Luke 1 - Outline of Luke (MENU page)
WRITER: Luke, the writer of the third Gospel is called by Paul "the beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14)
and, as we learn from the Acts, was Paul's frequent companion. He was of Jewish ancestry, but his correct Greek marks him as a Jew of the dispersion. Tradition says that he was a Jew of Antioch, as Paul was of Tarsus.
DATE: The date of Luke falls between A.D. 63 and 68.
Luke is the Gospel of the human-divine One, as John is of the divine-human One. The key-phrase is "Son of man," and the key-verse Luke 19:10: "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." In harmony with this intent, Luke relates those things concerning Jesus which demonstrate how entirely human He was. His genealogy is traced to Adam, and the most detailed account is given of His mother, and of His infancy and boyhood. The parables peculiar to Luke have distinctively the human and the seeking note. But Luke is careful to guard the Deity and Kingship of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:32-35). Luke, then, is the Gospel of "the man whose name is The BRANCH" (Zechariah 6:12).
Luke has seven chief divisions:
I. The Evangelist's Introduction, 1:1-4.
II. The human relationships of Jesus, 1:5- 2:52.
III. The baptism, ancestry, and testing of Jesus, 3:1- 4:13.
IV. The ministry of the Son of man as Prophet-King in Galilee, 4:14- 9:50.
V. The journey of the Son of Man from Galilee to Jerusalem, 9:51- 19:44.
VI. The final offer of the Son of man as King to Israel, His rejection and sacrifice, 19:45- 23:56.
VII. The resurrection, the resurrection ministry, and the ascension of the Son of man, 24:1-53.
The events recorded in this book cover a period of 39 years.
[The above introduction was adapted from the Scofield Reference Bible, pub. 1917.]
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Please see: How to use the Book Notes on Mark & Luke.
Introduction. Luke 1:1-4
1. Forasmuch as many have taken in hand
to set forth in order a declaration of those things
which are most surely believed among us,
2 Even as they delivered them unto us,
which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
3 It seemed good to me also,
having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first,
to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things,
wherein thou hast been instructed.
...those things which are most surely believed among us...
The phrase 'most surely believed' is based on one word {GK=plerophoreo, fully accomplished, fully weighted}. This word is rendered 'fully persuaded' in Rom 4:21. (Abraham trusted the promises of God, who had proven Himself faithful in all things.)
     The word order (of v.1) in the GK differs from the KJV rendering. It is not merely that the events which Luke records were 'believed among us,' but rather, that God fulfilled His promises before our eyes. Consider v.1 in the NASB: "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us..."
     Luke compiled his account based on the testimony of "eyewitnesses and ministers of the word." Their testimony was according to what they had seen and heard. The word for 'ministers' {GK=huperetes, lit., 'under rowers', attendants} indicates that these witnesses were governed by, and faithful to, God's Word (and therefore, trustworthy).
...having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first...
Luke is not saying that he had firsthand knowledge of Jesus' life and ministry, but rather, that he had fully investigated everything. The RV more clearly presents the sense of v.3b, "having traced the course of all things" from the start.
to write unto thee in order... Theophilus... that thou... know the certainty...
Luke intends to present an orderly account, revolving around the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, so that his reader may be assured that the Gospel of Christ is a 'certainty' {GK=asphaleia, lit., without cause to fall}.
     Luke addresses his account to Theophilus {lit., 'lover of God'}. While it is possible that he knew a man by that name, it seems more likely (to the editor) that this account is directed to anyone who sincerely desires to know God and understand His unfailing purposes, which are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. In the book of Acts, Luke again addresses Theophilus, with an account of the Lord's continuing work in the world (Acts 1:1).
The birth of John the Baptist foretold. 1:5-25
5. There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, {Herod the Great, reigned 40-4 BC}
a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia:
and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron,
and her name [was] Elisabeth.
6 And they were both righteous before God,
walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren,
and they both were [now] well stricken in years.
Zacharias {meaning "Yah (Jehovah) has remembered"}, of the course of Abia {Abijah}.
In anticipation of establishing worship in the Temple which Solomon would build, King David had divided the priests into twenty-four orders or courses. Each course served in the Temple for a seven day period, and then was relieved by the next course in succession. Thus, each course had charge of the Temple worship, for two weeks out of each year (1Chr 9:25). The course of Abijah is mentioned in 1Chr 24:10.
Elisabeth was also born into the priestly line.
...they both were... well striken {ie., well advanced} in years.
Both of them were well beyond the normal age of child-bearing.
But even in her youth, Elisabeth had been unable to become pregnant.
8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office
before God in the order of his course,
9 According to the custom of the priest's office,
his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
10 And the whole multitude of the people
were praying without at the time of incense.
...his lot was to burn incense...
Since there were hundreds of priests in each course, the opportunity to pray at the altar of incense, in the Holy place, would have been a very rare (perhaps once in a lifetime) privilege for Zacharias. This responsibility was assigned to him by 'lot' {GK=lanchano}. The word is used of 'casting of lots' and also of 'receiving by divine appointment.' Although Zacharias drew the straw, for this position, it was according to the Lord's providence (not chance) that he stood, as the representative of his people, in the place of prayer.
For what was Zacharias praying?
for a son? not likely, because he and Elisabeth were beyond child-bearing age. No, long ago, he had abandoned that prayer as outside of God's will for them.
     With the passage of years, his focus was increasingly on the prophetic promises and purposes which God has for His people, Israel. Remember how Daniel, near the end of his years, sought to know how God would fulfill His promise concerning the 70 years of captivity (of which Jeremiah wrote), because that period of time was nearing its end. Daniel's intense prayer of repentance and supplication, imploring God to perform His promise to the rebellious nation, is recorded in Daniel 9:1-19.
     Zacharias must have been praying in the same way, seeking to understand how the prophecies which Daniel had received, would be fulfilled. According to those prophecies, the time for the Messiah's coming, was very near (Dan 9:24-27).
11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord
standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 And when Zacharias saw [him],
he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias:
for thy prayer is heard;
and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son,
and thou shalt call his name John.
14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness;
and many shall rejoice at his birth.
15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord,
and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink;
and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
16 And many of the children of Israel
shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias
to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just;
to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
The Temple was oriented toward the east. Other passages indicate that the right side, of the Temple and its features, was toward the south. By this, we understand that the angel stood between the golden altar of incense and the golden lampstand. To the prayerful priest, the angel was announcing that the Light of the world (God the Son) was soon to come. cp. Joh 1:4-9
...thy prayer is heard... thy wife... shall bear thee a son... his name John...
So, was Zacharias praying for a son, after all? No. This news was as surprising, to this priest, as his encounter with an angel.
     The birth of this son would bring joy and gladness, not only to his parents, but to many, who were praying for the fulfillment of God's promises.
For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord... (See Luk 7:28.)
and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink...
From his birth, John would be dedicated to the Lord, under a Nazirite vow {a vow of separation}. Num 6:2-5
he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. cp. Jer 1:5
The role of John is described in v.16,17:
  • He would be the promised forerunner who would go before the Lord, who was about to come.
    See Isa 40:3-5; Mal 3:1.
  • He would minister "in the spirit and power of Elijah,"
    to turn many back to God's Word, and to the faith of Israel's fathers (cp. Mal 4:5,6). Yet, as Jesus would later explain, John would not fulfill the ultimate role of Elijah, by which the nation would be prepared to receive their King (because the nation would not receive Him, in John's day, cp. Mat 17:12,13).
18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this?
for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
19 And the angel answering said unto him,
I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God;
and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb
{mute}, and not able to speak,
until the day that these things shall be performed,
because thou believest not my words,
which shall be fulfilled in their season.
It was the angel Gabriel, who had delivered the prophetic message to Daniel (Dan 9:20-27). Now, the same messenger was sent to Zacharias, to prepare for the partial fulfillment of that prophecy (the coming of the Messiah, who would be 'cut-off' for the sins of His people). The fact that Gabriel brought the answer to the prayer of Zacharias, seems to confirm that his prayer was concerned with God's prophetic purposes toward Israel.
     Due to his doubt, Zacharias would be unable to speak, until after John was born. This was both a punishment for his unbelief, and a confirmation of the promise which had seemed unbelievable.
21 And the people waited for Zacharias,
and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.
22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them:
and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple:
for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days
of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived,
and hid herself five months, saying,
25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me
in the days wherein he looked on [me],
to take away my reproach among men.
Elisabeth's 'reproach' {matter of shame} was that she was childless. "To have no children was, in the Jewish mind, more than a misfortune, it might carry the implication that this was a Divine punishment for some secret sin." [in quotes, from Vine] cp. Gen 30:1,22-23; 1Sam 1:5-11
     Israel, as a nation, was like a barren woman, spiritually. John would announce, and Mary would bear the One who will take away Israel's reproach, in that day when they receive Him (Isa 54:1-8).
The annunciation, to Mary, of the birth of Jesus. 1:26-38
26. And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God
unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man
whose name was Joseph, of the house of David;
and the virgin's name [was] Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said,
Hail, [thou that art] highly favoured,
the Lord [is] with thee: blessed [art] thou among women.
29 And when she saw [him], she was troubled at his saying,
and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary:
for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb,
and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest:
and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever;
and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Six months earlier (v.26), the angel Gabriel had delivered a message to Zacharias.
The only other mention of Gabriel is in Daniel ch.8-9, where he enables Daniel to understand details concerning how and when God would fulfill His prophetic Word. Daniel had been in earnest prayer to understand what Jeremiah had written, that Israel's Babylonian captivity would last 70 years, because the time was rapidly drawing near. Gabriel expanded the prophetic view beyond Daniel's day, to encompass the first and second coming of Christ and the events of the end times, in Dan 9:24-27.
     Gabriel's message to Zacharias was that his son, John the Baptist, would be the forerunner of the One who would accomplish these things: "to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness." God's prophetic purposes would be fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, "for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev 19:10).
     It was to prepare for His coming to earth, that Gabriel was sent to Mary.
Notice, in v.27, Mary is identified, twice, as a virgin {GK=parthenos}.
A virgin is a girl who has never been in the kind of relationship with a man which would make it possible for her to become pregnant. This fact is emphasized, to show that God is faithful to His Word. The very first prophecy of Christ's coming was to Adam and Eve: "the seed of the woman" would crush the serpent's head (Gen 3:15). Then again, 750 years before the first Christmas, God spoke through Isaiah: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isa 7:14). Immanuel means "God with us."
     Mary was to be His mother... her womb, the means by which God would be "manifest in the flesh"... "found in fashion as a man" (1Tim 3:16; Php 2:6-8).
No wonder Gabriel addressed her as he did (v.28):
"Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women."
No wonder that she was "troubled" or perplexed, inwardly agitated,
and wracking her mind, trying to make sense of what she was seeing and hearing.
No wonder the angel needed to calm her heart (v.30,31):
"Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name Jesus." ("Jesus" means "Jehovah is Salvation.")
What does it mean that Mary was "highly favored"?
The words "favor" (v.30) and "highly favored" (v.28), refer to God's grace (His unmerited favor) extended to her. It was not that Mary was somehow inherently "full of grace," but rather, that God for His own reasons chose to give her the unprecedented privilege of birthing His Son, who would save us from our sinful condition.
     The Scriptures apply similar words to others who were used of God, as He worked to deliver His people:
  • "Noah found grace {favor} in the eyes of the Lord..." (Gen 6:8).
  • Moses' prayer, that God's Presence would go with Him as he led a rebellious people through the wilderness, was answered positively: "for thou hast found grace {favor} in my sight, and I know thee by name" (Ex 33:17).
The Lord knew Mary by name, also. Mary was "highly favored" to bear the Christ child. But we who "have received redemption through the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace..." are also "accepted in the Beloved" (Eph 1:6,7). The word translated "accepted" is the same word as "highly favored" (in v.28), and the only other occurrence in the NT. What a privilege: to be a child of God through faith in the Beloved Son of God. It is on the same level as the privilege given to Mary to be His mother. For we, too, are related (by His blood) to the great One described in v.32,33.
Notice that Mary was "blessed among women," not 'above' them (v.28).
Likewise, all believers are blessed to be children of God, though we are only sinners saved by God's unmerited favor. The Son who came into the world through Mary was sent for "whosoever" would believe, from among men and women. For He "came into the world to save sinners" (1Tim 1:15; Joh 3:16).
34 Then said Mary unto the angel,
How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 And the angel answered and said unto her,
The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee,
and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:
therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee
shall be called the Son of God.
36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth,
she hath also conceived a son in her old age:
and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord;
be it unto me according to thy word.
And the angel departed from her.
How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
Mary was the first to question the virgin birth. Luke, a physician, who certainly was aware of the medical facts related to human reproduction, carefully records the angel's response in v.34,35.
     It could be no other way. The baby was to be "that Holy thing," a real human child, but untainted with the fallen nature which all of Adam's descendants receive through their first father (Rom 5:12,18-19). Every man, woman and child has inherited, from Adam, a fleshly nature, which is in bondage to sin and death, and cannot please God. You may deny that truth, but you cannot escape it. No man in that condition can deliver himself, let alone anyone else. Therefore, the Savior had to be unique: a man like us in every way, except without sin, and endlessly alive. Thus, this holy child would be the Son of God, not of Adam.
...for with God, nothing shall be impossible... v.36,37
Luke's account of Gabriel's annunciation to Mary, is sandwiched between the angel's announcement that Zacharias and Elisabeth would have a son (v.5-25), and the account of John's birth (v.57-f). It had been impossible for Elisabeth and Zacharias to have children, because she "was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years" (v.7). But God did what they could not, and she was already six months into her pregnancy, when Gabriel spoke with Mary.
     God would also cause the virgin to conceive and bear a son. It would be impossible with men, but God can do anything necessary to accomplish His purposes. So, the Holy Spirit would work a miracle within her, taking the DNA of a human egg, and joining it, inexplicably and inseparably with the nature of the heavenly Father. In recent years, scientists have discovered that human DNA is a very complex, digital, data compressed, language based set of instructions contained in every cell of your body. Each of the ten trillion cells in your body, follows those written instructions with precision, to replicate and to perform the myriad diverse functions required for constructing and repairing your body and for maintaining your physical life. The One who designed and wrote those instructions, now spoke Himself into the realm of human experience, as "the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us" (Joh 1:1-4,14).
     How? The details are beyond our comprehension. We need not understand how. We need only to trust in God, who is able to do whatever is required to perform His purposes.
     Mary, This is God's will for you. What is your will toward Him?
Behold, the handmaid of the Lord...
The 'handmaid' {ie., the female slave, the servant girl}, having no will of her own, devoted fully to serve her Master.
     Did she reply instantly? or, did she weigh the consequences, before she spoke? What must have gone through her mind before these words left her tongue?
  • What will Joseph think?
    What of our plans to marry? What pain will this cause to him?
  • What will my family and friends think?
    Who will believe the angel's message? or, even that there was an angel?
       From this time onward, Mary would bear the stigma of an "unwed mother" whose Son was "born of fornication" (Joh 8:41).
       Few would believe her, until her story was vindicated, after Jesus' death, by His resurrection.
  • Her life would be disrupted and filled with sorrows, which she could not yet begin to imagine.
What would you have said to the angel? 'Perhaps you can find someone else!?'
Mary replied, "Be it unto me according to thy word."
Mary visits Elisabeth. 1:39-45
39. And Mary arose in those days,
and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;
40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
41 And it came to pass, that,
when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary,
the babe leaped in her womb;
and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said,
Blessed [art] thou among women,
and blessed [is] the fruit of thy womb.
43 And whence [is] this to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears,
the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
45 And blessed [is] she that believed:
for there shall be a performance of those things
which were told her from the Lord.
Mary willingly submitted herself to the will of God, because she believed His Word to her. The Lord was not slow to confirm his Word, through the testimony of her cousin Elisabeth, whose name means "my God hath sworn." (Elisabeth is the Greek transliteration of 'Elisheba,' the wife of Aaron, Ex 6:23).
     In Psalm 110, King David speaks of his 'Lord' the King, greater than himself, who would arise from his lineage. In Psa 110:4, he says "the LORD hath sworn and will not repent, thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek." So, David's Son, the great King, would also be a priest. But what right would He have to the priesthood? David was not a priest.
     In Luke ch.3, we will read the genealogy of Jesus through Mary, traced back through David, all the way to Adam. Jesus was a true man (but without Adam's sinful nature). Jesus was to be the King, a son of David (but separate from the curse which God had placed on the line of Davidic kings traced through Solomon). Jesus was to be a priest (but distinct from the Levitical priesthood, through Aaron). Notice that, in Mary, the lines of David and Aaron were mingled, since she was "of the house of David" (v.27) and her cousin Elisabeth "was of the daughters of Aaron" (v.5).
     Thus, Jesus was a member of both the kingly and the priestly families of Israel. Yet, He would receive neither His Kingdom nor His Priesthood through natural succession, but through His authority as the Son of God.
Only the Lord could perform those things which He had spoken to Mary.
What remained for her to do, but to praise Him?
Mary's magnificat. 1:46-56
(Cf. Hannah's song of praise. 1Sam 2:1-10)
46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden:
for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things;
and holy [is] his name.
He that is mighty has done great things...
Things beyond my ability... beyond my wildest imaginings... things far beyond what I would have ever asked or thought. It is all of Him.
My soul doth magnify the Lord...
We use a magnifying glass to make something small look bigger. But here, Mary is trying to find words to express the greatness of the Lord, who had seen fit to work through the small, insignificant life of an impoverished, powerless, teenage girl.
     "My soul..." the seat of my emotions and of my reasoning, all that is within me, is inadequate to extol Him.
My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior...
Yet, the center of my being rejoices "with joy unspeakable and full of glory," because He has brought me into harmony with Himself (cp. 1Pet 1:8).
     Did Mary need a Savior? Wasn't she immaculate, free from sin, and therefore suitable to be the mother of our Lord? Isn't that why all generations will call her "blessed"? (as taught by the R.C.C.).
     No. That is not what the Bible teaches. Mary was blessed, as the recipient of God's grace (unmerited favor), which allowed her to have a unique role, as one of the redeemed.
How did she see herself?
As one of "low estate." The word is translated, elsewhere as: "humiliation" (Acts 8:33) and "vileness" (Php 3:21). It is a state of "spiritual abasement, leading one to perceive and lament his (moral) littleness and guilt." [definition from OLB]
What was the source of her unbounded rejoicing?
"He that is mighty hath done to me great things" (v.49).
Therefore, her heart sought to exalt His Name, not hers.
But why, then, did He, who searches the hearts, choose her to be the mother of His Son?
Perhaps the answer is found in Isaiah 66:2b " this man {person} will I look, even to him that is poor {afflicted, humble, wretched} and of a contrite {stricken, smitten} spirit, and trembleth at my word." Knowing her own sinful condition, she had confessed her inadequacy, turned from herself to Him, and cast herself upon "God my Savior." Therefore, He had done great things for her.
50 And his mercy [is] on them that fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He hath shewed strength with his arm;
he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He hath put down the mighty from [their] seats,
and exalted them of low degree.
53 He hath filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
54 He hath holpen
{helped} his servant Israel, in remembrance of [his] mercy;
55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
56 And Mary abode with her about three months,
and returned to her own house.
And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
It was not for her only. Mary rejoiced that God's mercy is available for anyone who fears God.
She sang of the deliverance, which God would accomplish by the power of His 'arm' (v.51).
No doubt, she was thinking of the question which the prophet Isaiah asked: "Who hath believed our report and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?" (Isa 53:1). Isaiah spoke (700 years before the first Christmas) of the work of God's virgin born Son. (See Isa 53:1-12.)
     Though Isaiah's words are plain enough to us, as we look back at the death and resurrection of Jesus, Mary could not have understood just how He would "put down the mighty" from their places of corrupt authority, or how He would reverse the lot of the oppressed, and help the downtrodden nation of Israel. But, she knew that Jesus would be the great King, who would reign in righteousness, in fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Her soul rejoiced, though soon enough, it would be pierced as with a sword, as she watched Him take our sins upon Himself and bear them away.
     What He would do upon that cross, would be for her, for her people Israel, and for all who would put their trust in Him.
     In a way, Mary herself is a prototype, or forerunner, of everyone who would be saved. Did you know that her name, in Hebrew, "Miriam," means "rebellion" or "their rebellion." Apparently, she recognized that element within herself (v.47,50), and therefore was contrite before God (v.48,49).
     From birth, all of us are in a state of rebellion against God. Mary's people, Israel, the chosen nation, also rebelled against Him. That is why the seed of Abraham is in need of mercy.
He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of [his] mercy;
As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. (v.54,55)
Later in this chapter (v.67-79), Zacharias will take up this theme, in his song of praise, following the birth of his son John.
The birth of John the Baptist. 1:57-66
57. Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered;
and she brought forth a son.
58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard
how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her;
and they rejoiced with her.
59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day
they came to circumcise the child;
{cp. Gen 17:12; 21:3,4}
and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.
60 And his mother answered and said,
Not [so]; but he shall be called John.
61 And they said unto her,
There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.
62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.
63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote,
saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.
64 And his mouth was opened immediately,
and his tongue [loosed], and he spake, and praised God.
65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them:
and all these sayings were noised abroad
throughout all the hill country of Judaea.
66 And all they that heard [them] laid [them] up in their hearts,
saying, What manner of child shall this be!
And the hand of the Lord was with him.
The son, who would bring "joy and gladness" to his aging parents, was born in fulfillment of God's promise to them (v.13,14).
     The name assigned by the angel was given to the baby, over the protests of family and friends. There was no one in the family with that name. Why should he be called John?
     Apparently, his parents had not previously discussed their son's name. But by the Holy Spirit, they were in agreement, perhaps for different reasons. 'John' is a transliteration of the Hebrew name 'Jonathan,' which means "Jehovah has given." Elisabeth, who had been barren for decades, knew, beyond any doubt, that this son was a gift from God. Zacharias, who had long yearned for the fulfillment of the Lord's promises to His people, recognized, that in giving this son, God was about to advance his purposes.
     The priest, whose unbelief had tied his tongue for nine months, now opened his mouth in unrestrained praise.
Zacharias' hymn of praise. 1:67-80
67. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost,
and prophesied, saying,
68 Blessed [be] the Lord God of Israel;
for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David;
70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets,
which have been since the world began:
71 That we should be saved from our enemies,
and from the hand of all that hate us;
72 To perform the mercy [promised] to our fathers,
and to remember his holy covenant;
73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
74 That he would grant unto us,
that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies
might serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before him,
all the days of our life.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people...
Zacharias, a Jewish priest, praised the God of Israel, for intervening in behalf of His people, Israel. Likewise, Mary understood that God had begun to work according to His prophetic Word to Israel (v.54,55).
  • He hath visited {GK=episkeptomai, looked in upon, come to inspect, to oversee}
  • and redeemed {ransomed} His people.-
    He had regarded "the low estate" of the nation, who because of their sin would be enslaved by other nations, until the Lord purchased them for Himself (cp. Hos 3:1-5).
And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David...
In Scripture, a 'horn' is often a symbol of a kingdom, and its strength, power, and authority. The LORD had promised to "make the horn of David to bud {ie., to sprout, spring up, grow}." Psa 132:17.
     Yet, when king David came to the end of his days, he recognized that his kingdom had not measured up to what God intended for it. He yearned for the day when God would bring His promises to fruition, through the perfect Son of David, who would reign in righteousness forever (cp. 2Sam 7:12-17; 23:1-5).
     Rather than growing, the Davidic kingdom had declined under subsequent kings, until it was cut off at its roots. There was no longer a king on David's throne. The nation had been under the thumb of Gentile nations, from the time of the Babylonian captivity (586 BC). Yet, God remained faithful to His promises. He spake by the mouth of all His holy prophets... since the world began...
The Redeemer's coming had been foretold, since man's fall. eg., Gen 3:15; 12:3; 49:10
  1. that we should be saved from our enemies... and all that hate us...
    • perform the mercy [promised] to our fathers...
    • ...and to remember {ie., bring to mind} his holy covenant...
    • The oath which he sware to our father Abraham...
      To Abraham, God swore that his seed (via Isaac & Jacob, ie., the nation of Israel) will be established in their land, and have dominion over their enemies.
      To David, God promised a righteous Son whose Kingdom would never end.
      See Gen 22:16-18; 26:3; Deu 7:8-12; Jer 11:3-5; 23:5-8.
  2. that we... might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness...
    God's purpose, for His people Israel, is, not only that they will be secure in the Messianic Kingdom, but also that they will be pure in their hearts to serve Him.
    See Eze 36:24-27; Mic 4:1-4; Zeph 3:14-17
...all the days of our life.
Zacharias was anticipating the peace and security of Israel, in the restored Davidic Kingdom. He will not be disappointed, because Christ will establish His Millennial Kingdom in Jerusalem, when He returns to judge the earth.
     However, Zacharias could not fully foresee how God's promises to Israel would overflow to bless all nations, through the Savior's death and resurrection, by which believers are redeemed out of bondage to sin, and given true freedom to serve the Lord, in holiness and righteousness (free from all sin, and all corrupting influences, whether from within or without). This is the end result of the salvation which is received by faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 6:22,23).
76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest:
for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people
by the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God;
whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and [in] the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit,
and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.
John's role would be...
  • to go before Him... To go before Whom?
    "The Highest... The face {ie., the presence} of the LORD." cp. v.30-33
  • to prepare {make ready} His ways...
    John would preach the need for repentance from sin, to make the people aware of their need for the Savior.
  • to give knowledge of salvation... by the remission of sins...
    There is no salvation unless sin is removed. John would warn sinners of judgment and call them to repentance. But repentance cannot remove sin.
       John would also point sinners to the One who is Salvation, for those who believe: "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world" (Joh 1:29).
       John's role is also foretold in Malachi 3:1. There are two messengers in this verse. The first is the forerunner (John). The second, is the messenger of the Covenant, who would establish the New Covenant, by His own blood (Mat 26:28).
    That One is also...
...the Dayspring from on high... to give light to them... in darkness and the shadow of death.
In Mal 4:1,2, He is called the "Sun of Righteousness" who will restore His people and crush all their enemies. That day is yet to come. However, at His first coming, we see Him as "the Dayspring from on high." In Him, we see the dawning, the springing up, of the Kingdom of Righteousness. All of God's promises will be brought to completion, through His virgin born Son (2Cor 1:20).
John would go before, and prepare the way for Him.

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