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Bible Commentaries
Luke 1

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

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Verses 1-4



Broadus’ Harmony pages 1-2 and Luke 1:1-4; John 1:1-18.

The first question that confronts us on the threshold of the text of the several histories of our Lord, is, how the historians obtained the material of their histories, and did they all obtain it in the same way?

This is not altogether a question of inspiration. It is conceded that all were inspired. No matter how they obtained their material, inspiration was needed in every case in the make-up of the record of what they obtained. If Matthew obtained his genealogy from previous Jewish records (Matthew 1:1-17) and all the information concerning the infancy of our Lord from Joseph’s account of it (Matthew 1:18-2:23), however handed down – and if Luke received his information of our Lord’s infancy and childhood from Mary (Luke 1:26-2:52) – and if John received all the material of his apocalypse by direct revelation – still would inspiration be needed to direct them in reducing to writing this information, however required. That is to say, how much to record, what known facts to omit, how arrange this selected material according to a definite plan, looking to a distinct end, so far as the one book is concerned, and how this book should be so correlated as to fit in, with dovetail exactness, into a whole library of other sacred books, as the several bones are articulated into one skeleton, is our problem and our task.

Again, our question is not one of illumination. A prophet might receive a revelation and not understand it (1 Peter 1:10-11). He might, through inspiration, record it accurately without understanding it. But these historians, frequently, and whenever necessary, interpret their facts, showing that they possessed illumination, e.g., John 11:21; John 7:39, and Matthew’s application of Old Testament quotations.

Revelation is a divine disclosure of hidden things. Inspiration is that gift of the Holy Spirit which enables one to select and arrange material to a definite end and inerrantly record it. Illumination, another gift of the Spirit, enables one to understand a revelation or to interpret the facts of an inspired record.

The material of these several histories was obtained in three ways:

(1) By eyewitness, as the gospels of Matthew and John.

(2) By those who received it from eyewitnesses, as the gospels of Mark and Luke.

(3) By direct revelation, as Paul’s Gospel and John’s Apocalypse.

These observations lead up to the beginning of our interpretation of the histories. Our textbook is Dr. Broadus’ Harmony of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, with only two parallels from Paul’s Gospel. We will enlarge our textbook, as we proceed, by insertion of many other parallels from Paul. This chapter will be devoted to Luke’s dedication and John’s prologue, both supplemented from Paul.

On the left of Luke’s dedication put John 21:24, and on the right Galatians 1:11-12. Now compare them: John affirms that he wrote his gospel as an eyewitness, while according to the revision, Luke affirms that the matter of his gospel was delivered by them "who from the beginning were eye-witnesses" and traced out by him in careful research. But Paul affirms that his was received by revelation. It is commonly supposed that Mark wrote as Peter had taught him, but Paul says that his gospel was not after man for he did not receive it from man, nor was he taught it. He is careful to show that he preached it before he saw Peter, and when on three occasions he did meet Peter, not only was nothing imparted to him, but his full and independent authority and mission were recognized, and that it fell to his lot to correct an evil practice of Peter. So whether we consider the original twelve, with those whom they instructed, or Paul, in every case an oral gospel preceded a written gospel. This spoken gospel was authoritative before reduced to writing. It was that deposit of the faith delivered to the churches to be held inviolate and transmitted unimpaired (Luke 1:2; Acts 13:31; 1 Corinthians 11:2-23; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8; 1 Timothy 6:20; Judges 1:3; Hebrews 11:3). In it catechumens, like Theophilus, were instructed (Luke 1:4). But as the original and qualified witnesses were few, and these kept passing away and soon all would be gone, and as tradition at every remove from its original source becomes less trustworthy, you can easily understand Luke’s fact "that many would undertake to reduce to written narrative what they had heard orally from the eye-witnesses."

And just here Luke introduces his second thought that his own writings were from accurate knowledge in all things, in order that the reader might know the certainty of the things in which he had been orally instructed.

It was this necessity that called for inspiration. For if, as Peter says, referring to oral deliverance: "Men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21), it was equally true, says Paul, after referring to the sacred writings collectively, that distributively "every one of these writings is God-inspired" (Greek, Pasa graphe theopneustos (2 Timothy 3:15-16). From Luke 1:1 and Acts 1:1, it is evident that Theophilus was not only a real person, but one of distinction, and from the word "instructed" in Luke 1:4, it is also evident that he was a catechumen, from which may be inferred that in apostolic times all new converts were diligently catechized in the elements of the faith delivered (compare Ephesians 4:11-15; Hebrews 5:12-14; 1 Peter 1:2).

When Luke says, "Many have undertaken to draw up a narrative of the things fulfilled among us," it is evident that he does not refer to the gospels of Matthew and Mark. Nothing that he could write would add to the "accuracy" or "certainty" of what they wrote. Indeed, it cannot be proved that their writings were prior to his. Though the Synoptic Gospels were written about the same time, it is most probable that our present order, Matthew, Mark, Luke, is chronological. Certainly no one of the three is the norm of the others.

Before leaving this classic gem, Luke’s dedication, an important question must be answered: Does Luke himself, in this introduction, claim to have traced out carefully all of the facts of his history as any other painstaking historian, or does he here affirm distinctly a guiding inspiration throughout? Our English versions, particularly the revision, support the former contention. On the other hand, some distinguished scholars and Biblical interpreters, notably Lightfoot and Urquhart, support the latter contention. We find a full statement of Urquhart’s argument in his New Biblical Guide, Vol. VII, pp. 337-34.8. Lightfoot’s argument may be found in Pittman’s edition of his works, Vol. IV, pp. 114-115. Or, if Lightfoot and Urquhart be not accessible, there may be found a very clever and elaborate restatement of the argument of both in The Young Professor, whose author is the accomplished son of the late Dr. William E. Hatcher of Richmond, Va. Whenever one reads this argument carefully, whether in Lightfoot, Urquhart, or The Young Professor, it interests him, challenges his respect, and appears to be hard to answer. One need not be more than a sophomore in Greek to understand and feel the force of the argument.

The marked difference of the renderings of Luke 1:1-4 in the common and the revised versions arises from no difference in the Greek text they translate. The text is the same. Write, therefore, in three parallel columns, the Greek text, the common version, and the revised version of Luke 1:1-4. For the references keep open before you an interlinear Greek Testament, and on your table Bagster’s Analytical Greek Lexicon, or Thayer’s, and the Englishman’s Greek Concordance. Then follow, step by step, Urquhart’s argument. These directions will help a beginner in Greek, however puerile or unnecessary they may appear to expert scholars.

The contention, in substance, is this:

Many uninspired men, in apostolic times, undertook to write orderly narratives of the gospel history as they were orally delivered by the apostles, who were eyewitnesses.

Not one of these survives because they were displaced by inspired narratives, which conveyed assurance and certainty as to the facts and teachings.

This is exactly what Luke says as to the reason of his writing, expressly affirming his inspiration, with a view to this assured accuracy and certainty.

The argument for this contention is based altogether on translation and usage of the words. The common version preferred to the revision, needs only one change in it. Instead of "from the very first" in that version, they render "from above." The Greek word is anothen. They rely first on the etymology of the word, then its New Testament usage, then its perfect harmony with the context. They admit some usage for "from the first," a derived meaning, but never permissible as a substitute for the primary meaning, unless the context demands it.

The usage cited is:

"The veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top [from above] to the bottom" (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38).

Except a man be born "from above" (John 3:3) ; "Ye must be born from above" (John 3:7).

In both these cases, "born from above" is interpreted by our Lord as "born of the Spirit." "He that cometh from above is above all." John 3:31. Jesus says to Pilate. "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above" (John 19:11). "Now the coat was without seam from the top [from above] throughout" (John 19:23).

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above" (James 1:17). "This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish" (James 3:15). "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable" (James 3:17).

Then comes Luke’s only use of the word, except where once he quotes Paul: "Having had perfect understanding of all things from above . . . that thou mightest know the certainty, etc."

In all these instances of usage, the sum total of usage by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and James, our Greek word anothen is rendered by the italicized words from the top, referring to veil or coat, and "from above" elsewhere.

They add the evident allusion of Irenaeus to Luke 1:3. "For after our Lord arose from the dead, and they were endued from above with the power of the Holy Ghost coming down upon them, they received a perfect knowledge of all things" ("Against Heresies," Luke 3:1). Luke says, "Having had perfect understanding of all things from above." Irenaeus says, "When they were endued from above, they received a perfect knowledge of all things." Compare with James: "Every perfect gift is from above."

It was this enduement which enabled Luke to write "accurately" (Greek, akribos). And all this fulfilled our Lord’s promise that when the Holy Spirit comes, "He shall teach you all things," "He shall guide you into all truth." Therefore the merely human histories of our Lord perished. Therefore only inspired histories could give "certainty" to the things in which we are instructed.

They add that in this very brief context, when Luke would express the idea of "from the first," or "from the beginning," he uses the unmistakable Greek words, ep’ arches (Luke 1:2). And that their whole rendering best agrees with the meaning of the Greek word plerophoria– "certainly believed," and not "fulfilled." And with the other Greek word, parakolo – the, which does not mean to obtain knowledge by "tracing" or investigating.

To Paul’s per contra usage of the word anothen they reply: he uses it only twice, (a) In his speech, reported by Luke at Acts 26:5, where the context demands the secondary meaning "from the first." (b) At Galatians 4:9 there is the modifying word palin, and the context forbids the primary meaning "again from above."

My colleague, Dr. Williams, says that the whole contention depends on whether the adverb anothen in Luke 1:3 is one of locality or of time, and that it cannot be certainly determined which it is in our passage. The author prefers throughout, the common version rendering of the passage to the revision, and believes that the preponderance of the argument is with Lightfoot and Urquhart.

We now take up the prologue of John (John 1:1-18), putting beside it Paul’s contribution to the same matter. Place these references in the harmony, opposite or under John’s introduction: Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:15-20; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:1-13; Hebrews 2:14-17; Hebrews 10:1-9; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Romans 8:3; 2 Timothy 3:16; Galatians 4:4-5.

It is not our purpose to put in parallel with John’s prologue any matter from Paul’s Gospel except what touches our Lord’s pre-existence, his nature and activities, his incarnation and its purpose.

Let us first consider John. The first eighteen verses of John constitute the norm and outline of his whole book. So many propositions cannot elsewhere be found in so few words. As all mists of speculative philosophy concerning the origin of the material universe flee and fade before the sunrise of the first chapter of Genesis, so all heresies concerning our Lord and the eternal redemption of him are dispelled by the Sun of righteousness rising with healing wings in these beginnings of their gospels by John and Paul. It is far from my purpose to engage your finite minds in the impossible task of comprehending the unfathomable mystery of the tri-personality in the unity of God. It will content me if you will believe what is revealed. If we might trust for explanation to human philosophy we could not improve on the comparison of Sabellius, "God the Father is the sun, Jesus Christ is the sun’s light, and the Holy Spirit is the sun’s heat." Or we might regard the Trinity as only a distinction in office or manifestation. This was my own boyish attempt to explain it. My illustration was that of a teacher who was also a father and a magistrate. His own son, while at school, was guilty of a penal offense. This teacher must, therefore, deal with the delinquent in the threefold capacity of father, teacher, and magistrate, i.e., from the standpoint of the family, the school, and society. But none of these illustrations coincides with the teachings of revelation – there is one God, there are three persons, not three attributes or offices, or manifestations.

Nor would I have you anticipate the more elaborate study of systematic theology. Let us barely touch it, and that only because it is here an essential part of our historic study. Therefore I compress into barest outline and simplest form this introduction of John.

1. The Logos

2. Creation by the Logos

3. In him all life

4. In him all light

5. This light is invincible by darkness

6. The Logos incarnated

7. Purpose of the incarnation

8. The supernatural birth of those receiving the incarnate Logos

9. The witness of John the Baptist to the incarnate Logos

1. The Logos. The first sentence announces a new name, "The Word" (Greek, O Logos). Whence this name? We will not waste our time in looking for its origin in the speculations of Philo, the Alexandrian Jew. His logos, mainly an energy or an attribute, and never an incarnate personality, is not the Logos of John. It serves us little better to wade through the muddy waters of Jewish traditions in any form. We have a surer word of prophecy to which we will do well to take heed.

The reader is referred to our discussion on the conversion of Abraham, "Interpretation," volume on Genesis. There, for the first time in any record, we find the phrase, "The Word of the Lord." This Word, not as a voice addressed to the ear, but as a person addressed to his sight, appeared in a vision to Abraham, and as the specific object of saving faith. Before this experience Abraham had believed divine statements, had believed in a promised country, and in a promised seed, but here he believed on Jehovah himself as his shield and exceeding great reward, and it was counted to him for righteousness. "The Word of the Lord," "shield," "believed," and "imputed righteousness," a salvation group, here make their first appearance in the Bible record. The "Word of the Lord," as a Person, appears elsewhere in the Old Testament, notably in the Psalms and prophets, and is doubtless the personified wisdom of Proverbs 8:23-30. So that the Logos is Christ’s pre-incarnate name and most aptly represents him as the revelator of the Father. In this light we understand better the abrupt and sublime formula of the first chapter of Genesis, repeated ten times, "And God said," "And God said," and following each utterance came a new creative act.

These were the first ten commandments, the ten words of creation. On Sinai came the ten words of the Law. On the Galilean mountain came the Beatitudes, or the ten words of happiness.

But always it is the Logos revealing the Father. Of this Logos, in one short sentence, John predicates three essential elements of divinity:

(1) Absolute eternity of being, "In the beginning was the Word."

(2) Distinct personality, "And the Word was with God" – two persons together.

(3) The nature or essence of Deity, "And the Word was God." The absence of the article in the Greek before "God" in the third predicate clearly shows the meaning. The phrase is not, "the Word was the God," but "the Word was God," i.e., in nature or essence. The second verse sums up and emphatically repeats: "The same," i.e., this very one so described as an eternal, divine Person was in the company and fellowship of God throughout eternity. It was always so; it was so in the beginning.

2. By the Logos came the creation. Not merely the universe as a whole, but every minute part. Not matter merely to be left to develop itself, but every change and form of development. So Genesis represents it. By him everything came to be. There was no chance development.

3. In him was all life – vegetable, animal, spiritual. Not only as the start of life, but its continuance: "Thou takest away their breath, they die and return to dust. Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created. And thou renewest the face of the ground." The nonliving can never develop into the living. But particularly does our author speak of spiritual life. Not only in him do we live and move and have our being, but from the beginning the Son of God has been the source of eternal life.

4. He is the light of the world. The only real light. There is no knowledge of God and no revelation of God except through the Son. He alone declares the Father. Man by searching cannot find out God. Cannot see him except as the Son reveals him.

5. The light is invincible: "The light shineth in the darkness and the darkness apprehended it not." It is somewhat difficult to determine the meaning of the Greek word here rendered "apprehended." The sense is either the darkness did not take possession of the light by appropriating it and becoming light, or did not hem it in, repress it, so as to conquer it. In the latter sense we make it read: "The light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness overcame it not." The context, particularly John 1:10-11, favors the first meaning, and the inability to appropriate the light finds vivid illustration in a parallel from Paul’s Gospel: "And even if our gospel is veiled it is veiled in them that perish: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them." We may find abundant and striking illustrations of the other possible meaning. Even on the cross, in the hour of the power of darkness, when for three mortal hours the thick darkness filled and enveloped the dying one – even then the darkness overcame it not. Once in the dawn of creation darkness was upon the face of the deep and the Word said, "Let there be light!" And there was light, and the darkness overcame it not. Once in our experience we were in darkness, but God, who commanded the light to shine out of the darkness, shone into our hearts, giving us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ. And the darkness has never been able to quench that light. Upon us also will come the darkness of death, but our Saviour Jesus Christ has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, and will transfer us to a home and condition of which it is said, there is no night there. And so the light is indestructible and the darkness cannot overcome it.

6. This Word was manifested and became flesh. It was not a mere assumption of human nature like the putting on of a garment, but the Word came to be a real man. That is a vital doctrine as the author continues to insist elsewhere: "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God." "For many deceivers have gone forth into the world, even they that confess not that Jesus Christ cometh in the flesh."

7. The purpose of the incarnation was to bring grace and truth to the fallen. He was full of grace and truth, that is, for mercy and revelation.

8. The recipients of this mercy and revelation obtained the right to become the sons of God by a supernatural birth, being born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

9. Prophecy, in its culmination in John the Baptist, recognized and identified and witnessed that this was the true light.

Such, in brief, is John’s prologue. Let us put beside it the beginnings of Paul’s Gospel: "For there be many that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth; and there are gods many, and lords many; yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him" (1 Corinthians 8:5-6).

"At the end of these days God hath spoken to us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds; who being the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. . . . Of the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever. . . . And thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundations of the earth . . . and when he again bringeth the first-born into the world, he saith, Let all angels of God worship him" (Hebrews 1:1-6).

"The Son of his love is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation, for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him; and he is before all things and in him all things consist" (Colossians 1:15-17).

"Christ Jesus, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being made in the likeness of man; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, yea, the death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of beings in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:6-11).

"And without controversy great is the mystery of Godliness: He who was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Received up into glory" (1 Timothy 3:16).

"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh" (Romans 8:3).

"But when the fulness of time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Galatians 4:4-5).

"Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same, that through death he might bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might deliver all of them whom, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:14-15).

"Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offerings thou wouldest not. But a body didst thou prepare for me; . . . Then said I, Lo, I am come, (In the roll of the book it is written of me) To do thy will, O God" (Hebrews 10:5-7).

"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9).

"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).

These excerpts from Paul are not exhaustive, but samples merely in his Gospel correlative with John’s Prologue. They establish the absolute eternity, personality, and deity of our Lord Jesus Christ and exhibit his relations to the Father in both eternity and time, his relations to the universe and to man, and make very clear not only the incarnation, but its objects. Paul uses the term, Son, in the place of John’s Logos, and "new creation" as the parallel of John’s new birth, and brings in the new term "adoption" to express the legal process of becoming sons. A critic affects to find this contradiction between John’s and Paul’s Gospels use of the incarnation, the former to take on glory, the latter to empty himself of it or to strip off glory. There is no merit whatever in the criticism. John, as well as Paul, shows that Jesus laid aside his heavenly glory to become a man (John 17:5), and Paul, as well as John, describes the outshining of Christ’s glory through the veil of the flesh and the acquiring of glory through his humiliation. Paul much more clearly and elaborately than John, expresses the various conditions, processes, purposes and beneficial effects of the incarnation.

In this connection should be read the author’s sermon on "The Nature, Person, Offices, and Relations of Our Lord," preached before the Southern Baptist Convention at Hot Springs, Arkansas, and published by order of that body in pamphlet form and recently reproduced in a volume of sermons published by the Fleming H. Revell Company.


1.What question confronts us at the threshold of the texts of the five histories of our Lord?

2. Show why this is not merely a question of inspiration.

3. Nor of illumination.

4. Define revelation, inspiration, illumination.

5. In what three ways did the historians obtain a knowledge of their facts? Illustrate by John 21:24; revised version of Luke 1:2; and Galatians 1:11-12.

6. What always preceded a written gospel?

7. What is the necessity for written gospels?

8. For inspired gospels, give, quoting from Peter the inspiration of the oral and from Paul the inspiration of the written.

9. What three facts do you learn from Luke 1:1-4 concerning Theophilus?

10. What custom of apostolic times may be inferred from the word "instructed," Luke 1:4?

11. When Luke refers to the many written narratives of our Lord, does he refer to Matthew or Mark?

12. In what respect does Luke consider his narrative superior to the "many narratives" to which he alludes?

13. What great question has arisen from this dedication of Luke?

14. Which of these contentions does the revision evidently support?

15. Name three authors supporting the other contention.

16. Give in substance the argument of Urquhart, and what do you think of it?

17. What one change in the common version of Luke 1:1-4 will pat it in harmony with the Urquhart view? John’s Prologue.

18. What must you place opposite John’s Prologue to parallel Paul’s Gospel on our Lord’s pro-existence, its nature and activities, his incarnation and its purposes?

19. Give in briefest form an analysis of the Prologue.

20. Show why John did not obtain tibia new name – O Logos, the Word – from Philo.

21. Where did he get it?

23. How does this enable us to understand Genesis 1?

23. Can you give the ten words of creation, the ten words of the law, the ten words of happiness?

24. What are the three essential elements of Deity predicated of the Logos in. John’s first sentence?

25. The relations of the Logos to the universe?

26. Meaning of "In him was life"?

27. How is he the light of men?

28. Two possible meanings of "The darkness apprehended it not.

29. Cite a parallel from Paul of the first possible meaning. Give illustrations of second possible meaning.

30. How was the Logos manifested and what is the relative importance of the doctrine?

31. According to the Prologue, what is the purpose of the incarnation?

32. What right was conferred on those who receive the incarnate Logos and how accomplished?

33. How does the witness of John the Baptist attest the pre-existence of the incarnate Logos?

34. What was Paul’s name for John’s Logos?

35. What is his description of the pre-existing Son?

36. What passages from his attest the activities of the Son before his incarnation?

37. What passages the purposes of his incarnation?

38. Instead of John’s "new birth," what is equivalent of Paul’s?

39. His legal name for this sonship?

40. Reply to the criticism that John uses the incarnation as a means of our Lord to take on glory, and Paul as a method of emptying himself of glory.

Verses 5-80



Broadus’ Harmony pages 5-6 and Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 1:5-80; Luke 3:23-38.

We have noted in a previous chapter John’s and Paul’s account of the divine side of our Lord’s existence, personality and activities before he became flesh. Now we consider, in Matthew, Luke, and Paul, his human side, human antecedents, human birth, and early life. We find Matthew’s account in Matthew 1-2, and Luke’s account in Luke 1-2 with the closing paragraph of Luke 3.

Matthew’s incidents are his genealogy, birth, the visit of the magi, the flight into Egypt, the massacre of the babes at Bethlehem, the return to the land of Israel, and resettlement at Nazareth in Galilee.

Luke’s incidents are the announcement to Zacharias of the birth of his son, John the Baptist, our Lord’s forerunner; the announcement to Mary of the birth of our Lord; Mary’s visit to Elisabeth; the birth of John the Baptist according to announcement; the birth of our Lord at Bethlehem; the announcement to the shepherds of that birth; the circumcision of our Lord; his presentation in the Temple with attendant circumstances ; the return to Nazareth; the development there of his childhood; the visit to the Temple when our Lord was twelve years old; the return to Nazareth and his development; into manhood; and his genealogy.

On this entire section we submit several general observations:

1. Matthew’s entire account is written from the viewpoint of Joseph, and for Jews. His genealogy is the genealogy of Joseph according to the legal Jewish method. Gabriel’s appearance to Joseph is to explain Mary’s condition. Indeed, all the four supernatural directions for the family movements come in dreams to Joseph. Every incident and every Old Testament quotation conspire to prove that Jesus of Nazareth is the foretold and long-expected King of the Jews.

2. Luke’s entire account is written from Mary’s viewpoint and to show our Lord’s broader relations to humanity. His genealogy is real, not legal. It is Mary’s genealogy, not Joseph’s, our Lord’s relations to Joseph being only a Jewish, legal supposition. While indeed it shows that Mary was a Jewess) really descended from David and Abraham, yet her genealogy extends back to Adam, in order to prove that her Son was the second Adam, and literally fulfilled the first gospel promise, "The seed of the woman [not of the man] shall bruise the serpent’s head."

It is to Mary, Gabriel announces her conception of a Son, by the Holy Spirit, who because thus sired shall be holy, the Son of God.

It is to Mary the angel announces the condition of Elisabeth, and thus prepares the way for Mary’s visit to Elisabeth. All of Luke’s other incidents are those which Mary "kept in her heart." The conjecture that Luke’s genealogy is also traced through Joseph is puerile in itself, utterly gratuitous, and at war with Luke’s whole plan. It is to invent a difficulty and then invite the harmonists of the two genealogies to settle it. Why should they be harmonized? They have different starting points (a legal son, a real son) and different objectives (Abraham – Adam); they are not even parallel lines, since they meet and part.

3. We here confront what Paul calls "the great mystery of Godliness" – the incarnation of our Lord. Isaiah, who had already foretold his virgin birth, in a clear prophecy concerning him, says, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Quoting Isaiah, and because the virgin mother is with child by the Holy Ghost, Matthew says, "His name shall be called Immanuel (God with us)." In explanation of the way a virgin can become a mother, Luke’s angel says to Mary, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the Holy One who is begotten of thee shall be called the Son of God."

Mark says, "Jesus Christ, the Son of God." John says, "The Logos which was God, was manifested and became flesh." Paul says, "He who was the effulgence of God’s glory and the very image of his substance," (Hebrews 1:3) "who existed in the form of God . . . was made in the likeness of man (Philippians 2:6-8) was born of a woman" (Galatians 4:4). Not otherwise could he escape the hereditary taint of Adam’s sin (Genesis 5:3); not otherwise could he fulfil the protevangel, "the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head" (Genesis 3:15); not otherwise could he be the Second Adam, the second head of the race (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49).

Grant this one miracle, the greatest and most inclusive, and all others naturally follow. Deny this one, and there is no need to deny or even consider others (1 John 4:1-3).

4. Only twice do we find in the Bible the phrase, "The book of the generations" applied respectively to "The first Adam" (Genesis 5:1), and to the Second Adam (Matthew 1:1). And concerning this Second Adam, well might Isaiah inquire: "Who shall declare his generation," (common version, Isaiah 53:8) especially since "His name shall be Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).

5. Nothing more commends the inspiration of the simplicity and reticence of this account of our Lord’s infancy, childhood and growth to manhood, than to contrast it with the silly and incredible fables invented in the early Christian centuries to gratify a prurient curiosity concerning a long period of our Lord’s life on which, beyond the few incidents recorded, our Gospels are silent. Nature, as well as grace, draws a modest veil over the period of conception, gestation, parturition, and development. Not only have these bald inventions concerning the infancy and childhood of our Lord disfigured the image in the mind naturally produced by the simple Bible story, but tradition, ever-increasing in imposture and lying, ad nauseum, has buried the few real incidents recorded under an accretion of fanciful enlargements, e.g., the incident of the magi, and even the blasphemies subverting the gospel and changing the very plan of salvation, e.g., the Mariology and Mariolatry developed from our simple gospel story of Mary by the Romanists of succeeding centuries.

6. Beyond the few incidents recorded of the first thirty years of our Lord’s preparation for his public work, this is every syllable of the gospel history: Luke puts in four pregnant sentences the whole period, (a) concerning the development of his childhood, "And the child grew and waxed strong, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him" (Luke 2:40). (b) After the consciousness of his messiahship in the Temple, when he was twelve years old, "He went down with them (Mary and Joseph) and came to Nazareth; and he was subject to them" (Luke 2:51). (c) Referring back to his habit of attending the house of religious instruction at Nazareth, Luke later says, "He came to Nazareth where he had been brought up: and he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read" (Luke 4:16); (d) Concerning his development to manhood: "And Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52). (e) Mark says that by occupation he was a carpenter (Luke 6:3).

These are all the direct references. But we may easily gather from his subsequent history that he had studied the book of nature in its plants, flowers, fruits, birds, animals, soil and its cultivation, its crops, harvests and vintages; that he was a lover of children and close observer of their plays; that he was familiar with the customs of the family and of society; that he was well acquainted with the religious sects and political parties of his country and its relation of subjection to Rome. It is evident also from his movements that he thoroughly understood all the variations of government in the Herod family.

As to literary attainments, apart from the evident religious training of a Jewish child, we know that he could read and speak fluently in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. He read and quoted at will and discerningly from both the Hebrew and the Greek versions of the Old Testament. Mark preserves and interprets many of his Aramaic expressions.

7. We should commence Matthew’s genealogy thus: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, called Immanuel (God with us)." And, allowing Paul to supplement Luke’s genealogy thus: "The Second Adam, who is the Lord from heaven, Jesus Christ himself (supposed son of Joseph) was the son of Heli," and so on back to the first Adam.

8. In these two accounts of our Lord’s infancy are eight distinct annunciations, adapted in time, place, medium, means, and circumstances to the recipient, together with eight other supernatural events.

(1) The annunciation by the angel Gabriel, in a vision, to Zacharias, ministering in the Temple, of the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner of our Lord, and of Zacharias’ dumbness until the event (Luke 1:5 f).

(2) Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary of the birth of our Lord (Luke 1:26 f).

(3) The annunciation to Elisabeth of the presence of the appointed mother of our Lord, by her unborn baby’s leaping for joy (Luke 1:41 f).

(4) The angel’s annunciation to Joseph, in a dream, of the supernatural conception of Mary (Matthew 1:18 f).

(5) The angel’s annunciation, in a vision, to the shepherds near Bethlehem, of the birth of our Lord (Luke 2:8 f).

(6) The Spirit’s annunciation to Simeon that he should not see death until he had seen the Christ (Luke 2:26).

(7) Simeon’s annunciation, by prophetic inspiration, to Mary concerning her Son, and concerning the sword that would pierce her own soul (Luke 2:34-35).

(8) The annunciation to the magi, in the far East, by the appearance of a star, that the foretold and long-expected King of the Jews was born (Matthew 2:1 f).

The eight attending supernatural events are, – the prophetic utterances by Zacharias, Elisabeth, Mary, and Anna, the three additional dreams of Joseph and the one of the magi. Thus there are three vision – to Zacharias, Mary, and the shepherds; five dreams – four of Joseph and one of the magi; one annunciation by the Spirit to Simeon, one of Simeon to Mary by inspiration, one by a star, one by the leaping of an unborn babe, besides the prophetic inspiration of four.

9. In Luke’s account of the beginnings are five famous hymns, or the foundations from which they were later developed;

(1) "The Hail Mary," developed by the Romanists from a combination of the angel’s salutation to Mary (Luke 1:29) and Elisabeth’s salutation to Mary (Luke 1:42), with some extraneous additions.

(2) "The Magnificat," or Mary’s own hymn (Luke 1:46-55).

(3) "The Benedictus," or the song of Zacharias (Luke 1:68-79).

(4) "Gloria in Excelsis," developed from the song of the angels (Luke 2-14).

5) "Nunc Dimittis," developed from the words of Simeon (Luke 2:29-32).

10. The gospel histories teach concerning Mary, the mother of our Lord, that she was a modest, pious, but poor Jewish maiden, of the line of David, betrothed to Joseph, a just man, also of the line of David. She was endued with grace, to become the virgin mother of our Lord, and this supernatural conception was by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Consequently her Son would be God’s Son, and not man’s. Being God’s Son, he would be born holy, unstained through hereditary taint, and as he was the only human being so born, he is called the Only Begotten Son of the Father. Because of her selection to become the mother of our Lord, all generations would call her blessed. Her marriage to Joseph before the birth of this child constituted him legally, though not really, a son of Joseph. In all these things Mary humbly submitted herself to the divine will. She piously kept in her heart all the attending prodigies, circumstances, and prophecies of his nativity and childhood. While married to Joseph, she knew him not until after the birth of her divine Son, but afterward lived with him in all marital relations, bearing four sons, whose names are given, besides daughters not named (Mark 6:3). After Joseph’s death, she followed her son, Jesus, with his younger half-brothers and sisters. From the record it is evident that more than once she was not without fault. On the whole, however, the impression left on the mind by the history is most charming. A maiden, chaste, modest, pious, and meekly submissive to God’s will, a true wife, a devoted, self-denying mother, patiently bearing all the sorrows attendant upon being the mother of her Saviour son. Well might Simeon say to her, "Yea, and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul," on which prophecy has been written a book of merit entitled The Sorrows of Mary.

At the death of Jesus, her other sons being poor and un- believers, she was taken to the home of John the apostle, in Jerusalem. What an unspeakable pity that religious superstition has foisted upon this simple, charming, gospel story of earth’s most honored woman, a monstrous Mariology of human invention, developed later into a blasphemous Mariolatry, which makes her usurp the place of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. As this hideous parasite on the gospel story of Mary roots in our lesson, we here give a summary of the invented.


The exaggeration of the meaning of the words: "All generations shall call me blessed." This blessedness, because a privilege, was declared by our Lord himself to be inferior to the blessings on personal obedience and service (Luke 11:27-28), and because this was a fleshly relation to our Lord, he declared it to be inferior to spiritual relations, which all may share (Mark 3:31-35).

Mary was a perpetual virgin, – that is, never knowing a man, and being the mother of only one child, Jesus. This was the earliest of the doctrines in point of time, and some Protestants today, for sentimental reasons, hold to it.

Mary free from actual sin. This freedom from actual sin, originally at least, was attributed to the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, supposed to be exerted either after she was conceived or before she was born, as Jeremiah and John the Baptist were supposed to be sanctified, or else at the time the Holy Spirit came upon her at the conception of Christ.

Mary free from original sin. This was a late development of doctrine concerning Mary. There was no official and authoritative form of it before the sixteenth century. The Council of Trent, A. D. 1570, closed its decree on original sin with these words: "This same holy synod doth nevertheless declare that it is not its intention to include in this decree, where original sin is treated of, the blessed and immaculate Mary, the mother of God; but that the constitutions of Pope Sixtus IV, of happy memory, are to be observed, under the pains contained in the said constitutions, which it renews." This official deliverance is a positive declaration of Mary’s freedom from original sin, and by the term "immaculate," would seem to declare her exempt from actual sin. The doctrine, however, culminates in positive form in the decree promulgated to the Roman Catholic world by Pope Pius IX, December 8, 1854. In this decree the Pope claims: First, that he pronounces, declares, and defines "under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost;" second, that what he sets forth is by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, and in his own authority. The matter thus decreed and promulgated is as follows:

"The doctrine which holds the blessed virgin Mary to have been, from the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, preserved free from all stain of original sin, was revealed by God, and is, therefore, to be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful." The decree closes with the double anathema: First, that any who presume to even think in their hearts contrary to this deliverance stand self-condemned, have made shipwreck concerning the faith, and have fallen away from the unity of the church. Second, that they subject themselves to the penalties ordained by law, if by word or writing, or any other external means, they dare to signify what they think in their hearts.

You will observe, particularly, that this decree affirms that the doctrine of Mary’s freedom from original sin was revealed by God. The natural presumption is that this revelation is to be found in the Holy Scriptures. In this document the Pope does not claim that it was a special revelation to him, but that he is inspired to pronounce, declare, and define past revelations.

If God revealed it in the Holy Scriptures, it is strange that we cannot find it.

This doctrine of Mary’s freedom from original sin, which thus culminated, historically, December 8, 1854, may be said to have crystallized July 18, 1870, when the Vatican Council thus declared the infallibility of the Pope:

"It is a dogma divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in the discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal church, by the divine assistance promised him in the blessed Peter, he is possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that his church should be endowed for defining doctrines, faith and morals; and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the church."

She is the Mediatrix between Christ and man, as Jesus Christ is the Mediator between God and man. In other words, this element of the doctrines makes Mary take the place of the Holy Spirit) that is, we must reach Christ through Mary The development of the doctrine is shown in various works of art. For example, there are paintings which represent Christ as seated, and Mary below him, then later a painting of Christ and Mary on a level; and finally a painting representing Mary above Christ, who is angry at the world, and Mary is beseeching his favor for the world.

Mary, not Jesus, bruises the serpent’s head, or destroys Satan. As the preceding element of this doctrine puts Mary in the place of the Holy Spirit, so this element makes her take Christ’s office.

Mary the queen of heaven.

Mary the fountain of all grace, received by man and the only hope of salvation. This element puts her in the Father’s place.

Mary an object of worship.

Mary’s body was never allowed to see corruption, but was taken up to heaven, glorified, as the body of Christ, or that of Enoch or Elijah. This last element of the doctrine, the assumption of Mary, has not been formally put forth by Pope or Council, but is propagated and defended in the standard Romanist literature.

Any thoughtful man, considering these doctrines concerning Mary, must see that they made a radical, vital, and fundamental change of the gospel as understood by all Protestants and constitute another gospel, which is not the gospel. It makes the Romanist Church the church of Mary, rather than the church of Christ. Indeed, if we add its traditions concerning the See of Rome and Peter, the name should be: The Romanist Church of the Traditions concerning Mary and Peter. It would be easy to show that each of these elements of doctrine was transferred, for reasons of expediency, from heathen mythology and worship.

The question naturally arises, What scriptures do they cite for these stupendous claims? In support of the perpetual virginity of Mary they cite Ezekiel 44:1-3: "Then he brought me back by way of the outer gate of the sanctuary, which looketh toward the east; and it was shut. And Jehovah said unto me, This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, neither shall any man enter in by it; for Jehovah, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it; therefore it shall be shut. As for the prince, he shall sit therein as prince to eat bread before Jehovah; he shall enter by the way of the porch of the gate, and shall go out by the way of the same." They claim that this language is typical of and applicable to Mary’s perpetual virginity. Some of them quote the Song of Solomon 4:12, as follows: "A garden shut up is my sister, my bride; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed." So far as I know, these are the only scriptures cited that seem to have a positive bearing on the doctrine.

Negatively, they contend that the brothers and sisters of Jesus mentioned in Mark 6 and other places were not the children of Joseph and Mary, but of Mary’s sister, hence cousins of our Lord. Some Protestants who hold to the perpetual virginity of Mary claim that these were children of Joseph by a former marriage, therefore older than our Lord. Both Romanists and Protestants who hold to this doctrine cite John 19:25-27, where Christ on the cross consigns Mary to John’s are, and argue from this that Mary had no son of her own other than Christ. They forget the extreme poverty of the family of Joseph, including himself, Mary, and all of the children, and that these younger half-brothers of our Lord were not at this time believers in Christ, as is evident from John 7:5. We have already shown that John possessed wealth and a home of his own at Jerusalem, which Mary and her sons did not have.

Of Mary’s freedom from actual sin, they cite the Song of Solomon 4:7: "Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee," and also from the apocryphal book of Wisdom of Solomon 1:4: "For wisdom will not enter into the malicious soul nor dwell in a body subject to sins."

In support of the theory that Mary mediates between man and Christ, they cite John 2:3, where Mary makes known to her Son the need of wine at the marriage of Cana of Galilee.

To maintain that Mary, not Jesus, bruises the serpent’s head, the Romanist Bible, both the Vulgate and their English version, makes Genesis 3:15 read: "She shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise her heel."

To support the doctrine that Mary is the mother and fountain of all grace to man, they quote Luke 1:28, and render it: "Hail, full of grace!"

In support of the assumption that Mary is the queen of heaven, their commentators cite Revelation 12:1, and claim that it is an allusion to "our blessed lady."

In replying to these various items of Mariology and Mariolatry, it is fairly to be inferred from Matthew 1:25 that Joseph did know Mary as a husband after the birth of Christ, and it certainly best accords with the obvious meaning of Mark 6:3, and various other references, that the four brothers named are real brothers, and not cousins. That Mary was not free from actual sin is evident by our Lord’s rebuke of her at Luke 2:48-49; John 2:4; Mark 3:21 connected with 31-35. There is no scriptural support at all relevant to the matter in hand of Mary’s freedom from original sin. The quotations cited by Romanists are, on their face, irrelevant. The assumption that Mary is the fountain of all grace evidently misinterprets the words of the angel, "Hail, Mary, endued with grace." It is grace then and there conferred, and not original source of grace. It indeed shows that she was a daughter of grace, not its mother. That Mary’s body never saw corruption is a fabrication without any foundation whatever. To make the symbolic woman of Revelation 12:1 to be a real woman, whether Mary or any other woman, is a gross violation of the law of interpretation of symbols. You might just as well make the woman in purple and scarlet riding upon the seven-headed,

Herod himself is "Herod the king" named in Matthew 2:3-19, ruler of the Jews at Christ’s birth. He was surname’ "The Great" and was really a man of great capacity in public affairs, and in diplomacy successfully overreached both Pompey and Julius Caesar, and both Anthony and Augustus Caesar and thwarted Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt. But he was . monster in cruelty and as bloody a tyrant as ever sat upon throne. His father was Antipater, the Idumean or Edomite, and his mother an Ishmaelite. Thus in the person of Herod, Ishmael and Esau sat upon the throne of Isaac and Jacob. His death is recorded in Matthew 2. He had about ten wives and many children. By his last will, subject to Rome’s approval, he divided his realm among three sons, disinheriting all his other children whom he had not murdered.

His children. Archelaus, named in Matthew 2:22, his son by his fourth wife, was, according to Herod’s will, made king of Judea and Samaria. Rome did not approve of his title of king, but allowed him to be called ethnarch for nine years, and then for good cause removed and banished him, and converted Judea and Samaria into an imperial province under procurators appointed by Caesar. Pontius Pilate, an appointee of Tiberius Caesar, was procurator during the years of our Lord’s public ministry.

Another son, Herod Antipas, older brother of Archelaus, by the same mother, was made tetrarch of Galilee and Perea. (See Luke 3:1.) This was the Herod that beheaded John the Baptist (Mark 6:17-29), whom Jesus called "that fox," and to whom our Lord was sent for trial by Pilate. He held his office during the whole of our Lord’s life after his return from Egypt. He built the city of Tiberias on the sea of Galilee, and was the second husband of that Herodias who caused the death of John the Baptist. This marriage was a threefold sin - his own wife was yet living, the woman’s husband was yet living, and she was his niece.

The oldest surviving son of Herod was named Herod Philip, disinherited by his father. He lived at Rome. The New Testament makes only an indirect allusion to him as Philip the brother of Herod Antipas, and the husband of Herodias (Mark 6:17-18).

Herod’s son by his fifth wife was also named Herod Philip, and he is the tetrarch of the Northern part of Palestine, called in Luke 3:1 "the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis." He built the cities of Bethsaida-Julius, and Caesarea Philippi. He was the best of all the ruling sons of Herod.

It must be noted how several movements of our Lord were affected by these three sons of Herod. Because of Archelaus his parents took him from Judea to Galilee. Because of the unfriendliness of Herod Antipas he more than once removed from Galilee to the tetrarchy of Herod Philip. This Herod Philip, the tetrarch, married Salome, the dancing girl, who danced off the head of John the Baptist (Mark 6:2-28). She was his niece, the daughter of his brother, Herod Philip I, named above.

Herod’s grandchildren. First, Herod Agrippa 1. This is Herod the king, of Acts 12:1-4, who killed the apostle James, John’s brother, and imprisoned Peter, and whose awful death at Caesarea is described in Acts 12:19-23. This Herod ruled over all Palestine like his grandfather.

Second, Herodias, the wicked woman who left her husband, Philip, and married his brother, Herod Antipas, and brought about the death of John the Baptist because he denounced the iniquitous marriage (Mark 6:17-28). It is said that when the head of John was brought to her by her daughter, she drove her bodkin through the faithful tongue that had dared to denounce the infamy of her marriage.

Herod’s great grandchildren. First, Salome, the dancing girl named in Mark 6. Second, Herod Agrippa II. This is the titular king, Agrippa, before whom Paul spoke (Acts 25:13). Third, Bernice, his sister (Acts 25:23). Fourth, Drusilla, another sister, who married Festus (Acts 24:24). Of these the last six named were descended through Herod’s second wife, Mariarnne, the Maccabean princess.

As in the Old Testament "Pharaoh" is a title of all the Egyptian rulers, so always in the New Testament "Caesar" is a title of the Roman ruler. In the New Testament about twenty-seven times "Caesar" is so used, without the name of the particular Caesar. Twelve Caesars ruled at Rome from the birth of Christ to the close of the canon of the New Testament, and perhaps one more, Trajan, when John the apostle died. The names of the twelve in order, and the dates of their reigns, are as follows:

Augustus 31 B.C. to A.D. 14

Tiberius A.D. 14-37

Gaius A.D. 37-41

Claudius A.D. 41-54

Nero A.D. 54-68

Galba A.D. 68-69

Otho A.D. 69

Vitellius A.D. 69

Vespasian A.D. 69-79

Titus A.D. 79-81

Domitian A.D. 81-96

Nerva A.D. 96-98

Three of these are named in the New Testament: Augustus, Luke 2:1; Tiberius, Luke 3:1; Claudius, Acts 11:28; Acts 18:2. Nero is referred to but not named (Acts 25:8).


1. What sections of Matthew and Luke are devoted to our Lord’s early life?

2. What are the incidents given in Matthew?

3. In Luke?

4. From whose viewpoint is written all this section of Matthew?

5. From whose viewpoint Luke’s section?

6. How does this account for the apparent discrepancy between their genealogies?

7. How does Paul characterize the incarnation of our Lord?

8. What passage from Isaiah does Matthew quote and apply to the incarnation?

9. What name of the child does Matthew give as expressive of the mystery?

10. What other passage from Isaiah gives names of the child expressive of this mystery?

11. How does the angel, in Luke, explain the mystery of a virgin becoming a mother and the resultant nature of the child?

12. Give Mark’s name of this wonderful child.

13. How does Paul state the matter?

14. How does such a son escape hereditary depravity?

15. How does this alone fulfil the first gospel promise in Genesis?

16. According to Paul, what is the relation of Adam to Jesus? (See last clause of Romans 5:14.)

17. Give in brief Paul’s argument on this relation in Romans 5:12-21. Ans. As through one trespass (not many) of one man (not one woman) sin, condemnation and death came upon all his fleshly descendants. So through one act of righteousness (death on the cross) of one man (the vicarious Substitute) justification, unto eternal life came upon all his spiritual descendants.

18. How does Paul further contrast the first Adam and his image transmitted to his fleshly descendants with the Second Adam and his image borne by his spiritual descendants? (See 1 Corinthians 15:45-49.)

19. What then may we say of this miracle of the incarnation?

20. Give the significant Bible usage of the phrase "The book of the generation."

21. Contrast the account of our Lord’s infancy and childhood, given by Matthew and Luke, with the human inventions of traditions concerning the same period.

22. What two sentences of Luke, one concerning the development of his childhood, the other concerning his development into manhood, give the record of most of our Lord’s earthly life?

23. What other sentence of Luke tells the whole story of his obedience to the Fifth Commandment?

24. What phrase of Luke discloses a religious habit of all his early life?

25. What question recorded by Mark reveals his occupation in all that early life?

26. What may we gather from the history of his subsequent life, as to his studies, observation and general information?

27. As to his literary attainments, how do you prove that he knew and spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek?

28. How should you commence Matthew’s genealogy (allowing him self to supplement) and Luke’s (allowing Paul to supplement)?

29. In the two accounts of our Lord’s birth and infancy are eight annunciations, with eight other supernatural events, adapted in time, place, medium, means, and circumstances to the several recipients: give them, in order, and then show which three came by vision, which five by dreams, which one by the Holy Spirit, which one by an unborn babe, and which four by inspiration.

30. In Luke’s account alone are five historic hymns, or the foundations from which they were developed. Name them in order.

31. Give the substance of the gospel teaching concerning Mary.

32. Give the several items of the monstrous Mariology and blasphemous Mariolatry developed by Romanists from the simple Bible story of Mary, and the scriptural proof they cite for each, and your reply thereto.

33. If we add to this Mariolatry its inventions concerning the See of Rome and Peter, what should this church be called?

34. Name the member of the Herod family mentioned in the New Testament, citing the passage in each case, and the relationship to Herod the Great, and which of these were descendents of Mariamne, the Maccabean princess?

35. How does the New Testament use the term “Caesar?”

36. How many Caesars ruled at Rome from the birth of Christ to the close of the New Testament canon?

37. Which three are named in the New Testament and where, and which other alluded to and where?

38. It is supposed that John lived to the close of the first century A.D. then what other Caesar must you add to the twelve?



Scriptures same as for chapter V.

MATTHEW’S Genealogy.

There are three notable peculiarities in Matthew’s genealogy. The first is, he commences with the rare phrase, "The book of the generation," found nowhere else except in Genesis 5:1-3, concerning the first Adam. The uniqueness of this peculiarity and the correspondence between Matthew 1:1 and Genesis 5:1, are of evident design. The proof of the design appears from Paul’s discussion of the matter. First, Paul says there are two Adams, the first a figure or type of the Second (Romans 5:14). The first was created; the Second was the only begotten Son. In Romans 5 Paul adds that as through one trespass of one man (the first Adam), sin, condemnation and death came upon all his descendants, so through one act of righteousness (on the cross) of one man, the Second Adam, justification unto eternal life came upon his descendants. The parallel or contrast between the two Adams he further discusses thus: "So also it is written, the first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. Howbeit, that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."

The second peculiarity of Matthew’s genealogy consists in his division of the time from Abraham to Christ into three periods thus: From the patriarchy (or family rule in Abraham) , to the theocracy (or national rule at Sinai); second, From Abraham to David; from David to the captivity; from the captivity to Christ. Some have managed to find a difficulty in Matthew’s making three sets of fourteen with only forty-one names. But Matthew does not say that there were three sets of fourteen names, but three sets of fourteen generations. The generations here, as many times elsewhere, mean time periods. It is about equivalent to saying from Abraham to the earthly monarchy, first period; from the earthly monarchy to its downfall, second period; from the downfall of the earthly monarchy to the coming of the spiritual King, third period.

This period division suits Matthew’s plan as the book of the King. David, the typical king, is the central figure of three periods, which terminate in the antitypical or spiritual King. Matthew does not give every name, but according to the established method of Bible genealogies, he sometimes passes over a son to the grandson.

Another writer, with a different plan, might make four periods thus: From the patriarchy (or family rule in Abraham), to the theocracy (or national rule at Sinai); second, from the theocracy to the beginning of the monarchy; third, from the beginning of the monarchy to the hierarchy (or high priest rule); fourth, from the hierarchy to Jesus, the true Patnarches, Theos, basileus, hiereus.

Matthew’s third peculiarity is, that contrary to Jewish custom, he names four women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. As they are not named in the list of fourteen’s, they must be named in this connection for other reasons. Two facts suggest the probable reason for naming these women. First, three of the four at least were Gentiles, and quite possibly the fourth. Tamar and Rahab were Canaanites, Ruth was a Moabite, Bathsheba, the wife of a Hittite, was a granddaughter of Ahithophel, the Gilonite, and counsellor of David, who sided with Absalom, and afterward hanged himself. It is true that Giloh, his home city, was one of the mountain cities assigned to Judah at the conquest, but that does not prove that all of its inhabitants were Jews. Ahithophel does not act as a Jew, but with many other foreigners he accepted office under David. Eliam, otherwise Ammiel, his son, and father of Bathsheba, with Uriah, another foreigner, was one of David’s mighty men. Bathsheba herself does not act like a Jewess, for she married a Hittite, Uriah, the war comrade of her father. So she probably, as the other three women certainly, was a Gentile. The ending "ite," as in Gilonite, usually, not always, indicates a Gentile tribe or nation.

The second fact is that only one of the four, Ruth the Moabite, was chaste in life. Tamar, in the garb of harlot, deceived her father-in-law, Judah. Rahab was an open harlot in Jericho, and Bathsheba was an adulteress. The fact of four such maternal ancestors seems to prophesy, in a way, that their coming illustrious Descendant would preach a gospel of mercy to the foreigner and to the fallen.

Some writers have wasted much energy in endeavoring to reconcile Luke’s genealogy with Matthew’s. There is not the slightest reason to attempt it.

Matthew gives our Lord’s legal descent through Joseph’. Luke gives his real descent through Mary. As both Joseph and Mary were descendants of Abraham and David, they will in part coincide and in part diverge. The extent of the coincidence or the divergence is immaterial.


We have already seen that there were eight annunciations, as follows: To Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, Elisabeth, the shepherds, Simeon, Mary again by Simeon, and the magi. Some of these were by the angel Gabriel, some by the Holy Spirit and one by astronomical phenomenon. It is noteworthy that in every case the time, medium, place, and matter of the announcement are all adapted to the recipient and his or her circumstances. Just here we may note the contrast in the Bible between the offices of the angel Gabriel, and of the arch-angel Michael. Gabriel is sent always on missions of mercy; Michael always for the defense of God’s people, for war and vengeance on their enemies.

In the announcement to Zacharias the time is in the days of Herod the king, the scene is the Temple at Jerusalem, the place is the sanctuary or holy place, the hour is the time of the daily sacrifice. The circumstances of this announcement are: Zacharias, as priestly mediator, is burning the incense at the golden altar in the holy place, while the people outside are offering up the prayers represented by the incense. Twice every day, morning and evening, the people thus come to the Temple at the hour of prayer. (Compare Acts 3:1.) Being only a priest, Zacharias could not enter the most holy place; his ministrations stopped at the veil which hides the mercy seat, which is entered only once a year by the high priest on the great day of atonement (Lev. 16). The offering of the incense was the highest honor that could come to a priest, and as it was determined by lot, it might not come more than once in a lifetime to the same man. The perpetuity of these mediatorial ministrations was secured by dividing the descendants of Aaron into twenty-four courses, with fixed dates for one course to relieve another. As we see from the text, Zacharias belonged to the course of Abijah, which was the eighth. This division of the priests into courses was established by David, as we learn from I Chronicles 24. Zacharias himself had a burden. His wife was barren, and both were now old. While burning the incense which represented the prayers of the people, he himself was praying for a son. The medium of the announcement to him was the angel Gabriel, who comes with an answer to his prayer while he is yet praying, as he had come on another great occasion to Daniel (Daniel 9:20-21) The means was a vision. The matter was that not only would a son be born to him and Elisabeth, but his son would be a Nazirite, great in the sight of God, full of the Spirit from his mother’s womb, the forerunner of the Messiah, to make ready a people prepared for him according to prophecy, in the spirit and power of Elijah, turning many of the children of Israel to God and turning the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the justified. This, like the honor conferred on Mary, was unique, occurring only once in the world’s history.

Zacharias was filled with unbelief because of the natural difficulties on account of the impotency of his age and the barrenness of his wife. Why did he not consider the similar cases of Abraham and Sarah, of Isaac and Rebecca, and the case of Hannah, the mother of Samuel? Zacharias might have known from these illustrious incidents of the past history of his people, that the supernatural can overcome the natural. Because of his hesitation to believe the words of the angel, a sign was given unto him – he should be dumb until the promise was fulfilled.


The time is six months later than the annunciation to Zacharias.

The place is Mary’s home at Nazareth.

The medium is the same angel, Gabriel.

The matter is that she shall bear a Son, named Jesus, who shall also see the Son of the Most High, and who shall sit on the throne of his father David, ruling over an everlasting kingdom.

The explanation of the prodigy of a birth without a human sire is, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee." Because also, God, not man, is the sire, this offspring shall be “holy” in nature, and shall be called the Son of God. In all the human race this is "the Only begotten of the Father," and hence the only one born in the world without hereditary depravity.

In this way only could be fulfilled the first gospel promise, "the seed of the woman [not of the man] shall bruise the serpent’s head." Had he been the seed of the man he would have been born condemned on account of a depraved nature. He could not have saved himself, much less others. It is true "he was made under the law," but not under its condemnation on his own account. Since he was born holy by nature, and never sinned in practice, and obeyed all its requirements, the law could not condemn him except as a legal substitute for real sinners. It is this that made his death under God’s law vicarious (Isaiah 53:4-12). So that one who rejects his birth of a virgin rejects the whole plan of salvation and the whole. Bible as the word of God. On this point there is not space for compromise as large as the point of a cambric needle, nor as broad as the edge of a razor.

When a man says "NO" to the question, "Do you believe our Lord was born of a virgin?" you need not ask him any other question whatever. And if he says, "Yes," to this incarnation of God, the one supreme miracle, he need not quibble at any other in the gospel record.

This one conceded, the others come like a conqueror, and from necessity. Luke 1:34-35 is the crux, pivot, hinge, and citadel of all controversies on the joined issue, Natural vs. Supernatural; Atheism vs. Christianity. We have already called attention to the monstrous system of Mariology fruiting in Mariolatry. The base of it all is in the angel’s salutation to Mary: "Hail thou that art highly favored – thou that hast favor with God." It is a matter of translation. Shall we render "highly favored" (Greek, kecharitomene) "mother of grace," or "daughter of grace"? Does it mean "fountain of grace," or "endued with grace," i.e., grace conferred or found"? A Pope has said that Mary is the mother and fountain of all grace and our only hope of salvation.


Here we note the reason of Mary’s visit. The angel had informed her of Elisabeth’s condition. In all the world, Elisabeth was the only being to whom the modest Mary could confide her own extraordinary condition. She needed a woman’s sympathy and support. Never before and never again could two such women meet to confer concerning their unique motherhood. In all the history of the race only one woman could be the mother of the harbinger of our Lord, and only one be the mother of our Lord. The honors conferred on them were very high, and could never be repeated. As with the mothers, so with the sons.

They would forever stand apart from all other men – each without a model, without a shadow, without a successor. The visit lasted three months. What the continuation of the intercommunion and holy confidences, what the mutual womanly sympathy and support in these three months we may infer from the beginning.

At the salutation of Mary, -two mighty tokens of recognition came upon Elisabeth. The babe in her womb, the babe who was to be full of the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb, leaped for joy. Upon her also came the power of God and she herself was full of the Holy Spirit. She was thus prepared to give the greeting her visitor most needed to confirm her faith in the embarrassing circumstances of her novel situation: "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a fulfilment of the things which have been spoken unto her from the Lord." After such greeting, the chastity and modesty of the virgin could no more be embarrassed, but upon her came a flame of inspiration that kindled that great song

On this first Christian hymn, note:

Its correspondence with the Old Testament hymn of Hannah, the mother of Samuel (1 Samuel 2:1-10). Hannah’s song is the model of Mary’s. The correspondence is as remarkable in the circumstances as in the matter of the song. Israel under Eli had been brought very low. The barren Hannah prayed for a child and promised that she would dedicate him to Jehovah as long as he lived. Her illustrious son was the last of the judges and the first of the prophets. He reformed Israel and established the monarchy in David. What a solemn historic lesson, God’s preparation of the mothers of the good and the great, and the devil’s preparation of the mothers of the monsters of vice and cruelty! Compare the mothers of Augustine, Washington, Andrew Jackson, S. S. Prentiss, with the mother of Nero. To the question, Where should the education of a child commence, Oliver Wendell Holmes replied, "With his grandmother." Think of the faith of Timothy, "which was first in his grandmother, Lois, and in his mother, Eunice "

Note the three divisions of Mary’s hymn: First as it relates to herself (Luke 1:46-49). Second, as it relates to God’s moral government of the world (Luke 1:50-53). Third, as it relates to Israel (Luke 1:54-55). The blessing on the individual Christian widens into a blessing on the people of God, and enlarges into a blessing on the world. How minute in application, how comprehensive in scope, and how correlated in all its parts, is God’s moral government of the universe!

Dr. Lyman Beecher, the greatest of all the Beechers, when asked, "How long were you in preparing your great sermon on ’God’s Moral Government’ ?" replied, "Forty years." While the hearers were astounded at the greatness of his production, he himself lamented the short time for preparation. Note the expression in Luke 1:50, "and his mercy is unto generations and generations of them that fear him," and mark its origin and import in the Old Testament, to wit: While he visits the iniquity of the fathers on their children to the third and fourth generation, he visits his mercy to the thousandth generation on the children of them that fear him.

Observe the naming of a Hebrew child at his circumcision. Hence pedobaptists, contending that baptism comes in the place of circumcision, name the child at its baptism and call it "christening."

The great homiletical theme: "What then shall this child be?" (Luke 1:66.)

The inspired song of the father. This is called THE BENEDICTUS from the first word, "blessed." This is the second Christian hymn. It is divided into two distinct parts:

First, the ascription of praise to God for his continued mercy to his covenant people, Israel, according to promise and prophecy from Abraham’s day (Luke 1:68-75).

This promise was messianic – "to raise up a horn of salvation in the house of David," "horn" meaning a king or kingdom of power, as in Daniel’s apocalypses, and in Revelation. Daniel 8:3, the ram with two horns of unequal length, represented Persia united with Media. Daniel 8:5-9, the one "notable horn" of the he-goat was Alexander the Great, and the "four horns" his four successors. The "little horn" rising later was Antiochus Epiphanes. Daniel 7:7-8, the "ten horns" of this fourth beast were the ten kingdoms into which the fallen Roman empire was divided, and the "little horn" was the papacy.

So when Zacharias says, "Thou hast raised up a horn of salvation in the house of David," it means the Messiah, David’s greater Son. One of the prophecies to which Zacharias refers is 2 Samuel 7:12-13, with which compare Isaiah II. It is evident, therefore, that Zacharias speaks his benediction on God because of spiritual messianic mercies.

The second part of the benediction (Luke 1:76-79) is spoken to his son, John, because of his relation to the Messiah of the first part. John was to be (1) the prophet of the Most High. (2) He was to go before the coming Messiah and prepare the way for him. (3) His ministry was to give the people "The knowledge of salvation in the remission of their sins." We shall have much use later for this last item, when we devote a special chapter to John the Baptist, defining his place in the Christian system.

For the present we note that a true disciple of John was saved. He had "knowledge" of his salvation. This knowledge is experimental since it came through the remission of sins. We are not surprised, therefore, that his candidates for baptism "confessed their sins," nor that his baptism was "of repentance unto remission of sins," as Peter preached at Pentecost (Acts 2:38) and was in harmony with our Lord’s great commission given in his gospel: "Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all nations beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47).

"The Dayspring from on High" (Luke 1:78) is our Lord himself, the Sun of righteousness, in the dawn of his rising.


1. What is the first peculiarity of Matthew’s genealogy?

2. Give proof that this correspondence with Genesis 5:1 was designed.

3. His second peculiarity?

4. Explain three sets of fourteen with only forty-one names.

5. How might another writer, with a different plan, divide the three from Abraham to Christ into four periods, and give their fulfilment in Christ in four Greek names?

6. Matthew’s third peculiarity, and account for it?

7. How do you reconcile Luke’s genealogy with Matthew’*?

8. Including Paul’s contributions, how should Luke’s genealogy com mence? Ans. Jesus himself, the Second Adam, who was the Lord from heaven (supposed son of Joseph) was the son of Heli.

9. Including a statement from Matthew himself, how should his genealogy commence? Ans. "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, called Immanuel (God with us), the son of David, the son of Abraham."

10. How many annunciations, to whom, by whom or what, and how?

11. How are all these annunciations adapted to the receivers?

12. Contrast the respective missions of Gabriel and Michael.

13. In the annunciation to Zacharias, give time, scene, place, medium, means, and circumstances.

14. Where was the golden altar of incense, the brazen altar of sacrifice, what was their relation to each other, and what was the doctrine?

Ans. The brazen altar of sacrifice was in the outer court, the golden altar of incense in the holy place before the veil hiding the mercy seat in the most holy place. The relation was that expiatory sacrifice must precede offering up incense representing prayer based on expiation. First expiation of sin, then prayer. The incense was kindled by fire from the brazen altar. To kindle the incense with other fire was punished with death (see Leviticus 10:1-11; Numbers 3:4; Numbers 26:61; 1 Chronicles 24:2). The doctrine is that prayer must be offered in the name of Jesus the expiatory victim.

15. Why should the people offer their prayers through the medium of a priest? Ans. Being sinners they must approach God through a mediator.

16. Who these mediators? Ans. The sons of Aaron.

17. How was perpetuity in mediation secured and by whom established?

18. Of which course of the twenty-four was Zacharias?

19. Why could not Zacharias offer the incense in the most holy place, who alone could, and when?

20. What prayer did Zacharias offer for himself, was it answered, and how?

21. Crucial test question: Is it the design of prayer to influence God or merely to reflexively influence the petitioner? (Before you answer read Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 18:1-14; John 16:23-24; and the author’s interpretation of the trumpets of Revelation 8:2-10:1. See his book on Revelation, pp. 131-159.)

22. Give time, place, medium, means, and matter of the annunciation to Mary.

23. How does the angel explain a virgin’s giving birth to a child?

24. How does such a birth alone fulfill the first gospel promise?

25. How does it insure the child against hereditary depravity?

26. What three proofs must be made in order that Jesus escape condemnation on his own account? Ans. (1) He must be born holy – holy in nature. (2) He must be free from actual sin in life. (3) He must perfectly obey all the law.

27. These proofs conceded, then if he yet be condemned and die, what follows? Ans. His death was vicarious – a substitute for sinners (Isaiah 53:4-12).

28. What then is the effect of denying the virgin birth of our Lord?

29. What is the virtual relation of the incarnation to all other miracles?

30. How then must we regard Luke 1:34-35?

31. What is the base of all the Romanist Mariolatry?

32. Does the Greek word rendered "endued with grace," convey the idea that Mary was the mother of grace or a daughter of grace – in other words, that she is the fountain of all grace or the subject of grace conferred?

33. What has a Pope said of Mary?

34. Why did Mary visit Elisabeth?

35. How was it announced to Elisabeth that the mother of our Lord was present?

36. How naturally would Elisabeth’s inspired response comfort and confirm the modest virgin?


37. What is its Old Testament model?

38. What historic lesson suggested, and illustrate.

39. Point out the three divisions of Mary’s hymn.

40. Who preached a great sermon illustrating the second division?

41. What is the origin and meaning of "unto generations and generations" v.50?


42. On what occasion did Hebrews name their male children and why do pedobaptists in imitation christen their children?

43. What great sermon theme here?


44. Why song of Zacharias, so called?

45. What two divisions of the song?

46. What the nature of the first part and the relation of second thereto?

47. Meaning of "horn of salvation in the house of David"? Illustrate by "horn" from Daniel and cite two pertinent Old Testament messianic promises.

48. What three things in the second part of the Benedictua said of John the Baptist?

49. What does the last prove of a true disciple of John?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Luke 1". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/luke-1.html.
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