Explanatory Preface
1 Now#tn Grk “Since” or “Because.” This begins a long sentence that extends through v. 4. Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence and the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences, the Greek sentence has been divided up into shorter English sentences in the translation. many have undertaken to compile an account#tn This is sometimes translated “narrative,” but the term itself can refer to an oral or written account. It is the verb “undertaken” which suggests a written account, since it literally is “to set one’s hand” to something (BDAG 386 s.v. ἐπιχειρέω). “Narrative” is too specific, denoting a particular genre of work for the accounts that existed in the earlier tradition. Not all of that material would have been narrative. of the things#tn Or “events.” that have been fulfilled#tn Or “have been accomplished.” Given Luke’s emphasis on divine design (e.g., Luke 24:43-47) a stronger sense (“fulfilled”) is better than a mere reference to something having taken place (“accomplished”). among us, 2 like the accounts#tn Grk “even as”; this compares the recorded tradition of 1:1 with the original eyewitness tradition of 1:2. passed on#tn Or “delivered.” to us by those who were eyewitnesses and servants of the word#sn The phrase eyewitnesses and servants of the word refers to a single group of people who faithfully passed on the accounts about Jesus. The language about delivery (passed on) points to accounts faithfully passed on to the early church. from the beginning.#tn Grk “like the accounts those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word passed on to us.” The location of “in the beginning” in the Greek shows that the tradition is rooted in those who were with Jesus from the start. 3 So#tn The conjunction “so” is supplied here to bring out the force of the latter part of this Greek sentence, which the translation divides up because of English style. Luke, in compiling his account, is joining a tradition with good precedent. it seemed good to me as well,#sn When Luke says it seemed good to me as well he is not being critical of the earlier accounts, but sees himself stepping into a tradition of reporting about Jesus to which he will add uniquely a second volume on the early church when he writes the Book of Acts. because I have followed#tn Grk “having followed”; the participle παρηκολουθηκότι (parhkolouqhkoti) has been translated causally. all things carefully from the beginning, to write an orderly account#sn An orderly account does not necessarily mean that all events are recorded in the exact chronological sequence in which they occurred, but that the account produced is an orderly one. This could include, for example, thematic or topical order rather than strict chronological order. for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know for certain#tn Or “know the truth about”; or “know the certainty of.” The issue of the context is psychological confidence; Luke’s work is trying to encourage Theophilus. So in English this is better translated as “know for certain” than “know certainty” or “know the truth,” which sounds too cognitive. “Certain” assumes the truth of the report. On this term, see Acts 2:36; 21:34; 22:30; and 25:26. The meaning “have assurance concerning” is also possible here. the things you were taught.#tn Or “you heard about.” This term can refer merely to a report of information (Acts 21:24) or to instruction (Acts 18:25). The scope of Luke’s Gospel as a whole, which calls for perseverance in the faith and which assumes much knowledge of the OT, suggests Theophilus had received some instruction and was probably a believer.
Birth Announcement of John the Baptist
5 During the reign#tn Grk “It happened that in the days.” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated. of Herod#sn Herod was Herod the Great, who ruled Palestine from 37 b.c. until he died in 4 b.c. He was known for his extensive building projects (including the temple in Jerusalem) and for his cruelty. king of Judea, there lived a priest named Zechariah who belonged to#tn Grk “of”; but the meaning of the preposition ἐκ (ek) is more accurately expressed in contemporary English by the relative clause “who belonged to.” the priestly division of Abijah,#sn There were twenty-four divisions of priesthood and the priestly division of Abijah was eighth on the list according to 1 Chr 24:10. and he had a wife named Elizabeth,#tn Grk “and her name was Elizabeth.” who was a descendant of Aaron.#tn Grk “a wife of the daughters of Aaron.”sn It was not unusual for a priest to have a wife from a priestly family (a descendant of Aaron); this was regarded as a special blessing. 6 They#tn Grk “And they.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here. were both righteous in the sight of God, following#tn Grk “walking in” (an idiom for one’s lifestyle).sn The description of Zechariah and Elizabeth as following… blamelessly was not to say that they were sinless, but that they were faithful and pious. Thus a practical righteousness is meant here (Gen 6:8; Deut 28:9). all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.#tn The predicate adjective has the effect of an adverb here (BDF §243). 7 But they did not have a child, because Elizabeth was barren,#sn Elizabeth was barren. Both Zechariah and Elizabeth are regarded by Luke as righteous in the sight of God, following all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly (v. 6). With this language, reminiscent of various passages in the OT, Luke is probably drawing implicit comparisons to the age and barrenness of such famous OT personalities as Abraham and Sarah (see, e.g., Gen 18:9-15), the mother of Samson (Judg 13:2-5), and Hannah, the mother of Samuel (1 Sam 1:1-20). And, as it was in the case of these OT saints, so it is with Elizabeth: After much anguish and seeking the Lord, she too is going to have a son in her barrenness. In that day it was a great reproach to be childless, for children were a sign of God’s blessing (cf. Gen 1:28; Lev 20:20-21; Pss 127 and 128; Jer 22:30). As the dawn of salvation draws near, however, God will change this elderly couple’s grief into great joy and grant them the one desire time had rendered impossible. and they were both very old.#tn Grk “were both advanced in days” (an idiom for old age).
8 Now#tn Grk “Now it happened that.” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated. while Zechariah#tn Grk “he”; the referent (Zechariah) has been specified in the translation for clarity. was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,#tn Grk “serving as priest in the order of his division before God.”sn Zechariah’s division would be on duty twice a year for a week at a time. 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood,#tn Grk “according to the custom of the priesthood it fell to him by lot.” The order of the clauses has been rearranged in the translation to make it clear that the prepositional phrase κατὰ τὸ ἔθος τῆς ἱερατείας (kata to eqo" th" Jierateia", “according to the custom of the priesthood”) modifies the phrase “it fell to him by lot” rather than the preceding clause. to enter#tn This is an aorist participle and is temporally related to the offering of incense, not to when the lot fell. the holy place#tn Or “temple.” Such sacrifices, which included the burning of incense, would have occurred in the holy place according to the Mishnah (m. Tamid 1.2; 3.1; 5-7). A priest would have given this sacrifice, which was offered for the nation, once in one’s career. It would be offered either at 9 a.m. or 3 p.m., since it was made twice a day. of the Lord and burn incense. 10 Now#tn Grk “And,” but “now” better represents the somewhat parenthetical nature of this statement in the flow of the narrative. the whole crowd#tn Grk “all the multitude.” While “assembly” is sometimes used here to translate πλῆθος (plhqo"), that term usually implies in English a specific or particular group of people. However, this was simply a large group gathered outside, which was not unusual, especially for the afternoon offering. of people were praying outside at the hour of the incense offering.#tn The “hour of the incense offering” is another way to refer to the time of sacrifice. 11 An#tn Grk “And an angel.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, δέ (de) has not been translated here. angel of the Lord,#tn Or “the angel of the Lord.” Linguistically, “angel of the Lord” is the same in both testaments (and thus, he is either “an angel of the Lord” or “the angel of the Lord” in both testaments). For arguments and implications, see ExSyn 252; M. J. Davidson, “Angels,” DJG, 9; W. G. MacDonald argues for “an angel” in both testaments: “Christology and ‘The Angel of the Lord’,” Current Issues in Biblical and Patristic Interpretation, 324-35. standing on the right side of the altar of incense, appeared#sn This term is often used to describe a supernatural appearance (24:34; Acts 2:3; 7:2, 30, 35; 9:17; 13:31; 16:9; 26:16). to him. 12 And Zechariah, visibly shaken when he saw the angel,#tn The words “the angel” are not in the Greek text, but are implied. Direct objects were frequently omitted in Greek when clear from the context. was seized with fear.#tn Or “and he was afraid”; Grk “fear fell upon him.” Fear is common when supernatural agents appear (1:29-30, 65; 2:9; 5:8-10; 9:34; 24:38; Exod 15:16; Judg 6:22-23; 13:6, 22; 2 Sam 6:9). 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard,#tn The passive means that the prayer was heard by God.sn Your prayer has been heard. Zechariah’s prayer while offering the sacrifice would have been for the nation, but the answer to the prayer also gave them a long hoped-for child, a hope they had abandoned because of their old age. and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son; you#tn Grk “a son, and you”; καί (kai) has not been translated. Instead a semicolon is used in the translation for stylistic reasons. will name him John.#tn Grk “you will call his name John.” The future tense here functions like a command (see ExSyn 569-70). This same construction occurs in v. 31.sn “Do not be afraid…you must call his name John.” This is a standard birth announcement (see Gen 16:11; Isa 7:14; Matt 1:21; Luke 1:31). 14 Joy and gladness will come#tn Grk “This will be joy and gladness.” to you, and many will rejoice at#tn Or “because of.” his birth,#tn “At his birth” is more precise as the grammatical subject (1:58), though “at his coming” is a possible force, since it is his mission, as the following verses note, that will really bring joy. 15 for he will be great in the sight of#tn Grk “before.” the Lord. He#tn Grk “and he”; because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, the conjunction καί (kai) has not been translated here. Instead a new English sentence is begun in the translation. must never drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.#tn Grk “even from his mother’s womb.” While this idiom may be understood to refer to the point of birth (“even from his birth”), Luke 1:41 suggests that here it should be understood to refer to a time before birth.sn He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. This is the language of the birth of a prophet (Judg 13:5, 7; Isa 49:1; Jer 1:5; Sir 49:7); see 1:41 for the first fulfillment. 16 He#tn Grk “And he.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. will turn#sn The word translated will turn is a good summary term for repentance and denotes John’s call to a change of direction (Luke 3:1-14). many of the people#tn Grk “sons”; but clearly this is a generic reference to people of both genders. of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go as forerunner before the Lord#tn Grk “before him”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity. in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,#sn These two lines cover all relationships: Turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children points to horizontal relationships, while (turn) the disobedient to the wisdom of the just shows what God gives from above in a vertical manner. to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him.”
18 Zechariah#tn Grk “And Zechariah.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this?#tn Grk “How will I know this?” For I am an old man, and my wife is old as well.”#tn Grk “is advanced in days” (an idiom for old age). 19 The#tn Grk “And the.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands#tn Grk “the one who is standing before God.” in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring#tn Grk “to announce these things of good news to you.” you this good news. 20 And now,#tn Grk “behold.” because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time,#sn The predicted fulfillment in the expression my words, which will be fulfilled in their time takes place in Luke 1:63-66. you will be silent, unable to speak,#sn Silent, unable to speak. Actually Zechariah was deaf and mute as 1:61-63 indicates, since others had to use gestures to communicate with him. until the day these things take place.”
21 Now#tn Grk “And.” Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the transition to a new topic. the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they began to wonder#tn The imperfect verb ἐθαύμαζον (eqaumazon) has been translated as an ingressive imperfect. why he was delayed in the holy place.#tn Or “temple.” See the note on the phrase “the holy place” in v. 9. 22 When#tn Grk “And when.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. he came out, he was not able to speak to them. They#tn Grk “and they.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. realized that he had seen a vision#tn That is, “he had had a supernatural encounter in the holy place,” since the angel came to Zechariah by the altar. This was not just a “mental experience.” in the holy place,#tn Or “temple.” See the note on the phrase “the holy place” in v. 9. because#tn Grk “and,” but the force is causal or explanatory in context. he was making signs to them and remained unable to speak.#tn Grk “dumb,” but this could be understood to mean “stupid” in contemporary English, whereas the point is that he was speechless. 23 When his time of service was over,#tn Grk “And it happened that as the days of his service were ended.” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated. he went to his home.
24 After some time#tn Grk “After these days.” The phrase refers to a general, unspecified period of time that passes before fulfillment comes. his wife Elizabeth became pregnant,#tn Or “Elizabeth conceived.” and for five months she kept herself in seclusion.#sn The text does not state why Elizabeth withdrew into seclusion, nor is the reason entirely clear. She said,#tn Grk “she kept herself in seclusion, saying.” The participle λέγουσα (legousa) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style. 25 “This is what#tn Grk “Thus.” the Lord has done for me at the time#tn Grk “in the days.” when he has been gracious to me,#tn Grk “has looked on me” (an idiom for taking favorable notice of someone). to take away my disgrace#sn Barrenness was often seen as a reproach or disgrace (Lev 20:20-21; Jer 22:30), but now at her late age (the exact age is never given in Luke’s account), God had miraculously removed it (see also Luke 1:7). among people.”#tn Grk “among men”; but the context clearly indicates a generic use of ἄνθρωπος (anqrwpo") here.
Birth Announcement of Jesus the Messiah
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy,#tn Grk “in the sixth month.” The phrase “of Elizabeth’s pregnancy” was supplied in the translation to clarify the exact time meant by this reference. That Elizabeth’s pregnancy is meant is clear from vv. 24-25. the angel Gabriel#sn Gabriel is the same angel mentioned previously in v. 19. He is traditionally identified as an angel who brings revelation (see Dan 8:15-16; 9:21). Gabriel and Michael are the only two good angels named in the Bible. was sent by#tn Or “from.” The account suggests God’s planned direction in these events, so “by” is better than “from,” as six months into Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God acts again. God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,#sn Nazareth was a town in the region of Galilee, located north of Samaria and Judea. Galilee extended from about 45 to 85 miles north of Jerusalem and was about 30 miles in width. Nazareth was a very small village and was located about 15 miles west of the southern edge of the Sea of Galilee. map For location see Map1-D3; Map2-C2; Map3-D5; Map4-C1; Map5-G3. 27 to a virgin engaged#tn Or “promised in marriage.” to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of David,#tn Grk “Joseph, of the house of David.” sn The Greek word order here favors connecting Davidic descent to Joseph, not Mary, in this remark. and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The#tn Grk “And coming to her.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. angel#tn Grk “And coming to her, he said”; the referent (the angel) has been specified in the translation for clarity. came#tn Grk “coming to her, he said.” The participle εἰσελθών (eiselqwn) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style. to her and said, “Greetings, favored one,#tn The address, “favored one” (a perfect participle, Grk “Oh one who is favored”) points to Mary as the recipient of God’s grace, not a bestower of it. She is a model saint in this passage, one who willingly receives God’s benefits. The Vulgate rendering “full of grace” suggests something more of Mary as a bestower of grace, but does not make sense here contextually. the Lord is with you!”#tc Most mss (A C D Θ Ë13 33 Ï latt sy) read here εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξίν (euloghmenh su en gunaixin, “blessed are you among women”) which also appears in 1:42 (where it is textually certain). This has the earmarks of a scribal addition for balance; the shorter reading, attested by the most important witnesses and several others (א B L W Ψ Ë1 565 579 700 1241 pc co), is thus preferred. 29 But#tc Most mss (A C Θ 0130 Ë13 Ï lat sy) have ἰδοῦσα (idousa, “when [she] saw [the angel]”) here as well, making Mary’s concern the appearance of the angel. This construction is harder than the shorter reading since it adds a transitive verb without an explicit object. However, the shorter reading has significant support (א B D L W Ψ Ë1 565 579 1241 sa) and on balance should probably be considered authentic. she was greatly troubled#sn On the phrase greatly troubled see 1:12. Mary’s reaction was like Zechariah’s response. by his words and began to wonder about the meaning of this greeting.#tn Grk “to wonder what kind of greeting this might be.” Luke often uses the optative this way to reveal a figure’s thinking (3:15; 8:9; 18:36; 22:23). 30 So#tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate that Gabriel’s statement is a response to Mary’s perplexity over the greeting. the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid,#sn Do not be afraid. See 1:13 for a similar statement to Zechariah. Mary, for you have found favor#tn Or “grace.” sn The expression found favor is a Semitism, common in the OT (Gen 6:8; 18:3; 43:14; 2 Sam 15:25). God has chosen to act on this person’s behalf. with God! 31 Listen:#tn Grk “And behold.” You will become pregnant#tn Grk “you will conceive in your womb.” and give birth to#tn Or “and bear.” a son, and you will name him#tn Grk “you will call his name.” Jesus.#tn See v. 13 for a similar construction.sn You will name him Jesus. This verse reflects the birth announcement of a major figure; see 1:13; Gen 16:7; Judg 13:5; Isa 7:14. The Greek form of the name Ihsous, which was translated into Latin as Jesus, is the same as the Hebrew Yeshua (Joshua), which means “Yahweh saves” (Yahweh is typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT). It was a fairly common name among Jews in 1st century Palestine, as references to a number of people by this name in the LXX and Josephus indicate. 32 He#tn Grk “this one.” will be great,#sn Compare the description of Jesus as great here with 1:15, “great before the Lord.” Jesus is greater than John, since he is Messiah compared to a prophet. Great is stated absolutely without qualification to make the point. and will be called the Son of the Most High,#sn The expression Most High is a way to refer to God without naming him. Such avoiding of direct reference to God was common in 1st century Judaism out of reverence for the divine name. and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father#tn Or “ancestor.” David. 33 He#tn Grk “And he.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. A new sentence is begun here in the translation because of the length of the sentence in Greek. will reign over the house of Jacob#tn Or “over Israel.”sn The expression house of Jacob refers to Israel. This points to the Messiah’s relationship to the people of Israel. forever, and his kingdom will never end.” 34 Mary#tn Grk “And Mary.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. said to the angel, “How will this be, since I have not had sexual relations with#tn Grk “have not known.” The expression in the Greek text is a euphemism for sexual relations. Mary seems to have sensed that the declaration had an element of immediacy to it that excluded Joseph. Many modern translations render this phrase “since I am a virgin,” but the Greek word for virgin is not used in the text, and the euphemistic expression is really more explicit, referring specifically to sexual relations. a man?” 35 The angel replied,#tn Grk “And the angel said to her.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. The pronoun αὐτῇ (auth, “to her”) has not been included in the translation since it is redundant in contemporary English. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow#sn The phrase will overshadow is a reference to God’s glorious presence at work (Exod 40:34-35; Ps 91:4). you. Therefore the child#tn Or “the one born holy will be called the Son of God.” The wording of this phrase depends on whether the adjective is a predicate adjective, as in the text, or is an adjective modifying the participle serving as the subject. The absence of an article with the adjective speaks for a predicate position. Other less appealing options supply a verb for “holy”; thus “the one who is born will be holy”; or argue that both “holy” and “Son of God” are predicates, so “The one who is born will be called holy, the Son of God.” to be born#tc A few mss (C* Θ Ë1 33 pc) add “by you” here. This looks like a scribal addition to bring symmetry to the first three clauses of the angel’s message (note the second person pronoun in the previous two clauses), and is too poorly supported to be seriously considered as authentic. will be holy;#tn Or “Therefore the holy child to be born will be called the Son of God.” There are two ways to understand the Greek phrase τὸ γεννώμενον ἅγιον (to gennwmenon {agion) here. First, τὸ γεννώμενον could be considered a substantival participle with ἅγιον as an adjective in the second predicate position, thus making a complete sentence; this interpretation is reflected in the translation above. Second, τὸ ἅγιον could be considered a substantival adjective with γεννώμενον acting as an adjectival participle, thus making the phrase the subject of the verb κληθήσεται (klhqhsetai); this interpretation is reflected in the alternative reading. Treating the participle γεννώμενον as adjectival is a bit unnatural for the very reason that it forces one to understand ἅγιον as substantival; this introduces a new idea in the text with ἅγιον when an already new topic is being introduced with γεννώμενον. Semantically this would overload the new subject introduced at this point. For this reason the first interpretation is preferred. he will be called the Son of God.
36 “And look,#tn Grk “behold.” your relative#tn Some translations render the word συγγενίς (sungeni") as “cousin” (so Phillips) but the term is not necessarily this specific. Elizabeth has also become pregnant with#tn Or “has conceived.” a son in her old age – although she was called barren, she is now in her sixth month!#tn Grk “and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren.” Yet another note on Elizabeth’s loss of reproach also becomes a sign of the truth of the angel’s declaration. 37 For nothing#tn In Greek, the phrase πᾶν ῥῆμα (pan rJhma, “nothing”) has an emphatic position, giving it emphasis as the lesson in the entire discussion. The remark is a call for faith. will be impossible with God.” 38 So#tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the transition to a new topic. Mary said, “Yes,#tn Grk “behold.” I am a servant#tn Traditionally, “handmaid”; Grk “slave woman.” Though δούλη (doulh) is normally translated “woman servant,” the word does not bear the connotation of a free woman serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times… in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v. δοῦλος). The most accurate translation is “bondservant,” sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος (doulos), in that it often indicates one who sells himself or herself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force. of the Lord; let this happen to me#tn Grk “let this be to me.” according to your word.”#sn The remark according to your word is a sign of Mary’s total submission to God’s will, a response that makes her exemplary. Then#tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative. the angel departed from her.
Mary and Elizabeth
39 In those days#sn The expression In those days is another general time reference, though the sense of the context is that the visit came shortly after Mary miraculously conceived and shortly after the announcement about Jesus. Mary got up and went hurriedly into the hill country, to a town of Judah,#sn The author does not say exactly where Elizabeth stayed. The location is given generally as a town of Judah. Judah is about a three day trip south of Nazareth. 40 and entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When#tn Grk “And it happened that.” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated. Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here either. Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped#sn When the baby leaped John gave his first testimony about Jesus, a fulfillment of 1:15. in her#tn The antecedent of “her” is Elizabeth. womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.#sn The passage makes clear that Elizabeth spoke her commentary with prophetic enablement, filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 She#tn Grk “and she.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was begun here in the translation. Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. exclaimed with a loud voice,#tn Grk “and she exclaimed with a great cry and said.” The verb εἶπεν (eipen, “said”) has not been included in the translation since it is redundant in contemporary English. “Blessed are you among women,#sn The commendation Blessed are you among women means that Mary has a unique privilege to be the mother of the promised one of God. and blessed is the child#tn Grk “fruit,” which is figurative here for the child she would give birth to. in your womb! 43 And who am I#tn Grk “From where this to me?” The translation suggests the note of humility and surprise that Elizabeth feels in being a part of these events. The ἵνα (Jina) clause which follows explains what “this” is. A literal translation would read “From where this to me, that is, that the mother of my Lord comes to visit me?” that the mother of my Lord should come and visit me? 44 For the instant#tn Grk “for behold.” the sound of your greeting reached my ears,#tn Grk “when the sound of your greeting [reached] my ears.” the baby in my womb leaped for joy.#sn On the statement the baby in my womb leaped for joy see both 1:14 and 1:47. This notes a fulfillment of God’s promised word. 45 And blessed#sn Again the note of being blessed makes the key point of the passage about believing God. is she who believed that#tn This ὅτι (Joti) clause, technically indirect discourse after πιστεύω (pisteuw), explains the content of the faith, a belief in God’s promise coming to pass. what was spoken to her by#tn That is, “what was said to her (by the angel) at the Lord’s command” (BDAG 756 s.v. παρά A.2). the Lord would be fulfilled.”#tn Grk “that there would be a fulfillment of what was said to her from the Lord.”sn This term speaks of completion of something planned (2 Chr 29:35).
Mary’s Hymn of Praise
46 And Mary#tc A few witnesses, especially Latin mss, (a b l* Irarm Orlat mss Nic) read “Elizabeth” here, since she was just speaking, but the ms evidence overwhelmingly supports “Mary” as the speaker. said,#sn The following passage has been typeset as poetry because many scholars regard this passage as poetic or hymnic. These terms are used broadly to refer to the genre of writing, not to the content. There are two broad criteria for determining if a passage is poetic or hymnic: “(a) stylistic: a certain rhythmical lilt when the passages are read aloud, the presence of parallelismus membrorum (i.e., an arrangement into couplets), the semblance of some metre, and the presence of rhetorical devices such as alliteration, chiasmus, and antithesis; and (b) linguistic: an unusual vocabulary, particularly the presence of theological terms, which is different from the surrounding context” (P. T. O’Brien, Philippians [NIGTC], 188-89). Classifying a passage as hymnic or poetic is important because understanding this genre can provide keys to interpretation. However, not all scholars agree that the above criteria are present in this passage, so the decision to typeset it as poetry should be viewed as a tentative decision about its genre.
“My soul exalts#tn Or “lifts up the Lord in praise.” the Lord,#sn This psalm (vv. 46-55) is one of the few praise psalms in the NT. Mary praises God and then tells why both in terms of his care for her (vv. 46-49) and for others, including Israel (vv. 50-55). Its traditional name, the “Magnificat,” comes from the Latin for the phrase My soul magnifies the Lord at the hymn’s start.
47 and my spirit has begun to rejoice#tn Or “rejoices.” The translation renders this aorist, which stands in contrast to the previous line’s present tense, as ingressive, which highlights Mary’s joyous reaction to the announcement. A comprehensive aorist is also possible here. in God my Savior,
48 because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant.#tn See the note on the word “servant” in v. 38.
For#tn Grk “for behold.” from now on#sn From now on is a favorite phrase of Luke’s, showing how God’s acts change things from this point on (5:10; 12:52; 22:18, 69; Acts 18:6). all generations will call me blessed,#sn Mary is seen here as an example of an object of God’s grace (blessed) for all generations.
49 because he who is mighty#tn Traditionally, “the Mighty One.” has done great things for me, and holy is his name;
50 from#tn Grk “and from.” Here καί (kai) has been translated by a semicolon to improve the English style. generation to generation he is merciful#sn God’s mercy refers to his “loyal love” or “steadfast love,” expressed in faithful actions, as the rest of the psalm illustrates. to those who fear#tn That is, “who revere.” This refers to those who show God a reverential respect for his sovereignty. him.
51 He has demonstrated power#tn Or “shown strength,” “performed powerful deeds.” The verbs here switch to aorist tense through 1:55. This is how God will act in general for his people as they look to his ultimate deliverance. with his arm; he has scattered those whose pride wells up from the sheer arrogance#tn Grk “in the imaginations of their hearts.” The psalm rebukes the arrogance of the proud, who think that power is their sovereign right. Here διανοίᾳ (dianoia) can be understood as a dative of sphere or reference/respect. of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the mighty#tn Or “rulers.” from their thrones, and has lifted up those of lowly position;#tn Or “those of humble position”sn The contrast between the mighty and those of lowly position is fundamental for Luke. God cares for those that the powerful ignore (Luke 4:18-19).
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,#sn Good things refers not merely to material blessings, but blessings that come from knowing God. and has sent the rich away empty.#sn Another fundamental contrast of Luke’s is between the hungry and the rich (Luke 6:20-26).
54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering#tn Or “because he remembered mercy,” understanding the infinitive as causal. his mercy,#tn Or “his [God’s] loyal love.”
55 as he promised#tn Grk “as he spoke.” Since this is a reference to the covenant to Abraham, ἐλάλησεν (elalhsen) can be translated in context “as he promised.” God keeps his word. to our ancestors,#tn Grk “fathers.” to Abraham and to his descendants#tn Grk “his seed” (an idiom for offspring or descendants). forever.”
56 So#tn Grk “And.” Here (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the conclusion of the topic. Mary stayed with Elizabeth#tn Grk “her”; the referent (Elizabeth) has been specified in the translation for clarity. about three months#sn As is typical with Luke the timing is approximate (about three months), not specific. and then returned to her home.
The Birth of John
57 Now the time came#tn Grk “the time was fulfilled.” for Elizabeth to have her baby,#tn The words “her baby” are not in the Greek text, but have been supplied for clarity. and she gave birth to a son. 58 Her#tn Grk “And her.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown#tn Grk “had magnified his mercy with her.” great mercy to her, and they rejoiced#tn The verb συνέχαιρον (sunecairon) is an imperfect and could be translated as an ingressive force, “they began to rejoice.” with her.
59 On#tn Grk “And it happened that.” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated. Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. the eighth day#sn They were following OT law (Lev 12:3) which prescribed that a male child was to be circumcised on the eighth day. they came to circumcise the child, and they wanted to name#tn This could be understood as a conative imperfect, expressing an unrealized desire (“they were trying to name him”). It has been given more of a voluntative nuance in the translation. him Zechariah after his father. 60 But#tn Grk “And,” but with clearly contrastive emphasis in context. his mother replied,#tn Grk “his mother answering, said.” The combination of participle and finite verb is redundant in English and has been simplified to “replied” in the translation. “No! He must be named#tn This future passive indicative verb has imperatival force and thus has been translated “he must be named.” John.”#sn “No! He must be named John.” By insisting on the name specified by the angel, Elizabeth (v. 60) and Zechariah (v. 63) have learned to obey God (see Luke 1:13). 61 They#tn Grk “And they.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. said to her, “But#tn The word “but” is not in the Greek text but has been supplied in the translation for clarity. none of your relatives bears this name.”#tn Grk “There is no one from your relatives who is called by this name.” 62 So#tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the consequential nature of the action described. they made signs to the baby’s#tn Grk “his”; the referent (the baby) has been specified in the translation for clarity. father,#sn The crowd was sure there had been a mistake, so they appealed to the child’s father. But custom was not to be followed here, since God had spoken. The fact they needed to signal him (made signs) shows that he was deaf as well as unable to speak. inquiring what he wanted to name his son.#tn Grk “what he might wish to call him.” 63 He#tn Grk “And he.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. asked for a writing tablet#sn The writing tablet requested by Zechariah would have been a wax tablet. and wrote,#tn Grk “and wrote, saying.” The participle λέγων (legwn) is redundant is English and has not been translated. “His name is John.” And they were all amazed.#sn The response, they were all amazed, expresses a mixture of surprise and reflection in this setting where they were so certain of what the child’s name would be. 64 Immediately#tn Grk “And immediately.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. Zechariah’s#tn Grk “his”; the referent (Zechariah) has been specified in the translation for clarity. mouth was opened and his tongue#sn The mention of both mouth and tongue here is a figure called zeugma and emphasizes that the end of the temporary judgment came instantly and fully upon Zechariah’s expression of faith in naming the child. He had learned to trust and obey God during his short period of silence. He had learned from his trial. released,#tn “Released” is implied; in the Greek text both στόμα (stoma) and γλῶσσα (glwssa) are subjects of ἀνεῴχθη (anewcqh), but this would be somewhat redundant in English. and he spoke, blessing God. 65 All#tn Grk “And all.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.sn Fear is the emotion that comes when one recognizes something unusual, even supernatural, has taken place. their neighbors were filled with fear, and throughout the entire hill country of Judea all these things were talked about. 66 All#tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. A new sentence was begun at this point in the translation because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence. who heard these things#tn Grk “heard them”; the referent (these things, from the previous verse) has been specified in the translation for clarity. kept them in their hearts,#tn Grk “heart.” The term “heart” (καρδία, kardia) could also be translated as “mind,” or “thoughts,” and the entire phrase be rendered as “kept them in mind,” “thought about,” or the like. But the immediate context is clearly emotive, suggesting that much more is at work than merely the mental processes of thinking or reasoning about “these things.” There is a sense of joy and excitement (see the following question, “What then will this child be?”) and even fear. Further, the use of καρδία in 1:66 suggests connections with the same term in 2:19 where deep emotion is being expressed as well. Therefore, recognizing both the dramatic nature of the immediate context and the literary connections to 2:19, the translation renders the term in 1:66 as “hearts” to capture both the cognitive and emotive aspects of the people’s response. saying, “What then will this child be?”#tn Or “what manner of child will this one be?” For the Lord’s hand#sn The reference to the Lord’s hand indicates that the presence, direction, and favor of God was with him (Acts 7:9b). was indeed with him.
Zechariah’s Praise and Prediction
67 Then#tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative. his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,#tn Grk “and he prophesied, saying.” The participle λέγων (legwn) is redundant and has not been translated.sn Prophesied. The reference to prophecy reflects that Zechariah is enabled by the Spirit to speak God’s will. He does so in this case through a praise psalm, which calls for praise and then gives the reason why God should be praised.
68 “Blessed#sn The traditional name of this psalm, the “Benedictus,” comes from the Latin wording of the start of the hymn (“Blessed be…”). be the Lord God of Israel,
because he has come to help#sn The verb come to help can refer to a visit, but can also connote concern or assistance (L&N 85.11). and has redeemed#tn Or “has delivered”; Grk “has accomplished redemption.” sn Has redeemed is a reference to redemption, but it anticipates the total release into salvation that the full work of Messiah will bring for Israel. This involves both spiritual and material benefits eventually. his people.
69 For#tn Grk “and,” but specifying the reason for the praise in the psalm. he has raised up#sn The phrase raised up means for God to bring someone significant onto the scene of history. a horn of salvation#sn The horn of salvation is a figure that refers to the power of Messiah and his ability to protect, as the horn refers to what an animal uses to attack and defend (Ps 75:4-5, 10; 148:14; 2 Sam 22:3). Thus the meaning of the figure is “a powerful savior.” for us in the house of his servant David,#sn In the house of his servant David is a reference to Messiah’s Davidic descent. Zechariah is more interested in Jesus than his own son John at this point.
70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from long ago,#tn Grk “from the ages,” “from eternity.”
71 that we should be saved#tn Grk “from long ago, salvation.” from our enemies,#sn The theme of being saved from our enemies is like the release Jesus preached in Luke 4:18-19. Luke’s narrative shows that one of the enemies in view is Satan and his cohorts, with the grip they have on humanity.
and from the hand of all who hate us.
72 He has done this#tn The words “He has done this” (referring to the raising up of the horn of salvation from David’s house) are not in the Greek text, but are supplied to allow a new sentence to be started in the translation. The Greek sentence is lengthy and complex at this point, while contemporary English uses much shorter sentences. to show mercy#sn Mercy refers to God’s loyal love (steadfast love) by which he completes his promises. See Luke 1:50. to our ancestors,#tn Or “our forefathers”; Grk “our fathers.” This begins with the promise to Abraham (vv. 55, 73), and thus refers to many generations of ancestors.
and to remember his holy covenant#sn The promises of God can be summarized as being found in the one promise (the oath that he swore) to Abraham (Gen 12:1-3).
73 the oath#tn This is linked back grammatically by apposition to “covenant” in v. 72, specifying which covenant is meant. that he swore to our ancestor#tn Or “forefather”; Grk “father.” Abraham.
This oath grants#tn Again for reasons of English style, the infinitival clause “to grant us” has been translated “This oath grants” and made the beginning of a new sentence in the translation.
74 that we, being rescued from the hand of our#tc Many important early mss (א B L W [0130] Ë1,13 565 892 pc) lack “our,” while most (A C D [K] Θ Ψ 0177 33 Ï pc) supply it. Although the addition is most likely not authentic, “our” has been included in the translation due to English stylistic requirements. enemies,
may serve him without fear,#tn This phrase in Greek is actually thrown forward to the front of the verse to give it emphasis.
75 in holiness and righteousness#sn The phrases that we…might serve him…in holiness and righteousness from Luke 1:74-75 well summarize a basic goal for a believer in the eyes of Luke. Salvation frees us up to serve God without fear through a life full of ethical integrity. before him for as long as we live.#tn Grk “all our days.”
76 And you, child,#sn Now Zechariah describes his son John (you, child) through v. 77. will be called the prophet#tn Or “a prophet”; but since Greek nouns can be definite without the article, and since in context this is a reference to the eschatological forerunner of the Messiah (cf. John 1:17), the concept is better conveyed to the English reader by the use of the definite article “the.” of the Most High.#sn In other words, John is a prophet of God; see 1:32 and 7:22-23, 28.
For you will go before#tc Most mss, especially the later ones (A C D L Θ Ψ 0130 Ë1,13 33 Ï sy), have πρὸ προσώπου κυρίου (pro proswpou kuriou, “before the face of the Lord”), but the translation follows the reading ἐνώπιον κυρίου (enwpion kuriou, “before the Lord”), which has earlier and better ms support (Ì4 א B W 0177 pc) and is thus more likely to be authentic. the Lord to prepare his ways,#tn This term is often translated in the singular, looking specifically to the forerunner role, but the plural suggests the many elements in that salvation.sn On the phrase prepare his ways see Isa 40:3-5 and Luke 3:1-6.
77 to give his people knowledge of salvation#sn John’s role, to give his people knowledge of salvation, is similar to that of Jesus (Luke 3:1-14; 5:31-32). through the forgiveness#sn Forgiveness is another major Lukan theme (Luke 4:18; 24:47; Acts 10:37). of their sins.
78 Because of#tn For reasons of style, a new sentence has been started in the translation at this point. God’s mercy is ultimately seen in the deliverance John points to, so v. 78a is placed with the reference to Jesus as the light of dawning day. our God’s tender mercy#sn God’s loyal love (steadfast love) is again the topic, reflected in the phrase tender mercy; see Luke 1:72.
the dawn#sn The Greek term translated dawn (ἀνατολή, anatolh) can be a reference to the morning star or to the sun. The Messiah is pictured as a saving light that shows the way. The Greek term was also used to translate the Hebrew word for “branch” or “sprout,” so some see a double entendre here with messianic overtones (see Isa 11:1-10; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zech 3:8; 6:12). will break#tn Grk “shall visit us.” upon us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,#sn On the phrases who sit in darkness…and…death see Isa 9:1-2; 42:7; 49:9-10.
to guide our feet into the way#tn Or “the path.” of peace.”
80 And the child kept growing#tn This verb is imperfect. and becoming strong#tn This verb is also imperfect. in spirit, and he was in the wilderness#tn Or “desert.” until the day he was revealed#tn Grk “until the day of his revealing.” to Israel.
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