« PreviousContinue »
And his father Zechariah was filled with the 68 Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he hath 69 regarded and redeemed his people; And hath raised up a prince for our salvation, in the fami10 ly of his servant David; (As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who have been from 71 ancient times:) Even a salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised, and to remem73 ber his holy covenant with our fathers; The oath which he swore to our father Abraham: 74 To grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him 75 without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all our days.
"And thou, child, shalt be called a prophet
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER I. 1. We here see that the prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Such was the character of Zechariah, as well as of his amiable partner. They adorned by their walk the religion which they professed strictly endeavouring to conform to every command and precept. Zechariah had formerly prayed that he might have a son, and now when employed in offering incense, Gabriel is sent to assure him that his prayer had been heard, and a son should be given, whose name and office should render him most honourable. To have a son was a blessing; but to have one filled with the spirit from the womb, and who should turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God,' might well be a source of joy and gladness. Yet more, he was to prepare the people for the coming of Messiah, and to go before him as his harbinger, in the spirit and power of Elijah, the prophet and reformer of Israel. Be it then our care to pray and not to faint; for assuredly a time will come when prayer will be answered.
2. In the address of Gabriel to Mary, and her inquiries, we learn that our Lord was conceived by a virgin, according to the prediction of Isaiah vii. 14.; ix. 6, 7. We are ready also to say, Hail! thou that art so highly favoured, as to be the instrument of bringing him into the world, whose name JESUS intimates his important work. But while he was to be a Saviour he was also to reign
John groweth up.
of the Most High: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; By giv- 77 ing the knowledge of salvation to his people, in the remission of their sins, Through the tender 78 mercy of our God, by which a dawning light hath visited us from on high; hath visited us from on high; To give light to 79 those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; to guide our feet into the way of peace."
parenthesis, containing what did not happen until sometime afterwards.
67. Prophesied, &c. That is, spoke what follows, under the immediate influence and impulse of the Holy Spirit. In the strictest sense there is nothing prophetic in what he said.
69-71. A prince for our, &c. I have, with Campbell, given the sense, rather than retain the metaphor, as it is altogether foreign to our idiom. Michaelis renders, 'a victorious King.' Comp. Deuter. xxxii.; 17, and 1 Sam. ii. 10. Ps. cxxxii. 17, &c.
72-75. To perform the mercy, &c. Pearce supposed that Zechariah, as well as Mary (ver. 5!.) expe that the Messiah would be a temporal prince, delivering the Jewish people from Herod and the Romans; so that they might N
VOL. III. PART XX.
And the child grew, and was strengthened in 80 spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his public appearance unto Israel.
A. D. 1.
Decree of Augustus; the birth of Christ; an angel announceth it to the shepherds; Christ is circumcised; Simeon and Anna's prophe cies of him; subjection to his parents.
Now it came to pass in those days, that there 1
as a king; nor can we hope for salvation unless we are made obedient to his will. How lovely does the spirit of Mary appear, in firmly believing what had been promised, and thankfully and cheerfully submitting to the divine will. "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." She might justly say, "My soul magnifieth the Lord, &c. ;" and every like humble believer shall one day exult and triumph in the mercy of God.
3. The birth of John and the song of Zechariah afford to us matter of praise. The blessings celebrated were not peculiar to the house of Israel; but we, through the divine goodness, are in terested inthem: the Lord God of Israel hath regarded and redeemed us. He hath raised a prince for our salvation; having remembered his mercy and his covenant with the patriarchs, in favour of all who exercise like faith and obedience. To us he hath accomplished the words which he spoke by his holy prophets; to us who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death he has given divine light, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Let us bless the Lord who hath given us this light; and ever may we walk as the children of light. With what pleasure should we receive the knowledge of salvation in the remission of sins! For without this, alas! we must perish for ever. And if we attain this knowledge and experience this blessing, we shall thus serve him in holiness and righteousness all our days!
serve God under his happy reign, free from fear, and from all molestation. Michaelis and Newcome apply what is here said to the general restoration of the Jews to their own land, when all their enemies shall be subdued.
76. Thou child, &c. He means his son John. He shall be called, or shall be a prophet of the Most High.-Face of the Lord. The Lord Jesus; for John was his forerunner.
77. By giving the, &c. The infinitive is often used as a gerund. See Acts vii. 19. He was to make known the way of salvation, by preaching repentance and promising forgiveness.
78. By which a dawning, &c. Michaelis renders 'a rising sun;' but the text is opposed to this sense of the term. For if avatohy signified the sun-rising, it could not be with any propriety connected with You from on high. 97
Jesus born in Bethlehem.
went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that 2 the whole land should be enrolled. (This was the first enrolment by Cyrenius, before that 3 when he was governor of Syria.) And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the family and lineage of David:) 5 To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, 6 being great with child. And it came to pass, that, while they were there, the days were ac7 complished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the house for strangers.
I have, therefore, given what seems to me to be the clear sense of the passage. Day-spring or dawn is certainly improper.
80. In spirit, &c. In his mind or understanding, being filled with wisdom, as it is said, Ch. ii. 40.
CHAP. II. 1. The whole, &c. The text is ambiguous, and may denote the whole Roman empire; or be confined to the whole land of Judea. Comp. Acts ii. 29. With Lardner and others, I take it in the latter sense: first, because the text will fairly bear it ; and secondly, because the circumstances of Herod, and the oath as mentioned by Josephus, seem to imply it; and thirdly, because none of the Roman historians mention a general census at the time to which Luke refers. See Lardner's Works.
2. This was the first, &c. The common rendering of the text is undoubtedly at variance both with the testimony of Josephus, and of Luke himself. Cyrenius was not governor of Syria during the reign of Herod, nor until the deposition and banishment of Archelaus, when Judea was made a Roman province, and taxed as other provinces; and in consequence of which Judas of Galilee raised an insurrection. See Acts v. 37. This was ten or eleven years after the death of Herod. Either then the text or the version must be wrong. Lardner has endeavoured to support the text, and rendered, "This was the first enrolment of Cyrenius, governor of Syria." Doddridge, Newcome, and others adopt this version, adding, in italics, afterwards governor of Syria. Campbell adheres to the text, but gives a rather unusual sense to the verb. His version is, "This first register took effect, when Cyrenius was president of Syria." Great as his authority in a matter of criticism is, I prefer the version of Lardner; for if Lardner has given a rather uncommon sense to the participle, he has given one more so to the verb. I doubt the integrity of the text; for I canuot think that Luke, who in other instances is so accurate, would express himself in so loose and indeterminate a manner. If the whole verse be not a marginal gloss, (for it has no connexion with what precedes or follows) I agree with those critics who think that wong has been dropped before the participle; and on this ground I have formed my version. The text itself implies this; for a first enrolment involves in it a reference to a second. See Michaelis Anmerkung.
An angel announceth it. Now there were in the same country shep- 8 herds abiding in the field, and keeping nightwatches over their flock. And, behold, an an- 9 gel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they feared greatly. And the angel said to them, 10 "Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people. people. For unto you is born this day, in the 11 city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign unto you; Ye will find 12 the babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with 13 the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory be to God in the 14. highest heavens; and on earth peace, good-will towards men."
4. City of David, &c. He was probably born there; or he might go there in conformity to the custom of the Jews, who were enrolled by their tribes and families; and he might have some small estate there; and according to Ulpian, a man was to enrol himself where his estate lay.
5. Great with child. The reason of Mary undertaking such a journey in this condition is stated, note to Ch. iii. 33.
7. No room for them in the, șe. Pearce and Campbell agree that
natakupa signifies a room for guests, and answers to what Busbeqius calls Xenodocdium, where persons were comfortably lodged at the public expence. It is probable that there was only one such house for strangers in Bethlehem; and this being full, Joseph and Mary were obliged to retire to a more homely receptacle, called a stabulum, the middle of which afforded room for cattle, and the sides accommodation for persons. It was not properly a stable, but was formed for the convenient lodging of both men and cattle. Tradition makes this place to have been a large natural cave, where conveniences had been made for strangers. Both Justin Martyr and Origin refer to this; and the place is shown to travellers to this day. Considering the circumstances of our Lord's birth, and the desolations of Judea, I do not think this tradition entitled to much, if any, credit. Our Lord being born in such a place as above described, it was natural to lay him in a manger to rest. Some would make this a hair-cloth bag, and others consider it as the stable itself; but see Campbell's refutation of both these notions.
8. Night-watches. That is, watching them by turns, the space of three hours. From this it is probable that our Lord was born, not on the 25th of December, but as early as September or October. This may be proved from Luke's account in the first Chapter. The Jews began their sacred year at the Passover, (Exod. xiii. 4) which was near the vernal equinox, in the month Abib, and answers to the latter end of our March, and beginning of April. Zechariah was of the course of Abijah which was the eighth. As the priests were divided into twenty-four courses for the year, each course served at the temple only a fortnight. 1 Chron. xxiv. 10. If we count from the Passover in the latter end of March or early in April, Zechariah's course would be at the temple in June. On his return Elizabeth conceived, suppose about the end of June; and when Elizabeth was in the sixth month of her pregnancy, Ch i. 26, which will bring us into December, an angel was sent to inform Mary, that she should conceive, which seems to have then occurred. Reckoning nine months from December, Jesus must have been born in the month of September or of October. Now in the month Tisri was the feast of Tabernacles or Booths, Numb. xxix. 12, when the Jewish vintage was gathered in. As the Jews were obliged to assemble at the chief city of their respective districts, and as the feast of Tabernacles was a season of leisure, this was most suitable for the enrolment. The reason why I have said Jesus must have been born either in September or October, is, that as the Jews reckoned their year by lunar months, they were obliged to add a month at the end of every third year, which they called Veader, in order to adjust the lunar with the solar year. See Prideaux's Preface to Con. Vol 1. Lardner has stated it as his opinion that our Lord was born about the season above-mentioned.
Jesus is circumcised.
And it came to pass, when the angels had departed from them into heaven, that the shepherds said one to another, "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made 16 known to us." And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in 17 a manger. And when they had seen it, they declared what had been told them concerning 18 this child. And all that heard it, wondered at those things which were told them by the 19 shepherds. But Mary observed all these things, 20 considering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS; the name given to him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him 23 to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, " Every male that openeth the womb 24 shall be called holy to the Lord;") And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, "A pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons.'
And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
12. Lying in a manger. This seems to be the circumstance by which they were to know him, and not his being wrapped in swaddling clothes, as this latter was usual.
14. Glory be to God, &c. This anthem of praise was suitable to the display now made of the love, grace, and faithfulness of God.
19. Considering them, &c. It is clear that Mary did not know every thing relating to the son she had born; and her piety is manifest in observing and considering the various wonders which occurred.
21. The eighth day, &c. This was according to the law, Gen. xvii, 12. His name Jesus, Ch. i. 31.
And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Spi- 26
And Joseph and his mother wondered at 33
And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the 36 daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher: she was of a great age, and had lived with a husband but seven years after marriage. And she 37 was a widow of about eighty-four years, who departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And 38 she coming in at that instant, gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spoke of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
22-24. Days of her purification, &c. See Levit. xii. 2. Exod. xiii. 2. and Numb. viii. 17. Levit. xii. 8. The offering of Mary shows that she was not rich, though married to one of the family of David.
25. Consolation of Israel. That is, the coming of Messiah. This proves that there was then an expectation of his coming. Comp. Ch. iii. 15. John iv. 25. 26. Lord's Annointed. Or Messiah, a name given to the Saviour, as being both appointed to, and fully qualified for, the discharge of his office. 30. Thy salvation. Campbell deserts the trope, and renders, the
And when they had performed all things ac- 39 cording to the law of the Lord, they returned
Saviour,' which is the sense; but as a similar trope occurs in the next verses,
32. A light to enlighten, &c. Newcome, to be revealed, &c. Jesus was to be a light by his doctrine to be preached among the Gentiles. See Is. xlix. 6. Acts xxvi. 18.; xxviii. 28.
34. Fall and rise, &c. That is, many Jews will reject him and full by their unbelief; and many will receive him, and rise from their present sinful state.- -For a sign. A wonderful person, and yet many will oppose and re
35. A sword will, &c. That is, thou wilt experience the most piercing affliction on account of him; alluding, most probably, to the crucifixion. John xix. 25. So that the thoughts, &c. The ministry, miracles, and death of Jesus will discover or bring to light the thoughts, designs, and dispositions of all kinds of characters.
36. Anna, a prophetess, &c. One devoted to God, and endowed with the gifts of the spirit to explain the prophets, and instruct the people.
39. They returned to Galilee, &c. While Luke has given us a particular account of the circumstances attending the birth of John and Jesus, he has
Jesus at the age of twelve
40 into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the favour of God was upon him.
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every 42 year, at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem 43 according to the custom of the feast;
having fulfilled the days, they returned, but the youth Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; 44 and Joseph and his mother knew it not. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kindred and acquaintance. 45 And when they found him not, they returned 46 to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER II. 1. We see reason to admire the providence of God, which directs and overrules the counsels of men, so as to accomplish its own designs. Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, according to prophecy. Mary was now far advanced in pregnancy, and had not some unusual circumstances occurred, she would have abode at Nazareth, and there brought forth Jesus; and then what truth would there be in the prediction? In this case the prophets would have seen false visions, and the faith of the church would be vain. But nothing of this kind was suffered to occur. Casar issued a decree, that all the people of Judea should be enrolled; and while he was only contriving to augment his power and his wealth, he was made the instrument of accomplishing the divine will. His decree brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, as descendants of David, and there sprang up the righteous branch from the stem of Jesse. From this as from other instances, it appears that "the counsel of the Lord shall stand."
2. With what gratitude should we contemplate this appearance || of our incarnate Redeemer! Had he come into the world in all the honours that earth could give, it would have been a most wonderful instance of condescension and love. But behold Him, whom angels were commanded to adore, born in the meanest place, and laid in a
goeth to Jerusalem, &c.
the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both bearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his 47 understanding and answers. And when his 48 parents saw him, they were amazed and his mother said to him, "Son, why hast thou done thus to us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing." And he said to them, 49 "How is it that ye sought me? knew ye not that I must needs be in my father's house?” But they understood not the thing which he 50 spoke unto ther And he went down with 51 them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them but his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in 52 wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
wholly omitted what Matthew relates of the coming of the wise men, and the descent of Joseph and Mary into Egypt, and the reason of their going to reside at Nazareth. See Matt. ii. 1, &c. Of these facts, it seems Luke had received no information; but his omission is not to be regarded as rendering the narrative of Matthew questionable. For nothing is more common than for one Historian to omit interesting facts which another relates; and while this shows that one does not copy another, it tends to give credibility to their testimony. Thus the variations of the Evangelists, and the omissions of facts and circumstances in one which are found related by another, show that they wrote without knowing of one anothers design or work.
41. His parents went, &c. Women were not obliged by the law to go; but it seems from the instance of Hannah, 1 Sam, i. 7, &c. that it was customary
manger! The only Son of God not only becomes the Son of man, but seems as if abandoned to misery! What astonishing abasement! Yet amidst this abasement what testimonies were given to him! The angels that had seen the glory with which he had been invested in heaven, now saw him in the form of a servant, and announced the design of his coming to the pious and humble shepherds. "To you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord." A multitude of the heavenly host joined in an anthem of praise for this display of love to men. "Glory be to God in the highest heavens, and on earth peace, good-will towards men." How should we re-echo. this song, Glory to God for this peace, for this good-will to us sinful
3. Let us follow the example of the holy family and of the venerable saints, Simeon and Anna. They observed the ordinances of God, circumcising Jesus when eight days old; and offering the gift which Moses commanded; and presenting him to the Lord. How happy was Simeon! It had been revealed to him that he should not die before he had seen the Lord's Anointed. How delighted must he have been, when led by the spirit to the temple, he took the infant Saviour in his arms, and said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy
for pious females to go and observe that holy solemnity. It is probable, that his parents took Jesus with them, because that they perceived he became strong in spirit, and was filled with divine wisdom.
43. Fulfilled the days. That is eight days; for so long the passover and feast of unleavened bread lasted. Exod. xii. 1—28.— -The youth, &c. After Pearce I have thus rendered, as the term child does not seem proper to one so old, and who attended on the passover.
45. Found him not, &e. The company must have been very large, as it occupied the space of a day to examine it, before they returned to Jerusalem. 46. In the midst of the teachers They sat on benches in a half circle, and their scholars at their feet. Acts xxii. 3.
Understanding and answers. As Jesus asked them questions, they, probably to try his knowledge, might ask him questions in reference to the
John beginneth his ministry.
A. D. 26. The preaching and baptism of John; his testimony to Christ; is-imprisoned by Herod; Christ being baptized receiveth testimony from heaven; genealogy of Christ by Mary.
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberias Cæsar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the te2 trarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto 3 John, the son of Zechariah, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the 4 remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, who saith, "The voice of one crying in the desert, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths 5 straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the 6 rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh 7 shall see the salvation of God." Then he said to the multitudes that went forth to be baptized by him, "O offspring of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from impending wrath? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repent
To see and enjoy an interest in God's salvation, disarms death of its terror, yields heavenly peace, and gives assurance of an immortal and blissful life. If we, like Simeon and Anna, approve ourselves the faithful servants of God, and serve him day and night, with prayer and other exercises, then may we hope that when the time of our departure comes, we shall enjoy like peace, serenity and joy.
4. In the pious conduct of Joseph and Mary, and in the obedience and submission of Jesus, both parents and children may learn their duty. It should be our resolution that both we and our house will serve the Lord; and we should especially see to it that our children.
law and the prophets; to which he replied in such a manner as to excite their astonishment.
49. Be in my father's house? That this is the true version of the text is now generally admitted. It is supported by the Greek Classics as well as by the Sept. Comp. Greek Ester. vii. 9.; John xix. 27, and, Wetstein.
CHAP. III. 1. In the fifteenth year, &c. From this account it has been objected to the authenticity of the two first Ch. of this gospel, as well as to Matt. i. 18, to ii. 1-23; that is, to the whole narrative of our Lord's miraculous conception, and the circumstances which attended it. (See notes to Socinian Version.) No copies have been found in which these Chapters are wanting; and they are in all the old versions; so that if we reject them as spurious, we do it without any authority. See note on ver. 23.
2. Being high priests, &c. Annas had been high priest, but Caiaphas
His greal faithfulness.
ance, and say not within yourselves, We have Abraham for our father: for I say to you, That of these stones God is able to raise up children unto. Abraham.. And now also the axe 9. is laid to the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." And the multi- 10 tudes asked him, saying, "What then shall we do?" He answereth and saith to them, "He 11 that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath food, let him do likewise." Then came publicans also to be 12 baptized, and said to him, "Master, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Exact 13 no more than that which is appointed unto you." And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, 14 saying, “And what shall we do?" And he said to them, “Take by violence from no man, and accuse not any falsely; and be content with your pay."
And as the people were in expectation, and 15 all men reasoned in their hearts concerning John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John 16 spoke, saying to them all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose; he shall baptize you with the Holy
join with us in our attendance on our heavenly father. Let children. view the example of Jesus, and be desirous of copying it. Let them love the house and ordinances of God, and thirst for the instructions of his good word; and if ministers spare any part of their time in catechizing them, let them labour to return proper answers, and with modesty ask such questions as may tend to improve them in knowledge. and grace. And should they possess the best talents, and be admired for their genius and acquirements, let them remember that like Jesus it is their duty to be in subjection to their own parents, and to behave with modesty to all.