Posted by: mattcolvin | February 18, 2010

Notes on Luke 1, part 1

1:1 Luke’s role as a redactor is evident from his verbs: “many have tried to arrange a narration”
The narration is of things that have been fulfilled. Thus the gospel is only and always understood as the climax of the covenant that began in the OT.

1:2 Luke’s sources have “passed on” or “handed down” to us (paredosan hemin) their information. They are eyewitnesses (autoptai), and the result of being such an eyewitness is that one becomes a servant of the Word (huperetai tou logou).

1:4 The goal of gospel accounts is “that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” Thus we derive assurance from the gospel. Multiple witnesses confirm a thing, and it is more sure thereby.

1:5 Just as the Nicene creed mentions Pilate, Luke starts with Herod, so that we will thereby be introduced to the real king. Herod is in cahoots with Romans, is an Idumean, not a real Israelite, and is utterly unsatisfactory to the Jews as a ruler. He is not called “King of the Jews” or “King of Israel” but “King of Judaea”, an administrative region of the Roman province of Asia.

Zacharias and Elizabeth are Aaronites. Zacharias means “Remember” and Elizabeth (=Elisheba) comes from El + sheba (“seven” or “oath”) — a reference to fulfillment.

1:6 Both are affirmed as dikaioi, and this righteousness is a matter of “walking in all God’s commandments and ordinances” and being “blameless.” They have evidently not got the message that this is impossible. Someone should tune them in to John Piper.

1:7 In her barrenness and faith, Elizabeth is assimilated to a number of OT women: Sarah (being “advanced in years” cf. Gen. 18:11, which uses very nearly the same locution, “probebekotes hemerwn”); Naomi, who painfully points out to her daughters in law that there are no more husbands coming from her womb; and Hannah, who cries to the Lord because he has closed her womb.

1:8 Appropriate that the angel appears to Zacharias during his ministrations at the altar. Thus God remembers (zachar) His people and sends the forerunner of the deliverer.

1:11 Another OT parallel, this time to Judges 13:3 and 13:6, the annunciation to Samson’s anonymous mother by the Angel of the Lord. John’s Naziritish appearance will also recall Samson.

1:13 The name John (Iwannes) is from Jo(=YHWH) and hannan (“show favor”).

1:15 He will drink neither wine (oinon) nor “strong drink” (sikera). Emphatic negation “ou me pih”.
John is to be “filled with the holy spirit even from his mother’s womb” — even as Samson was “a Nazirite to God from the womb”. Nazirite = holy warrior, set apart by God to do a special act of deliverance.

We had extended discussion of what it meant for Z and E to be “blameless.”

Also some extended discussion of the similar circumstances of covenant history between the conception of Isaac, the conception of Samuel, and the conception of John.

Discussed the meaning of barrenness, “reproach”.

Mr. Malson made note of the connection between wine and the Spirit, which also occurs in the story of Hannah (1 Sam 1) and at Pentecost.

We concluded by noting that “turning the hearts of the fathers to the children” is language from the very end of the OT (Mal. 4), and indicates that the climax of the covenant, God’s visitation of His people, is about to occur, and that John is the harbinger of it. Also that the covenantal relationship of father to child is the earthly image of the relationship between God and His people (“a people prepared for the Lord”).


  1. Any more details forthcoming on the “blameless” discussion? I’ve often asked Reformed-types about this passage, and to similar passages in the Psalms, and I can’t remember getting any kind of answer other than redirection.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s