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Saturday, May 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Luke 2

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-20

The Witness of the Shepherds at His Birth - Luke 2:1-20 contains an angelic prophecy to shepherds in the field, who testified of a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manager. This passage concludes with the shepherds rejoicing at the fulfillment of this prophecy just as the angels told them (Luke 2:20).

Luke 2:20, “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”

Outline: Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Birth of Jesus Luke 2:1-7

2. The Visit of the Shepherds Luke 2:8-21

Luke 2:1-7 The Birth of Jesus Christ In Luke 2:1-7 we have one of the most precious passages in all of Scripture as we read of the humble birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Mary’s View of the Humble Birth of Jesus - We can imagine Mary being nine months pregnant, a time when a woman should not travel and do strenuous movements. Yet, the Roman government required her and Joseph to do so. I am sure that Joseph commented about the unjust situation they were in as they embarked upon their journey. Mary must have experienced much physical discomfort, perhaps riding on the back of a donkey. To find no place to stay when they arrived would have been frustrating. To be put into an animal stable would have been humbling and inconvenient, not to say unsanitary for such a birth.

Mary must have asked herself how God would allow this to happen to her when she was carrying the Messiah, the king of Israel. She would have expected God to provide her with much more blessings than this. She would have thought that the birth of the Saviour should have been a glorious birth for all of the people of Israel. The situation was not going as she had imagined in her mind, for God had planned a humble birth for His Son, because His ministry was to the poor and humble of the earth. Sometimes God orchestrates for us very humble situations that we are comfortable with in order to prepare us to deliver the Gospel message in humility to humble hearts.

The Date of Jesus’ Birth The Scriptures do not give as much detail to the date and time of the birth of Jesus Christ as it does to His death, burial and resurrection, perhaps because these details regarding His birth were not as important to the early church and to redemptive history as was His death. The four Gospels dedicate a tremendous amount of narrative material to the passion, crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. For this reason, we know that His death is associated with the Jewish Passover because of its redemptive significance. However, we have no clear information to date His birth.

Historical Evidence of the Time of Jesus’ Birth In addition to the reference in Luke 2:1 to a Roman census imposed upon the Jews, Luke records a collection of taxes made by the Romans a number of years later upon the Jews in Acts 5:37, at which time a certain Jew named Judas lead his people in a revolt. Such a levy of taxation was possible because of the census recorded by Luke in Luke 2:1.

Acts 5:37, “After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.”

Josephus mentions a taxation of the Jews under Cyrenius.

“Now Cyrenius, a Roman senator, and one who had gone through other magistracies, and had passed through them till he had been consul, and one who, on other accounts, was of great dignity, came at this time into Syria, with a few others, being sent by Caesar to be a judge of that nation, and to take an account of their substance. Coponius also, a man of the equestrian order, was sent together with him, to have the supreme power over the Jews. Moreover, Cyrenius came himself into Judea, which was now added to the province of Syria, to take an account of their substance, and to dispose of Archelaus's money; but the Jews, although at the beginning they took the report of a taxation heinously, yet did they leave off any further opposition to it, by the persuasion of Joazar, who was the son of Beethus, and high priest; so they, being over-pesuaded by Joazar's words, gave an account of their estates, without any dispute about it.” ( Antiquities 18.1.1)

We find no clear record by the Romans or Greeks of this particular census mentioned by Luke that was imposed upon the Jews, although he describes it as a worldwide event; thus, scholars debate as to whether this imperial decree refers to the entire Roman Empire, or to the region of Judea alone. [150] However, we do have a testimony that Caesar Augustus made efforts to organize his kingdom. For example, Tacitus (A.D. 56-117) records some of these statistics made by the emperor.

[150] John Nolland, Luke 1-9:20, in Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 35A (Dallas, Texas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), comments on “The Birth of Jesus (2:1 21): Form/Structure/Setting .

“…upon that he ordered a document to be brought in and read, containing a statement of the public resources; an enumeration of the troops under arms, whether Roman or allied, and of the naval forces; of the Provinces and Protected States, of the direct and indirect taxes, of the public burdens and state largesses. All this Augustus had written out with his own hand…” ( Annals 1.11) [151]

[151] George Gilbert Ramsay, The Annals of Tacitus, Books I. VI. An English Translation (London: John Murray, 1904), 25.

Also, Dio Cassius (A.D. 155-229) records a similar testimony regarding Augustus’ efforts to keep statistics of his kingdom:

“He [Augustus] did not, to be sure, appoint a successor, though all were expecting that Marcellus would be preferred for this position, but after talking with them awhile about the public affairs, he gave Piso the list of the forces and of the public revenues written in a book, and handed his ring to Agrippa.” ( Roman History 53.30.2) [152]

[152] Dio Cassius, Dio’s Roman History, vol. 9, trans. Ernest Cary, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1955), 271.

Everett F. Harrison tells us that the reference by Josephus to Cyrenius refers to the taxing in A.D. 6 ( Antiquities 18.1.1). According to Ethelbert Stauffer, it was possible that such a worldwide feat could have commenced years earlier giving Jesus a birth date of B.C. Ethelbert Stauffer cites the example of a census in Gaul that took more than forty years due to local resistance. [153] Harrison refers to the testimony of several ancient inscriptions that support Luke’s testimony of the time of a census taken when Cyrenius (Quirinius) was governor of Syria (Luke 2:2). The first is an inscription from Tibur, a city located about twenty miles east of Rome, discovered in 1764, stating a certain Roman official, believed to be Cyrenius, was placed over Syria on two occasions. Harrison makes a second reference to William Ramsay’s discussion of several ancient inscriptions discovered in 1912 honoring a Roman “perfect” named Quirinius, one in Pisidia Antioch, and the other near this city, which was a part of ancient Syria. [154] Ramsay believes that these ancient Roman inscriptions fit within the time-frame that Luke describes (Luke 2:2), so possibly refer to this same Cyrenius. [155]

[153] Ethelbert Stauffer, Jesus and His Story (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974), 21-31; cited by Everett F. Harrison, Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, c1964, 1971), 203-204.

[154] Everett F. Harrison, Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, c1964, 1971), 203.

[155] William M. Ramsay, The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1915), 275-300.

We now know from ancient Judean and Egyptian papyri that the Romans had a regular enrollment of taxpayers and that they held censuses every fourteen years (begun by Augustus Caesar) which lasted for several centuries. Hanna Cotton quotes the “edict of C. Vibius Maximus, the perfect of Egypt in 104,” which is an Egyptian papyrus that discusses a census. It reads:

“The house-to-house census having started, it is essential that all persons who for any reason whatsoever are absent from their homes be summoned to return to their own hearths, in order that they may perform the customary business of registration and apply themselves to the cultivation which concerns them.” (P.Lond. III 904 W.Chr 202, lines 18-32) [156]

[156] Hanna M. Cotton, The Roman Census in the Papryi from the Judaean Desert and the Egyptian κατ ʼ ο κίαν πογραφή, in Semitic Papryology in Context: a Climate of Creativity, Papers from a New York University conference marking the retirement of Baruch A. Levine, ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman, in Culture and History of the Ancient Near East, vol. 14 (New York: New York University, March 5-7, 2000), 106.

William Ramsay and Hanna Cotton refer to the inscription discovered in Venice in which an individual named Q. Aemilius Secundus, who served under Quirinius, the governor of Syria, was order to take a census in a city called Apamea. Hanna Cotton quotes from this ancient inscription:

“Quintus Aemilius Secundus, son of Quintus, of the tribe Palatia, I received honours in the camps of the Divine Augustus under Publius Sulpicius Quirinius, legate of Caesar in Syria, as perfect of the First Cohort Augusta, as perfect of the Second Cohort Classica; I also conducted by Quirinius’ command a census in the city of Apamea (counting) 117,000 citizens…(ILG2683).” [157]

[157] William M. Ramsay, Was Christ Born in Bethlehem (London: Hodder and Stoughton,1898), 150-151; Hanna M. Cotton, The Roman Census in the Papryi from the Judaean Desert and the Egyptian κατ ʼ ο κίαν πογραφή, in Semitic Papryology in Context: a Climate of Creativity, Papers from a New York University conference marking the retirement of Baruch A. Levine, ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman, in Culture and History of the Ancient Near East, vol. 14 (New York: New York University, March 5-7, 2000), 106-107.

Finally, the church historian Eusebius does give us a specific date of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ by saying that He was born in the forty-second (42 nd ) year of the reign of Caesar Augustus (31 B.C to A.D. 14), which would be A.D. 12. However, this date does not agree with other church historians.

“It was in the forty-second year of the reign of Augustus and the twenty-eighth after the subjugation of Egypt and the death of Antony and Cleopatra, with whom the dynasty of the Ptolemies in Egypt came to an end, that our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea, according to the prophecies which had been uttered concerning him. His birth took place during the first census, while Cyrenius was governor of Syria.” ( Ecclesiastical History 1.5.2)

A Time of Wicked Leadership - Note how many wicked leaders were in power during the time of Jesus' birth and earthly ministry. These were difficult times for the nation of Israel; yet God comes through with His exceeding great and precious Word.

Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

Luke 2:1 Comments (The Times of the Gentiles) The times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24) was ushered into world history through the prophecies of Daniel, where Israel’s dominance subsided and the Gentile nations of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greek, and Roman empires would rise. This time began with the fall of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Daniel 1:1 is the last biblical event in redemption history that is dated by the calendars of the kings of the nation of Israel. At this point forward, all redemptive events recorded in the Holy Scriptures will be dated around Gentile rules (Daniel 2:1; Daniel 7:1; Daniel 8:1; Daniel 9:1; Daniel 10:1; Daniel 11:1, Ezra 1:1; Ezra 6:3; Ezra 7:1, Nehemiah 2:1, Esther 1:1-3, Luke 2:1-2; Luke 3:1-2). Even the book of Ezekiel seems to blend the Jewish calendar with the fall of Israel by the Babylonians in his collection of prophecies.

Luke 21:24, “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

Luke 2:1 Comments (The Dates of the Reign of Caesar Augustus) Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, also known as Octavian (63 B.C. to A.D.14), and nephew of Julius Caesar, served as the first Roman emperor from 27 B.C. until his death in A.D.14. [158] He fought a number of battles and defeated those who opposed him prior to being voted emperor by the Roman Senate, at which time they conferred upon him the title Augustus, meaning “honorable”; thus, he became known as Caesar Augustus. [159]

[158] R. F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison, and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), “Augustus.”

[159] Mary Francis Gyles, “Augustus,” in The Word Book Encyclopedia, vol. 1 (Chicago: World Book, Inc., 1994), 889-890.

Luke 2:1 Comments (Divine Providence) Within the context of Luke’s theme of prophetic utterances surrounding the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, Caesar Augustus’ decree was divinely orchestrated as well.

Nehemiah called for a census of the Jews when he led them in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 7:5).

Nehemiah 7:5, “And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein,”

Luke 2:4 Comments The Old Testament confirms that Bethlehem was the city of David's origin (1 Samuel 20:6).

1 Samuel 20:6, “If thy father at all miss me, then say, David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Bethlehem his city: for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.”

As Joseph makes his way to Bethlehem, we begin to sense that God is divinely orchestrating these series of events, preparing for the birth of the Saviour of the world.

Luke 2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

Luke 2:5 “To be taxed with Mary” - Comments Both Joseph and Mary were of the lineage of David, but of different sons of David. Therefore, they were both required to be enrolled in Bethlehem, the city of David.

ASV, “ to enrol himself with Mary , who was betrothed to him, being great with child.”

BBE, “ To be put on the list with Mary , his future wife, who was about to become a mother.”

LO, “ to be registered, with Mary , his betrothed wife, who was pregnant.”

Luke 2:1-5 Comments - Introduction to the Story of Jesus’ Birth Luke 2:1-5 serves the same purpose as Luke 1:5-7 in that it introduces the main characters and the setting of the narrative that follows.

Luke 2:6 “the days were accomplished” - Comments Not just the days of her nine-month pregnancy were accomplished, but the fullness of God's time had come to send a Savior into the world. Note:

Galatians 4:4, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,”

Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:7 Comments This humble birthplace begins the life of the humblest man ever born, the Son of the most High God, Jesus Christ. This type of birth foreshadows His humble lifestyle (Philippians 2:5-8). Jesus was born humbly so that those worshipping Him would do so with a pure heart and motive. Had He been born a wealthy noble, many rich would have celebrated with Joseph and Mary, but with wrong motives, centered upon themselves rather than upon the Son’s divine and prophetic birth.

Philippians 2:5-8, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself , and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Mary, did you know that the baby boy you delivered would soon deliver you?

Luke 2:6-7 Comments The Birth of the Saviour - In Luke 2:6-7 Mary gives birth to the greatest plan of God on earth. In a figurative sense, God has impregnated His children with His Word. Those people in Bethlehem had no idea who Mary was carrying in her womb. Similarly, those around us do not understand what God has put inside us.

The manger was not worthy for the King of Kings. Note:

Hebrews 11:37-38, “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; ( Of whom the world was not worthy :) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”

Luke 2:8-21 The Witness of the Shepherds In Luke 2:8-21 we have the record of the shepherds who came to visit baby Jesus because of the announcement of his birth by the heavenly angels. Just as we are excited when a baby is born to us or to our loved ones, so did Heaven rejoice at the birth of the Redeemer.

God Hides the Birth of the Messiah from the Jewish Leaders - Why did God hide this miraculous birth from the leaders of the land and reveal it to humble shepherds? It becomes clear in the Matthew 2:1-12 that King Herod wanted to kill baby Jesus.

The Angelic Visitation - There have been two occasions in my life where I have heard the angels in heaven singing worship songs. The first time I was having a quiet time and fell into a slumber and heard the most beautiful worship songs that I had ever heard (1983-84). When I came to myself, I tried to recall the words of the song, but was unable. The second time was in a dream during the night. I had been stressed on the job the previous day. In a dream that night I again heard the most intense worship to the Lord that I had ever heard. I joined in this heavenly worship and awoke refreshed in my spirit and filled with joy.

Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Luke 2:8 Comments The KJV reads, “And there were in the same country,” implying that the shepherds were in a distance from the birthplace of Jesus. The Greek word χώρα (G5561) can also mean, “field, cultivated land” ( BDAG), which implies that the shepherds were camped outside in the same field or pasture where the stables were located. However, Luke 2:15 tells us that they had to travel to Bethlehem to see the child, and Luke 2:20 tells us that they returned to their country. Thus, they travelled a distance to visit the child.

Luke 2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

Luke 2:9 Comments The phrase “and they were sore afraid” literally reads, “and they feared a great fear.” This is a Hebrew idiom, a grammatical construction found often in the Old Testament Scriptures.

Luke 2:11 “For unto you is born this day in the city of David” Comments The birth of Jesus Christ in the city of David served as a confirmation that this child was the Messiah, born of the seed of David, as the Scriptures predicted.

Luke 2:11 “a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” Comments The name “Jesus” means, “Jehovah (our) Salvation.” Thus, the title “a Saviour” is an expression of His Name.

Luke 2:14 Comments Andrew Wommack teaches that Luke 2:14 is often interpreted to mean that God has come to bring peace among men on earth. It has been interpreted to mean that Jesus has come to stop wars and divisions among peoples and nations. In fact, the opposite is true according to Matthew 10:34-36, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.” Also, one of the signs of the End Times leading up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is wars and rumors of war upon earth among nations (Matthew 24:6-7).

The angels in Luke 2:14 were not announcing peace among men, but rather, peace towards mankind from God. Wommack says this verse actually means God is no longer at war judging the sins of mankind as we see in the Old Testament Scriptures. Under the Old Covenant there was enmity between God and man (Ephesians 2:15-16). The Old Testament records many events in which God’s wrath was poured forth upon mankind. However, when Jesus came to earth, God declared peace on earth, and good will towards all of mankind because His wrath would be pour out upon His Son for the sins of mankind, past, present, and future. When Jesus entered His public ministry, it is important to note that He never condemned the sinner of his sins (John 3:17). For example, Jesus did not condemn the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11), nor the Samaritan woman who had been with five husbands (John 4:1-42). Rather, He offered Himself to them as their Healer and miracle-worker in order that they might believe in Him as their Saviour. Although He rebuked the Jewish leaders because they despised Him and they looked down upon the sinners, He did not come to condemn mankind for their sins. He looked forward to His work of redemption on Calvary and loved them, knowing that their sins were about to be paid for on Calvary. God’s wrath was poured out upon Jesus Christ, so that He is no longer at war with sinful man, as we see in the Old Testament Scriptures. [160]

[160] Andrew Wommack, “The War is Over,” (Andrew Wommack Ministries, Colorado Springs, Colorado), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Ephesians 2:15-16, “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:”

John 3:17, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

Under the Old Covenant God dealt with His children Israel by using judgment for their sins. In a similar manner, we judge our children when they disobey simply because a child cannot understand the results of his sins. However, when our children become adults, we no long discipline our children; rather, we become friends, realizing that they understand the difference between right and wrong. We stand with our children when they become adults and are ready to offer advice. In a similar way, God judged Israel as His children under the Law because they could not understand God’s ways in the manner we understand under the New Covenant by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Like spanking a child, divine judgment was the only thing that Israel understood under the Old Covenant when breaking the Law. When Jesus came upon this earth and paid for the sins of mankind, past, present, and future, pouring out His Holy Spirit into the hearts of those who believe in Him, God could then call them His “friends” (John 15:15).

John 15:15, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”

Verses 1-52

Prophetic Witnesses of Jesus’ Birth (God the Father’s Predestination) (Luke 1:5-80 ) and Infancy and Childhood (God the Father’s Calling) (Luke 2:1-52 ) - Luke 1:5-80 gives three testimonies of prophecies predicting Jesus’ divine birth and His predestined office and ministry as Saviour of the World, while Luke 2:1-52 gives three prophetic witnesses of Jesus’ infancy and childhood. These six prophetic witnesses of His birth and childhood reveal the fact that Jesus Christ has been predestined to His divine office as the Saviour of the World. In contrast, Matthew’s parallel account emphasizes the birth of the Messiah as a King. Matthew’s Gospel introduces the King in a way that follows proper protocol for royalty. Matthew reveals Jesus as a descendent of the royal lineage of King David and the fulfillment of the promises that God made to Abraham. Luke’s genealogy reveals Him as the promised seed of woman.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

A. Three Prophetic Witnesses of Jesus’ Birth Luke 1:5-80

1. The Vision of Zacharias Luke 1:5-25

2. The Prophecy of Mary Luke 1:26-56

3. The Prophecy of Zacharias & Elisabeth Luke 1:57-80

B. Three Prophetic Witnesses of Jesus’ Infancy & Childhood Luke 2:1-52

1. The Prophetic Witness of the Shepherds at His birth Luke 2:1-20

a) The Birth of Jesus Luke 2:1-7

b) The Witness of the Shepherds Luke 2:8-20

2. Two Prophetic Witnesses in the Temple at His Dedication Luke 2:21-38

a) The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple Luke 2:21-24

b) The Witness of Simeon Luke 2:25-35

c) The Witness of Anna Luke 2:36-38

d) Jesus Returns to Nazareth Luke 2:39-40

3. The Prophetic Witness of the Jesus’ Childhood in the Temple Luke 2:41-52

Luke’s Prophetic Witnesses - After four hundred hears of silence, God was not speaking to His people through the office of the prophet, but through simple Jewish men and women of God regarding the coming of the Messiah. In Luke 1:5 to Luke 2:52 God gave directly to Mary, the mother of Jesus, many witnesses to confirm that this divine birth was a fulfillment of prophecy.

1. Gabriel - Luke 1:26-38

2. Elizabeth - Luke 1:39-45

3. The Shepherds - Luke 2:16-17

4. The Three wise men - Matthew 2:1-11

5. Simon - Luke 2:25-35

6. Anna - Luke 2:36-39

Mary was a very probable source that Luke used when compiling these witnesses of Jesus’ birth and childhood. Luke 1:5 to Luke 2:52 gives three testimonies of prophecies predicting Jesus’ divine birth and three testimonies from His childhood of His office and ministry as Saviour of the World.

Luke’s Emphasis on Prophecy - It is important to note how these stories place emphasis in the narrative material upon the work and empowerment of the Holy Spirit to enable these people to declare their testimonies through prophecy. The secondary theme of Luke/Acts states that those who testified of Jesus Christ did so through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Regarding the three testimonies that prophesied the births of John and Jesus, in the Witness of Zacharias (Luke 1:5-25) the angel tells Zacharias that his son would be filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb. In the Witness of Mary (Luke 1:26-56) the angel tells Mary that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and overshadow her, and the babe leaped in Elisabeth’s womb as she was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied. In the Witness of Zacharias and Elisabeth (Luke 1:57-80), Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied. In the story of Jesus’ birth, Simeon came by the Spirit and prophesied what was revealed to him by the Spirit about the child Jesus, and Anna the prophetess also came and gave her prophecy under the unction of the Spirit.

Verses 21-40

The Witnesses in the Temple at His Dedication Luke 2:21-40 contains the story of Jesus being named and later taken to the Temple for his presentation and circumcision, at which time Mary receives the prophecies of Simeon and Anna in the Temple, as they testified of Jesus’ divine birth and ministry in the redemption of mankind. This passage concludes with Jesus awaiting His manifestation to Israel while growing up in Nazareth (Luke 2:39-40).

Luke 2:39-40, “And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.”

Outline: Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Naming of the Child Jesus Luke 2:21

2. The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple Luke 2:22-24

3. The Witness of Simeon Luke 2:25-35

4. The Witness of Anna Luke 2:36-38

5. Jesus Returns to Nazareth Luke 2:39-40

Luke 2:21 The Naming of the Child Jesus Luke 2:21 records the dedication and naming of the child Jesus.

Luke 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Luke 2:21 “And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child” Comments Note that according to the Mosaic Law, every male child was to be circumcised on the eighth day.

Leviticus 12:3, “And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.”

“his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb” - Comments Joseph named the child Jesus in obedience to the command of the angel recorded in Luke 1:31, “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.”

Luke 2:22-24 The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple In Luke 2:21-24 we have the story of Jesus being presented in the Temple. Notice how Joseph and Mary bring the baby Jesus to the Temple according to the Mosaic Law (See Leviticus 12:1-8). They gave the offering that poor people were allowed to give.

Luke 2:22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

Luke 2:22 Comments Leviticus 12:1-8 tells us that a woman is to separate herself for a period of 33 days before she is allowed to enter the Temple.

Leviticus 12:4, “And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.”

Luke 2:23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)

Luke 2:23 Comments Note some Old Testament references to the quote in Luke 2:23:

Exodus 13:2, “Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.”

Exodus 13:12, “That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD'S.”

Exodus 13:15, “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.”

Luke 2:24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

Luke 2:24 Comments Note that Joseph and Mary were following the Law for those who were not wealthy enough to give a cow or a lamb.

Leviticus 12:8, “And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons ; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.”

Luke 2:25-35 The Witness of Simeon Both Simeon and Anna recognized the Christ-child. It pleased God to record their two prophecies. In Luke 2:25-35 we have the testimony of Simeon by a word of prophecy confirming the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Luke 2:25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

Luke 2:25 “and the Holy Ghost was upon him” Comments The Holy Spirit came upon Simeon, rather than indwelling him because he was ministering under the old covenant. Up to this time, the Holy Spirit came upon the office of the prophet and departed. Under the new covenant, the Holy Spirit will come and dwell within the believer and never depart.

Luke 2:33 Comments Note that the Gospel of Luke does not call Joseph, “his father.”

Luke 2:34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

Luke 2:34 “this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel” - Comments This refers to the proud and the humble in a figurative sense. Note

James 1:9-10, “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.”

This is prophesied in Isaiah 40:3-5 and fulfilled in Luke 3:4-6. The proud will be made low and the humble will be exalted.

Luke 3:5, “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;”

Luke 2:35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Luke 2:35 Comments Scholars generally agree that the prophecy of Simeon in the Temple was fulfilled when Mary stood at the cross of Jesus watching her son die.

John 19:25-26, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother , and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!”

God always prepares us for difficulties that will take place in the future by giving us words to strengthen us and to prepare us for that time and season. Thus, God gave Mary words that would one day serve to strengthen her during the most difficult moment in her life, which was the crucifixion of her beloved Son on Calvary. In the same way, Jesus gave Peter a prophecy about his future suffering and death in order to strengthen him.

John 21:18-19, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.”

Luke 2:36-38 The Testimony of Anna the Prophetess Both Simeon and Anna recognized the Christ-child. It pleased God to record their two prophecies. We have the testimony of Anna the prophetess in Luke 2:36-39.

The Person of Anna the Prophetess - The Scriptures tell us quite a bit about Anna in a few verses.

1. She was of the tribe of Asher. (Luke 2:36)

2. She stood in the office of a prophetess. (Luke 2:36)

3. She was married only seven years before becoming a widow. (Luke 2:36)

4. She was a widow indeed because she never remarried. (Luke 2:37) (1 Timothy 5:5)

5. She served God day and night through prayer and fasting. (Luke 2:37) (1 Timothy 5:5)

6. She recognized the Christ and spoke of Him to all (Luke 2:38)

Luke 2:36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;

Luke 2:36 “And there was one Anna” Comments - The Greek name Ἅννα (G452) (Anna) is used once in the New Testament. John Gill says this name means “grace,” and is the Greek translation of the Hebrew name “Hannah,” whom we remember was the name of Samuel’s mother. [161]

[161] John Gill, Luke, in John Gill’s Expositor, in e-Sword, v. 7.7.7 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Luke 2:36.

Luke 2:36 “a prophetess” Comments - We have a number of Scriptures that support the fact that God used women in the office of a prophetess throughout history.

Exodus 15:20, “And Miriam the prophetess , the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.”

Judges 4:4, “And Deborah, a prophetess , the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.”

2 Kings 22:14, “So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess , the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.”

2 Chronicles 34:22, “And Hilkiah, and they that the king had appointed, went to Huldah the prophetess , the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college:) and they spake to her to that effect.”

Nehemiah 6:14, “My God, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the prophetess Noadiah , and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear.”

Isaiah 8:3, “And I went unto the prophetess ; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.”

Luke 2:36, “And there was one Anna, a prophetess , the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;”

Acts 2:17, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy , and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:”

Acts 21:9, “And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy .”

1 Corinthians 11:5, “But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.”

Revelation 2:20, “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess , to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.”

Luke 2:36 “the daughter of Phanuel”- Comments - The Greek name Φανουήλ (G5323) (Phanuel) is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name פְּנוּאֵל (H6439), translated in the KJV as “Penuel” 8 times or “Peniel” 1 time. The LXX uses the name “Phanuel” in 1 Chronicles 4:4, just as is used in Luke 2:36. The name פְּנוּאֵל means, “face of God” ( Strong). This Greek word occurs once in the New Testament, in Luke 2:36.

Luke 2:36 “of the tribe of Aser” Comments - Genealogies were very important to the Israelites in order to trace their Jewish roots. The fact that Matthew and Luke were able to trace Jesus’ genealogy back to Abraham testifies to the fact that the Jews kept ancient records of their ancestry. This is confirmed when Paul declares himself to be of the tribe of Benjamin (Romans 11:1, Philippians 3:5). Josephus tells us that there were indeed public tablets of Jewish ancestry. Josephus also tells us of the painstaking care that the Jews have taken to keep records as old as two thousand years of their ancestry. All Jews of the Diaspora kept accurate records, which were sent to Jerusalem for safekeeping ( Against Apion 1.7). Thus, for Luke to refer to Anna’s genealogy as a descendent of the tribe of Asher when recording her testimony shows that many Jews knew their own personal ancestry.

Luke 2:36 “she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity” - Comments - Anna was eighty-four (84) years old. She was married only seven years before her husband died. Matthew Henry notes the fact that she never married again is mentioned to her praise, as it testifies to her sincere devotion to God.

Luke 2:37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

Luke 2:37 “And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years” Comments - Scholars seem divided on the age of Anna. Some interpret this phrase to mean that she was eighty-four years old. Others understand her to have been married for seven years, and then widowed an additional eighty-four years, adding a minimum of twelve years of age for the earliest Jewish marriage, they suggest she was at least one-hundred and three years old.

Luke 2:37 “which departed not from the temple” - Comments - The temple is God’s house. Also, we are the temple of God. See 1 Corinthians 7:16-17.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”

Luke 2:37 “but served God with fastings and prayers night and day’ - Comments - Anna’s great age prevented her from performing many ministerial duties. However, she could serve the Lord with prayer and fasting night and day. In fact this was a duty of widows in the New Testament church. In the early Church Paul ordained and established the office and ministry of the widows indeed to give themselves to prayers night and day (1 Timothy 5:3-16). This practice seems to have already been established in the Jewish culture regarding Temple service.

1 Timothy 5:5, “Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.”

Cindy Jacobs says that she once asked the Lord why we have to pray night and day, and why can we not just pray in the daytime and sleep at night. The Lord said to her, “because the devil never rests.” She said that God made the night and called it good, but the devil has taken over the night. [162] That is when the drug deals happen, when the prostitutes come out and all kinds of evils take place. God originally made the night a good thing. For example, one good thing about the night is that it is a time of quietness and prayer and meditation on the activities of the day.

[162] Cindy Jacobs, with Benny Hinn, This is Your Day (Benny Hinn Ministries, Grapevine, Texas), television program.

Luke 2:37 Comments - There were many people in the Temple that day Joseph and Mary brought in baby Jesus. There were probably a number of babies there also, perhaps some to be dedicated. However, it was Anna’s life of prayer and fasting that put her in a position to hear from God and to recognize the presence of Israel’s Redeemer.

Luke 2:38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:38 “And she coming in that instant” Comments - The phrase “and she coming in that instant” tells us that Anna came into the Temple at the time Simeon was prophesying over baby Jesus. She heard the words of Simeon and it provoked the spirit of prophecy in her.

Luke 2:38 “gave thanks likewise unto the Lord” Comments - We read in Luke 2:28, “Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God,” Thus, Anna’s thanksgiving was like in comparison to Simeon’s praise unto God.

Luke 2:38 “and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” Comments - The Greek verb “spake” is in the imperfect, which is easily translated “she began to speak from that time forth.” In other words, she began to testify of Simeon’s prophecy and of baby Jesus for the rest of her life to all of those whose hearts were yearning to hear about the Messiah. She had been in God's Word. Because it had filled her heart, she naturally spoke His Word to others.

Joshua 1:8, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

Luke 2:39-40 Jesus Returns with His Family to Nazareth Luke 2:39-40 tells us how Jesus and His family returned to Nazareth after His birth. However, we must be able to reconcile this account with that of Matthew 2:13-15, which describes Joseph’s flight to Egypt until the death of King Herod before returning to Nazareth. Apparently, the family did not go immediately to Nazareth, but first fled to Egypt and later made their way to Nazareth. We know from Luke 2:22 that His parents stayed in the area of Bethlehem at least one month, during which time they dedicated baby Jesus in the Temple. We do not know precisely the time of the visit of the wise men from the East, but it was within the first two years of Jesus’ birth. A popular way to harmonize the Gospel narratives on Jesus’ childhood is give the following order of events: Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:1-7), the visit by the shepherds (Luke 2:8-20), Jesus’ dedication in the Temple (Luke 2:22-38), the visit by the wise men (Matthew 2:1-12), His flight to Egypt and the killing of the children in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:13-18), Jesus’ return to Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23, Luke 2:39), His childhood in Nazareth (Luke 2:40). [163]

[163] A. T. Robertson, A Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christ Based on the Broadus Harmony of the Revised Version (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1922), xiv.

Luke 2:39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.

Verse 40

Luke 2:40 Comments - I was raised in church as a child. In fact, my earliest memories are those of being in a church nursery, looking up at all of those big people from the nursery floor. I also remember attending church in the small red-brick sanctuary of Hiland Park Baptist Church, in Panama City, Florida. This was at the age of 4 years old or less.

I clearly remember at the age of seven tugging on my mom's sleeve one Sunday morning during the altar call, asking her if I could go down and give my life to Jesus. I remember weeping, answering questions from the pastor, and sitting down to fill out a decision card.

Those Sunday school lessons, those memories of church, being around saints of God, have instilled in me the Judeo-Christian values that I have taken with me my entire life.

At the age of 21, weeks after graduating from college, I knew where to go to in order to turn my life around. I rededicated my life to the Lord Jesus Christ because my roots were in church.

Jesus was given this same heritage in a righteous home.

Verses 41-52

The Witness of His Dialogue with the Priests Luke 2:41-52 contains a prophecy of Jesus while yet a child regarding His future ministry of redemption, which took place while He was having a dialogue with the priests in the Temple at the age of twelve.. This event serves as a prophecy of His future public ministry, testifying also to the divinity of Jesus Christ. This passage concludes with Jesus awaiting His manifestation to Israel while being subject to Joseph and Mary.

Luke 2:51-52, “And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”

His Childhood Years Are Not Recorded in Scripture Because They were not Necessary for Our Redemption - We know very little about Jesus’ childhood until He was called into the ministry and baptized by John the Baptist. Although a few passages in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels record some events about Jesus’ birth and infancy, Luke 2:41-52 is the only passage in the Gospels that records the childhood of Jesus Christ until His calling into the ministry.

In his book Heaven: Close Encounters of the God Kind Jesse Duplantis was asking Paul the apostle some questions about his personal life. Paul then explained that not much in known about his personal life outside of his ministry because it would not help anybody. Paul explained that in the same way, very little is known about Jesus’ personal life before His ministry. What ever happened is not relevant to our lives or it would have been written down. He said that it is His work that we need to know about. Even others who have given their lives to the Lord have very little written about their personal lives. This is because it is no longer they that live, but Christ that lives within them. The events recorded in the Scriptures are there because of their redemptive importance to the Christian life. [164]

[164] Jesse Duplantis, Heaven Close Encounters of the God Kind (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Harrison House, 1996), 158-9.

How God the Father Prepared Jesus Christ for His Public Ministry - Billy Brim was teaching on the early childhood of Jesus Christ as a guest on the Kenneth Copeland Ministries television broadcast Believer’s Voice of Victory. [165] She said that a woman by the name of Clara Grace, who was a prophetess, received a vision from the Lord. In this vision, she saw the Lord Jesus Christ as a young man building his last piece of furniture before entering into the ministry. As He finished His work that day and turned to put up His tools, He looked at Clara Grace. She was then brought within Jesus Christ’s body and spirit and received insight into the eighteen silent years of Jesus’ life from the age of twelve until He was baptized by John in the river Jordan. In this vision, Jesus Christ told her that He never laid his head to rest without first meditating about who He was and what He was in God’s divine plan. Billye Brim refers to Deuteronomy 6:7 where it tells us to speak and meditate on God’s Word when we lay down and when we awake as an example of how Jesus did the same.

[165] Billye Brim, interviewed by Gloria Copeland, Believer’s Voice of Victory (Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Fort Worth, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program, 22 May 2003.

Deuteronomy 6:7, “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down , and when thou risest up.”

Billy Brim makes the point that the statement made by Jesus Christ in John 8:28 includes the teachings that the Father taught Him before He entered into the ministry as well as what the Father taught Him during His three-year ministry.

John 8:28, “Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things .”

She gives other Scriptures that refer to the fact that the Father taught Jesus how to walk daily and to prepare for the ministry. She says that the passage in Psalms 119:97-102 is Messianic because He is the only one who ever refrained His feet from every evil way (verse 101). In this passage, the Psalmist says, “For thou hast taught me.”

Psalms 119:97-102, “MEM. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me .”

The Lord would wake Jesus day by day and reveal to Him His plan for that day and season. This revelation would give Jesus Christ the tongue of the learned to speak a word to him who was weary.

Isaiah 50:4-5, “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned . The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.”

This plan required obedience to His Heavenly Father, even when it included persecutions and death on the Cross.

Isaiah 50:6-7, “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.”

To this plan the Lord was not rebellious (Isaiah 50:5). So, this is how Jesus Christ learned to wait on the Heavenly Father and hear from Him. Jesus laid down to sleep meditating on the Word of God and how He fit into God’s plan. Jesus awoke with God speaking to Him about His plan for Him that day.

We find an additional testimony of Jesus’ insight about God’s divine plan for Him within the Holy Scriptures. On the road to Emmaus Jesus expounded to two of His disciples all of the Scriptures concerning His personal spiritual journey. These must have been Scriptures that the heavenly Father revealed to Him by the Holy Spirit from His childhood up to Calvary.

Luke 24:27, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Luke 2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.

Luke 2:41 “every year at the feast of the passover” Comments - John Nolland notes that the phrase “every year” ( κατ᾿ ἔτος ) allows the narrative material to move in time quickly bringing the reader from Jesus’ infancy to childhood. [166]

[166] John Nolland, Luke 1-9:20, in Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 35A (Dallas, Texas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), comments on Luke 2:41.

Luke 2:41 Comments - Luke 2:41 establishes the context and setting of the story which is about to be told by the author by referring to the Jewish custom of an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem at the time of the Passover. The rest of this passage (Luke 2:41-52) reveals that both Jesus’ parents, relatives, and most of the Palestinian Jews took part in this pilgrimage. Acts 2:9-11 reveals that many Jews of the Diaspora also journeyed to Jerusalem to celebrate this feast. It was such an important part of Jewish custom that even Paul the apostle made every effort to travel to Jerusalem during the Passover (Acts 18:21; Acts 20:16). This annual pilgrimage served as an outward testimony of a Jew’s testimony of his personal devotion to God.

Acts 2:9-11, “Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”

Acts 18:21, “But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.”

Acts 20:16, “For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.”

The Mosaic Law commanded the Jews to appear before the Lord three times a year, at the feasts of Passover, of Weeks (or Pentecost), and of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:16, see also Exodus 23:15, Deuteronomy 16:1). John Gill tells us Jewish customs taught that women were allowed the freedom of choice in attending these feasts. We see an example in Scripture of Hannah, Samuel’s mother, making this pilgrimage regularly with her husband in 1 Samuel 1:1 to 1 Samuel 2:20.

Exodus 23:15, “Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:)”

Deuteronomy 16:1, “Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.”

Deuteronomy 16:16, “Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:”

Luke 2:42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.

Luke 2:42 “And when he was twelve years old” - Comments - The significance of the age of twelve in a young Jewish boy’s life is believed to be a time of transition from childhood towards adulthood. Anyone who has raised children understands how a child begins his adolescent years at this age, with rapid growth of the body, and a laying aside of childish passions. Nolland quotes a number of Jewish rabbis and sources to support the increase of duties at this time saying this was “the age at which vows became binding, parental punishment could become more severe, and fasting could be expected to be sustained for a whole day.” [167] John Gill lists similar duties implemented at this age. [168]

[167] John Nolland, Luke 1:1-20 , in Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 35A (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), S. 129.

[168] John Gill, Luke, in John Gill’s Expositor, in e-Sword, v. 7.7.7 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Luke 2:42.

Luke 2:24 “they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast” Comments - Each Jewish festival had its unique customs. The Jews were accustomed to travelling to Jerusalem during the Passover because of the requirement in the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 16:16).

Deuteronomy 16:16, “Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:”

Luke 2:43 “and Joseph and his mother knew not of it” Comments - Luke consistently avoids referring to Joseph as Jesus’ biological father throughout his Gospel.

Luke 2:45 Comments - By the time Jesus’ parents returned back to Jerusalem, they were upset, as they explained to their Son how they sought him sorrowing (Luke 2:48).

Luke 2:46 “both hearing them, and asking them questions” - Comments - This characterizes the naturally inquisitive spirit of many youth, as they learn about the world around them.

Luke 2:47 Comments The rabbis were amazed at Jesus’ answers because they could not understand how a young boy had such wisdom.

Luke 2:48 Comments - This is the only place in the Gospel of Luke where Joseph is called the father of Jesus. However, in the next verse Jesus correctly calls God His Father.

Luke 2:49 “wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business” Comments - Luke 2:49 reveals that Jesus had much spiritual understanding of His coming ministry in earth at an early age. Jesus only uses the word “Father” to refer to His heavenly Father. Here is the example of how a 12-year old child should be. A child does not have to be full of foolishness (Proverbs 22:15; Proverbs 24:9), but he can be seeking God, the Father in his youth.

Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”

Proverbs 24:9, “The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.”

Any child’s business should be the affairs of our Heavenly Father.

Luke 2:49 Comments - Jesus replied to His parents with a prophetic utterance regarding His future public ministry. He responded to His parent’s question with a question. He used this similar approach in His ministry. When His mother said to Him, “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing,” Jesus kindly corrected her by referring to God as His Father.

Jesus experienced several times of testing, when God the Father tested Him to demonstrate His love and devotion to God. The most obvious time was Jesus’ forty days of temptation in the wilderness preceding His public ministry (Luke 4:1-13). However, Jesus’ decision to stay in Jerusalem and dialogue with the priests was perhaps His first tests (Luke 2:49), when He chose to pursue His love for God’s Word instead of following His parent’s home to Nazareth. The next time when Jesus faced a difficult decision was when His set His face towards Jerusalem, where Calvary awaited (Luke 9:51). Another time of testing came in the Garden of Gethsemane when His prayed, “Not my will, but thine.” (Luke 22:41-42) Reflecting upon these four periods of testing, we see how they each preceded Jesus’ move from one phase of ministry into a higher phase, leading Him from justification, indoctrination, divine service, perseverance, to glorification with the Father. For example, His decision to stay with the teachers of the Law in the temple as the age of twelve indicated that He was moving from a time of justification as a child to indoctrination and training in God’s Word. His forty days of tempting in the wilderness preceded His phase of divine service. His decision to set His face towards Jerusalem preceded a period of perseverance, and His decision in the Garden to go to the Cross preceded His glorification with the Father. We, too, will face similar seasons of testing, where our Heavenly Father wants us to demonstrate our love and devotion to Him.

Luke 2:50 Comments - Although His parents did not understand what Jesus mean, Mary would hide these things in her heart, realizing that His words were prophetic.

Luke 2:51 “And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them” - Comments - Even Jesus Christ, as a child, understood authority and was willing to submit himself to the authority of His earthly parents, thus fulfilling the Law of Moses as a child.

Luke 2:51 “but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart” Comments - The statement “his mother kept all these sayings in her heart” suggests that Mary did not publicly discuss her thoughts and feelings about this incident to others; rather, she quietly reflected upon these events, particularly in light of the events surrounding His divine birth. Mary knew He was sent from God for a divine assignment; for in this same Temple Simeon and Anna had prophesied of His future, but she did not know what His future held. Therefore, she did not see Jesus’ actions as disobedience, but rather a divine event that further confirmed Jesus’ divinity.

Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52 Comments - Luke 2:52 tells us how Jesus grew in every area of His life: he grew mentally (in wisdom), physically (in stature), spiritually (in favor with God) and socially (in favor with man).

“And Jesus increased in wisdom” Luke 2:52 reveals to us that Jesus Christ divested Himself of some of His eternal attributes, such as His omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence. According to Luke 2:52 Jesus had to grow in the knowledge of God and in the knowledge of the Scriptures. (Note how well Jesus used the Scriptures in the Temple at the age of twelve, or in Matthew 22:0 to convict the scribes and Pharisees.) Kenneth Hagin says that Jesus Christ laid aside certain privileges and restricted Himself to certain human limitations. He then uses several Scriptures to explain these limitations. First, Jesus Christ was not omniscient because He “grew” in wisdom according to Luke 2:52. Secondly, He did not operate in His omnipotence because He could of His own self do nothing (John 5:19; John 5:30). Thirdly, He was confined to the human body so that He could not be omnipresent. Thus, we see in Luke 2:52 how Jesus Christ had to grow “in stature” like anyone else. Hagin says that Jesus Christ never ceased being deity, but that He chose to live under these limitations in order to redeem mankind. [169]

[169] Kenneth Hagin, He Gave Gifts Unto Men: A Biblical Perspective of Apostles, Prophets, and Pastors (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c1992, 1993), 10-1.

John 5:19, “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”

John 5:30, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”

“and stature” Jesus would be thirty years old before making His public appearance as the Messiah and King of the Jews, most likely because the Jewish culture accepted a man as a full adult at this age.

“and in favour with God and man” - Jesus walked in mercy and truth. We know this because according to Proverbs 3:3-4 a person who walks in mercy and truth finds favor and good understanding with God and man. Note:

Proverbs 3:3-4, “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.”

This phrase also indicates that Jesus did not live an isolated life in Nazareth, but was well known in his society because of his godly behaviour.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Luke 2". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/luke-2.html. 2013.
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