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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 2:14

"Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

Adam Clarke Commentary

Glory to God in the highest - The design of God, in the incarnation, was to manifest the hidden glories of his nature, and to reconcile men to each other and to himself. The angels therefore declare that this incarnation shall manifest and promote the glory of God, εν ὑψιστοις not only in the highest heavens, among the highest orders of beings, but in the highest and most exalted degrees. For in this astonishing display of God's mercy, attributes of the Divine nature which had not been and could not be known in any other way should be now exhibited in the fullness of their glory, that even the angels should have fresh objects to contemplate, and new glories to exult in. These things the angels desire to look into, 1 Peter 1:12, and they desire it because they feel they are thus interested in it. The incarnation of Jesus Christ is an infinite and eternal benefit. Heaven and earth both partake of the fruits of it, and through it angels and men become one family, Ephesians 3:15.

Peace, good will toward men - Men are in a state of hostility with Heaven and with each other. The carnal mind is enmity against God. He who sins wars against his Maker; and

"Foe to God was ne'er true friend to man."

When men become reconciled to God, through the death of his Son, they love one another. They have peace with God; peace in their own consciences; and peace with their neighbors: good will dwells among them, speaks in them, and works by them. Well might this state of salvation be represented under the notion of the kingdom of God, a counterpart of eternal felicity. See on Matthew 3:2; (note).

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https: 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Glory to God - Praise be to God, or honor be to God. That is, the praise of redeeming man is due to God. The plan of redemption will bring glory to God, and is designed to express his glory. This it does by evincing his love to people, his mercy, his condescension, and his regard to the honor of his law and the stability of his own government. It is the highest expression of his love and mercy. Nowhere, so far as we can see, could his glory be more strikingly exhibited than in giving his only-begotten Son to die for people.

In the highest - This is capable of several meanings:

1.In the highest “strains,” or in the highest possible manner.

2.“Among” the highest that is, among the angels of God; indicating that “they” felt a deep interest in this work, and were called on to praise God for the redemption of man.

3.In the highest heavens - indicating that the praise of redemption should not be confined to the “earth,” but should spread throughout the universe.

4.The words “God in the highest” may be equivalent to “the Most High God,” and be the same as saying, “Let the most high God be praised for his love and mercy to people.”

Which of these meanings is the true one it is difficult to determine; but in this they all agree, that high praise is to be given to God for his love in redeeming people. O that not only “angels,” but “men,” would join universally in this song of praise!

On earth peace - That is, the gospel will bring peace. The Saviour was predicted as the Prince of peace, Isaiah 9:6. The world is at war with God; sinners are at enmity against their Maker and against each other. There is no peace to the wicked. But Jesus came to make peace; and this he did,

1. By reconciling the world to God by His atonement.

2. By bringing the sinner to a state of peace with his Maker; inducing him to lay down the weapons of rebellion and to submit his soul to God, thus giving him the peace which passeth all understanding.

3. By diffusing in the heart universal good-will to people - “disposing,” people to lay aside their differences, to love one another, to seek each other‘s welfare, and to banish envy, malice, pride, lust, passion, and covetousness - in all ages the most fruitful causes of difference among people. And,

4. By diffusing the principles of universal peace among nations. If the gospel of Jesus should universally prevail, there would be an end of war. In the days of the millennium there will be universal peace; all the causes of war will have ceased; people will love each other and do justly; all nations will be brought under the influence of the gospel. O how should each one toil and pray that the great object of the gospel should be universally accomplished, and the world be filled with peace!

Good will toward men - The gift of the Saviour is an expression of good-will or love to people, and therefore God is to be praised. The work of redemption is uniformly represented as the fruit of the love of God, John 3:16; Ephesians 5:2; 1 John 4:10; Revelation 1:5. No words can express the greatness of that love. It can only be measured by the “misery, helplessness,” and “danger” of man; by the extent of his sufferings here and in the world of woe if he had not been saved; by the condescension, sufferings, and death of Jesus; and by the eternal honor and happiness to which he will raise his people. All these are beyond our full comprehension. Yet how little does man feel it! and how many turn away from the highest love of God, and treat the expression of that love with contempt! Surely, if God so loved us “first,” we ought also to love him, 1 John 4:19.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". https: 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Luke 2:14

Glory to God in the highest

The angels’ song (A Christmas sermon)

First heard above the plains of Bethlehem it is one day to be heard over all the world.
Its sweet melody is to be woven into every language which men have learnt to speak. The angels are to hear it in all dialects and tongues. It is to be the choral response of a gladdened world to the birthday joy which was once poured forth upon the shepherd hearts at Bethlehem.




IV. HOW MAY THE ADVENT OF CHRIST BE MADE TO REPEAT ITSELF THIS CHRISTMAS-TIDE? Whenever peace and goodwill mightily prevail amongst men, that is a time when Christ has a fresh hold upon human hearts.



A Christmas carol


1. In the fulfilment of prophecy.

2. In the salvation of man.

3. In exhibiting God’s love without detracting from any other attribute.


1. It was not peace at first certainly. Describe the state of the world, especially Palestine, when Christ came, and during succeeding years.

2. But in proportion as Christ is known and felt, there will surely be peace on earth.

3. Peace in the city, town, or village in which Christians dwell.

4. Peace in the family.

5. Peace in the heart.

6. And all this will result from the practice of the principles of that religion whose Founder was cradled in Bethlehem’s manger, for that religion


1. When one makes a present to another we look upon it as an expression of good-will. The value of the present is often indicative of the measure of esteem or good-will. God has given us His greatest, choicest gift, for He bestowed His only Son.

2. God’s good-will becomes even more apparent when we contemplate our own guilt.

3. What have you to say in answer to all this? All God requires from us in recognition of His love is our heart. And if we give Him our heart, we shall surely give our service. Have you given yours to Him? (A. F. Barfield.)

The Divine method in the world

This is the key-note, not only of the Christian message, but of Divine religion from the beginning. It is ours to follow, not to precede; to ask what has been the Divine method, not to ask what it should have been; and when once we begin to have some light on that view, then it will be ours to ask what are the signs of accomplishment.


1. We learn that there is a Divinity in this world which secures the direction of growth, but leaves the operative influences that produce it, and the working out of results to great natural laws.

2. We learn that the Divine method implies great length of time.

3. We learn that one universal and insuperable difficulty has been in teaching men how to live together peaceably.


1. The possibility of happiness among the poor, who constitute by far the largest part of the human race, has been so immensely increased as to form a broad platform on which to put our feet and form an estimate of the gains that have been made.

2. In the mind of the very labourers themselves there is springing up a spirit of organization and thrift,

3. There is coming, gradually, the admission of the great under-class of the human family to a participation in government.

4. The influence of nation upon nation must also be taken into consideration in estimating the advance of the latter-day glory. The globe has become but a single neighbourhood.

5. Look at how God has been raising up four great languages on the globe which ultimately, I think, will result in one. Look at what treasure is stored up in the French, in the German, in the English, and in the Latin. Shall I add the Greek--the language of science? The language of men, the language that contains the doctrines of independence, of liberty, of, I trust, man in man, is the English tongue. It is spoken more widely over the globe than any other. I rejoice with exceeding great joy that the English tongue is a charter of liberty to the human race.

III. IF YOU ACCEPT THE PROPHECIES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, INTERPRETING THEM along the lines of experience, showing what is the Divine method of working upon the human race, the angels that sang peace and good-will at the Advent will not be long delayed before they will sing again. I shall hear that song, not here but yonder. And perhaps joined with it will be the outcry of this glorious achievement which seems to us to have lingered, but that has not lingered, according to the thought of God, who hath done and is doing all things well, and who is the Conqueror of conquerors, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, my Saviour and my God, your Saviour and your God. Trust Him; rejoice in Him; love Him; and reign. (H. W. Beecher.)

The angels’ text

Such was the text of the angels on the night of our Saviour’s birth; and to that text our Saviour’s life furnished the sermon.

I. The first words of it are, “GLORY TO GOD!” and a most weighty lesson may we draw for ourselves from finding the angels put that first. A world is redeemed. Millions on millions of human beings are rescued from everlasting death. Is not this the thing uppermost in the angels’ thoughts? No, it is only the second thing. The first is, Glory to God! Why so? Because God is the giver of this salvation; nay, is Himself the Saviour, in the person of the only-begotten Son. Moreover, because in heavenly minds God always holds the first place, and they look at everything with a view to Him. Now, I would have you look to God in exactly the same manner. Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, you should do all to God’s glory. Then will you be like the angels who began their text with, Glory to God!

II. The next branch of the text is “PEACE ON EARTH.” Our Saviour Himself is the Prince of Peace--

1. Because His great purposes were to bring down peace to man.

2. Because He made it one of His prime objects to plant and foster peace within man. Peace was His legacy to His apostles.

3. But what kind of peace? Truly every kind which man can enjoy.

Now, let each of us ask himself with all seriousness, Do I feel anything of this godly peace?

III. There is a third part of the angels’ text, namely, “GOOD-WILL TO MEN:” and a very important part it is. For it sets forth the ground of our salvation. It was no excellency or merit of ours that drew our Saviour down from heaven. It was the wretchedness of our fallen state. Herein, as St. Paul tells us, “God commendeth His love toward us,” &c. (Romans 5:8). But though this love of God for His sinful creatures is worthy of all gratitude and praise, the good-will declared in the angels’ text means something more than mere love. The word which we translate “Goodwill,” is a word very full of meaning, and signifies that mixture of goodness, and kindness, and wisdom, which tends to good and wise plans. The good-will then in the angels’ text is no other than the great and merciful purpose of our redemption. Have we any proper sense and feeling of this good-will? I have spoken to you on the angels’ text, and in so doing have spoken of man’s salvation. The end of the whole is God’s glory; the means is peace on earth; the sole motive is goodness and loving-kindness to us miserable sinners.

IV. There are still three words in this text which I have not noticed. The angels did not simply say, “Glory to God;” but, “GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST,” that is, in heaven. Here is a wonderful, a glorious, a soul-sustaining scene opened to us. The angels in the very presence of God are moved by our sufferings and our redemption. Shall they glorify God for His goodness to us, and shall we forget to glorify Him for His goodness to ourselves? (A. W. Hare.)

Christmas Day

There is considerable difference of opinion as to what is the best reading and the best rendering of this passage. According to Dean Alford and the Revised Version, we should understand it to mean, “Peace among men towards whom God has a good-will”--that is, in whom He is well pleased. According to the Vulgate the meaning should be, peace to men who exhibit a good-will. This is the sense adopted by Keble in his Christmas hymn. The reading of the Authorised Version is not, perhaps, the best; but, as being more familiar, and at the same time so thoroughly in harmony with the spirit of the day, I will venture to take it as a motto.

1. It must be confessed that the conduct of professing Christians has often been such as to make the angels’ song sound like an ironical sarcasm, rather than an eulogy. Church history, for example, to a passionate lover of peace and good-will, must be very melancholy reading.

2. But I hear some one say,” things are improved now-a-days.” Well, yes, I suppose they are a little. Still many of those who call themselves Christians seem to be characterized by the very opposites of peace and good-will. I remember that in the preface to the second edition of his Belfast Address, Professor Tyndall said he was not surprised at the bitter things which had been uttered against him by Christians, when he remembered how bitterly they were in the habit of recriminating one another. “‘Tis true, ‘tis pity; pity ‘tis, ‘tis true.” Peace and good-will--peace, or the absence of quarrelsomeness; good-will, or the actual performance of deeds of kindness, are essential characteristics of genuine discipleship.

3. Let us, today, apply this test of discipleship to ourselves. Of all the provisions made for our spiritual welfare, nothing, perhaps, more helpful than the periodical recurrence of days like the present.

4. But it was Christ’s aim that every day should be in this respect a Christmas Day. Is that the case with us? There was a curious institution in the Middle Ages called the ecclesiastical truce or peace of God. Feuds legally stopped for four days a week. The bell tolled on a Wednesday. All hostilities were to cease till the following Monday. And until the Monday they were suspended; but then they were always faithfully resumed. Shall it be so with us? After mani-resting peace and good-will on the 25th of December, must we relapse again into practical paganism on the 26th? We cannot be always making presents, but we may be always doing good.

5. When peace and good-will are universal, human society will be, as Christ wished to make it, a heaven upon earth.

For lo! the days are hastening on

By prophet-bands foretold,

When with the ever-circling years

Comes back the age of gold--

When peace shall over all the earth

Its blessed banner fling,

And the whole world send back the song

Which now the angels sing.

(Professor A. W. Momerie.)

The angelic hymn

The song consists of three propositions, of which two are parallel, and the third forms a link between the other two. In the first, “Glory to God in the highest places,” the angels demand that, from the lower regions to which they have just come down, from the bosom of humanity, praise shall arise, which, ascending from heavens to heavens, shall reach at last the supreme sanctuary, the highest places, and there glorify the Divine perfections that shine forth in this birth. The second, “Peace on earth,” is the counterpart of the first. While inciting men to praise, the angels invoke on them peace from God. This peace is such as results from the reconciliation of man with God; it contains the cause of the cessation of all war here below. These two propositions are of the nature of a desire or prayer. The verb understood is ἔστω, let it be. The third, which is not connected with the preceding by any particle, proclaims the fact which is the ground of this twofold prayer. If the logical connection were expressed, it would be by the word for. This fact is the extraordinary favour shown to men by God, and which is displayed in the gift He is bestowing upon them at this very time. The sense is: “for God takes pleasure in men.” In speaking thus, the angels seem to mean, “God has not be stowed as much on us (Hebrews 2:16)” The idea of “good-will” recalls the first proposition, “Glory to God!” while the expression, towards men,” reminds us of the second, “peace on earth!” (F. Godet, D. D.)

The Gloria in excelsis

In the account of this eventful night, the words heard are alone mentioned; one might be pardoned for wishing we had also the score! We all know how an interesting strain of melody will fix itself in our memories; sometimes we can hardly keep from humming it over, repeating snatches of it we have caught, and rehearsing to others the way it went, so as to give an idea, It may be that the shepherds remembered parts of this; but if so, we have no means of ascertaining it. Only the words reach us; but they are well worth the study of the world. The startling abruptness with which this seraphic anthem fell on the ears of the shepherds that first Christmas night, adds greatly to the dramatic effect of the scene. Hardly lingering for their leader to end his communication, that choir of singers “suddenly” burst forth with loud volume of exquisite harmony, celebrating the praises of Jehovah, whom they saw in a fresh field of splendid display. There were a vast number of singers--“a host,” that is to say, an army; “an army celebrating a peace.” Surely there was enough to inspire their music; and great armies of voices sing together quite often with immense power of rich and voluminous harmony. It was an exaggeration, no doubt, but ancient history gravely records that, when the invader of Macedon was finally expelled, the victorious Greeks, who heard the news and so learned that freedom had come, and fighting was over, and home was near, raised along the lines and throughout the camp such a shout of “Sorer! Soter!”--“a Saviour! A Saviour!”--that birds on the wing dropped down. It may have been so; but what was that little peninsula of Greece, as compared with this entire race redeemed from Satan unto God? What were the actual words of this angels’ song? It is well that we all recollect them--“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men!” Three stanzas in one hymn.

1. The first of them, and the foremost in thought, is “Glory to God in the highest.” This is not a prayer at all, but an ascription. It was no time to be asking that God be glorified, when the whole universe was quivering with new disclosure of a “Gloria in Excelsis,” such as blind men could see and deaf men could hear. Those angels did not pray--Glory be to God--but they exclaimed--Glory is to God in the highest! And then they rush rapidly into an enumeration of particulars. The connection of thought is close. Glory to God in the highest, because peace has come on the earth, and goodwill has already gone out toward men. These angels are making proclamation that the rebellious race is for evermore subdued. No longer was this planet to circle around among loyal worlds in space, flaunting the defiant flag of a belligerent in the kingdom of heaven. Men should be redeemed; sin should be positively checked; all the ills of a worn-out and wretched existence should be banished; poverty should be removed, sickness and death find a Master; Satan should be foiled by Immanuel in person. Hence this entire vision, which flashed on the awakened intelligence of the angels and inspired their song, was simply reversive and revolutionary. The whole earth seemed to rouse itself to a new being. Cursed for human sin, it saw its deliverance coming. The day had arrived when streams and lakes should gleam in the sunshine, when the valleys should smile and laugh and sing, when flowers should bloom and stars should flash--all to the glory of God!

2. Then “peace on earth”; God was at last in the world reconciling it unto Himself; the hearts of His creatures were coming back to Him; their allegiance was to be restored, their wills were to be subjugated, their minds were to be enlightened; thus peace over all the world would be established, God’s wrath would be averted, and the long wrestle of man with Satan would reach its end. For when men are really at peace with God, they will come to peace with each other.

3. And so, at last, “goodwill toward men.” That ends this song of the angel; that is what ought to be the beginning of each Christmas anthem and carol. God loves us; oh, how touchingly does the aged Paul in one place tell his young brother Titus about that “kindness and love of God our Saviour toward men! “God cherishes only goodwill toward any of us. Even the wicked; He takes no pleasure in their death. He would rather they would turn unto Him, and live. Oh, happy day is that in which He tells us all this unmistakably, with perfect plainness. Brethren, if God so loved us, then ought we also to love one another. “All ye are brethren.” Away with all fancied superiorities and aristocracies on the common Christmas day--the gladsome birthday of Christi Herdsmen are on a visit to a carpenter at an inn; and they are told to go to the outhouse to find him! Beasts are standing by a manger in which lies the Child--King David the Second I But, for a]! this seems so democratic and small, please remember that a choir of angels have been singing outside. Who among us is too proud to listen? (C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

The angelic anthem

In this Divine anthem we are taught that--

I. THE INCARNATION WAS A BRIGHT EXHIBITION OF THE GLORY OF GOD. Hitherto the holy angels had seen the glory of the Divine justice in the punishment of their sinning compeers; and something like mercy in the suspension of the sentence pronounced on man. But here they see justice and mercy blended in a wonderful manner; and they give vent to their ecstasy in shouts of praise.


1. Sin had created war in every man’s own bosom. Christ alone can put an end to that war, by procuring pardon of sin, peace for the conscience, tranquillity for the passions, subordination of the appetites--reconciling reason to conscience, and conscience to the law of God.

2. Sin had created a horrible war between man and man. Strife, envy, jealousy, oppression, ambition, prevailed; Christ came to preach and exemplify universal charity. Wherever the influence of His gospel is felt, peace follows between man and man; wherever His government is established, man embraces his brother.

3. Sin had caused war between man and his Maker. Terrible contest--the potsherd striving with Him who made it. Christ reconciles God and man. He is Himself both God and man; so He can both pardon sin and bestow needed grace.


1. Most astonishing condescension.

2. Unparalleled love.

3. Prodigious disinterestedness.

4. Universality. All are included in this goodwill.


1. They should be laudatory. We have far more occasion to praise God for the Incarnation, than the angels.

2. We should proclaim the Saviour to others. In trying to kindle a brother’s faith and devotion, our own will burn brighter and clearer. (John Stephens.)

I. The choir--singers from the new Jerusalem.

II. The theme--salvation.

III. The listeners--dwellers in heaven and earth. (Van Doren.)

The angels’ song

What does the angels’ song announce to men?

1. Bethlehem’s miracle.

2. Jesus’ greatness.

3. The Father’s honour.

4. The Christian’s calling.

5. Heaven’s likeness. (J. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.)

A Christmas motto

“With malice toward none, with charity for all.” This truly Christian motto of President Lincoln, sounds almost like an earthly echo of the heavenly anthem, and certainly proves its power and influence in the history of the world. (P. Schaff, D. D.)

The first Christmas carol

I. INSTRUCTIVE THOUGHTS. The angels sang something which men could understand--something which will make men much better if they will understand it. The angels were singing about Jesus who was born in the manger. We must look upon their song as being built upon this foundation. They sang of Christ, and of the salvation which He came into this world to work out.

1. They said that this salvation gave glory to God in the highest--that salvation is God’s highest glory. God is glorified in every dewdrop that twinkles in the morning sun. He is magnified in every wood-flower that blossoms in the copse, although it lives to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness in the desert air. He is glorified in every bird that warbles on the spray; in every lamb that skips the mead. All created things extol Him. Is there aught beneath the sky, save man, that does not glorify God? Do not the stars exalt Him, when they write His name upon the azure of heaven in their golden letters? Do not the lightnings adore Him, when they flash His brightness in arrows of light piercing the midnight darkness? Do not thunders extol Him, when they roll like drums in the march of the God of armies? Do not all things exalt Him, from the least even to the greatest? But though creation may be a majestic organ of praise, it cannot reach the compass of the golden canticle--Incarnation! There is more in that than in creation, more melody in Jesus in the manger than there is in worlds on worlds rolling their grandeur round the throne of the Most High. See how every attribute is here magnified. Lo! what wisdom is here. God becomes man that God may be just, and the justifier of the ungodly. Lo! what power, for where is power so great as when it conceals power? Behold, what love is thus revealed to us when Jesus becomes a man! Behold what faithfulness! How many promises are this day kept; how many solemn obligations discharged?

2. When they had sung this, they sang what they had never sung before. “Glory to God in the highest,” was an old, old song; they had sung that from before the foundations of the world. But now, they sang as it were a new song before the throne of God; for they added this stanza--“on earth, peace.” They did not sing that in the Garden of Eden. There was peace there, but it seemed a thing of course, and scarce worth singing of. But now man had fallen, and since the day when cherubim with fiery swords drove out the man, there had been no peace on earth, save in the breast of some believers, who had obtained peace from the living fountain of this incarnation of Christ. Wars had raged from the ends of the world men had slaughtered one another, heaps on heaps. There had been wars within as well as wars without. Conscience had fought with man; Satan had tormented man with thoughts of sin. There had been no peace on earth since Adam fell. But now, when the newborn King appeared, the swaddling band with which He was wrapped up was the white flag of peace.

3. And, then, they wisely ended their song with a third note. They said, “Goodwill to man.” Philosophers have said that God has a goodwill toward man; but I never knew any man who derived much comfort from their philosophical assertion. Wise men have thought from what we have seen in creation that God had much goodwill toward man, or else His works would never have been so constructed for their comfort; but I never heard of any man who could risk his soul’s peace upon such a faint hope as that. But I have not only heard of thousands, but I know them, who are quite sure that God has a goodwill towards men; and if you ask their reason, they will give a full and perfect answer. They say, He has goodwill toward man, for He gave His Son. No greater proof of kindness between the Creator and His subjects can possibly be afforded than when the Creator gives His only begotten and well beloved Son to die. Though the first note is God-like, and though the second note is peaceful, this third note melts my heart the most.

II. EMOTIONAL THOUGHTS. Does not this song of angels stir your hearts with happiness? With confidence?

III. PROPHETIC UTTERANCES. The angels sang, “Glory to God,” &e. But I look around, and what see I in the wide, wide world? I do not see God honoured. I see the heathen bowing down before their idols; I see tyranny lording it over the bodies and souls of men; I see God forgotten.

IV. Now, I have one more lesson for you, and I have done. That lesson is PRECEPTIVE. I wish everybody that keeps Christmas this year, would keep it as the angels kept it. Now, Mr. Tradesman, you have an opponent in trade, and you have said some very hard words about him lately. If you do not make the matter up to-day, or to-morrow, or as soon as you can, yet do it on that day. That is the way to keep Christmas, peace on earth and glory to God. And oh, if thou hast anything on thy conscience, anything that prevents thy having peace of mind, keep thy Christmas in thy chamber, praying to God to give thee peace; for it is peace on earth, mind, peace in thyself, peace with thyself, peace with thy fellow men, peace with thy God. And do not think thou hast well celebrated that day till thou canst say,

“O God,

‘With the world, myself, and Thee

I ere I sleep at peace will be.’”

And when the Lord Jesus has become your peace, remember, there is another thing, goodwill towards men. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Spreading the news of peace

At the close of the last war with Great Britain, I was in the city of New York. It happened that, on a Saturday afternoon in February, a ship was discovered in the offing, which was supposed to be a cartel, bringing home our commissioners at Ghent from their unsuccessful mission. The sun had set gloomily before any intelligence from the vessel has reached the city. Expectation became painfully intense as the hours of darkness drew on. At length a boat reached the wharf, announcing the fact that a treaty of peace had been signed, and waiting for nothing but the action of our government to become a law. The men on whose ears these words first fell rushed in breathless haste into the city to repeat them to their friends, shouting as they ran through the streets, “Peace, peace, peace!” Every one who heard the sound repeated it. From house to house, from street to street, the news spread with electric rapidity. The whole city was in commotion. Men bearing lighted torches were flying to and fro, shouting like madmen, “Peace, peace, peace!” When the rapture had partially subsided, one idea occupied every mind. But few men slept that night. In groups they were gathered in the streets and by the fireside, beguiling the hours of midnight by reminding each ether that the agony of war was over, and that a worn out and distracted country was about to enter again upon its wonted career of prosperity. Thus, every one becoming a herald, the news soon reached every man, woman, and child in the city; and in this sense the city was evangelized. All this, you see, was reasonable and proper, but when Jehovah has offered to our world a treaty of peace, when men doomed to hell may be raised to seats at the right hand of God, why is not a similar zeal displayed in proclaiming the good news? Why are men perishing all around us and no one has ever personally offered to them salvation through a crucified Redeemer? (Dr. Wayland.)

The perfections of the Incarnation

Before the Incarnation God showed some, but not all, His perfections. He showed--

1. His goodness, in creating man after His own image.

2. His love, when He led Eve and the animals to Adam.

3. His pity, by clothing Adam and Eve with coats of skins.

4. His power, in creating the world out of nothing.

5. His justice, in expelling our first parents from Paradise, deluging the wicked world, wasting the cities of the plain.

6. His wisdom, confounding the tongues of the builders of Babel.

7. His providence, in saving Egypt by means of Joseph. In the Incarnation these perfections shone out with greater clearness. We note here--

I. THE GOODNESS OF GOD. He clothed Himself with our nature, that His virtues, grace, and glory, yea, and Himself, He might communicate to us.

1. Naturally, by preserving the order of nature.

2. By the supernatural order of grace.

3. By His particular personality.

II. THE LOVE OF GOD. Seen in the close union between God and man Romans 8:32).

1. He became incarnate to suffer and die for man.

2. And that for man, His enemy.

III. THE PITY OF GOD. In person coming to relieve our miseries, making Himself capable of sorrow and suffering (Hebrews 4:15).

IV. THE POWER OF GOD. Uniting the highest nature with the lowly nature of man; the human and the Divine, without any confusion of substance, in unity of person.

V. THE JUSTICE OF GOD. Not rescuing man from sin and death by might or by power, but paying a full and sufficient satisfaction for all men’s sins: making an infinite satisfaction for infinite sin.

VI. THE WISDOM OF GOD. In planning the redemption of man. Neither man nor God, singly, could redeem man; it needed a God-man to do this. VII. THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD. Which saw how to help and enrich man, when he was poor and naked, and destitute of all things. (M. Faber.)

A dying saint

This doxology of the angels has sometimes filled the thoughts of dying saints. The final words of the Rev. Edward Perronet, author of the hymn, “All hail the power of Jesus’ name,” were, “Glory to God in the height of His Divinity! Glory to God in the depth of His humanity! Glory to God in His all-sufficiency! and into His hand I commend my spirit.” The last words, too, of Rev. Doctor Backus, first President of Hamilton College, were, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

Universal peace

Happy the day when every war-horse shall be houghed, when every spear shall become a pruning-hook, and every sword shall be made to till the soil which once it stained with blood I This will be the last triumph of Christ. Before death itself shall be dead, death’s great jackal, war, must die also; and then there shall be peace on earth, and the angel shall say, “I have gone up and down through the earth, and the earth sitteth still, and is at rest: I heard no tumult of war nor noise of battle.” (C. H.Spurgeon.)

The song of the angels

I. THE SCENE. It was a fine Eastern night, not cold like one of our Decembers, with frosts or nipping gales freezing through blood and marrow. “The shepherds were abiding in the fields,” i.e., making their bivouac in them. The evangelist’s style seems to quiver with the sudden surprise which came upon the shepherds. “And lo, an angel of the Lord came upon them, and glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they feared with sore fear. And that angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, as being that which shall be to all the people of God.” His message declares four things. The wondrous Child to be born is a Saviour, who conies in pity for a fallen race; Christ, who, as the Anointed One, has so long been expected; the Lord, who is Divine as well as human; in David’s city, to fulfil literally the oracle of Micah, and the anticipations which might have been awakened by the Psalm that speaks of a great Priest-king in connection with Bethlehem, and God’s remembrance of David’s life of affliction. “And this shall be a sign unto you;” a sign, in its quiet but amazing contrast to all exhibitions of this world’s royalty. “Ye shall find a babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” Among the angels of heaven there was silence until the point when that angel visitant to the shepherds had touched the lowest point in the abyss of the humiliation: The armies of earth raise a shout or song. The armies of heaven (the “heavenly soldiers,” as it is grandly rendered in the old English version) have theirs--but it is a song of peace. Much of that choral ode was, probably, unheard by mortal ears--lost in the heights above. One fragment alone of the song is preserved. It is a triplet.

1. “Glory to God in the highest.” The angels speak from the point of view of this earth. We may understand either “Let it be,” or “It is.” If the former, they pray that from the bosom of humanity glory may rise to God in the highest heaven. If we understand the latter, they affirm that it does, at that moment, actually ascend. There is a little poem, possibly more beautiful in idea than in execution, which tells of a child dying in a workhouse. As her simple hymn, “Glory to Thee, my God, this night,” ascends from the pallet-bed, it floats up and up, until the last faint ripple touches the foot of the throne of God. Then, wakened by the faint, sweet impulse, a new strain of adoration is taken up by angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven--a grander and a fuller “glory.” Something in this way, in this passage, the angels seem to view the best adorations of this earth.

2. “On earth peace.” The peace spoken of in Scripture as effected by the Incarnation, is fourfold--between God and man; between man and angels; between man and man; between man and his own conscience. It is, of course, too darkly true, that as regards one form of this peace--that between man and man--history seems a long cynical satire on the angels’ words. The earth is soaking with blood at this moment, and families are in mourning for the slain in battle. Still, among Christian nations, and in the case of Christian soldiers, there are soft relentings, sweet gleams of human--or rather superhuman--love. Society, too, is full of prejudice and bitterness. In our homes there are tempers which drop vitriolic irritants into every little wound. It was a wholesome memory of the angels’ song which led men to examine their souls at Christmas, and to seek for reconciliation with any between whose souls and theirs stood the veil of quarrel or ill-will. But there is something beyond this. It means enmity done away, harmony restored, not only with one’s fellow-man, but with oneself. The unholy man has no true feeling of friendship, no friendly relations with himself. Worst of all, man may be in a state of estrangement from God, from Christ, from His Church, from hope--hostile in his mind, which lies immersed, and has its very existence in those evil works of his.

3. (For, understood) “Among men is good-will.” It is well known from Keble’s beautiful lines, and his note upon Pergolesi’s setting of the Vulgate version, that some manuscripts read, “among men of goodwill.” This interpretation, though it may please the fancy at first, will scarcely be accepted by the maturer judgment.

II. We may now OBSERVE WHERE THE ANGELS’ HYMN STANDS IN THE REFORMED LITURGY. In the Roman missal it is found at the beginning of the office; with us it is taken up immediately after we communicate, just before the parting blessing. In that magnificent burst of praise, the “Angelic Hymn,” or “Gloria in Excelsis,” is the basis of all that follows. “Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men.” “We praise Thee” for Thy greatness. “We bless Thee” for Thy goodness, thus made known to us by the voice of angels. “We worship Thee” in our hearts, with beseeming outward reverence. “We glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty”--glorifying and giving thanks with the confession of the mouth. Then we address the sacrificed Son, the Lamb, who is also our God. “O Lord, the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.” It is thus indicated that He is the subject of the angelic song, that to Him there is glory in the highest, with the Father and the Holy Ghost. “Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father.” We worship with angels--in angels’ words. We worship them not. Therefore into the texture of our eucharistic “Gloria in Excelsis” is woven a golden thread from another New Testament song--the poem of victory upon the sea of glass. A psalmist had exclaimed, “They shall praise Thy name, great and terrible; holy is it. Exalt ye Jehovah our God, and worship at the mountain of His holiness; for holy is the Lord our God.” The writer of the Apocalypse hears it applied to Jesus. And His believing Church incorporates this into her golden commentary of praise upon the “Gloria in Excelsis.” “Thou only art holy, O Christ.” Only He is holy of Himself: of His holiness we have all received. To an ignorant and superstitious woman, now many years ago, a kindly visitor read the Gospels, with little but the most simple commentary, and without a single word of controversy. A day or two before her death, the poor woman mentioned a dream which she had, valuable only because it appeared to be the reflection of her waking thoughts. She seemed to be in a vast and magnificent church, thronged with thousands upon thousands. High in the distance rose a glorious altar, with a living form towering above it--the Lamb as it had been slain; below, down to the rails which separated the altar from the body of the church, were orders of angels, stoled and vested priests, the Virgin-mother. Moved by some impulse, one after another came to the chancel-gate, and was either received inside with a burst of joy that filled the distance, or sorrowfully sent away. At last the dying woman presented herself in her turn. Sternly, yet not without a tone of regret, a priest put her back, and said, “You cannot pass.” Sweetly, with tender sorrow, an angel whispered, “Alas! I cannot help you.” With trembling voice, the mother of Jesus told her that “her prayers could not open those gates, nor open a way to the eternal presence of her Son.” Then, with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, the woman was turning away, to wander she knew not where, when suddenly the form above the altar--not white, and wan, and stirless, like the crucifix, but living and glorious--stood by the guarded gate. And He opened it, and bade her come in and fear not. “For,” said He, “those who come unto Me I will not cast out.” And a glorious music arose in the distance. In the same spirit, in this hymn, we pass by saints and angels, and raise our chant, “Thou only art holy.” None holy, and therefore none tender as Christ. In thanksgiving for angels’ food we borrow angels’ words. The song of angels is our communion song. May it not also be made our communicant’s manual? For instance, let us take that single line, “on earth peace.” That man who did something to insult or injure me--that, perhaps, very wretched woman, with her bitter tongue and cutting jeer--have I forgiven her for Christ’s sake? This evil peevish temper, which embitters the fountains of family life, have I set about sweetening it? Am I trying to improve it? This dark hopelessness of God’s forgiveness, this despair of the power of God’s Spirit to help and sanctify, this unbelief in grace, as if an apostle’s pen had never written, “How much more shall the blood of Christ purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” this unbelief in the power of the Cross, this faithlessness which turns the bread of the sacrament into a stone in our bands, and makes us too deaf to hear “for thee!” again and again- is this passing away? Am I ready to take Him at His own word? If not, I cannot really join in the “Gloria in Excelsis.” I have nothing to say to one line, at least, of the blessed triplet--“On earth peace”--and therefore the whole harmony is untuned for me. The first “Gloria in Excelsis” died away over Bethlehem. What then? “It came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, then the men, even the shepherds, said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem.” The men, the “shepherds” (so the Evangelist seems to say), represent the whole race of men. Even so, the Church keeps unending Christmas, keeps a new Christmas with every communion. The shepherds did their simple work of announcement. “They made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this Child;” while Mary, with her deeper and more reflective nature, “kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Then “the shepherds returned, glorifying God” for His greatness, and “praising Him” for His goodness, laying the foundation for their glorification and praise “upon all the things which they bad heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” The glory and music of angels did not tempt them from their work, but made them do it more gladly upon their return. There was more of heaven about it. So will it ever be with those who seek Him faithfully, and join truly in the “Gloria in Excelsis.” (Bishop Wm. Alexander.)

1. Glory to God in the highest. This glory arises from three sources--the matter of the gospel, the manner of its dissemination, and the effects it has produced upon the hearts and habits of men.

2. Glory to God arises from the manner and success of the dissemination of the Word of God, as well as from its matter and contents.

3. Glory is given to God from the effects which this gospel produces among men. In the experience of many it already begins a new heaven and a new earth.

II. “On earth peace.” Let us first ascertain the nature of this peace, and secondly, the way in which the Word of God promotes it, in order that we may be able to seek peace also, and pursue the right way of hastening on its reign. There is the peace of ignorance, but this is the peace of delusion. There is peace from compromise, but this is the peace of hell. True peace between man and God, or between man and man, can flourish on true principle, and on nothing else. Let us briefly glance at a few features of this goodwill; next, at the way in which God exerts it, and lastly, infer the manner in which we also should show goodwill toward our fellowmen. It is a distinctive goodwill. Why did God pass by the angels that fell, and throw the arms of love around the children of men? It was also an undeserved goodwill. Before the Saviour came we lifted up no cry for the interposition of the mercy of God. Such is God’s goodwill, and such His way of showing it. God will show His goodwill to the sinner, just by showing him his sin and his peril. If you saw a brother asleep, amid the darkness of night, enjoying the most delightful dreams, and at the same hour the house on fire around him, would you show him more goodwill by leaving him undisturbed, or by rousing him rudely from his sleep, and pointing his eye to the danger of his situation? This is God’s way of manifesting His goodwill to men. (J. Gumming, D. D.)

Angels’ acclamations

There never was such an apparition of angels as at this time; and there was great cause; for--

1. There was never such a ground for it, whether we regard the matter itself, the incarnation of Christ.

2. Or whether we regard the benefit that comes to us thereby. Christ by this means brings God and man together since the fall.

I shall especially stand upon those words; but somewhat is to be touched concerning the apparition of these angels.

1. The circumstances of their apparition. They appear to poor shepherds. God respects no callings. He will confound the pride of men, that set so much by that that God so little respects, and to comfort men in all conditions.

2. Again, the angels appeared to them in the midst of their business and callings; and indeed God’s people, as Moses and others, have had the sweetest intercourse with God in their affairs; and ofttimes it is the fittest way to hinder Satan’s temptations, and to take him off, to be employed in business, rather than to struggle with temptations.

3. And then they appeared to them in the night. God discovers Himself in the night of affliction. Our sweetest and strongest comforts are in our greatest miseries. God’s children find light in darkness; nay, God brings light out of darkness itself. We see the circumstances then of this apparition. He calls these angels “a heavenly host” in divers respects, especially in these:

God is everywhere. “Suddenly,” it not only shows us--

1. Somewhat exemplary from the quick despatch of the angels in their business we pray to God in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;” that is, willingly, “suddenly,” cheerfully:--

2. But also it serves for comfort. If we be in any sudden danger, God can despatch an angel, “a multitude” of angels, to encamp about us “suddenly.” What is the use and end of this glorious apparition? In regard of the poor shepherds, to confirm their faith, and in them ours; for if one or two witnesses confirm a thing, what shall a multitude do? If one or two men confirm a truth, much more an host of heavenly angels. Therefore it is base infidelity to call this in question, that is confirmed by a multitude of angels. And to comfort them likewise in this apparition. We see by the way that for one Christian to confirm and comfort one another, it is the work of an angel, an angelical work; for one man to discourage another, it is the work of a devil. Thus much for the apparition.

3. Now the celebration is “a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.” The word signifies “singing” as well as praise. It implies praise expressed in that manner; and indeed “praising God,” it is the best expression of the affection of joy. The angels were joyful at the birth of Christ their Lord. Joy is no way better expressed than in “praising God;” and it is pity that such a sweet affection as joy should run in any other stream, if it were possible, than the “praising of God.” God hath planted this affection of joy in the creature, and it is fit he should reap the fruit of his own garden. It is pity a clear stream should run into a puddle, it should rather run into a garden; and so sweet and excellent an affection as joy, it is pity it should be employed otherwise than “in praising God” and doing good to men. They express their joy in a suitable expression--“in praising God.” The sweetest affection in man should have the sweetest employment. See here the pure nature of angels. They praise God for us. We have more good by the incarnation of Christ than they have; yet notwithstanding, such is their humility, that they come down with great delight from heaven, and praise and glorify God for the birth of Christ, who is not their, but our Redeemer. Some strength they have. There is no creature but hath some good by the incarnation of Christ; to the angels themselves, yet, however, they have some strength from Christ, in the increase of the number of the Church; yet He is not the Redeemer of angels. And yet see, their nature is so pure and so clear from envy and pride, that they even glorify God for the goodness showed to us--meaner creatures than themselves; and they envy not us, though we be advanced, by the incarnation of Christ, to a higher place than they. Let us labour therefore for dispositions angelical, that is, such as may delight in the good of others, and the good of other meaner than ourselves. And learn this also from them: shall they glorify God for our good especially, and shall we be dull and cold in praising God on our own behalf? There is some difference in the readings. Some copies have it, “On earth peace to men of goodwill,” to men of God’s goodwill; and so they would have it two branches, not three.

If the word be rightly understood, it is no great matter.

1. First, the angels begin with the main and chief end of all. It is God’s end; it was the angels’ end, and it should be ours too, “Glory to God on high.”

2. Then they wish the chief good of all, that whereby we are fitted for the main end, “peace.” God cannot be glorified on earth unless there be peace wrought.

3. Then, thirdly, here is the ground of all happiness from whence this peace comes: from God’s goodwill; from his good pleasure or free grace “to men of God’s goodwill.” To begin with the first: “Glory to God in the highest.” The angels, those blessed and holy spirits, they begin with that which is the end of all. It is God’s end in all things, His own glory. He hath none above Himself whose glory to aim at. And they wish “Glory to God in the highest heavens.” Indeed, He is more glorified there than anywhere in the world. It is the place where His Majesty most appears; and the truth is, we cannot perfectly glorify God till we be in heaven. There is pure glory given to God in heaven. There is no corruption there in those perfect souls. There is perfect glory given to God in heaven. Here upon earth God is not glorified at all by many. In the mean time, let me add this by the way, that in some sort we may glorify God more on earth than in heaven. Here upon earth we glorify God in the midst of enemies; He hath no enemies in heaven; they are all of one spirit. In this respect, let us be encouraged to glorify God, what we can here: for if we begin to glorify God here, it is a sign we are of the number that He intends to glorify with Him for ever. The verb is not set down here; whether it should be, Glory is given to God; or whether, by way of wishing, “Let glory be given to God;” or by way of prediction or prophecy for the time to come, “Glory shall be to God,” from hence to the end of the world. The verb being wanting, all have a truth. “Glory to God on high.” Glory is excellency, greatness, and goodness, with the eminency of it, so as it may be discovered. There is a fundamental glory in things that are not discovered at all times. God is always glorious, but, alas! few have eyes to see it. In the former part of the chapter “light” is called the “glory of the Lord” (verse 9). Light is a glorious creature. Nothing expresseth glory so much as light. It is a sweet creature, but it is a glorious creature. It carries its evidence in itself; it discovers all other things and itself too. So excellency and eminency will discover itself to those that have eyes to see it; and being manifested, and withal taken notice of, is glory. In that the angels begin with the glory of God, I might speak of this doctrine, that the glory of God, the setting forth of the excellencies and eminencies of the Lord, should be the end of our lives, the chief thing we should aim at. The angels here begin with it, and we begin with it in the Lord’s Prayer, “hallowed be Thy name.” It should be our main employment (Romans 11:36). “Well then, the incarnation of Christ, together with the benefits to us by it, that is, redemption, adoption, &c., it is that wherein God will show His glory most of all. That is the doctrinal truth. The glory and excellency of God doth most shine in His love and mercy in Christ. Every excellency of God hath its proper place or theatre where it is seen, as His power in the creation, his wisdom in His providence and ruling of the world, His justice in hell, His Majesty in heaven; but His mercy and kindness, His bowels of tender mercy, do most appear in His Church among His people. God shows the excellency of His goodness and mercy in the incarnation of Christ, and the benefits we have by it. Many attributes and excellencies of God shine in Christ, as--His truth: “All the promises of God are yea and amen in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:20). And then His wisdom, that he could reconcile justice and mercy, by joining two natures together. Likewise here is justice, justice fully satisfied in Christ. And of His holiness, that He would be no otherwise satisfied for sin. Therefore “glory to God in the highest heavens,” especially for His free grace and mercy in Christ.

Now that you may understand this sweet point, which is very comfortable, and indeed the grand comfort to a Christian, do but compare the glory of God, that is, the excellency and eminency of God’s mercy, and goodness, and greatness of this work of redemption by Christ, with other things.

1. God is glorious in the work of creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God,” and the earth manifests the glory of God.

2. Nay, the glory of God’s love and mercy shined not to us so, when we were in Adam; not in Adam, for there God did good to a good man: He created him good, and showed goodness to him. That was not so much wonder. But for God to show mercy to an enemy, to a creature that was in opposition to Him, that was in a state of rebellion against Him, it is a greater wonder and more glory. That which I shall next stand upon, shall be to show

1. For the first, of glorifying God in general, I will not speak much. It would be large; and the point of glorifying God is most sweetly considered, as invested in such a benefit as this, when we think of it, not as an idea only, but think of it in Christ, for whom we have cause to glorify God, and for all the good we have by Him.

2. This being so excellent a duty, to which we are stirred by the angels, “Glory to God on high,” &c., what are the main hindrances of it that we give not God more glory?

3. Now, the way to attain to this glorious duty, to glorify God.

What is peace? It is the best thing that man can attain unto, to have peace with his Maker and Creator. Peace, in general, is a harmony and an agreement of different things.

1. First, there is a scattering and a division from God, the fountain of good, with whom we had communion in our first creation, and His delight was in His creature.

2. Then there is a separation between the good angels and us; for they being good subjects, take part with their prince, and therefore join against rebels, as we are.

3. Then there is a division and scattering between man and man.

4. And then there is a division and separation between a man and the creature, which is ready to be in arms against any man that is in the state of nature, to take God’s quarrel, as we see in the plagues of Egypt and other examples.

5. And they have no peace with themselves. Then if we be at peace with God, all other peace will follow; for good subjects will be at peace with rebels, when they are brought in subjection to their king, and all join in one obedience. Therefore the angels are brought to God again by Christ. And so for men, there is a spirit of union between them. The same Spirit that knits us to God by faith, knits us one to another by love. And we have peace with the creature, for when God, who is the Lord of hosts, is made peaceful to us, He makes all other things peaceable. All peace with God, with angels, and with creatures is stablished in Christ. And why in Christ? Christ is every way fitted for it, for He is the Mediator between God and man; therefore by office He is fit to make peace between God and man.

He is Emmanuel, Himself God and man in one nature; therefore His office is to bring God and man together.

1. It is fit it should be so in regard of God, who being a “consuming fire,” will no peace with the creature without a mediator. It stands not with His majesty, neither can there ever be peace with us otherwise.

2. It was also fit, in respect of us, it should be so. Alas! “who can dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Isaiah 33:14). Who can have communion with God, who is a “consuming fire?” No. We cannot endure the sight of an angel.

3. If we look to Christ Himself, He being God’s Son, and the Son of His love, for Him to make us sons, and sons of God’s love. Is it not most agreeable, that He that is the image of God, should again renew the image of God that we lost? “Peace upon earth.” Why doth He say, “peace on earth”? Because peace was here wrought upon earth by Christ in the days of His flesh, when he offered Himself “a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour to His Father.” Because here in earth we must be partakers of it. We ofttimes defer to make our peace with God from time to time, and think there will be peace made in another world. Oh, beloved, our peace must be made on earth.

But to come to some trials, whether we have this peace made or no; whether we can say in spirit and truth, there is a peace established between God and us.

1. For a ground of this, that may lead us to further trial, know that Christ hath reconciled God and us together, not only by obtaining peace, by way of satisfaction, but by way of application also. He gives a spirit of application to improve that peace, to improve “Christ, the Prince of peace,” as their own. To come to some more familiar evidences, whether we be at peace with God, and whether we have the comfort of this peace, established by Christ, or no.

2. Those that are reconciled one to another have common friends and common enemies.

3. Another evidence of “peace” made in Christ between God and us, is a boldness of spirit and acquaintance with God (Job 22:21).

4. A Christian that hath made his” peace” with God, will never allow himself in any sin against conscience.

5. Again, where there is a true peace established, there is a high esteem of the word of peace, the gospel of reconciliation, as St. Paul calls it (2 Corinthians 5:18).

6. Lastly, those that have found peace are peaceable.

In the next place, to give a few directions to maintain this peace actually and continually every day.

1. To walk with God, and to keep our daily peace with God, it requires a great deal of watchfulness over our thoughts,--for He is a Spirit, over our words and actions. Watchfulness is the preserver of peace.

2. And because it is a difficult thing to maintain terms of peace with God, in regard of our indisposition, we fall into breaches with God daily, therefore we should often renew our covenants and purposes every day.

3. Again, if we would maintain this peace, let us be always doing somewhat that is good and pleasing to God. In the same chapter (Philippians 4:8), “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure,” &c., “think of these things. Now, to stir us up more and more to search the grounds of our peace, I beseech you, let us consider the fearful estate of a man that hath not made his peace with

God. “Goodwill towards men.” Divers copies have it otherwise, “On earth peace to men of goodwill.” Some have it, “Goodwill towards men.” The sense is not much different. Peace on earth, “To men of God’s goodwill, of God’s good pleasure.”

That God hath a pleasure to save, or “goodwill towards men,” of God’s good pleasure; “Peace on earth,” to men of God’s goodwill and pleasure; or God’s good pleasure towards men.

1. God shews now good pleasure towards men. The love that God bears towards man hath divers terms, from divers relations. Now this free goodwill and grace, it is towards men, towards mankind. He saith not, towards angels. And learn this for imitation, to love mankind. God loved mankind; and surely there is none that is born of God, but he loves the nature of man, wheresoever he finds it.

2. This ἐυδοκια, “goodwill of God,” to restore lapsed man by the sending of His Son, is the ground of all good to man, and hath no ground but itself. I come to the last point, because I would end this text at this time.

3. This free love and grace of God is only in Christ. (R. Sibbes.)

The angels’ song

But what did the heavenly choir mean? They could not mean that, at that moment, there was “Peace on the earth”? Was it a prayer? “May there be glory to God in the highest, and may there be peace on earth, and may there be goodwill toward men!” Or was it prophecy? Did they foresee that the time would come that this would be the blessed condition of our world?--a time not yet arrived. The angel who led the band, had spoken of joy, only joy, “great joy,” prophetic joy, “which should be to all people,” a joy prophetic still. But the rushing “multitude of the angel host” carried the note higher, and gave no limit of time; and they did not say joy, but peace--“Peace on earth.” Is it that, even to an angel’s mind, peace is above joy? Or, was it that they thought and knew that this was what our world most wanted? They had been accustomed to look upon the peace of heaven, where everything has found its resting-place, and everything is calm: where there is not a sound which is not like the flow of waters: where a discordant note is never heard: where all hearts are in one sweet concord: where all is dove-like gentleness! No wonder, then, that they drew their anthems from the scenes they lived in. We have to do now only with peace. And the stress lies in the words, “On earth.” No marvel if there should be peace in heaven. No angel would care to proclaim a thing so certain. A “peace” that has sadly left us, since that day when sin came in! Observe the course of the facts of our world’s history. Adam and Eve who, till that moment, were as one, now wrangled, which is the guiltiest? The first death upon this earth is fratricide; and the murdering brother, in his callous heart, cares nothing! The whole world is at enmity with God; and, save a few elect of every kind, every creature perishes in one vast engulphing flood! The earliest building upon record ends in a confusion, and is stamped a Babel! Even Abraham and Lot have to part; and Isaac quarrels with Ishmael; and Jacob with Esau; and Joseph has no peace with his brethren. “Peace on earth!” where is it? Where does she hide herself? Is she in the valleys? is she among the mountains? Is she in the high places of kings? Is she in the cottage? Is she in the Church? Is she, as she ought to be, in any one single man that walks this earth? But what is “peace”? The after creation--the rest of the soul--the concord of hearts--the reflection of heaven--the image of God. We must examine it moreclosely. It is human peace the angels sang: “Peace on earth.” What is the peace of a man? First, there must be peace with God. God has said it universally, “There shall be no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” But peace makes peace. Peace with God in the soul, makes peace in the soul, and peace in the soul makes peace with the world. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

The influence of Christianity on the temporal condition of mankind



1. Christianity imparts to social intercourse a principle of equity.

2. A character of mildness to the intercourse of social life.

3. A principle of benevolence.



1. It secures his property.

2. It promotes his health.

3. It guards his reputation. (T. Raffles, D. D.)

National peace

And indeed national feuds are the more odious and unchristian, by how much Christ hath called all people to the sprinkling of the same water, and to alike participation of His body and blood at the same table. And it was well apprehended of one, that God hath given unto men more excellent gifts in the skill of navigation since His son is born, than ever they had before; that He might show the way how all the kingdoms of the earth should be sociable together: for Christ hath breathed His peace upon all the kingdoms of the world. (Bishop Hacker.)

Christ adverse to some kinds of peace

Yet very true that none is a greater adversary than our Saviour to some sorts of peace. The peace of Christ breaks the confederacy which sinners have in evil; it defies the devil and the vain pomp of the world; it draws the sword against blasphemy and idolatry; it will not let a man be at quiet within himself when he is full of vicious concupiscence. To make a covenant with hell, as the prophet speaks, or to have any fellowship with the works of darkness. (Bishop Hacker.)

Peace and sanctity not incompatible

The very name of peace is sweet and lovely: it is the calm of the world, the smile of nature, the harmony of things, a gentle and melodious air struck from well-tuned affairs; a blessing, so excellent and amiable, that in this world there is but one preferable before it, and that is, holiness. And, certainly, great glory doth dwell in that land, where these two sister-blessings, righteousness and peace, do meet and kiss each other, as the Psalmist speaks (Psalms 85:9-10). I know, that there are hot and turbulent spirits enough abroad, who are apt to suspect whatsoever is spoken on the behalf of peace, to be to the disadvantage of holiness: and, perhaps, some men’s zeal may be such a touchy and froward thing, that, though an angel from heaven, yea an innumerable multitude of them, proclaim it; yet they cannot believe there may be glory to God in the highest, whilst there is peace on earth. Indeed, if peace and sanctity were incompatible, or if any unhappy circumstances should compel us to redeem the one at the price of the other; we ought rather to follow righteousness through thorns and briars, than peace in its smoothest way strewed with roses. But there is no such inconsistency between them: for, certainly, that God, who hath commanded us to follow both peace and holiness (Hebrews 12:14), supposeth that they themselves may well go together. We may well suspect that zeal to be but an unclean bird of prey, that delights to quarry upon the dove; and those erratic lights, which make the vulgar gaze and the wise fear, to be but glaring comets, whose bloody aspects and eccentric irregular motions threaten nothing but wars, ruin, and desolations. Righteousness doth not oblige, us, so soon as anything is passed contrary to our present judgments and persuasions, nay suppose it be contrary to the truth also, straight to furbish our weapons, to sound an alarm, and to kill others in defence of that cause for which we ourselves rather ought to die. This is not to part with peace for righteousness; but to sacrifice both peace and righteousness, to injustice and violence. The cause of God, of piety and religion, may frequently engage us to forego our own peace, as sufferers and martyrs; but never to disturb the public peace of our country, as fighters and warriors. (E. Hopkins, D. D.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Luke 2:14". The Biblical Illustrator. https: 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Glory to God in the highest,.... Which with the following words, are not to be considered as a wish, that so it might be, but as an affirmation, that so it was; for the glory of God is great in the salvation, peace, and reconciliation of his people by Jesus Christ, even the glory of all his perfections; of his wisdom and prudence in forming such a scheme; of his love, grace, and, mercy, the glory of which is his main view, and is hereby answered; and of his holiness, which is hereby honoured; and of his justice, which is fully satisfied; and of his power in the accomplishment of it; and of his truth and faithfulness in fulfilling his covenant and oath, and all the promises and prophecies relating to it. Great glory from hence arises to God; who is in the highest heavens, and is given him by angels and saints that dwell there, and that in the highest strains; and by saints on earth too in, their measure, and as they are able: the ground and foundation of which is what follows:

and on earth peace: by which is meant, not external peace, though, at this time there was peace on earth all the world over; nor internal peace, as distinguished from that eternal peace which the saints enjoy in heaven; nor even peace made by Christ; for this, as yet, was not done on earth, but was to be made by the blood of his cross: rather Christ himself is here intended, who is called "the man, the peace" Micah 5:5 and "our peace", Ephesians 2:14 and was now on earth, being just born, in order to make peace with God, and reconciliation for the sins of the people: and he is so called, because he is the author of peace between Jew and Gentile, which were at enmity with each other; by abrogating the ceremonial law, the cause of that enmity; by sending the Gospel to them, and converting some of each; and by granting the like privileges to them both; see Ephesians 2:14 and because he is the author of peace between God and elect sinners, who, through the fall, are at enmity against, God, and enemies in their minds by wicked works unto him; nor can they make their peace with God; they know not the way of it; nor are they disposed to it; nor can they approach to God to treat with him about terms of peace; nor can they do those things that will make their peace with God, as satisfying his justice, and fulfilling his law: Christ only is their peace maker; he only is fit for it, being God and man in one person, and so a daysman that can lay his hands on both, and has a concern in each, in things pertaining to God, and to make reconciliation for the sins of the people: he only is able to do it, and he has done it by the blood of his cross; and a very excellent peace it is he has made: it is made upon the most honourable terms, to the satisfaction of justice, and the magnifying of the law of God; and is therefore a lasting one, and attended with many blessings, such as freedom of access to God, and a right to all the privileges of his house; and the news of it are glad tidings of good things: and those angels that first brought the tidings of it, may be truly called, as some of the angels are by the JewsF20Zohar in Exod. fol. 8. 1. & 98. 4. , מלאכי שלום "angels of peace". Moreover, Christ may be said to be "peace", because he is the donor of all true solid peace and real prosperity, both external, which his people have in the world, and with each other; and internal, which they have in their own breasts, through believing in him, and attending on his ordinances; and eternal, which they shall have for ever with him in the world to come. And now Christ being the peace on earth, is owing to

f2cf2 good will towards men; that is, to the free favour, good will, and pleasure of God towards chosen men in Christ Jesus: that Christ was on earth as the peacemaker, or giver, was owing to God's good will; not to angels, for good angels needed him not as such; and the angels that sinned were not spared, nor was a Saviour provided for them; but to men, and not to all men; for though all men share in the providential goodness of God, yet not in his special good will, free grace, and favour: but to elect men, to whom a child was born, and a Son given, even the Prince of Peace: it was from God's good will to these persons, whom he loved with an everlasting love in Christ, laid up goodness for them in him, blessed them with all spiritual blessings in him, and made a covenant with him for them; that he provided and appointed his son to be the Saviour and peace maker; that he sent him into this world to be the propitiation for sin; and that he spared him not, but delivered him up into the hands of men, justice, and death, in order to make peace for them. The Vulgate Latin version, and some copies, as the Alexandrian, and Beza's most ancient one, read, "peace on earth to men of good will"; and which must be understood, not of men that have a good will of themselves, for there are no such men: no man has a will to that which is good, till God works in him both to will, and to do of his, good pleasure; wherefore peace, reconciliation, and salvation, are not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy: but of such who are the objects of God's good will, and pleasure, whom he loves, because he will love, and has mercy and compassion on them, and is gracious to them, because he will be so; and therefore chooses, redeems, and regenerates them of his own will, and because it seems good in his sight. The Syriac and Persic versions read, "good hope to men"; as there is a foundation laid in Christ the peace, of a good hope of reconciliation, righteousness, pardon, life, and salvation for sinful men. The Arabic version renders it, "cheerfulness in men"; as there is a great deal of reason for it, on account of the birth of the Saviour and peace maker, the salvation that comes by him to men, and the glory brought thereby to God,

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https: 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, g good will toward men.

(g) God's ready, good, infinite, and gracious favour towards men.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https: 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Glory, etc. — brief but transporting hymn - not only in articulate human speech, for our benefit, but in tunable measure, in the form of a Hebrew parallelism of two complete clauses, and a third one only amplifying the second, and so without a connecting “and.” The “glory to God,” which the new-born “Savior” was to bring, is the first note of this sublime hymn: to this answers, in the second clause, the “peace on earth,” of which He was to be “the Prince” (Isaiah 9:6) - probably sung responsively by the celestial choir; while quickly follows the glad echo of this note, probably by a third detachment of the angelic choristers - “good will to men.” “They say not, glory to God in heaven, where angels are, but, using a rare expression, “in the highest [heavens],” whither angels aspire not,” (Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 1:4) [Bengel]. “Peace” with God is the grand necessity of a fallen world. To bring in this, and all other peace in its train, was the prime errand of the Savior to this earth, and, along with it, Heaven‘s whole “good will to men” - the divine complacency on a new footing - descends to rest upon men, as upon the Son Himself, in whom God is “well-pleased.” (Matthew 3:17, the same word as here.)

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https: 1871-8.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

14. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

[Glory to God in the highest.] We may very well understand this angelic hymn, if good will towards men, be taken for the subject, and the rest of the words for the predicate. The good will of God towards men is glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth. And, is put between glory and peace; not between them and good will.

But now this good will of God towards men, being so wonderfully made known in the birth of the Messiah, how highly it conduced to the glory of God, would be needless to shew; and how it introduced peace on the earth the apostle himself shews from the effect, Ephesians 2:14; Colossians 1:20; and several other places.

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Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https: 1675.

People's New Testament

Glory to God. The life of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the earth was the working out and development of the song of the angels. It was "Glory to God" illustrated in his consecration and death. It was "peace" in all the utterances of his lips; peace in his Gospel. It was "good will toward man;" for every thought, word and act of that blessed life was the translation of God's infinite love into forms visible to the mortal eyes that saw him.

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Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.

Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "People's New Testament". https: 1891.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Among men in whom he is well pleased (εν αντρωποις ευδοκιαςen anthrōpois eudokias). The Textus Receptus (Authorized Version also has ευδοκιαeudokia but the genitive ευδοκιαςeudokias is undoubtedly correct, supported by the oldest and best uncials. (Aleph, A B D W). C has a lacuna here. Plummer justly notes how in this angelic hymn Glory and Peace correspond, in the highest and on earth, to God and among men of goodwill. It would be possible to connect “on earth” with “the highest” and also to have a triple division. There has been much objection raised to the genitive ευδοκιαςeudokias the correct text. But it makes perfectly good sense and better sense. As a matter of fact real peace on earth exists only among those who are the subjects of God‘s goodwill, who are characterized by goodwill toward God and man. This word ευδοκιαeudokia we have already had in Matthew 11:26. It does not occur in the ancient Greek. The word is confined to Jewish and Christian writings, though the papyri furnish instances of ευδοκησιςeudokēsis Wycliff has it “to men of goodwill.”

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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https: Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Peace, good-will toward men ( εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία )

Both Tischendorf and Westcott and Hort read εὐδοκίας which the Rev. follows. According to this the rendering is, unto men of good pleasure, or as Rev., among men in whom he is well pleased. Wyc., to men of good-will. For a similar construction, see Acts 9:15; Colossians 1:13.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https: Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Glory be to God in the highest; on earth peace; good will toward men — The shouts of the multitude are generally broken into short sentences. This rejoicing acclamation strongly represents the piety and benevolence of these heavenly spirits: as if they had said, Glory be to God in the highest heavens: let all the angelic legions resound his praises. For with the Redeemer's birth, peace, and all kind of happiness, come down to dwell on earth: yea, the overflowings of Divine good will and favour are now exercised toward men.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https: 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

14.Glory to God in the highest The angels begin with thanksgiving, or with the praises of God; for Scripture, too, everywhere reminds us, that we were redeemed from death for this purpose, that we might testify with the tongue, as well as by the actions of the life, our gratitude to God. Let us remember, then, the final cause, why God reconciled us to himself through his Only Begotten Son. It was that he might glorify his name, by revealing the riches of his grace, and of his boundless mercy. And even now to whatever extent any one is excited by his knowledge of grace to celebrate the glory of God, such is the extent of proficiency in the faith of Christ. Whenever our salvation is mentioned, we should understand that a signal has been given, (156) to excite us to thanksgiving and to the praises of God.

On earth peace The most general reading is, that the words, among men good-will, should stand as a third clause. So far as relates to the leading idea of the passage, it is of little moment which way you read it; but the other appears to be preferable. The two clauses, Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, do unquestionably agree with each other; but if you do not place men and God in marked opposition, the contrast will not fully appear. (157) Perhaps commentators have mistaken the meaning of the preposition ἐν, for it was an obscure meaning of the words to say, that there is peace in men; but as that word is redundant in many passages of Scripture, it need not detain us here. However, if any one prefer to throw it to the last clause, the meaning will be the same, as I shall presently show.

We must now see what the angels mean by the word peace. They certainly do not speak of an outward peace cultivated by men with each other; but they say, that the earth is at peace, when men have been reconciled to God, and enjoy an inward tranquillity in their own minds. (158) We know that we are born “children of wrath,” (Ephesians 2:3,) and are by nature enemies to God; and must be distressed by fearful apprehensions, so long as we feel that God is angry with us. A short and clear definition of peace may be obtained from two opposite things, — the wrath of God and the dread of death. It has thus a twofold reference; one to God, and another to men. We obtain peace with God, when he begins to be gracious to us, by taking away our guilt, and “not imputing to us our trespasses,” (2 Corinthians 5:19;) and when we, relying on his fatherly love, address him with full confidence, and boldly praise him for the salvation which he has promised to us. Now though, in another passage, the life of man on earth is declared to be a continual warfare, (159) (Job 7:1,) and the state of the fact shows that nothing is more full of trouble than our condition, so long as we remain in the world, yet the angels expressly say that there is peace on earth This is intended to inform us that, so long as we trust to the grace of Christ, no troubles that can arise will prevent us from enjoying composure and serenity of mind. Let us then remember, that faith is seated amidst the storms of temptations, amidst various dangers, amidst violent attacks, amidst contests and fears, that our faith may not fail or be shaken by any kind of opposition.

Among men good-will (160) The Vulgate has good-will in the genitive case: to men of good-will. (161) How that reading crept in, I know not: but it ought certainly to be rejected, both because it is not genuine, (162) and because it entirely corruptsthe meaning. Others read good-will in the nominative case, and still mistake its meaning. They refer good-will to men, as if it were an exhortation to embrace the grace of God. I acknowledge that the peace which the Lord offers to us takes effect only when we receive it. But as εὐδοκία is constantly used in Scripture in the sense of the Hebrew word רצון, the old translator rendered it beneplacitum , or, good-will. This passage is not correctly understood as referring to the acceptance of grace. The angels rather speak of it as the source of peace, and thus inform us that peace is a free gift, and flows from the pure mercy of God. If it is thought better to read good-will to men, or towards men, (163) it will not be inadmissible, so far as regards the meaning: for in this way it will show the cause of peace to be, that God has been pleased to bestow his undeserved favor on men, with whom he formerly was at deadly variance. If you read, the peace of good-will as meaning voluntary peace, neither will I object to that interpretation. But the simpler way is to look upon εὐφοκία as added, in order to inform us of the source from which our peace is derived. (164)

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1840-57.

Scofield's Reference Notes

on earth

Cf. (See Scofield "Matthew 10:34")

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Luke 2:14". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https: 1917.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


‘On earth peace’.

Luke 2:14

No one would dream of disturbing words consecrated by long usage, yet in all probability the text does not represent what Luke actually wrote. His real meaning seems to have been ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of His good will’; or, as the Revised Version has it, ‘among men in whom He is well pleased.’ The question between those two versions turns on a very minute point, on the insertion or omission of a single letter in the Greek text. But there is a real difference of meaning between them.

I. Two views.—They represent two different views—a wider and narrower view, an ideal and a practical view, as to the effect of Christ’s coming in bringing peace on earth. The one view regards His coming as the beginning of a universal reign of peace; the other is less ideal, in closer correspondence with the facts of history. It limits the extent of this reign of peace. The coming of Christ brought peace indeed, but the sphere of its influence was restricted to the true servants of God who had found favour in His sight—to men of His good will. Christ on that view did not bring peace to the world at large. How, indeed, could the peace of God dwell in hearts that were at enmity with God? The legacy of peace which Jesus left behind Him on earth was left only to His own disciples. We cannot say that one of those views is true and the other false. In a sense both are true, and each has to take account of the other. It is true in a sense that Christ brought peace to the whole world. The coming of Christianity has opened up new possibilities of peace on earth. Christianity supplies an ideal conception of peace which is open to the whole world, and towards which we may hope that the whole world is slowly tending. But that is not the aspect of His coming on which our Lord Himself preferred to dwell. He did not wish His followers to live under any sentimental illusions. He foresaw that discord was inevitable—discord between the Church and the world, discord even between Christians themselves. But His attitude towards those two forms of discord was very different. Persecution from the world He welcomed for His followers. His promise to them was that in the world they should have tribulation. But He shrank from the thought that there should be dissensions within the Church. His last prayer for future generations of unknown followers was ‘that they all may be one.’ That prayer still remains unfulfilled.

II. Seek peace.—There have been times, indeed, in the history of the Church when it might almost be questioned whether Christianity was doing anything to promote the peace of Christendom, whether it was not in the main a mere source of strife and dissension. The hatreds of theology had become a byword. ‘See how these Christians love one another’ was the bitter pagan comment, and certainly nothing could be less edifying that the record of the cruel persecutions, of the stern, unloving fanaticisms of the acrimonious controversies which have characterised more than one epoch of Church history and more than one Christian body. How could people, they asked, have the peace of Christ in their hearts and yet not be at peace one with another? Let us seek peace and ensue it. We have to be on our guard against party lines becoming hardened and accentuated. Each party is within its rights in deciding what it must insist on, but it is the bounden duty of each party also to consider what concessions it can make without an absolute surrender of principle. Even peace may under some circumstances be purchased too dearly. But the teaching of Jesus certainly suggests that we should be willing to concede too much rather than too little. Let us long for the time when we shall be able to say of all controversy ‘Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.’

—Rev. Dr. H. G. Woods.


‘The Church has had her triumphs of peace-making as well as her responsibilities for strife. What a great institution, for instance, was the Truce of God in the eleventh and twelve centuries. That was a noble protest on the part of the Church against the constant state of warfare which had grown up out of the feudal system. Those petty wars between feudal lords could not, indeed, be entirely stopped, but the decrees of the Church did much to limit them and to protect peaceable folk. From Wednesday evening to Monday morning in every week, from the beginning of Advent to the octave of the Epiphany, and throughout Lent, the Truce of God was in force. No doubt that still left a good deal of time in the year for fighting, though only for two or three days together. But the principle involved was more important than the actual result. It was a magnificent thing that the Church should make that public declaration on behalf of peace.’



The Song of the Angels was the first public preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I. On earth peace.—That was what the angels saw of special significance to mankind in the ‘glad tidings.’ Men smile and say, Look at history; look at distracted souls; look at the world alienated from God. But is it only the conflict between good and ill which disturbs peace? We cannot untangle the skein of sin and mistakes, but we can see that in our hearts and consciences we seek the Gospel ideal of peace. ‘Follow peace,’ says the Apostle, ‘and holiness.’

II. Peace and purity.—These are the two capital points upon which the Gospel was an innovation in the world. The ancient ideal looked upon the world as the battlefield for the trial of strength between nations; the Gospel gave a new ideal.

III. Christianity a religion of peace, but Christians have sometimes made it a religion of quarrels. We may deplore it. But more than that is needed. We have to decide whether we will associate ourselves with what we know to be God’s will, or whether we will ignore it, choosing ideals of our own. We shall have to give account of every action of ours in every department of our life which has endangered peace.

IV. Peace belongs to those who will have it. ‘Whence come wars and fightings among you?’ But the fruit of the Spirit, ‘peace,’ is within the attainment of all.

Dean Church.


‘What have we now? True, England is at peace with the whole world, and we accept it gratefully, but who can see the vast armaments which fill the Continent, and the tremendous power of the instruments of war, increasing everywhere, and call it “Peace”? Or, if you go into an inner circle, where is the household without a jar? where is the family of which every member is in perfect unison? Who has not some one with whom he is not quite on terms of love? How many are there who are at “perfect peace” with themselves? How many with God? Peace on earth—where is it? Is it “peace” only in the angel’s song, in the far vision of celestial intelligences, and the womb of the future?’

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". Church Pulpit Commentary. https: 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Ver. 14. Glory be to God on high] Let God have all the glory, so we may have the peace and grace or good will (for of these angels, Saint Paul learned to salute with grace and peace). Mihi placet distributio angelica, saith Bernard, gratanter accipio quod relinquis, relinquo quod retines: abiuro gloriam, ne amitterem pacem. I am well content with the angels’ distribution, I thankfully accept (Lord) what thou leavest; I meddle not with that which thou retainest. I forego the glory, so I may not miss the peace. Thus he. It was the last speech of dying Chrysostom, Glory be to God from all creatures. Let the Jesuits (saith one) at the end of their books subscribe Laus Deo et Beatae Virgini. Let this be the badge of the beast: cry we, Soli Deo gloria, Glory be to God alone.

In earth peace] Pax, quasi pactio conditionum. ειρηνη παρα το εις εν ειρειν, a connectendo in unum. Christ is the great peace maker; but only to the elect, called here the men of God’s good will. When he was born, Cuncta atque continua totius generis humani aut pax fuit aut pactio. Flor. Hist. l. 4.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https: 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Luke 2:14

The Angels' Christmas Hymn.

I. "Glory," so the angels began, "to God in the highest!" Why was the birth of Christ glory to God in the highest? Besides other deep mysteries, which there may be in that saying, God did thus begin to make known to the holy angels, to those who serve Him in the highest, His manifold wisdom in respect of the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is evermore His special glory among them, as any condescending act of a great and beloved king is his glory among his subjects: namely, that He is now Man as well as God; He hath lowered, abased, emptied Himself, so unspeakably as to have taken our nature into His own, and in it to have suffered for us the worst of pain and shame—love taking on itself what sin deserved.

II. The birth of Christ is also peace on earth, peace between God and man, the blessed way to His favour which is better than life. Many of us may know something of the heartfelt, extreme, unutterable delight, when parents or brethren, or dear friends whom we depend upon, are reconciled to us after any kind of falling out; how the whole soul, before unquiet and restless, is restored to sweet assurance of safety and repose! Now people say to themselves over and over, "Come what will, now we have that which we most craved for; we have the heart which we thought we had lost; we know now that we are still dear to him whom we feared we had affronted for ever." Like to this, only unspeakably more than this, is the sense of being reconciled to God, the knowledge of how grievously soever we have fallen from Him, He still cares for us as our Father; and this blessing is solemnly renewed to us as often as Christmas comes round, in the very words of the angel: "On earth peace."

III. And it is, also, good will towards men; not peace only, but grace; not forgiveness only, but every blessing flows from it. There is nothing too good or too great to be expected, hoped, and prayed for, by those whom the Eternal Son owns for brethren and the Eternal Father for children, and into whom the Eternal Spirit has entered, to join them as true members to the Son.

Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. viii., p. 278.

The tidings of the coming of Christ, which were communicated to the shepherds by the angel appointed of God, are no longer confined to the spot and to the period which were rendered memorable by their disclosure. They have ceased to be tidings. They are no longer new. Now they have a history. Time itself has been God's commentator. The ages have rolled away, nations and kingdoms have changed, but this truth of the coming of Christ has not been rolled away, and it has changed only to grow.

I. If theology could exclude the truth that Christ is God, it would remain as poetry. The world would not let it fall. Humanity would enshrine it; we would dream it; we would wake to believe; we would follow it wherever it should lead us.

II. The true work of Christ was to reveal to men their sins, to humble them, to empty them before God, to bring them under the complete control of the Divine will; and this became a sieve, as it were, which separated men one from another. It was the spiritual power of Christ's purity that arrayed the Scribes and Pharisees against Him, and led to His arrest and crucifixion. It was the contrast between His life and theirs, the influence of His doctrines upon their self-conceit, and the power of His soul upon their nature and conduct, that aroused their opposition to Him.

III. For eighteen hundred years Christ has been ostensibly received and rejoiced in as a spiritual power; and yet during this whole period, those who have really received Him according to His errand of the soul, in a way that humbled them, cast them down into condemnation, judged them and raised them up into life, have been relatively the few, the despised and the outcast. Christ has been accepted almost universally throughout the world as an external power; but Christ as a purifier, Christ as a Saviour from sin, taking sides with the weak, the oppressed, the wronged, has been almost universally rejected throughout the world. How many myriads of men are there, who on Christmas Day, wear flowers in memory of Christ, chant hymns in honour of Christ, and present gifts in celebration of the birth of Christ, who will not let the Master enter one step unto their hearts to purify them! Let us beware lest we fall into this error, which so widely prevails in these latter days, of receiving Christ outwardly and rejecting Him inwardly.

H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxix., p. 45.

References: Luke 2:14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv., No. 168; Homilist, 3rd series, vol. iv., p. 343; A. W. Hare, The Alton Sermons, p. 80; W. Dorling, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 27; Ibid., vol. iv., p. 401; E. J. Willis, Ibid., vol. x., p. 120; H. W. Beecher, Ibid., vol. xix., p. 91; New Manual of Sunday School Addresses, p. 234; H. Wace, Expositor, 2nd series, vol. ii., p. 195. Luke 2:15.—J. Keble, Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany, p. 108; Preacher's Monthly, vol. i., p. 45; Ibid., vol. x., p. 337; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 72; J. M. Neale, Sermons for Children, p. 45; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., pp. 557, 558; vol. xv., p. 360; Expository Sermons on the New Testament, 65; H. G. Robinson, Man in the Image of God, p. 155. Luke 2:15-21.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. ii., p. 10.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https:

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Luke 2:14. Glory to God in the highest, &c.— This verse is very differently understood, and the original is certainly capable of different senses. Some choose to render it, Glory to God in the highest, that is to say, in heaven,—and on earth; peace, yea, favour towards men. Others have given as the sense of it, that the good will or favour which is now shewn to men, is the glory to God in the highest, and is the peace and happiness of those who dwell on earth: which is indeed an important sense, and what the original will well enough bear; but thus to change the doxology into a kind of proverb or aphorism, seems to destroy much of its beauty. "I rather think," says Dr. Doddridge, "that they are all to be considered as the words of a rejoicing acclamation, and that they strongly represent the piety and benevolence of these heavenly spirits, and their affectionate good wishes for the prosperity of the Messiah's kingdom." See Luke 19:38. As if they had said, "Glory be to God in the highest heavens; and let all the angelic host resound his praises in the most exalted strains; for, with the Redeemer's birth, peace, and all kinds of happiness, come down to dwell upon earth; yea, the overflowings of divine benevolence and favour are now exercised towards sinful men; who, through this Saviour, become the objects of his complacential delight." We may observe, that the shouts of a multitude are generally broken into shortsentences, and are commonly elliptic; which is the only cause of the ambiguity here. Dr. Macknight gives a somewhat different turn to the passage, explainingit thus: "Glory to God in the highest heavens, or among the highest order of beings: let the praises of God (so the word glory signifies, be eternally celebrated by the highest orders of beings, notwithstanding they are not the immediate objects of his infinite goodness on earth: let all manner of happiness (so peace signifies in the Hebrew language) from henceforth prevail among men for ever, &c. And as they departed, they shouted in the sweetest, most sonorous, and seraphic strains, BENEVOLENCE expressing the highest admiration of the goodness of God, which now began to shine with a brighter lustre than ever, on the arrival of his Son to save the world."

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https: 1801-1803.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

14.] The disputes about this short song of praise are (with one exception, see below) so much solemn trifling. As to whether ἐστιν or ἔστω should be supplied, the same question might be raised of every proclamation which was ever uttered. The sense of both these is included. It is both There is, and Let there be, glory, &c. The song in the re(21). is in three clauses, forming a Hebrew parallelism, in which the third clause is subordinate to and an amplification of the second, and so is without a copula to it.

εὐδοκία (see reff.) is that good pleasure of God in Christ by which He reconciles the world to Himself in Him (2 Corinthians 5:19). And this it is, whether εὐδοκία or εὐδοκίας be read. The interpretation of the latter reading by the vul(22). and R.-Cath. interpreters generally, as “bonæ voluntatis,” “peace on earth for those that like it,” is untenable in Greek as well as in theology. The only passage which seems in any degree to justify it is Philippians 1:15, τινὲςδιʼ εὐδοκίαν τὸν χριστὸν κηρύσσουσιν, where however we have nothing like the harsh usage which must be assumed here, of the subjective gen. with the absolute sense of the noun. The only admissible rendering is, ‘Among men of God’s good pleasure,’ i.e. among the elect people of God: cf. for the gen. Acts 9:15; Colossians 1:13. And so Bleek renders: und auf εrden Friede unter den Menchen des Wohlgefallens, namlich, des g οttlichen Wohlgefallens. A curious connexion of εὐδοκίας with εἰρήνη is found in the passage of Origen-int. by which the gen. is supported:—“Pax enim quam non dat Dominus super terram non est pax bonæ voluntatis.” This might perhaps be admissible as matter of mere construction, especially as St. Luke loves to separate genitives from their nouns in construction by an intervening word or words: but it would be difficult to justify it exegetically. As regards the reading, the evidence is materially affected by the fact that (23) reads εὐδοκίας a prima manu, as I have myself ascertained at Rome: and that (24) reads the same. I have therefore now edited the genitive without any marks of doubt. 1862.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https: 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Luke 2:14. (13) λεγόντων, saying) This whole hymn consists of two members, and has a doxology, or thanksgiving which in its turn consists of two members, and an Ætiology [or an assigning of the reason (See Append.)] for the doxology, as the particle καὶ, and [between δόξαθεῷ and ἐπὶ γ. εἰρήνη], implies, it not being likely that it is so placed without design. The whole may be thus paraphrased: Glory (be) to God in the highest, and on earth (may there be) peace! Why? Since there is good will [‘beneplacitum,’ God’s good pleasure and grace] among men. Iren. i. 3, c. 11, fol. 216, ed. Grab. is in conformity with this view. However, the second clause may be taken in closer connection with the first than with the third, so that there may be an Asyndeton [copula omitted] before the third clause; as in Jeremiah 25:18; 1 Samuel 3:2. See Nold. Concord. part. p. 269.— δόξα, glory) Implying the mystery of redemption, and its fruit and final consummation. Moreover we ought to observe the double antithesis: 1. between, in the highest, and, on earth; 2. between, to God, and, among men.— ἐν ὑψίστοις, in the highest) By the incarnation there are called forth praises given to God by the noblest of His creatures. They do not, however, say, in heaven, where even the angels dwell; but, employing a rare expression, in the highest, a place to which the angels do not aspire: Hebrews 1:3-4. They wish their giving of praise to ascend to the highest region.— ἐπὶ) We are to observe the difference between this particle [on earth] and the preceding ἐν [in the highest].— γῆς, earth) not merely in Judea; nor now any longer merely in heaven. The earth is wider in its comprehension [meaning] than men: for the earth is the theatre of action even of the angels. The dwellers in heaven say, in [on] earth; the dwellers on earth say, in heaven [“Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest,” at Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem], ch. Luke 19:38.— εἰρήνη, peace) Luke 2:29.— ἀνθρώποις, men) not merely among the Jews. Heretofore men had been regarded and spoken of unfavourably among angels: now these latter, as if in wonder, give utterance to what seemed a paradox, good will among men!εὐδοκία, good will) The newly-manifested pleasure [favourable inclination] of God towards the whole human race [name], in his Well-Beloved.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https: 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

See Poole on "Luke 2:13"

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 2:14". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https: 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

On earth peace; as the result of the Saviour’s advent. All who receive him have peace with God and the spirit of peace towards man; and the prevalence of his gospel will bring peace to the world.

Good will toward men; kindness, compassion, and grace, manifested in the gift of a Saviour.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "Family Bible New Testament". https: American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

14. ἐν ὑψίστοις. i.e., in highest heaven, Job 16:19; Psalms 148:1; comp. “the heavenlies” in Ephesians 1:3, &c.; Sirach 43:9.

ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη.

“No war or battle’s sound

Was heard the world around;

The idle spear and shield were high uphung:

The hookèd chariot stood

Unstained with hostile blood,

The trumpet spake not to the armèd throng;

And kings sat still with awful eye

As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.”

MILTON, Ode on the Nativity.

This however is only an ideal aspect of affairs, and the closing at this time of the Temple of Janus had little or no meaning. It was not in this sense that the birth of Christ brought Peace. If we understood the expression thus we might well say with Coleridge:

“Strange Prophecy! if all the screams

Of all the men that since have died

To realize war’s kingly dreams

Had risen at once in one vast tide,

The choral song of that vast multitude

Had been o’erpowered and lost amid the uproar rude.”

The Angels sang indeed of such an ultimate Peace; but also of “the peace which passeth understanding;” of that peace whereof Christ said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you.” See Proverbs 3:17; on which the Book of Zohar remarks that it means peace in heaven and on earth, and in this world and the next. As regards earthly peace He himself said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword,” Matthew 10:34; Luke 12:51. See this contrast magnificently shadowed forth in Isaiah 9:5-6.

ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας. The reading εὐδοκία ‘goodwill,’ is found in B3; but א ABD read εὐδοκίας, and if this be the right reading the meaning is “on earth peace among men of good will” (hominibus bonae voluntatis, Vulg[62]), i.e. those with whom God is well pleased. “The Lord taketh pleasure in them that hope in His mercy,” Psalms 147:11; comp. Luke 12:32, “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” The construction “men of good will” would be rare in this sense, but the triple parallelism of the verse,


to God

in the highest


to men whom God loves

on earth

seems to favour it. In either case the verse implies that “being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Romans 5:1. The adoption of the reading εὐδοκίας by the R.V[63] (“peace among men in whom He is well pleased”) has been fiercely attacked, but has always been the accepted reading of the Western Church, and is found in a passage of Origen. It may be doubted whether the Angels meant to contrast the future privileges of Man with their own (Hebrews 2:15). The meaning is “God’s peace among all to whom these tidings shall come, and who in accepting them become His dear children, the objects of His good pleasure,” (Humphry). The “towards” of the A. V[64] is wrong, and must be altered into “among” (ἐν).

“Glory to God on high, on earth be peace,

And love towards men of love—salvation and release.”—KEBLE.

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"Commentary on Luke 2:14". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https: 1896.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased (literally ‘among men of favour’).”

And this was what the angels said, and it is the focal point of the chiasmus. ‘Glory to God in the Highest’. That is ever what they cry whether they are on earth or in heaven (compare Revelation 4:11; Revelation 5:13). For they, and they alone, really appreciate His true glory. To those who know Him as He is, He is the glorious One. And behind it lay the idea that this glory was now visiting the earth. As John could say, ‘we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14)

But now they also sang a different song, ‘On earth peace among men of favour.’ Thus God reveals His glory in Heaven and His peace on earth. It is through peace in their hearts that men experience His glory. This phrase could mean ‘peace among men in whom He is well pleased’ (RSV) or ‘peace among men on whom His favour rests’ (NEB). The language is typically Semitic and appears in hymns among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The coming of this baby into the world would offer to men peace with God (Romans 5:1), peace from God (Romans 1:7 and often), and the peace of God which passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). And this would be for all who responded fully to Him and thereby in their lives were pleasing to Him. Or alternately, to put the emphasis more correctly, it was for those on whom His favour rests. The bringing of peace was the Messiah’s task (Isaiah 9:6-7; Zechariah 9:9-10). This was indeed what Jesus had come to do as the prince of Peace, to save men and women and enable them to be reconciled to God through His gracious provision for their need so that He might reveal His kindness towards them continually for evermore (Ephesians 2:6-7). This was why the angel had called Him, ‘the Saviour’.

This promise is the more significant in that at this time the Roman world was enjoying the great Pax Romana. Peace reigned over the known world. And it was a splendid achievement. But it did not reign in men’s hearts. That is why in the end it had to fail. As Epictetus could say in 1st century AD, ‘while the emperor may give peace from war on land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion grief and envy. He cannot give peace of heart, for which man yearns more than even for outward peace’. That was one difference between the great peace of Augustus, and this peace brought by the Lord Messiah.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https: 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

14. Glory to God in the highest—In the highest heavens. Commentators understand this as a reference to the Jewish threefold heavens. This glory ascends to the highest. This glory among the highest is placed in contrast to the peace on earth. See note on Matthew 21:9.

Good will to men Rather good will among men. The first clause represented what takes place between God and men from the mediation of Christ. Glory ascends to heaven, peace descends to earth. Such is the reconciliation between God and men. Good will among men represents men’s reconciliation among each other. Is it a fallacy to suppose that here is a parallel clause for each one of the Holy Trinity? There is God, to whom accrues glory in the highest; there is Christ, who is our peace; there is the Holy Ghost, through whose communion there is good will among men.

It is not clear whether these clauses were sung as a continuous strain, or whether they were heard in single floating fragments, or whether by alternate responses. The last would give them most of the character of the Hebrew choral service. So they would be truly an angel choir in the gallery of the firmament.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Only once before had a human heard angelic praise ( Isaiah 6:3). Now the angels" praise explained the benefits of Jesus" birth. These angels first ascribed glory to God in heaven where He dwells. God revealed His glory by sending His Son. Consequently it is appropriate to ascribe glory or praise to God. The effect on humankind of Jesus" coming is peace. The biblical concept of peace, rooted in the Hebrew shalom, includes the sum of God"s blessings, not just the cessation of hostility.

The AV translation "good will toward men" is not a good one, and it is misleading. The reader could infer that God will be gracious to people who show good will to others suggesting that human merit is the basis of God"s favor. The NIV translation "peace to men on whom his favor rests" is better. Those on whom God bestows His favor are those who experience His peace.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https: 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 2:14. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of God’s good pleasure, or, ‘in whom He is well pleased,’ The best authorities, by the insertion of a single letter in the Greek, read: ‘men of good pleasure.’ The word is elsewhere translated ‘good-will,’ but it must mean God’s good-will or good-pleasure, not man’s. This is brought out in the translation given above, which expresses the view of the vast majority of scholars. The full meaning is: Let there be, or there is (both ideas being included), glory to God among the angels in heaven for sending the Messiah, and peace (in the widest sense, salvation) on earth among men in whom He is well pleased, i.e., His chosen people. The form is that of Hebrew parallelism, in two lines with a three-fold correspondence: ‘glory’—‘peace;’ ‘in the highest’—‘on earth;’ ‘God’—‘among men of His good-pleasure.’ ‘Toward’ is altogether incorrect ‘Good-pleasure cannot mean the good-will of men toward God or toward each other (Roman Catholic versions). This sense is contrary to the grammatical usage of the Greek as well as to the analogy of Scriptural statements. At such a time the ground of peace would be placed, not in men, but in God. The less correct translation of the E. V. is to be explained as follows: God is praised in heaven, and peace proclaimed on earth, because He has shown His good-will among men by sending the Messiah, who is the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:5, and has reconciled heaven and earth, God and man. In both cases, ‘peace’ is to be taken in the widest sense; it is the result of the great doings of God for which angels praise Him. ‘Good-pleasure’ not only means favor toward men, but implies that sinful men are well-pleasing to a holy God,—a mystery proclaimed and explained by the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Him, chosen in Him and in fellowship with Him, sinful men become the objects of God’s good-pleasure. God’s mercy and God’s sovereignty, thus meeting in the Babe of Bethlehem, are celebrated by the heavenly host. Poetry is truly Christian just to the extent that it is an echo and response to this first Christian hymn. Angels show their sympathy in man’s salvation, and utter their highest praises to God, when they sing of the ‘Saviour, Christ the Lord.’ The personal dignity of the Redeemer is supported by this Gloria in Excelsis, while Christ’s work in bringing ‘peace on earth among men of God’s good-pleasure’ upholds the truthfulness of this story of the angels’ song at His birth.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https: 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Luke 2:14. The angels’ song.—If we regard the announcement of the angel to the shepherds (Luke 2:10-12) as a song, then we may view the gloria in excelsis as a refrain sung by a celestial choir ( πλῆθος στρατιᾶς οὐρανίου, Luke 2:13). With the reading εὐδοκίας, the refrain is in two lines:—

1. “Glory to God in the highest.”

2. “And on earth peace among men, in whom He is well pleased.” εἰρήνη in 2 answering to δόξα in 1; ἐπὶ γῆς to ἐν ὑψίστοις; ἀνθρώποις to θεῷ. With the reading εὐδοκία (T.R.), it falls into three:—

1. Glory to God in the highest.

2. And on earth peace (between man and man).

3. Good will (of God) among men. ἐν ὑψίστοις, in the highest places, proper abode of Him who is repeatedly in these early chapters called “the Highest”. The thought in 1 echoes a sentiment in the Psalter of Solomon (Luke 18:11), μέγας θεὸς ἡμῶν καὶ ἔνδοξος ἐν ὑψίστοις.— εὐδοκίας is a gen. of quality, limiting ἀνθρώποις = those men who are the objects of the Divine εὐδοκία. They may or may not be all men, but the intention is not to assert that God’s good pleasure rests on all. J. Weiss in Meyer says = τοῖς ἐκλεκτοῖς.

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https: 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary



Pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis. The Greek copies, eirene, en anthropois eudokia, hominibus bona voluntas; but the author of the Latin Vulgate must have read, Greek: anthropois eudokias, which reading is found in some ancient Greek manuscripts in the Alexandrian, that called of Cambridge, and others. The common reading of the Fathers is, bonæ voluntatis, and not bona voluntas; but then some expounded it thus: pas sit hominibus, qui habent bonam voluntatem, scilecet per Dei gratiam. Others thus: sit pax bonæ voluntatis divinæ hominibus; which sense and construction Lucas Brugensis prefers. And what confirms this exposition is, that Greek: eudokia, and Greek: eudokein, are commonly applied when the will of God is signified; yet sometimes also, Greek: eudokia signifies the good will of men; as Philippians i. 15; Romans x. 1. &c.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https: 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Glory. Supply the Ellipsis: [be] to God. Compare Luke 19:38.

on earth peace. But man murdered "the Prince of peace", and now vainly talks about "Peace". on. Greek. epi. App-104.

earth. Greek. ge. App-124.

good will toward men. All the texts read "among men of good pleasure", reading eudokias instead of eudokia. But the sense is the same, as the "good pleasure" is that of Jehovah alone = among men of [His] good pleasure: See Luke 12:32, "It is your Father"s good pleasure to give you the kingdom". But it was man"s bad pleasure to reject the kingdom. See the Structure (F).

toward = among. Greek en. App-104.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https: 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men - brief but transporting hymn, not only in articulate human speech for our behoof, but in tunable measure in, the fore of a Hebrew parallelism of two complete members, and a third one, as we take it, only explaining and amplifying the second, and so without the connecting "and." The "glory to God" which the newborn Saviour was to bring is the first note of this exalted hymn, and was sounded forth probably by one detachment of the choir. To this answers the "peace on earth," of which He was to be the Prince (Isaiah 9:6), probably sung responsively by a second detachment of the celestial choir; while quick follows the glad echo of this note - "good will to men" - by a third detachment, we may suppose, of these angelic choristers. Thus:

First division of the celestial choir --


Second --


Third --


Peace with God is the grand necessity of a fallen world. To bring in this, in whose train comes all other peace worthy of the name, was the prime errand of the Saviour to this earth. This effected, Heaven's whole "good will to men" or the divine complacency [ eudokia (Greek #2107), cf. Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:9; Philippians 2:13, etc.] descends now on a new footing to rest upon men, even as upon the Son Himself, "in "whom God is well pleased" [ eudokeesa (Greek #2106), Matthew 3:17]. Bengel notices that they say not 'glory to God in heaven,'-but using a rare expression - "in the highest" heavens [ en (Greek #1722) hupsistois (Greek #5310)], where angels do not aspire (Hebrews 1:3-4). [The reading, 'to men of good will' - en (Greek #1722) anthroopois (Greek #444) eudokias (Greek #2107) - is introduced into the text by Tischendorf and Tregelles, after Lachmann-on the authority of the Alexandrian and Beza manuscripts (A and D); but chiefly on the strength of the Latin versions, and from the difficulty of accounting for so uncommon a reading occurring at all if not genuine. In this case the sense will still be agreeable to Scripture doctrine-`to men of (His, that is, God's) good will,' or the objects of the divine complacency; not as the Romish Church, after the Vulgate, take it to mean, 'to men of good disposition.' But the great preponderance of manuscripts and versions is in favour of the received reading; nor will the objections to it, as spoiling the rhythm, appear of the least force in the view we have given of it above, but just the reverse. DeWette, Meyer Alford, and Van Osterzee, are decidedly in favour of the received reading.]

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https: 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

Glory to God. The life of Jesus upon the earth was the fulfillment of their song of praise. Every thought, word, and action of that life was the translation of God's Love into visible forms which humans could see. Jesus brought glory to God and peace on earth. See note on Philippians 4:7 for the true meaning of "peace on earth."

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "The Bible Study New Testament". https: College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(14) Glory to God in the highest.—The words would seem to have formed one of the familiar doxologies of the Jews, and, as such, reappear among the shouts of the multitude on the occasion of our Lord’s kingly entry into Jerusalem (Luke 19:38). The idea implied in the words “in the highest” (the Greek is plural), is that the praise is heard in the very heaven of heavens, in the highest regions of the universe.

On earth peace, good will toward men.—The better MSS. give, “on earth peace among men of good will”—i.e., among men who are the objects of the good will, the approval and love of God. The other construction, “Peace to men of peace,” which the Christian Year has made familiar, is hardly consistent with the general usage of the New Testament as to the word rendered “good will.” The construction is the same as in “His dear Son,” literally, the Son of His Love, in Colossians 1:13. The word is one which both our Lord (Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21) and St. Paul use of the divine will in its aspect of benevolence, and the corresponding verb appears, as uttered by the divine voice, at the Baptism and Transfiguration (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5). The words stand in the Greek, as in the English, without a verb, and may therefore be understood either as a proclamation or a prayer. The “peace on earth” has not unfrequently been connected, as in Milton’s Ode on the Nativity, with the fact that the Roman empire was then at peace, and the gates of the Temple of Janus closed because there was no need for the power of the god to go forth in defence of its armies. It is obvious, however, that the “peace” of the angels’ hymn is something far higher than any “such as the world giveth”—peace between man and God, and therefore peace within the souls of all who are thus reconciled. We may see a reference to the thought, possibly even to the words of the angelic song, in St. Paul’s way of speaking of Christ as being Himself “our peace (Ephesians 2:14).

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https: 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
19:38; Psalms 69:34,35; 85:9-12; 96:11-13; Isaiah 44:23; 49:13; John 17:4; Ephesians 1:6; 3:20,21; Philippians 2:11; Revelation 5:13
1:79; Isaiah 9:6,7; 57:19; Jeremiah 23:5,6; Micah 5:5; Zechariah 6:12,13; John 14:27; Acts 10:36; Romans 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Ephesians 2:14-18; Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 13:20,21
John 3:16; Ephesians 2:4,7; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; Titus 3:4-7; 1 John 4:9,10

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 2:14". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, July 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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