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Bible Commentaries
Luke 2

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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Luke 2:3 . ἰδίαν ] Lachm. Tisch. have ἑαυτοῦ , following B D L א ** Eus. An interpretation, which is further found completely in D ( ἑαυτοῦ πατρίδα ). א * has ἑαυτῶν .

Luke 2:5 . μεμνηστ . See on Luke 1:27 .

γυναικί ] is wanting in B C * (F) D L Ξ א , min. vss. Fathers. Deleted by Lachm., and now also again by Tisch. An addition; ἐμνηστευμένῃ was objectionable, hence γυναικί was added, and in part ἐμνηστευμ . was even deleted (Luke 2:0 :Verc. Colb.). There was less probability that offence might be taken after Matthew 1:24 at γυναικί . Cyril of Jerusalem expresses himself too obscurely in this respect.

Luke 2:7 . τῇ φάτνῃ ] τῇ is wanting in preponderating witnesses. It is deleted by Lachm. Tisch. The article was added here and at Luke 2:12 , in order to designate the definite manger, i.e. the well-known manger of the Saviour.

Luke 2:12 . κείμενον ] B L P S Ξ א ** min. Syr. utr. Vulg. codd. It. Eus. Arnob. and Tisch. have καὶ κείμ .; καί was easily inserted to connect the two participles.

Luke 2:14 . εὐδοκία ] A B * D א , Goth. Sax. Vulg. It., Fathers, have εὐδοκίας . So Lachm. and Tisch. Recommended by Beza, Mill, Bengel, and others. There is considerable evidence on both sides, but it preponderates in favour of the genitive. Now, as the unfamiliar expression ἄνθρωποι εὐδοκίας is not to be put down to the account of the transcribers, but, on the contrary, these, not apprehending the symmetry of the passage, had after the analogy of δόξα and εἰρήνη sufficient inducement to put instead of εὐδοκίας the nominative likewise, εὐδοκίας is to be preferred.

Luke 2:15 . καί οἱ ἄνθρωποι ] is wanting in B L Ξ א , min. Syr. Perss. Ar. p. Copt. Sahid. Arm. Vulg. It. Eus. Aug. Bracketed by Lachm. Deleted by Tisch. But the homoeoteleuton ( ἄγγελοι … ἄνθρωποι ) the more easily gave occasion to the omission, as the words are superfluous and there was no motive for their addition.

Luke 2:17 . διεγνώρισαν ] Lachm. Tisch. have ἑγνώρισαν , following B D L Ξ א , min. Eus. But the syllable ΔΙ after δέ was more easily passed over than added, especially as the simple form was present in Luke 2:15 .

Luke 2:20 . Instead of ὑπέστρεψαν , Elz. has ἐπέστρεψαν ; and at Luke 2:21 , instead of αὐτόν : τὸ παιδίον , in opposition to preponderant evidence.

Luke 2:33 . Ἰωσὴφ καὶ ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ ] B D L א , min. vss. (also Vulg.) Or. and several Fathers have ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ κ . ἡ μήτηρ . So Griesbach and Tisch. (who after μήτηρ retains αὐτοῦ ). The mention of the father gave offence, and in this place the name might be introduced instead of it, but not appropriately also at Luke 2:48 .

Luke 2:37 . ὡς ] Lachm. and Tisch. have ἕως , in accordance with A B L Ξ א * min. Copt. Sahid. Ar. p. Vulg. codd. It. Aug. Rightly; the ὠς , frequently used in the case of numbers, intruded itself.

Luke 2:38 . αὕτη ] on preponderant evidence, and because καὶ αὕτη presented itself mechanically from Luke 2:37 , is to be deleted, with Lachm. and Tisch.

ἐν Ἱερουσ .] ἐν is wanting in B Ξ Π א , min. vss. (including Vulg. ms. and codd. It.) and Fathers, and is condemned by Griesb., deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. An addition from misunderstanding.

Luke 2:39 . τὴν πόλιν αὑτῶν ] Lachm. and Tisch. have πόλιν ἑαυτῶν . In accordance with decisive evidence ἑαυτῶν is to be adopted; but the omission of τήν is only attested by B D * א 1.

Luke 2:40 . πνεὑματι ] has testimonies against it of such weight, and it can so little conceal its origin from Luke 1:80 , that with reason it is condemned by Mill and Griesb., excluded by Lachm. and Tisch.

Luke 2:42 . ἀναβάντων ] Lachm. and Tisch. have ἀναβαινότων , in accordance with A B K L X Π א , min. Vulg. codd. It. A copyist’s error; the aorist is necessary.

εἰς Ἱεροσ .] is wanting in B D L א , min. vss. Tisch. It betrays itself by the form Ἱεροσόλυμα as an addition of another hand.

Luke 2:43 . ἔγνω Ἰωσὴφ κ . ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ ] B D L א , min. vss. (including Vulg. and codd. It.) Jerome have ἔγνωσαν οἱ γονεῖς αὐτοῦ . Recommended by Griesb., adopted by Lachm. and Tisch. Comp. also Rinck on Matthew 24:36 . I regard οἱ γονεῖς αὐτοῦ as written in the margin from Luke 2:41 . Comp. on Luke 2:33 . Were it original, and had Ἰωσ . κ . ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ been subsequently put for it, why should not this alteration have been already undertaken before at Luke 2:41 (where only codd. It. have: Joseph et Maria)? and why should ἔγνωσαν (which would have stood originally) not have been left? This plural so naturally suggested itself, even with the words of the Recepta, that some witnesses for the Recepta ( Δ , for instance) actually read it.

Luke 2:45 . After εὑρόντες Elz. Scholz have αὐτόν (Lachm. in brackets), in opposition to B C * D L א , min. Arm. Aeth. Vulg. codd. It. A current addition.

ζητοῦντες ] nearly the same witnesses have ἀναζητοῦντες . So Lachm. and Tisch. From Luke 2:44 .

The genuineness of the portion from ch. Luke 1:5 to the end of ch. 2 has been contested by Evanson ( The Dissonance of the four generally received Evangelists , etc., Ipswich 1792), J. E. Chr. Schmidt (in Henke’s Magaz. vol. III. p. 473 ff.), Horst (Henke’s Museum , I. 3, p. 446 ff.), C. C. L. Schmidt (in the Repert. f. d. Literat. d. Bibel , I. p. 58 ff.), Jones ( Sequel to Ecclesiastical Researches , etc., London 1803), Eichhorn, Einl. I. p. 630 f. Baur reckons the section among the portions which have been introduced into our Gospel by the agency of a reviser (the author of the Acts of the Apostles). See his Markusevang. p. 218 ff. But the genuineness was defended by Ammon ( Nova Opusc. p. 32 ff.), Süskind ( Symbolae , II. p. 1 ff.), von Schubert ( de infantiae J. Ch. historiae a Matth. et Luc. exhibitae authentia atque indole , Gripeswald. 1815), Reuterdahl ( Obss. crit. in priora duo ev. Luc. capita , Lond. 1823), Bertholdt, Paulus, Schott, Feilmoser, Credner, Neudecker, Kuinoel, Volkmar, Guericke, and almost all the more recent writers. In opposition to Baur, see also Köstlin, p. 306 ff.

The genuineness is rendered certain by the external testimonies without exception. It is true that the section was wanting in the Gospel of Marcion (see Tertullian, c. Marc. iv. 7); but Marcion mutilated and falsified the Gospel of Luke in accordance with his dogmatic aims, and thus formed his Gospel, which, according to Tertullian, Epiphanius, Origen, and others, began: Ἐν ἔτει πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος ὁ Θεὸς κατῆλθεν εἰς Καφαρναοῦμ , πόλιν τῆς Γαλιλαίας , καὶ ἦν διδάσκων ἐν τοῖς σάββασιν (Luke 3:1 , Luke 4:31 ). And the internal character of the section, much as it differs from the preface by its Hebraic colouring in accordance with the sources made use of, contains the same peculiarities of Luke as are apparent in the other portions of the Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles (see Gersdorff, p. 160 ff.; Credner, I. p. 132 ff.), and betrays in the whole peculiar character of the representation documental sources, whose characteristic and in part highly poetic stamp Luke with correct tact has known how to preserve in working them up. We may add, that a reason against the genuineness can as little be derived from Acts 1:1 as a conclusion in its favour can be gathered from Luke 1:3 . For there mention of the Gospel is made only as regards its main contents ; and the ἄνωθεν at Luke 1:3 would, even if Luke 1:5 to Luke 2:52 were not genuine, find warrant enough in the beginning of the history from the emergence of John and in the genealogy contained in the third chapter.

Verse 1

Luke 2:1 . Ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκ .] approximate specification of time in relation to the principal contents of what precedes, the birth of the Baptist.

δόγμα ] an ordinance, an edict . Acts 17:7 ; Theodotion, Daniel 2:13 ; Dem. 278. 17, 774. 19; Plat. Legg. i. p. 644 D; and the passages in Wetstein.

ἀπογράφεσθαι ] that there should be recorded , cannot at all be meant of a mere registration , which Augustus had caused to be made (if also with the design of regulating in future a taxing of the Jews) for a statistical object, possibly with a view to the Breviarium imperii which he wrote with his own hand (in which “opes publicae continebantur; quantum civium sociorumque in armis; quot classes, regna, provinciae, tributa aut vectigalia et necessitates ac largitiones,” Tacitus, Ann. i. 11), as is held by Kuinoel, Olshausen, Ebrard, Wieseler, Ewald, and older expositors, but must, on account of Luke 2:2 , be placed on the same footing in respect of its nature with the census Quirinii , and is therefore to be regarded as the direct registration into the tax-lists , belonging to the census proper ( ἀποτίμησις , τίμημα ) and forming its essential element, as, in fact, ἀπογράφειν , ἀπογράφεσθαι , ἀπογραφή (Acts 5:37 ) are the standing expressions for the recording of estate , whether in affairs of law-procedure (see Reiske, Ind. Dem. p. 63 f.; Hermann, Staatsalterth. § 136. 13), or in those of taxing (Plato, Legg. vi. p. 754 D; Polyb. x. 17. 10; and see Elsner and Wetstein). On the subject-matter itself, see Huschke, üb. d. Census u. d. Steuerverfass. d. frühern Röm. Kaiserzeit , Berl. 1847.

πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμ .] not: the whole of Palestine (Flacius, Clavis ; Paulus, Hug, and others), to which the expression is never limited, [35] not even in Josephus, Antt. viii. 13. 5, but, as the context by παρὰ Καίσαρος Αὐγούστου imperatively requires, the whole Roman empire (orbis terrarum ). See the passages in Wetstein, and comp. Dissen, ad Dem, de Cor. p. 215; Maetzner, Lycurg. p. 100. Hence the Roman emperors were called κύριοι τῆς οἰκουμένης (Franz, Corp. Inscr. III. p. 205). Luke narrates a general census of the empire (Huschke); and even the limitation of the meaning merely to a general provincial census (Wieseler) has no foundation at all in the text, any more than the fanciful suggestion of Lange ( L. J. II. 1, p. 93), that Mary, who is assumed as the source of information for the history of the infancy, had, “in accordance with the policy of a lofty feminine sentiment,” referred the determination of Herod , to undertake a census in Palestine , back to the Emperor Augustus as its originator, and that Luke, “in his kindly truth,” had not wished to alter the account, and hence had “by way of gentle correction” inserted Luke 2:2 . See, in opposition to this, Ebrard, p. 169 f. Comp. also Auberlen, Daniel u. d. Apok. p. 248 f.

[35] Justin, c. Tr. 78, has: ἀπογραφῆς οὔσης ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ τότε πρώτης . But this ἐν τῆ Ἰουδ . manifestly has its reference to πρώτης . Comp. Ap. i. 34, p. 75 E.

Verses 1-2

Luke 2:1-2 . See especially Huschke, üb. den z. Zeit d. Geburt J. Chr. gehalt. Census , Breslau 1840 (Hoeck, Röm. Gesch. Bd. I. Abth. II.); Wieseler, chronol. Synopse , p. 73 ff.; von Gumpach in the Stud. u. Krit. 1852, p. 663 ff., where also the older literature is specified, and in his Kritik und Antikritik , Heidelb. 1853; Zumpt, Commentatt. epigraph. II. p. 73 ff.; Köhler in Herzog’s Encykl. XIII. p. 463 ff.; Aberle in the theol. Quartalschr. 1865, p. 103 ff.; Gerlach, d. Römischen Statthalter in Syr. u. Judäa , 1865, p. 22 ff., 44 ff.; Strauss, die Halben u. d. Ganzen , 1865, p. 70 ff.; Hilgenfeld in his Zeitschr. 1865, p. 408 ff.

Verse 2

Luke 2:2 . In a critical respect no change is to be made. Lachmann has, indeed, struck out the article before ἀπογρ . (in which Wieseler, and now also Tischendorf agree with him), but the witnesses which omit it are only B D (the latter having ἐγένετο ἀπογραφὴ πρώτη ), א (?) 131, Eus.; and how easily might ἡ , which in itself is superfluous (see Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 105 [E. T. 221]; Bremi, ad Lys. Exc. II. p. 436 ff.), be merged in the last letter of αὕτη ! If ἡ is not read, αὕτη is the subject, and ἀπογρ . πρ . is the predicate (this became the first ἀπογραφή ). Beza, Exodus 1:2 , Exodus 1:3 , Pfaff, Valckenaer have declared the entire verse to be an interpolated scholion; but this is a violent suggestion opposed to all the evidence. Conjectures are given by Huetius: Κυϊντιλίου ; Heumann: Κρονίου (= Saturnini); Valesius: Σατουρνίνου ; Michaelis: πρώτη ἐγένετο πρὸ τῆς ἡγεμονεύοντος κ . τ . λ ., al.; see Bowyer, Conject. I. p. 117 ff.

The observation contained in Luke 2:2 , which, moreover, is not to be put in a parenthesis, is intended to tell the reader that this census was the first of those held under the presidency of Quirinius, and consequently to guard against confounding it with that which was held about eleven years later (Acts 5:37 ). The words signify: This census was the first while Quirinius was praeses of Syria. [36] There was known, namely, to the reader a second census of Quirinius (Acts, l.c. ); but the one recorded at present was the first , which occurred under the Syrian presidency of this man. [37] It is true that history is at variance with this clear meaning of the words as they stand. For at the time of the birth of Jesus, according to the definite testimony of Tertullian ( c. Marc. iv. 19), Q. Sentius Saturninus was governor of Syria; Publius Sulpicius Quirinius did not become so till about ten years later. [38] But this variance does not entitle us to have recourse to explanations inconsistent with linguistic usage or with the text. Explanations of this nature, which must, nevertheless, leave untouched the incorrect statement about the taxation as an imperial census, are (1) that of Herwart ( Chronol. 241 f.), Bynaeus, Marck, Er. Schmid, Clericus, Keuchen, Perizonius ( de Augustea orbis terrar. descript. , Oxon. 1638), Ussher, Petavius, Calovius, Heumann, Storr, Süskind, and others, including Tholuck ( Glaubwürdigk. d. evang. Gesch. p. 184), Huschke, Wieseler, who holds that πρώτη ἡγεμ . κ . τ . λ . means: sooner than Quirinius was praeses . Comp. also Bornemann, Schol. p. lxvi., and Ewald ( Gesch. Chr. p. 140), who compares the Sanscrit and translates: “this taxation occurred much earlier (superlative) than when Quirinius ruled.” But instead of citing passages in which, as at John 1:15 ; John 15:18 , πρῶτός τινος , according to the real meaning , is sooner than some one (Bernhardy, ad Dionys. Perieg. p. 770, and Eratosth. p. 122; Wesseling, ad Herod. ii. 2, Luke 9:27 ; Schaefer, ad Dion. Hal. c. v. p. 228; Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 421), proofs ought to have been adduced for such a participial connection as in the passage before us; but certainly not Jeremiah 29:2 , where ἐξελθόντος κ . τ . λ . is a genitive absolute , even apart from the fact that the use of ὕστερον there cannot vouch for our πρώτη . In a similarly erroneous manner Wieseler has adduced Soph. Ant. 637 f., 701 f., 703 f. Luke would have known how to express the meaning: sooner than , etc., simply, definitely, and accurately, by πρὸ τοῦ ἡγεμονεύειν κ . τ . λ . (comp. Luke 2:21 ; Luke 12:5 ; Acts 23:15 ), or by πρίν , or πρὶν ἤ . [39] (2) The expedient of Beza, Casaubon ( Exercitatt. Antibaron. p. 126 f.), Jos. Scaliger ( de emend, temp. 4, p. 417), Grotius, Wernsdorf ( de censu, quem Caes. Oct. Aug. fecit , Viteb. 1720), Deyling ( Obss. I. ed. 3, p. 242 f.), Nahmmacher ( de Augusto ter censum agente , Helmst. 1758), Volborth ( de censu Quir. , Gott. 1785), Birch ( de censu Quir. , Havn. 1790), Sanclemente ( de vulg. aerae Dionys. emend. , Rom. 1793), Ideler ( Handb. d. Chronol. II. p. 394), Münter, ( Stern d. Weisen , p. 88 ff.), Neander, Hug ( Gutacht ), and others: that ἡγεμονεύοντ . is here to be taken in a wider meaning, and that Quirinius had held that first ἀπογραφή in Syria as extraordinary commissioner of the emperor, as to which appeal is made, partly in general to the imperial favour which Quirinius enjoyed, partly to Tac. Ann. iii. 48, according to which he was nearly about that time in the East with extraordinary commissions, partly to the analogy of the Gallic census held by Germanicus (Tac. Ann. i. 31), and so forth. This expedient would only be possible, if ἡγεμον . stood by itself in the passage, and not τῆς Συρίας beside it. And if ἡγεμον . were meant proleptically : under the subsequent praeses (Lardner in Bowyer, Conject. I. p. 120; Münter), Luke could hardly have proceeded more awkwardly than by thus omitting the point whereon his being understood depended (it must have been expressed in some such way as Κυρηνίου τοῦ ὕστερον ἡγεμ . τῆς Συρίας ). (3) Gerlach thinks that at the time of Christ’s birth Varus, indeed, was ἡγεμών of Syria, but Quirinius was placed by his side as legatus Caesaris proconsulari potestate for the purpose of making war upon the Homonades, and had at that time consequently likewise as ἡγεμών undertaken the census, which, however, he brought to no right conclusion, and only carried out subsequently under his second praesidium . But granted that the Tiburtine inscription (see upon that subject Gerlach, p. 25, 39 ff.), which Huschke refers to Agrippa , Zumpt to Saturninus , is rightly referred, with Sanclemente, Nipperdey, Bergmann, and Gerlach, to Quirinius, and that a twofold legatio of the latter to Asia took place: how could Luke with his simple and plain words intend to designate that complicated historical relation and leave the reader to guess it? To the latter Quirinius presented himself only as ordinary and single praeses of Syria. Compare, moreover, what is said afterwards in opposition to von Gumpach. (4) At variance with the text is the expedient of Paulus, who substantially is followed by Gersdorf, Glöckler, Krabbe, Mack ( Bericht üb. Strauss, krit. Bearb. d. Leb. J. p. 84 ff.), Hofmann, Weissag. u. Erf. II. p. 54, Ebrard, Lange, L. J. II. l, p. 94 (comp. also Tholuck, Glaubwürdigk. p. 184 ff., and Olshausen): that the word is to be accented as αὐτή ( ipsa): the first recording itself took place while Quirinius , etc.; the issuing of the edict ensued at the time of the birth of Jesus, but the census itself did not occur till under Quirinius. [40] This is erroneous, as in fact Luke 2:3 relates the very carrying out [41] of the ἀπογράφεσθαι , and this Luke 2:3 ff. must be conceived as following immediately upon the edict. (5) Von Gumpach lays stress on ἐγένετο , [42] whereby he regards Luke as indicating that in Luke 2:1 he has spoken only of the placing on the register , and would not have the same confounded with the actual levying of taxation , which was not carried into execution until under Quirinius. Against this it may be urged that Luke would have known how to express the realization , as contrasted with what was intended , otherwise than by the simple ἐγένετο , or that he would at least have placed this word, and that with a more precise definition ( ὌΝΤΩς ΔῈ ἘΓΈΝΕΤΟ , or the like), at the head of the sentence; as well as that he, in order to have the ἈΠΟΓΡΑΦΉ recognised as something different from and later than the mere registration, must have made use of another word, and not again of ἀπογραφή so similar to the ἈΠΟΓΡΆΦΕΣΘΑΙ . (6) Aberle seeks by learned combination to show that even before the death of Herod Quirinius had actually become praeses Syriae , but that as rector juventutis to the emperor’s grandson Caius, he was still temporarily detained in Rome by Augustus, [43] and his governorship remained virtually unknown in the east and west, but is to be assigned to the year 749. But while there is certain attestation that he was rector juventutis to Caius (Tacitus, Ann. iii. 48), in which post he was succeeded by Lollius (see Zumpt, p. 102), there is no evidence at all for the assumption of a contemporary praesidium Syriae , which he must have held nominally (thus somewhat like an episcopus in partibus ). And how should this state of things, which had remained unknown and was only noticed by jurists and notaries for the sake of the dating of documents, have become known to Luke in particular, and have been left by him without any explanation, in such a way that from his words we can only understand the praeses Syriae in the primary and usual sense, according to which the praeses resides in his province and administers the same?

It is not to be inferred, moreover, from the ignorance which Luke betrays at Acts 5:36 ff., that the addition πρώτη proceeds not from Luke, but from an older Jewish-Christian writer (Köstlin, p. 245); for that ignorance concerned not the census of Quirinius, but the time of the insurrection of Theudas.

ἩΓΕΜΟΝ . ] the general word for the post of a chief, here shown by the context ( Τῆς ΣΥΡΊΑς ) to be used of the provincial chief, praeses (proconsul). Comp. Joseph. Antt. xviii. 4. 2 : Συρίας τὴν ἡγεμονίαν ἔχων . In Luke 3:1 , used of the Procurator.

ΚΥΡΗΝΊΟΥ ] P. Sulpicius Quirinius previously in the year 742 consul, praeses of Syria in the years 6 11 after Christ, died in Rome in the year 21 after Christ. See Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 18 f.; Gerlach, l.c. His name is usually written Quirinus ; by others (so Wetstein, Valckenaer, Ewald, Gerlach, al.), Quirinius . In the case of the Roman writers (especially Florus, iv. 12. 41; Tacitus, Ann. ii. 30, iii. 22. 48) the manuscripts vary; from a coin and inscription, which have Quirinus , nothing can be decided in view of the great doubt as to their genuineness. [44] But it is certain that among the Greeks (Strabo, xii. 6, p. 569; Josephus, Justin Martyr) the name is written with the termination ΙΟΣ ; and, as this manner of writing is at all events decidedly correct in our passage (C D E F, etc., including א , likewise Eusebius, Chrysostom, etc.), whereas among the codices only B reads ΚΥΡΕΊΝΟΥ (hence Lachmann reads ΚΥΡΊΝΟΥ ), the form Quirinius , which easily became confounded with the familiar Roman word Quirinus (= Quirinalis ), is to be preferred. The confusion occurred the more easily, as Quirinus , Κυρῖνος (Plutarch), or Κυρίνος (Leon. Philippians 1:0 ) was also a Roman name. At all events, Luke himself had in his mind the name Quirinius .

[36] Not: it took place first, when , came to be carried out not earlier than when Quirinius, etc. Lichtenstein, p. 81 f., comes ultimately to this meaning. How can this be expressed by πρώτη ? Instead of πρώτη Luke must have written precisely the opposite, namely, ὕστερον , or ὕστερον δὴ ἐγένετο κ . τ . λ . Hofmann is similarly mistaken, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 120 f.

[37] Quite definitely Justin also says, in agreement with Luke, that Christ was born ἐπὶ Κυρηνίου ( Apol. i. 46), and even that His birth was to be seen ἐκ τῶν ἀπογραφῶν τῶν γενομένεν ἐπὶ Κυρηνίου τοῦ ὑμετέρου ἐν Ἰουδαίᾳ πρώτου γενομένου ἐπιτρόπου , Apol. i. 34; so that he in another erroneous manner (see Credner, Beitr. I. p. 230) makes the man to be Roman procurator in Judaea . This was Coponius , Joseph. Bell. ii. 8. 1.

[38] Between these two Quintilius Varus had been invested with this dignity, Joseph. Antt. xvii. 5. 2. But the position that Quirinius had not been already governor of Syria at an earlier date (according to Zumpt, from 4 to 1 before Christ) must be adhered to, according to all the accounts given of him by Josephus (especially Antt. xviii. 1. 1). Comp. Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 140 f. The words ITERVM. SYRIAM. of the Tiburtine inscription are of too uncertain interpretation, if the inscription applies to Quirinius, precisely to prove his twofold praesidium Syriae , since we know neither what stood after Syriam , etc., nor whether iterum is to be referred forward or backward. Comp. Strauss, p. 75. What still remains of the whole damaged inscription runs thus (according to Mommsen in Bergmann):

[39] “Profecto mirandum est, homines eruditissimos in ejusmodi interpretationum ludibria a praejudicatis opinionibus perductos labi,” Valckenaer, p. 68.

[40] Glöckler, Krabbe, Mack, and Tholuck, however, do not hold the accentuation αὐτή requisite, and Köhler rejects it.

[41] Ebrard, p. 177, wishes to set aside this difficulty by the explanation that while an ἀπογράφεσθαι in the sense of a registration already occurred at the time of the birth of Jesus, Luke availed himself of the double meaning of ἀπογραφή , which also signifies the actual census, “in an easy and unrestrained manner ” to set forth how the work begun in the registration was completed in the taxation of Quirinius. This is a makeshift, which imputes to Luke a very enigmatical and awkward use of the word ἀπογραφή .

[42] So also does Köhler, who besides, with Hofmann and Ebrard, lays stress on the fact that the passage runs not as ἡ πρώτη , but simply πρώτη . Luke is thus made to say: this taxation was completed as the first taxation , etc.; it was, namely, begun doubtless, but was soon stopped and was only carried out under Quirinius. Comp. already Calvin and Gerlach above. Nothing of this appears in the text, and the article with πρώτη would make no difference at all, since, as is well known, the ordinal numbers may stand with or without an article. (Poppo, ad Thucyd. ii. 70. 5, iv. 90. 3, Goth.).

[43] Varus having in the meanwhile continued still to exercise the powers of governor. As well according to Gerlach as according to Aberle, Varus is held to have already, at the time of Christ’s birth, filled the office of governor in Syria, which, moreover, Norisius, Cenotaph. Pis. II. p. 82 f., and others maintained. But this is at variance with Tertullian, l.c. , comp. c. 7, where it can only he regarded as a very arbitrary assumption that Saturninus is no longer meant as governor .

[44] See Gerlach, p. 37, who cites another inscription, which actually reads Quirinio , from Marini, Act. II. 782.



svpplicationes. binas. ob. res. prosp

ipsi. ornamenta. trivmph

pro. consvl. asiam. provinciamop

divi. avgvsti. itervm. syriam. et. ph

See Bergmann, de inscript. Latina ad P. Sulp. Quir. Cos. a 742 ut videtur refer. 1851.


The statement of Luke, so far as it affirms that at the time of the birth of Christ an imperial census was taken, and that it was the first that was provincially carried out by the Syrian praeses Quirinius, is manifestly incorrect. For (1) the praesidium of Quirinius is placed about ten years too early; and (2) an imperial census, if such an one should have been held at all at the time of the birth of Jesus (which, however, cannot from other sources be proved, for the passages of Christian authors, Cassiodorus, var. iii. 52, Suidas, s.v. ἀπογραφή , plainly depend on the narrative of Luke, as also does the chronologically erroneous statement of Isidor. Orig. v. 36. 4), cannot have affected Palestine at all, [45] since it had not yet become a Roman province, which did not happen till 759. And, indeed, the ordaining of so abnormal and disturbing a measure in reference to Palestine a measure, which assuredly would not be carried through without tumultuary resistance would have been so uncommonly important for Jewish history, that Josephus would certainly not have passed it over in absolute silence ( Antt. xvii. 1. 1 does not bear on it); especially as it was not the rex socius himself, Herod, but the Roman governor, who was, according to Luke (in opposition to Wieseler), the authority conducting it. But (3) the holding withal of a general census of the empire under Augustus is historically altogether unvouched for; it is a matter of history (see the Monum. Ancyran. in Wolf, ed. Sueton. II. p. 369 ff.; comp. Sueton. Aug. 27) that Augustus thrice, in 726, 746, and 767, held a census populi, i.e. a census of the Roman citizens, but not also of the whole provinces of the empire (see, in opposition to Huschke, Wieseler, p. 84 ff.). Should we, on the other hand, assume, with Wieseler, that the census had only the provinces in view and had been taken up in the different provinces in different years, and with the utmost indulgence to provincial peculiarities, the object aimed at being the settling of an uniform system of taxation (comp. Savigny in the Zeitschr. für geschichtl. Rechtswiss. VI. p. 350), the text of Luke would stand opposed to it. For, according to that text, ( a ) the whole Roman empire is subjected to a census; (b ) this quite universal census is ordained at once in the edict , which, on Wieseler’s hypothesis of the gradual and indulgent mode of its execution by the politic Augustus, would have been imprudent; and ( c ) it is represented as an actual tax-census , as was the well-known (according to Luke, second ) census Quirinii, in which case the alleged indulgence is imported .

[45] See Mommsen in Bergm. p. iv. ff.

Nevertheless, criticism pronounces judgment on itself, when it designates the whole account as to the census as an invention of legend (Strauss; comp. Kern, Urspr. des Evang. p. 113 ff.; Weisse, I. p. 236), or even of Luke (B. Bauer), which is made in order to bring Mary with Joseph to Bethlehem. Comp. the frivolous opinion of Eichthal, II. p. 184 f. What a strange and disproportionate machinery for this purpose! No; something of the nature of a census, and that by command of the emperor, must have taken place in the Roman empire [46] a registration, as regards which it is quite an open question whether it was taken with or without a design to the future regulation of taxation, or merely had for its aim the levying of statistics. The consolidating aims of the government of Augustus, and, in reference to Palestine, the dependence of the vassal-king Herod, take away from it all historical improbability, even apart from the analogous measure that had already preceded it of the survey of the whole Roman empire instituted by Augustus (Frontinus in the Auct. rei agrar. , ed. Goes. p. 109; Aethicus Ister, Cosmogr. , ed Gronov. p. 26). Further, as Quirinius was not at that time praeses, he can only have acted in this statistical measure as extraordinary commissioner, which is the less improbable, because apart from this he was then in the East by order of the emperor (see above), and because the politic Augustus very naturally as to that business put more confidence in an approved impartial commissioner than in the reges socii themselves or in the interested proconsuls. And this action of Quirinius enables us to understand how tradition, in the gradual obscuring and mixing up of its recollections, should have made him praeses Syriae at that time, since he was so subsequently , and how the registration in question was made into a census , because subsequently he actually as Syrian governor [47] had charge of a census; and from this mixing up of times and matters resulted at the same time the designation of the ἀπογραφή as πρώτη , which occurred ἡγεμονεύοντος τῆς Συρίας Κυρηνίου . Thus Luke has narrated what actually happened in the erroneous form which it received from the tradition. But if we conceive of the ἀπογραφή as merely a revision of the genealogical family registers (Schleiermaeher, Olshausen, Exodus 1:0 , Bleek), which probably was ordained only by the spiritual authorities, and perhaps had reference merely to the family of David, it is no longer easy to see how Luke, or the source from which he drew, could make out of it something thoroughly and specifically different. According to Schweizer in the theol. Jahrb. 1847, p. 1 ff., Luke has really in the passage before us, at variance with Luke 3:1 , made Jesus be born in the year of the taxing of Quirinius, Acts 5:37 , and thus long after the death of Herod, in spite of his own distinct statement, Luke 1:5 !

The hypotheses, moreover, that Luke intended by the enrolment of Jesus (?) in the register of the Empire to point to the universal destination of the Redeemer (Wieseler; comp. Erasmus, Bengel, and already Theophylact and Euthymius Zigabenus), or to the coincidence of the birth of the Messiah and the redemption of Israel with the political bondage of the people (Ebrard), or to the manner in which Jesus in His mother’s womb was most surprisingly dealt with as a Roman subject (Hofmann), are purely arbitrary creations of that subjectivity, which has the utmost delight in discovering a mystical reference behind every simple historical statement.

[46] Possibly of the population, of the civil and military resources, of the finances, etc., as, according to Tacitus, Ann. i. 11, the Breviarium totius imperii (Sueton. Octav. 28, 101) of Augustus contained columns of that kind. See above on ver. 1.

[47] Aberle, indeed, calls this in question, holding that Quirinius was at the later census merely a simple Legatus Caesaris. Although Josephus does not expressly name him ἡγεμών , he is still, in Antt. xviii. 1. 1, sufficiently indicated as such. Comp. Hilgenfeld, p. 413 ff. Apart from this, the expression ἡγεμονεύοντος in the passage before us is only an erroneously anticipating reflex of that, which subsequently Quirinius was in fact , and notoriously , as respects his real census attended by consequences so grave.

Verse 3

Luke 2:3 ff. Πάντες ] in the Jewish land, for which Luke 2:2 has prepared, and see Luke 2:4 . Obviously only all those are meant, who did not dwell in their ἰδία πόλις ; ἕκαστος is a distributive apposition (Ameis on Homer, Od. x. 397).

εἰς τ . ἰδίαν πόλιν ] the more precise definition is furnished by Luke 2:4 . This statement, too, does not suit a census proper; for to this every one was required to subject himself at his dwelling place , or at the place where he had his forum originis (see Huschke, p. 116 ff.), whereas in our passage the Jewish principle of tribe is the basis. And if the matter were not a census, but a mere registration (see above), there was no reason for departing from the time-hallowed division of the people, or for not having the matter carried out in Jewish form . The actual historical state of the case shines here through the traditional dress of a census.

πόλιν Δαυ .] The city where David was born, 1 Samuel 17:11 .

Βεθλεέμ ] see on Matthew 2:1 .

ἐξ οἴκου κ . πατριᾶς Δαυ .] The tribes proceeding from the sons of Jacob were called φυλαί ( מַטּו̇ת ); the branches proceeding from the sons of these patriarchs, πατριαί ( מִשְׁפְּהו̇ת ); the single families of such a tribal branch, οἶκοι ( בֵּיח אָבו̇ח ). See Kypke, I. p. 213; Winer, Realwörterb. s.v. Stämme; Gesenius, Thes. I. p. 193, III. p. 1463. Joseph was thus of the family descending from David, and belonged to the same branch of the tribe to which David bad belonged. A circumstantial designation of this important relationship. As to πατριά , moreover, see on Ephesians 3:15 .

σὺν Μαριάμ ] does not belong to ἀνέβη (Paulus, Hofmann, Ebrard), but to ἀπογράψ . beside which it stands: in order to have himself enrolled with Mary, etc. But that Mary had of necessity to share the journey with him (which was not requisite in the case of a census, when only the names of the women and children had to be specified, Dion. Hal. iv. 14; see Strauss, I. p. 235, and Huschke, p. 121, in opposition to Tholuck, p. 191) is the less to be supposed, as in the main the form of the execution of the ἀπογραφή was the Jewish one, Luke 2:3 . Nevertheless, wives (in this case Mary as one betrothed, who according to Jewish law was placed on the same footing as the wife) had to be likewise entered in the register, which must have been a matter of Roman enactment, but for which it was not necessary that they should come personally with their husbands to the spot. We have consequently to abide by the view that Mary undertook the journey with her husband voluntarily, according to her own and Joseph’s wish, in order to remain under the protection of her betrothed (not exactly on account of the troublous times, an idea which Ebrard imports). There are various arbitrary hypotheses, such as: that she travelled with him on account of the poll-tax (Huschke); that she wished still as a maiden to represent her father’s house, and longed after Bethlehem in the theocratic feeling of maternity (Lange); that the command for the taxing extended also to the children and contained a definite point of time, just about which Mary expected her delivery (von Gumpach). And the hypothesis that Mary was an heiress, who had an estate in Bethlehem (Michaelis, Kuinoel, Olshausen; with hesitation Bleek and Köhler), is utterly unfounded as regards Luke in particular, since he has not the smallest trace of any earlier connection with Bethlehem and makes Mary in her travail not find even friendly lodging there.

τῇ ἐμνηστ . αὐτῷ ] Thus, according to Luke, she was still only his betrothed (Luke 1:27 ; Matthew 1:18 ), and the marriage was not yet completed. At variance with Matthew 1:24 . A different form assumed by the tradition of the virgin birth. Evasive suggestions are resorted to by Beza, Grotius, and others, including Schegg and Bisping (that Luke expresses himself thus, because Joseph had only conducted himself as one betrothed towards Mary).

οὔσῃ ἐγκύῳ ] not: because she was pregnant (von Gumpach), but: who was pregnant (Acts 24:24 ; Romans 1:16 , and frequently). The observation forms the transition to what follows.


From Mary’s sharing in the journey we are not to conclude that she likewise was of the family of David (Grotius, Kuinoel, and others). She journeyed voluntarily with Joseph as his future wife, and Joseph journeyed as a member of the house of David. If Luke had had in his mind the thought that Mary shared the journey as a descendant of David, he must have written, and that at the end of Luke 2:5 , διὰ τὸ εἶναι αὐτους κ . τ . λ . But comp. on Luke 1:36 , and on Matthew 1:17 , Remark 2.

Verse 6

Luke 2:6 f. Ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ τεκεῖν αὐτήν ] comp. Luke 1:57 . The supposition (see as early as Protevang. Jac. 17) that Mary was surprised by the pains of labour on the way , is set aside by the ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἐκεῖ . And probably she had hoped to be able to finish the journey before her delivery. “Non videtur scisse, se vi prophetiae (Micah 5:2 ) debere Bethlehemi parere, sed providentia coelestis omnia gubernavit, ut ita fieret,” Bengel.

That Mary was delivered without pain and injury is proved by Fathers and expositors, such as even Maldonatus and Estius, from the fact that she herself swaddled the child and laid it in the manger!

τὸν πρωτότοκον ] See on Matthew 1:25 . The evasive suggestion resorted to, that this word is used without reference to later born children, appears the more groundless in view of the agreement of Matthew and Luke.

ἐσπαργάν .] She swaddled him; frequently used in Greek writers.

ἐν φάτνῃ ] without the article (see the critical remarks): she deposited him in a manger . Many, including Paulus and Kuinoel, have, contrary to linguistic usage, made of it a stable . [48] See, on the other hand, Gersdorf, p. 221; Bornemann, Schol. p. 18.

ἐν τῷ καταλύματι ] in the inn (Luke 10:34 ), where they lodged probably on account of the number of strangers who were present on the same occasion. If we should wish to understand it as: the house of a friendly host (for the signification of καταλύμα is generally a place of shelter, lodging , comp. Luke 22:11 ), it would remain improbable that a friendly host , even with ever so great restriction of room, should not have made a chamber in the house available for such an exigency. The text suggests nothing indicative of an inhospitable treatment (Calvin).

[48] That a stable (in opposition to Ebrard) was the place of the birth, follows from ἐν φάτνῃ , διότι κ . τ . λ . It is possible that the stable was a rock-cave , which an old legend (Justin, c. Tryph. 78; Orig. c. Cels. i. 51; Protevang. Jac. 18) designates as the place of the birth, not without suspicion, however, by reason of its appeal to Isaiah 33:16 , LXX. Moreover, that tradition transfers the cave expressly only to the neighbourhood of the little town, and states withal of Joseph: οὐκ εἶχεν ἐν τῇ κώμῃ ἐκείνῃ ποῦ καταλῦσαι , Justin, l.c. Over this grotto designated by the legend Helena built the church Mariae de praesepio . Comp. also Robinson, Psalms 11:0; Psalms 11:0 . p. 284 ff.; Ritter, Erdk. XVI. p. 292 ff.

Verse 8

Luke 2:8 f. Ποιμένες ] not οἱ ποιμένες .

ἀγραυλοῦντες ] staying out in the open fields ; Plut. Numbers 4:0 ; Parthen. Erot. xxix. 1, and the ποιμένες ἄγραυλοι already in Homer, Il. xviii. 162.

φυλάσσ . φυλακάς ] often conjoined also among the Greek writers; Plat. Phaedr. p. 240 E; Xen. Anab. ii. 6. 10, and the passages in Kypke. Comp. שָׁמַו מִשְׁמָרו̇ח , Numbers 1:53 , al. The plural applies to the different watch-stations.

τῆς νυκτός ] not belonging to φυλακάς , but: by night, definition of time for ἀγραυλ . and φυλάσσ .

According to this statement, Jesus cannot have been born in December, in the middle of the rainy season (Robinson, Pal. II. p. 505 f.), as has been since the fourth century supposed with a probable joining on of the festival to the Natales solis invicti (see Gieseler, Kirchengesch. I. 2, p. 287 f. Exodus 4:0 ). Just as little can He have been born on the sixth day of January, which in the East was even earlier fixed as the festival of the birth and baptism (still other times fixed as the day of birth may be seen in Clement Al. Strom. I. p. 339 f. Sylb.). According to the Rabbins, the driving forth of the flocks took place in March, the bringing in of them in November (see Lightfoot); and if this is established at least as the usual course, it certainly is not in favour of the hypothesis (Wieseler) that Jesus was born in February (750), and necessitates precarious accessory assumptions.

ἐπέστη ] Comp. Luke 24:4 ; Acts 12:7 ; Acts 17:5 . In the classical writers it is used also of theophanies, of appearances in dreams, and the like, frequently since Homer (Il. xxiii. 106, x. 496), denoting their sudden emergence, which nevertheless is implied not in the word in itself, but in the text.

δόξα κυρίου ], בְּבוֹד יְהֹוָה radiance by which God is surrounded. Comp. Ewald, ad Apoc. p. 311. God’s glorious radiance (comp. Acts 7:2 ) had streamed down with the angel. “In omni humiliatione Christi per deeoram quandam protestationem cautum est gloriae ejus divinae,” Bengel.

Verse 10

Luke 2:10 ff. Παντὶ τῷ λαῷ ] to the whole (Israelitish) people.

ἐτέχθη ὑμῖν ] that (that, namely) there was born to you this day , etc. The ὑμῖν , in reference to the shepherds, is individualizing .

σωτὴρ κ . τ . λ .] a deliverer and now comes His special more precise definition: who is Messiah, Lord! Χριστὸς κύριος is not to be taken together , as it never occurs thus in the N. T.

ἐν πόλ . Δαυ .] belonging to ἐτέχθη . “Haec periphrasis remittit pastores ad prophetiam, quae turn implebatur,” Bengel. Micah 5:2 .

τὸ σημεῖον ] the appointed sign of recognition. [49]

βρέφος ] not: the child (Luther), but: a child. The word denotes either the still unborn child (as Luke 1:41 ; Hom. Il. xxii. 266), or, as in this case (comp. Luke 18:15 ; Acts 7:19 ; 1 Peter 2:2 ; also as a strong expression of the thought, 2 Timothy 3:15 ) and very often in the classical writers, the newborn child.

ἐσπαργ .] adjectival: a swaddled child , Luke 2:7 .

[49] According to the notice σήμερον , and in view of the smallness of Bethlehem, the sign specified by κείμενον ἐν φάτνῃ was sufficiently certain at once to guide inquiry to the child in the village. Olshausen, but not the text, adds to this the secret impulse of the Spirit , which led the shepherds to the right place.

Verse 13

Luke 2:13 f. Πλῆθος στρ . οὐρ .] a multitude, of the heavenly host ( צְכָא הַשָּׁמַיִם ), a multitude of angels. The (satellite-) host of the angels surrounds God’s throne, 1Ki 22:19 ; 2 Chronicles 18:18 ; Psalms 103:21 ; Psalms 148:2 ; Matthew 26:53 ; Revelation 19:14 , al. On γίνεσθαι σύν τινι , to be associated with any one, comp. Xen. Cyr. v. 3. 8. On στρατιά , comp. Plat. Phaedr. p. 246 E: στρατιὰ θεῶν τε καὶ δαιμόνων .

δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις κ . τ . λ . According to the reading εὐδοκίας (see the critical remarks, and Nösselt, Exercitatt. p. 171 ff.): Glory (is, comp. 1 Peter 4:11 ) in the heaven to God, and on earth salvation among men who are well-pleasing! The angels declare to the praise of God (Luke 2:13 ) that on account of the birth of the Messiah God is glorified in heaven (by the angels), and that on the earth there is now salvation among men, to whom in and with the new-born child has been imparted God’s good pleasure. [50] They thus contemplate the Messiah’s work as having already set in with His birth, and celebrate it in a twofold manner in reference to heaven and earth (comp. Isaiah 6:3 ). Their exclamation is not a wish, as it is usually rendered by supplying ἔστω or εἴη , but far stronger, a triumphant affirmation of the existing blessed state of things. The ἐν ἀνθρώπ . εὐδοκίας (genitive of quality , see Winer, p. 211 f. [E. T. 296 f.]) adds to the scene of the εἰρήνη the subjects , among whom it prevails (comp. Plat. Symp. p. 197 C); these, namely, are those who believe in the Messiah, designated in reference to God whose grace they possess, as men who are well-pleasing (to Him). Comp. Test. XII. Patr. p. 587: καὶ εὐδοκήσει κύριος ἐπὶ τοῖς ἀγαπητοῖς αὐτοῦ ἕως αἰώνων . Observe, moreover, the correlation which exists (1) between δόξα and εἰρήνη ; (2) between ἐν ὑψίστοις and ἐπὶ γῆς ; and (3) between Θεῷ and ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας . By ἐν ὑψίστοις ( in regions, which are the highest of all , Luke 19:38 ) the angels declare what takes place in the highest heaven, whence they have just come down. Comp. Matthew 21:9 ; Wis 9:17 ; Sir 43:9 ; Job 16:19 ; Hebrews 1:3 .

By εἰρήνη they mean not only peace (usually understood of the peace of reconciliation), but the entire salvation , of which the new-born child is the bearer; comp. Luke 1:79 .

With the Recepta εὐδοκία , the hymn would also consist of only two parts , divided by καί , [51] which is not for (Bengel, Paulus, Kuinoel, and others, comp. Theophylact), but and . And the second part would consist of two parallel clauses, of which the first lays down the state of things in question after a purely objective manner ( ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη ), while the second designates it from the point of view of God’s subjectivity ( ἐν ἀνθρ . εὐδοκία ): on earth is salvation, among men is (God’s) good pleasure ; ἐν ἀνθρ ., namely, would not be in the case of men (Matthew 3:17 ; so usually), but local , as previously ἐν ὑψίστ . and ἐπὶ γῆς . Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 372, takes εὐδοκία as delight ; “in genere humano (Messia nato) voluptas est et laetitia .” But εὐδοκία nowhere expresses this strong idea, but only the state of well-pleased satisfaction (as Ps. 144:16, LXX.), and the latter idea would in this place be too weak; we could not but expect χαρὰ καὶ ἀγαλλίασις , or the like. Moreover, according to Luke 2:13 ( αἰνούντων τ . Θεόν ) it is more in harmony with the text to understand εὐδοκία on the part of God , in which case the quite usual meaning of the word ( ἐπανάπαυσις τοῦ Θεοῦ , Theophylact) is retained; “quod sc. Deus gratuito suo favore homines dignatus sit” (Calvin). The opposite: Ephesians 2:3 . Bornemann, Schol. p. 19 ff., considers the whole as affirmed of Christ : “ Χριστὸς ὁ κύριος δόξα ἐσται ἐν ὑψίστοις ὄντι Θεῷ κ . τ . λ ., h. e. Messias celebrabit in coelis Deum et in terram deducet pacem divinam, documentum (in apposition) benevolentiae divinae erga homines .” But Luke himself specifies the contents as praise of God (Luke 2:13 ); and the assumption of Bornemann (after Paulus), that Luke has given only a small fragment of the hymn, is the more arbitrary, the more the few pregnant words are precisely in keeping with a heavenly song of praise.

[50] Olshausen (following Alberti, Obss. , and Tittmann, Diss. , Viteb. 1777) places a stop after γῆς , so that the first clause says: “God is now praised as in heaven, so also in the earth.” This is erroneous, because, according to the order of the words in Luke, the emphatic point would be not ἐπὶ γῆς , as in the Lord’s Prayer, but ἐν ὑψίστοις .

[51] Nevertheless Ebrard (on Olshausen) still defends the threefold division . According to him, the angels exult (1) that in heaven honour is given to God for the redemption now brought about; (2) that upon earth a kingdom of peace is now founded; (3) that between heaven and earth the right relation is restored, that God’s eye may again rest with good pleasure on mankind. This alleged third clause of necessity contains somewhat of tautology; and the text itself by its καί and by its contrast of heaven and earth yields only two clauses. Lange also, L. J. II. 1, p. 103, understands it in a threefold sense, but very arbitrarily takes εὐδοκία of the divine good pleasure manifested in a Person , referring to passages such as Ephesians 1:5-6 .

Verse 15

Luke 2:15 f. Καὶ οἱ ἄνθρ .] This καί is not also , but the simple and after ἐγένετο ; see on Luke 5:12 .

οἱ ἄνθρωποι οἱ ποιμένες , not: the shepherd people (Grotius, Paulus, and others), against which the second article is decisive (comp. Matthew 18:23 ; Matthew 22:2 , al. ; see Bernhardy, p. 48; Kühner, II. p. 120), but a contrast to οἱ ἄγγελοι , in which case, however, we must not lay upon the expression a stress which is foreign to the connection (“totum genus humanum quodammodo repraesentantes,” Bengel), but rather must adhere to the simple and artless mode of representation: after the departure of the angels the people too, the shepherds , said, etc.

διέλθωμεν ] through the fields as far as to Bethlehem, Acts 9:38 ; Acts 11:19 .

δή ] denotes what is definitive , without more ado. See Klotz, ad Devar. p. 395; Nägelsbach, Anm. z. Ilias , Exodus 3:0 , p. 433 f.

τὸ ῥῆμα ] which has been said ; ὃ ὁ κύρ . ἡμ . is an epexegesis of it.

ἀνεῦρον ] they discovered (after previous search, in conformity with the direction at Luke 2:12 ). The word only occurs in the N. T. again at Acts 21:4 , comp. Malachi 3:14; Malachi 3:14 ; more frequently among Greek writers.

Verse 17

Luke 2:17 f. Διεγνώρισαν ] they gave exact information ( διά ). The word is only found besides in Schol. in Beck. Anecd. p. 787, 15, but in the sense of accurate distinguishing , which it cannot have in this place (Vulg.: cognoverunt ); comp. rather ἐγνώρισεν , Luke 2:15 . At the birthplace to the parents and others who were present they made accurate communication of the angelic utterance addressed to them, and all who heard this communication marvelled, but Mary (Luke 2:19 ), etc.

περὶ τῶν λαληθ .] does not belong to ἀκούσαντες (Gersdorf), but to ἐθαύμ ., with which indeed περί is very rarely associated elsewhere; but the thought is: they fell into amazement in consideration of that, which , etc. Comp. Plat. Tim. p. 80 C: τὰ θαυμαζόμενα ἠλέκτρων περὶ τῆς ἕλξεως .

Verse 19

Luke 2:19 f. Δέ ] leading over to the special thing, which Mary amidst this general amazement did she, who, in accordance with the revelations made to her, was more deeply struck with the tidings of the shepherds, and saw matters in a deeper light. She kept all these utterances ( τὰ ῥήματα ) of the shepherds. Observe in the narrative the emphasis of πάντα , as well as the purposely chosen adumbrative tense συνετήρει (previously the aorist). On συντηρεῖν , alta mente repositum servare , comp. Daniel 7:28 ; Sir 13:12 ; Sir 39:2 ; Sir 28:3 .

συμβάλλουσα κ . τ . λ .] The Vulgate well renders: conferens , inasmuch as she put them together, i.e. in silent heart-pondering she compared and interpreted them to herself. Comp. Plat. Crat. p. 348 A: συμβαλεῖν τὴν Κρατύλου μαντείαν , p. 412 C; Soph. Oed. C. 1472; Pind. Nem. xi. 43; Eur. Or. 1394.

ὑπέστρεψ .] to their flocks, Luke 2:8 .

δοξάζοντες καὶ αἰνοῦντες ] Glorifying and giving approval. The latter is more special than the former.

ἐπὶ πᾶσιν κ . τ . λ .] over all things, which they had just heard and seen in Bethlehem after such manner as was spoken to them by the angel at Luke 2:10-12 .


To make of these angelic appearances a natural (phosphoric) phenomenon , which had first been single and then had divided itself and moved to and fro, and which the shepherds, to whom was known Mary’s hope of bringing forth the Messiah, interpreted to themselves of this birth (Paulus; comp. Ammon, L. J. I. p. 203, who likewise assumes a meteor), is a pecided and unworthy offence against the contents and purpose of the narrative, which is to be left in its charming, thoughtful, and lofty simplicity as the most distinguished portion of the cycle of legend, which surrounded the birth and the early life of Jesus. The truth of the history of the shepherds and the angels lies in the sphere of the idea, not in that of historical reality, although Luke narrates it as a real event. Regarded as reality, the history loses its truth, as a premiss, with which the notorious subsequent want of knowledge and non -recognition of Jesus as the Messiah, as well as the absolute silence of evangelic preaching as to this heavenly evangelium , do not accord as a sequel, apart from the fact, that it is not at all consistent with Matthew’s narrative of the Magi and of the slaying of the children, which is to be explained from the circumstance that various wreaths of legend, altogether independent one of another, wove themselves around the divine child in His lowliness. [52] The contrast of the lowliness of Jesus and of His divine glory, which pervade His entire history on earth until His exaltation (Philippians 2:6 ff.), is the great truth, to which here, immediately upon the birth, is given the most eminent and most exhaustive expression by the living and creative poetry of faith, in which with thoughtful aptness members of the lowly and yet patriarchally consecrated class of shepherds receive the first heavenly revelation of the Gospel outside the family circle, and so the πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται (Luke 7:22 ) is already even now realized.

[52] In opposition to Schleiermacher, who in the case of our passage lays stress, in opposition to the mythical view, on the absence of lyrical poetry, failing to see that precisely the most exalted and purest poetry is found in the contents of our passage with all its simplicity of presentation; see the appropriate remarks of Strauss, I. p. 245. Lange, L. J. II. p. 103, in his own manner transfers the appearances to the souls of the shepherds, which were of such elevated and supramundane mood that they could discern the joy of an angelic host; and holds that the appearance of the angel and the glory of the Lord, ver. 9, point to a vision of the Angel of the Covenant.

Verse 21

Luke 2:21 . Τοῦ περιτεμεῖν αὐτόν ] The genitive, not as at Luke 2:22 ; Luke 1:57 ; Luke 2:6 , but as genitive of the aim: in order to circumcise Him , that He might be circumcised. Comp. Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 230 [E. T. 267].

καὶ ἐκλήθη ] was also named , indicating the naming as superadded to the rite of circumcision. See Nägelsbach, z. Ilias , Exodus 3:0 , p. 164. And the Son of God had to become circumcised , as γενόμενος ἐκ γυναικός , γενόμενος ὑπὸ νόμον , Galatians 4:4 . This was the divine arrangement for His appearing as the God-man in necessary association with the people of God (Romans 9:5 ). There is much importation of the dogmatic element here among the older commentators. [53]

τὸ κληθὲν κ . τ . λ .] See Luke 1:31 . Comp. Matthew 1:21 , where, however, the legend quite differently refers the giving of the name to the angel.

[53] Calovius says that Christ allowed Himself to be circumcised “tum ob demonstrandam naturae humanae veritatem … tum ad probandam e semine Abrahae originem … tum imprimis ob meriti et redemptions Christi certificationem .”

Verse 22

Luke 2:22 . Women after childbirth, when the child was a boy, were unclean for seven days, and had besides to stay at home thirty-three days more (at the birth of a girl these periods were doubled). Then they were bound to present in the temple an offering of purification, namely, a lamb of a year old as a burnt-offering, and a young pigeon or turtle-dove as a sin-offering; or else, if their means were too small for this, two turtle-doves or young pigeons, the one as a burnt-offering, the other as a sin-offering. See Leviticus 12:2 ff.; Lund, Jüd. Heiligth. , ed. Wolf, p. 751; Michaelis, Mos. R. § 192; Ewald, Alterth. p. 178 f.; Keil, Archäol. I. p. 296. Accordingly αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ καθαρισμ . αὐτῶν : the days, which (i.e. the lapse of them) were appointed for their legal cleansing ( καθαρισμός , passive , comp. Luke 2:14 ). Mary brought the offering of the poor, Luke 2:24 .

αὐτῶν ] applies contextually ( ἀνήγαγον αὐτόν ) not to the Jews (van Hengel, Annot. p. 199), but to Mary and Joseph . Comp. Euthymius Zigabenus, also Bleek. The purification in itself indeed concerned only the mother; but in the case before us Joseph was, and that by means of the presentation of the first-born son associated therewith, also directly interested; hence the expression by way of synecdoche , which is usually referred to the mother and the child (so also by Kuinoel, Winer, de Wette).

κατὰ τὸν νόμον Μ .] applies to ἐπλήσθησαν κ . τ . λ ., indicating the legal duration thereof.

ἀνήγαγον , like ἀναβαίνειν of the journeying to Jerusalem.

παραστῆσαι ] All first-born sons were the property of Jehovah, destined to the temple-service originally and before the institution of the Levites (Numbers 8:14 ff.); hence they had to be presented in the temple to God as His special property, but were redeemed from Him for five shekels, Exodus 13:2 ; Numbers 8:16 ; Numbers 18:15 f.; Lightfoot, p. 753; Lund, l.c. p. 753; Michaelis, Mos. R. § 227, 276; Saalschütz, Mos. R. p. 97.

Verse 23

Luke 2:23 . Not to be put in a parenthesis.

A very free quotation from Exodus 13:2 .

διανοῖγου μήτραν ] פֶּטֶר רֶחֶם ; comp. LXX. Hardly according to the passage before us has Luke conceived, with Ambrosius and many others, that Mary brought forth clauso utero and only voluntarily subjected herself to this law (as Bisping still holds).

Verse 24

Luke 2:24 . Καὶ τοῦ δοῦναι ] continues the narrative after the interposed sentence Luke 2:23 : and in order to give an offering.

κατὰ τὸ εἰρημ . κ . τ . λ .] Leviticus 12:8 .

νεοσσούς ] On the later form rejected by the Atticists, νοσσούς (so Tischendorf), see Sturz, Dial. Mac. p. 185; Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 206 f.

Verse 25

Luke 2:25 f. Who this Simeon was (“primus propheta, qui diceret Christum venisse,” Bengel), is utterly unknown. The supposition that he was son of Hillel, and father of Gamaliel (Michaelis, Paulus, and older commentators), who became president of the Sanhedrim in A.D. 13, does not agree with Luke 2:26 ; Luke 2:29 , where he appears as an aged man; and there is generally the less ground for entertaining it, in proportion to the frequency of the name שִׁמְעוֹן .

δίκαιος κ . εὐλαβής ] Comp. Plat. Polit. p. 311 B: τὸ δίκαιον κ . εὐλαβές , and shortly before: ἤθη εὐλαβῆ καὶ δίκαια . The word εὐλαβής is only used in the N. T. by Luke. It denotes religious conscientiousness. [54]

παράκλησιν ] The Messianic blessing of the nation, as its practical consolation , after its sufferings (comp. λίτρωσιν , Luke 2:38 ), is called, according to prophetic precedent (Isaiah 40:1 ), in the Rabbinical literature also very often נחמה . See Vitringa, Obs. V. p. 83; Lightfoot and Wetstein in loc. The Messiah Himself: מנחם . See Schöttgen, Hor. II. p. 18. The same in substance is: ΠΡΟΣΔΕΧΌΜ . ΤῊΝ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΊΑΝ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ , Mark 15:43 .

ἘΠʼ ΑὐΤΌΝ . ] having come upon .

κεχρηματισμ .] a divine responsum , see on Matthew 2:12 . There is no hint of a dream (Kuinoel).

πρὶν ἤ ] See on Matthew 1:18 .

τὸν Χριστὸν κυρίου ] comp. Luke 9:20 : the Messiah of God (whom God has destined and sent as Messiah).

For the expression to see death , comp. Hebrews 11:5 ; John 8:51 ; Psalms 89:48 . On the classical use of ὁρᾶν in the sense of experiundo cognoscere , Dorvill. ad Char. p. 483; Jacobs, ad Anthol. VII. p. 108.

[54] Comp. Delitzsch on Hebrews 5:7 f., p. 191.

Verse 27

Luke 2:27 f. Ἐν τῷ πνεύματι ] by virtue of the Holy Spirit, “instigante Spiritu,” Grotius; comp. Matthew 22:43 .

The expression τοὺς γονεῖς (procreators) is not appropriate to the bodily Sonship of God, which Luke narrates, and it betrays an original source resting on a different view. Comp. Luke 2:41 . On the form γονεῖς , see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 69.

κατὰ τὸ εἰθισμένον τοῦ νόμου ] According to the custom prescribed by the law.

καὶ αὐτός ] also on His part , for the parents had just carried Him in, Luke 2:27 . The reference to the priest, “qui eum Domino sistendum amplexus erat” (Wolf; Kuinoel also mixes up this), is erroneous, since it is in the bringing in that the child is also taken into his arms by Simeon.

Simeon has recognised the Messiah-child immediately through the Spirit . He needed not for this “the august form of the mother” (in opposition to Lange).

Verse 29

Luke 2:29 ff. Now (after I have seen the Messiah, Luke 2:26 ; Luke 2:30 ) Thou lettest Thy servant depart, O Ruler, according to Thine utterance (Luke 2:2 ), in bliss (so that he is happy, see on Mark 5:34 ); now the time is come, when Thou lettest me die blessed. [55]

ἀπολύεις ] present , of that which is nearly and certainly impending. There is no need to supply τοῦ ζῆν , or ἐκ τῆς γῆς , or the like (as is usually done), as the absolute ἀπολύειν is at all events used (comp. Soph. Ant. 1254; Genesis 15:2 ; Numbers 20:29 ; Tob 3:6 ), but Simeon conceives of his death figuratively as an enfranchisement from service , as is signified by the context in τ . δοῦλόν σου , δέσποτα . The servant of God dies and is thereby released from his service.

εἶδον prefixed with emphasis, in retrospective reference to Luke 2:26 .

τὸ σωτήριόν σου ] the deliverance bestowed by Thee , the Messianic deliverance, which has begun with the birth of the Messiah. Comp. Luke 3:6 ; Acts 28:28 .

κατὰ πρόσωπον πάντ . τ . λαῶν ] in the face of all peoples , so that this deliverance is set forth before all peoples, is visible and manifest to them. Comp. on κατὰ πρόσωπ ., Jacobs, ad Ach. Tat. iii. 1, p. 612. The prophet sees the σωτήριον already in its unfolded manifestation to all . This is then, in Luke 2:32 , further specially characterized as respects the two portions of the πάντων τῶν λαῶν , in which φῶς and δόξαν are appositional definitions to τὸ σωτήριόν σου : light, which is destined to bring revelation to the heathen, and glory of Thy people Israel . The progression of the climax lies in φῶς and δόξα . For the heathen the σωτήριον is light , when, namely, they come in accordance with the time-hallowed promise (Isaiah 2:2 ff; Isaiah 11:10 ; Isaiah 44:5 ; Isaiah 60:1 ff., and many other passages), and subject themselves to the Messianic theocracy, whereby they become enlightened and sharers in the unveiling of the divine truth. For the people Israel the σωτήριον is glory , because in the manifestation and ministry of the Messiah the people of God attains the glory, through which it is destined to be distinguished above all peoples as the seat and possessor of salvation. Δόξαν might be included as still dependent on εἰς (Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Luther, Bleek, and others), but by taking it independently, the great destination of the σωτήριον for the people of Israel is brought into more forcible prominence.

Luke 2:33 . And there was (on the singular ἦν and the plural participles that follow, see Kühner, § 433, 1; comp. Matthew 17:3 ) His father and His mother in amazement , etc. In this there is no inconsistency with the earlier angelic revelations (Strauss). The thing was great enough in itself , and they learned it here in another form of revelation, the prophetic .

[55] Euthymius Zigabenus well remarks: μηκέτι λυπούπενον ὑπὲρ τῆς ἐλευθερίας τοῦ Ἰσραήλ .

Verse 34

Luke 2:34 . Αὐτούς ] the parents, Luke 2:33 .

After he has blessed them (has in prayer promised them God’s grace and salvation), he again specially addresses the mother , whose marvellous relation to the new-born infant he has, according to Luke, recognised ἐν πνεύματι .

καῖται ] He is placed there , i.e. He has the destination , see on Philippians 1:16 .

εἰς πτῶσιν κ . τ . λ .] designates, in reference to Isaiah 8:14 (comp. Matthew 21:22 ; Matthew 21:44 ; Acts 4:11 ; Romans 9:33 ; 1 Peter 2:6 ), the moral judgment (John 3:19 ff.), which is to set in by means of the appearance and the ministry of the Messiah. According to divine decree many must take offence at Him and fall namely, through unbelief into obduracy and moral ruin; many others must arise , inasmuch as they raise themselves namely, through faith in Him to true spiritual life. The fulfilment of both is abundantly attested in the evangelic history; as, for example, in the case of the Pharisees and scribes the falling , in that of the publicans and sinners the rising , in that of Paul both ; comp. Romans 11:11 ff.

καὶ εἰς σημεῖον ἀντιλεγόμ .] What was previously affirmed was His destination for others ; now follows the special personal experience, which is destined for Him. His manifestation is to be a sign , a marvellous token (signal) of the divine counsel, which experiences contradiction from the world (see on Romans 10:21 ). The fulfilment of this prediction attained its culmination in the crucifixion; hence Luke 2:35 . Comp. Hebrews 12:3 . But it continues onward even to the last day, 1 Corinthians 15:25 .

Verse 35

Luke 2:35 . Since the construction does not indicate that καὶ … ῥομφαία is to be made a parenthesis, and since the importance of this prophetic intimation in the address directed to Mary is not in keeping with a mere intercalation, ὅπως κ . τ . λ . is to be referred to καὶ … ῥομφαία , not to σημεῖον ἀντιλεγ . (Kuinoel, de Wette, Ewald, and many others).

καὶ σοῦ δέ ] See on Luke 1:76 . This καί and αὐτῆς places the anguish of the mother herself on a parallel with the fate of her Son intimated by σημεῖον ἀντιλεγ .; and σοῦ δὲ αὐτῆς is a bringing of the contrast into stronger relief than σεαυτῆς δέ . See Schaefer, ad Dem. de Cor. 319, 6.

ῥομφαίαν δὲ ὠνόμασε (not the martyr-death of Mary, as Epiphanius and Lightfoot hold, but) τὴν τμητικωτάτην καὶ ὀξεῖαν ὀδύνην , [56] ἭΤΙς ΔΙῆΛΘΕ ΤῊΝ ΚΑΡΔΊΑΝ Τῆς ΘΕΟΜΉΤΟΡΟς , ὍΤΕ ΥἹῸς ΑὐΤῆς ΠΡΟΣΗΛΏΘΗ Τῷ ΣΤΑΥΡῷ , Euthymius Zigabenus. Similar figurative designations of pain may be seen in Wetstein. Bleek is mistaken in referring it to doubts of the Messiahship of her Son , which for a while were to cause division in Mary’s heart. For this thought the forcible expression would be quite out of proportion, and, moreover, unintelligible; and the thought itself would be much too special and subordinate, even apart from the consideration that there is no direct evidence before us of temporary unbelief on the part of Mary (at the most, Mark 3:21 ).

ὅπως κ . τ . λ .] a divine aim, which is to be attained by ΟὟΤΟς ΚΕῖΤΑΙ ῬΟΜΦΑΊΑ ; a great crisis in the spiritual world is to be brought to light, John 9:39 ; John 3:19 ; John 5:22 ; 1Co 1:23 f.; 2 Corinthians 2:15 . The conditional ἌΝ expresses: in order that, when that which is just predicted to thee sets in .

ἐκ πολλ . καρδ .] forth from many hearts . Comp. Romans 1:17 .

διαλογισμοί ] not ΟἹ ΔΙΑΛΟΓ . ; thoughts , consequently what is otherwise hidden. The revealing itself takes place through declared belief or unbelief in Him who is put to death.

[56] Comp. Hom. Il. xix. 125: τὸν δʼ ἄχος ὀξὺ κατὰ φρένα τύψε βαθεῖαν .

Verse 36

Luke 2:36 ff. Ἠν ] aderat , as at Mark 8:1 ; Mark 15:40 ; also 1 Corinthians 14:38 .

After αὕτη , Luke 2:36 , the copula ἦν is not unnecessarily to be supplied, in which case (so usually, as also by Lachmann and Tischendorf) a point is placed after Luke 2:37 ; but this αὕτη is the subject to which ἀνθωμολογεῖτο belongs as verb, so that all that intervenes contains accompanying definitions of the subject, namely thus: This one, being advanced in great age, after she had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, she too a widow up to eighty-four years, who departed not from the temple, with fastings and prayers rendering service to God night and day and having come forward at that same hour, offered praise to the Lord , etc. Observe as to this (1) that ζήσασα … αὐτῆς , Luke 2:36 , is subordinate to the προβεβηκ . ἐν ἡμ . πολλ .; (2) that at Luke 2:37 there is to be written, with Tischendorf and Ewald, καὶ αὐτή (not as usually, καὶ αὕτη ), so that the definition καὶ αὐτὴ χήρα … ἐπιστᾶσα , Luke 2:37-38 , contains a further description of the woman co-ordinated with the προβεβηκ . ἐν ἡμ . πολλ .; (3) that καὶ αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐπιστᾶσα (see the critical remarks) without any separation links itself on continuously to the preceding participial definition; finally, (4) that καὶ αὐτή , Luke 2:37 , she too , places Anna on a parallel with Simeon; as the latter had come forward a pious aged man, so she also a pious aged woman.

προφῆτις ] Plat. Phaedr. p. 244 A; Eur. Ion. 42, 321; LXX. Exodus 15:20 ; Isaiah 8:3 , al. Hebrew נְבִיאָה , an interpretress of God, a woman with the gift of apocalyptic discourse, Revelation 2:20 ; Acts 21:9 ; Acts 2:17 . She makes use of this gift, Luke 2:38 .

ἑπτά ] consequently a brief and ( ἀπὸ τ . παρθεν . αὐτ .) her only marriage, after which she remained in widowhood, which among the ancients was accounted very honourable. See Grotius and Wetstein on 1 Timothy 3:2 ; 1 Timothy 5:9 .

Verse 37

Luke 2:37 . Ἕως (see the critical remarks) ἐτ . ὀγδοήκ .: even to eighty-four years , she had come even to this age of life in her widowhood. Comp. Matthew 18:21 f. Rettig is mistaken in his judgment upon ἕως in the Stud. u. Krit. 1838, p. 221. Comp. Dem. 262, 5.

οὐκ ἀφίστατο κ . τ . λ .] a popular description of unremitting zeal (comp. Hom. Od. ii. 345, Il. xxiv. 72) in the public worship of God. Comp. xxiv. 53.

νύκτα κ . ἡμέρ .] Thus also at Acts 26:7 ; Mar 4:28 ; 1 Timothy 5:5 . Elsewhere the order is inverted. Instances of both arrangements may be seen in Bornemann, Schol. p. 27; Lobeck, Paralip. p. 62 f., and from the Latin: Heindorf on Horat. Sat. i. 1. 77. In this place νύκτα , is prefixed in order, as in Acts, l.c. , and 1 Timothy 5:5 , to make the fervency of the pious temple-service the more prominent. The case is otherwise, where it is simply a question of definition of time, at Esther 4:15 .

Verse 38

Luke 2:38 . Αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ ] in which occurred the previously described scene with Simeon.

ἐπιστᾶσα ] having made her appearance , namely, to speak. Comp. Aeschin. p. 65, 5; Xen. Anab. v. 8. 9, Sympos. ii. 7. The suddenness and unexpectedness in the demeanour of the aged widow is implied also here (comp. on Luke 2:9 ) in the context. On ἀνθομολογεῖσθαι (comp. LXX. Psalms 79:13 ; 3Ma 6:33 ), in the case of which ἀντί “referendi reprehendendique sensum habet,” see Winer, de verbor. compos. usu , III. p. 18 ff. The tenor of her utterance of praise to God ( τῷ κυρίῳ ) is after what was related of Simeon obvious of itself, and is therefore not more precisely specified.

περὶ αὐτοῦ ] ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ λυτρωτής , Euthymius Zigabenus. Jesus is the subject still present, as a matter of course, in the conception of the narrator (from Luke 2:34 f. onwards), although not mentioned in the context (Winer, p. 132 [E. T. 180 f.]).

τοῖς προσδεχομ . λύτρωσιν ] Comp. Luke 2:25 . With the reading Ἱερουσ . without ἐν (see the critical remarks), deliverance of Jerusalem is not essentially distinct from παράκλησις τοῦ Ἰσρ ., Luke 2:25 , comp. Luke 1:68 , since Jerusalem is the theocratic central seat of God’s people. Comp. Isaiah 40:2 . We may add, the ἐλάλει κ . τ . λ . took place on her part likewise αὐτῇ ὥρᾳ , namely, after she had presented her praise to God. The pious ones waiting for the Messiah are with her in the temple, and to them all she makes communication about the child that is present. But this is not to be conceived of as a public utterance , for which the limitation τοῖς προσδεχ . would not be appropriate.

Verse 39

Luke 2:39 . Ναζαρέτ ] therefore not in the first instance again to Bethlehem. Of the Magi, of the slaughter of the children, of the flight to Egypt, Luke has nothing. They belong to quite another cycle of legend, which he has not followed. Reconciliation is impossible; a preference for Luke, however, at the expense of Matthew (Schleiermacher, Schneckenburger, Sieffert, and others), is at least in so far well founded, as Bethlehem was not, as Matthew reports (see on Matthew 2:23 , Rem.), the original dwelling-place of the parents of Jesus, but became the birth-place of the latter on occasion of the ἀπογραφή . If Bethlehem had been the original dwelling-place, it was natural, considering the Davidico-Messianic tendency of the legend, that no change should be made under these circumstances. But, in opposition to the bold assumption of the more recent exponents of the mythical theory, [57] that Jesus was born in Nazareth, so that both the earlier residence of the parents at Bethlehem (Matthew) and their journey thither (Luke) are held to be the work of tradition on the basis of Micah 5:1 (but only Matthew bases his statement upon this prophecy!), see on Matt. l.c. Even de Wette finds this probable, especially on account of John 7:42 , comp. Luke 1:46 ff., where John adds no correction of the popular view. But to infer from this that John knew nothing of the birth in Bethlehem is unwarranted, since the tradition of Matthew and Luke, agreeing in this very particular, certainly suggests the presumption that the birth at Bethlehem was generally known among the Christians and was believed, so that there was not at all any need for a correcting remark on the part of John.

[57] See also Weisse, Evangelienfr. p. 181 f., who holds that the reference to the Lord’s place of birth by the name of Bethlehem is to be understood πνευματικῶς . Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 56 f., leaves the birth-place altogether doubtful; holding that the question is wholly indifferent for our faith, which remark, however, is inappropriate on account of the prophetic promise.


As the presentation of Jesus in the temple bears of itself in its legal aspect the stamp of history, so what occurred with Simeon and Anna cannot in its general outlines be reasonably relegated to the domain of myth (see, in opposition to Strauss and B. Bauer, Ebrard, p. 225 ff.), although it remains doubtful whether the prophetic glance of the seers (to whose help Paulus comes by suggesting, in spite of the remark at Luke 2:33 , communications on the part of Mary; and Hofmann, p. 276, by the hypothesis of acquaintance with the history of the birth) expressed itself so definitely as the account about Simeon purports. The hypothesis that Luke received his information from Anna’s mouth (Schleiermacher, Neander) hangs on Luke 2:36 f., where Anna is so accurately described, and consequently on so weak a thread, that it breaks down at once when we take into account the lesser degree of vividness and fulness of detail in the narrative of what Anna did.

Verse 40

Luke 2:40 . Similar to Luke 1:80 , but more distinctive and more characteristic, in keeping with the human development of the Son of God , who was to grow up to be the organ of truth and grace . Comp. Luke 2:52 .

πληρούμ . σοφ .] the internal state of things accompanying the ἐκραταιοῦτο ; He became a vigorous child ( ἐκρατ . [58] ), while at the same time He became filled , etc.

χάρις Θεοῦ ] not to be taken of distinguished bodily gracefulness (Raphel, Wolf, Wetstein), but as: the favour of God , which was directed upon Him. Comp. Luke 2:52 . On ἐπʼ αὐτό , comp. Acts 4:33 .

[58] Cyril of Alexandria says: σωματικῶς γὰρ ηὔξανε καὶ ἐκραταιοῦτο , τῶν μελῶν συναδρυνομένων τῇ αὐξήσει . Observe that in our passage πνεύματι is not added as at i. 80; the mental development follows in πληρ . σοφ .

Verse 41

Luke 2:41 f. Τῇ ἑορτῇ ] Dative of time . Comp. Winer, p. 195, 193 [E. T. 273, 269]. The three great festivals (Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles) were according to the Mosaic law to be celebrated, although with the gradual dispersion of the people this could not strictly be adhered to, by every male Israelite at the national sanctuary, an excellent means of maintaining and elevating the common theocratic spirit; Exodus 23:14 ff; Exodus 34:23 ; Deuteronomy 16:16 . See Ewald, Alterth. p. 406 ff.; Saalschütz, M. R. p. 421 ff. The annual passover-journey was shared also by Mary, doubtless independently of Hillel’s precept to that effect ( Tanchuma , f. 33, 4), and in virtue of her piety (comp. 1 Samuel 1:7 ; Mechilta , f. 17, 2). As to the Passover , see on Matthew 26:2 .

δώδεκα ] At this age in the case of the boy, who now was called בֵּן הָתּו̇רָה , began the instruction in the law, the accustoming to worship, fasting, and the like, see Lightfoot, p. 739; Wetstein.

Verse 43

Luke 2:43 f. Τὰς ἡμέρας ] the well-known seven days of festival, Exodus 12:15 ; Leviticus 23:6 f.; Deuteronomy 16:2 .

How it happened that the parents knew nothing of the staying behind of their son, is not expressly narrated by Luke. The charge, however, of negligent carelessness (Schuderoff in the Magaz. von Festpred. III. p. 63 ff., and in his Jahrb. X. 1, p. 7 ff.; Olshausen) is unwarranted, as νομίσαντες δέ αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ συνοδίᾳ εἶναι presupposes a circumstance unknown to us, which might justify that want of knowledge. In the case of Jesus it was an irresistible impulse towards the things of God, which carried Him away to postpone His parents to the satisfaction of this instinct, mightily stimulated as it was on this His first sojourn in Jerusalem, a momentary premature breaking forth of that, which was the principle decidedly expressed and followed out by Him in manhood (Mark 3:32 f.).

συνοδία ] company sharing the journey . See Kypke, I. p. 220 f. The inhabitants of one or more places together formed a caravan ; Strabo uses the word also of such a company (iv. p. 204, xi. p. 528).

ἀνεζήτουν ] when they assembled together to pass the night.

Verse 45

Luke 2:45 f. Ζητοῦντες ] present participle: “ubi res aliqua nondum quidem peragitur, sed tamen aut revera aut cogitatione instituitur paraturve,” Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 3.16. Comp. Dissen, ad Pind. Ol. vii. 14, p. 81.

μεθʼ ἡμέρας τρεῖς ] is reckoned, in most accordance with the text, from the point at which the search meant by ζητ . αὐτόν began, consequently from their return to Jerusalem, the day of this return being counted as the first, and that of the finding as the third. Comp. the designation of the time of Christ’s resurrection as “after three days.” Others explain it otherwise. “Grotius: Diem unum iter fecerant, altero remensi erant iter, tertio demum quaesitum inveniunt.” So also Paulus, Bleek, and others, following Euthymius Zigabenus.

ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ ] We are to think of the synagogue , which “erat prope atrium in monte templi,” Gloss. Joma , f. 68, 2; Lightfoot in loc. ; Deyling, Obss. III. ed. 2, p. 285 f.

καθεζόμενον ] The Rabbinic assertion: “a diebus Mosis ad Rabban Gamalielem non didicerunt legem nisi stantes,” Megillah , f. 21,1 (Wagenseil, ad Sotah , p. 993), according to which Jesus would thus already appear as a teacher, is rightly rejected as unfounded in the N. T., by Vitringa, Synag. p. 167, and more recent expositors.

ἐν μέσῳ ] has its reference to the seeking of the parents; Jesus was not hidden, but He sat there in the midst among the teachers . We may conceive of Him at the feet of a teaching Rabbi, sitting in their circle (comp. on Acts 22:3 ). In this there is nothing extraordinary to be discerned, [59] since Jesus was already a “ son of the law ” (see on Luke 2:42 ). But to find here a sitting on an equality with the teachers [60] (Strauss, comp. de Wette) is not in accordance with the text, since the report would not otherwise have limited the action of the child to the ἀκούειν and ἘΠΕΡΩΤ .

ἘΠΕΡΩΤ . ΑὐΤΟΎς ] The Rabbinical instruction did not consist merely in teaching and interrogating the disciples, but these latter themselves also asked questions and received answers. See Lightfoot, p. 742 ff.; Wetstein in loc. The questioning here is that of the pure and holy desire for knowledge, not that of a guest mingling in the conversation (in opposition to de Wette).

[59] Lange, II. 1, p. 130, invents the idea that “the genius of the new humanity soared above the heroes of the old decorum.”

[60] So also older dogmatic writers. “Ceu doctor doctorum,” says Calovius, who specifies the fourfold aim: ob gloriae templi posterioris illustrationem , Haggai 2:10 ; ob adventus sui manifestationem ; ob sapientiae divinae demonstrationem ; ob doctorum informationem . Into what apocryphal forms the conversation of Jesus with the doctors might be fashioned, may be seen in the Evang. infant. 50 ff. Even by Chemnitz He is said to have discoursed already “ de persona et officiis Messiae, de discrimine legis et evangelii ,” etc.

Verse 47

Luke 2:47 ff. Ἐπὶ τῇ συνέσει καὶ κ . τ . λ .] over His understanding in general, and especially over His answers.

ἰδόντες ] Joseph and Mary. They were astonished ; for they had not expected to find Him either in this place , or so occupied .

ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ ] not merely because maternal feeling is in general more keen, quick, and ready to show itself, nor yet because Joseph had not been equal to this scene (Lange), but rightly in accordance with Luke’s view of the maternal relation of Mary. Bengel: “non loquebatur Josephus; major erat necessitudo matris .”

τί ὅτι ] wherefore? See on Mark 2:16 .

ἐν τοῖς τοῦ πατρός μου ] i.e. in the house of my Father . See examples of this well-known mode of expression in Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 100. So, following Syr. and the Fathers, most modern commentators. Others, such as Castalio, Erasmus, Calvin, Maldonatus, Jansen, Wolf, Loesner, Valckenaer, Rosenmüller, Bornemann, de Wette, Ewald, al.: in the affairs of my Father . This also is linguistically correct. See 1 Timothy 4:15 ; Bornemann, Schol. p. 29; Bernhardy, p. 210; Schaefer, Melet. p. 31 f. But as Jesus in His reply refers expressly to the search of the parents, which He represents as having been made needlessly , it is most natural to find in this answer the designation of the locality , in which they ought to have known that He was to be found, without seeking Him in rebus Patris . He might also be elsewhere . To combine both modes of taking it (Olshausen, Bleek) is a priori inappropriate.

δεῖ ] as Son . This follows from τοῦ πατρός μου . This breaking forth of the consciousness of Divine Sonship [61] in the first saying which is preserved to us from Jesus, is to be explained by the power of the impressions which He experienced on His first participation in the holy observances of the festival and the temple. According to Luke 2:50 , it must not have previously asserted itself thus amidst the quiet course of His domestic development (“non multum antea, nec tamen nihil, de Patre locutus erat,” Bengel on Luke 2:50 ), but now there had emerged with Him an epoch in the course of development of that consciousness of Sonship, the first bursting open of the swelling bud. Altogether foreign to the ingenuous, child-like utterance, unnatural and indelicate, is the intention of drawing a contrast which has been imputed to Him: τῆς γὰρ παρθένου τὸν Ἰωσὴφ πατέρα εἰπούσης αὐτοῦ , ἐκεῖνος φησίν · οὐκ αὐτὸς ἐστὶν ὁ ἀληθής μου πατὴρ , ἢ γὰρ ἂν ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ αὐτοῦ ἤμην , ἀλλʼ ὁ Θεὸς ἐστί μου πατὴρ , καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ αὐτοῦ εἰμί , Theophylact. Erroneous in an opposite manner is the opinion of Schenkel, that the boy Jesus named God His Father, “ just as every pious Jewish child might do .” Such a conclusion could only be arrived at, if He had said τ . πατρὸς ἡμῶν ; but with Jesus in the connection of His entire history Τ . ΠΑΤΡΌς ΜΟΥ points to a higher individual relation. And this too it was, which made the answer unintelligible to the parents. What every pious Jewish child might have answered, they would have understood. See, besides, Keim, geschichtl. Chr. p. 48 f.

[61] At all events already in Messianic presentiment, yet not with the conception fully unfolded, but in the dawning apprehension of the child, which could only very gradually give place to clearness, ver. 52.

Verse 50

Luke 2:50 f. If the angelic announcement, Luke 1:26 ff., especially Luke 2:32 ; Luke 2:35 ; Luke 2:10 ff. (comp. especially Luke 2:19 ), be historical, it is altogether incomprehensible how the words of Jesus could be unintelligible to His parents. Evasive explanations are given by Olshausen, and even Bleek and older expositors (that they had simply not understood the deeper meaning of the unity of the Son and the Father), Ebrard (that Mary had no inner perception of the fact that the Father’s word could become so absolutely exclusive a comfort of souls, and be so even in the boy), and others. Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 78, gives a candid judgment.

ὑποτασσόμ . αὐτοῖς ] That mighty exaltation of the consciousness of divine Sonship not only did not hinder, but conditioned with moral necessity in the youthful development of the God-man the fulfilment of filial duty , the highest proof of which was subsequently given by the Crucified One , John 19:26 ff.

ἡ δὲ μήτηρ κ . τ . λ .] significant as in Luke 2:19 ; διατηρεῖν denotes the careful preservation. Comp. Acts 15:29 ; Genesis 37:11 .


The rejection of this significant history as a myth (Gabler in Neuest. theol. Journ. III. 1, 36 ff.; Strauss, Weisse, [62] I. p. 212 ff.), as regards which the analogies of the childhood of Moses (Joseph. Antt. ii. 9. 6; Philo, de vita Mos. II. p. 83 f.) and of Samuel (1 Samuel 3:0 ; Joseph. Antt. v. 10. 4) have been made use of, is the less to be acquiesced in, in proportion to the greatness of the impression that must naturally have been made on the Son of God, in the human development of His consciousness of fellowship with God, at His first taking part in the celebration of the festival in the grand sanctuary of the nation, [63] and in proportion to the unadorned simplicity of the narrative and its internal truth as contrasted with the fabulous disfigurements of it in the apocryphal Evangelium infantiae , and even with the previous portions of the history of Luke himself. Comp. Schleiermacher, L. J. 80 f. The objection of an unnatural mental precocity applies an unwarranted standard in the case of Jesus, who was κατὰ πνεῦμα God’s Son.

[62] Weisse interprets it allegorically : that the youthful spirit of Christianity withdrew itself from the care and the supervision of its parents, i.e. from the restrictions of Jewish law and from the wisdom of the ancestral schools, etc.

[63] Comp. Beyschlag, Christol. d. N. T. p. 45.

Verse 52

Luke 2:52 . Comp. 1 Samuel 2:26 .

ἡλικίᾳ ] not age (so Vulgate, Luther, Erasmus, and most expositors), which would furnish an intimation altogether superfluous, but growth, bodily size (Beza, Vatablus, Grotius, Er. Schmid, Bengel, Ewald, Bleek, and others). See on Matthew 6:27 ; Luke 19:3 . Comp. ηὔξανε καὶ ἐκραταιοῦτο , Luke 2:40 . “Justam proceritatem nactus est ac decoram,” Bengel. Luke expresses His mental ( σοφίᾳ ) and bodily ( ἡλικίᾳ ) development. [64] In favour of this explanation we have also the evidence of 1 Sam. l.c. : ἐπορεύετο μεγαλυνόμενον , which element is here given by ἡλικίᾳ .

χάριτι ] gracious favour , as at Luke 2:40 . But here, where one twelve years old is spoken of, who now the longer He lives comes more into intercourse with others, Luke adds καὶ ἀνθρώποις . Comp. 1 Sam. l.c. : וָטו ̇ ב נַּם עִם־יְהֹוָה וְנַם עִם־אֲנָשִׁים ; Test. XII. Patr. p. 528. Observe, moreover, that the advancing in God’s gracious favour assumes the sinless perfection of Jesus as growing , as in the way of moral development . Comp. on Mark 10:18 . But this does not exclude child-like innocence, and does not include youthful moral perplexities. Comp. Keim, geschichtl. Chr. 110 ff. It is a normal growth, from child-like innocence to full holiness of the life. Comp. also Beyschlag, Christol. d. N. T. 47 ff.

[64] In this place he prefixes σοφίᾳ , because he has just related so brilliant a trait of the mental development of Jesus. What shifts, moreover, have been resorted to, especially since the time of Athanasius and Ambrose, to fence with reservations the progress of Jesus in wisdom in such a way as to leave no progress, but merely a successive revealing of His inherent wisdom, or else only a growth in the wisdom to be attained through human experience (scientia acquisita )!

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Luke 2". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hmc/luke-2.html. 1832.
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