Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Luke 1:80-2:7

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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).

Luke 2:5

engaged . . . pregnant. Luke probably inferred what Matthew made explicit (Matt. 1:25). Because they were engaged (1:27), Mary and Joseph had not consummated their marriage. The reader is reminded of Jesus's supernatural conception (1:30-35) as well as the shocking situation for Jewish society.

Luke 2:7

firstborn. Luke implied that Joseph and Mary had other children after Jesus (8:19; Mark 6:3). Like the people of Israel had been considered, Jesus is God's firstborn son (Exod. 4:22). Through him, many will become sons of God (John 1:12; 51-52; Gal 3:26). inn. A word which could refer to a few different things. It could mean a public shelter were several families would stay under one roof. Or, it might refer to a guest room attached to a home (22:11). Still yet, it might refer to a formal inn. These were either two-story buildings with customers staying above the animals, or a large, single-story building with stable and room side-by-side. The first or second option seems likely in this case. manger. A feeding trough for animals. Because the inn was full to capacity given the census (v. 1), Joseph and Mary stayed in a location normally reserved for animals. This was either a room attached to a home, or a nearby cave as ancient tradition suggests. See WLC 47; WSC 27.

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