2: The Angel’s Announcements (Lk 1:1-56)
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.
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and
bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS” (1:31).
Did You Know…?
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
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
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.
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.
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.
“Jesus” (1:31) is the Greek form of the Hebrew
name “Joshua,” which means “The Lord is salvation.”
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.
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.”
out places in this passage that either mention about joy or convey a feeling of
does the introduction of this Gospel tell us about
1a. Its recipient?
1b. The manner in which it is written?
1c. Its purpose?
1a. What was Zacharias’ and Elizabeth’s family background?
1b. What was their lifestyle like?
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
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?
was Mary’s hometown?
8a. How did the angel Gabriel greet Mary?
8b. What was Mary’s response?
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?
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
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?