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 Main Index : Commentaries : Geneva Study Bible : Luke Index : Chapter 1

Luke, Chapter 1
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Matthew Henry
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1:1 Forasmuch as 1 many have a taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

    (1) Luke commends the witnesses that saw this present account.
    (a) Many took it in hand, but did not perform: Luke wrote his gospel before Matthew and Mark.
1:2 b Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
    (b) Luke was not any eye witness, and therefore it was not he to whom the Lord appeared when Cleopas saw him: and he was taught not only by Paul, but by others of the apostles also.
1:3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things c from the very first, to write unto thee in order, d most excellent Theophilus,
    (c) Luke began his gospel a great deal further in the past than the others did.
    (d) It is "most mighty", and therefore Theophilus was a very honourable man, and in a place of great dignity.
1:4 That thou mightest e know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
    (e) Have fuller knowledge of those things which you know only partially.
1:5 There 2 was f in the days of g Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the h course of Abia: and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron, and her name [was] Elisabeth.
    (2) John, who was another Elias and appointed to be the herald of Christ, coming from the family of Aaron, and of two famous and blameless parents, has shown in his conception (which was against the course of nature) a double miracle, to the end that men should be more readily prepared for the hearing of his preaching, according to the forewarning of the prophets.
    (f) This is a Hebrew idiom which shows us how short and frail a thing the power of princes is.
    (g) Herod the great.
    (h) For the posterity of Aaron was divided into courses.
1:6 And they were both i righteous before God, k walking in all the l commandments and ordinances of the Lord m blameless.
    (i) The true mark of righteousness is demonstrated when one is liked and accepted in the judgment of God.
    (k) Lived, as the Hebrews say, for our life is as a way in which we must walk until we come to the mark.
    (l) In all the moral and ceremonial law.
    (m) Whom no man could justly reprove: now so it is that the fruits of justification are set forth here, and not the cause, which is faith only, and nothing else.

1:9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the n temple of the Lord.

    (n) The temple was one, and the court another, for Zacharias went out of the court (or outward room) where all the people were (and therefore they are said to be without) and into the temple.
1:15 For he shall be great in the o sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor p strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
    (o) So the Hebrews say when a rare kind of excellency is signified: so it is said of Nimrod in (Ge 10:9), "He was a mighty hunter before the LORD".
    (p) Any drink that might make someone drunk.
1:16 And many of the children of Israel shall he q turn to the Lord their God.
    (q) Shall be a means to bring many to repentance, and they will turn themselves to the Lord, from whom they fell.
1:17 And he shall go r before him s in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the t hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the u wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
    (r) As they used to go before kings, and when you see them, you know the king is not far off.
    (s) This is spoken by the figure of speech metonymy, taking the spirit for the gift of the spirit; as you would say, the cause of that which comes from the cause.
    (t) By the figure of speech synecdoche he shows that he will take away all types of enmities which used to breed great troubles and turmoils among men.
    (u) Wisdom and goodness are two of the main causes which make men revere and honour their fathers.
1:19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, x that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
    (x) That appears, for so the Hebrews use this saying "to stand" to mean that they are ready to do his commandment.
1:26 3 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
    (3) The angel, serving the Lord who would be born, is sent to the virgin Mary, in whom the son of the most high promised to David is conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.
1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the y house of David; and the virgin's name [was] Mary.
    (y) The same can be said of Mary, otherwise Christ would not have been of the stock of David, nor his son.
1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, [thou that art] z highly favoured, the Lord [is] with thee: a blessed [art] thou among women.
    (z) It might be literally rendered, "full of favour and grace", and he shows immediately after, laying out plainly unto us, what that favour is in that he says, "The Lord is with thee".
    (a) Of God.
1:29 And when she saw [him], she was b troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
    (b) Moved at the strangeness of the matter.
1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast c found favour with God.
    (c) So the Hebrews said, saying that those men have found favour who are in favour.

1:32 He shall be great, and shall be d called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

    (d) He will be declared to be so, for he was the Son of God from everlasting, but was made manifest in the flesh in his time.
1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, e How shall this be, seeing f I know not a man?
    (e) The greatness of the matter causes the virgin to ask this question, not that she distrusted by any means at all, for she asks only of the manner of the conceiving, so that it is plain she believed all the rest.
    (f) So speak the Hebrews, signifying by this modest kind of speech the company of man and wife together, and this is the meaning of it: how will this be, for as I will be Christ's mother I am very sure I will not know any man: for the godly virgin had learned by the prophets that the Messiah would be born of a virgin.
1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost g shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that h holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be i called the Son of God.
    (g) That is, the Holy Spirit will cause thee to conceive by his mighty power.
    (h) That thing which is pure and void of all spot of uncleanliness: for he that was to take away sin must of necessity be void of sin.
    (i) Declared and shown to the world to be the Son of God.
1:36 And, behold, thy k cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the l sixth month with her, who was called barren.
    (k) Though Elisabeth was of the tribe of Levi, yet it was possible for her to be Mary's cousin: for whereas it was forbidden by the Law for maidens to be married to men of other tribes, there was an exception among the Levites, who could take for themselves wives out of any tribe: for the Levites had no portion allotted to them when the land was divided among the people.
    (l) This is now the sixth month from the time when she conceived.
1:39 4 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the m hill country with haste, into a n city of Juda;
    (4) Elisabeth being many months pregnant with John, and Mary being pregnant with Christ, do rejoice for each other by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
    (m) Which is on the south side of Jerusalem.
    (n) That is to say, Hebron: which was in times past called Kirjatharba: which was one of the towns that were given to the Levites in the tribe of Judah, and is said to be in the mountains of Judah; (Jos 14:15; 21:11).
1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe o leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
    (o) This was no ordinary or usual type of moving.
1:42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed [art] thou among women, and p blessed [is] the fruit of thy womb.
    (p) Christ is blessed with respect to his humanity.
1:46 5 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
    (5) Christ, the redeemer of the afflicted and revenger of the proud, promised long ago to the fathers, is now finally exhibited indeed.
1:48 For he hath q regarded the r low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
    (q) Has freely and graciously loved.
    (r) Literally, "My baseness", that is, my base estate: so that the virgin did not boast of her deserts, but the grace of God.
1:50 And his mercy [is] on them s that fear him from generation to generation.
    (s) To those that live godly and religiously, as the Hebrews say.
1:51 He hath shewed strength with his t arm; he hath u scattered the proud in the x imagination of their hearts.
    (t) Here many more words than necessary are used, which the Hebrews use very much: and "arm" here is taken for strength.
    (u) Even as the wind does to the chaff.
    (x) He has scattered them, and the imagination of their hearts; or, by and through the imagination of their own hearts; so that their wicked counsel turned to their own destruction.
1:52 He hath y put down the mighty from [their] seats, and exalted them of z low degree.
    (y) The mighty and rich men.
    (z) Those of no account, who are vile in men's eyes, who are indeed the poor in spirit, that is, those who claim nothing of themselves in the sight of God.
1:53 He hath filled the a hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
    (a) Those that are brought to extreme poverty.
1:54 b He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of [his] mercy;
    (b) He has helped Israel up with his arm, who had been completely cast down.
1:55 As he c spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
    (c) Promised.
1:57 6 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.
    (6) John's birth is accompanied by new miracles.
1:65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all d these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.
    (d) All this which was said and done.
1:66 And all they that heard [them] e laid [them] up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the f hand of the Lord was with him.
    (e) Thought upon them diligently and earnestly, and as it were, printed them in their hearts.
    (f) That is, the present favour of God, and a singular type of virtue appeared in him.
1:67 7 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
    (7) John, having just been born, by the authority of the Holy Spirit is appointed to his office.
1:68 Blessed [be] the Lord God of Israel; for he hath g visited and h redeemed his people,
    (g) That he has shown himself mindful of his people, to the extent that he came down from heaven himself to visit us in person, and to redeem us.
    (h) Has paid the ransom, that is to say, the price of our redemption.
1:69 And hath raised up an i horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
    (i) This word "horn", in the Hebrew language, signifies strength, and it is a metaphor taken from beasts that fight with their horns: And by raising up the might of Israel is meant that the kingdom of Israel was defended, and the enemies of it laid on the ground, even then when the strength of Israel seemed to be utterly gone.
1:72 To perform the mercy [promised] to our fathers, and k to remember his holy covenant;
    (k) Declare indeed that he was mindful.
1:75 In holiness and righteousness l before him, all the days of our life.
    (l) To God's good liking.
1:76 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.
1:77 To n give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the o remission of their sins,
    (n) Open the way.
    (o) Forgiveness of sins is the means by which God saves us; (Ro 4:7).
1:78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the p dayspring from on high hath visited us,
    (p) Or "bud", or "branch"; he alludes to (Jer 23:5) (Zec 3:8 6:12); and he is called a bud from on high, that is, sent from God unto us, and not as other buds which bud out of the earth.
1:79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and [in] the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the q way of peace.
    (q) Into the way which leads us to true happiness.

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