John T. Willis

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Elizabeth becomes Pregnant for John the Baptist--Luke 1:1-25

Luke 1 and 2 relate the accounts of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus and the one event concerning Jesus at the Jerusalem temple at age twelve. Luke 1:1-25 contains a brief introduction to this entire gospel, then the account of the pregnancy of Elizabeth until she has been pregnant five months.

I. Introduction to the Gospel of Luke. Luke 1:1-4.
a. The composer of the Gospel of Luke tells his audience that "many" had undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events of Jesus Christ. He does not tell his audience who these sources were. 1:1.
b. The composer of the Gospel of Luke tells his audience that other speakers and writers were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, and they "handed on to us" [US includes the composer of the Gospel of Luke] to the next generation. It is clear that the author of the Gospel of Luke never met Jesus Christ himself nor experienced any of his words or actions. His information is not "first hand." 1:2.
c. The composer of the Gospel of Luke explains that he did research ["after investigating everything carefully"] to find out what happened about the life of Jesus. He "decided" to write this gospel. 1:3. He does not claim that God or the Holy Spirit revealed or dictated this gospel. On the contrary, he claims he did research and wrote this gospel as a result of his own decision. God works in different ways. God can work through research and personal decisions. This text makes this claim.
d. The composer of the Gospel of John states that he intends to "write an orderly account" of the life of Jesus Christ for Theophilus. We know nothing about Theophilus. It seems obvious that Theophilus was part of a church somewhere. But we have no concrete information about this. 1:4.

II. Elizabeth conceived of the birth of John the Baptist. Luke 1:5-25.
a. The biblical composer tells his audience that Elizabeth's conception took place in the days of King Herod of Judea. King Herod reigned from 37 to 4 BCE. Luke 2:1-2 narrows this down to some time between 6 and 4 BCE. Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron, the wife of Zechariah who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. Zechariah and Elizabeth were "righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations ofthe Lord." Obviously, this does not mean they never committed a sin, but they were striving to honor and serve God faithfully. Zechariah and Elizabeth were getting old in years. 1:5-7.
b. Through each year, Zechariah, like all the priests, was "chosen by lot," and carried out his priestly service. His duty was to offer incense in the temple. All the people were praying outside. 1:8-10.
c. An angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah, and Zechariah was afraid. The angel told him not to fear, because the Lord will give Elizabeth a son. Zechariah is to call him "John." John will be great in the sight of the Lord; he must not drink wine or strong drink, but be a nazirite [see Numbers 6:1-21]; before his birth hewill be filled with the Holy Spirit. Hewill go with the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous to prepare a people for the Lord. 1:11-17.
d. Zechariah asked the angel, "How will I know that this is so?" since I am old and Elizabeth is getting on in years. The angel declared he is Gabriel. Because Zechariah did not believe the angel's words, Zechariah will not be able to speak until these events occur. The people were waiting for Zechariah. Zechariah appeared but could not speak. 1:18-23.
e. After all this happened, Elizabeth conceived and remained in seclusion for five months. Elizabeth praises the Lord what what he had done. 1:24-25.
NOTE: This account is very similar to the accounts of Abraham-Sarah-Isaac-Hagar-Ishmael (Genesis 17-18; 21), Isaac-Rebekah-Esau-Jacob (Genesis 25:21-26), Samson (Judges 13), and Elkanah-Peninnah-Hannah-Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1-20). "Lot casting" was a common divine means of determining Yahweh's will--see Joshua 18; 1 Samuel 14; Proverbs 16:33; Acts 1:24-26. The term "the spirit and power of Elijah" in 1:16 is very familiar in the Hebrew Bible--see 2 Kings 2:9, 12-14; Malachi 4:5-6. The Bible consistently assumes and describes the presence of angels. Do YOU believe angels exist? Do they work in human events? Discuss this biblical idea.

Share YOUR thoughts and insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis