Vol. 18, No. 11 – March 17, 2019
It is 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)
- The Identification of the Son of Man with Men, Luke 1:5-4:13.
- The Adoration of the Baby, as Jesus is Presented at the Temple, vs. 21-38.
- The Circumcision and Later Presentation at the Temple, vs. 21-24.
Luke 2:21, “And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.”
Similar to the narrative of John the Baptist’s advent and circumcision, Luke 1:59-63, here we see our Lord being given the name Jesus by Joseph and Mary just prior to His circumcision. This is the name the angel Gabriel told them to give to Him, Mat 1:21, 25; Luke 1:31.
Luke 1:31, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.”
Therefore, Luke reminds us that the name Jesus was the choice of heaven and not of men, so in faith, Joseph and Mary named Him Jesus, which is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name Joshua, YESHUA that means, “the Lord saves,” as in the Greek “Jesus,” is IESOUS, Ἰησοῦς that means the same. This indicates that He is both God, as Lord, and Savior. The name and its origin are appropriate, for in ancient days the name expressed the character of the individual.
Mat 1:21, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Like John’s parents, Jesus’ were also faithful to abide by God’s Word found in the Law, as they were still under the Law in the Age of Israel, the Jewish Dispensation. According to Lev 12:3; Gen 17:12; 21:4.
Gen 17:12, “Every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants.”
Lev 12:1-3, “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2’Speak to the sons of Israel, saying: ‘When a woman gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of her menstruation she shall be unclean. 3On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised’’.”
As we noted in Chapter 1, the ritual of “circumcision,” (PERITEMNO, περιτέμνω), was a form of identification with God as a new member of the unique racial species called Hebrew or later Israel.
It was a demonstration through the removal of the flesh, which represents the sin and the Old Sin Nature, so that new life may come forth. Circumcision was given to Abraham prior to conceiving Isaac, according to God’s promise, to establish a new racial species. The creation of and identification with the new racial species was a type of the creation of and identification with the new spiritual species the Church Age believer is made and entered into at the moment He believes in Jesus Christ as his Savior, cf. 2 Cor 5:17: Gal 6:15.
Gal 6:15, “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”
2 Cor 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Luke 2:22, “And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.”
Verses 22-23, present two events: The purification of Mary and Joseph, along with the presentation of the baby Jesus to God; the latter being more significant. This shows that they responded not only to the supernatural revelation of the angel, but also to the written Word of God.
The purification of the woman after giving birth along with the presentation of Jesus to the Lord was prescribed in the Law in Lev 12:1-8. For the woman, if she gave birth to a son, she was ceremonially unclean for 7 days, (7 meaning spiritual perfection), and then she stayed at home an additional 33 days, making a total of 40 days, (40 meaning probation, trial, or chastisement, but not judgment). For the birth of a daughter, the time of seclusion was extended to 80 days. Therefore, this purification took place on the fortieth day after the nativity of Jesus.
“By declaring women ritually unclean during menstruation, the Lord blessed women with time off from the daily routine, providing them with privacy and rest long before feminine hygiene products made normal activities possible. And by declaring new mothers ritually unclean for several weeks after childbirth, He protected women and their newborns from potential disease due to contact with the general population.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary)
The plural personal pronoun “their” may indicate that Joseph needed purification too, most likely because he assisted in the birth, or that he was in daily contact with Mary who was “unclean.” Another possibility is that Luke is alluding to all the sacrifices involved in the ceremonies and that those offerings, some hers and others theirs, are combined.
Lev 12:6-8, “When the days of her purification are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting a one year old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. 7Then he shall offer it before the LORD and make atonement for her, and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female. 8But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.”
So, they presented Jesus to the Lord at the Temple in Jerusalem on the 40th day and presented the necessary sin offerings for purification.
By this rite, Jesus was “made like his brethren,” Heb 2:16-17, that is, He became a member of the covenant nation, and became a debtor to the law, Gal 5:3.
“Purification” is the Greek Noun KATHARISMOS, καθαρισμός that means, “purification or cleansing.” This was a ritual washing with water, see Mark 1:44; Luke 5:14; John 2:6; 3:25, to demonstrate the cleansing of sins Jesus would provide for all of mankind, especially the believer, at the Cross, Heb 1:3; 2 Peter 1:9. This Noun is only used in these 7 verses in the NT.
John 2:6, “Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each.” This was the wedding at Cana when Jesus performed His first miracle changing the water into wine. Wine represents His blood sacrifice at the Cross, cf. 1 Cor 11:25; Luke 22:20; Mat 26:28; Mark 14:24; cf. Ex 24:6-8.
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.”
2 Peter 1:9, “For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.”
The dedication was not a redemptive act which cleansed from sin, but an act of setting someone aside for a special purpose. It also reminded the Jews that God had spared the firstborn Israelites at the Passover in Egypt and had delivered them all from slavery; just as Jesus would deliver us all from the slavery to sin. In this we see another, yet unmentioned, part of the Law that relates to this narrative: the “redemption money” paid for the new born male. Originally, the firstborn or eldest son was priest of the household after his father’s death; but God chose the Levites to serve in His sanctuary in the place of these firstborn or household priests, Num 3:11-13, 49-51; 8:14-19; but this choosing did not annul the statute which required the payment of redemption money. The redemption money for a male was five shekels of the sanctuary, or about $3.75, Lev 27:6. We do not see this mentioned in the case of Jesus in any of the birth narratives, most likely because Jesus was the High Priest chosen by God, Heb 2:17; 3:1; 4:14-15; 5:5, 10; 6:20, etc.
Heb 2:17, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
Luke 2:23, “(As it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD’).”
The circumcision and presentation of the new born was in fulfillment of the Mosaic Law, as noted in Ex 13:2, 11-15; 22:29; Num 3:13; 8:16-17; 18:15-16; Neh 10:36; cf. Deut 15:19. From the beginning of His earthly life, even before He could talk, walk, or exercise His will as a human, Jesus fulfilled the requirements of God’s covenant with the Jews.
Ex 13:2, “Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me.”
Num 3:13, “For all the firstborn are Mine; on the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, from man to beast. They shall be Mine; I am the LORD.”
Being called “holy” and being “sanctified” are one and the same. Each firstborn male was considered holy, that is, dedicated to God for the special role of priest. Like the prophet Samuel, Jesus was given over to God’s service, 1 Sam 1:22-24, which Mary alluded to in the “Magnificat,” that we noted in Luke 1:46-55.
As we have noted, the first son was to be presented to the Lord and then, so to speak, bought back with an offering, Num 18:15; cf. 1 Sam 1:24-28, where Hannah actually gives up Samuel to the Lord. Therefore, by the redemption money and sacrifice of Joseph and Mary, the life of Jesus was ceremonially redeemed from God the Father, so that Jesus’ consecration of it to the will of the Father might be perfect. As such, when Jesus, the spotless and Holy One, subjected Himself to these requirements, it was not for His own sake, but to show that He was voluntarily placing Himself under the law and fulfilling the obligations laid upon His people in order to bring about their salvation.
Interestingly, “opens,” is the Verb DIANOIGO, διανοίγω that means, “open fully, explain, expound.” Usually in the NT, it is related to faith with the result of someone gaining healing, knowledge, and understanding. Jesus came to heal the sinner and give them the knowledge of God the Father for salvation. This presentation of the Lord Jesus at the temple was an acknowledgement of His consecration and sanctification to complete the plan of God the Father for salvation to heal the world from sin through the knowledge of God’s salvation.
“Womb,” METRA, μήτρα is only used here and Rom 4:19, recalling Sarah’s womb that was opened to provide for a new racial species. Mary’s womb was opened to provide a new spiritual species, 2 Cor 5:17: Gal 6:15.
Luke 2:24, “And to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, ‘A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS’.”
This offering was in recognition of God’s goodness to the parents, and also in recognition of the fact that even little children, as sweet and comparatively innocent as they are, come from a sinful race and need a Savior. Again, this was not a redemptive offering because of Jesus’s sin, because He was born without sin. But, it was in recognition of what He would provide through the Cross.
Notice that this is the “Law of the Lord,” NOMOS KURIOS. The Lord is its author and perfecter. Even though it is called the Law of Moses, Moses was its recipient and communicator to the people. But, its author was the Lord, YHWH, Ex 24:12; 31:18; 32:15; Deut 5:22.
Ex 24:12, “Now the LORD said to Moses, ‘Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction’.”
Ex 31:18, “When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.”
Apparently, because Joseph and Mary were not well off, as they offered the lesser but acceptable sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” Lev 5:7; 12:8. This also tells us that it occurred prior to the Magi from the east appearing, because based on the gifts they gave to Jesus, Joseph and Mary could have definitely afforded the more expensive sacrifice of a lamb.
Lev 12:8, “But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.”
The interesting analogy here is more than just that these were the “poor man’s” sacrifice, indicating the fact that Jesus rendered Himself poor by depriving Himself of His Deity and became a man, Phil 2:7. But, that they were “substitutionary” sacrifices, just as our Lord Jesus Christ was our “substitutionary” spiritual sacrifice upon the Cross, Rom 5:8-21; 1 Peter 3:18; Gal 3:13.
Rom 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”
“Pair,” is the Greek Noun ZEUGOS ζεῦγος that means, “a couple, yoke, or pair.” Unlike ZUGOS, “yoke,” which describes the device for linking two draft animals, ZEUGOS refers to the number of animals so linked, two. Thus a “yoke” meant “two or a pair.”
It is only used here and Luke 14:19, in the parable of the man who threw a great banquet, where all the invited guests declined the invitation. In vs. 19, that one’s excuse was he “bought five yoke or pairs of oxen.” So, he had his servant, “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame,” vs. 21, and “Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled,” vs. 23. In other words, the man “opened” his house to those who “needed healing.” That is who our Lord particularly came for, Luke 5:31-32; 10:9; Mat 9:12-13; Mark 2:17.
Mark 2:17, “And hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners’.”
So, we see that for those who have faith and believe in Jesus, they are healed from their sins and the two, (Jesus and believer), become one and are yoked together for all of eternity.
“Turtledoves,” is the Noun TRUGON, τρυγών in the plural. It is only used here in the NT. When a word is only used once in the NT, it is called a hapaxlegomena. A TRUGON was used as a sacrifice because it was noted for its plaintive cooing and affectionate disposition. It is used in the OT for a sacrifice of sin offering, Gen 15:9; Lev 12:6, and represents the love of Christ, as seen in His suffering sacrifice, who would die for our sins, Psa 74:19.
Psa 74:19, “Do not deliver the soul of Your turtledove to the wild beast; Do not forget the life of Your afflicted forever.”
In the second substitutionary sacrifice, we have “two,” DUO, “young,” NOSSOS, “pigeons,” PERISTERA.
PERISTERA, περιστερά means a “dove or pigeon.” In the OT, the English word “dove” was the bird used by Noah to find land after the flood had subsided, Gen 8:8-12, and therefore is a great symbol of peace with God. In the OT, the English word “pigeon” is only used in Gen 15:9; Lev 12:6, for the sin offering sacrifice, as also could be the turtledove.
In the NT, PERISTERA is used:
- In this narrative for the substitutionary sacrifice.
- For the disciples to be innocent as a dove, Mat 10:16, as Jesus had no sin of His own.
- When Jesus turned over the money changing tables in the temple, Mat 21:12; Mark 11:15; John 2:14-16.
- At Jesus’ Baptism to represent the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit and the beginning of His ministry, Mat 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32.
“Young,” is the Noun NOSSOS νοσσός that is only used here in the NT; another hapaxlegomena. NOSSOS denotes, “a young bird, any young animal, or a young child.” This young child named Jesus who was consecrated to God through circumcision would be our substitutionary spiritual sacrifice.
We also see principles of poverty here found in the “Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary”:
- Poverty is not a sin.
- Poverty is not God’s disapproval.
- Poverty does not prevent a person from worshiping God.
- Poverty does not necessarily doom a person to poverty forever.
- Poverty does not excuse unrighteousness.
- Poverty is not shameful in and of itself.
- Poverty is a cross that God entrusts to some people for a time.
“If some teacher or preacher tries to convince you that poverty is a sin, that poverty is God’s condemnation of you, that you have to give a certain amount of money to worship God, or that poverty excuses your sin, then do not listen to that teacher.” (Christ-Centered Exposition).
Prov 28:6, “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than he who is crooked though he be rich.”
Eccl 4:13, “A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction.”
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#19-025 & 19-026 & 19-027
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!