2:1 Now it came to pass in those days1, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus2, that all the world should be enrolled3. THE BIRTH OF JESUS. (At Bethlehem of Judea, B.C. 5.) Luke 2:1-7
Now it came to pass in those days. The days of the birth of John
There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus. Octavius, or
Augustus, Caesar was the nephew of and successor to Julius Caesar. He took
the name Augustus in compliment to his own greatness; and our month August
is named for him; its old name being Sextilis.
That all the world should be enrolled. This enrollment or census
was the first step in the process of taxation.
2:2 This was the
first enrolment made when Quirinius1 was
governor2 of Syria3.
This was the first enrolment made when Quirinius. Publius Sulpicius
Quirinius was governor of Syria, A.D. 6-11, and made a census of his
province at that time, as Luke well knew (Acts
5:37). We have no other record showing either his governorship or a
census made by him at the time of the birth of Christ. But he was held in
high favor by the Emperor, and was, about the time of the birth of Christ,
carrying on a war just north of Syria, in Cilicia, and it is therefore easy
for us to accept Luke's statement that as imperial commissioner or as
governor of Syria he made such a census.
Was governor. Quirinius was doubtless twice governor of Syria, his
first term being about B.C. 5-1. The Greek word "hegemon", which
Luke uses for governor, would be used for either of the Roman titles, viz.:
Propraetor, or senatorial governor; or Quaestor, or imperial commissioner.
Quirinius may have commenced the enrollment as Quaestor and finished it ten
years later as Propraetor. He was well-known character in that age. Harsh
and avaricious as a governor, but an able and loyal soldier, earning a Roman
triumph for successes in Cilicia, and being honored by a public funeral in
Of Syria. A Roman province including all Palestine, and a tract
four or five times as large lying to the northeast of Palestine.
2:3 And all went to
enrol themselves1, every one to
his own city2.
And all went to enrol themselves. The enrollment may have had no
reference to taxation. It was more probably to ascertain the military
strength of the various provinces. The Romans enrolled each person at the
place where he was then residing; but permitted the Jews to thus return to
their ancestral or tribal cities and enroll themselves as citizens of these
Every one to his own city. The city where his ancestors had been
settled by Joshua when he divided the land. See Joshua
2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee,
out of the city of Nazareth1,
into Judaea, to the city of David2,
which is called Bethlehem3,
because he was of the house and family of David;
Nazareth. See Luke
The city of David. After the lapse of ten centuries the name of
David still cast its fragrance over the place of his birth (1 Samuel
Bethlehem. Meaning "house of bread". It was the later or
Jewish name for the old Canaanitish village of Ephrath, the Ephrath near
which Rachel died (Genesis
35:19). It was marked by Micah as the birthplace of Messiah (Micah
2:5 to enrol himself with Mary,
who was betrothed to him1, being
great with child2.
Mary, who was betrothed to him. See Matthew
Being great with child. See Matthew
2:6 And it came to
pass, while they were there, the days were fulfilled that she should be
And it came to pass, while they were there, the days were fulfilled
that she should be delivered. The early Christians made no record of the
date of Christ's birth; we find no mention of December 25 earlier than the
fourth century. The Eastern church celebrated Christ's birth by a feast
called Epiphany, which means manifestation. They chose January 6 as the date
for this feast, for they reasoned that if the first Adam was born on the
sixth day of creation, the second Adam must have been born on the sixth day
of the year. The Western church celebrated Christ's birth on the 25th of
December by a feast called Natalis, which means Nativity. But Pope Julius I
(A.D. 337-352) designated December 25 as the proper day, and the Eastern
churches soon united with the Western churches in observing this day; and
the custom has become universal. We do not observe this day because of the
Pope's decree, but because of the tradition on which the Pope's decree was
2:7 And she brought
forth her firstborn son1; and she
wrapped him2 in swaddling clothes3,
and laid him in a manger4, because
there was no room for them in the inn5.
And she brought forth her firstborn son. This word in no way
implies that the Virgin subsequently has other children. Jesus, the only
begotten, is also called the firstborn (Hebrews
And she wrapped him. Having none to help her, she swathed him in
hands with her own hands.
In swaddling clothes. The new-born Jewish child was washed in
water, rubbed with salt, and then wrapped in bands or blankets, which
confined the limbs closely (Ezekiel
And laid him in a manger. Justin Martyr, who born about the
beginning of the second century and suffered martyrdom A.D. 165, first tells
us the tradition that the stable in which Jesus was born was a cavern.
Caves, however, were never used for stables except when opened on the sides
of hills. The one at Bethlehem is a cellar fourteen feet under the level
surface. Justine must, therefore, be mistaken.
Because there was no room for them in the inn. Eastern inns had
landlords like our own. The inn was full at this time because of the number
who had come to be enrolled. Inns contained rooms for persons and stalls for
animals; there was no room in the former, but there was in the latter.
2:8 And there were
shepherds in the same country1 abiding
in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock2.
THE BIRTH OF JESUS PROCLAIMED BY ANGELS TO THE SHEPHERDS. (Near Bethlehem,
B.C. 5.) Luke
And there were shepherds in the same country. They were in the same
fields from which David had been called to tend God's Israel, or flock.
Abiding in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock.
When the flock is too far from the village to lead it to the fold at night,
these shepherds still so abide with it in the field, even in the dead of
2:9 And an angel of
the Lord stood by them1, and the glory of the Lord shone
round about them: and they were sore afraid3.
And an angel of the Lord stood by them. He stood upon the earth at
their side, and did not float above them in the heavens, as he is usually
pictured. His standing upon the earth shows a fuller fellowship and sympathy
with men. Compare Acts
And the glory of the Lord shone around about them. The Shekinah, or
bright cloud, which symbolizes the divine presence (Exodus
24:16; 1 Kings
9:4). It was seen by the three apostles upon the mount of
17:5), by Stephen (Acts
7:55), and by Paul (Acts
And they were sore afraid. See Luke
2:10 And the angel said unto them, Be
not afraid1; for behold, I bring
you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people2:
Be not afraid. See Luke
For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all
the people: Christianity is a religion of present joys, and leads onward
to joy eternal.
2:11 for there is
born to you1 this day in the city of David a
Saviour2, who is Christ the Lord.
For there is born to you. Born as a gift to us (John
A Saviour. The angel omits the name of Jesus, but gives the meaning
of his name. See Matthew
Who is the Christ. Messiah is the Hebrew and Christ is the Greek
for our English word meaning "anointed". Prophets, priests, and
kings were anointed. Jesus held all three offices for all our race for all
2:12 And this [is]
the sign unto you1: Ye shall find
a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger2.
And this [is] the sign unto you. The token by which to identify the
child. A babe in a manger was not ordinary sight.
Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a
"What fearful odds! What a strange contrast! Idolatry on the throne
(in the person of Augustus Caesar), and the founder of a new religion and a
new empire lying in a manger!"
2:13 And suddenly
there was with the angel a multitude1 of
the heavenly host2 praising God, and saying,
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude. The event was
too important to be heralded by any one angel. All heaven was interested in
the departure of its Prince, and marveled at the grace of the Father who
sent him (1 Peter
Of the heavenly host. God's army (1 Kings
103:20,21). The Deity is called "God of Sabaoth", that is, God
of hosts or multitude (Romans
5:11,12); but at this time God's army appeared to announce the coming of
2:14 Glory to God
in the highest1, And on earth
peace among men in whom he is well pleased2.
God in the highest. In the highest heavens (Job
And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased. The angels
invoke blessing on God and peace upon man. Peace between God and man, and
ultimately peace between man and man. The love of God is shed abroad upon
all, even the vilest of sinners (Romans
5:8; 1 Timothy
1:15); but his peace comes upon those who have accepted his Son, and in
whom he is therefore especially well pleased (Romans
9:11). Peace is the unfailing apostolic salutation toward Christians (Romans
1:7; 1 Corinthians
1:3; 2 Corinthians
1:2) and is attainable in the highest degree by Christians only (John
2:17 And when they
saw it, they made known concerning the saying which was spoken to them about
And when they saw it, they made known concerning the saying which was
spoken to them about this child. They were the first evangelists. Among
the heralds of Christ we note one great prophet, John the Baptist, and one
learned Pharisee, Paul; the rest are shepherds, fishermen, and publicans,
yet their gospel has triumphed over the wisdom of men (1 Corinthians
1:26-29; 2 Corinthians
4:7). The shepherds were moved to publish by the same spirit which
actuated the lepers at Samaria (2 Kings
2:18 And all that
heard it wondered at the things which were spoken unto them by the shepherds1.
And all that heard it wondered at the things which were spoken unto
them by the shepherds. The gospel story excites wonder; the more we
ponder it the more wonderful it becomes.
2:19 But Mary kept
all these sayings1, pondering
them in her heart2.
But Mary kept all these sayings. The silence of Mary contrasts with
the talkativeness of the shepherds (Luke
2:17). But is the duty of Christians both to ponder and to publish.
Pondering them in her heart. Only Mary could know the fact here
stated; and the statement indicates that Luke got the opening parts of his
Gospel from the mother of our Lord. She had much to think about. The angelic
messages to Zacharias, to herself, and to the shepherds were full of
significance, and her mind would search diligently to comprehend the
fullness of their meaning. In her quiet thoughtfulness the beauty of the
Virgin's character shines forth (1 Peter
2:20 And the
shepherds returned1, glorifying2
and praising God3 for all the
things that they had heard and seen, even as it was
spoken unto them4.
And the shepherds returned. They did not make this glorious
occasion an excuse for neglecting their humble duties.
Glorifying. Because of the greatness of that which had been
And praising God. Because of the goodness of that which he
Even as it was spoken unto them. Jesus came in exactly the same
manner in which his coming had been spoken of or described by the angels a
few hours before; and also just as his coming had been spoken of or
described by the prophets centuries and centuries before. God's word holds
good for eternity as truly as for one day. The shepherds doubtless passed to
their reward during the thirty years which Jesus spent in seclusion prior to
his entering upon his ministry. But the rest of their commonplace life was
now filled with music of praise, and their night watches lit by the glory of
God, which could never entirely fade away.
2:21 And when eight
days1 were fulfilled for circumcising him, his
name was called JESUS3, which was so called by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.
CIRCUMCISION, TEMPLE SERVICE, AND NAMING OF JESUS.
(The Temple at Jerusalem, B.C. 4)
Eight days. See Luke
For the circumcising. The rite was doubtless performed by Joseph.
By this rite Jesus was "made like unto his brethren"; (Hebrews
2:16,17). that is, he became a member of the covenant nation, and became
a debtor to the law. (Galatians
His name was called JESUS. See Galatians
2:22 And when the
days of their purification according to the law of Moses were fulfilled1,
they brought him up to Jerusalem2,
to present him to the Lord3
And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses
were fulfilled. Purification took place on the fortieth day after the
nativity in the case of males, and eighty days in the case of females (Leviticus
12:1-5). Until it was performed the mother was not permitted to go to
the temple, take part in any public service, or even to leave her house. It
seems that the members of the family were also ceremonially unclean, because
they came in daily contact with her.
They brought him up to Jerusalem. To the temple.
To present him to the Lord. When God slew the firstborn of Egypt he
spared the firstborn of Israel. For this reason all the firstborn of Israel
were regarded as being peculiarly the Lord's (Exodus
13:2); and the firstborn male child of each family had to be redeemed
with money (Exodus
18:15,16). Originally the firstborn or eldest son was priest of the
household after his father's death; but God chose the Levites to serve in
his sanctuary in the place of these firstborn or household priests (Numbers
8:14-19); but this choosing did not annul the statute which required the
payment of redemption money. The redemption money for a male was five
shekels of the sanctuary, or about $3.75 (Leviticus
2:23 (as it is
written in the law of the Lord1, Every male that openeth
the womb shall be called holy to the Lord),
As it is written in the law of the Lord. For additional passages,
2:24 and to offer
a sacrifice1 according to that which is said in the law of
the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons3.
And to offer a sacrifice. By redemption money and sacrifice the
life of Jesus was ceremonially redeemed from God the Father, that his
consecration of it to the will of the Father might be perfect. We likewise
are redeemed by the blood of Christ, but are expected nevertheless to be
more consecrated than ever.
According to . . . the law of the Lord. See Leviticus
A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. The required offering
was a yearling lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon for a sin-
offering. But the law allowed a poor mother to substitute doves or pigeons
for the lamb. We see here an early trace of the poverty of Him who had not
where to lay his head. Knowing the greatness of the child, Joseph and Mary
would never have used the lesser sacrifice if they could have afforded the
regular and more costly one. Poverty is not dishonorable in God's sight; for
Mary was honored of him above all women.
2:25 And behold, there
was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon1; and
this man was righteous and devout2, looking3
for the consolation of Israel4: and
the Holy Spirit was upon him5.
There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. The name means
"Hearing". Some think that it was Rabbi Simeon, the son of the
great teacher Hillel; but the context forbids such an idea.
And this man was righteous and devout. Right in outward and devout
in his inward life. The first prophet to tell the world that its Messiah had
come was a thoroughly good man.
Looking. Waiting like Jacob (Genesis
49:18), and Joseph of Arimathea (Mark
15:43), he realized the truth of God's promise (Isaiah
49:23). The Jews waited for a coming Prince, local, carnal, finite,
temporal; we wait for a KING universal, spiritual, infinite, eternal, the
Son of God. Hence the magnitude of our expected consolation is to theirs as
an ocean is to a drop of water.
For the consolation of Israel. A common name for the era of the
Messiah, which was so called because the advent of the Christ would bring
comfort to his people (Isaiah
40:1). Jews swore by the consolation of Israel, and the phrase,
"May I see the consolation of Israel", was common among them. A
prayer for the coming of the Messiah was daily used by them.
And the Holy Spirit was upon him. See Luke
2:26 And it had
been revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit1, that
he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ2.
And it had been revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit. Probably in a
That he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
A remarkable favor, a notable blessing. See Luke
2:27 And he came
in the Spirit1 into the temple2:
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, that they might do concerning
him after the custom of the law,
And he came in the Spirit. Moved by the impulses of inspiration (Matthew
Into the temple. Those who go to church perfunctorily see little;
those who go in the Spirit--according to the measure in which He is given
them--see and hear much.
2:29 Now lettest
thou thy servant depart, Lord1, According
to thy word2, in peace3;
Now lettest thou thy servant depart, Lord. This hymn of Simeon is
called the "Nunc Dimittis", from the two words with which the
Latin translation of it begins. Simeon regards his death as now near, since
he had seen that for which God had kept him alive. He represents as a
sentinel who, seeing the rising of the day- star which is the signal that
his watch is relieved, knows his weary waiting is at an end.
According to thy word. God keeps his word, and never disappoints.
In peace. To the living the Jews said, "Go in peace"
("Leshalom"), as Jethro said to Moses (Exodus
4:18); to the dying they said, "Go in peace"
("Beshalom"), as the Lord said to Abram (Genesis
2:30 For mine eyes
have seen thy salvation1,
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation. Only the eye which sees
Christ is satisfied with seeing (Ecclesiastes
1:18). To one who has Christ in his arms and salvation before his eyes
the world looks poor indeed, and the loss of it appears gain (Philippians
2:31 Which thou
hast prepared1 before the face of
Which thou hast prepared. God prepared the gospel in his counsels
before Christ came into the world (Acts
2:23), and foretold it by the prophets (Acts
Before the face of all people. The Jewish Scriptures were then
scattered among all nations, and all people were acquainted with the Hebrew
expectations of a Messiah. Simeon saw in the Babe the initial step of God
toward fulfilling all these prophecies.
2:32 A light for
revelation to the Gentiles1, And
the glory2 of thy people Israel3.
A light for revelation to the Gentiles. A reference to Isaiah
49:6. Christ's light has revealed the Father to the Gentiles. That
Simeon should prophesy this is an evidence of the large spiritual knowledge
given him, since even the apostles were slow to grasp the fullness of
Christ's world-wide mission. See Psalms
And the glory. See Isaiah
45:25. Israel is doubly glorified in Jesus, in that God chose this
people to receive the Word, or divine Son, in that Jesus, as a Jew,
presented to the world the picture of the perfect manhood. In his divinity
and his humanity Jesus glorified Israel
Of thy people Israel. The Gentiles and Israel are here contrasted.
The Gentiles refused the knowledge of God (Romans
1:28), and Israel abused it (Romans
2:33 And his
father and his mother were marvelling at the things which were spoken concerning
And his father and his mother were marvelling at the things which were
spoken concerning him. Not because they heard anything which was really
new, but because the words caused them to see the truth in a new way. They
were also doubtless surprised to find that an utter stranger should speak
thus about the child. Such manifestations of inspiration were no more common
then than now.
2:34 and Simeon
blessed them1, and said unto Mary
his mother2, Behold, this [child]
is set3 for the falling and the
rising of many in Israel4; and
for a sign5 which is spoken
And Simeon blessed them. While blessing the parents, he refrained
from blessing the child, lest it might appear that he did it as a superior.
He could bless God in the heavens without fear of being misunderstood (Luke
2:28); but to bless this little Babe might seem to be presumptuous.
And said unto Mary his mother. Thus distinguishing between Mary the
real parent, and Joseph the supposed one.
Behold, this [child] is set. Either as a stone of stumbling (Isaiah
9:32,33; 1 Corinthians
1:23), or a precious cornerstone (1 Peter
4:11; 1 Corinthians
3:11). Jesus is the cornerstone of true religion. Those who reject him
fall over him and are broken; those who accept him, build upon him, and are
lifted up and edified.
For the falling and the rising of many in Israel. Jesus has always
wrought changes which were like fallings and risings. In his own early
lifetime Pharisees, Herodians, Sadducees, Nazarenes, Gadarenes, etc., sank
down before his example and teaching; while fishermen, publicans and
outcasts were elevated and encouraged by his sympathy. In the ecclesiastical
field Jesus has brought down the powers of superstition and priestcraft, and
exalted the common worshiper, giving him liberty of conscience. In the
political field, Jesus has brought down the pride of kings and lifted up the
common people, and given them sovereign powers.
In the spiritual realm this work of Jesus is most clearly displayed. Not
only did he bring down the pride of Judah and lift up the despised Gentiles
9:25); but he has worked a leveling and a lifting work in the life of
each of his followers. Those proud of their manhood, he has made as
children, that they might become truly men (Matthew
18:3); those wise in their own conceit, he approaches with the
foolishness of preaching, that they might be instructed in true learning (1 Corinthians
1:26-31); those strong in self-confidence, he makes weak, that he may
fill them with the divine power (2 Corinthians
4:13). Like Paul, we fall and rise in Christ (Acts
And for a sign. Something which challenges attention and is full of
significant meaning. Signs were intended to allay controversy, and to
exclude contradiction, but Jesus provoked both. When he was thus first in
the temple, opposition was prophesied; when he was last there it was fully
Which is spoken against. During his earthly lifetime Jesus was
called "deceiver", "Samaritan," "demoniac,"
etc., and subsequently his followers were abused (Acts
28:22); later the Jews wrote of him as "the deceiver",
"that man," and "the hung". Early Christians were
charged by the pagans with committing cannibalism, incest, and every
conceivable atrocity, and in this day "Christian" is--after
Jew--the most stringing term of reproach known to the Eastern tongue.
2:35 yea and a
sword shall pierce through thine own soul1; that
thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed2.
A sword shall pierce through thine own soul. Simeon had read and
understood the prophecies which told of the suffering Messiah (Isaiah
42:14-43:12). Hence, to prepare the soul of Mary, he touches this minor
chord. By as much as the prophecies and annunciations concerning Jesus, led
Mary to expect honor, and glory for her son; by so much did the rejection,
persecution and cruel death of Jesus overwhelm her with piercing anguish and
disappointment. It is also probable that at the time of the crucifixion Mary
shared with the apostles the doubts as to the mission of Jesus, and these
doubts must have been unspeakably bitter to her.
That thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed. The Greek word
"dialogismos" here translated "thoughts" is generally
used to signify bad or evil thoughts See definition 1261|. Jesus often
revealed such (John
9:16); but the context shows that Simeon had in mind the evil thoughts
which were revealed by the sufferings inflicted on Christ. The human heart
is desperately wicked (Jeremiah
17:9); but its wickedness was never more manifest than when it chose a
murderer and crucified its Creator (Acts
3:14,15). Men are still revealed by their attitude toward Christ, the
sincere being drawn to him, and the hypocrites being repelled from him. But
at the judgment he shall shine forth as the perfect revealer of all thoughts
and actions (Matthew
2:36 And there was
one Anna1, a prophetess2,
the daughter of Phanuel3, of
the tribe of Asher4 (she was of a great age, having lived
with a husband seven years from her virginity,
And there was one Anna. The same name as Hannah, meaning "He
was gracious" (1 Samuel
A prophetess. Like Miriam (Exodus
15:20), Deborah (Judges
4:4), Huldah (2 Chronicles
The daughter of Phanuel. The same as Peniel, meaning "Face of
Of the tribe of Asher. Asher was the second son of Jacob and Zilpah
30:12,13). The name means "happy". Though the ten tribes were
lost and scattered, many individuals belonging to them remained in Judah (Acts
2:37 and she had
been a widow even unto fourscore and four years1), who
departed not from the temple2, worshipping
with fastings and supplications3 night
And she had been a widow even unto fourscore and four years. She
had been married seven years, and was now 84 years old. Her long widowhood
is mentioned, because young widows who did not remarry were held in especial
honor. Anna was about 24 years old when Jerusalem was conquered by Pompey,
and came under the power of Rome.
Who departed not from the temple. This may simply mean that she was
unusually assiduous in her attendance at all the temple services (Acts
2:46); or it may be taken literally, in which case we may suppose that
her prophetic talents had secured for her the right of living in one of the
temple chambers. Those who patiently frequent God's house will sooner or
later obtain a blessing.
Worshipping with fastings and supplications. Moses appointed one
yearly fast, viz.: that on the day of Atonement; but the Pharisees
introduced the custom of fasting twice a week to commemorate the days when
Moses was supposed to have ascended and descended Mt. Sinai, viz.: on Monday
and Thursday. They had also otherwise multiplied the fasts (Luke
Night and day. In Hebrew idiom, night is mentioned before day,
following the example of Moses (Genesis
1:5). The Hebrew theory that "God made the world in six days and
seven nights", may have given birth to this idiom. For instances of
this idiom, see Acts
26:7; 1 Timothy
5:5. There were probably night services of sacred music held in the
temple, at which priests sung anthems (Psalms
2:38 And coming up at that very hour she
gave thanks unto God, and spake of him1
to all them that were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
And spake of him. Of Jesus.
2:39 And when they1
had accomplished all things that were according to the law of the Lord, they
returned into Galilee2, to their
own city Nazareth3.
THE CHILD JESUS BROUGHT FROM EGYPT TO NAZARETH. (Egypt and Nazareth, B.C. 4.) Matthew
And when they. The parents of Jesus.
They returned into Galilee. Luke omits to tell that Jesus returned
to Nazareth by way of Bethlehem and Egypt. Such omissions are common in all
biographies, and this one is paralleled by Luke himself in his life of Paul.
To their own city Nazareth. This town lies on a hillside, girt in
by fifteen higher hills. It is a secluded nook. Here Jesus grew up in
obscurity till he reached his thirtieth year. Here he spent about nine-
tenths of his earthly life. Sweet humility! Lowliness is as rare and
precious a virtue as pride is a plentiful and repugnant vice.
2:40 And the child
grew1, and waxed strong2,
filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him3.
JESUS LIVING AT NAZARETH AND VISITING JERUSALEM IN HIS TWELFTH YEAR. (Nazareth
and Jerusalem, A.D. 7 or 8.) Luke
And the child grew. This verse contains the history of thirty
years. It describes the growth of our Lord as a natural, human growth; see Luke
1:80. For, though Jesus was truly divine, he was also perfectly man. To
try to distinguish between the divine and human in Jesus, is to waste time
upon an impracticable mystery which is too subtle for our dull and finite
And waxed strong. His life expanded like other human lives. He
learned as other boys; he obeyed as other children. As he used means and
waited patiently for growth, so must each individual Christian, and so must
the church. Though the latter is a mystical body, and animated by the Holy
Spirit, it must nevertheless make increase of itself before coming to the
perfect man (Ephesians
Filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. These words
describe briefly the life of Christ during the preparatory period at
Nazareth. It was a quiet life, but its sinless purity made the Baptist feel
his own unworthiness compared to it (Matthew
3:14), and its sweet reasonableness inspired in Mary, the mother, that
confidence which led her to sanction, without reserve, any request or
command which Jesus might utter (John
2:41 And his
parents1 went every year to
Jerusalem2 at the feast of the
And his parents. Males were required to attend the Passover (Exodus
13:7); but women were not. The great rabbi, Hillel (born about B.C. 110;
died A.D. 10), recommended that they should do so, and the practice was
esteemed an act of admirable piety.
Went every year to Jerusalem. Regular attendance upon worship is
likewise enjoined upon us (Hebrews
At the feast of the passover. The Passover, one of the three great
Jewish feasts, commemorated the mercy of God in causing his angel to
"pass over" the houses in Israel on the night that he slew all the
firstborn of Egypt. It took place at the full moon which occurred next after
the vernal equinox. At it the firstfruits of the harvest were offered (Leviticus
23:10-15). The second feast, Pentecost, occurred fifty days later, and
commemorated the giving of the law. At it the firstfruits of the wheat
harvest, in the form of bread were offered (Leviticus
23:17). The third feast, or Tabernacles, occurred near the end of
September, or beginning of October, and commemorated the days when Israel
dwelt in tents in the wilderness. It was observed as a thanksgiving for the
blessings of the year. Every adult male Jews dwelling in Judea was required
to attend these three feasts. Josephus tells us that the members assembled
at them in Jerusalem often exceeded two million.
2:42 And when he
was twelve years old1, they went
up2 after the custom of the feast3;
And when he was twelve years old. The incident which Luke here
reports is the only one given in the period between the return from Egypt
and Jesus' thirtieth year. It shows that Jesus did not attend the school of
the rabbis in Jerusalem (Mark
7:15). But we learn that he could write (John
8:6), and there is little doubt but that he spoke both Hebrew and Greek.
They went up. The altitude of Jerusalem is higher than that of
Nazareth, and the distance between the two places is about seventy miles.
After the custom of the feast. The custom was that the feast was
celebrated annually in Jerusalem.
2:43 and when they
had fulfilled the days1, as they were returning, the
boy Jesus2 tarried behind in
Jerusalem3; and his parents knew
And when they had fulfilled the days. Eight days in all; one day
for killing the passover, and seven for observing the feast of unleavened
bread which followed it (Exodus
The boy Jesus. Luke narrates something about every stage of
Christ's life. He speaks of him as a babe (Luke
2:16), as a little child (Luke
2:40), here as a boy, afterwards as a man.
Tarried behind in Jerusalem. To take advantage of the opportunity
to hear the great teachers in the schools.
And his parents knew it not. As vast crowds attended the Passover,
it was easy to lose sight of a boy amid the festal throng. Indeed, the
incident is often repeated even to this day during the feast seasons at
2:44 but supposing
him to be in the company1, they
went a day's journey2; and they
sought for him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance3:
But supposing him to be in the company. We see here the confidence
of the parents, and the independence of the child. The sinlessness of Jesus
was not due to any exceptional care on the part of his parents. Jews going
to and from their festivals traveled in caravans for pleasure and safety. In
the daytime the young folks mingled freely among the travelers, and sought
out whatever companionship they wished. But in the evening, when the camp
was formed, and the tents were pitched, the members of each family came
They went a day's journey. They probably returned by the way of
Jericho to avoid passing through Samaria, because of the hatred existing
between Jews and Samaritans. In more moderns times the first day's journey
is a short one, and it was probably so then. It was made so in order that
the travelers might return to the city whence they had departed, should they
discover that they had forgotten anything--should they find that they had
forgotten a sack of meal, a blanket, or a child.
And they sought for him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
Those with whom he was most likely to have traveled during the day.
2:45 and when they
found him not, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking for him1.
And when they found him not, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking for
him. Parents who have temporarily suffered the loss of their children
can easily imagine their feelings. Christ, though a divine gift to them, was
lost. So may we also lose him, though he be God's gift to us.
2:46 And it came
to pass, after three days1 they
found him in the temple2, sitting3
in the midst4 of
the teachers5, both hearing them,
and asking them questions6:
And it came to pass, after three days. Each part of a day was
reckoned as a day when at the beginning and ending of a series. The parents
missed Jesus on the evening of the first day, returned to Jerusalem and
sought for him on the second day, and probably found him on the morning of
the third day. The disciples of Jesus also lost him in the grave for part of
one day, and all of the next, and found him resurrected on the morning of
the third day (Luke
They found him in the temple. Probably in one of the many chambers
which tradition says were built against the walls of the temple and its
enclosures, and opened upon the temple courts. The sacred secret which they
knew concerning the child should have sent them at once to the temple to
seek for him.
Sitting. Jewish scholars sat upon the ground at the feet of their
In the midst. The teachers sat on semi-circular benches and thus
partially surrounded by their scholars.
Of the teachers. These teachers had schools in which they taught
for the fees of their pupils, and are not to be confounded with the scribes,
who were mere copyists.
Both hearing them, and asking them questions. He was not teaching.
The God of order foes not expect childhood to teach. He was among them as a
modest scholar, and not as a forward child. The rabbinical method of
instruction was to state cases, or problems, bearing upon the interpretation
or application of the law, which cases or problems were to be solved by the
pupils. For typical problems, see (Matthew
2:48 And when they
saw him1, they were astonished2;
and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus
dealt with us3? behold, thy
father4 and I sought thee
And when they saw him. His parents.
They were astonished. Mary and Joseph stood as much in awe of these
renowned national teachers as peasants do of kings, and were therefore
astonished that their youthful son presumed to speak to them.
And his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us?
Her language implies that Jesus had been fully instructed as to the time
when his parents and their caravan would depart for Galilee, and that he was
expected to depart with them. Obedience to his higher duties constrained him
to appear disobedient to his parents.
Behold, thy father. As legal father of Jesus, this expression would
necessarily have to be used when speaking of Joseph. But Jesus does not
accept Joseph as his father, as we see by his answer.
And I sought thee sorrowing. Because they thought him lost.
2:49 And he said
unto them1, How is it that ye
sought me2? knew ye not that I
must3 be in my Father's4
And he said unto them. What follows are the first recorded words of
Jesus; he here speaks of the same being--the Father--to whom he commended
his spirit in his last words upon the cross (Luke
23:46). His last recorded words on earth are found at Acts
1:7,8; his last recorded words in heaven are found in Revelation
22:10-20, but these last words are spoken through the medium of an
How is it that ye sought me? Mary, knowing all that had been
divinely revealed to her concerning Jesus, should have expected to find him
in the temple.
Knew ye not that I must. In this oft-repeated phrase, "I
must", Jesus sets forth that devotion to the will of the Father by
which his whole life was directed.
Be in my Father's. Literally "the father of me", and
invariably omitted the article, and said, "Father of you", when
speaking of his disciples. His relationship to the Father differed from
ours, and God, not Joseph, was his father.
House. See John
2:50 And they
understood not the saying which he spake unto them1.
And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. It may
seem strange that Mary, knowing all that she did concerning the birth of
Jesus, etc., did not grasp the meaning of his words, but we are all slow to
grasp great truths; and failure to be understood was therefore a matter of
daily occurrence with Jesus (Luke
9:32 comprehend his wonderful sayings. We need to be watchful lest our
ears be censured for a like slowness.
2:51 And he went
down with them1, and came to
Nazareth2; and he was subject unto
them4: and his mother kept all
[these] sayings in her heart5.
And he went down with them. Jerusalem was among the mountains,
Nazareth among the hills.
And came to Nazareth. A beautiful and healthful town, but so
lacking in piety and learning as to form the "dry ground" out of
which it was prophetically predicted that the glorious and fruitful life of
Jesus would spring. Here Christ rose above all times and schools and
revealed to man that "life more abundant" than all kings,
lawgivers, or sages ever discovered. His character, like the New Jerusalem,
descended from God out of heaven, and no education obtained in Nazareth will
explain it. The struggle of self-made men with their early environment is
noticeable to the last, but it is not so with him. The discourses of Jesus
are the outpourings of divine knowledge, and not the result of study or
And was subject. Our example in all things, he here set before us
that pattern of obedience which children should observe toward their
parents. In these years Jesus learned the trade of his supposed father (Mark
6:3). Christ was a laborer, and thereby sanctified labor, and showed
that dignity and glory belong to inward and not to outward conditions.
Unto them. His parents, Joseph and Mary. We find no mention of
Joseph after this, and the probability is that he soon died.
And his mother kept all [these] sayings in her heart. She had many
treasured sayings of angels, shepherds, wise men, and prophets. She now
began to add to these the sayings of Christ himself.
2:52 And Jesus
advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men1.
And Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
He did not "literally" grow in favor with God. This is a
phenomenal expression. The favor of God and man kept company for quite
awhile; but the favor of God abode with Jesus when man's good will was
utterly withdrawn. Men admire holiness until it becomes aggressive, and then
they fell an antagonism against it as great, or intense, as their previous