He will not drink strong drink (Lk 1:15-1:15)

“John will be great

In the sight

Of the Lord.

He must never

Drink wine,

Or any strong drink.

He will be filled

With the Holy Spirit,

Even before his birth,

From his mother’s womb.”

 

ἔσται γὰρ μέγας ἐνώπιον Κυρίου, καὶ οἶνον καὶ σίκερα οὐ μὴ πίῃ, καὶ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου πλησθήσεται ἔτι ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς αὐτοῦ,

 

Now comes the jolt, as the role of this John would be made clear.  This angel, via Luke, pointed out that this child will not be just another Jewish kid, but someone special, befitting his special birth.  Luke had the angel continue that John would be great in the sight of the Lord (ἔσται γὰρ μέγας ἐνώπιον Κυρίου).  However, he must never drink wine, or any strong intoxicating drink (καὶ οἶνον καὶ σίκερα οὐ μὴ πίῃ), like a Nazirite, a person dedicated to God, as in Numbers, chapter 6:1-4.  Either a man or woman could take these Nazirite vows that made them closer to Yahweh.  In Hebrew the term “nazir” meant a vow, so that it was possible for a non-Levite to be a favorite of Yahweh also.  Vow taking in most religious groups sets those people apart, just as the religious vows of the medieval Catholic Church became popular, producing vowed monks and nuns.  A striking English comment would be that these are “Nazi rites.”  This Nazirite vow separates them from normal life, especially from wine and anything to do with grapes.  The Nazirite stayed away from grapes of any kind.  Thus, John was to be filled with the Holy Spirit (καὶ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου πλησθήσεται) even before his birth, from his mother’s womb (ἔτι ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς αὐτοῦ).  John would be holy before he was born.  The Holy Spirit would play a major role in the works of Luke here and in Acts.  This special role of John is similar to Samuel in 1 Samuel, chapter 1:11, and Samson in Judges, chapter 13:4-7, in the Hebrew Bible.  Both were dedicated to be Nazirites before their birth.  John was to be a special dude.

 

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