Vol. 17, No. 49 – December 9, 2018
The Gospel of Luke
Outline of the Book, based on Charles Ryrie’s:
I. Preface: The Method and Purpose of Writing (1:1-4)
II. The Identification of the Son of Man with Men (1:5-4:13)
A. The Announcement of the Birth of John the Baptist (1:5-25)
B. The Announcement of the Birth of the Son of Man (1:26-56)
C. The Advent of John the Baptist (1:57-80)
D. The Advent of the Son of Man (2:1-20)
E. The Adoration of the Baby (2:21-38)
F. The Advancement of the Boy (2:39-52)
G. The Baptism of the Son of Man (3:1-22)
H. The Genealogy of the Son of Man (3:23-38)
I. The Temptation of the Son of Man (4:1-13)
III. The Ministry of the Son of Man to Men (4:14-9:50)
A. The Announcement of His Ministry (4:14-30)
B. The Authority of His Ministry (4:31-6:11)
- Over demons (4:31-37)
- Over disease (4:38-44)
- Over the disciples (5:1-11)
- Over defilement (a leper healed) (5:12-16)
- Over defectiveness (a paralytic healed) (5:17-26)
- Over the despised (the call of Matthew and parables) (5:27-39)
- Over days (6:1-5)
- Over deformity (6:6-11)
C. The Associates of His Ministry (6:12-49)
- The call of the disciples (6:12-16)
- The characteristics of disciples (The Great Sermon) (6:17-49)
D. Activities of His Ministry (7:1-9:50)
- Ministry in sickness (7:1-10)
- Ministry in death (7:11-17)
- Ministry in doubt (7:18-35)
- Ministry to sinners (7:36-50)
- Ministry financed (8:1-3)
- Ministry illustrated through parables (8:4-21)
- Ministry in storms (8:22-25)
- Ministry over demons (8:26-39)
- Ministry in death and despair (8:40-56)
- Ministry through the disciples (9:1-9)
- Ministry to physical needs (9:10-17)
- Ministry of prediction (9:18-50)
IV. The Repudiation of the Son of Man by Men (9:51-19:27)
A. Rejection by Samaritans (9:51-56)
B. Rejection by Worldly Men (9:57-62)
C. Commissioning of the Seventy (10:1-24)
D. Rejection by a Lawyer (Parable of the Good Samaritan) (10:25-37)
E. Reception at Bethany (10:38-42)
F. Instruction on Prayer (11:1-13)
G. Rejection by the Nation (11:14-36)
H. Rejection by Pharisees and Lawyers (11:37-54)
I. Instruction in the Light of Rejection (12:1-19:27)
- Concerning hypocrisy (12:1-12)
- Concerning covetousness (12:13-34)
- Concerning faithfulness (12:35-48)
- Concerning division and signs (12:49-59)
- Concerning repentance (13:1-9)
- Concerning hypocrisy (13:10-17)
- Concerning the kingdom (13:18-35)
- Concerning inflexible people (14:1-6)
- Concerning inflated people (14:7-11)
- Concerning invited people (14:12-14)
- Concerning indifferent people (14:15-24)
- Concerning indulgent people (14:25-35)
- Concerning God’s love for sinners (15:1-32)
- Concerning wealth (16:1-31)
- Concerning forgiveness (17:1-6)
- Concerning service (17:7-10)
- Concerning gratitude (17:11-19)
- Concerning the kingdom (17:20-37)
- Concerning prayer (18:1-14)
- Concerning entrance into the kingdom (18:15-30)
- Concerning His death (18:31-34)
- Concerning salvation (18:35-19:10)
- Concerning faithfulness (19:11-27)
V. The Condemnation of the Son of Man for Men (19:28-23:56)
A. Sunday (19:28-48)
B. Monday (20:1-21:38)
- Authority requested (20:1-8)
- Authority revealed (20:9-18)
- Authority resisted (20:19-40)
- Authority reiterated (20:41-21:4)
- The apocalyptic discourse (21:5-38)
C. Tuesday/Monday? (22:1-6)
D. Wednesday (22:7-53)
- The Lord’s Supper (22:7-38)
- The Garden of Gethsemane (22:39-46)
- The arrest (22:47-53)
E. Thursday (22:54-23:55)
- Peter’s denial (22:54-62)
- Christ mocked, beaten (22:63-65)
- Christ before the Sanhedrin (22:66-71)
- Christ before Pilate (23:1-5)
- Christ before Herod (23:6-12)
- Christ again before Pilate (23:13-25)
- The crucifixion (23:26-49)
- The burial (23:50-55)
F. Saturday, Prepared His body (23:56)
G. Sunday, The Vindication of the Son of Man before Men (24:1-53)
- The Victory over Death (24:1-12)
- The Fulfiller of the Prophecies (the Emmaus Disciples) (24:13-35)
- The Pattern of Resurrection Life (24:36-43)
- The Head of the Church (24:44-48)
- The Giver of the Holy Spirit (24:49)
VI. The Ascension of the Lord (24:50-53)
I. Preface: The Method and Purpose of Writing (1:1-4)
II. The Identification of the Son of Man with Men (1:5-4:13)
A. The Announcement of the Birth of John the Baptist (1:5-25)
B. The Announcement of the Birth of the Son of Man (1:26-56)
- The Advent of John the Baptist (1:57-80)
I. Preface: The Method and Purpose of Writing, Luke 1:1-4.
Author of the Book:
Written by the “the beloved physician,” Luke, it is the most comprehensive and longest of the Gospels. In fact, both the Gospels of Luke and Acts are written by him and addressed to Theophilus as a two-volume work. They are attributed to Luke, yet he is nowhere named as the author of either. Nevertheless, a great deal of evidence points to Luke, “the beloved physician,” Col 4:14, as the author of both books. Interestingly, these two books make up about 28% of the Greek NT.
The only places where we find Luke’s name in the NT are Col 4:14; 2 Tim 4:11; and Philemon 24. It is also believed that Luke referred to himself in the “we” sections of Acts 16:10–17; 20:5–21:18; 27:1–28:16. These “we” sections of Acts show that the author was a close associate and traveling companion of Paul. Since all but two of Paul’s associates are named in the third person, the list can be narrowed to Titus and Luke. Therefore, by process of elimination, Paul’s “dear friend Luke, the doctor,” Col 4:14, and “fellow worker,” Phm 24, becomes the most likely candidate.
His authorship is supported by the uniform testimony of early Christian writings. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, and Jerome all support Lucan authorship. The second-century Muratorian Canon, which lists the books that are received as Scripture in Rome, declares Luke the physician to be the author of both the third Gospel and Acts.
Biblical evidence points to A.D. 58-63 as the likely time of writing. Luke was written earlier than Acts, its companion volume. The last chapter of Acts recounts events that are c. A.D. 63, and probably concludes as it does because events are contemporary. Perhaps Luke began his first volume at Caesarea and finished it in Rome, having accompanied Paul during Paul’s two-year imprisonment, Acts 24:27. Since the conclusion of Acts shows Paul in Rome, and since the gospel of Luke was written before Acts, Acts 1:1, Luke’s gospel was probably written around A.D. 60. However, suggesting that Luke’s Gospel received its final form in Greece and not in Rome, some have suggested A.D. 70. By comparison, the Gospels of Mathew and Mark were written in the 50’s or 60’s, and John was written between 85-90 A.D.
About the Author:
Luke, meaning, “luminous or white,” was called the “beloved physician,” Col 4:14, and was a close friend and companion of Paul, 2 Tim 4:11; Philemon 1:24. In Greek it is Λουκᾶς, LOUKAS, and is apparently an abbreviation for Λουκανός, LOUKANOS. It seems evident from Col 4:10–14, that Luke was a Gentile for there Paul differentiates him from the Jews. Here the apostle states that, of his fellow-workers, Aristarchus, Mark, and John were the only ones who were Jews. This suggests that Epaphras, Luke, and Demas, also mentioned in these verses, were Gentiles, not Jews. Luke’s obvious skill with the Greek language and his phrase “their own language” in Acts 1:19, also implies that he was not Jewish. As such, he was the only Gentile author of any part of the NT.
We know nothing about his early life or conversion except that he was not an eyewitness of the life of Jesus Christ, Luke 1:2. Yet, he was an eyewitness to many of the acts of Paul, as he was his close companion. Though a physician by profession, he was primarily an evangelist, theologian, and historian writing this gospel and the book of Acts and accompanying Paul in missionary work.
We know that he lived in Philippi for a considerable period, at least 7-8 years. He first meets Paul at Troas just before the vision of the Man from Macedonia, Acts 16:10-12. Luke remains in Philippi when Paul and Silas leave, Acts 16:40. He is there when Paul comes back on his 3rd tour bound for Jerusalem, Acts 20:3-5. Although some believe he was from Antioch, Philippi could be considered his home, though he was probably a man who had traveled a great deal, and may have been with Paul in Galatia before coming to Troas. He may have ministered to Paul in his sickness there, Gal 4:14. His later years were spent chiefly with Paul away from Philippi, cf. Acts 20:3-28, 31, on the way to Jerusalem, at Caesarea, the voyage to Rome, and in Rome. He was with Paul at the time of the apostle’s martyrdom, 2 Tim 4:11, but of his later life we have no certain facts.
The Anti-Marcionite Prologue, an introduction to Luke found in a number of Latin manuscripts, ascribes the book to the physician and companion of Paul and supplies additional questionable information about him. It states, he was a native of Antioch, he wrote his Gospel in Achaia, and he died unmarried and childless in Boeotia at the age of eighty-four.
His education is considerable. He writes excellent Greek, both classical and Biblical, and demonstrates a literary ability that approaches a poetic quality at times. The gospel was written in the finest literary KOINE Greek, (the common Greek of the marketplace), and the prologue has affinities with the preambles of the historians Herodotus, Polybius, and Thucydides, and incorporates much of the language of the physicians Galen and Hippocrates.
Though Luke was not an eye-witness to the earthly life and ministry of Christ, he was in intimate contact with many who were. Luke was with Paul in Palestine in the late 50s, especially in Caesarea and Jerusalem, Acts 21:1-27:2. Members of the Jerusalem church including James, the brother of Jesus, would have provided much oral testimony to the physician. Luke’s association with Paul also brought him into contact with leading apostolic witnesses, including James, Peter, and also Mark the companion of Peter and author of the gospel that bears his name.
We see Luke in Scripture as: A physician, Col 4:14; Writing to Theophilus, Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-2; Accompanying Paul in his tour of Asia and Macedonia, Acts 16:10-13; 20:5; 20:6; to Jerusalem, Acts 21:1-18; and to Rome, Acts 27-28; 2 Tim 4:11; Philemon 1:24.
It is the third and longest book in the NT. The purpose of Luke is clearly stated in the prologue of his Gospel, Luke 1:1-4. All four verses are only one sentence in Greek. Several things need to be noticed regarding his approach to presenting the gospel:
1. Luke states that his own work was stimulated by the work of others, vs. 1. “That have been accomplished,” this phrase tells about what God has done through Jesus to fulfill His plan, cf. Luke 24:43-47.
2. That he consulted eyewitnesses, vs. 2. “Original eyewitnesses,” this verse refers to the preaching of the original oral tradition that circulated about Him before there were Gospels. These traditions were rooted in the preaching ministry of those who had been with Him.
3. That he sifted and arranged the information, vs. 3. “Orderly sequence,” since we know that Luke rearranged some events in his Gospel to be topical as opposed to chronological, cf. Luke 4:16-30, and parallels in Mark and Matthew, this orderly sequence has more to do with a general arrangement and order as opposed to meaning in temporal sequence.
4. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to instruct Theophilus in the historical reliability of the faith, vs. 4. “May know,” this is more than an intellectual knowledge, the word EPIGNOSIS has the idea of giving assurance in this context.
The theme of Luke’s gospel is Christ, the Son of Adam, emphasizing the Son of Man that tells of events that demonstrated Christ’s humanity. It is slanted toward all Gentiles, especially the unbeliever. This is a gospel of the compassionate Son of Man offering salvation to the whole world, Luke 19:10. It presents the Savior as the Son of Man, the Perfect Man who came to seek and save the lost, Acts 19:10. In Luke, the Son of Man is presented as meeting man’s needs, a perfect man among men, chosen from men, tested among men, and supremely qualified to be the Savior and High Priest.
Holman also notes, “A strong argument can be presented for a second, though clearly subordinate, purpose. Some see Luke-Acts as an apology for the Christian faith, a defense of it designed to show Roman authorities that Christianity posed no political threat. Pilate declared Jesus innocent three times (Luke 23:4,14,22). Acts does not present Roman officials as unfriendly (Acts 13:4-12; 16:35-40; 18:12-17; 19:31). Agrippa remarked to Festus that Paul could have been freed if he had not appealed to Caesar (Acts 26:32). Paul is pictured as being proud of his Roman citizenship (Acts 22:28). The apostle is seen preaching and teaching in Rome openly without hindrance as Acts draws to a close. It is possible to see in all this an attempt by Luke to calm Roman authorities’ fears about any supposed subversive character of Christianity.” (Holman Bible Dictionary.)
- In Matthew, Jesus is presented as the Son of David, emphasizing His Kingship, written for the Jews, cf. Isa 11:1; Mat 1:1.
- In Mark, Jesus is presented as the Son of Man, emphasizing His Servant hood, written for the Romans, cf. Zech 3:8; Mark 8:38.
- In John, Jesus is presented as the Son of God, emphasizing His Deity, written for Christians, cf. Isa 4:2; 7:14; John 3:16.
- In Luke, Jesus is presented as the Son of Adam, emphasizing Him as the Son of Man, written for the Gentiles, cf. Zech 6:12-13; Luke 3:38.
|Christ’s Sonship||of David||of Man||of Adam||of God|
|Christ viewed as||King||Servant||Man||God|
|Number of chapters||28||16||24||21|
In Matthew, we see groupings of significant events, in Mark we see the snapshots of significant events, but in Luke we see more details of these events by the physician/historian. Jesus’ perfect human nature as the Son of Man, yet also Son of God, is brought out by the following:
- His physical birth with His genealogy traced all the way back to Adam, Acts 3:38, (Matthew goes back only to Abraham).
- His mental development is stressed in Acts 2:40-52.
- His moral and spiritual perfection is also stressed as evidenced at His baptism by the voice of the Father from heaven and by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, Luke 3:22.
Both the humanity and compassion of Jesus Christ are stressed in Luke’s Gospel over and over again. Luke gives the most complete account of Christ’s ancestry, birth, and development. Jesus is portrayed as the ideal Son of Man who identified with the sorrow and plight of sinful man, in order to carry it and offer us the priceless gift of salvation. Jesus alone fulfills the ideal of human perfection. Therefore, in Jesus we have One who is perfect manhood, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
As we have noted, this Gospel is a carefully researched and documented writing. In it we see:
1. The author displays an unusual interest in medical matters, Luke 4:38; 7:15; 8:55; 14:2; 18:15; 22:50.
Luke 4:38, “Then He got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her.”
2. Much attention is given to recounting of the events surrounding the birth of Christ that only Luke records. For example, the annunciation to Zechariah and Mary, the songs of Elizabeth and Mary, the birth and childhood of John the Baptist, the birth of Jesus, the visit of the shepherds, the circumcision, presentation in the Temple, details of Christ’s childhood, and the inner thoughts of Mary.
3. Luke shows an uncommon interest in individuals, as seen in his accounts of Zaccheus, Luke 19:1-10, and the penitent thief, Luke 23:39-43, and in the parables of the prodigal son, Luke 15:11-32, and the penitent tax-gatherer, Luke 18:9-14. It is Luke who gives us the story of the good Samaritan, Luke 10:29-37, and the one thankful ex-leper, Luke 17:11-19.
4. Luke shows a rhythm that alternates between crowds and individuals. Often after a scene of Christ in a crowd, Luke focuses on Christ alone, or on Christ with one individual or the disciples. For example, Judas betrays Christ, Luke 22:1-6; Christ celebrates the Last Supper, Luke 22:7-38; they retreat to the Mount of Olives, where Christ prays alone, Luke 22:39-46; when he returns to his disciples, he is arrested, Luke 22:47-52; the scene reverts to the courtyard where Peter becomes the focus as he betrays the Lord and weeps bitterly, Luke 22:54-62.
5. In this gospel, there is a special emphasis on prayer, Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28-29; 10:21; 11:1; 22:39-46; 23:34, 46.
Luke 5:16, “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.”
Luke 6:12, “It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.”
6. Another distinctive feature of this gospel is the prominent place given to women, Luke 1; 2; 7:11-13; 8:1-3; 10:38-42; 21:1-4; 23:27-31, 49.
7. Luke also shows interest in poverty and wealth, Luke 1:52-53; 4:16-22; 6:20, 24-25; 12:13-21; 14:12-13; 16:19-31. Luke’s Gospel surpasses the others in the attention it accords to the fringe figures of society, including the outcasts, the poor, the sinners, and women. Luke repeatedly shows Jesus as the friend of sinners and outcasts, Luke 5:29-32; 14:12-24; 15:1-2.
8. The book preserves four beautiful hymns:
a. The Magnificat of Mary, Luke 1:46-55.
b. The Benedictus of Zechariah, Luke 1:67-79.
c. The Gloria in Excelsis of the angels, Luke 2:14.
d. The Nunc Dimittis of Simeon, Luke 2:29-32.
9. There are about 200 verses, mostly teaching material, which Luke and Matthew have in common. There are also many verses that Mark and Luke have in common, yet about half of Luke’s material is exclusively his own.
10. Luke includes more events of Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem than do the other Gospels. This special section, often called “the travelogue,” Acts 9:51-19:27, contains many parables not otherwise recorded.
This is a gospel of the compassionate Son of Man offering salvation to the whole world, Luke 19:10. Luke presents The Christ in a pastoral, theological, and historical manner.
The Recipient of this Gospel, as well as the book of Acts:
Both Luke and Acts are dedicated to Theophilus, Θεόφιλος which means “lover of God, friend of God, or God-beloved,” and may be the name of an actual person or a figurative representation of any Christian. Some believe that Theophilus is a discreet pseudonym to protect a highly placed Christian. Some speculate that it identifies Theophilus with Titus Flavius Clemens, cousin of the Emperor Domitian. His wife Domitilla was a Christian and he himself was to fall from the emperor’s favor and be executed on the charge of “atheism.” The Romans used the term “atheists” to describe Christians because they refused to worship idols.
The title “most excellent” vs. 3, could indicate a Roman of high rank, Acts 23:26; 24:3; 26:25, before whom the truth of Christianity is to be defended, as Paul uses the same title in addressing Felix, Acts 23:26; 24:3, and Festus, Acts 26:25. But the term “most excellent” was not limited to Roman officials, and there is really no way of knowing the identity of Luke’s named reader.
Yet, we do see that Theophilus was an informed person in regard to Christianity, i.e., “you have been taught” vs. 4, a statement probably referring to his prior Christian instruction, cf. Acts 18:25, referring to Apollos. This prologue can be interpreted to mean that Theophilus was either not yet a Christian, hence Luke’s purpose would be evangelistic, or that he was a new Christian who needed to be strengthened in the faith, hence Luke would have a didactic purpose. In either case, Luke wrote to provide the necessary information for anyone, including Theophilus to come to know and understand who Jesus was and what He did, so as to come to a saving faith in Him.
Still others like the ISBE propose another alternative. “Theophilus may have been the presbyter who took part in sending the letter from the Corinthians to Paul, given in the “Acta Pauli” (compare Hennecke, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen, 378). There is also a magistrate Theophilus mentioned in the “Acts of James,” as being converted by James on his way to India (compare Budge, The Contendings of the Apostles, II, 299), but these and other identifications, together with other attempts to trace out the further history of the original Theophilus, are without sufficient evidence for their establishment,” (ISBE).
II. The Identification of the Son of Man with Men, Luke 1:5-4:13.
A. The Announcement of the Birth of John the Baptist, Luke 1:5-25.
Historians customarily introduced a narrative by listing the names of reigning kings or governors, which provided the approximate time of the narrative. Luke first provides historical context for the events to follow by noting Herod the Great as the native ruler of Judea who ruled from 37-4 B.C. The qualifier “king of Judea” distinguishes this Herod from his sons, who ruled smaller regions and never received the official title of “king” from Rome.
This reminded them of the “dark days.” The people had not heard a prophetic Word from God for 400 years, not since Malachi had promised the coming of Elijah, Mal 4:5-6. The spiritual leaders were shackled by tradition and, in some instances, corruption; and their king, Herod the Great, was a tyrant. Then came two great announcements from the Lord; the first being the announcement of John the Baptist.
In the demonstration of the spiritual heritage of the forerunner of Jesus, Luke notes that John’s father, Zechariah whose name means, “the Lord remembers,” was a priest from the division of Abijah. In the Hebrew and Greek, it is really Abia, cf. 1 Chron 24:10. There were 24 such divisions of priests, cf. 1 Chron 24:1-19. Each division was comprised of 4-9 families who were responsible for performing the daily service in the temple in Jerusalem for two separate weeks each year. In this scene, it was Zechariah’s allotted period to serve, vs. 8-9. His was to offer the incense that was offered daily before the morning sacrifice and after the evening sacrifice, about 3 in the afternoon. It was probably the evening offering that was assigned to Zechariah.
Not only was John’s father from spiritual heritage, but his mother Elizabeth was also, i.e., the lineage of Aaron. Her name means, “my God is an or my oath,” i.e. a worshipper of God.
For Luke, piety is very important. This does not suggest that he advocates a doctrine of salvation by works. Rather, he makes it clear that the presence of piety and good works in the lives of those prior to the coming of the gospel of Christ is evidence of their trust in God. “Righteous before God,” is not merely the quality of having an ethical character, but refers to living in accordance with what God requires. John’s parents lived their lives in faithful obedience to the law of God.
This statement, “righteous before God,” is also given so that the couple’s childlessness is not interpreted by us as the result of sin or wickedness before God. In addition, we see that at this point in their lives they both were beyond the age of being able to conceive. This reminds us of Abraham and Sarah.
Once again, Luke provides a subtle parallel with another OT example of God’s power, Abraham and Sarah, Gen 17:17. Elizabeth’s barrenness and advanced age underscored the miraculous nature of the event that was about to take place. And, we see that Elizabeth is yet another member of a devout group of women that includes individuals such as Sarah, Gen 16:1; Rebecca, Gen 25:21; Rachel, Gen 30:1; and Hannah, 1 Sam 1:2, all of whom were delivered by God from their infertility and gave birth to great spiritual leaders.
Zechariah’s duty was to, “burn incense.” Remember that the burning of incense in the Holy Place was a picture of our prayers going up to the Lord Who receives them as a sweet-smelling aroma. The main prayer for Israel was that God would provide a Messiah, which is about to be answered.
The “angel of the Lord,” ANGELOS, ἄγγελος, KURIOS, κύριος, is a very generic title used throughout Scripture, Old and New Testaments. It represents many different appearances of heavenly beings including our Lord Jesus Christ, Gen 16:7- 13; 21:17; Ex 3:2-6; Judges 2:1-5. Here, it is the Angel Gabriel, vs. 19.
Zechariah and Elizabeth may have been praying for their own child, but given their age, they probably had given up on the opportunity to have a child. Being “righteous” they more likely were praying for the deliverance of Israel. Nevertheless, the angel tells them they will have a son and to name him “John,” which in the Greek is IOANNES, Ιωάννης that means, “the Lord has given or the Lord has been gracious.”
Gabriel announces the impact John will have on them and the people of Israel. “Joy,” CHARA, “gladness or rejoicing and exaltation,” AGALLIASIS, and “rejoice,” CHAIRO are favorite terms of Luke. They reflect the joy that accompanies the experiencing of God’s salvation, cf. Psa 51:12. Zechariah and Elizabeth, as well as the nation, would rejoice because of the ministry of John the Baptist.
Psa 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.”
In vs. 15, it was an allusion to the Nazirite vow in Num 6:2, Judges 13-16, (regarding Samson), 1 Sam 1:11, (regarding Samuel), and in Amos 2:11f, (regarding special servants to the Lord). It was a vow of separation or consecration, setting someone apart for the special service to God.
This special consecration is further identified as John would be “filled with the Holy Spirit,” which is called in theology “the enduement of the Holy Spirit.” Enduement of the Spirit was typically a temporary filling of the Holy Spirit and given only to a few OT saints. Remember, this is still the time period of the “Age of Israel,” or the “Jewish Dispensation.” Not all believers received the indwelling or subsequent opportunity for the “filling of the Holy Spirit,” during that dispensation. But, it was told to Zechariah that John would receive it for his special service as the forerunner of and prophet for the coming Christ.
This “enduement” of the Holy Spirit for John was unique. And, even though he continued the OT tradition of spiritual leaders being empowered by God to fulfill a specific purpose or task, John’s Spirit-empowerment is unique.
But first, we need to correct something. The phrase, “while yet in his mother’s womb,” is a wrong English translation. It should be, “from his mother’s womb,” because the Greek utilizes the Genitive Preposition EK that means, “from, out of, out from, or away from.” In no way is it translated “while in.” It always has the connotation of, “out from or away from.” Therefore, John is not filled with the Holy Spirit inside of his mother’s womb, but after he is born and has his own life and receives the imputation of a soul at physical birth.
Now, back to the uniqueness of his “enduement.” First, it is unlike the temporary nature of the OT prophet’s Spirit-enablement, because John’s is to be permanently filled with the Spirit that would characterize the kingdom of God. Thus, John is an important transitionary figure in the mind of Luke. He is ushering in the transition from the Age of Israel to the Church Age, where believers would be permanently indwelt with the Holy Spirit from the day of their salvation. Second, the phrase stresses in the most enthusiastic manner, God’s choice of John for this important task that is followed by the next two verses that speak of the impact of his ministry. God, as well as the angel Gabriel, was excited about this.
The ministry of John would accomplish two things. First, in vs. 16, he would evangelize the Israelites to bring them back to right relation with God. Second, in vs. 17, to act as the “forerunner” for Christ, cf. Luke 1:76; 3:4, in the manner of Elijah, Mat 11:14; 17:11-12, “to make ready the people for the Lord,” that quotes Malachi 4:6. Notice that John’s ministry would be directed to the Jews primarily.
“In the Spirit and power,” does not mean in the form of great signs as with Elijah; rather, this power would be evident in the authority and power of John’s message to save. John would be empowered by the same Divine Spirit that worked in and through the prophet Elijah to accomplish this. And, as we know from Scripture, Elijah was the stern prophet who rebuked the idolatrous King Ahab, 1 Kings 21:17-24. Likewise, Elijah preached repentance, as John the Baptist would also do, Luke 3:8. Therefore, John would turn the Israelites from their false worship of God to a true worship of Him through Christ.
Unfortunately, Zechariah has a moment of doubt that will cost him, vs. 20. He was looking at the physical things in doubt and not the spiritual things in faith. He had forgotten what God did for Abraham and Sarah, Gen 18:9-15; Rom 4:18-25. He thought that his physical limitations would hinder Almighty God. As Paul stated, “the Jews look for / demand a sign,” 1 Cor 1:22a; cf. John 2:18. His individual reaction to the good news and his personal failure to believe God’s word mirrors the failure of Israel to bring the Word of God to the nations.
We too, must be careful not to doubt God. We too, should not look at the physical and think it is impossible for our almighty God. We need to remember who He is and what His word says and be faithful to Him in all situations.
In addition, Zechariah should have recognized the sign of Gabriel’s visit as a parallel between his own experience and that of Daniel, cf. Dan 9:21, who was also visited by Gabriel at the time of the evening sacrifice. As such, the appearance of the angel and his introduction as “that (the one who) stands in the presence of God,” vs. 19, were both intended to be signs that the message was authentic.
The angel gives his name, “Gabriel,” Γαβριήλ that means, “man of God or warrior of God.” Gabriel is one of only two angels given a name in the Bible, Dan 8:16; 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26. Michael is the other who is the warrior angel, Dan 10:13, 21; 12:1; Jude 9; Rev 12:7.
Gabriel’s ministry involves making special announcements concerning God’s plans. He is only seen in the announcements to Daniel, Zechariah, and Mary. In Dan 8, he interpreted the vision of the ram and he-goat; in Dan 9, he delivered the 70-week prophecy. He brought Daniel out of a trance, Dan 8:15, flew quickly, Dan 9:21, and took hold of the prophet, Dan 8:18; 9:21. He also may have been the angel that came to Joseph in a dream to explain Mary’s condition, Mat 1:20-21. Generally speaking, Gabriel is associated with the salvation of God’s people, especially with Messianic promise.
Extra Biblical writings name several other angels. In the Jewish apocalyptic writings of Enoch, the addition of Raphael and Phanuel, 1 Enoch 9:1; 40:9; 54:6, Remiel and Saraqael, 1 Enoch 20:1-8, and Uriel, plus a number of others, 1 Enoch 82:7, 10-20, compose an elaborate angelic host.
1 Enoch 10:9; 20:7; 44:6; 2 Enoch 21:3, 5, and others, say Gabriel is the one who conveys to God the prayers of martyrs, 1 Enoch 9; casts the wicked into a furnace, 1 Enoch 54:1; oversees all powers, 1 Enoch 40:9; and sits on the right hand of God, 2 Enoch 24:1, which are all messianic roles in the NT. Further, the Aramaic Targums write him into the OT accounts as the one who led Joseph to his brothers, Gen 37:15, buried Moses, Deut 34:6, and slaughtered Sennacherib’s army, 2 Chron 32:21. Yet, we cannot be assured as to these things, since they are not Divinely inspired writings.
In addition, Gabriel may have been the “angel of the Lord” that spoke to the wife of Manoah, about the impending birth of their son Samson, “the Nazirite to God from the womb,” Judges 13:2-4, but he is not named there.
The other purpose for Gabriel’s announcement was to, “bring him good news,” EUAGGELIZO, εὐαγγελίζω.
Here, we see the discipline Zechariah received for not believing the message given to him by Gabriel; he was made mute. As we know, faith is blessed, but unbelief is judged. We should remember 2 Cor 4:13a, “I believed, and therefore have I spoken.” Zechariah did not believe; therefore, he could not speak. And, 2 Cor 4:13b, “we also believe, therefore also we speak.” Therefore, when God speaks, our only responsibility is to trust His Word, and teach it to others.
Zechariah’s 9+ month silence reflected the four-hundred-year hush that preceded the fulfillment of God’s promises. And, in a way, it was the sign that he had requested, vs. 22, because he would remain mute, “until the day… which shall be fulfilled in its proper time,” which was when they brought John to be circumcised eight days after his birth, vs. 64. Zechariah’s condition also included the inability to hear, vs. 62. Therefore, this “sign” was both evidence of the message’s authenticity and a judgment against Zechariah for disbelieving the messenger.
In fact, both Ezekiel and Daniel temporarily lost the ability to speak after receiving visions from God, Ezek 3:26; Dan 10:7-8, 15; a sign for all the people.
The reason “the people were waiting for Zecharaiah,” is that upon his return from the Holy Place, he would recite the Aaronic blessing over them found in Num 6:24-26. If he was delayed, they feared him dead and/or that they would not be blessed.
Num 6:24-26, “The LORD bless you, and keep you; 25The LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; 26The LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.”
Because Zechariah could not speak, the people discerned it to be a sign that he “saw a vision,” OPTASIA, ὀπτασία. “It is difficult to make a clear distinction between dreams and visions in the Bible, because visions are called dreams and dreams are called visions (e.g., Acts 2:17; 9:10, 12). However, OPTASIA is a waking vision, while HORAMA is a vision seen in a dream.” (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary.)
So, here we know that Gabriel appeared to Zechariah while he was awake.
Here we see Zechariah returning home and then conceiving John with his wife Elizabeth. We do not know the exact time period between returning home and conception, only that the promise of God had been fulfilled.
Given the societal disgrace of being barren, it makes sense that Elizabeth would wait until the time came when the reality of her pregnancy would be undeniable.
This was also where Zechariah composed his great “Benedictus,” vs. 67-79.
Here we have a wonderful prayer of thanksgiving by Elizabeth. She was thankful that the Lord chose her for this occasion and allowed her to conceive, as noted in the phrase, “looked upon me with favor” and “to take away my disgrace among men.” Praises like this were common among the barren whom God visited, Gen 21:6-7; 1 Sam 2:1-11, but Elizabeth especially recalls Rachel’s exultation, “God has removed my reproach!” Gen 30:23.
“Disgrace or reproach” is the Noun ONEIDOS ὄνειδος that means, “reproach, disgrace, insult, censure, rebuke, blame,” and is only used here in the NT. In that day, it was considered something of a public embarrassment not to have had children, and the impending birth of John the Baptist would relieve her of this embarrassment. Compare the similar situation of Rachel in Gen 30:23, where the Septuagint also uses ONEIDOS.
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
# 18-129, 18-130, & 18-131
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!