The Gospel of Luke ~ Chapter 1, Part 3 ~ (Luke 1:57-80)

Luke Ch 1 Part 3 vs 59-80

 

The Gospel of Luke
Chapter 1, Part 3

(Luke 1:57-80)

 

 

 

In our outline of Chapter 1, we have already noted:

I. Preface: The Method and Purpose of Writing, vs. 1-4.

II. The Identification of the Son of Man with Men, vs. 5 – 4:13.

A. The Announcement of the Birth of John the Baptist, vs. 5-25.

B. The Announcement of the Birth of the Son of Man, vs. 26-56.

And now we conclude the chapter by noting:

III. The Advent of John the Baptist, vs. 57-80.

This section is made up of three parts:

  1. The Birth of John and rejoicing, vs. 57-58.
  2. The Circumcision and Naming of John, vs. 59-66.
  3. Zachariah’s Proclamation and Prophecy, vs. 67-80.

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Luke Ch 1 Part 3 Rejoice


1. The Birth of John and Resultant Rejoicing, vs. 57-58.

Luke 1:57-58, “Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her.”

Luke is the only Gospel writer to provide the events of John’s birth, just as he was for the announcement of John’s conception. In vs. 57-58, we see the fulfillment of the prophecy of Gabriel given to Zachariah back in vs. 5-25. This reminds us that every prophecy God makes, He fulfills, whether a short time duration prophecy such as this, or the longer duration prophecies like the 1st and 2nd Advents of Jesus Christ. God always fulfills His prophecies, and God always keeps His Word, even the promises given to you and I found in the Scriptures

In vs. 58, we see that even though Elizabeth stayed in seclusion for the first 5 months of her pregnancy, vs. 24, shortly after Mary’s arrival they went public with the information to their “neighbors,” PERIOIKOS, from the Preposition PERI, “around,” and OIKOS, “house.” It means, “around the house, living or dwelling around,” in the sense of physical location, not personal relationships, and therefore means, “neighbor.” It is only used here in the Bible; a hapaxlegomena. It is used only once in the LXX too for Deut 1:7.

With this, she also told her “relatives,” SUNGENES, cf. vs. 36, as was used regarding Elizabeth’s relationship to Mary. So, Elizabeth had other relatives living near her in the hill country of Judea.

Both her neighbors and relatives were told about her pregnancy, and now at giving birth to John, “the Lord,” KURIOS, “displayed,” MAGALUNO, (cf. vs. 46), or better “magnified and showed the power of,” something about Himself. This time, the thing magnified was God’s, “mercy toward her,” HO ELEOS AUTOS META AUTES. Remember, “mercy” is a response to someone else’s condition of distress. Here, it is the Lord’s activity on behalf of Elizabeth rooted in His compassion and mercy towards her. It is also an expression of His love. This mercy and expression of His love/compassion, was shown or magnified by allowing an older barren woman, Elizabeth, to conceive and give birth. And not just any birth, but to give birth to the forerunner of the Messiah.

Then we see that, “they were rejoicing with her.” “Rejoicing,” is the Imperfect, Active, Indicative of the Verb SUNCHAIRO that means, “rejoice with or congratulate.”  It includes a strong element of participating in the joy and well-being of another person. This also partially fulfills what Gabriel prophesied in vs. 14. The Progressive Imperfect tense is for ongoing past action that is in simultaneity with the birth of John, from Luke’s viewpoint; “they kept on rejoicing.” It is from the prefix SUN, “with,” and the Verb CHAIRO that means, “rejoice, be glad, welcome, or greet.”

Now, when a baby is born, everyone typically rejoices. Here, we have an older woman who was not able to conceive prior who has given birth, so the rejoicing is great. But, in this passage, we also see a community of faithful believers, as the context of their rejoicing is “they heard that the Lord magnified His great mercy.” “Heard,” is the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb AKOUO, and many times in Scripture means learning God’s Word through the ear gate. That is what they did, along with believing it, as now being expressed in their rejoicing. What a wonderful thing to have a community of faithful believers rejoicing in the Lord.

Principle: In a community of faithful believers, we are to rejoice at the blessings others receive, regardless of our own situation.

J. C. Ryle wrote, “There was mercy in bringing her safely through her time of trial. There was mercy in making her the mother of a living child. Happy are those family circles, whose births are viewed in this light—as special instances of the mercy of the Lord.”

The word “rejoice” using SUNCHAIRO is used in only 7 verses in the NT; the number of Spiritual Perfection. By reading each verse in the order it appears, we see the application of rejoicing that should also be in our lives.

  • We are to rejoice at the salvation of every unbeliever.

Luke 15:6, “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’”

Luke 15:9, “When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’”

  • We are to rejoice when our fellow believers are blessed by God.

1 Cor 12:26, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”

  • We are to rejoice in and with the Word of God.

1 Cor 13:6, “Does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.”

  • We are to rejoice when enduring underserved suffering for blessing for the Lord.

Phil 2:17, “But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.

Phil 2:18, “You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.”

As every one of these Scriptures tells us, we are to rejoice with others; our friends, relatives, co-workers, community, and especially our fellow members of the body of Christ. And remember, all children are gifts of God’s mercy, no matter the circumstance. Psa 127:3, “Behold, sons are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” We all should receive children with the joy that Elizabeth received John. We all should recognize children as God’s mercy to us, be thankful, and rejoice in them and in Him.

We can also take away from this that Elizabeth’s prior caution was most likely unfounded, as the community celebrates what the Lord has done. Rather than being concerned that they would reject the Word of God, she should have told them right away. It appears that Mary’s presence and further encouragement with her own news caused them to be emboldened to share the Word with others.

Principle: Sometimes, our hesitation to witness is unfounded too, when in fact people will respond to our witness. So, stop trying to over analyze the situation by gauging whether people will accept your witness or not, and just let the words flow, leaving it in God’s hands to take it from there.

Religious Freedom Day is this Wednesday, January 16.

January 16 is nationally recognized as Religious Freedom Day, commemorating Thomas Jefferson’s landmark Statute for Religious Freedom. Jefferson drafted it in 1777, it was introduced in the Virginia Assembly in 1779, and ultimately shepherded by James Madison through the Assembly and enacted on January 16, 1786. George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776 and Jefferson’s Statute laid the foundation for the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which enshrines in law the freedom of religion for all Americans.

Here is a short video to commemorate our founding father’s establishment of religious freedom within our nation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWo4Om94pQA

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Luke Ch 1 Part 3 His Name is John2. The Circumcision and Naming of John, vs. 59-66.

Luke 1:59-66, “And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father. 60 But his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.”61 And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called. 63 And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished. 64 And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God. 65 Fear came on all those living around them; and all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea.66 All who heard them kept them in mind, saying, “What then will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him.”

Here we have the story of John’s circumcision and naming. Circumcision was a mandate from God first to Abraham to represent the covenant God made with him to provide a great nation from him. Gen 17:9-14; and secondly, to be in accordance with the Mosaic Law that came hundreds of years later to ratify that relationship, Lev 12:3; Acts 7:8.

Acts 7:8, “And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.”

It was a physical representation of being entered into the new racial species God had created in Abraham, the Jewish race called Israel. It was a commemoration of that great grace blessing from God. That physical representation of a new racial species was a type of the New Spiritual Species, (new creation, new creature, 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15), God creates in the Church Age believer upon salvation. It is a picture of regeneration; Abraham’s sexual regeneration typifies our spiritual regeneration found in Jesus Christ. Therefore, circumcision was also a picture of salvation. Yet, as a ritual, circumcision has no meaning to the Jew who rejects Christ as Savior, for ritual without reality is meaningless. Unfortunately, many believing Jews after Christ’s ascension, falsely insisted upon Gentile believers being circumcised, Acts 15:1-34, which Paul soundly refuted, Rom 2:25-29; Gal 5:1-6; 6:12-15; Col 2:11.

Gal 5:2, “Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.”

Gal 5:3, “And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.”

Gal 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”

Gal 6:15, “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”

Col 2:11, “And in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.

The believer receives a spiritual circumcision upon faith in Jesus Christ. It is the removal of the sin barrier that kept us from a relationship with God. The Baptism of the Spirit at salvation and the resultant Positional Sanctification is the only circumcision of the Church Age.

Phil 3:3, “For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”

Circumcision as a ritual, in the ritual plan of God for the dispensation of Israel, no longer exists. Yet, at that time, for the Jew, (as it continues to be today), circumcision was the memorial sign between God and the Jewish race. But, only with Bible doctrine in the soul was circumcision meaningful to them. This too was an OT doctrine. Because of the tendency to rely on the mere physical outward sign of inclusion in the covenant, to the neglect of the demand to believe in and serve God, several passages of the OT reiterate the need to be “circumcised in the heart,” Deut 10:16; Jer 4:4, cf. Rom 2:29. It is not enough to show only outward adherence to God; one must believe and live as a faithful servant of God. So, even in the OT, circumcision identified a relationship with God spiritually.

Deut 10:16, “So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.”

Jer 4:4, “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD and remove the foreskins of your heart, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or else My wrath will go forth like fire and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.”

That is why we see Zachariah and Elizabeth taking their son to be circumcised at this time, because they understood their relationship to God, to Abraham, the Law, and more importantly, the meaning behind the ritual, just as we will see Jesus being circumcised in Chapter 2. It was a great demonstration of their faithfulness, which is also shown in the rest of this section.

Next, we see the process of naming Zachariah’s and Elizabeth’s baby. “Typically, Jewish children were named at birth (cf. Genesis 4:25; 21:3, et al.). Some have suggested this account more closely resembles the Hellenistic custom of waiting seven to ten days before naming a child. In addition, there is no written record of naming children in association with circumcision until the Eighth Century A.D. In addition, while there is no record that it was common at this time for friends and family to be involved in the naming of a child, a similar scenario appears in Ruth 4:17.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)

Remember, at this time Zachariah was still mute and deaf from the discipline he received for wavering in his faith back in vs. 18-20. They both wanted to call their son John, according to Gabriel’s command from vs. 13, but the people thought he was going to be named after his father, Zachariah. So, in vs. 60, Elizabeth speaks up and tells them his name would be “John.” Because of Zachariah’s muteness, he was not able to speak up at this time, so Elizabeth had too. The people thought this name to be strange, vs. 61, since no one in their family was named John. Naming children based on family names, especially after the father or grandfather, was a common practice of the day. In addition, naming was sometimes associated with dominion or rule; this child will be under God’s rule, not man’s as God is the one who named him John.

But, in vs. 60, Elizabeth strongly objected “No indeed,” with the emphatic OUCHI, when in accordance with the angel’s message, Elizabeth instructed everyone what he would be “called,” using the Future, Passive, Indicative with an imperative force of the Verb KALEO, “called, named, etc..” She stated that her child’s name would be “John,” IOANNES, Ἰωάννης, which is a proper noun transliterated from the Hebrew YOCHANAN that means, “YHWH-given or YHWH has been gracious.

In vs. 61, part of the reason for the people questioning this name was that no one in their family had the name John. Typically, people were named after their relatives in honor of their “relatives;” the Noun SUNGENEIA, only used here and in Acts 7:3, 14, where it refers to relatives in the extended families of Abraham and Joseph respectively.

In, vs. 62, because no relatives had the name John and it was not customary for the mother to name the child, to confirm this, because he was also deaf, they “made signs” to Zachariah to ask him what to name the boy. This was ironic given that at the announcement of the pregnancy of Elizabeth, Zachariah was looking for a sign to be certain that what Gabriel was telling him was true, due to his lack of faith, vs. 18-20. So here, they are giving him “signs” to ask what his son’s name would be. “They made signs” is the Progressive Imperfect, Active, Indicative for ongoing simultaneous action of the Verb ENNEUO, ἐννεύω that means, “to nod, make signs, or signify.” It is only used here in the NT.

Next, in vs. 63, Zachariah asks for something to write on, PINAKIDION, (a small wooden tablet with a wax or possibly a parchment coating, which too is only used here in the NT), so he could respond to their signaled question. I love the forcefulness of Zachariah’s response. He could have just written, “John,” but he writes, “his name is John,” Boom! End of discussion!

When he wrote this, “they were all astonished,” using the Verb THAUMAZŌ, θαυμάζω that means, “to wonder, marvel at, admire, be astonished, or be amazed.” The people’s reaction reflects the finality and authority of Zachariah’s response. It also continues the aura of mystery and wonder that Luke gives to the birth and life of John the Baptist. Interestingly, most of the usages of the word THAUMAZO have to do with people’s reaction to the healing activity and miraculous power of Jesus Christ. And, don’t you know that Zachariah was healed of his muteness and deafness right after this, vs. 64.

In vs. 64, following Zachariah’s faithfulness to the message of Gabriel, he was healed “at once” or “immediately,” the Adverb PARACHREMA, (that is also used predominately in healing narratives). The words of the angel Gabriel from vs. 20, came true. His prophecies are once again fulfilled; God is faithful to His Word!

“Luke adds emphasis to this event by means of a literary device called a zeugma (i.e., the use of a word [“opened”] with two other words in a given context [“mouth,” and “tongue”] of which only one is appropriately used [“mouth”]).” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary).

So, we see that at the precise moment of Zachariah’s faith and obedience to the Word of God, in mercy, God lifted his punishment and freed Zachariah’s mouth, and we can assume restored his hearing too. Just as when the unbeliever demonstrates faith in Jesus Christ by believing in Him, God frees him from the slave market of sin and gives him salvation. Likewise, when we demonstrate faith in God to rebound, 1 John 1:9, and recover, God restores our fellowship with Him and turns our discipline into blessing.

Principle: When we are faithful and obedient to God’s Word, His mercy comes into our lives, even when under judgment or discipline.

Then, as is also customary in Luke’s writings, the first thing Zachariah does is “praise God,” EULEGEO THEOS. We have noted this verbal aspect of praise in vs. 28 and 42.

Here, we have a principle of suffering and enduring God’s discipline. Our suffering will either make us bitter or make us better. It made Zachariah better. He had learned more about his own heart and about God, than he ever knew before. The proof of that is the praise for God that leaped from his mouth that very instance.

How are we handling our suffering? Is it working in us deeper thoughts of God’s goodness, or harder thoughts about our circumstance? Are we growing warmer or colder toward God?

Now at this point, Luke could have gone on to give us Zachariah’s great proclamation found in vs. 67-79, and in fact, the “speaking,” LALEO, Luke references in this verse, is just that. But, before Luke gives us the proclamation, he tells us of the impact all of this had on Zachariah’s relatives, neighbors, and those living in the surrounding region in vs. 65-66.

In vs. 65, as a result of Zachariah’s healing and speech, “fear,” PHOBOS, “came on all those living around them,” using the Verb PERIOIKEO, “dwell around,” which is only used here in the NT, as we noted the Adjective in vs. 58. We could say, “their neighbors,” which is the group we noted in vs. 58.

Yet, this “fear” reached even more people than did the previous rejoicing of their neighbors, as it included all those living in the “hill country of Judea,” ORIENOS HO IOUDAIA, of which ORIENOS, “hilly or mountainous,” is only used here and in vs. 39, in the NT, as we noted previously. The reaction of those gathered was one of a deep reverence and awe at what God had done, cf. Luke 5:26; 7:16; Acts 2:43; 5:11; 19:17.

The phrase, “being talked of,” is the Progressive Imperfect, Passive, Indicative of the Verb DIALALEO that means, “discuss or converse together,” that is only used here and Luke 6:11. In Luke 6:11, it is used for the Pharisees plotting to get rid of Jesus, so it carries somewhat of a negative connotation of “continuous talk back and forth between people.” We do not see the rejoicing here by the people, but more of a perplexity as to what was going on, as also seen in vs. 66. Nevertheless, we do see in their hearts a respect and awe at what God was doing.

Another important Lukan theme begins to appear in this verse, i.e., miracles as catalysts for the proclamation of the good news, “Luke 2:17; 4:37; 5:15; 7:17; 8:39; etc.” This event had moved the people deeply. Their awe over what had happened to Zachariah and Elizabeth caused them to commit these things to their memory and speak about them to others.

Kept in mind” in the Greek it says, “laid up in their heart.” This is an idiom meaning, “to store information in the mind, with the implication of its being valuable.” Mary would later respond in a similar way at Jesus’ response to her and Joseph when they found Him in the temple, Luke 2:51. Hopefully, the people of the hill country of Judea were cycling this doctrine in the right lobe of their souls. The question they were pondering was, “What then will this child turn out to be?” Luke used PAIDION for “child” that means, “young child or infant,” and the Future, Middle Deponent, Indicative of EIMI, for “will be?” This reflects that they were not quite sure what this child would do or accomplish, maybe only in detail, but still understanding he was to be the forerunner to the Christ.

Principle: When you receive the Word of God, it should cause you to want to delve further into it, with a desire to know more. Questioning is not a sign of unbelief. It may be if the questioner has an attitude of antagonism. Yet, those who question typically have a heart and desire to know more, which God will provide to those who are positive in their volition.

Then we have Luke’s closing comment, which hopefully was also in the heart of the people of the hill country. It was, “for the hand of the Lord was certainly with him.” Cf. Acts 11:21; 13:11; Ezek 1:3; 3:14, 22, as the “hand of the Lord,” CHEIR KURIOS, was the Greek translation of a common OT phrase. It is only used three times in the NT, here and in Acts 11:21; 13:11. This means that the demonstrated power of God was with John the Baptist for all to see and know, and that God had a plan for his life. This is also true of every believer. God’s power is available for you 24/7, and He definitely has a plan for your life!

Acts 11:21, “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.”

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Luke Ch 1 Part 3 Zachariahs Prophecy Praise Proclomation3. Zachariah’s Proclamation and Prophecy, vs. 67-80.

Luke 1:67-80, “And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of David His servant—
70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—
71 Salvation from our enemies,
And from the hand of all who hate us;
72 To show mercy toward our fathers,
And to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to Abraham our father,
74 To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways;
77 To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,
78 Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
79 To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

80 “And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

This is Zachariah’s great psalm of praise called in religion, “The Benedictus,” because the Latin translation of vs. 67, begins with the word Benedictus that means, “blessed or praise;” as the Latin or Vulgate translation is “Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel.” This, like much of Zachariah’s praise, is right out of the  OT, as David praised God when his son Solomon was installed as his successor on the throne, 1 Kings 1:48. This praise was made by Zachariah regarding what God was doing through Mary’s son and his own. This section can be broken down into four segments:

a. Praise to God for keeping His promise to David, (the Davidic covenant), vs. 68-71.
b. Praise to God for keeping His promise to Abraham, (the Abrahamic Covenant), vs. 72-75.
c. Praise to God for keeping His promise to Zachariah, in giving him a son to be the forerunner to the Messiah, vs. 76-77.
d. Praise to God for the coming of “the Sunrise,” the giving of the Messiah, vs. 78-79.

Like Mary’s “Magnifcat,” Zachariah’s “Benedictus,” is rich in OT terminology and symbolism. Some believe at least 33 OT passages can be alluded to in his psalm of praise. In addition, this praise also sets up what would be unfolded in the rest of Luke’s gospel.

In vs. 67, like his wife Elizabeth in vs. 41, we see that he had the enduement of the Holy Spirit, (PLETHO PNEUMA HAGIOS), which is the temporary empowering, enabling ministry of God the Holy Spirit for Jewish Dispensation saints. With this empowerment, he “prophesied,” the Verb PROPHETEUŌ προφητεύω that means, “prophesy, speak by Divine inspiration, foretell the future, or be a prophet.” It is used about 30 times in the NT to mean, “proclaim a revelation or message received from God.” Here, it was the message of the coming Messiah and His forerunner.

a. Praise to God for Keeping His Promise to David, (The Davidic Covenant), vs 68-71.

In vs. 68, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people.” Zachariah begins by praising God, just as we all should begin our prayers or psalms with praise to God. Here, Luke used the Adjective EULOGETOS that means, “blessed or praised.” The object of his praise is, “the Lord God of Israel,” KURIOS HO THEOS ISRAEL. As noted above, from the Vulgate translation, we gain the naming of this praise, “The Benedictus.” In addition, this was a similar praise that David made regarding his son, 1 Kings 1:48, in praise of God fulfilling His promise to David in fulfillment of the “Davidic Covenant,” 2 Sam 7:11b-13. Isaiah gave immortal expression to this promise in Isa 9:6-7. We also see this praise phraseology in the Psalms, Psa 41:13: 72:18; 104:48; 106:48, etc., cf. 1 Sam 25:32, 39; Psa 66:20; 89:52.

In the Hebrew, the word for “blessed,” is BARAKH. It is an acknowledgment and formalized means of expressing thanks to God for His faithfulness and kindness as revealed in all His saving and sustaining acts.

Zachariah then states the reason for this praise, which is also the main principle that runs throughout the proclamation, “He visited us and accomplished redemption for His people.

This “visited,” is not directly speaking of the First Advent of Jesus Christ, per se. It is speaking more of the mercy that God has had and is now displaying towards man. It is the Greek Verb EPISKEPTOMAI, ἐπισκέπτομαι that means, “look for, inspect, visit, look after, etc.,” that is also used in vs. 78, for “visit.”  Here, it is referencing God the Father “looking down on” or “inspecting” man and finding him wanting due to sin.

In the OT, God is said to “visit” mainly for judgment, cf. Ex 4:31; Zech 10:3, but in the NT, His visitation is for mercy. Therefore, because of this need and God’s great mercy, He will provide a Savior in His Son that is emphasized throughout this psalm of praise, as we see in vs. 78.

With that backdrop, in Luke 7:16, we see the crowd also uses the word after Jesus raises a widow’s son from the dead: “God has visited his people.” Similarly, in Acts 15:14, reference is made to “how God first concerned (visited) Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name.” Therefore, God is seen in Luke and Acts as actively visiting the world to inspect and provide redemption through the work of Christ and His church. And later, it is said that Israel did not recognize the time of its “visitation,Luke 19:44, where the cognate Noun EPISKOPE is used. Israel rejected the opportunity God offered to the covenant people in Jesus, with disastrous consequences.

Then we see what God will do, “accomplished redemption,” that uses the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb POIEO meaning, “the work” of God “completed.” The work that God had completed was “redemption,” the payment of our sins.

It is wonderful how Zachariah praised God from a past tense view point, even though God was just now sending the Savior and His forerunner into the world. Zachariah knew of and proclaimed God’s great plan of salvation through redemption from the view point of God’s perspective; omniscience. Zachariah was viewing it from the view point of eternity past, as already being completed or accomplished, just as God views it as completed from the foundation of the world, cf. Heb 4:3; 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20; Eph 1:4.

Heb 4:3, “For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, ‘As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,’ although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.”

Heb 9:26, “Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

1 Peter 1:20, “For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you.” 

Eph 1:4, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him, in love.”

Zachariah was now standing in great faith, as opposed to his previous doubting unfaithfulness. He learned a lot about God and His great plan during his time of silence.

Redemption,” is the Noun LUTROSIS that means, “release, deliverance, or redemption.” It comes from LUTROO, which means, “to release by paying a ransom or to redeem.” LUTROO is from the root LUO, a primary verb meaning, “to loose, to release, or to dissolve.” So, LUTROSIS comes to mean, “a ransoming, a redemption.” It is only used here and Luke 2:38; Heb 9:12.

Heb 9:12, “And not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”

In the NT, “redemption” is typically the Greek Noun APOLUTROSIS that means the same as LUTROSIS, with the emphasis of a ransom paid. It means to release on payment of ransom, so, APOLUTROSIS comes to mean a release affected by payment of ransom. The prefix APO means, “off or away.” It usually denotes separation, departure, cessation, completion, reversal, etc., Luke 21:28; Rom 3:24; 8:23; 1 Cor 1:30; Eph 1:7, 14; 4:30; Col 1:14; Heb 9:15.

We also have the word “ransom,” which is the Greek noun LUTRON, from LUO, “to loosen with,” that is, a redemption price that figuratively means atonement. So, LUTRON comes to mean, “ransom.” Used in Mat 20:28; Mark 10:45.

The Verbs AGORAZO, “to buy or to purchase in the market,” (AGORA = slave marketplace), and EXAGORAZO, “to purchase from the slave market or to completely and totally liberate a slave from the slave market.”

AGORAZO, ἀγοράζω is used thirty-one times, meaning to be in the AGORA or place of assembly and market, hence to buy for one’s self by a price freely paid, cf. 1 Cor 6:20; 7:23; Rev 5:9.

1 Cor 6:20, “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

1 Cor 7:23, “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”

Rev 5:9, “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation’.”

EXAGORAZO, ἐξαγοράζω used four times meaning, “to purchase out of the market not to return,” cf. Gal 3:13; 4:5; Eph 5:16; Col 4:4,

Gal 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’.”

Gal 4:5, “So that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

Therefore, in the use of LUTROSIS, it is linked to God’s mercy and grace, and the resulting redemption. Thus, it can overlap with SOTERIA, “salvation” or “deliverance.” It is speaking of the payment of our sins. APOLUTROSIS is also used that way, but can also emphasize the eschatological redemption, which is not the forgiveness of your sins, Eph 1:7; Col 1:14, but the final future salvation from the present evil world, Gal 1:4. But, to get to the eschatological redemption, God through Jesus Christ had to first redeem our sins, which is Zachariah’s emphasis.

Redemption

In the Doctrine of Salvation, there are three key concepts: redemption, reconciliation, and propitiation. The phrase “The blood of Christ,” applies to all three doctrines.

1. Redemption is toward sin. There are three theological words that actually describe this concept: redemption, expiation, (to make amends, show remorse, or suffer punishment for wrongdoing), and unlimited atonement, (the making of reparation for a sin). These always deal with sin as a problem in our relationship with God.

2. Reconciliation is always directed toward mankind. Man is reconciled to God by the death of His Son.

3. Propitiation is directed toward God, meaning that the justice of God the Father is satisfied with the work of Christ on the cross.

Redemption emphasizes the fact that we are sinners, not only by choice or volition, but long before that we were sinners at the point of birth because of our Old Sin Nature and the imputation of Adam’s original sin. We had to be condemned before we could be saved.

Redemption is viewed from the standpoint of a ransom paid on the Cross for our salvation. Redemption views mankind as born into the slave market of sin through the imputation of Adam’s original sin at birth, and redemption is the saving work of Christ on the Cross by which He purchases our freedom or salvation. The currency used for this ransom purchase is called the “blood of Christ,” Eph 1:7; 2:13; Col 1:14; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Heb 9:12-15; Rev 1:5; 5:9.

Eph 1:7, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

Col 1:14, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

1 Peter 1:18-19, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”

Rev 1:5, “And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood.”

The blood of Christ depicts, by analogy, the saving work of Christ on the Cross, 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24. It also depicts unlimited atonement, propitiation, and reconciliation.

2 Cor 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

1 Peter 2:24, “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

In order to become our Redeemer, Christ had to become a member of the human race. He could not save us as God, because whoever is the redeemer must be judged for the sins of the world and God cannot be judged for sin. Therefore, through the virgin birth, by becoming a man without sin of His own, and remaining impeccable, 2 Cor 5:21, Jesus Christ was qualified to be our Redeemer.  Cf. Lev 25:25-26; Jer 32:8-15.

In Zachariah’s psalm of praise, he was proclaiming the Doctrine of Redemption as taught in the OT by means of the animal blood sacrifices, Heb 9:22.

Heb 9:22, “And according to the standard of the law, nearly all things are cleansed with animal blood, and without the pouring out of blood there is no forgiveness.”

OT believers like Job, applied the Doctrines of Redemption and Resurrection to their circumstances, Job 19:25.

Job 19:25, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that He shall stand in the latter day upon the earth.”

In recalling redemption, he was looking at the spiritual death of Christ on the Cross; in recalling resurrection, he was looking at the somatic or physical death of Christ on the Cross, which anticipated His resurrection.

David said in Psa 34:22, “The Lord redeems the soul of His servants.” It is the soul of the believer that is redeemed at salvation, not the body; otherwise we would never die physically. There is no human spirit until after salvation.

As such, redemption removes the condemnation of the Mosaic Law, Gal 3:10-13; Gal 4:5-6; cf. Deut 21:23.

Gal 3:13, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us. For it stands written, (Deut 21:23), ‘cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’.”

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In Gal 4:5‑6, redemption from the condemnation of the Law results in the Biblical Doctrine of Adoption into the eternal family of God, cf. Rom 8:23.

Gal 4:4-5, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

The Results of Redemption:

  1. Redemption propitiates God the Father, Rom 3:25.
  2. We are delivered from the curse of the Law, Gal 3:13; 4:4-7.
  3. We have the forgiveness of all sin, Isa 44:22; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; Heb 9:15.
  4. Redemption is the basis for our Justification, Rom 3:24; 5:9.
  5. Redemption is the basis for our Sanctification, Eph 5:25-27.
  6. Redemption is the basis for Eternal Inheritance of believers, Heb 9:15.
  7. Redemption is the basis for the strategic victory of Jesus Christ in the Angelic Conflict, Col 2:14-15; Heb 2:14-15, (the passage for rendering Satan and his legions powerless).
  8. Redemption is the basis for the mediatorship of Jesus Christ, 1Tim 2:5-6, Heb 9:14-15.
  9. Redemption of the soul in salvation results in redemption of the body in resurrection, Rom 8:23; Eph 1:14; 4:30.

Redemption views salvation from the standpoint of the complete payment of our sins, giving man the option to believe in Christ for eternal life. This is what Zachariah knew. This is what he was proclaiming!

Isa 44:22, “I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”

Let us not lose the great symbolism seen in this storyline. As Zachariah was under the bondage of sin within his soul, (unfaithfulness to God’s word resulting in Divine discipline – mute and deaf), he is now freed, (able to speak and hear once again), because of God’s great plan of redemption through Jesus Christ, which he praises here.

Also remember, that when we rebound and recover from sin, God will still use us in wonderful ways, as He does with Zachariah. As long as we are alive, we are never out of the potential to be in God’s directive will and plan for our lives.

Vs. 69

Luke 1:69, “And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant.”

Here, Zachariah praised God for sending the Savior into the world, in similar fashion to the messianic Psalms, Psa 18:2; 132:17-18.

Psa 18:2, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Psa 132:17-18, “There I will cause the horn of David to spring forth; I have prepared a lamp for Mine anointed. 18His enemies I will clothe with shame, but upon himself his crown shall shine.”

It begins with, “raised,” another past tense Aorist, Active, Indicative use of the Verb EGEIRO that means, “raise, be raised, rise, appear, wake up, arouse!” It is used extensively throughout the NT. Here it is in parallel with vs. 78, “Sunrise,” in this great chiastic psalm of praise. It means bringing the Savior into the world, as noted in the Attributive Noun used as an adjective for “salvation,” SOTERIA, that means, “salvation, deliverance, preservation.”

In theology, salvation is the deliverance of man or his soul from the power or penalty of sin; redemption.  When we think about salvation, we also see the doctrines of: substitution, redemption, reconciliation, propitiation, conviction, calling, election, predestination, sovereignty, free will, grace, repentance, faith, regeneration, forgiveness, justification, sanctification, preservation, and glorification.

Salvation has two fundamental ideas inherent in the meaning of the word: on the one hand, to be saved is to be rescued from a lost estate, while on the other hand, to be saved is to be brought into a saved estate, vitally renewed, and brought close to God as a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.

Psa 3:8, “Salvation belongs to the LORD; Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah.” Cf. Isa 45:17; Jonah 2:9

Luke also uses the Noun KERAS in this verse that means, “horn.” He only uses it here. Otherwise, it is only used in the book of Revelation 11 times. It is a Semitic symbol of strength and power, and was used in the OT as such, cf. Psa 18:2; 132:17.

Psa 18:2, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Psa 132:17, “There I will cause the horn of David to spring forth; I have prepared a lamp for Mine anointed.”

It means the horn of an animal that signifies power and strength, and the four corners of the altar that point in all four directions signifying the same and its all sufficiency.

In Revelation, it is first used for Jesus Christ, Rev 5:6, then the Golden Altar in heaven, Rev 9:13, and after that for the power and reign of Satan, the antichrist, and various evil kings and nations of the Tribulation, Rev 12:3, 13:1, 11; 17:3, 7, 12, 16. It is used extensively in the OT, also literally of animal horns and symbolically of power, cf. Deut 33:17.

The first time “horns” is used in the Bible is in Gen 22:13, for the ram’s horns that were caught in the thicket that Abraham would sacrifice in the place of his son Isaac. That was a wonderful type of what our Lord would do for all of mankind.

The first time “horn” is used is Ex 19:13, for the Lord calling the people to assemble before Him; the gathering together of His people. In Salvation God calls and gathers His people, Rom 11:29; 1 Cor 1:2; Eph 1:18; 4:1; Mat 13:47; 2 Thes 2:1.

It is used for both the corners of the Altar of Sacrifice, Ex 29:12, and the Altar of Incense, Ex 37:25. So, it symbolically means, Christ’s sacrifice for redemption leading to salvation and His intercessory mediatorship in our prayer life, cf. Rom 8:32-34.

Lev 16:18, “Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar on all sides.”

It also symbolized a place of refuge, 1 King 1:50-51; 2:28, which is the result of redemption and salvation for those who receive it.

Therefore, “horn of salvation” could be translated as, “powerful deliverer,” and speaks to the power of Jesus Christ to save, with the subsequent refuge and relationship we have with God in Him. That is why Paul stated in Rom 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

And, in Heb 7:25, we see the dual nature of the “horn of salvation,” for saving us from our sins and mediation. Heb 7:25, “Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

Finally, this “salvation” is both from sin and the world, i.e., Satan’s cosmic system. In Christ’s First Advent, He defeated sin. As a result, in His Second Advent, He will culminate the victory by literally defeating Satan and his cosmic system, i.e., world governments like Rome. Israel was looking for both. But unfortunately, many confused the Scriptures and their need, and where looking for Jesus to defeat Rome in His First Advent, thereby missing His “visitation,” Luke 19:44.

This salvation and position of power is related to “the house of David His servant,” which speaks to the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant through the arising Messiah, as Jesus would be born in the line of David to fulfill the covenant promise, Luke 3:31; Mat 1:1, 6. Therefore, the reference to the house of David identifies this horn of salvation as the Messiah.

Vs. 70

Luke 1:70, “As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old.”

Here, Zachariah indicates that this “horn of salvation” that would provide “redemption,” was prophesied by the ancient writers of the Scriptures and others called, “the prophets,” PROPHETES, προφήτης. Cf. Acts 3:21; Rom 1:2.

Of old,” is the Greek Preposition APO, “from, out of,” and the Noun AION that means, “long period of time, eternity, earliest times, age, era,” cf. Luke 1:33, 55. In other words, this is not new information; it has been around for generations, and that which was unfolding was not something unforeseen; it was part of the eternal plan of God.

Vs. 71

Luke 1:71, “Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us.”

This phrase uses the political implications of deliverance (SOTERIA) from worldly “enemies.” But remember, that our greatest enemy, as was Israel’s, was sin and Satan, as the Greek Adjective here indicates. It is ECHTHROS ἐχθρός that means, “hated, hostile, an enemy, or the enemy (Satan).” Cf. vs. 74; 2 Sam 22:18; Psa 18:17; 106:10; Mat 13:39.

2 Sam 22:18 and Psa 18:17, “He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.”

This reminds us of the great Messianic Psalm of David, Psa 110:1, “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet’.” Cf. Luke 20:42-43.

Hate,” is the Verb MISEO, μισέω that means, “hate, detest, abhor, or prefer against.”

Therefore, it references what Christ would accomplish in His Second Advent, based on what He would complete in His First Advent.

Psa 106:10, “So He saved them from the hand of the one who hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.”

b. Praise to God for keeping His promise to Abraham, (the Abrahamic Covenant), vs. 72-75.

Vs. 72

Luke 1:72, “To show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant.”

“To show,” is the Verb PIOEO once again, see vs. 68, “accomplished.” Basically, it means, “to make or do.” Here, it means, “perform or fulfill,” with a view to already being accomplished with the Aorist, Active, Infinitive. The Infinitive gives us purpose. This is the first of three purposes found in vs. 72, 74, as to why God provided salvation.

1. The first purpose was to perform “mercy,” ELEOS, towards “our fathers,” PATER. Again, the simple past tense Aorist views this from God’s perspective of being completed from eternity past.

2. The second purpose was for God to “remember,” MNAOMAI, cf. vs. 54, “In remembrance of His mercy.” The thing remembered here is God’s “Holy Covenant,” HAGIOS DIATHEKE. The Greek Noun DIATHEKE, διαθήκη means, “last will and testament, covenant, will, contract, or disposition.” Given its positioning in these passages, it encompasses both the Davidic and Abrahamic covenants God made with them, cf. Acts 2:30; 7:17, but specifically the one He made to Abraham, as noted by the next verse. The Abrahamic Covenant came first, Gen 22:16-18; 105:8-9, 42; 106:45, and was enhanced by the Davidic.

Holy,” HAGIOS, “holy, consecrated, perfect, upright,” is the insurance, guardian, or guarantee of God’s promises. His holy character demands that He keeps or fulfills His promises / covenants.

Vs. 73

Luke 1:73, “The oath which He swore to Abraham our father.”

Oath,” is the Noun HORKO and “swore,” is the Verb OMNUO, ὀμνύω that means, “swear, make or take an oath, or confirm by an oath.” These are in parallelism with “covenant.”

The one God swore this oath to was “Abraham,” ABRAAM, Ἀβραάμ indicating the Abrahamic covenant, Gen 22:16-18, who is “our father,” HEMEIS PATER, indicating the Jewish people in general, including Zachariah and the ones around him at this time, i.e.,  his neighbors and relatives. Yet, Abraham is the spiritual father of all who believe, both Jew and Gentile, Luke 3:8; John 8:39; Rom 4:12; James 2:21.

Heb 6:13, “For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself.”

Therefore, Zachariah is praising God for keeping His word and fulfilling the Abrahamic Covenant through the Redeemer, Savior Jesus Christ.

Vs. 74

Luke 1:74, “To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear.”

3. The third purpose was for God to “grant us rescue / refuge from our enemies.” This goes back to vs. 71, in the chiasm. “To grant,” the third Aorist, Active, Infinitive of Purpose, this time of the Verb DIDOMAI, “to give,” in the sense of fulfilling His Covenant promises by “rescuing” Israel from her “enemies,” ECHTHROS. Though using political language, our greatest enemy is sin which is from Satan and his cosmic system. In Jesus’ First Advent, we are rescued from our enemy – sin. In His Second Advent, we will be rescued from Satan’s cosmic system – world governments.

Rescued,” is the Aorist, Passive, Participle of the Verb RHUOMAI, ῥύομαι that means, “save, rescue, deliver, set free or redeem.” It is synonymous to LUTROO. Matthew uses it in Mat 27:43, for the mocking cries of the onlookers of the Crucifixion: “He (Jesus) trusts in God. Let God rescue Him now.” What these scoffers did not realize was that the Father was going to deliver Him from the grave and death itself. Their own words, although not verbatim, is a citation of the Septuagint that echoes Psa 22, and especially vs. 8, the psalm Jesus cited on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” vs. 1.

Psa 22:8, “Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver Him; Let Him rescue Him, because He delights in Him.”

In our passage, Zachariah uses language reminiscent of the OT, cf. 2 Sam 22:18; Psa 31:15; Joshua 22:31; Judges 6:9, regarding the fulfillment of the Messianic promises. The Messiah would bring salvation to His people, deliverance for those seeking His mercy.

Then, the result of Jesus’ deliverance was so that Israel “might serve Him (God the Father).” “Serve,” is the Present, Active, Infinitive of Result of the Verb LATREUO, λατρεύω that means, “serve or worship.” It means to perform the work or service of a servant or slave in religious service to God the Father. While LATREUO has its background in the OT ritual worship service of the temple, its use broadens in the NT to include service to God in prayer and worship, e.g., Mat 4:10; Luke 2:37; 4:8; Rev 22:3; 7:15. Therefore, it signifies religious service distinctively, the priesthood of the NT.

This service will be done “without fear,” the Adverb APHOBOS that means, “fearless, without fear, or boldly.” It is only used here and in 1 Cor 16:10; Phil 1:14; Jude 1:12. It is used to speak boldly without fear the Word of God, including the gospel of Jesus Christ, except in Jude 1:12, where it reflects false teachers of the word. From this context, it means to preach the Word of God in the face of antagonism towards it. Zachariah is remembering Israel’s first objective, to preach the Word, and that is what God’s wants us all to do without fear. Therefore, the result of this deliverance is the complete freedom to worship God in absolute confidence in Him, as we exercise our Royal Priesthood and Royal Ambassadorship.

Vs. 75

Luke 1:75, “In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.”

This passage alludes to the “how do we do this,” It speaks to our Positional Sanctification that gives us boldness to preach and serve without fear in the face of opposition, as we walk in our Experiential Sanctification of holiness and righteousness. Therefore, the nature and quality of this service in worship is now elaborated.

Holiness,” is not the typical HAGIOS, but HOSIOTES, that means, “holiness, piety, uprightness, devoutness, or sanctity.” It is related more to the keeping of the ordinances (experiential sanctification) than the character of life (positional sanctification). This is the faithfulness aspect of the believer’s life. It is only used here and in Eph 4:24, in the NT.

Eph 4:24, “And put on (Experiential Sanctification) the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created (Positional Sanctification) in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”

God promised Solomon that He would, “Establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel forever,” 1 Kings 9:5, if Solomon would live with, “integrity of heart, and in uprightness,” vs. 4.

It is linked here and in Eph 4:24, with the commonly used word, “righteousness,” DIKAIOSUNE that means, “righteousness, justice, or uprightness.” Righteousness, simply stated, is the fulfillment of God’s will in actions that are pleasing to Him. This is the virtue aspect of the believer’s life, the practical righteousness of everyday living and conduct.

Both of these words can mean our position before God in Positional Sanctification. But, the context of this passage and others, means that it is in the service and worship of God, which means the experiential aspect of our worship and service of God; our Experiential Sanctification.

Before Him,” is ENOPION AUTOS. ENOPION is a Preposition that means, “before, in the sight of, or in the presence of.” This shows our position in Christ and our relationship with God the Father, cf. Gabriel in vs. 19, and the description of John the Baptist in relation to Jesus Christ as “going before Him,” vs. 17, 76, as he, Zachariah, and Elizabeth all had a wonderful relationship with God being His children, vs. 6, 15, walking holy, blameless, and righteously before God. Such a life is the consequence of the new birth.

Therefore, because God has fulfilled His covenant promises to Abraham and David, by sending a Savior to redeem us from the slave market of sin, we are able to serve God freely and without fear in the face of our enemies in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our lives.

c. Praise to God for keeping His promise to Zachariah, in giving him a son to be the forerunner to the Messiah, vs. 76-77.

Vs. 76

Luke 1:76, “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS.”

In the Greek, this begins with KAI SU DE, “and you also,” now pointing to Zachariah’s “child,” PAIDON. This child “will be called,” the Future, Passive, Indicative of KALEO, “the prophet,” PROPHETES also used in vs. 70, “of the Most High,” HUPSISTOS also used in vs. 32, 35, for God the Father.

What a privilege this was for Zachariah. What a privilege it was for John! In fact, the Lord Jesus would later say in Luke 7:28, “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

John was the greatest and last of the OT prophets. His ministry was to usher in a new Dispensation, the Age of Grace, a.k.a., the Church Age, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. John had the great privilege to announce the coming of the One who would “make the crooked paths straight and bring the salvation of God,” Luke 3:5-6. But, the Church Age believer has a special union with Christ and spiritual relationship with the Father that OT saints, such as John, did not have. Because of our union with Jesus Christ, being His body and bride, Church Age believers are “greater.” Also, note Luke 7:28 says, “born of women,” that is earthly speech. Yet, the believer is born of God, spiritually. Therefore, as great as John was among humans, the believer, Old and New Testament, are greater spiritually than John’s earthly. But remember, John too had a spiritual birth in the Dispensation of Israel and his spiritual is greater than his physical.

We can only imagine Zachariah’s great joy at this point, as he focuses his eyes on the little baby boy in his arms and declares that he will be a great prophet to usher in the Messiah. There had not been a prophet for Israel in over four centuries. Now, his son would be a great and unique one, as he will be the forerunner. “He will soften the ground. He will till the soil of Israel’s heart. He will not be the Savior, but John will make things ready for the Savior by teaching people how they are to be saved. John will be a giant index finger pointing the way to God’s salvation from sin.” (Christ-Centered Exposition.)

Then, we see something of John’s ministry, “you shall go,” is the Future, Middle Deponent, Indicative of the Verb PROPOREUOMAI, προπορεύομαι that means, “go before, precede.” It comes from the Preposition PRO, “before,” and the Verb POREUOMAI, “to go, depart, travel, walk, etc.”

With this, we have a double emphasis using the Preposition ENOPION, ἐνώπιον that means, “before, in the sight of, or in the presence of.” It is used quite extensively by Luke, Paul, and John, cf. vs. 6, 15, 17, 19, 75. Therefore, he was to “go before in the presence of.

PROPOREUOMAI is only used here and in Acts 7:40, in the NT. There, it is used of Israel who desired to “make false gods to go before” them, instead of waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain. Given the context in both passages, the word means more than just going before; it connotes preparing the way for someone who is to come, and that someone is a god. So, we see the deity of Jesus Christ in view as the God/man, who would come to bring redemption and salvation. That is also seen in this text as the word KURIOS for “the Lord,” comes next, which too speaks of the Deity of Jesus Christ. All of this is a double emphasis on John’s ministry and the Deity of Jesus Christ, showing the great privilege and responsibility John had.

Sometimes we tend to underrate the work of John the Baptist. We think of him simply as the one who came to prepare the way of the Lord, and we forget that he also presented a message of grace, a definite proclamation of the gospel. It was he who said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” John 1:29. Could you get a clearer gospel message than that anywhere? That is the gospel of the grace of God in all its simplicity. It was given to John to point the Savior out, not merely as the King of Israel, not merely as the One who was to fulfil the promises and reign in righteousness over all the world, but as the One who was to provide salvation for sinful men. It is only through Him that salvation comes.

Then we have something of what John would do, “prepare His ways,” HETOIMAZO AUTOS HODOS. It means that John would witness and evangelize prior to Christ beginning His ministry, so that the people would be prepared or ready to receive Him. This is in fulfillment of the prophesy given in Isa 40:3 and Mal 3:1, as John also stated in Luke 3:4, and of the Elijah figure foretold in Mal 4:5 and vs. 17, cf. Mat 17:10-13; Mark 9:11-13.

Isa 40:3, “A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God’.”

Mal 3:1, “‘Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,’ says the LORD of hosts.”

Mal 4:5, “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.” Cf. Mat 11:1, 14; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27.

As Jesus stated in Mat 11:14-15, “And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. 15He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Therefore, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s, Malachi’s, and Gabriel’s prophesy, vs 17, Zachariah now prophesied about his son.

Vs. 77

Luke 1:77, “To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.”

John will “give,” the Aorist, Active, Infinitive of DIDOMI, “to his people,” LAOS AUTOS, “knowledge,” GNOSIS, “knowledge, doctrine, wisdom,” “of salvation,” SOTERIA

Israel had a false idea that the Messiah’s salvation would be from political evil. John was needed to tell them that it was from sin that God proposed to deliver them. This would not be theoretical knowledge, but personal knowledge of the inward experience of salvation as the result of God’s Divine gift. This phrase, “knowledge of salvation,” is unique in Scripture and Christianity. It implies the aspect of experience that would only be realized through the “forgiveness of sin.”

In this, John would bypass ritualistic religion and go right to the heart of spiritual life. Salvation that was earlier couched primarily in political terms, vs. 69-75, now takes on a spiritual quality.

This salvation is given, “by the forgiveness of their sins,” EN APHESIS AUTOS HAMARTIA.

Forgiveness,” is the Noun APHESIS, ἄφεσις from the Verb APHIEMI. It means, “release, forgiveness, deliverance, suspension of punishment, pardoned, etc.” Its roots mean, “to send away.” It is actually a synonym of APOLUTROSIS, “release, redemption, deliverance,” of Luke 21:28.

Luke 21:28, “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Figuratively, it was used in the Classical Greek language as a technical legal term for “releasing” someone from a legal obligation, such as the forgiving of a debt, and means, “remittance or forgiveness.” In the Bible, the LXX of the OT and the NT, both the noun and the verb are used 45 times in regard to our sins. The KJV uses, “remission.”

Forgiveness is the principle component of the expression of God’s mercy. Forgiveness is the principle result of redemption. The basic expression of salvation brought through Jesus is forgiveness, which is the taking away of our load of guilt and giving us freedom to reach the potential God created in us.

Therefore, the two major themes of these praises, (Mary’s and Zachariah’s), is God’s mercy and redemption that are clearly in view here, and the next verse. And remember, the name John means, “God is merciful,” and Zachariah’s whole song celebrates God’s wonderful acts of mercy which spring from the fact that the essence of His being is mercy. Therefore, God’s mercy is demonstrated and fulfilled in forgiveness.

The thing forgiven is “our sins,” AUTOS HAMARTIA, ἁμαρτία that means “sin, sinful deed, or sinfulness.” This implies that God will treat the sinner as if he had not committed sin.

This too fulfills prophecy; that found in Jer 31:34, “‘They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more’.”

Of John it is stated in Luke 3:3, “And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Luke shows that the key enemies are not other people, such as the Romans, but the devil and sin for which one needs forgiveness in order to find peace, vs. 79. Future “salvation” in Isaiah includes deliverance from political oppressors; but, as here, it is predicated upon Israel’s restoration to Divine favor through forgiveness of their sins.

Zachariah’s prophecy defines John’s life in relationship to Jesus’s life and mission. John’s task was a significant one in holy history: showing the Jewish people their need for salvation and directing the lost to the forgiveness of sins. John did not “prepare the way” by teaching that the true “salvation” was to be found in mere deliverance from the yoke of the Roman Empire. To the contrary, he taught that salvation was found in the “’forgiveness of sin.” He thus not only gave “knowledge of salvation” in the sense that he announced the fact that it would be given, but also in the sense that he clearly taught what it consisted of. John was not a preacher of revolt, as the turbulent and impure patriots of the day would have liked him to be, but of repentance. His work was to awaken the consciousness of sin and the need for a Savior, and so to kindle desires for a salvation which was deliverance from sin, the only yoke that truly enslaves.

Eph 1:7, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”

From this we also see that, all lasting meaning is found when we define our lives as John did his. Greatness comes from serving the Lord, not from serving ourselves. Greatness comes when we, like John, say, “We must decrease; Jesus must increase,” John 3:30. The prophet of salvation never replaces the bringer of salvation.

Acts 5:31, “He (Jesus) is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”

“When John baptized it was for remission of sins. His baptism was the recognition, on the part of the people, that they were sinners and deserved to die. As they went down into the waters of baptism, they were saying as it were, “We ought to die for our sins.” But John told of One who was coming to pay the penalty for those sins, and the people believed the message, and so rejoiced in the knowledge of forgiveness.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary).

d. Praise to God for the coming of “the Sunrise,” the giving of the Messiah, vs. 78-79.

Vs. 78

Luke 1:78, “Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us.”

This verse begins the new segment but continues the praise of Zachariah regarding his son with the explanation as to the why and how salvation will come; “because of,” the Accusative Preposition DIA, “the tender mercy of our God,” SPLANCHNON ELEOS HEMEIS THEOS.

SPLANCHNON, σπλάγχνον is a Noun that literally means, “inward parts, intestines, heart, etc.” and figuratively for, “heart, affections, emotions, etc.” It is considered the seat of the emotions, hence, the figurative use means here “compassionate.”

This is the first time it is used in the NT, and the only time Luke uses it in his gospel. He uses it once more in Acts 1:18, literally for Judas Iscariot’s intestines that gush out when he fell off the cliff after hanging himself. It is used 9 other times in the NT for the figurative use of affection, compassion, or emotions as it is in our verse. By itself, it can be translated “mercy,” but here it qualifies God’s mercy.

SPLANCHNON is linked with ELEOS, “mercy,” that we have seen throughout these doxologies, to qualify and emphasize God’s love toward us in providing salvation through His Son. We call this an anthropopathism, which means ascribing to God a human emotion, i.e., “compassion, affection, etc.” God does not have emotions like we do. But to understand God’s intense love for us, sometimes human emotions are ascribe to Him, so that we can better understand Him and His actions. This is one of those times. As such, the forgiveness that would be offered by John was to be based in the affectionate (compassionate or loving) mercy of God.

Psa 103:11, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His mercy (lovingkindness) toward those who fear Him.”

The only reason anyone is ever forgiven of sin is because of God’s great mercy. You cannot earn forgiveness. You cannot demand forgiveness. You cannot swap forgiveness with a trade. There would be no peace in salvation if we had to earn, demand, or buy forgiveness. We would only worry if we had done enough, if we were strong enough, or if we had paid enough. Forgiveness comes only by mercy. Which means forgiveness is free and undeserved. The only step we can take to find forgiveness with God is to ask for it.

Because of God’s intense love shown by His “affectionate mercy,” He is sending His Son into the World to redeem the sins of mankind. That is what the next phrase tells us, “with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,” EN HOS ANATOLE EK HUPSOS EPISKEPTOMAI HEMEIS.

In the Greek, “will visit us,” EPISKEPTOMAI HEMEIS, comes first, which we have seen previously in vs. 68. There, it was the Aorist simple past tense. Here, it is in the Future, Middle Deponent, Indicative for what was going to occur subsequent to the time of Zachariah’s psalm of praise. Later translations use the Aorist here, but the earliest and most reliable have the Future tense. Therefore, in the future, the near future, there will be, “the Sunrise from on high.” Previously, the visitation had to do with God’s inspection of man and finding him wanting due to our sin. Here, it is the result of God’s mercy towards us because we were wanting because of our sin. Because of our need, God’s mercy would send a Savior, His own Son, into the world.

From on high,” is the Preposition EK, “from,” and the Noun HUPSOS that reminds us of the “Most High” language, (the Adjective HUPSISTOS), from vs. 32, 35, 76, that extoled God as the one and only Sovereign God. HUPSOS, “height,” is only used here and in Luke 24:49; Eph 3:18; 4:8; James 1:9; Rev 21:16. Figuratively, it refers to the concept of “royalty, dignity, grandeur, etc.”, and to “the realm of God,” i.e., “heaven.” Therefore, it is a reference to the Messiah’s heavenly origin and His coming from God. They are one and the same.

Eph 4:8, “Therefore it says, ‘When He (Jesus) ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men’.”  

Luke 24:49, “And behold, I (Jesus) am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Now, the visitor is classified as “the Sunrise,” the anarthrous use of the Noun ANATOLE, ἀνατολή that means, “rising (of a star), rising (of the sun), ascent, or east.” It is used 10 times in the NT, Mat 2:1, 2, 9; 8:11; 24:27; Luke 1:78; 13:29; Rev 7:2; 16:12; 21:13. In 9 out of the 10 usages, it stands for the location or direction of the sunrise, “east.” Our verse is the one exception and is used literally for “a Sun-rising,” from the heights of heaven. But even here, it is figurative, because it is speaking about the “Savior,” our Lord Jesus Christ. Older English translations use “dawn or dayspring” here, because it refers to that region or those parts of heaven or earth where the solar light first springs up and appears, the east. Therefore, it is called the dayspring, dawn, or the rising sun.

Interestingly, the Septuagint, LXX, the Hebrew OT translated into Greek well before the NT was written, used ANATOLE in Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zech 3:8; 6:12, for the figurative use of the Hebrew word TSEMACH that means, “branch or shoot,” which speaks of David’s offspring, our Lord Jesus Christ, cf. Isa 11:1-10. Therefore, we have a “tie-in” to the Davidic covenant being fulfilled by the “Sunrise,” the Lord Jesus Christ.

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 aAnd do justice and righteousness in the land’.”

Jer 33:15,  “In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.”

Isa 11:1, “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.”

Isa 11:10, “Then in that day the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; and His resting place will be glorious.”

Now, as you know, our literal sun is simply a star, and Jesus Christ is called throughout the Bible the “Morning Star,” 2 Peter 1:19; Rev 22:16, which is also the sun that rises every morning in the east. So, “Sunrise” is our Lord Jesus Christ.

Balaam prophesied in Num 24:17, “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, a scepter shall rise from Israel, and shall crush through the forehead of Moab, and tear down all the sons of Sheth.”

Notice also, that in the encampment around the Tabernacle, to the east was the tribe of Judah, the tribe of Jesus Christ, Num 2:3.

Num 2:3, “Now those who camp on the east side toward the sunrise shall be of the standard of the camp of Judah, by their armies, and the leader of the sons of Judah: Nahshon the son of Amminadab.”

As well as Moses and Aaron’s to “performing the duties of the sanctuary for the obligation of the sons of Israel,” Num 3:38.

Jesus said to the apostle John in Rev 22:16, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

Peter stated in 2 Peter 1:19, “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”

The Magi who were looking for the child born said in Mat 2:2, 9, 10, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

Mat 2:9, “After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.”

Mat 2:10, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”

In addition, after Jesus’ resurrection, the woman came at “sun rise” and found the tomb empty, Mark 16:2.

Finally, the “morning star” is a reward the positive believer will receive in memorial to his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, Rev 2:28, “I will give him the morning star,” as it was an emblem Satan once wore prior to his fall, Isa 14:12.

Therefore, “Sunrise,” is a Messianic reference and Zachariah’s praise appears to be an allusion to a prediction of Malachi, in which Christ is called “the Sun of Righteousness,” and is said to “arise with healing in his wing,” Mal 4:2, that is, to bring health in His rays.

Mal 4:2, “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.”

We see this allusion in many other Old and New Testament passages including, 2 Sam 23:3-4; Isa 9:2; 30:26; 60:1-3, 19-20; Psa 19:4-5; 84:11; Mat 4:16; Luke 2:31; John 1:4; 8:12; Rev 21:23.

2 Sam 23:3-4, “The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me, ‘He who rules over men righteously, Who rules in the fear of God, 4is as the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, when the tender grass springs out of the earth, Through sunshine after rain.”

Isa 9:2, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.”

In a Messianic prophecy, Isaiah stated in Isa 30:26, “The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven days, on the day the LORD binds up the fracture of His people and heals the bruise He has inflicted.”

Isa 60:1-3, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. 3Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”

Psa 84:11, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”  

Luke 2:32, “A light of revelation to the gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.”

John 1:4, “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” Cf. John 8:12; 9:5; 12:46. 

John 8:12, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life’.”  

Mat 4:16, “The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a light dawned.”

Rev 21:23, “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

Christ’s coming was the dawn of a new day for Israel and for mankind, as salvation had now come to the world through the person and work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, which leads us to our next verse.

Vs. 79

Luke 1:79, “To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

In this passage, we have two more Infinitive of Purpose phrases regarding the “Sunrise.”

It uses a beautiful quotation from Isa 9:2 and 60:1-3, to carry forward the imagery of the dawning light (the Sunrise) and to offer hope of peace to those who were then outside the faithful remnant of Judaism, cf. Eph 2:12, read vs. 11-22.

The first purpose of the “Sunrise” is “To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.”

The first half is taken from Isa 9:2, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them,” and Psa 107:10, “There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in misery and chains.”

The prophecy of Isa 9:1-2, is directly quoted in Mat 4:15-16, in fulfillment, that Jesus would come from Zebulun, the land of Naptali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. Zebulun and Naphtali came under the yoke of Assyria, 2 Kings 15:29. But Christ would later live and minister in Galilee, which is the same geographical area.

Mat 4:12-15, “Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; 13and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: 15‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the gentiles’.”

Mat 4:16, “The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a light dawned.”

This also reminds us of Eph 5:8, “For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.”

Then, we see the prophecy in Isa 60:1-3, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. 3Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”

To shine upon,” is the Aorist, Active, Infinitive of Result Verb EPIPHAINO, ἐπιφαίνω that means, “to appear, dawn upon, bring to light, become visible, known, etc.” It is used four times in Scripture, Acts 27:20; Titus 2:11; 3:4.

It is used literally for the light of the sun and stars in Acts, and figuratively for the grace and love (mercy) of God becoming visible to those who were in darkness in Titus, as it is in our verse. Therefore, it means the giving of knowledge or information in a poetical way, which tells of the ministry of John the Baptist, “to give the knowledge of salvation,” vs. 77.

In addition, the noun EPIPHANEIA, is used for the First Advent of Jesus in 2 Tim 1:10; 4:8, and for His Second Advent in 2 Thes 2:8; 1 Tim 6:14; 2 Tim 4:1; Titus 2:13.

Who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,” in the Present, Middle Deponent, Participle of KATHEMAI, “sit, stay, settle, or reside,” with EN SKOTOS KAI SKIA THANATOS.

In classical writings, “darkness,” SKOTOS, typically implied the inability to see and thus the inability to know how to walk. Metaphorically, “darkness” denotes “ignorance or obscurity,” and is used to describe the human condition or behavior, especially that of unbelief. From this, “darkness” implied a sense of anxiety or apprehension of what lay ahead. Therefore, sitting in darkness and its ominous character became linked to the ultimate anxiety, “death,” THANATOS, cf. Psa 143:3.

Psa 143:3, “For the enemy has persecuted my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have long been dead.”

Therefore, it means, “residing in ignorance,” that is, not knowing that they are spiritually dead.

SKOTOS is also used to describe how all men are being negatively influenced by Satan and his cosmic system as the principalities, (the rulers, powers, and world forces of “darkness,” along with the spiritual forces of wickedness), are aligned against us in 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.” 

In Jesus’ commission to Paul, He stated Paul’s mission in Acts 26:18, “To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me’.”

And the Light, Jesus Christ, has come into the world to save us from Satan’s dominion of sin, Col 1:13-14. 

Col 1:13-14, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Shadow of death,” is found in the famous Psalm, Psa 23:4, for “walking through the valley of the shadow of death,” that speaks of the trials and tribulations of life, and presents the realities of the devout life under the image of the Divine Shepherd and His Lamb, who is the Light come into the world, cf. John 8:12; 9:5.

John 8:12, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life’.”

John 9:5, “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”

The valley of the shadow is not death itself, it is the world where death reigns by sin, Psa 107:10.

Psa 107:10, “There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in misery and chains.”

The death shadowed valley also speaks to the OT description of salvation from it in, Psa 107:14; 86:13.

Psa 107:14, “He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke their bands apart.”

Psa 86:13, “For Your lovingkindness toward me is great, and You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.”

Shadow,” SKIA, is used figuratively for that which is close to being like something else. In this case, it is close to being like “death,” and “shadow of death,” is synonymous with “sitting in darkness.” It is used for the state of unbelief and rejection of God in our verse; having no spiritual life with God.

That was the condition of the world when Zachariah spoke these words. And that is the condition of a large part of the world today, and that is why we are entrusted to send the gospel out to the very ends of the earth, that men and women everywhere may hear it, so that it may give light to those in darkness, in the very shadow of death.

Although the Fall of Adam brought death into the creation, Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who was slain from the foundation of the world. The death of Jesus means victory over sin and death to those who believe in Him. Through His spiritual death on the Cross, Christ has created the certainty of eternal life for anyone who receives Him, John 3:16. Therefore, to shine upon those who “sit in darkness and the shadow of death” means to bring them salvation, Eph 2:1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,… 5Even when we were dead in our transgressions, He made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” Therefore, “to shine upon those sitting in darkness and the shadow of death,” is to bring salvation to their lives.

Isa 42:6-7, “I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, 7to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison.”

Micah 7:8, “Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me.”

“Zachariah points out the wretched state in which the inhabitants of Judea and the Gentile world were then found.

  1. Their feet had wandered out of the way of peace, (Luke 1:79), of temporal and spiritual prosperity.
  2. They had got into a state of darkness—they were blind concerning the things of God, and the things which belonged to their salvation.
  3. They had become contented inhabitants of this land of intellectual darkness—they had sat down in it, and were not concerned to get out of it.
  4. They were about to perish in it—death had his dominion there; and his swift approaches to them were now manifested to the prophet by seeing his shadow cast upon them.

Ignorance of God and salvation is the shadow of death; and the substance, eternal ruin, is essentially connected with the projected shadow.” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary.)

The ones who sit in darkness and the shadow do not know the peace of God, Isa 59:8, “They do not know the way of peace, and there is no justice in their tracks; they have made their paths crooked, whoever treads on them does not know peace.”

Yet, God has sent His Son, so that our darkness can be illuminated and peace be known. Therefore, through the mercy of God, we receive light. The light is Christ Himself. He is the Sunrise. In our sin, we sit in darkness like a prisoner locked in an underground dungeon. But when Christ comes into our hearts, He brings light. All of a sudden everything shines, darkness flees, and death is defeated.

The second purpose of the Sunrise is “to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

This is an allusion from Psa 5:8, “O LORD, lead me in Your righteousness because of my foes; make Your way straight before me.”  

To guide our feet” is HO KATEUTHUNO HO POUS HEMIES, which uses the Aorist, Active, Infinitive of Purpose for the Verb KATEUTHUNO, κατευθύνω that means, “direct, guide, lead.” It comes from the Greek Preposition KATA, “according to,” and the Adjective EUTHUS that comes from ORTHOS that both mean, “straight, right, upright, or straight way,” cf. Mat 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4-5, for John’s ministry as forerunner for the Lord.

In classical Greek it meant, “keep straight or make straight,” and as a noun it was used for a “carpenter’s line.” Interestingly, Jesus was the son of a carpenter, Mat 13:55; Mark 6:3; and reminds us of Psa 19:4-5.

Psa 19:4-5, “Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, 5which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.

Gradually, the idea of “making something straight” shifted to the idea of “directing someone to something,” and included a sense of “success” or “prospering” in the process. It is only used here and in 1 Thes 3:11; 2 Thes 3:5.

1 Thes 3:11, “Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you.”

2 Thes 3:5, “May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.”

This analogy of “being in darkness and directed to peace,” is taken from travelers, who being overtaken by night do not know what to do, and therefore wait patiently for the morning light, that they may know which way to go. Then, when the sun rises in their heart, they know the way, as light shines brightly their way, and the road is open to the promised land of rest, to heaven itself.

This guidance leads, “into the way of peace,” EIS HODOS EIRENE. EIRENE means, “peace, harmony, tranquility, or health.”

“The way of peace,” is to be seen in the Old Testament concept of SHALOM, i.e., “the cosmic harmony that exists where the world and all its inhabitants are reconciled with God. Israel described this state with its concept of covenant…. The qualities… are variously described as prosperity, peace, and righteousness, which taken together begin to describe SHALOM,” (Hanson, p. 3, note 2).” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)

Here, “peace” is peace with God, who we were at enmity with prior to our salvation because of our sin. Because of sin, (i.e., sitting in darkness and shadow of death,) Jesus Christ, the Sunrise / Morning Light, came into the world to shine upon us, (i.e., redeem our sins and give those who would believe in Him salvation with its eternal inheritance), thereby abolishing the enmity / sin, Eph 2:14-16, and giving us a new life in Christ with God the Father.

Eph 2:14-16, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15By abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.”

So, this “peace” means that the barrier of sin that kept us in darkness and the shadow of death has been removed by the finished work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross, especially for those who believe.

This “way of peace” is not known or found in the world or in worldly things, Isa 59:8, but in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Isa 59:8, “They do not know the way of peace, and there is no justice in their tracks; they have made their paths crooked, whoever treads on them does not know peace.”

And, after our salvation, “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” Phil 4:7.

Therefore, the peace into which He guides the feet of His own includes all the rich blessings that come to those whose sins are forgiven. The former enmity on our part is removed; thus there is peace with God, Rom 5:1.

Rom 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Yet, there is also the sense of Phil 4:6-9, for He guides our feet into the way of peace, so that we not only enjoy peace with God, but now, knowing the God of peace, the peace of God guards our hearts in our daily walk with Him.

In addition, though Zachariah was using political terms and the prophecies in the OT of eternal peace, this is first speaking of peace with God overcoming sin and then peace in government relationships that will have their total fulfillment in the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ and the New Earth where righteousness lives, 2 Peter 3:13-14.

2 Peter 3:13-14, “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 14Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.”

Thus, this peace corresponds to the language of the OT; as peace is also the consummation of the eschatological salvation, Isa 60:19-20.

Isa 60:19, “No longer will you have the sun for light by day, nor for brightness will the moon give you light; but you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, and your God for your glory. 20Your sun will no longer set, nor will your moon wane; for you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, and the days of your mourning will be over.” 

Therefore, Zachariah highlighted the ministry of the coming One in terms of salvation, forgiveness, mercy, guidance, and eternal peace.

John the Baptist was to go before the Lord to proclaim the testimony God had given, in order to guide the feet of the people into the way of peace, which is the knowledge of salvation found in the Sunrise. This metaphor implies more than that, as it speaks to us of the special guidance the Light of Christ is to each individual soul to guide our feet and illumine our path in special manifestations of our duty and life’s pilgrimage.

Only those who walk in Christ’s footsteps have quiet hearts and are at amity with God; in harmony and peace with ourselves, our friends, and the circumstances of life. That means there is no strife within, no strained relations or hostile alienation to God, no gnawing unrest of unsatisfied desires, and no injuries of accusing conscience, because the man who puts his hand into Christ’s hand and says, “Order my footsteps by Your Word,”  “Where You go, I will go,” and “What You command I will do,” has this peace.

The mission of the Messiah is about giving people peace before God, as He leads them from death to life. The servant of God who lives that and knows that, points others who are residing in darkness and the shadow of death to Christ by showing them the way of peace.

“The question remains before us: How do we define life? Is it in power and in the ability to “take control,” or is it in following the one who is in control? The text leaves no doubt that we should follow the one who is the source of light. The only road to righteousness and peace, even for a righteous man like Zachariah, is to be prepared to see the light and follow it. The text raises the question and answers it with notes of praise. See the morning star, Jesus, and follow the light in the way of peace. What precisely that pathway involves is the rest of this Gospel’s story, for which this hymn serves as a guiding introduction. In a real sense, the application of this text is found in the entirety of this Gospel’s message.” (NIV Application Commentary.)

Summary

Zachariah, the old priest, had not said anything for nine plus months, but when he regained his speech at the birth of his son, he certainly compensated for his silence when he sang this song of praise to God! How joyful he was that his son was chosen by God to prepare the way for the Messiah. In reviewing Zachariah’s prophecy, many key notes of Luke’s theology are seen:

  1. The focus on the praise of God.
  2. The importance of the Christ event, (God “has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of His servant David,” vs. 69).
  3. The fulfillment of God’s promises given through the holy prophets.
  4. The realization of the covenant made with Abraham being fulfilled.
  5. The deliverance from enemies, (sin being the #1 enemy), by the gracious intervention of God.
  6. The special role of his son, John the Baptist, in announcing the coming of the Messiah.
  7. The new opportunity to serve God forever in peace, without fear, in holiness and righteousness.

As such, the “way of peace” refers to an entire life of peace. Salvation brings peace: peace with God, peace with man, and peace within ourselves. Do you have this peace? Has the Sunrise dawned in your soul yet?

John 8:12, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life’.”

Vs. 80

Luke 1:80, “And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.”

This first chapter of Luke ends with a summary statement about John that will later be matched by a summary statement about Jesus, cf. Luke 2:52.

“Continued to grow,” is the Imperfect, for ongoing action, Active, Indicative, of the Verb AUXANO αὐξάνω that means, “grow, increase, or become greater.” It is also used for Jesus in Luke 2:40, after His circumcision account.

Becoming strong in spirit,” is the Imperfect, Passive, Indicative of the Verb KRATAIOO, κραταιόω that means, “to strengthen, become strong, empower,” with the Dative Noun PNEUMA, “spirit.”  KRATAIOO is only used here and in Luke 2:40, for Jesus, and 1 Cor 16:13; Eph 3:16, regarding our spiritual growth.

Eph 3:16, “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”

Combined, they mean John the Baptist took in the Word of God, Bible Doctrine, and grew to spiritual adulthood, while he grew physically to human adulthood. This phrase may also allude to the fulfillment of the promise made to Zechariah in vs. 15.

He lived in the deserts,” uses the Pronominal Adjective EREMOS that means, “desolate, abandoned, desert, or solitary (place).” Though it literally means desert or wilderness, it is mostly used in the NT for a solitary place. It is predominately used in the synoptic gospels and in Acts 1:20; 8:26; Gal 4:27. So, for John, we could take this literally, but more importantly understanding it as, “being alone with God, to teach and train him.” This was in fulfillment of the prophecy found in Isa 40:3, as noted in Luke 3:4.

Isa 40:3, “A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God’.”  

Luke 3:4, “As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight’.”

In Luke 3:4, “straight” comes from EUTHUS that we noted above in vs. 79, that means, “straight, right, upright, or straight way,” cf. Mat 3:3; Mark 1:3, for John’s ministry paving the way as forerunner for the Lord.

Taking EREMOS literally, based on John’s parents being old when he was born, it is likely that they died before he was an adult. Therefore, he apparently grew up in the wilderness of Judea, cf. Mat 3:1, located between the Dead Sea and Jerusalem, probably in the general vicinity of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947.

Mat 3:1, “Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying…”

“Some scholars have attempted to establish that John was a member of the ascetic Jewish sect called the Essenes who lived in the same hill country of Judea. While certain aspects of John’s message are similar to those of the Essenes (e.g., eschatological emphasis and practice of ritual washings), and while it is possible John grew up near the area of Qumran, it is doubtful that he was a member of the Essenes, though he may have known of them and may even have been influenced by their teaching.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary.)

In vs. 80, “until the day of his public appearance to Israel,” uses a hapaxlegomena for “public appearance,” which is the Noun ANADEIXIS, ἀνάδειξις that means, “a public announcing or installation.”

Though we could render this literally as a “public appearance,” it is better to think of it as his commissioning, appointment, or installation as a prophet when he began his visible and public ministry as forerunner of the Christ. The emphasis would fall upon John’s being officially “appointed” by God as the Messianic forerunner. In any case, it represents the time frame from John’s circumcision to the beginning of his ministry, some 25-28 years.

To Israel,” indicates the scope of John’s ministry, to God’s chosen people primarily, even though he might have influenced other gentiles.

So, Luke ends his narrative of the early life of John in a way similar to the way he concludes the narrative of Jesus’ early life, Luke 2:52, “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” This should be the narrative of our lives too!

“Our minds are naturally curious and there are a great many things of which we have no record in the Gospels concerning which we would like information. We would like to know something of the training of this child. We would like to be permitted to look behind the scenes and see something of the home-life of John the Baptist as a little child and as a youth growing up. We would like to know what led him, eventually, into the wilderness, and how God spoke to him. But the Lord has not been pleased to gratify our curiosity in regard to these things. He tells us all that is important for us to know, and the rest He leaves. We shall find them out by-and-by when we get home to heaven.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary.)

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