Luke 2:47
And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
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(47) At his understanding and answers.—The first word seems to point to the discernment which showed itself in the questions as well as the answers. The egotism of Josephus leads him to speak of himself as having, at the age of fourteen—when he too had become “a child of the Law”—caused a like astonishment by his intelligence; so that the chief priests and principal men of the city used to come and consult him upon difficult questions in the interpretation of the Law (Life, c. 1). The fact is so far interesting as showing that the class of teachers retained the same kind of interest in quick and promising scholars.

2:41-52 It is for the honour of Christ that children should attend on public worship. His parents did not return till they had stayed all the seven days of the feast. It is well to stay to the end of an ordinance, as becomes those who say, It is good to be here. Those that have lost their comforts in Christ, and the evidences of their having a part in him, must bethink themselves where, and when, and how they lost them, and must turn back again. Those that would recover their lost acquaintance with Christ, must go to the place in which he has put his name; there they may hope to meet him. They found him in some part of the temple, where the doctors of the law kept their schools; he was sitting there, hearkening to their instructions, proposing questions, and answering inquiries, with such wisdom, that those who heard were delighted with him. Young persons should seek the knowledge of Divine truth, attend the ministry of the gospel, and ask such questions of their elders and teachers as may tend to increase their knowledge. Those who seek Christ in sorrow, shall find him with the greater joy. Know ye not that I ought to be in my Father's house; at my Father's work; I must be about my Father's business. Herein is an example; for it becomes the children of God, in conformity to Christ, to attend their heavenly Father's business, and make all other concerns give way to it. Though he was the Son of God, yet he was subject to his earthly parents; how then will the foolish and weak sons of men answer it, who are disobedient to their parents? However we may neglect men's sayings, because they are obscure, yet we must not think so of God's sayings. That which at first is dark, may afterwards become plain and easy. The greatest and wisest, those most eminent, may learn of this admirable and Divine Child, that it is the truest greatness of soul to know our own place and office; to deny ourselves amusements and pleasures not consistent with our state and calling.After three days - This means, probably, "on the third day" after they had left Jerusalem - that is, the first day they went toward Galilee, on the second they returned to Jerusalem, and on the third they found him. Compare Matthew 27:63; Mark 8:31.

In the temple - In the "court" of the temple, for Jesus, not being a Levitical priest, could not enter into the temple itself. See Matthew 21:12.

In the midst of the doctors - The "teachers," the "rabbis," who were the instructors of the people in matters of religion.

Asking them questions - Proposing questions to them respecting the law and the prophets. There is no reason to suppose that this was for the purpose of perplexing or confounding them. The questions were doubtless proposed in a respectful manner, and the answers listened to with proper deference to their age and rank. Jesus was a child, and religion does not teach a child to be rude or uncivil, even though he may really know much more than more aged persons. Religion teaches all, and especially the young, to treat others with respect, to show them the honor that is due, to venerate age, and to speak kindly to all, 1 Peter 2:17; 1 Peter 3:8, 1 Peter 3:9; Exodus 20:12; Matthew 23:3; Romans 13:7.

46. hearing … asking—The method of question and answer was the customary form of rabbinical teaching; teacher and learner becoming by turns questioner and answerer, as may be seen from their extant works. This would give full scope for all that "astonished them in His understanding and answers." Not that He assumed the office of teaching—"His hour" for that "was not yet come," and His equipment for that was not complete; for He had yet to "increase in wisdom" as well as "stature" (Lu 2:52). In fact, the beauty of Christ's example lies very much in His never at one stage of His life anticipating the duties of another. All would be in the style and manner of a learner, "opening His mouth and panting." "His soul breaking for the longing that it had unto God's judgments at all times" (Ps 119:20), and now more than ever before, when finding Himself for the first time in His Father's house. Still there would be in His questions far more than in their answers; and if we may take the frivolous interrogatories with which they afterwards plied Him, about the woman that had seven husbands and such like, as a specimen of their present drivelling questions, perhaps we shall not greatly err, if we suppose that "the questions" which He now "asked them" in return were just the germs of those pregnant questions with which He astonished and silenced them in after years: "What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is He? If David call Him Lord, how is He then his Son?" "Which is the first and great commandment?" "Who is my neighbour?" What was the subject matter of the doctors’ and Christ’s discourses is vainly questioned, only in the general we may be assured it was something about the Divine law; what the particular themes or subjects were is not material for us to inquire. Our Saviour so answered their questions, as they were all astonished.

And all that heard him were astonished,.... All in the sanhedrim, both the doctors, and their disciples, were amazed,

at his understanding; in the knowledge of the law, and of the Scriptures:

and his answers; which he returned to the questions the doctor's put to him, which were made with so much wisdom and judgment, that it was surprising in one of his years.

And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
Luke 2:47 ff. Ἐπὶ τῇ συνέσει καὶ κ.τ.λ.] over His understanding in general, and especially over His answers.

ἰδόντες] Joseph and Mary. They were astonished; for they had not expected to find Him either in this place, or so occupied.

ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ] not merely because maternal feeling is in general more keen, quick, and ready to show itself, nor yet because Joseph had not been equal to this scene (Lange), but rightly in accordance with Luke’s view of the maternal relation of Mary. Bengel: “non loquebatur Josephus; major erat necessitudo matris.”

τί ὅτι] wherefore? See on Mark 2:16.

ἐν τοῖς τοῦ πατρός μου] i.e. in the house of my Father. See examples of this well-known mode of expression in Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 100. So, following Syr. and the Fathers, most modern commentators. Others, such as Castalio, Erasmus, Calvin, Maldonatus, Jansen, Wolf, Loesner, Valckenaer, Rosenmüller, Bornemann, de Wette, Ewald, al.: in the affairs of my Father. This also is linguistically correct. See 1 Timothy 4:15; Bornemann, Schol. p. 29; Bernhardy, p. 210; Schaefer, Melet. p. 31 f. But as Jesus in His reply refers expressly to the search of the parents, which He represents as having been made needlessly, it is most natural to find in this answer the designation of the locality, in which they ought to have known that He was to be found, without seeking Him in rebus Patris. He might also be elsewhere. To combine both modes of taking it (Olshausen, Bleek) is a priori inappropriate.

δεῖ] as Son. This follows from τοῦ πατρός μου. This breaking forth of the consciousness of Divine Sonship[61] in the first saying which is preserved to us from Jesus, is to be explained by the power of the impressions which He experienced on His first participation in the holy observances of the festival and the temple. According to Luke 2:50, it must not have previously asserted itself thus amidst the quiet course of His domestic development (“non multum antea, nec tamen nihil, de Patre locutus erat,” Bengel on Luke 2:50), but now there had emerged with Him an epoch in the course of development of that consciousness of Sonship,—the first bursting open of the swelling bud. Altogether foreign to the ingenuous, child-like utterance, unnatural and indelicate, is the intention of drawing a contrast which has been imputed to Him: τῆς γὰρ παρθένου τὸν Ἰωσὴφ πατέρα εἰπούσης αὐτοῦ, ἐκεῖνος φησίν· οὐκ αὐτὸς ἐστὶν ὁ ἀληθής μου πατὴρ, ἢ γὰρ ἂν ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ αὐτοῦ ἤμην, ἀλλʼ ὁ Θεὸς ἐστί μου πατὴρ, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ αὐτοῦ εἰμί, Theophylact. Erroneous in an opposite manner is the opinion of Schenkel, that the boy Jesus named God His Father, “just as every pious Jewish child might do.” Such a conclusion could only be arrived at, if He had said τ. πατρὸς ἡμῶν; but with Jesus in the connection of His entire history Τ. ΠΑΤΡΌς ΜΟΥ points to a higher individual relation. And this too it was, which made the answer unintelligible to the parents. What every pious Jewish child might have answered, they would have understood. See, besides, Keim, geschichtl. Chr. p. 48 f.

[61] At all events already in Messianic presentiment, yet not with the conception fully unfolded, but in the dawning apprehension of the child, which could only very gradually give place to clearness, ver. 52.

Luke 2:47. ἐξίσταντο, were amazed, not at His position among the doctors, or at His asking questions, but at the intelligence (συνέσει) shown in His answers to the questions of the teachers; something of the rare insight and felicity which astonished all in after years appearing in these boyish replies.

47. were astonished] Similar incidents are narrated of Rabbi Eliezer Ben Azariah; of Rabbi Ashi, the compiler of the Babylonian Talmud; and (by himself) of Josephus (Vit. 2). See Excursus VII.

Luke 2:47Understanding (συνέσει)

From συνίημι, to bring together. Hence that quality of mind which combines: understanding not only of facts, but of facts in their mutual relations. See on Mark 12:33; where there is meant "the love of a well-pondered and duly considered resolution which determines the whole person; the love which clearly understands itself" (Cremer).

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