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.
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
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