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CHAPTER I. having had perfect understandFORASMUCH as many have ing of all things from the very

taken in hand to set forth first, to write unto thee in order, in order a declaration of those most excellent Theophilus, things which are most surely be- 4 That thou mightest know lieved among us,

the certainty of those things 2 Even as they delivered them wherein thou hast been inunto us, which from the begin- structed. ning were eye-witnesses, and 5 THERE was in the days ministers of the word ;

of Herod the king of 3 It seemed good to me also, Judea, a certain priest named CHAPTER I.

lus. Theophilus was a friend of 1. Many. See the first paragraph Luke's, and probably a Gentile, livof the preface to this Gospel. || Toing out of Palestine. The term most set forth in order; to arrange. " || A excellent is merely the language of declaration; an account. || Among respect and affection;

it does not neus; among Christians, with whom cessarily show that Theophilus was Luke ranked himself.

occupying any official station. In 2. Even as they delivered them to Acts 1: 1, no such term is em

These words show the source ployed. whence the belief of Christians was The first four verses of this chapter drawn. They do not relate to the are the preface, by which Luke intronarratives which“ many persons duced his Gospel to the favorable nohad prepared, but to the belief which tice of Theophilus. It would seem existed among Christians. This be- that many accounts had been publief had respect to facts, which had lished of the events pertaining to Jebeen delivered by eye-witnesses. sus Christ, which were not sufficiently || The word; the word of God, or, extensive or accurate, or which were the gospel. These ministers of the not entirely free from error. From word were men who had been per- these, and from current report, personally engaged in the transactions, haps, too, from other sources, Theand who had been employed in ophilus might have derived his inforspreading abroad a knowledge of mation. Luke wished to furnish his the events. They therefore oknew friend with an account that might whereof they affirmed.'

supersede the defective and inaccu. 3. Having had perfect understand- rate narratives which many had pubing of all things from the very first. lished. For this purpose he made He had, with great care, traced all thorough investigation, tracing the the accounts to the very beginning; events to the beginning, and drawing so that he was well qualified to write his information from the most authena narrative. || To write unto thee in tic sources. order; to write an orderly, connected 5. Herod the king of Judea. See narrative. || Most excellent Theophi- I on Matt. 2: 1. ll of the course of


Zacharias, of the course of 8 And it came to pass, that, Abia: and his wife was of the while he executed the priest's daughters of Aaron, and her office before God in the order name was Elisabeth.

of his course, 6 And they were both right- 9 According to the custom eous before God, walking in all of the priest's office, his lot was the commandments and ordi- to burn incense when he went nances of the Lord blameless. into the temple of the Lord.

7 And they had no child, be- 10 And the whole multitude cause that Elisabeth was barren; of the people were praying withand they both were now well out, at the time of incense. stricken in years.

11 And there appeared unto Abia. The Jewish priests had be only were the priests divided into come so numerous in the time of classes, but the services of the temple David, that he divided them into were distributed among the priests of twenty-four classes, over each of the officiating class, to each one a which was placed a chief man,' or particular service_being assigned. ruler. Each class officiated in the || Into the temple. Reference is here temple a week at a time. Of these had to that part of the temple in classes, the eighth was that of Abi- which the altar of incense was placed. jah, or, as his name was expressed in The tabernacle, as constructed in the the Greek language, Abia. See 1 time of Moses, was divided into two Chron. 24 : 10.2 Chron. 8: 14. 31 : apartments, the first of which was 2. The word course, in this connec- called the holy place, in which was the tion, is equivalent to the word class. allar of incense. Compare Ex. 26 : This division into classes was contin- 33. 30: 1, 6. The second apartment ued after the return from the captivi- was called the most holy place. See ty, though the number of classes did Ex. 26 : 33, 34. The temple built by not continue unbroken. See Ezra 2: Solomon was furnished with similar 36-39. Neh. 7: 39_42. __|| Of the apartments; so, too, was the temple daughters of Aaron. Both Zacharias which was built after the return of and

his wife could trace their descent the Jews from their captivity in Babyto Aaron. Thus they both belonged lon. The temple in the time of Christ to the family of priests. Aaron and was on the same plan. It was into his sons had been set apart by divine the apartment called the holy place, appointment as the priests, and to his or the sanctuary, that Zacharias had descendants the priesthood belonged. gone. See Ex. 28: 1. 40: 12-15.

10. Without ; outside of the apart6. Before God; in the sight of ment into which Zacharias had gone. God, eminently pious.

There were courts, or enclosed places, 7. Stricken; advanced.

in connection with various parts of 8. Before God. The temple was the temple, which could accommoregarded as the house of God. Those date numbers of people. || At the who were performing service in the hour of incense; the time of burning temple, or at the altar, were conse- incense. The morning and the evenquently said to be before, or in the ing were the appointed times. See presence of, God. || in the order of Ex. 30: 7,8. As many people were his course, when it came, in the ro- collected together, it was probably tation of the classes, to be the turn the evening which is here spoken of. of his class to perform the temple- 11. The right side. The right side service.

was anciently regarded as a position 9. His lot was to burn incense. Not| indicative of favor, or prosperity.

him an angel of the Lord, stand- and gladness, and many shall ing on the right side of the altar rejoice at his birth. of incense.

15 For he shall be great in 12 And when Zacharias saw the sight of the Lord, and shall him, he was troubled, and fear drink neither wine nor strong fell upon him.

drink; and he shall be filled 13 But the angel said unto with the Holy Ghost, even from him, Fear not, Zacharias : for his mother's womb. thy prayer is heard ; and thy 16 And many of the children wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a of Israel shall he turn to the son, and thou shalt call his name Lord their God. John.

17 And he shall


before 14 And thou shalt have joy him in the spirit and power of See Matt. 25: 33. In accordance ple. ll In the spirit and power of with this feeling, the angel appeared Elias ; possessing a character, a spirit, on the right side of the altar. powerful and energetic, like that of

13. John. A very appropriate name the prophet Elijah. Elijah discharged for the promised son. Traced to its his office in a time of general wickedHebrew origin, it means Jehovah is ness, and he steadily protested against gracious.

the prevailing impiety:

Between 15. Strong drink. Like the Naza- Elijah's mode of life and that of John, rites (see Num. 6: 2, 3), John was to there was also similarity. See 1 be distinguished from other men in Kings, chapters 17—19. 2 Kings, regard to his manner of living. He chapters 1, 2. Compare Matt. 11: was to be abstemious as to many or- 14." || To turn the hearts, &-c. This dinary indulgences, and to be pecu- expression was q_oted from Malachi, liarly devoted to God. || Filled with 4:6. The prophet Malachi had forethe Holy Ghost; eminently under a told that a prophet was to arise, whom divine influence from his very birth. he called Elijah, and whose design

16. Shall he turn to the Lord. The would be, to effect among the people object for which John was to come, a general turning to the Lord, as a was a true reformation of the Jews. preparation for the Messiah's coming. In many instances, this object would At the time of John's birth, the state be accomplished. The Jews were in of the nation was exceedingly cora very corrupt state ; and a turning rupt; both parents and children need. to the Lord was greatly needed. ed to be reclaimed from error and

17. Before him. The word him is sin ; both in the domestic relations, by some regarded as referring em- and in reference to God, a new state phatically to the Messiah, as Joun of feeling and a new course of conwas to announce the Messiah, and to duct were required. || To the wisdom be his forerunner. There is no diffi- of the just ; to the wise, holy disposiculty, however, in referring it to the tion and conduct of the righteous. words the Lord their God which irn-|| To make ready a people prepared for mediately precede. The expression, the Lord. Another and somewhat to go before him, may be equivalent stronger method of expressing prepato the expression, to serve him; and ration for the coming Messiah. 'John John was, in a distinguished sense, was to be the last in the series of di. to be a servant of God. The times, vinely-appointed teachers before the also, of the Messiah, which John was Messiah; and, without another dito introduce, would be eminently the vinely-appointed messenger, the Mes. times in which the Lord God would siah himself was shortly to appear. manifest his presence among his peo- There was among the Jews a sort of

Elias, to turn the hearts of the he tarried so long in the temfathers to the children, and the ple. disobedient to the wisdom of the 22 And when he came out, he just; to make ready a people could not speak unto them : and prepared for the Lord.

they perceived that he had seen 18 And Zacharias said unto a vision in the temple; for he the angel, Whereby shall I know beckoned unto them, and rethis? for I am an old man, and mained speechless. my wife well stricken in years. 23 And it came to pass, that

19 And the angel, answering, as soon as the days of his minissaid unto him, I am Gabriel, tration were accomplished, he that stand in the presence of departed to his own house. God; and am sent to speak unto 24 And after those days his thee, and to show thee these glad wife Elisabeth conceived, and tidings.

hid herself five months, saying, 20 And behold, thou shalt be 25 Thus hath the Lord dealt dumb, and not able to speak, un- with me in the days wherein he til the day that these things shall looked on me, to take away my be performed, because thou be- reproach among men. lievest not my words, which shall 26 And in the sixth month be fulfilled in their season. the angel Gabriel was sent from

21 And the people waited for God unto a city of Galilee, naZacharias, and marvelled that med Nazareth, preparation for the Messiah, as the spiritual benefit from John's labors. nation had long been expecting his See Matt. 11: 18. 21: 32. Luke, 7: coming. But they were not in a 29, 30. And therefore, according to state of moral fitness for him. There the prediction of Malachi (4:6), the were, however, in the nation, those land was snitten with the curse of God. who would reverently and obediently 19. Gabriel. Compare Dan. 8: 16. hearken to a well-attested announce- 9: 21. This name is compounded ment of the Messiah’s approach, and of two Hebrew words which signify to the exhortation to become pre-man of God. || That stand in the pared, by timely repentance, for his presence of God." God was conceived teaching and government. The Lord of as a mighty king, having around seems most naturally to refer here to him servants whom he employed in the Messiah, the expected King and executing bis will. To stand in his Lord, or Master, of the Jews. presence, then, would mean to be his

Thus the official duty of John the servant. Baptist, as the harbinger of the Mes- 23. The days of his ministration siah, was distinctly announced to were accomplished. See on v. 5, Zacharias. But it may be asked, Was 24. Hid herself; kept herself in the design accomplished for which comparative retirement. John was sent ? To this it may be 25. He looked on me; he looked replied, that, in many instances, there kindly towards me, and mercifully rewas effected a turning to the Lord, garded me. || To take away my reand consequently a preparation for proach. To be without children was the Messiah. But by far the larger considered, among the Jews, a pecupart of the nation, and especially the liarly unhappy circumstance. distinguished men, failed to receive 26. Nazareth. See on Matt. 2: 23.

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