From:  Over 50 Interpreters Explain the Gospel of Luke Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2015


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Verses 1-24




Books utilized codes at end of chapter




2:1                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    Just at this time an edict was issued by Caesar Augustus for the registration of the whole Empire.

WEB:              Now it happened in those days, that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled.     

Young’s:         And it came to pass in those days, there went forth a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world be enrolled --
Conte (RC):   And it happened in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, so that the whole world would be enrolled.


2:1                   And it came to pass in those days.  About the time of the birth of John and of Christ.  [11]

                        that there went out a decree.  A law, commanding a thing to be done.  [11]

                        An imperial order.  [4]

                        from Caesar Augustus.  This was the Roman emperor.  His first name was Octavianus.  He was nephew of Julius Caesar, and obtained the empire after his death.  He took the name "Augustus"--i.e., august or honorable--as a compliment to his own greatness; and from him the month "August," which was before called Sextilis, received its name.  [11]

                        that all the world.  Of course the known world.  And as the Roman empire now embraced the largest part of that which was in any way civilized, it proudly claimed this style.        [4]

Lit., the inhabited (land).  The phrase was originally used by the Greeks to denote the land inhabited by themselves, in contrast with barbarian countries; afterward, when the Greeks became subject to the Romans, the entire Roman world; still later, for the whole inhabited world.  In the New Testament this latter is the more common usage, though, in some cases, this is conceived in the mould of the Roman empire, as in this passage, Acts xi.28; xix. 27.  Christ uses it in the announcement that the Gospel shall be preached in all the world (Matt. xxiv. 14); and Paul in the prediction of a general judgment (Acts xvii. 31).  Once it is used of the world to come (Heb. ii. 5).  [2]

                        should be taxed.  Our word "tax" means to levy and raise money for the use of government.  This is not the meaning of the original word here.  It means, rather, to enroll, or take a list of the citizens with their employments, the amount of their property, etc., equivalent to what was meant by census.  [11]

                        I was once at a court sermon (saith Melancthon) on the Nativity day, and this was the text:  but the preacher, instead of discoursing on Christ’s incarnation, spent the whole hour, on a very cold day, in persuading the people to obey magistrates, and to give them as much money as they call for.  This is the guise of court parasites.  [54]


                        In depth:  On the historicity of the taxation [56].  The registration (apographe) did not necessarily involve a taxing (apotimesis), though it was frequently the first step in that direction.  Two objections have been made to the historic credibility of the decree, and both have been fully met.

                        1.  It is said “that there is no trace of such a decree in secular history.”  The answer is that (a) the argumentum e silentio is here specially invalid because there happens to be a singular deficiency of minute records respecting this epoch in the “profane” historians.  The history of Nicolaus of Damascus, the flatterer of Herod, is not extant.  Tacitus barely touches on this period (Ann. I. I, “pauca de Augusto”).  There is a hiatus in Dion Cassius from A.U.C. 748-752.  Josephus does not enter upon the history of these years. 

(b)  There are distinct traces that such a census took place.  Augustus with his own hand drew up a Rationarium of the Empire (a sort of Roman Doomsday Books, afterwards epitomized into a Breviarium), which included the allied kingdoms (Tacitus, Ann. I. ii; Suetonius, Aug. 28), and appointed twenty Commissioners to draw up the necessary lists.

                        2.  It is said “that in any case Herod, being a rex socius (for Judaea was not annexed to the Province of Syria till the death of Archelaus, A.D. 6), would have been exempt from such a registration.”  The answer is that (a) the Clitae were obliged to furnish such a census though they were [under] an independent prince, Archelaus (Tacitus, Ann., VI. 41; cf. I. 11, regna).  (b)  That Herod, a mere creature of the Emperor, would have been the last person to resist his wishes (Josephus, Antiquities, XIV. 14.4; XV. 6.7; XVI. 9.3).  (c) That this Census, enforced by Herod, was so distasteful to the Jews that it probably caused the unexplained tumults which occurred at this very period (Josephus, Antiquities, XVII. 2.4; Wars of the Jews, I. 33, 2).  This is rendered more probable by the Targum of Jonathan on Hab. iii. 17, which has, “the Romans shall be rooted out; they shall collect no more tribute (Kesooma = census) from Jerusalem.”  That the Emperor could issue such a decree for Palestine shews that the fulfillment of the Old Messianic promises was near at hand.  The scepter had departed from Judah; the Lawgiver from between his feet.

                        As regards both objections, we may say

                        (i) that Luke, a writer of proved carefulness and accuracy, writing for Gentiles who could at once have detected and exposed an error of this kind, is very unlikely (taking the lowest grounds) to have been guilty of such carelessness.

                        (ii) That Justin Martyr, a native of Palestine, writing in the middle of the second century, three times appeals to the census-lists made by Quirinus when he was first Procurator, bidding the Romans search their own archives as to the fact (Apol. I. 34.46; Dial. c. Tryph. 78), as also does Tertullian (Adv. Marc. IV. 7.19).

                        (iii) If Luke had made a mistake it would certainly have been challenged by such able critics as Celsus and Porphyry;--but they never impugn his statement. 

On every ground therefore we have reason to trust the statement of Luke, and in this as in many other instances what have been treated as his “manifest errors” have turned out to be interesting historic facts which he alone preserves for us.                         


                        For more detailed argumentation, see the extracts in the introduction to the book.



2:2                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    It was the first registration made during the governorship of Quirinius in Syria;

WEB:              This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

Young’s:         this enrolment first came to pass when Cyrenius was governor of Syria --
Conte (RC):   This was the first enrollment; it was made by the ruler of Syria, Quirinius.


2:2                   And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius.  This is the Greek form of the name Quirinus.  All that we know of him is that he was of obscure and provincial origin, and rose to the consulship by activity and military skill, afterwards earning a triumph for his successes in Cilicia.  He was harsh, and avaricious, but a loyal soldier; and he was honoured with a public funeral in A.D. 21 (Tacitus, Ann. II. 30, III. 22, 48; Suetonius, Tib. 49, etc.)  It is certain that in A.U.C. 753 Quirinus conquered the Homonadenses in Cilicia, and was rector to Gaius Caesar.  Now it is highly probable that those Homonadenses were at that time under the jurisdiction of the propaetor of the Imperial Province of Syria, an office which must in that case have been held by Quirinus between B.C. 4-B.C. 1.  [56]  

                        was governor of Syria.  Syria was then a province of the Empire, extending from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates, east and including Phoenicia and Judea.  It was under a Roman proconsul, who resided at Antioch, and to him the procurator of Judea was responsible.  [8]



2:3                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    and all went to be registered--every one to the town to which he belonged.

WEB:              All went to enroll themselves, everyone to his own city.     

Young’s:         and all were going to be enrolled, each to his proper city,
Conte (RC):   And all went to be declared, each one to his own city.


2:3                   And all went to be taxed.  The Jews, having had experience in the Old Testament for daring to number themselves and currently being subject to the distant power of Rome, were hardly likely to have done this without considerable grumbling.  What unrest may have occurred we are not told.  Whether it was fully carried out and over what period of time we are not told.  What was important to the narrative of Luke was the fact that it involved the family of Jesus traveling from their normal dwelling place and His birth occurring where it would not normally have happened.  [rw]

                        every one into his own city.  The usual Roman method was to enroll everyone in his place of residence, but in deference to the feelings of the Jews men were enrolled in the place of their birth.  [6]



2:4                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    So Joseph went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judaea, to David's town of Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,

WEB:              Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David;        

Young’s:         and Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, that is called Bethlehem, because of his being of the house and family of David,
Conte (RC):   Then Joseph also ascended from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,


2:4                   And Joseph also went up from Galilee.  The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem is about sixty miles.  [14]

out of the city of Nazareth into Judaea.  Due to his ancestry, he could not be enrolled for taxation in the city where he lived.  Taxpayer convenience yielded to the system decreed for usage.  He had to cross from one major area of traditional geographic Israel (Galilee), pass through another (Samaria), and enter into the third (Judaea).  [rw]

unto the city of David.  Bethlehem [was] called the city of David because it was the place of his birth.  [11]

                        which is called Bethlehem.  A small village six miles south from Jerusalem.  [8]

                        There Rachel died (Genesis 35:16); there Ruth and Boaz lived (Ruth 1:22); it was the city of Jesse, the father of David (1 Samuel 17:12), its only boast was that it had given birth to David (John 7:42).  [6]

                        [Its name meant] “House of Bread,” to which the mystical method of Scriptural interpretation refers such passages as Isaiah 33:16, LXX; John 6:51, 58; [and] is the very ancient Ephrath (“fruitful”) of Genesis 35:16; xlviii. 7; Psalms cxxxii. 6.  [56]

                        (because he was of the house and lineage of David:).  The "house" included the entire body of ancestors and descendants.  The "lineage" was a direct line of descent.  [14]

                        The humble condition of Joseph as a provincial carpenter in no way militates against this.  Hillel, the great contemporary Rabbi, who also claimed to be a descendant of David, began life as a half-starved porter; and numbers of beggars (c. 1900) in the East wear the green turban which shews them to be undisputed descendants of Mohammed.  [56]


                        In depth:  A description of Galilee [55].  The district bounded roughly by the Jordan, Samaria (that is, the southern side of Esdraelon), and Phoenicia belonged originally to the Jews, but had remained largely in the hands of the heathen from the fall of the Northern Kingdom until the times of the Maccabees.  At the outbreak of the Maccabean revolt it contained only a few Jews, and these were removed by Judas and Simon to Judea for safety (163 B.C.). 

During the course of the second century before Christ, however, the territory was gradually conquered and colonized by the Jewish kings.  In the time of Jesus, therefore, the Jews had really been in Galilee in recent times only about as long as Americans have been west of the Alleghanies [as of 1900 A.D.].  The fact that they were in a measure colonists doubtless in part accounts for the vigor of the Galileans as described by Josephus (Jewish War, iii, 3, 1-3).   

According to Josephus, Galilee had 204 towns and cities.  This would make the population very dense, a fact corroborated by the ruins, as well as by existing villages in the land.  It is impossible to say just what proportion of the inhabitants of the country were Gentiles, but probably it was not small.

The land contained only about 1,600 square miles, and, exclusive of the Plain of Esdraelon, was regarded as consisting of two parts—Upper Galilee, which was somewhat mountainous, and Lower Galilee, which, though hilly, was full of broad valleys.  Both regions were very fertile, but most fertile of all was the wonderful little Plain of Gennesaret, on the northwest corner of the Lake of Galilee.  This plain, only three miles long by one wide, was in the time of Jesus astonishingly productive.  Josephus (Jewish War, iii, 10, 8) describes it as an “ambition of nature,” in which all manner of trees flourished and fruit ripened throughout the year.



2:5                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    to have himself registered together with Mary, who was betrothed to him and was with child.

WEB:              to enroll himself with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him as wife, being pregnant.       

Young’s:         to enrol himself with Mary his betrothed wife, being with child.
Conte (RC):   in order to be declared, with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.


2:5                   To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife.  But of course she had to be registered as his wife, and the son that had been promised her, if he was born before the day of the census, as his own son.  [31]

                        Perhaps, the persons to be registered being classed in the roll, according to their lineage, Mary might judge it proper on this occasion to claim her descent from David, in order to [assure] her being publicly acknowledged as one of his posterity.  Possibly, though, according to the Roman custom, women could be enrolled without their personal appearance, the emperor may have given particular and exact orders with regard to the family of David, as it had been the royal family, and was still talked of as designed to be so, that he might know its number and strength.  [9]

                        Or:  It is uncertain whether her presence was obligatory or voluntary; but it is obvious that at so trying a time, and after what she had suffered (Matthew 1:19), she would cling to the presence and protection of her husband.  Nor is it wholly impossible that she saw in the providential circumstances a fulfillment of prophecy.  [56]

                        being great with child.  Her pregnancy was far advanced.  Not the best time for a substantial journey, but in what age has the tax man been much concerned with taxpayer convenience?  Even if there had been no obligation of law—or intentional fulfillment of prophecy?—envolved, the stage of the pregnancy made separation from her husband the last thing she would be happy with.  Inconvenient and physically difficult, it still was less than the alternative of remaining behind with a suspicious and probably hostile community.  [rw]



2:6                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    But while they were there, her full time came,

WEB:              It happened, while they were there, that the day had come that she should give birth.

Young’s:         And it came to pass, in their being there, the days were fulfilled for her bringing forth,
Conte (RC):   Then it happened that, while they were there, the days were completed, so that she would give birth.


2:6                   And so it was, that, while they were there.  We are not informed how long they had been in Bethlehem before Mary's delivery.  Perhaps a short time only elapsed between their arrival and the event alluded to.  [9]

                        the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  Mary does not seem to have known that according to prophecy, this must take place at Bethlehem; but a heavenly Providence guided all, that so it should come to pass.  [24]
Her delivery might well be hastened, or at least facilitated, by her long journey; for it was no less than four days’ journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  [54]



2:7                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    and she gave birth to her first-born son, and wrapped Him round, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

WEB:              She brought forth her firstborn son, and she wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a feeding trough, because there was no room for them in the inn.         

Young’s:         and she brought forth her son -- the first-born, and wrapped him up, and laid him down in the manger, because there was not for them a place in the guest-chamber.
Conte (RC):   And she brought forth her firstborn son. And she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them at the inn.


2:7                   Introduction:  birth of Jesus [28].  The story of the birth of Jesus as related by Matthew is in striking contrast with that of Luke.  Matthew depicts Jesus as a King and at his birth the reigning Herod trembles on his throne and the Magi adore him, offering regal gifts.  Luke represents Jesus as the ideal Man, and the story is full of human interest.  It describes two obscure peasants journeying from their northern home in Nazareth to Bethlehem and there, excluded from the inn, placing in a manger their newborn babe, while the first to visit them are humble shepherds from the neighboring plain.  

                        Their exclusion from the inn was not due to any lack of hospitality; much less did it express hostility to Jesus; it was due simply to the crowded condition of the town.  However, it is suggestive of the obscurity and discomfort and poverty of Joseph and Mary.                  


And she brought forth her first-born son.  The expression naturally implies that the writer believed Mary had other children afterward, otherwise there would be no just ground for the use of the term.  It may be said that Luke employs it with a view to the account of the presentation of Jesus in the temple as a first-born son (verses 22ff).  But this connection is out of the question in Matthew 1:25.   [13]

                        Alternate interpretation:   A son is so called because none were born before             him, not because others were born after him.  [24]

                        The first child was called first-born, by the Jews, whether an only child or otherwise.  The great majority of the Christian world has repudiated the notion that other children were born to Mary.  [4]

                        The word has no bearing on the controversy as to the “brethren of Jesus,” as it does not necessarily imply that the Virgin had other children.  See Hebrews 1:6, where first-born = only-begotten.  [56]

                        and wrapped him in swaddling clothes.  This wonderful infant was to be treated like others.  "In all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren" (Hebrews 2:17).  [8]

                        Ezekiel 16:4.  In her poverty she had none to help her, but (in the common fashion of the East) wound the babe round and round with swathes with her own hands.  [56]

                        and laid him in a manger.  The word "manger," in the English language, means "the box or trough in which provender is placed for horses or cattle."  This is not the meaning of the word here.  It means simply the stable or the place where the cattle or camels lodge.  There was no room at the inn and they were obliged to lie in the stable or barn and it was there that the child was laid.  Their being there was no proof of poverty.  It was a simple matter of necessity.  There was no room at the inn.  [11]

                        Did this stable form part of the hostelry?  or was it, as all the apocryphal writings and Justin (Dialogue with Trypho, c. 78) allege, a cave near the city?  In the time of Origen ("Contra Celsum," i. 11), a grotto was shown where the birth of Jesus took place.  It was on this place that Helena, the mother of Constantine, built a church.  The text of Luke would not be altogether incompatible with this idea.  But probably it is only a supposition, resulting on the one hand from the common custom in the East of using caves for stables, and on the other from a mistaken application to the Messiah of Isaiah 33:16, "He shall dwell in a lofty cave," quoted by Justin.  [13]

                        The origin of the “trough” interpretation of the text:  If the Received Text were correct it would be “in the manger,” but the article is omitted by [various major manuscripts].  Phatne is sometimes rendered “stall” (as in Luke 13:15; 2 Chronicles 32:28, LXX); but “manger” is probably right here.  It is derived from pateomai, “I eat” and is used by the LXX for the Hebrew [word translated] “crib” in Proverbs 14:4.  Mangers are very ancient, and are to this day [c. 1900] sometimes used as cradles in the East.  The ox and the ass which are traditionally represented in pictures are only mentioned in the apocryphal Gospel of Matthew, 14, and were suggested by Isaiah 1:3 and Habakkuk 3:2, which in the LXX and the ancient Latin Version (Vetus Itala) was mistranslated “Between two animals thou shalt be made known.”  [56]

                        because there was no room for them.  Many people assembled to be enrolled, and the tavern was filled before Joseph and Mary arrived.  [11]

                        in the inn.  Only here, ch. xxiii. 11; Mark xiv. 14.  In both these passages it is rendered guest-chamber which can hardly be the meaning here, as some have maintained.  [2]


                        In depth:  The possible nature of the inn of Bethlehem [9].  In the East there is built, in or near to a town, generally with a stable attached, a caravanserai or khan, in which a person who comes to the town and has no friends to receive him into their homes, may seek accommodation, stay as long as he pleases, generally without payment, but is only provided with lodging for himself and beast, if he has any, and with water from a well on the premises.  The people of Bethlehem, in order to prevent their hospitality from becoming oppressive by reason of the numerous visits of strangers, built a khan in or near the town.  To this large structure Joseph and Mary repaired for accommodation.  That they did so would seem to imply that they really were strangers in this the native seat of the family to which they belonged, or that, as they clearly came very late, they may have found the friends they had at Bethlehem already overburdened with guests


                        In depth introduction:  The possible dating of the birth [56].  There is a reasonable certainty that our Lord was born B.C. 4 of our era, and it is probable that He was born (according to the unanimous tradition of the Christian Church) in winter.  There is nothing to guide us as to the actual day of His birth.  It was unknown to the ancient Christians (Clem. Alex, Strom., I. 21).  Some thought that it took place on May 20 or April 20.  There is no trace of the date December 25 earlier than the fourth century, but it is accepted by Athanasius, Jerome, Ambrose, etc.  [56]


In depth:  Estimating the calendar year of Jesus’ birth [55].  It is impossible to fix this date exactly because of the small amount of information at our command, but it lies within narrow limits.

            (1)  Jesus must have been born before the death of Herod I, according to Matthew 2:1 and 19; that is, before March or April, 4 B.C.

            (2)  Just how long before cannot be stated with precision, but certainly not more than two or three years, for he was “a young child” on his return from Egypt (Matthew 2:19, 20), and the age of the children Herod ordered killed (Matthew 2:16) must have been about that of Jesus at the time.

            We can safely say, therefore, that Jesus was born 6-4 B.C.

            This conclusion is confirmed by a comparison of Luke 3:23 and John 2:20, where the “forty-six years” brings us probably to 27 A.D.  If about a year previously, when he began to preach, Jesus was about thirty years old, then clearly He must have been born about 4 or 5 B.C.  But unfortunately we do not know exactly how near Jesus was to thirty years of age.

            Again, if we knew exactly when the census under Quirinius (or Cyrenius) was made, we should know when Jesus was born (Luke 2:1, 2), but the only census made by Quirinius that we know certainly about was in A.D. 6.  It is possible, however, that Quirinius was legate to Syria twice.  If so, his first term of office would probably have been about B.C. 9, since there is a break in the list of legates at that time.  Recent investigations have also made it appear likely that a census was taken under Herod I at about that date.  But even if we should never know the precise day when Jesus was born, we know that he was born, and this is the one fact in which we are really interested.     


                        In depth:  Competing estimates of the calendar month and day of Jesus' birth [9].  Fabricius gives a catalogue of no less than one hundred and thirty-six different opinions concerning the day of Christ's birth.  It has been placed in every month of the year. 

The Egyptians place it in January

Wagenseil and Wiesler in February

Rochart and Paulus in March

Some mentioned by Clement of Alexandria, and Greswell and Alford in April

the Alexandrian Church in May

Epiphanius speaks of some who placed it in June

Lichtenstein places it in July or December—

Strong and Lardner place it in August

Lightfoot, Webster and Wilkinson place it in September

Scaliger, Casaubon and Calvisius and Archbishop Newcome in October,

Others in November. 

Dr. Robinson places it in autumn; Clinton in spring; and Andrews between the middle of December, 749 to the middle of January, 750 A. U. 

The fixing of the nativity of Christ on the 25th of December, was really done at Rome, and was transmitted from thence over the Eastern Church.  "Pope Julius I," says Dr. Adam Clarke, "was the person who made this alteration, and it appears to have been done for this reason:  The sun now began his return toward the northern tropic, ending the winter, lengthening the short days, and introducing the Spring.  All this was probably deemed emblematical of the rising of the Sun of Righteousness on the darkness of this world, and causing the day-spring from on high to visit mankind."

                        The widely conflicting views which have been stated as to the day of our Saviour's birth, are most manifestly attributable to the absence of all certain evidence as to the precise date of that event.  Revelation is silent on this point.         The tradition of the Church is widely diverse and discrepant.  There are no data upon which any calculations may be based, and hence everything rests on mere conjecture.  The question is one of little importance, even for those who observe the day, as the celebration of a public event is not necessarily confined to the day of the year on which it occurred. 

It is happy for us that the particular day on which Jesus was born, is not necessary to be ascertained in order to our salvation, nor at all material to true religion.  It is sufficient for us to know that, in the fullness of time, just when He was most needed, and when the Jewish and Gentile world was fully prepared for this central fact and turning point in history, the Saviour was born, was made flesh, and dwelt among us, assumed our nature, and in consequence thereof is become an all-sufficient Saviour and Redeemer, in whom whosoever believeth with a right faith shall not perish, but have eternal life.                                        



2:8                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    Now there were shepherds in the same part of the country, keeping watch over their sheep by night in the open fields,

WEB:              There were shepherds in the same country staying in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock.           

Young’s:         And there were shepherds in the same region, lodging in the field, and keeping the night-watches over their flock,
Conte (RC):   And there were shepherds in the same region, being vigilant and keeping watch in the night over their flock.


2:8                   And there were in the same country.  Round about Bethlehem.  [11]

                        Tradition says that they were natives of the little village Beth-zur (Joshua 15:58; Nehemiah 3:16).  They were feeding their flocks in the same fields from which David had been summoned to feed Jacob, God’s people, and Israel His inheritance. [56] 

                        shepherds.  Luke's Gospel is the gospel of the poor and lowly.  This revelation to the shepherds acquires additional meaning as we remember that shepherds, as a class, were under the Rabbinic ban, because of their necessary isolation from religious ordinances, and their manner of life, which rendered strict legal observance well-nigh impossible.  [2]

                        Now, among the Jews at that period shepherds were held in low estimation among the people.  In the Talmud (treatise 'Sanhedrin') we read they were not to be allowed in the courts as witnesses.  In the treatise 'Avodah-Zarah' no help must be given to the heathen or to shepherds.  The Mishna (Talmud) tells us that the sheep intended for the daily sacrifices in the temple were fed in the Bethlehem pastures.  This semi-sacred occupation no doubt influenced these poor toilers, and specially fitted them to be the recipients of the glad tidings.  [18]

                        abiding in the field.  Abiding in the field, both day and night, whether in tents or in the open air is uncertain, but the word abiding seems to indicate that near by the fold were temporary tents or booths, for the convenience of the shepherds.  [9]

                        This does not prove, as some have supposed, that the Nativity took place in spring, for in some pastures of Palestine the shepherds to this day bivouac with their flocks in winter.  [56]

                        keeping watch.  That is, taking watch by turns.  [14]

                        The expression seems to indicate that they were stationed at various posts, and perhaps relieved one another.  The original word may be more literally rendered watching the watches of the night, i.e., each one keeping watch (which ordinarily consisted of three hours) in his turn.  The sheep were not confined under a covered fold by night, it being regarded more conducive to the excellence of the wool to let them remain under the open sky by night as well as by day.  It was necessary to watch the sheep in the field, to guard them against the wolves, foxes, and other beasts of prey common there.  As Abraham, David and Moses, to whom the promise of the Messiah was first made, were shepherds, so was the completion of this promise first revealed to shepherds.  [9]

                        over their flock by night.  Sheep normally sleep in short patches at varying times around the clock.   Hence though it had turned dark, the flock still needed to be kept an eye on lest the sheep wander off.  [rw]



2:9                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    when suddenly an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round them; and they were filled with terror.

WEB:              Behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.       

Young’s:         and lo, a messenger of the Lord stood over them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they feared a great fear.
Conte (RC):   And behold, an Angel of the Lord stood near them, and the brightness of God shone around them, and they were struck with a great fear.


2:9                   And, lo. The phrase often introduces some strange or memorable event.  [56]

                        the angel of the Lord.  No particular angel is specified.  [14]

                        came upon them.  Just another night of sheep watching for the poor shepherds (they certainly weren’t likely to be anything else!).  And then suddenly everything is lit up by this supernatural aura that appears as the angel does.  Many things in the ancient world might be “misinterpreted,” but this sequence of events would have surely shaken to the core any one who was present:  it cried out supernatural for there was certainly nothing natural that would have produced it!  [rw]

and the glory of the Lord shone round about them.  The Schekinah (Acts 26:13), the token of the divine presence in the Tabernacle and in the Temple (1 Kings 8:10-11; Isaiah 6:1-3), appeared to poor men engaged in a [lowly] occupation according to Jewish ideas.  [6]

                        and they were sore [greatly, rw] afraid.  They had probably faced wild animals in their day and knew how to proceed.  But this was beyond all human experience and they reacted the very way we would expect them to, with fear.  What they would shortly learn was that this was not an angelic messenger who was a threat to them or bringing other bad news, but one bringing them the very opposite.  [rw]   



2:10                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    But the angel said to them, "Put away all fear; for I am bringing you good news of great joy--joy for all the People.

WEB:              The angel said to them, "Don't be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all the people.  

Young’s:         And the messenger said to them, 'Fear not, for lo, I bring you good news of great joy, that shall be to all the people --
(RC):   And the Angel said to them: "Do not be afraid. For, behold, I proclaim to you a great joy, which will be for all the people.


2:10                 And the angel said unto them.  The shepherds needed an explanation for what was going on:  Was the appearance a sign of retribution or of good news?  Whatever it was, it was so far out of the norm that concern and alarm would be the natural reaction.  [rw] 

                        fear not.  The same introductory dismissal of fear as Gabriel addressed first to Zacharias and then to Mary.  [14]

                        The real reason of the revelations of God in the Bible, particularly the New Testament, is [not directly] to remove fear from the human heart.  It aims rather to kindle a love which casts out fear, by not only showing God reconciled, but bringing us to reconciliation.  [52]

                        for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.  It was not only good news, but it was of such vast importance that it should stir a strong, positive reaction from them.  This was not what hard working shepherds expected as they faced another of their many long nights!  [rw] 

                        which shall be to all people.  To all the people of Israel, and to other nations only through Israel; but to the whole people, and therefore revealed to the poorest class first of all.  [6]  For they were the group most likely to be ignored in any country.  [rw]



2:11                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    For a Saviour who is the Anointed Lord is born to you to-day, in the town of David.

WEB:              For there is born to you, this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.           

Young’s:         because there was born to you to-day a Saviour -- who is Christ the Lord -- in the city of David,
Conte (RC):   For today a Saviour has been born for you in the city of David: he is Christ the Lord.


2:11                 For unto you.  Broadly speaking, the “you” encompasses the entire Jewish people of which they were part.  By speaking of “you,” however, the language also stressed the importance of the subject not just to the people in general, but also to them in particular.  The message of redemption was for the “little” and “unimportant” folk just as much as anyone else.  [rw]

is born this day.  Since the sunset which closed yesterday.  [52]

                        in the city of David.  This refers the shepherds to the prophecy now fulfilled (Micah 5:2).  [8]

                        born . . . a Saviour.  Not One who shall be a Saviour, but "born a Saviour."  [16]

                        Saviour.  Too high a title for a mere man.  [14]

                        It is a curious fact that “Saviour” and “Salvation,” so common in Luke and Paul (in whose writings they occur forty-four times), are comparatively rare in the rest of the New Testament.  Saviour” only occurs in John 4:42; 1 John 4:14; and six times in 2 Peter and Jude; “salvation” only in John 4:22, and thirteen times in the rest of the New Testament.  [56]

                        which is Christ the Lord.  “Christ” is equivalent to “anointed.”  This may accordingly be taken as anointed Lord, which view Westcott and Hort indicate in their form of the Greek text, though the sense before given is probably correct.  Either way, the Saviour is declared to be the Messiah.  [52]

                        “God hath made that same Jesus whom ye crucified both Lord and Christ,” Acts 2:36; Philippians 2:11.  “Christ” or “Anointed” is the Greek equivalent of Messiah.  In the Gospels it is almost invariably an appellative, “the Christ.”  But as time advanced it was more and more used without the article as a proper name.  Our Lord was “anointed” with the Holy Spirit as Prophet, Priest and King.  [56]

                        the Lord.  In the lower sense the word is used as a mere title of distinction; in the higher sense it is (as in the LXX) the equivalent of the Hebrew “Jehovah”—the ineffable name.  “We preach Christ Jesus the Lord,” 2 Corinthians 4:5 (see Philippians 2:11; Romans 14:9; 1 Corinthians 8:6; “No one can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost,” 1 Corinthians 12:3).  [56]


            In-depth:  The contextual argument for “Lord” as an affirmation of Jesus’ Deityship [36].  That by the title of Lord, here given to Christ by the Angel, is to be understood the ineffable and incommunicable name Jehovah, or Lord, in its most exalted and transcendental sense, appears by the context in the Gospel, and the form of the Angel's speech to the shepherds, when the term "Lord," being thrice repeated, without any note of distinction or difference, must necessarily refer to, and signify, the same Divine Being (Verse 9, "The Angel of the Lord'—"The glory of the Lord").  And what reason can be assigned, why Christ, whom the same Angel here calls the Lord is not to be understood of the same Jehovah, whose glory shone around them, and whose this Angel was?

The Angel calls Him, not Christ, your Lord, as if the title related only to men, but Christ the Lord, in an absolute and supreme sense, as Lord of the whole creation, even the Lord of Hosts, that most known and peculiar title of the Most High God.  Having, then, the confession of these heavenly Spirits, that Christ is both "their Lord and ours," and consequently their God, as well as ours, we may well conclude with S. Peter, that "He is Lord of all;" and with S. Paul, that " He is over all, God Blessed for evermore;" and every true Christian may say to Him with S. Thomas, "My Lord and my God!" Acts 10:36; Romans 9:5; John 20:28.— Wogan. 



2:12                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    And this is the token for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."

WEB:              This is the sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a feeding trough."         

Young’s:         and this is to you the sign: Ye shall find a babe wrapped up, lying in the manger.'
Conte (RC):   And this will be a sign for you: you will find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."


2:12                 And this shall be a sign unto you.  I.e., the statement which I will now make is a token by which you can test the verity [accuracy] of my announcement.  [52]

                        Ye shall find.  The sign was not itself a miraculous one, but the prediction of it was so.  The thing which they would find would be such a verification of the prediction as to attest itself true and show that the real Christ was found.  [14]

                        the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.  "Swaddling clothes," were long bands of cloth, in which then as now in the east a babe was tightly wrapped, arms and all, for the first forty days after its birth.  [22]

                        lying in a manger.  This was to be the sign.  On that night there would, perhaps, be no other children born in the Bethlehem village; certainly the shepherds would find no other newly born infant cradled in a manger.  [18]



2:13                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    And immediately there was with the angel a multitude of the army of Heaven praising God and saying,

WEB:              Suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army praising God, and saying,

Young’s:         And suddenly there came with the messenger a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying,
Conte (RC):  And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the celestial army, praising God and saying,


2:13                 And suddenly.  As if only waiting till their fellow had done [speaking].  [16]

                        there was with the angel.  Just as unexpectedly and just as “out of nowhere” also came the voices of a vast chorus.  [rw]

                        a multitude.   Myriads of angels:  1 Kings 22:19; Psalm 68:17; Revelation 5:11.  [7]

                        of the heavenly host.  Or army.  With reference to the number of His angels, Jehovah is called the Lord God of Sabaoth [Hosts / Armies].  They are called a host as a convenient way of indicating a vast number—not a confused throng—but in ordered ranks, and, perhaps, with leadership of well-adjusted grades.  [52]

                        One of the glorious titles by which the eternal King was known among the chosen people was "Lord of sabaoth," equivalent to "Lord of hosts."  In several passages of the Scriptures is the enormous multitude of these heavenly beings noticed; for instance, Ps. lxviii. 17, where the Hebrew is much more expressive than the English rendering; Dan. vii. 10, "Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him" (see, too, the Targum of Palestine on Deut. xxxiii., "And with him ten thousand times ten thousand holy angels;" and  "The crown of the Law is his [Moses'], because he brought it from the heavens above, when there was revealed to him the glory of the Lord's Shechinah, with two thousand myriads of angels, and forty and two thousand chariots of fire,"  etc.).  [18]

                        praising God, and saying.  What had happen was because of God bringing to fruition His long-term plan to bring a Messiah-Redeemer to earth and hence He is praised for having done this and for its long range impact on those of the human species willing to take advantage of the Christ’s redemptive role:  “on earth peace, good will toward men” (verse 14).  [rw] 



2:14                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    "Glory be to God in the highest Heavens, And on earth peace among men who please Him!"

WEB:              "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men."          

Young’s:         'Glory in the highest to God, and upon earth peace, among men -- good will.'
Conte (RC):   "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will."


2:14                 Glory to God.  Praise be to God; or honor be to God.  [11]

                        in the highest.  In the highest heavens.  Commentators understand this as a reference to the Jewish threefold heavens.  This glory ascends to the "highest."  This glory among the highest is placed in contrast to the peace on earth.  [14]

                        and on earth peace.  Christ comes as the Prince of Peace, and brings to men the offer of peace.  God is in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing to men their trespasses.  Besides, His Gospel brings peace on earth as it changes the condition of society.  [8]

                        good will toward men.  To sinners who have merited ill-will and wrath.  Heaven comes down to earth with good-will to men, who have deserved the opposite.  [8]

                        God and heaven are reconciled in Christ.  He who saw all men wandering in sin and ignorance, would now show forth His mercy, in raising up and perpetuating a kingdom of saints.  [4]

                        A bare majority of the old authorities read here, "On earth peace among men of good will;" in other words, among men who are the objects of God's good will and kindness.  [18]



2:15                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    Then, as soon as the angels had left them and returned to Heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go over as far as Bethlehem and see this that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us."

WEB:              It happened, when the angels went away from them into the sky, that the shepherds said one to another, "Let's go to Bethlehem, now, and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us."          

Young’s:         And it came to pass, when the messengers were gone away from them to the heavens, that the men, the shepherds, said unto one another, 'We may go over indeed unto Bethlehem, and see this thing that hath come to pass, that the Lord did make known to us.'
Conte (RC):   And it happened that, when the Angels had departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us cross over to Bethlehem and see this word, which has happened, which the Lord has revealed to us."


2:15                 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven.  Even the most important of angelic appearances came to an end and since they had the implicit command to seek out the child (verse 12), they had to depart to allow the shepherds to do what they had been instructed.  [rw]

                        the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go.  There was no debate about the matter.  An angel appeared and you did what you were told; if you didn’t you would have been almost literally “spitting in the face of God.”  Given an opportunity not given to anyone else, not doing as instructed would have shown utter contempt.  [rw]   

They did not reason nor debate with themselves (saith Bishop Hooper, martyr) who should keep the wolf from the sheep in the mean time; but committed the sheep to Him whose pleasure they obeyed.  So let us do now that we be called; commit all other things to Him that called us.  He will take heed that all shall be well.  He will help the husband, comfort the wife, guide the servants, keep the house, preserve the goods.  [54]

even unto Bethlehem.  Hence it may be inferred that the shepherd's home was not at Bethlehem, but in some locality between which and Bethlehem was the region where they watched;  [cf.] verse 20.  [24]

                        A way of speaking which implies that it was a considerable journey for them to undertake.  They would not stop short of the very spot.  [52]

                        and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  They had heard the words, their decision to go showed belief in the words, but personal observation would show them the baby himself that would grow up to become the Savior.  [rw]



2:16                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    So they made haste and came and found Mary and Joseph, with the babe lying in the manger.

WEB:              They came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby was lying in the feeding trough.   

Young’s:         And they came, having hasted, and found both Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger,
Conte (RC):   And they went quickly. And they found Mary and Joseph; and the infant was lying in a manger.


2:16                 And they came with haste.  This expresses the ardor and earnestness of their following the divine direction, and going after the infant Saviour.  [8]

                        and found.  As it had been promised (verse 12).  [8]

                        The word implies found after diligent seeking.  [6]

                        The lamp hung from the centre of a rope would guide them to the khan, but among a crowd it would not be easy to find the new-born babe of the humble travelers.  [56]

                        Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.  There is no hint that the parents were forewarned of the shepherds coming.  The story the shepherds’ conveyed of the angelic appearance would have reinforced their confidence in the importance of their newborn son.  [rw]



2:17                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    And when they saw the child, they told what had been said to them about Him;

WEB:              When they saw it, they publicized widely the saying which was spoken to them about this child.       

Young’s:         and having seen, they made known abroad concerning the saying spoken to them concerning the child.
Conte (RC):   Then, upon seeing this, they understood the word that had been spoken to them about this boy.


2:17                 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad [widely known, NKJV].  That is, they related at Bethlehem the appearance of the angels and the prediction by which they had been induced to visit the place where the infant Jesus was.  It does not appear that the shepherds narrated the facts [to any wider audience].  Herod and his court at any rate seem not to have so far been informed of it as to be aroused to any alarm at the birth.  It was not until the arrival of the Magi explicitly inquiring for the new born king that the palace at Jerusalem was disturbed.  [14]

                        the saying which was told them concerning this child.  It would surely have impressed those willing to listen.  And it could be safely told at this point because the child was still a mere infant and no matter how political an interpretation some would have wanted to put on “savior,” no infant was going to be capable of leading them to their desired political “redemption.”  Such would have to lie many years in the future.  For the time being, they could only ponder and wonder.  [rw]



2:18                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    and all who listened were astonished at what the shepherds told them.

WEB:              All who heard it wondered at the things which were spoken to them by the shepherds.     

Young’s:  And all who heard, did wonder concerning the things spoken by the shepherds unto them; 
Conte (RC):   And all who heard it were amazed by this, and by those things which were told to them by the shepherds.


2:18                 And all they that heard it.  The Bethlehemites wondered at these statements of the angelic ministrations related by the shepherds.  [14]

                        Until this [information] from the shepherds, we have no reason to suppose that any person there, except Joseph and Mary, knew that anything out of the way of nature had taken place.  [52]

                        wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  How?  When?  By what means would this “salvation” occur?  These were surely some of the questions they “wondered” about the answer to.  [rw]



2:19                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    But Mary treasured up all these things, often dwelling on them in her mind.

WEB:              But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart.

Young’s:         and Mary was preserving all these things, pondering in her heart;
Conte (RC):   But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.


2:19                 But Mary kept.  The word signifies not merely to guard, but to keep, as the result of guarding.  Hence the compound verb is very expressive:  kept with or within herself:  closely.  [2]

                        all these things.  She could have no idea where all this was headed.  But she knew the impossibilities that had already occurred--the fact that God had caused her to become pregnant when she couldn’t, while her relative Elizabeth was pregnant in her old age when she couldn’t either.  When angels had spoken of how both sons would play major roles to benefit the nation.  She knew the “outcome,” so to speak, but nothing of the details or the “how.”  So it was natural that every word be carefully considered as to what it might hint or imply.  [rw] 

                        and pondered.  Brought them together--compared, collated--as we say, "put this thing and that thing together."  These acts of the shepherds confirmed her faith:  and she laid up these things in her memory and in her warm feelings.  [8]

                        Kept them in active remembrance, compared them, reflected upon them.  This is the way in which sermons should be heard, and the Bible should be read.  We should not listen to sermons, that they may amuse, or merely entertain us (Ezek. xxxiii. 31-32).  Neither should we listen to God's Word as a person looks in a glass, and then goes away and forgets what he has seen (James i. 24).  Such hearers soon lose the good impressions they have received, and continue worldly-minded and ungodly.  See Ps. i. 2.)  [9]

                        them in her heart.  Not comprehending clearly yet what it was to have borne the Messiah.  [52]

                        The word suggests that she did not share with others (except Joseph one must assume) what she thought and what wondered.  How could she?  Unless one was there that night, it could only arouse mockery as a tall tale from a poorer member of their society who wished for something greater.  [rw]



2:20                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen in accordance with the announcement made to them.

WEB:              The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, just as it was told them.    

Young’s:         and the shepherds turned back, glorifying and praising God, for all those things they heard and saw, as it was spoken unto them.
Conte (RC):   And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, just as it was told to them.


2:20                 And the shepherds returned.  To their flocks.  [11]

                        glorifying and praising God.  Giving honor to God and celebrating His praises.  [11]

                        for all the things that they had heard and seen.  Others had not been blessed with this opportunity—only their small group.  To not have been exuberant over what they had seen would have been to not show gratitude and appreciation. Jesus would encounter many during His life that would be of that mentality, but not in this case!  [rw]

as it was told unto them.  As to be expected, what they had been told had turned out to the reality.  Faith was confirmed by evidence.  [rw]



2:21                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    When eight days had passed and the time for circumcising Him had come, He was called JESUS, the name given Him by the angel before His conception in the womb.

WEB:              When eight days were fulfilled for the circumcision of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.        

Young’s:         And when eight days were fulfilled to circumcise the child, then was his name called Jesus, having been so called by the messenger before his being conceived in the womb.
Conte (RC):   And after eight days were ended, so that the boy would be circumcised, his name was called JESUS, just as he was called by the Angel before he was conceived in the womb.


2:21                 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child.   Here only recorded, and even here merely alluded to for the sake of the name then given to the babe, "Jesus" or Saviour (Matthew 1:21; Acts 13:23).  Still the circumcision of Christ had a profound bearing on His own work--by few rightly [understood].  For since "he that is circumcised is a debtor to do the whole law" (Galatians 5:3), Jesus thus bore about with Him in His very flesh, the seal of a voluntary obligation to do the whole Law.  [16]

                        Doubtless the rite was performed by Joseph.  Christ suffered pain thus early for our sake to teach us that, though He ordained for us the painless rite of baptism, we must practice the spiritual circumcision—the circumcision of the heart.  [56]

                        his name was called Jesus.  The name of the child was bestowed at circumcision.  [56]

which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.  Thereby explaining why this name was chosen; as with the Baptist, both were given names that would not normally have been expected.  [rw]



2:22                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    And when the days for their purification appointed by the Law of Moses had passed, they took Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord--

WEB:              When the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord   

Young’s:         And when the days of their purification were fulfilled, according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present to the Lord,
Conte (RC):   And after the days of her purification were fulfilled, according to the law of Moses, they brought him to Jerusalem, in order to present him to the Lord,


2:22                 And when the days of her [their, ESV, NASB] purification.  The reading “her,” of the Received Text is almost unsupported.  All the Uncials read “their,” except D, which probably by an oversight reads, “His.”  Strictly speaking, the child was never purified, but only the mother.  [56]

Among the Hebrews a mother was required to remain at home for about forty days after the birth of a male child and eighty for a female; and during that time she was reckoned as "impure"--that is, she was not permitted to go to the temple or to engage in religious services with the congregation.  Leviticus 12:3-4.  [11]

                        according to the law of Moses were accomplished.  Jesus was “made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons,” Galatians 4:4, 5.  [56]

                        Hence to fulfill the commands of that Law, Mary and her family came to Jerusalem on the fortieth day for the required ritual purification.  [rw]

                        they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.  Because the temple was there, and the ceremony was there to be performed by the Mosaic law.  [8]

                        By the original law, every male first-born child was holy to the Lord.  Ex. xiii. 2.  He was to receive the office of priest, originally exercised by the head of every family, as by Noah (Gen. viii. 20), and Job (Job i. 5).  Afterwards God chose the tribe of Levi in the place of these first-born to be a perpetual priesthood (Numb. viii. 15-20).  But as the first-born still belonged to the Lord by right, since He rescued them from death in Egypt, on the night of the Passover, they were redeemed in memorial of that event.  [4]


                        In depth:  Physical layout of Jerusalem [22].  Jerusalem:  Shape.  An irregular quadrilateral, covering five mountains, Acra, Bezetha, Moriah, Ophel, Zion. 

Districts.  (1)  "Zion" or the "Upper City" on the south, upon Mt. Zion and Ophel; (2)  the "Lower City" on Acra, including the Temple on Moriah.  (3)  Bezetha, Herod's "New City," farthest north. 

Buildings.  An ancient writer called it "a city of marble and gold."  The most famous in Christ's day were (1)  Herod's Temple, covering 20 acres; (2)  Herod's Palace;  (3)  The Tower of Antonia;  (4)  the network of pools and subterranean aqueducts.     

Walls.  (1) David's, around Zion and Ophel, enclosing the Old Jebusite city.  (2)  Hezekiah's, encircling Acra and Moriah.  (3)  Herod Agrippa's, built after Christ, sweeping northward around Bezetha.  (4)  The present wall was built by the Turks, about 400 years ago. 

Gates.  The ancient city had eight outside gates, chief of which were  (1)  "Damascus Gate" on the north, opening toward Samaria and Galilee;  (2)  "Valley"  or  "Joppa"  gate on the west, leading to Joppa and Bethlehem;  (3)  "Fountain Gate" on the south, opening on the Pool of Siloam; (4)  "Shushan" or the "Lily Gate" of the Temple, on the east, leading across Kedron to Bethany and Jericho. 

Valleys.  (1)  Jehoshaphat or Kedron, running past the Temple on the east;  (2) Hinnom, on the west and south;  (3)  Tyropoean, coming through the city from north to south. 


                        In depth:  Presentation of Jesus in the temple [22].  The presentation of the first born male child was made on the forty-first day after the birth (Lev. 12:1-8), for a two-fold purpose: 

(a) for the mother’s purification from legal or ceremonial uncleanness.  If the woman was rich, she brought a lamb for a sacrifice, if poor either two doves or two pigeons, each pair costing about 16 cents.  One of these was for a sin offering in view of the ceremonial defilement, the other for a burnt offering to restore fellowship with the Lord.  Mary brought the offering of the poor, which fact indirectly confirms the view that the Magi with their rich gifts came after the Presentation. 

(b)  The child was brought into the temple also for the purpose of redeeming him from priestly service.  When Jehovah destroyed all the first born sons of Egypt and spared all the first born of Israel, he ordained that this fact should be kept in everlasting remembrance by the consecration of the first born son of every Israelite to his own special service (Ex. 13:2).  When later the tribe of Levi had been especially set apart for the priesthood (Num. 8), he allowed the first-born of the other tribes to be redeemed from the priestly service.  This was done, first, by the presentation of the son in the Temple, by which act God's ownership was recognized and second, by the payment of five shekels (a shekel was variously estimated at from 50-80 cents) in exchange for the son. 



2:23                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    as it is written in the Law of the Lord: "Every first-born male shall be called holy to the Lord."

WEB:              (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord"),     

Young’s:         as it hath been written in the Law of the Lord, -- 'Every male opening a womb shall be called holy to the Lord,'
Conte (RC):   just as it is written in the law of the Lord, "For every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord,"


2:23                 As it is written the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord.   In Ex. xiii. 2.  The law had been modified, not repealed.  [4]

                        The tribe of Levi were sanctified to the Lord in lieu of the firstborn, and originally all the firstborn in excess of the number of the Levites had to be redeemed with five shekels of the sanctuary, a rule afterwards extended to all the firstborn.  Exodus 13:2, 22:29, 34:19; Numbers 3:13, 18:15, 16.  [56] 

                        the Law of the Lord.  Called “the law of Moses” due to who was the recipient of the Divine law or “the law of the Lord” due to who gave it, it remained the same system of laws and ordinances designed to govern the people of Israel in behavior, government, and morals.  [rw]   



2:24                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    And they also offered a sacrifice as commanded in the Law of the Lord, "a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons."

WEB:              and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, "A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."

Young’s:         and to give a sacrifice, according to that said in the Law of the Lord, 'A pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons.'
Conte (RC):   and in order to offer a sacrifice, according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons."


2:24                 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord.  It wasn’t a matter of bringing what you wanted; it was a matter of bringing what God wanted.  That was the purpose of written Law:  to assure that the same set of standards was imposed on all and that when there were to be exceptions the fact was also known to all.  The element of guess work was removed.  [56]

                        a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons.  The proper offering was a lamb for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or dove for a sin offering; but for the poor an alternative was allowed--instead of the more costly present of a lamb, a second pigeon or dove might be brought.  The deep poverty of Mary and Joseph is shown in this offering.  They would never have put the sanctuary off with the humbler had the richer gift been in their power.  [18]

                        The Law of Moses, with that thoughtful tenderness which characterizes many of its provisions, allowed a poor woman to bring two turtledoves; and since turtledoves (being migratory) are not always procurable, and old pigeons are not easily caught, offered the alternatives of “two young pigeons.”  Leviticus 12:6-8.  [56]





Books Utilized

(with number code)



1          =          Adam Clarke.  The New Testament . . . with a Commentary and

Critical Notes.  Volume I:   Matthew to the Acts.   Reprint, Nashville,

Tennessee:  Abingdon Press.


2          =          Marvin R. Vincent.  Word Studies in the New Testament.  Volume I:

The Synoptic  Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, Epistles of Peter, James,

and Jude.  New York:  Charles Scribner's Sons, 1887; 1911 printing.


3          =          J. S. Lamar.  Luke.  [Eugene S. Smith, Publisher; reprint, 1977 (?)]


4          =          Charles H. Hall.  Notes, Practical and Expository on the Gospels;

volume two:  Luke-John.  New York:  Hurd and Houghton, 1856,



5          =          John Kitto.  Daily Bible Illustrations.  Volume II:  Evening Series: 

The Life and Death of Our Lord.  New York:  Robert Carter and

Brothers, 1881.


6          =          Thomas M. Lindsay.  The Gospel According to St. Luke.  Two

volumes.  New York:  Scribner & Welford, 1887.


7          =          W. H. van Doren.  A Suggestive Commentary on the New Testament: 

Saint Luke.  Two volumes.  New York:  D. Appleton and Company,



8          =          Melancthon W. Jacobus.  Notes on the Gospels, Critical and

Explanatory:  Luke and John.  New York:  Robert Carter &

Brothers, 1856; 1872 reprint.


9          =          Alfred Nevin.  Popular Expositor of the Gospels and Acts:  Luke. 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:  Ziegler & McCurdy, 1872.


10        =          Alfred Nevin.  The Parables of Jesus.  Philadelphia:  Presbyterian

Board of Publication, 1881.


11        =          Albert Barnes.  "Luke."  In Barnes' Notes on the New Testament.

Reprint, Kregel Publications, 1980.


12        =          Alexander B. Bruce.  The Synoptic Gospels.  In The Expositor's

Greek Testament, edited by W. Robertson Nicoll.  Reprint, Grand

Rapids, Michigan:  Wm. B.   Eerdmans Publishing Company.


13        =          F. Godet.  A Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke.  Translated

from the Second French Edition by E. W. Shalders and M. D. Cusin.

New York:  I. K. Funk & Company, 1881.


14        =          D. D. Whedon.  Commentary on the Gospels:  Luke-John.   New

York:  Carlton & Lanahan, 1866; 1870 reprint.   


15        =          Henry Alford.  The Greek Testament.  Volume I:  The Four Gospels.

Fifth Edition.  London:  Rivingtons, 1863.  


16        =          David Brown.   "Luke" in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and

David Brown,  A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the

Old and New Testaments.  Volume II:  New Testament.  Hartford:

S. S. Scranton Company, no date.


17        =          Dr. [no first name provided] MacEvilly.  An Exposition of the Gospel

of St. Luke.  New York:  Benziger Brothers, 1886.


18        =          H. D. M. Spence.  “Luke.”  In the Pulpit Commentary, edited by H. D.

M. Spence.  Reprinted by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,



19        =          John Calvin.  Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists,

Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  Translated by William Pringle.  Reprint,

Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Wm. B.    Eerdmans Publishing Company.


20        =          Thomas Scott.  The Holy Bible . . . with Explanatory Notes (and)

Practical Observations.  Boston:  Crocker and Brewster.


21        =          Henry T. Sell.  Bible Studies in the Life of Christ:  Historical and

Constructive.  New York:  Fleming H. Revell Company, 1902.


22        =          Philip Vollmer.  The Modern Student's Life of Christ.  New York:

Fleming H. Revell Company, 1912.


23        =          Heinrich A. W. Meyer.  Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the

Gospels of Mark and Luke.  Translated from the Fifth German

Edition by Robert Ernest Wallis.  N. Y.:  Funk and Wagnalls,

1884; 1893 printing. 


24        =          John Albert Bengel. Gnomon of the New Testament.  A New

                        Translation by Charlton T. Lewis and Marvin R. Vincent. 

Volume One.  Philadelphia:  Perkinpine & Higgins, 1860.


25        =          John Cummings.  Sabbath Evening Readers on the New Testa-

ment:  St. Luke.  London:  Arthur Hall, Virtue & Co,1854.


26        =          Walter F. Adeney, editor.  The Century Bible:  A Modern  

Commentary--Luke.  New York:  H. Frowdey, 1901.  Title page

missing from copy.


27        =          Pasquier Quesnel.  The Gospels with Reflections on Each Verse.

Volumes I and II.  (Luke is in part of both).  New York:  Anson

D. F. Randolph, 1855; 1867 reprint. 


28        =          Charles R. Erdman.  The Gospel of Luke:  An Exposition.

Philadelphia:  Westminster   Press, 1921; 1936 reprint.


29        =          Elvira J. Slack.  Jesus:  The Man of Galilee.  New York:  National

Board of the Young Womens Christian Associations, 1911.


30        =          Arthur Ritchie.  Spiritual Studies in St. Luke's Gospel.  Milwaukee:

The Young Churchman Company, 1906.


31        =          Bernhard Weiss.  A Commentary on the New Testament.  Volume

Two:  Luke-The Acts.  New York:  Funk & Wagnalls Company,1906.


32        =          Matthew Henry.  Commentary on the Whole Bible.  Volume V:

Matthew to John.  17--.  Reprint, New York:  Fleming H. Revell

Company, no date.


33        =          C. G. Barth.  The Bible Manual:  An Expository and Practical

Commentary on the Books of Scripture.  Second Edition.

London:  James Nisbet and Company, 1865.


34        =          Nathaniel S. Folsom.  The Four Gospels:  Translated . . . and with

Critical and Expository Notes.  Third Edition.  Boston:  Cupples,

Upham, and Company, 1871; 1885 reprint.


35        =          Henry Burton.  The Gospel according to Luke.  In the Expositor's

Bible series.  New York:  A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1895. 


36        =          [Anonymous].  Choice Notes on the Gospel of S. Luke, Drawn from

Old and New Sources.  London:  Macmillan & Company, 1869.


37        =          Marcus Dods.  The Parables of Our Lord.  New York:  Fleming H.

Revell Company, 18--. 


38        =          Alfred Edersheim.  The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah.  

Second Edition.  New York:  Anson D. F. Randolph and Company,



39        =          A. T. Robertson.  Luke the Historian in the Light of Research. 

New York:  Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920; 1930 reprint. 


40        =          James R. Gray.  Christian Workers' Commentary on the Old and

New Testaments.  Chicago:  Bible Institute Colportage Associat-

ion/Fleming H. Revell Company, 1915.


41        =          W. Sanday.  Outlines of the Life of Christ.  New York:  Charles

Scribner's Sons, 1905.


42        =          Halford E. Luccock.  Studies in the Parables of Jesus.  New York:

Methodist Book Concern, 1917.


43        =          George H. Hubbard.  The Teaching of Jesus in Parables.  New

York:  Pilgrim Press, 1907.  


44        =          Charles S. Robinson.  Studies in Luke's Gospel.  Second Series.

New York:American Tract Society, 1890.  


45        =          John Laidlaw.  The Miracles of Our Lord.  New York:  Funk &

Wagnalls Company,   1892.


46        =          William M. Taylor.  The Miracles of Our Saviour.  Fifth Edition.

New York:  A. C. Armstrong & Son, 1890; 1903 reprint.


47        =          Alexander Maclaren.  Expositions of Holy Scripture:  St. Luke.

New York:  George H. Doran Company, [no date].


48        =          George MacDonald.  The Miracles of Our Lord.  New York:

George Routledge & Sons, 1878. 


49        =          Joseph Parker.  The People's Bibles:  Discourses upon Holy Scrip-

                        tureMark-Luke.    New York:  Funk & Wagnalls Company, 18--.


50        =          Daniel Whitby and Moses Lowman.  A Critical Commentary and

Paraphrase on the New Testament:  The Four Gospels and the Acts

of the Apostles.  Philadelphia:  Carey & Hart, 1846.


51        =          Matthew Poole.  Annotations on the Holy Bible.  1600s.



52        =          George R. Bliss.  Luke.  In An American Commentary on the New

Testament.  Philadelphia:  American Baptist Publication Society,



53        =          J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton.  The Fourfold Gospel. 

1914.  Computerized.


54        =          John Trapp.  Commentary on the Old and New Testaments.  1654.



55        =          Ernest D. Burton and Shailer Matthews.  The Life of Christ.

Chicago, Illinois:  University of Chicago Press, 1900; 5th reprint,



56        =          Frederic W. Farrar.  The Gospel According to St. Luke.  In “The

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges” series.  Cambridge:  At

the University Press, 1882.