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Bible Commentaries
Luke 1

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-17

1 Many biographies of the life of our blessed Lord were composed during the lifetime of those who had known Him. Luke had exceptional opportunities for such a work and proposes to write an account which would be accurate and consecutive . Being trained as a gentile, and writing to one, he would naturally fall in line with the spirit's design to cover an aspect of His life which supplements Matthew's King and Mark's Servant and John's Son. He presented Him as God's ideal Mall. He carefully checked all the material by first hand evidence. His historical references have all been found to be exact. We may rest assured that all the facts have been fully confirmed.

3 The expression "from the very first" may also be rendered "from above", as when the curtain of the temple was rent from the top ( Mat_27:51 ). It would then signify that this account was a special revelation from heaven. This is true, but it is not the point in this passage. Though inspired from above, the evidence here given is rather the human side. The expression contains the Greek element ana up, which also means back, or anew ( Joh_3:3 ; Joh_3:7 ). Paul could not possibly mean that the Jews who hated him had a revelation of him "from above", but, rather, they knew him "from the very first" ( Act_26:5 ). So here, Luke could not follow "from above". In space, the expression means "from above"; in time, "from the very first", or "anew".

5 This is Herod the Great, father of Herod Antipas ( Luk_3:1 ) and grandfather of Herod Agrippa I. ( Act_12:1 ) and great grandfather of Agrippa II. ( Act_25:13 ).

5 Zacharias means "Jehovah remembers" and Elizabeth signifies "what God swears". Jehovah is now about to remember what He has sworn to do for His people Israel. The result of their union is John, "Jehovah is gracious".

5 The routine or "course" of Abia, or Abijah, was the eighth of the twenty-four into which Aaron's descendants were divided ( 1Ch_24:10 ). Each ministered in the temple for a week".

13 We are not told what was Zacharias' petition because it was always the greatest desire of any man to have a son, and he, though just and blameless' had been denied this divine favor.

14 We have here a marvelous characterization of John the baptist and his career. His name indicates the return of Jehovah's favor to Israel in sending them the greatest of all the prophets after His long silence. The honor of being his parents will bring joy beyond the possession of many sons.

15 It is implied that John will not be great in the eyes of the world. He had none of the marks of earthly rank or power. His robes were rude, his food forbidding, his palace a place in the wilderness. The high priests were clothed in glorious garments and dwelt in Jehovah's temple, yet were contemptible in His sight. Greatness in God's sight involves meanness in the sight of men.

15 John seems to have been a perpetual Nazarite, at least in the matter or wine. (Of the Nazarites an account is given in the sixth chapter of Numbers.) This involved a lonely and consecrated life until his public ministry. The Spirit of God came on the prophets occasionally,

but John was filled with holy Spirit before his birth. What an equipment for his marvelous ministry!

15 Nazarite is from Hebrew nahzar , to sequester, and has no connection with Nazareth, which means a scion. Our Lord, who is presented to us in Luke's account as "the Man Whose name is the Sprout" ( Zec_6:12 ) was called a Nazarene, or Nazarean, being an inhabitant of Nazareth. He was not a Nazarite.

17 The last of the prophets promised that Elijah should return ( Mal_4:5-6 ). Lo! I send you Elijah the prophet Before the great and fearful day of Jehovah comes And he restores the heart of the fathers to the sons, And the heart of the sons to their fathers, Lest I should come and smite the earth to its doom. John the baptist was not Elijah, but came with the same spirit and power. He was capable of performing the same work. When the scribes objected, saying that Elijah must come first, the Lord acknowledged the fact ( Mat_17:10 ). Hence he is probably one of the two witnesses ( Rev_11:3-12 ) who come just before the kingdom is established. Meanwhile, had the nation been able to receive it, his work could have been done by John the baptist.

Verses 18-55

18 Zacharias does not believe the glad news. Hence he is stricken dumb, for unbelief has no right to speak of the things of God.

19 Gabriel gave Daniel the explanation of two of his visions ( Dan_8:16 ; Dan_9:21 ).

24 The joyful faith of Elizabeth is in striking contrast to the doubts of Zacharias. There is also a double contrast to Abraham and Sarah, who were also denied a child until their old age. But in their case Sarah was sceptical and Abraham believed God. But in both cases the promise was performed.

26 No fact in the Scriptures is more guardedly and circumspectly presented than the virgin birth of our Lord. The great issues involved, not merely the reputation of His mother, but the value of His relationship to both God and man, depend upon the question of His paternity. Once we see that He had no human father, the miracle of His sinless life, the value of His sacrificial death, the secret of His celestial Sonship are all revealed. No man, descended on both sides from Adam, has ever approached a sinless life. All deserve death and cannot save themselves, much less others. There must be a cause for His unapproachable perfection, and it is found only in the fact that He was born, not of bloods, nor of the will of the fiesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. To protect the name of Miriam as well as to link Him with the regal line of David, He is born within wedlock, and Joseph, the husband, is assured of the facts in a dream ( Mat_1:20 ). Miriam is presented as chaste and God-fearing, but her most blessed place among women is not awarded to her as of merit but of divine favor.

31 The name Jesus is a compound signifying Jehovah the Saviour. It is the same as Joshua, whose first name, Hoshea, salvation , was changed to Jehoshua, salvation of Jehovah . He was a type of Israel's Messiah, Who will lead them into the promised place of blessing.

33 The reign of Christ is for the eons, a long but limited period. He then gives up the kingdom to God the Father, so that the kingdom itself is endless ( 1Co_15:24 ). The negative is the only means used in the Scriptures to denote endlessness.

39 John was sent to prepare the path of the Lord, and this he does even before he is born. Miriam doubtless kept her holy secret to herself, reflecting that God would make it known to whom it was necessary in His own time. Yet the moment she comes into the presence of the spirit-filled forerunner, unborn babe that he was, he recognized and rejoiced in the presence of his Lord. The effect of this on Miriam was wonderful. The messenger had told her of Elizabeth, and Elizabeth's words reveal the fact that she shares her secret. In the joy and exultation of these two blessed women we have a small foretaste of what the coming of Christ means to the world. Beginning with these two Jewish mothers, its widening circle will include His faithful followers, then the whole nation, and through them all the nations of the earth. And even before this He will have gone out in grace to the nations, during the apostasy of Israel, and chosen those who will wing the exultant note to the furthest bounds of the creation. Elizabeth begins the song that swells into the anthem of the universe at the consummation.

46 Miriam responds with her magnificat. Its keynote is simple, yet sublime. Those who magnify the Lord cannot be else but happy. Those who humble themselves are sure to be blessed. She takes the place of the slave and rejoices to own Him her Lord. She knows herself an obscure, despised fellaheen, and suddenly she has become the most favored of mortals' a woman to whom all women will yield the palm of blessedness! But her thoughts are not of herself alone. Her case is but a pledge that God will scatter the proud and exalt the low. He will visit down-trodden Israel and place them on the throne. Now that He has begun to show mercy to His people, He will perform all the promises made to Abraham and the prophets. For whatever promises are of God, are in Him "Yes" ( 2Co_1:20 ). He is the pledge of the performance of every promise God has made, for the Seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head, and by His bruised heel bring in blessing far beyond the prophets' most entrancing predictions. The bliss begins with His mother Mary .

Verses 56-80

56 Miriam remains with Elizabeth until it is time for John to be born. Though nothing further is told us of their communion, we may easily imagine the overflowing fullness of joy which characterized their intercourse. Then she returns to Nazareth.

57 The birth of a boy is always the cause of great rejoicing in the East, where sons are counted the crown of the marriage relation, especially if it be the firstborn. In the case of John the baptist this was enhanced by the fact that his parents were old and had little hope of having a child. Above all this was the sense of overpowering awe inspired by the supernatural manifestations that accompanied his generation. His father remained dumb until he had learned to believe the promise of God and needed his speech to prophesy His praise.

59 The eighth day after the birth of a boy was, and still is, a great event in Israel. Until then the mother is unclean ( Lev_12:2 ). On that day the relatives gather to circumcise the infant according to the law ( Lev_12:3 ). Then, also, they give it its given name. It was the custom to choose the name from among its ancestors or relatives, and, in this case, they concluded to give it the name of its father, Zacharias. This means "Remembered by Jehovah", most fitting for John's father, but not at all suitable for him. In him Jehovah favors Israel, hence he is named John. How his mother learned this name we are not told, unless by that spiritual intuition which controlled her greeting of Miriam.

They do not hearken to her, but ask her husband. He had been commanded by the messenger to name him John ( Luk_1:13 ), hence he confirms his wife's selection. Only the Lord knows what names to give to His instruments.

65 Such marvels soon spread in a land like Israel, especially as the time for the fulfillment of the prophecies drew near. Their holy Scriptures contained many promises of future greatness for the nation, and they all converged in the coming Messiah for Whom some of them were looking. It was well known that Elijah would come even before the Messiah, to prepare His path ( Mal_4:5 ). It was a day of expectation.

67 Never, in the temple worship, had Zacharias intoned a psalm of praise so full of goodness and glory for the people of Israel as burst from his spirit-filled lips when his tongue once more found utterance. First, like a true priest, he leads his hearers' hearts to worship Jehovah. Then he turns to his own child and portrays his mission. He begins with a tribute to the Messiah, yet unborn, Who, though He will follow John, was before him. This is very fine, and shows the touch of the divine Spirit. Merely human knowledge and devotion would have caused him to pen a paean of praise in honor of his son, the greatest of all the prophets. Yet the moral greatness of John is most clearly revealed in his constant note of abnegation. "I must be inferior", was his insistent claim for himself. And here we see his father before him forgetting for a while his great son, to celebrate the praise of his son's greater Lord. The nation of Israel is continually before him in this psalm. The Lord is the God of Israel. The redemption is for the same people. The salvation is national, arising from the house of David. It is from their enemies, the Romans, who rule them with rigor, and who even interfere with their religion. His highest hope, as a priest, is to fearlessly offer divine service to Jehovah in benignity and righteousness all his days (75). That was the worst feature of the Roman rule. The worship of God in the temple was always in danger of interruption or restraint. Now he begins to see the dawn of a day when His worship will be fearless and free from foreign domination. The chief priest was being continually displaced by another who was more favorable to the ruling power.

76 No longer is Zacharias unbelieving. The messenger's announcement of John's ministry is reiterated in his description of his son's mission. It is the custom, in the East, to prepare the roads for the passage of a great potentate. His most trusted servant goes before to see that it has been repaired. So John was sent to prepare their hearts for the Prophet of the Most High. He was the greatest of all the prophets before the coming of Messiah.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Luke 1". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/luke-1.html. 1968.
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