Bible Commentary

Luke 2

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Luke 2)

Verse 2

[2] (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

When Cyrenius was governor of Syria — When Publius Sulpicius Quirinus governed the province of Syria, in which Judea was then included.

Verse 6

[6] And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And while they were there, the days were fulfilled that she should be delivered — Mary seems not to have known that the child must have been born in Bethlehem, agreeably to the prophecy. But the providence of God took care for it.

Verse 7

[7] And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

She laid him in the manger — Perhaps it might rather be translated in the stall. They were lodged in the ox stall, fitted up on occasion of the great concourse, for poor guests.

There was no room for them in the inn — Now also, there is seldom room for Christ in an inn. Matthew 1:25

Verse 11

[11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

To you — Shepherds; Israel; mankind.

Verse 14

[14] Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Glory be to God in the highest; on earth peace; good will toward men — The shouts of the multitude are generally broken into short sentences. This rejoicing acclamation strongly represents the piety and benevolence of these heavenly spirits: as if they had said, Glory be to God in the highest heavens: let all the angelic legions resound his praises. For with the Redeemer's birth, peace, and all kind of happiness, come down to dwell on earth: yea, the overflowings of Divine good will and favour are now exercised toward men.

Verse 20

[20] And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

For all the things that they had heard — From Mary; as it was told them - By the angels.

Verse 21

[21] And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

To circumcise the child — That he might visibly be made under the law by a sacred rite, which obliged him to keep the whole law; as also that he might be owned to be the seed of Abraham, and might put an honour on the solemn dedication of children to God.

Verse 22

[22] And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

The days — The forty days prescribed, Leviticus 12:2,4.

Verse 23

[23] (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)

Exodus 13:2.

Verse 24

[24] And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

A pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons — This offering sufficed for the poor. Leviticus 12:8.

Verse 25

[25] And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

The consolation of Israel — A common phrase for the Messiah, who was to be the everlasting consolation of the Israel of God.

The Holy Ghost was upon him — That is, he was a prophet.

Verse 27

[27] And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,

By the Spirit — By a particular revelation or impulse from him.

Verse 30

[30] For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,

Thy salvation — Thy Christ, thy Saviour.

Verse 32

[32] A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

And the glory of thy people Israel — For after the Gentiles are enlightened, all Israel shall be saved.

Verse 33

[33] And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken — For they did not thoroughly understand them.

Verse 34

[34] And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

Simeon blessed them — Joseph and Mary.

This child is set for the fall and rising again of many — That is, he will be a savour of death to some, to unbelievers: a savour of life to others, to believers: and for a sign which shall be spoken against - A sign from God, yet rejected of men: but the time for declaring this at large was not yet come: that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed - The event will be, that by means of that contradiction, the inmost thoughts of many, whether good or bad, will be made manifest.

Verse 35

[35] (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

A sword shall pierce through thy own soul — So it did, when he suffered: particularly at his crucifixion.

Verse 37

[37] And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

Fourscore and four years — These were the years of her life, not her widowhood only.

Who departed not from the temple — Who attended there at all the stated hours of prayer.

But served God with fastings and prayers — Even at that age.

Night and day — That is, spending therein a considerable part of the night, as well as of the day.

Verse 38

[38] And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

To all that were waiting for redemption — The sceptre flow appeared to he departing from Judah, though it was not actually gone: Daniel's weeks were plainly near their period. And the revival of the spirit of prophecy, together with the memorable occurrences relating to the birth of John the Baptist, and of Jesus, could not but encourage and quicken the expectation of pious persons at this time. Let the example of these aged saints animate those, whose hoary heads, like theirs, are a crown of glory, being found in the way of righteousness. Let those venerable lips, so soon to be silent in the grave, be now employed in the praises of their Redeemer. Let them labour to leave those behind, to whom Christ will be as precious as he has been to them; and who will be waiting for God's salvation, when they are gone to enjoy it.

Verse 40

[40] And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

And the child grew — In bodily strength and stature; and waxed strong in spirit - The powers of his human mind daily improved; filled with wisdom - By the light of the indwelling Spirit, which gradually opened itself in his soul; and the grace of God was upon him - That is, the peculiar favour of God rested upon him, even as man.

Verse 43

[43] And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.

The child Jesus — St. Luke describes in order Jesus the fruit of the womb, Luke 1:42; an infant, Luke 2:12; a little child, Luke 2:40; a child here, and afterward a man. So our Lord passed through and sanctified every stage of human life. Old age only did not become him.

Verse 44

[44] But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.

Supposing him to have been in the company — As the men and women usually travelled in distinct companies.

Verse 46

[46] And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

After three days — The first day was spent in their journey, the second, in their return to Jerusalem: and the third, in searching for him there: they found him in the temple - In an apartment of it: sitting in the midst of the doctors - Not one word is said of his disputing with them, but only of his asking and answering questions, which was a very usual thing in these assemblies, and indeed the very end of them. And if he was, with others, at the feet of these teachers (where learners generally sat) he might be said to be in the midst of them, as they sat on benches of a semicircular form, raised above their hearers and disciples.

Verse 49

[49] And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?

Why sought ye me? — He does not blame them for losing, but for thinking it needful to seek him: and intimates, that he could not be lost, nor found any where, but doing the will of a higher parent.

Verse 50

[50] And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.

It is observable that Joseph is not mentioned after this time; whence it is probable, he did not live long after.

Verse 52

[52] And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Jesus increased in wisdom — As to his human nature, and in favour with God - In proportion to that increase. It plainly follows, that though a man were pure, even as Christ was pure, still he would have room to increase in holiness, and in consequence thereof to increase in the favour, as well as in the love of God.

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