The Fourfold Gospel
Verse 1Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters1 which have been fulfilled among us2
LUKE'S PREFACE AND DEDICATION.
- Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters. Of whom we know nothing and have no
- Which have been fulfilled among us. Completed, or accomplished according to the divine will.
even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses1 and ministers of the word2
- Who from the beginning were eyewitnesses. The apostles were necessarily such and there were some few others.
- And ministers of the word. The apostles were ministers and not ecclesiastical dignitaries.
it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first1
, to write unto thee in order2
, most excellent Theophilus3
- Having traced the course of all things accurately from the first. And being therefore thoroughly fitted to write the gospel.
- To write unto thee in order. Not in chronological, but in topical order.
- Theophilus. Luke also dedicated the Book of Acts to this man. Nothing is known of Theophilus, but he is supposed to have been a Greek of high official rank.
Verse 4 that thou mightest know the certainty1 concerning the things wherein thou wast instructed2
- That thou mightest know the certainty. Might have a fixed written record, and not trust to a floating, variable tradition or a treacherous memory.
- Concerning the things wherein thou wast instructed. The gospel facts.
There was in the days of Herod, king of Judaea1
, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abijah2
: and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
ANNUNCIATION TO ZACHARIAS OF THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.
(At Jerusalem. Probably B.C. 6.)
- Herod, king of Judaea. A Jewish proselyte, an Idumean or Edomite by birth, founder of the Herodian family, king of Judea from 40 B.C. to
A.D. 40, made such by the Roman Senate on the recommendation of Mark
Antony and Octavius Caesar. See Luke 1:5-25.
- Of the course of Abijah. David divided the priests into twenty-four bodies or courses, each course serving in rotation one week in the
temple (1 Chronicles 24:3-19).
- His wife was of the daughters of Aaron. The Baptist was of the priestly race by both parents, a family distinction much esteemed among
the Jews. He who was thus doubly a priest proclaimed Him who changed
- And her name was Elizabeth. She was named after her ancestress Elisheba, the wife of Aaron.
Verse 6And they were both righteous before God1
, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless2
- And they were both righteous before God. This is, truly righteous in God's judgment, and not in mere appearance (Genesis 7:1).
- Walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. Strictly construed, commandments would refer to moral,
and ordinances to ceremonial laws. The two words include all the
positive and negative precepts.
Verse 7And they had no child1
, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were [now] well stricken in years2
- And they had no child. This fact is a reproach and shame to her, barrenness being considered even a punishment for sin by many.
- Because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were [now] well stricken in years. The births of Isaac (Genesis 17:17; Genesis 21:2), Samson,
(Judges 13:2,24), Samuel (1 Samuel 1:2,5,20), and the Baptist were all
contrary to nature, and were faint foreshadowings of the greater
miracle which took place in the birth of our Lord.
Now it came to pass, while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course1
- While he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course. That is, when it came the turn of his course to minister in the temple.
Verse 9according to the custom of the priest's office1
, his lot was to enter into the temple of the Lord2 and burn incense3
- According to the custom of the priest's office. There were many duties in the temple service, and the priest in each course daily drew
lots for these duties.
- His lot was to enter into the temple of the Lord. Not that group of buildings, courts, and enclosures which are called the temple; but the
real sanctuary itself, the small but holy building which took the place
of the tabernacle of the wilderness.
- And burn incense. The incense was made of a mixture of sweet spices. The temple incense was made of stacte, onycha, galbanum, and pure
frankincense, in equal parts, beaten very small (Exodus 30:7,8,34-38).
And the whole multitude of the people1 were praying2 without3
at the hour of incense.
- The whole multitude of the people. The presence of the multitude indicates that it was a sabbath or a feast day.
- Were praying. Incense is a symbol of prayer (Psalms 141:1,2; Revelation 8:3). Each of the multitude prayed in silence.
- Without. Outside the sanctuary, in the temple courts, particularly the court of the women.
- At the time of incense. Incense was offered evening and morning (Exodus 30:1-8). Probably at 9 A.M. and at 3 P.M. Compare Acts 3:1.
The text favors the idea that Zacharias' vision come in the morning.
And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord1 standing on the right side2
of altar of incense.
- An angel of the Lord. One of God's invisible messengers who came visibly (2 Kings 6:17; Psalms 34:7). Luke frequently tells of the ministration
of angels (Luke 1:26; Luke 2:9,13,21; Luke 12:8; Luke 15:10; Luke 16:22; Luke 22:43; Luke 24:4,23). They are
also often mentioned in the Book of Acts (Acts 5:19; Acts 8:26; Acts 10:3,7,22; Acts 11:13
Acts 12:7,8,9; Acts 12:10,11,15,23; Acts 27:23). There had been no appearance of an
angel for about four hundred years.
- Standing on the right side. The place of honor and dignity (Acts 7:56).
- Of the altar of incense. The altar on which Zacharias was burning incense. It stood in the Holy Place in front of the veil which hung
between the holy and the most holy places. It was a small table
twenty-two inches in breadth and length and forty-four inches in
height. It was made of acacia wood, and overlaid with gold (Exodus 37:25).
Verse 12And Zacharias was troubled when he saw [him], and fear fell upon him1
- And Zacharias was troubled when he saw [him], and fear fell upon him. As men always are at the sight of heavenly beings (Genesis 3:9,10
But the angel said unto him, Fear not1
, Zacharias: because thy supplication is heard, and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John2
- Fear not. These are the first words of the gospel which began at that hour to unfold itself. Also see .
- Thou shalt call his name John. This name means "the Lord is gracious", or "the Lord is merciful".
Verse 14And thou shalt have joy and gladness1
; and many shall rejoice at his birth2
- And thou shalt have joy and gladness. Thou shalt feel as Abraham did when he named his new-born son Isaac (Genesis 21:3), that is,
- And many shall rejoice at his birth. But not all.
Verse 15For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord1
, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink2
; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit3
, even from his mother's womb4
- For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord. Compare Genesis 1:6.
- And he shall drink no wine nor strong drink. Any other fermented liquor. Wycliffe's version calls it "syder", and the Anglo-Saxon
version calls it "beor", of which palm wine was the most common kind.
As to the temperance of the Baptist, compare the history of Samson
(Judges 13:3-5) and the Law of the Nazarite (Numbers 6:2-4).
- And he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit. The stimulation of the Spirit is elsewhere thus contrasted with alcoholic stimulants
(Acts 2:15-18; Ephesians 5:18).
- Even from his mother's womb. See Luke 1:41.
Verse 16And many of the children of Israel shall be turn unto the Lord their God1
- And many of the children of Israel shall be turn unto the Lord their God. These words were quoted from Malachi 4:6 and resumed the thread
of prophecy which had been broken nearly four centuries before. Roman
rule had brought in the vices and profligacy of Italy and Greece, and
the nation needed to turn back to its former godly life.
Verse 17And he shall go before his face1 in the spirit and power of Elijah2
, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children3
, and the disobedient [to walk] in the wisdom of the just; to make ready for the Lord a people prepared [for him]4
- And he shall go before his face. Messiah, who is also the Lord God (Malachi 3:1).
- In the spirit and power of Elijah. And thus in fulfillment of the prophecy that Elijah should come again (Malachi 4:6; Matthew 17:9-13). The Jews
still expect Elijah as the forerunner of Messiah. John showed the
spirit of Elijah in his ascetic dress and life (2 Kings 1:8; Matthew 3:4) and
in his message of repentance (1 Kings 18:21-40).
- To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.
"These are the last words of the Old Testament, there used by
a prophet; here expounded by an angel; there concluding the
law; here beginning the gospel."
The phrase may mean (1) John will restore unity to the families of
Israel, now divided into political factions, as Herodians or friends of
Rome, and zealots or patriots; and into religious factions, as
Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, etc.; or more likely it may mean (2)
That John would restore the broken relationship between the patriarchs
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their degenerate descendants
(Isaiah 29:22,23; Isaiah 63:6; John 8:37-40).
- To make ready for the Lord a people prepared [for him]. As in the East, the "friend", or go-between, prepares the bride to understand and
appreciate her bridegroom (John 3:28,29).
And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this1
? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years2
- Whereby shall I know this? In asking for a sign Zacharias showed his unbelief (Matthew 12:38,39). His question in the original is in four words.
Four faithless words cost him forty weeks of silence.
- For I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. So said Abraham (Genesis 17:17). The law which retired Levites from service at the
age of fifty years (Numbers 8:25,26) did not apply to priests. They served
to extreme old age.
And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel1
, that stand in the presence of God2
; and I was sent to speak unto thee, and to bring thee these good tidings3
- I am Gabriel. This name means "hero, or mighty one, of God". Gabriel announced to Daniel the time of Christ's birth and death
(Daniel 9:21,25,26) and the overthrow and final restoration of the
Jewish nation (Daniel 8:16,23-25). He also announced the birth of
Jesus to Mary (Luke 1:26). The Bible gives the name of but one other
angel; viz., Michael (Daniel 10:13,21; Daniel 12:1; Jude 1:9; Revelation 12:7), meaning
"Who is like God"? Since Gabriel was the messenger who announced God's
merciful and gracious purposes, and Michael the one who executed his
decrees and punishments, the Jews had a beautiful saying that "Gabriel
flew with two wings, and Michael with only one". The very ancient book
of Enoch gives us the name of two other archangels; viz., Uriel,
meaning "God is light"; and Raphael, meaning "healer of God". See
- That stand in the presence of God. Seven angels are spoken of as standing in the presence of God (Revelation 8:2) and may probably be called
"angels of the presence" (Isaiah 63:9). But to see the face of God is
no doubt accorded to all angels (Matthew 18:10). One who stands in the
presence of God should be believed by men without approving signs.
- These good tidings. Our word "gospel" means good tidings.
And behold, thou shalt be silent and not able to speak1
, until the day that these things shall come to pass, because thou believedst not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
- Thou shalt be silent and not able to speak. It was a sign; and also a punishment for having sought a sign.
And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and they marvelled while he tarried in the temple1
- They marvelled while he tarried in the temple. The Jews considered slow service as irreverent and displeasing to God. The punishment
attached to displeasing service made them fearful (Leviticus 16:13).
Verse 22And when he came out, he could not speak unto them1
: and they perceived2 that he had seen a vision in the temple3
: and he continued making signs unto them, and remained dumb.
- And when he came out, he could not speak unto them. Could not dismiss them with the usual blessing (Numbers 6:23-26). Disbelief is
always powerless to bless.
- And they perceived. Probably by his excited manner.
- That he had seen a vision in the temple. The most vivid and objective of all spiritual phenomena (Luke 24:23; Acts 26:19; 2 Corinthians 12:1
And it came to pass, when the days of his ministration were fulfilled1
, he departed unto his house2
- When the days of his ministration were fulfilled. They are said to have lasted from the evening of one Sabbath (Friday at sundown) to the morning of the next. Though doubtless chagrined at the punishment which had come upon him, the old priest remained at his post, and dwelt in the temple until his week was finished.
- He departed unto his house. Some guess that he lived at Hebron, others at Jutta, five miles south of Hebron, others at Ain Karim, four miles west of Jerusalem, but no one knows.
Verse 24 And after these days Elisabeth his wife conceived; and she hid herself1 five months2
- And after these days Elisabeth his wife conceived; and she hid herself. Probably through mingled feelings of modesty, humility, devotion, and joy.
- Five months. At the end of which time her seclusion was interrupted by the visit of Mary.
Verse 25Thus hath the Lord done unto me in the days wherein he looked upon [me]1
, to take away my reproach among men2
- Thus hath the Lord done unto me in the days wherein he looked upon [me]. Graciously and mercifully.
- To take away my reproach among men. The reproach of being childless (Genesis 30:23).
Verse 26Now in the sixth month1 the angel Gabriel was sent from God2 unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth3
ANNUNCIATION OF THE BIRTH OF JESUS.
(At Nazareth, B.C. 5.)
- Now in the sixth month. This is the passage from which we learn that John was six months older than Jesus.
- The angel Gabriel was sent from God. See Luke 1:26-38.
- Unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth. Luke alone tells us where Mary lived before the birth of Jesus. That Nazareth was an unimportant
town shown by the fact that it is mentioned nowhere in the Old
Testament, nor in the Talmud, nor in Josephus, who mentions two hundred
four towns and cities of Galilee. The way in which Luke introduces
Galilee and Nazareth shows that he wrote to those unfamiliar with
Palestine. Compare the conversation at John 1:45,46. Galilee comprised
the lands of Zebulun, Naphtali, Issachar, and Asher. It was rich in
trees and pastures. Its people were hardy and warlike.
Verse 27to a virgin betrothed to a man1 whose name was Joseph, of the house of David2
; and the virgin's name was Mary3
- To a virgin betrothed to a man. In the East, the betrothal or engagement was entered into with much ceremony, and usually took place
a year before the marriage. It was so sacred that the parties entering
into it could not be separated save by a bill of divorcement
- Whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. That is, Joseph was of the house of David.
- And the virgin's name was Mary. The same as Miriam (Exodus 15:20).
And he came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord [is] with thee1
- Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord [is] with thee. See
Verse 29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this might be1
- But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this might be. Whether it meant a present
sorrow or joy, for God's salutations all mean joy, but usually is in
the distant future (Hebrews 12:11; 2 Corinthians 4:17,18).
And the angel said unto her, Fear not1
, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.
- Fear not. The gospel is full of "fear nots" (Matthew 1:20; Matthew 10:28,31; Matthew 14:27; Matthew 17:7; Matthew 28:5,10; Mark 5:36; Mark 6:50; Luke 1:13,30; Luke 2:10; Luke 5:10; Luke 8:50
Luke 12:4,7,32; John 6:20; John 12:15; Acts 18:9,19; Acts 27:24; 1 Peter 3:14; Revelation 1:17; Revelation 2:10);
it teaches us that perfect love which casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS1
- And shalt call his name JESUS. The same as Hoshea, Joshua, and Yeshua (Numbers 13:8; Zechariah 3:1). It means the "salvation of Jehovah". It
was one of the most common Jewish names, but was given to Jesus by
divine direction because of its fitness (Matthew 1:21).
Verse 32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High1
: and the Lord God shall give unto him2 the throne3 of his father David4
- He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High. A common Hebrew way of saying, "He shall be". Even the evil spirits
called Jesus by his name (Mark 5:7).
- And the Lord God shall give unto him. He shall not receive his kingdom as a bribe from Satan (Matthew 4:9), nor win it by force of arms
(John 18:10,11,36; Matthew 26:53), but as the gift of God (Acts 2:32-36
Philippians 2:9-11; Matthew 28:18).
- The throne. See Psalms 132:11.
- Of his father David. This must refer to Mary's descent from David, for she is expressly told that her son would have no earthly father
Verse 33and he shall reign over the house of Jacob1 for ever2
; and of his kingdom there shall be no end3
- And he shall reign over the house of Jacob. That is, over the family or descendants of Jacob; but the expression includes his spiritual,
rather than his carnal, descendants (Galatians 3:7,28,29). This name
therefore includes the Gentiles as the name of a river includes the
rivers which flow into it.
- For ever. See Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:13,14,27; Micah 4:7; Psalms 45:6; Hebrews 1:8; Revelation 11:15.
- And of his kingdom there shall be no end. See Isaiah 7:9. Christ shall reign his mediatorial kingdom to the Father at the close of this
dispensation (1 Corinthians 15:24-28); but as being one with his Father he
shall rule forever.
And Mary said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man1
- How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? Mary's question indicates surprise, not disbelief. Unlike Zacharias (Luke 1:18), she
asked no sign. The youthful village maiden, amid her humble daily
duties, shows a more ready faith in the far more startling message than
the aged priest in the holy place of the temple in the atmosphere of
the sacred incense.
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee2
, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow1
thee: wherefore also the holy thing3 which is begotten4 shall be called the Son of God5
- The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow. The Spirit of God is thus spoken of as "brooding
over" or overshadowing creation to develop it (Genesis 1:2).
- Thee. This indicates that the Holy Spirit himself created the body of Christ (Hebrews 10:5). The spirit, or divine nature, of Christ was
from the beginning, and was unbegotten--that is, in the sense of being
- Wherefore also the holy thing. The body of Jesus (Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22).
- Which is begotten. See Galatians 4:4.
- Shall be called the Son of God. As the Evangelist is here talking about the bodily and human nature of Jesus, it is possible that he may
here speak of Jesus as the Son of God in the same sense in which he
called Adam the Son of God (Luke 3:38); that is, his body and human
nature were the direct and miraculous production of the divine power.
If so, we find Jesus called the Son of God in three several senses: (1)
Here, because he was born into the world in a supernatural manner. (2)
Elsewhere, because by his resurrection he was begotten from the dead
(Romans 1:4; Acts 13:33; Psalms 2:7). (3) Also elsewhere, because of the eternal,
immutable, and unparalleled relationship which he sustains to the
Father (John 1:1,14,18).
Verse 36And behold, Elisabeth thy kinswoman, she also hath conceived a son in her old age1
; and this is the sixth month with her that was called barren.
- And behold, Elisabeth thy kinswoman, she also hath conceived a son in her old age. The angel tells of Elizabeth's condition, that it may
encourage the faith of Mary, and lead her to trust in Him with whom
nothing is impossible (Jeremiah 32:17,27; Genesis 18:14; Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27
Verse 37For no word from God shall be void of power1
- For no word from God shall be void of power. See Isaiah 55:11.
And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord1
; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
- Behold, the handmaid of the Lord. Literally, slave or bondservant. It is the feminine form ("doule") of the Greek word "doulos" which Paul
so often applies to himself (Romans 1:1; Titus 1:1). Mary uses it to indicate
her submissive and obedient spirit.
- Be it to me according to thy word. In great faith she not only believes the promise, but prays for its fulfillment. She bowed to the
will of God like Eli (1 Samuel 3:18), and became the mother of Him who
prayed, "Not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:42).
Verse 40And Mary arose in these days1 and went into the hill country2 with haste3
, into a city of Judah;
MARY, FUTURE MOTHER OF JESUS, VISITS ELIZABETH, FUTURE MOTHER OF
JOHN THE BAPTIST.
(In the Hill Country of Judea, B.C. 5.)
- And Mary arose in these days. Within a week or two after the angel appeared to her.
- And went into the hill country. The district of Judah lying south of Jerusalem, of which the city of Hebron was the center.
- With haste. She fled to those whom God had inspired, so that they could understand her condition and know her innocence--to those who
were as Joseph needed to be inspired, that he might understand
- In a city of Judah. Where Zacharias dwelt. See Matthew 1:18-25.
And it came to pass, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb1
; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit2
- The babe leaped in her womb. See Luke 1:15.
- And Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Sufficiently to have a supernatural knowledge of things and to utter prophecy.
Verse 42and she lifted up her voice with a loud cry1
, and said, Blessed [art] thou among women, and blessed [is] the fruit of thy womb2
- And she lifted up her voice with a loud cry. Indicating intense, ecstatic joy. What joy must have filled the hearts of these two women
as they realized that one was to be the mother of the long-expected
Messiah, and the other of his Elijah-like forerunner!
- Blessed [art] thou among women, and blessed [is] the fruit of thy womb. See Luke 1:28.
And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord2
should come unto me?
- Why is this granted to me? Why am I thus honored? See Matthew 8:7,8.
- My Lord. This word imported sometimes divinity, and sometimes mere superiority. The Jews employed this term in connection with the
Messiah; but in which sense cannot now be determined. Inspired writers
employ it in the higher sense when applying it to Jesus (Matthew 22:41-45),
and in that sense it is no doubt used here.
For behold, when the voice of thy salutation came into mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy1
- The babe leaped in my womb for joy. See Luke 1:15.
And blessed [is] she that believed1
; for there shall be a fulfilment of the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord.
- Blessed [is] she that believed. Elisabeth may have here remembered how her own husband failed to believe.
Verse 47And Mary said1
, My soul doth magnify2
- And Mary said. She speaks in poetic strain. Her song closely resembles that of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10).
- Magnify. Mary's song is called "The Magnificat" from this word.
Verse 48For he hath looked upon the low estate of his handmaid1
: For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed2
- For he hath looked upon the low estate of his handmaid. This refers to the contrast between her present condition and that of the former
glories of David's house, from which she sprang.
- For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Here ends the first section of her song. In it she speaks of herself,
and her adoration toward God for his condescending blessing. Mary was
blessed in her motherhood, Abraham in his covenant and promises, Paul
in his apostleship, etc., but none of these human beings are to be
worshiped because of the blessings which they received. Rather should
we bestow the more worship on God, from whom these their blessings
flow (James 1:17).
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; And holy is his name1
- And holy is his name. See Exodus 20:7.
Verse 50And his mercy is unto generations and generations1 On them that fear him2
- And his mercy is unto generations and generations. That is, it is unceasing (Exodus 20:6).
- On them that fear him. Here ends the second division of her song. In it Mary glorifies God for his power, holiness, and mercy.
Verse 52He hath showed strength with his arm1
; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their heart.
- He hath showed strength with his arm. "God's efficacy is represented by his finger (Exodus 8:19); his great power by his hand (Exodus 3:20);
and his omnipotence by his arm (Exodus 15:16).
Verse 54 The hungry he hath filled with good things; And the rich he hath sent empty away1
- The hungry he hath filled with good things; And the rich he hath sent empty away. These expressions are hyperboles for the disappointment of the proud, the princely, and the rich, in whose families the Messiah was expected. God has passed these by, and exalted a lowly one. Here ends the third section or verse of the hymn. It speaks of the changes which the Messiah should work as if he had already worked them.
(As he spake unto our fathers) Toward Abraham1 and his seed for ever2
- Toward Abraham. See Micah 7:20; Galatians 3:16.
- And his seed for ever. The hymn closes with an expression of gratitude to God for his faithfulness in keeping his covenants.
And Mary abode with her about three months1
, and returned2
unto her house.
- Mary abode with her about three months. Or until John was born. See Luke 1:36.
- Returned. A favorite word with Luke, used twenty-one times in his Gospel (Luke 1:56; Luke 2:39,43,45; Luke 4:1,14; Luke 7:10; Luke 8:37,39,40; Luke 9:10; Luke 10:17; Luke 11:24
Luke 17:15,18; Luke 19:12; Luke 23:48,56; Luke 24:9,33,52).
Now Elisabeth's time was fulfilled that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.
THE BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.
(Hill Country of Judea, B.C. 5.)
Verse 58 And her neighbors and her kinsfolk heard that the Lord had magnified his mercy towards her1
; and they rejoiced with her.
- And her neighbors and her kinsfolk heard that the Lord had magnified his mercy towards her. Mercy in granting a child; great mercy in granting so illustrious a child.
And it came to pass on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child1
; and they would have called him Zacharias, after the name of the father2
- On the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child. See Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3; Philippians 3:5.
- And they would have called him Zacharias, after the name of the father. Male children were named at their circumcision, probably
because at that time the names of Abram and Sarai had been changed
(Genesis 17:5,15). Females were named when they were weaned.
Verse 60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John1
- And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. Zacharias had evidently written, and thus communicated to his wife all that the angel had told him, and how the child was to be named John.
And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name1
- There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. Family names were even more thought of, and honored, among the Jews than among us. They had no taste for romantic and eccentric names.
Verse 62 And they made signs to his father, what he would have him called1
- And they made signs to his father, what he would have him called. This seems to indicate that Zacharias was deaf as well as dumb.
Verse 63 And he asked for a writing tablet1
, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all2
- And he asked for a writing tablet. Tablets were sometimes made of lead, but were usually small wooden boards, either smeared with wax, or having sand sprinkled over them, on which words were written with an iron stylus or pencil.
- And they marvelled all. Being surprised that both parents should thus unite upon an unexpected name.
Verse 64And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue [loosed]1
, and he spake, blessing God2
- And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue [loosed]. See the punishment for disbelief was removed.
- And he spake, blessing God. Probably the words recorded in Luke 1:68-79.
Verse 65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them1
: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea2
- And fear came on all that dwelt round about them. The miraculous phenomena attending the birth of John made the people so conscious of the presence of God as to fill them with awe.
- And all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. The influence of this fear spread far and wide until the chills and tremors of expected changes and revolutions were felt even by the citizens of Rome, as their poets and historians testify.
And all that heard them laid them up in their heart, saying, What then shall this child be1
? For the hand of the Lord was with him.
- What then shall this child be? We probably find an echo of this question thirty years later when John entered upon his ministry
Verse 67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied1
- And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied. This his prophecy is the last of the old dispensation, and the first of the new, or Christian, era. It also is poetry, and is a hymn of thanksgiving for the time of Messiah's advent.
Verse 68 Blessed1
[be] the Lord, the God of Israel; For he hath visited2
and wrought redemption for his people,
- Blessed. This hymn gets its name from this word, and is called the Benedictus.
- For he hath visited. Come back, in the person of his Spirit, to his people. And some four hundred years of absence the Holy Spirit, as the spirit of prophecy, had again returned to God's people. Malachi, the last of the prophets, had been dead about four centuries.
Verse 69And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us1 In the house of his servant David2
- And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us. The horn is a symbol of power (Daniel 7:7,8; Daniel 8:21).
- In the house of his servant David. This also indicates that Mary was of the house of David.
Verse 70(As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets that have been from of old)1
- (As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets that have been from of old). See Genesis 3:15; Genesis 22:18; Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17; 2 Peter 1:21; Hebrews 1:1.
Verse 71Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us1
- Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us. Not only Rome, the enemy of Israelitish prosperity, but also those evil
agencies which wage ceaseless warfare against the souls of men
To show mercy towards, our fathers, And to remember his holy covenant1
- And to remember his holy covenant. Contract or agreement.
Verse 74The oath which he spake unto Abraham our father1
- The oath which he spake unto Abraham our father. See Genesis 12:3; Genesis 17:4; Genesis 22:16,17.
Verse 75 In holiness and righteousness before him all our days1
- In holiness and righteousness before him all our days. Holiness is good conduct toward God; righteousness is good conduct toward men.
Verse 76Yea and thou, child1
, shalt be called the prophet of the Most High2
: For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord3 to make ready his ways4
- Yea and thou, child. The rest of the psalm is addressed to the infant John.
- Shalt be called the prophet of the Most High. See Matthew 11:9
- For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ.
- To make ready his ways. See Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3.
Verse 77To give knowledge of salvation unto his people1 In the remission of their sins2
- To give knowledge of salvation unto his people. Israel had a false idea that the Messiah's salvation would be from political evil. John
was needed to tell them that it was from sin that God proposed to
deliver them. Perdition does not consist in political wrongs, but in
- In the remission of their sins. Through Christ's work (Acts 5:31).
Because of the tender mercy of our God, Whereby the dayspring from on high1
shall visit us,
- The dayspring from on high. One of the many names for Jesus or his kingdom. The prophets loved to picture Messiah's advent as a sunrise
(Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 60:1-3; Malachi 4:2; Matthew 4:16; John 1:4,5). Christ's coming was the
dawn of a new day for Israel and for mankind.
To shine upon them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death; To guide our feet into the way of peace1
- To guide our feet into the way of peace. Travelers in the Judean mountains often waited patiently for the morning light, lest they
should lose their lives by a false step taken in the darkness
Verse 80And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit1
, and was in the deserts2 till the day of his showing unto Israel3
- And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit. See 1 Samuel 2:26; Luke 2:40,52.
- And was in the deserts. The thinly settled region west of the Dead Sea. It is called Jeshimon, or "the Horror", in 1 Samuel 23:19.
- Till the day of his showing unto Israel. The day when he commenced his ministry and declared his commission as Messiah's forerunner.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 1:24". "The Fourfold Gospel". "http://www.studylight.org/com/tfg/view.cgi?book=lu&chapter=1&verse=24". Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.