Luke 1

1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a narration of the things that have been accomplished among us,
2 According as they have delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word:
3 It seemed good to me also, having diligently attained to all things from the beginning, to write to thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
4 That thou mayest know the verity of those words in which thou hast been instructed.
5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zachary, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name Elizabeth.
6 And they were both just before God, walking in all the commandments and justifications of the Lord without blame.
7 And they had no son, for that Elizabeth was barren: and they both were well advanced in years.
8 And it came to pass, when he executed the priestly function in the order of his course before God,
9 According to the custom of the priestly office, it was his lot to offer incense, going into the temple of the Lord.
10 And all the multitude of the people was praying without, at the hour of incense.
11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 And Zachary seeing him, was troubled: and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said to him: Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard: and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son. And thou shalt call his name John.
14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness: and many shall rejoice in his nativity.
15 For he shall be great before the Lord and shall drink no wine nor strong drink: and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.
16 And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias: that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people.
18 And Zachary said to the angel: Whereby shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.
19 And the angel answering, said to him: I am Gabriel, who stand before God and am sent to speak to thee and to bring thee these good tidings.
20 And behold, thou shalt be dumb and shalt not be able to speak until the day wherein these things shall come to pass: because thou hast not believed my words, which shall be fulfilled in their time.
21 And the people were waiting for Zachary: and they wondered that he tarried so long in the temple.
22 And when he came out, he could not speak to them: and they understood that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he made signs to them and remained dumb.
23 And it came to pass, after the days of his office were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
24 And after those days, Elizabeth his wife conceived and hid herself five months, saying:
25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he hath had regard to take away my reproach among men.
26 And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.
31 Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus.
32 He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever.
33 And of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?
35 And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36 And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren.
37 Because no word shall be impossible with God.
38 And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
39 And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda.
40 And she entered into the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth.
41 And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.
42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
43 And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
45 And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.
46 And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord.
47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
48 Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
49 Because he that is mighty hath done great things to me: and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.
51 He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
52 He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble.
53 He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away.
54 He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy.
55 As he spoke to our fathers: to Abraham and to his seed for ever.
56 And Mary abode with her about three months. And she returned to her own house.
57 Now Elizabeth’s full time of being delivered was come: and she brought forth a son.
58 And her neighbors and kinsfolks heard that the Lord had shewed his great mercy towards her: and they congratulated with her.
59 And it came to pass that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child: and they called him by his father’s name Zachary.
60 And his mother answering, said: Not so. But he shall be called John.
61 And they said to her: There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.
62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.
63 And demanding a writing table, he wrote, saying: John is his name. And they all wondered.
64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed: and he spoke, blessing God.
65 And fear came upon all their neighbours: and all these things were noised abroad over all the hill country of Judea.
66 And all they that had heard them laid them up in their heart, saying: What an one, think ye, shall this child be? For the hand of the Lord was with him.
67 And Zachary his father was filled with the Holy Ghost. And he prophesied, saying:
68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: because he hath visited and wrought the redemption of his people.
69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation to us, in the house of David his servant.
70 As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who are from the beginning.
71 Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us.
72 To perform mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy testament.
73 The oath, which he swore to Abraham our father, that he would grant to us.
74 That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him without fear:
75 In holiness and justice before him, all our days.
76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt, go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways:
77 To give knowledge of salvation to his people, unto the remission of their sins.
78 Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us:
79 To enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace.
80 And the child grew and was strengthened in spirit: and was in the deserts until the day of his manifestation 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