Luke 1:1 “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,”
- As we begin this study, we have to be mindful that there are changes taking place during the time John lived and Jesus walked in the flesh. The Law of Moses is still in effect (Romans 7:1-6 and Hebrews 9:15-17), but it is passing (Luke 16:16). This means there will be a blend of things from the Law of Moses and new teachings as well. This record was written after the death of Christ. What Jesus taught, while on earth, is very much part of His will and testament (John 14:21-26).
- Many had undertaken the task of setting forth in order a declaration [a narrative; an account of] of what happened regarding things most surely believed among us, etc. (cf. II Peter 1:12).
- Some of which we have in writing (Matthew 1:1, Mark 1:1, and John 20:30-31).
- Much of which was spoken (Acts 4:33, Acts 5:30-32, Acts 10:36-43, and Acts 28:17-31).
- All of this was by the will of the Lord (Luke 24:44-49 and Acts 1:6-8).
- The wording of “among us” is a fraternal statement in reference to the believers. We should understand such to be “us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18-20). This therefore is written towards one who already has the faith (I Thessalonians 2:13 and I Peter 1:18-25).
- Seeing that these things were already believed (II Thessalonians 1:10), therefore this is not an account set forth to initially convert one to these things. Teaching to convert is a different kind of teaching (Acts 17:1-3).
- Furthermore, we should understand that this narrative will not be an explanation of things as though the one being written to doesn’t know it already. Teaching one to understand something initially is a different type of teaching (Nehemiah 8:8 and Acts 8:26-40).
- The things which are “most surely believed” (I Corinthians 15:1-11, I Thessalonians 1:5, Hebrews 10:22, Hebrews 11:1-3, and II Peter 1:16-21).
- In doing some studying of “most surely believed”, you find this definition: “to carry out fully (in evidence), i.e. completely assure (or convince), entirely accomplish: — most surely believe, fully know (persuade), make full proof of; to bear or bring full, to make full; to cause a thing to be shown to the full; to fulfil the ministry in every part; to carry through to the end, accomplish; things that have been accomplished; to fill one with any thought, conviction, or inclination; to make one certain, to persuade, convince one; to be persuaded, persuaded, fully convinced or assured; to render inclined or bent on” (Strong’s # 4135).
- “Surely believed” is also translated “fully persuaded” (Romans 4:13-21 and Romans 14:5).
- “Surely believed” is also translated “full proof” (II Timothy 4:1-5) and “fully known” (II Timothy 4:17).
- These things were most surely believed because of the evidence and the testimony given (Hebrews 2:1-4).
- We will later discuss how this is a letter of reassurance (Luke 1:3-4).
Luke 1:2 “Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;”
- The writer of this book is referring to things he had been taught, things that had be “delivered” (cf. Romans 6:17, I Corinthians 11:2, and I Corinthians 11:23).
- He learned, as did others, from the eye-witnesses of these things as Jesus wanted such to be the case (John 15:26-27).
- These eye-witnesses, called “ministers of the word”, were the Apostles (Acts 1:12-26).
- “They” were witnesses “from the beginning” (I John 1:1-5).
- Those witnesses testified of the things said and done by Christ (John 21:24-25).
- This means that Paul was NOT the one who taught these things to this writer (I Corinthians 15:8; cf. Acts 9:1-20).
Luke 1:3 “It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,”
- “It seemed good” (Acts 15:24-32). The word translated “seemed” is most often translated as “think” [33 of the 63 times the Greek word is used in the N.T.] (i.e. Luke 12:40, John 5:39, and I Corinthians 8:2).
- If one were to condemn the judgment of one writing, consider how that judgment of an inspired man is not reasonably questionable (I Corinthians 7:6, I Corinthians 7:12, I Corinthians 7:25, and I Corinthians 7:40).
- By inspired man, I mean one lead to teach by the Spirit (I Corinthians 2:9-13 and II Timothy 3:16-17).
- Even when the thoughts, regarding what seems good or bad of uninspired men or women; think about spiritual discernment (I Corinthians 2:14-16). Shouldn’t faithful Christians have and grow in wisdom (Proverbs 4:5-7, Proverbs 23:23, and Colossians 3:16). Aren’t we to listen to wise counsel (Proverbs 1:5, Proverbs 11:14, Proverbs 12:15, Proverbs 13:20, Proverbs 19:20-21, and Titus 2:3-5)?
- “It seemed good” could be just about this being an expedient time, according to this writer’s judgment, to reassure this disciple of Christ (II Corinthians 8-8:10).
- “Having had perfect [diligently; circumspectly; perfectly] (Matthew 2:8, Acts 18:25, Ephesians 5:15, and I Thessalonians 5:2) understanding [attained; fully known] (I Timothy 4:6 and II Timothy 3:10)”. Think about how important it is that a teacher understands what he is teaching (I Timothy 1:3-7).
- One can obtain such an understanding by considering diligently what is taught (II Timothy 2:7; II Timothy 2:14-18).
- “Of all things from the very first” should be understand as “from the beginning” (i.e. Acts 26:5).
- “In order” (cf. Acts 11:1-4).
- “Most excellent” or “most noble” is indicative that this man had some position in civil government (Acts 23:26, Acts 24:3, and Acts 26:25). This is appropriate behavior of a faithful child of God (Titus 3:1 and I Peter 2:13-17).
- This is the first of two letters to Theophilus (Acts 1:1-3).
Luke 1:4 “That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.”
- “That thou mightest know” (Proverbs 22:21 and I John 5:13).
- The word translated “know” [ἐπιγινώσκω] here means: “to know upon some mark, i.e. recognize; by implication, to become fully acquainted with, to acknowledge: to become thoroughly acquainted with, to know thoroughly; to know accurately, know well; to know; to recognize by sight, hearing, of certain signs, to perceive who a person is; to know i.e. to perceive; to know i.e. to find out, ascertain; to know i.e. to understand” (Strong’s # 1921).
- In addition to “know”, “knew”, “knowing”; That word is otherwise translated as: “acknowledge” (I Corinthians 14:37, I Corinthians 16:18, and II Corinthians 1:13-14), “had knowledge” (Matthew 14:35), “perceived” (Mark 2:8, Luke 1:22, and Luke 5:22), “took/take knowledge of” (Acts 4:13 and Acts 24:8), and “well knowest/known” (Acts 25:10 and II Corinthians 6:9). You can study this on your own by following this link: https://www.wordsoftruth.net/studytools.htm
- This word was set apart from “believe” in Paul’s letter to Timothy (I Timothy 4:3).
- This word doesn’t imply faithfulness when used about saints for it is also used when people departed from the faith in the past tense (II Peter 2:20-22; * in verse 21). In other words, someone can “know” and still be unfaithful (Romans 1:28-32).
- Think about this process of teaching from other contexts (II Peter 1:1-21 and I John 2:18-27).
- Think about the value of increasing what is already known (Proverbs 9:8-9 and II Peter 3:1-2) or knowing better, more in depth things you’ve previously been taught (I Thessalonians 4:1-2).
- The word “certainty” [ἀσφάλεια] meaning: “certainty, safety. Firmness, stability, certainty, undoubted truth. Security from enemies and dangers, safety (Strong’s # 0803). The only two other times this Greek word appears in the New Testament it is translated as, “safety” (Acts 5:23 and I Thessalonians 5:3).
- From that, we can conclude Luke is reassuring Theophilus to make him feel secure in his faith (Colossians 2:1-10 and Hebrews 10:22).
- We are to test all things (I Thessalonians 5:21).
- What do we read about being doubters; about being uncertain (Matthew 14:22-33, I Timothy 2:8, James 1:8, and James 4:8)?
- While he had already been instructed… Even our Lord Jesus Christ, living upon this earth, increased his wisdom (Luke 2:52; cf. Hebrews 4:14-5:9) though He knew in the sense of information all there was for Him to know (John 2:25-25, John 5:20, John 13:3, John 16:15, John 18:4, John 21:17, etc.).
- Though Jesus taught the disciples throughly, to a degree (Mark 4:33-34 and John 16:12), what did they still need (John 14:26)?
- In fact, the disciples had seen and learned, but some things they saw and heard did not make sense to them at the time (John 12:12-16).
Luke 1:5 “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.”
- The Herods were a Royal family in the first century (Strong’s # 2264).
- Herod the king of Judaea, in this context, died while Jesus was a child (Matthew 2:1-23).
- There was another Herod that beheaded John (Matthew 14:1-12). This was Herod the tetrarch [in the Roman Empire the governor of one of four divisions of a country or province] (Luke 3:1). As you read through the New Testament there are multiple Herods.
- Zacharias was a priest of the course of Abia, of the sons of Aaron [Abijah; Strong’s # 0007] (I Chronicles 24:1-31; *note verse 10).
- From the days of Aaron until Christ became our high priest (Hebrews 4:14-7:28); the Levites were the priesthood (Exodus 28:1 and Numbers 16:10-11). All of us in Christ are priests (I Peter 2:5-9 and Revelation 1:5-6).
- Elisabeth was also from the bloodline of Aaron. Therefore, John the baptizer [their son] was, under the Law of Moses, in line for service under the Levitical priesthood (I Chronicles 23:13).
- Think about that. John the Levite was the one preparing the way for Christ (Mark 1:1-4). He was a Levite handing over the priesthood to one of another tribe (Hebrews 7:11-14).
Luke 1:6 “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”
- They (Zacharias and Elisabeth) were both righteous (Genesis 6:8-9; Genesis 7:1, Genesis 15:1-6, Psalms 15:1-5, Proverbs 2:10-20, Proverbs 10:11, Proverbs 10:32, Proverbs 11:5, Proverbs 12:5, Proverbs 12:17, Proverbs 13:6, Proverbs 21:21, Proverbs 28:1, Romans 6:16, and I John 2:29).
- Think of the benefit of the righteous (Proverbs 14:34 and Proverbs 29:2) as opposed to the wicked (Ecclesiastes 9:18).
- Think about why the distinction is made in the statement “righteous before God” (Isaiah 65:1-5, Luke 16:15, Luke 18:9-14, Romans 10:1-3, II Corinthians 10:17-18, Philippians 3:7-9, and Revelation 3:14-22).
- They were walking in all the commandments of the Lord. Keep in mind what this meant under the Law of Moses which they lived under (Leviticus 26:1-9, Deuteronomy 5:32-33, Deuteronomy 11:18-22, Joshua 22:5, I Kings 8:61, and Jeremiah 7:23).
- They were walking in all the ordinances [“equitable deed; by implication, a statute or decision: — judgment, justification, ordinance, righteousness… a judicial decision” (Strong’s # 1345)] of the Lord. This word is different in that it is essentially the righteous deeds or judgments that comes about from the commandments of the Lord (Romans 1:32, Romans 2:26, and Romans 8:4).
- They were blameless which speaks of their conduct (II Corinthians 6:1-3, Philippians 2:14-16, I Thessalonians 2:10, and II Peter 3:14). This, again, meant something a little different under the Law of Moses (Philippians 3:6; cf. Mark 10:17-22).
Luke 1:7 “And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.”
- Elisabeth was barren and well advanced in years. Since this context will go on to be concerning the birth of John, the barren womb and old age play a significant factor (Luke 1:13; Luke 1:18-19).
- Had Israel been faithful to God, there would not have been a barren woman among them (Deuteronomy 7:1-14 and Deuteronomy 28:1-11).
Luke 1:8 “And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,”
- Executing the priest’s office (Exodus 28:41) before God in the order of his course [duty rotation] (I Chronicles 24:19 and Ezra 6:18).
- There was not always a course they followed (II Chronicles 5:11).
- Order regarding duties of one’s office even continued into the New Testament though the offices changed (Romans 12:3-8 and I Corinthians 12:28-31).
Luke 1:9 “According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.”
- Here we learn his priestly duty was determined by lot. We find an example of casting lots of who should furnish the wood at appointed times (Nehemiah 10:28-34).
- His responsibility was to burn incense in the temple of the Lord (I Chronicles 23:13 and II Chronicles 13:10-11).
- This was the duty of a priest and those who did so without being in the priesthood erred (II Chronicles 26:16-21).
- Though a different overall point, even being in the priesthood one had to do such the right way (Leviticus 10:1-2).
Luke 1:10 “And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.”
- Since this incense is in the holy place, only the priest were permitted to be therein (Exodus 30:1-10).
- The priest had to not only be a Levite and be properly attired (Ezekiel 44:15-19); but also had to resolve any sins of his own when He came into the holy place (Leviticus 4:1-3, Leviticus 9:7-8, and Leviticus 16:6). Zacharias was pure when he came before the Lord (Luke 1:6).
- There was a whole multitude praying on the outside. There were times of prayer when people came to the temple (Acts 3:1).
- The temple was supposed to be known as a house of prayer (Luke 19:45-48).
Luke 1:11 “And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.”
- An angel of the Lord appeared to Zacharias at the altar of incense.
- The role of angels was designed to serve, to minister (Hebrews 1:1-14). Though they delivered messages, it was not God’s design for them to teach the Gospel as such was given into the hands of men even if an angel was involved (Acts 8:25-38 and Acts 10:1-8).
- We will see in this context that this is Gabriel (Luke 1:19) and we will study a little about him when we get to that section of this text.
- Consider why there is a distinction made of “an angel of the Lord” (Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 12:7-9).
Luke 1:12 “And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.”
- Zacharias saw the angel, was troubled, and fear fell upon him as we see in other accounts of appearances of angels (Daniel 8:15-18, Matthew 28:1-5, and Luke 2:8-10).
Luke 1:13 “But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.”
- The angel said unto him, fear not, Zacharias. Angels have been sent to comfort the faithful (Genesis 21:14-21, Daniel 10:4-12, Matthew 1:20, Matthew 4:1-11, and Acts 27:14-24).
- We have read that Zacharias was righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless (Luke 1:6). The fact that his prayers were heard is further confirmation of such (Psalms 66:18, Proverbs 15:8, Proverbs 15:29, Proverbs 28:9, Isaiah 1:10-18, Isaiah 59:1-3, Micah 3:4, John 9:31, and I Peter 3:12).
- Elisabeth would be with child (I Chronicles 28:5, Psalms 127:1-3, and Isaiah 8:18).
- His name was to be John (Isaiah 8:1-4, Jeremiah 1:1-5, Hosea 1:1-11, and Matthew 1:18-25). Zacharias will follow this instruction (Luke 1:63).
- This will puzzle Zacharias (Luke 1:18) *we will talk more about this at verse 18.
Luke 1:14 “And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.”
- The birth of a child is such a joyous occasion that even the pains of birth can be quickly forgotten (John 16:21).
- As a child grows, he is known by his doings (Proverbs 20:11).
- Joy and gladness is continued in the life of a parent if a child chooses to do right (Proverbs 10:1, Proverbs 15:20, Proverbs 23:15-16, Proverbs 23:24-25, and Proverbs 29:3).
- If John were not going to be the son he became, joy and gladness would not be sustained (Proverbs 17:21 and Proverbs 17:25).
- Many would rejoice at the birth of John (Luke 1:57-58).
Luke 1:15 “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.”
- The reason for rejoicing at the birth of John was that he was foretold of as one to be great in the sight of the Lord (Matthew 11:9-19, Luke 7:18-28, and John 5:33-35).
- John would not drink wine or strong drink (Luke 7:33, Genesis 19:30-38, Leviticus 10:9-10, Proverbs 20:1, Proverbs 21:17, Proverbs 23:20-21, Proverbs 23:29-35, Proverbs 31:4-5, Isaiah 5:11, Isaiah 5:22, Jeremiah 35:5-6, Ezekiel 44:21, Matthew 26:41, Luke 21:33-34, I Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:16-21, I Thessalonians 5:6, I Timothy 3:1-3, Titus 1:7, Titus 2:1-14, I Peter 1:13-16, and I Peter 4:1-5).
- Think about why this stands as in relation to how Israel’s leaders of the past had given themselves to alcohol (Isaiah 28:7-9, Isaiah 56:10-12, and Hosea 4:9-11).
- In the past, the people would have loved a man teaching them they could drink alcohol (Micah 2:11).
- John was going to be filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:41-44; cf. Jeremiah 1:5-9).
- Remember, the Holy Ghost worked among the priests, prophets, and others before the New Testament was in effect (Exodus 28:1-3, Exodus 31:1-11, Exodus 35:30-35, Numbers 11:16-30, Numbers 24:2, Numbers 27:18, Judges 3:9-10, Judges 6:34, Judges 11:29, I Samuel 10:1-7, I Samuel 16:1-13, II Samuel 23:2, II Chronicles 15:1-8, II Chronicles 24:20, Ezekiel 3:24, Luke 2:25-34, Luke 3:21-22; Luke 4:1, Acts 1:16, Acts 28:17-29, and II Peter 1:20-21).
- Yet, there was a difference of the work of the Spirit before and after Acts chapter two. Before, the Spirit was said not to have been given signifying a greater work of the Spirit than was given before (John 7:37-39) and was still just promised to be coming (John 14:15-26).
- The Spirit in the first century was evidence to believers that did not have the written text to prove to them they were saved (Galatians 3:1-5 and Ephesians 1:13). The promise was clearly different in work and purpose than what had happened in the past. No one received the Spirit before the New Testament for this purpose for no one was justified then (Acts 13:38-39).
- John himself taught that the Spirit coming by Christ was greater in some manner (Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16).
- In the first century, after Jesus died, the Apostles received the Spirit in a way that occurred only one other time after that (Acts 1:5-8; Acts 2:1-4 and Acts 10:1-11:18). By the time Paul wrote the congregation in Ephesus, the baptism of the Holy Spirit ceased (Ephesians 4:1-6; cf. I Peter 3:20-21).
- Yet, the prophesies aforetime promised the works of the Holy Spirit upon believers (Joel 2:28-32). Peter and the Apostles preached that promise was being fulfilled (Acts 2:16-38). That promise wasn’t just for the Apostles (Mark 16:15-20 and I Corinthians 12:1-11).
- Since Holy Spirit baptism only occurred twice and was temporary there was some other changes. The other way in which God gave the Spirit to man was through the laying on of Apostle’s hands. No one was baptized in water and as a result of baptism alone received the Spirit (Acts 8:5-24 and Acts 19:1-7).
- Notice something about every Scripture you can look at wherein the Spirit of God was given to man (both Old and New Testament times). He was active and the evidence was visible.
- John’s receiving of the Holy Ghost would be “even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:41-44).
- While all of that is interesting, it is of no significance for us today. The work of the Spirit was temporary and has come to an end as promised (I Corinthians 12:28-13:13). We now have that which is perfect (James 1:25; James 2:12).
Luke 1:16 “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.”
- He shall turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God (Matthew 3:1-6).
- However, not all believed and obeyed (Matthew 21:23-32 and Luke 7:29-30).
- One of the hardest parts of teaching the word of God is accepting the fact that people often choose not to obey the truth (Ezekiel 33:30-33, Luke 4:16-30, Acts 13:26-46, and Romans 10:14-21).
- John “fulfilled his course” (Acts 13:24-25).
- He was not a soft-peddler of the truth (Matthew 3:7-10 and Matthew 14:1-12).
Luke 1:17 “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
- The prophecy regarding going before Christ in the spirit and power of Elias [Elijah] (Malachi 4:5-6; cf. Matthew 11:1-15 and Matthew 17:11-13).
- Though, John did not pretend to be Elijah (John 1:15-28).
- The phrase “in the spirit of” does not mean the person of (I Corinthians 4:21 and Galatians 6:1).
- The phrase “in the power of” draws you to consider the works of Elijah (i.e. I Kings 17:1-18:46).
- In connection to Elias [Elijah], for these children of the forefathers to have the hearts of their forefathers (I Kings 18:36-40). David even prayed for that long ago (I Chronicles 29:17-18). Their hearts had been turned away (Isaiah 29:13 and Hosea 4:11).
- Repentance requires the right heart (II Chronicles 34:22-28, Isaiah 57:15, Jeremiah 29:10-14, and Joel 2:12-13).
- To turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the just (Luke 1:64-79) which is about more than just teaching. It was more about helping them to be wise enough to listen (Hosea 14:9).
- Jesus was coming to save the lost house of Israel (Matthew 10:1-6, Matthew 15:21-28, Luke 19:1-10, and Acts 3:25-26).
- John was, as prophesied (Isaiah 40:3-5 and Malachi 3:1-4), getting them ready for that (Mark 1:1-4).
- For a while, he was a light to them (John 5:32-35).
Luke 1:18 “And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.”
- We have seen a barren womb and old age before (Genesis 11:29-30; Genesis 18:1-15; Genesis 21:1-7, Genesis 25:19-28, Genesis 29:31-35, Judges 13:1-25, and I Samuel 1:1-20).
- Miracles such as this served a purpose (Psalms 113:1-9) as did all miracles (Mark 16:15-20).
- Later in this chapter, this will be used as evidence with Mary (Luke 1:27-38).
Luke 1:19 “And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.”
- The angel Gabriel (Daniel 8:15-16, Daniel 9:20-23, and Luke 1:26-31).
- Gabriel stood in the presence of God (Psalms 68:17).
- Gabriel was sent as a messenger to Zacharias (cf. Acts 8:26 and Acts 10:1-7). Angels are spiritual beings that minister (Psalms 104:4) in obedience to the Lord’s will (Psalms 103:20).
- They could appear in the form of men (Genesis 19:1-5).
- Paul, in the context of spiritual gifts (I Corinthians 12:1-14:40), said he spoke in the tongues of angels (I Corinthians 13:1).
- The angels are interested in the spiritual state of men (Luke 15:10).
- They will accompany Christ at the end (Matthew 16:27 and Matthew 25:31).
- Remember, angels are part of the body of Christ (Hebrews 12:22-23) under the authority of Christ (I Peter 3:22).
Luke 1:20 “And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.”
- For entirely different reasons, the prophet Ezekiel was made to be a mute for a time. The similarity is that both were made such as a sign (Ezekiel 3:26; cf. Ezekiel 24:21-27 and Ezekiel 33:21-33).
- Mute until the day these things were performed (Luke 1:57-67).
- Because he did not believe Gabriel’s words (Mark 16:9-14).
- Where is the line drawn between testing (I Thessalonians 5:21 and I John 4:1) and outright unbelief (Matthew 13:53-58, Mark 6:1-6, and Mark 16:9-14)?
- Was it enough the Gabriel appeared and Zacharias feared (Luke 1:12)? Was it enough that Gabriel knew his prayers (Luke 1:13)? Was it enough that Gabriel used the words of the prophets (Luke 1:17)? Paul’s words, which were not written yet (Galatians 1:8-9), wouldn’t apply because the angel wasn’t saying anything that was false.
- Was the past actions of God enough (Romans 15:4)? Was the example of Abraham enough (Romans 4:13-22)?
- Could Zacharias have taken the wait and see approach (Deuteronomy 18:22)?
Luke 1:21 “And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.”
- Apparently the ordinary time it took for him to carry out his priestly duties had long surpassed. It is certainly reasonable to wonder if something extraordinary was going on with the priest. Did he do something wrong (Numbers 3:3-4)? Had the Lord appeared to him (Numbers 20:6).
Luke 1:22 “And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.”
- As stated in Luke 1:20, Zacharias was unable to speak.
- The people perceived [recognized; took knowledge of] he had seen a vision (Numbers 12:6).
- There were times of apostasy wherein the prophets and priests had no visions (Ezekiel 7:26 and Amos 8:11-12; cf. Proverbs 29:18).
Luke 1:23 “And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.”
- Being a Levite, a priest, he had set duties to keep (I Chronicles 9:25-26).
Luke 1:24-25 “(24) And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, (25) Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.”
- Elizabeth hid herself for five months. To be barren was shameful for her as it was for all women in Israel who had no children (I Samuel 1:1-20, Isaiah 4:1, Isaiah 54:1-4, and I Timothy 2:13-15).
- Remember, under the Law of Moses, having children was of great importance (Psalms 127:1-5).
- Their inheritance was dependent upon having many children (Numbers 26:53-56).
- The assumption of some sort of punishment from God would exist with barren women (Deuteronomy 28:9-11 and Psalms 128:1-6).
Luke 1:26 “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,”
- So often people like to think about angels in some imaginative ways. Certainly, the imagination cannot likely rival the reality (II Kings 19:35-37, I Chronicles 21:16, Isaiah 6:1-7, Ezekiel 1:5-25, Ezekiel 10:1-17, and II Peter 2:11). However, to bring this subject to our context, the work of an angel here fits the definition of the Greek word “ἄγγελος”. That word means: “(to bring tidings); a messenger; especially an “angel”; by implication, a pastor: — angel, messenger. A messenger, envoy, one who is sent, an angel, a messenger from God” (Strong’s # 32). It is not always used to describe heavenly beings. For example, Matthew 11:10 “messenger” is the same Greek word talking contextually about John. The context here though, bears out this angel is an heavenly being (Luke 1:19). My point is, Gabriel is carrying out his work, to bring a message.
- A month latter than Elizabeth hid herself (vs. 24-25), the same angel that appeared to Zacharias was sent from God (Numbers 20:16, I Chronicles 21:15, II Chronicles 32:21, Luke 1:19, Acts 12:1-11, and Revelation 1:1; Revelation 22:6; Revelation 22:16).
- Gabriel was sent to Galilee; to the city Nazareth. This is a key to the identity of Christ (Luke 2:1-7, Luke 2:39-40, Matthew 2:19-23, Matthew 4:12-17 [cf. Isaiah 9:1-7], John 1:45-46, Acts 4:10-12, and Acts 22:6-8).
- This is God foretelling events as evidence it is from Him (Isaiah 46:9-10).
- Remember, Christ needed to fulfill all that was written in about Him (Matthew 5:17-18, Matthew 26:51-58, Mark 14:49, and Luke 24:44).
Luke 1:27 “To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.”
- The connection to a virgin (Isaiah 7:13-14).
- How this played out for Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25).
- The word translated “espoused” [μνηστεύω] means: “to give a souvenir (engagement present), i.e. betroth: — espouse. To woo her and ask her in marriage; to be promised in marriage, be betrothed” (Strong’s # 3423). Think about this as she becomes pregnant (Deuteronomy 22:23-27).
- Her husband was of the house of David (Luke 3:23-31). Why does that matter (Jeremiah 23:5-6 and Jeremiah 33:14-17)?
Luke 1:28-30 “(28) And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. (29) And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. (30) And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.”
- The saying of the angel was troubling to Mary, but she had found high favor with God and had nothing to fear. Being highly favored means to be made accepted (Ephesians 1:6).
- The word “favour” in vs. 30 is most commonly translated as grace.
- What is considerably noticeable though is how that Jesus did not allow her to become what man has made her today in false religions such as Catholicism (Mark 3:31-35 and Luke 11:27-28).
- In fact, all saints were found in favor with all the people (Acts 2:46-47).
Luke 1:31 “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.”
- As told to Joseph (Matthew 1:21), His name was to be Jesus (Luke 2:21).
- Think about the importance of the name of Christ (John 20:30-31, Acts 4:10-12, Acts 15:26, I John 3:23, and I John 5:1).
Luke 1:32 “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:”
- Gabriel told Mary that Jesus was going to be great (Philippians 2:1-11, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 4:14-16, and Hebrews 13:20).
- Gabriel told Mary that Jesus was going to be called the Son of the Highest (Mark 5:1-7 and Luke 1:35).
- For the record, we who remain faithful are/will be the children of the Highest (Luke 6:35-36, Romans 8:17, and I John 3:1-10).
- Jesus was going to be given, by the Lord, the throne of David (Isaiah 9:6-7, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Acts 2:29-36, and Acts 13:21-23).
- David was His father not in relationship, but by bloodline (Matthew 1:1, Romans 1:3, and II Timothy 2:8).
- This is significant (Psalms 132:11 and Jeremiah 33:15-17).
Luke 1:33 “And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”
- Jesus’ reign over the house of Jacob, which was Israel (Genesis 32:28 and Genesis 35:10). You could equally say “the house of Israel” (Acts 2:36 and Hebrews 8:8; 8:10).
- The King of Israel (John 1:49 and John 18:37-38; cf. Micah 5:1-3 and Matthew 2:1-6). He is the king (I Timothy 6:14-16), but not only over Israel (Romans 10:12).
- The efforts for Jesus to reach out first to Israel are undeniable (Matthew 10:1-7, Matthew 15:21-28, Acts 3:25-26, and Acts 10:36).
- Regarding “for ever” and His kingdom having “no end”. For ever should be understood here as towards an ending of an age or period of time. For, when Christ returns and judges, He will then afterward return to our Father the authority that was given to Him (I Corinthians 15:24-28). “For ever” doesn’t always mean for eternity (Deuteronomy 23:3). We see such with the earth (Ecclesiastes 1:4; cf. II Peter 3:9-14). We see it with the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 29:29; cf. Romans 7:1-6). We see it with the priesthood of Levi (Exodus 28:43; Hebrews 7:11-24).
- While the kingdom is to be returned to the Father (Matthew 13:36-43), it is everlasting (II Peter 1:11).
- The coming in of the Gentiles didn’t change that (Romans 11:25-29).
- No end to the kingdom of Christ (Daniel 7:13-14 and Hebrews 12:22-28).
- This kingdom is where we, as saints, have our citizenship (Colossians 1:12-18 and I Thessalonians 2:12).
Luke 1:34 “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?”
- As we have already read in this context (Luke 1:27), Mary was a virgin espoused to Joseph (Matthew 1:18).
- Don’t take this to mean Mary didn’t believe (Luke 1:38; 1:45).
Luke 1:35 “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
- The Holy Ghost was bringing this seed to her womb (Matthew 1:20).
- As we’ve already stated, Jesus was the Son of God. In fact, the only begotten Son of God (John 1:14, John 1:28, John 3:16-18, and I John 4:9-10).
- We addressed in verse thirty-two that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, but He is not the only son of God (John 1:12, II Corinthians 6:14-7:1, Philippians 2:14-16, I John 3:1-10).
Luke 1:36 “And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.”
- The KJV says “thy cousin”. The term translated “cousin” here [συγγενής] means: “A relative (by blood); by extension, a fellow countryman: — cousin, kin(-sfolk, -sman). Of the same kin, akin to, related by blood; in a wider sense, of the same nation, a fellow countryman” (Strong’s # 4773). In other Scriptures it is translated “kin” (Mark 6:4), “cousins” (Luke 1:58), “kinsfolk” (Luke 2:44 and Luke 21:16), “kinsmen” (Luke 14:12, Acts 10:24, Romans 9:3, Romans 16:7, and Romans 16:21), and “kinsman” (John 18:26 and Romans 16:11). So, we have to be careful here. They are obviously related by blood and have a relationship with each other.
- For evidence, Mary is told of Elizabeth’s pregnancy in her old age who was formerly called “barren”. Faith is to have evidence (Hebrews 11:1). We are told to test all things (I Thessalonians 5:21). God provides evidence (Acts 14:17 and Romans 1:20). When He did something, He didn’t leave it up to question as to who was behind it (Isaiah 42:8; 45:18-19; 48:11).
- For thought, consider how Jesus was frustrated with those who had sufficient evidence, false motives, and yet wanted more (Matthew 16:1-4).
- Also, consider the difference between seeking evidence (Mary here) and doubting what is said (i.e. Luke 1:11-20). Mary believed (Luke 1:45), even though there had never before been a virgin birth. However, there had been the barren womb turned to be fruitful (Genesis 11:29-30; 18:1-15; 21:1-7, Genesis 25:19-28, Genesis 29:31-35, Judges 13:1-25, and I Samuel 1:1-20). Zacharias did not initially believe.
- The timeframe (Luke 1:24-26).
- How Mary seeing the barren with child would show her the work of God (Psalms 113:1-9).
Luke 1:37 “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
- Gabriel’s declaration that with God nothing shall be impossible is a statement echoed throughout the Scriptures in various ways (Genesis 18:14, Jeremiah 32:17, Jeremiah 32:27, Matthew 19:26, Luke 18:27, etc.).
- Thinking about what He is capable of is a teaching tool (Jeremiah 5:22).
- This is to be taken in context. It is a statement of might. For there are things, because of the nature of God, that are impossible for Him (i.e. Hebrews 6:18 and Titus 1:2). Furthermore, God has imposed certain truths that prevent Him from doing some things. Consider some of these things…
- He has granted man the freedom to choose what we want to do (Genesis 2:15-3:19, Deuteronomy 5:29, Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Joshua 24:14-16, Judges 10:10-14, I Samuel 8:1-10, Ecclesiastes 7:29, Luke 8:4-15, John 8:31-32, Acts 2:40-41, Romans 10:1-21, Philippians 2:12, Hebrews 3:6-14, James 1:12-16, James 4:17, Revelation 22:14). So, no matter how much God wants men to be saved (I Timothy 2:1-5 and II Peter 3:9); He has limited His role in salvation by giving man the choice (Romans 6:16).
- God has limited Himself by not being a respecter of persons (II Samuel 14:14, II Chronicles 19:7, Acts 10:34-35, Romans 2:1-16, and I Peter 1:17).
- God has limited Himself by entrusting the Gospel into the hands of men then (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-20, Luke 24:47, Acts 8:25-39, and II Corinthians 4:6-7) and now (II Timothy 2:1-4 and II Timothy 4:1-5).
- By limiting the time of spiritual gifts (I Corinthians 12:1-13:13), God has limited how He helps in now vs. then. For example, how wisdom and knowledge was obtained then (I Corinthians 12:8 and James 1:5) and now (Colossians 3:16). In connection to that, seeing as how the Spirit was given through the laying on of Apostle’s hands (Acts 8:4-25 and Acts 19:1-7); even how elders are appointed has changed from then (Acts 20:28) to now (Titus 1:5-9). Consider how that limits God by His own choosing.
- By God choosing to put things into the hands of men, aside from the Gospel (Genesis 1:24-30 and Psalms 8:1-9), that limits what He does too. He may send the things we need to live (Acts 14:17). However, He’ll not do the work for us (Proverbs 21:25, Proverbs 24:30-34, and II Thessalonians 3:10).
- In spiritual matters, He equipped us to do every good work (Ephesians 2:1-10, II Timothy 3:15-17, and II Peter 1:3-4). However, He limits Himself by giving us the choice to do good or evil (John 5:28-29).
Luke 1:38 “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.”
- David had a similar mindset when he learned Solomon was to build the temple instead of himself as we see in Mary (II Samuel 7:1-29).
- Mary shows faith in understanding that once the Lord said something, it was as good as done. We see similar faith in a centurion (Matthew 8:5-13).
- The Lord fulfills His promises (Jeremiah 29:10, Ezekiel 12:25, and Titus 1:1-3).
Luke 1:39 “And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;”
- Mary arose and went “in those days”. We are talking about the time wherein Elizabeth was pregnant with John in the sixth month (Luke 1:24-26).
- The hill country (Joshua 21:9-11).
- With haste is revealing. That term [σπουδή; Strong’s # 4710] is more often translated as “diligence” (Romans 12:8, II Corinthians 8:7, Hebrews 6:11, II Peter 1:5, and Jude 1:3).
- She wants to see Elizabeth after the information she has received (Luke 1:36).
Luke 1:40-41 - “And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:”
- Concerning John, we have read: “But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb” (Luke 1:13-15).
- Then we see that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. The language of “filled with the Holy Ghost” isn’t empty. Action is attached to that statement (Exodus 28:1-3, Exodus 35:30-35, Exodus 35:30-35, Luke 1:67, Acts 2:1-4, Acts 4:8, Acts 4:31, and Acts 13:9-12).
Luke 1:42 - “And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”
- With a loud voice (Acts 16:25-28).
- This statement is likened to what Gabriel stated (Luke 1:26-28).
- We know that God has, at different times, had chosen vessels for His work to be done through (Genesis 12:1-9; Genesis 22:1-18, Exodus 3:1-4:31, Deuteronomy 21:5, I Samuel 10:17-27, I Samuel 16:1-13, Isaiah 41:8, Acts 9:1-18, Acts 13:1-3, Romans 3:1-2, etc.).
- Elizabeth, whom has been chosen herself to bring the forerunner into the world, is acknowledging the honor bestowed upon Mary (Proverbs 27:2).
Luke 1:43 - “And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
- Herein honor is shown to Mary. Like John with Jesus (John 1:19-28), Elisabeth was a special person that realized her place.
- Even as a chosen person, one who can realize he or she is but a servant has a great understanding of our place in this world (I Chronicles 29:10-15, Isaiah 6:1-7, Luke 17:5-10, I Corinthians 9:16, and I Peter 5:5-6).
- Don’t take this further than the point of humility though. Even by the words of our Lord Himself, her son in the flesh, Mary is not to be exalted (Luke 8:19-21 and Luke 11:27-28).
- Also, we see that she confesses Christ as her Lord before He is even born in the flesh. Think on that as we know that confessing Christ is vital to our salvation (Luke 12:8-9 and I John 2:23).
- Think about how her confession stands tall considering that she is a Jew (Romans 10:1-21).
Luke 1:44 - “For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.”
- See notes on verses 40-41
- Some reasons for joy… Psalms 32:10-11, Psalms 105:1-8, Isaiah 12:1-6, Matthew 2:1-12, Galatians 5:22-23, and I Peter 1:7-9
Luke 1:45 - “And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
- Elizabeth, being filled with the Holy Ghost (Luke 1:41), confirms that Mary believed (Luke 1:38).
- Mary was called blessed for this faith (John 20:19-29).
- Faith was not required for miracles to occur (Psalms 78:18-33, John 2:23, John 6:1-2, John 12:37, Acts 28:1-6, and I Corinthians 14:22).
- In fact, miraculous works were to aid in bringing about faith (John 10:37-38, Mark 16:15-20, John 20:30-31, Acts 2:22, and Hebrews 2:1-4).
- In this case however, Mary was to be the mother of our Lord and she would be with Him till the end of His life (John 19:25) and His work even afterward (Acts 1:14).
- Faith, in service to God’s will, is most certainly required (John 3:18, John 3:36, John 8:23-24, Galatians 5:6, Hebrews 3:7-19, Hebrews 11:1-13, and Revelation 21:8).
- Proper faith will move her (I Thessalonians 1:3, Titus 3:8, and James 2:14-26).
Luke 1:46-47 - “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”
- Instead of taking Elisabeth’s remarks and magnifying herself, Mary magnified the Lord (Psalms 69:30 and Psalms 70:4). That is in the process of exalting God (Psalms 34:3). Similar to what we see with Cornelius and the first recorded Gentile converts (Acts 10:44-48).
- Mary did not take Elizabeth’s words to the end of exalting herself (Matthew 23:12).
- There is a difference in the words translated “soul” and “spirit” in these two verses. “Soul” [ψυχή] here more about the breath of life, being a living soul (Strong’s # 5590). Whereas “spirit” [πνεῦμα] here is more about the the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition (Strong’s # 4151). So she is basically saying she magnified God with her life and rejoiced with her mind. You can see the difference in how the first reference “soul” is translated “life” in Matthew 20:28. Whereas the term “spirit” here is often translated relating to the Holy Ghost (i.e. Luke 3:22, Luke 4:1, etc.).
- She recognized God is her Savior (Isaiah 43:3, Isaiah 45:21, and Hosea 13:4).
Luke 1:48 “For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”
- In continuation of the thoughts about God being her Savior, Mary said that God recognized her humility (Psalms 147:6). Mary allowed God to lift her up and not herself (James 1:9-10 and James 4:10).
- The fact that she was blessed was about her being chosen in service; not in some elevated state of being (i.e. Matthew 24:44-46).
- The term “handmaiden” [δούλη] means, as it does in verse 38: “a female slave (involuntarily or voluntarily): — handmaid(-en). A female slave, bondmaid, handmaid” (Strong’s # 1399). This same Greek word is also found in Acts 2:18 and is translated in the KJV as “handmaidens”. Paul called himself, as did James, Peter, and Jude a “servant” [δοῦλος] (Titus 1:1, James 1:1, I Peter 1:1, Jude 1:1); which means: “a slave (literal or figurative, involuntary or voluntary; frequently, therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency): — bond(-man), servant…” (Strong’s # 1401). That same term is used in Romans 6:16; 6:17; 6:19; 6:20
- As we discussed when we looked at verse 43, Mary is not to be exalted (Luke 8:19-21 and Luke 11:27-28).
- Having said that, all generations know her. This will tie to the fact that his mercy, in part using her to bring it about, will be from generation to generation as this context goes on to say in the next verse.
Luke 1:49 - “For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.”
- Mary continues to praise the Lord (Psalms 34:1, Psalms 71:14, and Hebrews 13:14-15).
- He that is mighty (Genesis 17:1, Deuteronomy 10:17, Zephaniah 3:14-20, and II Corinthians 6:14-18).
- Hath done to me [Mary] great things (Matthew 1:16).
- Holy is His name (Exodus 20:7, Leviticus 20:1-3, Leviticus 22:1-2, I Chronicles 16:10, Psalms 33:21, Psalms 99:3, Psalms 111:9, Psalms 138:1-2, Psalms 139:20, and Revelation 15:4).
This is a work in progress. Check back midweek (most weeks) for updates.