Luke 2:7 has been the source of quite a bit of discussion throughout church history. For many, this verse says that there was no room for Joseph and Mary in "the inn," a tradition that stretches way back. But other Christians suggest that this verse is better translated "upper room" or "guest room," as it is in Luke 2:7.
At the heart of this debate is the Greek word kataluma, which you can see defined in our lexicon. Specifically, the verse says there was no room for them in the kataluma. In the New Testament, this word is used only here and in Mark 14:14 and Luke 22:11, with the two latter verses describing the location of the Last Supper before Jesus was crucified.
So, which view is right? Let's dive into our online resources to see what we can find.
Here's John Gill's take:
"It seems that Joseph had no house of his own to go into, nor any relation and friend to receive him: and it may be, both his own father and Mary's father were dead, and therefore were obliged to put up at an inn; and in this there was no room for them, because of the multitude that were there to be enrolled: and this shows their poverty and meanness, and the little account that was made of them; for had they been rich, and made any considerable figure, they would have been regarded, and room made for them; especially since Mary was in the circumstances she was; and it was brutish in them to turn them into a stable, when such was her case."
The People's New Testament describes it this way:
"The khan is usually much on the model of the Eastern house, but of much larger extent. Four rows of apartments are so constructed as to enclose a large yard with a well in the center where the cattle may be kept. The outer wall is usually of brick upon a stone basement. The apartments are entered by the guests from the yard, and are elevated two or three feet above the level of the yard. Below and behind the row of the travelers' apartments was often the row or the long room of stables, into which the floors of the apartments being a little extended, formed a platform upon which the camels could eat."
And, finally, this is the description from The Fourfold Gospel:
"Justin Martyr, who born about the beginning of the second century and suffered martyrdom A.D. 165, first tells us the tradition that the stable in which Jesus was born was a cavern. Caves, however, were never used for stables except when opened on the sides of hills. The one at Bethlehem is a cellar fourteen feet under the level surface. Justine must, therefore, be mistaken."
This Christmas example shows how you can explore God's Word through our site. Just look up a verse, look below the reading pane, and choose a resource for further study. We've made it easy.
Whatever view you take, use our resources to help "dig up" the past and see the amazing truth of Jesus.
One of the most-asked questions during this time of year regards the date of Christ's birth. In fact, historians and theologians have been musing on that topic since early in church history. How do we know? Because we have some of their writings on our site.
Here's just one such examination from Samuel James Andrews from his classic work The Life of Our Lord upon the Earth.
We take as our starting point in this inquiry the statement of Matthew, (ii. 1-9,) that Jesus was born before the death of Herod the Great. We must, therefore, first ascertain when Herod died. According to Josephus,1 " he died the fifth day after he had caused Antipater to be slain; having reigned since he caused Antigonus to be slain, thirty-four years, but since he had been declared king by the Romans, thirty-seven." He was so declared king in 714. This would bring his death in the year from 1st Nisan 750 to 1st Nisan 751, according to Jewish computation, at the age of seventy.
But the date of his death may be more definitely fixed. Josephus relates1 that he executed the insurgents, Matthias and his companions, on the night of an eclipse of the moon. This eclipse took place, as has been ascertained by astronomical calculations,3 on the night of the 12th and 13th March, 750; yet he was dead before the 5th of April, for the Passover of that year fell upon the 12th April, and Josephus states1 that before this feast his son and successor Archelaus observed the usual seven days' mourning for the dead. His death must therefore be placed between the 13th March and 4th April, 750. We may take the 1st of April as an approximate date.2
How long before Herod's death was the Lord born? The Evangelists Matthew and Luke relate certain events that occurred between His birth and Herod's death, His circumcision upon the eighth day, the presentation at the Temple on the fortieth, the visit of the Magi, the flight into Egypt, the murder of the Innocents. Whatever view may be taken as to the order of these events, they can scarcely have occupied less than two months. This would bring His birth into January, or February at latest, 750.
And he's just getting warmed up. Keep reading this fascinating account as you celebrate the season of Christ's birth.
The talented ensemble of Pentatonix just took this classic and completely NAILED it. I could listen to their amazing voices all day. What a way to spread Christmas joy!
As you can imagine, we love Christmas here at BST. We especially love reading the Bible's account of the frist Christmas over 2,000 years ago. Each year, we learn something new as we explore Scripture, and we want to share that wonder with you.
How? Simple. Our site features a Christmas Bible reading plan that will take you 25 days or less. The readings start with Old Testament prophecies about the coming of Messiah and lead into His birth in Bethlehem.
But that's not the end. We want this reading to be more than just about Christmas. We want them to share the good news as well. That's why these readings lead you from the manger to the cross. You'll see why Jesus came to earth.
Make the Christmas Bible reading plan a part of your yearly traditions, and share them with your family.
And you certainly don't have to just use this plan for Christmas. It's also a great way to remember the crucifixion and the resurrection.
Inside BST goes behind the curtain of BibleStudyTools.com and into the minds of our editors and developers. You'll discover encouraging stories, information about the site, links that interest us, and devotionals.
John UpChurch, Senior Editor (BibleStudyTools.com)
Alex Crain, Managing Editor (Christianity.com)
Stephen McGarvey, Senior Director of Editorial
Stephen Sanders, A/V Editor