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Luke 1:38-56

1:38 So 1  Mary said, “Yes, 2  I am a servant 3  of the Lord; let this happen to me 4  according to your word.” 5  Then 6  the angel departed from her.

Mary and Elizabeth

1:39 In those days 7  Mary got up and went hurriedly into the hill country, to a town of Judah, 8  1:40 and entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 1:41 When 9  Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped 10  in her 11  womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 12  1:42 She 13  exclaimed with a loud voice, 14  “Blessed are you among women, 15  and blessed is the child 16  in your womb! 1:43 And who am I 17  that the mother of my Lord should come and visit me? 1:44 For the instant 18  the sound of your greeting reached my ears, 19  the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 20  1:45 And blessed 21  is she who believed that 22  what was spoken to her by 23  the Lord would be fulfilled.” 24 

Mary’s Hymn of Praise

1:46 And Mary 25  said, 26 

“My soul exalts 27  the Lord, 28 

1:47 and my spirit has begun to rejoice 29  in God my Savior,

1:48 because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant. 30 

For 31  from now on 32  all generations will call me blessed, 33 

1:49 because he who is mighty 34  has done great things for me, and holy is his name;

1:50 from 35  generation to generation he is merciful 36  to those who fear 37  him.

1:51 He has demonstrated power 38  with his arm; he has scattered those whose pride wells up from the sheer arrogance 39  of their hearts.

1:52 He has brought down the mighty 40  from their thrones, and has lifted up those of lowly position; 41 

1:53 he has filled the hungry with good things, 42  and has sent the rich away empty. 43 

1:54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering 44  his mercy, 45 

1:55 as he promised 46  to our ancestors, 47  to Abraham and to his descendants 48  forever.”

1:56 So 49  Mary stayed with Elizabeth 50  about three months 51  and then returned to her home.

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

2 tn Grk “behold.”

3 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.

4 tn Grk “let this be to me.”

5 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.

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

7 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.

8 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.

9 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.

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

11 tn The antecedent of “her” is Elizabeth.

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

13 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.

14 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.

15 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.

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

17 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?”

18 tn Grk “for behold.”

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

20 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.

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

22 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.

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

24 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).

25 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.

26 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.

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

28 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.

29 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.

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

31 tn Grk “for behold.”

32 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).

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

34 tn Traditionally, “the Mighty One.”

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

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

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

38 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.

39 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.

40 tn Or “rulers.”

41 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).

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

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

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

45 tn Or “his [God’s] loyal love.”

46 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.

47 tn Grk “fathers.”

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

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

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

51 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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