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Luke 1:57-79

Context
The Birth of John

1:57 Now the time came 1  for Elizabeth to have her baby, 2  and she gave birth to a son. 1:58 Her 3  neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown 4  great mercy to her, and they rejoiced 5  with her.

1:59 On 6  the eighth day 7  they came to circumcise the child, and they wanted to name 8  him Zechariah after his father. 1:60 But 9  his mother replied, 10  “No! He must be named 11  John.” 12  1:61 They 13  said to her, “But 14  none of your relatives bears this name.” 15  1:62 So 16  they made signs to the baby’s 17  father, 18  inquiring what he wanted to name his son. 19  1:63 He 20  asked for a writing tablet 21  and wrote, 22  “His name is John.” And they were all amazed. 23  1:64 Immediately 24  Zechariah’s 25  mouth was opened and his tongue 26  released, 27  and he spoke, blessing God. 1:65 All 28  their neighbors were filled with fear, and throughout the entire hill country of Judea all these things were talked about. 1:66 All 29  who heard these things 30  kept them in their hearts, 31  saying, “What then will this child be?” 32  For the Lord’s hand 33  was indeed with him.

Zechariah’s Praise and Prediction

1:67 Then 34  his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, 35 

1:68 “Blessed 36  be the Lord God of Israel,

because he has come to help 37  and has redeemed 38  his people.

1:69 For 39  he has raised up 40  a horn of salvation 41  for us in the house of his servant David, 42 

1:70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from long ago, 43 

1:71 that we should be saved 44  from our enemies, 45 

and from the hand of all who hate us.

1:72 He has done this 46  to show mercy 47  to our ancestors, 48 

and to remember his holy covenant 49 

1:73 the oath 50  that he swore to our ancestor 51  Abraham.

This oath grants 52 

1:74 that we, being rescued from the hand of our 53  enemies,

may serve him without fear, 54 

1:75 in holiness and righteousness 55  before him for as long as we live. 56 

1:76 And you, child, 57  will be called the prophet 58  of the Most High. 59 

For you will go before 60  the Lord to prepare his ways, 61 

1:77 to give his people knowledge of salvation 62  through the forgiveness 63  of their sins.

1:78 Because of 64  our God’s tender mercy 65 

the dawn 66  will break 67  upon us from on high

1:79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, 68 

to guide our feet into the way 69  of peace.”

1 tn Grk “the time was fulfilled.”

2 tn The words “her baby” are not in the Greek text, but have been supplied for clarity.

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

4 tn Grk “had magnified his mercy with her.”

5 tn The verb συνέχαιρον (sunecairon) is an imperfect and could be translated as an ingressive force, “they began to rejoice.”

6 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. Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

7 sn They were following OT law (Lev 12:3) which prescribed that a male child was to be circumcised on the eighth day.

8 tn This could be understood as a conative imperfect, expressing an unrealized desire (“they were trying to name him”). It has been given more of a voluntative nuance in the translation.

9 tn Grk “And,” but with clearly contrastive emphasis in context.

10 tn Grk “his mother answering, said.” The combination of participle and finite verb is redundant in English and has been simplified to “replied” in the translation.

11 tn This future passive indicative verb has imperatival force and thus has been translated “he must be named.”

12 snNo! He must be named John.” By insisting on the name specified by the angel, Elizabeth (v. 60) and Zechariah (v. 63) have learned to obey God (see Luke 1:13).

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

14 tn The word “but” is not in the Greek text but has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

15 tn Grk “There is no one from your relatives who is called by this name.”

16 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the consequential nature of the action described.

17 tn Grk “his”; the referent (the baby) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

18 sn The crowd was sure there had been a mistake, so they appealed to the child’s father. But custom was not to be followed here, since God had spoken. The fact they needed to signal him (made signs) shows that he was deaf as well as unable to speak.

19 tn Grk “what he might wish to call him.”

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

21 sn The writing tablet requested by Zechariah would have been a wax tablet.

22 tn Grk “and wrote, saying.” The participle λέγων (legwn) is redundant is English and has not been translated.

23 sn The response, they were all amazed, expresses a mixture of surprise and reflection in this setting where they were so certain of what the child’s name would be.

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

25 tn Grk “his”; the referent (Zechariah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

26 sn The mention of both mouth and tongue here is a figure called zeugma and emphasizes that the end of the temporary judgment came instantly and fully upon Zechariah’s expression of faith in naming the child. He had learned to trust and obey God during his short period of silence. He had learned from his trial.

27 tn “Released” is implied; in the Greek text both στόμα (stoma) and γλῶσσα (glwssa) are subjects of ἀνεῴχθη (anewcqh), but this would be somewhat redundant in English.

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

sn Fear is the emotion that comes when one recognizes something unusual, even supernatural, has taken place.

29 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. A new sentence was begun at this point in the translation because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence.

30 tn Grk “heard them”; the referent (these things, from the previous verse) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

31 tn Grk “heart.” The term “heart” (καρδία, kardia) could also be translated as “mind,” or “thoughts,” and the entire phrase be rendered as “kept them in mind,” “thought about,” or the like. But the immediate context is clearly emotive, suggesting that much more is at work than merely the mental processes of thinking or reasoning about “these things.” There is a sense of joy and excitement (see the following question, “What then will this child be?”) and even fear. Further, the use of καρδία in 1:66 suggests connections with the same term in 2:19 where deep emotion is being expressed as well. Therefore, recognizing both the dramatic nature of the immediate context and the literary connections to 2:19, the translation renders the term in 1:66 as “hearts” to capture both the cognitive and emotive aspects of the people’s response.

32 tn Or “what manner of child will this one be?”

33 sn The reference to the Lords hand indicates that the presence, direction, and favor of God was with him (Acts 7:9b).

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

35 tn Grk “and he prophesied, saying.” The participle λέγων (legwn) is redundant and has not been translated.

sn Prophesied. The reference to prophecy reflects that Zechariah is enabled by the Spirit to speak God’s will. He does so in this case through a praise psalm, which calls for praise and then gives the reason why God should be praised.

36 sn The traditional name of this psalm, the “Benedictus,” comes from the Latin wording of the start of the hymn (“Blessed be…”).

37 sn The verb come to help can refer to a visit, but can also connote concern or assistance (L&N 85.11).

38 tn Or “has delivered”; Grk “has accomplished redemption.”

sn Has redeemed is a reference to redemption, but it anticipates the total release into salvation that the full work of Messiah will bring for Israel. This involves both spiritual and material benefits eventually.

39 tn Grk “and,” but specifying the reason for the praise in the psalm.

40 sn The phrase raised up means for God to bring someone significant onto the scene of history.

41 sn The horn of salvation is a figure that refers to the power of Messiah and his ability to protect, as the horn refers to what an animal uses to attack and defend (Ps 75:4-5, 10; 148:14; 2 Sam 22:3). Thus the meaning of the figure is “a powerful savior.”

42 sn In the house of his servant David is a reference to Messiah’s Davidic descent. Zechariah is more interested in Jesus than his own son John at this point.

43 tn Grk “from the ages,” “from eternity.”

44 tn Grk “from long ago, salvation.”

45 sn The theme of being saved from our enemies is like the release Jesus preached in Luke 4:18-19. Luke’s narrative shows that one of the enemies in view is Satan and his cohorts, with the grip they have on humanity.

46 tn The words “He has done this” (referring to the raising up of the horn of salvation from David’s house) are not in the Greek text, but are supplied to allow a new sentence to be started in the translation. The Greek sentence is lengthy and complex at this point, while contemporary English uses much shorter sentences.

47 sn Mercy refers to God’s loyal love (steadfast love) by which he completes his promises. See Luke 1:50.

48 tn Or “our forefathers”; Grk “our fathers.” This begins with the promise to Abraham (vv. 55, 73), and thus refers to many generations of ancestors.

49 sn The promises of God can be summarized as being found in the one promise (the oath that he swore) to Abraham (Gen 12:1-3).

50 tn This is linked back grammatically by apposition to “covenant” in v. 72, specifying which covenant is meant.

51 tn Or “forefather”; Grk “father.”

52 tn Again for reasons of English style, the infinitival clause “to grant us” has been translated “This oath grants” and made the beginning of a new sentence in the translation.

53 tc Many important early mss (א B L W [0130] Ë1,13 565 892 pc) lack “our,” while most (A C D [K] Θ Ψ 0177 33 Ï pc) supply it. Although the addition is most likely not authentic, “our” has been included in the translation due to English stylistic requirements.

54 tn This phrase in Greek is actually thrown forward to the front of the verse to give it emphasis.

55 sn The phrases that we…might serve him…in holiness and righteousness from Luke 1:74-75 well summarize a basic goal for a believer in the eyes of Luke. Salvation frees us up to serve God without fear through a life full of ethical integrity.

56 tn Grk “all our days.”

57 sn Now Zechariah describes his son John (you, child) through v. 77.

58 tn Or “a prophet”; but since Greek nouns can be definite without the article, and since in context this is a reference to the eschatological forerunner of the Messiah (cf. John 1:17), the concept is better conveyed to the English reader by the use of the definite article “the.”

59 sn In other words, John is a prophet of God; see 1:32 and 7:22-23, 28.

60 tc Most mss, especially the later ones (A C D L Θ Ψ 0130 Ë1,13 33 Ï sy), have πρὸ προσώπου κυρίου (pro proswpou kuriou, “before the face of the Lord”), but the translation follows the reading ἐνώπιον κυρίου (enwpion kuriou, “before the Lord”), which has earlier and better ms support (Ì4 א B W 0177 pc) and is thus more likely to be authentic.

61 tn This term is often translated in the singular, looking specifically to the forerunner role, but the plural suggests the many elements in that salvation.

sn On the phrase prepare his ways see Isa 40:3-5 and Luke 3:1-6.

62 sn John’s role, to give his people knowledge of salvation, is similar to that of Jesus (Luke 3:1-14; 5:31-32).

63 sn Forgiveness is another major Lukan theme (Luke 4:18; 24:47; Acts 10:37).

64 tn For reasons of style, a new sentence has been started in the translation at this point. God’s mercy is ultimately seen in the deliverance John points to, so v. 78a is placed with the reference to Jesus as the light of dawning day.

65 sn God’s loyal love (steadfast love) is again the topic, reflected in the phrase tender mercy; see Luke 1:72.

66 sn The Greek term translated dawn (ἀνατολή, anatolh) can be a reference to the morning star or to the sun. The Messiah is pictured as a saving light that shows the way. The Greek term was also used to translate the Hebrew word for “branch” or “sprout,” so some see a double entendre here with messianic overtones (see Isa 11:1-10; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zech 3:8; 6:12).

67 tn Grk “shall visit us.”

68 sn On the phrases who sit in darkness…and…death see Isa 9:1-2; 42:7; 49:9-10.

69 tn Or “the path.”



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