Luke 2:21
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
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(21) When eight days were accomplished . . .—Hence the Feast of the Circumcision in the Church Calendar comes on January 1st, and so, not without design, perhaps, came to coincide with the beginning of the civil year. The contrast between this and the narrative of John’s circumcision is striking. Here there are no friends and neighbours. Mary and Joseph were but poor strangers, in a city far from their own home. On the name of Jesus, see Note on Matthew 1:21. In St. Paul’s words, “made of a woman, made under the law” (Galatians 4:4), we may, perhaps, see a reference to a narrative with which his friendship with St. Luke must almost of necessity have made him familiar.

Luke 2:21. And when eight days were accomplished — That is, not when the eighth day was ended, but when it was come: for the circumcising of the child — A ceremony which the law of Moses required to be performed on every male child at that age, and to which Christ was made subject, that he might wear the badge of a child of Abraham, and that he might visibly be made under the law by a sacred rite, which obliged him to keep the whole law. It is true, he had not any corruptions of nature to mortify, which was in part represented by that institution, but nevertheless it was necessary that he should be thus initiated into the Jewish Church, and thereby be engaged to the duties, and entitled to the privileges, of a son of Abraham, according to God’s covenant with that patriarch and his seed; as also that he might put an honour on the solemn dedication of children to God.2:21-24 Our Lord Jesus was not born in sin, and did not need that mortification of a corrupt nature, or that renewal unto holiness, which were signified by circumcision. This ordinance was, in his case, a pledge of his future perfect obedience to the whole law, in the midst of sufferings and temptations, even unto death for us. At the end of forty days, Mary went up to the temple to offer the appointed sacrifices for her purification. Joseph also presented the holy child Jesus, because, as a first-born son, he was to be presented to the Lord, and redeemed according to the law. Let us present our children to the Lord who gave them to us, beseeching him to redeem them from sin and death, and make them holy to himself.Eight days ... - This was the regular time for performing the rite of circumcision, Genesis 17:12.

Called Jesus - See the notes at Matthew 1:21.

Lu 2:21. Circumcision of Christ.

Here only recorded, and even here merely alluded to, for the sake of the name then given to the holy Babe, "Jesus," or Saviour (Mt 1:21; Ac 13:23). Yet in this naming of Him "Saviour," in the act of circumcising Him, which was a symbolical and bloody removal of the body of sin, we have a tacit intimation that they "had need"—as John said of His Baptism—rather to be circumcised by Him "with the circumcision made without hands, in the putting off of the body [of the sins] of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" (Col 2:11), and that He only "suffered it to be so, because thus it became Him to fulfil all righteousness" (Mt 3:15). Still the circumcision of Christ had a profound bearing on His own work—by few rightly apprehended. For since "he that is circumcised is a debtor to do the whole law" (Ga 5:3), Jesus thus bore about with Him in His very flesh the seal of a voluntary obligation to do the whole law—by Him only possible in the flesh since the fall. And as He was "made under the law" for no ends of His own, but only "to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Ga 4:4, 5), the obedience to which His circumcision pledged Him was a redeeming obedience—that of a "Saviour." And, finally, as "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law" by "being made a curse for us" (Ga 3:13), we must regard Him, in His circumcision, as brought under a palpable pledge to be "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Php 2:8).

The time prescribed by the Divine law for circumcision was the eighth day. Genesis 17:12 Leviticus 12:3. He was indeed the lawgiver, and as such not tied to the observance of the law. But he was also made of a woman, made under the law, Galatians 4:4; and the law was, Leviticus 12:2, that if a woman had conceived seed, and borne a man child, in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin should be circumcised. He was to make himself appear the Son of Abraham; and so this was God’s covenant, Genesis 17:10, with Abraham and his seed after him; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. This law Christ was bound to fulfil, and by the fulfilling of it in this point he showed himself a debtor to do the whole law, Galatians 5:3, and by his observance of it he was to teach us our duty. He was to be a minister of the circumcision, Romans 15:8, and to the circumcision, which they would never have allowed him to be, had not he himself been circumcised; upon which account Paul took Timothy, and circumcised him, Acts 16:3. By his circumcision also we were to be circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, Colossians 2:11. It was therefore reasonable and necessary that Christ should be circumcised the eighth day.

His name was called Jesus; it was in circumcision before witnesses publicly declared to be so, for God by his angel had given him his name, Matthew 1:21. We read of four under the Old Testament, to whom God gave names before they were born; Isaac, Genesis 17:19, Josiah, 1 Kings 13:2, Ishmael, Genesis 16:11, Cyrus, Isaiah 44:28; and in the New Testament to John the Baptist, and to Jesus Christ. Which lets us know the certainty to God of future contingencies; for though the parents of Ishmael, and Isaac, John the Baptist, and Christ, imposed those names in obedience to the command of God, and there was but a small time betwixt the giving of these four their names and their birth, yet the case was otherwise as to Josiah and Cyrus. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child,.... According to the original institution of circumcision, Genesis 17:12 and which was strictly observed by religious persons, as by the parents of our Lord here, and by those of John the Baptist, Luke 1:59 Hence the Apostle Paul reckons this among his privileges, that he could have boasted of as well as other Jews; see Gill on Philippians 3:5. But it may be asked, why was Christ circumcised, since he had no impurity of nature, which circumcision supposed; nor needed any circumcision of the heart, which that was a symbol of? To which it may be replied, though he needed it not himself, it was the duty of his parents to do it, since all the male seed of Abraham were obliged it, and that law, or ordinance, was now in force; and besides, it was necessary that he might appear in the likeness of sinful flesh, who was to bear, and atone for the sins of his people; as also, that it might be manifest that he assumed true and real flesh, and was a partaker of the same flesh and blood with us; and that he was a son of Abraham, and of his seed, as it promised he should; and that he was made under the law, and came to fulfil it, and was obliged to it, as every one that is circumcised is; as well as to show a regard to all divine, positive institutions that are in being, and to set an example, that we should tread in his steps; and likewise to cut off all excuse from the Jews, that they might not have this to say, that he was an uncircumcised person, and so not a son of Abraham, nor the Messiah,

His name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb, Luke 1:31 It appears from hence, and from the instance of John the Baptist, that at circumcision it was usual to give names to children; See Gill on Luke 1:57. The Jews observe (u) that "six persons were called by their names before they were born: and these are Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Solomon, Josiah, and the King Messiah:

the latter they prove from Psalm 72:17 which they render, "before the sun his name was Yinnon", or the son: that is, the Son of God,

(u) Pirke Eliezer, c. 32.

{3} And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

(3) Christ, the head of the Church, made subject to the law in order to deliver us from the curse of the law (as the name of Jesus well declares) being circumcised, ratifies and seals in his own flesh the circumcision of the flesh.

Luke 2:21. Τοῦ περιτεμεῖν αὐτόν] The genitive, not as at Luke 2:22; Luke 1:57; Luke 2:6, but as genitive of the aim: in order to circumcise Him, that He might be circumcised. Comp. Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 230 [E. T. 267].

καὶ ἐκλήθη] was also named, indicating the naming as superadded to the rite of circumcision. See Nägelsbach, z. Ilias, ed. 3, p. 164. And the Son of God had to become circumcised, as γενόμενος ἐκ γυναικός, γενόμενος ὑπὸ νόμον, Galatians 4:4. This was the divine arrangement for His appearing as the God-man in necessary association with the people of God (Romans 9:5). There is much importation of the dogmatic element here among the older commentators.[53]

τὸ κληθὲν κ.τ.λ.] See Luke 1:31. Comp. Matthew 1:21, where, however, the legend quite differently refers the giving of the name to the angel.

[53] Calovius says that Christ allowed Himself to be circumcised “tum ob demonstrandam naturae humanae veritatem … tum ad probandam e semine Abrahae originem … tum imprimis ob meriti et redemptions Christi certificationem.”Luke 2:21-24. Circumcision and presentation in the temple.21. The Circumcision

21. for the circumcising of the child] Genesis 17:12. Doubtless the rite was performed by Joseph. “Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision” (i. e. went to the Jew first) “for the truth of God to confirm the promises made unto the fathers,” Romans 15:8. Thus it became him ‘to be made like unto His brethren, and to fulfil all righteousness,’ Matthew 3:15. Christ suffered pain thus early for our sake to teach us that, though He ordained for us the painless rite of baptism, we must practise the spiritual circumcision—the circumcision of the heart. He came “not to destroy the Law but to fulfil,” Matthew 5:17

“He, who with all heaven’s heraldry whilere

Entered the world, now bleeds to give us ease.

Alas, how soon our sin

Sore doth begin

His infancy to seize!”

Milton, The Circumcision.

his name was called JESUS] See on Luke 1:31. The name of the child was bestowed at circumcision, as with us at baptism. Among Greeks and Romans also the genethlia and nominalia were on the eighth or ninth day. Observe the brief notice of Christ’s circumcision compared with the fuller and more elaborate account of John’s. “In the person of John the rite of circumcision solemnised its last glories.”Luke 2:21. Περιτεμεῖν· ἐκλήθη, that they should circumcise: He was called) The circumcision is not recorded in so direct terms as the naming of Him, inasmuch as the latter was divinely ordered by express command.—[ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀγγέλου, by the angel) ch. Luke 1:26; Luke 1:31.—V. g.]—πρὸ τοῦ, before that) There is hereby exquisitely expressed the good pleasure of the Father in Christ. [And it is implied at the same time, that this infant of (in) Himself did not need circumcision.—V. g.] Comp. Galatians 1:15.—ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ, in the womb) viz. of His mother. So ἐν κοιλίᾳ is used absolutely, Jeremiah 1:5, בבטן.Verses 21-40. - Circumcision and presentation of the Child Jesus. Verse 21. - For the circumcising of the Child. These ancient rites - circumcision and purification - enjoined in the Mosaic Law were intended as perpetual witnesses to the deadly taint of imperfection and sin inherited by every child of man. In the cases of Mary and her Child these rites were not necessary; but the mother devoutly submitted herself and her Babe to the ancient customs, willingly obedient to that Divine Law under which she was born and hitherto had lived.
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