Luke 1

Luke 1:2

just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,

(a) Servants of the word. Like the apostles who introduced themselves as bondservants of Jesus Christ (see entry for Rom 1:1), Luke saw himself as a servant of the word. This has led to confusion among some believers. Am I a son or servant of God?

Jesus, the Son of God, took the form of a bondservant (Php. 2:7). He was not confused about his identity, but he was servant-hearted (Mark 10:45). Jesus is the Son who serves.

Similarly, when the apostles identify themselves as servants of Christ or servants of the word, they are saying, “We are the sons of God who serve in the manner in which Christ served,” meaning they served others (2 Cor. 4:5). They did not serve to curry favor with God, but to reveal the Servant-king to people. “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, so that I may win more” (1 Cor. 9:19).

It’s the same with us. Although we are free in Christ, we choose to serve in the name of Christ so that the orphans and slaves of this world might come to know their Father who loves them. Like Christ, we are the sons who serve.

Further reading: “Son, servant, or friend of God?

(b) The word of God is revealed in the word of the kingdom (Matt. 13:19) or the word of the Christ (Rom. 10:17). It is revealed in the gospel of Jesus (Mark 1:1) and the gospel of grace (Acts 20:24). See entry for Word of God.

Luke 1:3

it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;

Having investigated everything carefully. Luke said he had a perfect understanding of what he wrote about (see Luke 1:3, KJV). A true Bible teacher has a good and full understanding of what he teaches, while a false teacher does not really understand what they are talking about (see 1 Tim. 1:6-7).

Luke 1:5

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.

Herod, king of Judea. Herod was Herod the Great (37–4BC) was the governor of Galilee before the Romans appointed him the king of Judea. He was one of the most ruthless and ambitious politicians in the Bible. See entry for Matt. 2:1.

Luke 1:6

They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.

(a) Righteous in the sight of God. Before the cross, no one could be made righteous. The gift of righteousness had not been given and the “one act of righteousness” had not be done (Rom. 5:18). This is why Old Testament saints such as Abraham were credited with righteousness on account of their faith in God (see entry for Rom. 4:3).

(b) Walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. Zacharias and Elizabeth were model Jews who kept the law, but did this make them righteous before God? Although the Bible speaks of the righteousness found in the law (Rom. 10:4-5, Php. 3:6, 9), no one was ever justified by keeping the law (Gal. 3:11). To say that they were righteous because they kept the law is like saying Christ died for nothing (Gal. 2:21).

Zacharias and Elizabeth were counted righteous for the same reason that other pre-cross believers were counted righteous – on account of their faith in God. Although Zacharias was not as quick to believe the good news announced by the angel (Luke 1:18), the God who sees the end of all things knew that he would come right.

Luke 1:15

“For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.

His mother’s womb. This scripture demolishes Augustine’s doctrine of original sin. Original sin says John was a sinner in his mother’s womb, but the Bible says he was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Further reading: “Original sin is unbiblical

Luke 1:19

The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.

I have been sent to speak to you. The word of God or the word of the Lord can be conveyed via prophecies (2 Sam. 24:11, 1 Kgs. 14:18), dreams (Num. 12:6), visions (Gen. 15:1), the Law (Num. 36:5, Deu. 5:5, Is. 2:3), and angels (Luke 1:35). However, the primary way God reveals himself is through his Son. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:14, Rev. 19:13).

Luke 1:27

to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

Mary the mother of Jesus is one of six women named Mary in the New Testament. The others are Mary Magdalene (see entry for Luke 8:2), Mary of Bethany (see entry for Luke 10:39), Mary the mother of James and Joseph who was probably also the wife of Clopas (see entry for Matt. 27:56), Mary the mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12), and Mary of Rome (Rom. 16:6).

Luke 1:32

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;

The throne. The angel Gabriel was the first New Testament figure to recognize Jesus as a king, and the magi were a close second (Matt. 2:2). Others who recognized Jesus as a king included the disciples (Luke 19:38), the palm-waving people of Jerusalem (John 12:13), Paul and Silas (Acts 17:7), and the seventh angel (Rev. 11:15).

During his earthly ministry, Jesus rarely referred to himself in such royal terms (Matt. 21:5, 25:34, Mark 15:2, Luke 22:29-30, 23:3, John 18:36-37).

Luke 1:34

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

Virgin. One of the central tenets of the Christian faith is the virgin birth. Jesus had no earthly father but was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born from the virgin Mary (Is. 7:14, Matt. 1:23). What is the significance of the virgin birth?

The traditional explanation is that a virgin birth meant Jesus was not stained with Adam’s sin. Since he did not have a natural father, Jesus did not inherit Adam’s sinful nature. It is an oft-repeated explanation, but one not found in scripture. The true significance of the virgin birth is that Jesus was not born a slave and only a free man can ransom a slave.

See entry for Virgin Birth.

Luke 1:35

The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.

(a) The Holy Spirit will come upon you. Mary was a surrogate mother not a biological mother.

Jesus is the eternal God, the Creator of all including Mary (John 1:1, Col 1:15–16). Just as Joseph contributed no DNA to Jesus, neither did Mary. She provided a womb, but no egg. The Holy Spirit overshadowed her and the result was a baby from heaven.

(b) The holy Child. One day, Mary was not pregnant; the next, “she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:18, ESV). There is much mystery in this. How did the miracle of the Virgin Birth take place? We don’t know the how, but we know the Who. How did the Word become flesh? The Holy Spirit is the answer. “You have made him a little lower than God” (Ps. 8:5).

For most of us, life begins in the womb, but Jesus had no beginning. The Word who became flesh was with God when creation began (John 1:1). Jesus did not need a sperm donor or an egg donor. He needed a body, and that’s what the Holy Spirit provided. See entry for Heb. 10:5.

Luke 1:46–47

And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

(a) Soul. Your soul is that part of you that contains your personality, memories, and intentions. Metaphorically, it is your heart and mind. The Greek word for soul, psuche, is related to the word psychology, which has to do with the mind. We might say the soul resides in your mind – or perhaps your mind resides in your soul – and it is that part of you that thinks, feels, and remembers.

(b) Spirit. Your spirit is that part of you that makes you spiritually aware or God-conscious. For want of a better analogy, your spirit is like an antenna. Just as our physical bodies connect us to the physical realm, our spirits connect us to the spiritual realm. Just as we have natural senses (sight, smell, hearing, etc.), we have spiritual senses (e.g., intuition).

It is sometimes said that we relate to people with our souls, while we relate to God with our spirits. It is certainly true that we worship him in spirit (John 4:24), we rejoice in the spirit (Luke 1:47), we pray in the spirit (1 Cor. 14:15, Eph. 6:18), and in all these things we are greatly aided by the Holy Spirit (see Rom. 8:26–27). But that does not mean that our souls and bodies are left out of the picture. God is interested in all of you, not just part of you. David sang, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul…” (Ps. 103:1–2). Mary is saying something similar here.

When David sang, “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” he was saying we can magnify the Lord with our minds and emotions. David adds, “and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” We can praise the Lord with our lips (Ps. 51:15, Heb. 13:15), hands (Ps. 63:3, 134:2), and feet (Ps. 30:11, 149:3). Worship is fundamentally spiritual, but we can worship the Lord with every part of our being, body, soul and spirit (Deu. 11:13, Jos. 22:5, Ps. 35:9, Is. 61:10).

Further reading, “Spirit and soul

Luke 1:49

“For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.

(a) Holy is His name. God is the very definition of holy.

If we want to know what holiness means, we must look to God who is holy and whose name is holy. To say God is holy is to refer to the wholeness, fullness, beauty, and abundant life that overflows within the Godhead. God lacks nothing. He is unbroken, undamaged, unfallen, completely complete and entire within himself. He is the indivisible One, wholly self-sufficient, and the picture of perfection.

When the angels sing “Holy is the Lord,” they are not admiring God for his rule-keeping or sin avoidance; they are marveling at the transcendent totality of his perfection (Is. 6:3). To worship God in the beauty of his holiness is to be awestruck by the infinite sweep and scale of his sublimity. It is to become lost in the limitless landscape of his loveliness.

God the Father is Holy (Luke 1:49, John 17:11, Rev. 4:8) and so are God the Son (Mark 1:24, Acts 2:27, 3:14, 4:27, 30) and God the Holy Spirit (Rom. 1:4).

See entry for Holiness.

Luke 1:53

And sent away the rich empty-handed.

Good things is a reference to Jesus himself; see entry for Heb. 10:1.

Luke 1:54

“He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,

(a) He has given help. Life is too big for any of us to handle, but the good news is that God is our very great Helper (Deu. 33:26, John 14:16). “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings” (Ps. 63:7).

Further reading: “Who’s your Helper?

(b) His mercy. To a nation burdened with the heavy yoke of law, the cry for mercy was never far away. The law makes us acutely aware of our shortcomings and needs. Mercy is God’s help in our time of need (Heb. 4:16).

Luke 1:58

Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her.

(a) Great mercy. Just as God has great grace (see entry for Jas. 4:6), he has great mercy (1 Pet. 1:3). God is both rich in grace (Eph. 1:7, 2:7), and mercy (Eph. 2:4). His great mercy testifies to his great love for us (Eph. 2:4).

(b) Mercy is showing compassion towards those in need. See entry for Mercy.

Luke 1:69

And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of David His servant—

Salvation. The original word means deliverance or rescue. Jesus is the great Deliverer who rescues us from our enemies (Luke 1:71). See entry for Salvation.

Luke 1:71


Salvation from our enemies. Our enemies include sin and the evils of the present age (Gal. 1:4). But our greatest enemy is death (1 Cor. 15:26). Jesus is the Savior who rescues our souls from death (Ps. 33:19, 116:8).

Luke 1:77

To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,

(a) Knowledge of salvation comes when we know the Savior who sets us free from sin. As the angel said, Jesus “will save his people from their sins” (Matt.1:21). We are saved and set free when we realize our sins have been completely and eternally forgiven in accordance with the riches of his grace (Eph. 1:7).

(b) Forgiveness. The original word (aphesis) for forgiveness is a noun that is sometimes translated as remission and means a letting go or dismissal (see entry for Luke 24:47).

On the night he rose from the dead, Jesus told the disciples to preach the remission of sins or the good news of unconditional forgiveness (Luke 24:47). Because of his great love, God chooses to remember your sins no more (Heb. 8:12, 10:17), and he is no longer holding your sins and trespasses against you (2 Cor. 5:19). However, you will never experience his forgiveness unless you receive it by faith. Only in Christ do we have the forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14).

Salvation often appears to us as the forgiveness of sins, but salvation is much more than forgiveness. The word which is commonly translated as save in the Bible (sozo), means to deliver, protect, heal, preserve, and make whole. It covers not only salvation, but healing, deliverance, and prosperity. God does not merely forgive us of our sins; he provides everything we need for health and wholeness today (Eph. 1:3, 2 Pet. 1:3). See entry for Salvation.

Luke 1:78

Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,

Tender mercy. Mercy is one facet of God’s grace (Heb. 4:16). Mercy is how grace appears to the needy.

Just as we are saved by grace (Eph. 2:5), we are saved by mercy (Tit. 3:5). Just as we are forgiven by grace (Eph. 1:7), we are forgiven by mercy (Matt. 18:33, Luke 1:77, Heb. 8:12). See entry for Mercy.

Luke 1:79


To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

The way of peace. When we proclaim the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15) we are revealing the way of peace (Is. 59:8) which leads us to the God of peace (Rom. 15:33) who gives us life and peace (Rom. 8:6).

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