Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Luke 1:70-2:4

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Luke 1:70

The Old Testament prophets looked forward to this coming power of salvation. Therefore, Israel was expecting the horn of salvation (v. 69; Mic. 4:13; 5:4-5).

Luke 1:71

Zechariah may have been thinking in political term. Israel viewed Rome as its oppressive enemy. However, God's salvation would be even greater. He would bring about eternal salvation from evil spiritual powers (see Col. 2:13-15).

Luke 1:72-73

God's presence was a fulfillment of his past promises. Specifically, he promised to bless Abraham, and through him, bless all nations (Gen. 17:4; 22:16-17; Gal. 3:16).

Luke 1:76-78

Zechariah moved from praising God directly, to addressing his son, John. As God's prophet, he will prepare the way for the Lord's coming (Isa 40:3). He will prepare the way by giving knowledge of salvation to Israel. This knowledge was neither abstract nor theoretical. It was something learned by experience. It was seen in the forgiveness of their sins (3:3, 7-8). This is the essence of God's saving mercy in Jesus. It is one of the central themes of Christianity (see 4:18; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 5:31; 10:43; 13:38). See BC 22.

Luke 1:80

The summary of John's growth is similar to the description of Samuel (1 Sam. 2:21). However, as an adult, John would live in the wilderness until he began his public ministry. This was the uninhabited parts of Israel. These remote areas were often a refuge for prophets (1 Kgs. 18:45–19:21) and a place of communion with God (5:16; Mark 1:45).

Luke 2:1

in those days. This phrase connects what follows to the previous section (1:80). Christianity is grounded in history, not mythology (see notes on 1:1-4). Caesar Augustus. The great nephew of Julius Caesar. He fought his way to power by defeating Marc Antony and Cleopatra. His reign was characterized by the peaceful stability he brought to the empire (31 BC–AD 14). Originally named Octavian, he was the first Caesar to take the title Augustus after the Roman senate granted it to him. The title means holy or revered. This was the first step at making the Caesars gods for the people. One ancient city had an inscription that hailed him as "the Savior of the whole world." Luke showed the contrast between Caesar and Christ, the true Savior. census. For the purpose of collecting taxes. Luke used exaggerated language to describe its extent. It extended to the known world of the Roman Empire.

Luke 2:2

This verse presents some historical difficulties. There was a Quirinius who governed Syria and carried out a famous census in AD 6 (see Acts 5:37; Josephus, Antiquities, 18.26). However, this was after the death of Herod the Great (4 BC), whom we know was alive during Jesus's birth (1:5; Matt. 2:1-18). Three options could explain the apparent discrepancy. First, the Greek could allow for the translation the first census before Quirinius was governor. This would mean Luke distinguished between the census at Jesus's birth and the later famous one. Second, it could be that word governor was used as a general term and only meant Quirinius was an administrator of the census. Then later he came to power formally as the governor. Finally, it's possible that there were two governors named Quirinius, though we only have extra-biblical records of one.

Luke 2:3-4

Joseph and Mary (v. 5) traveled from their home in Nazareth (1:26) to Bethlehem. This was the ancestral home of Joseph who was a descendent of David (1:27). He may have owned property there, which accounts for his need to travel. Luke emphasized the journey because Bethlehem was the foretold birthplace of the Messiah (Mic. 5:2). Though Caesar seemed in control, God was fulfilling his plans and promises (v. 6; see 1:51-52; Prov. 21:1).

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