Outline of the Book, based on Charles Ryrie’s:
I. Preface: The Method and Purpose of Writing, Luke 1:1-4.
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.
B. The Announcement of the Birth of the Son of Man, Luke 1:26-56.
C. The Advent of John the Baptist, Luke 1:57-80.
D. The Advent of the Son of Man, Luke 2:1-20.
E. The Adoration of the Baby, Luke 2:21-38.
F. The Advancement of the Boy, Luke 2:39-52.
G. The Baptism of the Son of Man, Luke 3:1-22.
H. The Genealogy of the Son of Man, Luke 3:23-38.
I. The Temptation of the Son of Man, Luke 4:1-13
II. The Identification of the Son of Man with Men, Luke 1:5-4:13.
D. The Advent of the Son of Man, Luke 2:1-20.
1. The birth narrative, vs. 1-7.
2. The announcement to and adoration from the shepherds, vs. 8-20.
E. The Adoration of the Baby, as Jesus is presented at the Temple, vs. 21-38.
1. The circumcision and later presentation at the Temple vs. 21-24.
2. The adoration from Simeon, vs. 25-35.
3. The adoration from Anna, vs. 36-38.
F. The Advancement of the Boy, including the Temple incident at age 12, vs. 39-52.
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We begin with the first section of our Lord’s birth narrative by Luke.
II. The Identification of the Son of Man with Men, Luke 1:5-4:13.
D. The Advent of the Son of Man, Luke 2:1-20.
1. The birth narrative, vs. 1-7.
This chapter begins as Chapter 1 began, cf. Luke 1:5a, (“during the reign of king Herod,” 27-4 B.C.), with Luke giving a historical and chronological marker for the time frame in which these events occur, vs. 1-2. Luke will do this again to begin Chapter 3, in vs. 1-2
Luke 2:1, “Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.”
A “decree,” (the noun DOGMA, δόγμα, “decree, edict, or ordinance,”) was sent out to all the people in the Roman Empire by “Caesar Augustus,” (Kaisar, Καῖσαρ, “Caesar or Emperor,” Augoustos, Αὐγοῦστος, “Augustus,” September 63 B.C. – August 14 A.D., who was born Gaius Octavius Thurinuswho), was the first Emperor of the Roman Empire who reigned from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D. He was the great-nephew and adopted son and heir of Julius Caesar. Our month August is named for him.
“Census,” is the Present, Middle, Infinitive Verb APOGRAPHO, ἀπογράφω that means, “record, to enroll, or inscribe in a register.” It is used here and in vs. 3, 5; Heb 12:23. The Noun APOGRAPHE ἀπογραφή that means, “registration, a record, or enrollment,” is used in vs. 2, and Acts 5:37. Although, not directly mentioned, the typical reason for taking a census was to ensure proper taxation of the people or to ascertain the military strength of the various provinces.
“Inhabited earth,” is the Greek OIKOUMENE, οἰκουμένη that means, “the inhabited earth, the world,” and used for the Roman Empire. This passage is noteworthy as defining the usual N.T. use of OIKOUMENE as the sphere of Roman rule at its greatest extent. It was one of the great Gentile world-monarchies, Dan 2:7f., which is peculiarly the sphere of prophecy. Romans regarded their great empire as the Orbis Terrarum, or “orb of the earth.” All lands beyond its boundaries were considered outer barbarism.
“I am thrilled when I read this simple, historically accurate passage with tremendous spiritual truth behind it. Caesar Augustus attempted to make himself a god. He wanted to be worshiped. He signed a tax bill which caused a woman and man, peasants, living in Nazareth, to journey to Bethlehem to enroll. That woman was carrying in her womb the Son of God! This is tremendous! This Caesar Augustus tried to make himself God, but nobody today reverences him or pays taxes to him. But that little baby in Mary’s womb — many of us worship Him today and call Him our Savior.” (Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee.)
Therefore, in vs. 1, the birth of Jesus Christ took place during the reign of “Caesar August.” He was merely the tool in God’s hand to bring to pass the prophecy.
Luke 2:2, “This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.”
Now, in vs. 2, the birth also took place, “while Quirinius was governor of Syria.”
“Quirinius,” (KURENIOS, Κυρήνιος, “Kyrenios,” 51 B.C. – 21 A.D.), was apparently the “governor,” (HEGEMONEUO, ἡγεμονεύω a verb that means, “be leader, rule, or to govern”), of “Syria,” (Συρία) twice: from 4 B.C. to 1 A.D., when this census was taken, and again from 6-11 A.D., as confirmed archaeologically. His full name is Publius Sulpicius Quirinius. The province of Syria included Judaea as a political subdivision.
“The Greek word HEGEMON, which Luke uses for governor, would be used for either of the Roman titles, viz.: Proprætor, or senatorial governor; or Quæstor, or imperial commissioner. Quirinius may have commenced the enrollment as Quæstor and finished it ten years later as Proprætor. He was a well-known character in that age. Harsh and avaricious as a governor, but an able and loyal soldier, earning a Roman triumph for successes in Cilicia, and being honored by a public funeral in A.D. 21.” (A Harmony of the Four Gospels.)
The Jews hated their pagan conquerors and censuses were forbidden under Jewish law. The resultant taxation assessment was greatly resented by the Jews, and open revolt was prevented only by the efforts of the high priest Joazar, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia. Despite efforts to prevent revolt, the census did trigger the revolt of Judas of Galilee and the formation of the party of the Zealots, according to Josephus.
Though neither knew it, God used Caesar and Quirinius to fulfill what He promised long ago in Micah 5:2, seven hundred years before the birth of Christ.
Because of the death of King Herod in 4 B.C., and the beginning of Quirinius’ Governorship in the same year, most place the birth of Jesus Christ at around 4 B.C.
Luke 2:3, “And everyone was on his way to register for the census (APOGRAPHO), each to his own city.”
In vs. 3, “everyone to his own city,” The Romans enrolled each person at the place where he was then residing; but the Jews were to return to their ancestral or tribal cities and enroll themselves as citizens of these cities. This was the city where Joseph’s ancestors had been settled by Joshua when he divided the land, Joshua 13, and was the home town of David, the ancestor of Joseph and Jesus.
Luke 2:4, “Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David.”
Although Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth and Mary was possibly in her last trimester of pregnancy, they journeyed about 100 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
Regardless of the demands of the Roman census and tax law, Luke includes this narrative to once again focuses our attention on the establishment of Davidic ancestry for Jesus through His legal father Joseph. Cf. 1 Sam 17:12.
1 Sam 17:12, “Now David was the son of the Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, whose name was Jesse, and he had eight sons. And Jesse was old in the days of Saul, advanced in years among men.”
In addition, Joseph and Mary may have been well aware of the prophecy of the birthplace of the Messiah from Micah 5:2-3, that the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem, providing them with an even greater motivation for going to the city of David, cf. Mat 2:1, 5-6, 8, 16; Luke 2:15; John 7:42.
Micah 5:2, “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”
Micah 5:3, “Therefore He will give them up until the time when she who is in labor has borne a child. Then the remainder of His brethren will return to the sons of Israel.” This prophecy was written well after David had perished.
“Bethlehem,” (Βηθλέεμ BETHLEEM), located 5 miles south of Jerusalem means, “house of bread.” It was the later or Jewish name for the old Canaanitish village of Ephrath, the Ephrath near where Rachel, the wife of Jacob, died while giving birth to Benjamin, Gen 35:19. It sat 2,350 feet above sea level, surrounded by fertile farmland and grass-covered hillsides.
Gen 35:19, “So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”
And as you know, Jesus is the “Bread of Life,” John 6:35, 48.
Luke 2:5, “In order to register (APOGRAPHO) along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.”
Roman law did not necessitate Mary’s presence with Joseph during the enrollment process. But, due to her advancement of pregnancy, and the potential ridicule she might continue to endure if she stayed behind, Joseph brought her with him.
“Engaged” is the Verb MNESTEUO, μνηστεύω that means, “betroth or become engaged.” It is only used here and in Mat 1:18, Luke 1:27. In the other two usages of this word, it was the time frame before Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit overshadowing her.
Yet, from our passage, we would think that Mary and Joseph were not yet married. But, in Mat 1:24-25, it tells us “And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”
In Matthew, “wife” is the Noun GUNE that means just that. But, we have to view this from the Jewish perspective. From a legal perspective, engagement was as good as being married today with the one caveat of not yet having sexual relations. Sexual relations occurred after the wedding ceremony took place. After the wedding ceremony, the husband and wife would consummate the marriage through sexual relationships.
In Joseph’s and Mary’s case, Joseph did not have sexual relationship with Mary until after the birth of Jesus. So, whether they had a wedding ceremony or not is not told to us in Scripture. Nevertheless, the marriage was not consummated because they had not had sexual relations yet, and it was like they were still engaged.
Therefore, Matthew approaches it from the Jewish legal perspective of marriage and Luke from the Jewish perspective of not having consummated the marriage yet, to emphasize the virgin pregnancy once again. Given the dual language, we can assume that the marriage ceremony was performed and Joseph took Mary to their new home as husband and wife back in Nazareth. But, he did not have sexual relations with her.
In addition, having had the wedding ceremony made it possible for Joseph to take Mary with him to Bethlehem. Otherwise, they would not have been able to travel together to Bethlehem. And, as noted above, if he had left her behind, it may have stirred up more ridicule with some possibly thinking he abandoned her.
Therefore, we can conclude that Joseph and Mary had completed their marriage vows and were husband and wife, yet because Joseph was a righteous man, he kept her as a virgin until after the birth of Jesus Christ, which is what Luke emphasizes. This fulfilled prophecy, Isa 7:14; Mat 1:23.
Isa 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel, (God with us).”
The fact that Mary had children with Joseph after the birth of Jesus is noted in Mat 12:46; 13:55-56; Mark 6:3; John 2:12; 7:3-10; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor 9:5; Gal 1:19. His stepbrothers were: James, Joseph Jr., Simon, and Judas or Jude, and He had at least two stepsisters that are unnamed in the Bible.
Luke 2:6, “While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.”
“To give birth,” is the Aorist, Active Infinitive of the Verb TIKTO that means, “to bring forth, bear children, generate, etc.” We noted it in Chapter 1 for the birth announcement of Jesus, vs. 31 and the birth of John, vs. 57. In Chapter 2, we will see it again in vs. 7, in the Aorist, Active, Indicative for Mary having given birth to Jesus, and vs. 11, in the Aorist, Passive, Indicative at the birth announcement to the shepherds.
The text does not affirm or deny the popular image of the couple arriving in Bethlehem just as the baby was about to be born. They most likely were there for some time before. Luke simply states that the birth took place. So, it was during their stay in the city of David that Mary’s pregnancy reached full term; the time had come for her to deliver the Messiah to the world.
Also, as far as the time of year that this took place, we have no information. The early church did not record it, nor do the Scriptures. Our celebration held on December 25th is only a place holder for the celebration. It is most likely not the actual date.
“The early Christians made no record of the date of Christ’s birth; we find no mention of December 25 earlier than the fourth century. The Eastern Church celebrated Christ’s birth by a feast called Epiphany, which means manifestation. They chose January 6 as the date for this feast, for they reasoned that if the first Adam was born on the sixth day of creation, the second Adam must have been born on the sixth day of the year. The Western church celebrated Christ’s birth on the 25th of December by a feast called Natalis, which means Nativity. But Pope Julius I. (A.D. 337-352) designated December 25 as the proper day, and the Eastern churches soon united with the Western churches in observing this day; and the custom has become universal. We do not observe this day because of the Pope’s decree, but because of the tradition on which the Pope’s decree was founded.” (The Fourfold Gospel: or A Harmony of the Four Gospels.)
In this passage we see that Jesus was born of a woman, but was uniquely the Seed of a woman, Gen 3:15, without earthly father, truly virgin born.
Gal 4:4, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.”
Luke 2:7, “And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
“Firstborn,” is the Accusative Singular of the Adjective PROTOTOKOS, πρωτότοκος. It is used 8 times in the NT. It is also used in some ancient manuscripts in Mat 1:25, but the oldest and most reliable texts do not include it there.
Luke notes that this was Mary’s firstborn son to continue the emphasis of the virgin birth. This leaves open the possibility that she had other children, as she did, as we noted in vs. 5. Otherwise, Luke would have stated that Jesus was her “only begotten son,” MONOGENES HUIOS.
Now, we see in Scripture that there is more to this title. Within ancient Israel there were basically two understandings of “firstborn.”
1. The first is the understanding as the “firstborn of the inheritance.” The ancient Jews regarded the firstborn male child as the “firstborn of the inheritance,” because the first male child usually received a double portion of the father’s inheritance and assumed the role of the father as head of the family upon his death.
2. The second understanding is the “firstborn of the sanctuary.” This is because the firstborn child of the mother was consecrated to the Lord and had to be redeemed through an offering. Joseph and Mary made such an offering for her firstborn child Jesus in vs. 22-24. In theory a lamb was to be offered, but in practice the poor were allowed a smaller sacrifice of two doves or two young pigeons. The offering they made for Jesus was a typical poor person’s offering.
Therefore, upon Jesus’ birth, He was consecrated, set apart, unto God the Father for a special work and service as the sacrificial Lamb, who would receive a great inheritance as the head of the Church!
Being “firstborn,” was also a part of and in fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus is the “firstborn” Son of God the Father, Who in Psa 89:27, prophesied that His firstborn son would be a great king. Psa 89:27, “I also shall make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.” Thus, being the firstborn involved some measure of status and inheritance in this messianic prophecy, as we will note below.
Of the 8 usages of PROTOTOKOS in the NT, all but one refers to Jesus. The other usage refers to the firstborn of the Egyptians who were destroyed on Passover night, Heb 11:28. Of the other 7, (the number of spiritual perfection), only one refers to His birth to Mary, our passage, which is the first time it is used in the NT. The other six, (the number of man), refer to Him being the Son of God.
Each of the instances of PROTOTOKOS referring to Jesus Christ as the firstborn of God can be classified in 4 groups that essentially capture every understanding.
1. Christological, Col 1:15-17.
Col 1:15, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.”
Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, cf. Heb 1:1-3, the firstborn over all creation. By Him all things were created, and they were created for Him as well. With respect to the rest of creation, He is the firstborn, thus heir over all things. With respect to God, He has been designated the only begotten of the Father, John 1:18. Thus, He is the first and the only Son of God. The meaning of PROTOTOKOS in Col 1:15, is a statement about the rights, privileges, and prerogatives of Jesus, the Divine Son of God. In addition, neither in this verse, nor in any other containing the word “firstborn” regarding His relationship to God, is there a suggestion that the 2nd Person of the Trinity was literally born, created, or generated, as God is eternal and never born. Therefore, this first category speaks to the Person of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, Who is God, the creator and sovereign of the heavens and the earth.
2. Soteriological, Col 1:18-20; Rev 1:5.
Col 1:18, “He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.”
Rev 1:5, “And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn 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.”
Christ is also the “firstborn of the dead.” He is the first “in order” from the perspective of salvation history, to have risen from the dead. He rose victoriously, triumphing over death and having broken the power of death. Because His death was substitutional, it was also representational. He redeemed believers from sin through His death providing salvation for all who would believe in Him. Therefore, those who have believed in Him have been justified through His resurrection, Rom 4:25.
Rom 4:25, “He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”
Christians are dead and buried to sin with Him; in like manner, they have been raised to the new life in and with Him, Rom 6:4; Eph 2:5f.
Rom 6:4, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
3. Ecclesiastical, Rom 8:29; Heb 12:23.
Rom 8:29, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Heb 12:23, “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect.”
Since Christians have been raised with Christ, they are also members of the body of the firstborn Son from the dead. We walk to be conformed to His image as the Son of God. This does not mean that we will be made Divine into gods. It means we have been placed into the family of God as brothers and sisters, which comprise His Church or the “general assembly” of the firstborn of God, cf. Acts 20:28. As such, we are co-heirs in and with Christ, firstborn heirs, those to whom a double portion of the inheritance is due.
Rom 8:17, “And if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”
- Eschatological, Heb 1:6.
Heb 1:6, “And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, ‘AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM’.”
This text recalls that God first brought His firstborn Son into the world called the 1st Advent, and then all the angels will worship Him, which speaks of His 2nd Advent. At His first coming, Christ was clothed in humility, but when He comes again, He will come with multitudes of angels who worship Him as the sovereign Lord on His throne, Heb 1:6-9; Rev 19:11-16. Likewise, “the world” is part of the inheritance of the firstborn which He will share with His brothers and sisters at His 2nd Advent, Rom 8:17; 1 Cor 3:21-23. The One whose head suffered under a crown of thorns will become King of kings and Lord of lords, Rev 19:16;
Dan 2:37. Then the prophecy, “I will make Him My firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth,” Psa 89:27, will see its eternal fulfillment.
Therefore, the title, “firstborn,” has a Christological, Soteriological, Ecclesiastical, and Eschatological meaning. These tell us of the person and work of Jesus Christ who has redeemed mankind to build a church unto God that will be glorified and blessed for all of eternity.
“Wrapped him in cloths” is the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb SPARGANOO, σπαργανόω that means, “To wrap in swaddling clothes, or to swathe.” SPARGANOO is used for strips of cloth like bandages, wrapped around young infants to keep their limbs straight, and to help the baby transition from the womb (a very snug place) to the outside world. It was a word that appeared in ancient medical writings. In NT times, the baby was wrapped in a large square of cloth and strips of cloth were tied around the square to keep it in place. In ancient times, like today, a swaddled infant was safe if wrapped and watched properly.
In the LXX, the word occurs just twice, both times metaphorically. In Ezek 16:4, wicked Jerusalem is compared to a newborn; uncared for, cast out, not wrapped in swaddling clothes. In Job 38:9, the Lord speaks of His creation of the sea as though it were a newborn which He wrapped in the swaddling clothes of the mist. In light of the OT usage, this probably carries the unspoken implication that the baby Jesus was treated with love and properly cared for.
Another instance of SPARGANOO occurs in the Apocryphal book Wisdom of Solomon 7:4, that reads, “I was nursed in swaddling clothes, and that with cares.” This is Solomon recounting his birth as the future king of Israel, being the son of David, as he was born in a humble state just as all are born, vs. 5-6, “For there is no king that had any other beginning of birth. 6For all men have one entrance into life, and the like going out.” With this we see another allusion to the birth of Jesus Christ: humbly born, as the king of Israel, as the Son of David.
SPARGANOO is only used in the NT here and in vs. 12, at the angel of the Lord’s announcement to the shepherds in the field as a “sign” of the baby born “today in the city of David,” who was “Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” vs. 11.
Some believe there was an additional emphasis to this, in that the wrapping of the baby was a further sign to the shepherds who were watching over the sacrificial lambs. They are called “Levitical shepherds,” who upon the birth of a lamb would wrap them with cloth to keep them “without spot or blemish,” so that they would qualify as sacrificial lambs cf. Num 6:14. Thus, this ties Jesus’ birth with His sacrifice upon the Cross as THE sacrificial lamb, Heb 9:14; 1 Peter 1:19.
Some also believe the swaddling clothes were a foreshadowing, a prophetic reference, of Jesus’ burial cloths. Although it may have symbolism, it cannot be shown linguistically, as the Greek word SPARGANOO is only used here and in vs. 12, and it is never used in the NT to refer to burial cloth. In the descriptions of Jesus’ burial, we see variations on the phrase “wrapped in linen cloth,” and different Greek words are used like ENTULISSO for “wrap,” and SINDON or OTHONION for “linen or cloth.” The swaddling clothes could prefigure Jesus’ burial, as the Magi’s gift of myrrh in Mat 2:11 did, but the link cannot be proved linguistically.
Other than the symbolism of being loved and cared for, Luke is laying the foundation for the “sign” the Jewish shepherds would receive to know that this baby was the one foretold to them by the Angel of the Lord, vs. 8-12, as this word is only used here and in vs. 12.
“Laid him in a manger,” uses the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb ANAKLINO, ἀνακλίνω for “laid” that typically means, “to recline or sit down at a table, (to share in a meal),” as in all the other instances of this word in the NT, Mat 8:11; 14:19; Mark 6:39; Luke 7:36; 9:15; 12:37; 13:29. It has further eschatological implications in Mat 8:11, the first use, and Luke 12:37; 13:29 the last usages.
Mat 8:11, “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”
But here, it is used for “lying down” the baby Jesus in the manger, which was a feeding trough, as we will see next. Therefore, given that Jesus was the “Bread of Life,” who has come into the world for people to dine upon for salvation, John 6:51, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” This image of “lying” Him in a manger, is the image of an invitation for all to come and dine upon and with the “Bread of Life,” for salvation.
As the “Bread of Life,” Jesus was laid down in a “manger,” PHATNE, φάτνη that means, “manger, stall, or feeding trough.” Mangers were often made of stones laid like blocks, then plastered over with a substance to make them waterproof. These feeding troughs could also be carved from a single block of stone or wood, or simply made of dried mud. The animals ate from them.
It is used for the birth of our Lord here and in vs. 12, 16, when the angel of the Lord gave this as a “sign” to the shepherds that they had found the newborn king of Israel. These outcast shepherds would not have been allowed to visit Him in a palace. But they could come where possibly some of their own children had been laid.
This word is also used once more when Jesus used PHATNE to refute the legalistic Pharisees regarding the Sabbath Day in Luke 13:15, as Jesus is the “Lord of the Sabbath,” Mat 12:8, “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Cf. Mark 2:27-28; Luke 6:5f; 14:3f; John 5:16. Therefore, we also see the fulfillment of the Law in Jesus, who provides rest (Sabbath) for all who believe in Him, Heb 4:3, 11, cf. Heb 3:11, 18; 4:5
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 4:11, “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.”
The reason Jesus was laid in the manger was because, “there was no room for them in the inn.”
“No Room,” is the Greek negative OUK with the Noun TOPOS, τόπος that means, “place, location; area, region; room; station, office; possibility, or even opportunity.” It is used extensively in the NT. In Luke 14:9-10, 22, he used it for a “place” of seating at a banquet. Here, Luke uses it with the negative OUK to indicate there was “no place” for Jesus to be born, as the Greek Lexicon BDAG says it can be used in our passage for “an abode: a place, room to live, place to stay or sit, etc.” Cf. Luke 14:22; John 14:2.
The place that had no room for them was, “the inn,” the Noun KATALUMA κατάλυμα that means, “lodging place, inn,” or more typically, “guest room.” It is a compound Noun of the Verb KATALUO, “to unloose.” Therefore, KATALUMA has the derived meaning of “a place of unyoking or rest,” for animals.
It is only used here and in Luke 22:11; Mark 14:14. The latter two verses are the same scene, Luke 22:11, “And you shall say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, ‘Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?’” This is the scene of the last supper. The context also permits the sense of a dining-room.
Notice that for the last supper, they were not looking for an inn or hotel, as we would call it, or even a stable that houses animals, but an upper room or guest room of someone’s house, so that they could dine together for the Passover.
In addition, KATALUMA is not the usual Greek word for an inn, which is PANDOCHEION, πανδοχεῖον that means, “inn or lodge,” and is used once by Luke in Luke 10:34, for the place the Good Samaritan took the robbery victim. Another word is XENIA ξενία that means, “hospitality, guest room, or lodging,” used in Acts 28:23; Philemon 1:22.
As such, in our passage, we see that this is not a hotel where they will “keep the light on for you,” lol. It is the “guest room,” of someone’s house that was most likely a relative, even a poor relative, of either Joseph or Mary. Remember, Joseph and Mary were of the “Family and house of David,” and had relatives in that town. They were of the royal line and would not be left out on the streets knocking on door after door to be turned away. They were welcomed into a relative’s home. This relative’s house might have had several other guests staying with them because of the census being taken. Therefore, we do not know if she gave birth in the guest room or the stall / stable at the front of the house where the animals where brought in at night to rest and feed. But, we do know that after His birth, Jesus he was laid in a manger, a feeding trough, which was in the front room that was used for housing the animals.
As such, our typical vision of where Jesus was born as seen in the following pictures is not accurate. He was not born in a lean-to or a cave, as has been popularized in our Nativity scenes over the years. He was laid in the manger at the front of the house that was the holding place for animals.
Therefore, because the guest room(s) of the house were full of family and/or guests who were in town to partake of the census, after his birth, Jesus was laid in a manger, which was a feeding trough for animals, in the front end of the house that was a stall or stable, as shown in these schematics, because the guest room or rooms were full with other people staying there.
Luke could have painted a sordid picture, had he so desired. Instead he uses the general word for a lodging place and states the simple fact that when Mary’s time came, the only available place for the little family was one usually occupied by animals. In addition, the eating trough or “manger,” was ideal for use as a crib. Even today in many places around the world, farm animals and their fodder are often kept in the same building as the family quarters.
Therefore, Luke does not portray a dismal situation with an unfeeling innkeeper as villain. Rather, he is establishing a contrast between the proper rights of the Messiah in His own “town of David” and the very ordinary and humble circumstances of His birth. Whatever the reason, even in His birth, Jesus was excluded from the normal shelter others enjoyed, cf. Luke 9:58.
Luke 9:58, “And Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head’.”
This is consistent with Luke’s realistic presentation of Jesus’ humanity and servanthood, as he “gets right down to the little human details in this passage. How perfectly human He was — God manifest in the flesh!” (Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee).
This reminds us of the principle, “humility comes before glory.” Before there is glory, there must first be humility. That is the way the kingdom of God operates, Mark 10:31; James 4:6, 10; 1 Peter 5:5.
Mark 10:31, “The first will be last, and the last will be first.”
James 4:6, 10, “God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble… 10Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
In the kingdom of God, first comes humility then comes glory. We see this modeled for us right from the Savior’s birth. True greatness is not always visible greatness. The incarnation of the Son of God in an animal’s feeding trough puts our glory-craving hearts in check.
“He well knew how unwilling we are to be meanly lodged, clothed, or fed; how we desire to have our children decorated and indulged; how apt the poor are to envy the rich, and how prone the rich to disdain the poor. But when we by faith view the Son of God being made man and lying in a manger, our vanity, ambition, and envy are checked. We cannot, with this object rightly before us, seek great things for ourselves or our children.” (Christ-Centered Exposition)
“That is the way the Savior came into the world. He did not lay aside His deity; He laid aside His glory. There should have been more than just a few shepherds and angels to welcome Him — all of creation should have been there. Instead of collecting taxes, that fellow Caesar should have been in Bethlehem to worship Him. Jesus Christ could have forced him to do that very thing, but He did not. He laid aside, not His deity, but His prerogatives of deity. He came a little baby thing.” (Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee).
D. The Advent of the Son of Man, Luke 2:1-20.
2. The announcement to and adoration of the shepherds, vs. 8-20.
Part I, The announcement to the shepherds, vs. 8-14.
Luke 2:8, “In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.”
The first announcement to the general population about the Messiah coming into the world was given to “shepherds,” which is the Noun POIMEN that means “shepherd or herdsman.” It signifies one who cares for or tends a herd of animals, usually consisting of sheep, goats, and sometimes oxen. They did not merely feed the sheep; they cared for them and tended them. Typically, the shepherd’s day began at dawn and ended at dusk. When the flock was pasturing far from the home village, the shepherd remained with the sheep and spent the night in the sheepfold. In this way, uninterrupted care and protection was given to the flock.
“Beyreuther describes the task of the shepherd: ‘It was expected that the shepherds, and the servants who worked with them, would show caution, patient care and honesty. In the dry summer on poor soil, it was not easy to find new pasture at the right time as the flocks passed through lonely regions, or to balance properly grazing, watering, rest and travel. The shepherd had to care tirelessly for the helpless beasts (cf. Ezekiel 34:1ff.). Devotion to duty was proved in the nightly guarding of the flock against wild animals and thieves. In this respect, hired shepherds frequently disappointed their employers’.” (“Shepherd,” Colin Brown, 3:564).
Despite the difficulties and hazards of their profession, shepherds were often looked down upon in Jewish society. Because the leaders of Israel often failed in their task as “shepherds” of people, the OT notion of shepherd frequently expressed a negative idea. The Pharisees particularly seemed to despise shepherds, grouping them with the publicans and depriving them of certain rights in the community. For example, they could not be used as judges or even testify in a law court. However, when the Messiah was born, it was the despised shepherds in the fields nearby who were the first to receive the angelic announcement and the first to witness His glory.
Luke uses this word only in this narrative for the shepherds who received the announcement of the Messiah’s birth, vs. 8, 15, 18, 20. The other gospel writers used it for Jesus Christ as the “Good Shepherd” and for various analogies of the people and their leader, Mat 9:36; 25:32; 26:31; Mark 14:27; John 10:2-16.
Mat 26:31, “Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike down the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered’.” Cf. Mark 14:27. This was a quote and prophecy found in Zech 13:7.
Jesus referred to Himself as the “Good Shepherd,” John 10:11, 14, in that He is the messianic Shepherd promised in the OT. Jesus fulfilled the role of the messianic Shepherd by gathering the lost sheep of Israel (and the nations); by giving His life for the sheep, unlike the hireling, and who on the Day of Judgment will separate the sheep from the goats, Mat 25:32-33. As the Good Shepherd, Christ gathers His flock and cares for them. The sheep know the Shepherd, and no one can snatch them out of His hand, John 10:27f.
Paul used POIMEN for Jesus as the “Great Shepherd” who was resurrected, Heb 13:20, and for the gift and office of Pastor-Teacher, Eph 4:11, who have a dual role: that of shepherding and teaching the flock of God
One day the Great Shepherd will call His under-shepherds to account for the sheep they have been entrusted with, 1 Peter 5:2-4. As such, Peter also used POIMEN for Jesus Christ as the “Chief Shepherd,” ARCHIPOIMEN, who is the “Shepherd and Guardian of our souls,” 1 Peter 2:25.
That Jesus would be the “Great Shepherd” was prophesized in Ezek 34:23; 37:24.
Ezek 34:23, “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd.”
Ezek 37:24, “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them.”
This term was also used in ancient times for leaders and rulers caring and providing for their people. So, it carried a kingly connotation to it. “From the early Middle Kingdom of Egypt (in the first interim period) the image of the king as the shepherd of his subjects is then a favourite one in literature; he is, e.g., a “herd for all the people” or the “herd who watches over his subjects”. The same metaphor is used for the gods; thus Amun is “the strong drover who guards his cattle” (hymn of the 18th dynasty).” (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament
These shepherds were “staying out in the fields,” the Verb AGRAULEO, “to live outside, to be under the open sky,” “keeping watch,” which is the Verb PHULASSO, “guard, defend, watch over, protect, keep safe, or guard against,” with the Noun PHULAKE, “guarding, a guard, a watch, etc.,” “over their flocks,” EPI AUTOS HO POIMNE, “flock or literally sheep,” “by night,” NUX
This narrative describes the customary work and responsibility of shepherds. Flocks were kept out in the open during the temperate seasons, and watches had to be established to protect the sheep from thieves and wild animals. Here we have a double emphasis on the guardianship and protection the shepherds gave to their flocks; just as Jesus does for His.
This narrative clearly illustrates Luke’s picture of Jesus as the Messiah who has come to the outcasts of society. Shepherding was considered ceremonially unclean, and shepherds were generally considered to be people of questionable character. That the good news should come to them first provides a striking picture of the mission of Christ, cf. Luke 5:31-32, cf. Mat 9:12; Mark 2:17.
Luke 5:31-32, “And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance’.”
Luke 2:9, “And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.”
Interestingly, the word for “shone around” in regard to the “glory of the Lord,” DOXA KURIOS, is the Verb PERILAMPO, περιλάμπω that means, “to shine around, to shine about.” It comes from PERI, “around or about,” and LAMPO, “to shine, shine forth, illumine,” that originally emphasized the source of the light and later came to stress the function or effect of the light coming from an object. This is where we get our word lamp from. PERILAMPO is only used here and by Luke in Acts 26:13, when Paul was describing to King Agrippa, how Jesus first appeared to him on the road to Damascus. In both instances it described the visible effect of the “glory of the Lord” on those who were supernaturally visited. So, it means “to surround with light.”
We do not know the name of this “angel of the Lord.” It was most likely Gabriel who was involved by name in the announcements to Zachariah and Mary, Chapter 1, and most likely Joseph, Mat 1:20, but going unnamed there.
Given that the only other time PERILAMPO is used in the NT is for the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, it gives rise to the thought that this angel might have been Jesus Himself. In fact, the “glory of the Lord,” DOXA KURIOS that accompanied the visiting angel, is equivalent to the Hebrew concept of the KABHODH, the manifest presence of God, Ex 40:34f.; 2 Chron 7:1ff.; Psa 26:8; Ezek 1:28, that is also called “the Shekinah glory.” This glory is God’s power, His position, and His honor as expressed in many ways. More specifically though, the “glory of the Lord” is something that belongs immediately to the Lord and is a part of His supernatural being.
Similarly, the “star in the east,” that led the Magi to Jesus’s birth place in Matthew’s gospel, may have been a manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the “bright morning star.” As such, this “angel” might be Jesus. Nevertheless, we see this angel being surrounded by the light and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was as a manifestation of Him. If it were just an angel, he was given a stamp of authenticity by having this light shining around him, as a sign to the shepherds that he was from God.
“Terribly frightened,” is the Aorist, Passive Indicative of the Verb PHOBEO, “Fear, be afraid, become terrified; worship, reverence, respect,” with the Accusative Noun PHOBOS, and the Accusative Adjective MEGAS, “great.” Here we have a double emphasis of the fear that gripped them, just as it did to Zachariah and Mary, when the angel Gabriel appeared to them. It literally means, “they feared a great fear.” Remember, this type of fear also includes reverence and respect.
Luke 2:10, “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.”
Just as the angel did with Zachariah and Mary, Luke 1:13, 30, the first thing he does is calm their fear, “do not be afraid,” using the Greek negative ME and the Verb PHOBEO in the Present, Middle or Passive Deponent, Imperative for a command.
“Good news” is the Present, Middle, Indicative of the Verb EUANGELIZO, εὐαγγελίζω that means, “bring or announce good news, proclaim, or preach (the gospel).” Which we noted in Luke 1:19, at the announcement to Zachariah. It occurs significantly more often in Luke than in any of the Gospels, and its appearance in Luke and Acts accounts for nearly one half of all NT uses. It implies that the proclamation of the gospel, the news brought by the angel, was certainly good news of the greatest kind.
The angel indicates that this news will bring them, “great joy,” MEGAS CHARA. Therefore, we see that the gospel message of Jesus Christ brings great joy. Joy is the response of those who see God at work through His servant Jesus or through His followers, Luke 10:17; 19:37; Acts 8:8; 15:3; cf. Luke 13:17. Christianity is a religion of present joys, and leads onward to eternal joy. It characterizes those who put their faith in Him, Luke 8:13, and it is a by-product of repentance.
This joy was first intended for the shepherds but then for “all the people,” PAS HO LAOS, meaning first, all of Israel and secondly, every member of the human race. This also supports the doctrine of unlimited atonement. That is because Jesus came into the world to pay for the sins of every member of the human race, providing them eternal salvation. This gives great joy to those who believe, just as the shepherds did and thereby received this joy in their hearts.
Luke 2:11, “For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
This announcement is one of the most packed verses in the Bible. In these few words, we have volumes of information, and a complete Christology. This information, though heavy in doctrine, was spoken in simple and easy to understand terms, so that the shepherds, and us today, would understand their meaning. This is no better shown than in the 1965 Christmas cartoon, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and the speech Charlie Brown’s friend, Linus van Pelt, gives so that Charlie Brown could understand the true meaning of Christmas. As the famous saying goes, “oh from the mouths of babes.” Play video: https://youtu.be/c1odLOHFX7o
This narrative follows a standard form that we have seen in the announcements to Zachariah and Mary: 1) appearance, vs. 9a, 2) fear, vs. 9b, 3) a “do not be afraid” remark, vs. 10-11, and 4) the announcement of a verifying sign, vs. 12.
Here, we have the cause for the shepherd’s joy, as the angel tells them the Messiah has been born and gives the location where His birth occurred. As we noted above, Christianity is a religion of present joys, and leads onward to eternal joy.
Notice that the birth of the Lord and the announcement to the shepherds happened on the same day, as the angel used the Adverb, “today,” SEMERON, σήμερον. This is unlike the Magi, who witnessed the babe up to two years after His birth. Luke is saying the time has come, “today,” for the fulfillment of the prophetic expectation of Messiah’s coming.
The location of the babe is given, “city of David,” which doubled as the name for the town of Bethlehem, cf. vs. 4. “Bethlehem was not formally called this. In fact, most people would have considered Jerusalem the city of David. But the shepherds would have recognized the angel’s reference in connection with their hometown hero. Furthermore, the announcement deliberately connects the birth of Christ with the bloodline of David in fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy (Mic. 5:2) and God’s promise (2 Sam. 7:12-13). The Lord’s covenant promise to David was immediately fulfilled in the reign of Solomon, but ultimately in the Messiah.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary.)
Micah 5:2, “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”
Note, that this babe was “born,” using the Aorist, Passive, Indicative of TIKTO, “to bring forth, bear children, or generate,” that we noted in Luke 1:31, 57; 2:6-7. This speaks to the humanity of Jesus Christ, as God is not born or generated. He has always existed. It also indicates the fulfillment of prophecy, Isa 7:14; 9:6; Micah 5:2.
Isa 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”
Isa 9:6, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
“For you,” is the Dative of Advantage of the Personal Pronoun HUMEIS in the 2nd Person, Plural. It tells us that the Messiah was specifically born for you “shepherds,” the one’s being addressed. This emphasizes that Jesus is the personal Messiah for every member of the human race. That He is the Messiah for the entire human race is emphasized in vs. 10, with the phrase, “for all the people,” using the Dative of Advantage, 3rd Person, Plural. Therefore, Jesus came for every individual in the world, so that He could redeem all of humanity. Whereas, Matthew presents Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, establishing a worldwide monarchy in which individuals may take refuge, Luke emphasizes His role as the “personal” Savior of the world: He is our Savior both individually and collectively.
Now, we have three important titles that the angel told the shepherds belonged to this babe. The angel omits the name of Jesus, but gives the meaning of His name, “Savior, who is Christ, the Lord.” This is the only time in the Gospels this phrase is used. It is the only time in the Gospels that we see all the titles of Jesus brought together. The combination of the terms continues to affirm the Deity of Jesus in His role as Messiah-Lord. He is deliverer, Messiah, and the One who has authority over salvation and the earth. These three titles also appear together in Phil 3:20.
Phil 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Savior,” speaks to Jesus as the redeemer or deliverer from our sins.
“Christ,” speaks to Him being God’s anointed Messiah.
“Lord,” speaks to Him as being the sovereign God.
1. The first title given is “Savior,” which is the anarthrous Noun SOTER, σωτήρ that means, “savior, redeemer, deliverer, or preserver.” It occurs 24 (8×3) times in the NT. It is used 8 times in relation to God, and 16 (8×2) times for who Jesus Christ is; as in our verse. The number 8 speaks of new beginnings, regeneration, and resurrection. All of which Jesus brought to mankind as our Savior.
This title is applied to God in Luke 1:47, but its use here of Jesus was prepared for by Luke 1:69. In relation to the Godhead, the Father designed the plan for our salvation and Jesus Christ carried out that plan as The Savior, cf. Acts 5:31; 13:23.
Acts 13:23, “From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus.”
Acts 5:31, “He 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.”
This is one of only two places in the gospels where Christ is referred to as “Savior,” the other being John 4:42, where Samaritan men confessed Him as “Savior of the world.” Cf. Mat 1:21; John 1:29; Acts 13:23; 1 Tim 4:10; 1 John 4:14.
John 4:42, “And they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world’.”
“Savior,” reflects the call of Jesus to deliver His people, as Mary’s and Zechariah’s hymns had declared, Luke 1:46-55, 67-79. This term is rich in OT roots, especially as a figure for Divine deliverance, Deut 20:4; Joshua 22:22; Psa 24:5; 25:5; Isa 25:9. In Greek culture, all types of figures were called saviors, from doctors and rulers to philosophers.
This was the Good News the angel was announcing. Not that God had sent a soldier or a judge or a reformer, but that He had sent a Savior to meet man’s greatest need, i.e., salvation from our sins. It was a message of peace to a world that had known and continues to know much war.
Jesus Christ is the Savior sent from God. He would not become a savior, He was born a Savior. He is the Savior proclaimed by the prophets. That is why the angel of the Lord announced to Mary that the baby she carried was the promised Savior by calling Him Jesus that means, “Savior,” Luke 1:31. The shepherds outside Bethlehem were told of the birth of the Savior. Later, Jesus Himself bore witness to His calling as Savior, Luke 19:10 and His apostles declared Him to be Savior, 1 Tim 1:15; cf. Acts 4:12.
Jesus as Savior delivers those who believe in Him from the guilt of sin, as well as from sin’s power, including death, as He is the Redeemer. Everyone who believes in Him, has been justified by faith, cf. Rom 5:1, and is delivered from the guilt of sin.
Rom 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Being made holy in Christ, believers are freed from sin’s power. The first is an act of God that gives us Positional Sanctification, the second is a process that we enact through the intake of Bible Doctrine, (the mind of Jesus Christ), and the filling of the Holy Spirit throughout our lives, (called the Balance of Residency), that give us Experiential Sanctification, which culminates at Jesus’ return when believers will be transformed into His likeness and their bodies will be redeemed by the Savior that is called Ultimate Sanctification, Phil 3:20-21. The Savior Jesus provides for us Past, Present, and Future Salvation and Sanctification.
Phil 3:20-21, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”
“Savior” is the true title and description of who and what Jesus Christ is. This title was falsely used by many of the ancient world in Satan’s counterfeit to the true Savior, as the term ordinarily occurred in the Greek language in connection with men or gods and only rarely in connection with objects. Of the gods, Zeus was especially honored as SOTER. At times a physician or a philosopher was called a SOTER, but normally the title was reserved for politicians and rulers. Philip of Macedon was honored as SOTER, and the Grecian kings of the Orient often adopted the title THEOS SOTER, or “divine savior,” for themselves. This custom was also adopted by the Roman emperors. Caesar was called SOTER TES OIKOUMENES that means, “savior of the inhabited world,” and the Roman Emperor Hadrian, AD 76-139, was termed SOTER TOU KOSMOU or “the savior of the world.” The famous Roman orator and senator Cicero says: “SOTER . . . how much this word contains! So much that it cannot be expressed by just one Latin word.” (In Verrem 18.104.22.168).
In the Septuagint, SOTER is used 35 times for the Hebrew word YESHUAH in its various forms. First and foremost, it was used for the Lord God as Savior; as only He can claim this title in the absolute sense. He revealed Himself as the Savior of His people when He delivered them from their bondage in Egypt and led them into the Promised Land, Isa 63:7-9. During times of natural disaster and catastrophe, the people of Israel trusted in the Lord, the Savior of Israel, Jer 14:1-8. In addition, when David reflected upon his life of victory in battle and personal attacks, He worshiped the God of Israel as his personal Savior, 2 Sam 22:3.
2 Sam 22:3, “My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my savior, You save me from violence.”
God demonstrated His great wisdom and His power as Savior when He freed the captives in Babylon who were in captivity for 70 years, Isa 43:3, 11.
Isa 43:3, “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place.”
Isa 43:11, “I, even I, am the LORD, and there is no savior besides Me.”
Ultimately, in the last days, the Lord will reappear as the Savior of His people, Isa 49:22-26; He will gather Israel from all the nations of the earth to their homeland. He will grant them unbelievable prosperity, abundant life, and happiness, Isa chapter 60.
Isa 49:25-26, “Surely, thus says the LORD, ‘Even the captives of the mighty man will be taken away, and the prey of the tyrant will be rescued; for I will contend with the one who contends with you, and I will save your sons. 26And I will feed your oppressors with their own flesh, and they will become drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine; as all flesh will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob’.”
2 Peter 3:2, “That you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.”
In Israel, there were two prevailing thoughts regarding the Savior.
- That God himself would save and lead His people.
- That He would accomplish this through a human instrument.
These two intersect in Ezek 34, that clearly depicts a union between the Divine and the human. Notice that this is a passage about shepherds and the Great Shepherd. In vs. 23-24, both lines of thought converge: “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. 24I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them.” In the God-man Jesus Christ, we distinctly note this internal unity and relationship as Savior
1 John 4:14, “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”
2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
Jesus’ role as Savior is qualified by the following titles, “Christ” and “Lord.”
2. Next, we have the second title, “is Christ,” the Present. Active, Indicative of EIMI, “is” for a dogmatic state of His being and existence at all times, with the Nominative Masculine of CHRISTOS, Χριστός that means, “Christ, anointed, the Anointed One.” It is synonymous with the Hebrew MASHIACH, “Messiah.” “Messiah” is the Hebrew and “Christ” is the Greek for our English word “anointed.” Jesus is confirmed as Messiah in the NT at least 280 times. The double title Jesus Christ is actually a confession: Jesus is the Christ, that is, the Messiah.
This was the oldest Christological confession of a Jewish background. From a Gentile perspective, the title was so unfamiliar that “Christ” was soon regarded as more of a proper name. Even though many came before, and many have and will come after, Mat 24:5, 23-24, Jesus of Nazareth is the one and only Christ, John 20:31, cf. Acts 18:5, 28.
John 20:31, “But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”
In ancient Greek, CHRISTOS was used literally for the application of ointment or those anointed with oil. But, as Bauer notes, “in the NT, it is used only as a noun, either as an appellative, i.e., “the Anointed One, the Christ,” or as a personal name, i.e., “Jesus Christ” or “Christ.” CHRISTOS is used over 500 times in the NT, in every book except 3 John, to refer to the anticipated Messiah, and as a reference to Jesus, either as Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus, or Christ the Lord. Therefore, it is actually a title for Jesus with meaning, Acts 5:42; Acts 17:3.
Acts 5:42, “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
Acts 17:3, “Explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ’.”
“Christ” as the “Anointed One,” is indicative of His role as the promised Messiah. Psa 2:2 is the main technical regal use, cf. John 1:41, and Luke’s usage here looks back to Luke 1:27, 31-35, 68-72, 79; 2:4.
Psa 2:2, “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed (MASHIACH).”
John 1:41, “He (Andrew) found first his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ).”
Prophets, priests, and kings were anointed in ancient times. Jesus held and holds all three of these offices for the entire human race and for all eternity. He combined in His person the offices of prophet, John 6:14; Mat 13:57; Luke 13:33; 24:19, of priest, Heb 2:17, etc., and of king, Luke 23:2; Acts 17:7; 1 Cor 15:24; Rev 15:3.
“Christos,” occurs mainly in the Gospels to mean the Messiah, as the Messiah/Christ title occurs about 60 times in the Gospels. So, we see that the Messiah came to be both the Good Shepherd, John 10, and the Lamb of God sacrificed for the sins of the world, John 1:29, as presented to the Shepherds in the fields while tending their flocks. What wonderful imagery God gave them and us today.
John 1:29, “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”
Every other name associated with Messiah is subordinate to this title. As such, we speak of “Christology” as the study of the doctrine and person of Christ. And, this verse reveals that the title “Christ” was so closely identified with Jesus of Nazareth that it soon became part of his name: Jesus Christ.
The overall “religion” of the followers of Jesus is also characterized by this title, for we are first of all “Christians” because we confess Jesus is Messiah, Acts 11:26. In our passage, Luke 2:11, He is noted as the ultimate Deliverer, the Savior from sin.
The baptism of Jesus was His historical anointing, Luke 3:22; 4:1, 14, 18, 21; Acts 10:38, matching on earth what God had already ordained in heaven.
Interestingly, the translators of the Septuagint (LXX), chose the cognate CHRIŌ as the replacement of the verb MĀSHACH, “to rub, anoint, or spread a liquid,” and the Adjective CHRISTOS for MASHIACH, that means “anointed or Messiah.” Like the NT that transliterates the Greek CHRISTOS to the English “Christ,” in the OT, MASHIAH is transliterated “Messiah,” and all mean, “anointed or Anointed One.”
Consequently, the designation CHRISTOS for the Messiah was not originally a Christian understanding. Rather, it was adopted from the OT. As such, this term would not have been offensive to Jewish ears, as it was to Greek ears, as they used it for a word used of derision. Peter, who wrote to Jewish Christians in the Diaspora, told them not to be ashamed of being called Christians; instead, they should praise God, 1 Peter 4:16.
As far as the understanding of “anointing” is concerned, it meant the identification of someone selected or ordained by God to perform His will and plan. It meant the setting apart of someone for God’s special purpose, and it consecrated someone or something for God’s purpose, and as being acceptable to Him. As such, it had a fourfold significance:
- Separation unto God.
- Authorization by God.
- Divine enablement.
- The coming Deliverer.
Psalm 72, provides an almost total summary of all of the messianic prophecies of the OT.
- It is a prayer for God to send Israel a king from the lineage of David who will mirror God’s own merciful intentions.
- It is a request for a righteous descendant of David, such as the one prophesied by Isaiah, Isa 11:2f.; cf. 2 Sam 23:3f.
- It says that the Messiah-King will gain followers because of His mercy and love, vs. 8-14.
- It says He is a “prince of peace” who cares for the poor and destitute, vs. 4, 12-14.
- It also notes the effect of Messiah upon all of existence, vs. 16, in that all peoples are blessed through Messiah, vs. 17, just as the blessing of Abraham foretold, Gen 22:18.
Unfortunately, the two centuries leading up to the appearance of Christ were marked by strong messianic expectation. In virtually every level of society, it was thought that Messiah would be a national-political king who, like His forefather David, would wield great power. This messiah was expected to redeem Israel from the yoke of the Gentiles, i.e., Rome, and reestablish the throne of David’s kingdom in the Holy City of Jerusalem. There would not be any question as to when He appeared; His external glory would legitimize Him. This “popular” and earthly figure was completely foreign to Jesus’, as it should be to our understanding of His role as Messiah, especially in His First Advent.
With His Messiahship in view as the legitimate and eternal King of Israel, “Christ” also refers to His Divine commission. As we have noted, Christ simply means “anointed” and in the ancient world they did not give you a commission on paper, they put oil on your head. As such, CHRISTOS is part of Jesus’ three royal patents. His three royal titles are emphasized in His name “Lord Jesus Christ.” Two of the three are given to us in this verse.
1. His first royal patent is seen in His title as “Lord,” KURIOS, which we will note below, and refers to His Divine Royalty as “the Son of God” or JEHOVAH (YHWH) ELOHIM in the Hebrew of the OT. This is the royalty of His deity, by virtue of the fact that He is eternal and infinite God.
a. This is Christ’s eternal and infinite relationship with the godhead. Jesus Christ is eternal God. He has all the attributes of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He is coequal and coeternal with them. As the manifest person of the Trinity, our Lord wears the crown of Divine royalty, 1 Tim 6:14-16; cf. John 1:18; 6:46; 10:38; 14:10-11; 1 John 4:12.
b. The title for His Divine royal patent is Son of God. This royalty has no beginning and no end. All Bible doctrine comes from His Divine royalty.
1 Tim 6:14-16, “…until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”
2. His second royal patent is seen in His name “Jesus,” which like SOTER means Savior, emphasizing the strategic victory of the cross, resurrection, ascension, and session, Heb 1. This is His Human Royalty as “the Son of Man” that also refers to His Battlefield Royalty: the royalty of His hypostatic union by virtue of His strategic victory at the Cross.
a. This royalty is a result of the strategic victory of Christ in the Angelic Conflict.
b. By living in the prototype Divine power system, our Lord was qualified by impeccability to go to the cross and be judged for our sins. That judgment is the beginning of the strategic victory of our Lord. It was followed by His resurrection, ascension, and session at the right hand of the Father. The cross was the greatest battlefield in history!
c. This battlefield royalty makes Jesus Christ the ruler of elect angels and regenerate mankind, Col 1:20; 2:14-15; Heb 2:14-15.
d. The battlefield royalty was given to our Lord Jesus Christ as a verbal commission: “Sit down at my right hand.”
Heb 2:14-15, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
3. His third royal patent is seen in His title CHRISTOS translated “Christ” meaning, “Anointed one / Messiah.” This is His Jewish Royalty as “the Son of David,” who is the legitimate and eternal King of Israel. This is the royalty of His humanity by virtue of the virgin birth, incarnation, and First Advent.
a. The royal patent of our Lord’s humanity is the virgin birth, resulting in His humanity.
b. At the point of His virgin birth, our Lord Jesus Christ became Jewish royalty, directly descendant from David and Bathsheba in the tribe of Judah, the family of Jesse. Mary is descendant from their son Nathan. Joseph is descendant from their son Solomon; Joseph being Jesus’ legal but not real father. Mary’s line from Nathan is recorded in Luke; Joseph’s line is recorded in Matthew.
c. As Jewish Royalty, our Lord fulfilled the Davidic covenant. In resurrection body in hypostatic union, Jesus Christ will reign forever as the Son of David.
Therefore, the royalty of the Lord Jesus Christ is seen in His name, KURIOS IESOUS CHRISTOS. The three emphasize His Divine, Human, and Jewish Royalty; as the Son of God, the Son of Man, and the Son of David; as the Sovereign, Savior, Messiah with emphasis on His authority as the “King of kings, Lord of lords; the bright morning star,” 1 Tim 6:15; Rev 17:14; 19:16; cf. Deut 10:17; Psa 136:1-26. “King of kings” gives Christ precedence over human rulers; “Lord of lords” gives Christ precedence over angelic rulers.
Jesus, the Son of Man, united to His name the figure of the Christ, (the Messiah, the Son of David), that was also a Divine title of exaltation in OT apocalyptic thought. The people were familiar with the title “the Son of Man.” To them it was a designation of the Christ / the Messiah / the anointed One. Jesus used the title “Christ” to shatter the national-political concept of Messiah of His day. Our Lord used this expression to make them realize that He had indeed come to rule over the world. But, before coming as the Ruler, He had to come as the Suffering Servant who laid down His life for the sins of mankind, cf. Mat 25:31ff; Mark 8:38; 9:9, 12, 31; 10:33; 13:26; 14:21, 41, 62. Throughout His ministry, Jesus worked to develop His disciples’ faith in this kind of Messiah, Mat 16:13f.; Mark 8:27f.; Luke 9:18f.; John 4:25-26; 15:13.
John 4:25-26, “The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.’ 26Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He’.”
Paul preached Christ, “that He is the Son of God,” Acts 9:20. This title is used in its Messianic and official sense, founded on Psa 2:7; cf. Mat 16:16; John 1:49.
Psa 2:7, “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You’.”
Mat 16:16, “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God’.”
John 1:49, “Nathanael answered Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel’.”
Acts 9:22, implies that in Acts 9:20, Paul preached in order to prove that the Son of God is none other than the Christ, the Messiah. Cf. Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20.
Acts 9:20, “And immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God’.”
Acts 9:22, “But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ, (Messiah).”
The characteristic description of a redeemed individual is that he is a person “in Christ,” EN CHRISTOS; e.g., 2 Cor 12:2; Eph 1:1, 3; 2:6, 10. This speaks to our eternal union with Christ, being a member of His body, as He is the head. Being “in Christ,” gives us privilege to live the unique spiritual life of the Church Age.
Finally, all the prophecies of “the Christ,” look toward historical fulfillment in Jesus, at either His First or Second Coming. As such, the historical Lord Jesus Christ is, “King of kings, and Lord of lords,” Rev 19:16, and “the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,” Rev 22:13.
Therefore, the name “Christ” points to Him as the fulfilment of the promises of God and the One who was anointed in perfect manner by God Himself to be the great Prophet, Priest, and King: The Divine Messiah and Savior in hypostatic union. As such, He is also “the Lord.”
3. The third title for Jesus in this passage is “Lord.” Therefore, the Anointed Messiah and Savior is also the Lord. “Lord,” speaks to Jesus being sovereign God. “Lord,” is the Greek Noun KURIOS, κύριος that means, “owner, master, supreme ruler, or lord.” It is from the noun KUROS that means, “might or power.” BDAG notes, “its primary meaning relates to possession of power or authority, in various senses: ‘strong, authoritative, valid, ruling’; then to that which is preeminently important principal, essential.” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.) They also note several subset definitions: 1) One who is in charge by virtue of possession: owner. 2) One who is in a position of authority: lord or master.
In the ancient world, as is today, KURIOS was an expression of profound respect. It often was used in antiquity for emperors. In classical Greek, KURIOS was sometimes applied to the gods, but it was not usually a divine title. That did not happen until the later Hellenistic period when the Oriental emperors over the Greek people took the title for themselves, according to their custom. Later, some Roman emperors also employed the title KURIOS to themselves, as they also promoted the notion of emperor worship and considered themselves divine. Here is where the term came to have religious connotations. For the early church, since they were unable to acknowledge such “gods” like the Roman Emperors, they often met severe persecution from the official government of Rome.
Nevertheless, this was a title used for Jesus Christ in a unique sense in the NT, Acts 2:36; 10:36.
Acts 10:36, “The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all).”
In reference to Jesus Christ, “Lord” refers to His deity with emphasis on His authority as the “Lord of lords and King of kings,” Deut 10:17; Psa 136:1-26; 1 Tim 6:15; Rev 17:14; 19:16.
The Lord Jesus Christ was referred to by Israel in the words of Deut 4:6: “SHAMA ISRAEL, ADONAI ELOHENU, ADONAI ECHAD,” translated, “Hear O Israel, the Lord (Jesus Christ) is our God, the Lord (Jesus Christ) is one.” Not only referring to Jesus Christ, it also emphasizes the Trinity. In the Bible, both OT and NT, Lord is used for all three members of the Trinity, who are one God because of their shared and equal essence, yet three persons in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each person of the Godhead, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is called KURIOS.
In the Septuagint, LXX, HO KURIOS, “The Lord,” was used for the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, “four letters,” YHWH. It uses KURIOS more than 9,000 times. The term is also equivalent to the Hebrew ’ĀDHON, and BA‛AL, and the Aramaic term MARE, which all mean “lord.” But first and foremost, KURIOS denotes God’s name as is depicted by the tetragrammaton YHWH. As such, KURIOS occurs more than 6,000 times in the Septuagint of the OT for YHWH, “Lord.
First in Genesis, we see all three in one speaking at the creation of man, Gen 1:26, “Let Us make man in Our image.”Note: The change to pitch (12) and font (1) must be converted manually. Therefore, more than one person in the godhead is involved. Then in Gen 3:22, at the fall of man we see the three in one speaking again, “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’.
Later, in Psalm 110, we see David speaking regarding his offspring that would be Lord and the relationship between God the Father and God the Son as they both are “Lord.”
Psa 110:1, “The LORD (God the Father) says to my (David’s) Lord (Jesus Christ): ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet’.”
So, we see that God the Father is Lord, Isa 48:16, “Come near to Me, listen to this: From the first I have not spoken in secret, from the time it took place, I was there. And now the Lord GOD (God the Father) has sent Me (God the Son), and His Spirit (God the Holy Spirit).” Cf. Psa 2:7.
Scripture also calls God the Holy Spirit Lord:
Gen 6:3, “Then the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”
2 Cor 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
Judges 3:10, “The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the LORD gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim.” Cf. Judges 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14; 1 Sam 10:6; 16:13-14.
Jer 1:9, “Then the LORD (YHWY) [God the Holy Spirit] stretched out His hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘Behold, I have put words in your mouth’.”
The prophesy of the ministry of the Spirit to Christ is found in Isa 11:2, “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him (Jesus Christ), the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.” Cf. Isa 61:1.
Acts 5:9, “Then Peter said to her, ‘Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well’.”
Acts 8:39, “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.”
And, in our study, we see that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man is also Lord.
Thomas called Jesus both Lord and God when he saw Him in His resurrection body in John 20:28, “Thomas answered and said to him, ‘my Lord, and my God’.”
In many of the opening and closing salutations, Jesus is called Lord.
2 Cor 13:14, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
In the giving of our spiritual gift by the Holy Spirit, we see our ministry, in which we apply our gift, is given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ and must be executed in response and respect to Him, 1 Cor 12:4-6.
1 Cor 12:4-6, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord (God the Son). 6There are varieties of effects, but the same God (God the Father) who works all things in all persons.”
In the NT, calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus, Acts 2:21; 22:16; Rom 10:13; 1 Cor 1:2, was the same language ascribed to those who believed in and worshiped the true God of the OT, Gen 4:26; 12:8; 2 Kings 5:11; Joel 2:32a.
Gen 4:26, “To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD.”
Joel 2:32, “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.”
Acts 2:21, “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Rom 10:13, “For whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
1 Cor 1:2, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.”
When the angel used this title to announce the birth of Jesus, it carried with it all the OT connotations of the Lord God of Israel, who Jesus was. The entire Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts serve to explain the nature of Jesus’ authority and Lordship, as well as the extent of the exercise of His power in overcoming sin and the forces of evil, showing the power and authority of our Lord over sin, Satan, and the angelic forces.
In the NT, of the more than 700 times “Lord” occurs, over 200 are in Luke’s writings and nearly 280 in Paul’s. Sometimes it refers to men as masters and owners. But, like the OT, it functions as the title of God who Jesus is. That is why of all His titles or names, KURIOS is the one most frequently applied to Jesus Christ.
When we have “Lord Jesus,” it chiefly refers to the elevated and glorified Christ. The title is used in the NASB 100 times in the NT. Of that 63 are “Lord Jesus Christ,” leaving 37 references to just “Lord Jesus.” It is a title which God has given Him in response to His saving work, Phil 2:5-11.
Phil 2:9-11, “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
In comparing Mat 17:4; Mark 9:5; Luke 9:33, “Lord” is also used for Jesus in regard to being our master and teacher, where it is equivalent to RABBI. This is the scene post “Transfiguration.” Cf. John 13:13-14.
Mat 17:4, “Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah’.”
Mark 9:5, “Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah’.”
Luke 9:33, “And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, (EPISTATES) it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not realizing what he was saying.”
John 13:13-14, “You call Me Teacher (DIDASKALOS) and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
Through the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of the Father, God has, “made that same Jesus . . . both Lord and Christ,” Acts 2:36.
Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Ever since His resurrection and ascension, Jesus has assumed the role of Lord. The fact that Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God identifies Him as the authoritative arm of God. He is Lord in the ultimate sense of the word. Although the realization of the authority found in the titles “Christ” and “Lord” would await the resurrection, Acts 2:36, Jesus at His birth was already both Christ and Lord, for the one born to Mary in Bethlehem is the same person who is raised in glory and given the authority to be Lord and Christ.
As Lord, Jesus Christ created and controls the universe. Prior to the incarnation, Jesus Christ created the universe, John 1:3; Col 1:16; Heb 1:10. As God, and now as the God / Man, our Lord Jesus Christ continues to hold the universe together, Col 1:17; Heb 1:3.
Heb 1:3, “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
Heb 1:10, “And, ‘You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands’.”
Col 1:16-18, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.”
As such, we are to be strong in faith in Him. If God could raise Jesus, He can handle our problems too, Eph 6:10.
Eph 6:10, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”
As we walk faithfully our Lord, we are to do all unto Him, especially in our prayer life, as we are to pray with confidence in His name, John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-26; Col 3:17; 1 Thes 2:19; 4:2; 2 Thes 1:12.
John 14:13-14, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
John 15:16, “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”
Col 3:17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
1 Thes 2:19, “For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?”
1 Thes 4:2, “For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
2 Thes 1:12, “So that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In Eph 4:5, “One Lord,” refers to the unique person of Jesus Christ as the God / Man. His uniqueness began with His First Advent.
- “One Lord” means Jesus Christ is the basis for our unity because of His substitutionary spiritual death.
- “One faith” means we are all saved in exactly the same way, by faith in our Lord.
- “One baptism” refers to God the Holy Spirit entering us into union with our Lord forever at the point of salvation. We will always be in union with our Lord, documented throughout the NT by the prepositional phrase “in Christ,” EN CHRISTOS.
In the phrase EN KURIOS, “in the Lord,” it refers to the fact that believers are represented as one with Christ, as members of His body, cf. Eph 5:30; 1 Cor 12:27, one spiritual body of which He is the Head, Eph 2:20-21.
Eph 2:20-21, “Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.”
As such, EN KURIOS means:
a) We are to rejoice as we trust in the Lord, 1 Cor 1:31; Phil 2:19; 3:1.
b) We are walk in the Lord by His power and authority, by means of His Word, Eph 4:17; 1 Thes 4:1.
c) We are to perform our ministry in or through the Lord, meaning through His aid and influence, and by His help, 1 Cor 15:58; 2 Cor 2:12; Gal 5:10; Col 4:17.
d) The basis of our spiritual work is the Lord; in the gospel work of the Lord, because we are one in the Lord, united with Him being His follower, a Christian, Rom 16:8, 11, 13; 1 Cor 4:17; 9:2; Eph 6:21; Phil 4:1; 1 Thes 5:12; Philemon 1:16.
e) We are to do all things in a manner worthy of the Lord, that is, doing things that are becoming of the Lord as Christians. In other words, having honesty and integrity in all that we do, emulating the Lord, Rom 16:2, 22; 1 Cor 7:39; Eph 4:1; 6:1; Phil 2:29; Col 1:10; 3:18.
The Lordship of Jesus is especially related to the Church as the supreme Lord of the Dispensation of the Church. He is the “head over all things to the church,” Eph 1:22; cf. Rom 10:12; Rev 17:14. Christ is, above all else, the Lord of His people, His body. He is “our Lord Jesus Christ,” one of Paul’s most frequently used descriptions of Jesus’ relationship to His people. The Bible constantly encourages us to place every aspect of our life under the Lordship of Christ. “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord,” 1 Peter 3:15. To confess Christ as Lord one must be willing to faithfully carry out His perfect will, Luke 6:46-49.
A false doctrine prevalent today is called “Lordship Salvation”, which says that, “if Jesus Christ is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all”. This is similar to the old Wesleyan adage, “Christ saves us from sin, not in sin.” This belief is a mixture of justification and experiential sanctification from the Arminian viewpoint held by many Reformers and Covenant Theologians today who are anti-Dispensationalist. This false doctrine claims that if you do not keep Jesus Christ as number one priority in your life, as demonstrated through good works, you are not saved and / or will lose the salvation you once had. Scripture incorrectly used to make these claims include: John 14:15; Heb 12:14b; Eph 5:5; 1 Cor 6:9-10; James 2:14, 17.
We understand these scriptures as having a context that admonishes unfaithful but truly saved people to live their lives as an example to others faithfully in obedience to God’s commands. Lordship salvation is contrary to the grace Plan of God for salvation and a heresy that says Christ’s work on the Cross is not all sufficient for your salvation. It subtly and falsely states you must demonstrate works in order to be saved.
Jesus is the Lord of all, whether man thinks Him to be or not, because of His saving work upon the Cross. Having Jesus Christ as Lord in your life means you have believed upon Him and are obedient to His Word on a consistent basis, 2 Cor 10:5; Eph 4:17; 5:8, 10, 17, 19; 6:7; 1 Peter 1:15.
Just as the servant must be obedient to the master or the worker is to be obedient to his boss, so too should the believer be obedient to the Word of Jesus Christ, i.e., Bible Doctrine. The goal of Christian exhortation is to encourage the believer to place every aspect of his or her life under the Lordship of Christ.
1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”
The one confessing Christ as Lord and not doing His will post salvation has built his faith on sand, Luke 6:49. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ is Lord of all regardless of our thoughts and actions. In fact, He is Lord of all members of the human race, believers and unbelievers, and is Lord of all angelic creatures too. That is why scripture tells us, “At the name of Jesus Christ every knee shall bow”, Isa 45:23; Rom 11:36; 14:11; Phil 2:10-11; Rev 5:11-13, and that He is the “King of kings and Lord of lords,” 1 Tim 6:5; Rev 17:14; 19:16. The reality is that Jesus Christ is Lord whether you keep Him in that position or not.
As Lord, the final judgment of evil and good rests in the hands of Jesus as the Lord of the universe, the world, the Church, the individual, the living, and the dead, 2 Thes 1:7-12. He is Lord of all!
It is also interesting to note that as in the cases of Moses, Gideon, and Zechariah, God spoke to people who were busy carrying out their daily work, Luke 1:11-20; Ex 3:1-10; Judges 6:11-24. God loves to see His child active, not idle!!
Luke 2:12, “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Here, the Angel of the Lord gives the shepherds “a sign” made up of two clues, so that they would know which new born baby in Bethlehem was Jesus. The clues he gave are called “signs,” SEMEION, σημεῖον a noun that means, “sign, token, signal, miracle, or portent.” This is the first time Luke uses this word in his Gospel. We will see it again in vs. 34, where Jesus is prophesied to be a “sign that is opposed,” meaning many in Israel would reject Him as the Savior, Christ, and Lord.
SEMEION is used 75 times in the NT, the Gospels and Acts are the dominant books that use it, although Paul used it 8 times, John’s Revelation 7 times, and Hebrews 2:4, once. “Signs” were used by God to authenticate and confirm His prophets, His Deity, Divine power, and His Word. Here it is used to authenticate that Jesus is the Savior, Christ the Lord.
Heb 2:4, “God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”
SEMEION denotes the “mark” by which something is known, or a “sign,” especially in the sense of what will happen in the future. Many times, SEMEION includes a supernatural or wondrous dimension, and might be described as a miracle. Yet, it is a visual sign or proof by which something is distinguished and regarded as certain.
Luke uses it here in the sense of a “proof, confirmation, or indication.” The baby wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger was the “confirmation” of the angelic testimony about the good news of the Savior’s birth.
As the Scriptures tell us, “Jews ask for signs,” 1 Cor 22, as proof of what God has said or is doing, and in the grace of God, He gave these Jewish shepherds several so that they could absolutely identify and know who was the “Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
This “sign” would allow them to “find,” (the Future, Active, Indicative of the Verb HEURISKO εὑρίσκω “find, discover, obtain, ascertain,” where we get our word “eureka” from), “the baby,” BREPHOS, see Luke 1:41, 44; 2:16; 18:15; Acts 7:19; 2 Tim 3:15; 1 Peter 2:2. This is the third sign in the birth narrative, cf. Luke 1:19-20, 36.
This sign is broken down into two images, which we noted in vs. 7, “wrapped in cloths” sparganoo, σπαργανόω and “lying in a manger,” PHANTE, “a feeding trough.” We noted the various potential and actual symbolisms these images gave from being the sacrificial lamb to His burial cloths, and being loved and cared for to eating the Bread of Life.
In vs. 7, they “laid” Him in the manger, ANAKLINO, “to recline or lie down.” Here, Jesus is “lying” in the manger, the Present, Middle Deponent, Participle of the verb KEIMAI κεῖμαι that means, “lie, be laid, recline, set; appoint, enact, or establish.”
Although, carrying the connotation of “reclining,” as we noted in vs. 7, this verb has a greater sense of “being laid (down), appointed, or established.”
The Baby Jesus was “lying” in a manger, vs. 12, 16, just as Jesus was “laid” in a tomb “in which no one had yet been laid,” Luke 23:53. It is the same word used for lying Jesus’ body in the tomb. More so than being the “Bread of Life” to be eaten by all in vs. 7, here we have the vision and projection of His finished work, being laid in a tomb having won the strategic victory of the Angelic Conflict upon the Cross.
In addition, from the standpoint of being “appointed,” we see God’s anointing of Jesus, as His title Christ indicates: He is the anointed Messiah, the King of Israel. Yet, comparing with vs. 34, “appointed,” we see that this great sign / anointing will be “opposed,” or rejected by many in Israel and throughout the world.
Nevertheless, for those who believe upon Him, they become a “city set (KEIMAI) upon a hill,” Mat 5:14, because they are established in the “firm foundation laid (KEIMAI,) which is Jesus Christ,” 1 Cor 3:11.
Thus, these signs served a dual purpose: to identify who the Christ is and to substantiate the proclamation of the good news they were given by the angel.
Luke 2:13, “And suddenly there appeared (GINOMAI, be made know) with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying.”
Here, we see that the advent of Jesus was marked by a display of the Divine glory that highlighted the supernatural nature of the event. The events described here were a final, overwhelming sign that this glorious news from God, for which Israel had waited over 2,000 years, had finally come to pass.
The phrase, “multitude of the heavenly hosts,” PLETHOS STRATIA OURANIOS, comes from the Septuagint where STRATIA, στρατιά, “army or host,” and the Adjective OURANIOS that means, “heavenly,” to denote the heavenly company that surrounds the throne of God, e.g., 1 Kings 22:19; Jer 8:2. STRATIA is only used here and Acts 7:42 in the NT.
Interestingly, in the Greek language, STRATIA commonly meant, “army.” So, this is the army of heaven that accompanied the angel who appeared to the shepherds. It was a large group of angels. This is the army Jesus referred to when speaking to Pontius Pilate in John 18:36.
In its only other use in the NT, Acts 7:42, it represents the “false gods” that Stephen designated as the idolatrous host of heaven worshiped by the unfaithful Israelites while wandering 40 years in the desert, which is a similar use to Jer 8:2. Behind those false gods were demonic fallen angels.
But here, it is speaking of elect angels who were around the throne of God in heaven, like 1 Kings 22:19, as portrayed in Rev 4:4-11.
1 Kings 22:19, “Micaiah said, ‘Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left’.”
STRATIA once again represents that Jesus Christ is “King of kings and Lord of lords,” both elect and fallen.
This army of elect angels were “praising God,” AINEO, αἰνέω, THEOS. It means they were “praising or extoling” God. Luke used it seven of the nine times it is found in the NT, Luke 2:13, 20; 19:37; 24:53; Acts 2:47; 3:8-9; cf. Rom 15:11; Rev 19:5 with Psa 117:1. It is only used in the NT for praising God.
Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
This is the praise the angels sang.
“Glory” is DOXA. “As a theological expression doxa uniquely capsulizes the essence of the divine existence. It describes the revelation of God’s glory in Christ Jesus and the essential nature of the kingdom of God in the eschatological consummation (Ephesians 1:6, 17, 18; 1 Timothy 1:11).” (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary).
It is used to praise and hold in high regard God the Father and His great plan of salvation in sending His Son Jesus Christ into the world to become a man. Throughout this birth narrative in Luke’s Gospel, Gods glory is seen and praised, vs. 9, 32.
The angels’ praise uses the Adjective HUPSISTOS, “highest or most high,” to signify the ultimate Sovereignty of God. He is “God most high.”
Psa 57:2, “I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me.”
Luke 8:28, “Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, ‘What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me’.” Cf. Mark 5:7.
Heb 7:1, “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him.” Cf. Gen 14:18-22.
“And on earth peace,” KAI EPI GE EIRENE. This peace with God, the realization of the OT concept of SHALOM, is to be “among men,” EN ANTHROPOS, in the Dative of Advantage. Those who will benefit from this peace are all those who dwell on the earth. Once again Luke reemphasizes the universal scope of the good news. The “peace” here is that which the Messiah brings, cf. Luke 1:79, to those whom Jesus healed or forgave on the basis of their faith, who could “go in peace,” Luke 7:50; 8:48.
Luke 7:50, “And He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace’.”
Luke 8:48, “And He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace’.”
“With whom He is pleased,” is simply the Genitive Noun EUDOKIA, εὐδοκία that means, “goodwill, favor, good pleasure, wish, desire, purpose, or choice.” It is a compound word for EU, “good” and DOKEO, “To think, imagine, consider, or suppose.” Also, it means, “to consider as probable” or “to appear to one’s understanding, seem, or be recognized as.” It is the subjective mental estimate or opinion formed concerning a matter. Combined with EU, “good,” it is “good thinking,” or a positive mental attitude.
This is not an endorsement that God is pleased with mankind, instead it is a reference to God’s Divine favor or grace that is bestowed toward mankind because of who God is. It is also used in Mat 11:26; Luke 10:21; Rom 10:1; Eph 1:5, 9; 2:13; 2 Thes 1:11.
It means God’s grace or “divine favor” has been poured out towards mankind by sending His Son to be the Savior, the Christ, and the Lord. It is praising God, not man. Therefore, “with whom He is pleased,” is a terrible translation. This is a praise of God not man. It is a praise of who God is and what He is doing, and why. It is another way of saying by His good grace!
EUDOKIA is used in Mat 11:26 and Luke 10:21 in a similar way that it is in our verse for God’s favor/pleasure to disclose the “hidden things.” There, it is the union of the ideas of “choice or will” and “favor.”
Luke 10:21, “At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, ‘I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight’.”
The NIV gets closer than most English translations by saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests,” as does the NAB. The ISV uses “to people who enjoy His favor.” Kenneth Wuest translates it, “Peace among men of good will.” The Mace NT uses, “To men on earth felicity in the Divine favor.” Young and Wesley translated it “good will” toward or among men.
EUDOKIA appears to have been coined by the translators of the Septuagint to translate some usages of the Hebrew term RATSON that implies Divine grace, cf. Psa 5:12; 51:18; 106:4.
Psa 5:12, “For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield.”
Psa 51:18, “By Your favor do good to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem.”
Psa 106:4, “Remember me, O LORD, in Your favor toward Your people; Visit me with Your salvation.”
Based on no merit of our own, God delighted to grace us out with a Savior. Therefore, glory should be given to God in the most exalted of ways. While on earth, we should see that this child means peace for all of mankind, i.e., “on whom His favor rests.” This tells us that the love of God is poured out onto all of mankind through His Son who is Savior, Christ, the Lord, for even the vilest of sinners, Rom 5:8; 1 Tim 1:15. Yet, His peace comes upon those who have accepted His Son.
Rom 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
“The whole purpose of the plan of salvation is “glory to God” (see Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). God’s glory had dwelt in the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34) and in the temple (2 Chron. 7:1-3), but had departed because of the nation’s sin (1 Sam. 4:21; Ezek. 8:4; 9:3; 10:4, 18; 11:22-23). Now God’s glory was returning to earth in the person of His Son (John 1:14). That lowly manger was a holy of holies because Jesus was there!” (Bible Exposition Commentary)
The picture of being a person that received God’s favor was a Jewish way of saying that someone was numbered among God’s chosen people, much like the “God-fearers” of Luke 1:50-53. This remark makes it clear that salvation and its fullness are not automatic for everyone. Only those who respond to God’s grace and follow the path illuminated by the “Rising Sun,” will experience the peace into which that path leads, Luke 1:78-79. Jesus came for all, but unfortunately not all respond to and benefit from His coming.
This is the same picture painted for the people of Israel in the life of Jesus as noted in Acts 10:36, “The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all).” Therefore, the angelic message meant that peace in the highest sense becomes a reality among men who are blessed by God’s good favor or grace.
Luke 5:24, “‘But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’—He said to the paralytic—‘I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home’.” Cf. Mat 9:6; Mark 2:10.
Rom 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
When Christ came in His 1st Advent, He brought peace for salvation from our sins. At His 2nd Coming, He will come as the Prince of Peace; and will put down unrighteousness and rebellion in the world. He will establish peace on the earth. But until He comes again, the peace we have is peace with God and walking inside of His Plan for our lives.
Part II, The adoration of the shepherds, vs. 15-20.
Luke 2:15, “When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us’.”
Once the announcement to the shepherds was complete, the angels went back to their abode, “heaven” OURANOS, οὐρανός, which is the equivalent to the Hebrew SHAMAYIM, a region without boundaries, a region in which God and the angels reside and from which they descend.
In the Bible, there are three “heavens,” 2 Cor 12:2, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven.”
- The atmosphere that surrounds the earth, Mat 6:26; 16:2-3.
- The cosmos, “our stellar universe,” and is mentioned with the earth to express God’s creation, Mat 5:18; Acts 4:24; Rev 14:7.
- The spiritual habitations outside of our universe. It is the place of God’s throne, Mat 5:34, and temple, Rev 11:19.
The believer’s hope is “laid up…in heaven,” Col 1:5, where an imperishable inheritance is reserved for him, 1 Peter 1:4. In addition, the believer is presently seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Eph 2:6, where our great rewards and treasures are laid up in heaven for us, Mat 6:20; Luke 6:23, as well as a resurrected body that will one day clothe us, 2 Cor 5:1-2.
At the end of the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, a new heaven and a new earth will be created, Rev 21:1. Currently, this earth groans from the corruption of sin, Rom 8:21ff., and will be destroyed, 2 Peter 3:10; Rev 20:11. Yet, it will be replaced by a new heaven and earth, characterized by righteousness, 2 Peter 3:13; Rev 21:1.
Heaven is the abode of the elect angles and most of the fallen angels, at this time, cf. Luke 2:13-15; 10:18; Rev 5:11; 12:4.
The second image we take from this passage is the brief discussion and subsequent resolution of the shepherd to immediately go to see the babe in Bethlehem. In the discussion, they said, “let us go,” which is the Aorist, Active, Subjunctive of the Verb DIERCHOMAI, διέρχομαι that means, “go through, come, go, go about.” It is a Hortatory Subjunctive where the shepherds were urging each other to unite upon a course of action that has already been decided. Therefore, the shepherds were encouraging each other to leave immediately to go see the babe lying in the manger. The Ingressive Aorist is used to show the shepherds beginning the discussion to go. This same structure is use for, “and see this thing,” EIDON.
Here, we have two actions, “going and seeing.” At the end of this narrative we will see two more actions, “glorifying and praising,” because of “what they heard and had seen.” Taking in the Word of God through the ear and/or eye gate leads to application, with the result of “glorifying and praising.” “Going” is our response to God’s Word by taking action to apply it. “Seeing” is God’s blessing back to us when we apply His Word. It is confirmation that what He says is true. When we take in the Word through the ear gate and/or eye gate, and apply it to our lives, we are blessed. Blessings should then cause us to rejoice by glorifying and praising Him.
“Which the Lord has made known to us.” This is the shepherds reasoning for leaving in haste to see the babe. Notice that they do not say, “the angel” or “the angels” made known to us. Instead, they realize the author of this great miracle and message being God Himself, KURIOS, the Lord.
Principle: We must always realize the true author behind the messages God’s messengers give to us. When we receive the truth of the God’s Word through an angelic or human messenger, we give ultimate credit to God.
Another Lukan theme appears in this text, i.e., that the message of the kingdom always carries with it a challenge to respond, which the shepherds did beautifully.
2 Kings 7:9, “Then they (four lepers of Samaria) said to one another, ‘We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, but we are keeping silent; if we wait until morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come, let us go and tell the king’s household’.”
Luke 2:16, “And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.”
“They came in haste,” uses the Aorist, Active, Participle of the Verb SPEUDO σπεύδω that means, “to hurry, hasten, desire earnestly, or strive (for).” It is only used here and in Luke 19:5-6; Acts 20:16; 22:18; 2 Peter 3:12. It gives us a sense of moving with promptness, eagerness, and quickness to obey. This is how we should be responding to God’s Word in our lives too; with excitement and eagerness.
“Found” here is ANEURISKO, ἀνευρίσκω a cognate and intensive form of HEURISKO that we noted in vs. 12, that means, “finding after diligent searching.” It is only here and in Acts 21:4. Therefore, it indicates they had to search quite a bit before finding the right baby. They might have done a house to house search looking for him, and they did not find Him right away. There was no beam of light shining down on the house Jesus was in. They had to investigate.
That too is a principle of the spiritual life. When God gives us His Word, we should diligently seek how to apply it and not be lazy about using it in our lives. God, in His grace, gave us that information to help us, to encourage us, to empower us. If we do not use it, we lose out. Therefore, we must not take His Word lightly, but it must be acted on immediately and without hesitation.
These shepherds apply God’s Word in their lives and found Mary and Joseph, and Jesus, as described by the angel, “as He lay in the manger,” KEIMAI EN HO PHATNE. See vs. 7 and 12, for the symbolism of these words and phrase.
“The image of the Christ being born in a holding pen for cattle and being first visited by the outcasts of society was quite different than the popular expectations of the Messiah who would come as a powerful political/religious leader to deliver Israel from the oppression of Rome. It was not to the religious aristocracy that the birth of the Messiah was told, but it was to those in humble circumstances.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary).
And, we see that these shepherds were welcome at the manger. The unclean were judged to be clean. The outcasts became honored guests, and they were the first evangelists.
“Among the heralds of Christ we note one great prophet, John the Baptist, and one learned Pharisee, Paul; the rest are shepherds, fishermen, and publicans, yet their gospel has triumphed over the wisdom of men, (1 Cor 1:26-29; 2 Cor 4:7).” (The Fourfold Gospel: or A Harmony of the Four Gospels.)
Luke 2:17, “When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.”
Like vs. 15, “made known” is GNORIZO, νωρίζω that means, “make known, reveal, declare, or give to understand.” Used 24 times in the NT, it means, “causing someone to know something that he previously did not know, comprehend, or understand.”
Here we see the principle of paying it forward. As the shepherds received God’s Word and responded positively to it, they shared His Word with others, in this case, Mary and Joseph. As was the case in John’s birth, Luke 1:65, the news of the miraculous nature of this birth was carried throughout the area. Not only was the news of the Messiah’s coming first given to the outcasts of society, to those who were of no public or religious position, but it was through these same people that God chose to publicize this message to the entire known world, cf. Luke 5:10; 5:27; 8:2f.; 8:39; Acts 2:7; 4:13.
“Child” here is PAIDION, παιδίον that means, “an infant, little or young child,” instead of BREPHOS that we saw in Luke 1:41, 44; 2:12, 16. This is a transitionary term as we draw closer to the Jesus’ upcoming circumcision,” cf. Luke 2:21, 27 with Gen 17:12.
Luke 2:18, “And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.”
This verse makes us think that there were more than just Mary and Joseph around the babe lying in the manger. Certainly, the family they were staying with where there, as well as any other house guests, and potentially others from the village.
When they heard the report of the shepherds, they all “wondered at the things told them.” “Wondered,” is the Greek Verb THAUMAZO, θαυμάζω that means, “to wonder, admire, be astonished, or be amazed.” We noted this word in Luke 1:21, 63, regarding the events of John the Baptist’s birth, and will see it again in this narrative in vs. 33. It occurs 46 times in the NT, 33 of those in the Gospels as a description of human reaction to the activities and miraculous things of Jesus. When these people heard the shepherds, they were amazed at what God had told them and did.
In two accounts, we see Jesus being amazed during His First Advent: the unbelief of Nazareth citizens, Mark 6:6, and the faith of the centurion, Mat 8:10; Luke 7:9. We do not know which amazement the people had, but we should assume one of faith.
Luke 2:19, “But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
Here, we see Mary “treasured” and “pondered” God’s Word “in her heart,” KARDIA. Luke includes several references to Mary’s perplexity and ponderings about these amazing witnesses concerning Jesus, Luke 1:29; 2:48, 50.
“Treasured” is somewhat of a transliteration, as we have the Verb SUNTEREO, συντηρέω in the Imperfect, Active, Indicative. It is a compound word from SUN, “together or with,” and TEREO that means, “watch carefully, guard, keep, hold in reserve, preserve, observe, obey, or pay attention to.” So, combined, it means, “protect, save, hold, or keep.” The Progress Imperfect is used to describe this action in progress in past time from the viewpoint of Luke’s writing, and speaks of simultaneous action; in this case with “pondering.”
In the Active Voice, as it is in our verse, it means, “to protect” or “to defend,” while in the passive it means, “to be saved” or “to be preserved.” It is used in the LXX for Daniel who “kept” his Divine vision to himself. It was certainly a way of “protecting” or “keeping safe” some very private and disturbing information. Likewise, Mary actively kept, protected, and defended this information within her heart, the right lobe of her soul.
In other words, she cycled the doctrine from her left lobe, “mind,” to her right lobe, “heart,” the place where we store and retain Bible Doctrine. She learned the Word of God and guarded it within her soul for future application.
SUNTEREO is only used here and in Mat 9:17; Mark 6:20; and in a variant addition to Luke 5:38 that should not be there.
Mat 9:17, “Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Mark 6:20, “For Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him.”
With this we have the simultaneous action where she was also “pondering” this doctrine in her heart, using the Greek Verb SUMBALLO, συμβάλλω in the Present, Active, Participle, Nominative. It is also a compound word from SUN and BALLO, “to throw or cast.” Combined, it means, “to confer, dispute, ponder, meet with, converse, carry on a discussion, or consider carefully and draw a conclusion.” The latter is the application here. It is only used here and in Luke 14:31; Acts 4:15; 17:18; 18:27; 20:14. So, Luke uses it here related to the sense of “pondering” or “considering” to describe the reaction Mary had to the astounding events surrounding the birth of Jesus.
Mary beautifully reflects the message found in 1 Peter 3:4, “But let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”
Luke 2:20, “The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.”
Once they witnessed the baby Jesus and conveyed all the information that they had received from God, they “went back / returned,” (HUPOSTREPHO), to their flocks “glorifying,” (DOXAZO), and “praising,” (AINEO, see vs. 13), “God” (THEOS). The correct and right object of their glorification and praise is God for His great plan of salvation and gracious deliverance of this information, “Bible Doctrine,” to them, i.e., “for all that they heard and seen,” EPI PAS HOS AKOUO KAI EIDON. In other words, for all the Bible doctrine they took in through the ear gate and the eye gate.
“Just as had been told them,” tells us that God fulfills His promises and prophesies, and when we see His Word being fulfilled in our life after faithful application of it, we too should glorify and praise Him.
“Luke can be described as the Gospel of praise, for the author records the praise of people for God’s mighty works where the other Gospel writers do not, (e.g., Luke 1:46-55, 68-79; 2:14, 29-32; 5:25-26; 7:16; 13:13; 17:15; 18:43; 19:37; 24:53; Acts 2:47; 3:8-9).” (Complete Biblical Library)
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See: ( Part II for Luke 2:21-52 )