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Luke 1:26-56

Context
Birth Announcement of Jesus the Messiah

1:26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, 1  the angel Gabriel 2  was sent by 3  God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 4  1:27 to a virgin engaged 5  to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of David, 6  and the virgin’s name was Mary. 1:28 The 7  angel 8  came 9  to her and said, “Greetings, favored one, 10  the Lord is with you!” 11  1:29 But 12  she was greatly troubled 13  by his words and began to wonder about the meaning of this greeting. 14  1:30 So 15  the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, 16  Mary, for you have found favor 17  with God! 1:31 Listen: 18  You will become pregnant 19  and give birth to 20  a son, and you will name him 21  Jesus. 22  1:32 He 23  will be great, 24  and will be called the Son of the Most High, 25  and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father 26  David. 1:33 He 27  will reign over the house of Jacob 28  forever, and his kingdom will never end.” 1:34 Mary 29  said to the angel, “How will this be, since I have not had sexual relations with 30  a man?” 1:35 The angel replied, 31  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow 32  you. Therefore the child 33  to be born 34  will be holy; 35  he will be called the Son of God.

1:36 “And look, 36  your relative 37  Elizabeth has also become pregnant with 38  a son in her old age – although she was called barren, she is now in her sixth month! 39  1:37 For nothing 40  will be impossible with God.” 1:38 So 41  Mary said, “Yes, 42  I am a servant 43  of the Lord; let this happen to me 44  according to your word.” 45  Then 46  the angel departed from her.

Mary and Elizabeth

1:39 In those days 47  Mary got up and went hurriedly into the hill country, to a town of Judah, 48  1:40 and entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 1:41 When 49  Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped 50  in her 51  womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 52  1:42 She 53  exclaimed with a loud voice, 54  “Blessed are you among women, 55  and blessed is the child 56  in your womb! 1:43 And who am I 57  that the mother of my Lord should come and visit me? 1:44 For the instant 58  the sound of your greeting reached my ears, 59  the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 60  1:45 And blessed 61  is she who believed that 62  what was spoken to her by 63  the Lord would be fulfilled.” 64 

Mary’s Hymn of Praise

1:46 And Mary 65  said, 66 

“My soul exalts 67  the Lord, 68 

1:47 and my spirit has begun to rejoice 69  in God my Savior,

1:48 because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant. 70 

For 71  from now on 72  all generations will call me blessed, 73 

1:49 because he who is mighty 74  has done great things for me, and holy is his name;

1:50 from 75  generation to generation he is merciful 76  to those who fear 77  him.

1:51 He has demonstrated power 78  with his arm; he has scattered those whose pride wells up from the sheer arrogance 79  of their hearts.

1:52 He has brought down the mighty 80  from their thrones, and has lifted up those of lowly position; 81 

1:53 he has filled the hungry with good things, 82  and has sent the rich away empty. 83 

1:54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering 84  his mercy, 85 

1:55 as he promised 86  to our ancestors, 87  to Abraham and to his descendants 88  forever.”

1:56 So 89  Mary stayed with Elizabeth 90  about three months 91  and then returned to her home.

1 tn Grk “in the sixth month.” The phrase “of Elizabeth’s pregnancy” was supplied in the translation to clarify the exact time meant by this reference. That Elizabeth’s pregnancy is meant is clear from vv. 24-25.

2 sn Gabriel is the same angel mentioned previously in v. 19. He is traditionally identified as an angel who brings revelation (see Dan 8:15-16; 9:21). Gabriel and Michael are the only two good angels named in the Bible.

3 tn Or “from.” The account suggests God’s planned direction in these events, so “by” is better than “from,” as six months into Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God acts again.

4 sn Nazareth was a town in the region of Galilee, located north of Samaria and Judea. Galilee extended from about 45 to 85 miles north of Jerusalem and was about 30 miles in width. Nazareth was a very small village and was located about 15 miles west of the southern edge of the Sea of Galilee.

map For location see Map1 D3; Map2 C2; Map3 D5; Map4 C1; Map5 G3.

5 tn Or “promised in marriage.”

6 tn Grk “Joseph, of the house of David.”

sn The Greek word order here favors connecting Davidic descent to Joseph, not Mary, in this remark.

7 tn Grk “And coming to her.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

8 tn Grk “And coming to her, he said”; the referent (the angel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

9 tn Grk “coming to her, he said.” The participle εἰσελθών (eiselqwn) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

10 tn The address, “favored one” (a perfect participle, Grk “Oh one who is favored”) points to Mary as the recipient of God’s grace, not a bestower of it. She is a model saint in this passage, one who willingly receives God’s benefits. The Vulgate rendering “full of grace” suggests something more of Mary as a bestower of grace, but does not make sense here contextually.

11 tc Most mss (A C D Θ Ë13 33 Ï latt sy) read here εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξίν (euloghmenh su en gunaixin, “blessed are you among women”) which also appears in 1:42 (where it is textually certain). This has the earmarks of a scribal addition for balance; the shorter reading, attested by the most important witnesses and several others (א B L W Ψ Ë1 565 579 700 1241 pc co), is thus preferred.

12 tc Most mss (A C Θ 0130 Ë13 Ï lat sy) have ἰδοῦσα (idousa, “when [she] saw [the angel]”) here as well, making Mary’s concern the appearance of the angel. This construction is harder than the shorter reading since it adds a transitive verb without an explicit object. However, the shorter reading has significant support (א B D L W Ψ Ë1 565 579 1241 sa) and on balance should probably be considered authentic.

13 sn On the phrase greatly troubled see 1:12. Mary’s reaction was like Zechariah’s response.

14 tn Grk “to wonder what kind of greeting this might be.” Luke often uses the optative this way to reveal a figure’s thinking (3:15; 8:9; 18:36; 22:23).

15 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate that Gabriel’s statement is a response to Mary’s perplexity over the greeting.

16 sn Do not be afraid. See 1:13 for a similar statement to Zechariah.

17 tn Or “grace.”

sn The expression found favor is a Semitism, common in the OT (Gen 6:8; 18:3; 43:14; 2 Sam 15:25). God has chosen to act on this person’s behalf.

18 tn Grk “And behold.”

19 tn Grk “you will conceive in your womb.”

20 tn Or “and bear.”

21 tn Grk “you will call his name.”

22 tn See v. 13 for a similar construction.

sn You will name him Jesus. This verse reflects the birth announcement of a major figure; see 1:13; Gen 16:7; Judg 13:5; Isa 7:14. The Greek form of the name Ihsous, which was translated into Latin as Jesus, is the same as the Hebrew Yeshua (Joshua), which means “Yahweh saves” (Yahweh is typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT). It was a fairly common name among Jews in 1st century Palestine, as references to a number of people by this name in the LXX and Josephus indicate.

23 tn Grk “this one.”

24 sn Compare the description of Jesus as great here with 1:15, “great before the Lord.” Jesus is greater than John, since he is Messiah compared to a prophet. Great is stated absolutely without qualification to make the point.

25 sn The expression Most High is a way to refer to God without naming him. Such avoiding of direct reference to God was common in 1st century Judaism out of reverence for the divine name.

26 tn Or “ancestor.”

27 tn Grk “And he.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. A new sentence is begun here in the translation because of the length of the sentence in Greek.

28 tn Or “over Israel.”

sn The expression house of Jacob refers to Israel. This points to the Messiah’s relationship to the people of Israel.

29 tn Grk “And Mary.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

30 tn Grk “have not known.” The expression in the Greek text is a euphemism for sexual relations. Mary seems to have sensed that the declaration had an element of immediacy to it that excluded Joseph. Many modern translations render this phrase “since I am a virgin,” but the Greek word for virgin is not used in the text, and the euphemistic expression is really more explicit, referring specifically to sexual relations.

31 tn Grk “And the angel said to her.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. The pronoun αὐτῇ (auth, “to her”) has not been included in the translation since it is redundant in contemporary English.

32 sn The phrase will overshadow is a reference to God’s glorious presence at work (Exod 40:34-35; Ps 91:4).

33 tn Or “the one born holy will be called the Son of God.” The wording of this phrase depends on whether the adjective is a predicate adjective, as in the text, or is an adjective modifying the participle serving as the subject. The absence of an article with the adjective speaks for a predicate position. Other less appealing options supply a verb for “holy”; thus “the one who is born will be holy”; or argue that both “holy” and “Son of God” are predicates, so “The one who is born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

34 tc A few mss (C* Θ Ë1 33 pc) add “by you” here. This looks like a scribal addition to bring symmetry to the first three clauses of the angel’s message (note the second person pronoun in the previous two clauses), and is too poorly supported to be seriously considered as authentic.

35 tn Or “Therefore the holy child to be born will be called the Son of God.” There are two ways to understand the Greek phrase τὸ γεννώμενον ἅγιον (to gennwmenon {agion) here. First, τὸ γεννώμενον could be considered a substantival participle with ἅγιον as an adjective in the second predicate position, thus making a complete sentence; this interpretation is reflected in the translation above. Second, τὸ ἅγιον could be considered a substantival adjective with γεννώμενον acting as an adjectival participle, thus making the phrase the subject of the verb κληθήσεται (klhqhsetai); this interpretation is reflected in the alternative reading. Treating the participle γεννώμενον as adjectival is a bit unnatural for the very reason that it forces one to understand ἅγιον as substantival; this introduces a new idea in the text with ἅγιον when an already new topic is being introduced with γεννώμενον. Semantically this would overload the new subject introduced at this point. For this reason the first interpretation is preferred.

36 tn Grk “behold.”

37 tn Some translations render the word συγγενίς (sungeni") as “cousin” (so Phillips) but the term is not necessarily this specific.

38 tn Or “has conceived.”

39 tn Grk “and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren.” Yet another note on Elizabeth’s loss of reproach also becomes a sign of the truth of the angel’s declaration.

40 tn In Greek, the phrase πᾶν ῥῆμα (pan rJhma, “nothing”) has an emphatic position, giving it emphasis as the lesson in the entire discussion. The remark is a call for faith.

41 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the transition to a new topic.

42 tn Grk “behold.”

43 tn Traditionally, “handmaid”; Grk “slave woman.” Though δούλη (doulh) is normally translated “woman servant,” the word does not bear the connotation of a free woman serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times… in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v. δοῦλος). The most accurate translation is “bondservant,” sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος (doulos), in that it often indicates one who sells himself or herself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force.

44 tn Grk “let this be to me.”

45 sn The remark according to your word is a sign of Mary’s total submission to God’s will, a response that makes her exemplary.

46 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

47 sn The expression In those days is another general time reference, though the sense of the context is that the visit came shortly after Mary miraculously conceived and shortly after the announcement about Jesus.

48 sn The author does not say exactly where Elizabeth stayed. The location is given generally as a town of Judah. Judah is about a three day trip south of Nazareth.

49 tn Grk “And it happened that.” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated. Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here either.

50 sn When the baby leaped John gave his first testimony about Jesus, a fulfillment of 1:15.

51 tn The antecedent of “her” is Elizabeth.

52 sn The passage makes clear that Elizabeth spoke her commentary with prophetic enablement, filled with the Holy Spirit.

53 tn Grk “and she.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was begun here in the translation. Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

54 tn Grk “and she exclaimed with a great cry and said.” The verb εἶπεν (eipen, “said”) has not been included in the translation since it is redundant in contemporary English.

55 sn The commendation Blessed are you among women means that Mary has a unique privilege to be the mother of the promised one of God.

56 tn Grk “fruit,” which is figurative here for the child she would give birth to.

57 tn Grk “From where this to me?” The translation suggests the note of humility and surprise that Elizabeth feels in being a part of these events. The ἵνα (Jina) clause which follows explains what “this” is. A literal translation would read “From where this to me, that is, that the mother of my Lord comes to visit me?”

58 tn Grk “for behold.”

59 tn Grk “when the sound of your greeting [reached] my ears.”

60 sn On the statement the baby in my womb leaped for joy see both 1:14 and 1:47. This notes a fulfillment of God’s promised word.

61 sn Again the note of being blessed makes the key point of the passage about believing God.

62 tn This ὅτι (Joti) clause, technically indirect discourse after πιστεύω (pisteuw), explains the content of the faith, a belief in God’s promise coming to pass.

63 tn That is, “what was said to her (by the angel) at the Lord’s command” (BDAG 756 s.v. παρά A.2).

64 tn Grk “that there would be a fulfillment of what was said to her from the Lord.”

sn This term speaks of completion of something planned (2 Chr 29:35).

65 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.

66 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.

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

68 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.

69 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.

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

71 tn Grk “for behold.”

72 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).

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

74 tn Traditionally, “the Mighty One.”

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

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

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

78 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.

79 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.

80 tn Or “rulers.”

81 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).

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

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

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

85 tn Or “his [God’s] loyal love.”

86 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.

87 tn Grk “fathers.”

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

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

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

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



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