Luke 1:14
And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
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(14) Many shall rejoice.—The words point to what had been the priest’s prayer. He had been seeking the joy of many rather than his own, and now the one was to be fruitful in the other.

Luke 1:14-16. Thou shalt have joy and gladness — He shall be such a son as thou shalt have reason to rejoice in. As if he had said, Many parents, if they could foresee what their children will prove, instead of rejoicing at their birth, would wish they had never been. But I will tell thee what thy son will be; and then thou wilt not need to rejoice with trembling, as the best must do at the birth of their children, but thou mayest rejoice with triumph. And many shall rejoice with thee — All the relations of the family will rejoice on the occasion, and all its well-wishers; yea, and all good people, that are made acquainted with the circumstances of the case, and with the character and office the child shall bear. The word αγαλλιασις, rendered gladness, properly answers to the word exultation, or leaping for joy — See 1 Peter 1:8; 1 Peter 4:13; Matthew 5:12. For he shall be great — A person of extraordinary eminence and usefulness, and that not only in the opinion of men, but in the sight of the Lord — The sovereign and infallible Judge. Those are great indeed, that are so in God’s sight, not those that are so in the eye of a vain and carnal world. John was to be great in respect of his character, his office, his inspiration, and the success of his ministry, as the angel here explains the expression. And shall drink neither wine nor strong drink — As he is to preach repentance, and the crucifixion of all sinful lusts, affections, and dispositions, in order to the remission of sins, he shall show mankind a pattern of that self-denial which he enjoins; wholly avoiding a delicate and self-indulging way of living, and being remarkable for his continued abstinence and mortification. By the word σικερα, here rendered strong drink, fermented liquor of every kind seems to be intended. Some would confine the term to a liquor made of dates, the fruit of the palm-tree, a drink much used in the East: but there does not appear to be any sufficient reason for such a limitation of its meaning. The word is originally Hebrew, שּׁכר, shecher, and is rendered by Buxtorf, inebrians potus, inebriating drink. All fermented liquors, therefore, as being capable of producing this effect, must be understood as implied in it. It is distinguished from wine, Leviticus 10:9; Numbers 6:3; and elsewhere. He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb — Shall be influenced by the Spirit of God, even from the instant of his birth, sanctifying his nature, and communicating into him wisdom and piety in an extraordinary measure, to qualify him for the high and important office to which he is designated. “In Scripture, to be filled with the Holy Ghost, commonly signifies, that degree of inspiration by which the prophets anciently spake. Accordingly in this chapter it is applied to Elisabeth, to Mary, and to Zacharias, in cases where they all spake by a particular afflatus. When the angel, therefore, told Zacharias that his son should be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb, his meaning (at least in part) was, that he should be very early inspired to teach the doctrines and precepts, of true religion. Nor will this seem strange, when it is remembered, that at the age of twelve years our Lord exercised his prophetical gifts among the doctors in the temple.” — Macknight. Many of the children of Israel shall he turn — By true repentance and unfeigned faith, productive of new obedience; to the Lord their God — Whose ways they have so generally forsaken, even while they are professing themselves to be his peculiar people, and boasting in such an extraordinary relation to him. In this way John was to prove his divine mission.

1:5-25 The father and mother of John the Baptist were sinners as all are, and were justified and saved in the same way as others; but they were eminent for piety and integrity. They had no children, and it could not be expected that Elisabeth should have any in her old age. While Zacharias was burning incense in the temple, the whole multitude of the people were praying without. All the prayers we offer up to God, are acceptable and successful only by Christ's intercession in the temple of God above. We cannot expect an interest therein if we do not pray, and pray with our spirits, and are not earnest in prayer. Nor can we expect that the best of our prayers should gain acceptance, and bring an answer of peace, but through the mediation of Christ, who ever lives, making intercession. The prayers Zacharias often made, received an answer of peace. Prayers of faith are filed in heaven, and are not forgotten. Prayers made when we were young and entering into the world, may be answered when we are old and going out of the world. Mercies are doubly sweet that are given in answer to prayer. Zacharias shall have a son in his old age, who shall be instrumental in the conversion of many souls to God, and preparing them to receive the gospel of Christ. He shall go before Him with courage, zeal, holiness, and a mind dead to earthly interests and pleasures. The disobedient and rebellious would be brought back to the wisdom of their righteous forefathers, or rather, brought to attend to the wisdom of that Just One who was coming among them. Zacharias heard all that the angel said; but his unbelief spake. In striking him dumb, God dealt justly with him, because he had objected against God's word. We may admire the patience of God towards us. God dealt kindly with him, for thus he prevented his speaking any more distrustful, unbelieving words. Thus also God confirmed his faith. If by the rebukes we are under for our sin, we are brought to give the more credit to the word of God, we have no reason to complain. Even real believers are apt to dishonour God by unbelief; and their mouths are stopped in silence and confusion, when otherwise they would have been praising God with joy and gratitude. In God's gracious dealings with us we ought to observe his gracious regards to us. He has looked on us with compassion and favour, and therefore has thus dealt with us.Many shall rejoice at his birth - This does not refer so much to the time of his birth as to the subsequent rejoicing. Such will be his "character," that he will be an honor to the family, and many will rejoice that he lived: or, in other words, he will be a blessing to mankind. 14. shall rejoice—so they did (Lu 1:58, 66); but the meaning rather is, "shall have cause to rejoice"—it would prove to many a joyful event. None ought to have so mean thoughts of these words of the angel, as to think that they are only expressive of that affection which commonly discovereth itself in us when God giveth us sons, especially after a long barrenness, but of a further joy and gladness his parents should have upon a spiritual account, afterwards expressed.

Many shall rejoice at his birth: they rejoiced in his light, John 5:36, the glad tidings of the Messiah being come into the world, which he brought. The papists think they have a ground here for their holy day they keep to his honour, and their apish, carnal rejoicing, which certainly was not so valuable a thing as for an angel to foretell. The angel speaks of the great acceptation with the people (many of them) which John’s doctrine should have, so that, as our Saviour saith, from his days the kingdom of heaven suffered violence, and the violent did take it by force. But he further openeth his meaning in the following verses.

And thou shalt have joy and gladness,.... Not only because of his having a son; but because this his son would be the prophet of the Highest; would go before the Lord, and prepare his ways; give knowledge of salvation to many, and light to them that were in darkness, and guide their feet in the way of peace: all which, and more, he afterwards expresses in his song, whereby this part of the angel's prediction had its accomplishment:

and many shall rejoice at his birth; as the neighbours and cousins of his parents did; see Luke 1:58 and not only they, but all others, who, afterwards had knowledge of him as prophet, and as the forerunner of the Messiah.

And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
Luke 1:14. χαρά, ἀγαλλίασις, a joy, an exultation; joy in higher, highest degree: joy over a son late born, and such a son as he will turn out to be.—πολλοὶ: a joy not merely to parents as a child, but to many as a man.

14. gladness] Rather, exultation, Luke 1:44; Acts 2:46; Hebrews 1:9.

many] The Pharisees and leading Jews did not accept John’s baptism (Luke 7:30; Matthew 21:27), and his influence, except among a few, seems to have been shortlived.

“There burst he forth: ‘All ye whose hopes rely

On God, with me amid these deserts mourn,

Repent, repent, and from old errors turn!’

Who listened to his voice, obeyed his cry?—

Only the echoes which he made relent

Rang from their flinty caves Repent! repent!”


Luke 1:14. Χαρήσονται, shall rejoice) Luke 1:58; Luke 1:66.

Verse 14. - Many shall rejoice at his birth. The gladness which his boy's birth was to bring with it was to be no mere private family rejoicing. The child of his old age, who was to be born, would be the occasion of a true national joy. Luke 1:14Joy and gladness (καρά καὶ ἀγαλλίασις̔͂̀Language:English}})

The latter word expresses exultant joy. See on 1 Peter 1:6.

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