Luke 1:19
And the angel answering said to him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak to you, and to show you these glad tidings.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) I am Gabriel.—No names of angels appear in the Old Testament till after the Babylonian Exile. Then we have Gabriel (= “the strong one—or the hero—of God”), in Daniel 8:16; Michael (= “who is like unto God?”), in Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1; Raphael (= “the healer of God”—i.e., the divine healer), in Tobit 12:15, as one of the seven holy angels which present the prayers of the saints. As having appeared in the prophecies which, more than any others, were the germ of the Messianic expectations which the people cherished, there was a fitness in the mission now given to Gabriel to prepare the way for the Messiah’s coming.

That stand in the presence of God.—The imagery was drawn from the customs of an Eastern Court, in which those stood who were the most honoured ministers of the king, while others fell prostrate in silent homage. (Comp. the “angel of His presence “in Isaiah 63:9, with our Lord’s language as to the angels that “behold the face” of His Father, Matthew 18:10.)

To shew thee these glad tidings.—Literally, to evangelise. The word is memorable as the first utterance, as far as the Gospel records are concerned, of that which was to be the watchword of the kingdom. It was not, however, a new word, and its employment here was, in part at least, determined by Isaiah’s use of it (Isaiah 40:9; Isaiah 61:1).

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.I am Gabriel - The word "Gabriel" is made up of two Hebrew words, and signifies "man of God." This angel is mentioned as having been deputed to inform "Daniel" that his prayers were heard. See the notes at Daniel 8:16; Daniel 9:21.

That stand in the presence of God - To stand in the presence of one is a phrase denoting "honor" or "favor." To be admitted to the presence of a king, or to be with him, was a token of favor. So to stand before God signifies merely that he was honored or favored by God. He was permitted to come near him, and to see much of his glory. Compare 1 Kings 10:8; 1 Kings 12:6; 1 Kings 17:1; Proverbs 22:29.

And am sent ... - The angels are "ministering spirits" sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation," Hebrews 1:7, Hebrews 1:14. They delight to do the will of God, and one way of doing that will is by aiding his children here, by succoring the afflicted, and by defending those who are in danger. There is no more absurdity or impropriety in supposing that angels may render such aid, than there is in supposing that good people may assist one another; and there can be no doubt that it affords high pleasure to the angels of God to be "permitted" to aid those who are treading the dangerous and trying path which leads to eternity. Holiness is the same as benevolence, and holy beings seek and love opportunities to do good to their fellow creatures. In the eye of holy beings all God's creatures are parts of one great family, and whenever they can do them good they rejoice in the opportunity, at any sacrifice.

These glad tidings - This good news respecting the birth of a son.

19. Gabriel—signifying "man of God," the same who appeared to Daniel at the time of incense (Da 9:21) and to Mary (Lu 1:26).

stand, &c.—as his attendant (compare 1Ki 17:1).

Ver. 19,20. It is by some observed, that before the captivity of Babylon we read of no name of any angel, who have no names as we have, but assume names to declare the nature of their ministration; and that Gabriel signifieth, the power, or the strength, of God, because the declaring of the gospel, which the apostle declares the power of God to salvation, Romans 1:16, seemeth to have been his peculiar ministration. We read of this Gabriel, Daniel 8:16 9:21, where we find him foretelling the Messias, and the working of man’s redemption; to which prophecies he doubtless refers Zacharias in saying,

I am Gabriel. We again shall meet with him Luke 1:26,27, six months after this, appearing to the virgin Mary, and telling her she should bring forth the Messiah. He addeth,

that stand in the presence of God. As the good angels always behold the presence of our heavenly Father, (as our Saviour tells us), and are ready to be sent about his messages, (whence is the name of angels), they are called God’s ministers, Psalm 103:21 104:4.

And am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings: God sent me on purpose to declare this thing to thee. Which Zacharias might have known by the time and place when he appeared; at the time of prayer, at the altar in the holy place, where the evil angels used not to show themselves.

And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed. Divines have perplexed themselves to give a just account of this signal punishment of so good a man; whether they have said enough to satisfaction I cannot tell. Abraham, upon the same question, was gratified with a sign, Genesis 15:8,9; so was Gideon, Judges 6:17. Where there is no difference in the words, or in a fact, there may be a great difference in the heart, and its inward habit and motions, from which those words proceed, and we must allow God to see that better than we can discern it by the words. Before Abraham’s time, we read of no such experience of God’s power in such cases, neither do we find that Abraham desired a sign as to this, that God would give him a child, but only as to the Lord’s giving his posterity Canaan. Besides that, it is said, Luke 1:6, he believed, and it was counted to him for righteousness; and the apostle extols his faith, Romans 4:19-21: Being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither the deadness of Sarah’s womb: he staggered not at the promise through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able to perform. So as he asked not a sign for the begetting of a faith in him, he believed the Lord without a sight, only, fearing his own heart, he asked a sign for the further increase and confirmation of his faith. Besides, Zacharias’s punishment was gentle, and of that nature that it also carried with it an answer to his desire: it was only the privation of speech, until the words of the angel should be fulfilled.

Because thou believest not my words. The words of God by his messengers are to be believed, and the not believing their words, which they speak truly from him, and as so sent, is a sin God will severely punish. It is all one not to believe God, as not to believe those whom he sends, speaking what he bids them.

Which shall be fulfilled in their season. The unbelief of men shall not make the word and promise of God of no effect; but God’s promises have their seasons, before which we must not expect the accomplishment of them, Habakkuk 2:3. And the angel answering, said unto him, I am Gabriel,.... The name of an angel well known to Zacharias from Daniel's prophecies, Daniel 8:16 and is the first time we read of the name of an angel: the Jews say (a), the names of angels came out of Babylon, by the means of the Israelites; and it was there that Daniel became acquainted with this name of Gabriel, and also of Michael. Frequent mention is made of Gabriel in the Jewish writings (b): were there a particular angel appointed over conception, as the Jews say (c) there is, one would be ready to think it should be Gabriel, since he was sent to declare the conception and birth both of John the Baptist, and of our Lord Jesus Christ: the name of that angel the Jews indeed say (d) is Lilah; but yet the Cabalistic doctors (e) affirm, that that angel is under Gabriel. In what language this angel spoke to Zacharias, and afterwards to Mary, may be a needless inquiry; but since the Syriac language was generally spoken, and understood by the Jews at this time, it is highly reasonable that he spoke to them in that. The Jews have a notion, that none of the ministering angels understand the Syriac language, excepting Gabriel; and he, they say, understood seventy languages (f). Now the angel, by making mention of his name, puts Zacharias in mind of the prophecy of Daniel concerning the coming of the Messiah, which he had from him; and whereas his name signified, "a man of God", or "the power", or "strength of God", or "God is my strength", he suggests unto him, that he ought not to have distrusted his Words, since with God all things are possible: he adds,

that stand in the presence of God; beholding his face, hearkening to his voice, and ministering to him, and so had this affair immediately from him: and therefore he had no reason to doubt of the accomplishment of it. Gabriel, according to the Jews, is one of the four angels that surround the throne of God: their names are Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel (g),

"Michael they place at his right hand, and Uriel at his left hand, and Gabriel, before him, (in his presence, as he here says of himself,) over against the kingdom of Judah, and Moses and Aaron, who were in the east (of the camp of Israel); and why is his name called Gabriel? of Judah it is written, 1 Chronicles 5:2 "for Judah", "prevailed above his brethren"; and of Moses it is written, Leviticus 1:1 "and God called unto Moses"; and it is written, Isaiah 9:6 "and shall call his name Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, lo! Gabriel".

And am sent to speak unto thee, and to show unto thee these glad tidings: wherefore, on account of his name, his office, and his mission, especially the subject of it being welcome news, good tidings, what he said ought to have obtained credit with him. Gabriel was one of the ministering spirits sent to minister to them that were heirs of salvation; his messages were messages of mercy, grace and love; he was not a minister of the wrath and vengeance of God, but of his favour. Agreeably to this the Jews say of him, that his name Gabriel is, by "gematry", or numerically, the same with "merciful" (h): he is called, in the Talmud (i), "the decisive spirit", and is said to have three names, Piskon, Itmon, and Sigron. He is called Piskon, because he decides, or determines judgment against them that are above; and Itmon, because he stops up the sins of the Israelites; and Sigron, because when he shuts (the gates of judgment) there is none can open again. Hence also they say, that he is the angel that is appointed over water which quenches fire. The Targumist on Job 25:2 paraphrases the words thus:

"Michael on the right hand, who is over fire; and Gabriel on the left hand, who is over water; and the holy creatures mingle fire and water, and by his dominion and fear, make peace in his heaven of heavens.

(a) T. Hicros. Rosh Hashana, fol. 56. 4. (b) Targum Jon. in Exodus 24.10. Targum in Esth. iv. 12. & in Psal. cxxxvii. 8. T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 19. 2. Shemot Rabba, fol. 91. 2. Sithre Toro in Zohar in Gen. fol. 65. 3. & 66. 2.((c) Targum in Job 3.3.((d) T. Bab. Nidda, fol. 16. 2.((e) Lex. Cabbal. p. 230. (f) T. Bab. Sota, fol. 33. 1. & Tosephot in Sabbat, fol. 12. 2.((g) Bernidbar Rabba, sect. 2. fol. 179. 1.((h) Lex. Cabbal. p. 230. (i) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 44. 2.

And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, {x} that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.

(x) That appears, for so the Hebrews use this saying to stand to mean that they are ready to do his commandment.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 1:19-20. The angel now discloses to Zacharias what angel he is, by way of justifying the announcement of penalty which he has then to add.

Γαβριήλ] נַּבְרִיאֵל, vir Dei, one of the seven angel-princes (שָׂרִים) or archangels (comp. Auberlen in Herzog’s Encykl. IV. p. 634[20]), who stand for service at the throne of God (ἐνώπιον τ. Θεοῦ), as His primary servants (Ὁ ΠΑΡΕΣΤΗΚΏς, comp. thereon Revelation 8:2, and see Valckenaer), Daniel 8:16; Daniel 9:21. Comp. Fritzsche on Tob 12:15. “Nomina angelorum ascenderunt in manum Israelis ex Babylone,” Ros Hassana, f. 56, 4; Enoch 20. See later Jewish fictions in respect to Gabriel, set forth in Eisenmenger, entdecktes Judenth. II. p. 363 ff., 378 ff., 390, 874.

σιωπῶν] It is only the subsequent Κ. ΜῊ ΔΥΝΆΜ. ΛΑΛῆΣΑΙ that defines this more precisely as dumbness, which, however, is not apoplectic caused by the terror (Paulus), nor the consequence of the agitating effect of the vision (Lange), which consequence he himself recognised as a punishment; but it is a miraculous penalty.

ἀνθʼ ὧν] for the reason (by way of retribution) that; Luke 19:44; Acts 12:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:10; Hermann, ad Viger. p. 710; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 170. The difficulties felt on account of the harshness of this measure (Paulus, Strauss, Bruno Bauer, comp. also de Wette), with which the impunity of others, such as Abraham and Sarah, has been compared, are, when the matter is historically viewed, not to be got rid of either by the assumption of a greater guilt which the Omniscient recognised (Calvin, comp. Lange, L. J. II. 1, p. 65, and even as early as Augustine), or by an appeal to the lesser age of Zacharias (Hoffmann), and the like; but to be referred to the counsel of God (Romans 11:33 f.), whose various measures do not indeed disclose themselves to human judgment, but at any rate admit of the reflection that, the nearer the dawn of the Messianic time, the more inviolably must the requirement of faith in the promise—and the promise was here given through an angel and a priest—come into prominent relief.

οἵτινες] qualitative (Kühner, II. p. 407), ita comparati ut, wherein is implied a reference that justifies the penal measure.

εἰς τ. καιρὸν αὐτ.] denotes the space of time appointed for the ΛΌΓΟΙ, till the completion of which it is still to hold that their fulfilment is setting in. Comp. the classical Ἐς ΚΑΙΡΌΝ, ΕἸς ΧΡΌΝΟΝ, ΕἸς ἙΣΠΈΡΑΝ, and the like, Bernhardy, p. 216. See also Luke 13:9.

[20] Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. p. 343 f., makes some unimportant objections against the accuracy of the explanation of archangels. See in opposition to him, Hahn, Theol. d. N. T. I. p. 286.Luke 1:19. ἀποκριθεὶς: the very natural scepticism of Zechariah is treated as a fault.—Γαβριὴλ: the naming of angels is characteristic of the later stage of Judaism (vide Daniel 8:16; Daniel 10:21).19. Gabriel] The name means ‘Hero of God.’ He is also mentioned in Luke 1:26, and in Daniel 8:16; Daniel 9:21-23 (‘idem Angelus, idem negotium,’ Bengel). The only other Angel or Archangel (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Judges 9) named in Scripture is Michael (‘Who is like God?’ Daniel 10:21). In the Book of Enoch we read of ‘the four great Archangels Michael, Uriel, Raphael, Gabriel,’ and so too in Pirke Rabbi Eliezer, iv. In Tob 12:15, “I am Raphael (Healer of God), one of the seven holy Angels which present the prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One.” Since Michael was despatched on messages of wrath and Gabriel on messages of mercy, the Jews had the beautiful saying that “Gabriel flew with two wings, but Michael with only one.”

that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee] He was thus one of the “Angels of the Presence” (Isaiah 63:9; cf. Matthew 18:10),

“One of the Seven

Who in God’s presence, nearest to His throne,

Stand ready at command, and are His eyes

That run through all the heavens, and down to the earth

Bear His swift errands over moist and dry,

O’er sea and land.”

Milton, Paradise Lost, iii. 650.

See Revelation 8:2; Daniel 7:10; 1 Kings 22:19. The supposed resemblance to the Amshaspands in the Zendavesta is shewn by Dr Mill to be purely superficial. Mythical Interpretation, p. 127.

to shew thee these glad tidings] The word euangelisasthai ‘to preach the Gospel’ is common in St Luke and St Paul, but elsewhere is only found in 1 Peter 1:12; Matthew 11:5. It comes from the LXX. (Isaiah 40:9; Isaiah 61:1).Luke 1:19. Γαβριὴλ, Gabriel) The reason why Zacharias ought not to have had any unbelief, is the authority of the heavenly messenger. The name is compounded of גבר and אל, and indicates the main object of his embassy, viz. concerning the incarnation of the Son of God, אל is גבר, God is man. Gabriel had appeared to Daniel also. It was the same angel, and he came on the same business.—ὁ παρεστηκὼς, who am wont to stand in attendance) Seven angels stand in the presence of God, Revelation 8:2. One of these, Gabriel, stands in attendance [adstat, stands by], or stands with the six others.—ἀπεστάλην, I have been sent) Luke 1:26; Hebrews 1:14.—εὐαγγελίσασθαι, to show thee these glad tidings) Thus marking the beginning of the Gospel [= Glad tidings]: ch. Luke 2:10; Luke 2:17, Luke 3:18; Mark 1:1.Verse 19. - I am Gabriel. The meaning of the name Gabriel is "Hero of God," or "Mighty One of God." In the canonical books only two of the heavenly ones are mentioned by name. Gabriel (here and Daniel 8:16 and Daniel 9:21) and Michael, which signifies "Who is like God" (Jude 1:9; Revelation 12:7; and in Daniel 10:13, 21; Daniel 12:1). Of these two blessed spirits whose names are revealed to us in the Word of God, their appointed work seems to be in connection with the human race and its enemies. Gabriel is the special messenger of good news. He comes to Daniel, and tells him of the restoration of Jerusalem; to Zacharias, and announces the birth of his son, and declares what his glorious office would consist in; to Mary of Nazareth, and foretells the nativity. Michael, on the other hand, appears as the warrior of God. In the Book of Daniel he wars with the enemies of the people of the Lord; in Jude and in the Revelation of St. John he is the victorious antagonist of Satan the enemy of the Eternal. The Jews have a striking saying that Gabriel flies with two wings, but Michael with only one; so God is swift in sending angels of peace and of joy, of which blessed company the archangel Gabriel is the representative, while the messengers of his wrath and punishment, among whom Michael holds a chief place, come slowly. That stand in the presence of God.

"One of the seven
Who in God's presence, nearest to his throne,
Stand ready at command, and are his eyes
That run through all the heavens, and down to the earth
Bear his swift commands, over moist and dry,
O'er sea and land."


(Paradise Lost,' 3. 650.) Milton derived his knowledge of the seven from the apocryphal Book of Tobit, where in chapter 12:15 we read, "I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One." In the very ancient Book of Enoch we read of the names of the four great archangels, Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael. Gabriel

Meaning man of God. In Jewish tradition the guardian of the sacred treasury. Michael (see on Jde 1:9) is the destroyer, the champion of God against evil, the minister of wrath. Gabriel is the messenger of peace and restoration. See Daniel 8:16, Daniel 9:21. "The former is the forerunner of Jehovah the Judge; the latter of Jehovah the Saviour" (Godet).

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