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a Heb. ii. 3.

1 Pet. v. 1.

2 Pet. i. 16.

1 John i. 1.

b Mark i. 1.

surely believed among us,


2 a even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, John xv. 27. and ministers of the word; 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, 4d that thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou d hast been instructed.

c Acts i. 1.

d John xx. 31.

e Matt. ii. 1.


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5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judæa,
brender, traced down.
© render, sayings.

d render, wast.

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word means fulfilled. But the A. V. has the more likely rendering. Meyer would render it, which have found their completion among us,' i. e. us of the apostolic times;' meaning Theophilus and himself,' &c. among us, i. e. us Christians, you and me, and all members of the Church of Christ-so also the unto us in ver. 2. 2.] The Apostles, &c., delivered these matters orally to the Churches in their teaching (see below on ver. 4), and others drew up accounts from that catechetical instruction. It appears from this, that St. Luke was not aware of any narration drawn up by an eye-witness or minister of the word. Their account of these matters was a tradition, from which the narrations were drawn up. He cannot therefore have seen (or, having seen, not recognized as such, which is highly improbable) the Gospel of St. Matthew. Compare 1 John i. 1—3. from the beginning] Not, from the very beginning,' i. e. the birth of the Lord, &c., but from the official beginning: see Acts i. 21 f. It differs from from the very first below. eyewitnesses most probably stands alone: but it may well be taken with of the word (see below). ministers, i. e. ministering servants-but in connexion with from the beginning.

of the word-not, the personal word' (i. e. Christ: so Orig., Athanasius, Cyril, Euthym.) which would be altogether alien from St. Luke's usage (see on Heb. iv. 12): but, the word,-'the word preached :' we have the expression "the ministry (but there diaconia) of the word" in Acts vi. 4. 3. it seemed good to me also] St. Luke by this classes himself with these many, and shews that he intended no disparagement nor blame to them, and was going to construct his own history from similar sources. The words which follow imply however a conscious superiority of his own qualification for the work. There is here no expressed claim to inspiration, but at the same time no disclaimer of it.

having traced down] by research, and so become accurately acquainted with.

from the very first-i. e. as in ver. 5;-as distinguished from those who only wrote of the official life of the Lord, or only fragments perhaps of that. in order] i. e. consecutively. By this word we must not understand St. Luke to lay claim to any especially chronological accuracy in writing;-which indeed is not found in his Gospel. He traced the events in order as they happened: but he may have arranged them as other considerations led him. most excellent Theophilus] It is wholly unknown who this person was. The name was a very common one. The conjectures about him are endless, and entirely without value. It appears by the title given him, that he was a person of dignity, and of course, from ver. 4, he was a convert to Christianity. The idea of the name being not a proper, but a feigned one, designating those who loved God' (found as early as Epiphanius, and adopted again recently), is far-fetched and improbable.

4. instructed] Theophilus had then been orally instructed in the narratives which form the subject of this Gospel : and St. Luke's intention in writing it is, that he might have a more accurate knowledge of these histories. The word means literally, catechized, 'catechetically taught?

those sayings] not, as in A. V., to be rendered things: neither the Greek nor the corresponding Hebrew word ever has this meaning, as is commonly but erroneously supposed. In all the commonly-cited examples of this, 'things expressed in words' are meant: here the histories,-accounts.

5-25.] ANNOUNCEMENT BY GABRIEL OF THE BIRTH OF JOHN. Peculiar to Luke. The style in the original now totally alters and becomes Hebraistic, signifying that the following is translated or compiled from an Aramaic oral narration, or perhaps (from the very distinct charac


xxiv. 10, 19. Neh. xii. 4,


g Gen. vii. 1:
1 Kings ix. 4.

Kings xx.

8. Job i. 1. Acts xxiii. 1

xxiv. 16.

Phil. iii. 6


xxiv. 19.
2 Chron. viii.

xxi. 2.

a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: f1 Chron. and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before. God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were [ now] well stricken in years. 8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his 1 course, according to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10k And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. 11 And, there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when 1 Exod. xxx. 1. Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon m Judg. vi. 22: him. 13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zaheard; and thy wife Elisabeth thou shalt call his name John. n ver. 60, 63.

charias: for thy prayer is shall bear thee a son, and

e omit: not in the original.
f literally, far advanced in their days.

ter of these two first chapters) document.
5. of the course of Abia (Abijah)]
This was the eighth of the four-and-twenty
courses of the priests (see ref. 1 Chron.).
These courses kept their names and order,
though not their descent, after the cap-
tivity. The courses were of a week's
duration each.
Elisabeth] This is

the Septuagint rendering, Exod. vi. 23, of
Elisheba, the wife of Aaron: signifying,
God (is my) oath: i. e. a swearer by,-
worshipper of, God. John was thus of
priestly descent by both parents.


This was the most honourable office which
was allotted among the priests each day,
and the same person could not serve it
more than once.
the temple] the
holy place: see Heb. ix. 1–6, and Exod.
xxx. 7.
An account of John Hyrcanus
the high priest having a vision at the time
of offering incense is given in Josephus:
see the extract in my Greek Testament.
There also we are told that the people were
outside (in the courts of the men and
women):-their prayers were offered while
the incense was burnt, as the smoke was
symbolical of the ascent of prayer, Rev.
viii. 3, 4. It appears, from the allot-
ment having been just mentioned, to have
been the morning incense-burning. Theo-
phylact and others understand the whole
as describing the entry into the Holy of


Exod. xxx. 7, xiii. 13. xxix. 11.

8. 1 Sam. ii. 28. 1 Chron.

2 Chron.

k Lev. xvi. 17. Rev. viii. 3,


xiii. 22. Dan.

8 ver. 29.

ch. ii. 9. Acts x. 4.

Rev. i. 17.

holies on the great day of Atonement,
Levit. xvi. But this is manifestly an
error: for it would necessitate Zacharias
having been high priest, which he never
was; and in this case there would have
been no casting of lots.
11.] the
altar of incense, Exod. xxx. 1, must not
be confounded with the large altar of
burnt-offering: that stood outside the holy
place, in the court of the priests. It was
during the sacrifice on the great altar that
the daily burning of the incense took place:
one of the two priests, whose lot it was
to offer incense, brought fire from off the
altar of burnt-offering to the altar of
incense, and then left the other priest
there alone, who, on a signal from the
priest presiding at the sacrifice, kindled
the incense: see Exod. xl. 5, 26.

This is no vision, but an actual angelic
appearance. The right is the favourable
side: see Matt. xxv. 33. "We must un-
derstand the right as regarded the offici-
ating priest, who stood with his face to the
altar. It would thus be on the N. side
of the holy place, where the table of shew-
bread stood, whereas on the S. side was
the golden candlestick," Bleek.
He had then prayed for a son-but, as
appears below, long since-for he now had
ceased to look for an answer to his prayer.
Many Commentators have thought his


o ver. 58.


14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight p Num. vi. 3. of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even

Judg. xiii. 4.

ch. vii. 33.

q Jer. i. 5.

Gal. i. 15.

s Mal. iv. 5.

Matt. xi. 14.
Mark ix. 12.

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r Mal. iv. 5, 6. from his mother's womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17 s 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. 18 And Zacharias said unto Gen. xvii. 17. the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and well stricken in years. wife my 19 And the 10. Heb. i. angel answering said unto him, I am "Gabriel, that stand

u Dan. viii. 16:

ix. 21-23.

Matt. xviii.


g better, he shall be to thee.


prayer was for the salvation of Israel by
the appearance of the Messiah: but the
former view appears more probable.
John-i. e. God is favourable: we have
it under the form of Johanan, 2 Kings
xxv. 23; 1 Chron. iii. 24; 2 Chron. xxviii.
12. 14.] The words of the original
here may be rendered two ways-either
there shall be to thee, i. e. thou shalt
have, as A. V.: or, he shall be to thee,
joy and gladness.
15. in the
sight of the Lord] signifying the spiritual
nature of his office and influence.
priests were similarly prohibited to drink
strong drink; and the Nazarites even
more rigidly. strong drink] the word
is sikera- any strong liquor not made
from grapes.'
Wiclif renders, 'he
schal not drynke wyne ne sidir.' he
shall be filled with the Holy Ghost is a
contrast to, and a reason for, the not
drinking wine nor strong drink: compare
Eph. v. 18. Olshausen and Meyer
think that (comparing ver. 44) the mean-
ing is, the Holy Spirit should in some
wonderful manner act on the child even
before his birth. But this is not necessary,
-nay, would it not rather be in this case
"in his mother's womb .?" The
from seems to fix the prior limit of the in-
dwelling of the Spirit, at his birth.

16.] The work of John was
one of preparation and turning men's
hearts towards God. For full notes on
his office, see on Matt. xi. It may
suffice here to repeat, that it was a con-
centration of the spirit of the law, whose
office it was to convince of sin and
that he eminently represented the law and
the prophets in their work of preparing the
way for Christ.
17.] before him-

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i. e. "the Lord their God," manifest in the flesh. De Wette denies this interpretation, as contrary to all analogy: and yet himself explains the expression by saying that what the Messiah does, is in Scripture ascribed to God as its doer (similarly Meyer). But why? because Messiah is GOD WITH US. This expression is besides used (see Zech. xiv. 5) in places where the undoubted and sole reference is to the Messiah. in the spirit and power] As a type, a partial fulfilment, of the personal coming of Elias in the latter days (see note on Matt. xi. 13, 14). Bleek remarks that it was not in the wonderworking agency of Elias that John was like him, for John did no miracle,"-but in the power of his uttered persuasion.


to turn....] The first member only of the sentence corresponds with Malachi. The angel gives the exposition of the second member, which stands in the LXX, "and the heart of a man towards his neighbour" (in A. V. "and the heart of the children to their fathers"):-for of course that must be understood in the better sense, of the good prevailing, and the bad becoming like them. The birth of John, involving human generation, but prophetically announced, and supernatural, answers to the birth of Isaac in the O. T. But Abraham's faith was a strong contrast to the unbelief of Zacharias: see Rom. iv. 19. an old man] The Levites (see Num. iv. 3; viii. 24, 25) became superannuated at the age of fifty but it appears, by extracts from the Rabbinical writings given by Lightfoot, that this was not the case with the priests. 19. Gabriel] meaning, Man of God: see Dan. viii. 16; ix. 21, also Tobit


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xxiv. 27.

in the presence of God; and i am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. 20 And, behold, ▾ thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day Ezek. i. 26: that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. 21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: mfor he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. 23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, 25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.

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xii. 15. The names of the angels, say
the Rabbis, came up with Israel from
Babylon. We first read of both Michael
and Gabriel in the book of Daniel.
we are not therefore to suppose that they
were borrowed from any heathen system,
as Strauss and the rationalists have done;
the fact being, that the persons and order
of the angels were known long before, and
their names formed matter of subsequent
revelation to Daniel. See Josh. v. 13-16.

that stand in the presence of God] one of the chief angels near the throne of God. They are called seven in Tobit, as above.

20.] We must not consider this dumbness solely as a punishment; it was also a sign, as Zacharias had required. It is impossible for us to say what the degree of unbelief in Zacharias was, and therefore we can be no judges as to his being deserving of the punishment (against Strauss and the rationalists). and

not able to speak] This is not a repetition, but an explanation of the ground and reason of his silence. until the day that these things shall be performed] What day? that of the birth and the giving of the name,' Euthymius. 21.] It was customary for the priest at the time of prayer not to remain long in the holy place, for fear the people who were without might imagine that any vengeance had been inflicted on him for some informality;-as he was considered the re


w see 2 Kings 1 Chron. ix.

xi. 5.


x Gen. xxx. 23.

26 And in Isa. iv. 1:

render, believedst. m render, and.

• render, these.

liv. 1, 4.

22.] They


presentative of the people.
knew, by some excitement, visible in his
manner. It was not his office to pronounce
the benediction, but that of the other in-
censing priest; so that his not being able
to speak,' must mean, in answer to the
enquiries which his unusual appearance
prompted. This answer he gave by a
sign: and the question was also by signs;
for (see ver. 62) he was deaf, as well as
dumb, which indeed is the strict meaning
of the word used in the original.
as soon as....] The week during which
his course was on duty. Mr. Greswell, by
much elaborate calculation, has made it
probable, but only as one out of several
alternatives, that this week was Tisri
18-25, i. e. September 20-October 6, of
the sixth year before the Christian era.
A deaf and dumb person, we thus
see, was not precluded from some of the
priestly ministrations. 24, 25.] hid
herself either, to avoid defilement: see
Judges xiii. 13, 14,-to hide her pregnancy
from her neighbours till it was certain and
apparent,-or, from the precaution which
the first months of pregnancy require.
Kuinoel suggests, that the reason may
have been, that she might devote herself
more uninterruptedly to exercises of de-
votion and thankfulness, and that this is
expressed by the words following.
reproach] of barrenness: see reff.

y Matt. i. 18. ch. ii. 4, 5.

x. 19.

a Judg. vi. 12.

b ver. 12.

c Isa. vii. 14. Matt. i. 21.

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the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin y espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And the angel came z Dan. ix. 23: in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, a the Lord is with thee [4: blessed art thou among women]. 29 And [ when she saw him,] she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary for thou hast found favour with God. 31 c And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest and 12 Sam. vii. 11, the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I Micah iv.7 know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, 1 The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the

d ch. ii. 21.

e Mark v. 7.

12. Ps.cxxxii.

11. Isai

6, 7: xvi. 5. Jer. xxiii, 5. Rev. iii. 7.

g Dan. ii. 44:

vii. 14, 27. Obad. 21.

John xii. 34.
Heb. i. 8.

h Matt. i 20.





a omitted by several of the ancient authorities


the word is rendered, mused, ch. v. 15; thought, oh. xii. 17; consider,

John xi. 50.

ANGEL OF THe Birth of Christ.

26.] in the sixth month-referring to the "five months" in ver. 24. Nazareth] In this particular the information of our Evangelist appears to be fuller than that of St. Matthew, who seems not to be aware of any residence at Nazareth previous to the birth of our Lord: but see note on Matt. ii. 22.

27.] of the house of David refers to Joseph in this place, who (see Matt. i.) was of the direct lineage of David. That Mary was so, is nowhere expressed in the Gospels, but seems to be implied in ver. 32, and has been the general belief of Christians. The Son of David was to be the fruit of his body (Ps. cxxxii. 11); which He would not be, unless His virgin mother was of the house of David. See notes on the genealogy in ch. iii. Still,

we must remember the absolute oneness in the marriage relation, which might occasion that Mary herself should be reckoned as being in very deed that which her husband was. Perhaps this has been hardly enough taken into account.

28.] highly favoured, not "full of grace," as the Vulgate:-the above is the meaning of the original word in the only other place where it occurs in the N. T., viz.

Eph. i. 6 ("made us accepted" A.V.). It corresponds to "thou hast found favour with God," ver. 30. 32. his father David] This announcement makes it almost certain (still see note above) that Mary also was of the house of David. No astonishment is expressed by her at this part of the statement, and yet, from the nature of her question, it is clear that she did not explain it by supposing Joseph' to be the destined father of her child. See 2 Sam. vii. 13: Ps. lxxxix. 3, 4: Isa. ix. 7: Jer. xxxiii. 15. 34, 35.] This question differs from that raised by Zacharias above. It is merely an enquiry after the manner in which so wonderful a thing should take place; not, how shall I know this?—it takes for granted that it shall be, and only asks, How? The Holy Ghost-the creative Spirit of God, of whom it is said, Gen. i. 2, that He "moved upon the face of the waters." But as the world was not created by the Holy Ghost, but by the Son, so also the Lord was not begotten by the Holy Ghost, but by the Father; and that, before the worlds. "No more is here to be attributed to the Spirit, than what is necessary to cause the Virgin to perform the actions of a mother..

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