Bible Study: Luke, Chapter One
Transcript: Today we are being our new Bible study together. We are going to cover Luke Chapter 1. Today, or sometime this week, please take the quiz on Luke Chapter 1 that I have put together on the website. It is on the right hand side and has been updated to match this teaching. With eighty verses, Luke chapter one is the longest chapter in the book of Luke, so it will take us a while to get through it. We plan to take it chapter by chapter, and some chapters will take longer than others.
I will be reading from the World English Bible because of copyright reasons. Modern English translations like the New King James, the ESV, the NIV and others require permission if you quote more than a few hundred words, and when I asked them for permission by filling out their forms, they did not reply, and it has been over a year. Maybe they are just slow, or we are too insignificant in their eyes. Either way, the World English Bible is in public domain, and copyright free. I can read the entire Bible in this video, print it all out, include it in a book, and then sell it, and no one cares. It is truly free, and I also find that it is very accurate. Now you can read whatever Bible that you have in your house. It does not need to be the WEB. Like Billy Graham said, just pick one and live by it.
Luke Chapter 1:“Since many have undertaken to set in order a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, 2 even as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write to you in order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 that you might know the certainty concerning the things in which you were instructed.”
The books of Luke and Acts were written to a man named “Theophilus" which means "Lover of God” by a man named “Luke” which means: “Luminous”. Theophilus was probably a member of the Roman government because of the title: “Most Excellent Theophilus.” It is entirely likely that the books of Luke and Acts make up Paul’s defense brief for his trial before Caesar, since Acts leaves Paul waiting for that trial. Luke spent years gathering and sorting the information from eye witness accounts and put together the two books, Luke and Acts. So oddly enough, the largest portion of the new testament was written to a single man named Theophilus. Luke was meticulous and accurate in his writing.
Luke was a physician, and his gospel reflects a physician’s sympathy and compassion for the afflicted. He was a close companion of the Apostle Paul and traveled with him extensively. In 2 Timothy 4:11 Paul wrote that: “Luke alone is with me”. That was after everyone else had abandoned him. Luke brought Paul food while he was in prison. He was an humble man that was a trusted assistant (Colossians 4:14, Philemon 24). Luke stayed with Paul right up the end when Paul was beheaded under Nero in Rome on June 29nth between 64 to 72 A.D..
Early church accounts say that Luke was a gentile convert, and that he never married. He did not grow up in the temple, nor under the law of Moses. This makes Luke unique, as he is the only writer in the New Testament who was a gentile. It was written for the common man. Because of this, Luke mostly uses verbatim quotes from the Lord Jesus, and he does not talk that much about the law. The gospel of Luke is the most universal gospel where gentiles are often put in a favorable light, and is the one most interested in the roles of women, children, and social outcasts.
Luke talks a lot about prayer. He has seven different references to Jesus praying in this gospel alone. Luke’s gospel is the one with the most emphasis on the Holy Spirit and on joy. Luke’s gospel is the one with the most emphasis on preaching the good news (the gospel). This term is used ten times in the book of Luke (and only once in any other Gospel) as well as fifteen additional times in Acts.
“5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the priestly division of Abijah. He had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 They were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they both were well advanced in years. 8 Now while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his division 9 according to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to enter into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 The whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.”
In Malachi 4:5 — The prophet Malachi wrote “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.” and then there were 400 years of complete silence from the Lord. 400 long quiet years, then the Angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the temple. Now it was time, and two births happen about six months apart.
Herod the Great was a descendant of Jacob’s brother Esau, an edomite. He was at the end of a long and terrible reign. He was known for spectacular building projects like the temple, and for his paranoia, which drove him execute many of those around him, including his own family members. He ruled over a large area, for a long time.
Zacharias was chosen by lot to go into the temple’s Holy Place and burn incense. In the Bible, burning incense is a strong picture of prayer, our prayers rising up to God. This was an extremely rare event. Only priests from a particular lineage could serve in the temple. Zechariah was of the division of “Abijah” and eight in rotation (1 Chronicles 24:10). Two weeks a year their order got to serve at the temple in Jerusalem. Over the years the number of priests multiplied, (there were said to be as many as 20,000 priests in the time of Jesus) so they cast lots to determine which priests would serve when. A priest may only do this once in his life. This was a tremendous privilege, and probably the most important event in Zacharias life.
While Zacharias was in the temple, the Angel Gabriel appeared to him. Gabriel means: “Man of God.” Gabriel also appeared in Daniel chapter 8 when He explained Daniel’s dream to him. Gabriel appeared to Zachariah in the temple, and later He appears to Mary.
“12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Don’t be afraid, Zacharias, because your request has been heard. Your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to prepare a people prepared for the Lord.”
It is interesting that Gabriel said to Zacharias, “Your prayer has been heard. Your wife will bear a son.” Now Zacharias and Elizabeth were old, well advanced in years, and had probably long since given up on having a child. That was something that they had prayed for many years ago. At that moment, Zacharias was probably praying for the Messiah to come. God answered both of those prayers with one answer: Zacharias would have a son, that would prepare the way for the Messiah. John the baptizer would carry the spirit and power of Elijah, and he would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. Sometimes the things that we pray take years to come to pass, but God has not forgotten about them.
“18 Zacharias said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”
19 The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God. I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 Behold, you will be silent and not able to speak until the day that these things will happen, because you didn’t believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”
The Angel Gabriel who appeared to Zacharias was not like cupid, or a naked baby with wings. This Angel was glorious, fearful, and awesome. Like most angels in the Bible, the first thing that Gabriel said was: “Do not be afraid.” Because Zacharias would have been.
“21 The people were waiting for Zacharias, and they marveled that he delayed in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple. He continued making signs to them, and remained mute. 23 When the days of his service were fulfilled, he departed to his house. 24 After these days Elizabeth his wife conceived, and she hid herself five months, saying, 25 “Thus has the Lord done to me in the days in which he looked at me, to take away my reproach among men.”
“26 Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 Having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, you highly favored one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women!” 29 But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered what kind of salutation this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and shall name him ‘Jesus.’ 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. There will be no end to his Kingdom.”
Mary and Joseph lived in a small town called Nazareth. It is such a small town that it is not even mentioned in the old testament. It is more like a community. A place to stop while on your way somewhere else. Mary was just a young girl probably about 13 years old at the time. The usual age for marriage under Jewish law was 13 for boys, and 12 for girls.
The Bible clearly states that she was a virgin, and this was prophesied in Isaiah 7:14 about 700 years earlier. Matthew 13:55 tells us that her husband Joseph was a carpenter. The Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary six months after He appeared to Zacharias. This was all on God’s timetable and carefully planned. John the baptizer would prepare the way for Jesus, by going six months ahead of Him. Jesus was closely linked with Nazareth, always being known as: Jesus of Nazareth.
There were three stages to a Jewish wedding in that day:
- The Engagement (a formal agreement made by the fathers)
- The Betrothal (the ceremony where mutual promises were made)
- The Marriage (approximately one year later, when the bridegroom came for his bride at an unexpected time)
When a couple was betrothed, they were under the obligations of faithfulness, and a divorce was required to break the betrothal. Betrothal was not a casual promise, but binding.
34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, seeing I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore also the holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God. 36 Behold, Elizabeth your relative also has conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing spoken by God is impossible.” 38 Mary said, “Behold, the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.” The angel departed from her.
To be clear about this, technically speaking, the Angel prophesied a virginal conception. The Holy Spirit would overshadow Mary like a cloud of Glory, and she would conceive while remaining a virgin. She did not “mate” with the Holy Spirit. But then as far as anyone can tell, the birth of Jesus was in the normal way that a woman gives birth, just not His conception. There can be no question about the Virgin Birth, only questions on the authority of Scripture itself.
I have often wondered about about the differences between Zacharias and Mary. Zacharias said “How can I be sure of this?” and was stricken mute. Mary said: “How can this be?” and was answered. I believe a lot of the differences is Luke 12:48: To whom much is given, much is required. The priest Zacharias was a religious leader of the people, but questioned the word from God. Mary was just an humble, young girl with a question. “Let it be to me according to Your word” is the proper response to every promise of God.
“39 Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah, 40 and entered into the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 She called out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 Why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came into my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy! 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord!”
Mary traveled a distance of 80 to 100 miles to visit Elizabeth her relative, who lived in the hill country of Judea. Being that Elizabeth had become pregnant in old age, and Gabriel had mentioned her, Mary may have sought her for advice.
“46 Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord. 47 My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked at the humble state of his servant.”
Mary said “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior”. This means to me, that Mary needed a Savior, and that sh.e knew that she needed a Savior. Mary was a member of the sinning race along with the rest of us. Only sinners need a Savior. Gabriel said that she was “highly favored” and “blessed” so she should be treated with respect, but she was a sinner like the rest of mankind.
“For behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed. 49 For he who is mighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name. 50 His mercy is for generations of generations on those who fear him. 51 He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He has put down princes from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things. He has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has given help to Israel, his servant, that he might remember mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his offspring forever.”
“56 Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her house. 57 Now the time that Elizabeth should give birth was fulfilled, and she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had magnified his mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 On the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. 60 His mother answered, “Not so; but he will be called John.”
John means: “God Favored.” He would be a Nazarite as found in Numbers 6, who could not drink alcohol nor cut their hair. John would be specially consecrated to God all the days of his life, as Samson should have been.
“61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” 62 They made signs to his father, what he would have him called. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.” They all marveled. 64 His mouth was opened immediately and his tongue freed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 Fear came on all who lived around them, and all these sayings were talked about throughout all the hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard them laid them up in their heart, saying, “What then will this child be?” The hand of the Lord was with him.
67 His father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, 68 “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people; 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 70 (as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets who have been from of old), 71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show mercy toward our fathers, to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath which he swore to Abraham our father, 74 to grant to us that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, should serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.
76 And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the remission of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the dawn from on high will visit us, 79 to shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death; to guide our feet into the way of peace.” 80 The child was growing and becoming strong in spirit, and was in the desert until the day of his public appearance to Israel.”
John the Baptizer was an unknown, until the day of his public appearing to Israel. This is God’s way of preparing someone. He hides them away in the desert until the day comes and prepared them, just as He did with Moses, with John, with Jesus.