Luke 1:26, “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,”
The first thing Luke does is connect the announcement to Mary with the announcement to Elizabeth by using the connective Conjunction DE, “now,” and saying, “in the sixth month,” HEKTOS MEN, which is also in vs. 36, as Gabriel revealed Elizabeth’s pregnancy to Mary. Likewise, by naming Gabriel once again, cf. vs. 19, it links the two accounts. And, the fact that both pregnancies would be due to God miraculously working, links them together. Many put this time period from 6 to 4 B.C.
The location of Gabriel’s announcement was in Mary’s hometown of Nazareth located in Galilee, the northernmost province of Palestine ruled by Herod the Great as the native ruler of Judea from 37-4 B.C., and later his son Herod Antipas from 4 B.C. to 39 A.D.
Nazareth, Ναζαρέτ in this period, was an insignificant village of an estimated sixteen hundred to two thousand inhabitants. It is located in the lower Galilee region about halfway between Sea of Galilee and Mediterranean Sea. Galilee comprised the lands of Zebulun, Naphtali, Issachar and Asher. It is situated on the most southern of the ranges of lower Galilee, about ten miles from the plain of Esdraelon. It is on the slopes of a natural basin facing east and southeast. Although situated near several of the important trade routes of Palestine, the town itself was surrounded on three sides by high hills, giving it the appearance of isolation. Cana was about five miles to the northeast. A Roman road from Capernaum westward to the coast passed near Nazareth. It was a small village in Jesus’ day, having only one spring to supply fresh water to its inhabitants and was not an abundant agricultural area.
It was the home town of Mary and Joseph, and became the hometown of Jesus. The people in Judah disdained the Jews in Galilee and claimed they were not “kosher” because of their contacts with the Gentiles there, cf. Mat 4:15. They especially despised the people from Nazareth and it had a poor reputation, John 1:46, “Nathanael said to him, ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see’.” It was an unimportant town as shown by the fact that it is not mentioned in the OT, the Talmud, or in Josephus. It reflected the humble nature by which Jesus entered the world, and was part of the first fulfillment of OT prophecy about the Christ, cf. Isa 53:3 with Mat 2:23; John 19:19.
Isa 53:3, “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”
Mat 2:23, “And came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: ‘He shall be called a Nazarene’.”
John 19:19, “Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, ‘JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS’.”
Nazareth comes from the Hebrew Noun NETSER that means “a shoot or branch,” which too is part of the fulfillment of prophecy, Isa 11:1, “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit,” cf. vs. 27. Some also think it comes from the Hebrew NOTSERAH, that means, “one guarding or watching,” thus designating the hill which overlooks and thus guards an extensive region. This is also an appropriate correlation to Jesus Christ.
Jesus became known as “Jesus of Nazareth,” Mat 2:23; 26:71; Luke 18:37; 24:19; John 1:45; Acts 2:22; 3:6; 10:38, and His hometown became affixed to Christianity, as even His apostles were called Nazarenes, Acts 24:5.
Luke 1:27, “to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.”
In this verse, we learn several important facts:
1. Jesus’ mother would be a virgin; therefore, He would not have a human father, cf. vs. 35. Luke presents the theology of the Incarnation in a way so holy and congruent with OT sacred history that any comparisons with pagan mythology seem utterly incongruous. Instead of the carnal union of a pagan god with a woman, producing some kind of semi-divine offspring, Luke speaks of a spiritual overshadowing by God Himself that will produce the “Holy One” within Mary.
a. The first prophecy of the virgin birth, Gen 3:15-16.
b. The Jewish prophecy of the virgin birth, Isa 7:14, 9:6-7.
c. The historical fulfillment of the virgin birth, Mat 1:19-25.
d. The result of the virgin birth, John 1:14; Rom 1:3; 1 Tim 3:16; Heb 2:14; Phil 2:5-11.
2. She was already engaged. Engagement was as solid as marriage is today. To get un-engaged, they needed to apply for a certificate of divorce. Mary had already been given to Joseph, and according to the tradition of the betrothal, though they had not yet lived together or consummated the marriage, legally they were considered man and wife, cf. Mat 1:20, 24. The betrothal was a form of agreement that included witnesses, a marriage contract, and the payment of the bridal price. The betrothal was the first stage of the marriage procedure. The betrothal period was generally concluded at the end of one year when the woman would transfer residence to the man’s house.
3. The man she was engaged to was named Joseph. Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. Nevertheless Matthew’s genealogy should be considered from the perspective that it is an official genealogy of Joseph intended to show that Jesus, as the son of Joseph, in the eyes of the Law is of the lineage of David. The very fact that Joseph took Mary as his wife, made Jesus the legal offspring of Joseph. Though nothing is said of Joseph outside the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke, both Gospel writers portray him as a man of deep piety, “Joseph the just,” and as a loving and devoted father of Jesus.
4. Joseph is a descendant of king David, therefore through adoption, Jesus is in the kingly line of David, Cf. Mat 1:16, with vs. 6; as he also is through Mary, cf. Luke 3:23 with vs. 31.
5. The virgin’s name is Mary, to be the mother of Jesus. Many believe she was only 12 or 13 years old at this time, but we do not know for sure. Luke’s Gospel presents Jesus’ birth from Mary’s point of view. It is also primarily concerned with showing the validity of the stories it contains. The doctrinal cornerstone of the Christian faith is the Deity of Jesus Christ, and the Virgin Birth is integral to this teaching. Therefore, Jesus Christ was born 100% man and 100% God; as truly God and truly man in what we call “hypostatic union.”
The Necessity of our Lord’s Virgin Birth:
1. Adam’s original sin is the origin of the Old Sin Nature (OSN) in the human race, Gen 3:6b-7, 17-19; Rom 5:12, 15b-17; 1 Cor 15:21-22a.
Rom 5:12, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”
1 Cor 15:21-22, “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.”
It is Adam’s original sin that is the precedence leading to the OSN, not the woman’s original sin, since Adam’s sin was deliberate; the woman was deceived.
2. At copulation, the OSN is transmitted through the 23 male chromosomes that contain the cells of the Sin Nature, which fertilize the 23 female chromosomes in the ovum that is absent of the cells of the OSN. The throwing off of the 23 female chromosomes that contain the OSN is done in the process called Meiosis and Polar body.
“Meiosis is a process where a single cell divides twice to produce four cells containing half the original amount of genetic information. These cells are our sex cells – sperm in males, eggs in females.” (Genome Research Limited, https://www.yourgenome.org/facts/what-is-meiosis).
Pictorially, the process is as such:
Another graphic shows the process broken down into two categories called Meiosis I and Meiosis II.
Meiosis I, Separate the Homologues:
Meiosis II, Separate the Sister Chromatids:
In Meiosis II, (Prophase II, Metaphase II, Anaphase II, and Telophase II and cytokinesis), the last phase Telophase II and cytokinesis, results in the ovum and three polar bodies that are thrown off. “Once cytokinesis is complete there are four granddaughter cells, each with half a set of chromosomes (haploid), in males, these four cells are all sperm cells, in females, one of the cells is an egg cell while the other three are polar bodies (small cells that do not develop into eggs).” (Genome Research Limited.)
“In the egg, there is a division into 4 cells with unequal fates; 1 ovum plus 3 polar bodies. The 3 polar bodies disintegrate. The 1 ovum gets all the resources (cytoplasm, mitochondria) and may get fertilized.” (Iupui Department of Biology, “Meiosis and the Formation of Eggs and Sperm,” https://www.biology.iupui.edu/biocourses/N100/2k4ch9meiosisnotes.html)
As such, in the female, the elimination of the cells containing the OSN, (polar bodies), are thrown off and the viable female egg or ovum that remains does not contain the OSN cells. Yet, in the male, the process of splitting the cells into 23 chromosomes does not eliminate the OSN, as all four are viable called sperm.
During sexual reproduction, fertilization of the ovum (23 chromosomes) by the sperm (23 chromosomes) restores the diploid number and creates a zygote (46 chromosomes) that divides and grows by mitosis to form a multicellular human.
Therefore, we see the result and importance of the virgin birth. No human father, means no OSN cells. No OSN cells, means born without sin.
3. At human birth, the baby has the genetic structure of the OSN inside of its DNA. At birth, God imputes Adam’s original sin to the OSN, and the new born becomes a like copy of Adam at the point of his fall in the garden. At birth, the Holy Spirit then breathes the “breaths of lives,” (NESHAMAH), Gen 2:7, into the new born and the baby is born physically alive. But, because of the OSN and the imputation of Adam’s original sin, the baby dies spiritually. There are two factors involved in our spiritual death.
a. The Old Sin Nature.
b. Adam’s original sin.
4. The OSN contaminates all the cells in the human body and when God the Father imputes Adam’s original sin to Old Sin Nature at the time of physical birth, spiritual death results.
5. Yet, the female, (through meiosis and polar body), throws off the 23 chromosomes that are contaminated with the OSN, leaving 23 uncontaminated chromosomes prior to fertilization. All the other cells in the female body are contaminated by the OSN; the ovum prior to fertilization is the only exception. That is why Mary was not without sin. She had an OSN.
6. Although both the man and the woman in the garden were equally guilty, the woman’s sin of ignorance was the reason she became the bearer of the embryo, 1 Tim 2:13-15.
7. While both man and woman are carriers of the OSN, only the man can transmit it through the fertilization of the female ovum.
8. Since, it is only the male’s 23 chromosomes that carry the OSN and not the female’s, this means that if a woman could have a virgin pregnancy, (i.e., if her ovum could be fertilized apart from male copulation), the progeny could be born into the world without an OSN. Being born without an Old Sin Nature, Adam’s original sin could not be imputed to that person, there being no affinity required for this imputation.
9. Therefore, Christ being born without an OSN meant there was no imputation of Adam’s original sin to our Lord. He was born physically and spiritually alive with no OSN and no original sin imputation.
10. This was how our Lord was born as the last Adam, 1 Cor 15:45. The first Adam was created perfect (without sin); the last Adam, Jesus Christ, was born perfect (without sin). So, Jesus Christ was in like form as Adam before the fall.
1 Cor 15:45, “So also it is written, “The first Man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”
11. Remember that while Mary was a virgin, she was not perfect or impeccable. Only her virgin‑born son was absolutely perfect at birth. And, Mary did not remain perpetually as a virgin. She had other children Mat 13:55-56; 12:46; Mark 6:3.
12. Therefore, it is the virgin birth that is the basis for redemption, because it provided the world with a perfect human being, the only one qualified to be judged for the sins of the world, Heb 9:15-16.
Heb 9:15, “For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it.”
In vs. 26-27, we were introduced to the lowly, humble nature by which our Lord and Savior would be brought into this world.
In vs. 28-31, we are introduced to the grace, mercy, and kind-favor of God by which our Lord and Savior would be brought into this world.
Luke 1:28, “And coming in, he said to her, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
Some translations include at the end, “blessed are you among women,” but that is not found in the oldest and more reliable texts. Although it is found in Elizabeth’s rejoicing over the news in vs. 42, it is not found here. Therefore, it was a later addition to potentially elevate Mary’s position supposedly being classified as such by the “angel who stands before God,” and not just a rejoicing proclamation from her ordinary cousin.
“Hail, favored one!,” is the Present, Active, Imperative of the Verb CHAIRO, χαίρω that means, “rejoice, be glad, welcome, greetings, hail,” with the Perfect, Passive, Participle in the Vocative, Singular, Feminine of CHARITOO, that means, “to give grace, bestow favor,” and means, “to confer grace upon or show kindness to.” BDAG says, “To cause to be the recipient of a benefit, bestow favor on, favor highly, bless.” It is only used here and in Eph 1:6. Both are cognates of CHARIS that means, “grace.”
CHARITOO functions as the verb form of CHARIS in which there is the enduement of CHARIS. Subjectively, grace on the part of the giver is bestowed as part of a favor or kindness. Objectively there is a recognition of favors received with the response of gratitude and joy, cf. Luke 1:30; 2:52; Acts 2:47; 7:10, 46; 24:27; 25:9.
Eph 1:6, “To the praise of the glory of His grace, which grace He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
In our passage, it means that Mary is the recipient of God’s antecedent grace or favor. She is about to be the recipient of a wonderful Divine blessing.
Some think “hail” should be translated “rejoice” given Luke’s pattern of general use and when comparing, Zech 9:9; Zeph 3:14
Zech 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The angel Gabriel was greeting Mary and at the same time was saying she should rejoice because she was about to be the recipient of God’s indescribable grace. God was smiling upon this young, unknown girl, and Gabriel’s greeting reveals she is chosen solely as a matter of God’s grace. We might be tempted to think Zachariah was chosen because he was righteous and a priest. But God’s grace can smile upon any one, especially a lowly young woman such as Mary.
We must also recognize that by this Gabriel did not mean, as Roman Catholic doctrine teaches, that there was something, (some perfection), in Mary by which she deserved to receive this grace, and that as a result of this perfection, she was able to show grace to others because in herself she was full of grace. No, Gabriel meant that she had received God’s grace. She is the recipient, not the dispenser, of grace. God bestowed His free unmerited, gracious favor upon her to an exceptional degree in choosing her to be the mother of His Son.
Then when Gabriel says, “The Lord is with you,” he was using an OT greeting that conferred that the Lord would guide and protect her. Gabriel is preparing Mary for Divine service with the assurance, “The Lord will help her,” which too is part of His grace. Therefore, God’s grace not only gives us “something,” but it also helps us or provides for us in the reception and application of the grace thing we have been given.
The grace of God means that none of us can earn or deserve even one blessing from God. God does all the work; we do not earn or deserve anything from God. We are not blessed because we do something. We are blessed because God has done and continues to do something for us. We never earn or deserve anything from God except condemnation. Yet, because of who and what God is, His grace is greater than our failures, our sins, our flaws, our self-righteous legalism, our human good, and our dead works.
Grace is all that God is free to do for mankind without compromising His Divine essence. It is the free, unmerited favor and love from God alone, and is not from our works or because we are attractive to God. Many times it shows itself in favor, kindness, and mercy, therefore, man thinks he earns or deserves it. But, grace is unearned and undeserved, a total gift of and from God.
Grace means that all things from God, including salvation by grace through faith, are received from God as a free gift totally apart from any form of human merit or any system of human works. They are never merited or earned by mankind, cf. Eph 2:8-9.
Eph 2:7-9, “So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Grace is also the manifestation of God’s holiness, power, virtue, efficacy, mercy, compassion, indulgence, forbearance, pardon; unmerited favor based on the exclusive work of God. It includes three categories of Divine blessing from God; His unmerited favor and divine provision for mankind before, during, and after salvation, including our past, present, and future salvation.
Luke 1:29, “But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.”
“Perplexed” is the Aorist, Passive, Indicative of the Verb DIATARASSO, διαταράσσω that means, “agitates, greatly troubled, or confused.” The term includes an acute level of distress and mental anguish, (Louw and Nida, Greek-English Lexicon, 1:315), and possibly even fear. This is the only time it is used in the NT. It is an hapaxlegomena. This word comes from DIA, which means “through or through out,” and TARASSO, “to stir up, disturb, throw into confusion.”
Back in vs. 12, we saw that Zachariah was “troubled” TARASSO at the appearance of the Angel of the Lord. But here, Mary was “greatly or thoroughly troubled.” She was more startled than Zachariah at the appearance of the Angel of the Lord. That does not mean anything regarding “sinfulness,” it just means as a young lady she was a bit more startled than an older gentlemen who has seen much in his life.
“Kept pondering” is the Imperfect, Middle Deponent, Indicative of the Verb DIALOGIZOMAI, διαλογίζομαι that means, “Consider, ponder thoroughly, reason carefully and deliberately.” This deponent verb (a verb with a middle form but an active sense) is a compound from DIA, “through,” and LOGIZOMAI, “reckon, count, compute,” and essentially means, “consider, reason, discuss, etc.” in classical Greek. In many circumstances, it has the technical meaning of “balance accounts.” So, we could say she was “weighing” all the information she was receiving; the angel, the greeting, the time of day, the place, what she saw, etc., etc. To be so honored by the heavenly messenger was staggering to the mind of this lowly young woman. This is similar to what we see of Mary at the messages given by the shepherds upon the birth of Jesus, Luke 2:19.
Luke 2:19, “But Mary treasured all these things, pondering (SUMBALLO) them in her heart.”
Luke 1:30, “And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God’.”
Gabriel’s announcement begins as it did with Zachariah in vs. 13, “do not be afraid,” ME PHOBEO in the Present, Middle Deponent, Imperative. As with Zachariah, Gabriel could either sense or see the startled reaction of Mary and wanted to calm her fears. He applied grace to her by helping to ease her fears.
Then Gabriel addresses her directly, “Mary,” Maria or Mariam meaning, “rebellious,” is the recipient of his message. Then he states, “You have found favor with God.” In Zachariah’s case, God was answering his prayer. In Mary’s case, it was that she had “found favor,” with God.
“Found” is the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb HEURISKO, εὑρίσκω that means, “find, discover, obtain, ascertain, contrive, etc.”
“Favor” is the Noun CHARIS, χάρις that means, “grace, graciousness, kindness, favor, etc.” As we noted above, “grace” is the free unmerited favor of God. So, we see that Mary is the recipient of God’s grace once again, but in the Active voice she is to apply this grace, first in her thoughts, so that she would no longer be confused, frightened, or perplexed, and then later in her actions as she applies this message she is receiving. In other words, God was about to grace her out of her mind and she is to receive it and apply it. She was to apply the Bible Doctrine she was receiving to her life.
A similar statement is found in Gen 6:8, regarding Noah who also is said to have “found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” For both, this grace was the catalyst of a Divine salvation-related event. In both cases, God chose them to fulfill an important task that resulted in the salvation of many. Therefore, by the grace of God, He ordained Mary to carry His Son and raise Him.
Now, in vs. 31-33, we have a wonderful description of who and what Mary’s baby will be. Gabriel announces the babe’s eternal reign and kingdom.
Luke 1:31, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.”
Here we see the main message of grace Gabriel brought to Mary. The opening phrase of Gabriel’s message is similar to the angelic announcements made to Hagar, Gen 16:11, and the wife of Manoah (Sampson’s mother), Judges 13:3-5. The phraseology seems to be an adaptation of the Greek LXX text of Isa 7:14.
Isa 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”
Interestingly, the Future, Middle Deponent, Indicative of the Verb SULLAMBANO means, “to take hold of, conceive, or help.” “Conceive,” in terms of becoming pregnant, is the particular application here, yet, the other two meanings also give nuance to the application of this word in regard to what this pregnancy meant.
The name of this child was of great importance. While Luke does not place emphasis on the meaning of names, the parallel passage in Mat 1:21, includes the purpose clause, “for He will save His people from their sins.” This purpose is born out in the meaning of the name Jesus, which is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew name Joshua that means, “the Lord saves,” as “Jesus,” IESOUS, Ἰησοῦς means, “Savior.”
Even though this was the name He was given, it was also a title as He is the Savior or Jesus of the world. It comes from the Hebrew Jehoshua, meaning “Jehovah or YHWH is salvation,” and is contracted to Joshua. “Jesus” also emphasizes our Lord’s humanity, as is appropriate here, since we are talking about His human birth; God being born as a man. Therefore, by name and title, Mary’s baby boy would be the God-man and Savior of the world.
The first words to Mary about the birth were simply that she would “conceive in her womb, and bring forth a son.” As she listened to the angel’s words disclosing His name, His greatness, His deity, His royalty, and His eternal kingdom, her heart must have been filled with even further bewilderment and wonder.
The fact that she, a virgin, would become a mother was staggering, but to learn of the greatness of the One she would bear must have been even more staggering. The entire program of the Messiah was flashed before her in a few words, and she was to be the mother of the long desired Deliverer of her people. He is the answer to God’s grace plan of salvation for the entire world.
As we see, she was given a most difficult announcement to comprehend and then service to perform for God, perhaps as difficult as has ever been asked of any servant of the Lord. Virgins do not give birth. Who would believe her? Even Joseph, a righteous man, thought that he should hide her, so that she would not be an object of shame, Mat 1:19-21. Yet, as we see in vs. 38, 46-55, in humility, Mary accepted the grace Word of God from the angel Gabriel and the task chosen for her. Nevertheless, the grace of God would see her through it all, as she was the “graced out one,” vs. 28, who “obtained grace” from God, vs. 30.
In the next two verses, Gabriel predicted 5 things about Mary’s son. Five is the number of “grace.”
Luke 1:32, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.”
1. He will be great.
Here, we have more superlatives for our Lord and another title. “He will be great,” is HOUTOS EIMI MEGAS. Usually, MEGAS is a superlative related to something like power, authority, an emotion, spatially, influence, fame, etc. But here, it stands alone; signifying that in all aspects, Jesus would be great. Given the further descriptions of Him related to His deity and earthly kingship in these passages, we see His greatness as God and as the King of Israel and the entire world, Titus 2:13.
Titus 2:13, “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”
Further, Jesus is referred to as the “great high priest,” Heb 4:14; 10:21, and the “great shepherd of the sheep,” Heb 13:20.
Heb 4:14, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.”
Heb 13:20, “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord.”
This may also be a reference to the Messianic prophecy of Micah 5:4, installing the Messiah as the supreme heir to the Davidic throne.
Micah 5:4, “And He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth.”
2. He will be called the Son of the Most High.
“Will be Called,” Is the Future, Passive, Indicative of KALEO, does not just mean here “called by men,” but understanding it in its Passive form as including the OT idea where a name expresses the character or existence of something. Thus, Jesus was not simply thought to be the Son of God, He is the Son of God.
“The Son of the Most High,” is the Nominative Noun HUIOS and the Superlative Genitive Noun HUPSISTOS. This title, in contrast to John as prophet, is Luke’s first note that Jesus will be unique in His relationship to God. Gabriel affirmed both the deity and the humanity of Jesus. As Mary’s son, He would be human; as Son of the Highest, He would be the Son of God. Luke declares the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ.
HUIOS means, “son, offspring, or descendant.” Here it speaks of Jesus being the offspring and son of God Himself. Since it will be God the Holy Spirit who adds the necessary 23 chromosomes to Mary’s 23 chromosomes, vs. 35, allowing her to conceive, Jesus is legitimately the Son of God, cf. Psa 2:7-9; cf. Psa 89:26-29.
Psa 2:7-9, “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. 8Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. 9You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware’.”
In addition, the fact that her baby was to be called the “Son of the Most High,” pointed to His equality with YHWH; The Lord God. In Semitic thought, a son was a “carbon copy” of his father, and the phrase “son of” was often used to refer to one who possessed his “father’s” qualities. Therefore, Jesus was the offspring or Son of the God, The Most High! As such, He is heir to the Heavenly Throne while in His humanity. Since He is already one with God, He is already the Most High! But, in His humanity, He is also qualified to sit upon the heavenly throne of God.
HUPSISTOS, ὕψιστος that means, “the highest or most high,” is used in classical Greek literature to denote the highest of all heights. In Scripture, it is used as a reference to heaven, the abode of God or to designate the name of God, as the Hebrew ELYON, “Most High,” also did. Here, it is used by Gabriel in the naming and veneration of God, the God of the heavens as “The Most High”, cf. vs. 35, 76, who is above all rule and authority, Eph 1:21; Mat 28:18; Col 1:16.
Eph 1:21, “Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”
It is used by another angel, albeit a fallen one, when Jesus is identified as the Son of God in Mark 5:7; Luke 8:28. We will also see this word when worship is expressed by the angelic hosts at the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:14. Cf. Acts 7:48; 16:17; Heb 7:1.
Mark 5:7, “And shouting with a loud voice, he said, ‘What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!’”
3. He will be given the throne of His father David.
In this passage, we not only see Jesus’ heavenly reign, but we see His earthly one as, “the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.” Here, we see that Jesus is also the “son” of David, as David is his “father,” PATER. Notice that Jesus has two fathers. The first is God the Father from heaven. The second is king David from earth. Another way to say it is that He has dual “sonship,” which means He has dual “heirship.” Not only is He qualified to sit upon the heavenly throne of God, He is qualified to sit upon the earthly throne of David, as the King of Israel. It tells us Jesus will have human roots in the house of David, the royal line of Israel which shows His humanity and qualifies Him to be Messiah.
Having these two “fathers” means He has two reigns; a heavenly one and an earthly one. This statement by Gabriel was in fulfillment of the prophecies concerning David’s Son’s eternal rulership, 2 Sam 7:12-13, 16; Isa 9:6-7; 11:1-5; Jer 23:5; Dan 7:27.
2 Sam 7:12-14, “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14aI will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me.”
2 Sam 7:16, “And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”
Isa 9:6-7, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.”
Isa 11:1-5, “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. 2The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 3And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; 4but with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. 5Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, and faithfulness the belt about His waist.”
Jer 23:5, “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land’.”
His birth is the beginning of fulfilling the Davidic covenant God made with David; he would have a son to be King and sit on a throne forever. Because He was the son of Joseph in a legal sense, as specifically mentioned by Luke in vs. 27, Jesus is also the son of David. David as His “father,” emphasizes Jesus’ legitimate role as the Messianic heir to David’s throne. Matthew was content to confine the angel’s message to one of salvation, but Luke’s version includes strong statements validating Jesus’ right to sit on the throne of David, thus establishing Him as the Messiah. As such, God is fulfilling His kingdom promises to the people of Israel, Isa 9:1-7; 11-12; 61; 66; Jer 33.
Therefore, both phrases of vs. 33, provide a type of parallelism reinforcing that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise made to David in 2 Sam 7:13. Whereas Jesus’ legal lineage through Joseph gave Him the right to sit on the throne, His relationship as the Son of God makes this reign eternal. In not so subtle of terms, Luke is identifying Jesus as God, the King, the Most High, and as the rightful heir to the prophetic eternal throne of David.
Today, Jesus is enthroned in heaven, Acts 2:29-36, but is not on David’s throne. One day, Jesus will return and establish His righteous kingdom on earth, and then these promises will be fully fulfilled.
4. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever.
Luke 1:33, “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
No human ceremony crowned Him King except the mocking ceremony at His trial and crucifixion, Mark 15:16-20, 26, 32. Yet, God pronounced Him King at His birth and will reveal His royal splendor when He returns to rule the world.
So, here we see the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant that God made with Abraham, that he would have a people and nation forever.
Mat 1:1, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
“Reign over,” is the Future, Active, Indicative of the root Verb BASILEUO, βασιλεύω with the Preposition EPI that means, “to reign over, to rule as king, to have authority over, or govern.” The NT uses it to declare God’s sovereign authority over all other rulers and powers. Ultimately, all rebellion and evil will be overthrown, and God will reign in righteousness unopposed, forever.
“Kingdom,” is the Noun BASILEIA, βασιλεία that means, “kingdom, domain, rule or reign.” This is the object of that which is ruled over; the kingdom. Although the main emphasis here is on the eschatological (future) kingdom or throne of David, Jesus’ kingdom includes the here and now of the earthly, as well as the spiritual kingdom lived within your soul. And as stated, it will exist forever and ever.
This rulership and kingdom is over, “the house of Jacob,” HO OIKOS IAKOB, which in essence means, the Hebrew people and nation of Israel. As Jacob, who is also called Israel, was the Son of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham, Luke 3:34; Mat 1:2. This phrase is only used here in the NT. It is an OT phrase referring to the nation of Israel as a whole, Gen 46:27; Ex 19:3; Psa 114:1; Isa 2:5; 14:1; Jer 2:4; 5:20; Ezek 20:5; Micah 3:9.
Ex 19:3, “Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel.”
Interestingly, when the name “Jacob” is used, it typically is reflecting his humanity and sinfulness, or that of the people of Israel. When “Israel” is used, it typically represents the spiritual life, or that of the people, cf. Gen 32:28; 35:9-12; Acts 2:36; Heb 8:8, 10.
Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Therefore, using “the kingdom of Jacob,” also emphasized Jesus’ humanity and His earthly reign that will last forever. As we know from Scripture, entrance into Jesus’ kingdom only comes to those who believe in Him as their Savior. Only by being born again can one enter this Kingdom, John 3:3-5. So, the Cross of Jesus Christ, where in His humanity He took of the sins of the entire world, is also in view.
John 3:3-5, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ 4Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?’ 5Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God’.”
When Jesus began to minister, He associated His message with the Messianic expectations of the people, as He picked up on John’s announcement that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” cf. Mat 3:1-2; 4:17. Jesus announced that the time of fulfillment had come when He was preaching the gospel, Mat 4:23f.; 2:28.
5. His kingdom will never end.
Gabriel also made an announcement of prophetic fulfillment, when he states that Jesus’ kingdom will be “forever” and “have no end.” “Forever,” is EIS HO AION, literally, “to the ages,” and “will have no end,” is EIMI OUK TELOS that describes the time aspect of the promised Kingdom of Israel and David that Jesus Christ would reign over. We could also say, “for all of eternity,” cf. 2 Sam 7:13, 16; Psa 89:36-37; Dan 2:44; 7:14, 18, 27; Mat 28:18; Heb 1:8; Rev 11:15.
In the grace plan of God for the salvation of the entire world, He did something fantastic. He sent His Son into the world so that:
- He would be great.
- He would be called the Son of the Most High.
- He would be given the throne of His father David.
- He would reign over the house of Jacob forever.
- His kingdom would never end.
These are all titles and superlatives related to Jesus the Savior that fulfill God’s promises to Israel and to mankind.
Luke 1:34-35, “Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”
In these passages, we see Mary questioning Gabriel about all that he told her and his response. Mary expresses no doubt in what Gabriel says, but only asks about the conception. She is not asking, “Can you do it?” She is not questioning the validity of her pregnancy. She is asking, “How will you do it?” Her question builds on faith, not unbelief. This is why Gabriel does not rebuke.
Remember that Zachariah too questioned Gabriel about his announcement regarding the birth of John the Baptist in vs. 18, “How will I know this for certain?” There, Zachariah first shows his doubt, and then his second response is a question about the conception, which we can assume was not from a place of faith and inquisitiveness. In addition, based on Gabriel’s responses to Zachariah and Mary, Zachariah’s was done in doubt, whereas Mary’s questioning was done in an inquisitive manner, as Gabriel punished Zachariah with muteness, yet Mary only received more information.
“The youthful village maiden, amid her humble daily duties, shows a more ready faith in the far more startling message than the aged priest in the holy place of the temple in the atmosphere of the sacred incense.” (The Fourfold Gospel: or A Harmony of the Four Gospels.) cf. vs. 45.
She also states, “since I am a virgin,” which in the Greek is EPEI ANER OUK GINOSKO, which is literally, “since a man I have not known.” The Present Tense of GINOSKO is a retroactive progressive present, which is an action begun in the past that continues into the present, with emphasis on the present time. It means, she has not, in the past right up to this present moment, had sexual relations with a man. Therefore, she was, and still is, a virgin.
Sensing this conception to be near, and knowing that she was a virgin, and her wedding date was month’s away, and that she did not want to break the Law, she rightly inquires “How can this be done.” Clearly, the Lord did not expect her to sin, so Gabriel will tell her in the following verses.
In vs. 35, Gabriel does not attempt to explain the details of this miracle, as I tried to in the Meiosis and Polar Body discussion above. Instead, he tells Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,” HAGIOS PNEUMA EPERCHOMAI. Cf. Mat 1:18-20.
EPERCHOMAI, ἐπέρχομαι that means, “come upon, approach, or overtake,” is used in Luke 1:35; Acts 1:8, regarding the Holy Spirit who “comes upon” those blessed by God. This “coming upon” from above by the Holy Spirit brings “power,” DUNAMIS. In Mary’s case, the power to conceive and in Acts 1:8, the indwelling enabling power of the Holy Spirit for Church Age believers.
This power is from “the Most High,” HUPSISTOS once again, that means from God Himself, who will “overshadow” Mary, EPISKIAZO, ἐπισκιάζω that means, “to shade or to overshadow.” It is used in a metaphysical sense as an obscuring that distorts the true perspective of an object to be known. It was used in the LXX for the cloud pillar that overshadowed the meeting tent of Moses, which was a visible manifestation of God, our Lord Jesus Christ for Israel, Ex 40:35. It also brings to mind Gen 1:2, where the Holy Spirit was “hovering over” the face of the deep in creation. In the NT, it symbolizes the presence of God overshadowing or being with and providing power. In this case, it was the power to create a body for the Lord Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union. It was also the word used at the transfiguration. And, in all five NT usages, it speaks to God’s power and glory, Mat 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 1:35; 9:34; Acts 5:15. Therefore, by the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of God the Father, a body was prepared for God the Son who would be brought forth by Mary.
The Importance of the Virgin Birth by the Holy Spirit.
1. Two categories of omnipotence were involved in the preparation of the true humanity of Christ in hypostatic union: the omnipotence of God the Father and the omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit.
2. The Old Sin Nature (OSN) resides in every cell in the human body save one, and that is the female egg when released in ovulation. Through Meiosis and Polar bodies, the 23 chromosomes in the egg are free from the Old Sin Nature. The 23 male chromosomes provided in copulation carry the Old Sin Nature.
3. The virgin Mary had an OSN. Both males and females are carriers of the OSN, but only the male can transmit it in copulation. Therefore, God the Holy Spirit provided 23 perfect male chromosomes, meaning they were without the OSN, to Mary’s 23 female chromosomes.
4. Our Lord was born as true and perfect humanity exactly as Adam was created true and perfect humanity. Our Lord was born trichotomous, having body, soul, and spirit; Adam was created trichotomous, having a body, soul, and spirit.
5. When Adam and the woman sinned, they became dichotomous, and spiritual death replaced the human spirit.
6. At our physical birth, God simultaneously imputes human life to our soul and Adam’s original sin to the OSN. Therefore, we are born into the world physically alive and simultaneously spiritually dead. Being spiritually dead means we are totally cut off from God, having only a body and soul.
7. However, our Lord’s physical birth was definitely unique; for the omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit fertilized Mary’s egg with 23 perfect male chromosomes. Therefore, our Lord was born without the OSN; therefore, there could be no imputation of Adam’s original sin.
8. Being born perfect and trichotomous with body, soul, and spirit, our Lord was born into the prototype spiritual life. He was filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. He remained inside the prototype spiritual life throughout His life, even though He was tempted far beyond anything we have ever known.
9. Having no OSN and no sin of His own, He qualified as the perfect sacrifice, “without spot or blemish,” for our sins upon the Cross.
10. Therefore, the virgin birth is a major issue. Without the virgin birth, our Lord was not qualified to become our Savior in true humanity.
Next, we see that as a result of the Holy Spirit’s overshadowing, Mary will give birth to a “holy offspring,” HAGIOS GENNAO. HAGIOS means, “holy,” but also “set apart.” Jesus was set apart for special ministry during His life, as we know. GENNAO is the word used for “begat, begotten, or father of,” in the lineage passages of Matthew and Luke. Therefore, because Jesus would be conceived by “the Most High,” or God, and be “the Holy offspring” or son, He could legitimately “be called,” KALEO, “the Son of God,” HUIOS THEOS.
This is the first time the term “Son of God,” would be used for Jesus, which became a distinctive term for Him. And, as we noted above, in Jewish thought being called, “the son of,” made the offspring equal to the father in essence and attribute. Therefore, Jesus, the Son of God, is considered to be God Himself, which He is as the 2nd member of the Trinity.
God, through Gabriel, reveals two of the greatest mysteries in the universe: the incarnation and the Trinity. Interestingly, Luke gives us a Trinitarian account in these passages.
1. The Most High = God the Father.
2. He tells us directly of the Holy Spirit.
3. The Holy offspring and Son of God tell us of Jesus Christ.
Gabriel refers to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit each having a part. But it is God the Son who will take on Himself human flesh in the humility of a babe.
Heb 10:5, “Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, ‘SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME’.” Cf. Psa 40:5.
Because of the Future Tense, some have interpreted “He shall be called the Son of God,” as implying that He became the Son of God at His birth, thus denying His eternal Sonship. Yet, the Scriptures teach that He was the Son before He was sent; not only was one of the persons of the Godhead sent, but the One sent was the Beloved Son of the eternal Father, 1 John 4:14 “the Father sent the Son.” Many other such verses teach that it was the eternal Son who came, John 1:1, 14, 18; 3:16, 31-36; 4:34; 5:24, 30; 17:24; Heb 1:1-3; 7:1-3; 1 John 4:9-10.
Because Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, He is the perfect Savior. He needed to be God to supply the righteousness humans could not achieve. He needed to be man to supply to God the sacrifice we owe. So, He became the only mediator between God and man; the God-man, Christ Jesus. He is the only way for men to come to God.
As such, we find three aspects to Jesus being called the Son of God:
- Because of His eternal, immutable, and unparalleled relationship with God the Father, John 1:1, 14, 18.
- Because He was born into the world in a supernatural manner; overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.
- Because by His resurrection He was begotten from the dead, Rom 1:4; Acts 13:33; Psa 2:7, signifying His purpose for coming into the world and His victory won at the Cross, cf. 1 Cor 15:54-57.
Rom 1:4, “Who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The Hypostatic Union of the God‑man.
1. The pre-incarnate person of Christ is classified as undiminished deity. He is coequal, co-infinite, and co-eternal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
2. The post-incarnate person of Christ is classified as hypostatic union. He is undiminished deity and true humanity in one person forever.
3. Because of the virgin pregnancy and resultant virgin birth, the true humanity of Christ was trichotomous, having a body, soul, and spirit like Adam at creation.
4. Jesus Christ is God, and as God, He is coequal and coeternal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. All three members of the Trinity have identical essence. When speaking of the attributes of God, God is said to be one. But there are actually three persons in the Godhead, all having identical attributes. Each one has coequal, coeternal, and coinfinite sovereignty, holiness, justice, righteousness, love, eternal life, omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, immutability, veracity, etc. So, God is one in essence, but three in persons.
5. But Jesus Christ became different from the Father and the Holy Spirit at the point of the virgin birth, because He now became true humanity; hence, the God‑man. This is the doctrine of the hypostatic union.
6. In the person of the incarnate Christ are two natures, inseparably united, without mixture or loss of separate identity, without loss or transfer of properties or attributes, the union both personal and eternal.
7. In other words, since the incarnation, our Lord Jesus Christ is both true humanity and undiminished deity in one person forever. So, Jesus Christ is different from the Father and the Spirit in that He is true humanity. He is different from true humanity in that He is God.
8. Whoever is the mediator between God and man must be equal with both parties. Jesus Christ is both God and true humanity. Therefore, as God He is equal with the party of the first part, God the father. As true humanity, He is equal and superior to all members of the human race, the part of the second part. So, as the God‑Man, He becomes the mediator between God and man.
9. The pre-incarnate person of Christ was Deity. But once His First Advent occurred at the point of the virgin birth, Jesus Christ became the unique person forever, the God‑man in hypostatic union
10. In the Incarnation, no attribute of essence was changed. The union of the Divine and human natures of the incarnate Christ must be considered hypostatic and personal. The Greek noun HUPOSTASIS means, “substance, essence, standing under, taking a thing upon oneself.” Christ took upon Himself true humanity since hypostatic refers to the whole Person of Christ as distinguished from His two natures; Divine and Human also called theanthropic, the God-man, John 1:1-2, 14; Rom 1:3-4; 9:5; Phil 2:5-9.
The False Interpretation of the Hypostatic Union: Gnosticism.
Gnosticism implies that the deity of Christ is possessed by the humanity of Christ or indwelt the humanity of Christ, saying that the union is only harmony or sympathy. In truth, the union is personal. The two natures have been combined into one essence which is personal and eternal.
Luke 1:36-37, “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Gabriel, in grace, continues to provide Mary information about her pregnancy to further bolster and strengthen her faith. Interestingly, even though Mary did not ask for a miraculous sign or confirmation as Zachariah did in doubt and unfaithfulness, the angel provided her with something to build her confidence and sustain her hope and faith through the difficult days to come.
Gabriel tells Mary that her “relative,” SUNGENES, that means, “blood relative or related,” (we do not know if she was an aunt, cousin, or even a sister in-law), was also pregnant, “conceived,” SULLAMBANO.
This too, was part of the grace plan of God for Mary’s benefit. What had happened to Elizabeth was an extra assurance to Mary that all the words spoken to her would be fulfilled in their time. In God’s grace, He provided this information to Mary so that she could gain faithful assurance in His Plan.
In addition, Mary was given a task to perform that would leave her open to false charges and accusations, as Mary would become pregnant prior to completing the marriage contract with Joseph. It would have potentially brought great ridicule, or even death, upon her from the society. As such, it was grace on God’s part that she was informed of the one person who would understand what God was doing. In addition, it gave Mary a chance to escape to her relative’s home that was near Jerusalem and avoid any unwarranted shame, cf. vs. 39-45, 56.
Our Father in heaven knows what we can take and what we cannot take; He is never slow in giving full assurance, even when we might be “slow of heart to believe,” Luke 24:25.
Then, in vs. 37, Gabriel assured Mary even further by stating, “For nothing will be impossible with God,” PARA THEOS OUK PAN RHEMA ADUNATEO. Literally it states, “for God not any thing will be impossible.” It was a common religious saying among the Jews and early Christians, Gen 18:14; Job 42:2; Jer 32:17, 27; Mat 19:26; Rom 4:21.
Gen 18:14, “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Job 42:2, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.”
Jer 32:27, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”
The Noun RHEMA means, “a thing spoken, word, saying, thing, matter, or event.” Here it has the dual connotation of, “What God says He will do,” and “Nothing is impossible for God to do.”
The Verb ADUNATEO, ἀδυνατέω, “to be impossible,” is in the Future, Active, Indicative. Its root is DUNAMIS for “inherent power or ability.” With the negative prefix it means, “without power, without ability, or impossible.” When referring to persons ADUNATEO is used to speak of a “lack of strength or being unable to do something.” Linked with the Greek negative Particle OUK it means, “not without power, not without ability, or not impossible.” ADUNATEO is only used here and Mat 17:20. In Mat 17:20, it is used for those who have faith the size of a mustard seed.
Mat 17:20, “And He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you’.”
In other words, God is omnipotent and able to do all things, including cause two women to become miraculously pregnant in highly unique ways. The 1901 American Standard Version reads: “For no word of God shall be void of power.”
Therefore, this is a statement of faith that we should live by every day. Many times we limit God as to what He can and cannot do; we put Him in a box. But, our God is the all-powerful, all-mighty, omniscient God, where nothing is impossible for Him to perform in time or space. We have to remember that and call upon Him with that assurance in our times of need, as Gabriel is reminding Mary of this same grace principle for her to apply in faith.
This phrase also means that every single word or item noted by Gabriel will be fulfilled, not merely the general content of the promise. The purpose is to build Mary’s faith in God’s ability to do what is humanly impossible, not only for now, but throughout the rest of her life, as she will face many daunting challenges throughout her life.
“The moment you admit the existence of God, you must deny the impossible. With God it’s nothing that a barren woman and a virgin woman would both conceive. In fact, that’s just like God!” (Christ-Centered Exposition.)
Luke 1:38, “And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”
Take note of how both Elizabeth and Mary responded to the miraculous activity of God. Mary felt stunned, surprised, humbled, and curious, but never once did she say, “This is impossible! I do not believe what I am hearing.” Nor did she object, “There is no way I am going to stand before the people of Nazareth and listen to them call me a harlot or my son illegitimate. I refuse to spend the rest of my life defending myself and my honor!”
Instead, we see Mary’s willing acceptance from faith in God’s Word and His plan for her life. She considered herself rightly as a DOULE, “servant, bond slave,” (the feminine of DOULOS), “of the Lord,” KURIOS. Cf. Hannah in 1 Sam 1:11.
1 Sam 1:11, “She made a vow and said, ‘O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head’.”
Mary also replied, “be it done to me according to your word.” “Word,” here is RHEMA once again, and “be it done,” is the Aorist, Middle Deponent, Optative of the Verb GINOMAI that means, “to be, to come into being, to be made, be done, etc.” The Optative is rarely used in the NT; only 70 times. It is said to be the Mood used when the “speaker wishes to portray an action as possible,” (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics).
Therefore, Mary is not just resigning to the fact of occurrence of the things told to her, she implies a desire that they should happen. It indicates her full acceptance and participation in the matter, as well as her excitement about it. In great faith, she not only believes the promises, but prays for their fulfillment. In faith, she not only bowed to the will of God, but she whole heartedly and enthusiastically accepted it.
Here, we see that faith leads to servanthood, which she was and would continue to be. Mary has the exemplary attitude of God’s servant, despite what this might cost her in reputation from those who do not appreciate what really happened. Therefore, we see that a right appreciation of the Lord, leads to a correct assessment of self.
Mary’s response is one of the greatest testimonies in Scripture of faithful, humble obedience. Her submission to the message is most touching. Even though the angel said that she was highly “graced out,” (favored), she said that she was the “bond slave of the Lord,” in His hand to do with her according to His will.
- It reminds us of what Isaiah said in Isa 6:8, “Here I am. Send me.”
- It reminds us of what Esther said in Esther 4:15, “If I perish, I perish.”
- It reminds us of what Ruth said to Naomi in Ruth 1:16, “Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”
- It reminds us of what Job said in Job 13:15, “Even if he kills me, I will hope in him.”
- It reminds us of what her Son would one day say in Luke 22:42, “Father, … not My will, but Yours be done.”
This is how faithful people respond to God’s plan, even when they do not understand it. The only way a person can genuinely say what Mary says in vs. 38, and does in vs. 39, is to believe that God’s plan is better than their plan for themselves.
Even though she knew she would be accused of adultery, an offense punishable by stoning to death, Deut 22:13-21; cf. John 8:3-5, she willingly and graciously submitted to the will of God, as Mary’s believing response was to surrender herself to God as His willing servant.
She experienced the grace of God, Luke 1:30, and believed the Word of God, and therefore, she could be used by the Spirit to accomplish the will of God. She belonged totally to the Lord, body, Luke 1:38, soul, Luke 1:46, and spirit, Luke 1:47.
While not understanding all the particulars, she responded with immediate belief, complete submission, and total trust in her Lord. Luke also records no hesitation from Elizabeth in believing the Lord could accomplish a miracle. Both she and Elizabeth lived in the horizontal dimension, but they never forgot the vertical. They lived in the realities of a broken, sinful world, but they remained open to the intervention of God’s grace.
What an example for us to follow, Rom 12:1-2. Like Mary, we cannot truly be servants of Christ unless we accept His plan for our lives. Faith is nothing more than responding to God’s grace in your life. He cannot be your Lord, if you insist on ruling yourself. If he is Lord, then you are a servant, a glad servant of God. This is how faith replies to grace. Do you have this kind of faith? Mary and Elizabeth did, and I pray that you do too.
Luke 1:39-40, “And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.”
In vs. 39, “arose” is the Greek Verb ANISTEMI ἀνίστημι that is used literally here and in many other passages. But, it is also used for Jesus Christ “rising from the dead,” i.e., the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Matthew 17:23; 20:19; Luke 9:22; 18:33, and the promise of resurrection for the Church, 1 Thes 4:14, 16. So this “rising” of Mary may be an allusion to the resurrection of Christ, giving us the bookends of His life story, from conception to resurrection.
Next we note that “haste,” is the descriptive Genitive Noun SPOUDE, σπουδή that means, “haste, speed, zeal, effort, earnestness, diligence, eagerness, etc.” It describes external action, “to hurry or to be quick,” to fulfill a task. But, it can also describe an internal attitude or response, “to be eager, earnest, or diligent.” In our application, the external action is in view due to the internal joy and excitement Mary had in faithful response to the Word of God given to her. It describes something that is done.
Luke 2:16, “And they came in haste (having hurried) and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.”
Here, the word “haste” is the Aorist, Active, Participle, Nominative, Plural of the Verb SPEUDO, σπεύδω that means, “to hurry, hasten, desire earnestly, strive (for).” It is only used three times in Luke, twice in Acts, (which was also authored by Luke), and once in 2 Peter 3:12. It describes the way in which the shepherds went to see the babe.
These words are telling us that God’s Word and messages are important and should be treated as such with urgency and diligence in response. His Word should not be taken lightly, but must be acted on immediately and without hesitation. These words are also used by Luke to portray the kind of commitment expected of all Christians in virtually every aspect of our lives, cf. Rom 12:1-2, 11; Heb 4:11; 6:11; 2 Peter 1:5-7, 10; 2:15; 3:14.
Rom 12:1-2, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Rom 12:11, “Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”
Heb 4:11, “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.”
Heb 6:11, “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end.”
2 Peter 1:5-7, “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.”
2 Peter 1:10, “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.”
2 Tim 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”
2 Peter 3:14, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.”
This is another Lukan theme found in his text, i.e., that God’s Word, (especially the messages regarding the giving of the Savior), always carries with it a challenge to respond in faith.
Notice that neither Mary, nor the shepherds, stop to ponder about their earthly responsibilities, relationships, wealth, etc., but immediately got up and went in haste to serve the Lord. This is how faithful people respond to God’s Word and Plan, even when they may not fully understand it. When God gives us an assignment or direction to do something, we should make haste to complete it.
The only way a person can genuinely do and say what they did, (Mary in Luke 1:38-39, the shepherds in Luke 2:15-17), is to apply faith with immediate action in their life, believing that God’s plan is better than their plan for themselves.
In both instances, they willingly and graciously submitted to the will of God, especially in Mary’s believing response, as she surrendered herself to God as His willing “bondservant,” being ready to “have done to her according to God’s Word.”
They experienced the grace of God, Luke 1:30, and believed the Word of God, and therefore, they could be used by the Spirit to accomplish the will of God, as Mary belonged totally to the Lord, body, Luke 1:38, soul, Luke 1:46, and spirit, Luke 1:47.
Even while not fully understanding all the particulars, they responded with immediate belief, complete submission, and total trust in their Lord. Luke also records no hesitation from Elizabeth in believing the Lord could accomplish a miracle. Mary, Elizabeth, and the shepherds all lived in the horizontal dimension, but they never forgot the vertical. They gave vertical praise to God and affirmed the horizontal effect of His grace. They lived in the realities of a broken, sinful world, but they remained open to the intervention of God’s grace.
So, from these stories we are reminded of two things:
1. Respond immediately to opportunities God gives you. Do not wait for special occasions to talk about the Lord. Speak up whenever the opportunity arises. You do not have to be obnoxious by forcing a conversation, but remain continually transparent about your relationship with Christ. Watch for open doors. Do not hesitate; speak freely.
2. Share your experience with others. God did not call these people to teach or preach. They had neither the training nor the skills. Instead, the Lord charged them with the responsibility to share what they had seen and heard, to describe their experience.
Remember, you do not need formal training to tell others about Jesus Christ, any more than you need medical training to tell a friend about a good doctor. If you are a believer, you have a “before-and-after” story of your experience with Jesus Christ. Before you placed your faith in Christ, your life looked one way. After trusting in Him, your life changed. Your “testimony” is simply a description of the before-and-after change you experienced. Therefore, respond immediately to opportunities and share your experience, because faith is nothing more than responding to God’s grace in your life. If two lowly women and a group of lowly shepherds could do it, so can you.
The exact timing of this visit is left uncertain by the vague phrase “at this time.” The journey from Nazareth to Zachariah’s house was approximately 80 miles, a four or five day journey, as she traveled from Nazareth to the “hill country of Judah,” which might have been the city of Hebron or near it, when comparing Joshua 20:7; 21:11; cf. Luke 1:65.
Joshua 21:11, “Thus they gave them Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron), in the hill country of Judah, with its surrounding pasture lands.”
It was one of the Levite cities located in the hill country of Judah about 19 miles southwest of Jerusalem. The city is near the ridge of the hills, and at an altitude of 3040 ft. above sea level. Hebron is the highest town in Palestine. The archaeological record shows almost continuous occupation at Hebron from the Early Bronze Age to modern times. It may be the oldest unwalled city in the world to possess that distinction.
Luke 1:41-42, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?“
In vs. 41, we see Elizabeth’s joy and excitement when she heard Mary’s greeting of which we have no details, but from what is said in the next few verses it most likely included Mary’s account of Gabriel’s visit. When these two women met together, Elizabeth heard this news they erupted with joy. They were not just joyful because they were both having babies. No. They know the Lord has shown them favor. They know the inside scoop on God’s plans for their children.
When Elizabeth heard this news, she was over joyed and her baby, “leaped in her womb.” “Leaped,” is the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb SKIRTAO, σκιρτάω that means, “leap, jump joyously, or gambol, (to leap or skip around playfully).” It is only used in this narrative, see also vs. 44, and Luke 6:23, for joyous leaping in Luke’s version of the Beatitudes.
This is a very interesting portrayal, as babes in the womb do not have the intellect to comprehend outward communications, though they are able to hear by this stage of pregnancy, six months, and respond to sounds. These verses also do not say that John the Baptist was conscious at this point and had the filling of the Holy Spirit to comprehend, as some say he had the filling of the Holy Spirit from conception. That is a myth. This reaction was a response to Elizabeth’s reaction of joy and excitement when she heard Mary’s greeting. Babes in the womb at this time in pregnancy do respond to sounds, but it is one of non-comprehension. And no one is filled with the Holy Spirit from conception or even from the day of their birth, because they are spiritually dead from birth until they are born again!
Luke 1:44, “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.”
In vs. 44, the phrase, “when it reached my ears,” tells us that it was Elizabeth’s comprehension of what Mary stated and her joyous reaction that the baby in her womb responded to. If it where the babe, John the Baptist’s reaction, she would have said, “when it reached the babe’s ears in my womb,” which it does not. Nevertheless, Elizabeth was overjoyed to hear of the information Mary was sharing with her about the conception and future birth of the Messiah. The question we can ask ourselves is, “do others respond to the joy I express in my Lord?”
Now, the interesting part about the “leaping,” is that this word was used in the LXX in Malachi 4:2, for joy expressed by the righteous when the judgment of God comes upon evildoers in the end times: they will “skip about and leap like calves released from the stall.” The context there is that this leaping is a characteristic of the last days with the appearance of “Elijah” as an end-time witness. Therefore, the appearance of SKIRTAO in Luke 1:41, 44, suggests the destiny of the new Elijah, (John the Baptist), “leaping” in response to the voice of his mother who was responding to the voice of “the mother of my Lord.” This is the eschatological joy triggered by the coming of Divine judgment against an evil world. Similarly, in Luke 6:23, those who are experiencing persecution should “Be glad in that day and leap for joy,” because persecution is a sign of God’s impending judgment and vindication of His servants. Also, causing the lame to leap, and healing generally, is a sign of the kingdom of God breaking into this age, Isa 35:6, fulfilled in Luke 7:22; Acts 3:2-8. Therefore, before John the Baptist could walk or talk or even comprehend, God was using him as a sign of Elijah as the forerunner of the Messiah to announce the Kingdom of God come in Christ.
We also see in vs. 41, that Elizabeth received the Age of Israel type enduement of the Holy Spirit, “was filled with the Holy Spirit,” whereby she was inspired to make a Divine prophetic proclamation in vs 42-44, just like Deborah who gave a Spirit inspired utterance over Jael, Judges 5:24. This type of inspired speech coming as the result of Spirit infilling is a primary Lukan theme, e.g., Zachariah, Luke 1:67; Simeon, Luke 2:27; Jesus, Luke 4:14, 15; those in the upper room, Acts 2:4; Peter, Acts 2:15; Peter, John, and their friends, Acts 4:31; and Stephen, Acts 6:8-10; 7:55, 56. As such, Mary’s unborn son is recognized as the Lord, and Mary becomes a model of faith.
In vs. 42, “she cried out” is the verb ANAPHONEO ἀναφωνέω that means, “to cry out with a loud voice, cry aloud.” It is only used here in the NT. This is a variation of the more common root word PHONEO meaning, “to cry out, to speak forth, or to sound forth loudly.” It is sometimes used in the LXX in contexts of worship and praise, 1 Chron 15:28; 16:4-5, 42; 2 Chron 5:13. Therefore, it represents both enthusiasm and confidence in expressing ones joy in God and His plan.
“Blessed among women” is similar to Deborah’s response to Jael, Judges 5:24. “Blessed,” here is the Perfect, Middle, Participle of the Verb EULOGEO, εὐλογέω that means, “speak well of, praise, honor, extol, or bless.” In other words, God’s Divine favor has been bestowed on her, and as a result, she will be praised and honored among all the women of the world. Mary is not blessed “above women,” as one who could then impart grace to others, or that we should pray to her. No, she is blessed “among women” as the “graced out” one who received the greatest blessing of any woman next to their own personal salvation. So, this phrase means she will be recognized for the fantastic blessing God bestowed on her, as she rightly should. She will be honored, but we should never pray to her or treat her in any way like we would God. Finally, given the Greek construction of this verse, the phrase could be understood as, “of all women most blessed are you.”
Elizabeth’s reference to Mary’s unborn child as, “the fruit of your womb,” also has OT precedent, cf. Gen 30:2; Deut 7:13; Lam 2:20, and implies that by this time Mary had already conceived.
In vs. 43, Elizabeth is showing humility as a servant of the Lord by stating in essence, “How can I have been thought worthy of such an honor?” We also see her faith being applied as she recognizes that Mary’s baby is “my Lord,” which is also an early witness to the Divinity of Jesus, as well as a witness of Elizabeth’s faith and salvation as she believed Him to be God and the Messiah in one.
Nowhere in the NT is Mary called, “Mother of God.” She was, however, the mother of Jesus the Messiah and Lord, who was also God incarnate. But God does not have a mother. He has always existed and is self-sustaining. He does not have or ever needed a mother. But, the humanity of Jesus did have a mother and she is Mary.
In vs. 44, Elizabeth reiterates what we noted in vs. 41. Therefore, we have a double emphasis of this fact, in which the second iteration is espoused when she was filled with the Holy Spirit. As such, it is a Divinely inspired proclamation for the benefit of Mary to hear, as well as us. Therefore, it is further encouragement, by the grace of God, for Mary, so that she would be sustained while at peace throughout her entire ordeal.
The leaping here is noted as “for joy,” which is the Dative Noun AGALLIASIS, ἀγαλλίασις that means, “rejoicing, exultation, joy, gladness, etc.” It names that emotion from hearing the news of the Messiah. It was used regarding hearing the news of John’s birth in vs. 14, here, and in Acts 2:46; Heb 1:9; Jude 1:24.
Heb 1:8-9, “But of the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. 9You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your companions’.”
Jude 1:24, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.”
In vs. 45, Elizabeth’s joy and faith are further noted in her proclamation, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
Here, Elizabeth becomes the first woman, among all women, to honor Mary by proclaiming the grace bestowed upon Mary, as well as Mary’s faith.
“Blessed,” here is not one of the cognates of CHARIS, “grace,” as “favored” was in vs. 28, 30. Nor, is it EULOGEO of vs. 42, that meant, “spoken praise and honor.” Instead it is the Greek Noun MAKARIOS, μακάριος that means, “blessed, fortunate, or happy.” It means, “the gracious favor of God being upon someone.” It is the word used in the “Beatitudes,” in Mat 5.
Heb 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
This is Elizabeth’s pronouncement that Mary had received a grace blessing from God. This word also carries the connotation that someone has acted upon God’s Word for their life, John 20:29; Rev 22:7; cf. Rev 1:3.
John 20:29, “Jesus said to him (Thomas), ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed’.”
So, we see both the faith of Elizabeth, who did not see or hear Gabriel yet believed, and of Mary, who did see and hear Gabriel’s announcement and also believed. They both are acting upon the Word of God they have received by believing it.
Rev 22:7, “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”
Mary is blessed because she believed “believed,” PISTEUO, πιστεύω God’s Words and is now acting upon them. PISTEUO means, “believe, have faith in, be convinced of, trust, rely on, have confidence in, etc.” In other words, this is “faith in action,” resulting in Mary being a blessed individual by God. Remember, faith is the first blessing by God we receive.
At the same time, we see Elizabeth’s faith, in that she too believed what God had told her through Zachariah, and now through Mary. Her proclamation “that or because there will be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord,” tells us that Elizabeth absolutely believed them too.
“Fulfillment,” is the Noun TELEIOSIS that means, “fulfillment or perfection.” Aristotle and Philo used the term in the sense of actualization or execution of a resolve or an oath. It was also used for the execution or completion of a plan, and that is how it is meant here. In other words, everything said by Gabriel will come to completion or come to perfection in the sense of being done. This word is only used here and in Heb 7:11. In Heb 7, it references the “perfection” of Jesus Christ’s Priesthood to save, in the order of Melchizedek, as the King-Priest, compared to that of the Levitical Priesthood through the Law. Therefore, in the only other use of this word, Jesus’ Priesthood, Kingship, and Messiahship are noted, which are also found in the prophetic words of Gabriel told to Mary about her Son.
Luke 1:46-56, “And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, 47And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. 49For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. 50And His mercy is upon generation after generation, Toward those who fear Him. 51He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. 52He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. 53He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed. 54He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, 55As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever.”
56″And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.”
In these passages, there are 20 or so discernable OT quotations and allusions. It shows how much Mary knew of her Scriptures and how cherished they were in her home. She blends quotations and allusions to Messianic psalms and OT prophecy.
In addition, this is very similar to the great exaltation of Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel, found in 1 Sam 2:1-10. In vs. 46, we see a quote from Psa 34:2-3.
Psa 34:2-3, “My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice. 3O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.” Cf. Psa 35:27; 69:30.
These passages are typically called “the Magnificat,” from the first word found in the Latin translation of this great exaltation by Mary, “Magnificat anima mea Dominum,” that comes from the Greek word for “exalt,” which is the Present, Active, Indicative of the verb MEGALUNO, μεγαλύνω that can be translated, “magnify, enlarge, lengthen, extol, make great, or praise.” This word is used in vs. 58, for “displayed,” and is also used in Mat 23:5; Acts 5:13; 10:46; 19:17; 2 Cor 10:15; Phil 1:20. It is related to the Greek word MEGAS for “great” and is used in the NT for, “to extol, magnify,” e.g., “to make great by word, or to acclaim.” So, it means, “to praise a person in terms of that individual’s (God’s) greatness.”
Therefore, this is a praise psalm where God is to be praised and the reason for that praise is given in what is said. Personal reasons appear in vs. 46-49, while in vs. 50-56, corporate reasons applying to certain types of people are noted. In this praise, we see three recipients of blessings, 1) Mary, vs. 46-49, 2) All of mankind, vs. 50-53, 3) Israel, vs. 54-55. The main reason for this praise is that God is honoring His covenant.
As such, Mary is exalting or magnifying “the Lord,” KURIOS, within her “soul,” PSUCHE, which is now being expressed verbally. Hers was a joy that compelled her to lift her voice in this hymn of praise. The fullness of the Spirit should lead to joyful praise in our lives too, Eph 5:18-20, and so should the fullness of God’s Word in your Soul, Col 3:16-17.
In vs. 47, we see quotes from Psa 35:9; Hab 3:18, that completes the thought which began in the previous verse. See also Psa 24:5; 25:5; Isa 12:2; Micah 7:7. Here, we have the word “rejoice,” which is the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb AGALLIAO, ἀγαλλιάω that means, “rejoice, be overjoyed, exult.”
Habakkuk 3:18, “Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”
Luke also used this verb in Luke 10:21, as our Lord Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit as He exalted God the Father. As a later Hellenistic word it meant, “to rejoice exceedingly,” and only being used in the Bible, it primarily means, “religious exuberance” and denotes “rejoicing” to the fullest extent, cf. Acts 2:26; John 8:56.
Exceeding joy is the mark of the people of God, despite the fact that they may be experiencing persecution and hardship, and this type of joy is based upon confidence, faith, and trust in God, Mat 5:12; 1 Peter 1:6, 8; 4:13.
1 Peter 4:13, “But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”
It is also linked to rejoicing exceedingly because of the fulfillment of eschatological expectation and hope, Rev 19:7.
Like the Lord Jesus in Luke 10:21, Mary was filled with the Holy Spirit and accomplishes this rejoicing from her human spirit, PNEUMA. Both these terms, PSUCHE and PNEUMA are used throughout Scripture as expressions for the entire person. Therefore, we see Mary fulfilling the OT, and NT, command to “love the Lord with all our soul and body,” Luke 10:27; Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18.
Luke 10:27, “And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
The object of Mary’s rejoicing also notes her personal statement of faith and trust by proclaiming, “God my Savior,” THEOS MOU HO SOTER. In Hannah’s song, He is “YHWH’s King”; in Mary’s song, He is my Savior. Mary recognized her son to be her Lord and Savior. And, as such, she is not any different than the rest of fallen humanity, all of whom need Jesus the Savior.
This phrase, “God my Savior,” is used 6 other times in the NT, 1 Tim 1:1; 2:3-4; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4; Jude 1:25. It declares God as the savior of all men. This emphasizes the Plan of God the Father for our salvation, and the Deity of Jesus Christ who became man to provide us with salvation. The salvation for all of mankind is found only in and by God.
Luke 2:11, “For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
1 John 4:14, “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”
“God my Savior,” is the theme of this proclamation, and all of the following verses support or define God’s provision of salvation.
In vs. 48, we see quotes from Psa 138:6 and Gen 30:13. Here, Mary once again shows tremendous humility as a willing “bondservant,” DOULE, cf. vs. 38, by noting her “humble state” TAPEINOSIS, as a young unknown maiden of the insignificant town of Nazareth in Galilee, who would become the virgin mother of the promised Savior as prophesized in Isa 7:14. God is close to the broken and the lowly.
She also recognizes Elizabeth’s prophecy that Mary would be “blessed among women,” in vs. 42. But here, Mary takes it a step further and states that all people will bless her for all generations. In vs. 42, “blessed,” was the verb EULOGEO, meaning “spoken well of, praised, extolled,” and in vs. 45, she was “blessed,” using the noun MAKARIOS for the good fortune, guidance, and protection God would give to her during her hardships of carrying and raising the Savior. Here, we have a cognate, the verb MAKARIZO in the Future, Active, Indicative that means, “to pronounce happy, blessed, or fortunate,” and “to congratulate someone.” It really consolidates the first two “blessed” into one. It is the praise she receives because of God’s watchful care, i.e., grace being in her life. Therefore, Mary’s words of praise are her recognition of God’s watchful, BLEPO, care over her life.
MAKARIZO is only used here and in James 5:11.
James 5:11, “We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.”
This also reminds us of Leah’s plight when she stopped bearing children and God blessings her with two more sons through Zilpah, Gen 30:13. So, MAKARIZO gives us the sense that all men will recognize God’s blessing and favor upon Mary and will congratulate her, holding her in high esteem.
In vs. 49, we see quotes from Psa 24:8; Zeph 3:17, as Mary extols two attributes of God’s Deity that have been applied to her in grace.
1) He is the Mighty One, DUNATOS meaning, “having power, mighty, etc.” This is His Omnipotence. This reminds us of the principle found in Luke 18:27, “But He said, ‘The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”
In the OT, God’s might, from Hebrew term GIBBOR, is described in terms of His actions as warrior/king carried out on behalf of His people, Psa 24:8.
Psa 24:8, “Who is the King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle.”
Mary sees her event as another example of God’s mighty hand working in behalf of His people.
2) His name is Holy, HAGIOS means, “holy, consecrated, perfect, pure, etc.” This is His holiness, and reminds us of who God and Jesus Christ are, cf. vs 35; Luke 4:34.
Finally, God’s “name” ONOMA is, according to the common ancient meaning, His whole reputation or character.
As we noted above, “God my Savior,” is the theme of this proclamation, and all of the following verses support or define God’s provision of salvation. In this praise, we are noting three recipients of “blessings” or better “God’s provision for salvation,” 1) Mary, vs. 46-49, 2) All of mankind, vs. 50-53, 3) Israel, vs. 54-55. We now note the second recipient, “all of mankind.”
In vs. 50, we see an allusion to Psa 103:17, and a third attribute noted, “mercy,” ELEOS, ἔλεος that means, “mercy, compassion, sympathy, or pity.” We will see God’s faithfulness in vs. 54-55. ELEOS is further used in this narrative in vs. 54, 58, and is used of the Lord by Zachariah in vs. 72, 78.
ELEOS is a response to someone else’s condition of distress. It is the Lord’s activity on behalf of His people rooted in His compassion and mercy. Therefore, it means God’s response to our condition of distress; being under sin and its penalty of death. It is the expression of God’s covenant love. Having mercy upon man, God did something about our distress by sending His Son to save the world from their sin. This is what Mary is proclaiming here.
As she states, this mercy “is upon generation after generation”, GENEA KAI GENEA, cf. Psa 103:17, that means for all of mankind.
Psa 103:17, “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children.”
Mary then notes the recipients of this mercy, “toward those who fear Him,” even though it is available to all. This is the 1st condition in this passage, cf. vs. 52. “Fear” is the Verb PHOBEO, that means, “fear, be afraid, become terrified; worship, reverence, respect.” It is the heartfelt awe and reverence of God that is essential to the Christian faith. It means we believe in Him and His Word and respond to it. Those who do, receive His mercy, the salvation of their souls, because God’s mercy reached down to our time and place, cf. 2 Sam 22:3, 47; Psa 24:5; Micah 7:7; Titus 3:4-6; 2 Peter 1:11.
2 Sam 22:3, “My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence.”
2 Sam 22:47, “The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be God, the rock of my salvation.”
Psa 24:5, “He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”
Micah 7:7, “But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.”
Titus 3:4-6, “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
2 Peter 1:11, “For in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”
The seven Aorist verbs that appear in vs. 51-54, (EPOIESEN, DIESKORPISEN, KATHEILEN, HUPSŌSEN, ENEPLESEN, EXAPESTEILEN, and ANTELABETO), are all Gnomic.” i.e., they describe God’s customary way of acting in the past as a pattern for all future actions. Some contend that these Aorist tenses reflect the influence of the Hebrew Perfect tense, and thus prophetically treat the future as though it were already present.
Luke 1:51, “He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.”
This passage is a reference to the great “dispersion,” of Israel. In this verse we have quotes from Psa 98:1, where in vs. 2-3, it speaks of salvation, and in Psa 118:15.
Psa 98:1-3, “O sing to the LORD a new song, for He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him. 2The LORD has made known His salvation; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations. 3He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”
In Luke “might deeds” is the Noun KRATOS that means, “strength, power, might, dominion, authority.” It refers to His “manifested strength.” It is the power to rule. As God has all authority to rule, His power will be real, seen, heard, felt and perfect. It typically is translated “might or dominion,” and in the NT, it always refers to “authority” above that of humans.
1 Tim 6:16, “Who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”
With this is the word “arm” the Dative Singular of BRACHION, βραχίων. This refers specifically to the shorter part of the arm from the shoulder to the elbow, because of its relationship to the word BRACHUS, meaning “short.” It references the strongest part of the arm.
In its three occurrences in the NT, it is used metaphorically of the power of God, Luke 1:51; John 12:38 quoting Isa 53:1; and Acts 13:17. The expression occurs often in Deuteronomy, the Psalms, and Isaiah, Deut 4:34; 5:15; Psa 44:3; 77:15; 98:1; Isa 30:30; 40:10-11; 52:10; 59:16.
Therefore, combined, Mary is praising God for His working strength in providing salvation for Israel against her enemies, especially the enemy of sin, with a view to what He is now doing for all of mankind, by bringing His Son Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, into the world to save mankind.
And more specifically, we see in the second half of this verse, a reference to the Lord “scattering” nations and the people of Israel in the past for their rebellion, with the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the verb DIASKORPIZO, διασκορπίζω that means, “scatter, disperse, waste, winnow.” The sense of “scatter” or “disperse” predominates the NT understanding. Cf. Mat 26:31; Mark 14:27; with Zech 13:7.
This also has a prophetic view to what He will do to Israel for rejecting the Messiah, Jesus Christ. This is a reminder! Yet, Jesus would die not only for the Jewish nation but for the “dispersed” children of God in order to unite them together into one, John 11:51-52. This may apply to the Jews of the Dispersion, but in the light of the universalism of this Gospel, it probably also refers to the anticipation of the ingathering of the Gentiles, who become the children of God when they acknowledge the saviorhood of Christ, John 1:12; 10:16.
John 11:52, “And not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”
John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
This past “scattering” was of “those who were proud (HUPEREPHANOS – proud, arrogant, or haughty) in the thoughts (DIANOIA – mind, understanding, intellect, feelings, or disposition), of their heart (KARDIA).”
DIANOIA is also used in Luke 10:27 for “loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.” Therefore, because they did not heed the great commandment, the Lord scattered and will scatter them.
Therefore, quoting Psa 98:1, with reference to God’s strength to gain salvation for all of mankind, and speaking to God’s scattering of the arrogant peoples who reject Him, Mary is reminded of the great strength of God that is merciful, righteous, and just.
Alluding to Job 5:11, “So that He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety,” Mary continues to exalt God’s power to rule, by speaking further about His past examples of righteousness, just, and mercy.
Luke 1:52, “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble.”
“Brought down rulers” uses the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb KATHAIREO, καθαιρέω that means, “take down, tear down, destroy, or demolish.” Interestingly, this word also references the Cross of Jesus Christ, the seat of His power to rule, as it was used in Mat 15:36, 46; Luke 23:53 and Acts 13:29 in reference to taking the Lord’s body off of the Cross after His work for salvation was completed. Because of our Lord’s victory on the Cross to provide salvation for the world, He has the power to rule and judge. Cf. Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33; Rom 8:34; Col 3:1; Heb 10:12; 1 Peter 3:22.
Heb 10:12, “But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of god.”
Mark 16:19, “So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.”
Acts 2:33, “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.”
Rom 8:34, “Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”
Col 3:1, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
1 Peter 3:22, “Who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.”
Now, in Mary’s proclamation, our God took down the “rulers from their thrones,” that not only speaks of the various arrogant kings of nations, including Israel, who rejected the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but also of the elite fallen angels who are rulers of Gentile nations. The Cross of Jesus Christ accomplished the latter.
“Rulers” is the Greek Noun DUNASTES, δυνάστης where we get out English word “dynasty” from that means, “ruler, sovereign, court official, prince, or potentate.” In our passage, it is speaking of wicked or evil rulers who have rejected God and His plan for salvation. It is only used here and in Acts 8:27; 1 Tim 6:15.
1 Tim 6:15, “Which He will bring about at the proper time (Christ’s 2nd Coming)—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign (DUNASTES), the King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Notice, Jesus is the “only sovereign,” as opposed to the false god’s of the ancient pagan world that were backed by elite fallen angels, cf. Eph 6:12.
Eph 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
“Thrones” is the Noun THRONOS that means, “throne, seat (of power), or dominion.” Compare KRATOS from vs. 51. It speaks to the seat of authority, power, and dominion. It speaks of human rulership, as well as signifying angelic powers, Col 1:16, including the “throne” (i.e., authority) of the dragon which will be handed over to the beast; Antichrist, cf. Rev 13:2.
Col 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.”
Rev 13:2, “And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.”
Therefore, as God the Father will give His Son “the throne of David,” vs. 32, He will also tear down the rulers and their thrones of both men and angels that have rejected Him.
Yet, God “exalted those who were humble.” “Exalted,” is the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb HUPSOO, ὑψόω that means,” to exalt or raise on high.” This is another word in reference to the Cross of Jesus Christ, as we see Jesus speaking about Moses lifting up the Brazen Serpent in the wilderness, and likened this to His own lifting upon the Cross and its consequent effect of delivering men to eternal life, John 3:14.
This is a paradox, because in Jesus being physically lifted up, He was also humiliated because the lifting took place in His execution as a criminal. Yet, that very same humiliation produces salvation and eternal life for those who will look to Him and live, as the Israelites who looked to the Brazen Serpent lived to escape the fiery serpents who were slaying them in the wilderness. Also note that the fiery serpents in the wilderness are analogous to the false pagan demon backed gods of the ancient foreign nations that represented sin and rebellion against God.
Note too, that as a result of being lifted up on the Cross, Jesus is now lifted up in glory being seated upon a throne at the right hand of God, as noted above.
That paradox is not lost in Mary’s statement either. Because with this, we have the Adjective TAPEINOS, ταπεινός that means, “humble, lowly, undistinguished, poor, downcast, or subservient.” When speaking about people it includes the ideas of, “despised, rejected, or poor.” This is the 2nd condition we see in this proclamation, cf. vs. 50.
Like our verse, James sharply contrasts the lowly and the proud, the lowly are exalted, the proud brought down. Yet, those who are “lowly” can “boast,” knowing that their Father loves them, James 1:9; 4:6.
James 4:6, “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble’.” Cf. Psa 138:6; Prov 3:34.
James 1:9, “But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position.”
Being “humble” is tantamount to “submitting yourself to Christ as your Savior and others in service of Christ,” 1 Peter 5:5; cf. Eph 5:21. It means acknowledging that you are a sinner and are in need of a Savior. Thereby, you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.
This is how believing man is exalted and enthroned. Those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, will sit upon His throne, being in union with Him, cf. Rev 3:21; 4:4; 2 Tim 2:12; Mat 19:28.
Luke 1:53, “He has filled the hungry with good things; and sent away the rich empty-handed.”
The first half is a quote from Psa 107:9, “For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.” Cf. Psa 22:26; 34:10; 146:7.
“Hungry,” is the Present, Active, Participle of the Verb PEINAO, πεινάω that means, “to hunger or be hungry.” By extension it also means, “to long for or have an intense desire for something which is necessary for the sustenance of life.” This is our longing for a Savior, which is absolutely necessary for salvation and eternal life. It is also an intense desire for spiritual nourishment which is necessary for the continuance of living the spiritual life.
Mat 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Cf. Isa 55:1; Luke 6:21a; John 4:14; 6:35, 48f. 7:37.
This implies recognition of personal deficiency and a desire to live a godly life. The one who is hungry finds all of his actions motivated by his hunger. Jesus said, He himself is that Bread of Life who appeases the gnawing spiritual hunger of humanity. The one who comes to the person, work, and word of Jesus Christ for spiritual satisfaction, will never experience the pangs of this kind of “hunger” again, John 6:35.
John 6:35, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst’.”
And as Mary stated, they are, “filled with good things,” EMPIMPLEMI, “to fill quite full or satisfy.” It is a “satisfied” condition because one has had plenty. And it has the sense of to “enjoy something” by having your “fill” of someone’s company, Rom 15:24.
AGATHOS means, “good” of intrinsic value. It is speaking here to all the spiritual sustenance God has provided; His Son, His Word. Therefore, this phrase is speaking about all aspects of salvation and the spiritual life, both in time and eternity. Yet, it does not leave out God’s physical sustenance that He also provides to all.
In contrast, those who are “rich,” is the Present, Active, Participle of the Verb PLOUTEO that means “to be rich or wealthy,” primarily in a material way. The stem of this verb goes back to a root common to many languages meaning “to fill” or “to be filled.” So we see a contrast. Those who are filled with Satan’s cosmic system will ultimately be “empty handed,” regarding the salvation and spiritual life, both in time and eternity.
Luke 6:25, “Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”
Luke 12:20-21, “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ 21So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Rev 3:17, “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”
Keep in mind that the mere fact of being rich is not in view here, as the theme of “wealth” itself will reveal that temporal wealth ought also to be viewed as a gift of God and used properly, cf. 1 Tim 6:17-19. But in our passage, it refers to those who are living for self and the world, and do not see the necessity of a Savior or to live properly the spiritual life.
Therefore, the arrogant rich are “sent away,” the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb, EXAPOSTELLO ἐξαποστέλλω, that means, “send forth, or send away.” In every instance of this word, including here, there is a clear emphasis on the sender and on the purpose for which the one sent is being sent. For example, in contrast to our verse, Gal 4:4, tells us God sent His Son into the world to save the world.
Gal 4:4, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.” In this case, the Sender is God who sent forth His Son, Jesus Christ. It speaks of the historical condition that has to do with the mode of His coming: 1) “made of a woman,” i.e., the Virgin Mary, and 2) “made under the law.” These relate to the cultural, spiritual, and physical matrix in which the Lord was born and grew up.
As such, for those who reject what the Father has sent, namely His Son Jesus Christ, they will be sent away, “empty handed,” which is the Adjective KENOS, κενός that means, “empty, without content, worthless, vain, in vain, or ineffective.” In other words, their spiritual life will be “empty, worthless, vain, in vain, and ineffective.” Many times, this word is used for those who show up empty handed or without gifts. Therefore, if in arrogance we reject the Messiah and the things of God, we will have nothing to offer up to Him in the form of the “fruit of the Spirit.”
We noted this word in Eph 5:6, that speaks of God’s judgment against those who are empty handed because of receiving the false doctrines of the world, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”
Therefore, in the second part of Mary’s great proclamation of God the Savior in regards to all of mankind, she speaks of His Mercy to save, His power to save, and His righteous and just judgment against those who reject His salvation, including the fallen angels. Yet, He exalts and enthrones those who have humbled themselves in recognition of their need for the Savior, which He has abundantly provided to those who desire it, while rejecting those who do not, leaving them with nothing to show for their lives.
“In these verses Mary’s hymn picks up the theme of the reversal of places in the kingdom. In the new age, those who feel they have no need of God and have established themselves by their own power (i.e., the proud, the mighty, and the rich) will be “put down” (i.e., their self-made thrones will be destroyed). Those who recognize their need for God and depend on Him (i.e., those of “low degree” and the “hungry”) will be rewarded by being pulled up from their oppressed condition. This theme is present in the Old Testament as well (1 Samuel 2:4, 7; Job 12:17-25; Ezekiel 21:31).” (Complete Biblical Library).
As we noted above, “God my Savior,” is the theme of this proclamation, and all of the following verses support or define God’s provision of salvation. In this praise, we are noting three recipients of “blessings” or better “God’s provision for salvation,” 1) Mary, vs. 46-49, 2) All of mankind, vs. 50-53, 3) Israel, vs. 54-55. We now note the third recipient, “Israel.”
In both verses, there is no direct quote, but heavy reliance upon the principles found in many OT passages.
Luke 1:54, “He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy.”
“Given help,” is another of Luke’s unique terms that gives special meaning to Mary’s proclamation. It is the Verb ANTILAMBANOMAI, ἀντιλαμβάνομαι in the Aorist, Middle Deponent, Indicative that means, “help, support, or benefit by.” It is only used here and in Acts 20:35, and by Paul in 1 Tim 6:2.
In Acts 20:35, Luke is quoting Paul and our Lord, “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.” Cf. Lev 25:35.
It is a compound word from ANTI, “against, opposed to, or mutually,” and LAMBANO, “take, take hold of, grasp, seize, get, or obtain.” It is the opposite of taking or seizing, so it means, “to give or help others, or to take hold of another mutually as by the hand.”
In the LXX, it is used in the Psalms metaphorically to describe how the Lord “supports” or “helps” His people, Psa 18:35; 63:8; 119:116, and how He “protects” them, Psa 41:11; 69:29. Often the subject in these texts is “the Lord’s right hand,” pointing back to ANTILAMBANO’s literal meaning. Therefore, Mary uses it, as in the Psalms, to describe God’s support of His people, Israel, Ἰσραήλ.
Next, we see that the Greek word for “servant” is not the typical DOULOS or feminine DOULE, as Mary called herself, but is instead the Noun PAIS, παῖς, and not HUIOS, that means, “servant, child, son, or daughter.” It is also used in vs. 69. This word is a term that defines human relationships. In relation to family, it means, “son or daughter.” In relation to age, it means, “child.” And, in relation to social position, it means, “servant or slave.” So here, it is reflecting the family relationship God has with the people of Israel, as well as they being His working hand.
In the LXX (Septuagint) and NT, the use of PAIS denotes relationship to God as a “servant of God.” This usage is not found in classical Greek. Yet, it is significant in the NT, because it is used of Jesus as the servant of God. Mat 12:18 identifies Jesus with the Suffering Servant spoken of by the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, “Behold my servant,” Isa 42:1; 52:13; Mat 12:18, and Isa 53:11, “Because of the affliction of His soul, He shall be satisfied; Through His suffering, My servant shall justify many, and their guilt He shall bear.” Cf. Isa 41:8-10; 42:18f.; 43:9f.; 45:4; 48:20.
In PAIS, we have a blending of “sonship,” HUIOS, with “servanthood,” DOULOS. The concept of the sonship/servanthood of Jesus and its extension to the lives of believers is prominent in the NT. Christians are sons and daughters of God, and therefore servants following the example of Jesus.
Nevertheless, Mary is speaking about Israel’s relationship to God as His son/servant, a picture which Jesus fulfilled in His First Advent, which Israel brought forth through Mary. Jesus is the Son/Servant brought forth by Israel through Mary. It is this Son/Servant who has and would “give help,” to Israel, i.e., salvation.
Mary is speaking of the close familiar relationship God has with the people of Israel, and the help, guidance, and protection He provided to them.
In the second half of this verse, Mary gives the reason why God has helped His servant/son, Israel, “in remembrance of His mercy,” which in the Greek is simply the Verb MNAOMAI and the Noun ELEOS, which we noted in vs. 50.
MNAOMAI is in the Aorist, Passive, Infinitive for receiving ongoing action in the past. The action was God “being mindful of and remembering,” His mercy towards the people of Israel, i.e., providing a Savior. This mercy is still in view for you and I today, so that we can rely upon it.
This word reminds us of the Cross of Jesus Christ regarding forgiveness of sin. For example it is used for:
- The disciple who “remembered” that a brother had a dispute with him, he should immediately seek reconciliation, even if it meant a temporary delay in his worship, Mat 5:23-24.
- Peter “remembered” the prophetic words of Jesus after he had denied Him three times, Mat 26:34. He wept “bitterly” because of realizing what he had done, Mat 26:75.
- One of the thieves crucified alongside Jesus realized the just condemnation of his crimes and acknowledged the innocence of Jesus when he said, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” Luke 23:42.
- The writer of Hebrews speaking of the finished work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross, tells us of God’s new covenant in which He would “remember no more” the sins and iniquities of believers, Heb 8:12; 10:17; cf. Jer 31:31-34. That is because they have been paid for by Jesus upon the Cross.
Heb 8:12, “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
Luke 1:55, “As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.”
In this passage, Mary is remembering the words spoken by God to her forefathers that encompassed all of the promises and covenants He made with Israel. By saying this, Mary is telling us that she is not just making these things up, but that she is quoting the Scriptures that conveyed to her and all of Israel God’s covenant promises, especially in providing and sending the Messiah.
The phrase, “to Abraham and his descendants, (SPERMA, “seed, offspring, descendants”), means the people of Israel. But, the fact is not lost on the Gentile and Jewish believer of the Church Age, as we too are the spiritual seed of Abraham through faith, Rom 4:9-12, 18-22, that participate in the fulfillment of His covenant mercy, giving us eternal life.
And, as she states, “forever” AION, she is saying that these promises are for all of eternity, forever, for all the ages to come. She is saying that God does not lie; He is faithful and veracity, keeping and fulfilling His promises by sending the Savior, her son.
Thus, “remembrance” in connection with “mercy,” provides a striking picture of God’s faithfulness to respond according to His love and according to His covenant. And, the example of such action is the level of intimate communion that took place between Abraham and the Lord. Both “Abraham” and “his seed” are in the Dative of Advantage, and express a greater degree of personal interest. It is a reference to God’s merciful dealings with His people.
In vs. 56, we see that Mary, MARIAM, stayed with her relative Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. This would place Mary either very close to the birth of John the Baptist or being there for his birth and then leaving, but the Scriptures do not give us that information, only the time frame. So, we are left to conjecture. This also places Mary at about 3-4 months, more likely closer to 4 months in her own pregnancy, when she returned home. “Returning to her own house,” may suggest she was not yet married to Joseph. As we will see in Chapter 2, she would remain in Nazareth for up to 5 months before beginning the journey to Bethlehem where she would give birth to her, and our, Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.