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Luke 1

Luke Writes an Orderly Report

1 Many people have attempted to write about the things that have taken place among us.
2 Reports of these things were handed down to us. There were people who saw these things for themselves from the beginning and then passed the word on.
3 I myself have carefully looked into everything from the beginning. So it seemed good also to me to write down an orderly report of exactly what happened. I am doing this for you, most excellent Theophilus.
4 I want you to know that the things you have been taught are true.

The Coming Birth of John the Baptist

5 Herod was king of Judea. During the time he was ruling, there was a priest named Zechariah. He belonged to a group of priests named after Abijah. His wife Elizabeth also came from the family line of Aaron.
6 Both of them did what was right in God's eyes. They obeyed all the Lord's commandments and rules faithfully.
7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was not able to have any. And they were both very old.
8 One day Zechariah's group was on duty. He was serving as a priest in God's temple.
9 He happened to be chosen, in the usual way, to go into the temple of the Lord. There he was supposed to burn incense.
10 The time came for this to be done. All who had gathered to worship were praying outside.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah. The angel was standing at the right side of the incense altar.
12 When Zechariah saw him, he was amazed and terrified.
13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will have a child. It will be a boy, and you must name him John.
14 He will be a joy and delight to you. His birth will make many people very glad.
15 He will be important in the Lord's eyes. "He must never use wine or other such drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit from the time he is born.
16 He will bring many of Israel's people back to the Lord their God.
17 And he will prepare the way for the Lord. He will have the same spirit and power that Elijah had. He will teach parents how to love their children. He will also teach people who don't obey to be wise and do what is right. In this way, he will prepare a people who are ready for the Lord."
18 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man, and my wife is old too."
19 The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I serve God. I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.
20 And now you will have to be silent. You will not be able to speak until after John is born. That's because you did not believe my words. They will come true when the time is right."
21 During that time, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out. They wondered why he stayed in the temple so long.
22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple. They knew this because he kept motioning to them. He still could not speak.
23 When his time of service was over, he returned home.
24 After that, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant. She stayed at home for five months.
25 "The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days, he has been kind to me. He has taken away my shame among the people."

The Coming Birth of Jesus

26 In the sixth month after Elizabeth had become pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee.
27 He was sent to a virgin. The girl was engaged to a man named Joseph. He came from the family line of David. The virgin's name was Mary.
28 The angel greeted her and said, "The Lord has given you special favor. He is with you."
29 Mary was very upset because of his words. She wondered what kind of greeting this could be.
30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary. God is very pleased with you.
31 You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must name him Jesus.
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king like his father David of long ago.
33 He will rule forever over his people, who came from Jacob's family. His kingdom will never end."
34 "How can this happen?" Mary asked the angel. "I am a virgin."
35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come to you. The power of the Most High God will cover you. So the holy one that is born will be called the Son of God.
36 Your relative Elizabeth is old. And even she is going to have a child. People thought she could not have children. But she has been pregnant for six months now.
37 Nothing is impossible with God."
38 "I serve the Lord," Mary answered. "May it happen to me just as you said it would." Then the angel left her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in Judea's hill country.
40 There she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth.
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby inside her jumped. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
42 In a loud voice she called out, "God has blessed you more than other women. And blessed is the child you will have!
43 But why is God so kind to me? Why has the mother of my Lord come to me?
44 As soon as I heard the sound of your voice, the baby inside me jumped for joy.
45 You are a woman God has blessed. You have believed that what the Lord has said to you will be done!"

Mary's Song

46 Mary said, "My soul gives glory to the Lord.
47 My spirit delights in God my Savior.
48 He has taken note of me even though I am not important. From now on all people will call me blessed.
49 The Mighty One has done great things for me. His name is holy.
50 He shows his mercy to those who have respect for him, from parent to child down through the years.
51 He has done mighty things with his arm. He has scattered those who are proud in their deepest thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones. But he has lifted up people who are not important.
53 He has filled those who are hungry with good things. But he has sent those who are rich away empty.
54 He has helped the people of Israel, who serve him. He has always remembered to be kind
55 to Abraham and his children down through the years. He has done it just as he said to our people of long ago."
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months. Then she returned home.

John the Baptist Is Born

57 The time came for Elizabeth to have her baby. She gave birth to a son.
58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very kind to her. They shared her joy.
59 On the eighth day, they came to have the child circumcised. They were going to name him Zechariah, like his father.
60 But his mother spoke up. "No!" she said. "He must be called John."
61 They said to her, "No one among your relatives has that name."
62 Then they motioned to his father. They wanted to find out what he would like to name the child.
63 He asked for something to write on. Then he wrote, "His name is John." Everyone was amazed.
64 Right away Zechariah could speak again. His first words gave praise to God.
65 The neighbors were all filled with fear and wonder. All through Judea's hill country, people were talking about all these things.
66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it. And because the Lord was with John, they asked, "What is this child going to be?"

Zechariah's Song

67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit. He prophesied,
68 "Give praise to the Lord, the God of Israel! He has come and set his people free.
69 He has acted with great power and has saved us. He did it for those who are from the family line of his servant David.
70 Long ago holy prophets said he would do it.
71 He has saved us from our enemies. We are rescued from all who hate us.
72 He has been kind to our people. He has remembered his holy covenant.
73 He made an oath to our father Abraham.
74 He promised to save us from our enemies, so that we could serve him without fear.
75 He wants us to be holy and godly as long as we live.
76 "And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High God. You will go ahead of the Lord to prepare the way for him.
77 You will tell his people how they can be saved. You will tell them that their sins can be forgiven.
78 All of that will happen because our God is tender and caring. His kindness will bring the rising sun to us from heaven.
79 It will shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death. It will guide our feet on the path of peace."
80 The child grew up, and his spirit became strong. He lived in the desert until he appeared openly to Israel.

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Luke 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

This evangelist is generally supposed to have been a physician, and a companion of the apostle Paul. The style of his writings, and his acquaintance with the Jewish rites and usages, sufficiently show that he was a Jew, while his knowledge of the Greek language and his name, speak his Gentile origin. He is first mentioned ( acts 16:10 acts 16:11 ) , as with Paul at Troas, whence he attended him to Jerusalem, and was with him in his voyage, and in his imprisonment at Rome. This Gospel appears to be designed to supersede many defective and unauthentic narratives in circulation, and to give a genuine and inspired account of the life, miracles, and doctrines of our Lord, learned from those who heard and witnessed his discourses and miracles.

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)

1-4. 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.

Verses 5-25 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.

Verses 26-38 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 ( 1 Timothy. 3:16 ) 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.

Verses 39-56 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.

Verses 57-66 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.

Verses 67-80 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, ( Romans 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.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO LUKE

The writer of this Gospel, Luke, has been, by some, thought, as Origen {a} relates, to be the same with Lucius, mentioned in Ro 16:21, but he seems rather to be, and without doubt is, Luke the beloved physician, who was a companion of the Apostle Paul in great part of his travels in the Gentile world: he came with him to Jerusalem, and from thence accompanied him to Rome, and continued with him when in prison, and was with him to the last; see Ac 16:10,11 \Col 4:14 2Ti 4:11 Phm 1:24\. Jerom {b}, and others, say, he was a physician of Antioch in Syria; where it may be the Apostle Paul met with him, and might be the happy instrument of his conversion; so that he seems to be, by nation, a Syrian, as Jerom {c} calls him. Grotius thinks his name is Roman, and that it is the contraction of Lucilius. It is not an Hebrew name, but might be in common use in Syria; for though the Jews reckon owqwl, "Lukus", among foreign names, yet say {d} a it was a very illustrious one, and well known to them, as it may well be thought to be if Syriac, the language being spoke by them: and many Jews lived in Syria, and particularly in Antioch. Some say that this Gospel was written by the advice, and assistance, and under the direction of the Apostle Paul, as the Gospel according to Mark was by that of Peter; though the following preface does not seem so well to accord with this. Eusebius says {e} that it was the sense of the ancients, that whenever the Apostle Paul makes mention of his Gospel, he intends this according to Luke. The time of the writing of it is not certain; some say it was written in the fifteenth year after the ascension of our Lord; others in the twenty second; and others in the twenty seventh. It is commonly thought to have been written after the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, according to the order in which it stands; but this is rejected by some learned men, who rather think that Luke wrote first of all: and indeed, there are some things in his preface which look as if there had not, as yet, been any authentic account published, at least which was come to the knowledge of this evangelist. The place where he wrote it is also uncertain. Jerom says {f}, he wrote it in the parts of Achaia, perhaps at Corinth: according to the titles prefixed to the Syriac and Persic versions, he wrote it in Alexandria: the former of these runs thus;

``the Gospel of Luke, the Evangelist, which he spake and published in Greek in Alexandria the great.''

And the latter thus;

``the Gospel of Luke, which he wrote in the Greek tongue in Alexandria of Egypt.''

However, it is agreed on all hands, that it is genuine, and of divine inspiration. Eusebius {g} relates, that it was affirmed by some, that this Gospel, together with those of Matthew and Mark, were brought to the Apostle John, who approved of them, and bore witness to the truth in them.

{a} In Rom. xvi. 21. {b} Catalog. Script. Eccles. sect. 17. fol. 91. Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 4. {c} Praefat in Luc. {d} T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 11. 2. & Gloss. in ib. {e} Ubi supra. (Hist. Eccl. l. 3. c. 39.) {f} Praefat in Luc. {g} Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 24.

Luke 1 Commentaries