Luke 2

2:1 In those days Caesar Augustus [first emperor of Roman Empire] issued a decree [taxation decree] that a census [to register, to record information (name, occupation, property) in public registers] should be taken of the entire Roman world [inhabited earth].

2:2 (This was the first [can mean former or prior; (cf. Acts 5:37)] census [enrollment, tax registration] that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria [Roman province].)

2:3 And everyone [Jews] went [traveled] to his own town [Jewish census was according to tribe, ancestral home, family, lineage] to register.

2:4 So Joseph also went up [Nazareth at lower elevation than Bethlehem] from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to [85-90 mile journey] Bethlehem [located about 5 miles southwest of Jerusalem; the place foretold in prophecy for the Messiah’s birth (cf. Mic. 5:2)] the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.

2:5 He went there [Bethlehem] to register with Mary [women not usually required to register; perhaps Mary accompanied Joseph because she was in the last trimester of her pregnancy and therefore possibly the subject of insult], who was pledged [engaged; had not yet consummated their marriage] to be married to him and was expecting a child [pregnancy probably made the journey difficult for Mary].

2:6 While [we do not know length of time] they were there [Bethlehem], the time [cf. Gal. 4:4] came for the baby to be born,

2:7 and she gave birth [miraculous conception but normal birth] to her firstborn [use of this word suggests that Mary gave birth to other children at a later time (cf. Lk. 8:19-21; Acts 1:14)], a son. She wrapped him in cloths [strips of cloth intended to strengthen the back and bones and provide proper growth; cloths and manger would serve as a sign to the shepherds (cf. v. 12)] and placed [to lay down] him in a manger [trough or box for feeding cattle; Jesus born in humble circumstances (cf. 2 Cor. 8:9)], because there was no room [due to crowds that had arrived for the census and soldiers and civil servants present to administer the census] for them in the inn [lodging, guest room, any place for lodging].

2:8 And there were shepherds [had a low reputation; looked upon with suspicion; regarded as ceremonially unclean; implication: the gospel first came to social outcasts of Jesus’ day] living out in the fields nearby [the area around Bethlehem], keeping watch over their flocks at night.

2:9 An angel of the Lord appeared [suddenly/unexpectedly; at very hour of Jesus’ birth (cf. v. 11)] to them, and [in addition to appearance of angel] the glory [radiance, brightness] of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified [to fear with a great fear].

2:10 But the angel said to them, “Do not [prohibition of an action in progress] be afraid. I bring [preach] you good news [gospel] of great joy [replaced their great fear] that will be for all [everybody, not just the Jews; cf. Acts 15:1-29] the people.

2:11 Today in the town of David a Savior [the One who could rescue people from the penalty and power of sin; healer; deliverer; benefactor; title used only here and in Jn. 4:42] has been born to you; he is Christ [Messiah; anointed one; descendant of David who will reign over an everlasting kingdom (cf. 1 Chron. 7:14)] the Lord.

2:12 This will be a sign [a way to easily identify the baby] to you [cf. v. 7]: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger [the first bed of the King of kings].”

2:13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host [military term for an army; band of soldiers: however, an army announcing peace] appeared with the angel, praising God [proper response of all created beings to the good news] and saying,

2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace [result of His coming; only those who know the Prince of Peace can know His peace] to men on whom his favor rests.”

2:15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go [sense of urgency; the first Christmas rush; cf. v. 11 re: “today”] to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about [shepherds accepted the angels words as message from God].”

2:16 So they hurried off and found [after searching] Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger [cf. 2:12].

2:17 When they had seen him [Jesus; things change when people truly encounter Jesus], they spread [made known] the word [the shepherds (considered outcasts by their own people) became the first preachers/witnesses of gospel message] concerning what had been told [a wonderful message] them about this [specific] child,

2:18 and all who heard it were amazed [to wonder] at what the shepherds said to them.

2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things [shepherds probably told Mary and Joseph about their experience with the angels] and pondered [deep reflection; mulling over] them in her heart.

2:20 The shepherds returned [to their flocks in the fields; as different individuals than they were before; never heard from again but never forgotten for the role they played], glorifying and praising [proper response to the mighty works of God] God for all the things they had heard [from the angels] and seen [verified with their own eyes], which were just as [exactly] they had been told.

2:21 On the eighth day [Jewish males circumcised and named eight days after birth (cf. Lev. 12:3; Lk. 1:59-60)], when it was time to circumcise [symbolized Jews unique relationship with God and separation from Gentiles (who were called “uncircumcised”; Eph. 2:11); sign and seal of covenant between God and Abraham (cf. Gen. 17:9-14)] him, he was named Jesus [which means “Jehovah is salvation” (Matt. 1:21)], the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived [cf. Lk. 1:31].

2:22 When the time of their purification [mother considered ceremonially unclean for forty days after birth of a son (eighty days after birth of a daughter) and not permitted to enter the temple] according to the Law of Moses had been completed [at the end of Mary’s time of separation], Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord [firstborn son presented to God forty days after birth (cf. Ex. 13:2,11-16; Num. 18:15-16); child bought back (redeemed) from God through an offering (a way of acknowledging that child belonged to the Lord)]

2:23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord [cf. Ex. 13:2,12,15], “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”),

2:24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons [suggests Mary and Joseph were too poor to bring a lamb].”

2:25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous [conforming to the standard, will, or character of God; maintained right relationship with God; this word also used to describe Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Joseph (cf. Lk. 1:6; Matt. 1:19)] and devout [cautious, conscientious; lived life carefully/reverently in presence of God; took his religious duties seriously]. He was waiting [expecting; looking forward to; yearning] for the consolation [literally, “calling to one’s side for comfort”; encouragement; times were tough and people needed consolation; term refers to the restoration of Israel as a nation] of Israel [comprehensive term for the fulfillment of the messianic hope for the salvation of Israel; another way of describing the Messiah], and the Holy Spirit [gave Simeon power to discern the revelation of God’s purpose (cf. v. 26)] was upon [suggests continually] him.

2:26 It had been revealed [to instruct] to him by the Holy Spirit that [content of Holy Spirit’s revelation] he would not die [phrase suggests that Simeon was not a young man] before he had seen the Lord’s Christ [messiah, anointed one].

2:27 Moved [guided] by the Spirit, he went [providential timing] into the temple courts [either the court of the women or the court of the Gentiles]. When the parents [Luke previously established that Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father (cf. 1:34-38)] brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required [to dedicate Him to the Lord],

2:28 Simeon took him [Jesus] in his arms and praised [blessed] God, saying:

2:29 “Sovereign Lord [appropriate way for a servant to address his God], as you have promised, you now [because Simeon had lived to see God’s promise fulfilled] dismiss your servant [this phrase is an ancient Jewish way of saying, “Let me die.” / perhaps request to be dismissed from his vigil or service] in peace [refers to comfort of knowing the Messiah had come].

2:30 For my eyes have seen your [cf. Ps. 51:12 re: “your salvation”] salvation [described Jesus’ mission; name Jesus means “the Lord is salvation”; cf. Acts 4:12],

2:31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people,

2:32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and [additionally] for glory to your people Israel [salvation is intended for all people; cf. Lk. 2:10].”

2:33 The child’s father [legally; actually stepfather] and mother marveled [perhaps Simeon had enlarged their understanding about Jesus’ ministry, i.e., learning that His influence would reach beyond Israel as per v. 32] at what was said about him [see 2:29-32; divinely inspired prophecy/message about Jesus ; see 2:34-35 re: opposition Jesus would face (perhaps this was a new revelation to Mary)].

2:34 Then Simeon [see 2:25] blessed them and said [prophesied] to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling [for those who reject Him; falling before God’s judgment] and rising [for those who accept Him and experience God’s salvation; see John 1:12] of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against [Jesus became an object of hostility and slander that found its culmination in His crucifixion],

2:35 so that the thoughts [schemes; cf. the hostility and slander Jesus experienced: these acts revealed the inner character of many] of many hearts will be revealed [unveiled; no neutrality; everyone must decide for or against Jesus]. And a sword [a large wide sword, signifying extreme anguish; probably a reference to Jesus’ death] will pierce your own soul too.”

2:36 There was also a prophetess [indicates she had previously received revelations; means she had a special gift of declaring and interpreting God’s message], Anna [same as OT name Hannah; name means “grace” or “gracious”], the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher [one of ten tribes that formed northern kingdom of Israel; Moses referred to the tribe of Asher as “most blessed” and “favored by his brothers” and strong (Deut. 33:24-25); these details were included to establish Anna’s Jewishness]. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,

2:37 and then was a widow [cf. 1 Tim. 5:5] until she was eighty-four [NIV marginal note: “widow for eighty-four years;” great age and great devotion; assuming she married at about age 15, Anna would have been about 106 years old at the time]. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day [rather, “all the time” or “she was there every time the doors were opened”], fasting and praying [indicates deep devotion to God / a disciplined life; perhaps she fasted and prayed concerning the coming of the Messiah].

2:38 Coming up [to approach, to stand by] to them [Mary, Joseph, Simeon, and the infant Jesus] at that very moment, she gave thanks [thanksgiving in return for benefits; kept giving thanks] to God and spoke [kept speaking] about the child to all who were looking forward to [expecting] the redemption of Jerusalem [cf. Isa. 52:9; has messianic implications; phrase is synonymous with “the consolation of Israel” (Lk. 2:25)].

2:39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything [humbly and obediently submitted; indicates their determination to have and build a godly home] required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth [located in lower Galilee].

• Mary was a poor person as indicated by her offering for her purification after the birth of Jesus.
• The last mention of Mary is found in Acts 1:14 — the upper room in Jerusalem at Pentecost.
• According to tradition, Mary died in Ephesus.

2:40 [statements emphasize humanity of Jesus; cf. v. 52] And [this one verse covers the period from the time Jesus and His family returned to Nazareth (approximately nine years earlier) to the age of twelve] the child grew [continuous action] and became strong [physical growth]; he was filled with wisdom [insights from God; mental and intellectual growth as well as spiritual growth (using knowledge to live a life pleasing to God], and the grace [favor] of God was upon [directed toward] him.

Note: Luke 2:40 — Jesus from infancy to age 12.

2:41 Every year [emphasizes that it was a practice] his parents [Joseph functioned in role as His earthly father; Mary and Joseph set godly example for Jesus] went [traveled] to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover [law required all male Jews to celebrate three main feasts each year (cf. Ex. 23:14-17); included Feast of Unleavened Bread].

Note: Luke 2:41-50 — Jesus in the temple at age 12.

2:42 When he was twelve years old [bar mitzvah (son of the commandment) at age 12-13 when boy became part of community of faith and member of synagogue; transition from boyhood to manhood], they went up to the Feast, according to the custom.

2:43 After the Feast was over [“when the days were completed” (seven-day feast)], while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.

2:44 Thinking [to suppose, to believe] he was in their company [pilgrims traveled to the Feast in large groups or caravans], they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking [thorough and prolonged search] for him among their relatives and friends.

2:45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem [a day of travel] to look for him.

2:46 After three days [perhaps from the time they discovered he was missing] they found him in the temple courts, sitting [normal position for teachers and pupils in Jesus’ day] among the teachers [Jesus exhibited a thirst for knowledge], listening [Jesus pictured as a learner] to them and asking them questions [listening and asking was normal method of learning and instruction].

2:47 Everyone [teachers and others who were present] who heard [His responses to questions as well as questions He asked] him was amazed [astonished] at his understanding and his answers [Jesus demonstrated unusual insight].

2:48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished [astonished, overwhelmed; perhaps at Jesus’ display of wisdom; cf. Lk. 2:33 re: their reaction to Simeon’s words]. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father [contrast with “my Father” in Jesus’ reply (v. 49); Joseph not referred to again; perhaps Joseph died before Jesus began His public ministry; Jesus later referred to as “the carpenter’s son” (Matt. 13:55) and “the carpenter” (Mk. 6:3)] and I have been anxiously [emphasizes deep mental pain and distress] searching for you.”

2:49 [first spoken words of Jesus recorded in Gospels] “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know [based on their experiences in Luke 1-2] I had to be [a divine necessity] in my [distinction between Jesus’ relationship with Joseph and with God; indicates Jesus had an awareness of His unique relation to His Father; perhaps Mary and Joseph had told Jesus of the unique manner of His birth] Father’s house [“about My Father’s business, affairs, things”; Jesus embraced the Father’s priorities]?”

2:50 But [at this time; Mary and Joseph had to grow in their understanding of Jesus’ identity] they did not understand [comprehend] what he was saying to them.

2:51 Then he went down to Nazareth [home] with them and was obedient [continually respectful and submissive] to them [Mary and Joseph]. But his mother treasured [to keep, to guard safely] all these things in her heart [cf. Lk. 2:19; perhaps “all these things” became clear to Mary after death and resurrection of her Son].

Note: Luke 2:51-52 — Jesus’ growth from age 12 to age 30 (Lk. 3:23). Sometimes called “the silent years.”

2:52 [cf. v. 40] And Jesus grew [conveys idea of moving forward by cutting a path; increased] in wisdom [insight from His Father] and stature [indicates physical growth], and in favor with God [indicates spiritual growth] and men [indicates social growth].

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