Click here to join the effort!
Forasmuch as (επειδηπερ). Here alone in the N.T., though common in literary Attic. Appears in the papyri. A triple compound (επε = since, δη = admittedly true, περ = intensive particle to emphasize importance).
Many (πολλο). How many no one knows, but certainly more than two or three. We know that Luke used the Logia of Jesus written by Matthew in Aramaic (Papias) and Mark's Gospel. Undoubtedly he had other written sources.
Have taken in hand (επεχειρησαν). A literal translation of επιχειρεω (from χειρ, hand and επ, upon). Both Hippocrates and Galen use this word in their introduction to their medical works. Here only in the N.T., though a common literary word. Common in the papyri for undertaking with no idea of failure or blame. Luke does not mean to cast reflection on those who preceded him. The apocryphal gospels were all much later and are not in his mind. Luke had secured fuller information and planned a book on a larger scale and did surpass them with the result that they all perished save Mark's Gospel and what Matthew and Luke possess of the Logia of Jesus. There was still room for Luke's book. That motive influences every author and thus progress is made.
To draw up, a narrative (αναταξασθα διηγησιν). Ingressive aorist middle infinitive. This verb αναταξασθα has been found only in Plutarch's Moral. 968 CD about an elephant "rehearsing" by moonlight certain tricks it had been taught (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary). That was from memory going regularly through the thing again. But the idea in the word is plain enough. The word is composed of τασσω, a common verb for arranging things in proper order and ανα, again. Luke means to say that those before him had made attempts to rehearse in orderly fashion various matters about Christ. "The expression points to a connected series of narratives in some order (ταξις), topical or chronological rather than to isolated narratives" (Bruce). "They had produced something more than mere notes or anecdotes" (Plummer). Διηγησις means leading or carrying a thing through, not a mere incident. Galen applies this word some seventy-five times to the writing of Hippocrates.
Which have been fulfilled (των πεπληρωφορημενων). Perfect passive participle from πληροφορεω and that from πληρης (full) and φερω (to bring). Hence to bring or make full. The verb is rare outside of the LXX and the N.T. Papyri examples occur for finishing off a legal matter or a financial matter in full. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, pp. 86f.) gives examples from the papyri and inscriptions for completing a task or being convinced or satisfied in mind. The same ambiguity occurs here. When used of persons in the N.T. the meaning is to be convinced, or fully persuaded (Romans 4:21; Romans 14:5; Hebrews 6:11; Hebrews 10:22). When used of things it has the notion of completing or finishing (2 Timothy 4:5; 2 Timothy 4:17). Luke is here speaking of "matters" (πραγματων). Luke may refer to the matters connected with Christ's life which have been brought to a close among us or accomplished. Bruce argues plausibly that he means fulness of knowledge "concerning the things which have become widely known among us Christians." In Colossians 2:2 we have "fulness of understanding" (της πληροφοριας της συνεσεως). In modern Greek the verb means to inform. The careful language of Luke here really pays a tribute to those who had preceded him in their narratives concerning Christ.
Even as (καθως). This particle was condemned by the Atticists though occurring occasionally from Aristotle on. It is in the papyri. Luke asserts that the previous narratives had their sound basis.
Delivered unto us (παρεδωσαν ημιν). Second aorist active indicative of παραδιδωμ. Luke received this tradition along with those who are mentioned above (the many). That is he was not one of the "eyewitnesses." He was a secondary, not a primary, witness of the events. Tradition has come to have a meaning of unreliability with us, but that is not the idea here. Luke means to say that the handing down was dependable, not mere wives' fables. Those who drew up the narratives had as sources of knowledge those who handed down the data. Here we have both written and oral sources. Luke had access to both kinds.
Which from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word (ο απ' αρχης αυτοπτα κα υπηρετα γενομενο του λογου). "Who" is better than "which" for the article here. The word for
eyewitnesses (αυτοπτα) is an old Greek word and appears in the papyri also. It means seeing with one's own eyes. It occurs here only in the N.T. We have the very word in the medical term autopsy. Greek medical writers often had the word. It is a different word from εποπτα (eyewitness) in 2 Peter 1:16, a word used of those who beheld heavenly mysteries. The word for "ministers" (υπηρετα), under rowers or servants we have had already in Matthew 5:25; Matthew 26:58; Mark 14:54; Mark 14:65, which see. We shall see it again in Luke 4:20 of the attendant in the synagogue. In the sense of a preacher of the gospel as here, it occurs also in Acts 26:16. Here "the word" means the gospel message, as in Acts 6:4; Acts 8:4, etc.
From the beginning apparently refers to the beginning of the ministry of Jesus as was true of the apostles (Acts 1:22) and of the early apostolic preaching (Acts 10:37-43). The Gospel of Mark follows this plan. The Gospel of Luke goes behind this in chapters 1 and 2 as does Matthew in chapters 1 and 2. But Luke is not here referring to himself. The matters about the childhood of Jesus Christ would not form part of the traditional preaching for obvious reasons.
It seemed good to me also (εδοξε καμο). A natural conclusion and justification of Luke's decision to write his narrative. They had ample reason to draw up their narratives. Luke has more reason to do so because of his fuller knowledge and wider scope.
Having traced the course of all things (παρηκολουθηκοτ πασιν). The perfect active participle of a common verb of the ancient Greek. Literally it means to follow along a thing in mind, to trace carefully. Both meanings occur abundantly in the ancient Greek. Cadbury (Appendix C to Beginnings of Christianity, Vol. II, pp. 489ff.) objects to the translation "having traced" here as implying research which the word does not here mean. Milligan (Vocabulary) is somewhat impressed by this argument. See my discussion of the point in Chapter XVI of Studies in the Text of the N.T. (The Implications in Luke's Preface) where the point is made that Luke here claims fulness of knowledge before he began to write his book. He had the traditions of the eyewitnesses and ministers of the word and the narratives previously drawn up. Whether he was a personal contemporary with any or all of these events we do not know and it is not particularly pertinent. He had mentally followed along by the side of these events. Galen used this verb for the investigation of symptoms. Luke got himself ready to write before he began by full and accurate knowledge of the subject. Ακριβως (accurately) means going into minute details, from ακρον, the topmost point. And he did it
from the first (ανωθεν). He seems to refer to the matters in Chapters Luke 1:5-2, the Gospel of the Infancy.
In order (καθεξης). Chronological order in the main following Mark's general outline. But in Luke 9:51-18 the order is often topical. He has made careful investigation and his work deserves serious consideration.
Most excellent Theophilus (κρατιστε Θεοφιλε). The name means god-lover or god-beloved. He may have been a believer already. He was probably a Gentile. Ramsay holds that "most excellent" was a title like "Your Excellency" and shows that he held office, perhaps a Knight. So of Felix (Acts 23:26) and Festus (Acts 26:25). The adjective does not occur in the dedication in Acts 1:1.
Mightest know (επιγνωις). Second aorist active subjunctive of επιγινωσκω. Full knowledge (επ-), in addition to what he already has.
The certainty (την ασφαλειαν). Make no slip (σφαλλω, to totter or fall, and α privative). Luke promises a reliable narrative. "Theophilus shall know that the faith which he has embraced has an impregnable historical foundation" (Plummer).
The things (λογων). Literally "words," the details of the words in the instruction.
Wast instructed (κατηχηθης). First aorist passive indicative. Not in O.T. and rare in ancient Greek. Occurs in the papyri. The word ηχεω is our word echo (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:8 for εξηχητα, has sounded forth). Κατηχεω is to sound down, to din, to instruct, to give oral instruction. Cf. 1 Corinthians 14:9; Acts 21:21; Acts 21:24; Acts 18:25; Galatians 6:6. Those men doing the teaching were called catechists and those receiving it were called catechumens. Whether Theophilus was still a catechumen is not known. This Preface by Luke is in splendid literary Koine and is not surpassed by those in any Greek writer (Herodotus, Thucydides, Polybius). It is entirely possible that Luke was familiar with this habit of Greek historians to write prefaces since he was a man of culture.
There was (εγενετο). Not the usual εν for "was," but there arose or came into notice. With this verse the literary Koine of verses 1 to 4 disappears. To the end of chapter 2 we have the most Hebraistic (Aramaic) passage in Luke's writings, due evidently to the use of documents or notes of oral tradition. Plummer notes a series of such documents ending with Luke 1:80; Luke 2:40; Luke 2:52. If the mother of Jesus was still alive, Luke could have seen her. She may have written in Aramaic an account of these great events. Natural reserve would keep her from telling too much and from too early publicity. Luke, as a physician, would take special interest in her birth report. The supernatural aspects disturb only those who do not admit the real Incarnation of Jesus Christ and who are unable to believe that God is superior to nature and that the coming of the Son of God to earth justifies such miraculous manifestations of divine power. Luke tells his story from the standpoint of Mary as Matthew gives his from the standpoint of Joseph. The two supplement each other. We have here the earliest documentary evidence of the origins of Christianity that has come down to us (Plummer).
Herod, King of Judea (Hηρωιδου βασιλεως της Ιουδαιας). This note of time locates the events before the death of Herod the Great (as he was called later), appointed King of Judea by the Roman Senate B.C. 40 at the suggestion of Octavius and Antony. He died B.C. 4.
Of the course of Abijah (εξ εφημεριας Αβια). Not in old Greek, but in LXX and modern Greek. Papyri have a verb derived from it, εφημερεω. Daily service (Nehemiah 13:30; 1 Chronicles 25:8) and then a course of priests who were on duty for a week (1 Chronicles 23:6; 1 Chronicles 28:13). There were 24 such courses and that of Abijah was the eighth (1 Chronicles 24:10; 2 Chronicles 8:14). Only four of these courses (Jedaiah, Immer, Pashur, Harim) returned from Babylon, but these four were divided into twenty-four with the old names. Each of these courses did duty for eight days, sabbath to sabbath, twice a year. On sabbaths the whole course did duty. At the feast of tabernacles all twenty-four courses were present.
Of the daughters of Aaron (εκ των θυγατερων Ααρων). "To be a priest and married to a priest's daughter was a double distinction" (Plummer). Like a preacher married to a preacher's daughter.
Righteous before God (δικαιο εναντιον του θεου). Old Testament conception and idiom. Cf. Luke 2:25 about Simeon. Expanded in Old Testament language. Picture of "noblest product of Old Testament education" (Ragg) is Zacharias and Elisabeth, Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna who were "privileged to see with clear eyes the dawn of the New Testament revelation."
Because that (καθοτ). Good Attic word, according to what. Only in Luke and Acts in the N.T. In the papyri.
Well stricken in years (προβεβηκοτες εν ταις ημεραις αυτων). Wycliff has it right: "Had gone far in their days." Perfect active participle. See also verse Luke 1:18.
While he executed the priest's office (εν τω ιερατευειν αυτον). A favourite idiom in Luke, εν with the articular infinitive and the accusative of general reference where the genitive absolute could have been used or a temporal conjunction and finite verb. It is proper Greek, but occurs often in the LXX, which Luke read, particularly in imitation of the Hebrew infinitive construct. The word ιερατευω does not appear in the ancient Greek, but in the LXX and this one example in Luke. It is on the Rosetta Stone and the early inscriptions so that the word was simply applied by the LXX translators from current usage.
His lot was (ελαχε). Literally,
he obtained the lot . Second aorist active indicative of λαγχανω, to obtain by lot, a very old verb from Homer on. It is used either with the genitive as here, or the accusative as in Acts 1:17; 2 Peter 1:1. Papyri show examples with the accusative. It was only once in a lifetime that a priest obtained the lot of going (εισελθων, here nominative aorist active participle agreeing with the subject of ελαχε) into the sanctuary (τον ναον, not το ιερον, the outer courts) and burning incense on the golden altar. "It was the great moment of Zacharias's life, and his heart was no doubt alert for the supernatural" (Ragg). The fortunate lot was "a white stone" to which Revelation 2:17 may refer.
Burn incense (του θυμιασα). Here only in the N.T. Occurs on inscriptions. Hobart finds it used by medical writers for fumigating herbs. "Ascending the steps to the Holy Place, the priests spread the coals on the golden altar, and arranged the incense, and the chief operating priest was then left alone within the Holy Place to await the signal of the president to burn the incense. It was probably at this time that the angel appeared to Zacharias" (Vincent).
Were praying without (ην προσευχομενον εξω). Periphrastic imperfect indicative picturing the posture of the people while the clouds of incense rose on the inside of the sanctuary.
Appeared (ωφθη). First aorist passive indicative. It is the form used by Paul of the resurrection appearances of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). There is no use in trying to explain away the reality of the angel. We must choose between admitting an objective appearance and a myth (Plummer).
Is heard (εισηκουσθη). First aorist passive indicative. A sort of timeless aorist, "was heard" when made, and so "is heard" now. Probably the prayer was for a son in spite of the great age of Elisabeth, though the Messianic redemption is possible also.
John (Ιωανην). The word means that God is gracious. The mention of the name should have helped Zacharias to believe. The message of the angel (verses Luke 1:13-17) takes on a metrical form when turned into Hebrew (Ragg) and it is a prose poem in Greek and English like Luke 1:30-33; Luke 1:35-37; Luke 1:42-45; Luke 1:46-55; Luke 1:68-70; Luke 2:10-12; Luke 2:14; Luke 2:29-32; Luke 2:34-35. Certainly Luke has preserved the earliest Christian hymns in their oldest sources. He is the first critic of the sources of the Gospels and a scholarly one.
Gladness (αγαλλιασις). Only in the LXX and N.T. so far as known. A word for extreme exultation.
Rejoice (χαρησοντα). Second future passive indicative. The coming of a prophet will indeed be an occasion for rejoicing.
Strong drink (σικερα). A Hebrew word transliterated into Greek, an intoxicating drink. Here only in the N.T. John was to be a personal "dry" or Nazarite (Numbers 6:3).
Shall not drink (ου μη πιη). Strong prohibition, double negative and second aorist subjunctive.
The Holy Ghost (πνευματος αγιου). The Holy Spirit in contrast to the physical excitement of strong drink (Plummer). Luke uses this phrase 53 times, 12 in the Gospel, Mark and John 4 each, Matthew 5 times.
Even from his mother's womb (ετ εκ κοιλιας μητρος αυτου). A manifest Hebraism. Cf. verse Luke 1:41.
Before his face (ενωπιον αυτου). Not in the ancient Greek, but common in the papyri as in LXX and N.T. It is a vernacular Koine word, adverb used as preposition from adjective ενωπιος, and that from ο εν ωπ ων (the one who is in sight).
Autou here seems to be "the Lord their God" in verse Luke 1:16 since the Messiah has not yet been mentioned, though he was to be actually the Forerunner of the Messiah.
In the spirit and power of Elijah (εν πνευματ κα δυναμε Ελεια). See Isaiah 40:1-11; Malachi 3:1-5. John will deny that he is actually Elijah in person, as they expected (John 1:21), but Jesus will call him Elijah in spirit (Mark 9:12; Matthew 17:12).
Hearts of fathers (καρδιας πατερων). Paternal love had died out. This is one of the first results of conversion, the revival of love in the home.
Wisdom (φρονησε). Not σοφια, but a word for practical intelligence.
Prepared (κατεσκευασμενον). Perfect passive participle, state of readiness for Christ. This John did. This is a marvellous forecast of the character and career of John the Baptist, one that should have caught the faith of Zacharias.
Whereby (κατα τ). According to what. It was too good to be true and Zacharias demanded proof and gives the reason (for, γαρ) for his doubt. He had prayed for this blessing and was now sceptical like the disciples in the house of Mary about the return of Peter (Acts 12:14).
Gabriel (Γαβριηλ). The Man of God (Daniel 8:6; Daniel 9:21). The other angel whose name is given in Scripture is Michael (Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:21; Judges 1:9; Revelation 12:7). The description of himself is a rebuke to the doubt of Zacharias.
Thou shalt be silent (εση σιωπων). Volitive future periphrastic.
Not able to speak (μη δυναμενος λαλησα). Negative repetition of the same statement. His dumbness will continue "until" (αχρ ης ημερας) the events come to pass "because" (ανθ' ων). The words were to become reality in due season (καιρον, not χρονος, time).
Were waiting (ην προσδοκων). Periphrastic imperfect again. An old Greek verb for expecting. Appears in papyri and inscriptions. It denotes mental direction whether hope or fear.
They marvelled (εθαυμαζον). Imperfect tense, were wondering. The Talmud says that the priest remained only a brief time in the sanctuary.
While he tarried (εν τω χρονιζειν). See verse Luke 1:8 for the same idiom.
Perceived (επεγνωσαν). Second aorist indicative. Clearly knew because he was not able to pronounce the benediction from the steps (Numbers 6:24-26).
Continued making signs (ην διανευων). Periphrastic imperfect again. He nodded and beckoned back and forth (δια, between). Further proof of a vision that caused his dumbness.
Ministration (λειτουργιας). Our word liturgy. A common word in ancient Greek for public service, work for the people (λεως εργον). It is common in the papyri for the service of the Egyptian priesthood as we see it in the LXX of Hebrew priests (see also Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:21; 2 Corinthians 9:12; Philippians 2:17; Philippians 2:30).
Conceived (συνελαβεν). Luke uses this word eleven times and it occurs only five other times in the N.T. It is a very old and common Greek word. He alone in the N.T. has it for conceiving offspring (Luke 1:24; Luke 1:31; Luke 1:36; Luke 2:21) though James 1:15 uses it of lust producing sin. Hobart (Medical Language of Luke, p. 91) observes that Luke has almost as many words for pregnancy and barrenness as Hippocrates (εν γαστρ εχειν, Luke 21:23; εγκυος, Luke 2:5; στειρα, Luke 1:7; ατεκνος, Luke 20:28).
Hid (περιεκρυβεν). Only here in the N.T., but in late Koine writers. Usually considered second aorist active indicative from περικρυπτω, though it may be the imperfect indicative of a late form περικρυβω. If it is aorist it is the constative aorist. The preposition περ makes it mean completely (on all sides) hid.
My reproach (ονειδος μου). Keenly felt by a Jewish wife because the husband wanted an heir and because of the hope of the Messiah, and because of the mother's longing for a child.
Was sent (απεσταλη). Second aorist passive indicative of αποστελλω from which apostle comes. The angel Gabriel is God's messenger to Mary as to Zacharias (Luke 1:19).
Betrothed (εμνηστευμενην). Perfect passive participle. Betrothal usually lasted a year and unfaithfulness on the part of the bride was punished with death (Deuteronomy 23:24).
Highly favoured (κεχαριτωμενη). Perfect passive participle of χαριτοω and means endowed with grace (χαρις), enriched with grace as in Ephesians 1:6, non ut mater gratiae, sed ut filia gratiae (Bengel). The Vulgate gratiae plena "is right, if it means 'full of grace which thou hast received'; wrong, if it means 'full of grace which thou hast to bestow"' (Plummer). The oldest MSS. do not have "Blessed art thou among women" here, but in verse Luke 1:42.
Cast in her mind (διελογιζετο). Imperfect indicative. Note aorist διεταραχθη. Common verb for reckoning up different reasons. She was both upset and puzzled.
Favour (χαριν). Grace. Same root as χαιρω (rejoice) and χαριτοω in verse Luke 1:28. To find favour is a common O.T. phrase. Χαρις is a very ancient and common word with a variety of applied meanings. They all come from the notion of sweetness, charm, loveliness, joy, delight, like words of grace, Luke 4:22, growing grace, Ephesians 4:29, with grace, Colossians 4:6. The notion of kindness is in it also, especially of God towards men as here. It is a favourite word for Christianity, the Gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24) in contrast with law or works (John 1:16). Gratitude is expressed also (Luke 6:32), especially to God (Romans 6:17).
With God (παρα τω θεω). Beside God.
Conceive in thy womb (συλλημψη εν γαστρ). Adding εν γαστρ to the verb of Luke 1:24. Same idiom in Isaiah 7:14 of Immanuel.
Jesus (Ιησουν). As to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, but without the explanation of the meaning. See on Matthew.
The Son of the Most High (υιος Hυψιστου). There is no article in the Greek, but the use of Most High in verse Luke 1:35 clearly of God as here. In Luke 6:35 we find "sons of the Most High" (υιο Hυψιστου) so that we cannot insist on deity here, though that is possible. The language of 2 Samuel 7:14; Isaiah 9:7 is combined here.
Shall be no end (ουκ εστα τελος). Luke reports the perpetuity of this Davidic kingdom over the house of Jacob with no Pauline interpretation of the spiritual Israel though that was the true meaning as Luke knew. Joseph was of the house of David (Luke 1:27) and Mary also apparently (Luke 2:5).
Shall overshadow thee (επισκιασε). A figure of a cloud coming upon her. Common in ancient Greek in the sense of obscuring and with accusative as of Peter's shadow in Acts 5:15. But we have seen it used of the shining bright cloud at the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:34). Here it is like the Shekinah glory which suggests it (Exodus 40:38) where the cloud of glory represents the presence and power of God.
Holy, the Son of God (Hαγιον υιος θεου). Here again the absence of the article makes it possible for it to mean "Son of God." See Matthew 5:9. But this title, like the Son of Man (Hο υιος του ανθρωπου) was a recognized designation of the Messiah. Jesus did not often call himself Son of God (Matthew 27:43), but it is assumed in his frequent use of the Father, the Son (Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:21; John 5:19). It is the title used by the Father at the baptism (Luke 3:22) and on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:35). The wonder of Mary would increase at these words. The Miraculous Conception or Virgin Birth of Jesus is thus plainly set forth in Luke as in Matthew. The fact that Luke was a physician gives added interest to his report.
Kinswoman (συγγενις). Not necessarily cousin, but simply relative.
No word (ουκ ρημα). Ρημα brings out the single item rather than the whole content (λογος). So in verse Luke 1:38.
Arose (αναστασα). Luke is very fond of this word, sixty times against twenty-two in the rest of the N.T.
Into the hill country (εις την ορινην). Luke uses this adjective twice in this context (here and Luke 1:65) instead of το ορος, the mountains. It is an old word and is in the LXX, but nowhere else in the N.T. The name of the city where Zacharias lived is not given unless Judah here means Juttah (Joshua 15:55). Hebron was the chief city of this part of Judea.
Saluted (ησπασατο). Her first glance at Elisabeth showed the truth of the angel's message. The two mothers had a bond of sympathy.
Leaped (εσκιρτησεν). A common enough incident with unborn children (Genesis 25:22), but Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit to understand what had happened to Mary.
With a loud cry (κραυγη μεγαλη). A moment of ecstatic excitement.
Blessed art thou (ευλογημενη). Perfect passive participle. A Hebraistic equivalent for the superlative.
The mother of my Lord (η μητηρ του Κυριου μου). See Psalms 110:1. Only by the help of the Holy Spirit could Elisabeth know that Mary was to be the mother of the Messiah.
For (οτ). It is not certain whether οτ here is "that" or "because." It makes good sense either way. See also Luke 7:16. This is the first beatitude in the New Testament and it is similar to the last one in the Gospels spoken to Thomas to discourage his doubt (John 20:29). Elisabeth wishes Mary to have full faith in the prophecy of the angel. This song of Elisabeth is as real poetry as is that of Mary (Luke 1:47-55) and Zacharias (Luke 1:68-70). All three spoke under the power of the Holy Spirit. These are the first New Testament hymns and they are very beautiful. Plummer notes four strophes in Mary's Magnificat (Luke 1:46-48,Luke 1:49; Luke 1:50,Luke 1:51-53,Luke 1:54; Luke 1:55). Every idea here occurs in the Old Testament, showing that Mary's mind was full of the spiritual message of God's word.
Doth magnify (μεγαλυνε). Latin, magnificat. Harnack argues that this is also the song of Elisabeth because a few Latin MSS. have it so, but Mary is correct. She draws her material from the O.T. and sings in the noblest strain.
Hath rejoiced (ηγαλλιασεν). This is aorist active indicative. Greek tenses do not correspond to those in English. The verb αγαλλιαω is a Hellenistic word from the old Greek αγαλλω. It means to exult. See the substantive αγαλλιασις in Luke 1:14; Luke 1:44. Mary is not excited like Elisabeth, but breathes a spirit of composed rapture.
My spirit (το πνευμα μου). One need not press unduly the difference between "soul" (ψυχη) in verse Luke 1:46 and "spirit" here. Bruce calls them synonyms in parallel clauses. Vincent argues that the soul is the principle of individuality while the spirit is the point of contact between God and man. It is doubtful, however, if the trichotomous theory of man (body, soul, and spirit) is to be insisted on. It is certain that we have an inner spiritual nature for which various words are used in Mark 12:30. Even the distinction between intellect, emotions, and will is challenged by some psychologists.
God my Saviour (τω θεω τω σοτηρ μου). Article with each substantive. God is called Saviour in the O.T. (Deuteronomy 32:15; Psalms 24:5; Psalms 95:1).
The low estate (την ταπεινωσιν). The bride of a carpenter and yet to be the mother of the Messiah. Literal sense here as in Luke 1:52.
Shall call me blessed (μακαριουσιν με). So-called Attic future of an old verb, to felicitate. Elisabeth had already given her a beatitude (μακαρια, Luke 1:45). Another occurs in Luke 11:27. But this is a very different thing from the worship of Mary (Mariolatry) by Roman Catholics. See my The Mother of Jesus: Her Problems and Her Glory.
Fear (φοβουμενοις). Dative of the present middle participle. Here it is reverential fear as in Acts 10:2; Colossians 3:22. The bad sense of dread appears in Matthew 21:46; Mark 6:20; Luke 12:4.
Showed strength (εποιησεν κρατος). "Made might" (Wycliff). A Hebrew conception as in Psalms 118:15. Plummer notes six aorist indicatives in this sentence (Luke 1:51-63), neither corresponding to our English idiom, which translates here by "hath" each time.
Imagination (διανοια). Intellectual insight, moral understanding.
Princes (δυναστας). Our word dynasty is from this word. It comes from δυναμα, to be able.
Hath holpen (αντελαβετο). Second aorist middle indicative. A very common verb. It means to lay hold of with a view to help or succour.
Servant (παιδος). Here it means "servant," not "son" or "child," its usual meaning.
Had magnified (εμεγαλυνεν). Aorist active indicative. Same verb as in verse Luke 1:46.
Rejoiced with her (συνεχαιρον αυτη). Imperfect tense and pictures the continual joy of the neighbours, accented also by συν- (cf. Philippians 2:18) in its mutual aspect.
Would have called (εκαλουν). Conative imperfect, tried to call.
Made signs (ενενευον). Imperfect tense, repeated action as usual when making signs. In Luke 1:22 the verb used of Zacharias is διανευων.
What he would have him called (το τ αν θελο καλεισθα αυτο). Note article το with the indirect question, accusative of general reference. The optative with αν is here because it was used in the direct question (cf. Acts 17:18), and is simply retained in the indirect.
What would he wish him to be called? (if he could speak), a conclusion of the fourth-class condition.
Tablet (πινακιδιον). Diminutive of πινακις. In Aristotle and the papyri for writing tablet, probably covered with wax. Sometimes it was a little table, like Shakespeare's "the table of my memory" (Hamlet, i.5). It was used also of a physician's note-book.
Wrote, saying (εγραψεν λεγων). Hebrew way of speaking (2 Kings 10:6).
Immediately (παραχρημα). Nineteen times in the N.T., seventeen in Luke.
Opened (ανεωιχθη). First aorist passive indicative with double augment. The verb suits "mouth," but not "tongue" (γλωσσα). It is thus a zeugma with tongue. Loosed or some such verb to be supplied.
Fear (φοβος). Not terror, but religious awe because of contact with the supernatural as in the case of Zacharias (Luke 1:12). Were noised abroad (διελαλειτο). Imperfect passive. Occurs in Polybius. In the N.T. only here and Luke 6:11. It was continuous talk back and forth between (δια) the people.
What then (τ αρα). With all these supernatural happenings they predicted the marvellous career of this child. Note Τ, what , not Τις, who. Cf. Acts 12:18.
They laid them up (εθεντο, second aorist middle indicative) as Mary did (Luke 2:19).
The hand of the Lord (χειρ Κυριου). Luke's explanation in addition to the supernatural events. The expression occurs only in Luke's writing (Acts 11:21; Acts 13:11).
Prophesied (επροφητευσεν). Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This Benedictus (Ευλογητος,
Blessed ) of Zacharias (Luke 1:68-79) may be what is referred to in verse Luke 1:64 "he began to speak blessing God" (ευλογων). Nearly every phrase here is found in the O.T. (Psalms and Prophets). He, like Mary, was full of the Holy Spirit and had caught the Messianic message in its highest meaning.
Hath visited (επεσκεψατο). An old Greek word with a Hebraic colouring to look into with a view to help. The papyri have plenty of examples of the verb in the sense of inspecting, examining.
Redemption (λυτρωσιν) here originally referred to political redemption, but with a moral and spiritual basis (verses Luke 1:75; Luke 1:77).
Horn of salvation (κερας σωτηριας). A common metaphor in the O.T. (1 Samuel 2:10; 2 Samuel 23:3, etc.). It represents strength like the horns of bulls. Cf. Luke 132:17.
Since the world began (απ' αιωνος). Better "from of old" (Weymouth, American Revision).
The oath which he sware (ορκον ον ωμοσεν). Antecedent attracted to case of the relative. The oath appears in Genesis 22:16-18. The oppression of the Gentiles seems to be in the mind of Zacharias. It is not certain how clearly he grasped the idea of the spiritual Israel as Paul saw it in Galatians and Romans.
Delivered (ρυσθεντας). First aorist passive participle of an old verb, ρυομα. The accusative case appears, where the dative could have been used to agree with ημιν, because of the infinitive λατρευειν (verse Luke 1:74)
to serve (from latros , for hire). But Plato uses the word of service for God so that the bad sense does not always exist.
In holiness and righteousness (εν οσιοτητ κα δικαιοσυνη). Not a usual combination (Ephesians 4:24; Titus 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:10). The Godward and the manward aspects of conduct (Bruce). Hοσιος, the eternal principles of right, δικαιος, the rule of conduct before men.
Yea and thou (κα συ δε). Direct address to the child with forecast of his life (cf. Luke 1:13-17).
Prophet (προφητης). The word here directly applied to the child. Jesus will later call John a prophet and more than a prophet.
The Lord (Κυριου). Jehovah as in Luke 1:16.
Knowledge of salvation (γνωσιν σωτηριας). "This is the aim and end of the work of the Forerunner" (Plummer).
Tender mercy (σπλαγχνα ελεους). Bowels of mercy literally (1 Peter 3:8; James 3:11). Revised margin has it, hearts of mercy.
The dayspring from on high (ανατολη εξ υψους). Literally, rising from on high, like the rising sun or stars (Isaiah 60:19). The word is used also of a sprouting plant or branch (Jeremiah 23:5; Zechariah 6:12), but that does not suit here.
Shall visit (επεσκεψετα), correct text, cf. Luke 1:68.
To shine upon (επιφανα). First aorist active infinitive of επιφαινω (liquid verb). An old verb to give light, to shine upon, like the sun or stars. See also Acts 27:20; Titus 2:11; Titus 3:4.
The shadow of death (σκια θανατου). See Psalms 107:10, where darkness and shadow of death are combined as here. Cf. also Isaiah 9:1. See on Matthew 4:16. To guide (του κατευθυνα). Genitive of the articular infinitive of purpose. The light will enable them in the dark to see how to walk in a straight path that leads to "the way of peace." We are still on that road, but so many stumble for lack of light, men and nations.
Grew (ηυξανε). Imperfect active, was growing.
Waxed strong (εκραταιουτο). Imperfect again. The child kept growing in strength of body and spirit.
His shewing (αναδειξεως αυτου). Here alone in the N.T. It occurs in Plutarch and Polybius. The verb appears in a sacrificial sense. The boy, as he grew, may have gone up to the passover and may have seen the boy Jesus (Luke 2:42-52), but he would not know that he was to be the Messiah. So these two boys of destiny grew on with the years, the one in the desert hills near Hebron after Zacharias and Elisabeth died, the other, the young Carpenter up in Nazareth, each waiting for "his shewing unto Israel."
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29