Study Notes For Luke Chapter Two
Luke 2:1 “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.”
- “In those days” ties us backwards to what was written in Luke 1:57-80.
- Caesar Augustus was the first Roman emperor, following the republic which was by the dictatorship of Julius Caesar, his great-uncle and adoptive father. The Senate awards Octavian the name Augustus (“the exalted one”), and he is known hereafter as Augustus Caesar. Rather than publicly proclaim himself a dictator as his great-uncle Caesar did, Augustus creates a monarchic regime while appearing to maintain republican traditions. He reigned from 27 BC until his death in AD 14 (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Augustus-Roman-emperor). That’s not good for God’s people (Psalms 12:8).
- The word translated “taxed” [ἀπογράφω] here (and in verses 3; 5) means: “to write off (a copy or list), i.e. enroll: — tax, write. To write off, copy (from some pattern) to enter in a register or records; spec. to enter in public records the names of men, their property and income; to enroll (Strong’s # 583). Later it is translated as “written” in Hebrews 12:23.
- For us today, we understand that as Christians we are to adhere to decrees [ordinances] of the rulers of our land (I Peter 2:13-17). The one exception would be if such a decree would contradict what God expects us to do as saints (Acts 5:12-42).
Luke 2:2 “(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)”
- Cyrenius the governor of Syria was the originator of this census. Strong’s says this of this man: “the Greek form of the Roman name Quirinus. His full name is Publius Sulpicius Quirinus. He was consul B.C. 12., and was made governor of Syria after the banishment of Archelaus in A.D. 6. He was probably twice governor of Syria; his first governorship extended from B.C. 4 (the year of Christ's birth) to B.C. 1…” (Strong’s # 2958).
- Gamaliel made a reference to what appears to be those days (Acts 5:34-39).
Luke 2:3 “And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.”
- One’s city of birth was not always their city of upbringing or residency (Acts 22:1-3).
- Furthermore, some had dual citizenship (Acts 22:25-29 and Acts 23:23-27).
Luke 2:4 “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)”
- Jospeh was in Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth. This is were Jesus will be raised (Matthew 2:19-23 and Luke 4:16) as prophesied (Isaiah 9:1-7).
- He came to Bethlehem called the city of David (I Samuel 16:1-13).
- Bethlehem is important because of the prophesy about the city (Micah 5:2).
- Joseph was of the house and lineage of David (Luke 1:27). Why does that matter (Jeremiah 23:5-6 and Jeremiah 33:14-17)?
- Mary is not with child of Joseph (Matthew 1:18 and Luke 1:27-35). So, why is Joseph significant in this process? The genealogies were primarily of the males (I Chronicles 1:1-9:44). You can see men had daughters (i.e. Genesis 5:1-32 and Genesis 11:10-32), but you often don’t know their names.
- Inheritances, the continuation of one’s name, were first to the sons (Numbers 27:1-11). If a daughter inherited, her marriage was important (Numbers 36:6-10).
Luke 2:5 “To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.”
- Espoused meaning: “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).
- Under the Law of Moses, a betrothal was much more than the culture of America (Deuteronomy 20:7 and Deuteronomy 22:23-27).
- She was “great with child” or rather “big with child” (Strong’s # 1471).
Luke 2:6 “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.”
- This statement is just that it was time for Mary to give birth.
- Timing meant a lot (Galatians 4:4) about the events concerning Christ (Luke 24:44 and Acts 13:29).
Luke 2:7 “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
- The firstborn of this virgin woman (Matthew 1:25; cf. Isaiah 7:13-14).
- The manger is only significant because of what is to come later in this context (Luke 2:8-12).
- What is significant is that the only begotten Son of God is now born in the flesh (John 1:14, John 8:23-24, Romans 1:3, Romans 9:1-5, Philippians 2:5-11, I Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 2:5-18, and II John 1:7).
Luke 2:8 “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.”
- It is interesting that the Lord did not send an angel (vs. 9) to the chief priest, or the scribes, etc. He is sending an angel to shepherds. Not to make too much of that, but to consider just for a brief moment of the similarities between Jesus and an actual shepherd of sheep (Matthew 9:35-38, John 10:1-18, Hebrews 13:20, I Peter 1:21-25, and I Peter 5:4).
Luke 2:9 “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.”
- “The angel of the Lord came” (I Kings 19:1-8 and Acts 12:1-11).
- The phrase “the angel of the Lord” appears over 50 times throughout the Scriptures, mostly in the O.T., in the KJV (Genesis 16:7, Genesis 16:9, Genesis 16:10, Genesis 16:11, Genesis 22:11, Genesis 22:15, Exodus 3:2, Numbers 22:22, Numbers 22:23, etc.). Aside from this passage, in the N.T. (Matthew 1:20, Matthew 1:24, Matthew 2:13, Matthew 28:2, Acts 5:19, Acts 8:26, Acts 12:7, and Acts 12:23).
- “The angel of the Lord” appearing wasn’t always a good thing for those whom he appeared to (I Chronicles 21:1-30 and Isaiah 37:36).
- Angels are spiritual beings that minister (Psalms 104:4) in obedience to the Lord’s will (Psalms 103:20). As we discussed when we looked at Luke 1:26, an angel is a messenger (Strong’s # 32). There were angels that sinned (II Peter 2:4) and caution in regard to the messages of angels (Galatians 1:8-9).
- Angels are fellow-servants of the Lord (Revelation 22:8-9).
- “The glory of the Lord” (Exodus 24:17, Numbers 14:1-12, Numbers 16:42, I Kings 8:1-11, and Ezekiel 1:26-28).
- They were sore afraid (Acts 9:1-8 and Acts 22:6-9).
Luke 2:10 “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
- The angel said, fear not (Daniel 10:11-12, Matthew 28:1-5, Luke 1:13, and Luke 1:30).
- The message was “good tidings” (Isaiah 52:7, Romans 10:14-15, and I Thessalonians 3:5-6; cf. Proverbs 15:30 and Proverbs 25:25).
- This message of good tidings was good news for all people (Matthew 28:16-20, Luke 24:44-49, John 1:29, Hebrews 7:22-25, and I John 4:14).
- That message was preached to all nations in the first century (Mark 13:10 [cf. vs. 30], Romans 16:25-27, Colossians 1:5-6, and Colossians 1:23).
Luke 2:11 “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
- The angel is not negating the message of Jesus being the Savior of the world. His previous statement proves that. He is however making a statement of emphasis in “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour” (Jeremiah 23:5-6, Matthew 1:21, Luke 1:31-33, Luke 1:69, Acts 13:21-23, and Romans 11:25-27).
- The city of David was addressed in our study of Luke 2:4.
- Christ [anointed, i.e. the Messiah; Strong’s # 5547] the Lord (Acts 2:36, Acts 10:36, Romans 14:9, I Thessalonians 5:9, etc.).
- While it should be obvious to faithful saints, maybe it is good to take time to consider when we refer to Christ as our Lord we are acknowledging His supreme authority; our Master [Strong’s # 2962] (Matthew 11:27, John 3:35, John 5:22-27, Ephesians 1:20-23, Philippians 2:3-11, Colossians 1:12-20, and I Peter 3:21-22).
Luke 2:12 “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
- God removes chance and confusion here. The angel specifies where our Lord would be found when they came to see Him (Psalms 145:9-13, Isaiah 42:8, Isaiah 48:11, Isaiah 45:18-19, Isaiah 46:10-11, and John 18:20).
- These men will be witnesses and that is important (John 8:17 and I John 5:9-12).
- Witnesses from the beginning (Luke 1:2 and I John 1:1-4) and throughout were significant for the establishment and early proclamation of the Gospel (Luke 24:46-48, Acts 1:15-22, Acts 2:32, Acts 4:33, Acts 5:30-32, Acts 10:37-43, etc.).
- Later in this context, we will see what they do with what they go and see (Luke 2:17).
Luke 2:13-14 “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.”
- They were already afraid (Luke 2:9), what could “suddenly” do to them? There is a degree wherein faithfulness and trust in God is a guard against sudden fear (Proverbs 3:19-26).
- The appearance of a multitude of angels, heavenly host (Deuteronomy 33:2, I Kings 22:19, Psalms 68:17, and Hebrews 12:22-23).
- The angels praising God (Psalms 103:20-21, Psalms 148:2, and Revelation 5:11-13).
- Glory to God (Jeremiah 13:16, Luke 17:11-19, Matthew 5:14-16, John 15:1-8, Romans 16:27, I Corinthians 10:31, I Peter 4:11, Jude 1:25, and Revelation 14:6-7).
- “In the highest”, meaning the most high or highest (i.e. Luke 1:32, Luke 6:35, Acts 7:48, and Hebrews 7:1).
- “On earth peace” is a complicated discussion. Jesus did not necessarily bring peace to earth in a carnal sense (Matthew 10:34-37, Luke 12:49-53, John 7:40-43, and Acts 14:1-4). On the other hand, peace does belong to those in Christ (Romans 5:1, Ephesians 6:23, Philippians 4:6-9, and I Peter 5:14).
- Good will toward men (Ephesians 6:5-8). The translation of this was rendered in Romans 10:1 as “desire”. Therefore, the idea is a desire for good towards others (Matthew 5:38-48, Galatians 6:7-10, and Hebrews 13:16).
Luke 2:15 “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”
- The angels went home as Heaven is their home (Matthew 22:23-32).
- We see confirmation that they overcame that initial fear and were able to hear the message. They know to go to Bethlehem, the city of David (Luke 2:11; cf. I Samuel 16:1-13).
- They also recognize the message from the angels was from the Lord. They lived under the Old Law wherein angels were active messengers (Acts 7:53 and Galatians 3:19; cf. Deuteronomy 33:1-2).
Luke 2:16 “And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.”
- Their coming with haste is similar to what we saw with Mary when she wanted to go and see the confirmation of the angel’s message by visiting Elisabeth (Luke 1:26-45).
- The idea of with haste, as used in this passage, isn’t necessarily just about speed. Think about the same Greek word [Strong’s # 4692] being used in connection with expectation for the second coming of Christ (II Peter 3:12). The idea is excitement to see something [someone].
- They found exactly what they were told they would see (Isaiah 44:7).
Luke 2:17 “And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”
- When we looked at verse 12, we discussed the importance of eye witnesses in the spreading of the Gospel. Now we read that they did exactly what witnesses are supposed to do (Isaiah 43:1-14, Matthew 11:1-6, Luke 8:26-39, etc.).
- The word translated “abroad” means: “to tell abroad: — make known. To publish abroad, make known thoroughly; to discriminate” (Strong’s # 1232).
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