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Luke 2

Listen to Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus Christ

1 In those days 1a decree went out from 2Caesar Augustus that all the world should be 3registered.
2 This was the first 4registration when[a] Quirinius 5was governor of Syria.
3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
4 And Joseph also went up 6from Galilee, from the town of 7Nazareth, to Judea, to 8the city of David, which is called 9Bethlehem, 10because he was of the house and lineage of David,
5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b] who was with child.
6 And 11while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and 12wrapped him in swaddling cloths and 13laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in 14the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord 15appeared to them, and 16the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.
10 And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all 17the people.
11 For 18unto you is born this day in 19the city of David 20a Savior, who is 21Christ 22the Lord.
12 And 23this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby 24wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."
13 And suddenly there was with the angel 25a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 26"Glory to God 27in the highest, 28and on earth 29peace 30among those with whom he is pleased!"[c]
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us."
16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby 31lying in a manger.
17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.
18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
19 But 32Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, 33glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
21 And 34at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, 35he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Jesus Presented at the Temple

22 And 36when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem 37to present him to the Lord
23 (as it is written in 38the Law of the Lord, 39"Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord")
24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in 40the Law of the Lord, 41"a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was 42righteous and 43devout, 44waiting for 45the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not 46see death before he had seen 47the Lord's Christ.
27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when 48the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law,
28 he took him up in his arms and 49blessed God and said,
29 "Lord, now you are letting your servant[d] depart 50in peace, 51according to your word;
30 for 52my eyes have seen your 53salvation
31 54that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 55a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and 56for glory to 57your people Israel."
33 And 58his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.
34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is appointed 59for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign 60that is opposed
35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."
36 And there was 61a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin,
37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She did not depart from the temple, 62worshiping with 63fasting and prayer night and day.
38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were 64waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Return to Nazareth

39 And when they had performed everything according to 65the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of 66Nazareth.
40 67And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

The Boy Jesus in the Temple

41 Now 68his parents went 69to Jerusalem every year at 70the Feast of the Passover.
42 And when he was twelve years old, 71they went up according to custom.
43 And when the feast 72was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. 73His parents did not know it,
44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him.
46 After three days they found him in the temple, 74sitting among 75the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
48 And when his parents[f] saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, 76your father and I have been searching for you in great distress."
49 And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that 77I must be in 78my Father's house?"[g]
50 And 79they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.
51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And 80his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus 81increased in wisdom and in stature[h] and in 82favor with God and man.

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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.

Cross References 82

  • 1. Acts 17:7
  • 2. [Luke 3:1]
  • 3. [Acts 5:37]
  • 4. [See ver. 1 above]
  • 5. Luke 3:1
  • 6. Luke 1:26
  • 7. See Matthew 2:23
  • 8. ver. 11; John 7:42; [1 Samuel 16:1]
  • 9. Matthew 2:1
  • 10. Luke 1:27
  • 11. [See ver. 4 above]
  • 12. ver. 12
  • 13. ver. 16
  • 14. Luke 22:11(Gk.)
  • 15. Luke 24:4; Acts 12:7
  • 16. Luke 9:31; Acts 7:55; 2 Corinthians 3:18
  • 17. ver. 32; John 11:50; [Zechariah 9:9]
  • 18. Isaiah 9:6
  • 19. ver. 4
  • 20. Matthew 1:21; John 4:42
  • 21. Acts 2:36; Acts 10:36; [Luke 23:2]; See Matthew 1:17
  • 22. [Luke 1:43]
  • 23. 1 Samuel 2:34; 2 Kings 19:29; 2 Kings 20:8, 9; Isaiah 7:11, 14
  • 24. ver. 7
  • 25. Genesis 28:12; Genesis 32:1, 2; 1 Kings 22:19; 2 Chronicles 18:18; Psalms 103:21; Psalms 148:2; Daniel 7:10; Revelation 5:11
  • 26. Luke 19:38; [Psalms 148:1; Matthew 21:9]
  • 27. [Luke 10:21; Matthew 6:10; Matthew 28:18; John 17:4; Acts 7:49; Ephesians 3:15; Colossians 1:16, 20; Revelation 5:13]
  • 28. [Luke 10:21; Matthew 6:10; Matthew 28:18; John 17:4; Acts 7:49; Ephesians 3:15; Colossians 1:16, 20; Revelation 5:13]
  • 29. Luke 1:79; Psalms 85:10; Isaiah 9:6, 7; Haggai 2:9; Acts 10:36; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:14, 17; Colossians 1:20
  • 30. [Luke 3:22; Luke 12:32; Ephesians 1:5, 9; Philippians 2:13]
  • 31. ver. 7, 12
  • 32. ver. 51; [Luke 1:66; Genesis 37:11]
  • 33. See Luke 7:16
  • 34. See Luke 1:59
  • 35. Luke 1:31; Matthew 1:21, 25
  • 36. Leviticus 12; [ver. 21, 27; Galatians 4:4]
  • 37. [1 Samuel 1:22, 24]
  • 38. ver. 39; Exodus 13:9; 2 Chronicles 31:3
  • 39. [Exodus 13:2, 12]
  • 40. [See ver. 23 above]
  • 41. Cited from Leviticus 12:8
  • 42. Luke 1:6
  • 43. Acts 2:5; Acts 8:2; Acts 22:12
  • 44. ver. 38; Luke 23:51; Isaiah 25:9; Mark 15:43; [Genesis 49:18]
  • 45. Isaiah 40:1; Isaiah 57:18
  • 46. Psalms 89:48; John 8:51; Hebrews 11:5; [Acts 2:27]
  • 47. [Luke 9:20; Luke 23:35; 1 Samuel 24:6]
  • 48. ver. 33, 41, 43, 48-51
  • 49. Luke 1:64
  • 50. Genesis 15:15
  • 51. ver. 26
  • 52. Isaiah 52:10
  • 53. See Luke 3:6
  • 54. Psalms 98:2; See Luke 24:47
  • 55. Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 52:10; Isaiah 60:3; John 8:12; Acts 13:47; Acts 26:23
  • 56. [Isaiah 45:25; Isaiah 46:13]
  • 57. ver. 10
  • 58. ver. 27
  • 59. [Isaiah 8:14; Matthew 21:44; John 9:39; 1 Corinthians 1:23, 24; 2 Corinthians 2:16; 1 Peter 2:8, 9]
  • 60. Acts 28:22
  • 61. See Exodus 15:20
  • 62. 1 Timothy 5:5
  • 63. Luke 5:33; Matthew 6:16-18; Acts 13:2; Acts 14:23; 2 Corinthians 6:5; 2 Corinthians 11:27
  • 64. ver. 25; See Luke 1:68
  • 65. ver. 23
  • 66. ver. 4
  • 67. Luke 1:80
  • 68. ver. 27
  • 69. [1 Samuel 1:3]
  • 70. Exodus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:1; John 2:13
  • 71. John 11:55
  • 72. Exodus 12:15; Leviticus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:3
  • 73. [See ver. 41 above]
  • 74. See Matthew 26:55
  • 75. Luke 5:17
  • 76. ver. 27; [ver. 49]
  • 77. See Luke 13:33
  • 78. John 2:16; John 14:2
  • 79. [Luke 18:34]; See Mark 9:32
  • 80. See ver. 19
  • 81. [1 Samuel 2:26]
  • 82. [1 Samuel 2:26]

Footnotes 8

  • [a]. Or This was the registration before
  • [b]. That is, one legally pledged to be married
  • [c]. Some manuscripts peace, good will among men
  • [d]. Greek bondservant
  • [e]. Or as a widow for eighty-four years
  • [f]. Greek they
  • [g]. Or about my Father's business
  • [h]. Or years

Luke 2 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.