Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus[a] 14; also known as Octavian, he established the peaceful era known as the Pax Romana; Caesar was a title of Roman emperors. that the whole empire[b] should be registered.
2 This first registration took place while[c] Quirinius was governing Syria.
3 So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.
4 And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David,
5 to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him[d] and was pregnant.
6 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
7 Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough-because there was no room for them at the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8 In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock.
9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before[e] them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.[f]
10 But the angel said to them, "Don't be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:
11 today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.
12 This will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough."
13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
14 Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors![g] [h] [i]
15 When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us."
16 They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough.
17 After seeing [them], they reported the message they were told about this child,
18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
19 But Mary was treasuring up all these things[j] in her heart and meditating on them.
20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.

The Circumcision and Presentation of Jesus

21 When the eight days were completed for His circumcision, He was named JESUS-the name given by the angel before He was conceived.[k]
22 And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord
23 (just as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male [l] will be dedicated [m] to the Lord [n])
24 and to offer a sacrifice (according to what is stated in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons [o]).

Simeon's Prophetic Praise

25 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel's consolation,[p] and the Holy Spirit was on him.
26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord's Messiah.
27 Guided by the Spirit, he entered[q] the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law,
28 Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:
29 Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, according to Your word.
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation.
31 You have prepared [it] in the presence of all peoples-
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles[r] [s] and glory to Your people Israel.[t]
33 His father and mother[u] were amazed at what was being said about Him.
34 Then Simeon blessed them and told His mother Mary: "Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed[v]-
35 and a sword will pierce your own soul-that the thoughts[w] of many hearts may be revealed."

Anna's Testimony

36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years,[x] having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,[y]
37 and was a widow for 84 years.[z] She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fastings and prayers.
38 At that very moment,[aa] she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.[ab] [ac]

The Family's Return to Nazareth

39 When they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
40 The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God's grace was on Him.

In His Father's House

41 Every year His parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival.
42 When He was 12 years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival.[ad]
43 After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but His parents[ae] did not know it.
44 Assuming He was in the traveling party, they went a day's journey. Then they began looking for Him among their relatives and friends.
45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him.
46 After three days, they found Him in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
47 And all those who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers.
48 When His parents saw Him, they were astonished, and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You."
49 "Why were you searching for Me?" He asked them. "Didn't you know that I had to be in My Father's house?" [af]
50 But they did not understand what He said to them.

In Favor with God and with People

51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.

Images for Luke 2

Luke 2 Commentary

Chapter 2

The birth of Christ. (1-7) It is made known to the shepherds. (8-20) Christ presented in the temple. (21-24) Simeon prophesies concerning Jesus. (25-35) Anna prophesies concerning him. (36-40) Christ with the learned men in the temple. (41-52)

Verses 1-7 The fulness of time was now come, when God would send forth his Son, made of a woman, and made under the law. The circumstances of his birth were very mean. Christ was born at an inn; he came into the world to sojourn here for awhile, as at an inn, and to teach us to do likewise. We are become by sin like an outcast infant, helpless and forlorn; and such a one was Christ. He well knew how unwilling we are to be meanly lodged, clothed, or fed; how we desire to have our children decorated and indulged; how apt the poor are to envy the rich, and how prone the rich to disdain the poor. But when we by faith view the Son of God being made man and lying in a manger, our vanity, ambition, and envy are checked. We cannot, with this object rightly before us, seek great things for ourselves or our children.

Verses 8-20 Angels were heralds of the new-born Saviour, but they were only sent to some poor, humble, pious, industrious shepherds, who were in the business of their calling, keeping watch over their flock. We are not out of the way of Divine visits, when we are employed in an honest calling, and abide with God in it. Let God have the honour of this work; Glory to God in the highest. God's good-will to men, manifested in sending the Messiah, redounds to his praise. Other works of God are for his glory, but the redemption of the world is for his glory in the highest. God's goodwill in sending the Messiah, brought peace into this lower world. Peace is here put for all that good which flows to us from Christ's taking our nature upon him. This is a faithful saying, attested by an innumerable company of angels, and well worthy of all acceptation, That the good-will of God toward men, is glory to God in the highest, and peace on the earth. The shepherds lost no time, but came with haste to the place. They were satisfied, and made known abroad concerning this child, that he was the Saviour, even Christ the Lord. Mary carefully observed and thought upon all these things, which were so suited to enliven her holy affections. We should be more delivered from errors in judgment and practice, did we more fully ponder these things in our hearts. It is still proclaimed in our ears that to us is born a Saviour, Christ the Lord. These should be glad tidings to all.

Verses 21-24 Our Lord Jesus was not born in sin, and did not need that mortification of a corrupt nature, or that renewal unto holiness, which were signified by circumcision. This ordinance was, in his case, a pledge of his future perfect obedience to the whole law, in the midst of sufferings and temptations, even unto death for us. At the end of forty days, Mary went up to the temple to offer the appointed sacrifices for her purification. Joseph also presented the holy child Jesus, because, as a first-born son, he was to be presented to the Lord, and redeemed according to the law. Let us present our children to the Lord who gave them to us, beseeching him to redeem them from sin and death, and make them holy to himself.

Verses 25-35 The same Spirit that provided for the support of Simeon's hope, provided for his joy. Those who would see Christ must go to his temple. Here is a confession of his faith, that this Child in his arms was the Saviour, the salvation itself, the salvation of God's appointing. He bids farewell to this world. How poor does this world look to one that has Christ in his arms, and salvation in his view! See here, how comfortable is the death of a good man; he departs in peace with God, peace with his own conscience, in peace with death. Those that have welcomed Christ, may welcome death. Joseph and Mary marvelled at the things which were spoken of this Child. Simeon shows them likewise, what reason they had to rejoice with trembling. And Jesus, his doctrine, and people, are still spoken against; his truth and holiness are still denied and blasphemed; his preached word is still the touchstone of men's characters. The secret good affections in the minds of some, will be revealed by their embracing Christ; the secret corruptions of others will be revealed by their enmity to Christ. Men will be judged by the thoughts of their hearts concerning Christ. He shall be a suffering Jesus; his mother shall suffer with him, because of the nearness of her relation and affection.

Verses 36-40 There was much evil then in the church, yet God left not himself without witness. Anna always dwelt in, or at least attended at, the temple. She was always in a praying spirit; gave herself to prayer, and in all things she served God. Those to whom Christ is made known, have great reason to thank the Lord. She taught others concerning him. Let the example of the venerable saints, Simeon and Anna, give courage to those whose hoary heads are, like theirs, a crown of glory, being found in the way of righteousness. The lips soon to be silent in the grave, should be showing forth the praises of the Redeemer. In all things it became Christ to be made like unto his brethren, therefore he passed through infancy and childhood as other children, yet without sin, and with manifest proofs of the Divine nature in him. By the Spirit of God all his faculties performed their offices in a manner not seen in any one else. Other children have foolishness bound in their hearts, which appears in what they say or do, but he was filled with wisdom, by the influence of the Holy Ghost; every thing he said and did, was wisely said and wisely done, above his years. Other children show the corruption of their nature; nothing but the grace of God was upon him.

Verses 41-52 It is for the honour of Christ that children should attend on public worship. His parents did not return till they had stayed all the seven days of the feast. It is well to stay to the end of an ordinance, as becomes those who say, It is good to be here. Those that have lost their comforts in Christ, and the evidences of their having a part in him, must bethink themselves where, and when, and how they lost them, and must turn back again. Those that would recover their lost acquaintance with Christ, must go to the place in which he has put his name; there they may hope to meet him. They found him in some part of the temple, where the doctors of the law kept their schools; he was sitting there, hearkening to their instructions, proposing questions, and answering inquiries, with such wisdom, that those who heard were delighted with him. Young persons should seek the knowledge of Divine truth, attend the ministry of the gospel, and ask such questions of their elders and teachers as may tend to increase their knowledge. Those who seek Christ in sorrow, shall find him with the greater joy. Know ye not that I ought to be in my Father's house; at my Father's work; I must be about my Father's business. Herein is an example; for it becomes the children of God, in conformity to Christ, to attend their heavenly Father's business, and make all other concerns give way to it. Though he was the Son of God, yet he was subject to his earthly parents; how then will the foolish and weak sons of men answer it, who are disobedient to their parents? However we may neglect men's sayings, because they are obscure, yet we must not think so of God's sayings. That which at first is dark, may afterwards become plain and easy. The greatest and wisest, those most eminent, may learn of this admirable and Divine Child, that it is the truest greatness of soul to know our own place and office; to deny ourselves amusements and pleasures not consistent with our state and calling.

Footnotes 32

  • [a]. Emperor who ruled the Roman Empire 27 b.c.-a.d.
  • [b]. Or the whole inhabited world
  • [c]. Or This registration was the first while, or This registration was before
  • [d]. Other mss read was his engaged wife
  • [e]. Or Lord appeared to
  • [f]. Lit they feared a great fear
  • [g]. Other mss read earth good will to people
  • [h]. Or earth to men of good will
  • [i]. Lk 12:51
  • [j]. Lit these words
  • [k]. Or conceived in the womb
  • [l]. Lit "Every male that opens a womb
  • [m]. Lit be called holy
  • [n]. Ex 13:2,12
  • [o]. Lv 5:11; 12:8
  • [p]. The coming of the Messiah with His salvation for the nation; Lk 2:26,30; Isaiah 40:1; 61:2
  • [q]. Lit And in the Spirit, he came into the
  • [r]. Or the nations
  • [s]. Isaiah 42:6; 49:6,9
  • [t]. Isaiah 46:13 LXX
  • [u]. Other mss read But Joseph and His mother
  • [v]. Or spoken against
  • [w]. Or schemes
  • [x]. Lit in many days
  • [y]. Lit years from her virginity
  • [z]. Or she was a widow until the age of 84
  • [aa]. Lit very hour
  • [ab]. Other mss read in Jerusalem
  • [ac]. Isaiah 52:9
  • [ad]. Dt 16:16-17
  • [ae]. Other mss read but Joseph and His mother
  • [af]. Or be involved in My Father's interests (or things), or be among my Father's people

Luke 2 Commentaries