Luke One

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Luke 1:1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

Luke 1:2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

Luke 1:3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

me also. Although he never mentions himself by name, the church fathers and uniform tradition agree that Luke, Paul's “beloved physician,” was the author of both this gospel and the book of Acts (see Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24).

from the very first. Others had written about Christ and His teachings before Luke did (Luke 1:1), including Matthew and Mark, both of whom had known Christ personally, a privilege probably not shared by Luke. Nevertheless, Luke's long association with the Apostle Paul and others who had known the Lord (Luke 1:2), together with his obvious ability in investigation and research, enabled him to write down an accurate account of his own. Many think that Luke may have drawn on Mark's account, as well as Matthew's or even some other hypothetical written source supposedly used by all of them (the so-called “Q-document,” or some such record). Even if such a document really existed (which is very doubtful), it was not divinely inspired like those of Matthew, Mark and Luke, but simply a human record of events, from which they could draw in their research, as led by the Holy Spirit. This latter presumption is supported by Luke's claim that he had “perfect understanding of all things from above” (the latter being a legitimate alternative to “the very first”).

Theophilus. See Acts 1:1. It is possible that “Theophilus” was not an actual person, but any “lover of God,” which is the meaning of the name. It is also possible that he was a Roman official (implied by the term “most excellent”) whose actual name Luke discreetly chose not to use, lest he be removed or even executed by the emperor.

Luke 1:4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

Luke 1:6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

Luke 1:7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.

well stricken in years. There are four key people in the Bible who were said to be “well stricken in years” or “well stricken in age.” The first were Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 18:11) who were the parents of Isaac, who would be the forerunner, so to speak, of Israel and the dispensation of law, just as Elisabeth and Zacharias (Luke 1:7, 18) were to be the parents of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ and the dispensation of grace. All four were past child-bearing age when God sent both promised sons into their respective homes.

Luke 1:8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,

Luke 1:9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.

Luke 1:10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

Luke 1:11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

Luke 1:12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

Luke 1:13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

Luke 1:14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

Luke 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.

strong drink. There is no indication that John the Baptist was dedicated as a Nazarite. Neither the angel nor his father mentioned that such was his calling. Rather, abstinence from alcoholic drink was appropriate for a man filled with the Holy Spirit (note Ephesians 5:18). While total abstinence may not be an explicit commandment of Scripture, John's example is surely an example to follow for any believer who sincerely desires his life to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led.

from his mother's womb. Of no other person in the Bible is such an amazing testimony recorded! Truly, except for Christ, John was the greatest among men (see note on Matthew 11:11). It is noteworthy that this was the first direct word from God to Israel since the days of Malachi in over four hundred years.

Luke 1:16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

turn to the Lord. John was the first—and perhaps greatest—gospel preacher. The Lord used him to lead multitudes to Christ (see note on Matthew 3:5-6, noting that “all Jerusalem and Judaea” came out to hear his message, repenting, confessing their sins, and being baptized). That his message focussed on Christ as sin-bearing Savior is evident from John 1:7, 8, 29, etc.

Luke 1:17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

power of Elias. Luke 1:17 is paraphrased from Malachi 4:6. John was not Elijah returned to earth, but his message of repentance and reconciliation of the people to the God whom they had largely forsaken was delivered in the same spirit and power shown in Elijah. His wilderness life-style was also reminiscent of the prophet whom God had taken to heaven in the flesh. In no way does the coming of John the Baptist negate the still-in-effect prophecy of Elijah's future return to the earth (see Matthew 17:11; Revelation 11:3-6) to complete his mission.

prepared for the Lord. The “people prepared for the Lord” certainly included all (or at least many) of Christ's twelve disciples (see John 1:35-37; Acts 1:21-22).

Luke 1:18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.

Luke 1:19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings.

Luke 1:20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

Luke 1:21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.

Luke 1:22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.

Luke 1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.

accomplished. There were many hundreds of priests, so this was undoubtedly the only opportunity Zacharias would ever have to minister at the altar of incense in the temple. Because of the faithfulness of him and his wife, God chose this auspicious occasion to announce the miraculous answer to their prayers.

Luke 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,

Luke 1:25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.

Luke 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

sixth month. That is, the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy (Luke 1:36).

Gabriel. The angel Gabriel is only mentioned by name in connection with his missions to Daniel (Daniel 8:16; 9:21), to Zacharias (Luke 1:19), and here to Mary. He is evidently one of the highest angels in God's hierarchy, standing in God's very presence (Luke 1:19). The only other angel (except for the fallen angel Lucifer) mentioned by name in Scripture is Michael (Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1; Jude 9; Revelation 12:7), who is called “the archangel” by Jude, but only “one of the chief princes” by Daniel. The latter implies that Gabriel also has the rank of archangel (that is, “principal angel”).

Luke 1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

virgin. Mary is called “a virgin” by both Luke and Matthew, the Greek word being parthenos, a word which can mean nothing else.

Luke 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

highly favoured. Mary was “highly favored” and “blessed among women,” because she had been given the privilege of fulfilling the ancient promise made by God to Mother Eve (Genesis 3:15), the promise of choosing a woman who would bear the promised Seed who would come to crush the old Serpent and all his evil plans. However, this blessing, given to a godly young virgin in Israel, in no way warrants us to worship her as the “Mother of God,” on essentially the same level as God Himself. Unfortunately, in later times many people unknowingly tended to replace the ancient pagan worship of the “goddess” (known as Ishtar, Astarte, Venus, etc., in various languages) with “Mariolatry.”

Luke 1:29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

Luke 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

favour. The Greek word for “favor” is the word normally translated “grace,” and this is actually the first mention of grace in the New Testament. The first mention of grace in the Old Testament is Genesis 6:8, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” In both cases, a human believer was selected by God's grace to bring, as it were, a new beginning into the world: Noah brought the post-Flood economy that would follow the judgment of the Flood on the worldwide sin of the world, and Mary brought forth the Savior, who through the judgment of the cross would carry away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Note also how these two first mentions of grace define the very word itself. Grace is not a reward that is earned from God, but a gift from God that is found. And it is found, not by working or searching but “through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Both Mary and Noah believed—and therefore obeyed—the word of God.

Luke 1:31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

conceive in thy womb. The miraculous conception was unusual in that it took place directly in the womb rather than first in the tubes, but it was uniquely miraculous in that no man was involved. “That holy thing” was placed directly in Mary's womb by God “the Holy Ghost” (Luke 1:35) and thus was uniquely “the seed” of the woman (Genesis 3:15). Just as the body of the first Adam was directly formed by God (Genesis 2:7), with no genetic connection to either father or mother, so the body of “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45) was directly formed by God (Hebrews 10:5), with no genetic connection to either parent. Since the very “ground” was brought under God's curse because of sin (Genesis 3:17), all the elements of the ground (i.e., “the dust of the earth”), out of which the bodies of Adam and Eve and all their descendants had been formed, were contaminated with the “bondage of corruption” (or decay—Romans 8:21-22). This was just as true of Mary's body as of Joseph's, so there could have been no natural genetic connection of Jesus' body to that of Mary, any more than to Joseph's. The “holy thing” placed in Mary's womb by the Holy Spirit could have been nothing less than a special creation—just as was the body of Adam! Otherwise, like all men born of women, Jesus would have inherited both physical defects and the sin-nature of Adam and Eve. This could only have been prevented by a miraculous cleansing of the conceptus, and this, of course, would be a special creation. Jesus was the only begotten Son of God, as well as the son of Mary, but He was not the Son of God and Mary.

Luke 1:32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

throne of his father David. Jesus was the legal son of His father David (as adopted by Joseph when he took Mary as his wife) but He was, of course, not his biological son. As legal son, however, He did have the legal right (as well as spiritual and prophetic right) to the Davidic kingdom.

Luke 1:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Luke 1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

How shall this be. Mary was not doubting the word of Gabriel (Luke 1:38), as had Zacharias (Luke 1:20), but inquiring as to how He might bring about such a “new thing in the earth” (Jeremiah 31:22), and Gabriel answered her question in his next statement.

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

overshadow thee. This marvelous work of God can be nothing less than direct creation. Some have suggested such quasi-naturalistic hypotheses as parthenogenesis or artificial insemination, or perhaps that the Holy Spirit somehow fertilized Mary's naturally produced egg, but such stratagems could only caricature the amazing incarnation—the entrance of the omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal God of creation into finite human flesh. We cannot comprehend the mechanics of such a miracle; we can only believe God's Word.

holy thing. It is striking that the embryonic Jesus in Mary's womb must be called “that holy thing”—not “the babe” or “the child” or something else. There is no human word to fit. Actually the word “thing” is not in the original—just “the holy,” or perhaps “the holy [One].”

Son of God. Thus Mary was the very first to hear the words “the Son of God” as applied to that Holy One who would enter her womb.

Luke 1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

thy cousin Elisabeth. Since Elisabeth was descended from Aaron (Luke 1:5), and therefore of the tribe of Levi, and Mary was descended from David, and thus of the tribe of Judah (see note on Luke 3:23), the two were “cousins” by way of marriage of siblings of their respective parents. Actually the Greek word translated “cousin” here means simply “kinsman” or “kinfolk,” and is so translated several times. The relationship would not necessarily have been that of first cousins.

Luke 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

impossible. Literally: “No word of God can fail.”

Luke 1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;

Luke 1:40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

Luke 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

filled with the Holy Ghost. Elisabeth was the second to be filled with the Holy Spirit (see Luke 1:15). The babe in her womb, later to be known as John the Baptist, already filled with the Spirit, leaped for joy when he heard Mary's voice (Luke 1:44). This proves beyond question that a babe in a woman's womb is already a true human being, capable of emotional expression—joy in this case. Thus abortion is nothing less than taking a human life. As she was filled with the Spirit, Elisabeth also somehow knew that the fruit of Mary's womb, not yet born, nevertheless was “[her] Lord” (Luke 1:43).

Luke 1:42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

Luke 1:43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

Luke 1:44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

Luke 1:45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

Luke 1:46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

magnify the Lord. This beautiful hymn, or poem, of Mary's is known as The Magnificat. Many of its thoughts are similar to those in Hannah's prayer of thanksgiving at the birth of Samuel (1 Samuel 2:1-10). The latter prayer contains the first mention of Messiah in the Bible, as the very last words of Hannah's song (“His anointed”—1 Samuel 2:10).

Luke 1:47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

my Saviour. Mary thus acknowledged her need of a Savior, whether or not she fully realized that this would indeed be the babe in her womb. She knew that, with all her virtues and godliness, she was not sinless and thus needed salvation. She realized that God would somehow accomplish this and that her babe would be essential in this plan.

Luke 1:48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

Luke 1:49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

Luke 1:50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

Luke 1:51 He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

Luke 1:52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

Luke 1:53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

Luke 1:54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

Luke 1:55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Luke 1:56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

Luke 1:57 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.

Luke 1:58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had showed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.

Luke 1:59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.

Luke 1:60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.

Luke 1:61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.

Luke 1:62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.

Luke 1:63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.

Luke 1:64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.

Luke 1:65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.

Luke 1:66 And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.

Luke 1:67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,

filled with the Holy Ghost. Zacharias is thus the third person in the New Testament said to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:15, 41). His prophetic poem (Luke 1:68-79) has been called the Benedictus.

Luke 1:68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,

Luke 1:69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;

Luke 1:70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:

since the world began. Note that Zacharias, prophesying under divine inspiration (Luke 1:67), said that God's holy prophets have been predicting the coming of the Savior, not just since man has been on the earth, but “since the world began.” There is no room in true history for the alleged 4.6 billion years between the time the world began and man appeared, as evolutionists have tried to persuade people. See also Mark 10:6, Acts 3:21, etc. God's purpose was the creation and redemption of man, and He did not need billions of years of cruel and wasteful evolutionary meandering to accomplish this. The only reason He took six days was to set the pattern for man's six-day work week.

Luke 1:71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;

Luke 1:72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;

Luke 1:73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,

Luke 1:74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,

Luke 1:75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

Luke 1:76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;

Luke 1:77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,

knowledge of salvation. The preaching of John the Baptist was to prepare the way for Christ (Luke 1:76). In addition, his preaching was true Christian evangelism, for it gave “knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins.”

Luke 1:78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,

dayspring. The “dayspring” is the sunrise, the figure corresponding to Psalm 19:4-5, and speaks of Jesus, “the light of the world” (John 8:12), coming from heaven to dispel the darkness of this world.

Luke 1:79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Luke 1:80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.

in the deserts. Despite his priestly station, John (like Elijah) stayed in the desert in preparation for his brief but fruitful ministry just before Christ was to begin His.