Luke Chapter 1
1 Since many have undertaken to set in order a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled amongst us,
2 even as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word delivered them to us,
3 it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write to you in order, most excellent Theophilus;
4 that you might know the certainty concerning the things in which you were instructed.
5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the priestly division of Abijah. He had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
6 They were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.
7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they both were well advanced in years.
8 Now while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his division,
9 according to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to enter into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
10 The whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.
11 An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said to him, "Don't be afraid, Zacharias, because your request has been heard, and your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
14 You will have joy and gladness; and many will rejoice at his birth.
15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.
16 He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord, their God.
17 He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to prepare a people prepared for the Lord."
18 Zacharias said to the angel, "How can I be sure of this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years."
19 The angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God. I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news.
20 Behold, you will be silent and not able to speak, until the day that these things will happen, because you didn't believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time."
21 The people were waiting for Zacharias, and they marvelled that he delayed in the temple.
22 When he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple. He continued making signs to them, and remained mute.
23 When the days of his service were fulfilled, he departed to his house.
24 After these days Elizabeth, his wife, conceived, and she hid herself five months, saying,
25 "Thus has the Lord done to me in the days in which he looked at me, to take away my reproach amongst men."
26 Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, of David's house. The virgin's name was Mary.
28 Having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, you highly favoured one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you amongst women!"
29 But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered what kind of salutation this might be.
30 The angel said to her, "Don't be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.
31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and give birth to a son, and will call his name 'Jesus.'
32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David,
33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. There will be no end to his Kingdom."
34 Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, seeing I am a virgin?"
35 The angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore also the holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God.
36 Behold, Elizabeth, your relative, also has conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
37 For nothing spoken by God is impossible."
38 Mary said, "Behold, the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word." The angel departed from her.
39 Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah,
40 and entered into the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leapt in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
42 She called out with a loud voice, and said, "Blessed are you amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
43 Why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came into my ears, the baby leapt in my womb for joy!
45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfilment of the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord!"
46 Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord.
47 My spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked at the humble state of his servant. For behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed.
49 For he who is mighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for generations of generations on those who fear him.
51 He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down princes from their thrones. And has exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things. He has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has given help to Israel, his servant, that he might remember mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his offspring forever."
56 Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her house.
57 Now the time that Elizabeth should give birth was fulfilled, and she gave birth to a son.
58 Her neighbours and her relatives heard that the Lord had magnified his mercy towards her, and they rejoiced with her.
59 On the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.
60 His mother answered, "Not so; but he will be called John."
61 They said to her, "There is no one amongst your relatives who is called by this name."
62 They made signs to his father, what he would have him called.
63 He asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, "His name is John." They all marvelled.
64 His mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue freed, and he spoke, blessing God.
65 Fear came on all who lived around them, and all these sayings were talked about throughout all the hill country of Judea.
66 All who heard them laid them up in their heart, saying, "What then will this child be?" The hand of the Lord was with him.
67 His father, Zacharias, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying,
68 "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people;
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David
70 (as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets who have been from of old),
71 salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show mercy towards our fathers, to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath which he swore to Abraham, our father,
74 to grant to us that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, should serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.
76 And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the remission of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the dawn from on high will visit us,
79 to shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death; to guide our feet into the way of peace."
80 The child was growing, and becoming strong in spirit, and was in the desert until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
- Verse 17
- Malachi 4:6
- Verse 20 (Behold)
- "Behold" means look at, take notice, observe, see, or gaze at. It is often used as an interjection.
- Verse 37(For nothing spoken by God is impossible)
- or, "For everything spoken by God is possible."
- Verse 55 (offspring)
- or, seed
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Luke Chapter 1 Guide
Luke brings us face to face with the Son of Man and the Saviour of the world. The apostle first gives us an account of how he did his work. He then tells of Gabriel's visit to Zacharius announcing the birth of the Herald of the Lord, following at immediately with the august account of the coming of the same Gabriel to Mary, and teh great annunciation. Her reception of that announcement was in faith and submission to the divine will. Thus we see her co-operating in the purpose of God.
Luke records the first two songs of the new dispensation, the first being a salution by Elisabeth of Mary as the mother of the Lord, and the second the great Magnificat of Mary herself.
The faith of Zacharias, which had trembled in the presence of the divine promise, was restored when he wrote on the slate the name of the babe. This was a return from the point of unbelief, and the exercise of will in the appointed way.
This chapter ends with the third song of the new era, and it takes the form of a prophetic benediction from the lips of a priest of the chosen people. It was a song of salvation, and has within it truth deeper than most likely the singer then understood.
From "An Exposition of the Whole Bible" by G. Campbell Morgan.
Luke Chapter 1 Commentary
- The Preface. -- (1-4)
- Zacharias and Elisabeth. -- (5-25)
- Christ's birth announced. -- (26-38)
- Interview of Mary and Elisabeth. -- (39-56)
- The birth of John the Baptist. -- (57-66)
- The song of Zacharias. -- (67-80)
Luke will not write of things about which Christians may safely differ from one another, and hesitate within themselves; but the things which are, and ought to be surely believed. The doctrine of Christ is what the wisest and best of men have ventured their souls upon with confidence and satisfaction. And the great events whereon our hopes depend, have been recorded by those who were from the beginning eye-witnesses and ministers of the word, and who were perfected in their understanding of them through Divine inspiration.
The father and mother of John the Baptist were sinners as all are, and were justified and saved in the same way as others; but they were eminent for piety and integrity. They had no children, and it could not be expected that Elisabeth should have any in her old age. While Zacharias was burning incense in the temple, the whole multitude of the people were praying without. All the prayers we offer up to God, are acceptable and successful only by Christ's intercession in the temple of God above. We cannot expect an interest therein if we do not pray, and pray with our spirits, and are not earnest in prayer. Nor can we expect that the best of our prayers should gain acceptance, and bring an answer of peace, but through the mediation of Christ, who ever lives, making intercession. The prayers Zacharias often made, received an answer of peace. Prayers of faith are filed in heaven, and are not forgotten. Prayers made when we were young and entering into the world, may be answered when we are old and going out of the world. Mercies are doubly sweet that are given in answer to prayer. Zacharias shall have a son in his old age, who shall be instrumental in the conversion of many souls to God, and preparing them to receive the gospel of Christ. He shall go before Him with courage, zeal, holiness, and a mind dead to earthly interests and pleasures. The disobedient and rebellious would be brought back to the wisdom of their righteous forefathers, or rather, brought to attend to the wisdom of that Just One who was coming among them. Zacharias heard all that the angel said; but his unbelief spake. In striking him dumb, God dealt justly with him, because he had objected against God's word. We may admire the patience of God towards us. God dealt kindly with him, for thus he prevented his speaking any more distrustful, unbelieving words. Thus also God confirmed his faith. If by the rebukes we are under for our sin, we are brought to give the more credit to the word of God, we have no reason to complain. Even real believers are apt to dishonour God by unbelief; and their mouths are stopped in silence and confusion, when otherwise they would have been praising God with joy and gratitude. In God's gracious dealings with us we ought to observe his gracious regards to us. He has looked on us with compassion and favour, and therefore has thus dealt with us.
We have here an account of the mother of our Lord; though we are not to pray to her, yet we ought to praise God for her. Christ must be born miraculously. The angel's address means only, Hail, thou that art the especially chosen and favoured of the Most High, to attain the honour Jewish mothers have so long desired. This wondrous salutation and appearance troubled Mary. The angel then assured her that she had found favour with God, and would become the mother of a son whose name she should call Jesus, the Son of the Highest, one in a nature and perfection with the Lord God. JESUS! the name that refreshes the fainting spirits of humbled sinners; sweet to speak and sweet to hear, Jesus, a Saviour! We know not his riches and our own poverty, therefore we run not to him; we perceive not that we are lost and perishing, therefore a Saviour is a word of little relish. Were we convinced of the huge mass of guilt that lies upon us, and the wrath that hangs over us for it, ready to fall upon us, it would be our continual thought, Is the Saviour mine? And that we might find him so, we should trample on all that hinders our way to him. Mary's reply to the angel was the language of faith and humble admiration, and she asked no sign for the confirming her faith. Without controversy, great was the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, 1Ti 3:16. Christ's human nature must be produced so, as it was fit that should be which was to be taken into union with the Divine nature. And we must, as Mary here, guide our desires by the word of God. In all conflicts, let us remember that with God nothing is impossible; and as we read and hear his promises, let us turn them into prayers, Behold the willing servant of the Lord; let it be unto me according to thy word.
It is very good for those who have the work of grace begun in their souls, to communicate one to another. On Mary's arrival, Elisabeth was conscious of the approach of her who was to be the mother of the great Redeemer. At the same time she was filled with the Holy Ghost, and under his influence declared that Mary and her expected child were most blessed and happy, as peculiarly honoured of and dear to the Most High God. Mary, animated by Elisabeth's address, and being also under the influence of the Holy Ghost, broke out into joy, admiration, and gratitude. She knew herself to be a sinner who needed a Saviour, and that she could no otherwise rejoice in God than as interested in his salvation through the promised Messiah. Those who see their need of Christ, and are desirous of righteousness and life in him, he fills with good things, with the best things; and they are abundantly satisfied with the blessings he gives. He will satisfy the desires of the poor in spirit who long for spiritual blessings, while the self-sufficient shall be sent empty away.
In these verses we have an account of the birth of John the Baptist, and the great joy among all the relations of the family. He shall be called Johanan, or "Gracious," because he shall bring in the gospel of Christ, wherein God's grace shines most bright. Zacharias recovered his speech. Unbelief closed his mouth, and believing opened it again: he believers, therefore he speaks. When God opens our lips, our mouths must show forth his praise; and better be without speech, than not use it in praising God. It is said, The hand of the Lord was working with John. God has ways of working on children in their infancy, which we cannot account for. We should observe the dealings of God, and wait the event.
Zacharias uttered a prophecy concerning the kingdom and salvation of the Messiah. The gospel brings light with it; in it the day dawns. In John the Baptist it began to break, and increased apace to the perfect day. The gospel is discovering; it shows that about which we were utterly in the dark; it is to give light to those that sit in darkness, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. It is reviving; it brings light to those that sit in the shadow of death, as condemned prisoners in the dungeon. It is directing; it is to guide our feet in the way of peace, into that way which will bring us to peace at last, Ro 3:17. John gave proofs of strong faith, vigorous and holy affections, and of being above the fear and love of the world. Thus he ripened for usefulness; but he lived a retired life, till he came forward openly as the forerunner of the Messiah. Let us follow peace with all men, as well as seek peace with God and our own consciences. And if it be the will of God that we live unknown to the world, still let us diligently seek to grow strong in the grace of Jesus Christ.
From the "Concise Commentary on the Bible" by Matthew Henry.