Luke 2:39
And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
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(39) They returned into Galilee.—Filling up the narrative from St. Matthew, we have to insert after the Presentation, the visit of the Magi, the massacre of the Infants, and the flight into Egypt. It seems probable that St. Luke was not acquainted with St. Matthew’s narrative, nor St. Matthew with St. Luke’s. Each wrote from what he heard, or found in previous existing narratives, more or less incomplete, and hence cannot readily be brought into harmony with the other. Here the parents return to Nazareth as their own city. In St. Matthew the return appears to be determined by their fears of Archelaus. It is possible that, though previously domiciled at Nazareth, they may have thought of settling at Bethlehem, and were deterred from doing so by the cruelty of Herod and his son.

Luke 2:39-40. And when they — Namely, the parents of Jesus; had performed all things according to the law — Which they made conscience of doing, that they might fulfil all righteousness; they returned into Galilee, &c. — Full of admiration, doubtless, at the glorious testimonies that were given to their child; to their own city Nazareth — Which was the place of their usual residence, and where this blessed infant passed the days of his childhood and youth. And the child grew, &c. — In bodily strength and stature; and waxed strong in spirit — The powers of his human mind daily improved; filled with wisdom — By the light of the indwelling Spirit, which gradually opened itself in his soul; and the grace of God was upon him — That is, the peculiar favour of God rested upon him, even as man.

2:36-40 There was much evil then in the church, yet God left not himself without witness. Anna always dwelt in, or at least attended at, the temple. She was always in a praying spirit; gave herself to prayer, and in all things she served God. Those to whom Christ is made known, have great reason to thank the Lord. She taught others concerning him. Let the example of the venerable saints, Simeon and Anna, give courage to those whose hoary heads are, like theirs, a crown of glory, being found in the way of righteousness. The lips soon to be silent in the grave, should be showing forth the praises of the Redeemer. In all things it became Christ to be made like unto his brethren, therefore he passed through infancy and childhood as other children, yet without sin, and with manifest proofs of the Divine nature in him. By the Spirit of God all his faculties performed their offices in a manner not seen in any one else. Other children have foolishness bound in their hearts, which appears in what they say or do, but he was filled with wisdom, by the influence of the Holy Ghost; every thing he said and did, was wisely said and wisely done, above his years. Other children show the corruption of their nature; nothing but the grace of God was upon him.They returned into Galilee - Not immediately, but after a time. Luke has omitted the flight into Egypt recorded by Matthew; but he has not denied it, nor are his words to be pressed as if he meant to affirm that they went immediately to Nazareth. A parallel case we have in the life of Paul. When he was converted it is said that he came to Jerusalem, as if he had gone there immediately after his conversion Acts 9:26; yet we learn in another place that this was after an interval of three years, Galatians 1:17-18. In the case before us there is no improbability in supposing that they returned to Bethlehem, then went to Egypt, and then to Galilee. 39. Nothing is more difficult than to fix the precise order in which the visit of the Magi, with the flight into and return from Egypt (Mt 2:13-23), are to be taken, in relation to the circumcision and presentation of Christ in the temple, here recorded. It is perhaps best to leave this in the obscurity in which we find it, as the result of two independent, though if we knew all, easily reconcilable narratives. If the wise men, mentioned Matthew 2:1, had been with Herod before this time, it is more than probable that Herod would have made an end of Christ at this time, therefore certainly it was after this time. Luke saith nothing of what we have Matthew 2:13-15,19-23, of Joseph going into Egypt upon the admonition of the angel, nor his coming back; but both Matthew and Luke agree in their dwelling at Nazareth, which he calleth

their own city, for there Joseph dwelt, Luke 2:4. How after this the wise men came to find him at Bethlehem, Matthew 2:1-12, the Scripture hath not told us. It is very idle for any to say Joseph dwelt there, for then he would not have taken up his inn there, nor been put to such a stress as to have his wife bring forth in a stable; besides, it is apparent from Luke 2:4 and this verse, and from Matthew 2:23, that he dwelt at Nazareth. God, who ordered the motion of the wise men, and their instructions to be sent to Bethlehem to look for Christ, could easily find Joseph some business to be done there at that time, whether some business of his trade, or some visit to his friends, we cannot say.

And when they had performed all things,.... Relating to the purification of Mary, and the presentation and redemption of her firstborn, and the sacrifices and ceremonies belonging thereunto:

according to the law of the Lord; which that directed to, and enjoined:

they returned into Galilee: not that they came from thence to Jerusalem, but from Bethlehem, where Mary gave birth, and her time for purification was now just expired: nor did they go now directly to Galilee; or, if they did, they soon came back again to Bethlehem, since here the wise men found them two years after; when by a divine warning, they went into Egypt, where they remained till Herod's death, and after came into the land of Israel, into the parts of Galilee, and dwelt at Nazareth; for which reason it is here called their own city,

to their own city Nazareth: Bethlehem was their native city, the place of their birth, at least of their family; and Nazareth was the city of their habitation.

And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
Luke 2:39. Ναζαρέτ] therefore not in the first instance again to Bethlehem. Of the Magi, of the slaughter of the children, of the flight to Egypt, Luke has nothing. They belong to quite another cycle of legend, which he has not followed. Reconciliation is impossible; a preference for Luke, however, at the expense of Matthew (Schleiermacher, Schneckenburger, Sieffert, and others), is at least in so far well founded, as Bethlehem was not, as Matthew reports (see on Matthew 2:23, Rem.), the original dwelling-place of the parents of Jesus, but became the birth-place of the latter on occasion of the ἀπογραφή. If Bethlehem had been the original dwelling-place, it was natural, considering the Davidico-Messianic tendency of the legend, that no change should be made under these circumstances. But, in opposition to the bold assumption of the more recent exponents of the mythical theory,[57] that Jesus was born in Nazareth, so that both the earlier residence of the parents at Bethlehem (Matthew) and their journey thither (Luke) are held to be the work of tradition on the basis of Micah 5:1 (but only Matthew bases his statement upon this prophecy!), see on Matt. l.c. Even de Wette finds this probable, especially on account of John 7:42, comp. Luke 1:46 ff., where John adds no correction of the popular view. But to infer from this that John knew nothing of the birth in Bethlehem is unwarranted, since the tradition of Matthew and Luke, agreeing in this very particular, certainly suggests the presumption that the birth at Bethlehem was generally known among the Christians and was believed, so that there was not at all any need for a correcting remark on the part of John.

[57] See also Weisse, Evangelienfr. p. 181 f., who holds that the reference to the Lord’s place of birth by the name of Bethlehem is to be understood πνευματικῶς. Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 56 f., leaves the birth-place altogether doubtful; holding that the question is wholly indifferent for our faith, which remark, however, is inappropriate on account of the prophetic promise.


As the presentation of Jesus in the temple bears of itself in its legal aspect the stamp of history, so what occurred with Simeon and Anna cannot in its general outlines be reasonably relegated to the domain of myth (see, in opposition to Strauss and B. Bauer, Ebrard, p. 225 ff.), although it remains doubtful whether the prophetic glance of the seers (to whose help Paulus comes by suggesting, in spite of the remark at Luke 2:33, communications on the part of Mary; and Hofmann, p. 276, by the hypothesis of acquaintance with the history of the birth) expressed itself so definitely as the account about Simeon purports. The hypothesis that Luke received his information from Anna’s mouth (Schleiermacher, Neander) hangs on Luke 2:36 f., where Anna is so accurately described, and consequently on so weak a thread, that it breaks down at once when we take into account the lesser degree of vividness and fulness of detail in the narrative of what Anna did.

Luke 2:39-40. Return to Nazareth.—πόλιν ἑαυτῶν, their own city, certainly suggesting that Nazareth, not Bethlehem, had been the true home of Joseph and Mary.

39. Between this verse and the last come the events narrated by St Matthew only—namely the Visit of the Magi; the Flight into Egypt; and the massacre of the Innocents. It is difficult to believe that either of the Evangelists had seen the narrative of the other, because the primâ facie inference from either singly would be imperfectly correct. They supplement each other, because they each narrate the truth, though probably neither of them was aware of all that has been delivered to us.

Verse 39. - And when they had performed all things according to the Law of the Lord. Another note, which tells us of the rigid obedience which Mary and Joseph paid to the Law of Israel, under which they lived. Marcion, the famous Gnostic heretic (second century), who adopted this Gospel of St. Luke, to the exclusion of the other three, as the authoritative Gospel for his sect (the Marcionites), omitted, however, all these passages of St. Luke's narrative in which the old Mosaic Law was spoken of with reverence. They returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. To complete the story of our Lord's early life, we must insert from St. Matthew, before this return to Nazareth, the visit of the Magi, and the flight to and return from Egypt. It is probable - even if the Gospel of St. Matthew, as we have it, was not then written - that these details, the visit of the Magi and the flight into Egypt, were facts already well known to those whom this Gospel was especially designed to instruct. Luke 2:39Nazareth

See on Matthew 2:23.

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