The Holy Spirit and the Son of God (Lk 1:35-1:35)

“The angel

Said to her.

‘The Holy Spirit

Will come upon you.

The power

Of the Most High

Will overshadow you.

Therefore,

The child to be born

Will be holy.

He will be called

The Son of God.’”

 

καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῇ Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον ἐπελεύσεται ἐπὶ σέ, καὶ δύναμις Ὑψίστου ἐπισκιάσει σοι· διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον ἅγιον κληθήσεται Υἱὸς Θεοῦ.

 

Luke then has the Angel Gabriel reveal the whole plan.  Just as in Matthew, chapter 1:20, the angel told Joseph that the child conceived in Mary was from the Holy Spirit.  Luke did the same here.  This Angel Gabriel answered Mary (καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῇ).  He said that the Holy Spirit would come over her (Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον ἐπελεύσεται ἐπὶ σέ).  The power of the Most High God would overshadow or envelop her (καὶ δύναμις Ὑψίστου ἐπισκιάσει σοι).  Her child would come forth or be born holy (διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον ἅγιον).  He would be called the Son of God (κληθήσεται Υἱὸς Θεοῦ).  This was a very theological statement uttered by the Angel Gabriel.  This child, Jesus would come about because of the Holy Spirit.  Elohim, the most high God, would overshadow her, the way that Yahweh had overshadowed the tent of dwelling with the covenant in Exodus, chapter 37:1-9.  This presence of God in Mary would make her pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The unique act of Jesus’ conception was a fully Trinitarian action involving the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit within the womb of Mary.  Obviously, the Son, her son, Jesus, would be born as a holy human person, clearly and rightfully called the Son of God.  This was a very developed theology of Luke, who always stressed the role of the Holy Spirit in his writings.

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The throne of David (Lk 1:32-1:32)

“Jesus

Will be great.

He will be called

The Son

Of the Most High.

The Lord God

Will give him

The throne

Of his ancestor

David.”

 

οὗτος ἔσται μέγας καὶ Υἱὸς Ὑψίστου κληθήσεται, καὶ δώσει αὐτῷ Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς τὸν θρόνον Δαυεὶδ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ,

 

Now comes the kicker.  This child Jesus would be special, really special.  Luke said that the Angel Gabriel told Mary that her child Jesus would be great (οὗτος ἔσται μέγας).  He would be called the Son of the Most High (καὶ Υἱὸς Ὑψίστου κληθήσεται).  The Lord God (Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς) will give him (καὶ δώσει αὐτῷ) the throne of his ancestor David (τὸν θρόνον Δαυεὶδ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ).  This Most High indicated Elohim, one the Hebrew titles for God.  Jesus would have the Davidic throne because Joseph was a descendant of David.  This was really great news.

The virgin Mary (Lk 1:27-1:27)

“The angel Gabriel

Went

To a virgin

Engaged to a man,

Whose name was Joseph,

Of the house of David.

The virgin’s name

Was Mary.”

 

πρὸς παρθένον ἐμνηστευμένην ἀνδρὶ ᾧ ὄνομα Ἰωσὴφ, ἐξ οἴκου Δαυείδ, καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τῆς παρθένου Μαριάμ.

 

Luke has the angel Gabriel appear to Mary, as opposed to Matthew, chapter 1:20, who had an unnamed angel appear to Joseph in a dream.  This angel Gabriel went to a virgin (πρὸς παρθένον), who was engaged (ἐμνηστευμένην) to a man named Joseph (ἀνδρὶ ᾧ ὄνομα Ἰωσὴφ) from the house of David (ἐξ οἴκου Δαυείδ).  The name of this virgin was Mary (καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τῆς παρθένου Μαριάμ).  Thus, both stories from these 2 gospels concur that Mary and Joseph were the parents of Jesus.  Matthew said that Joseph had resolved to get rid of Mary, instead of taking her as his wife until the angel of the Lord appeared to him.  This unnamed angel reassured Joseph that he should not be afraid to take Mary as his wife.  Thus, God, via his angel, was trying to show Joseph that everything would be alright.  Here the emphasis is on Mary, a common name in first century Judaism based on the name of Mariam, the sister of Moses.  Mary was a virgin (παρθένου), someone who did not have sexual relations with the opposite sex, which would have been normal at this time for young girls before they were married.  However, she was engaged or betrothed to Joseph, who had Davidic ancestry.  In other words, the wedding contact had not been signed.  Thus, they were still involved with prenuptial arrangements.

The prayer of Elizabeth (Lk 1:25-1:25)

“Elizabeth said.

‘This is what

The Lord

Has done to me.

He looked on me.

He took away

The disgrace

That I have endured

Among my people.’”

 

λέγουσα

ὅτι Οὕτως μοι πεποίηκεν Κύριος ἐν ἡμέραις αἷς ἐπεῖδεν ἀφελεῖν ὄνειδός μου ἐν ἀνθρώποις.

 

Luke has this prayer of Elizabeth.  She said that the Lord had done this to her (ὅτι Οὕτως μοι πεποίηκεν Κύριος).  Many believed that only God could help people get pregnant, since he controlled the opening and closing of the womb, as indicated in Genesis, chapter 16:2, about Sarah and being barren.  That was the reason that there were so many pagan fertility gods, rites, and rituals, since giving birth was considered to be some kind of magical or divine action.  Also, contemporary political gesturing around reproductive rights has its basis in religious beliefs.  Elizabeth said that in those days (ἐν ἡμέραις), the Lord had looked on her (αἷς ἐπεῖδεν), since he took away her disgrace or reproach (ἀφελεῖν ὄνειδός) that she had endured among her people or other men (ἐν ἀνθρώποις).  Being barren or sterile was considered a punishment from God.  The prime example of a happiness at birth would have been in Genesis, chapter 29:31-30:23, where Rachel finally had a son, Joseph.  Elizabeth understood her pregnancy as a personal vindication or reward for her righteousness.  She did not seem to understand the wider consequences of her pregnancy.

 

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.

Turn to God (Lk 1:16-1:16)

“John would turn

Many of the people

Of Israel

To the Lord,

Their God.”

 

καὶ πολλοὺς τῶν υἱῶν Ἰσραὴλ ἐπιστρέψει ἐπὶ Κύριον τὸν Θεὸν αὐτῶν·

 

This angel, as presented by Luke, said that John would have a profound influence on the Israelites.  He would turn many of sons of Israel (καὶ πολλοὺς τῶν υἱῶν Ἰσραὴλ ἐπιστρέψει) to the Lord, their God (ἐπὶ Κύριον τὸν Θεὸν αὐτῶν).  This foreshadowed the call of John for repentance to the Israelites.

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.