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2: The Angel’s Announcements (Lk 1:1-56)
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2: The Angel’s Announcements (Lk 1:1-56)

I.       The Basics

A.     Setting

Luke begins the Gospel with a formal introduction in the style of the historical works in Greek literature. The narrative in this section consists of two parallel accounts—the announcement of John’s coming and the announcement of Jesus’ coming. These two separate announcements lead up to the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth and finally to the climactic song of Mary.

B.     Key Verse

            “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS” (1:31).

C.     Did You Know…?

1.      Herod, the king of Judea (1:5): Herod the Great reigned 37-4 b.c., and his kingdom included Samaria, Galilee, much of Perea and Coele-Syria.5/1535

2.      The “division” (v.8; cf. v.5) was one of twenty-four groups of priests divided by families and structured after the pattern of 1 Chronicles 23 and 24…Each of the twenty-four divisions served in the temple for one week, twice a year, as well as at the major festivals (J. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the time of Jesus [London: SCM, 1969], pp. 198-207). an individual priest, however, could offer the incense at the daily sacrifice only once in his lifetime (v.9), since there were so many priests. 3/826

3.      Elijah (1:17): The OT prophet who turned the hearts of the Israelites back to God (1Kgs 18:2-40). The prophet Malachi prophesied that Elijah would come before the day of the Lord (Mal 4:5,6). The angel’s words to Zacharias clearly alluded to this prophecy.

4.      Nazareth (1:26): Nazareth means “sanctified.” It is a small, obscure town atop a hill (Lk 4:29~30) in the southern part of the region of Galilee. It was Jesus’ hometown where he grew up (Mt 2:23). However, it was never mentioned in the Old Testament.

5.      Betrothed (1:27): The pledge to be married was legally binding. Only a divorce writ could break it, and infidelity at that stage was considered adultery (cf. Deut 22:23-24; Moore, Judaism, 2:121-22). The marriage itself took place when the groom (already called “husband,” 1:19) ceremoniously took the bride home.

6.      “Jesus” (1:31) is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Joshua,” which means “The Lord is salvation.”

7.      For Mary to visit Elizabeth, she had to travel 80~100 miles (130~160 km) over the hill country from Nazareth to a city of Judah. It probably took her 3 to 4 days to arrive.

8.      Mary’s song of praise in 46-55 is known as the Magnificat because in the Latin Vulgate translation the hymn begins with the word Magnificat, which means “glorifies.”

II.    Observation

A.     Outline






B.     Key Words/Phrases

III. General Analysis

1.   Pick out places in this passage that either mention about joy or convey a feeling of great joy. 

IV.  Segment Analysis

A.     1:1-4

1.   What does the introduction of this Gospel tell us about

1a. Its recipient? 

1b. The manner in which it is written? 

1c. Its purpose? 

B.     1:5-25

1a. What was Zacharias’ and Elizabeth’s family background? 

1b. What was their lifestyle like? 

2.   Zacharias and Elizabeth could not have a child even though they were both upright before God. Do you sometimes feel that God is letting you down despite your devotion to Him? What lessons can you learn from this story? 

3a. Where did the story in this narrative take place? 

3b. What was the occasion? 

3c. How was this occasion the height of Zacharias’ career as priest?

3d. Why is this setting and occasion significant for the announcement of John’s birth? 

4.   What did the angel Gabriel prophesy about

4a. What John would be? 

4b. John’s mission? 

5a. Explain John’s mission. 

5b. How is our mission today similar to John’s? 

6a. How did Zacharias show his unbelief?

6b. Zacharias did not believe that God answered his prayer (cf. 13). What does his doubt tell you about his prayers?

6c. Have you prayed for something for a long time, but God doesn’t seem to answer? What can we learn from this story about our prayers?

C.     1:26-38

7.   Where was Mary’s hometown?

8a. How did the angel Gabriel greet Mary?

8b. What was Mary’s response?

9.   Explain Gabriel’s prediction about Jesus (32-33).

10. How can Gabriel’s words in 37 help you in your life?

11a. If you were Mary and you were told that you would be with child even though you are a virgin, how would you accept this announcement?

11b. Study Mary’s three stages of responses to the angel’s words. What can we learn from her in our attitude toward God’s word?

12c.  How are Mary’s words in 38 a beautiful model for us in our relationship with God?

D.     1:39-56

13a. What led Mary to visit her relative Elizabeth with such haste? 

13b. How was Mary’s meeting with Elizabeth a highlight in the narrative?

13c. How did it reinforce Mary’s faith? 

14a. How is Mary’s song the climax to this part of Luke’s story?

14b. List the themes in the song.

14c. How is this song an encouragement to you?

15. Consider Mary’s social status and spiritual qualities. What does this tell us about the way God chooses people to be His instruments?

16. What does Mary’s song teach us about the way we should respond to God’s work in our lives?

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