James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
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 1:1-2:52
THE EARLY YEARS OF JESUS
There is a preface to Luke’s Gospel (Luke 1:1-4). While Matthew and Mark tell us of whom they write (Matthew 1:1; Mark 1:1), Luke and John tell us why they write (compare John 20:31). Luke wrote for the instruction of Theophilus (compare Acts 1-2) whose name indicates that he was a Greek, while “most excellent” suggests that he may have been of high rank.
There were many records of our Lord (Luke 1:1), received from eyewitnesses (Luke 1:2), but Luke “had perfect understanding of all things from the very first” (Luke 1:3). The Greek reads “from above,” as if his information was confirmed by revelation. (Compare 1 Corinthians 11:23.) Luke contains much found in no other Gospel, practically the whole of this lesson for example,
VISIT OF THE ANGEL TO ZACHARIAS (Luke 1:5-25)
Note the historic date (Luke 1:5); the character of the husband and wife (Luke 1:6); their domestic disappointment (Luke 1:7); the angel’s visit (Luke 1:8-12); the prayer, which was more than answered (Luke 1:13-17); the acts of unbelief and its punishment (Luke 1:18-22); and the consummation of God’s promise (Luke 1:23-25). With Luke 1:8-12 compare Malachi 3:1; Malachi 4:2; Malachi 4:5-6. Note since that prophet’s time, four hundred years before, had there been communication from Jehovah to His people, but He was now visiting them again (compare to Daniel 9:25-26).
VISIT OF THE ANGEL TO MARY (Luke 1:26-38)
Two sons were to be born, both named by the angel. Both would be great, but of John it is added, “in the sight of the Lord” (Luke 1:15). Its omission in the case of Jesus is an incidental reference to His deity. The former “would be filled with the Holy Ghost,” the latter conceived of the Holy Ghost. In this He stands alone. He became man in a way peculiar to Himself, since as God, He was from all eternity (see v. 35). Genesis 3:15, “the seed of the woman,” now received elucidation and fulfillment. Also Isaiah 7:14. Note particularly Luke 1:32-33 and their relation to prophecies like Isaiah 9:6-7. These verses (in Luke) are yet to be fulfilled, for although Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Throne of God, this is not the throne of David.
ZACHARIAS’ PROPHECY (Luke 1:57-80) is remarkable as the first through a human channel since Malachi; and also as a partial fulfillment of Malachi.
BIRTH OF JESUS (Luke 2:1-20)
Note the time and occasion (Luke 2:1-5). “All the world” means, “the inhabited earth,” or as usual in the New Testament, the sphere of Roman rule at its greatest extent. Compare Daniel 2:7, which reveal the nature and extent of the Gentile world empires. Cyrenius was twice governor of Syria, and this enrollment was ordered during his first term (see Revised Version). Note the fulfillment of prophecy in Luke 2:4 by comparing 1 Samuel 17:12; Micah 5:2.
PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE (Luke 2:21-38)
With the first four verses compare Exodus 13:13-13; Leviticus 12:8; and Numbers 18:16. Observe that Mary needed to offer a sacrifice (Luke 2:24) because she was sinful as other women. Her child was holy, being conceived of the Holy Ghost, but not she. The story of Simeon is beautiful (Luke 2:25-35), a Spirit-led man all through, and in nothing more than this, that in blessing Joseph and Mary, he did not bless the child. “The less is blessed of the greater” (Hebrews 7:7). Anna’s story is beautiful, but the thought we dwell on is that “she spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). Alas! none others would give heed, even as today.
JESUS AT THE PASSOVER (Luke 2:39-52)
Eleven years of our Lord’s earthly life are comprehended in Luke 2:30 and Luke 2:40. He grew in stature, and increased in strength (the words “in Spirit” are not in the Revised Version). He was filled with wisdom and God’s grace was upon Him. And yet he was like other boys but without sin. His wisdom and grace are illustrated in the incident following (Luke 2:42-51), in which three things are noticeable: (1) As a child He kept His place, asking and answering questions, but not teaching; (2) as the Son of His Divine Father He was conscious of being about His Father’s business; and (3) as the child of His human mother, He was subject unto her. We read of Him not again for eighteen years!
1. How do the first two evangelists differ from the last two in what they tell about their messages?
2. Have you read Acts 2:1-2?
3. What leads us to think that Luke’s record was confirmed by revelation?
4. Name the seven leading facts of this lesson.
5. In what does Jesus stand alone among human beings?
6. How many Old Testament passages are referred to in this lesson?
7. How many have you verified?
8. What does “All the world” mean?
9. What shows Mary to have been a sinner?
10. How many years, in round numbers, were spent by our Lord in Nazareth?