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Bible Commentaries
Luke 2

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-24

We have here a most notable example of God's overruling providence. Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth, and Christ must be born in Bethlehem. How is this to be brought about ? Little did Cresar dream that this is the real reason for his arrogant decree to register the entire earth. He had no right to make such a decree and could not enforce it, for his dominions did not include the entire earth. To the north Ireland and Scotland were not his. Nor did his sway reach to farther Germany or India. He would like to have enrolled all men in his empire, but Rome never was a world kingdom such as Alexander and Nebuchadnezzar ruled. So Caesar, at exactly the right time, orders Joseph and Miriam to journey to Bethlehem, that the Scriptures may be fulfilled, as it is written ( Mic_5:2 ): And thou , Bethlehem Ephratah, Too mean to be among the thousands of Judah, From you He comes forth to Me to be Ruler in Israel And His coming forth is from formerly, from eonian days. It seems most probable that Christ was born in a limestone cave used as a cattle shed in the courtyard of the caravansary at Bethlehem. Salmon and Rahab, the parents of Boaz, seem to have been the first to settle in Bethlehem, and may have built this place, where David was born. The king seems to have given it to Chimham ( 2Sa_19:37-40 ) as a reward for his father's faithfulness, and his descendant converted it into a khan. Thus it was that David's Lord was born in David's home.

8 From David's day to the present, the country about Bethlehem has had its hardy shepherds, who guard their flocks from the wild beasts which infest the deep ravines and gorges leading to the Dead Sea on the east and the plains of Philistia on the west, as well as the wilder robbers from the desert and raiders from the coast. At night the flock is driven into an enclosure surrounded by a wall of loose stones and the shepherd closes the entrance with his own body, thus becoming the door ( Joh_10:7 ). Such were guarding their flocks on the night of the nativity, when the great Shepherd of Israel was born.

9 When the darkness is suddenly illumined by a celestial splendor and the Lord's messengers stood by them, their courage fled and they were afraid. But the messenger reassures them and announces the great event which has occurred. Men may sleep, utterly oblivious of the birth that brings blessing to all mankind, but the heavenly hosts hail His humanity with exultation and cannot contain their joy.

14 The far-flung effects of the incarnation are not confined to humanity. They reach from the highest of heaven's hosts to the lowest of humankind. It is the ultimate that is in view here. Peace has not yet appeared on earth, or delight among men. Even the heavenly hosts have had but a beginning of the glory that shall be. The messengers may not have known the method, they may not have understood the long delay, but they gained a glimpse of the goal. Through the birth of this Babe all God's great purposes of blessing will flow to the utmost bounds of creation. It is the pledge of all that heart can wish or God desire.

15 The shepherds did not delay, but hurried to confirm the marvelous message which they had heard. What a contrast with the wonderful words was the humble scene they witnessed! No pomp, no state, not even a human habitation! They found the lowly family, and the Babe cradled in a manger! Such glory as was there was spiritual. Heaven alone celebrated the Saviour's birth. The magi who saw His star in the East did not offer their oblations until a later date.

21 In all things the Lord fulfilled the law. Even in His infancy its letter and spirit were observed. Not only was He circumcised, but the special statutes for the firstborn were respected ( Exo_13:2 ). After the season of forty days for purification were observerd ( Lev_12:2-4 ), they brought an atonement for Miriam for a sin offering. Had they been able, they doubtless would have brought a lamb for an ascending offering ( Lev_12:8 ). But such was their poverty, that they used the substitute provided for the poor. And, indeed, no lamb was necessary, for the true Lamb would be offered in due time.

Verses 25-47

25 Simeon signifies to hear , and is representative of those in Judah whose ears were open to the law of the Lord and who looked for the fulfillment of the prophetic promises. As the years spoken of by Daniel the prophet had nearly elapsed, and the sixty-nine heptads had almost run their course ( Dan_9:25-26 ) it was time for Messiah to appear, and such aged saints as Simeon would seek no greater boon than to set their eyes on the Lord's Anointed before they fell asleep. We may compare them with those in these dark days who see the signs of His impending presence, and pray for the privilege of surviving for His advent. There is no hope or consolation in anything, but He will transcend all our expectations.

28 The faith of Simeon was Abrahamic in Its scope: He saw Israel, not merely blessed, but a blessing to the other nations. Not only was he not so narrow as the nation and their hopes, but he was aware of their apostasy. Hence he intimates something of the sufferings of Christ and His rejection by the unregenerate nation. Thus, even in His infancy, the somber shadows of the accursed tree loomed up in the distance. Few, indeed, were there like Simeon who could see it afar.

35 The sufferings of Miriam, the mother of our Lord, are merely hinted on occasion, and can be better imagined than described. She harbored in her heart all the glorious things that were said of Him. The messenger's first announcement, the dream of Joseph, the

salutation of Elizabeth, the story of the shepherds, the solemn words of Simeon, the later visit of the magi, and the warning which sent them into Egypt all conspired to raise high hopes in her heart, yet left her without a full comprehension of His mission. When He was left behind in the temple, she sought Him sorrowing. His reply that she should have known that He must be in that which is His Father's shows that she could not understand Him. Later, in His ministry, when she sought to see Him, He almost disavowed all physical bonds for spiritual ties. This must have seemed hard for her. And, after all her high hopes, to stand beneath His shameful cross-surely then it was that a saber passed through her suffering soul!

36 Anna, or Hannah ( 1Sa_1:20 ), meaning gracious , being of the tribe of Asher, probably represents the remnant in Israel who were true to Jehovah, as Simeon represents those of Judah. This is further intimated by her long life of celibacy after the death of her husband. It was exceedingly rare for a widow to remain unmarried, and it reflects great credit on her spirituality and desire to serve God. Like her, the ten tribes had long been without a husband. They were divorced ( Hos_2:2 ) and were to abide many days before they could be His again

( Hos_3:3 ; Jer_3:1 ). As Anna responded to Simeon's utterance, so will Israel be joined to Judah in the days of their restoration.

39 Between the presentation in the temple and the return to Nazareth the events recorded in Matthew's account probably took place. The visit of the magi and the sojourn in Egypt must have come after the fortieth day, when they went into the temple, for they could not and would not have come from Egypt as long as Herod sought the life of the Babe. These incidents, however, have no bearing on Luke's biography, but pertain to the kingdom account, as given by Matthew. The magi sought the King of Israel. Herod did not fear Him as a man but as a prospective King. Each account selects only such incidents in His life as pertain to its peculiar theme.

39 Only in this account, as is fitting, do we find any reference to His youth and private character. Matthew hurries us on to His proclamation of the kingdom, Mark begins with His baptism and ministry, and John omits His early life. It is well that His varied glories should each have a separate presentation, for even thus He is too glorious for our grasp.

41 Up to twelve years of age a Jewish youth was not expected to be present at the Passover in Jerusalem or answerable for his acts. At twelve years, however, he became "a son of the law", and must keep the festival, and assume a direct relationship to the law as an individual. This is why, at that age, He went with His parents and acted independently of them by associating with the teachers of the law in the temple, and did not return with them after the seven days of the festival were over. He was now free to begin His preparation for His future ministry. He must, at some time, begin the breach which would bring Him entirely under the will and work of God, and this was the time and place to do it most delicately and effectively.

Verses 48-52

48 Though Herod was dead and Archelaus had been banished by this time, the absence of their

Son no doubt revived the dread, inspired by the massacre of the babes of Bethlehem, which caused them to dwell in Nazareth. This may have been the first time they had taken Him outside Galilee, since their return from Egypt, for fear that His royal rights would endanger

His life. Hence His absence would mean much more to them than that He had been lost among the thousands who crowded the roads from the holy city. And, indeed, His astonishing discourse with the doctors could easily have reminded some of the previous prodigies and predictions that accompanied His infancy. But, no doubt, He was already conscious of God's will for Him, and that His time had not yet come. So He returns to Nazareth until His majority, or about thirty years of age. Not till then could He take up His public ministry.

1 This is the most precise chronological memorandum in the scriptures. Yet, even so, the various chronologies are only approximately agreed, partly because, in expressing years in figures, no account is taken of their overlap. Assuming that John the baptist began his ministry at thirty years, according to custom, our Lord's age at this time would be six months less, or twenty. nine and a half. This makes the fifteenth year of Tiberius and the twenty-ninth year of our Lord the same for more than half of their extent. According to Roman reckoning, the first year of Tiberius was probably 765, two years before the death of Augustus in 767. This would make the fifteenth of Tiberius 780 A.U.C. Pilate was governor from 779 to 789. Herod, tetrarch of Galilee was in power from 750 to 792, while his brother Philip continued to his death in 786.

2-11 Compare Mat_3:1-10 ; Mar_1:2-5 ; Joh_1:6-8 ; Joh_1:19-23 .

3 At this time John had attained his majority, and, according to the law ( Num_18:8-24 ) was entitled to the easy, comfortable and honorable career of a priest, ministering one week in twenty-four in the temple service, clothed in the sacred vestments, fed at the altar, and supported by the tithes of the people. He, however, forsakes the forms and ceremonies of divine worship for those vital functions in which the priesthood had failed. They should have brought the people to repentance and prepared them for Messiah. Instead, we find them His sorest opponents. John's work was to smooth the path of the coming Christ. In a most serious sense, it was not a success. Though he made many disciples, and baptized multitudes more, when Christ came His path was far from smooth, His road was very rough. John's gospel was essentially one of works. He looked for fruit. When he was asked, What shall we do? he did not urge them to believe, but advised them as to their conduct. He aimed at a reformation in the nation, similar to that demanded by the prophets that went before him. He had no illusions as to the effect of his baptism. Unless accompanied by heartfelt repentance it would be useless. He had no difficulty in getting them to submit to baptism, but was furious in his denunciation of those who wished it without conforming their lives to its spiritual import. The cleansing of baptism in water is external and ceremonial: the purification he wished to produce was internal and spiritual.

10 The lack of love among the people seems to have led to unlawful selfishness. The poor were not being provided for. Hence he exhorts them to observe a measure of that commandment which bade them love their associate as themselves.

12 The tribute collectors were notably unjust in raising their assessments to their own profit. They kept the peasants impoverished.

14 The soldiers took advantage of their position to extort money by force or blackmail, and thus harassed the people.

15-18 Compare Mat_3:11-12 ; Mar_1:7-8 ; Joh_1:15-27 ; Joh_1:30-34 .

15 John was a faithful forerunner who refused to receive the glory due to his Master. He often seems to have insisted that he was not the Christ. The difference between them was expressed in the two baptisms, his in water, and that in holy Spirit and with fire. Water failed to separate the true from the false. But spirit makes them manifest. The Lord Himself never baptized in water, but left that for His disciples. He did not baptize in spirit until after His ascension.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Luke 2". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/luke-2.html. 1968.
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