Luke 1:76
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
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(76) Thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest.—Note the recurrence of the same divine name that had appeared in Luke 1:32; Luke 1:35.

Thou shalt go before the face of the Lord.—The verse is, as it were, an echo of two great prophecies, combining the “going before Jehovah” of Malachi 3:1, with the “preparing the way” of Isaiah 40:3.

Luke 1:76-78. And thou child — He now speaks to John his son, yet not as a parent, but as a prophet; shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest — Thou shalt be the messenger of God Most High. Our Lord declares that John was more than a prophet: that is, he was a great preacher of righteousness, who called aloud to the people to repent, that they might be forgiven; and he foretold that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his way — Thou shalt go before the Lord Christ, to point him out as the Messiah to his people, and to dispose and prepare them to receive him as such by repentance toward God, productive of fruit worthy of repentance, and by faith in him and subjection to him as a divinely-commissioned teacher, a mighty Saviour, and righteous governor. See note on Matthew 3:3. To give knowledge of salvation to his people — To preach to God’s people the glad tidings of salvation, present and eternal, as attainable; to show them the way of attaining it, namely, by repentance and faith in the Messiah, and to give all such as should comply with these terms the knowledge of their having attained it, at least in part, by assuring them of the remission of their sins, that blessing being a branch of present, and a pledge and earnest of future salvation. Through the tender mercy of our God Σπλαγχνα ελεους, the bowels of mercy, a strong Hebraism, implying God’s tender compassions for mankind, immersed as they are in sins and miseries. “These two words are often used in Scripture both jointly and separately. They signify pity, because that passion in us is commonly attended with a motion of the bowels, especially when the object of it is one we have an interest in. See Isaiah 63:15; Php 2:1; Colossians 3:12; where bowels of mercy signify the most tender mercy. The word σπλαγχνα, bowels, used by itself signifies any strong affection whatever, Philemon 1:7.” John the Baptist gave people to understand, that though their case was deplorable, by reason of sin, it was not desperate, because pardon might be obtained through the tender and unspeakable mercy of God. Whereby the day-spring — The dawning day of morning light; that is, the gospel dispensation, as superior to the patriarchal or Mosaic, with their types and shadows, as the light of the rising sun is superior to that of the moon and stars. This gospel-day dawned in the ministry of John the Baptist; and it increased more and more during the personal ministry of Christ, and it shone out with meridian splendour on the day of pentecost, and thenceforward, when, in consequence of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, the Holy Spirit, in his various gifts and graces, ordinary and extraordinary, was poured out on the Christian Church. It is true the word ανατολη, here rendered day-spring, may signify, as some render it, the rising sun: for Zacharias is here alluding to the passages in the prophetic writings which describe the Messiah by the metaphors of the light and sun, particularly Malachi 4:2; where he is called the Sun of righteousness, both on account of the light of his doctrine, and the joy produced by his appearing. See the note there, and on Isaiah 60:1-2; Isaiah 60:19. “Indeed no figure was ever more happily imagined, or more naturally applied, than this which represents the promised seed under the notion of the sun. For most aptly may Jesus be likened to the rising sun; his doctrine being to the souls of men what light is to their bodies. It is altogether necessary for directing our steps in the paths of truth and righteousness; it is exceedingly sweet to the spiritual taste, by discovering the most important and delightful truths; nay, like the light, it throws a beauty and pleasantness upon every thing in this lower world, which, without the assurance of God’s reconcileableness, would be but a dark and dreary scene to sinners, however noble and beautiful in itself.” — Macknight.

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.And thou, child ... - Zechariah predicts in this and the following verses the dignity, the employment, and the success of John. He declares what would be the subject of his preaching, and what his success.

Prophet of the Highest - Prophet of God; a prophet "appointed by God" to declare his will, and to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.

The face of the Lord - The Lord Jesus, the Messiah, that was about to appear. To go before "the face of one" is the same as to go immediately before one, or to be immediately followed by another.

To prepare his ways - This is taken from Isaiah 40:3. See the Matthew 3:3 niote, and Isaiah 40:3 note.

76-79. Here are the dying echoes of this song; and very beautiful are these closing notes—like the setting sun, shorn indeed of its noontide radiance, but skirting the horizon with a wavy and quivering light—as of molten gold—on which the eye delights to gaze, till it disappears from the view. The song passes not here from Christ to John, but only from Christ direct to Christ as heralded by His forerunner.

thou child—not "my son"—this child's relation to himself being lost in his relation to a Greater than either.

prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt go before him—that is, "the Highest." As "the Most High" is an epithet in Scripture only of the supreme God, it is inconceivable that inspiration should apply this term, as here undeniably, to Christ, unless He were "God over all blessed for ever" (Ro 9:5).

Zacharias here foretells what came to pass about thirty years after, for it cannot be thought that John began his ministry before the sacerdotal age, especially considering Christ did not begin sooner, Luke 3:23.

Thou shalt be called the prophet; that may either signify, thou shalt be a prophet, as Matthew 5:9 John 1:12; or thou shalt be owned or taken notice of as the prophet

of the Highest. Both were true in John. He was a prophet, (though not that Prophet, John 1:21), yea, and more than a prophet, saith our Saviour, Matthew 11:9.

For thou shalt go before his face to prepare his ways. This was according to the prophecy, Isaiah 40:3 Malachi 4:5: and according to what John said of himself, Matthew 3:3 Mark 1:3. See Poole on "Matthew 3:3".

And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest,.... Here Zacharias turns himself to his son John, though an infant, and incapable of knowing what was said to him; and for the sake of those that were present, describes his office and work; and says, that he should be "called", that is, that he should "be", and be accounted a "prophet": for he was not only a preacher of Christ and his Gospel, but he also foretold the coming of the Messiah; and the vengeance that should fall on the Jewish nation, for their unfruitfulness, impenitence, and unbelief: and the Prophet "of the Highest"; that is, of God; as the Persic version renders it, of the most high God; and by whom is meant, the Lord Jesus Christ, whose prophet, harbinger, and forerunner John was; and so is a proof of Christ being the supreme, or most high God:

for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord, to prepare his ways; as the angel had suggested in Luke 1:17 and as was prophesied of him in Isaiah 11:3. See Gill on Matthew 3:3.

And thou, {m} child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;

(m) Though you be at this present time ever so little.

Luke 1:76 f. Ἔπειτα μεταβαίνει τῇ προφητείᾳ καὶ πρὸς ἑαυτοῦ παῖδα Ἰωάννην, Euthymius Zigabenus.

καὶ σὺ δέ] but thou also (see the critical remarks). See Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 181 f.; Ellendt, Lex Soph I. p. 884. The καί places the παιδίον—for even of him he has only what is great to say—on a parallel with the subject, to which hitherto in his song of praise to God his prophetic glance was directed (with the Messiah), and δέ is the continuative autem.

προπορ. γὰρ πρὸ προσώπου κυρ.] as at Luke 1:17, hence κύριος is God.

ἑτοιμάσαι ὁδοὺς αὐτοῦ see on Matthew 3:3.

τοῦ δοῦναι κ.τ.λ.] Aim of ἑτοιμάσαι κ.τ.λ., and so final aim of προπορεύσῃκυρίου.

ἐν ἀφέσει ἁμαρτ. αὐτ.] In forgiveness of their sins, which is to be imparted to them through the Messiah (see Luke 1:78 f.) for the sake of God’s mercy (which is thereby satisfied; διὰ σπλ. ἐλ. Θεοῦ), they are to discern deliverance; they are to discern that salvation comes through the Messianic forgiveness of sins (comp. on Mark 1:4), and to this knowledge of salvation John is to guide his people. Accordingly, ἐν ἀφ. ἁμ. αὐτ. does not belong to σωτηρίας alone (τῆς γινομένης ἐν τῷ ἀφεθῆναι κ.τ.λ., Euthymius Zigabenus, Beza, Bengel, Kuinoel, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Bleek, and others), but to γνῶσιν σωτηρίας (Theophylact) = γνῶναι σωτηρίαν ἐν ἀφ. τ. ἁμ. αὐτ. So also Luther, Ewald, and others. Calvin aptly remarks: “Praecipuum evangelii caput nunc attingit Zacharias, dum scientiam salutis in remissions peccatorum positam esse docet.”

Luke 1:76-79. From the general thanksgiving for Divine mercy the song turns to the special cause of gladness afforded by the birth of John.—σὺ, παιδίον: this address supposes the Baptist to be still a child, and all that is said of him is a prophetic forecast of the future, in literary form.—ὑψίστου: once more, for God. In the circle which produced this hymn, and these early records, the idea of Divine transcendency characteristic of later Judaism seems to have prevailed.

76. child] Rather, little child (paidion)—“quantillus nunc es,” Bengel.

To prepare his ways] An allusion to the prophecies of the Forerunner in Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1.

Luke 1:76. Καὶ, and) Answering to what Zacharias has heretofore sung [prophetically uttered], there now correspond those words which follow: concerning grace towards His people, Luke 1:77 answers to the previous Luke 1:68; concerning salvation, Luke 1:77 answers to Luke 1:69; concerning mercy, Luke 1:78 answers to Luke 1:72.—παίδιον, thou child) How little soever thou art now. He does not call the infant by name. He speaks as a prophet, not as a parent.

Verse 76. - And thou, child; literally, little child. Here the father breaks forth into an expression of gladness at the thought of the great part his baby-son was to bear in this great national deliverance. His son, too - oh, joy undreamed of! - is to be ranked among the glorious company of the prophets of the Highest. Luke 1:76
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