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Bible Commentaries
Luke 2

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Verses 1-99

2:1-20. The Birth of the Saviour, its Proclamation by the Angels, and its Verification by the Shepherds.

The second of the narratives in the second group (1:57-2:40) in the Gospel of the Infancy (1:5-2:52). It corresponds to the Annunciation (1:26-38) in the first group. Like the sections which precede and which follow, it has a clearly marked conclusion. And these conclusions have in some cases a very marked resemblance. Comp. 2:20 with 1:56, and 2:40 and 52 with 1:80. This similarity of form points to the use of material from one and the same source, and carefully arranged according to the subject-matter. This source would be some member of the Holy Family (see on 1:5). The marks of Lk.’s style, accompanied by Hebraistic forms of expression, still continue; and we infer, as before, that he is translating from an Aramaic document. The section has three marked divisions: the Birth (1-7), the Angelic Proclamation (8-14), and the Verification (15-20). The connexion with what precedes is obvious. We have just been told how the promise to Zacharias was fulfilled; and we are now to be told how the promise to Mary was fulfilled.

1-7. The Birth of the Saviour at Bethlehem at the Time of the Enrolment. The extreme simplicity of the narrative is in very marked contrast with the momentous character of the event thus narrated. We have a similar contrast between matter and form in the opening verses of S. John’s Gospel. The difference between the evangelical account and modern Lives of Christ is here very remarkable. The tasteless and unedifying elaborations of the apocryphal gospels should also be compared.1

1-3. How Bethlehem came to be the Birthplace of Jesus Christ, although Nazareth was the Home of His Parents. This explanation has exposed Lk. to an immense amount of criticism, which has been expressed and sifted in a manner that has produced a voluminous literature. In addition to the commentaries, some of the following may be consulted, and from Schürer and Herzog further information about the literature may be obtained.

S. J. Andrews, Life of our Lord, pp. 71-81, T. & T. Clark, 1892; T. Lewin, Fasti Sacri, 955, Longmans, 1865; J. B. McClellan, The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour, i. pp. 392-399, Macmillan, 1875; C. F. Nösgen, Geschichte Jesu Christi, pp. 172-174, Beck, 1891; *E. Schürer, Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, i. 2, pp. 105-143, T. & T. Clark, 1890; B. Weiss, Leben Jesu, i. 2, 4, Berlin, 1882; Eng. tr. pp. 250-252; K. Wieseler, Chronological Synopsis of the Four Gospels, pp. 66-106, 129-135, Deighton, 1864; O. Zöckler, Handbuch der Theologischen Wissenchaften, i. 2, pp. 188-190, Beck, 1889; A. W. Zumpt, Das Geburtsjahr Christi (reviewed by Woolsey in the Bibliotheca Sacra, 1870), Leipzig, 1869; D. B.2 art. “Cyrenius”; Herzog, Proverbs 2:13. art. “Schatzung”; P. Schaff, History of the Church, i. pp. 121-125, T. & T. Clark, 1883; Ramsay, Was Christ Born at Bethlehem? 1899; Hastings, D.B. art. Chronology of N.T.

1. Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις ἐξῆλθεν δόγμα παρὰ καίσαρος Αὐγούστου�Acts 17:7), or of the Apostles (Acts 16:4; comp. Ign. Mag. 13; Didaché, 11:3), or of the Mosaic Law (Colossians 2:14; Ephesians 2:15; comp. 3 Malachi 1:3; Jos. Ant. xv. 5, 3). For ἐξῆλθεν δόγμα comp. Daniel 2:13 (Theod.). In Daniel δόγμα is freq. of a royal decree (3:10, 4:3, 6:9, 10). See Lft. on Colossians 2:14.

ἀπογράφεσθαι. Probably passive, ut describeretur (Vulg.), not middle, as in ver. 3. The present is here used of the continuous enrolment of the multitudes; the aorist in ver. 5 of the act of one person. The verb refers to the writing off, copying, or entering the names, professions, fortunes, and families of subjects in the public register, generally with a view to taxation �Acts 5:37 included assessment. The Jews were exempt from military service; and enrolment for that purpose cannot be intended. In the provinces the census was mainly for purposes of taxation.


πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην. “The whole inhabited world,” i.e. the Roman Empire, orbis terrarum. Perhaps in a loose way the expression might be used of the provinces only. But both the πᾶσαν and the context exclude the limitation to Palestine, a meaning which the expression never has, not even in Jos. Ant. viii. 3. See on 4:5 and 21:26. In inscriptions Roman Emperors are called κύριοι τῆς οἰκουμένης. The verse implies a decree for a general census throughout the empire.

It must be confessed that no direct evidence of any such decree exists beyond this statement by Lk., and the repetitions of it by Christian writers. But a variety of items have been collected, which tend to show that a Roman census in Judæa at this time, in accordance with some general instructions given by Augustus, is not improbable.

1. The rationarium or rationes imperii, which was a sort of balance-sheet published periodically. by the emperor (Suet. Aug. xxvii.; Cal. xvi.). 2. The libellus or breviarium totius imperii, which Augustus deposited with his will (Tac. Ann. i. 11. 5, 6 ; Suet. Aug. ci.). 3. The index rerum gestarum to be inscribed on his tomb, which was the original of the Marmor Ancyranum. But these only indicate the orderly administration of the empire. A general census would have been useful in producing such things; but that does not prove that it took place. Two passages in Dion Cassius are cited; but one of these (liv:35) refers to a registration of the emperor’s private property, and the other (lv:13) to a census of Roman citizens. If Augustus made a general survey of the empire, of which there is evidence from the commentarii of Agrippa mentioned by Pliny (Nat. Hist. iii. 2, 17), this also would have been conveniently combined with a general census, although it does not show that such a census was ordered. Of some of the provinces we know that no census was held in them during the reign of Augustus. But it is probable that in the majority of them a census took place; and the statement of so accurate a writer as Lk., although unsupported by direct evidence, may be accepted as substantially true: viz. that in the process of reducing the empire to order, Augustus had required that a census should be held throughout most of it. So that Lk. groups the various instances under one expression,just as in Acts 11:28 he speaks of the famines, which took place in different parts of the empire in the time of Claudius, as a famine ἐφʼ ὅλην οἰκουμένην. Of the Christian witnesses none is of much account. Riess seems to be almost alone in contending that Orosius (Hist. Rom. vi. 22. 6) had any authority other than Lk. Cassiodorus (Variarum Epp. iii. 52) does not mention a census of persons at all clearly; but if orbis Romanus agris divisus censuque descriptus est means such a census, he may be referring to Luke 2:1. The obscure statement of Isidore of Spain (Etymologiarum, v. 26. 4; Opera, iii. 229, ed. Arevallo) may either be derived from Lk. or refer to another period. What Suidas states (Lex. s.v.�


In meeting this objection, let us admit with Schürer and Zumpt that the case of the Clitæ(?) is not parallel. Tacitus (Ann. vi. 41. 1) does not say that the Romans held a census in the dominions of Archelaus, but that Archelaus wished to have a census after the Roman fashion. Nevertheless, the objection that Augustus would not interfere with Herod’s subjects in the matter of taxation is untenable. When Palestine was divided among Herod’s three sons, Augustus ordered that the taxes of the Samaritans should be reduced by one-fourth, because they had not taken part in the revolt against Varus (Ant. xvii. 11, 4; B. J. ii. 6. 3); and this was before Palestine became a Roman province. If he could do that, he could require information as to taxation throughout Palestine; and the obsequious Herod would not attempt to resist.1. The Value of such information would be great. It would show whether the tribute paid (if tribute was paid) was adequate; and it would enable Augustus to decide how to deal with Palestine in the future. If he knew that Herod’s health was failing, he would be anxious to get the information before Herod’s death; and thus the census would take place just at the time indicated by Lk., viz. in the last months of the reign of Herod. For “Clitæ” we should read Kietai; Ramsay, Expositor, April, 1897.

2. αὕτη�

From b.c. 9 to 6 Sentius Saturninus was governor; from b.c. 6 to 4 Quinctilius Varus. Then all is uncertain until a.d. 6, when P. Sulpicius Quirinius becomes governor and holds the census mentioned Acts 5:37 and also by Josephus (Ant. xviii. 1, 1, 2. 1). It is quite possible, as Zumpt and others have shown, that Quirinius was governor of Syria during part of the interval between b.c. 4 and a.d. 6, and that his first term of office was b.c. 3, 2. But it seems to be impossible to find room for him between b.c. 9 and the death of Herod; and, unless we can do that, Lk. is not saved from an error in chronology. Tertullian states that the census was held by Sentius Saturninus (Adv. Marc. iv. 19); and if that is correct we may suppose that it was begun by him and continued by his successor. On the other hand, Justin Martyr three times states that Jesus Christ was born ἐπὶ Κυρηνίου, and in one place states that this can be officially ascertained ἐκ τῶν�


We must be content to leave the difficulty unsolved. But it is monstrous to argue that because Lk. has (possibly) made a mistake as to Quirinius being governor at this time, therefore the whole story about the census and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem is a fiction. Even if there was no census at this time, business connected with enrolment might take Joseph to Bethlehem, and Lk. would be correct as to his main facts. That Lk. has confused this census with the one in a.d. 6, 7, which he himself mentions Acts v. 37, is not credible. We are warranted in maintaining (1) that a Roman census in Judæa at this time, in accordance with instructions given by Augustus, is not improbable; and (2) that some official connexion of Quirinius with Syria and the holding of this census is not impossible. The accuracy of Lk. is such that we ought to require very strong evidence before rejecting any statement of his as an unquestionable blunder. But it is far better to admit the possibility of error than to attempt to evade this by either altering the text or giving forced interpretations of it.

The following methods of tampering with the text have been suggested: to regard πρώτη as a corruption of πρώτῳ ἔτει through the intermediate πρωτει (Linwood); to insert πρὸ τῆς after ἐγένετο (Michaelis); to substitute for Κυρηνίου either Κυιντιλίου (Huetius), or Κρονίου=Saturnini (Heumann), or Σατουρνίνου (Valesius); to omit the whole verse as a gloss (Beta, Pfaff, Valckenaer). All these are monstrous. The only points which can be allowed to be doubtful in the text are the accentuation of αὕτη and the spelling of Κυρηνίου, to which may perhaps be added the insertion of the article.

Among the various interpretations may be mentioned—

(1) Giving πρῶτος a comparative force, as in John 1:15, John 1:30: “This taxing took place before Quirinius was governor of Syria” (Huschke, Ewald, Caspari); or, as ἐσχάτη τῶν υἱῶν ἡ μήτηρ ἐτελεύτησε (2 Mac. 7:41) means “The mother died last of all, and later than her sons,” this may mean, “This took place as the first enrolment, and before Q. was governor of S.” (Wieseler). But none of these passages are parallel: the addition of ἡγεμονεύοντος is fatal. When πρῶτος is comparative it is followed by a simple noun or pronoun. It is incredible that Lk., if he had meant this, should have expressed it so clumsily.

(2) Emphasizing ἐγένετο, as in Acts 11:28: “This taxing took effect, was carried out, when Q. was governor of S.” (Gumpach, etc.); i.e. the decree was issued in Herod’s time, and executed ten or twelve years later by Q. This makes nonsense of the narrative. Why did Joseph go to Bethlehem to be enrolled, if no enrolment took place then? There would be some point in saying that the census was finished, brought to a close, under Q., after having been begun by Herod; but ἐγένετο cannot possibly mean that.


(3) Reading and accentuating αὐτὴ ἡ�

(4) With αὐτὴ ἡ�Acts 5:37 it appears that it was known as “the census”: no previous or subsequent enrolment was taken into account. In his earlier edition Godet omitted the ἡ: in the third (1888) he says that this interpretation requires the article (i. p. 170).


McClellan quotes in illustration of the construction: αἰτία δὲ αὕτη πρώτη ἐγένετο τοῦ πολέμου (Thuc. i. 55, 3); αὔτη τῶν περὶ Θήβας ἐγένετο�

4. Ἀνέβη δὲ καὶ Ἰωσὴφ�Acts 11:2; and for δὲ καί see on 3:9. Note the change of prep. from�Acts 8:26, Acts 13:14, Acts 20:17, etc.), and ἐκ of districts (23:55; Acts 7:4, etc.); so that there is no special point in the change, although it should be preserved in translation. Comp. John 1:45 and 11:1; also the ἐκ of Luke 21:18 with the�Acts 27:34.

εἰς πόλιν Δαυείδ. That Bethlehem was David’s birthplace and original home is in accordance with 1 Samuel 17:12 ff. and 17:58; but both passages are wanting in LXX. In O.T. “the city of David” always means the fortress of Zion, formerly the stronghold of the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:7, 2 Samuel 5:9; 1 Chronicles 11:5, 1 Chronicles 11:7), and in LXX πόλις in this phrase commonly has the article. Bethlehem is about six miles from Jerusalem. Note that Lk. does not connect Christ’s birth at Bethlehem with prophecy.

ἥτις καλεῖται βηθλεέμ. In late Greek ὅστις is sometimes scarcely distinguishable from ὅς: comp. Acts 17:10. But in 9:30 (as in Acts 23:14, Acts 27:18, and Ephesians 1:23, which are sometimes cited as instances of ὅστις= ὅς) there may be special point in ὅστις. Even here it may “denote an attribute which is the essential property of the antecedent,” and may possibly refer to the meaning of Bethlehem. Comp. πόλιν κτίσας ταύτην, ἥτις νῦν Μέμφις καλεῖται (Hdt. ii. 99. 7).

βηθλεέμ. “House of Bread”; one of the most ancient towns in Palestine. It is remarkable that David did nothing for Bethlehem, although he retained affection for it (2 Samuel 23:15); and that Jesus seems never to have visited it again. In John 7:42 it is called a κώμη, and no special interest seems to have attached to the place for many years after the birth of Christ. Hadrian planted a grove of Adonis there, which continued to exist from a.d. 135 to 315. About 330 Constantine built the present church. D. B.2 art. “Bethlehem.” The modern name is Beit Lahm; and, as at Nazareth, the population is almost entirely Christian.


οἴκου κ. πατριᾶς. Both words are rather indefinite, and either may include the other. Here οἶκος seems to be the more comprehensive; otherwise καὶ πατριᾶς would be superfluous. Usually πατριά is the wider term. That a village carpenter should be able to prove his descent from David is not improbable. The two grandsons of S. Jude, who were taken before Domitian as descendants of David, were labourers (Eus. H. E. iii. 20. 1-8).

5.�

τῇ ἐμνηστευμένῃ αὐτῷ, οὔσῃ ἐγκύῳ. The γυναικί of A, Vulg. Syr. and Aeth. is a gloss, but a correct one. Had she been only his betrothed (1:27; Matthew 1:18), their travelling together would have been impossible. But by omitting γυναικί Lk. intimates what Mt. states 1:25. Syr-Sin. and some Latin texts have “wife” without “espoused.” The οὔσῃ introduces, not a mere fact, but the reason for what has just been stated; he took her with him, “because she was with child.” After what is related Matthew 1:19 he would not leave her at this crisis. See on 1:24.


6, 7. The Birth of the Saviour at Bethlehem. The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew (13.) represents the birth as taking place before Bethlehem is reached. So also apparently the Protevangelium of James (xvii.), which limits the decree of Augustus to those who lived at Bethlehem ! For ἐπλήσθησαν see on 1:15 and 57.

7. τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον. The expression might certainly be used without implying that there had been subsequent children. But it implies the possibility of subsequent children, and when Luke wrote this possibility had been decided. Would he have used such an expression if it was then known that Mary had never had another child ? He might have avoided all ambiguity by writing μονογενῆ, as he does 7:12, 8:42, 9:38. In considering this question the imperf. ἐγίνωσκεν (Matthew 1:25) has not received sufficient attention. See Mayor, Ep. of St. James, pp. xix-xxii.

ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτόν. It has been inferred from her being able to do this that the birth was miraculously painless (τὴν�Job 33:9).

ἐν φάτνῃ. The traditional rendering “in a manger” is right; not “a stall” either here or in 13:15. The animals were out at pasture, and the manger was not being used. Justin (Try. 78.) and some of the apocryphal gospels say that it was in a cave, which is not improbable. In Origen’s time the cave was shown, and the manger also (Con. Cels. 1:51). One suspects that the cave may be a supposed prophecy turned into history, like the vine in 19:31.Isaiah 33:16 (οὗτος οἰκήσει ἐν ὑψηλῷ σπηλαίῳ πέτρας ὀχυρᾶς) was supposed to point to birth in a cave, and then the cave may have been imagined in order to fit it, just as the colt is represented as “tied to a vine, ” in order to make Genesis 49:11 a prediction of Luke 19:30-33 (Justin, Apol. 1:32).

οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι. Most of the Jews then residing in Palestine were of Judah or Benjamin, and all towns and villages of Judah would be very full. No inhospitality is implied. It is a little doubtful whether the familiar translation “in the inn” is correct. In 10:34 “inn” It is πανδοχεῖὸν, and in 22:11 κατάλυμα is not “inn.” It is possible that Joseph had relied upon the hospitality of some friend in Bethlehem, whose “guest-chamber,” however, was already full when he and Mary arrived. See on 22:11. But κατάλυμα in LXX represents five different Heb. words, so that it must have been elastic in meaning. All that it implies is a place where burdens are loosed and let down for a rest. In Polybius it occurs twice in the plural: of the general’s quarters (2:36, 1), and of reception rooms for envoys (32:19, 2). It has been suggested that the “inn” was the Geruth Chimham or “lodging-place of Chimham” (Jeremiah 41:17), the [son] of Barzillai (2 Samuel 19:37, 2 Samuel 19:38), “which was by Bethlehem,” and convenient for those who would “go to enter into Egypt.” See Stanley, Sin. & Pal. pp. 163, 529. Justin says that the cave was σύνεγγυς τῆς κώμης, which agrees with “by Bethlehem.” The Mandra of Josephus (Ant. 10:9, 5) was perhaps the same place as Geruth Chimham. Syr-Sin. omits “in the inn.”

8-14. The Angelic Proclamation to the Shepherds: πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται (7:22). It was in these pastures that David spent his youth and fought the lion and the bear (1 Samuel 17:34, 1 Samuel 17:35). “A passage in the Mishnah (Shek. 7:4; comp. Baba K. 7:7, 80a) leads to the conclusion that the flocks which pastured there were destined for Temple-sacrifices, and accordingly, that the shepherds who watched over them were not ordinary shepherds. The latter were under the ban of Rabbinism on account of their necessary isolation from religious ordinances and their manner of life, which rendered strict religious observance unlikely, if not absolutely impossible. The same Mischnic passage also leads us to infer that these flocks lay out all the year round, since they are spoken of as in the fields thirty days before the Passover—that is, in the month of February, when in Palestine the average rainfall is nearly greatest” (Edersh. L. & T. i. pp. 186, 187). For details of the life of a shepherd see D.B. art. “Shepherds,” and Herzog, Pro_2 art. “Viehzucht und Hirtenleben.”


8.�

φυλάσσοντες φυλακάς. The plural refers to their watching in turns rather than in different places. The phrase occurs Numbers 8:26; Xen. Anab. 2:6, 10; but in LXX τὰς φυλακὰς φυλ. is more common; Numbers 3:7, Numbers 3:8, Numbers 3:28, Numbers 3:32, Numbers 3:38, etc. Comp. Plat. Phædr. 240 E; Laws, 758 D. The fondness of Lk. for such combinations of cognate words is seen again ver. 9, 7:29, 17:24, 22:15, and several times in the Acts. See on 11:46 and 23:46. We may take τῆς νυκτός after φυλακάς, “night-watches,” or as gen. of time, “by night.” See Blass, Gr. p. 199.

9. ἄγγελος Κυρίου ἐπέστη αὐτοῖς. The notion of coming suddenly is not inherent in the verb, but is often derived from the context: see on ver. 38.1 In N.T. the verb is almost peculiar to Lk., and almost always in 2nd aor. In class. Grk. also it is used of the appearance of heavenly beings, dreams, visions, etc. Hom. Il. 10:496, 23:106; Hdt. 1:34, 2, 7:14, 1. Comp. Luke 24:4; Acts 12:7, Acts 23:11.

δόξα Κυρίου. The heavenly brightness which is a sign of the presence of God or of heavenly beings, 2 Corinthians 3:18: comp. Luke 9:31, Luke 9:32. In O.T. of the Shechinah, Exodus 16:7, Exodus 16:10, Exodus 16:24:17, 40:34; Leviticus 9:6, Leviticus 9:23; Numbers 12:8, etc. This glory, according to the Jews, was wanting in the second temple.


10. ὁ ἄγγελος. The art. is used of that which has been mentioned before without the art. Comp. τὸ βρέφος and τῇ φάτνῃ in ver. 16.

Μὴ φοβεῖσθε. Comp. 1:13, 30, 5:10; Matthew 14:27, Matthew 14:28:5, Matthew 14:10.Matthew 14:1 For ἰδοὺ γάρ see on 1:44.

εὐαγγελίζομαι ὑμῖν χαρὰν μεγάλην. The verb is very freq. in Lk. and Paul, but is elsewhere rare; not in the other Gospels excepting Matthew 11:5, which is a quotation. See on 1:19.

The act. occurs Revelation 10:7, 14:6; the pass. Luke 7:22, Luke 7:14:16; Galatians 1:11; Hebrews 4:2, Hebrews 4:6; 1 Peter 1:25, 1 Peter 1:4:6; the mid. is freq. with various constructions. As here, dat. of pers. and acc. of thing, 1:19, 4:43; Acts 8:35; acc. of thing only, 8:1 ; Acts 5:42, Acts 5:8:4, Acts 5:12?; acc. of person, 3:18; Acts 8:25, Acts 8:40; acc. of person and of thing, Acts 13:32.

ἥτις ἔσται παντὶ τῷ λαῷ. “Which shall have the special character of being for all the people.” The ἥτις has manifest point here (see on ver. 4); and the art. before λαῷ should be preserved. A joy so extensive may well banish fear. Comp. τῷ λαῷ, 1:68, 77, and τὸν λαόν, 7:16. In both these verses (9, 10) we have instances of Lk. recording intensity of emotion: comp. 1:42, 8:37, 24:52; Acts 5:5, Acts 5:11, Acts 5:15:3. Dat. after εἰμί is freq. in Lk.


11. ἐτέχθη ὑμῖν σήμερον σωτήρ. To the shepherds, as a part, and perhaps a specially despised part, of the people of Israel. Here first in N.T. is σωτήρ used of Christ, and here only in Lk. Not in Mt. or Mk., and only once in Jn. (4:42): twice in Acts (5:31, 13:23), and freq. in Tit. and 2 Pet. The 1st aor. of τίκτω, both act. and pass., is rare: see Veitch.

χριστὸς κύριος. The combination occurs nowhere else in N.T., and the precise meaning is uncertain. Either “Messiah, Lord,” or “Anointed Lord,” or “the Messiah, the Lord,” or “an anointed one, a Lord.” It occurs once in LXX as a manifest mistranslation. Lamentations 4:20, “The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord,” is rendered πνεῦμα προσώπου ἡμῶν Χριστὸς κύρος. If this is not a corrupt reading, we may perhaps infer that the expression Χριστὸς κύριος was familiar to the trapslator. It occurs in the Ps. Sol., where it is said of the Messiah καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν�Lamentations 4:20. Comp. εἶπεν ὁ κύριος τῷ κυρίῳ μου (Psalms 110:1), and ἐπεκαλεσάμην Κύριον πατέρα κυρίου μου (Ecclus. 51:10). See Ryle and James, Ps. of Sol. pp. 141-143. The addition of ἐν πόλει Δαυείδ here indicates that this σωτήρ is the King of Israel promised in the Prophets: see on ver. 4.

12. καὶ τοῦτο ὑμῖν τὸ σημεῖον. ΒΞ omit the τό. Sign for what? By which to prove that what is announced is true, rather than by which to find the Child. It was all-important that they should be convinced as to the first point; about the other there would be no great difficulty.—εὑρήσετε βρέφος. “Ye shall find a babe,” “not the babe,” as most English Versions and Luther; Wiclif has “a yunge child.” This is the first mention of it; in ver. 16 the art. is right. In N.T., as in class. Grk., βρέφος is more often a newlyborn child (18:15; Acts 7:19; 2 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 2:2) than an unborn child (Luke 1:41, Luke 1:44); in LXX it is always the former (1 Mac. 1:61; Mal_2 Mac. 6:10; 3 Mac. 5:49; 4 Mac. 4:25), unless Ecclus. 19:11 be an exception. Aquila follows the same usage (Psalms 8:3, 16:14; Isaiah 65:20).—ἐσπαργανωμένον καὶ κείμενον ἐν φάτνῃ. Both points are part of the sign. The first participle is no more an adjective than the second. No art. with φάτνῃ: the shepherds have not heard of it before.

13. ἐξέφνης.1 The fact that this is expressly stated here confirms the view that suddenness is not necessarily included in ἐπέστη (ver. 9). For σὺν τῷ�1 Kings 22:19; 2 Chronicles 18:18; Psalms 103:21; Joshua 5:15).—αἰνοῦντων. Constr. ad sensum. The whole host of heaven was praising God, not merely that portion of it which was visible to the shepherds. The verb is a favourite with Lk. (ver. 20, 19:37, 24:53?; Acts 2:47, Acts 2:3:8, Acts 2:9). Elsewhere only Romans 15:11 (from Psalms 117:1) and Revelation 19:5; very freq. in LXX.


14. Δόξα … εὐδοκίας. The hymn consists of two members connected by a conjunction; and the three parts of the one member exactly correspond with the three parts of the other member.

Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace among men of His good will.

Δόξα balances εἰρήνη, ἐν ὑψίστοις balances ἐπὶ γῆς, Θεῷ balances ἐν�Psalms 30:5, Psalms 30:7, Psalms 85:1, Psalms 89:17, Psalms 106:4) or ‘good pleasure,’ declared for the Head of the race at the Baptism (3:22), was already contemplated by the Angels as resting on the race itself in virtue of His birth” (ii. App. p. 56, where the whole discussion should be studied). H. suggests that the first of the two clauses should end with ἐπὶ γῆς rather than Θεῷ, and that we should arrange thus: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth; Peace among men of His good pleasure.” With the construction of this first clause he compares 7:17 and Acts 26:23: “Glory to God not only in heaven, but now also on earth.” “In this arrangement ‘glory’ and ‘peace’ stand severally at the head of the two clauses as twin fruits of the Incarnation, that which redounds to ‘God’ and that which enters into ‘men.’” This division of the clauses, previously commended by Olshausen, makes the stichometry as even as in the familiar triplet, but it has not found many supporters. It destroys the exact correspondence between the parts of the two clauses, the first clause having three or four parts, and the second only two. W. here leaves H. to plead alone.

εὐδοκίας. The word has three meanings: (1) “design, desire,” as Ecclus. 11:17 ; Romans 10:1; (a) “satisfaction, contentment,” as Ecclus. 35:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; (3) “benevolence, goodwill,” as Psalms 106:4; Luke 2:14. Both it and εὐδοκεῖν are specially used of the favour with which God regards His elect, as Ps. 146:12; Luke 3:22. The meaning here is “favour, goodwill, good pleasure”; and ἄνθρωποι εὐδοκίας are “men whom the Divine favour has blessed.” See Lft. on Philippians 1:15. Field (Otium Norv. 3. p. 37) urges that, according to Græco-biblical usage, this would be, not ἄνθρωποι εὐδοκίας, but ἄνδρες εὐδοκίας, and he appeals to nine examples in LXX. But two-thirds of them are not in point, being singulars, and having reference to a definite adult male and not to human beings in general. These are 2 Samuel 16:7, 2 Samuel 16:18:20; Psalms 80:18; Jeremiah 15:10; ibid. Aq.; Daniel 10:11. There remain ἄνδρες βουλῆς μου, Psalms 119:24, Aq.; of οἱ ἄνδρες τῆς διαθίκης σου, Obadiah 1:7; ἄνδρες εἰρηνικοί σου, Obadiah 1:7. This last is again not parallel, as being accompanied by an adj. and not a gen. Substitute ἄνδρες αἱμάτων, Ps. 138:19. Of these instances, all necessarily refer to adult males, excepting Aq. in Psalms 119:24, and this more naturally does so, for “counsellors” are generally thought of as male. But, allowing that the usual expression would have been�2 Thessalonians 2:3), so that the combination is at any rate possible. See on Romans 10:1.


The reading is a well-known problem, but the best textual critics are unanimous for εὐδοκίας. The internal evidence is very evenly balanced, as regards both transcriptional and intrinsic probabilities, which are well stated and estimated in WH. (2. App. pp. 55, 56). The external evidence is very decidedly in favour of the apparently more difficult reading εὐδοκίας. Roughly speaking, we have all the best MSS. (excepting C, which is here defective), with all Latin authorities, against the inferior MSS., with nearly all versions, except the Latin, and nearly all the Greek writers who quote the text. Syr-Sin.. has “and goodwill to men.”

For εὐδοκίας, א* A B D, Latt. (Vet. Vulg.) Goth. Iren-Lat. Orig-Lat. and the Lat. Gloria in excelsis.

For εὐδοκία, L P Γ Δ Λ Ξ, etc., Syrr. (Pesh. Sin. Harcl.) Boh. Arm. Aeth. Orig. Eus. Bas. Greg-Naz. Cyr-Hier. Did. Epiph. Cyr-Alex.

“The agreement, not only of א with B, but of D and all the Latins with both, and of A with them all, supported by Origen in at least one work, and that in a certified text, affords a peculiarly strong presumption in favour of εὐδοκίας. If this reading is wrong, it must be Western; and no other reading in the New Testament open to suspicion as Western is so comprehensively attested by the earliest and best uncials” (WH. p. 54). The vehemence with which Scrivener argues against εὐδοκίας is quite out of place.

15-20. The Verification, by the Shepherds.

15. ἐλάλουν πρὸς�Acts 9:38, Acts 11:19, Acts 18:27), and the δή makes the exhortation urgent. Lk. is fond of διέρχεσθαι, which occurs thirty times in his writings and less than ten elsewhere in N.T. In LXX it is very freq. Note ὡς = “when.”


τὸ ῥῆμα τοῦτο. This need not be limited to the saying of the Angel. It is rather the thing of which he spoke: see on 1:65. In class. Grk. λόγος is used in a similar manner; e.g. Hdt. 1:21, 2. Videamus hoc verbum quod factum est (Vulg.).

16. ἦλθαν σπεύσαντες καὶ�Acts 20:16, Acts 22:18). In 2 Peter 3:12 it is trans. as in Isaiah 16:5 Lk. alone uses�Acts 21:4), but the mid. occurs 4 Malachi 3:14: 2nd aor. in all three cases. The compound implies a search in order to find. In his Gospel Lk. never uses τε without Καί (12:45, 15:2, 21:11, etc.). Here both βρέφος and φάτνῃ, having been mentioned before, have the article.

17. ἐγνώρισαν. “They made known,” not merely to Mary and Joseph, but to the inhabitants of Bethlehem generally. Both in N.T. and LXX γνωρίζω is commonly trans.; but in Philippians 1:22 and Job 34:25, as usually in class. Grk., it is intrans. Vulg. makes it intrans. here: cognoverunt de verbo quod dictum erat illis de puero hoc. But ver. 18 makes this very improbable.


18. πάντες οἱ�

19. ἡ δὲ Μαρία πάντα συνετήρει τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα. “But Mary” could have no such astonishment; neither did she publish her impressions. The revelations to Joseph and herself precluded both. Note the change from momentary wonder (aor.) to sustained reticence (imperf.): also that πάντα is put before the verb with emphasis. Comp. Daniel 7:28; Ecclus. 39:2.—συνβάλλουσα ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτῆς. Conferens in corde suo. From whom could Lk. learn this? The verb is peculiar to him (14:31; Acts 4:15; Acts 17:18, Acts 17:18:27, Acts 17:20:14). See small print note on 1:66.

20. δοξάζοντες καὶ αἰνοῦντες. The latter is the more definite word. The former is one of the many words which have acquired a deeper meaning in bibl. Grk. Just as δόξα in bibl. Grk. never (except 4Ma. 5:18) has the class. meaning of “opinion,” but rather “praise” or “glory,” so δοξάζω in bibl. Grk. never means “form an opinion about,” but “praise” or “glorify.” It is used of the honour done by man to man (1 Samuel 15:30), by man to God (Exodus 15:2), and by God to man (Psalms 91:15). It is also used of God glorifying Christ (Acts 3:13), a use specially common in Jn. (8:54, 11:4, etc.), and of Christ gloryfying God (17:4). See on Romans 1:21. For the combination comp. αἰνετὸν καὶ δεδοξασμένον (Daniel 3:26, 55). For αἰνεῖν see on ver. 13.


πᾶσιν οἷς. For the attraction see on 3:19. If ἤκουσαν refers to the angelic announcement, then καθώς refers to εἶδον only. But ἤκουσαν καὶ εἶδον may sum up their experiences at Bethlehem, which were a full confirmation (καθώς = “even as, just as”) of what the Angel had said. Syr-Sin. Omits καὶ αἰνοῦντες and πᾶσιν.

Schleiermacher points out that, if this narrative had been a mere poetical composition, we should have had the hymn of the shepherds recorded and more extensive hymns assigned to the Angels (S. Luke, Eng. tr. p. 31). He regards the shepherds as the probable source of the narrative; “for that which to them was most material and obvious the nocturnal vision in the fields, is the only circumstance treated in detail” (p. 33). But any narrator would give the vision, and could hardly give it more briefly without material loss. The brevity of it, especially when contrasted with the apocryphal gospels, is strong guarantee for its truth. How tempting to describe the search for the Babe and the conversation between the parents and the shepherds! Of the myth-hypothesis Weiss rightly says that “it labours in vain to explain the part played here by the shepherds by means of the pastoral tales of the ancients, and is driven to drag in, awkwardly enough, the legends of Cyrus and Romulus” (Leben Jesu, i. 2, 4, note, Eng. tr. p. 255). As for the old rationalism, which explained the angelic vision by ignis fatuus or other phosphoric phenomena, which travellers have said to be common in those parts; “the more frequent such phenomena, the more familiar must shepherds above all men, accustomed to pass their nights the whole summer long in the open air, have been with them, and the less likely to consider them as a sign from heaven pointing at a particular event” (Schleierm. p. 36)

21-40. The Circumcision and the Presentation in the Temple

This forms the third and last section in the second group of narratives (1:57-2:40) in the Gospel of the Infancy (1:5-2:52). It corresponds to the Visitation (1:39-56) in the first group. Its very marked conclusion has close resemblance to 1:80 and 2:52 See introductory note to vv. 1-20 (p. 46). The absence of parallel passages in the other Gospels shows that at first this portion of the Gospel narrative was less well known. An oral tradition respecting the childhood of the Christ (when hardly anyone suspected that He was the Christ) would be much less likely to arise or become prevalent than an oral tradition respecting the ministry and crucifixion. We can once more trace a threefold division, viz. a longer narrative between two very short ones: the Circumcision (21), the Presentation in the Temple (22-38), and the Return to Home Life at Nazareth (39, 40).

21. The Circumcision. The verse contains an unusual number of marks of Lk.’s style. 1. Καὶ ὅτε (vv. 22, 42, 6:13, 12:14, 23:23); 2. πλήθειν (twenty-two times in Lk. and Acts, and thrice elsewhere in N.T.); see on 1:57; 3. τοῦ; c. infin. to express aim or purpose (1:74, 77, 79, 2:24, 4:10, 5:7, 8:5, etc.); see on 1:74; 4. καί introducing the apodosis (5:1, 12, 17, 7:12, 9:51, etc.); 5. συλλαμβάνειν (eleven times in Lk. and Acts, and five times elsewhere). See on 5:1.

21. τοῦ περιτεμεῖν αὐτόν. There being no art. with ἡμέραι (contrast ver. 22), we cannot, as in ver. 6 and 1:57, make the gen. depend on all αἱ ἡμέραι or ὁ χρόνος. The ὀκτώ does not take the place of the art. As Jesus was sent “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3), and “it behoved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren” (Hebrews 2:17), He underwent circumcision. He was “born under the law” (Galatians 4:4), and fulfilled the law as a loyal son of Abraham. Had He not done so, οὐκ ἂν ὅλως παρεδέχθη διδάσκων,�Matthew 3:15). The contrast with the circumcision of the Baptist is marked. Here there is no family gathering of rejoicing neighbours and kinsfolk. Joseph and Mary are strangers in a village far from home. Hastings, D.C.G. i. p. 331.


The reading τὸ παιδίον (D A G H) for αὐτόν (א A B R Ξ and versions) probably arose from this being the beginning of a lection, “Him” being changed to “the child” (AV.) for greater clearness. The same kind of thing has been done at the beginning of many of the Gospels in the Book of Common Prayer, “Jesus” being substituted for “He” or “Him”: e.g. the Gospels for the 6th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 16th, 18th, 19th, and 22nd Sundays after Trinity.

καὶ ἐκλήθη. The καί is almost our “then” and the German da: but it may be left untranslated. It introduces the apodosis, as often in Grk., and esp. in Lk. This is simpler than to explain it as a mixture of two constructions, “When eight days were fulfilled … He was called” and “Eight days were fulfilled … and He was called” (Win. liii. 3. f, p. 546, lxv. 3. c, p. 756). Comp. Acts 1:10. “He was also called” is not likely to be right. The Vulgate and Luther are right. Et postquam consummati sunt dies octo ut circumcideratur vocatum est nomen ejus Jesus. Und da acht Tage um waren, dass das Kind beschnitten würde, da ward seen Name genannt Jesus. This passage, with that about John the Baptist (1:59), is the chief biblical evidence that naming was connected with circumcision: comp. Genesis 17:5, Genesis 17:10. Among the Romans the naming of girls took place on the eighth day: of boys on the ninth. The purification accompanied it; and hence the name dies lustricus. Tertullian uses nominalia of the naming festival (Idol. xvi. 1). Among the Greeks the naming festival was on the tenth day; δεκάτην ἑστιᾷν or θύειν.


συλλημφθῆναι This and corresponding forms, such as λήμψομαι, προσωπολημψία, and the like, are abundantly attested in good MSS. both of LXX and of N.T See on 1:31, κοιλία = “womb” is specially freq. in Lk.

22-38. The Purification and the Presentation in the Temple. Here also we have a triplet. The Ceremony (22-24); Symeon and the Nunc Dimittis (25-35); and Anna the Prophetess (36-38). Symeon and Anna, like Zacharias and Elisabeth, with those spoken of in ver. 38, are evidence that Judaism was still a living religion to those who made the most of their opportunities.

22. αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ κ. Leviticus 12:6. Lk. is fond of these periphrases, which are mostly Hebraistic. Comp. ἡ ἡμέρα τῶν σαββάτων (6:16), or τοῦ σαββάτου (13:14, 16, 14:5), ἡ ἡμέρα τῶν�


τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ αὐτῶν. “Of their purification.” The Jewish law (Lev_12.) did not include the child in the purification. This fact, and the feeling that least of all could Jesus need purifying, produced the corrput reading αὐτῆς, followed in AV.

No uncial and perhaps only one cursive (76) supports the reading αὐτῆς, which spread from the Complutensian Polyglott Bible (1514) to a number of editions. It is a remarkable instance of a reading which had almost no authority becoming widely adopted. It now has the support of Syr-Sin. The Complutensian insertion of διηρθρώθη after ἡ γλῶσσα αὐτοῦ in 1:64 was less successful, although that has the support of two cursives (140, 251). D here has the strange reading αὐτοῦ, which looks like a slip rather than a correction. No one would alter αὐτῶν to αὐτοῦ. The Vulgate also has purgationis ejus, but some Lat. MSS. have eorum. The αὐτῆς might come from LXX of Leviticus 12:6, ὅταν�


The meaning of αὐτῶν is not clear. Edersheim and Van Hengel interpret it of the Jews; Godet, Meyer, and Weiss of Mary and Joseph. The latter is justified by the context: “When the days of their purification were fulfilled … they brought Him.” Contact with an unclean person involved uncleanness. Purification after childbirth seems to have been closely connected with purification after menstruation; the rites were similar. Herzog, Pro_2 art. Reinigungen. After the birth of a son the mother was unclean for seven days, then remained at home for thirty-three days, and on the fortieth day after the birth made her offerings.

κατὰ τὸν νόμον Μωυσέως. These words must be taken with what precedes, for the law did not require them to bring Him to Jerusalem (Leviticus 12:1-8). We have already had several places in ch. 1. (vv. 8, 25, 27) in which there are amphibolous words or phrases: comp. 8:39, 9:17, 18, 57, 10:18, 11:39, 12:1, 17:22, 18:31, 19:37, 21:36, etc.


The trisyllabic form Μωϋσῆς is to be preferred to Μωσῆς. The name is said to be derived from two Egyptian words, mo = “water,” and ugai = “to be preserved.” Hence the Lxx, a version made in Egypt, and the best MSS. of the N.T., which in the main represent the text of the N.T. that was current in Egypt, keep nearest to the Egyptian form of the name by preserving the v. Josephus also has Μωυσῆς. But Μωσῆς is closer to the Hebrew form of the name, and is the form most commonly used by Greek and Latin writers Win. v. 8, p. 47.

ἀνήγαγον. One of Lk.’s favourite words (5:5, 8:22, and often in Acts). It is here used of bringing Him up to the capital, like�

Ἰεροσόλυμα. In both his writings Lk. much more often uses the Jewish form Ἰεροσαλἡμ (vv. 25, 38, 41, 43, 45, etc.), which Mt. uses only once (23:37), and Mk. perhaps not at all (? 11:1). Jn. uses the Greek form in his Gospel, and the Jewish form in the Apocalypse. The Jewish form is used wherever the name is not a geographical term, but has a specially religious signification (Galatians 4:25; Hebrews 12:22). The Greek form is neut. plur. In Matthew 2:3 it may be fem.; but perhaps πᾶσα ἡ πόλις was in the writer’s mind. Neither form should have the aspirate, which a “false association with ἱερός” has produced (WH. ii. 313; App. p. 160). This visit to Jerusalem probably preceded the arrival of the Magi, after which Joseph and Mary would hardly have ventured to bring Him to the city. If this is correct, we must abandon the traditional view that the Epiphany took place on the thirteenth day after the Nativity. There is no improbability in Joseph’s going back to Bethlehem for a while before returning to Nazareth. See Andrews, Life of our Lord, p. 92, ed. 1892; Swete, The Apostles’ Creed, p. 50, ed. 1894.


In any case the independence of Mt. and Lk. is manifest, for we do not know how to harmonize the accounts. Lk. seems to imply that “the law of Moses” was kept in all particulars; and if so, the imply that did not take place before the fortieth day. Mt. implies that the flight into Egypt took place immediately after the visit of the Magi (2:14). As Bethlehem is so close to Jerusalem, Herod would not wait long for the return of the Magi before taking action. We adopt, therefore, as a tentative order the Presentstion on the fortieth day, Return to Bethlehem, Visit of the Magi, Flight into Egypt, without any return to Nazareth.

παραστῆσαι τῷ κυρίῳ. The Heb. verb in Exodus 13:12 means “cause to pass over.” It is elsewhere used of parents causing their children to pass through the fire in offering them to Moloch, but is not then translated by παρίστημι (Deuteronomy 18:10; 2 Kings 16:3, 2 Kings 17:17, 2 Kings 23:10, etc.). For παραστῆσαι of offering to God comp. Romans 12:1. This παραστῆσαι τῷ κυρίῳ is quite distinct from the purification, which concerned the mother, whereas the presentation concerned the son. It is evident that the presentation is the main fact here. Not, “she came to offer a sacrifice,” but “they brought Him up to present Him to the Lord,” is the principal statement. The latter rite points back to the primitive priesthood of all firstborn sons. Their functions had been transferred to the tribe of Levi (Numbers 3:12); but every male firstborn had to be redeemed from service in the sanctuary by a payment of five shekels (Numbers 18:15, Numbers 18:16), as an acknowledgment that the rights of Jehovah had not lapsed. This sum would be about twelve shillings according to the present worth of that amount of silver, but in purchasing power would be nearly double that.

23. The quotation which is not a parenthesis) is a combination of Exodus 13:2 with Exodus 13:12 and is not exact with either: κληθήσεται ἁγ. perhaps comes from Exodus 12:16, comp. Luke 1:35. For πᾶν ἄρσεν see Genesis 7:23; Exodus 1:22. The διανοῖγον μήτραν seems to be fatal to patristic speculations respecting Mary’s having given birth to the Christ clauso utero. and therefore painlessly: see on ver. 7.

Excepting Mark 7:34, διάοίγω is peculiar to Lk. (24:31, 45; Acts 7:56, Acts 16:14, Acts 17:3); freq. in LXX (Genesis 3:5, Genesis 3:7; Exodus 13:15; Numbers 3:12, etc.).


24. τοῦ δοῦναι θυσίαν. See on 1:74, and to the reff. there given add 5:7, 8:5, 9:51, 12:42, 21:22, 22:6, 31, 24:16, 25, 29, 45. This is Mary’s offering for her own purification: it has nothing to do with the ransom of the firstborn. The record of the offerings is considerable guarantee for the truth of the history. A legend would very probably have emphasized the miraculous birth by saying that the Virgin mother was divinely instructed not to bring the customary offerings, which in her case would not be required.

ζεῦγος τρυγόνων. The offering of the poor. It has been argued that this is evidence that the Magi had not yet come. But their gifts, even if they had already offered them, would not have raised Mary’s condition from poverty to riches. Only well-to-do people offered a lamb and a pigeon. Neither here nor elsewhere in N.T. have we any evidence that our Lord or His parents were among the abjectly poor.

“The pigeon and turtle-dove were the only birds enjoined to be offered in sacrifice by the law of Moses. In almost every case they were permitted as a substitute for those who were too poor to provide a kid or a lamb … But while the turtle-dove is a migrant, and can only be obtained from spring to autumn, the wild pigeons remain throughout the year; and not only so—they have young at all times. Consequently, at any time of the year when the turtledove was unattainable, young pigeons might be procured. There is also a force in the adjective ‘young’; for while the old turtle-dove could be trapped, it was hopeless to secure the old pigeon” (Tristram, Nat. Hist. of the B. pp. 211, 213).

25-35. The Benediction of Symeon. He and Anna are representatives of the holiness which, in a time of great spiritual deadness, still survived among the men and women of Israel. They are instances of that “spontaneous priesthood” which sometimes springs up, and often among the lower orders, when the regular clergy have become corrupt and secularized. To identify Symeon with any other Symeon is precarious, the name being exceedingly common. He is introduced rather as an unknown person (ἄνθρωπος ἦν). It is sometimes said that Symeon, son of Hillel and father of Gamaliel, would hardly have been old enough; he was president of the Sanhedrin a.d. 13. But ver. 29 does not necessarily imply that Symeon is very old. What we know of the Sanhedrin at this period, however, does not lead us to expect to find saints among its presidents. In the Gospel of Nicodemus he is called sacerdos magnus, and it is his two sons who are raised from the dead by Christ, and reveal what they have seen in Hades (Pars altera, A. i.).

25. ἐν Ἰερουσαλήμ. It is remarkable that with one exception (Romans 15:26) this expression is used in N.T. by no one but Lk., who has it very often (ver. 43, 9:31; Acts 1:8, Acts 1:2:5, Acts 1:6:7, Acts 1:9:13, Acts 1:21, Acts 1:10:39, Acts 1:13:27, Acts 1:16:4, Acts 1:21:11). In LXX it is common. See Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 316,

εὐλαβής. The word is peculiar to Lk. in N.T. (Acts 2:5, Acts 8:2, Acts 22:12): lit. “taking hold well,” and so “cautious.” Lat. timoratus (Vulg.), timens (e), metuens (d), timens deum (r). Plutarch uses εὐλάβεια in the sense of “carefulness about religious duties, piety”; but εὐλαβής is not thus used in class. Grk. We find the combination of these same two adjectives, δίκαιος and εὐλαβής, twice in Plato’s sketch of the ideal statesman. He ought to have both moderation and courage; and of moderation the two chief elements are justice and circumspection. If he is merely courageous, he will be wanting in τὸ δίκαιον καὶ εὐλαβές (Polit. 311 B). See also Philo, Quis rer. div. hær., 6., of the εὐλάβεια of Abraham. The meaning of the combination here is that Symeon was conscientious, especially in matters of religion.

προσδεχόμενος (see on 23:51) παράκλησιν. 1. “Appeal for help”; 2. “encouragement”; 3. “consolation.” The last is the meaning here. Those who “sit in darkness and the shadow of death” (1:79) need consolation; and the salvation which the Messiah was to bring was specially called such by the Jews Comp, “Comfort ye, comfort ye, My people” (Isaiah 40:1, Isaiah 49:13, Isaiah 51:3, Isaiah 61:2, Isaiah 66:13). There was a belief that a time of great troubles (dolores Messiæ) would precede the coming of the Christ. Hence the Messiah Himself was spoken of as “the Consoler,” or “the Consolation.” Comp. Joseph of Arimathæa, “who was waiting for the kingdom of God” (23:51; Mark 15:43); and with this “waiting” or “looking” of Symeon and Joseph comp, Jacob’s death-song, Genesis 49:18,


πνεῦμα ἦν ἅγιον. This is the order of the words in the best authorities; and the separation ἅγιον of from πνεῦμα by ἦν accentuates the difference between this expression and that in the next verse, Here the meaning is, “an influence which was holy was upon him”; 1:15, 35, 41, 67 are not parallel. See on 1:15. The accusative, ἐπʼ αὐτόν, indicates the coming, rather than the resting, of the holy influence; the prophetic impulse.

26. κεχρηματισμένον. The act. = 1. “transact business” (χρῆμα); 2, “give a divine response” to one who consults an oracle; 3. “give a divine admonition, teach from heaven” (Jeremiah 25:30, Jeremiah 25:33:2; Job 40:8). The pass. is used both of the admonition divinely given, as here, and of the person divinely admonished (Matthew 2:12, Matthew 2:22; Acts 10:22; Hebrews 8:5, Hebrews 11:7). It is gratuitous to conjecture that it was in a dream that the Holy Spirit made this known to Symeon. Comp. Acts 11:26; Romans 7:3.

μὴ ἰδεῖν θ. πρὶν ἤ ἄν ἴδῃ. This is the only example in N.T. of πρίν with the subj. (Win. xli. 3. b, p. 371); and, if the reading is correct, the only instance of πρὶν ἄν: but perhaps either ἤ or ἄν should be omitted. The repetition of “see” is doubtless intentional. In many languages “see” is used of any kind of experience (Acts 2:27, Acts 2:31, Acts 2:13:Acts 2:35-37, etc.).

τὸν χριστὸν Κυρίου. “The Anointed of the Lord”; Him whom God has sent as the Messiah. Comp. τὸν Χρ. τοῦ Θεοῦ (9:20), and also 1 Samuel 24:7.

27. ἐν τῷ πνεύματι. Not “in a state of ecstasy” (Revelation 1:10), but “under the influence of the Spirit,” who had told him of the blessing in store for him. By τὸ ἱερόν is probably meant the Court of the Women.—ἐν τῷ εἰσαγαγεῖν.“After they had brought in”: see on 3:21. The verb is a favourite with Lk. (14:21, 22:54, and six times in Acts): elsewhere only John 18:16; Hebrews 1:6.


τοὺς γονεῖς. We cannot infer from this that either here or ver. 41 Luke is using an authority that was ignorant of the supernatural birth of Jesus. It is more reasonable to suppose that the whole of this “Gospel of the Infancy” comes from one source, viz. the house of Mary, and that in these passages the narrator employs the usual expression. Joseph (4:22) and Mary were commonly called His parents: comp. ver. 33.—It is possible to take περὶ αὐτοῦ after νόμου or after εἰθισμένον; but more probably it belongs to τοῦ ποιῆσαι. For κατὰ τὸ εἰθισμένον see on 1:8.

28. καὶ αὐτός. First the parents, and then he holds the child in his arms; the καί being either “also” (he as well as they), or simply introducing the apodosis after ειν τῷ εἰσαγαγεῖν. Each side acts its proper part. The parents bring Him in accordance with the Divine Law, and Symeon welcomes Him in accordance with the Divine impulse. Symeon is sometimes called Θεοδόχος. See on 8:13.

Latin renderings of�

ἀπολύεις τ. δοῦλόν ς., δέσποτα. All three words show that the figure is that of the manumission of a slave, or of his release from a long task. Death is the instrument of release. “Απολύω is used of the deaths of Abraham (Genesis 15:2), of Aaron (Numbers 20:29), of Tobit (Tob. 3:6), of a martyr (2 Mac. 7:9): comp. Soph. Ant. 1268, and many examples in Wetst. Δεσπότης is the “master of a slave, ” and the Greeks sometimes refused the title to any but the gods in reference to themselves (Eur. Hippol. 88). In Scripture it is not often used of God: Acts 4:24; Revelation 6:10; perhaps Jude 1:4, which, however, like 2 Peter 2:1, may refer to Christ. Comp. Job 5:8; Wisd. 6:7, 8:3; Ecclus. 36:1; 3 Malachi 2:2; Philo, Quis rer. div. hær. 6.; and see Trench, Syn. xxviii. In using the word Symeon acknowledges God’s absolute right to dispose of him, either in retaining or dispensing with his service.

κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου. The Divine command communicated to him (ver. 26). Note the exact correspondence between his hymn and the previous promise:�Genesis 15:15).

30. ὅτι. Introduces the cause of the perfect peace.—εἶδον οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου. Hebraistic fulness of expression: comp. Job 19:27, Job 42:5. His hands also had handled (1 John 1:1); but he mentions sight rather than handling, because sight was specially promised (ver. 26). This verse probably suggested the worthless tradition that Symeon was blind, and received his sight as the Messiah approached him.

τὸ σωτήριον. “The Messianic salvation,” and scarcely to be distinguished from τὴν σωτηρίαν. Comp. 3:6; Acts 28:28; Psalms 98:3; Isaiah 40:5; Clem. Rom. Cor. xxxvi. 1. In LXX it is freq., sometimes in the sense of “safety,” sometimes of “peaceoffering.” Win. xxiv. 2, p. 294. That Symeon says so little about the Child, and nothing about the wonders which attended His birth (of which he had probably not heard), is a mark of genuineness. Fiction would have made him dwell on these things.


31, 32. The second strophe of the canticle. Having stated what the appearance of the Messiah has been to himself, Symeon now states what the Messiah will be to the world.

31. ἡτοίμασας. When used of God, the verb almost = “ordain.” Comp. Matthew 20:23, Matthew 20:25:34; Mark 10:40; 1 Corinthians 2:9; Hebrews 9:16 where, as here, the word is used of ordaining blessings. It is used only once of punishment (Matthew 25:41).

κατὰ πρόσωπον πάντων τῶν λαῶν. This includes both Jews and Gentiles, as the next verse shows, and is in harmony with the universal character of this Gospel: comp. Isaiah 19:24, Isaiah 19:25, Isaiah 42:6, Isaiah 49:6, Isaiah 60:3, and especially 52:10,�

32. The σωτήριον is analysed into light and glory, and “the peoples” into heathen and Jews,—that “profound dualism which dominates the biblical history of humanity from Genesis to Revelation” (Godet). The passage is a combination of Psalms 98:2, ἐναντίον τῶν ἐθνῶν�Isaiah 49:6, δέδωκὰ σε εἰς φῶς ἐθνῶν, and φῶς and δόξαν are in apposition with τὸ σωτήριον. But some take both as depending on ἡτοίμασας, and others take δόξαν after εἰς co-ordinately with�John 1:7, John 1:12:35, John 1:46.

ἀποκάλυψιν ἐθνῶν. Either 1. “revelation to belong to the Gentiles”; or 2. “instruction of the Gentiles”; or 3. “unveiling of the Gentiles,” i.e. for removing the gross darkness which covers them (Isaiah 25:7, Isaiah 60:2); or 4. (taking ἐθνῶν after φῶς) “a light of the Gentiles unto revelation” (Isaiah 40:5). The first is best, “a light with a view to revelation which shall belong to the Gentiles,” making ἐθνῶν a poss. gen. Does�


Elsewhere in N.T. the gen. after ἁποκάλυψις is either the person who reveals (2Co_12; 2Co_1; Revelation 1:1), or the thing revealed (Romans 2:5 ; 1 Peter 4:13); but the poss. gen. is quite possible. The word is eminently Pauline (Crem. Lex. p. 343). It may be doubted whether the glory, of Israel (Romans 9:4) is mentioned after the enlightening of the Gentiles in order to indicate that Israel obtained its full glory after and through the enlightenment of the Gentiles; for the heathen accepted the salvation which the Jews refused, and from the heathen it came back to Israel (Bede, Beng.).


The strain of confidence and joy which pervades the canticle is strong evidence of the historical character of the narrative. The condition of the Jewish nation at the close of the first century or beginning of the second is certainly not reflected in it: c’est le pur accent primitif (Godet). And Schleiermacher remarks that “it is a circumstance too natural for a poetical fiction” that Symeon takes no notice of the parents until they show surprise, but is lost in an enthusiastic address to God. See small print on 1:56.

33-35. Symeon’s Address to the Virgin. “The foreboding of suffering to Mary, so indefinitely expressed, bears no mark of post actum invention. But the inspired idea of Messiah in the pious old man obviously connected the sufferings which He was to endure in His strife against the corrupt people with those which were foretold of Him in Isa_53.” (Neander, Leben Jesus Christi, § 18, Eng. tr. p. 27). The change from the unmixed joy and glory of the angelic announcements and of the evangelic hymns is very marked. Here for the first time in the narrative we have an intimation of future suffering.

33. ἥν. When the sing. verb was written, only the first of the persons mentioned was in the writer’s mind: such irregularities are common (Matthew 17:3, Matthew 22:40).—θαυμάζοντες ἐπί. Excepting Mark 12:17, this construction is peculiar in N.T. to Lk. (4:22, 9:43, 20:26; Acts 3:12). It is quite class. and freq. in LXX (Judith 10:7, 19, 23, 11:20; Job 41:1; Ecclesiastes 5:7; Isaiah 52:15). The objection of Strauss, that this wonder of the parents is inconsistent with the angelic annunciation, is pointless. Symeon’s declaration about the Gentiles goes far beyond the Angel’s promise, and it was marvellous that Symeon should know anything about the Child’s nature and destiny.

34. κεῖται. “Is appointed,” Philippians 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 3:3; Joshua 4:6; not “is lying” here in thine arms.

εἰς πτῶσιν. In accordance with Isaiah 8:14, where the same double destiny is expressed. The coming of the Messiah necessarily involves a crisis, a separation, or judgment (κρίσις). Some welcome the Light; others “love the darkness rather than the Light, because their works are evil” (John 3:19), and are by their own conduct condemned. Judas despairs, Peter repents; one robber blasphemes, the other confesses (2 Corinthians 2:16). Hence the πτῶσις of many is an inevitable result of the manifestation of the Christ. Yet the purpose is not πτῶσις, but�Romans 11:11, Romans 11:12). Elsewhere in N.T.�Matthew 21:44; Acts 4:11; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:6), while others use it as a means to rise. But the latter half of the figure is less appropriate.

σημεῖον. A manifest token, a phenomenon impossible to ignore, by means of which something else is known. A person may be a σημεῖον, as Christ is said to be here, and Jonah in 11:30.—ἀντιλεγόμενον. “Which is spoken against.” This is the πτῶσις, that men recognize, and yet reject and oppose, the σημεῖον; an opposition which reached a climax in the crucifxion (Hebrews 12:3). For the passive comp. Acts 28:22.


35. From καὶ σοῦ to ῥομφαία is not a parenthesis; there is nothing in the construction to indicate that it is one, and a statement of such moment to the person addressed would hardly be introduced parenthetically. It is the inevitable result of the�

Acts 3:19, Acts 3:20 should be compared. There, as here, we have εἰς (?) followed by ὅπως ἄν. In N.T. ὄπως ἄν is rare; elsewhere only in quotations from LXX (Acts 15:17 from Amos 9:12; Romans 3:4 from Psalms 51:6).


ἐκ π. καρδιῶν. “Forth from many hearts,” where they have been concealed; or “Forth from the hearts of many.” For διαλογισμοί see on 5:22.

36-38. Anna the Prophetess. That the Evangelist obtained this narrative “directly or indirectly from the lips of this Anna who is so accurately described,” is less probable than that the source for all this chapter is one and the same, viz. some member of the Holy Family, and probably Mary herself.

36. ἦν. Either “was present,” as in Mark 15:40, in which case ἦν in the sense of “was” has to be understood with what follows; or simply “there was,” which is better. Thus all runs in logical order. First the existence of Anna is stated, then her life and character, and finally her presence on this occasion. Symeon comes to the temple under the influence of the Spirit; Anna (Hannah) dwells there continually. The sight of the Messiah makes him at once long for death; it seems to give her renewed vigour of life. Is this subtle distinction of character the creation of a writer of fiction? We find fiction at work in the tradition that Mary had been brought up in the temple under the tutelage of Anna. There is nothing here to indicate that Anna had ever seen Mary previously. D.C.G. i. p. 70.


Neither in ver. 36 (καὶ ἠν) nor in ver. 37 (καὶ αὐτή) does καί = “also” in ref. to ver. 25. The meaning is not “There was Symeon, the holy and aged man; also Anna, the holy and aged woman.” Throughout the section καί = “and.”

προφῆτις She was known as such before this occasion. Like Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, and the daughters of Philip, Anna was a woman divinely inspired to make known God’s will to others. That her genealogy is given because prophetesses are rare, is doubtful. But Lk.’s accuracy appears in such details, which a forger would have avoided for fear of mistakes. Although the ten tribes were lost, some families possessed private genealogies. For the word προφῆτις comp. Revelation 2:20; Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Chronicles 34:22; Isaiah 8:3.

For the omission of the art. after θυγάτηρ see on 1:5.—φανουήλ = “Face of God,” Peniel or Penuel (Genesis 32:31, Genesis 32:32); in LXX εἰδος Θεοῦ.—Ἀσήρ, 2 Chronicles 30:11.

αὕτη προβεβηκυῖα, κ.τ.λ. “She was advanced in many days, having lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, and herself a widow even for eighty-four years.” From αὕτη προβεβ. to τεσσάρων is a parenthesis in which ἦν is to be understood: ζήσασα explains προβεβηκυῖα, and αὐτή balances μετὰ�Romans 7:25) as a widow. The ἕως draws attention to the great length of her widowhood; “up to as much as” (Matthew 18:21, Matthew 18:22). That she should be considerably over a hundred years old is not incredible. But the eighty-four may be intended to include the seven years and the time before her marriage. In any case the clumsy arrangement of taking all three verses (36-38) as one sentence, and making αὕτη the nom. to�1 Timothy 5:3, 1 Timothy 5:5. Monogamia apud ethnicos in summo honore est (Tertul. de. Exh. Cast. xiii.: comp. de Monog. 16.; ad Uxor. 1.7). See quotations in Wetst. on 1 Timothy 3:2, and Whiston’s note on Jos. Ant. xvii. 6, 6. Syr-Sin. has “seven days.”


37. οὐκ�

λατρεύουσα. Freq. in Lk., Paul, and Heb. See on 4:8. Not in Mk. or In. Matthew 4:10 from Deuteronomy 6:13.—νύκτα κ. ἡμέραν. Comp. Acts 26:7. This is the usual order: Mark 4:27, Mark 4:5:5 ; Acts 20:31; 1 Thessalonians 2:9, 1 Thessalonians 2:3:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:8; 1 Timothy 5:5 ; 2 Timothy 1:3. But the other is also common: 18:7 ; Acts 9:24; Revelation 4:8, etc.; and in O.T. is more common. It may be doubted whether the order makes any difference of meaning: see Ellicott on 1 Timothy 5:5, and comp. Hom. Od. ii.345; Il xxiv. 73, v. 490; Plat. Theaet. 151 A.

38. αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ. “That very hour” (RV.): see on 10:7, 21. AV. exaggerates with “that instant,” as does Beza with eo ipso momento, and also Gen. with “at the same instant.” —ἐπιστᾶσα. “Coming up” and “standing by,” rather than “coming suddenly” (Gen. and Rhem.), although the word often has this meaning from the context. Comp. 21:34, 10:40, 20:1; Acts 4:1, Acts 4:6:12, Acts 4:22:13, Acts 4:23:27; and see on ver. 9.—ἀνθωμολογεῖτο The�Psalms 78:13; Ezra 3:11; Ezr_3 Mac. 6:33; Test. XII. Patr. Judah i.


ἐλάλει Not on that occasion, but afterwards, “she was habitually speaking.” When she met Mary and Joseph she could not speak πᾶσιν τοῖς προσδεχομένοις, for they were not present. Grammatically περὶ αὐτοῦ may refer to τῷ Θεῷ, but it evidently refers to the Child. Godet divides the people into three sections: the Pharisees, who expected a political deliverer; the Sadducees, who expected nothing; and the blessed few, who expected the spiritual deliverance or consolation (ver. 25) of Jerusalem. Bengel argues from πᾶσιν erant igitur non pauci, which does not follow, especially when we consider Lk.’s fondness for the word.

λύτρωσιν Ἰερουσαλήμ. This, without ἐν, is certainly the true reading (א B, many Versions and Fathers), “redemption of Jerusalem.” Comp. Isaiah 40:2. Fiction would probably have given Anna also a hymn. Against the hypothesis that this narrative is “a poetical and symbolical representation,” Schleiermacher asks, “Why should the author, along with Symeon, have introduced Anna, who is not made even to answer any poetical purpose?”

39. ἐτέλεσαν “Brought to a close, accomplished”; especially of executing what has been prescribed: 12:50, 18:31, 22:37; Acts 13:29; Romans 2:27; James 2:8. See John 19:28, which illustrates the difference between τελέω and τελειόω. Syr-Sin. here inserts “Joseph and Mary” as nom. to “accomplished.” Why not “His father and His mother” (ver. 33) or “His parents” (ver. 43), if that text was framed to discredit the virgin birth?

Ναζαρέτ. Lk. appears to know nothing of the visit of the Magi. It would have suited his theme of the universality of the Gospel so well, that he would hardly have omitted it, if he had known it. In that case he was not familiar with our First Gospel From Matthew 2:11 we infer that the Holy Family, after the Purification, returned to Bethlehem and there occupied a house (τὴν οἰκίαν). The parents may have thought that the Son of David, born in, Bethlehem, ought to be brought up there. Thence they fly to Egypt, a flight not mentioned in the authority used by Lk.


40. The conclusion of a separate narrative: comp. 1:80. Contrast the reticence of this verse (which is all that we know respecting the next eleven years) with the unworthy inventions of the apocryphal gospels. Hastings, D.C.G. art. “Boyhood of Jesus.”

ηὔξανεν κ. ἐκραταιοῦτο. Of bodily development in size and strength ; for πνεύματι is an insertion from 1:80.—πληρούμενον. Pres. part. “Being filled” day by day. The σοφία is to be regarded as wisdom in the highest and fullest sense. The intellectual, moral, and spiritual growth of the Child, like the physical, was real. His was a perfect humanity developing perfectly, unimpeded by hereditary or acquired defects. It was the first instance of such a growth in history. For the first time a human infant was realizing the ideal of humanity. See Martensen, Christian Dogmatics, §139.

χάρις Θεοῦ ἦν ἐπʼ αὐτό. See on, 4:22 and comp. Acts 4:33.


It was near the beginning of this interval that the Jews sent an embassy of fifty to follow Archelaus to Rome, to protest against his accession, and to petition that Judæa might be annexed to Syria (Jos. B. J. ii. 6, 1; Ant. 17:11, 1), of which fact we perhaps have a trace in the parable of the Pounds (19:14). And it was near the end of this interval that another embassy went to complain of Archelaus to Augustus : and he was then deposed, and banished to Vienne in Gaul (Ant. 17:13, 2; B. J. 2:7, 3). Lewin, Fasti Sacri, 877, 944, 1011, 1026.

41-52. The Boyhood of the Messiah

His Visit to Jerusalem and the Temple, and His first recorded Words. Here again, as in the Circumcision, the Purification, and the Presentation, the idea of fidelity to the Law is very con-spicuous. Hort, Judaistic Christianity, Lect. ii., Macmillan, 1894.

41. κατʼ ἔτος The expression occurs here only in N.T. Combined with the imperf. it expresses the habitual annual practice of Joseph and Mary. At the Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles every male had to go up to Jerusalem (Exodus 23:14-17, 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16). But since the Dispersion this law could not be kept; yet most Palestinian Jews tried to go at least once a year. About women the Law says nothing, but Hillel prescribed that they also should go up to the Passover. Mary, like Hannah (1 Samuel 1:7), probably went out of natural piety, and not in obedience to Hillel’s rule.

τῇ ἑορτῇ. “For the feast,” or, more probably, “at the feast”: dat. of time, as in 8:29, 12:20, 13:14, 15, 16; Acts 7:8, Acts 3:21, Acts 21:26, Acts 22:13, Acts 27:23. In class. Grk. τῇ ἑορτῇ without ἐν is rare: Win. xxxi. 5, p. 269. The phrase ἡ ἑορτὴ τοῦ πάσχα occurs again John 13:1 only; not in LXX. The fact that γονεῖς has not been changed here, even in those MSS. in which vv. 27 and 43 have been corrupted, is some evidence that the corruption was not made for dogmatic reasons. The love of amplification or of definiteness might suffice.


42. ἐτῶν δώδεκα. At the age of twelve a young Jew became “a son of the Law,” and began to keep its enactments respecting feasts, fasts, and the like. The mention of the age implies that since the Presentation Jesus had not been up to Jerusalem.—�

43. καὶ Note the change of tense. “And alter they had fulfilled.” There is nothing ungrammatical in the combination of an aor. with an imperf. part. But the reading�Exodus 7:15, Exodus 7:16; Leviticus 23:6-8; Deuteronomy 16:3), or the customary two days, for many pilgrims left after the principal sacrifices were over.

ὑπέμεινεν Contains an idea of persistence and perseverance, and hence is used of remaining after others have gone: comp. Acts 17:14. The attraction of Divine things held Him fast in spite of the departure of His parents. It would be His first experience of the temple services, and especially of the slaying of the Paschal lamb.—ὁ παῖς. “The Boy,” to distinguish from τὸ παιδίον: see on ver. 52.—οὐκ ἔγνωσαν. This shows what confidence they had in Him, and how little they were accustomed to watch Him. That it shows neglect on their part is a groundless assertion. They were accustomed to His obedience and prudence, and He had never caused them anxiety. See Hase, Geschichte Jesu, §28, p. 276, ed. 1891.


44. τῇ συνοδίᾳ “The caravan.” The inhabitants of a village, or of several neighbouring villages, formed themselves into a caravan, and travelled together. The Nazareth caravan was so long that it took a whole day to look through it. The caravans went up singing psalms, especially the “songs of degrees” (Ps. 120-134.): but they would come back with less solemnity. It was probably when the caravan halted for the night that He was missed. At the present day the women commonly start first, and the men follow; the little children being with the mothers, and the older with either. If this was the case then, Mary might fancy that He was with Joseph, and Joseph that He was with Mary. Tristram, Eastern Customs in Bible Lands, p. 56.

ἡμέρας ὁδόν. In LXX ὁδὸν ἡμέρας (Numbers 11:31; 1 Kings 19:4). Comp. πορείαν ἡμέρας μιᾶς (Jonah 3:4).

The compound�Acts 11:25; Job 3:4, Job 3:10:6; Job_2 Mac. 13:21).

συγγενεῦσιν. A barbarous form of dat. plur. found also Mark 6:4 and 1 Mac. 10:89. For γνωστοῖς see on 23:49.

45. μὴ εὑρόντες. “Because they did not find”: see on 3:9.—ὑπέστρεψαν�Mark 8:11, Mark 10:2. In such cases the pres. part. is not virtually fut., as if it meant “in order to seek.” The seeking was present directly the turning back took place. Win. 45:1 b, p. 429. For ὑπέστρεψαν see small print on 1:56, and for ἐγένετο see detached note after ch. 1.

46. ἡμέρας τρεῖς. These are reckoned in three ways. (1) One day out, at the end of which the Child is missed; one day back; and on the third the finding. This is probably correct. (2) One day’s search on the journey back; one day’s search in Jerusalem; and on the third the finding. (3) Two days’ search in Jerusalem, and then the finding. This is improbable. Jerusalem was not a large place, and less than a day would probably suffice. We may understand that on all three days Jesus was in the temple with the doctors. Godet conjectures that He there had an experience similar to that of Jacob at Bethel (Genesis 28:10-22): “God became more intimately His God, His Father.” There is no evidence.


ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ. Not in a synagogue, if there was one in the temple enclosure, but probably on the terrace, where members of the Sanhedrin gave public instruction on sabbaths and festivals. If this is correct, His parents had left on the third day, and the Passover was still going on. If all had been over, this public teaching would have ceased.

καθεζόμενον. As a learner, not as a teacher. St. Paul sat “at the feet of Gamaliel” (Acts 22:3). Jesus probably sat on the ground, while the Rabbis sat on benches or stood.—ἐν μέσῳ. see on 8:7. Not dignitatis causâ (Beng.) or as doctor doctorum (Calov.), but because there were teachers on each side, possibly in a semicircle. The point is that He was not hidden, but where He could easily be found. For a list of distinguished persons who may have been present, see Farrar, L. of Christ, 1. ch. 6., from Sepp, Leben Jesu, i. § 17. Of biblical personages, Symeon, Gamaliel, Annas, Caiaphas, Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea are possibilities.


ἀκούοντα αὐτῶν καὶ ἐπεωτῶντα αὐτούς. Note that the hearing is placed first, indicating that He was there as a learner; and it was as such that He questioned them. It was the usual mode of instruction that the pupil should ask as well as answer questions. A holy thirst for knowledge, especially of sacred things, would prompt His inquiries. The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy represents Him as instructing them in the statutes of the Law and the mysteries of the Prophets, as well as in astronomy, medicine, physics, and metaphysics (l.-lii.). See on 3:10.

47. ἐξίσταντο. A strong word expressing great amazement 8:56; Acts 2:7, Acts 2:12, Acts 2:8:13, Acts 2:9:21. For ἐπί comp. Wisd. 5:2 and the ἐπί which Lk. commonly uses after θαυμάζειν (see on ver. 33); and for πάντες οἱ�Colossians 1:9.—ἀποκρίσεσιν. His replies would show His wonderful intellectual and spiritual development. The vanity of Josephus (Vita, 2) and of Bellarmine (Vita, pp. 28-30, ed. Döllinger und Reusch, Bonn, 1887) leads them to record similar amazement respecting themselves.

48. ἰδόντες. Return to the original subject, οἱ γονεῖς.—ἐξελάγησαν. Another strong expression: 9:43; Acts 8:12. They were astonished at finding Him there, and thus occupied, apparently without thought of them.


ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ. It was most natural that she should be the first to speak. Her reproachful question perhaps contains in it a vein of self-reproach. She and Joseph had appeared to be negligent.

ζητοῦμεν. “Are seeking”: the pain of the anxiety has not yet quite ceased. For καὶ ἐγώ see on 16:9.

א B read ζητοῦμεν, which WH. adopt. Almost all other editors follow almost all other authorities in reading ἐζητοῦμεν.

ὀδυνώμενοι. “In great anguish” of mind, as in Acts 20:38 and Zechariah 12:10; of body and mind, 16:24, 25; comp. Romans 9:2; 1 Timothy 6:10. The ῥομφαία (ver. 35) has already begun its work. Anguish cannot be reasonable. But they might have been sure that the Child who was to be the Messiah could not be lost. This agrees with ver. 50.

49. τί ὅτι ὲζητεῖτέ με; Not a reproof, but an expression of surprise: comp. Mark 2:16. He is not surprised at their coming back for Him, but at their not knowing where to find Him.


Here also א has the pres. ζητεῖτε.

ἐν τοῖς τοῦ πατρός μου. “Engaged in My Father’s business” is a possible translation: comp. τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ (Matthew 16:23; Mark 8:33); τὰ τοῦ Κυρίου (1 Corinthians 7:32, 1 Corinthians 7:34). But “in My Father’s house” is probably right, as in Genesis 41:51 Irenæus (Hær v. 36, 2) paraphrases the ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ of John 14:2 by ἐν τοῖς: comp. ἐν τοῖς Ἀμάν (Esther 7:9); ἐν τοῖς αὐτοῦ (Job 18:19); τὰ Λύκωνος (Theoc. 2:76). Other illustrations in Wetst. Arm. and Diatess-Tat. have in domo patris mei. The words indicate His surprise that His parents did not know where to find Him. His Father’s business could have been done elsewhere. There is a gentle but decisive correction of His Mother’s words, “Thy father and I,” in the reply, “Where should a child be (δεῖ), but in his father’s house? and My Father is God.” For the δειʼ see on 4:43. It is notable that the first recorded words of the Messiah are an expression of His Divine Sonship as man; and His question implies that they knew it, or ought to know it. But there is nothing which implies that He had just received a revelation of this relationship. These first recorded words are the kernel of the whole narrative, and the cause of its having been preserved. They must mean more than that Jesus is a son of Abraham, and therefore has God as His Father. His parents would easily have understood so simple a statement as that.


50. οὐ συνῆκαν τὸ ῥῆμα. Ergo non ex illis hoc didicerat (Beng.). There is nothing inconsistent in this. They learnt only gradually what His Messiahship involved, and this is one stage in the process. From the point of view of her subsequent knowledge, Mary recognized that at this stage she and Joseph had not understood. This verse, especially when combined with the next, shows clearly who was the source of Lk.’s information.1 Comp. 9:45 and 18:34.

51. ἦν ὑποτασσόμενος. This sums up the condition of the Messiah during the next seventeen years. The analytical tense gives prominence to the continuance of the subjection: comp. 1:18, 20, 21. For ὑποτάσσειν comp. 10:17, 20.

αὐτοις The last mention of Joseph. He was almost certainly dead before Christ’s public ministry began; but this statement of continued subjection to him and Mary probably covers some years. The main object of the statement, however, may be to remove the impression that in His reply (ver. 49) Jesus resents, or henceforward repudiates, their authority over Him. Comp. Ign. Magn. xiii.

διετήρει. Expresses careful and continual keeping. Genesis 37:11 is a close parallel: comp. Acts 15:29. We must not confine πάντα τὰ ῥήματα to vv. 48, 49; the phrase is probably used in the Hebraistic sense of “things spoken of.” Comp. 1:65, 2:19; Acts 5:32: but in all these cases “sayings” is more possible than here. Still more so in Daniel 7:28: τὸ ῥῆμα ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ μου διετήρησα [? συνετήρησα]. Syr-Sin. omits “in her heart.”

52. The verse is very similar to 1 Samuel 2:26, of which it is perhaps a quotation. See Athan. Con. Arian. 3:51, p. 203, ed. Bright; Card. Newman, Select Treatises of S. Athan. 1. p. 419; Wace & Schaff, p. 421; Pearson, On the Creed, art. iii. p. 160.

Ἰσοῦς. The growth is very clearly marked throughout: τὸ βρέφος (ver. 16); τὸ παιδίον (ver. 40); Ἰησοῦς ὁ παῖς (ver. 43), Ἰησοῦς (ver. 52). Non statim plena statura, ut Protoplasti, apparuit: sed omnesætatisgradus sanctificavit. Senectus eum non deaebat (Beng.). Schaff, The Person of Christ, pp. 10-17, Nisbet, 1880. προέκοπτεν. Here only in the Gospels, and elsewhere in N.T. only in S. Paul (Romans 13:12; Galatians 1:14; 2 Timothy 2:16, 2 Timothy 2:3:9, 2 Timothy 2:13). The metaphor probably comes from pioneers cutting in front; but some refer it to lengthening by hammering. Hence the meaning of “promote”: but more often it is intransitive, as always in N.T. Actual growth is expressed by the word, and to explain it of progressive manifestation is inadequate. Hooker, Eccl. Pol. bk. v. 53. 1-3.

σοφίᾳ. Not “knowledge” but “wisdom,” which includes know. ledge: it is used of the wisdom of the Egyptians (Acts 7:22). Jesus was capable of growth in learning; e.g. He increased in learning through experience in suffering: ἔμαθεν�Hebrews 5:8, where see Westcott’s notes).

ἡλικίᾳ. Not “age,” which is probably the meaning 12:25 and Matthew 6:27, but would be rather an empty truism here. Rather, “stature,” as in 19:3: justam proceritatem nactus est ac decoram (Beng.). His intellectual and moral growth (σοφία), as well as His physical growth (ἡλικία), was perfect. The προέκοπτε ἡλικίᾳ corresponds to ἐμεγαλύνετο (in some copies ἐπορεύετο μεγαλυνόμενον) in 1 Samuel 2:26. See Martensen, Chr. Dogm. § 142.

χάριτι. “Goodwill, favour, loving-kindness” (ver. 40, 1:30; Acts 4:33, Acts 4:7:l0): see on 4:22. That He advanced in favour with God plainly indicates that there was moral and spiritual growth. At each stage He was perfect for that stage, but the perfection of a child is inferior to the perfection of a man; it is the difference between perfect innocence and perfect holiness. He was perfectly (τελέως) man, as set forth in the Council of Constantinople (a.d. 381) against Apollinaris, who held that in Jesus the Divine Logos was a substitute for a human soul. In that case an increase in σοφία and in ξάρις παρὰ Θεῷ would have been inconceivable, as Pearson points out (On the Creed, art. 3. p. 160; comp. E. Harold Browne, Exp. of the XXXIX. Articles, iv. 2, 4).

καὶ�Proverbs 3:4 to him who keeps mercy and truth: “so shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man”—ἐνώπιον Κυρίου καὶ�


For answers to the objections urged by Strauss against the historical character of this narrative see Hase, Gesch. Jesu, § 28, p. 280, ed. 1891.









1 “Such marvellous associations have clung for centuries to these verses, that it is hard to realise how absolutely naked they are of all ornament. We are obliged to read them again and again to assure ourselves that they really do set forth what we call the great miracle of the world. If, on the other hand, the Evangelist was possessed by the conviction that he was not recording a miracle which had interrupted the course of history and deranged the order of human life, but was telling of a divine act which explained the course of history and restored the order of human life, one can very well account for his calmness” (F. D. Maurice, Lectures on S. Luke, p. 28, ed. 1879).

D. B. Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, 2nd edition.

Ign. Ignatius.

Jos. Josephus.

Vulg. Vulgate.

Aug. Augustine.

1 , See the treatment to which Herod had to submit in the matter of Syllaeus (Jos. Ant. xvi. 9. 3, 4)

2

B(supported by 81, 131, 203) has αὕτη�

1 In Vulg. it is very variously translated: e.g. stare juxta (here), supervenire (2:38, 21:34), stare (4:39, 10:40, 24:4), convenire (20:1), concurrers (Acts 6:12), adstare (Acts 10:17, Acts 11:11, Acts 12:7), adsisters (Acts 27:5, Acts 23:11), imminere (Acts 28:2).


1 “This Gospel of Luke is scarce begun, we are yet but a little way in the second chapter, and we have already three noli timeres in it, and all, as here, at the coming of an Angel (1:13, 30, 2:10). … What was it? It was not the fear of an evil conscience; they were about no harm. … It is a plain sign our nature is fallen from her original; Heaven and we are not in the terms we should be, not the best of us all” (Bishop Andrewes, Serm. V. On the Nativity).

1 The word is thus written in the best texts here and 9:39: comp. ἐφνίδιος, 21:34; κερέαν, 16:17; κερπάλη, 21:34 (WH. App. pp. 150, 151). In class. Grk. οὐράνιος is of three terminations; but the true reading here may be οὐρανοδ (B D).

Beng. Bengel.

1 Syr-Sin. inserts a second “and” before “goodwill to man.”

WH. Westcott and Hort.

אԠא Cod. Sinaiticus, sæc. iv. Brought by Tischendorf from the Convent of St. Catherine on Mt. Sinai; now at St. Petersburg. Contains the whole Gospel complete.

A A. Cod. Alexandrinus, sæc. v. Once in the Patriarchal Library at Alexandria; sent by Cyril Lucar as a present to Charles 1. in 1628, and now in the British Museum. Complete.

D D. Cod. Bezae, sæc. vi. Given by Beza to the University Library at Cambridge 1581. Greek and Latin. Contains the whole Gospel.

Latt. Latin.

Goth. Gothic.

L L. Cod. Regius Parisiensis, sæc. viii. National Library at Paris. Contains the whole Gospel.

Δ̠Δ. Cod. Sangallensis, sæc. ix. In the monastery of St. Gall in Switzerland. Greek and Latin. Contains the whole Gospel.

Ξ̠Ξ. Cod. Zacynthius Rescriptus, sæc. viii. In the Library of the Brit. and For. Bible Soc. in London. Contains 1:1-9, 19-23, 27, 28, 30-32, 36-66, 1:77-2:19, 21, 22, 33-39, 3:5-8, 11-20, 4:1, 2, 6-20, 32-43, 5:17-36, 6:21-7:6, 11-37, 39-47, 8:4-21, 25-35, 43-50, 9:1-28, 32, 33, 35, 9:41-10:18, 21-40, 11:1, 2, 3, 4, 24-30, 31, 32, 33.

Pesh. Peshitto.

Harcl. Harclean.

Boh. Bohairic.

Arm. Armenian.

Orig. Origen.

Bas. Basil.

Epiph. Epipnamus.

G G. Cod. Harleianus, sæc. ix. In the British Museum. Contains considerable portions.

R R. Cod. Nitriensis Rescriptus, sæc. 8. Brought from a convent in the Nitrian desert about 1847, and now in the British Museum. Contains 1:1-13, 1:69-2:4, 16-27, 4:38-5:5, 5:25-6:8, 18-36, 39, 6:49-7:22, 44, 46, 47, 8:5-15, 8:25-9:1, 12-43, 10:3-16, 11:5-27, 12:4-15, 40-52, 13:26-14:1, 14:12-15:1, 15:13-16:16, 17:21-18:10, 18:22-20:20, 20:33-47, 21:12-22:15, 42-56, 22:71-23:11, 38-51. By a second hand 15:19-21.

AV. Authorized Version.

Win. Winer, Grammar of N.T. Greek (the page refers to Moulton’s edition).

1 Most of the canticles from O.T. and N.T. were said at Lauds both in East and West. But the Magnificat was transferred in the West to Vespers, and the Nunc Dimittis seems to have been always used in the evening, in the East at Vespers, in the West at Compline. Kraus, Real.-Enc. d. Chr. Alt. ii. p. 506;Bingham, Orig. vi. 47.

Wetst. Wetstein.

Hippol. Hippolytus.

Trench, Trench, New Testament Synonyms.

1 Grotius admits without commending this rendering, and quotes Psalms 119:18,�


Crem. Cremer, Lexicon of New Testament Greek.

1 It is not easy to decide whether the δέ after σοῦ is genuine or not. Om. B L A, Vulg. Boh. Aeth. Arm. Ins. א A D, Syrr., Orig. If it be admitted comp. 1:76 ; and render καὶ … δὲ … in the same way in both passages; “Yea and.” For διελεύσεται see on ver. 15.

1 The first aorist of ζῆν is late Greek. It occurs Acts 26:5 ; Romans 14:9, Revelation 2:8, Revelation 20:4. Attic writers use ἐβίων, which is not found in N.T.


RV. Revised Version.

Gen. Geneva.

Rhem. Rheims (or Douay).

1 “This fine tender picture,in which neither truth to nature, nor the beauty which that implies, is violated in a single line, … cannot have been devised by human hands, which, when left to themselves, were always betrayed into coarsenenss and exaggeration, as shown by the apocryphal gospels” (Keim, Jes. of Nas., Eng tr. 2. p. 137).

1

Pearson in a long note gives the chief items of evidence as to the primitive belief that Isaiah 53:2, Isaiah 53:3 was to be understood literally of the personal appearance of Jesus as “a personage no way amiable; an aspect, indeed, rather uncomely.” … “But what the aspect of His outward appearance was, because the Scriptures are silent, we cannot now know” (On the Creed, art. 2. pp 87, 88).


Lange has some good remarks on the “master-stroke of Divine wisdom” which caused Jesus to be brought up at Nazareth (L. of Christ, Eng. tr. 1. pp. 317, 324).

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Luke 2". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/luke-2.html. 1896-1924.
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