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Bible Commentaries
Luke 2

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

1 Caesar Augustus was the head of the Roman Empire at the time John and Jesus were born. World is from a Greek word that means the inhabitants of the earth. Virtually all of the civilized people of the world were under the power of this empire (it being the fourth of the world empires predicted in Dan 2:36-40). Taxed is from APOGRAPHO which means to be enrolled. The purpose of this enrollment was to obtain a list of the citizens to be taxed, which is the reason the translators rendered the word as they did.

Verse 2

2 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 1, Section 1, verifies this statement of Luke. The reader may consult this historical passage for his own information, which I will not take the space to copy here.

Verse 3

3 His own city. Most countries are divided into smaller units, each with a center of jurisdiction at which the birth lists of citzens are kept on record, such as the county unit in the United States. The Jews had a similar custom of keeping their records according to the family groups to which one belonged, and such records were stored in the city that was attribuated to that family.

Verse 4

4 Joseph descended from David, hence he went to Bethlehem to register because that little city was known as the city of David. (See 1Sa 16:1.)

Verse 5

5 A wife would not have to leave home to pay her taxes, but she would need to appear in person to be placed upon the enrollment of citizens according to the Roman procedure. His espoused wife is explained at Mat 1:25. Her condition of expectancy though engaged only to Joseph is explained at Mat 1:18-20.

Verse 6

6 While they were there. Many of the Lord's plans seem to have been done just "as occasion suggested." They may look that way to man, but God knows all about the future and can regulate it as He sees fit. It had been determined that Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem and the prophets predicted the same ( Mic 5:2; Psa 132:6). The Lord foresaw this edict of Caesar and planned the conditions with Joseph and Mary to coincide with it for the birth of the royal babe.

Verse 7

7 Laid him in a manger. The birth had taken place elsewhere on a birthstool, a seat so constructed that the mother could be seated while giving birth; this is what is meant by the "stools" in Exo 1:16. When Rachel proposed to let her maid "bear upon her knees" (Gen 30:3), she meant that her knees could be used instead of the birthstool. After Jesus was orn, the mother found no suitable place for him as a crib, hence she put him in a manger. The lodging places in that country were combinations of bedrooms for people and stalls for their beasts of service, just as some hotels are provided with garage space for the automobiles. The word "inn" should be rendered "guestcham-ber" (the same word is so rendered in chapter 22:11), where the guests would be gathered usually as they do in the lobby or waiting rooms in hotels. It was a time of large crowds on account of the decree of Caesar calling for all the people to come to the proper headquarters for registration. So the words no room for them in the inn have no reference to the attitude of the public towards these "humble, poor people," as a popular but .erroneous statement of sentimentality represents.

Verse 8

8 The shepherds were guarding their flocks from robbers and wolves.

Verse 9

9 Sore afraid means they were greatly frightened by the unexpected appearance of a person out there in the darkness of the night.

Verse 10

0 The angel calmed their fears by telling them he was there to bring them good news. The thing he was going to tell them was a matter that concerned all people, not merely any certain race or nationality.

Verse 11

1 Unto you denotes that it was for their benefit the birth had occurred. The announcement of it was about the same as was predicted in Isa 9:6.

Verse 12

2 All newborn babes look very much alike, hence some mark of recognition was necessary for the information of the shepherds. This was done by two unusual facts; the way the babe was clothed and the place used for his crib. He was bound round with a strip of cloth only, indicating that the birth had very recently taken place, and a manger was not the place where babes were generally placed as a crib.

Verse 13

3 The "shock" was eased by the appearance of only one angel. Then suddenly a multitude of the angel band of the heavenly army appeared shouting praises to God.

Verse 14

4 Moffatt renders in the highest, "in high heaven," and good will toward men, he renders, "for men whom He favors."

Verse 15

5 Let us go even unto Beth-lem, shows the shepherds understood that the "city of David," which the angel named, meant that place.

Verse 16

6 They found the parents near the babe that was lying in the manger.

Verse 17

7 That circumstance verified what the angel had told them. Doubtless they were well pleased at the combination of circumstances and reported it publicly.

Verse 18

8 The people .wondered about the coincidence. These shepherds could not have merely guessed at what had taken place for there were too many details in the case.

Verse 19

9 To ponder means to think or meditate, wondering over the great happiness that had been poured down upon her.

Verse 20

0 The shepherds praised God for the combination of events with the statement of the angel, thereby constituting a verifying weight of evidence. It was such a strong evidence of divine truth they could not refrain from rejoicing.

Verse 21

1 See the comments at chapter 1:59 as to naming a child at the same time with the rite of circumcision. According to Smith's Bible Dictionary, "the name Jesus signifies saviour," which made it an appropriate one to give this child.

Verse 22

2 See the law on this subject in Lev 12:1-6.

Verse 23

3 To be called holy to the Lord means to be regarded as His, hence the reason for presenting him to the Lord at Jerusalem where the temple was located.

Verse 24

4 In verse 8 of the chapter in Leviticus cited, it can be seen that a woman was permitted to offer these birds only in case she was not financially able to offer a larger sacrifice, such as a four-footed animal of the clean description.

Verse 25

5 Various men were inspired in Biblical times when God wished to have some message spoken, and this good man Simeon was one of those persons. The consolation means the blessing that God had promised to Israel (and all the world) through the seed of Abraham (Gen 12:3; Gen 22:18).

Verse 26

6 A special promise had been made to Simeon that he would live to see the Lord's Christ, which means the Anointed One.

Verse 27

7 The Spirit in this verse is the same as the Holy Ghost in the preceding one. It was by this Spirit that Simeon was caused to come into the temple at the same time the parents of Jesus came in.

Verse 28

8 Simeon blessed God for letting him live to see Jesus.

Verse 29

9 Simeon was willing to die since the great wish of his last years had been realized, and if he had been called to die then he would have had "a peaceful hour to die," for his last thoughts would have been on the Saviour of the world.

Verse 30

0Have seen thy salvation means the salvation provided of God.

Verse 31

1 Host prepared denotes the plans and prophecies that had been formulating through the centuries, and now brought to a climax in the birth of this child.

Verse 32

2 Gentiles is from a Greek word that means "nations," and that was what God promised to Abraham as recorded in Gen 18:18. While all nations were to be blessed through Jesus, the people of Israel were especially honored since he was a Jew.

Verse 33

3 His mother means the mother of Jesus; she and her husband looked on and listened to the many things being done with the admiration of fond parents.

Verse 34

4 Simeon then directed his prophecies toward Mary concerning the child. To be set means "to be destined or appointed," indicating that. Jesus would be the cause of the results about to be mentioned. This fall and rising is the same as Jesus taught in Mat 23:12. A sign spoken against refers to the opposition that. Jesus would encounter among the people who would not like his teaching.

Verse 35

5 Sword shall pierce through thy own soul refers to the sorrow that Mary was to have at seeing her son suffering on the cross (Mat 27:56; Mar 15:40; Joh 19:25). Jesus was to exalt or abase men according to whether the thoughts of their hearts were good or evil, for he would be able to read and expose those thoughts.

Verse 36

6 From her viginity means from the time she was of marriageable age. She married at that time but her husband lived only seven years after this marriage. Women were inspired in Old Testament times as well as in the New. (See Exo 15:20; Jdg 4:4; 2Ki 22:14.)

Verse 37

7 This woman was a good example of the widow described in 1Ti 5:5.

Verse 38

8 Spake . . . looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Only an inspired person could speak on this subject with any authentic assurance, hence this good woman used her qualification as a prophetess for that purpose.

Verse 39

9 Luke omits the flight into Egypt from Judea before the return to Nazareth. Mat 2:13-15 should be read in connection with this verse.

Verse 40

0 The body of Jesus was human as well as divine, and was subject to the same law of growth or development as that of any other child. His spiritual or inner man, therefore, would have to develop in accordance with his body. However, since the work to be accomplished by him was of such special importance, his Father favored him with wisdom that was "beyond his years." This will account for the beautiful story we are about to read in some following verses.

Verse 41

1 The law required all the males of the Jews (others might if they wished) to appear at Jerusalem at the three yearly feasts (Exo 23:14-17; Deu 16:16).

Verse 42

2 Joseph took his wife and child Jesus with him on the occasion when the child was twelve years old. Whether they always went with him we are not told.

Verse 43

3 Fulfilled the days refers to the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month and the seven days immediately following (Lev 23:4-8). Jesus began to manifest the "special wisdom" referred to at verse 40, and he remained at Jerusalem after his parents departed. There being a large group traveling together toward Galilee, the child was not missed for a while.

Verse 44

4 It was the next day before the parents of Jesus observed that he was not in their family unit. They next made a search for him among acquaintances and relatives but did not find him.

Verse 45

5 The parents returned to Jerusalem where they had last seen their son.

Verse 46

6 It was three days before they found their son. The doctors were the teachers in the law of Moses. Hearing and asking questions shows that Jesus was conducting what is sometimes termed a "forum" in which questions and answers may be exchanged between the people in the assembly.

Verse 47

7 Understanding refers to his ability to ask proper questions. for a person needs to know something about a subject to be able to ask intelligent questions about it. His answers refers to the questions these doctors (teachers) were asking Jesus about the things that pertained to the business of God.

Verse 48

8 The mother of Jesus told him that she and his father had been searching for him. She meant his earthly foster father, for he it was who would need to search.

Verse 49

9 About my Father's business is rendered "in the affairs of my Father" by the Englishman's Greek New Testament. The wisdom mentioned in verse 40 taught Jesus that he was destined to perform some special work in the world that pertained to God. The temple was the official headquarters of the system of religion then in force for the Jews, hence Jesus was found in that building where his parents should have looked first.

Verse 50

0 This verse will help to explain why the parents were so disturbed about the disappearance of their son. They understood not because they did not have that special wisdom that he had, mentioned and commented upon at verse 40.

Verse 51

1 Whatever object God wished to accomplish in the temple at this time by this 12-year-old boy, was done, and he was then left to accompany his parents to their home. Jesus furnishes an important example of obedience to parents that all other children should imitate. Although he possessed wisdom that was given him in a special manner (which no boy or girl today can have), yet he realized his duty to his parents. All of the things that were happening were wonderful to his mother, and she kept them in her heart or held them as a cherished subject of meditation in her young motherly affections.

Verse 52

2 This verse is virtually the same in thought as verse 40.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Luke 2". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/luke-2.html. 1952.
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