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Luke 1:46-56

Context
Mary’s Hymn of Praise

1:46 And Mary 1  said, 2 

“My soul exalts 3  the Lord, 4 

1:47 and my spirit has begun to rejoice 5  in God my Savior,

1:48 because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant. 6 

For 7  from now on 8  all generations will call me blessed, 9 

1:49 because he who is mighty 10  has done great things for me, and holy is his name;

1:50 from 11  generation to generation he is merciful 12  to those who fear 13  him.

1:51 He has demonstrated power 14  with his arm; he has scattered those whose pride wells up from the sheer arrogance 15  of their hearts.

1:52 He has brought down the mighty 16  from their thrones, and has lifted up those of lowly position; 17 

1:53 he has filled the hungry with good things, 18  and has sent the rich away empty. 19 

1:54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering 20  his mercy, 21 

1:55 as he promised 22  to our ancestors, 23  to Abraham and to his descendants 24  forever.”

1:56 So 25  Mary stayed with Elizabeth 26  about three months 27  and then returned to her home.

1 tc A few witnesses, especially Latin mss, (a b l* Irarm Orlat mss Nic) read “Elizabeth” here, since she was just speaking, but the ms evidence overwhelmingly supports “Mary” as the speaker.

2 sn The following passage has been typeset as poetry because many scholars regard this passage as poetic or hymnic. These terms are used broadly to refer to the genre of writing, not to the content. There are two broad criteria for determining if a passage is poetic or hymnic: “(a) stylistic: a certain rhythmical lilt when the passages are read aloud, the presence of parallelismus membrorum (i.e., an arrangement into couplets), the semblance of some metre, and the presence of rhetorical devices such as alliteration, chiasmus, and antithesis; and (b) linguistic: an unusual vocabulary, particularly the presence of theological terms, which is different from the surrounding context” (P. T. O’Brien, Philippians [NIGTC], 188-89). Classifying a passage as hymnic or poetic is important because understanding this genre can provide keys to interpretation. However, not all scholars agree that the above criteria are present in this passage, so the decision to typeset it as poetry should be viewed as a tentative decision about its genre.

3 tn Or “lifts up the Lord in praise.”

4 sn This psalm (vv. 46-55) is one of the few praise psalms in the NT. Mary praises God and then tells why both in terms of his care for her (vv. 46-49) and for others, including Israel (vv. 50-55). Its traditional name, the “Magnificat,” comes from the Latin for the phrase My soul magnifies the Lord at the hymn’s start.

5 tn Or “rejoices.” The translation renders this aorist, which stands in contrast to the previous line’s present tense, as ingressive, which highlights Mary’s joyous reaction to the announcement. A comprehensive aorist is also possible here.

6 tn See the note on the word “servant” in v. 38.

7 tn Grk “for behold.”

8 sn From now on is a favorite phrase of Luke’s, showing how God’s acts change things from this point on (5:10; 12:52; 22:18, 69; Acts 18:6).

9 sn Mary is seen here as an example of an object of God’s grace (blessed) for all generations.

10 tn Traditionally, “the Mighty One.”

11 tn Grk “and from.” Here καί (kai) has been translated by a semicolon to improve the English style.

12 sn God’s mercy refers to his “loyal love” or “steadfast love,” expressed in faithful actions, as the rest of the psalm illustrates.

13 tn That is, “who revere.” This refers to those who show God a reverential respect for his sovereignty.

14 tn Or “shown strength,” “performed powerful deeds.” The verbs here switch to aorist tense through 1:55. This is how God will act in general for his people as they look to his ultimate deliverance.

15 tn Grk “in the imaginations of their hearts.” The psalm rebukes the arrogance of the proud, who think that power is their sovereign right. Here διανοίᾳ (dianoia) can be understood as a dative of sphere or reference/respect.

16 tn Or “rulers.”

17 tn Or “those of humble position”

sn The contrast between the mighty and those of lowly position is fundamental for Luke. God cares for those that the powerful ignore (Luke 4:18-19).

18 sn Good things refers not merely to material blessings, but blessings that come from knowing God.

19 sn Another fundamental contrast of Luke’s is between the hungry and the rich (Luke 6:20-26).

20 tn Or “because he remembered mercy,” understanding the infinitive as causal.

21 tn Or “his [God’s] loyal love.”

22 tn Grk “as he spoke.” Since this is a reference to the covenant to Abraham, ἐλάλησεν (elalhsen) can be translated in context “as he promised.” God keeps his word.

23 tn Grk “fathers.”

24 tn Grk “his seed” (an idiom for offspring or descendants).

25 tn Grk “And.” Here (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the conclusion of the topic.

26 tn Grk “her”; the referent (Elizabeth) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

27 sn As is typical with Luke the timing is approximate (about three months), not specific.



TIP #08: Use the Strong Number links to learn about the original Hebrew and Greek text. [ALL]
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