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Bible Commentaries

Brown's Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 1

Introduction

  1. Introduction
    READ: Heb 3:1
    1. The gospel of Luke brings us a vivid and compassionate look at the life of our Savior, Jesus. It is a book that will allow us to consider – think on and contemplate deeply – the life and ministry of Jesus, the Son of God!
    2. The gospels are written from different perspectives with different goals – Matthew was written by a Jew to the Jews and there we see over 100 prophecies fulfilled.
    3. Mark wrote to the Romans specifically to reveal Jesus, the Son of Man, came to the world as a servant and gave His life as a ransom for His audience which was primarily Roman slaves.
    4. John’s gospel revolves around the 7 specific miracles and the 7 “I AM” statements of Jesus and speaks of His great grace towards the lost: John 20:31 tells us, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
    5. The gospel of Luke was perhaps written to the intellectuals Greece bringing out both the humanity and truth of the Son of God.
    6. Luke was a man from Greece – a gentile and a physician and a freed slave. He was a methodical and faithful man who approached this writing in an orderly and detailed manner. He had an almost scientific methodology and many of the words he used came from a medical vernacular. He is mentioned 4 times in scripture – Acts and the Pauline epistles. Luke alone was with Paul at the end of his life…in 2Ti 4:11 Paul says, “Only Luke is with me.”
    7. All this said, we must remember that God uses men to accomplish His purposes and for the gospel of Luke He chose a man who had the natural skills and education that lended themselves to God’s purposes.
    8. Yet, we have the passage that puts all the scrutiny on God and not the man…2Ti 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
    9. The theme of the gospel of Luke is found in chapter 19, verse 10…“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
    10. Our Savior came to the earth to save us from our sins by dying in our place and then rising up from the dead 3 days later to give us the hope of Heaven. Why? Because He loves us so much He doesn’t want to seek anyone die and go to Hell.

Verses 1-4

  1. Luke’s Introduction
    Luk 1:1-4 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, 2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; 3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, 4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
    1. Luke starts out by saying many have tried to set in order the ministry of Jesus through declaration (meaning both oral tradition writing them down) the things that they believe because they were eyewitnesses and servants of Jesus…
    2. The word “Minister” here, in verse 2, means under-rower but was uniquely used in medical profession to speak of intern doctors who were serving and learning under an experienced physician. It is identifying those who were actually “WITH” Jesus (who is the “WORD” -- Joh 1:1,14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
    3. Luke spoke with these eyewitnesses and servants of Jesus. Think of this – Luke must have spoken with Mary in her old age…Luke is the only one to speak of the circumstances around John the Baptist and Jesus’ conception. Luke alone brings us the magnificat.
    4. It seemed good to Luke to write it all down seeing he had a complete (literally “exact”) account based upon thorough investigation (the witnesses and ministers)…and to write it in an orderly (meaning chronological) manner.
    5. We see, too, who he is writing to in verse 3: Theophilus. Now, we ask, is this a person? The name means “lover of God”. Some think this is a proper name, some think this is a cover name for perhaps his previous owner who set Luke free, some think this is a general statement of writing to those who love God. What is the correct answer?
    6. The wording, “most excellent” suggests the writing is to an individual – perhaps someone high up in a government position (which is how the phrase is used in other places in the Bible) – but it is not necessarily a proper name but more likely a cover name.
    7. The bigger thought we need to have is: “Am I a lover of God?” If so, then this letter is written to me and I should contemplate Jesus and respond both inwardly and outwardly!
    8. And then…the “WHY write this” is to provide the certainty, through witnesses, of the things that “Theophilus” had been instructed (and the verbage leads us to believe it was the basic instruction that would be given to a new believer).

Verses 5-25

  1. John the Baptist
    1. Zacharias and Elisabeth
      Luk 1:5-10 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. 8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, 9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
      1. This is at the end of the dark days of Israel…the 400 year period of silence between the book of Malachi and here where Luke begins. During this time the Jews had continued in the temple practices but the leadership of Israel had become increasing legalistic and hypocritical.
      2. We are told that Zacharias was a priest and Elisabeth was the daughter of a priest – in those days there were 24 courses or divisions of priests (with upwards of 1000 in each course), and each would serve in the temple for one week at a time on a rotating basis. The priests would draw lots for what role they would take and being inside the temple was a great privilege that was usually only afforded once in a lifetime.
      3. It was Zacharias’ time to be there – isn’t interesting that God spoke to him while he was serving Him…God has a way of speaking to each one of us when we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice and serve Him with our whole heart.
      4. Here, Zacharias was burning incense in the temple of the Lord as the people prayed. Rev 5:8 the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours (literally – incense), which are the prayers of saints. The incense was symbolic of the people’s prayers…interesting.
    2. The Spirit of Elijah
      Luke 1:11-17 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
      1. An angel appeared to Zacharias…Heb 1:13-14 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
      2. The point here is that if God is involved, we should not fear rather, trust Him. Pro 3:5-8 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. 8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
      3. 1Jn 4:18 Tells us… perfect love casts out fear:
      4. But, look…it says their prayer was heard…God listens, He hears, He loves and He has a perfect plan for our lives! Psa 34:15 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. And…Pro 15:29b He hears the prayer of the righteous.
      5. The answered prayer: they’ll have a son and will name him “John”…which means, “Jehovah is a gracious giver”.
      6. And…he will be filled with the Holy Spirit and come in the spirit of Elijah. Elijah was very bold and called sin, sin and he called the people to repentance! Supernatural boldness comes from the Spirit -- 2Ti 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. And, John would call the people similarly!
      7. Pause and realize that Zacharias means “Jehovah remembers…” / Elisabeth means “Oath of God”. And the last that God spoke to Israel was in Malachi in: Mal 4:5-6 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
      8. This is exactly what John would do… God is a gracious giver and keeps His promises!
        1. ​​​​​​​Isa 55:6-7 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
    3. God Keeps His Promises
      Luk 1:18-25 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. 19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. 20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. 21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. 23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, 25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
      1. Reading this…it appears we shouldn’t mess with Angels…if one is talking to you – you should believe him!
      2. But, God follows through – even though Zacharias and Elisabeth are old (Jews thought old was over 65, over 70 to be a hoary head, and well stricken was over 80)…and yet, God provided a spark of youth in them to allow Elisabeth to conceive.
      3. And…she says that God has taken away her reproach among men. Culturally, it was disgraceful for a woman to not be able to bear children. It was an allowable cause for divorce. People would think there was sin in her life or a curse on the family.
      4. In this case, God had a plan and simply held off her child bearing until it was in His timing!
      5. God always answers our prayers – sometimes it isn’t the answer we’re looking for! He will always answer yes, no, or wait. Our job is to be OK with that!
      6. Godliness with contentment is great gain – it’s better to put our trust in the Lord than our confidence in men!
  2. Conclusion
    1. ​​​​​​​What do we walk away with today?
    2. God hears us and knows the desires of our hearts – and is willing to change our hearts if we ask and allow Him to…
    3. God keeps His promises and we can stand on them…
    4. God loves you and will honor your faithfulness and has a plan for your life whether you understand it or not…
    5. We simply need to seek the Lord with all of our heart and serve Him right where we are regardless of our circumstances!

Verses 26-38

  1. Introduction
    READ: Isaiah 7:14-15
    1. The gospel of Luke brings us a vivid and compassionate look at the life of our Savior, Jesus. It is a book that will allow us to consider – think on and contemplate deeply – the life and ministry of Jesus, the Son of God!
    2. The gospel of Luke was perhaps written to the intellectuals in Greece bringing out both the humanity and truth of the Son of God.
    3. The theme of the gospel of Luke is found in chapter 19, verse 10…“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
    4. Our Savior came to the earth to save us from our sins by dying in our place and then rising up from the dead 3 days later to give us the hope of Heaven. Why? Because He loves us so much He doesn’t want to seek anyone die and go to Hell.
    5. Last week, we saw the Angel Gabriel come to Zacharias and proclaim that he and his wife (both in their 80’s) would have a child named John… (John the Baptist), who would be a Nazarite and come in the spirit and power of Elijah as the forerunner for the Christ, the Messiah…Jesus!
    6. This week we look at the Mother of our Lord Jesus and Luke depicts what transpired that she should conceive…
  2. Mary
    1. Nazareth
      Luk 1:26-27 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
      1. Narareth was a cross roads…a low income town with soldiers, traders and prostitutes. There wasn’t much thought of as good in Nazareth…
      2. Joh 1:46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
      3. He came to a virgin…a woman who had never been intimate with a man – in Nazareth – a woman who was espoused (meaning legally bound to the man in engagement but without consummation)…and her name was Mary.
      4. We need to see the humble beginnings of our Savior…his mother came from a town with a poor reputation and not much hope…many of us have come from similar backgrounds and yet God is always able to prevail!
    2. Humility
      Luke 1:28-29 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
      1. Mary was highly favored by God – so are we: Eph 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
      2. Mary has the Lord with her…so do we: Mat 28:20b lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
      3. Heb 13:5c-6 for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
      4. Mary was blessed…and so are we! Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
      5. Mary also appeared very humble as she was troubled that she should be called favored of God.
    3. Faith
      Luke 1:30-38 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
      1. Mary had faith and believed the Angel but didn’t understand “How” it would happen. That’s us – we need to believe God more and need to worry about understanding less.
      2. Isa 55:8-11 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
      3. Why? NOTHING is impossible with God! …NOTHING!
      4. This child that will be conceived by the Holy Ghost shall be called Jesus…
      5. Mat 1:20-23 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
      6. And…just to prove it – your cousin Elisabeth who’s like 80…she’s pregnant, too!
      7. And then…as an example to all of us – Mary says, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy Word”.
      8. Mary is believing God’s promise blindly and accepting the fact that if God will do it, He will also protect her from all the external responses (like stoning).
      9. The phrase “Handmaid” is the feminine of doulos, the male bond-slave who serves his master out of love and chooses to live
        with him forever.
        Is this our response to what God has called us to do?

Verses 39-45

  1. Full of the Holy Ghost
    Luk 1:39-45 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
    1. The babe leaped in the womb…full of the Holy Spirit – who says life begins at birth? Not God!
    2. Jer 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
    3. Elisabeth calls the baby “her Lord” – an acknowledgement that He would be the Messiah!
    4. v.45 Blessed is she that believed – but, all who believe are blessed!
    5. Joh 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
    6. Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Verses 46-56

  1. Worshipping the Lord
    Luk 1:46-56 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. 51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; 55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. 56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
    1. “Magnify the Lord”…extol His greatness. Tell of His goodness. Proclaim His majesty and power!
    2. It’s worship!
    3. Mary cries out: Holy is His name…
    4. Mercy is available to them that fear Him…
    5. He has shown His strength…
    6. He has exalted the humble and lowly…
    7. He is good!
    8. We can proclaim His goodness every day to those around us!
    9. DO WE?
Copyright Statement
Brown's Commentary on the New Testament is reproduced by permission of author. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Brown, Jim. "Commentary on Luke 1". "Brown's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnc/luke-1.html. 2017.