|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:67-80 Zacharias uttered a prophecy concerning the kingdom and salvation of the Messiah. The gospel brings light with it; in it the day dawns. In John the Baptist it began to break, and increased apace to the perfect day. The gospel is discovering; it shows that about which we were utterly in the dark; it is to give light to those that sit in darkness, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. It is reviving; it brings light to those that sit in the shadow of death, as condemned prisoners in the dungeon. It is directing; it is to guide our feet in the way of peace, into that way which will bring us to peace at last, Ro 3:17. John gave proofs of strong faith, vigorous and holy affections, and of being above the fear and love of the world. Thus he ripened for usefulness; but he lived a retired life, till he came forward openly as the forerunner of the Messiah. Let us follow peace with all men, as well as seek peace with God and our own consciences. And if it be the will of God that we live unknown to the world, still let us diligently seek to grow strong in the grace of Jesus Christ.
Verse 77. - To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins. Zacharias goes on to celebrate the splendid part his son was to play in the great Messianic drama, he was to be Messiah's pioneer in order to give men the true information respecting the Deliverer's work. Israel was mistaken altogether in its conception of the salvation which they really-needed. Godet puts it with great force. "Why," he asks, "was the ministry of the Messiah preceded by that of another Divine messenger? Because the very notion of salvation was falsified in Israel, and had to be corrected before salvation could be realized. A carnal and malignant patriotism had taken possession of the people and their rulers, and the idea of a political deliverance had been substituted for that of a moral salvation. There was need, then, of another person, divinely authorized, to remind the people that perdition consisted not in subjection to the Romans, but in Divine condemnation; and that salvation, therefore, was not temporal emancipation, but forgiveness of sins."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
To give knowledge of salvation,.... This is still said of John, and belongs to his work and office; though the Syriac and Arabic versions read, "that he may give"; as if it was spoken of the Lord, before whose face John was to go, and whose ways he was to prepare: by "salvation" is meant, not a temporal salvation, or a deliverance from the Roman yoke, the Jews were expecting, for John gave no intimation of any such salvation; but of a spiritual and eternal salvation, and of Christ himself, the author of it; who is often called Salvation, because he was appointed to this business, was fitted for it, and has effected it; and there is salvation in him, and in no other, the "knowledge" of this is not merely, notional and speculative, but experimental, approbative, fiducial, appropriating, sure, and certain; and is more excellent, than any other kind of knowledge whatever: and this is a "gift"; it is not what is attained unto, and acquired by application, diligence, and industry, as other sort of knowledge; but is a gift of God, though in the use of means, and through the ministry of the word: and so John is said to give it ministerially, he being an instrument in the hand of God, whereby souls came to the knowledge of salvation by Christ, and believed in him: it was communicated by God through his ministry,
unto his people: meaning not the people of John the Baptist, the Jews, though it was true of God's elect among them; but the people of Christ, and that not all mankind, who are his by creation; but a special people, whom the Father has given him, and he has purchased by his blood; whom he conquers by his grace, and makes a willing people, in the day of his power: to these, and only these, is the knowledge of salvation by Christ given; for none else are appointed to it, and for no other is it wrought out. It follows,
by the remission of their sins; the sense of which is, either that salvation is by the forgiveness of sin, and lies in it, that being a principal part of it; see Ephesians 1:7. Sins are debts; forgiving them is a remitting these debts, a loosing them, or the obligation to payment, which is done freely and fully, for Christ's sake, and through his blood; and herein lies the blessedness and salvation of men; see Romans 4:6. Or else that the knowledge of salvation was conveyed through the ministry of John, not by preaching the works of the law, but the doctrine of remission of sins, by Christ; Mark 1:4 and which is the sum and substance of the Gospel, as it was ordered to be preached by Christ, and was preached by his apostles. The Alexandrian copy reads, "our sins".
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
77. to give knowledge of salvation—To sound the note of a needed and provided "salvation" was the noble office of John, above all that preceded him; as it is that of all subsequent ministers of Christ; but infinitely loftier was it to be the "Salvation" itself (Lu 1:69 and Lu 2:30).
by the remission of … sins—This stamps at once the spiritual nature of the salvation here intended, and explains Lu 1:71, 74.
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