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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
Bible Study Resources
-Usherian year of the World, 3999.
-Alexandrian year of the World, 5497.
-Antiochian year of the World, 5487.
-Constantinopolitan AEra of the World, 5503.
-Rabbinical year of the World, 3754.
-Year of the Julian Period, 4708.
-AEra of the Seleucidae, 307.
-Year before the Christian AEra, 6.
-Year of the CXCIII. Olympiad, 3.
-Year of the building of Rome, 748.
-Year of the Julian AEra, 41.
-Year of the Caesarean AEra of Antioch, 44.
-Year of the Spanish AEra, 34.
-Year of the Paschal Cycle or Dionysian Period, 529.
-Year of the Christian Lunar Cycle, or Golden Number, 15.
-Year of the Rabbinical Lunar Cycle, 12.
-Year of the Solar Cycle, 4.
-Dominical Letter, C.
-Year of the Emperor Augustus, 25.
-Consuls, D. Laelius Balbus, and C. Antistius Vetus, from January 1 to July 1; and Imp. C. Julius Caesar Octav. Augustus XII. and L. Cornelius Sulla, for the remainder of the year. The reason why two sets of Consuls appear in this Chronology is this: the Consuls were changed every year in July, therefore, taking in the whole year, four Consuls necessarily appear: two for the first six months, and two for the latter half of the year.
The preface, or St. Luke's private epistle to Theophilus, 1-4.
The conception and birth of John Baptist foretold by the angel
Zacharias doubts, 18.
And the angel declares he shall be dumb, till the accomplishment
of the prediction, 19-25.
Six months after the angel Gabriel appears to the virgin Mary,
and predicts the miraculous conception and birth of Christ,
Mary visits her cousin Elisabeth, 39-45.
Mary's song of exultation and praise, 46-56.
John the Baptist is born, 57-66.
The prophetic song of his father Zacharias, 67-79.
John is educated in the desert, 80.
NOTES ON CHAP. I.
Verse Luke 1:1. Many have taken in hand — Great and remarkable characters have always many biographers. So it appears it was with our Lord: but as most of these accounts were inaccurate, recording as facts things which had not happened; and through ignorance or design mistaking others, especially in the place where St. Luke wrote; it seemed good to the Holy Spirit to inspire this holy man with the most correct knowledge of the whole history of our Lord's birth, preaching, miracles, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension, that the sincere, upright followers of God might have a sure foundation, on which they might safely build their faith. Luke 9:10.
Most surely believed among us — Facts confirmed by the fullest evidence - των πεπληροφορημενων πραγματων. Every thing that had been done or said by Jesus Christ was so public, so plain, and so accredited by thousands of witnesses, who could have had no interest in supporting an imposture, as to carry the fullest conviction, to the hearts of those who heard and saw him, of the divinity of his doctrine, and the truth of his miracles.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 1:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/luke-1.html. 1832.
THE EARLY LIFE OF JESUS
1. Luke’s introduction (Luke 1:1-4)
Of the four Gospel writers, Luke is the only one who introduces his book by setting out briefly the circumstances of his writing. He wanted to prepare an account of the life and ministry of Jesus, but unlike others who prepared similar books, he was not an eye witness of the things about which he wrote. He therefore could prepare his book only after careful research (Luke 1:1-3). He wrote for a person of rank named Theophilus, to give him a reliable account of who Jesus was and what he had done (Luke 1:4). (Concerning Theophilus see also ‘The Writing of the Gospels’.)
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Luke 1:1". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/luke-1.html. 2005.
Nineteen hundred years have not dimmed the luster of this glorious chapter nor cast any shadow over the hard historical facts related therein, facts which have been etched into the conscience of all mankind and which are indelibly written into the pages of the world's authentic records. The account here was written by a brilliant physician, scientist and literary genius, following years of patient and thorough research, and who had the incomparable opportunity of examining all of the sources, written and oral, that had any bearing on the events narrated. Luke's vivid, scientific account is as far above the subjective guesses of modern scholars as the sun in heaven is above the mud-flats of earth. If men would know what really happened at that pivotal point in history which would split all time into the two segments called B.C. and A.D., then let them read it here. This is what happened!
This chapter contains the author's preface (Luke 1:1-4), the record of the annunciation to Zacharias (Luke 1:5-23), the conception of Elizabeth (Luke 1:24-25), the annunciation to Mary (Luke 1:26-38), and Mary's visit to Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56), the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:57-66), the prophecy of Zacharias (Luke 1:67-79), and a one-sentence summary of John the Baptist's early life (Luke 1:80).
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first to write thee in order, most excellent Theophilus; that thou mightest know the certainty concerning the things wherein thou wast instructed. (Luke 1:1-4)
This preface is not a statement of what Luke proposed to do, but a record of what he had already done. "The tense of the verbs shows that he wrote these verses after he had completed the body of the Gospel."
Here also is a glimpse of the true meaning of the doctrine of the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. "All scripture is inspired by God" (2 Timothy 3:16 RSV), and "Men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21); but this does not mean that God's inspiration comes to the lazy and inactive mind, but rather to the diligent seeker of truth, as beautifully exemplified by the research of Luke. As Barclay expressed it, "The word of God is given, but it is given to the man who is seeking for it." God guided his inspired authors by guiding their purpose, their research, and by protecting them from error, yet leaving the writer free to express the truth discovered in the terms and vocabulary that he already knew.
Many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative ... This indicates that Luke's written sources were numerous. "Many" is incapable of meaning only five or six. Even as many as eight are called "few" in Scripture (1 Peter 3:20); and we are therefore presented with the declaration which reveals a much larger number, perhaps as many as a score, or even more. Thus, the very first line of this Gospel disproves the notion that Luke got most of his Gospel from Mark. As a matter of fact, the solid evidence is all against the assumption that Luke ever saw either Matthew's or Mark's Gospels. As the scholarly Macknight stated, "Without all doubt, had he been speaking of them, he would not have passed them over in such a slight and casual manner."
Matters which have been fulfilled among us ... By these words, Luke affirmed that his record dealt with nothing that was new or novel in the faith of the very extensive Christian community already established throughout the Mediterranean world. The word for "fulfilled" in this clause means "fully established" (English Revised Version (1885) margin); and this means that the total content of Luke's Gospel was already the faith of the whole church at the time he wrote in 60 A.D.
Who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word ... Luke's mention of eye-witnesses of the things he recorded "from the beginning" and "from the first" (Luke 1:3), along with the conspicuous birth narrative in the first two chapters is very nearly the equivalent of saying that he had interviewed the Virgin Mary herself, a conclusion that will appear mandatory in the narrative itself. This is devastating to the wild, subjective theories with regard to Luke's source for the first two chapters. This is also the end of all attempts to late-date the Gospel; for, even at the time Luke wrote, the Virgin Mother was not less than eighty years of age, even allowing for the annunciation to have occurred when she was fifteen years old.
Ministers of the word ... The Greek word Luke used here for "ministers" is [@huperetai], a word used in medical terminology "to refer to doctors who served under a principal physician." Thus, Doctor Luke referred to a group, including the apostles themselves, who served as lesser DOCTORS under the Great Physician. There are numerous uses of such a medical vocabulary throughout Luke.
It seemed good to me also ... This removes any doubt that Luke disapproved of previous writings on the Christian faith, for he here plainly placed himself on the same platform with previous authors.
Having traced the source of all things accurately from the first ... The words "from the first" are a translation of the Greek term [@anothen], the same word which is rendered "from above" in John 3:3. G. Campbell Morgan insisted on the latter meaning here, which would make this an affirmation by Luke of the fact of his inspiration. Hobbs said that there is no reason why both meanings should not apply here.
To write unto thee in order ... There is no way to know exactly what Luke intended by this, other than the inherent truth that his record is systematic. It does not seem to be strictly chronological in every instance; but it is not affirmed here that it is.
Most excellent Theophilus ... The use of "excellent" denominates Theophilus as a man of equestrian rank, that is a knight, the term being used of such officials as the governor of the province (Acts 23:26). The name Theophilus means "one who loves God," but there is no reason to suppose that Luke used this name otherwise than as the personal cognomen of his friend, who might also have been his patron. The omission of the title "excellent" in Acts 1:1 supports the speculation that Theophilus was governor of an unnamed province when Luke was written, but that he was no longer governor when Acts was penned.
That thou mightest know the certainty concerning the things wherein thou wast instructed ... The Greek word here rendered "things" is actually "words" (English Revised Version (1885) margin); and the last clause means "which thou wast taught by word of mouth," unmistakable references to the oral instruction received by Christians in those times, prior to and after their acceptance of the faith. This makes the implications of this passage to be of epic proportions. Despite the fact of there having been "many" written portions of the gospel message, even so important a person as Theophilus had received only word-of-mouth teaching, indicating the universality of the word-of-mouth method of instruction. This fully accounts for the word-by-word correspondence to be found in certain episodes recorded in the synoptic Gospels, all of them written independently. Luke's Gospel was written for the precise purpose of confirming the accuracy of the oral instruction Theophilus had already received. The glimpse afforded here, as Dummelow said, "is all that is really known, as distinguished from what is guessed about the sources of the synoptic Gospels."
One other implication of vast significance appears in this preface. Whereas the oral instruction received by Theophilus was admitted by Luke to have been absolutely correct, and whereas the "many" writers had written of the things Luke recorded, this Gospel was composed for the purpose of greater "certainty" (Luke 1:4) than could have been held in respect of oral teachings, and with a design of giving an account of "all things" (Luke 1:3) that were pertinent to the holy faith, as contrasted with implied inadequacy of the "many" written accounts, this latter implication of inadequacy, or incompleteness, being the sole fault of the "many" writers before him. There is not the slightest hint that Luke was writing to correct false teachings of the writers cited.
 Herschel H. Hobbs, An Exposition of the Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1966), p. 17.
 William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1956), p. 2.
 James MacKnight, Harmony of the Gospels in Two Volumes (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1950), Vol. I, p. 34.
 Herschel H. Hobbs, op. cit., p. 19.
 Ibid., p. 21.
 J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 736.
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 1:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/luke-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
Forasmuch as many - It has been doubted who are referred to here by the word “many.” It seems clear that it could not be the other evangelists, for the gospel by “John” was not yet written, and the word “many” denotes clearly more than “two.” Besides, it is said that they undertook to record what the “eye-witnesses” had delivered to them, so that the writers did not pretend to be eye-witnesses themselves. It is clear, therefore, that other writings are meant than the gospels which we now have, but what they were is a matter of conjecture. What are now known as spurious gospels were written long after Luke wrote his. It is probable that Luke refers to “fragments” of history, or to narratives of “detached” sayings, acts, or parables of our Lord, which had been made and circulated among the disciples and others. His doctrines were original, bold, pure, and authoritative. His miracles had been extraordinary, clear, and awful. His life and death had been peculiar; and it is not improbable - indeed it is highly probable that such broken accounts and narratives of detached facts would be preserved. That this is what Luke means appears farther from Luke 1:3, where “he” professes to give a regular, full, and systematic account from the very beginning - “having had perfect understanding of “all things from the very first.” The records of the others - the “many” - were broken and incomplete. His were to be regular and full.
Taken in hand - Undertaken, attempted.
To set forth in order - To compose a narrative. It does not refer to the “order” or “arrangement,” but means simply to give a narrative. The word rendered here “in order” is different from that in the third verse, which “has” reference “to order,” or to a full and fair “arrangement” of the principal facts, etc., in the history of our Lord.
A declaration - A narrative - an account of.
Which are most surely believed among us - Among Christians - among all the Christians then living. Here we may remark:
- That Christians of that day had the best of all opportunities for knowing whether those things were true. Many had seen them, and all others had had the account from those who had witnessed them.
- That infidels now cannot “possibly” be as good judges in the matter as those who lived at the time, and who were thus competent to determine whether these things were true or false.
- That all Christians do “most surely believe” the truth of the gospel. It is their life, their hope, their all. Nor can they doubt that their Saviour lived, bled, died, rose, and still lives; that he was their atoning sacrifice, and that he is God over all, blessed forever.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 1:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/luke-1.html. 1870.
Luke is the only Evangelist who makes a preface to his Gospel, for the purpose of explaining briefly the motive which induced him to write. By addressing a single individual he may appear to have acted foolishly, instead of sounding the trumpet aloud, as was his duty, and inviting all men to believe. It appears, therefore, to be unsuitable that the doctrine which does not peculiarly belong to one person or to another, but is common to all, should be privately sent to his friend Theophilus. Hence some have been led to think that Theophilus is an appellative noun, and is applied to all godly persons on account of their love of God; but the epithet which is joined to it is inconsistent with that opinion. Nor is there any reason for dreading the absurdity which drove them to adopt such an expedient. For it is not less true that Paul’s doctrine belongs to all, though some of his Epistles were addressed to certain cities, and others to certain men. Nay, we must acknowledge, if we take into account the state of those times, that Luke adopted a conscientious and prudent course. There were tyrants on every hand who, by terror and alarm, were prepared to obstruct the progress of sound doctrine. This gave occasion to Satan and his ministers for spreading abroad the clouds of error, by which the pure light would be obscured. Now, as the great body of men cared little about maintaining the purity of the Gospel, and few considered attentively the inventions of Satan or the amount of danger that lurked under such disguises, every one who excelled others by uncommon faith, or by extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, was the more strongly bound to do his utmost, by care and industry, for preserving the doctrine of godliness pure and uncontaminated from every corruption. Such persons were chosen by God to be the sacred keepers of the law, by whom the heavenly doctrine committed to them should be honestly handed down to posterity. With this view therefore, Luke dedicates his Gospel to Theophilus, that he might undertake the faithful preservation of it; and the same duty Paul enjoins and recommends to Timothy, (2 Timothy 1:14.)
1. Forasmuch as many. He assigns a reason for writing which, one would think, ought rather to have dissuaded him from writing. To compose a history, which had already employed many authors, was unnecessary labor, at least if they had faithfully discharged their duty. But no accusation of imposture, or carelessness, or any other fault, is in the slightest degree insinuated. It looks, therefore, as if he were expressing a resolution to do what had been already done. I reply, though he deals gently with those who had written before him, he does not altogether approve of their labors. He does not expressly say that they had written on matters with which they were imperfectly acquainted, but by laying claim to certainty as to the facts, he modestly denies their title to full and unshaken confidence. It may be objected that, if they made false statements, they ought rather to have been severely censured. I reply again, they may not have been deeply in fault; they may have erred more from want of consideration than from malice; and, consequently, there would be no necessity for greater fierceness of attack. And certainly there is reason to believe that these were little more than historical sketches which, though comparatively harmless at the time, would afterwards, if they had not been promptly counteracted, have done serious injury to the faith. But it is worthy of remark that, in applying this remedy through Luke to unnecessary writings, God had a wonderful design in view of obtaining, by universal consent, the rejection of others, and thus securing undivided credit to those which reflect brightly his adorable majesty. There is the less excuse for those silly people, by whom disgusting stories, under the name of Nicodemus, or some other person, are, at the present day, palmed upon the world.
Are most surely believed among us The participle πεπληροφορημένα, which Luke employs, denotes things fully ascertained, and which do not admit of doubt. The old translator has repeatedly fallen into mistakes about this word, and through that ignorance has given us a corrupted sense of some very beautiful passages. One of these occurs in the writings of Paul, where he enjoins every man to be fully persuaded in his own mind, (Romans 14:5,) that conscience may not hesitate and waver, tossed to and fro (Ephesians 4:14) by doubtful opinions. Hence, too, is derived the word πληροφορία , which he erroneously renders fullness, while it denotes that strong conviction springing from faith, in which godly minds safely rest. There is still, as I have said, an implied contrast; for, by claiming for himself the authority of a faithful witness, he destroys the credit of others who give contrary statements.
Among us (17) has the same meaning as with us. (18) He appears to make faith rest on a weak foundation, its relation to men, while it ought to rest on the Word of God only; and certainly the full assurance (πληροφορία) of faith is ascribed to the sealing of the Spirit, (1 Thessalonians 1:5; Hebrews 10:22.) I reply, if the Word of God does not hold the first rank, faith will not be satisfied with any human testimonies, but, where the inward confirmation of the Spirit has already taken place, it allows them some weight in the historical knowledge of facts. By historical knowledge I mean that knowledge which we obtain respecting events, either by our own observation or by the statement of others. For, with respect to the visible works of God, it is equally proper to listen to eye-witnesses as to rely on experience. Besides, those whom Luke follows were not private authors, but were also ministers of the Word By this commendation he exalts them above the rank of human authority; for he intimates that the persons from whom he received his information had been divinely authorized to preach the Gospel. Hence, too, that security which he shortly afterwards mentions, and which, if it does not rest upon God, may soon be disturbed. There is great weight in his denominating those from whom he received his Gospel ministers of the Word; for on that ground believers conclude that the witnesses are beyond all exception, as the Lawyers express it, and cannot lawfully be set aside.
Erasmus, who has borrowed from Virgil (19) a phrase used in his version, did not sufficiently consider the estimation and weight due to a Divine calling. Luke does not talk in a profane style, but enjoins us in the person of his friend Theophilus to keep in view the command of Christ, and to hear with reverence the Son of God speaking through his Apostles. It is a great matter that he affirms them to have been eye-witneses, but, by calling them ministers, he takes them out of the common order of men, that our faith may have its support in heaven and not in earth. In short, Luke’s meaning is this: “that, since thou now hast those things committed faithfully to writing which thou hadst formerly learned by oral statements, thou mayest place a stronger reliance on the received doctrine.” It is thus evident that God has employed every method to prevent our faith from being suspended on the doubtful and shifting opinions of men. There is the less room for excusing the ingratitude of the world, which, as if it openly preferred the uncertainty arising out of vague and unfounded reports, turns from so great a Divine favor with loathing. But let us attend to the remarkable distinction which our Lord has laid down, that foolish credulity may not insinuate itself under the name of faith. Meanwhile, let us allow the world to be allured, as it deserves, by the deceitful baits of foolish curiosity, and even to surrender itself willingly to the delusions of Satan.
(17) Inter nos.
(18) Apud nos.
(19) Quorum pars magna fui. — Virg. AEn.
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Luke 1:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/luke-1.html. 1840-57.
Luke, the author of this third gospel, was called by Paul the apostle "the beloved physician." There is some speculation that his patron was a man by the name of Theophilus. In those days physicians were often slaves. And there are some who theorize that Luke was Theophilus' personal physician and servant. Whether or not that be so is only a matter of speculation, and thus, worthless to delve into.
Luke was a Greek. And he is the only Gentile to have the privilege of placing scripture in that holy canon of scripture, which we recognize as inspired of God. And there are two New Testament books that are ascribed to Luke. Of course, the gospel according to Luke and then the Acts of the apostles, which he begins again addressing himself to Theophilus saying, "The former treatise have I made onto thee, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach" ( Acts 1:1 ).
There are some who say that the word Theophilus is not actually a person at all, but just the word in Greek, Theophilao is "lover of God". And so that Luke is actually addressing his letter to the lovers of God. However, the people were usually named after hopes or aspirations or whatever of their parents, and there is no real reason to believe that Theophilus was not an actual person. In fact, being addressed as the most excellent Theophilus indicates that he was actually a ruler in the Roman Empire, as that is a title that is given to men who had a ruling position within the Roman Empire.
Luke introduces the gospel to Theophilus in the first four verses of chapter one.
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in an orderly fashion those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them onto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had a complete understanding of all of these things from the very first, to write unto thee an orderly progression, most excellent Theophilus. That you may know the certainty of those things, wherein you have been instructed ( Luke 1:1-4 ).
So Luke here declares that he has heard the message from those persons who were actually the eyewitnesses to these things. Now Luke, no doubt, interviewed personally Mary, in order that he might get a complete understanding concerning the circumstances that were surrounding the birth of Jesus. Luke, being a doctor, would be interested in various aspects that bordered on the medical profession. And it is obvious that he received the information of chapters one and two directly from Mary. And so from his interview with Mary and his questioning of Mary, he got the information for chapters one and two. And the information in these two chapters is not found in detail like this in the other gospels. He had heard Peter and John and those who had been with Jesus, those who were eyewitnesses, he heard their stories, as they told of their relationship with Jesus and of the work and the ministry that Jesus preformed. And then he, no doubt, questioned them more thoroughly to get a more complete understanding. And having what he feels to be a complete understanding of the story, he then proceeds to write to this man Theophilus, in order that he might realize the certainty of those things that he had heard.
Now Luke begins then the actual story of the gospel of Jesus by dealing with the birth, first of all, of John the Baptist, who was to be the forerunner of Jesus Christ.
And so there was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth ( Luke 1:5 ).
So immediately we are introduced to the persons that will be involved in the first part of his narrative here.
Zacharias of the tribe of Levi, making him then one of the priests. He was of the family of Abirim. His wife was also of the tribe of Levi. She was a descendent from the family of Aaron. Now at this particular time in Israel, there were around 20,000 descendents from Levi, male descendents, involved in the priesthood. And in as much as it was, of course, impossible for all 20,000 to serve continually in the temple, each family had their turn to serve, and they served twice during the year for one-week periods. And when it was the turn of your family to serve, they would cast lots to determine what particular aspect of the service you would be engaged in. And maybe once in a lifetime the priest would have his lot to fall upon the offering of the incense before the altar of incense before the Lord. This was usually just a once in a lifetime; one day in your life you get this glorious privilege of going in with the incense before the altar of incense to offer it before the Lord for the people. And so this was surely a significant and a special day for Zacharias, who during the time that he was serving there, the lot fell on him for this particular task.
Now we are told concerning Zacharias and Elisabeth that:
They were both righteous before God, [they] walked in all of the commandments and the ordinances of the Lord blameless ( Luke 1:6 ).
Two beautiful, righteous people who are quite insignificant as far as the world is concerned. People who loved the Lord, people who walked with the Lord, people you would have never heard about, unless they had been so involved in the story of Jesus Christ. The people, because of their involvement, we are told of them.
Now we are also told that:
They had no child, because Elisabeth was barren; and they were both now well stricken in years ( Luke 1:7 ).
That is, the years had taken their toll; they were bent over. They had become feeble. And the idea of well stricken in years is that of feebleness as the result of age.
In that culture it was considered a curse for a woman not to bear a child. And it was legal grounds for divorce. Had Zacharias desire to put away Elisabeth because of her inability to bear children, no one would have questioned him. It would have been accepted by everybody. But, no doubt, there was a tremendous love that they shared together, and they shared this grief and this sorrow together that they were unable to have children.
Now it came to pass, that, while he was fulfilling the priest office before God in the order of his course ( Luke 1:8 ),
They had the priestly orders, and this was one of the weeks that he had to come in for his particular duty of service.
According as was the custom of the priest office, his lot fell that he might burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord ( Luke 1:9 ).
And you can imagine the excitement of this old man, probably the only day in his life. And he probably had given up by now ever having the opportunity of burning incense. When the lots were drawn, his was that lot to burn the incense before the Lord that day.
And the whole multitude of people were praying outside at the time of incense ( Luke 1:10 ).
Now they would go in before the altar of incense, and they would take this little golden bowl that had burning coals that had been taken from the altar where they had offered the sacrifice. The lamb was offered in the morning and in the evening. And they would take the coals from the altar, put it in this little golden bowl, and then they would put the incense on top. And they would go in swinging this little incense burner before the altar incense, and the smoke, the sweet smelling smoke, would ascend up, and it was a beautiful symbolism of how God receives the prayers of His people. Our prayers that we offer to God arise before God as a sweet smelling odor, pleasant, beautiful.
In the book of Revelation, chapter 5, when the lamb takes the scroll out of the right hand of Him who is sitting upon the throne, John said, "And the twenty-four elders came forth with their little golden bowls, full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints, and they offered them before the throne of God" ( Revelation 5:8 ).
Now you remember that when God gave to Moses the instructions for building the tabernacle, and all of these furnishings, and the methods of worship were established, the Lord told Moses over, and over, "Now be careful that you make it exactly according to plan." And the reason why he was to make it exactly according to the plan that was given to him was because this whole thing was a model of what is in heaven. If you want to know what the heavenly scene, the throne of God and all looks like, you can study the tabernacle. And it was a model of heavenly things. So, as the priest on earth would take this little golden bowls and fill them with incense and the incense would arise as the prayer, a sweet smelling savor before God, so in heaven. Chapter 5 of Revelation, we see it fulfilled in the heavenly scene, as the twenty-four elders offer their little golden bowls full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints.
So a beautiful symbolism there. And so in offering the incense before the altar of incense, which was in the inner court of the temple, in the holy place, not the holy of holies--only the high priest went in there once a year, but the holy place which was just outside of the holy of holies.
And while he was there, the multitude of people were waiting outside. Because it was then customary when he came out to place the blessing of God upon the people. It was a special occasion, and the people would wait for the priest to come out and give them this blessing.
And there appeared onto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said onto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard ( Luke 1:11-13 );
What prayer? For years he had been praying, "Lord, please give me a son." It really gives to us encouragement for persistence in prayer. He didn't give up. Even though he was now old. Well stricken with years. He was still praying, "Oh, Lord, I'd love to have a son."
thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name, Johanam ( Luke 1:13 ).
Which means the Lord is gracious. It is shortened to John, but the full name is actually Johanam.
And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many will rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the side of the Lord, and he shall drink neither wine, nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him [that is the Messiah] in the spirit and in the power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord ( Luke 1:14-17 ).
Now the last word of God to man prior to this was in Malachi, the fourth chapter. And the last word of God to man was in Malachi 4:5 ,"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."
That was the last word of God to man in the old covenant period, prior to the angel meeting Zacharias there at the altar of the Lord. And it is interesting though the Lord has been silent for four hundred years, that very promise, which was the last promise of the old testament, is the first word of the Lord in the new testament, which is the fulfillment of that prophesy, which is about to take place, as this child that will be born, will go forth in the spirit and in the power of Elijah.
Now there is a lot of confusion as regards to John the Baptist, and the prophesy of the coming of Elijah. In John's gospel we are told that as John was baptizing at the Jordan River, the Pharisees came out and they demanded of him his authority, and who gave him the authority to do these things. They said, "Are you the Messiah?" He said, "No." They said, "Are you Elijah?" He said, "No." "Then who are you?" He said, "I am just the voice of one crying in the wilderness; prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight His path" ( John 1:20-23 ).
And yet, here the angel of the Lord tells his father that he will be going forth in the Spirit and in the power of Elijah.
Now the confusion exists in the fact that there were two comings of the Messiah. The first coming that we find recorded here in the gospel. The second coming for which we presently wait. And even as Elijah will appear before Jesus comes again. So John the Baptist came in the Spirit and in the power of Elijah. And if a person is able to accept it, he was the fulfillment of that promise of Elijah coming before the Lord, to cause the hearts of the children to turn to their fathers, and their fathers to their children.
So the confusion lies in the fact that there are two comings of the Messiah, as well as the two comings of Elijah, both of them to prepare the people for the coming of the Lord.
He shall be great in the sight of the Lord. He was to be as a Nazarene. Not drinking wine or strong drink, but filled with the Holy Spirit, from his mother's womb.
In a little bit we will be studying where Mary, when she received word that she was to be the instrument through which the Messiah was to be born, went to this little village of Juda, the home of Elisabeth, who at that point was six months pregnant. And when Mary walked in and greeted Elisabeth, Elisabeth felt the baby leap in her womb, and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
So at that time, no doubt, John was also filled with the Holy Spirit, a prenatal experience, which is quite interesting indeed. Even from his mother's womb.
Now though Zacharias had been praying that he might have a son, the prayers had not really been prayers of faith anymore, just of a hardly even a glimmering hope. Because when this angel told him that he was to have a son, he didn't believe it. And he challenged the angel.
Zacharias said onto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife is well stricken in years. And the angel answering said onto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and I've been sent to speak to thee, and to show thee this glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because you did not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season ( Luke 1:18-20 ).
It is interesting to me that we so often put such great emphasis upon our faith that God will do a certain thing. As though God is almost impotent apart from man's faith, to operate, or to work. But here with Zacharias, the angel said, "Alright, you want a sign? You're not going to be able to speak until the day the child is born, because you didn't believe."
The things that God is going to perform, whether you believe it or not, God is going to do it. Your unbelief will not stop the work of God. It will not hinder the purposes of God. And so many times they put heavy trips on us. You know, as though God's work is totally responsible upon my hanging in there and believing, and I feel so guilty because maybe I failed God, and thus, people are lost, or whatever, because I failed God. No, God's purposes shall stand, whether I believe it or not. You see, your believing or not believing doesn't really hinder the work of God. He is going to do what He is going to do, in spite of us. And that's sort of comforting, because I'd hate to think that God's work depended on me and my faithfulness.
You remember when the children of Israel were threatened with extinction because of Haman's getting the king to sign the degree that all the Jews were to be put to death on a certain day. And Mordecai sent a message to Esther that she should go in before the king and plead the cause of her people. And she responded, "You just don't do that, that's not the protocol of the court. Even as his wife I can't go in there anytime I want to see him. I can't go in there unless he calls me in. And if anyone would there to go in before the king, not being called, you're putting your own life in jeopardy. Because if he doesn't raise the scepter, they'll put you to death immediately. And so Mordecai sent an answer back, "Do you think that if this degree goes through that you're going to escape? How do you know, Esther, but what God didn't bring you to the kingdom for just this purpose?" And then he said, "If you altogether fail, then their deliverance will arise from another corner." God is going to deliver His people. His purposes are going to stand. God is going to deliver His people. But you will lose out completely.
Now God's work is going to be done. You may lose out on those rewards and blessings that you could have experienced, had you've been faithful. But your unfaithfulness is not going to stop that which God has purposed to do.
And so here is Zacharias, filled with unbelief. "How can I know this? I am old man, my wife is an old woman. What do you mean I am going to have a son?" " I am Gabriel."
The last appearance of Gabriel to our knowledge on the earth was about a little over five hundred years prior to this particular event, when Gabriel appeared to the prophet Daniel and gave to Daniel one of the clearest prophesies concerning the time of the coming of the Messiah. It was Gabriel who said unto Daniel that there are seventy sevens determined upon the nation of Israel, to finish the transgression, to make an end of iniquity. To bring in the everlasting righteousness. To anoint the most holy place. To complete the prophetic picture. And no one understand from the time the commandment goes forth to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, to the coming of the Messiah, the prince, will be seven sevens and sixty-two sevens. The walls should be built again in troublous times. And after the sixty-nine sevens will the Messiah be caught off, and receive nothing for Himself, and the people will be dispersed.
And so this amazing prediction of the time of the coming of the Messiah was given by none other than our friend Gabriel. Sort of a timeless fellow, because now it's over five hundred years later, and he shows up on the scene again. Probably looking as young and fresh as ever. Announcing now to Zacharias that his wife Elisabeth was to bear the son, which was to be the forerunner of the Messiah, as he will go forth in the Spirit and in the power of Elijah to fulfill the prophesy of sending the messenger before the face of the Lord.
It would appear that as God has set in order the things of the universe, that He probably placed Gabriel as the overseer in charge of the details of getting His Son into the world. Preparing the people on the earth, preparing Mary, because it was Gabriel who appeared to Mary. Preparing here Zacharias. It would seem that he has a hard time keeping secrets. He appeared five hundred years earlier and spilled the beans to Daniel of a time that the Messiah would be coming. And so here he is again, some five hundred years later. It will be interesting to meet Gabriel, looking young and fresh as ever, as he is one of those special angels that God has committed great responsibilities to. And I for one am quite anxious to meet Gabriel. Now, I don't expect him to sit on my bed and pet my dog. And for you who have read that book, you know what I am talking about.
Now the people waited for Zacharias, [They were waiting outside for that blessing from the priest.] and they marveled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and so they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; for he beckoned unto them, and he remained speechless. And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house ( Luke 1:21-23 ).
So, because they only served for a week at the time. In just a few days he left there, Jerusalem, and went to Judea, which is nearby Jerusalem, actually.
And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and she hid herself for five months, saying, Thus has the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach from among men ( Luke 1:24-25 ).
Her inability to bear children caused her to be a reproach. But the Lord, she says, has taken that away.
And in the sixth month [the same fellow] the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth. To a virgin who was espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary ( Luke 1:26-27 ).
Three terms we need to deal with: engaged, espoused, and married. A person could become engaged when they were two years old, because for the most part, marriage was by arrangement. So parents would get together, they would be friends. You have a pretty little girl, your friends would have a nice little boy, and we're friends with each other, why don't we have your son marry my daughter? And we make the arrangements. And so here these little kids, they are four years old, walking around saying, "Well, we're engaged." Because the arrangements had been made by their parents that they would have each other as husband and wife. They felt that decisions as important as marriage should never be left to the capriciousness of youth. They felt that young people didn't have enough wisdom to choose their mates.
Now as they became older, and usually they were married by the age of fifteen or sixteen years old. And as they became older, one year before they had the marriage ceremony, they entered into a period known as espousal, where they were as though they were married, in that they were committed completely to each other, but there was never a consummation of the marriage during this period of time. However, once they entered into the period of espousal, they were considered married to the extent that if the fellow wanted to break it off, he had to actually get a divorce, even though the marriage at this point had never been consummated.
So Mary and Joseph were in this period of espousal. Where they were totally committed to each other and to the marriage of each other, and yet, the marriage was not to be consummated until the ceremony at a later time.
And so, "To the virgin who was espoused," she was in this period of the one year before the actual consummation of the marriage, "to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary."
And the angel Gabriel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou art highly favored, the Lord is with you: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at what he was saying, and thought in her mind what kind of a greeting is this. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jehoshua ( Luke 1:28-31 ).
Which in Greek is Jesus, but in Hebrew Jehoshua, which means, Jehovah is salvation.
Now you remember in Matthew's gospel when Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, and he was really troubled by it, because they were espoused. He thought he might just give her a bill of divorcement, put her away privately, because if he would her expose her publicly she'd be stoned to death. And the angel of the Lord came to Joseph at night and said, "Fear not to take Mary as your wife. That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit, and thou shalt call His name Jehoshua" ( Matthew 1:20-21 ). So both Mary and Joseph were instructed by the angel of the Lord in the naming of Jesus. But when he told Joseph, "Call his name Jehoshua," he said, "For He shall save His people from their sins."
So the name is extremely significant because it expresses the mission of Jesus, and that is bringing God's salvation to men. Jehoshua, the Lord is become our salvation.
Then the angel Gabriel went on to say,
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of His father David ( Luke 1:32 ):
And, of course, throughout the Old Testament prophesies, there was that promise that the Messiah would sit upon the throne of David, to order it, and to establish it in righteousness and in judgment, from henceforth, even forever.
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end ( Luke 1:33 ).
In the book of Revelation, again, that glorious song that Handel has put to music, "King of Kings and Lord of Lords, forever and ever, hallelujah, hallelujah."
So the angel is telling about the eternal reign of Jesus Christ.
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? ( Luke 1:34 )
Now there is a vast difference between the question of Zacharias and the question of Mary. Zacharias was questioning the word of the Lord. Mary was only asking information on the procedures. "How is this to be, seeing I know not a man?" Hers was not the question of doubt. Hers was only an inquiring question as to the manner by which it should be fulfilled. She believed. And that is pointed out a little later as Elisabeth said, "Blessed art thou who hast believed the words that the Lord spoke to thee."
She believed the word that the Lord spoke to her. However, she didn't know by what process it was to be fulfilled, and that really was her question. "How is this going to be, seeing I am a virgin, I know not a man?"
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy one which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month of her pregnancy, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her ( Luke 1:35-38 ).
There is sometimes within the Protestant circles, perhaps a backlash to that position that the Catholics have sought to place Mary in as the intercessor, and even some today, the co-redemptress, and there is that backlash among Protestants, oftentimes, to sort of put Mary down. However, as the angel said unto her that she was highly favored, that the Lord was with her and she was blessed among women. Surely when God chose an instrument by which to send His Son into the world, I am certain that He chose an instrument that He has thoroughly prepared. And I believe that Mary must have been one of the most beautiful of character of any woman who has ever lived. And I think that we can demonstrate this actually in the text. That she was a extremely unique individual.
Now remember it is possible that at this point she was only about sixteen years old. And yet, there is such a depth of character that is demonstrated in her. And it begins right here as when the angel tells her all of these remarkable, unusual things that are bound to create problems, as they did with Joseph her espoused husband, she said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word." With other words, she submitted herself to the purpose of God. "Here I am, let the Lord do as He pleases in my life." That kind of commitment. And I am just intrigued. And Mary is another one that I want to meet. What an unusually remarkable person. Surely the most blessed of any woman who has ever lived.
Now culturally it was the dream, the hope, the desire of every Jewish girl to be the instrument through which God would send the Messiah into the world. And thus, many young Jewish girls, when they had a boy born to them, would call his name Joshua. Hoping that maybe God would use that child to be the instrument of His salvation. And that was a reason, one of the reasons why being barren was considered such a curse. You have no opportunity to be the mother of the Messiah if you are barren. And that was the hope of every young Jewish girl to be the instrument that God would use, the dream, the hope. And with Elisabeth being barren, she had lost that hope. And, of course, everyone who was barren, they would lose the hope. "Oh, I can't be the instrument." And that was a very disappointing thing to them, to feel, "I can't be the instrument that God uses to accomplish His purpose."
Oh, that we would be concerned about being the instrument though which God accomplishes His purposes. Today, the Drews are very interesting people. They have an interesting religion that really they don't even know what it is. In the Drews religion, it's a break off from the Moslems, but only their priests know what they believe; the people don't know what they believe. And the priest does the whole religious bit for them. They know they are Drews, and they know that this is their religion and all, but only the priests know what it's all about. And they know what they believe, but the people don't. And many of the men, though, are priests. And as you go through the Drews' villages today, you will see these men wearing these pants with these large pouches in the front. For one of the things that the Drews do believe is that when the Messiah comes, He will be born of a man. And so going through their villages, and it's fascinating to go through the Drews' villages, and see these huge baggy pants in the front, these sacks that hang down in the front, and these man wear these in case they are the one that God chooses to send the Messiah through him.
In other words, they are they ones that get pregnant with the Messiah, and so they are prepared for it by wearing these pants with these large baggy things in the front. They are all set for their pregnancies. They already got their maternity clothes.
But such was the hope of every young girl in Israel. And the fulfillment of that hope came to one, a young girl from Nazareth. A beautiful young girl in character and spirit named Mary.
And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, to the city of Juda; and she entered into the house of Zacharias, and she greeted Elisabeth ( Luke 1:39-40 ).
That word saluted is an old English word, and it actually means greeted. In the marriage ceremony they used to say, "You may now salute your bride." But during World War II, too many of the guys were not really understanding the old English word salute, and so it's now something that you say, "You may now kiss your bride."
So she entered into the house of Zacharias and greeted Elisabeth.
And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the [greeting] salutations of Mary, that the baby leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit: and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as I heard the voice of your greeting sounding in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believes: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord ( Luke 1:41-45 ).
I suppose that this would be an appropriate place to talk about abortion.
There was John the Baptist six months along, and yet, there was some kind of a recognition, for when Mary spoke, he responded it to it in the womb.
We are told that as the child is in the womb, that it begins to understand and to recognize voices. That you pregnant mothers should talk to your child. For if you are talking to them while you are still pregnant, they will be comforted by your voice after they are born, because they have learned to recognize it. More and more are we discovering interesting facets of that fetal development. And here at six months with John there was that capacity to leap for joy in his mother's womb when he heard the voice of Mary.
Now remember she is speaking by the Holy Spirit. And thus, we have the word of the Holy Spirit that the child leaped for joy, at the word of Mary.
We talked a little bit this morning about what factors are considered in determining what is right and what is wrong in our present society. And the effect that the philosophy has had upon our entire culture. The idea that the morees determine in a society what is accepted and unacceptable behavior. What is good, what is bad, what is right, and what is wrong. And in this particular philosophical determination, if enough people within a society began to practice a certain thing, it becomes then socially acceptable, or it becomes good, or becomes right, because that is determined by the mores of the society itself. Accepting that God does not exist, because it has to come from a totally humanistic base. God does not exist. And therefore, there is no godly standard for right or wrong. And in as much as there is no goodly standard for right or wrong, right or wrong is determined strictly by the practices, the mores of a particular society. And the sociologists will show that there are societies where the father has nothing to do with the children. And so in that society it is perfectly alright as the uncle takes the father role within the home. There are societies where they have a plurality of wives, or a plurality of husbands. And because it's the accepted practice of the society, no one thinks wrong of it or thinks it's bad or evil, and because the mores determine what is right and what is wrong. So you get enough people doing something, and suddenly it becomes right. And so we get enough abortions, killing millions of innocent babies, but it's alright because it has become part of the mores. No one is supposed to say anything against it.
I have a hard time handling my emotions around a child. I become foolish. I try to come to their level a bit to communicate with them. I am so fascinated with children. I love children so much. I love little boys, and I love little girls. And to me there is nothing more enjoyable than communicating with children. Seeing their responses. I love to study their faces. I love to study their habits. I love to study just children. I can hold them and just look at them for hours on end, watching them, watching the changing expressions and all. I love to see them develop and grow. That is why I have such tremendous difficulty with child abuse. Where an adult would deliberately abuse a little child. Hurt it, damage it, beat it, destroy it. And unfortunately, it is a rising, increasing problem in our society.
In fact, in L. A. County this year there have been more murders of infants than any time in the history of L. A. It's at record heights. Babies that are beaten to death, they are drowned, or suffocated, abused. It's reached record proportions this year. And I have such difficulty with this. My body begins to recoil. I have to put it out of my mind, because I just can't think about to long, it just affects me too deeply. But I wonder if much of this isn't attributed to the fact that we've began to put a cheaper value on life by the legalizing of abortion. You see, it's alright to abuse the child, as long as it hasn't been born yet. But if it is alright to abuse that child because it really doesn't understand much, it hasn't been born yet, then I wonder if the next step, it, well, it doesn't really understand too much of what's going on, so what difference does it make if you abuse the child? Because it doesn't really know or understand much yet. Whether or not that has anything to do with it, all I know is that with cheapening of the value of life, it seems to be following through all the segments of our society. And I think that we have some extremely dangerous sociological implications that will arise, from some of these humanistic, liberal legislative decisions that are being made. And I only say that to warn you. I don't think we're going to have to deal with it too long. I don't think God will allow things to go on much longer; I would be very shocked if He does.
All I can say, if I was the Lord, I would have closed it down a long time ago.
Now Elisabeth said onto her,
Blessed is she that believed ( Luke 1:45 ):
for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said ( Luke 1:45-46 ),
And here we now get an insight into the beautiful depth of this young girl, as she began to just worship the Lord.
My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. For his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. For he hath shown strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud and the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He's helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; And as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever [in a reference to the promise of God to Abraham, that through thy seed all nations of the earth will be blessed]. And Mary stayed with her for about three months ( Luke 1:46-56 ),
Probably until the time that John was born.
and then she returned to her own house ( Luke 1:56 ).
Probably stayed to help during this period of pregnancy.
Now she speaks here, beginning with verse Luke 1:51 , of the revolution that God creates. First of all, "He has scattered the proud and the imagination of their hearts." And so the first revolution is really an individual revolution of God scattering the proud. The second, "He put down the might from their thrones, and exalted them of low degree." And then thirdly, "Filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty," an economic revolution.
Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbors and her cousins heard how the Lord had shown great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the eight day they came to circumcise the child; they called him Zacharias, after his father. But his mother answered and said, Not so; he shall be called Johanan [God is gracious]. And they said unto her, There is none of your family that is called by that name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him to be named. He asked for a writing tablet, and he wrote, saying, His name is John [or Johanan]. And all of them marveled ( Luke 1:57-63 ).
Now when a woman was in labor, the neighbors would begin to gather, they would bring their musical instruments, and they would bring food and they prepare for a great party when the child was born. And when the child was born, and they would say, "It's a boy," the musicians would start playing, and they all dance, and they would have a big party. If when the child was born, and they said, "It's a girl," they take their musical instruments, fold them up, and go home.
In those days it was considered a great blessing to have a boy born in the home. But girls were sort of disregarded. It took really the teachings of Jesus Christ to elevate women to their proper level. Placing upon them that glory, honor that they deserve.
You women should be extremely thankful for Jesus Christ. All you have to do is go into a culture where the gospel of Christ has not had a strong influence, and look at the role of the woman, and you will appreciate more and more what Jesus Christ has done for you.
Look at the Bedouin society, look at the Indian culture, look at the culture of those people in New Guinea. Read the book, Lords of the Earth, it's a tremendous sociological insight into the culture of the New Guineans before the coming of Christianity. You'll really appreciate what Jesus Christ has done, in His elevation of womanhood, to its beautiful, proper place.
Now as soon as he had written on the tablet, his name is John,
His mouth was opened, and his tongue was loosed, and he spoke, and praised God. And fear came on all those that dwelled about them: and all of these sayings were noised abroad throughout all of the hill country of Judea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What kind of a kid is this going to be? For the hand of the Lord was with him. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit ( Luke 1:64-67 ),
Now Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit when Mary greeted her. Now Zacharias is filled with the Holy Spirit,
and he prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he has visited and redeemed his people ( Luke 1:67-68 ),
Blessing God for, first of all, the fact that God has visited His people. Jesus Christ is God, manifested in the flesh. And through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as he is prophesying, the first declaration is that God, the Lord God of Israel, has visited His people. "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God. The same was in the beginning with God, and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" ( John 1:1-2 , John 1:14 ).
He visited His people. But the purpose of His visit was redemption. He was visited and redeemed His people. Jesus, in announcing His purpose, declared, "For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" ( Luke 19:10 ). Redemption, the purpose of the coming of Christ. The Lord has raised up a power of salvation. The horn was always symbolic of power. And so He's raised up the power to salvation in the house of His servant David.
Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ: it is the power of God unto salvation to those that believe" ( Romans 1:16 ).
The preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness, but unto us who are saved, thereby it is the power of God.
Oh, blessed be God. He has visited His people. God has come to bring redemption, to give power for salvation through the house of His servant David.
As he spoke by the mouth of the holy prophets, which have been since the world began ( Luke 1:70 ):
Recognizing that the prophesies concerning the Savior, concerning the Messiah, have been in existence from the beginning of men's existence from the beginning of the fall, actually from the time of the fall, when God said to the woman, "Cursed be the serpent. Crawl upon the earth." But then He said that the seed of the woman will bruise his head. That sin would be destroyed by the seed of the woman. Blessed be God, He has brought now the power of salvation. He has redeemed through the seed of the woman, through the virgin-born child.
For God is performing the mercies that he has promised to our fathers, and he is remembering his holy covenant; the oath which he swore to our father Abraham ( Luke 1:72-73 ),
"Through thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed."
That he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear ( Luke 1:74 ),
Salvation is more than being saved from. Yes, God has delivered us from the hand of our enemy, but He has saved us for the purpose that we might serve Him, without fear.
In holiness and in righteousness ( Luke 1:75 )
Now both holiness and righteousness have as their root idea that of being right. But holiness is a rightness of character, whereas righteousness is a rightness in conduct. But the one springs out of the other. Holiness is the root. Righteousness is the fruit that springs forth from the root. The difficulty that so many people have today is their endeavor to be right without holiness. But ultimately, any endeavor to be right will break down, for there is no motive strong enough to maintain righteousness, other than holiness. You've got to be pure at the core. You've got to have the holiness, the right attitude, if you are to have the right actions or activities.
And so it is God's purpose, first of all, that we walk before Him, or serve Him in holiness. That God does that work within our heart, changing our character, our life, in order that we might also serve Him in righteousness.
The Pharisees had a system of righteousness apart from holiness, and it was total failure. And Jesus remarked on the failure. He said, "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you're not going to enter the kingdom of heaven" ( Matthew 5:20 ). So to the disciples that must have been one of the most shocking statements that Jesus had ever made. Because who was more right, who did the things more right than did the Pharisees? And yet, unless your righteousness exceeds those, you're not going to make it, Jesus said. Why? Because theirs was a righteousness without holiness. It wasn't from the heart. Their attitudes were stinking according to Jesus.
"The outside you're like a whitened sepulchre, but inside dead man's smelly bones. The outside of the platter is all clean, but the inside of the cup is filled with vermon. You may clean the outside, but the inside you have a righteousness without holiness, totally unaccepted. And unless your righteousness exceeds the scribes and the Pharisees, you are not going to make into the kingdom of heaven." Because you have to have a righteousness that springs from holiness. The holiness of character. And God's purpose that we serve Him in holiness and in righteousness,
all the days of our life ( Luke 1:75 ).
And now addressing the child. This is a prophecy concerning the one that the child is to go before, but concerning the child himself, little John lying there.
And thou, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest ( Luke 1:76 ):
Jesus said, of all the prophets born of woman, there hasn't been a greater one than arise than John. "Thou shalt be called the prophet of the Highest."
for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation onto his people, by the remission of their sins. Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the sunrising from on high hath visited us [Or the dayspring, or the sunrising, or the rising of the sun], to give light to those that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace [again referring to Christ] ( Luke 1:76-79 ).
God, by His tender mercy, has sent the sunrise from on high to visit us, that He might give us light, for those who are sitting in darkness, and in the shadows. That He might guide our feet in the way of peace. Peace with God.
And so the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the desert until the day of his showing onto Israel ( Luke 1:80 ). "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Luke 1:1". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/luke-1.html. 2014.
The first Greek word, epeideper (lit. because), occurs only here in the New Testament, though other major Greek writers such as Thucydides, Philo, and Josephus used it. [Note: Henry J. Cadbury, "Commentary on the Preface of Luke," in The Beginnings of Christianity, ed. F. J. Foakes-Jackson and Kirsopp Lake (London: Macmillan and Co, 1920-33), 2:489-510.] Luke tells us that when he wrote his Gospel there were already several written accounts of Jesus’ ministry, perhaps including the Gospels of Matthew (A.D. 40-70) and Mark (A.D. 63-70). I think it is most probable that Matthew wrote in the late 40s, Mark in the late 60s, and Luke in the late 50s. There were probably other uninspired accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry circulating when Luke wrote his Gospel. Luke’s statement here does not imply that the existing accounts were necessarily deficient. He simply wanted to write one that was orderly and based on reliable research (Luke 1:3). The things accomplished or fulfilled refer to God’s purposes for Jesus’ life and ministry.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Luke 1:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/luke-1.html. 2012.
I. INTRODUCTION 1:1-4
Luke introduced his Gospel in a classical literary fashion.
"It was customary among the great Greek and Hellenistic historians, including the first-century Jewish writer Josephus, to explain and justify their work in a preface. Their object was to assure the reader of their capability, thorough research, and reliability." [Note: Liefeld, p. 821.]
Luke’s introduction contrasts with Matthew’s genealogy, Mark’s title statement, and John’s theological prologue. It would have been what a cultured Greek would have expected to find at the beginning of a reputable historical work. It is all one sentence in Greek.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Luke 1:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/luke-1.html. 2012.
Ver. 1. Forasmuch as many have taken in hand,.... From hence, to the end of Luke 1:4 is a preface of the evangelist to his Gospel, setting forth the reasons of his writing it; and which he wrote and sent to the excellent Theophilus, for the further confirmation of him in the faith of Christ. It seems that many had took in hand, or attempted
to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us; that is, they undertook to write and publish a very particular and exact narrative of the birth, life, actions, doctrines, miracles, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ; things which Luke, and other Christians, had the fullest and strongest evidence, and were confidently assured of, and most firmly believed, even with a full assurance of faith. By these many, he cannot mean the authentic historians of evangelical facts, as Matthew and Mark; for they two cannot, with any propriety, be called many; and besides, it is not so very clear and certain a point, that they had, as yet, wrote their Gospels; nor would this evangelist suggest any deficiency, weakness, and inaccuracy in them, as he seems to do: nor does he intend such spurious writers as the authors of the Gospels according to the Nazarenes, Hebrews, and Egyptians; of Nicodemus, Thomas, Matthias, and of the twelve apostles; and still less, the Gospels of Cerinthus, Basilides, and other heretics; since these would not have passed without a censure from him, for the falsehood, fabulous, and trifling stuff in them, as well as for the wicked and heretical opinions propagated by them; and besides, these pieces were not extant when this Gospel was written: but he seems to design some honest and well meaning Christians, who undertook to write, and did write an account of the above things, which were firmly believed by all; and which they took from the apostles, and first ministers of the Gospel, from their sermons and discourses, and from conversation with them; and which they committed to writing, partly to help their own memories, and partly for the benefit of others; in which, no doubt, they acted an upright part, though attended with weakness: wherefore, the evangelist does not censure them as false, wicked, and heretical, nor approve of them as divine and perfect for though they honestly meant, and designed well, yet there might be many things collected by them, which were impertinent, and not proper to be transmitted to posterity; and what might be wrote with great inaccuracy and deficiency, and in a style the Holy Ghost thought improper things of this kind should be delivered in: and therefore the evangelist, moved and inspired by the Spirit of God, set about the following work, and under the same influence completed it. The phrase, αναταξασθαι διηγησιν, "to set forth in order a declaration", is as Dr. Lightfoot observes, out of the Talmud h, agreeably to the Jewish way of speaking.
"R. Chasdai said to one of the Rabbins, who was מסדר אגדתא, "setting in order a declaration" before him. &c. or relating in order a story before him.''
h T. Bab. Succa, fol. 53. 1.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 1:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/luke-1.html. 1999.
|The Evangelist's Preface.|
1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, 2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; 3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, 4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
Complimental prefaces and dedications, the language of flattery and the food and fuel of pride, are justly condemned by the wise and good; but it doth not therefore follow, that such as are useful and instructive are to be run down; such is this, in which St. Luke dedicates his gospel to his friend Theophilus, not as to his patron, though he was a man of honour, to protect it, but as to his pupil, to learn it, and hold it fast. It is not certain who this Theophilus was; the name signifies a friend of God; some think that it does not mean any particular person, but every one that is a lover of God; Dr. Hammond quotes some of the ancients understanding it so: and then it teaches us, that those who are truly lovers of God, will heartily welcome the gospel of Christ, the design and tendency of which are, to bring us to God. But it is rather to be understood of some particular person, probably a magistrate; because Luke gives him here the same title of respect which St. Paul gave to Festus the governor, kratiste (Acts 26:25), which we there translate most noble Festus, and here most excellent Theophilus. Note, Religion does not destroy civility and good manners, but teaches us, according to the usages of our country, to give honour to them to whom honour is due.
Now observe here, I. Why St. Luke wrote this gospel. It is certain that he was moved by the Holy Ghost, not only to the writing, but in the writing of it; but in both he was moved as a reasonable creature, and not as a mere machine; and he was made to consider,
1. That the things he wrote of were things that were most surely believed among all Christians, and therefore things which they ought to be instructed in, that they may know what they believe, and things which ought to be transmitted to posterity (who are as much concerned in them as we are); and, in order to that, to be committed to writing, which is the surest way of conveyance to the ages to come. He will not write about things of doubtful disputation, things about which Christians may safely differ from one another and hesitate within themselves; but the things which are, and ought to be, most surely believed, pragmata peplerophoremena--the things which were performed (so some), which Christ and his apostles did, and did with such circumstances as gave a full assurance that they were really done, so that they have gained an established lasting credit. Note, Though it is not the foundation of our faith, yet it is a support to it, that the articles of our creed are things that have been long most surely believed. The doctrine of Christ is what thousands of the wisest and best of men have ventured their souls upon with the greatest assurance and satisfaction.
2. That it was requisite there should be a declaration made in order of those things; that the history of the life of Christ should be methodized, and committed to writing, for the greater certainty of the conveyance. When things are put in order, we know the better where to find them for our own use, and how to keep them for the benefit of others.
3. That there were many who had undertaken to publish narratives of the life of Christ, many well-meaning people, who designed well, and did well, and what they published had done good, though not done by divine inspiration, nor so well done as might be, nor intended for perpetuity. Note, (1.) The labours of others in the gospel of Christ, if faithful and honest, we ought to commend and encourage, and not to despise, though chargeable with many deficiencies. (2.) Others' services to Christ must not be reckoned to supersede ours, but rather to quicken them.
4. That the truth of the things he had to write was confirmed by the concurring testimony of those who were competent and unexceptionable witnesses of them; what had been published in writing already, and what he was now about to publish, agreed with that which had been delivered by word of mouth, over and over, by those who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word,Luke 1:2; Luke 1:2. Note, (1.) The apostles were ministers of the word of Christ, who is the Word (so some understand it), or of the doctrine of Christ; they, having received it themselves, ministered it to others, 1 John 1:1. They had not a gospel to make as masters, but a gospel to preach as ministers. (2.) The ministers of the word were eye-witnesses of the things which they preached, and, which is also included, ear-witnesses. They did themselves hear the doctrine of Christ, and see his miracles, and had them not by report, at second hand; and therefore they could not but speak, with the greatest assurance, the things which they had seen and heard,Acts 4:20. (3.) They were so from the beginning of Christ's ministry, Luke 1:2; Luke 1:2. He had his disciples with him when he wrought his first miracle,John 2:11. They companied with him all the time he went in and out among them (Acts 1:21), so that they not only heard and saw all that which was sufficient to confirm their faith, but, if there had been any thing to shock it, they had opportunity to discover it. (4.) The written gospel, which we have to this day, exactly agrees with the gospel which was preached in the first days of the church. (5.) That he himself had a perfect understanding of the things he wrote of, from the first,Luke 1:3; Luke 1:3. Some think that here is a tacit reflection upon those who had written before him, that they had not a perfect understanding of what they wrote, and therefore, Here am I, send me (--facit indignatio versum--my wrath impels my pen); or rather, without reflecting on them, he asserts his own ability for this undertaking: "It seemed good to me, having attained to the exact knowledge of all things, anothen--from above;" so I think it should be rendered; for if he meant the same with from the beginning (Luke 1:2; Luke 1:2), as our translation intimates, he would have used the same word. [1.] He had diligently searched into these things, had followed after them (so the word is), as the Old-Testament prophets are said to have enquired and searched diligently,1 Peter 1:10. He had not taken things so easily and superficially as others who had written before him, but made it his business to inform himself concerning particulars. [2.] He had received his intelligence, not only by tradition, as others had done, but by revelation, confirming that tradition, and securing him from any error or mistake in the recording of it. He sought it from above (so the word intimates), and from thence he had it; thus, like Elihu, he fetched his knowledge from afar. He wrote his history as Moses wrote his, of things reported by tradition, but ratified by inspiration. [3.] He could therefore say that he had a perfect understanding of these things. He knew them, akribos--accurately, exactly. "Now, having received this from above, it seemed good to me to communicate it;" for such a talent as this ought not to be buried.
II. Observe why he sent it to Theophilus: "I wrote unto thee these things in order, not that thou mayest give reputation to the work, but that thou mayest be edified by it (Luke 1:4; Luke 1:4); that thou mayest know the certainty of those things wherein thou has been instructed." 1. It is implied, that he had been instructed in these things either before his baptism, or since, or both, according to the rule, Matthew 28:19; Matthew 28:20. Probably, Luke had baptized him, and knew how well instructed he was; peri hon katechethes--concerning which thou hast been catechized; so the word is; the most knowing Christians began with being catechized. Theophilus was a person of quality, perhaps of noble birth; and so much the more pains should be taken with such when they are young, to teach them the principles of the oracles of God, that they may be fortified against temptations, and furnished for the opportunities, of a high condition in the world. 2. It was intended that he should know the certainty of those things, should understand them more clearly and believe more firmly. There is a certainty in the gospel of Christ, there is that therein which we may build upon; and those who have been well instructed in the things of God when they were young should afterwards give diligence to know the certainty of those things, to know not only what we believe, but why we believe it, that we may be able to give a reason of the hope that is in us.
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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Luke 1:1". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/luke-1.html. 1706.
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25