 
  • to (KJV): Lu 2:31,32 24:47 Ge 12:3 Ps 67:1,2 98:2,3 Isa 49:6 52:10 Mt 28:18 Mk 1:15 16:15 Ro 15:9-12 Eph 3:8 Col 1:23


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.)

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."

I bring you good news - "I evangelize"

Bring good news (2097) (euaggelizo/euangelizo from eu = good, well + aggéllo = proclaim, tell; English = evangelize) means to announce good news concerning something. Euaggelizo was often used in the Septuagint for preaching a glad or joyful message (cf. 1Sam. 31:9; 2 Sa 1:20; 4:10). Euaggelizo/euangelizo in its original sense could be used to refer to a declaration of any kind of good news, but in the NT it (with 2 exceptions discussed below) refers especially to the glad tidings of the coming kingdom of God and of salvation obtained through Jesus Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Most of NT uses of euaggelizo are translated "preach" or "preach the gospel," whichever fits more smoothly into the context. There are two passages that illustrate the original meaning of simply to "bring glad tidings" or "bring good news" of any nature. The first is in Luke…

Lk 1:19 And the angel answered and said to him (Zacharias), "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. (that he would have a son, John the Baptist).

Butler on do not fear - Gospel is coming, good news. Gospel elicits joy, not fear. Joy is the inward feeling of happiness and contentment that bursts forth in rejoicing and praise. Joy comes not just to lowly shepherds or isolated parents far from home. Joy comes to all people. In the most unlikely place amid the most unlikely spectators, God brushed aside the world's fears and provided the world reason for joy (cf. Isa. 9:3). Joy centers not in something you earn or possess. Joy comes from God's gift, a tiny baby in a feed trough. But what a baby! (Ibid)

Great (megas) - earlier great fear, now great joy!

Joy (5479)(chara) 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-note, Acts 13:52, 1Th 1:6-note). 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 2:11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

  • unto (KJV): Lu 1:69 Isa 9:6 Mt 1:21 Ga 4:4,5 2Ti 1:9,10 Tit 2:10-14 3:4-7 1Jn 4:14 
  • in (KJV): Lu 2:4 Mt 1:21 
  • which (KJV): Lu 2:26 1:43 20:41,42 Ge 3:15 49:10 Ps 2:2 Da 9:24-26 Mt 1:16 16:16 Joh 1:41,45 6:69 7:25-27,41 20:31 Ac 2:36 17:3 1Jn 5:1 
  • the Lord (KJV): Lu 1:43 20:42-44 Ac 10:36 1Co 15:47 Php 2:11 3:8 Col 2:6 


See Wayne Grudem's Outline of Jesus' Humanity

Steven Cole - the angel said that this human baby was also “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” A Savior, not a Judge; one who would deliver His people, not destroy them. For the angel to call this baby “the Lord” meant that the baby was over the angel. “Lord” is tantamount to Jehovah God. It is the same word used in 2:9, where it says that the glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds. The same word is used in 2:23 in reference to “the Law of the Lord,” and “holy to the Lord.” If, in 2:11, the word means some-thing different than the same word used in 2:9 & 23, surely Luke would have noted this. The baby in the manger of Bethlehem is none other than the Lord God in human flesh!

Spurgeon - The anointed Saviour has full power to save, for He “is Christ the Lord;” and therefore He is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. (Heb 7:25KJV)

NET Note on today - The Greek word for today (semeron) occurs eleven times in the Gospel of Luke (Lk 2:11; 4:21; 5:26; 12:28; 13:32–33; 19:5, 9; 22:34, 61; 23:43) and nine times in Acts (Acts 4:9; Acts 13:33; Acts 19:40; Acts 20:26; Acts 22:3; Acts 24:21; Acts 26:2; Acts 26:29; Acts 27:33). Its use, especially in passages such as Luke 2:11 , 4:21, 5:26; 19:5, 9, signifies the dawning of the era of Messianic salvation and the fulfillment of the plan of God. 

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). In Luke 1:46-47 "Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord,  And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior." Mary had called God her Savior and now the angels give God's title of Savior to this Baby (cf Lk 1:69-note)

Butler on Jesus as Savior or Deliverer - He will follow in the biblical tradition of deliverers (Jdg. 3:9,15; Neh. 9:27; Isa. 19:20; cf. Acts 5:31; 13:23). A troubled, powerless people will find a hero able to overcome the enemy. (Ibid)

The Exegetical Dictionary notes that "In secular Greek usage the gods are deliverers both as helpers of human beings and as protectors of collective entities (e.g., cities); this is the case with Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon, the Dioscuri Castor and Pollux, Heracles, Asclepius as the helper of the sick, and Serapis; it is true also for philosophers (Dio Chrysostom Or. 32.8) and statesmen (Thucydides v.11.1; Plutarch Cor. 11, also in inscriptions and elsewhere). In the Hellenistic ruler cult "theos soter" (god our savior) is attested in writings and inscriptions as a title of the Ptolemies and Seleucids. Inscriptions in the eastern part of the Empire called Pompey “Soter and Founder,” Caesar “Soter of the World,” and Augustus “Soter of Humankind.” Hadrian had the title "Soter of the Kosmos" (Balz, H. R., & Schneider, G. . Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans)

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. As discussed below, soter was used as a designation of the "deified" ruler, e.g., Ptolemy I Soter (323-285BC).


RobertsonThe people under Rome's rule came to call the emperor “Savior” and Christians took the word and used it of Christ.

Christ the Lord - This specific title surprisingly is only here in the NT.

Christ (5547)(Christos from chrio = to rub or anoint, consecrate to an office) means one who has been anointed, symbolizing appointment to a task. The majority of the NT uses refer to Jesus (exceptions = "false Christs" - Mt 24:24, Mk 13:22). The Messiah had come to sit on the throne of David and deliver Israel from oppression, not from the Romans but from sin and Satan. Sadly they wanted the former and were blind to the latter!

See related -

Christos is translated in the NAS 1995 edition as Christ (516x), Christ's (11x) and Messiah (4x - Mt 1:1, 16, 17, 2:4). The NIV and ESV never translate Christos as Messiah, but always as Christ. The Holman Christian Standard Bible has an interesting approach and translates Christos as Messiah many times depending on the context (see explanatory note) The NLT paraphrase translates Christos as Messiah over 80 times. The NET translates Christos as Messiah in Jn 4:29, Acts 3:20, Eph 2:12.

Butler The Lord is the title Luke uses most often for Jesus. This title refers to the holy, unspeakable personal name of God himself. This baby in the manger was God himself (cf. Lk 1:32,35), with all power and all authority under heaven. Bow in obedience to the baby of Bethlehem. You will easily find him, the only baby wrapped up like an infant but lying in the trough where animals eat. (Ibid)

Lord (Master, Owner)(2962)(kurios from kuros = might or power) conveys the sense of 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) 

Lord is not merely a name that composes a title, but signifies a call to action so that every saint should willingly, reverently bow down to Jesus Christ as Lord. If Christ is our Lord, we are to live under Him, consciously, continually submitting our wills to him as His loyal, loving bondservants ("love slaves"), always seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness (Mt 6:33-note). According to this practical working "definition" beloved we all need to ask ourselves "Is Jesus Christ my Lord?". "Do I arise each day, acknowledges this is the day the Lord hath made?" (Ps 118:24-note) "Do I surrender my will to His will as I begin each day?" (cp Ro 12:1-note, Ro 12:2-note) And by the way, we don't "make Jesus Lord." Jesus IS Lord, regardless of our response to His Lordship! Beloved, don't misunderstand. None of us have "arrived" in this area of Jesus as Lord of our lives. And it is precisely for that reason that Peter commands us to continually "grow (present imperative) in the grace (unmerited favor, power to live the supernatural, abundant life in Christ) and knowledge (not just intellectual but transformational) of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." (2 Pe 3:18-note) So do not be discouraged. Don't "throw in the towel" as they say. Keep on keeping on, pressing (continually = present tense) "on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Php 3:14-note)

Joy for All - By David McCasland - On the final day of a Christian publishing conference in Singapore, 280 participants from 50 countries gathered in the outdoor plaza of a hotel for a group photo. From the second-floor balcony, the photographer took many shots from different angles before finally saying, “We’re through.” A voice from the crowd shouted with relief, “Well, joy to the world!” Immediately, someone replied by singing, “The Lord is come.” Others began to join in. Soon the entire group was singing the familiar carol in beautiful harmony. It was a moving display of unity and joy that I will never forget.

In Luke’s account of the Christmas story, an angel announced the birth of Jesus to a group of shepherds saying, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11). 

The good news of Jesus’s birth is a source of joy for all people.

The joy was not for a few people, but for all. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son” (John 3:16).

As we share the life-changing message of Jesus with others, we join the worldwide chorus in proclaiming “the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.”

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”

Father, give us eyes to see people of all nations as recipients of Your grace and joy.

The good news of Jesus’s birth is a source of joy for all people.

Luke 2:12 "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

  • Ex 3:12 1 Sa 10:2-7 Ps 22:6 Isa 53:1,2 


NET NoteThe sign functions for the shepherds like Elizabeth's conception served for Mary in Lk 1:36.

Butler on a sign - This baby in the manger was God himself (cf. Lk 1:32,35), with all power and all authority under heaven. Bow in obedience to the baby of Bethlehem. You will easily find him, the only baby wrapped up like an infant but lying in the trough where animals eat. (Ibid)

Spurgeon - Not in marble halls, wrapped in purple and fine linen, and welcomed by the great and mighty of earth, nay, this greatest of all princes is born amid the poverty of our ordinary manhood. He is One chosen out of the people, the people’s Saviour, and a manger receives the people’s King.

Jesus had a most humble beginning in keeping with David's prophetic words in Psalm 22:1-31

But I am a worm and not a man, A reproach of men and despised by the people.  (Ps 22:6)

Comment: Warren Wiersbe adds that Psalm 22:6 is surely a description that applies "to our Savior. “I am a worm and not a man” is a forgotten “I AM” statement that speaks of how little value the leaders of Israel and the Roman officials placed on Jesus of Nazareth. A WORM is a creature of the ground, helpless, frail, and unwanted....As mysterious as is the figure of the King of glory (Ps 24:7-10) condescending to become like a mere WORM, the picture is even more profound when we examine the original language. The Hebrew word for WORM is TOLA, which most scholars associate with a CRIMSON WORM (Coccus Ilicis) that in ancient times was crushed to procure its blood-red SCARLET dye (Hebrew for "scarlet" is same word TOLA), the SCARLET dye used to adorn the "ten curtains" of the Tabernacle (Ex 26:1), "the screen for the (one) doorway of the" Tabernacle (Ex 26:36, cp "I am the door" Jn 10:9), the Veil separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies (Ex 26:31, cp Jesus' cry with a loud voice, yielding up His Spirit and the Veil of the temple tearing from top to bottom, opening "a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His [torn] flesh" - Mt 27:50-51, Heb 10:19-20) and the beautiful garments of the high priest (Ex 28:5-6, Jesus became our "merciful and faithful high priest" Heb 2:17). Indeed, how deep is the mystery of these OT uses of TOLA which depict a WORM in Ps 22:6 and in 33 OT passages (most in Exodus) depict the blood-red SCARLET material which foreshadowed the Messiah, even His work of redemption on the Cross! (Note - It is also notable that tola is figuratively used as  symbol of one who is insignificant in  Isaiah 41:14 and Job 25:6. How much more incredible that Jesus referred to Himself as a "tola!") And little did the Roman soldiers comprehend the deep significance of the SCARLET robe they placed on Christ, mocking Him with their cry "Hail, King of the Jews" (Mt 27:28-29)! And so we see the Holy One of Israel Who was "made for a little while lower than the angels" (Heb 2:9), then even lower than man, and yes finally made like a mere TOLA, a helpless "crimson worm," a WORM that was crushed beneath the load of our sin, "having become a curse for us." (Gal 3:13) "Well might the sun in darkness hide, And shut His glories in, When Christ, the mighty Maker died, For man the creature’s sin." (I. Watts) And so it should not surprise us to see the Spirit use the Hebrew word TOLA to picture our SIN! In Isaiah 1:18 Jehovah gives the universal invitation "Come now, and let us reason together. Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow. Though they are red like CRIMSON (Hebrew = TOLA!), they will be like wool." In a display of God's amazing, mysterious grace, the Spirit chose the same Hebrew word (TOLA) to depict MESSIAH and SIN! Indeed Paul explains this deep mystery, writing that the Father "made Him Who knew no sin to be SIN on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2Cor 5:21) When Christ was crushed by the weight of our sins, like a crushed crimson worm (TOLA), He shed His blood, that our sins might be covered by His crimson flow and we might be forever clothed in Christ's "garments of salvation, wrapped with His robe of righteousness." (Isaiah 61:10). These deep truths recall the original words of Isaac Watts' hymn "Alas! and did my Savior bleed, And did my Sovereign die! Would He devote that sacred head, For such a WORM as I?" And the answer is a resounding "Yes!" His crimson blood for our crimson sin, that we might be washed whiter than snow! "Hallelujah What a Savior! Thank You God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Amen" (Click for full article - Psalm 22:6 - I Am A Worm)

How Deep the Father's Love for Us
by Stuart Townend

How deep the Father's love for us, how vast beyond all measure
That He should give His Only Son, to make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turned His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One, bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross, my sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life; I know that "It is Finished!"

I will not boast in anything: no gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ; His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart: His wounds have paid my ransom

Sign (4592)(semeion a sign is something that serves as a pointer to aid perception or insight. In the NT a sign speaks of a token which has behind it a particular message to be conveyed. A sign directs attention away from its unusual nature to the meaning and the significance it points to. It speaks of outward compelling proof of divine authority. In John a sign is generally a "miraculous sign" that points to some deeper spiritual significance in connection with the event (Jn 2:11, 18). Semeion describes a miracle whose purpose is that of attesting the claims of the one performing the miracle to be true.

Wayne Detzler on semeion - Early in its use this word meant a visible sign which someone saw. For instance, when Constantine was embroiled in battle he saw the sign of a cross and the words, "In this sign conquer." This turned him to Christianity, and he granted toleration to the Christians in 313. So first of all semeion meant a real or imagined visible sign. Later it came to mean the intervention of the deities in our world. This is the meaning which the Bible attaches to miracles, when God breaks into the natural world to accomplish some special feat. (New Testament words in today's language).

Spurgeon - “This shall be a sign unto you,” said the angel to the shepherds; and this is the ensign of the Christ of God even unto this day. There are some, who are constantly bringing discredit upon religion by their pompous ritual and gorgeous ceremonies, and it is buried beneath the weight of their sensuous worship, but the living Christ is still found in simple, lowly guise, “wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

Steven Cole - How simple and yet how sublime is God’s means of salvation! Who would have thought that Messiah would be born as a baby, and in such humble circumstances, at that! I would have thought that God would send His Savior as a full-grown man, a mighty warrior riding on a white stallion. Or if He were to be born as a baby, I would have looked in the palace, expecting to see the infant wrapped in fine purple, lying in an ivory and gold cradle, attended by servants. Many would have stumbled over the angel’s directions (Luke 2:12): “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger”-a feeding trough! It smelled like any barn. Contrary to many artists’ conceptions, there was no halo over the baby’s head. Contrary to the children’s Christmas carol, the baby did cry. There were no photographers from the Jerusalem Post; no TV news crews; no dignitaries from the Temple. Just a plainly dressed carpenter and his young wife from the hick town of Nazareth. It wasn’t quite the way you would expect God to launch His Messiah into this world!  (Luke 2:8-20  The Simplicity Of Christmas)

Luke 2:13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

  • multitude: Ge 28:12 32:1,2 1Ki 22:19 Job 38:7 Ps 68:17 103:20,21 148:2 Isa 6:2,3 Eze 3:12 Da 7:10 Lu 15:10 Eph 3:10 Heb 1:14 1Pe 1:12 Rev 5:11 


Suddenly often describes the unexpected nature of God's acts, especially the eschatological events (e.g., Mal. 3:1-note).

Suddenly (1810)(exaiphnes from ek = of + aíphnes = suddenly) means  happening unexpectedly, quickly without warning, unexpectedly, at once. Referring to the unexpected nature of Christ's Second Coming (Mk 13:36). Luke describes the sudden appearance of that "a light (the radiant Redeemer!) from heaven flashed around" Saul of Taursus (Acts 9:3, 22:6). 

Exaiphnes - 5x  - Mk. 13:36; Lk. 2:13; Lk. 9:39; Acts 9:3; Acts 22:6. 

Exaiphnes - 8v in the Septuagint - Job 1:19; Pr. 24:22; Isa. 47:9 = "these two things will come on you suddenly in one day"; Jer. 6:26; Jer. 15:8 = "I will suddenly bring down on her Anguish and dismay"; Mic. 2:3; Hab. 2:7-note = "“Will not your creditors rise up suddenly"; Mal. 3:1-note = " the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple"

Spurgeon - They had heard the heavenly herald’s proclamation, and hurried down to join him in publishing the glad tidings. They could not bear that only one angel should announce the birth of the Christ; so, “suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host” 

Vincent on heavenly hostHost is literally army. "Here the army announces peace" (Bengel). Wyc., heavenly knighthood. Tynd., heavenly soldiers.

Host (4756)(stratia from stratós = an army) means an army, host. It speaks of angels (Lu 2:13; 1 Ki 22:19 cf. 2 Chr 18:18; Ps 103:21; 148:2).

POSB an army of angels, "ten thousand times ten thousand" (Daniel 7:10; cp. Psalm 68:17). God either gave the shepherds a special sight into the spiritual world and dimension or caused the spiritual dimension to appear to physical sight.

Godet - The troop of angels issues forth from the depths of that invisible world which surrounds us on every side. 

One of the great Names of Jehovah is LORD of hosts...

Luke 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

  • Glory: Lu 19:38 Ps 69:34,35 85:9-12 96:11-13 Isa 44:23 49:13  Jn 17:4 Eph 1:6 3:20,21 Php 2:11 Rev 5:13 
  • and: Lu 1:79 Isa 9:6,7 57:19 Jer 23:5,6 Mic 5:5 Zec 6:12,13  Jn 14:27 Ac 10:36 Ro 5:1 2Co 5:18-20 Eph 2:14-18 Col 1:20 Heb 13:20,21 
  • good will (with whom He is pleased): John 3:16 Eph 2:4,7 2Th 2:16 Titus 3:4-7 1Jn 4:9,10 


Play Vivaldi's Gloria in Excelsis Deo (or here is a 30 minute version!!!) if you need something to wake you up to the Glory of Lord. Beloved, make no mistake about it! We will see and sing Gloria in Excelsis Deo with the angelic hosts! Oh God let us live with this blessed hope imprinted indelibly in our minds so that we might order our steps along the highway of holiness. In Jesus' Name. Amen. If you want an encore you might play Handel's Hallelujah Chorus!

Glory to God in the highest (heaven): This one-verse hymn has been titled the Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Latin for "glory to God in the highest"). Glory to God, the God of glory (Ps 29:3 Acts 7:2). Note the two aspects of this great doxology relate to heaven and to earth respectively.

Highest (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 dwelling is 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, Lk 2:14, Lk 19:38)

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!

Pleased  (2107)(eudokía from eu = well, well off + dokeo = to seem, to think, to have an opinion) means good will or pleasure. Eudokia speak sof that which pleases. Of course, ultimately the only way for an unholy sinner to be pleasing to the Holy God is to be clothed in the garments of salvation, dressed in the perfect, God pleasing righteousness of Christ.  

Butler Angels recognize the worth and weight of God's presence and praise him for it. God gains glory. People get peace. God is in heaven; people, on earth. All this happens because God's favor, His good will, his choice rests on people. (Ibid)

Luke 2:15 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."

  • into: Lu 24:51 2Ki 2:1,11 1Pe 3:22 
  • Let: Ex 3:3 Ps 111:2 Mt 2:1,2,9-11 12:42  Jn 20:1-10 


When the angels had gone away from them into heaven - While they had departed visibly, that does not mean the angels were not there invisibly for the writer of Hebrews says (referring to angels) "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?" (Heb 1:14-note).

This thing - Literally "this word" (rhema as in Lk 2:17, 19)

Spurgeon - Good news is not to be kept to ourselves. When we have ascertained its truth we are to tell it to others, and we are especially to tell the goodness of salvation. Tell it, O ye who know it in your own hearts by blessed experience! Tell it, though it will sometimes be with broken accents in the feebleness of your flesh yet even then tell it in the ardor of your heart’s affection, and God will bless your testimony, and others will learn the good news through you.

Holman NT Commentary Angelic presence does not last forever. Angels leave. People must respond. How would shepherds respond—these tough men whose theological education came from the heavens and meadows rather than the synagogue and its rabbis? No quibbling or quarreling! Rather, they made an immediate decision—to go to Bethlehem to see what God had reported to them. They wanted to be part of the work God was doing in his world. They saw God's work in the face of a baby lying in a manger. What audacity that God would use society's lowest occupations and its most meager resources to begin his awesome work of salvation.

NET Note on the Lord has made known to us - Note how although angels delivered the message, it was the Lord whose message is made known, coming through them.

Has made known (1107) (gnorizo from ginosko = acquire information by whatever means but often with the implication of personal involvement or experience) means to cause information to be known by someone (make known, reveal, point out, explain, cause information to be known by someone), communicating things before unknown or reasserting things already known (Jn 15:15, Acts 7:13). To make clear. To "certify" (Gal 1:11KJV-note). As the result of consideration means to know, to possess information about, to know about, to have knowledge of , to be acquainted with (Php 1:22). Gnorizo is used especially of something unknowable by natural means but communicated by divine initiative (Eph 1:9).

Luke 2:16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

  • in a hurry: Lu 1:39 Ec 9:10 
  • found: Lu 2:7,12 19:32 22:13 


Gilbrant - The excitement that surrounded the shepherds' response is seen in speusantes, "with haste." A message of this importance must not be taken lightly, but it must be acted on immediately and without hesitation. The results of their response were just as the angel had foretold. The presence of the article in tē phatnē suggests that the baby and the manger they found were none other than the very baby and manger described by the splendid messenger. We can only imagine the sense of wonder the shepherds felt at seeing this one who was the Messiah resting in a feeding trough for livestock. The image of the Christ being born in a holding pen for cattle and being first visited by the outcasts of society was quite different than the popular expectations of the Messiah who would come as a powerful political/religious leader to deliver Israel from the oppression of Rome. It was not to the religious aristocracy that the birth of the Messiah was told, but it was to those in humble circumstances. (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)

Hurry (made haste)(4692)(speudo) means to do something quickly, to hasten (cf Acts 22:16). To cause something to happen soon or come into being by exercising special effort (2 Peter 3:12-note) BDAG adds that speudo "in the Greco-Roman world a mark of civic excellence."

Found (429)(aneurisko from aná = an emphatic + heurísko = to find) means they found by diligent seeking. God had spoken through the angel and they would be diligent to confirm the message. A good pattern to follow!

This was confirmation that the angelic message was true and led to them spreading the news in Lk 2:17.

He lay in the manger -  The child was found just as the angel had prophesied in Lk 2:12. = “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.

  • Lu 2:38 Lk 8:39 Ps 16:9,10 66:16 71:17,18 Mal 3:16
  • Jn 1:41-46 4:28,29 


They made known - Their speaking about Jesus is a good model for all of us once we have seen Him with the eyes of faith.

When they had seen this - Seeing was believing. The angelic message confirmed, now they were God's "angels" (means messengers)!  They saw, they shared. They were the first to bear witness to the Savior of the world. Who but God would choose such lowly ambassadors for His lofty Word of good news? Do not ever feel you are so poor, or uneducated, etc, that the Almighty cannot use you just as He did these lowly shepherds!

Wiersbe observes that "For some reason, shepherds were not permitted to testify in court, but God used some humble shepherds to be the first human witnesses that prophecy had been fulfilled and the Messiah had been born. The angels have never experienced the grace of God, so they can't bear witness as we can. Telling others about the Saviour is a solemn obligation as well as a great privilege, and we who are believers must be faithful." (Ibid)

Wiersbe's comment begs a simple question - When was the last time you told someone about Jesus Who will return not as a Child but as the King of kings?

Holman NT CommentarySeeing the baby Jesus was not enough for the shepherds. They had to share the story. Everyone they met heard from them about angelic visits, angelic songs of praise, and a trip to a manger to find the baby of God's glory. Most important, they shared what had been told them about this child. The fact of the child was news. The function of the child was Gospel. Shepherds found in a manger the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord Himself. They let everyone in hearing distance know.

Compare Lk 1:65–66-note.

Fear came on all those living around them; and all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea. 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.

Made known (1107)(gnorizo from ginosko = acquire information by whatever means but often with the implication of personal involvement or experience) means to cause information to be known by someone (make known, reveal, point out, explain, cause information to be known by someone), communicating things before unknown or reasserting things already known (Jn 15:15, Acts 7:13). Note that the less accepted manuscripts have  a different verb (1232)(diagnorizo from diá = denoting separation + gnorizo = to know) means to know by distinguishing, to give an exact report. 

The statement (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. For example in Luke we read…

And they understood none of these things, and this saying (rhema) was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said. (Luke 18:34)

Child (3813)(paidion diminutive of pais = child) is a little child of either sex, ranging from an infant (Mt 19:13, 14; Mk 10:13-15; Lk 18:16, 17, etc) to children who are older (Mt 11:16; Mt 14:21; 15:38; 18:2-5, etc) Paidion is used repeatedly of the infant Jesus in Matthew (Mt 2:8-9, 11, 13-14, 20-21) 

Luke 2:18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.

  • wondered: Lu 2:33,47 1:65,66 4:36 5:9,10 Isa 8:18 


And all who heard it wondered - Note that nothing is said about the hearers seeking out the child. They only wondered about what they heard; they never responded and never moved to find Him for themselves. O my, so close but yet so far. How many today are in "wonder" at the moral teachings of Jesus but they never step forth to witness the "empty tomb" (the resurrection which is the foundation stone of the Christian faith - cf 1 Cor 15:17). 

Wondered (were amazed) (2296)(thaumazo from thauma [from thaomai = to wonder] = wonder, admiration) means to wonder, marvel, be struck with admiration or astonishment. Thaumazo describes the human response when confronted by divine revelation in some form (Mt 9.33). Be surprised (Gal 1:6). It denotes incredulous surprise.

Thaumazo is a favorite verb of Luke (18/43 NT uses are by Luke) - Lk. 1:21; Lk. 1:63; Lk. 2:18; Lk. 2:33; Lk. 4:22; Lk. 7:9; Lk. 8:25; Lk. 9:43; Lk. 11:14; Lk. 11:38; Lk. 20:26; Lk. 24:12; Lk. 24:41; Acts 2:7; Acts 3:12; Acts 4:13; Acts 7:31; Acts 13:41

Trent Butler One word characterized their audience: amazed. Shepherds became Jesus' first evangelists. Surprise, astonishment greeted the first testimonies about Jesus. Surprise soon gave way to wonder and marvel at what God had done. Everyone in Bethlehem began talking about God's mysterious surprise—a surprise made known firsthand only to a couple from Nazareth and unappreciated shepherds carrying out their lonely nighttime tasks. (Ibid)

Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.

  • Lu 2:51 1:66 9:43,44 Ge 37:11 1Sa 21:12 Pr 4:4 Ho 14:9 

But Mary - This term of contrast introduces a different reaction in Mary

Trent Butler comments that Mary "had incubated amazement for nine months. Now she incubated experiences in her mind, experiences that gradually became treasured memories, each showing something new and different about her son, each confirming Gabriel's promise of greatness for this Son of David and Son of the Most High. Surely nothing was impossible with God (Lk 1:30-37). (Holman New Testament Commentary– Luke)

Spurgeon - Weighed them, estimated them at their right value.  Mary laid these things up in store, and pondered them, giving them their due weight and value. Oh, that we did the same with every truth that we learn!

Spurgeon on in her heart - The best of coffers to lay up anything in is the heart. Happy are those who, like Mary, store up the things of Christ, not in their brain though that would make them orthodox; but in their heart, for that will bring them salvation.

Robert Stein observes that the fact that Mary was pondering these things "along with Luke 2:51 indicates that Mary did not fully understand the implications of all that happened to her." 

Treasured (4933)(suntereo from sun/syn = with + tereo = guard, keep) means to keep closely together, keep close, preserve. Here Mary keeps carefully the words of the shepherds. In Mark 6:20, used of the protection of John the Baptist from Herodias. In Mt. 9:17 (and Lk 5:38 only in the Textus Receptus), used of the preservation of wineskins.

A T Robertson on suntereo - Imperfect active. She kept on keeping together (συν- [sun-]) all these things. They were meat and drink to her. She was not astonished, but filled with holy awe. The verb occurs from Aristotle on. She could not forget. But did not Mary keep also a Baby Book? And may not Luke have seen it?

Suntereo - 6x in 6v in the Septuagint - Proverbs 15:4 , Ezek 18:19, Dan 3:23, 30, 4:26, 4:28. 

Luke includes more than one reference to Mary's puzzlement and ponderings about these amazing witnesses concerning Jesus (Lk 1:29; 2:48, 50).

Pondering (4820)(sumballo from sún = together, with + bállō = to cast)  literally means placing together or bringing together for comparing and weighing facts.

Robertson adds "Brooding with a mother's high hopes and joy, Mary would go over each detail: Gabriel, the shepherds, and compare sayings with the facts."

Luke 2:20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

  • Lu 18:43 19:37,38 1Ch 29:10-12 Ps 72:17-19 106:48 107:8,15,21 Isa 29:19 Ac 2:46,47 11:18 


The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God - This is what the angelic host had been doing. Now it is the shepherds. One day soon, it will be angels and men glorifying God for so great a Gospel.

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:13-14)

Just as had been told them - God's Word was confirmed and stimulated His praises as it always should.

Butler Shepherds came. They saw what God told them to expect. They proclaimed their findings to all who would listen. They turned back toward their jobs, a new song of praise in their hearts. What God had said, God had done. They returned to the sheep, never to be heard of again, but never to be forgotten.

Gilbrant Characteristically Luke notes that the shepherds "returned, glorifying and praising God." Luke can be described as the Gospel of praise, for the author records the praise of people for God's mighty works where the other Gospel writers do not (e.g., Luke 1:46-55, 68-79; 2:14, 29-32; 5:25, 26; 7:16; 13:13; 17:15; 18:43; 19:37; 24:53; Acts 2:47; 3:8, 9). Consistently this Gospel emphasizes that the appropriate response to God's saving acts is always prayer and praise (see 17:11-21). Another major Lucan theme contained in verse 20 is that of witnessing. "That which ye see and hear" is a reference to witnessing which is repeated throughout Luke and Acts (e.g., Luke 7:22; Acts 2:33). Other phrases are also used to express this dominant theme (see notes on 2:27 and 4:1). (Ibid)

Luke 2:21 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.

  • eight: Lu 1:59 Ge 17:12 Lev 12:3 Mt 3:15 Ga 4:4,5 Php 2:8 
  • his name was: Lu 1:31 Mt 1:21,25 


And when eight days had passed: (See graph of the clotting factors in notes on Lev 12:3) Ge 17:12 prescribed this ritual specifically on "every male among you who is eight days old." The levels of the Vitamin K dependent coagulation factors are decreased to 30-60% of normal adult levels at birth (poor placental transfer, low hepatic store, low content of breast milk, lack of intestinal flora) and in absence of Vitamin K administration (which is now routinely administered to newborns), the levels drop by another 50% reaching their nadir at day 2 or 3 then gradually increasing over the next few days. The classic case of Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn presents at 1-7 days with GI tract bleeding, bruising, etc. Is God's Word inspired? He knew exactly when circumcision would be safe!

John MacArthur explains that "God instituted circumcision for three purposes. First, along with the other dietary and sanitary regulations prescribed in the law, circumcision had health benefits. As the sign of the Abrahamic covenant, circumcision was also the mark of Israel’s national identity. Finally, circumcision was a spiritual object lesson of the need for cleansing from the depravity of sin, which is passed to each succeeding generation through procreation. Circumcision was a physical symbol of the spiritual cleansing of the heart that takes place at salvation (cf. Dt. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4). But why was Jesus circumcised, since He was sinless (Isa. 53:9; John 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5) and did not need to have His heart cleansed? The answer lies in understanding that He came to fulfill the law. In the words of the apostle Paul, Jesus was “born of a woman, born under the Law” (Gal. 4:4). Like His baptism, Jesus’ circumcision served to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). He could say with David, “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart” (Ps. 40:8), and He alone kept God’s law perfectly throughout His life. Only because He did so could His righteousness be credited to believers. At the cross God treated Jesus as if He had lived their sinful lives. He is, therefore, able to treat them as if they had lived Jesus’ perfectly righteous life."

Before His circumcision - Jesus received His Name at His circumcision.

Jewish believer Arnold Fruchtenbaum offers these thoughts on Jesus' circumcision - Circumcision was commanded under TWO of the covenants of the Old Testament. The Abrahamic Covenant - obligatory for Jews, as a sign of Jewishness. The Mosaic Covenant - obligatory for Jews and Gentiles who converted to Judaism, as a sign of submission to the Law. Jesus was circumcised under both covenants, but upon Jesus’ death the Mosaic Covenant came to an end. However, the Abrahamic Covenant still stands. Circumcision as a sign of Jewishness is still in effect.The Abrahamic Covenant is to set the Chosen People apart from the nations around them. It is an ongoing, eternal covenant.

Circumcision (4059)(peritemno from perí = around + témno = cut off - see also 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.  

The rite of circumcision, as a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant (Ge 17:9-14), is known also to be of significant health benefit to the male. Its performance on the "eighth day" is also now known to be the optimum time for it to be done, in terms of the child's most rapid recovery from the operation. The coagulants in the blood of an infant normally reach their optimum effectiveness eight days after birth. Because circumcision was a Jewish law, the infant Jesus experienced it.

Wiersbe Note that the word law is used five times in Luke 2:21-40. Though He came to deliver His people from the bondage of the Law, Jesus was "made under the Law" and obeyed its commands (Gal. 4:1-7). He did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17-18). Jesus' parents obeyed the Law first by having the child circumcised when He was eight days old. This was the sign and seal of the covenant that God made with Abraham (Gen. 17), and it was required of every Jewish male who wanted to practice the faith. The Jews were proud to be God's covenant people, and they scornfully called the Gentiles "the uncircumcision" (Eph. 2:11-12). It is unfortunate that circumcision became an empty ritual for many Jews, because it proclaimed an important spiritual truth (Deut. 10:15-20; Ro 2:28-29). "His circumcision was His first suffering for us," said the late Donald Grey Barnhouse, a Philadelphia minister and author. It symbolized the work the Saviour did on the cross in dealing with our sin nature (Gal. 6:15; Phil. 3:1-3; Col. 2:10-11). In obedience to the Lord, Mary and Joseph gave Him the name Jesus, which means "Jehovah is salvation" (Matt. 1:21). (Ibid)

His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb

Luke 1:31 - “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.

Mt 1:21  "And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for (THIS EXPLAINS THE MEANING OF HIS NAME JESUS) it is He who will save His people from their sins."

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).

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).

Spurgeon - Although the old law ends with Christ, it is very instructive to notice that he came under the law, and conformed to all its appointments. Jesus, therefore, had to be circumcised. In him the law was fulfilled in every point, even to the jots and tittles; nothing was omitted. Behold, how perfect is the righteousness which he wrought out for his people!

POSB notes that - There were three legal ceremonies which Jesus underwent.

1. There was the ceremony of circumcision

2.There was the ceremony of purification. This was a ceremony Mary had to go through. After the birth of a boy child a woman was considered unclean for forty days (eighty for a girl child). She could work around the home and engage in normal activities, but she could not take part in religious ceremonies. She was religiously, that is, ceremonially, unclean. After a woman's forty or eighty days were up, she was to make an offering in the temple (Leviticus 12:1-8).

3. There was the ceremony of dedication to the Lord (Luke 2:23; cp. Exodus 13:2, 12, 15; Leviticus 27:6; Numbers 18:15-16). A male child was presented (dedicated) in the temple when the family was close to Jerusalem.

Luke 2:22 And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord

  • Lev 12:2-6 


Fruchtenbaum - Luke 2:22 indicates that this happens 40 days after Jesus’ birth, as required by the Law of Moses. For male babies it was 40 days, and for female babies it was 80 days.  

Fruchtenbaum on the purpose of Jesus' presentation - The first purpose was for the special ceremonial purification on the part of the mother. In Luke 2:24-25 we see that Mary offers a pair of turtle doves, one of which is for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. The fact that she offers the doves shows that Joseph and Mary are the poorest of the poor, for which this was allowable. This is in fulfillment of Isaiah 11:1, that Messiah will come from the stump of the house of Jesse, when the house of David is reduced to what it was in Jesse’s day. Look at Isaiah 11:1. They were reduced to very humble circumstances. The second purpose in presenting the baby at the Temple is the redemption of the firstborn as commanded in the Mosaic Law. Ex 34:19 says "“The first offspring from every womb belongs to Me, and all your male livestock, the first offspring from cattle and sheep." Do you know why? The reason is for the purchase of every firstborn child of Israel, as God spared the firstborn of Israel in Egypt’s deadliest plague.

Spurgeon - Our Saviour put Himself under the law for our sakes, and in every jot and tittle He observed it. So we are delivered from its dominion; for if Christ has fulfilled the law on our account, it has no more claim upon us. “Ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Ro 6:14)

Spurgeon - Everything was done that was required by the Jewish law, you see. “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Gal 4:4) “Being found in fashion as a man,” and a man under the Jewish law, Jesus and his parents were obedient to all its requirements.

Constable -  Under Mosaic Law, a woman became ritually unclean when she gave birth to a child (Lev. 12:2). The parents of a male child were to circumcise him on the eighth day after his birth (Lev. 12:3; cf. Gen. 17:12). The mother of a male offspring was unclean for 33 days following her son’s circumcision (Lev. 12:4; cf. Lev. 12:5). On the fortieth day after her son’s birth, the mother was to present a sin offering to the priest at the sanctuary to atone for her uncleanness (Lev. 12:6–7).

And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed: After the days for Mary’s purification were completed and she was again permitted to enter the temple. 

Mosaic Law said mother of a male child was unclean for a total of 40 days. Mary gave birth to a son and thus was ceremonially unclean for 7 days. Then she stayed at home an additional 33 days making a total of 40 days, after which she presented a burnt offering and a sin offering for her cleansing.

Lev 12:2 “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.

John MacArthur - The uncleanness in view here is ceremonial uncleanness, the first part of which lasted for seven days, like that of menstruation (Lev. 15:19). While she was unclean, a woman could not touch anything sacred or holy, nor could she go to the temple. Her ceremonial uncleanness tempered the natural joy of bringing a new life into the world (John 16:21) with the sober reality that the child, like its parents, was a sinner (Ps. 51:5). After a male child’s circumcision on the eighth day, the mother was ceremonially unclean for another thirty-three days.

Lev 12:3 On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

Lev 12:4 ‘Then she shall remain in the blood of her purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until the days of her purification are completed.

Lev 12:6 ‘When the days of her purification are completed (7 + 33 days = 40 days), for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting a one year old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering.

Lev 12:7 ‘Then he shall offer it before the LORD and make atonement for her, and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female.

Lev 12:8 ‘But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’” (Lev 12:2, 4, 6, 8-note). 

Purification (2512)(katharismos from katharizo = to cleanse and our English word catharsis which Webster's defines as purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension) describes the process of making clean, cleansing, purifying, freeing from filth. The NT uses refer to cleansing either from the "stain" of sin, an "inward contamination" (Heb 1:3, 2 Pe 1:9) or ritual cleansing as prescribed in the law of Moses (Mk 1:44, Lk 2:22, 5:14) or by Jewish customs (Jn 2:6).

They brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord: Note "up to Jerusalem" which is always the phrase because of Jerusalem's elevation. This godly couple was obedient to the Law of Moses.

Present (3936)(paristemi from para = near, beside + histemi = place, set) literally means to place or set beside or near and hence to place at someone's disposal. Paristemi in the Septuagint was used as a technical term for priest’s placing the offering on the altar. This act conveyed the general idea of surrendering or yielding up.  What an "Offering" to present to the Lord!

Paristemi as noted conveys the general idea of surrendering or yielding up. In the Old Testament a worshiper would present an unblemished animal sacrifice to God as an expression of worship. Today, God doesn't want us to present dead sacrifices but to present ourselves to Him as living sacrifices. The OT Law demanded sacrifice. The Gospel of Grace invites us to consider the "mercies of God" in and respond accordingly. On the basis of what God has shown us He has done, we are not to look to the Law and respond because we MUST. Instead we look at all God has done in showing us mercies and we respond freely from a grateful heart.

Stein summarizes the events of Lk 2:22-24 - The “purification” contained three elements: Mary’s purification (Lev 12:6–8), which involved a sacrifice being offered at the Nicanor Gate in the court of the women; the redemption of the firstborn son (Ex 13:1–2), which involved five shekels (Nu 3:47–48) and which Luke did not mention; and the consecration of the firstborn son (cf. 1 Sa 1:11, 22, 28). (Ibid)

Wiersbe notes that Jesus' parents "also had to "redeem" the boy since He was Mary's firstborn (Ex. 13:1-12). They had to pay five shekels (Nu 18:15–16) to redeem the Redeemer Who would one day redeem us with His precious blood (1 Peter 1:18-19). Their humble sacrifice would suggest that they were too poor to bring a lamb (2 Cor. 8:9). But He was the Lamb!" (Ibid)

Luke 2:23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD"),

  • Every: Ex 13:2,12-15 22:29 34:19 Nu 3:13 8:16,17 18:15 


Joseph and Mary carefully followed and fulfilled what was written in the Law of the Lord (note here not called "Law of Moses" but "Law of the Lord") 

Ex 13:1-2 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Sanctify (a command) (Heb = qadash; Lxx =  hagiazo) to Me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me.” 

Ex 13:12 you shall devote to the LORD the first offspring of every womb, and the first offspring of every beast that you own; the males belong to the LORD.

NET Note on Exodus 13:12 - The unusual choice of words in this passage reflects the connection with the deliverance of the firstborn in the exodus when the Lord passed over the Israelites (Ex 12:12, 23). Here the Law said, "you will cause to pass over  to Yahweh." The Hiphil perfect with the vav (w) provides the main clause after the temporal clauses. Yahweh here claimed the firstborn as his own. The remarkable thing about this is that Yahweh did not keep the firstborn that was dedicated to him, but allowed the child to be redeemed by his father. It was an acknowledgment that the life of the child belonged to God as the one redeemed from death, and that the child represented the family. Thus, the observance referred to the dedication of all the redeemed to God.

Gilbrant summarizes Luke 2:22-23 - These verses present two events—the purification of Mary and the presentation of the baby Jesus to the Lord. Clearly, the presentation is the more important of the two since the purification is mentioned primarily to state when Jesus' presentation in the temple took place. Luke emphasizes the piety of Jesus' parents in obeying and honoring God by observing the requirements of the Jewish law. The law of Moses demanded the purification of new mothers (Leviticus 12:1-8). If a woman gave birth to a son, she was ceremonially unclean for 7 days, and then she stayed at home an additional 33 days making a total of 40 days. (For the birth of a daughter the time of seclusion was extended to 80 days.) The dedication of Jesus was in fulfillment of Exodus 13:1ff. which is cited in part by Luke in Lk 2:23. Each firstborn male was considered holy, that is, dedicated to God for the special role of priest. The dedication was not a redemptive act which cleansed from sin but an act of setting someone aside for a special purpose. (See hagios in the Greek-English Dictionary.) Furthermore this practice of dedicating the firstborn son reminded the Jews that God had spared the firstborn Israelites at the Passover in Egypt and had delivered them all from slavery. Since God set aside the Levites for the priesthood (Numbers 3:12), the firstborn of other tribes were absolved of this responsibility by paying five shekels to a local priest (Exodus 13:2, 12-15; Leviticus 27:26, 27; Numbers 3:13; 8:17, 18; 18:15, 16). In this passage, however, Luke does not mention payment of the redemption money. Obviously Luke's main point is not Mary's purification or the payment of redemption money but the dedication of the child Jesus at the temple. Like the prophet Samuel, Jesus was given over to God's service (1 Samuel 1:22-24). Mary alluded to this in the "Magnificat" (Lk 1:46-55). Because of the miraculous events surrounding Jesus' birth, His parents recognized Jesus as the Messiah and dedicated Him to this service. (Ibid)

Luke 2:24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, "A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS."

  •  A pair (KJV): Lev 12:2,6-8 2Co 8:9 


And to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, "A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.: The bringing of two turtledoves or two young pigeons (one for a burnt offering [cf Lev 1:3-note], the other for a sin offering [cf Lev 4:3, 8, 14, etc-note]) by the mother to make atonement and to effect her cleansing became known as the "offering of the poor" and is what Mary brought (cf Lv 12:8-note). This not only emphasizes the poverty of Mary and Joseph, but it also shows that Mary did not consider herself to be sinless. Having made her offering, Mary was once again ceremonially clean. 

MacArthur makes the interesting observation that Mary's offering of two birds "indicates that they had not yet seen the wise men (Mt. 2:11), since the valuable gifts they brought would have allowed Joseph and Mary to afford a lamb for the sacrifice. That Mary offered a sin offering is consistent with the reality that she was a sinner in need of a Savior (cf. Lk 1:47).

Spurgeon - This proves the poverty of our Lord’s parents. If they had been able to bring a costlier sacrifice, they should have done so. The law required the offering of a lamb for a burnt offering; but there was a gracious provision in the case of the poor mother: “If she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.” Even in the case of a working-woman, the birth of her first-born son required from her a sacrifice; but it might be of the smallest kind: “A pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons.” Think of your Lord himself redeemed by a sacrifice, a pair of doves offered in his stead! What a wonderful coming down to our condition and position was this!

MacArthur sums up this section - Joseph and Mary’s obedience to the law of God shines forth throughout the narrative of Christ’s birth. Giving Him the name Jesus in obedience to the angel’s command (Matt. 1:21), presenting Him in the temple, paying the fee required for a firstborn son, and Mary’s scrupulous observance of the law of purification demonstrate that they, like Zacharias and Elizabeth, “were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord” (Luke 1:6). That righteousness validates their confirming testimony to their Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Luke 2:25  And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

  • just (KJV): Lu 1:6 Ge 6:9 Job 1:1,8 Da 6:22,23 Mic 6:8 Ac 10:2,22 24:16 Tit 2:11-14 
  • waiting (KJV): Lu 2:38 Isa 25:9 40:1 Mk 15:43 
  • Holy Ghost (KJV): Lu 1:41,67 Nu 11:25,29 2Pe 1:21 

Greek Kai idou anthropos en (3SISI) en Ierousalem o onoma Sumeon kai o anthropos houtos dikaios kai eulabes prosdechomenos (PMPMSN) paraklesin tou Israel, kai pneuma en hagion ep auton: 

CSB  There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel's consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him.

ESV   Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

GWN  A man named Simeon was in Jerusalem. He lived an honorable and devout life. He was waiting for the one who would comfort Israel. The Holy Spirit was with Simeon

KJV   And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

NAS (1977 version) And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

Comment: As discussed below the new translation of the NAS (1995) omits the word "Behold!"

NET   Now there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon who was righteous and devout, looking for the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

NAB   Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him.

NIV  Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

NLT   At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him

NJB   Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to the restoration of Israel and the Holy Spirit rested on him.

YLT   And lo, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name is Simeon, and this man is righteous and devout, looking for the comforting of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him,


See related resource: Watching and Waiting

AND THERE WAS A MAN IN JERUSALEM WHOSE NAME WAS SIMEON: Kai idou anthropos en (3SISI) en Ierousalem o onoma Sumeon:

It is sad that virtually EVERY modern translation leaves out one very important word that is present in all the Greek texts. And what word is missing? The "attention grabbing" word "BEHOLD!"

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!"  In every Scriptural use of the word behold we can be sure that God is trying to GET OUR ATTENTION!  Here!, There!, Look!, Now! 

J Philip Arthur - The word behold is intended to convey a delighted sense of surprise and pleasure: 'Look at this—isn't it amazing

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!"

This Jewish man was part of the believing remnant  as shown by his attitude and actions of daily looking for the Messiah, Who was the Hope of Israel and all the world! Oh, to be a man like Simeon! Fill us Father with Thy Spirit that we might be longingly looking for our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen! Indeed, if God graciously answers affirmatively and the Spirit enables us to be daily looking for Him, we surely also will be empowered to be daily living for Him! Hallelujah!

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!"

Whose Name was Simeon - see James Smith's devotional on Simeon below.

Simeon means Obedient; listening. Here in Luke he was not only the listening one but the "looking one," and as an old man he was one who recognized Jesus as the Messiah.

Spurgeon's exposition note - This combination makes up a complete character, “just” towards man, “devout” towards God. There are many who think they are just, but their justness does not extend to their fellow-creatures, and they forget the claims of the Most High upon them. On the other hand, I have known men who have pretended to a vast amount of devotion, but who have never been just. Such persons are hypocrites, as the others are robbers of God; but he who is just and devout, just towards man and devout towards God, hath the character of a true man. Such was Simeon, “just and devout,” 

I love C H Spurgeon's sermon entitled "Simeon" based on Luke 2:25 and I would strongly recommend clicking here and reading the entire message. Here is an excerpt from his introduction: 

WHAT a biography of a man! How short, and yet how complete!

We have seen biographies so prolix, that full one half is nonsense, and much of the other half too vapid to be worth reading. We have seen large volumes spun out of men’s letters. Writing desks have been broken open, and private diaries exposed to the world. Now-a-days, if a man is a little celebrated, his signature, the house in which he was born, the place where he dines, and everything else, is thought worthy of public notice. So soon as he is departed this life, he is embalmed in huge folios, the profit of which rests mainly, I believe, with the publishers, and not with the readers. Short biographies are the best, which give a concise and exact account of the whole man. What do we care about what Simeon did—where he was born, where he was married, what street he used to walk through, or what coloured coat he wore? We have a very concise account of his history, and that is enough.

His “name was Simeon;” he lived “in Jerusalem;” “the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.”

Beloved, that is enough of a biography for any one of us. If, when we die, so much as this can be said of us—

  • our name
  • our business, “waiting for the consolation of Israel”—
  • our character, “just and devout”—
  • our companionship, having the Holy Ghost upon us—

that will be sufficient to hand us down not to time, but to eternity, memorable amongst the just, and estimable amongst all them that are sanctified.

Pause awhile, I beseech you, and contemplate Simeon’s character. The Holy Ghost thought it worthy of notice, since he has put a “behold” in the sentence. “Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon.” He doth not say, “Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was king Herod;” he doth not say, “Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, who was high priest;” but, “Behold!”—turn aside here, for the sight is so rare, you may never see such a thing again so long as you live; here is a perfect marvel; “Behold,” there was one man in Jerusalem who was “just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was upon him.” His character is summed up in two words—“just and devout.

  • Just”—that is his character before men.
  • Devout”—that is his character before God.

He was “just.” Was he a father? He did not provoke his children to anger, lest they should be discouraged. Was he a master? He gave unto his servants that which was just and equal, knowing that he also had his Master in heaven. Was he a citizen? He rendered obedience unto the powers that then were, submitting himself to the ordinances of man for the Lord’s sake. Was he a merchant? He overreached in no transaction, but providing things honest in the sight of all men, he honoured God in his common business habits. Was he a servant? Then he did not render eye-service, as a man-pleaser, but in singleness of heart he served the Lord. If, as is very probable, he was one of the teachers of the Jews, then he was faithful; he spoke what he knew to be the Word of God, although it might not be for his gain, and would not, like the other shepherds, turn aside to speak error, for the sake of filthy lucre.

  • Before men he was just. But that is only half a good man’s character.

There are many who say, “I am just and upright; I never robbed a man in my life; I pay twenty shillings in the pound; and if anybody can find fault with my character, let him speak. Am I not just? But as for your religion,” such a one will say, “I do not care about it; I think it cant.” Sir, you have only one feature of a good man, and that the smallest. You do good towards man, but not towards God; you do not rob your fellow, but you rob your Maker. “Will a man rob God?” Yes, and think far less of it than he would if he robbed man. He who robs man is called a villain; he who robs God is often called a gentleman. Simeon had both features of a Christian.

He was a “just man,” and he was also “devout.” Mark, it does not say he was a just man and religious. A man may be very religious, and yet he may not be devout. Religion, you know, as the term is used, consists very much in outward observances; godliness and devotion consist in the inward life and action arising from the inner spring of true consecration. It does not say here that Simeon was a religious man, for that he might have been, and yet have been a Pharisee, a hypocrite, a mere professor. But no; he was a “devout” man.

  • He valued the “outward and visible sign,” but he possessed the “inward and spiritual grace.”

Therefore he is called “a just man and devout.” “Behold!” says the Holy Ghost. “Behold!” for it is a rarity! Come ye here, ye Christians of the present day! Many of you are just, but ye are not devout; and some of you pretend to be devout, but ye are not just.

  • The just and the devout together make up the perfection of the godly man.
  • Simeon was “a just man and devout.” ("Simeon")

AND THIS MAN WAS RIGHTEOUS AND DEVOUT LOOKING FOR THE CONSOLATION OF ISRAEL: kai o anthropos houtos dikaios kai eulabes prosdechomenos (PMPMSN) paraklesin tou Israel:


This man was righteous (just) - In our modern vernacular we would say "Simeon was saved." Simeon was justified by grace through faith in the Messiah.

Spurgeon -  “Just”—that is his character before men. “Devout”—that is his character before God. He blended in his character his duty to man and his duty to God, he was just and devout.

Righteous (1342)(dikaios from dike = right, just) defines that which is in accordance with high standards of rectitude. It 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 previous chapter to describe  Zecharias and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist

They were both righteous (dikaios) in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. (Lk 1:6-see notes where God's passing "over the sins previously committed" as described in Ro 3:25 is discussed.)

How could Simeon be righteous when the Righteous One Jesus Christ had not even been born much less crucified? Justification is by faith not works, so clearly Simeon was declared righteous because of his faith. The question is in what or who was his faith? As Paul states in Galatians he was saved (justified, declared righteous) the same way that Abraham was justified (Gal 3:6-note). In some way the Scriptures preached the Gospel to them just as the Scripture had preached the Gospel to Abraham (Gal 3:8-note)! Simeon had looked 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. For related discussions of salvation of individuals before Christ was crucified, see discussion of how Phinehas was reckoned righteous in Psalm 106:31 and discussion of Abraham in Ge 15:6 when "he believed in the LORD and He reckoned it to him as righteousness."

Devout (2126)(eulabes from eu = well + lambano = to receive, take hold) means literally taking hold of well ("carefully and surely" - Thayer) and hence cautious, reverent, devout, pious. In the NT the idea is God-fearing. Friberg adds this was " a characteristic of one who carefully observes the law.

TDNT - The Non-Christian Usage - This group denotes an attitude of “caution” or “circumspection,” e.g., regard for the kairos, vigilance, provision, concern, then conscientiousness, in religion scrupulosity or awe, more generally fear or anxiety. 

Liddell- Scott on eulabes - taking hold well, holding fast:-then metaphorically undertaking prudently, discreet, cautions, circumspect, 

Eulabes - 4x in 4v in the NT and twice in the Septuagint (Lev 15:31 eulabes means keeping clean of, keeping from, Micah 7:2 = "The godly [Heb - chasid = kind, pious; Lxx = eulabes] has perished from the earth").

Luke 2:25  And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

Acts 2:5  Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.

Acts 8:2  Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him.

Acts 22:12  "A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,

Simeon was eagerly waiting and Luke's use of the present tense depicts his waiting as his daily, continual delight. His looking for the Messiah was his "default" attitude which surely affected his actions and his life choices. Are you daily looking for the Messiah?  If this general attitude of patient, persistent expectation and anticipation pervaded the Body of Christ today, what difference might it make in our presentation of the Gospel? Remember that our life is preaching a message to the lost around every day. So this begs the question - "What is the Gospel according to me?" 

Spurgeon - His devotion was not that of a blind devotee. He had eyes of expectation, he was expecting the Messiah to come, who is “the consolation of Israel.”

Looking (4327)(prosdechomai from pros = in compound Greek words implies motion or direction toward + dechomai [word study] = a deliberate and ready reception) means to accept favorably, to receive one into intercourse/companionship, to give access to oneself or receive to oneself. Prosdechomai means to receive one coming from some place and so to welcome with friendliness (Ro 16:2-note, Phil 2:29).

This great Greek verb describes one who is waiting for something (in context Someone) with a sense of expectancy (Mk 15:43, Luke 2:25, 38, 12:36, 23:51, Acts 23:21, Titus 2:13,Jude 1:21). Does this verb typify your life beloved? If not what "earthly cargo" do you need to jettison in order to assure a safe voyage and an "abundant" arrival at port (see 2Pe 1:10,11-see notes, He 6:19, 20-see notes)?

The root verb dechomai means to accept deliberately and readily, receive kindly and so to take to oneself what is presented or brought by another. It means to welcome as a teacher, a friend, or a guest into one's house. The word describes accepting persons with open arms, minds, and hearts, even going beyond normally expected gracious hospitality. The term was often used of welcoming honored guests and meeting their needs with special attention and kindness.

Prosdechomai is used of things future, in the sense of expecting and with the meaning of accepting. This verb is virtually always is found in the middle voice conveying reflexive action (action directed or turned back on self) which means that one receives to one’sself or gives another access to one’s self.

As alluded to in the introductory comments on this passage, prosdechomai is in the present tense which calls for our looking to be our lifestyleAre you looking for Him? If you are looking at the visible things, the temporal things (2Co 4:18-noteof this passing world (1Jn 2:17-note), you can be sure that your looking (for Him = Second Comingwill be a bit lacking! As an aside the only way we can be continually looking for Jesus is by relying on the filling and empowering of the Spirit of Jesus Whose role is to glorify the Son (John 16:14)!

We need more men like G Campbell Morgan who said "I never begin my work in the morning without thinking that perhaps he may interrupt my work and begin his own. I am not looking for death, I am looking for Him." (Amen!) How would my daily choices change if I lived with what I like to call "vertical vision" (in contrast to "horizontal vision" -- looking at the things of the world [horizontal] rather than the things above [vertical])?

Adoniram Judson alluded to living expectantly in light of His imminent return when he wrote that...

A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated through eternity. The same may be said of each day. When it is once past, it is gone forever. All the marks which we put upon it, it will exhibit forever. Each day will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting destiny. How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness?! It is too late to mend the days that are past. The future is in our power.

Let us, then, each morning,
resolve to send the day into eternity
in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever.

Beloved, if you are struggling with the cost you might have to pay to be one of God's winning runners, or simply struggling with God's will for your life, struggling with what to do with your time, struggling with how you should live in these last days, struggling with whether you are really looking forward to that moment in eternity when you will stand fully revealed before your Lord, then you cannot afford not to watch the following video by John Piper (click title to watch Dr Piper's 46 minute video = Don't Waste Your Life. You can also download a free copy of John Piper's book Don’t Waste Your Life (also has a study guide)

Moulton-Milligan have this secular use of prosdechomai...

“I am waiting for the 450 drachma you have given to Radanus.” (Comment: We can probably all identify with this person's anticipation of being repaid!)


If we are to be looking for Christ to return at any time, living in light of its imminency, such an "uplook outlook" should be a powerful incentive to spur us on to fight the good fight necessary for godly living and bold witnessing. Note the emphasis is that we are to be looking for the Christ and not for the Antichrist, for a one world government or for any other supernatural sign. Beloved, our Bridegroom's coming is imminent, and no prophetic event is required to precede His sure return (See related topics ImminencyAnother discussion on imminency). Maranatha (Our Lord, come! 1Cor 16:22).

Is that my mindset? Do my day to day choices reflect the reality of an expectant attitude?

Expectant Looking
Is the "Antidote" for
Apathetic Living

Hudson Taylor put it this way "Since he may come any day, it is well to be ready every day."

The watchers on the mountain
Proclaim the Bridegroom near,
Go, meet Him as He comes,
With Hallelujahs clear!

The marriage feast is waiting,
The gates wide open stand
Up, up! ye heirs of glory,
The Bridegroom is at hand!"

May we be like the Psalmist who cried "My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning." (Ps 130:6-note)


Consolation (3874)(paraklesis  from pará = side of + kaléo = call) refers to calling to one's side or one's aid which can be for the purpose of providing solace, comfort, consolation, exhortation, encouragement.

BDAG notes that paraklesis is used in Luke 2:25 "in an eschatological (prophetic) sense...i.e., Messianic salvation....In later times Jews occasionally called the Messiah himself מְנַחֵם = ‘Comforter’." This is fascinating to me in that this same Hebrew noun (מְנַחֵם= Comforter) is used in the lament of the city of Jerusalem after her destruction and the departure of Yahweh from the Temple (final destruction by Babylon in 586 BC). In this tragic setting the Spirit inspires Jeremiah to record these words as if spoken by the desolate city "“For these things I weep; My eyes run down with water; Because far from me is a COMFORTER (מְנַחֵם; Lxx = parakaleo which is in same word family as paraklesis), One who restores my soul. My children are desolate Because the enemy has prevailed." (Lam 1:16, cp similar sentiment in Lam 1:2) It is as if Simeon picks up the centuries old lament of ancient Jerusalem as he daily scans the horizon in search of the Comforter!

As an aside we do well to recall that all of Scripture is actually a paraklesis, an exhortation, admonition, comfort or encouragement for as Paul wrote "whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (Ro. 15:4-note).

We also see a foreshadowing of this future comfort (and Comforter) in the prophecy of Isaiah

“Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God. 

The Lxx of comfort...comfort is the verb parakaleo. Clearly God's heart to His people Israel is to send them comfort and how better than to send the comfort in the form of the Comforter Himself, the Messiah. And as shown in the context of Luke 2, Simeon was looking eagerly for the consolation that only the Messiah Himself could provide.

Believer's Study Bible (W A Criswell) - "Consolation of Israel" is a standard rabbinic description of the messianic age (cf. Isa. 40-55).

Ryrie Study Bible - the consolation of Israel is the promised Messiah. 

NET NOTE on "Consolation of Israel" - The restoration of Israel refers to Simeon's hope that the Messiah would come and deliver the nation (Isa 40:1; 49:13; 51:3; 57:18; 61:2).

The great hymn writer Charles Wesley was surely thinking of the Consolation of Israel when he wrote his beautiful timeless hymn, Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. Note especially Wesley's words "Israel's strength and consolation. Hope of all the earth Thou art." (Play this great hymn).

Come, thou long expected Jesus, 
born to set thy people free; 
from our fears and sins release us, 
let us find our rest in Thee. 

Israel's Strength and Consolation, 
Hope of all the earth Thou art; 
Dear Desire of every nation, 
Joy of every longing heart. 

Born Thy people to deliver, 
born a child and yet a King, 
born to reign in us forever, 
now Thy gracious kingdom bring. 

By thine Own eternal spirit 
rule in all our hearts Alone; 
by Thine all sufficient merit, 
raise us to Thy glorious throne. 

Simeon A Hidden One
Luke 2:25-32 
James Smith

"My mother's grave my Sinai was,
But light, not lightning, was the cause
That won me from my unbelief,
And staunch'd an ageing father's grief;
Softly my childhood's prayer returned,
And my old faith within me burned."

Simeon seems to have been one of the Lord's hidden ones, who, under the guidance of God, calmly and quietly served Him in waiting. But the hidden one is here brought into light. He has prayed in secret, he is now rewarded openly.

1. See his holy character.

a. He was just and devout (Luke 2:25). Just in his dealings with men, and devout in his dealings with God. Righteous and holy. These are the two sides of a Christian life, they must be equally honest and true.

b. He waited for the consolation of Israel. He waited and prayed because he believed. This dear old man of God had no faith in any other means or efforts to comfort Israel than the coming of the King. This is still Israel's hope, for "the Lord shall comfort Zion" (Isa 51:3). His waiting was rewarded; his hope was fulfilled. "They shall not be ashamed that wait for Me" (Isa 49:23). Wait on the Lord!

c. He was endued with the Spirit. "The Holy Ghost was upon him." There is always a very vital connection between waiting on the Lord and being endued with power (Act 2:1-4). The effect of the Holy Spirit resting upon Him was twofold: 1. He was taught. It was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 2. He was led. "He came by the Spirit into the temple" (Luke 2:27). Every Spirit-possessed one has the things of Christ revealed to him or her, and will be led by the Spirit. It may simplify the matter to reverse the order here: (1) Be filled with the Spirit, then you will (2) be willing to wait on and for the Lord; and then (3) you will be able to live a just and devout life before God and men, being taught of God and led by the Spirit.

2. Hear his joyful testimony. His is indeed a striking attitude as he stands with the infant Saviour in those arms so long outstretched in prayer and patient waiting. Who can refrain from giving a glowing testimony when the arms of their faith have been filled with the personal Saviour? He blesses God as one whose life had now been fully satisfied with his gift. Crowned with his honour, and ready to depart in peace. Such is always the satisfying power of Jesus Christ when received by faith. He testifies of-

a. Christ as the Salvation of God. "Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation" (Luke 2:30). Beautiful is the title thus given to Jesus. "Thy Salvation." God's great love, mercy, and power united to redeem and bless us in the person of His Son. This was the making bare of the arm of the Lord for salvation (Isa 52:10). This naked arm reveals, if we might so put it, the strong and mighty saving muscle of Jehovah. "O arm of the Lord, awake, awake!" What else but the living Christ in our hearts will ever fit us for departing in peace?

b. Christ as the Light of the Gentiles (Luke 2:32). "As a revelation to the nations" (Newberry). Christ is God's revealed Light to the nations of the earth. With regard to the character of God and the way of salvation there is no other light. All else is but the light of sin-blinded reason, which is only supposition or superstition. "I am the Light of the World." Salvation is a coming out of darkness into His marvellous light. The sparks of our own making will never turn night into day (Isa 9:2). No more can our own work save us. The presence of Christ with us and in us is as Heaven's own searchlight turned upon the Father that we may see Him, and turned upon ourselves, upon sin, death, and eternity that we might see these, as it were, with His eyes. "Walk in the light" (1Jn 1:7).

c. Christ as the Glory of Israel (Luke 2:32). This is the order revealed by the Holy Ghost to Simeon. Christ was to be first a light to the Gentiles, after that the glory of His people Israel. Was there another in Israel who believed that the Christ would first bless the Gentile nations before He would be glorified among His own ancient people? The Holy Spirit could make no mistake. The Messiah would be cut off, numbered with transgressors. But He will come again, not as a sin-offering, but as the King of Israel, with great power and glory. They shall mourn because of Him (having crucified Him), but the glory of the Lord will then have arisen upon them. Where the glorified One is there will be glory, for glory always dwells in Immanuel's land, whether in earth or in Heaven, in Time, or Eternity. Christ is our Salvation; Christ is our Light; Christ is our Glory. To Him be the praise.

AND THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS UPON HIM: kai pneuma en hagion ep auton

This is one of seven direct references to the Holy Spirit in Dr Luke's first two chapters -

Luke 1:15-note "For he (John the Baptist) 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.

Luke 1:35-note The angel answered and said to her (Mary), "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. 

Luke 1:41-note When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby (John the Forerunner) leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:67-note And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:

Luke 2:25 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was UPON him. 

Luke 2:26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

Luke 2:27 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,

So in just 2 chapters Luke teaches us a great deal about the Holy Spirit, Whom the modern church sadly seems to have largely forgotten, so that one modern writer (Francis Chan) was compelled to write a book entitled the "Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit ." You might want to take a break and read Chan's short but pithy book. So in the first two chapters we learn that the Holy Spirit fills us, comes upon us, is associated with dispensation of power, is associated with speaking forth the Word (prophesying - Lk 1:67), reveals truth previously hidden from men (Lk 2:26) and is the atmosphere in which a man walked and worked ("in the Spirit" Lk 2:27). Oh, how the modern church needs to grasp the breadth and length and height and depth of these basic truths about the Spirit.  See article on "A Spirit Filled Church".

In Luke 24:49 Jesus gives instructions to His disciples as He prepares to ascend back to His Father, declaring

“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father UPON you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

"The promise of My Father" is of course the Holy Spirit Who would be poured out on the disciples at Pentecost, the day in which the Church was born (Acts 2:1-4).

The Godly "Senior Saint" (Simeon, Luke 2:25-32)
    1. His death was permitted by God 
    2. His death followed a godly life of faithful service 
    3. His death meant peace—he had seen the Savior! 

    1. Look at his eyes: a promise was fulfilled; he saw Jesus 
    2. Look at his lips: he praises the Sovereign Lord 
    3. Look at his heart—he is experiencing God's peace

John MacArthur has an excellent summary of the role of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament - A common misconception about the Holy Spirit is that His ministry in the lives of God’s people began on the day of Pentecost. That is not the case, however. All those who were saved before the cross and Pentecost were saved in the same way as those who were saved afterward—by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8–9). And no sinner, “dead in … trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), can come to repentance and faith apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. “The heart is more deceitful than all else,” wrote Jeremiah, “and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). Sinners can no more change their hearts by their own efforts than people can change their skin color, or animals the pattern of their fur (Jer. 13:23). “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin’?” Solomon asked rhetorically (Prov. 20:9). The obvious answer is no one, since “there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Rom. 3:10–12; cf. Job 15:14; 1 Kings 8:46; Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:23). The Holy Spirit convicted people in the Old Testament of their sin, prompted repentance, gave life, elicited faith, and drew them to God. Apart from His work, no person in any age can ever be justified, sanctified, empowered for service and witness, understand Scripture, or pray in the will of God. There is, however, a new dimension to the Spirit’s work in the lives of believers after Pentecost. As Jesus told the disciples in John 14:17 concerning the increased degree of the Spirit’s ministry to them, “He abides with you and will be in you.” Under the old covenant, the Spirit was present in power and person WITH believers. But under the New covenant, His presence was IN those who believed and is expressed in an unprecedented way (cf. Ezek. 36:26–27-note). There was to come for believers a giving of the Spirit by which unique power would be provided for ministry and evangelism. That happened on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit was given to believers in a new fullness that became normative for all believers since (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 12:13). Luke’s note that the Holy Spirit was UPON Simeon reflects the Spirit’s pre-Pentecost empowering of people to serve and speak for God (cf. Ex 31:2–3; Nu 11:25; Nu 27:18; Jdg. 3:9–10; Jdg 11:29; Jdg 13:24–25; Jdg 14:6, 19; Jdg 15:14; 1Sa 16:13; 2Chr. 15:1; 2Chr 20:14–17; 2Chr 24:20; Mic. 3:8; Zech. 7:12). He has already recorded the Holy Spirit’s filling of John the Baptist (Luke 1:15-note), Elizabeth (Luke 1:41-note), and Zacharias (Luke 1:67-note).

In the examples below sometimes the Holy Spirit is IN an individual and other times He is UPON them. The point is that the Spirit is necessary for supernatural work for God in both testaments! And whether He was on or in the OT saints is not the issue. The vital truth is that He was present. And even when the Spirit was IN OT saints, it was not a permanent indwelling as is our incredible gift in the New Covenant! Do we really grasp the value and our great need of the Father's incredible gift? Are you daily seeking to be filled with His Spirit before you begin your journey into the crooked and perverse generation? Are you quick to confess and repent so that you do not grieve or quench the Spirit and in effect "throw water of His flame" in your heart? The modern church needs to return to the pattern of the church of Acts where clearly we see that they continually manifested their need for and empowerment by the Holy Spirit. We can do no less, lest we surely accomplish less for God's Kingdom and His Glory!


Exodus 31:2-3 “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all [kinds of] craftsmanship,

Numbers 11:25   Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit who was upon him and placed [Him] upon the seventy elders. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do [it] again. 

Numbers 27:18  So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him;

Judges 3:9-10  When the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. 10 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the LORD gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim.

Judges 11:29  Now the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, so that he passed through Gilead and Manasseh; then he passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he went on to the sons of Ammon.

Judges 13:24-25 Then the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson; and the child grew up and the LORD blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

Judges 14:6; 19  The Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, so that he tore him as one tears a young goat though he had nothing in his hand; but he did not tell his father or mother what he had done....19 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of them and took their spoil and gave the changes [of clothes] to those who told the riddle. And his anger burned, and he went up to his father’s house.

Judges 15:14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines shouted as they met him. And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily so that the ropes that were on his arms were as flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds dropped from his hands.

1 Samuel 16:13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah. 

2 Chronicles 15:1  Now the Spirit of God came on Azariah the son of Oded, 2 and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: the LORD is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.

2 Chronicles 20:14-17 Then in the midst of the assembly the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite of the sons of Asaph; 15 and he said, “Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 ‘Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 ‘You [need] not fight in this [battle;] station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you.” 

2 Chronicles 24:20  Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest; and he stood above the people and said to them, “Thus God has said, ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD and do not prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, He has also forsaken you.’”

Micah 3:8  On the other hand I am filled with power– With the Spirit of the LORDAnd with justice and courage To make known to Jacob his rebellious act, Even to Israel his sin. 

Zechariah 7:12 “They made their hearts [like] flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts.

Luke 2:26  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

  • it (KJV): Ps 25:14 Am 3:7 
  • the Lord's (KJV): Ps 2:2,6 Isa 61:1 Da 9:24-26 Joh 1:41 4:29 20:31 Ac 2:36 9:20 Ac 10:38 17:3 Heb 1:8,9 

CSB  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord's Messiah.

ESV   And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

GWN  and had told him that he wouldn't die until he had seen the Messiah, whom the Lord would send.

KJV   And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

NET   It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

NAB  It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord.

NIV  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

NLT  and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Messiah.

NJB  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord.

YLT   and it hath been divinely told him by the Holy Spirit -- not to see death before he may see the Christ of the Lord.

NIRV   The Spirit had told Simeon that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.


It had been revealed to Simeon - How? By the Spirit of Truth Who Luke had just described as UPON HIM  (Lk 2:25)

Spurgeon - That which the Holy Ghost reveals will assuredly come to pass, as it did in the experience of old Simeon

Had been revealed (5537)(chrematizo from chrema = an affair, business) in the NT means to impart a divine message (an injunction or warning). Chrematizo in this sense speaks of a divine oracle or declaration as here in (Lk 2:26) and in other contexts speaks of a divine warning (He 12:25, 8:5, Mt 2:12, 22). In a second usage in the NT chrematizo means to bear a title and so to be called as in Acts 11:26 where "the disciples were first called Christians". (used with this sense in Ro 7:3). In the Greek papyri chrematizo meant to transact business, of official pronouncements by magistrates and of a royal reply to a petition as well as an answer of an oracle or as describing a revelation from a lifeless "god." Josephus uses chrematizo in the sense of to receive a response from God.

See death (Horao ton thanatos). The phrase "to see death," is a Hebraism for to die. 

Death (2288)(thanatos) is a cessation of all vital functions and thus is the end of life on earth (as we know it). Death speaks of separation,  the separation of the soul from the body and the end of earthly life. Spiritual death is separation from the life of God not only in this life but forever in the life to come unless they are born again. The first use of Thanatos in the Septuagint is in a well known promise from God "you shall surely die (Lxx = thanatos apothnesko).” (Ge 2:17) followed by the second use in the deceptive lie by Satan “You surely shall not die (thanatos apothnesko)!" (Ge 3:4) In 1Jn 2:11 associates this spiritual death with darkness explaining that "the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes."

Spurgeon - You see, dear friends, he was not afraid to die, and he knew that he could not die until he had seen the Messiah. Some of us, if we had a revelation that, on the occurrence of a certain event, we should die, might be filled with alarm or anxiety, but it is not so with holy Simeon; he rather longs to depart in peace. He looks upon the coming of “the Lord’s Christ” with great joy, because now he knows the battle of life for him will soon be over, and that he will enter into his victory.


Before he had seen the Lord's Christ - "He must have lived in a constant state of joyous expectation, knowing that each new day might bring the Messiah he longed to see. That knowledge must also have had a sobering effect on him, motivating him to lead a godly life." (MacArthur) MacArthur's assessment of Simeon's "Messiah mindset" is undoubtedly accurate and begs the question for each of us "What effect does it have on our choices that  each new day might be the day of Messiah's return and if not is for sure one day closer to His glorious return?

The Lord's Christ - Notice the three members of the Trinity in Lk 2:25-26. Here the Lord refers to the Father and of course Christ to the Son.

Christ (5547)(Christos from chrio = to rub or anoint, consecrate to an office) means one who has been anointed, symbolizing appointment to a task. The majority of the NT uses refer to Jesus (exceptions = "false Christs" - Mt 24:24, Mk 13:22).

See discussion of related word - messias = Messiah

Christos is translated in the NAS 1995 edition as Christ (516x), Christ's (11x) and Messiah (4x - Mt 1:1, 16, 17, 2:4). The NIV and ESV never translate Christos as Messiah, but always as Christ. The Holman Christian Standard Bible has an interesting approach and translates Christos as Messiah many times depending on the context (see explanatory note) The NLT paraphrase translates Christos as Messiah over 80 times. The NET translates Christos as Messiah in Jn 4:29, Acts 3:20, Eph 2:12.

See also Messiah - Anointed One

APPLICATION - God had promised Simeon that he would not die until he saw the Messiah at His first coming and God was true to His promise. God has promised us beloved that we will see the Messiah either when we die or at His Second Coming and He will again be true to His promise (cp Titus 1:2-note)! Simeon saw Him for a short time. We shall see Him forever. The tragedy is that unbelievers will get to see the Messiah for a short time (and sadly this will make hell an even more emotionally painful tragedy for them!) for John writes "BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen."  (Rev 1:7-note)

The Holy Spirit, N.T., Summary
C I Scofield

(1) The Holy Spirit is revealed as a divine Person. This is expressly declared (e.g. John 14:16-17,26; 15:26; 16:7-15; cp. Mt 28:19), and everywhere implied.

(2) The revelation concerning Him is progressive:

(a) In the O.T. (see Zech 12:10, note) He comes upon whom He will, apparently without reference to conditions in them.

(b) During His earth-life Christ taught His disciples (Luke 11:13) that they might receive the Spirit through prayer to the Father.

(c) At the close of His ministry He promised that He would Himself pray to the Father, and that in answer to His prayer the Counselor (or "Comforter") would come to abide (John 14:16- 7).

(d) On the evening of His resurrection He came to the disciples in the upper room and breathed on them saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22), but He instructed them to wait before beginning their ministry until the Spirit should come upon them (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8).

(e) On the day of Pentecost the Spirit came upon the whole body of believers (Acts 2:1 - 4). (f) After Pentecost the Spirit was imparted to such as believed, in some cases by the laying on of hands (Acts 8:17; 9:17). And

(g) with Peter's experience in the conversion of Cornelius (Acts 10) it became clear that the norm for this age was that Jew and Gentile were to be saved on precisely the same conditions, and the Holy Spirit was to be given without delay to those who met the one essential condition of trust in Christ (Acts 10:44; 11:15 - 18). This is the permanent fact for the entire Church Age. Every believer is born of the Spirit (John 3:3-6; 1 John 5:1); indwelt by the Spirit, whose presence makes the believer's body a temple (1 Cor 6:19; cp. Rom 8:9 - 15; Gal 4:6; 1 John 2:27); and baptized with the Spirit (1 Cor 12:12 - 13; 1 John 2:20,27), thus sealing him for God (Eph 1:13; 4:30).

(3) The N.T. distinguishes between having the Spirit, which is true of all believers, and being filled with the Spirit, which is the Christian's privilege and duty (cp. Acts 2:4 with 4:29-31; Eph 1:13 - 14 with 5:18). There is one baptism with the Spirit, but many fillings with the Spirit.

(4) The Holy Spirit is related to Christ in His conception (Mat 1:18 - 20; Luke 1:35), baptism (Mat 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32 - 33), walk and service (Luke 4:1,14), resurrection (Rom 8:11), and as His witness throughout this age (John 15:26; 16:8 - 11,13 - 14).

(5) The Spirit forms the Church (Mat 16:18; Heb 12:23) by baptizing all believers into the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12- 13; cp. the universal address, 1 Cor 1:1-2); imparts gifts for service to every member of that body (1 Cor 12:7- 1,27-30); guides the members in their service (Acts 16:6-7); and is Himself the power of that service (Acts 1:8; 2:4; 1 Cor 2:4).

(6) The Spirit abides in a company of believers, making of them, corporately, a temple (1 Cor 3:16 -17).

(7) The N.T. indicates a threefold personal relationship of the Spirit to the believer: "with," "in," and "on" (John 14:16 - 17; 1 Cor 6:19; Acts 1:8). "With" indicates the approach of God to the soul, convicting of sin (John 16:9), presenting Christ as the object of faith (John 16:14), imparting faith (Eph 2:8), and regenerating (Mark 1:8; John 1:33). "In" describes the abiding presence of the Spirit in the Christian's body (1 Cor 6:19) to give victory over the flesh (Rom 8:2 - 4; Gal 5:16 - 17), create the Christian character (Gal 5:22 - 23), help infirmities (Rom 8:26), inspire prayer (Eph 6:18), give conscious access to God (Eph 2:18), actualize to the Christian his sonship (Gal 4:6), apply the Scriptures in cleansing and sanctification (Eph 5:26; 2 Th 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2), comfort and intercede (Acts 9:31; Rom 8:26), and reveal Christ (John 16:14). "On" is used of the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the Lord Jesus Christ (Mat 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 4:18; John 1:32 - 33), to the Virgin Mary in connection with the incarnation and birth of our Lord (Luke 1:35), to certain designated disciples (Luke 2:25 [Simeon] ; Acts 10:44 - 45; 11:15 [household of Cornelius] ; Acts 19:6 [disciples at Ephesus] ), and to believers generally (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:17; 1 Pet 4:14). Based on Luke 4:18, some understand that the expression has to do with anointing for special service for God, as well as with the original coming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit to and in the individual Christian.

(8) Sins against the Spirit, committed by unbelievers, are: to blaspheme (Mat 12:31), resist (Acts 7:51), and insult (Heb 10:29). Christians' sins against the Spirit are: to grieve Him by allowing evil in heart or life (Eph 4:30 - 31), and to quench Him by disobedience (1 Th 5:19). The right attitude toward the Spirit is yieldedness to His sway in life and service, and constant willingness for Him to "get rid of " whatever grieves Him or hinders His power (Eph 4:31).

(9) The symbols of the Spirit are:

(a) oil (John 3:34; Heb 1:9);

(b) water (John 7:38 - 39);

(c) wind (John 3:8; Acts 2:2);

(d) fire (Acts 2:3);

(e) a dove (Mat 3:16);

(f) a seal (Eph 1:13; 4:30); and

(g) "a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance" (Eph 1:14).

Luke 2:27  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,

  • by (KJV): Lu 4:1 Mt 4:1 Ac 8:29 10:19 11:12 16:7 Rev 1:10 17:3 
  • the parents (KJV): Lu 2:41,48,51 
  • to (KJV): Lu 2:22 


In the Spirit -  In the Spirit’s power and leading. Simeon was under the influence of the Holy Spirit and guided by the Spirit. And beloved we too should be continually IN THE SPIRIT for Paul commands you and I to "let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves. (Gal 5:16NLT-note)  (See note below on "IN THE SPIRIT")

Spurgeon - Men who have the Spirit will be led by the Spirit. Simeon came into the temple at the right moment. Just when a young man was entering, with his wife and new-born child, “He came by the Spirit into the temple.” He came in, I say, at the right time. Did ever anybody, who was not led by the Spirit, find Christ? Somebody has come in here tonight, and he does not know why he has come; but he has been led here by the Spirit that he may see Jesus, and may have such a sight of him as shall be his salvation. God grant that it may be proved that many an aged Simeon has traveled here this Sabbath night, led by the Spirit for this purpose, to find the Saviour in his own house!

See related article - Praying in the Spirit

In Acts 19:21 "Paul purposed in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem." John Trapp writes that "By the instinct of the Holy Spirit, his counselor and conduct, by whom all his actions were moderated. So he went bound in the spirit, Acts 20:22. So Simeon came by the spirit into the temple, Luk 2:27. And so still, the steps of every good man are ordered by the Lord, Ps 37:23."

A B Simpson on came in the Spirit - "Such a walk will enable us to meet the providences of God as they come to us in victory, and to maintain the perfect harmony between our inward life and the outward leadings of His own. We have some beautiful examples of the transcendent importance of this walking in the Spirit, in connection with the conjunctures of circumstances on which so much often hangs. There never was a moment in human history on which more depended than that when the infant Christ was first brought into the Temple. What an honor and privilege it was to be there and catch the first glimpse of His blessed face, and even hold in the embrace of human arms the Gift of ages! Yet that was the honor of two aged pilgrims who were walking in the Spirit. Simeon and Anna, led of the Holy Ghost, came in at that very moment into the Temple. Led of God unerringly, and walking step by step with Him (cp Gal 5:25NIV-note), they were enabled to meet Him in this glorious opportunity, and be the first heralds of His coming. No wonder the aged Simeon, as he took him in his arms, could ask no more on earth: "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." (Walking in the Spirit)

The phrase in the Spirit is found in 19 passages, all in the New Testament:

Matthew 22:43  He said to them, "Then how does David in the Spirit call Him 'Lord,' saying,

Luke 2:27  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,

Romans 8:9  However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

1 Corinthians 6:11  Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Ephesians 2:22  in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 3:5  which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;

Ephesians 6:18  With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

Philippians 3:3  for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,

Colossians 1:8  and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

1 Timothy 3:16  By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.

Revelation 1:10  I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,

Revelation 4:2  Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.

Revelation 17:3  And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.

Revelation 21:10  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,

The custom of the law - This "required that in the case of the firstborn there was a payment of five shekels for "redemption" from priestly service, which could be paid after the first month of the child's life. Forty days after birth, the mother's purification was accomplished." (Criswell)

Living in the Spirit 
Galatians 5:25
Wade Horton

INTRODUCTION: Our experience with the Lord should be as the cloud and fire to the Israelites; an ever-present, over-shadowing influence. There are certain privileges and blessings that belong only to those who live in the Spirit.
         A. Jesus told the woman at the well: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." 
         B. The only way to worship God in spirit and truth is to be in the Spirit. 
         C. The Revised Version states, "Who worship in the Spirit of God." It is not a matter of position, place or posture, but in the spirit. We may be pious, solemn and serious in our worship, but all useless unless it is in the spirit. 
         A. In Revelation 1:10, John said, "I was in the Spirit... and heard... a great voice" and saw the Son of man clothed in glory. 
         B. He saw Him in His glory... those who live in the spirit will continually be enraptured by the glory of God. 
         A. Revelation 4:1, 2: "Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit." 
         B. Must be in the spirit to understand spiritual things. Several times John says in Revelation, "I was in the spirit." 
         C. The reason things to come are so little understood is because people don't live in the spirit. 
         D. Paul caught up in the third heaven and heard unspeakable words that were unlawful for a man to utter. 2 Cor. 12:2-5. Those in the spirit hear things the ordinary Christian never hears. 
         A. The Lord carried me in the spirit, and set me in a valley of bones. Ezek. 37:1-10. He prophesies and life came back and they stood up. Ezekiel's message had effect. 
         B. Those in the spirit see God work when others cannot. They can see and feel God's mighty breath. 
         A. Acts 20:22-24: "... behold, I go bound in the spirit... bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me...." 
         B. Men in the spirit have a calm and peaceful assurance even under trying circumstances. 
         C. "God is our refuge.... [we] will not... fear, though the earth be removed." Psa. 46:1, 2. 
         A. Romans 8:9: "... in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." 
         B. If He does not dwell in you, you cannot live in the spirit. Easy to talk it, but the doing is what is needed. 
         C. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" 1 Cor. 3:16. 
         D. The Spirit does not come to dwell like a candle under a bushel, or as a helpless invalid whose presence cannot be felt or seen on the outside. But as a mighty life-giving and spiritual wonder worker whose presence cannot be hid. 
         A. Acts 6:3: "... look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom." In the Spirit and full of the Spirit is the only kind of person God can use. 
         B. Preaching in the Spirit. 1 Cor. 2:4: "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." 
         C. Teaching in the Spirit. Acts 18:25: Apollos taught "being fervent in the spirit." 
         D. Singing in the Spirit. 1 Cor. 14:15. "... in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Eph. 5:1-9. 
         E. Praying in the Spirit. Eph. 6:18: "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit." Jude 20: "... praying in the Holy Ghost." 
         F. Romans 8:26: "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." 

CONCLUSION: Gal. 5:16-note: "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." The church would run good if we kept ourselves full of the oil of the Spirit.

James Smith

Having received the Spirit, and having Him indwelling and filling us, our life is now to be lived "in the Spirit." That is, under His guiding, ever present, almighty overshadowing influence, like the Israelites under the pillar of cloud. From Scripture we observe there are certain privileges and blessings which can only be enjoyed by those who are "in the Spirit." We mention the following—

1. God is to be worshipped. We worship God in the Spirit (Phil. 3:3). God is a Spirit, and our spirit must worship Him (John 4:24). But that is not all, our spirit must worship in the Spirit of God, or as in the Revised Version, "Who worship in the Spirit of God." We may be serious and solemn in our worship, and yet not be in the Spirit; and if not in the Spirit, then no acceptable worship is given. All such worshippers, no matter how earnest, worship they know not what. In all the churches as well as in Athens, how many there are of whom it might be said, "They are too superstitious."

2. God's voice is heard and His glory witnessed.

I was in the Spirit, and heard behind me a great voice,... and saw the Son of Man clothed in glory" (Rev. 1:10-18). Those who are continually in the Spirit are continually enraptured with the glory of the Lord. Those not in the Spirit may talk fluently about the "voice" and the "glory," but to their own hearts it is all unreal. In the Spirit we hear not the still small voice only as of one speaking from afar and heard with difficulty, but "a great voice as of a trumpet," about which there can be no doubt.

3. Heavenly things are understood.

"Come up hither, and I will show you things,... and immediately I was in the Spirit" (Rev. 4:1, 2). We cannot understand the things of God but by the Spirit of God, for they are spiritually discerned. Then if God would show thee,... immediately you must be in the Spirit. The book of the Revelation of Jesus may be divided into four sections. The first beginning at chap. 1:10; second at chap. 4:2; third at chap. 17:3; fourth at chap. 21:10. At each of these changes in the scene of Revelation, John reminds us that he was "in the Spirit." How else could he understand the great mysteries? How else can we? Is our not being in the Spirit not the chief reason why "the things to come" are so little understood? Paul undoubtedly understood the unspeakable words he heard in Paradise, although it was impossible for him to utter them (2 Cor. 12:4). Every one who is in the Spirit is unspeakably above those who are not.

4. Man's helplessness and God's power are seen.

"The Lord carried me in the Spirit, and set me in the valley of bones;... so I prophesied and they stood up" (Ezek. 37:1-10). It was while he was in the Spirit that he saw how dead and dry the bones were, and when he prophesied so successfully. Those in the Spirit see the need as others cannot, and so have no faith in the mere human remedies, but speak the word as God has commanded (vs. 7-10), and so witness the quickening power of the almighty breath.

5. Divine strength and comfort are enjoyed. "Behold I go bound in the Spirit," bonds and afflictions abide me, but none of these things move me (Acts 20:22-24). When in the Spirit a man is dwelling in the holy calm and undisturbable element of Heaven, and made strong in the midst of otherwise crushing circumstances. The peace of God keeps his heart. "God is our refuge, we will not fear though the earth be removed. There is a river, the streams whereof make glad" (Psa. 46:1-4).

6. Is the proof of His indwelling in us.

"Ye are in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you" (Rom. 8:9). If the Spirit of God is not abiding in us we cannot live in the Spirit. It is easy to preach the theory of the Spirit's indwelling, but living in the Spirit is the practical manifestation of it. He does not come to dwell in us as a candle under a bushel, or as a helpless invalid whose presence cannot be seen or felt outside, but as a mighty life-quickener and a spiritual wonder-worker, whose presence cannot be hid.

7. All service is to be rendered.

"Look ye out men full of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 6:3). Even for the work of an almoner this was needed. Paul's preaching was in demonstration of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:4); "Apollos taught, being fervent in the Spirit" (Acts 18:25); all prayer is to be in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18); to be in the Spirit is to be in immediate touch with God, and not to be in direct contact with God is to be out of fellowship, and consequently fruitless (John 15:6).

Luke 2:28  then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,

  • took (KJV): Mk 9:36 10:16 
  • and (KJV): Lu 2:13,14,20 Lu 1:46,64,68 Ps 32:11 33:1 105:1-3 135:19,20 

Warren Wiersbe - Simeon was led by the Spirit and taught by the Word, and his heart was focused wholly on seeing the Savior. When he saw him, he received him and sang praises to God. Can we find a better example to follow?

Luke 2:29  "Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word;

  • now (KJV): Ge 15:15 46:30 Ps 37:37 Isa 57:1,2 Php 1:23 Rev 14:13 
  • according (KJV): Lu 2:26 

Simeon's Song of Praise


Simeon's song has been called Nunc Dimittis because these are the first two words in the Latin Vulgate (Latin for "now you let depart"). 

Releasing ( (630)(apoluo from apó = from + lúo = loose) means to free fully,  relieve, release, dismiss, set at liberty. As legal term, to grant acquittal, set free, pardon. Apoluo frequently has the sense of to let loose from another's custody as in Acts 17:9 and in all four Gospels describes the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus (Jn 18:39, Mt 27:15, 17, 21, etc, cf Acts 16:35). 

Criswell - Simeon's song, called Nunc Dimittis (Latin for "now you let depart," after the first two words of the Latin translation of Simeon's song), exhibits his knowledge of Isa. 40-55.

Luke 2:30  For my eyes have seen Your salvation,

  • Lu 2:10,11 3:6 Ge 49:18 2Sa 23:1-5 Isa 49:6 Ac 4:10-12 


In Genesis we find the first mention of salvation in Scripture when Jacob declared...

"For Thy salvation I wait, O LORD. (Ge 49:18)

Comment: The Hebrew word for salvation is (03444yeshua which is actually the same as the name "Jesus." The Septuagint translates the Hebrew with soteria which means salvation, deliverance, preservation (Lk 1:69, 1:71, 77). 

FOR MY EYES HAVE SEEN THY SALVATION: This declaration by Simeon is a fulfillment of a precious and magnificent promise in Ps 50:23!

He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.”

In that psalm the Hebrew for "salvation" = yesha from root yasha = Savior, Deliverer! The Septuagint translates the Hebrew word yesha with the Greek soterion, the same word used here in Luke 2:30. 

John MacArthur - He (Simeon) understood that salvation for Israel involved much more than the national deliverance promised by the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants, whose blessings will not be fully realized until the millennial kingdom. In the incarnation, Jesus came not to save His people from their enemies, but from their sins (Matt. 1:21; cf. Acts 4:12).

Salvation (4992)(soterios/soterion from soter = savior) is an adjective which refers to that which is pertains to the means of salvation = bringing salvation, delivering, rescuing. When Simeon took baby Jesus in his arms, he realized that Jesus was the means of salvation and said that his eyes had seen tó soterión sou, thy salvation 

Criswell adds "The aged Simeon saw through the Holy Spirit that the infant in his arms would bring salvation both to Jews and Gentiles (Luke 2:32). In the Bible's first mention of "salvation," father Jacob said he had been waiting for it (Genesis 49:18). Now Simeon, the namesake of his second son, had actually seen it in the Spirit in the person of little Jesus.

Luke 2:31  Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

  • Ps 96:1-3,10-13 97:6-8 98:2,3 Isa 42:1-4,10-12 45:21-25 Isa 62:1,2 

Prepared (made ready) (2090)(hetoimazo from heteos = fitness - see also hetoimasia) means to make ready, specifically to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity. God has been preparing salvation even before the foundation of the world, "But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law." (Gal 4:4-note)

In the presence of all peoples - Salvation would not be just for the Jews but for all peoples which would include the Gentiles! This statement is a prelude to the more definite statement in the next verse, one which undoubtedly would have literally shocked most of his Jewish hearers. The Salvation which God had prepared beforehand (even from the foundation of the world and foretold in more than 300 OT Messianic prophecies) was for all peoples.

As John MacArthur explains "Simeon’s next statement would shock Jewish sensibilities. Fiercely proud of their status as God’s chosen, covenant people, the Jews believed Messiah was their deliverer. They assumed He would establish their kingdom, which would then rule over the infidel Gentiles."

Luke 2:32  A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel."

  • light (KJV): Isa 9:2 42:6,7 49:6 60:1-3,19 Mt 4:16 Ac 13:47,48 28:28 Ro 15:8,9 
  • and (KJV): Ps 85:9 Isa 4:2 45:25 60:19 Jer 2:11 Zec 2:5 1Co 1:31 Rev 21:23 


A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES: According to tradition, Light was one of the names of the Messiah. Light was also what Israel was to be to the Gentile nations in darkness a task that the nation as a whole failed miserably to fulfill! Ultimately the Messiah would fulfill this prophecy (but see MacArthur's comments about Israel's role in the future). In Acts Luke records "that the Christ (the Messiah) was to suffer, [and] that by reason of [His] resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the [Jewish] people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:23)

Spurgeon - Simeon had studied the ancient prophecies to good purpose, and he perceived from them that “the Lord’s Christ” would be “a light to lighten the Gentiles” as well as “the glory of” God’s ancient people, “Israel.”

Revelation (602)(apokalupsis from apó = from + kalúpto = cover, conceal, English = apocalypse) literally means cover from and so the idea is to remove that which conceals something. Apokalupsis conveys the idea of "taking the lid off" and means to remove the cover and expose to open view that which was heretofore not visible, known or disclosed. It means to make manifest or reveal a thing previously secret or unknown. It describes removing of a veil (an unveiling) or covering thus exposing to open view what was concealed. In all its uses, revelation refers to something or someone, once hidden, becoming visible and now made fully known. 

Isaiah had prophesied centuries earlier "there will be no [more] gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make [it] glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them."  (Isa 9:1-2-note)

Here are several other passages that predicted the coming "Light of the world" (John 8:12)...

Isaiah 42:6  “I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations

Comment: This passage refers to the Messiah would institute a new covenant (Jer 31:31-34-note, cp parallel idea in Isaiah 49:8). The nations is a clear reference to the Gentiles.

Isaiah 49:6   He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations (gentiles) (Isa 60:3) So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” 

John MacArthur comments - The Servant’s goal is the salvation and restoration of Israel for the fulfillment of the covenant promise. But not limited to Israel, He is to function as a light bringing salvation to the Gentiles. Israel’s mission had always been to bring the nations to God (19:24; 42:6). This she will finally do very effectively in the tribulation after the conversion of the 144,000 witnesses (Rev 7:1–10; 14:1–5) and when she is restored to her Land at the Servant’s return to earth. Cf. 9:2; 11:10; 42:6; 45:22; Lk 2:32. Paul applied this verse to his ministry to the Gentiles on his first missionary journey (Ac 13:47).

Isaiah 51:4-5 Pay attention to Me, O My people, And give ear to Me, O My nation; For a law will go forth from Me, And I will set My justice for a light of the peoples (Gentiles).  “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. 

Isaiah 52:10  The LORD has bared His holy arm In the sight of all the nations (Gentiles), That all the ends of the earth may see The salvation of our God. 

Isaiah 60:1-3  (God is addressing Zion, Isa 59:20, 60:14) Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. Nations (Gentiles) will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising

HCSB note - Though the light comes to God's people, the nations will share in it by coming to the light. The idea that the nations will respond favorably to God is a fulfillment of the promise to Abraham that he would be a blessing to the nations (Gen 12:3).

MacArthur interprets this as prophecy that will be fulfilled in the Millennium - Jerusalem’s light will attract other nations seeking relief from their darkness (2:3). Only believing Jews and Gentiles will enter the earthly kingdom after the Day of the Lord, but as the 1,000 years goes along children will be born and nations will become populated by those who reject Jesus Christ. The glory of the King in Jerusalem, and His mighty power will draw those Gentiles to His light.

Malachi 4:2-note “But for you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.

Comment - The "Sun of Righteous" is a prophecy of the Messiah. MacArthur agrees that "The reference is to the Messiah, “the LORD our righteousness” (Ps 84:11; Jer 23:5, 6; 1Co 1:30)."

Gentiles (nation, nations) (1484)(ethnos gives us our word "ethnic") in general refers to a multitude (especially persons) associated with one another, living together, united in kinship, culture or traditions and summed up by the words nation, Gentiles (especially when ethnos is plural), people (much like "people groups" in our modern missionary vernacular). In somewhat of a negative sense ethnos conveys the meaning of godless (generally idol worshipping) pagans (heathens, cp Eph 4:17, Mt 6:32), foreign nations not worshipping the true God (Mt 4:15). Often ethnos stands in clear contradistinction to Jew (Ioudaios) (Gal 2:14). Ethnos sometimes refers to Gentile Christians (Ro 11:13, Ro 15:27, 16:4, Gal 2:12). Ethnos is used in the singular of the Jewish Nation (Lk 7:5; 23:2; Jn 11:48, 50-53; Jn 18:35; Acts 10:22; 24:2, 10; Acts 26:4; 28:19). Plato used ethnos of a special class of men, a caste, tribe. In the Septuagint ethnos was used for nation, people Ge 10:5; non-Jews, Gentiles Ps 2:1.

Related Resources:

AND GLORY OF THY PEOPLE ISRAEL: On ''glory'': In Ezekiel the glory (see Shekinah glory) had departed from the Temple (see schematic of His progressive departure) in Israel but God promised it would return. Luke records one return in Lu 2:46 "And it came about that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions." There He was the Glorious One had returned to the Temple yet they did not have eyes to see or ears to hear and so did not recognize the day of His visitation (Luke 19:44).

See references describing the Glory of God - Past, Present and Future.

Glory (1391doxa

Luke 2:33  And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.

  • Lu 2:48 Luke 1:65,66 Isa 8:18 

Spurgeon - We may be very near to Christ, and yet know very little about him. Joseph and the virgin mother did not understand “those things which were spoken of him.” One wonders it was so after all that had been revealed to them; we marvel that they marvelled.

Joseph and Mary were amazed that their infant, a normal human baby, was being called the Savior of Jews and Gentiles, in short that He was the long expected and frequently prophesied of Messiah (see Messianic Prophecies).

Others were also amazed

Luke 1:65; 66-note  Fear came on all those living around them; and all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea. 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.

Amazed (2296)(thaumazo from thauma [from thaomai = to wonder] = wonder, admiration) means to wonder, marvel, be struck with admiration or astonishment. Thaumazo describes the human response when confronted by divine revelation in some form (Mt 9.33). Be surprised (Gal 1:6). It denotes incredulous surprise.

Luke uses thaumazo again in chapter 8 

And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?” (Luke 8:25, cp Mt 8:27)

In fact it is appropriate that most (30) of the 43 uses of thaumazo are used in reference to Jesus, even once of Jesus Himself (Mk 6:6) - Matt. 8:10; Matt. 8:27; Matt. 9:33; Matt. 15:31; Matt. 21:20; Matt. 22:22; Matt. 27:14; Mk. 5:20; Mk. 6:6; Mk. 15:5; Mk. 15:44; Lk. 1:21; Lk. 1:63; Lk. 2:18; Lk. 2:33; Lk. 4:22; Lk. 7:9; Lk. 8:25; Lk. 9:43; Lk. 11:14; Lk. 11:38; Lk. 20:26; Lk. 24:12; Lk. 24:41; Jn. 3:7; Jn. 4:27; Jn. 5:20; Jn. 5:28; Jn. 7:15; Jn. 7:21; Acts 2:7; Acts 3:12; Acts 4:13; Acts 7:31; Acts 13:41; Gal. 1:6; 2 Thess. 1:10; 1 Jn. 3:13; Jude 1:16; Rev. 13:3; Rev. 17:6; Rev. 17:7; Rev. 17:8

And their amazement continued as He grew into a young man

Luke 2:42-48  And when He became twelve, they went up [there] according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they [began] looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him.Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.When they (Joseph and Mary) saw Him (Jesus), they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.”


Luke 2:34  And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed--

  • blessed (KJV): Ge 14:19 47:7 Ex 39:43 Lev 9:22,23 Heb 7:1,7 
  • set (KJV): Isa 8:14,15 Ho 14:9 Mt 21:44 Joh 3:20 9:29 Ro 9:32 1Co 1:23 2Co 2:15 1Pe 2:7 
  • and rising (KJV): Ac 2:36-41 3:15-19 6:7 9:1-20 
  • for a (KJV): Ps 22:6-8 69:9-12 Isa 8:18 Mt 11:19 26:65-67 27:40-45,63 Joh 5:18 8:48-52 9:24-28 Ac 4:26 13:45 17:6 24:5 28:22 1Co 1:23 Heb 12:1-3 1Pe 4:14 

FOR A SIGN TO BE OPPOSED (Ro 10:21): literally be spoken against (antilego). The KJV is more literal reading "a sign which shall be spoken against (antilego)".

Opposed (483)(antilego from anti = over against, opposite, instead of, in place of + lego = speak) (gainsayers in KJV {gainsay = deny, contradict, speak against}) means literally to say against or to speak against and so to contradict (assert the contrary of, take issue with, implying open or flat denial), to speak in opposition to or to oppose (place over against something so as to provide resistance), to gainsay (declare to be untrue or invalid and implies disputing the truth of what another has said), to deny, to refute (to deny the truth or accuracy of). In secular Greek antilego was used to mean "reject a writing as spurious". Continually contradicting an authority = obstinate.

There are four "signs" associated with the birth of Christ:

(1) the sign of the virgin birth (Isa 7:14);

(2) the sign of the guiding star (Mt 2:2);

(3) the sign of the swaddling clothes (Lu 2:12); 

(4) the sign of the stumbling stone (Lu 2:34).

The opposition which would mark the entire life of Christ would begin with His birth, as Herod would seek, unsuccessfully, to slay Him. Many would fall over this "rock of offense" in Israel (1Pe 2:8), but many would rise again.

Henry Morris - "The fall and rising of many" indicates that those who reject the Messiah will be cast down, while those who accept Him will rise through salvation.

Spurgeon - There were many who fell through their offences against Jesus: but blessed be his name, there are still many who rise through him, rise first to newness of life on earth and afterwards to resurrection life in glory. Jesus is set for both, he must be to one the savor of death unto death, and to another he must be the savor of life unto life. 

Spurgeon on for the fall and rise of many - Do you understand that? Whenever Christ comes to a man, there is a fall first, and a rising again afterwards. You never knew the Lord aright if he did not give you a fall first. He pulls us down from our pride and self-sufficiency, and then he lifts us up to a position of eternal safety. He is “set” for this purpose; this is the great design of Christ’s coming: “This child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel.”

Spurgeon on a sign to be opposed - How true has this been. The cross has been to many a stumbling block, and to the worldly wise it has been foolishness; and so will it be to the world’s end. Christ and his gospel will always be spoken against. If you know a gospel which is approved by the age, and patronized by the learned, that gospel is a lie. You may be sure of that; but if it be spoken against, if it be slandered, if it be called absurd, unscientific, and I know not what, all that is in its favor.

Spurgeon on rise and fall of many - The great practical doctrine before us is this, that wherever Jesus Christ comes, with whomsoever he may come in contact, he is never without influence, never inoperative, but in every case a weighty result is produced. There is about the holy child Jesus a power which is always in operation. He is not set to be an unobserved, inactive, slumbering personage in the midst of Israel; but he is set for the falling or for the rising of the many to whom he is known. Never does a man hear the gospel but he either rises or falls under that hearing. There is never a proclamation of Jesus Christ (and this is the spiritual coming forth of Christ himself) which leaves men precisely where they were; the gospel is sure to have some effect upon those who hear it. Moreover, the text informs us that mankind, when they understand the message and work of Christ, do not regard them with indifference; but when they hear the truth as it is in Jesus, they either take it joyfully in their arms with Simeon, or else it becomes to them a sign that shall be spoken against. He that is not with Christ is against him, and he that gathereth not with him scattereth abroad. Where Christ is no man remains a neutral; he decides either for Christ or against him. Given a mind that understands the gospel, you have before you also a mind that either stumbles at this stumbling-stone, being scandalised thereby, or else you have a mind that rejoices in a foundation upon which it delights to build all its hopes for time and for eternity. Observe, then, the two sides of the truth—Jesus always working upon men with marked effect; and on the other hand, man treating the Lord Jesus with warmth either of affection or opposition; an action and a reaction being evermore produced. (Christ - The Rise and Fall of Many)

Luke 2:35  and a sword will pierce even your own soul--to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."

  • a sword (KJV): Ps 42:10 Joh 19:25 
  • that (KJV): Lu 16:14,15 De 8:2 Jud 5:15,16 Mt 12:24-35 Joh 8:42-47 15:22-24 Ac 8:21-23 1Co 11:19 1Jn 2:19 

Henry Morris - This statement, "that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed," refers apparently to those who speak against Him and thus reveal their true character.

Criswell on even your own soul.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, would indeed feel the terrible sword of the evil one as her divine Son was impaled on the cross (see note on John 19:25-27).

Spurgeon - This favored woman had the greatest smart (a kind of pain such as that caused by a wound, burn, or sore) to go with her great honor. She saw the suffering and anguish of her son; and the nearer you are to Christ, the more of sorrow it will cost you, sorrow which you may be well content to bear. You know how it is put in that hymn of which many of us are very fond, —

“If I find him, if I follow,
What his guerdon here?
Many a labor, many a sorrow,
Many a tear.’”

Yet, I say again, you may be well content to bear it all for his sake; for you remember what the next verse of the hymn is, —

“If I still hold closely to him,
What hath be at last?
‘Borrow vanquished, labour ended,
Jordan past.’”

Spurgeon - Christ’s death revealed the thoughts of many hearts. It revealed the thought in the heart of Pilate, that he loved popularity better than the truth. It revealed the thought of the heart of Judas, that he loved gold better than he loved his Master. It revealed the thought in the heart of Caiaphas, that he would keep to old customs rather than to the right. It revealed the thought in the hearts of the disciples, and showed what poor timid, trembling hearts they had. Peter’s impulsive spirit, too, was revealed in all its weakness by the death of the Saviour. The cross is the great touchstone; wherever it comes, it tests and tries us, ¾even as the crucible tries the metal that is put into it,¾ and lets us know what manner of men we are. Dost thou love Christ? Dost thou glory in his cross? Then it is well with thee. But dost thou despise the cross? Dost thou set up thine own righteousness in opposition to it? Art thou depending upon anything beside Jesus Christ and him crucified? Then his cross reveals thee to be self-righteous, and dead in trespasses and sins. Our Saviour was not only to be received by men, but he was to be welcomed by women also, so now we read Luke 2:36.

Spurgeon on thoughts of many hearts - Christ and his cross are the revealers of the thoughts of men’s hearts. Men’s hearts can conceal their thoughts until Christ’s cross comes near; then the old enmity rises up, the heart rebels, and we see what is really in men’s hearts.

Luke 2:36  And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,

  • a prophetess (KJV): Ex 15:20 Jud 4:4 2Ki 22:14 Ac 2:18 21:9 1Co 12:1 
  • Aser (KJV): Ge 30:13, Asher, Rev 7:6 
  • she (KJV): Job 5:26 Ps 92:14 

AND THERE WAS A PROPHETESS (Jdg 4:4, Ex15:20, 2Ki22:14, 2Ch34:22, Neh6:14, Isa8:3, Ac21:9, Rev2:20):

HCSB Note - The immediate shift of focus from Simeon, a male who prophesied, to Anna, the prophetess, fits with Luke's emphasis on women. The other prophetesses mentioned in the NT are Philip's daughters (Ac 21:8-9)

John MacArthur on prophetess - This refers to a woman who spoke God’s Word. She was a teacher of the OT, not a source of revelation. The OT mentions only 3 women who prophesied: Miriam (Ex 15:20); Deborah (Jdg 4:4); Huldah (2Ki 22:14; 2Ch 34:22). One other, the “prophetess” Noadiah, was evidently a false prophet, grouped by Nehemiah with his enemies. Isaiah 8:3 refers to the prophet’s wife as a “prophetess”—but there is no evidence Isaiah’s wife prophesied. Perhaps she is so-called because the child she bore was given a name that was prophetic (Is 8:3, 4). This use of the title for Isaiah’s wife also shows that the title does not necessarily indicate an ongoing revelatory prophetic ministry. Rabbinical tradition also regarded Sarah, Hannah, Abigail, and Esther as prophetesses (apparently to make an even 7 with Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah). 

Matthew Henry - There was much evil then in the church, yet God left not himself without witness. Anna always dwelt in, or at least attended at, the temple. 

ANNA (Hannah = "gracious") THE DAUGHTER OF PHANUEL ("Face of God"):


Luke 2:37  and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.

  • which (KJV): Ex 38:8 1Sa 2:2 Ps 23:6 27:4 84:4,10 92:13 135:1,2 Rev 3:12 
  • but (KJV): Ps 22:2 Ac 26:7 1Ti 5:5 Rev 7:15 

Amplified - And as a widow even for eighty-four years. She did not go out from the temple enclosure, but was worshiping night and day with fasting and prayer.

Wuest - and she herself a widow eighty-four years, did not leave the temple, rendering sacred service to God with fastings and petitions night and day


Then as a widow to the age of eighty-four - Worship knows no age limits. Indeed Anna was living out Paul's example of passionate pursuit of Jesus " I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Php 3:14)

She never left the Temple - And beloved in one sense we never leave the temple today, because everywhere we go we carry the temple with us for as Paul asked "Or 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) 

Temple (2411)(hieron from hieros = holy, hallowed, consecrated to God 2x - 1Co 9:13, 2Ti 3:15) refer to the building set apart and dedicated to the worship and service of the gods. In the NT hieron was used to designate the entire complex of temple at Jerusalem. Hieron is the all-inclusive word signifying the entire sacred enclosure, with its porticos, courts, and other subordinate buildings.

Serving (3000)(latreuo from latrís = one hired, hired servant <> from latron = wages) in secular Greek usage meant to work for wages, then to serve without wages. Originally it was used predominantly of physical work then used more generally. At later stage it had cultic use, and was used to describe honoring of the gods. In the NT latreuo came to mean the performance of religious rites as a part of worship and thus to minister to God. 

Vine says "Latreuo, and its corresponding noun latreia, originally signified the work of a hired servant, as distinguished from the compulsory service of the slave, but in the course of time it largely lost that significance, and in its usage in Scripture the thought of adoration was added to that of free obedience. Used of the service of God, the word gained the idea of a service characterized by worship (Php 3:3; Heb 8:5; 9:9, 14; 10:2; 12:28; 13:10; Rev 7:15; 22:3). The order “worship,” and “serve” is constant in Scripture (e.g., Ro 6:13, 14). Acknowledgment of the Person Himself must have precedence over activity in His service. Service to God derives its effectivity from engagement of the heart with God."

Fastings is in the plural here and in Acts 14:23, but the other 3 uses are singular (fast or hunger). 

Mal Couch - Luke's use of plural forms (fastings...prayers) indicates that her fasts were often and her prayers were many. Anna's communion with her God is the central fact about this remarkable elderly woman.

Fastings (3521)(nesteria from verb nesteuo = to fast) describes fasting, fast, abstinence from eating, generally for want of food (2Co 6:5; 11:27). The Pharisees practiced private fastings of the Jews (Mt 17:21;Luke 2:37) which they felt earned great merit with God, in striking contrast to the fasting of Anna which was an act of worship of her great God. (cf. Luke 18:12; Isa 58:3ff.; Da. 9:3). In longer fasting the religious hypocrites abstained only from better kinds of food.  "The great annual public fast of the great Day of Atonement" which occurred in the month Tisri, corresponding to the new moon of October. It thus served to indicate the season of the year after which the navigation of the Mediterranean became dangerous (Acts 27:9 [cf. Lev. 16:29ff.; 23:27ff.]). Nesteria is used in a non-religious sense to describe deprivation of food (2 Cor 6:5, 2 Cor 11:27) Prayer is linked with fasting here in Luke 2:37 and in Acts 14:23, the former as an act of worship and  the latter in the context of making an important church decision. In Acts 27:9 nesteria was used of the Day of Atonement, which fell in September or October, a time of year when it navigation was considered dangerous (Acts 27:9).  

Nesteria - 5x in 5v Usage: fast(1), fasting(2), fastings(1), hunger(1), without food(1).

Matthew 17:21 "But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."

NOTE -  Many important Greek manuscripts do not include this verse so it is in parenthesis in the NAS. The KJV based on the older Textus Receptus does include this passage as legitimate). Notice that the parallel passage in Mark 9:29 omits fasting.

Luke 2:37  and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.

Acts 14:23  When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Acts 27:9  When considerable time had passed and the voyage was now dangerous, since even the fast was already over, Paul began to admonish them

2 Corinthians 6:5  in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger,

2 Corinthians 11:27  I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

Nesteria - 33x in 29v in the Septuagint (Lxx) - 2 Sam. 12:16; 1 Ki. 20:9; 1 Ki. 20:12; 2 Chr. 20:3; Ezr. 8:21; Neh. 9:1; Ps. 34:13; Ps. 68:11; Ps. 108:24; Joel 1:14; Joel 2:12; Joel 2:15; Jon. 3:5; Zech. 7:5; Zech. 8:19 (Used four times); Isa. 1:13; Isa. 58:3; Isa. 58:5 (Used twice); Isa. 58:6; Jer. 43:6; Jer. 43:9; Dan. 2:18; Dan. 9:3; 

In the OT passages below some of the uses of fasting are good and acceptable to the Lord, but others are "fake fastings," which are futile and are not pleasing to the LORD. The externals in all these fastings were doubtless quite similar. The difference was (as it always is in religious matters) the character of their heart -- were the fastings motivated by selfishness or selflessness? This is a plumbline we should ALL apply continually to ALL of the things we do externally for God. We can be sure that even if we neglect a "motive check" God never does but when the Lord comes He "will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God." (1 Cor 4:5) Notice that in Joel it is the Lord Who calls for the nation of Israel to fast.

Joel 2:12  “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; 

Joel 2:15 Blow a trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly, 

Isaiah 58:3-6 Why have we fasted (Lxx - verb nesteuo) and You do not see? [Why] have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’ Behold, on the day of your fast (Lxx = nesteria) you find [your] desire, And drive hard all your workers.  4 “Behold, you fast (Lxx - verb nesteuo) for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist. You do not fast (Lxx - verb nesteuo) like [you do] today to make your voice heard on high.  5 “Is it a fast (Lxx = nesteria) like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed? Will you call this a fast (Lxx = nesteria), even an acceptable day to the LORD?  6 “Is this not the fast (Lxx = nesteria) which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke? 

Gilbrant comments on the use of nesteria in the Septuagint (Lxx)Nēsteia is found over 20 times in the Septuagint, nearly always translating the regular Hebrew word for “fast” or “fasting,” tsôm. The references are always to religious fasts of some sort. Interestingly, this noun form is never used in the Septuagint for the Day of Atonement, the only Jewish fast mandated by the Law, though it is regularly so used by later Jewish writers (Bauer). Rather, the word is primarily used of private fasts which sought the Lord’s favor or deliverance (2 Samuel 12:16,  2 Kings 12:16]; 2 Chronicles 20:3; Ps 35:13; 68:10; Ps 108:24; Daniel 9:3) or of public fasts which sought God’s favor (Ezra 8:21, Nehemiah 9:1; Jeremiah 36:6) or His forgiveness (Joel 1:14; 2:12,15; Jonah 3:5) for a nation or group of people. These fasts were nearly always accompanied by prayer and were usually intended to demonstrate the sincerity of the people who prayed. But even fasts could be insincere, and God sometimes rejected Israel’s fasts precisely because they were not from the heart (Isaiah 1:14; 58:3-6; Zechariah 7:5). (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Prayers (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?)

Luke 2:38  At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

  • coming (KJV): Lu 2:27 
  • gave (KJV): Lu 2:28-32 1:46-56,64-66 2Co 9:15 Eph 1:3 
  • looked (KJV): Lu 2:25 23:51 24:21 Mk 15:43 
  • Jerusalem (KJV): or, Israel

Amplified And she too came up at that same hour, and she returned thanks to God and talked of [Jesus] to all who were looking for the redemption (deliverance) of Jerusalem.

CSB   At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

ESV   And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

GWN   At that moment she came up to Mary and Joseph and began to thank God. She spoke about Jesus to all who were waiting for Jerusalem to be set free.

KJV  And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

NET  At that moment, she came up to them and began to give thanks to God and to speak about the child to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

NAB  And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

NIV   Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

NLT  She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.

NJB  She came up just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

Wuest  And at that very hour coming up and standing by, she kept on giving thanks to God and kept on speaking concerning Him to all who were expectantly looking toward the redemption of Jerusalem.

YLT   and she, at that hour, having come in, was confessing, likewise, to the Lord, and was speaking concerning him, to all those looking for redemption in Jerusalem.


And at that very moment she came up - What moment? The instant she saw the Messiah. One day we shall see our Messiah and I think godly Anna gives us a foretaste of how we will spontaneously and collectively respond! What an anthem of thanksgiving and praise that day will be! Hallelujah! Come quickly Lord Jesus. Amen!

Spurgeon - God knows how to time what we call our accidental walks: “She coming in that instant” —

Began giving thanks to God - Her first response to her vision of Jesus was one of gratitude and praise. The imperfect tense vividly pictures her over and over offering up thanks and praise. This tense is also used of her speaking of Him over and over. One can picture the scene of this devout woman who had been worshiping God in spirit and truth now being blessed to see and recognize Messiah as that very God she had been continually serving in the Temple. She could not keep quiet! And so again and again she exclaims in praise and speaking her joy at seeing her long awaited Messiah. Beloved, if she reacted this way on earth, how much greater will be our reaction when we see Him face to face!

I recall that moment over 30 years ago when with the "eyes of my heart" I first "saw" Jesus and I was overjoyed and began giving thanks and speaking over and over to anyone who would listen to my story of how I met the Redeemer. God, by your Spirit, return all of us that time of first love so that we continually have an attitude and actions like the prophetess Anna. Amen

Giving thanks (437)(anthomologeomai from antí = in turn + homologéo = to confess, acknowledge) literally means to confess or acknowledge in turn. The Amplified Version picks up on this sense translating it "she returned thanks." It speaks of openly or publicly confessing what is due someone, thus acknowledging them. In the present context the idea then is that she is openly acknowledging what is due to God which thanksgiving and praise. 

Liddell-Scott write that the word means (1) to make a mutual agreement, (2) to confess freely and openly or (3) to return thanks. 

The TDNT notes that 'Lk. 2:38 is closest to OT use with its ἀνθωμολογεῖτο τῷ θεῷ (only here in the NT). The praise of Anna is an answer to the act of God (ἀντι- = anti-)  which she has experienced in her old age. It implies “acknowledgment,” “obedience,” “proclamation.” Along the lines of the piety of the Psalter there is a linking of prayer to God with witness to men. Lk. himself shows what he means by this ἀνθομολογεῖσθαι τῷ θεῷ in 1:46–55, 68–79; 2:29–32. Formally these are psalms of thanksgiving and hymns of praise in the strict sense, but in content they speak of eschatological fulfilment.

There are only 2 uses in the non-apocryphal Septuagint and 3 in the Apocrypha - 1 Es. 8:88; 3 Ma. 6:33; Ps. 78:13; Sir. 20:3; Dan. 4:37; Lk. 2:38

Psalm 79:13 So we Your people and the sheep of Your pasture Will give thanks (Heb = yadah - give thanks; Lxx = Anthomologeomai ) to You forever; To all generations we will tell of Your praise. 

Gilbrant has this note on anthomologeomai In the apocryphal writings of 1 Esdras 8:91 and Sirach 20:2 the sense of “to confess” is foremost. The Septuagint’s use of the term (Psalm 79:13; Daniel 4:34; and 3 Maccabees 6:33) retains the sense of “to give thanks to” or “to praise” (God). Luke, whose style is recognized to have been greatly influenced by the Septuagint (Lxx), more closely reflects the Old Testament understanding (Septuagint; Hebrew yādhâh [hiphil]) rather than the profane Greek (see Moulton-Milligan; Michel, “homologeō,” Kittel, 5:213). In this highly “septuagintilized” birth narrative, the expression captures the devout and pious character of the prophetess Anna. Her “giving thanks” confirms her prophetic recognition of the infant as “the redemption of Jerusalem.” Thanksgiving and praise in Luke’s Gospel are the marks of the faithful and a sign of reception of the claims of the Son of God. (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

AND CONTINUED TO SPEAK OF HIM TO ALL THOSE WHO WERE LOOKING FOR THE REDEMPTION OF JERUSALEM  - Note that her audience was those whose hearts were prepared to see Him. 

Spurgeon - So that the song of Simeon was sweetened by the voice of Anna, and they both rejoiced in God their Saviour; and their joy was shared by “all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” May many of us have a share in that same joy as, by faith, we lovingly gaze upon “the Lord’s Christ.”

Looking for (4327)(prosdechomai from pros =  implies motion or direction toward + dechomai = receive with readiness) means to accept favorably, to receive one into companionship. The idea is "to put the Welcome Mat out" for them!  Anna in using this verb is referring to all those who are waiting for Messiah with a sense of expectancy (Mk 15:43, Luke 2:25, 38, 12:36, 23:51, Acts 23:21, Titus 2:13, Jude 1:21). How would the elderly prophetess describe you (me) beloved - "looking" or "lackadaisical" (lacking spirit or liveliness, lacking enthusiasm and determination; carelessly lazy)?" 

As discussed above the root verb dechomai means to accept deliberately and readily, receive kindly and so to take to oneself what is presented or brought by another. For example, it was used to describe welcoming a teacher, a friend, or a guest into one's house. Dechomai pictures one accepting another with open arms, minds, and hearts, going beyond even normally expected gracious hospitality.  

Prosdechomai is used of things future, in the sense of expecting and with the meaning of accepting. This verb is virtually always is found in the middle voice conveying reflexive action (action directed or turned back on self) which means that one receives to one’sself or gives another access to one’s self.  Prosdechomai is in the present tense which pictures anticipatory looking as one's lifestyleAWould this verb in the present tense describe your heart attitude today?  To repeat what we wrote above, if we are looking at the visible , temporal things (2Co 4:18-noteof this passing world (1Jn 2:17-note), you can be sure that your looking (for Him = Second Comingwill be a bit lacking! As an aside the only way we can be continually looking for Jesus is by continually relying on the filling and empowering of the Spirit of Jesus Whose role is to glorify the Son (John 16:14)!

G Campbell Morgan who said "I never begin my work in the morning without thinking that perhaps he may interrupt my work and begin his own. I am not looking for death, I am looking for Him." (Amen!) 


How would my daily choices change if I lived with what I like to call "vertical vision" (in contrast to "horizontal vision" -- looking at the things of the world [horizontal] rather than the things above [vertical])? See related discussion of Vertical Vision

Here are other passages that speak of expectant looking which will lead to eternally minded living...take a moment to prayerfully, meditatively read through the following passages all of which speak of vertical vision:

Luke 2:25   And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

Luke 12:36  “Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open [the door] to him when he comes and knocks.

Luke 23:51  (he had not consented to their plan and action), [a man] from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of God;

Luke 24:21  “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened.

Genesis 49:18  “For Your salvation I wait, O LORD. 

Job 14:14 “If a man dies, will he live [again?] All the days of my struggle I will wait Until my change comes. 

Isaiah 8:17  And I will wait for the LORD who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; I will even look eagerly for Him.

Isaiah 25:9  And it will be said in that day, “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.” 

Isaiah 26:8; 9  Indeed, [while following] the way of Your judgments, O LORD, We have waited for You eagerly; Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of [our] souls. 

Isaiah 26:9 At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. 

Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. 

Isaiah 33:2   O LORD, be gracious to us; we have waited for You. Be their strength every morning, Our salvation also in the time of distress. 

Isaiah 40:31  Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up [with] wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

Lamentations 3:25-26  The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.  26[It is] good that he waits silently For the salvation of the LORD. 

Ps 25:5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day. 
Ps 40:1  For the choir director. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. 

Ps 40:3) He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD. 

Ps 62:1 For the choir director; according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David. My soul [waits] in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation. 

Ps 62:5-7 My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him.  6He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.  7On God my salvation and my glory [rest;] The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. 

Ps 119:166   I hope for Your salvation, O LORD, And do Your commandments. 

Ps 119:74) May those who fear You see me and be glad, Because I wait for Your word. 

Ps 123:2 Behold, as the eyes of servants [look] to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes [look] to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us. 

Psalms 130:5   I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope. 

Micah 7:7  But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. 

Hosea 12:6  Therefore, return to your God, Observe kindness and justice, And wait for your God continually. 

Matthew 24:42-51  “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 43“But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 44“For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think [He will.]  45“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46“Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47“Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48“But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ 49and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; 50the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect [him] and at an hour which he does not know, 51and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Mark 15:43 Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.

Acts 24:15  having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.

Romans 8:19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.

Ro 8:23-25 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for [our] adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he [already] sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Galatians 5:5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.

1 Thessalonians 1:10  and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, [that is] Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.

Philippians 3:20  For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;

1 Corinthians 1:7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

2 Corinthians 5:2  For indeed in this [house] we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven,

Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,

2 Timothy 4:8  in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Hebrews 9:28  so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without [reference to] sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

Hebrews 10:36; 37 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 37 FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY. 

1 Peter 1:13  Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober [in spirit,] fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:12-14  looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.  14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,

1 John 2:28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.

1 John 3:3  And everyone who has this hope [fixed] on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 

Jude 1:21  keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

Revelation 22:12  “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward [is] with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.


Mal Couch has an interesting thought on the prophetic overtones of this phrase "redemption of Jerusalem" - This hope seems to leap ahead to the second coming of the Messiah when He will redeem the great city of Jerusalem from its persecution by the nations of the earth. The prophet Zechariah prophesies that God "will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem" (Zech. 12:9). The Jews will look upon the returning Messiah "whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him" (v. 10). But many of the people who live in the city will be spared and "there will be no more curse, for Jerusalem will dwell in security (Zech 14:11), with the Lord striking all who went against the city (Zech 14:12). Then Zechariah writes about the end of the great world tribulation: "Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts" (Zech 14:16). (Luke - Twenty-First Century Commentary)

Redemption  (3085) (lutrosis  from lutroo = to release on receipt of a ransom <> Lutroo is derived from the root verb luo = to loosen that which is bound, freeing those in prison, release from prison, opening of what is closed, destroying of foundations, putting off of fetters) strictly speaking means loosing and in context speaks of the experience of being liberated from an oppressive situation by payment of a ransom. It speaks of a setting free or a deliverance.

Redemption by definition calls for a Redeemer, and Anna had just beheld Him with her eyes.

In the first chapter Luke uses lutrosis in what is traditionally called "The Benedictus" (Song of Zacharias) from the first word "Blessed" of verse 68 in the Latin Vulgate Bible which reads "Benedictus Dominus Deus".

And his (John the Baptist's) father Zacharias was filled with (controlled by, enabled by, emboldened by - see note on Eph 5:18, see article "Spirit-Filled Believers Are Like Artesian Wells") the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:  

“Blessed [be] the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished (although the Cross was still future, Zacharias prophecy treats the event as good as done) redemption (lutrosis) for His people,  69 And (Now he explains how the redemption is to be accomplished telling us that God) has raised up a horn of salvation (symbolized strength or power Dt 33:17 fulfilled in the Messiah) for us In the house of David His servant (Messiah was from the line of David)–  70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old–  71 Salvation (deliverance) FROM OUR ENEMIES, And FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US;  72 To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant (the unconditional covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob),  73 The oath which He swore to Abraham our father (Ge 12:1-3, etc),  74 To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear,  75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.  76 “And you, child, (John the Baptist) will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS;  77 To give to His people [the] knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins (John's message in Lk 3:2-3),  78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high (the Messiah, cp Mal 4:2) will visit us,  79 TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH (see Isa 9:1-2-note), To guide our feet into the way of peace.”  80  And the child (John the Baptist - this parallels description of Jesus in Lk 2:51-52) continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance (see Lk 3:1-3) to Israel.  (Luke 1:67-80-note)

The only other use of lutrosis in the NT is by the writer of Hebrews...

But when Christ (Messiah) appeared [as] a high priest of the good things to come, [He entered] through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood (The ransom price that secured redemption - cp 1 Peter 1:18), He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Heb 9:11-12)

Another great woman of God, Fanny Crosby caught the idea of expectant looking (with the eyes of her heart since she was blind) and living in her classic hymn "Blessed Assurance" (see especially her lines below in bold font):

Blessed Assurance
Play the entire hymn by Third Day

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Another great woman of God, Kay Arthur, asks "How do we wait on the Lord?"

There are two things you must do.

First, learn to sit at His feet and know Him. When Martha complained to Jesus that her sister, Mary, wasn't in the kitchen helping her, Jesus replied, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Can't we all identify with Martha in the story in [Lu 10:41-42]? We're always preoccupied with the present business of life. We're always in a hurry, even with God. We don't take time to let go, to relax, to be still and know that He is God as Ps46:10 says. To do so involves a choice. It means that some things will not get done. That some people may not understand. But didn't Jesus say that sitting at His feet and hearing His word was "The one thing which was needful"--the thing which could never be taken away from us? In other words, because of what you learned from Him and of Him, you'll always have something to hang on to -- and it won't be by your fingernails. 
Second, tell God you only want what He wants -- whatever that means. While such a statement, such a release of your will, your way, may terrify you at this point, it won't if you make it a practice to do the "first" thing that I mentioned: sit at His feet and know Him. If you will give God your reputation…if you will seek no agenda other than God's…if your goal will be the same as Paul's -- that Christ be exalted in your body whether by life or by death…if for you to live will be Christ and to die gain…if you are willing to do His will no matter the cost…then you will never find yourself caught in despair. Rather you will find yourself waiting patiently on the Lord for His direction. His life will be your life...and your life, His! Then, whatever He says to you, do it -- with confidence and without hesitation. "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah." Ps 46:10-11. (God Speaks to My Heart: For Every Need, For Every Moment...)

Luke 2:39  When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth.

  • performed (KJV): Lu 2:21-24 1:6 Dt 12:32 Mt 3:15 Ga 4:4,5 
  • they returned (KJV): Lu 2:4 Mt 2:22,23 

They had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord - They were not legalistic but law abiding. As godly parents they obeyed the Mosaic Law not to merit personal righteousness but because they were righteous in the sight of God (Mt 1:19 "Joseph her husband, being a righteous man."). 

To their own city Nazareth - See study of Nazareth  including The Puzzling Problem of Nazareth.

Luke 2:40  The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

  • the child (KJV): Lu 2:52 Judges 13:24 1Sa 2:18,26 3:19 Ps 22:9 Isa 53:1,2 
  • strong (KJV): Lu 1:80 Eph 6:10 2Ti 2:1 
  • filled (KJV): Lu 2:47,52 Isa 11:1-5 Col 2:2,3 
  • the grace (KJV): Ps 45:2  John 1:14 Ac 4:33 

Luke 2:40 Jesus: From Babyhood to Boyhood - sermon by G Campbell Morgan


If Jesus needed strength, wisdom and grace, then so do we beloved, for Jesus is our example of how to live the (supernatural) Christian life (cp 1 Jn 2:6-note)

This passage parallels Luke 2:52 - "And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."

Child (3813)(paidion  diminutive of pais = child) is a little child of either sex, ranging from an infant (Mt 19:13, 14; Mk 10:13-15; Lk 18:16, 17, etc) to children who are older (Mt 11:16; Mt 14:21; 15:38; 18:2-5, etc) Paidion is used repeatedly of Jesus in Matthew (Mt 2:8-9, 11, 13-14, 20-21). 

The child continued to grow and to become strong - The exact description is given of Jesus' forerunner, John the Baptist

And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.  (Luke 1:80-note)

Continued to grow (837)(auxano means to cause to grow or cause to become greater in extent, size, state, or quality. 

Become strong (be strengthened) (2901)(krataioo from krataios = strong <> see root kratos) means to be empowered, to be increased in vigor, to strengthen or in the passive voice (as in this verse) to be strengthened. From where was He strengthened? While it is difficult to fully comprehend, this strengthening is surely the effect of the Holy Spirit . 

Increasing in wisdom - More literally this is "filled with wisdom" and the present tense indicates this was continual. 

Increasing (4137)(pleroo means to be filled (passive voice =acted on by outside force) to the brim (a net, Mt 13:48, a building, Jn 12:3, Acts 2:2, a city, Acts 5:28, needs Phil 4:19). The idea is to make complete in every particular with the idea that what fills you takes possession of you and controls you. This dynamic is shown in vivid contrast in Eph 5:18-note where you are controlled by wine or by the Spirit!

Henry Morris - As a little child, Jesus already was "strong in [the] Spirit" and "filled with wisdom." Though not specifically stated, this surely implies that He, like John the Baptist (Luke 1:15), was "filled with the Holy Ghost, even from His mother's womb."

Disciple's Study Bible - Whereas the birth of Jesus was marked by supernatural events, His childhood growth was natural for any human being. He increased His capacities in all areas of life. His spiritual growth amazed the religious authorities. Still He remained an obedient child. The presence of God was uniquely active in this Child, whose will and attitude developed with His body to reach the full potential God had for Him as His Messenger of redemption.

Wisdom (4678)(sophia) is the ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding.

The grace of God was upon Him - The preposition "upon" (epi) makes one think of Jesus' promise to His disciples that He would send forth "the promise of My Father UPON you," of course foretelling of the coming of the Spirit upon them. (Lk 24:49). The Spirit is called the Spirit of grace (Heb 10:29) and this could be an allusion to the Spirit's presence and working in the life of the fully human Jesus. 

Compare Luke's description of Jesus with his later description of Jesus' disciples in Acts - "And with great (megas) power (dunamis) the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all." ( Acts 4:33) So here we see grace associated with power, supernatural power enabling them to speak boldly. 

Grace (favor) (5485)(charis from from chairo = to rejoice. English = charity. Beggars need "charity" even as sinners need grace, for we are all spiritual paupers outside of Christ, but "God gives where he finds empty hands"-Augustine [cp Mt 5:3-note]) is a word which defies a simple definition but at its core conveys the sense of favor or an act of gracious kindness.

The English word grace is from the Latin gratia meaning favor, charm or thanks. Gratia in turn is derived from gratus meaning free, ready, quick, willing, prompt. Webster defines grace as the…

unmerited love and favor of God which is the spring and source of all benefits men receive from Him, including especially His assistance given man for his regeneration or sanctification. (Grace is) a virtue from God influencing man, renewing his heart and restraining him from sin. (Compare this more "modern Webster" with Noah Webster's original definition of grace)

NET NOTE - With the description grew and became strong, filled with wisdom Luke emphasizes the humanity of Jesus and his growth toward maturity.

The Messiah will know His Father from childhood (Psalm 22:9; Luke 2:40). (From Which psalms predict the coming of Jesus Christ?)

Luke 2:41  Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.

  • went (KJV): Ex 23:14-17 34:23 De 12:5-7,11,18 16:1-8,16 1Sa 1:3,21 
  • the (KJV): Ex 12:14 Lev 23:5 Nu 28:16 Joh 2:13 6:4 11:55 13:1 


It is fascinating to contemplate that the One Who is the fulfillment of the shadow of Passover was Himself taken to the Passover (1 Cor 5:7, Col 2:16, 17-note)! 

Every year at the Feast of the Passover - The Passover was a one-day feast and was followed immediately by the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread. John MacArthur commenting on Mt 26:27 writes that "The Passover lambs were killed (Mk 14:12) on 14 Nisan (Mar./Apr.). That evening, the Passover meal was eaten. The Feast of Unleavened Bread followed immediately after Passover, from 15–21 Nisan. The entire time was often referred to either as “Passover” (Lk 22:1), or as the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Therefore the first day refers to 14 Nisan."

This pilgrimage to the Passover was in obedience to the instructions in Exodus 

Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. 15 “You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread (began on the evening of Passover - Ex 12:6,18 - On the first day, homes were to be completely cleared of leaven a symbol of corruption and evil; cf. Lev. 2:11-note; 1 Cor. 5:7-8, and a holy assembly was to be called Ex 12:16 - see notes on Lev 23:6-8-note); for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. 16 “Also [you shall observe] the Feast of the Harvest [of] the first fruits (Pentecost - see notes on this feast also called Feast of Weeks - Lev 23:15-22) of your labors [from] what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering (aka, Sukkot, Tabernacles or Booths - Lev 23:34-43-note, cp Dt 31:10,11, Neh 8:14-18) at the end of the year when you gather in [the fruit of] your labors from the field. 17 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD. (Ex 23:14-17)

Deuteronomy 16:16 “Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed.

Related ResourceTable summarizing all Seven Great Feasts of Israel

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

AND WHEN HE BECAME TWELVE THEY WENT UP THERE ACCORDING TO THE CUSTOM OF THE FEAST: The Jewish father was required to acquaint the children with the Law, and when the child turned 13 he was required to fulfill the Law. Jesus’ parents were perhaps getting him accustomed to the Law by taking him to the Feast of the Passover when he was twelve 

NET Note on twelve - According to the Mishnah, the age of twelve years old is one year before a boy becomes responsible for his religious commitments (m. Niddah 5.6).

Ryrie - At 13 a Jewish boy became a "son of the commandment" and a full member of the religious community. This age was often anticipated by one or two years in the matter of going to the Temple.

Vincent adds "At which age he was known as a son of the law, and came under obligation to observe the ordinances personally."

A T Robertson - Luke does not say that Jesus had not been to Jerusalem before, but at twelve a Jewish boy became a “son of the law” and began to observe the ordinances, putting on the phylacteries as a reminder. 

Luke 2:43  and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it,

  • 2Ch 30:21-23,  25:17 

The full number of days - "“The days” may mean the full seven days (Ex. 12:15-20.; Lev. 23:6–8-note; Deut. 16:3), or the two chief days after which many pilgrims left for home." (Robertson)

Vincent adds "Not necessarily the whole seven days of the festival (Ed: 2Ch 30:21). With the third day commenced the so-called half-holidays, when it was lawful to return home."

The boy Jesus - "The boy, Jesus (Iēsous ho pais). More exactly, “Jesus the boy.” In Lk 2:40 it was “the child” (to paidion), here it is “the boy” (ho pais - no longer the diminutive form). It was not disobedience on the part of “the boy” that made him remain behind, but intense interest in the services of the Temple; “involuntary preoccupation” (Bruce) held him fast."

MacArthur on Jesus stayed behind - In stark contrast to the apocryphal gospels’ spurious tales of youthful miracles and supernatural exploits, this lone biblical insight into the youth of Jesus portrays Him as a typical boy in a typical family. His lingering was neither mischievous nor disobedient; it was owing to a simple mistaken presumption on His parents’ part (Lk 2:44) that He was left behind.

Luke 2:44  but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day's journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances.

  • in: Ps 42:4 122:1-4 Isa 2:3 

Criswell - Jesus was missing for nearly three days, before Mary and Joseph retraced their steps on the following day. Probably the women traveled in one group and the men in another. A 12-year-old boy could be with either group; therefore, it is not remarkable that they could have traveled several days before He was missed. (Believers Study Bible)

Supposed (3543)(nomizo from nomos = law, custom) means to think or believe something without being fully settled in mind or opinion. To suppose something that is not true (e.g., Moses wrongly supposed the Israelites would understand God had sent him to deliver them; in Acts 8:20 of Simon's false assumption he could buy the Holy Spirit's power, of the Philippian jailer's nearly fatal supposition that the prisoners had escaped). To suppose means to express a supposition, to presume (something) to be true without certain knowledge.  To assume (take something as true). To regard or acknowledge as custom. To practice a custom (common use by Greek writers). To have and hold as customary (from root word nomos - custom) as used in Acts 16:13 where the idea is to engage in a customary practice ("where the people customarily prayed"). 

Exegetical Dictionary of the NT - Except in Acts 16:13, where a positive narrative character makes a correct assumption, νομίζω in Luke-Acts always is used of a false assumption, which in some instances is criticized in direct discourse by the opponent (Acts 8:20; 17:29; in 7:25 by the narrative opponent) and is elsewhere related as an erroneous assumption (Luke 2:44; 3:23, a redactional addition intended to balance the genealogy of Joseph with the virgin birth; Acts 14:19; 16:27; 21:29). All the Lukan occurrences are the result of redaction.

BDAG summarized - 1. to follow or practice what is customary, have in common use  2. to form an idea about something but with some suggestion of tentativeness or refraining from a definitive statement -- think, believe, hold, consider

Liddell-Scott - to hold or own as a custom or usage, to use customarily, practice. Passive = to be the custom, be customary.  2. to adopt a custom or usage, 

Nomizo - 15x in 15v - Usage: suppose(1), supposed(4), supposing(3), think(4), thinks(1), thought(2). Not found in the non-apocryphal Septuagint.

Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

Matthew 10:34  "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Matthew 20:10 "When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius.

Luke 2:44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day's journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances.

Luke 3:23 When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, the son of Eli,

Acts 7:25 "And he (Moses) supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand.

Acts 8:20 But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!

Acts 14:19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.

Comment - Most of the uses of nomizo suppose something that is not true (see main discussion above), so Luke's use of nomizo in this passage could be taken as evidence that Paul was not truly dead and that the crowd's supposition was incorrect. We will find out in heaven for sure!!!

Acts 16:13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled.
 27 When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.

Acts 17:29 "Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.

Acts 21:29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.

A T Robertson - Imperfect active of nomizō, common to think or suppose. Perfectly harmless word, but they did, as so many people do, put their supposed inference on the same basis with the facts. They did not see Trophimus with Paul now in the temple, nor had they ever seen him there. They simply argued that, if Paul was willing to be seen down street with a Greek Christian, he would not hesitate to bring him (therefore, did bring him, εἰσηγαγεν [eisēgagen] as in verse 28) into the temple, that is into the court of Israel and therefore both Paul and Trophimus were entitled to death, especially Paul who had brought him in (if he had) and, besides, they now had Paul. This is the way of the mob-mind in all ages. Many an innocent man has been rushed to his death by the fury of a lynching party.

1 Corinthians 7:26 I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is.
   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.

1 Timothy 6:5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.

NET Note on caravan - An ancient journey like this would have involved a caravan of people who traveled together as a group for protection and fellowship.

It was common for pilgrims to travel together to the Feast in organized groups 

A T Robertson on caravan - The women usually went ahead and the men followed. Joseph may have thought Jesus was with Mary and Mary that he was with Joseph. “The Nazareth caravan was so long that it took a whole day to look through it” (Plummer).

A day's journey - 20-25 miles

Looking for (327)(anazeteo from ana = from the bottom up or used to intensify meaning + zeteo = seek) mean to seek up and down (back and forth), to seek carefully, to search for, to try to locate, to discover, or to investigate. Anazeteo was often used in the context of hunting for criminals or fugitive slaves (BDAG). This verb speaks of the thoroughness with which Jesus' parents were looking for Him. As we might say today they were searching "high and low" to find Him. 

Moulton and Milligan note that anazeteo "is specially used of searching for human beings, with an implication of difficulty." “make every effort to search for them” etc. with reference to certain slaves who had deserted.  “the culprits having been searched for.” “to look for hay,” 

Luke's use of the imperfect tense adds a vivid picture of them searching over and over for Him. Robertson puts it this way "They searched up and down, back and forth, a thorough search and prolonged."

Thayer on anazeteo - `to run through with the eyes any series or succession of men or things, and so to seek out, search through, make diligent search

Anazeteo is used only by Luke (Lk 2:44, 45) and in Acts 11:25 of Barnabas "And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul." There are 2 uses in the Septuagint - Job 3:4, Job 10:6. 

Luke 2:45  When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him.

Looking for (327)(anazeteo) see above. Here Luke uses the present tense - continuous action.

NET Note - The return to Jerusalem would have taken a second day, since they were already one day's journey away (Ed: As noted above 20-25 miles away). 

Luke 2:46  Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.

  • after (KJV): Lu 2:44,45 1Ki 12:5,12 Mt 12:40 16:21 27:63,64 
  • the doctors (KJV): Lu 5:17 Ac 5:34 
  • both (KJV): Isa 49:1,2 50:4 

CSB After three days, they found Him in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

ESV  After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

KJV  And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

NET  After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

NIV After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

NLT  Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions.

YLT  And it came to pass, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both hearing them and questioning them,

NET Note on "then" or "and it came to pass" (KJV, Young's Literal) - The introductory phrase egeneto (“it happened that”), is common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated. Here kai (and) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

After three days - One day out (Lk 2:44), one day to return (Lk 2:45) and one day to find Him in the Temple. It is surprising they did not go first to the Temple, but they did not fully comprehend Who He was (cp Lk 2:50).

Found (2147)(heurisko means to find after searching and so to discover (Mt 7:7), to find accidentally or without seeking (Mt 12:44), to experience for oneself and to to obtain or procure (He 9:12). Figuratively, heurisko speaks of a spiritual or intellectual discovery gained through observation = reflection, perception, investigation (Ro 7:21).

In the Temple (2411)(hierondesignated the entire Temple complex and was the all-inclusive word signifying the sacred enclosure, porticos, courts, and other subordinate buildings.

Robertson writes they were "Probably on the terrace where members of the Sanhedrin gave public instruction on Sabbaths and feast-days, so probably while the feast was still going on. The rabbis probably sat on benches in a circle. The listeners on the ground, among whom was Jesus the boy in a rapture of interest."

Marvin Vincent - “We read in the Talmud that the members of the Temple-Sanhedrin, who, on ordinary days, sat as a court of appeal from the close of the morning to the time of the evening sacrifice, were wont, upon Sabbaths and feast-days, to come out upon the terrace of the temple, and there to teach. In such popular instruction the utmost latitude of questioning would be given. It is in this audience, which sat upon the ground, surrounding and mingling with the doctors, and hence during, not after, the feast, that we must seek the child Jesus” (Edersheim, “Life and Times,” etc., i. 247). From this, Edersheim argues that the parents set out for home before the close of the feast.

See Alfred Edersheim's discussion in Life and Times of Jesus the MessiahIN THE HOUSE OF HIS HEAVENLY, AND IN THE HOME OF HIS EARTHLY FATHER - THE TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM - THE RETIREMENT AT NAZARETH. Luke 2:41-52.

Vincent on sitting in the midst - Not occupying a teacher’s place, but sitting in the circle among the doctors and their hearers. See above. Compare Acts 22:3.

THE Teacher teaching the teachers!

Teachers (1320) (didaskalos from didasko = teach to shape will of one being taught by content of what is taught <> cp didaskalía) is one who provides instruction or systematically imparts truth. Didaskalos refers to Jesus (the Master Teacher) in 41 of 58 NT uses. Twice Jesus calls Himself Teacher (Mt 26:18, Jn 13:13-14). He is referred to as Teacher by His disciples (Mk 4:38; 9:38; 13:1; Lk 7:40; 21:7), by the Pharisees (Mt 8:19, 12:38), by Pharisees and Herodians (Mt 22:16); Sadducees (Mk 12:19), a teacher of the law (Mk 12:32), Jewish deceivers (Lk 20:21); the rich young ruler (Lk 18:18), tax collectors (Lk 3:12) and His friend Martha (Jn 11:28). As an aside someone has said our great Teacher writes many of His best lessons on the blackboard of affliction. The teacher teaches in such a way as to shape will of one being taught by content of what is taught.

NET Note - This is the only place in Luke’s Gospel where the term didaskalos, “teacher” is applied to Jews. (See all Luke's uses of didaskalos below)

Luke uses didaskalos 18x (out of 59 NT uses) - Lk. 2:46; 3:12; 6:40; 7:40; 8:49; 9:38; 10:25; 11:45; 12:13; 18:18; 19:39; 20:21, 28, 39; 21:7; 22:11; Acts 13:1

Darrell Bock - Some critics have said that rabbis did not allow children to sit in their presence until the middle of the first century. Does this mean this verse is anachronistic or false? In answer to this, public engagement with rabbis was not unusual at this time, and Jesus’ age (12 years old, Lk 2:42) was advanced enough that there is no difficulty in believing he was allowed to sit among the teachers. (Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Bible)

Sitting in the midst of the teachers - "This was a typical, traditional setting for teaching in Israel. The teachers would be seated, with the students, sitting in their midst. Only here does Luke use didaskalos to refer to Jewish teachers; in the rest of his gospel the term is reserved for John the Baptist (3:12) or Jesus. No one is called “teacher” after Jesus became the teacher.....The dialogue method was the customary pattern for teaching in Judaism and was employed by the apostle Paul (Acts 17:2; “reasoned” translates a form of the Greek verb dialegomai, “to discuss”). Students would gather around a teacher or teachers and stimulate the discussion by asking questions. Only here in the Gospels is Jesus portrayed as the student; after this He is always the teacher—who would ask questions for which the Jewish teachers had no adequate answers (cf. 11:19–20; 13:2–5; 20:41–44)." (MacArthur)

Both listening to them and asking them questions - Listening is reasonable but asking is amazing because we all know you have to have some knowledge on which to even base sensible questions. Clearly His understanding of theological matters was astute as shown by their reaction in Lk 2:47. 

The use of questions and answers was typical of the rabbinical method of teaching, and here we witness the greatest Rabboni of all!

A T Robertson - Paul sat at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). Picture this eager boy alive with interest. It was his one opportunity in a theological school outside of the synagogue to hear the great rabbis expound the problems of life. This was the most unusual of all children, to be sure, in intellectual grasp and power. But it is a mistake to think that children of twelve do not think profoundly concerning the issues of life. What father or mother has ever been able to answer a child’s questions?"

Luke 2:47  And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

  • Lu 4:22,32 Ps 119:99 Mt 7:28 Mk 1:22  Joh 7:15,46 

All who heard Him (Jesus) were amazed - Recall Jesus is only 12 and yet His degree of theological precociousness was striking to all.

Amazed (astonished, astounded, besides one's self) (1839)(existemi from ek = out + hístemi = to stand) literally means to stand out from or to stand outside oneself (and thus to be beside oneself). To put out of position, to displace or to change. To remove from its place. For example Aristotle writes "you won't budge (existemi) me from my position on these matters." The NT uses of existemi are all related in some way to the human mind. Richards adds that existemi "suggests astonishment mixed with anxiety, stimulated by extraordinary events that cannot be explained." Existemi means to be amazed, astonished or astounded describing "the feeling of astonishment mingled with fear, caused by events which are miraculous, extraordinary, or difficult to understand." (BDAG) It can describe one who is so astonished almost to the point of failing to comprehend what one has experienced.

Amazed is the "Common verb existēmi meaning that they (Joseph and Mary) stood out of themselves as if their eyes were bulging out." (A T Robertson) And Robertson adds that Luke's use of the vivid imperfect tense is "descriptive of their continued and repeated astonishment." 

MacArthur - This was not the first (cf. Lk 2:18, 33), nor would it be the last time Jesus elicited wonder and amazement in Luke’s gospel (cf. Lk  4:22, 32, 36; 5:9; 8:25, 56; 9:43; 11:14; 20:26; 24:41).

Marshall writes that "Jesus appears as a pupil who astonishes His teachers by the understanding apparent in His questions and answers."

Understanding (4907) (sunesis  from suniemi [word study] = to comprehend, reason out in turn derived from sun = with or together + hiemi = send) literally is a sending together or a bringing together. Sunesis describes the putting together, of comparing and combining things, and thereby grasping or exhibiting quick comprehension. Sunesis is the ability to understand concepts and see relationships between them and thus describes the faculty of comprehension, intelligence, acuteness, shrewdness. Sunesis is "holistic understanding" which is obtained by joining facts together. Think of it as "synthesized reasoning" which is achieved by bringing implicit or indirect truths together resulting in comprehension which allows us to prudently deal with situations. The idea is "connecting the dots" which involves sanctified (Spirit enabled, Word centered) reasoning which enables one to see the "full picture."

Vincent on understanding = sunesis - From suniemi, to bring together. Hence that quality of mind which combines: understanding not only of facts, but of facts in their mutual relations. (Note on Mark 12:33 = Understanding from suniemi, to send or bring together. Hence sunesis [the word in Mk 12:33] is a union or bringing together of the mind with an object, and so used to denote the faculty of quick comprehension, intelligence, sagacity.); where there is meant “the love of a well-pondered and duly considered resolution which determines the whole person; the love which clearly understands itself” (Cremer).

Robertson on His answers - It is not difficult to ask hard questions, but this Boy had astounding answers to their questions, revealing His amazing intellectual and spiritual growth.

NET Note - The fact that this story is told of a preteen hints that Jesus was someone special.

Luke 2:48  When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You."

Jesus' parents were  astounded, overwhelmed, besides themselves, totally dumbfounded by their Son.

They were astonished (1605)(ekplesso from ek = out + plesso = strike) means strike out, expel by a blow, drive out or away, force out or cast off by a blow.  Figuratively ekplesso means to drive out of one's senses by a sudden shock or strong feeling, or "to be exceedingly struck in mind". It means to cause to be filled with amazement to the point of being overwhelmed (struck out of one's senses). It encompasses the ideas of wonder, astonishment or amazement. Ekplesso expresses a stunned amazement that leaves the subject unable to grasp what is happening. It is interesting to note that our English word "astonish" which is derived from the Latin word extonare meaning to strike with thunder! What a picture of Jesus' radical message which must have struck His hearers like thunder!

Robertson on astonished (especially the root idea of to strike out, drive out by a blow)  - Joseph and Mary “were struck out” by what they saw and heard. Even they had not fully realized the power in this wonderful boy. Parents often fail to perceive the wealth of nature in their children.

Vincent adds that astonished is "a very strong word; the verb meaning, literally, to strike out or drive away from; and so to drive out of one’s senses. Hence in the general sense of great amazement. Amaze is to throw into a maze or labyrinth; and so is closely akin to the Greek word here, and is a faithful rendering."

Son, why have You treated us this way - "Her question was designed to make Jesus feel guilty, as if He had intentionally caused His parents to suffer. Mary’s next statement intensified her rebuke. “Behold,” she continued, “your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” As mentioned above, Jesus’ behavior in this incident was totally unlike anything Joseph and Mary had ever experienced and thus to them inexplicable. Jesus, of course, had not intentionally defied or hurt His parents. What He had done was to make evident the necessary break that was to come between Him and His earthly family." (MacArthur)

Anxiously (feel agony or torment) (3600)(odunao from odune = sorrow, torment, grief, pain. English anodyne is a drug that relieves pain) means actively to cause intense pain but is used only passively in the NT. All 4 NT uses are by Dr Luke (Lk 2:48, 16:24, 25, Acts 20:38-note) . Odunao means to experience intense physical pain (Lk 16:24, 25 = Hades) or as in the present context to cause one to experience mental and/or spiritual pain manifest by being grieved, anxious, very worried, deeply distressed, consumed by grief. This Greek word was used in medical literature.

Looking (seeking) (2212)(zeteo) implies giving attention and priority to and deliberately pursuing after. The imperfect tense indicates that they were looking here and there, looking all over for Him. Vincent comments that "Mary is going over in mind the process of the search." Robertson adds the "Imperfect tense describing the long drawn out search for three days."

Luke frequently uses zeteo - Luke 2:48; 5:18; 6:19; 9:9; 11:9; 16; 24; 29; 12:29; 31; 13:6; 24; 15:8; 17:33; 19:3; 10; 47; 20:19; 22:2; 6; 24:5; Acts 9:11; 10:19; 21; 13:8; 11; 16:10; 17:5; 27; 21:31; 27:30

Luke 2:49  And He said to them, "Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?"

KJV And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?

And He said to them - This is the first saying of Jesus that is preserved in the NT. 

Why is it that you were looking for Me - "Jesus' first question means, "Why didn't you know where to look?"

Robertson - The first words of Jesus preserved to us. This crisp Greek idiom without copula expresses the boy’s amazement that his parents should not know that there was only one possible place in Jerusalem for him.

I had to be in My Father's house (the Temple) - Jesus knew who He was even at this early age, and He also knew the identity of His true Father, God the Father. The glory (Shekinah) had departed prior to the sacking of Solomon's Temple by the Babylonians in 586BC (see departure of the glory) and was absent from the rebuilt Temple after the 70 year exile. The Shekinah glory was also absent from Herod's ornate Temple. But when Jesus, Himself the glorious One (Jn 1:14 even as a child), entered into His Father's house, the glory had, in a sense at least for a short time, returned. 

John MacArthur comments that Jesus' having to be present in His Father's house "is not only the crux of the passage, but also expresses the definitive reality of Christian theology. This statement is the first time in Scripture that any individual claimed God as his personal Father. The Jews viewed God as the Father of all in a creative sense, and the Father of Israel in a national sense. But no one had the audacity to claim God as his Father in a personal, intimate sense, because of the profound implications of such a claim. In this confession, Jesus made it clear that His first priority was to do the will of His heavenly Father. He also lifted Himself above the human realm. He was not in the ultimate sense Joseph’s son, or Mary’s son; He was the eternal Son of God, who came down from heaven (John 3:13; 6:38, 42). As such, He was under the authority of His heavenly Father, not His earthly parents."

Henry Alford - Up to this time Joseph had been so called ("father") by the holy child Himself; but from this time never."

Moody Bible Commentary - Other than this instance of "divine precociousness" Luke indicated that Jesus' growth and development were completely normal, except for the grace (Lk 2:40b) and favor (Lk 2:52) He enjoyed from God.

Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?" (not know - ouk edeite) - The indicative mood is used with ouk (negation) in a question expecting a positive answer.

Robertson on I must be - Messianic consciousness of the necessity laid on Him. Jesus often uses dei (must) about His work. Of all the golden dreams of any boy of twelve here is the greatest. 

I had to be (must = KJV) (1163)(dei  (dei from deo = to bind or tie objects together, put in prison and also root of doulos, bond-servant) refers to what is not optional but needful (binding) out of intrinsic necessity or inevitability. Dei refers to inward constraint which is why it is often translated "must". Dei describes that which is under the necessity of happening or which must necessarily take place, and as stated above, conveys a sense of inevitability. To express the sense of necessity dei is translated "one ought", "one should", "one has to" or "one must".

Dei is in the present tense indicating this is Jesus' continual necessity.

Marvin Vincent on I had to be ("must" - KJV) -  Literally means it is necessary or it behooves. A word often used by Jesus concerning His own appointed work, and expressing both the inevitable fulfillment of the divine counsels and the absolute constraint of the principle of duty upon himself. See Matt. 16:21; 26:54; Mark 8:31; Luke 4:43; 9:22; 13:33; 24:7, 26, 46; John 3:14; 4:4; 12:34.

Luke uses dei frequently (some 40x out of a total of 101 NT uses) in both his Gospel and the book of Acts - Luke 2:49; 4:43; 9:22; 11:42; 12:12; 13:14; 16; 33; 15:32; 17:25; 18:1; 19:5; 21:9; 22:7; 37; 24:7; 26; 44. Acts 1:16; 21; 3:21; 4:12; 5:29; 9:6; 16; 14:22; 15:5; 16:30; 17:3; 19:21; 36; 20:35; 23:11; 24:19; 25:10; 24; 26:9; 27:21; 24; 26 

Robertson - When the Boy first became conscious of his peculiar relation to the Father in heaven we do not know. But he has it now at twelve and it will grow within Him through the years ahead in Nazareth.

Henry Morris on "my Father's business" (KJV) -  As a boy, Jesus had already become a deep student of the Scriptures, more than able to hold His own with the learned "doctors" (Rabbis). His parents, knowing His interests as well as His divine mission, should have known where He would be--hence His gentle question. The reference to "His Father's business" indicates that, even in His humanity, at the key age of twelve years, He already had begun to realize His identity and purpose.

Vincent on "my Father's business" (KJV) - Literally, in the things of my Father. The words will bear this rendering; but the Revised Version of the NT is better, in my Father’s house. Mary’s question was not as to what her son had been doing, but as to where he had been. Jesus, in effect, answers, “Where is a child to be found but in his Father’s house?”

Criswell adds that "My Father's business" can mean either "My Father's places," a reference to the temple precincts, or "My Father's affairs," a reference to the work He had come to do." (Criswell)

NET Note - Or “I must be about my Father’s business” (so KJV, NKJV); Grk “in the [things] of my Father,” with an ellipsis. This verse involves an idiom that probably refers to the necessity of Jesus being involved in the instruction about God, given what he is doing. The most widely held view today takes this as a reference to the temple as the Father’s house. Jesus is saying that his parents should have known where he was.

Luke 2:50  But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them.

They did not understand - The question could be asked why they did not understand, especially given the fact that they had both received angelic messages and Mary had been clearly told He was the Son of God.

And Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?  And 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 offspring shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:34-35-note)

Robertson - Even Mary with all her previous preparation and brooding was not equal to the dawning of the Messianic consciousness in her boy. “My Father is God,” Jesus had virtually said, “and I must be in His house.” Bruce observes that a new era has come when Jesus calls God “Father,” not Despotes (Master, Lord). “Even we do not yet fully understand” (Bruce) what Jesus the boy here said.

John MacArthur -  They understood that He was the Messiah, the Son of David, conceived in a virgin’s womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. But the full meaning of His divine sonship eluded them. This would not be the last time that His followers would fail to grasp what Jesus was saying (cf. Luke 9:44–45; 18:34; John 10:6; 12:16).

Understand (4920)(suniemi from sun/syn = with + hiemi = send; Related noun = sunesis which Luke used in Luke 2:47) literally means to send together or bring together. The idea is to put together "pieces of the puzzle" (so to speak) and to exhibit comprehension. Suniemi is the ability to understand concepts and see relationships between them and thus describes the exercise of the faculty of comprehension, intelligence, acuteness, shrewdness.

Luke uses suniemi 7 times (out of 25 NT uses) Luke 2:50; 8:10; 18:34; 24:45, Acts 7:25; 28:26

NET Note - This was the first of many times those around Jesus did not understand what he was saying at the time (Lk 9:45; 10:21–24; 18:34).

Bock notes that "A couple of considerations help set the context for their failure to understand. First, there is no biblical evidence that Jesus did anything to verify or demonstrate his special identity and calling up to this point in His life. By all appearances He lived an entirely normal childhood, performing no miracles that would signal his supernatural identity. Thus it is reasonable to see Mary and Joseph being caught off guard by Jesus’ actions and words in this event, for these would represent something like a debut for him. Second, the common Jewish preconception about the Messiah did not include His being divine. To speak of God as “Father” was considered too intimate for most Jews, so Jesus’ talk about the temple being his “Father’s house” would have confused and possibly alarmed Mary and Joseph—hence Luke’s statement about their not understanding." (Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Bible)

Statement (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. 

See Vincent's discussion of rhema in note on Luke 1:37.

Luke 2:51  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.

See location of Nazareth on Map - this map also shows Galilee. See Gabriel announces to Mary that she will bear a Son

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)

He continued in subjection to them - Marvin Vincent notes that "The participle and finite verb, denoting habitual, continuous subjection. “Even before, he had been subject to them; but this is mentioned now, when it might seem that he could by this time have exempted himself. Not even to the angels fell such an honor as to the parents of Jesus” (Bengel). Compare Heb. 1:4–8."

MacArthur - His relationship with His heavenly Father did not yet abrogate His responsibility to obey His earthly parents. His obedience to the fifth commandment was an essential part of Jesus’ perfect obedience to the law of God.

A T Robertson -  He continued subject unto them, this wondrous Boy who really knew more than parents and rabbis, this gentle, obedient, affectionate Boy. The next eighteen years at Nazareth (Luke 3:23) He remained growing into manhood and becoming the carpenter of Nazareth (Mark 6:3) in succession to Joseph (Matt. 13:55) who is mentioned here for the last time. Who can tell the wistful days when Jesus waited at Nazareth for the Father to call Him to His Messianic task? 

Continued in subjection to (5293)(hupotasso from hupó = under + tasso = arrange in orderly manner) means literally to place under in an orderly fashion. The only other uses of hupotasso by Luke describing spirits (demons) subject to the disciples - Lk 10:17 and Lk 10:20.

Henry Morris - This is the first use in the New Testament of the Greek word (hupotasso) here translated "subject unto," also frequently translated "submit to" or "be obedient to." Thus, when we are told to "be subject one to another" (1 Peter 5:5) and "to every ordinance of man" (1 Peter 2:13) and other such humbling acts, it helps to recall that this definitive act of submission was by Christ Himself.

His mother treasured all these things in her heart - Compare Luke 2:19 (note) - "But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart."

MacArthur on treasured all these things in her heart - Here was the first fulfillment of Simeon’s warning to Mary in 2:35, as she treasured all these things in her heart. She had much to think about as she pondered Jesus’ amazing reply. Mary had to realize that her Son was her Savior, and she would have to exchange her parental authority over Him for His divine authority over her. The sword would pierce her heart again later in her last appearance in Luke’s gospel (8:19–21), when Jesus distanced Himself from His human relationship with her and His siblings (cf. 11:27–28). Ultimately, the sword would pierce Mary’s heart as she watched her Son suffer and die on the cross. (Ibid)

Treasured (1301)(diatereo from dia - through + tereo - watch over, guard) means to keep carefully. In the present context the idea is that these words of are to be carefully remembered. In Acts diatereo speaks of moral abstinence, to keep oneself free from, wholly abstain from or avoid something  (blood, things strangled, fornication).

Robertson on diatereo - She kept thoroughly ([dia]) all these recent sayings (or things, [rhēmata]). In Lk 2:19 [suntereo] is the word used of Mary after the shepherds left. These she kept pondering and comparing all the things. Surely she has a full heart now. Could she foresee how destiny would take Jesus out beyond her mother’s reach?

The only other NT use of diatereo is also by Luke - Acts 15:29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep (present tense = continually) yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell."

Vincent on diatereo - The preposition dia, through, indicates close, faithful, persistent keeping, through all the circumstances which might have weakened the impression of the events.

Diatereo is used in Ge 37:11 of Jacob with a similar sense as here with Mary

"His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying (Ge 37:6-10 - they would bow down to Joseph) in mind." 

Diatereo is used 24x in 23v in the Septuagint - Gen. 17:9-10 (keeping covenant); Ge 37:11; Ex. 2:9; 9:16; 12:6; 34:7; Num. 18:7; 28:2; Deut. 7:8; 33:9; Ps. 12:6-7; Prov. 21:23; 22:12; Isa. 56:2

In Psalm 12:7 of keeping the afflicted in Psalm 12:5

You, O LORD, will keep them; You will preserve him from this generation forever. 

NET Note - The third person plural pronominal suffix on the verb is masculine, referring back to the “oppressed” and “needy” in Ps 125 (both of those nouns are plural in form), suggesting that the verb means “protect” here. The suffix does not refer to אִמֲרוֹת (’imarot, “words”) in Ps 12:6, because that term is feminine gender.

Luke 2:52  And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

AMP And Jesus increased in wisdom (in broad and full understanding) and in stature and years, and in favor with God and man.

YLT and Jesus was advancing in wisdom, and in stature, and in favour with God and men.


Jesus kept increasing - "The imperfect tense suggests something of a progressive force to the verb." (NET Note) Robertson adds "imperfect active, He kept cutting his way forward as through a forest or jungle as pioneers did."

Kept increasing (advancing, making progress) (4298)(prokopto from pró = before or forward + kópto = cut) means literally to cut forward or cut down in front. The idea is to remove the obstacles from a road so that straight and uninterrupted progress is possible. 

Comparing prokopto to the verb auxano, with auxano the growth is caused by factors outside oneself or by the element of life placed there by God Himself, whereas with prokopto the advance is by one's conscious effort. Thus the noun form auxesis is growth or increase brought about by God, while prokope, is a conscious advancement through exertion.

Wisdom (4678)(sophia) is the ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding.

Robertson - He kept growing in stature (hēlikia] may mean age, as in Lk 12:25, but stature here) and in wisdom (more than mere knowledge). His physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual development was perfect. “At each stage he was perfect for that stage” (Plummer). 

Henry Morris - Jesus is God (John 1:1) and God is omniscient, so how could He "increase in wisdom?" This question points up the mystery of His divine/human nature. He was fully God, yet fully man (apart from sin), and this mystery is simply beyond human comprehension. We are told that Christ "emptied Himself" (the essence of the Greek term translated "made Himself of no reputation" in Philippians 2:6), thereby implying a voluntary setting aside of His "omni" attributes in order to take "the form of a servant." In the records of His life and teachings, there is abundant evidence of His deity, including His own claims (John 8:12; 11:26). At the same time, there is abundant evidence of His true humanity, including the fact that He "increased in wisdom" as He also grew in stature. Every act and teaching must be carefully studied in context to sort this out in each instance.

Criswell - Luke indicates that Jesus grew (1) intellectually, (2) physically, (3) spiritually, and (4) socially. Thus He grew and matured like any other person.

In favor with God and men - In grace. "This is ideal manhood to have the favour of God and men." (Robertson)

Darrell Bock asks "How could Jesus have increased in favor with God if he was in fact God the Son? Does God the Father come to love God the Son more over time? Some point to this verse as evidence that Jesus is not divine, or that he became divine only after the Father adopted him once he had earned that right.We must first understand that Jesus was fully human, and thus it is appropriate for NT authors to speak of him in ways that fit normal human experience. Luke did this here, describing Jesus’ growth as a genuine human. Second, by and large the Synoptic Gospels differ from the Gospel of John in their approach to announcing Jesus’ divinity. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all reveal the depth of Jesus’ person gradually. They do not announce that Jesus is God at the start as John’s Gospel does (John 1:1-18). So we see the fullness of Jesus’ person unfold over time as his words and actions reveal who he is, while his birth, as narrated in Matthew and Luke, gives a hint of where things are headed by pointing to his unique conception and by making it clear Jesus is sent by God and is the promised one. The more gradual unveiling in the Synoptic Gospels fits with the experience many people around Jesus would have had as they came to realize his full identity over the course of years." (Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Bible)

John MacArthur - The question arises as to why Jesus needed to live all those years, instead of simply coming to earth, dying as a substitute for sin, rising from the dead, and ascending back to heaven. The answer is that He had to live a perfectly righteous life and “fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15), and thus prove to be the perfect sacrifice to take the place of sinners (1 Peter 3:18). Only then could His righteousness be imputed to believers and their sins placed on Him. When Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that God made “Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,” he expressed both aspects of Christ’s substitionary atonement. Not only did Jesus bear believers’ sins, God also imputed His righteousness to them. To put it another way, God treated Christ as if He had lived believers’ sinful lives, and believers as if they had lived His perfectly righteous life. Jesus lived a perfectly righteous life from childhood through adulthood, so that His righteous life could be imputed to believers. Salvation comes only to those who do not have a “righteousness of [their] own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phil. 3:9).

Becoming - By Julie Ackerman Link I grew up in a small town. No famous people. No busy streets. Not much to do. Yet I’ve always been thankful for my quiet, uncomplicated upbringing.

One evening when my husband and I were attending a business dinner, a new acquaintance asked me where I was from. When I told her, she said, “Aren’t you embarrassed to admit it?”

Unsure whether or not she was joking, I simply said, “No.”

Although my town was sometimes belittled for its lack of sophistication, it was not lacking in things that matter. My family was part of a church community in which parents brought up children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

Jesus also grew up in a small town: Nazareth. A man named Nathanael asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Jesus proved that the answer is yes. Even though He grew up in an insignificant place, He was the most significant person in all of history.

Experience taught me and Scripture confirms that what matters is not where you grow up but how you grow up. Sometimes we feel insignificant compared to sophisticated people from prominent places. But we are significant to God, and He can make us strong in spirit and filled with His wisdom.

O teach me what it cost You, Lord,
To make a sinner whole;
And help me understand anew
The value of one soul! —Anon.

What we become is more important than where we’re from.