My messenger (Lk 7:27-7:27)

“This is the one

About whom

It is written.

‘See!

I am sending

My messenger

Ahead of you.

He will prepare

Your way

Before you.’”

 

οὗτός ἐστιν περὶ οὗ γέγραπται Ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου, ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου ἔμπροσθέν σου.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus saw a special role for John the Baptist.  He said that John was the one about whom Malachi, the prophet, chapter 3:1, had written (οὗτός ἐστιν περὶ οὗ γέγραπται), without mentioning the prophet’s name.  Malachi had said that he was sending his messenger ahead of him or before his face (δοὺ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου) to prepare the way before him (ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου ἔμπροσθέν σου).  This Scripture written passage about the role of John was from the prophet Malachi, although not explicitly mentioned here.  This saying about John the Baptist can be found word for word in Matthew, chapter 11:10.  Thus, this may have been a Q source about John, like many of the other passages about John.  Actually, Mark, chapter 1:2, had part of this saying as the beginning of his gospel when he introduced John.  In Malachi, Yahweh was going to send his messenger or angel before him or his face to prepare the way for him.  Originally, Yahweh would re-enter into his Temple, because the messenger of the delightful covenant had prepared things for him.  There is no mention of the Temple here.  John was clearly inferior to Jesus, since he was there to prepare the way for Jesus as his messenger, much like an angel of God.  Who prepared the way to Jesus for you?

Catchers of people (Lk 5:10-5:10)

“There were also

James

And John,

The sons of Zebedee,

Who were partners

With Simon.

Then Jesus said

To Simon.

‘Do not be afraid!

From now on

You will be

Catching people.’”

 

ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Ἰάκωβον καὶ Ἰωάνην υἱοὺς Ζεβεδαίου, οἳ ἦσαν κοινωνοὶ τῷ Σίμωνι. καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Σίμωνα ὁ Ἰησοῦς Μὴ φοβοῦ· ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν ἀνθρώπους ἔσῃ ζωγρῶ

 

Suddenly, Luke introduced two other people, the sons of Zebedee, James and John, who are companions or partners of Simon.  There is no mention of Simon’s brother Andrew here, but he played a major role in the other 3 gospels.  In John, chapter 1:35-42, Andrew, Simon’s brother, was a disciple of John the Baptist.  There is a major difference between Luke here and Matthew, chapter 4:18-22, and Mark, chapter 1:17-18, who were very similar.  They did not have the elaborate story about the fishing in the Sea of Galilee that is here.  Mark and Matthew had the brothers Simon and Andrew being fishermen that Jesus saw along the Sea of Galilee, casting or dropping a net into the sea.  Mark did not mention the other name of Simon as Peter, like Matthew did.  However, it was common for people to have both a Hebrew name like Simon and a Greek name like Peter.  John, chapter 1:40-42, had these two brothers from the town of Bethsaida.  Mark and Matthew also introduced John and James, the fisherman sons of Zebedee.  Zebedee might have been fairly successful, since he was explicitly mentioned and seemed to own a boat.  These two brothers, James and John, were in a boat mending their fishing nets with their father, not casting them out to sea.  Luke said that James and John, the sons of Zebedee (ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Ἰάκωβον καὶ Ἰωάνην υἱοὺς Ζεβεδαίου), were partners or companions with Simon (οἳ ἦσαν κοινωνοὶ τῷ Σίμωνι), so that they may have shared a boat or boats.  Then Jesus told Simon (καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Σίμωνα ὁ Ἰησοῦς) not to be afraid (Μὴ φοβοῦ).  From now on, he would be catching people or men, not fish (ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν ἀνθρώπους ἔσῃ ζωγρῶ).  They were no longer going to fish for marine life, but human life.  They were to be on the hunt for humans, and not fish.

The prophet Anna (Lk 2:36-2:36)

“There was a prophet,

Anna,

The daughter of Phanuel,

Of the tribe of Asher.

She was of a great age.

She had lived

With her husband

Seven years

After her marriage.”

 

Καὶ ἦν Ἄννα προφῆτις, θυγάτηρ Φανουήλ, ἐκ φυλῆς Ἀσήρ· αὕτη προβεβηκυῖα ἐν ἡμέραις πολλαῖς, ζήσασα μετὰ ἀνδρὸς ἔτη ἑπτὰ ἀπὸ τῆς παρθενίας αὐτῆς,

 

Next Luke introduced a female prophet, Anna.  There were some female prophets in the biblical literature like Miriam in Exodus, chapter 15:20, the sister of Aaron and Moses, who was called a prophet like her brother Aaron, the first instance of women worshiping God.  Deborah, in Judges, chapter 4:4, was a married woman prophet from the northern tribe of Ephraim who led troops into battle.  Finally, Huddah in 2 Kings, chapter 22:14-20, was one of the few mentioned female prophets.  The elders in Jerusalem consulted her about what to do with a holy book.  Her response led to the religious revival under King Josiah (640-609 BCE).  Like the other Israelite male and female prophets, Anna interpreted God’s will for his people.  Luke said that there was a prophet Anna (Καὶ ἦν Ἄννα προφῆτις), the daughter of Phanuel (θυγάτηρ Φανουήλ), of the northern tribe of Asher (ἐκ φυλῆς Ἀσήρ).  Her father’s name Phanuel was considered to be the fourth of the great archangels with Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel, according to the 3rd century BCE work, the Book of Enoch, but there is no implication here that she was angelic.  Thus, she was not a local Judean, but a northern Galilean Jewish person from Asher.  She was greatly advanced in years (τη προβεβηκυῖα ἐν ἡμέραις πολλαῖς), since she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage (ζήσασα μετὰ ἀνδρὸς ἔτη ἑπτὰ ἀπὸ τῆς παρθενίας αὐτῆς).  She had become a widow.

The angel appears to the shepherds (Lk 2:9-2:9)

“Then an angel

Of the Lord

Appeared before them.

The glory

Of the Lord

Shone around them.

They were terrified.”

 

καὶ ἄγγελος Κυρίου ἐπέστη αὐτοῖς καὶ δόξα Κυρίου περιέλαμψεν αὐτούς, καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν φόβον μέγαν.

 

Luke once again introduced an angel, but an unnamed angel, into the scene as an angelic messenger from God.  Luke said that an angel of the Lord (καὶ ἄγγελος Κυρίου) appeared or stood before them (ἐπέστη αὐτοῖς).  The glory of the Lord (καὶ δόξα Κυρίου) shone around them (περιέλαμψεν αὐτούς).  However, the shepherds were terrified with a great fear (καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν φόβον μέγαν), and rightfully so.  Out of nowhere, this angel with a bright light was there before them.  This glory of the Lord could be understood as perhaps the presence of God himself.

He will be like Elijah (Lk 1:17-1:17)

“With the spirit

And power

Of Elijah,

He will go

Before the Messiah.

He will turn

The hearts

Of parents

To their children.

He will turn

The disobedient

To the wisdom

Of the righteous.

He will

Make ready

A people

Prepared for the Lord.”

 

καὶ αὐτὸς προελεύσεται ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν πνεύματι καὶ δυνάμει Ἡλεία, ἐπιστρέψαι καρδίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα καὶ ἀπειθεῖς ἐν φρονήσει δικαίων, ἑτοιμάσαι Κυρίῳ λαὸν κατεσκευασμένον.

 

Luke then introduced the concept of Elijah to this new child. The role of Elijah can be found also in Mark, chapter 9:11, as well as in Matthew, chapter 17:11, where the disciples of Jesus asked him why the Scribes said that Elijah the prophet had to come first.  The prophet Malachi, chapter 4:5, had also foretold the coming of Elijah.  Malachi had said that Yahweh was going to send the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of Yahweh would come.  Jesus did not disagree with this comment.  He responded by reiterating that Elijah was indeed coming to restore all things.  There was no doubt about the role of Elijah, a 9th century BCE northern Israel prophet, as in the Elijah cycle in 1 Kings, chapter 17-19.  He dominated late Jewish thought.  In Matthew, Jesus had a clear link of Elijah to John the Baptist, since he was the new Elijah.  Here Luke said that this child would precede or go first before the Lord (καὶ αὐτὸς προελεύσεται ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ).  He would have the spirit and the power of Elijah (ἐν πνεύματι καὶ δυνάμει Ἡλεία).  Then he would turn the hearts of parents to their children (ἐπιστρέψαι καρδίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα), as well as turn the disobedient ones into wise righteous ones (καὶ ἀπειθεῖς ἐν φρονήσει δικαίων).  He would prepare people to be disposed to get ready for the Lord (ἑτοιμάσαι Κυρίῳ λαὸν κατεσκευασμένον), by teaching about repentance and restoring families.  This child was going to be the forerunner for the Messiah, since all the prophets and the law had predicted this right up until the time of this child John.

An angel appeared (Lk 1:11-1:11)

“Then there appeared

To Zechariah

An angel of the Lord.

He was standing

On the right side

Of the altar

Of incense.”

 

ὤφθη δὲ αὐτῷ ἄγγελος Κυρίου ἑστὼς ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου τοῦ θυμιάματος.

 

Next, Luke introduced an angel, just as in Matthew, chapter 1:20, when an angel appeared to Joseph to tell him about the birth of Jesus.  Angels played a special role in Jewish society as messengers of the Lord.  These angels were spiritual beings who worshipped God in heaven.  Thus, the Temple had many engravings with angels on them, especially cherubim angels.  Luke said that an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah (ὤφθη δὲ αὐτῷ ἄγγελος Κυρίου).  This angel stood at the right side of the altar of incense (ἑστὼς ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου τοῦ θυμιάματος) in the sanctuary.  Those outside praying knew nothing about this appearance of an angel inside the sanctuary.

Zechariah the priest (Lk 1:5-1:5)

“In the days

Of King Herod

Of Judea,

There was a priest

Named Zechariah.

He belonged to

The priestly order

Of Abijah.

His wife was

A descendant

Of Aaron.

Her name

Was Elizabeth.”

 

Ἐγένετο ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Ἡρῴδου βασιλέως τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἱερεύς τις ὀνόματι Ζαχαρίας ἐξ ἐφημερίας Ἀβιά, καὶ γυνὴ αὐτῷ ἐκ τῶν θυγατέρων Ἀαρών, καὶ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτῆς Ἐλεισάβετ.

 

The first person that Luke introduced was Zechariah.  None of the other gospel writers mentioned Zechariah.  However, Luke placed him within a historical context.  This all this took place during the reign of King Herod of Judea (Ἐγένετο ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Ἡρῴδου βασιλέως τῆς Ἰουδαίας).  Matthew, chapter 2:1-12, had mentioned King Herod and the intriguing story of the Magi.  King Herod the Great (74 BCE-1 CE) was the Roman client king of Judea.  In fact, the Roman Senate named him King of the Jews in 40 BCE.  He built many things during his reign, including expanding the Second Temple in Jerusalem.  At his death, his kingdom was divided among his children.  There was a prophet and book of Zechariah, chapter 1:1, who lived around 520 BCE.  However, this Zechariah here (τις ὀνόματι Ζαχαρίας) was a priest (ἱερεύς), probably in Jerusalem.  He belonged to the priestly division of Abijah (ἐξ ἐφημερίας Ἀβιά), which was the 8th of the 24 divisions of priests that served in the Temple as laid out in 1 Chronicles, chapter 24:7-19.  His wife was also a daughter or descendant of Aaron (καὶ γυνὴ αὐτῷ ἐκ τῶν θυγατέρων Ἀαρών), a Levite or part of the priestly class.  She was called Elizabeth (καὶ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτῆς Ἐλεισάβετ).  Thus, the action of his gospel begins with the unique story of the Jerusalem Temple priest Zachariah and his Levite wife Elizabeth.  Some biblical scholars think that this infancy story, like the infancy story of Matthew, chapter 1:18-2:23, are later additions.  They are here, so I will deal with it.