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The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1 – Christogenea on Talkshoe, May 18th, 2012
In order to discuss Luke, and his relationship to Paul, and his importance in preserving the Gospel, it may be better to quote Irenaeus in order to show the attitudes of the most early Christian writers, whose attitudes concerning Luke, Irenaeus represents rather well. Irenaeus was the bishop of Lugdunum, in Gaul, which is present-day Lyons, France. He died circa 202 AD, and his most famous work, Against Heresies, is generally esteemed to have been written about 180 AD, nearly 150 years after the Crucifixion and 85 years after the apostle John wrote down the vision of the Revelation. His name means peaceful in Greek. Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp, who in turn was said to be a disciple of the apostle John himself. Polycarp, like John, lived a very long life, from circa 65 to 155 AD.
From Irenaeus Against Heresies, Book 3 Chapters 14-15:
From Book 3 Chapter XIV.—If Paul Had Known Any Mysteries Unrevealed to the Other Apostles, Luke, His Constant Companion and Fellow-Traveller, Could Not Have Been Ignorant of Them; Neither Could the Truth Have Possibly Lain Hid from Him, Through Whom Alone We Learn Many and Most Important Particulars of the Gospel History.
XIV 1. But that this Luke was inseparable from Paul, and his fellow-labourer in the Gospel, he himself clearly evinces, not as a matter of boasting, but as bound to do so by the truth itself. For he says that when Barnabas, and John who was called Mark, had parted company from Paul, and sailed to Cyprus, “we came to Troas;” and when Paul had beheld in a dream a man of Macedonia, saying, “Come into Macedonia, Paul, and help us,” “immediately,” he says, “we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, understanding that the Lord had called us to preach the Gospel unto them. Therefore, sailing from Troas, we directed our ship’s course towards Samothracia.” [Reading these things in Irenaeus we see a corroboration of the accounts in Luke's Book of Acts from the earliest times.] And then he carefully indicates all the rest of their journey as far as Philippi, and how they delivered their first address: “for, sitting down,” he says, “we spake unto the women who had assembled;” [Acts 16:13] and certain believed, even a great many. And again does he say, “But we sailed from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came to Troas, where we abode seven days.” And all the remaining [details] of his course with Paul he recounts, indicating with all diligence both places, and cities, and number of days, until they went up to Jerusalem; and what befell Paul there, how he was sent to Rome in bonds; the name of the centurion who took him in charge; and the signs of the ships, and how they made shipwreck; and the island upon which they escaped, and how they received kindness there, Paul healing the chief man of that island; and how they sailed from thence to Puteoli, and from that arrived at Rome; and for what period they sojourned at Rome. As Luke was present at all these occurrences, he carefully noted them down in writing, so that he cannot be convicted of falsehood or boastfulness, because all these [particulars] proved both that he was senior to all those who now teach otherwise, and that he was not ignorant of the truth. That he was not merely a follower, but also a fellow-labourer of the apostles, but especially of Paul, Paul has himself declared also in the Epistles, saying: “Demas hath forsaken me, … and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me.” [2 Timothy 4:10-11] From this he shows that he was always attached to and inseparable from him. And again he says, in the Epistle to the Colossians: “Luke, the beloved physician, greets you.” [Colossians 4:14] But surely if Luke, who always preached in company with Paul, and is called by him “the beloved,” and with him performed the work of an evangelist, and was entrusted to hand down to us a Gospel, learned nothing different from him (Paul), as has been pointed out from his words, how can these men, who were never attached to Paul, boast that they have learned hidden and unspeakable mysteries?
Irenaeus is addressing the Marcionites, as he explains in the chapter previous to this one, who out of all the Gospel esteemed only those writings associated with Paul. They were at the other end of the spectrum from those Judaizers who sought to discredit Paul. Paul himself would not have approved of the Marcionites, who evidently claimed to have learned secrets from Paul which Paul supposedly transmitted only to them. Here Irenaeus disputes the claim on the basis that Luke, Paul's closest companion, displayed no knowledge of such things. If Luke had withheld such things, that would have been contrary to Luke's stated purpose in writing his accounts, and therefore the Marcionites must be liars.
XIV 2. But that Paul taught with simplicity what he knew, not only to those who were [employed] with him, but to those that heard him, he does himself make manifest. For when the bishops and presbyters who came from Ephesus and the other cities adjoining had assembled in Miletus, since he was himself hastening to Jerusalem to observe Pentecost, after testifying many things to them, and declaring what must happen to him at Jerusalem, he added: “I know that ye shall see my face no more. Therefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed, therefore, both to yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost has placed you as bishops, to rule the Church of the Lord, which He has acquired for Himself through His own blood.” [Note that the modern translators of these writings follow the usual Catholic manner of translating terms] Then, referring to the evil teachers who should arise, he said: “I know that after my departure shall grievous wolves come to you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” [Acts chapter 20] “I have not shunned,” he says, “to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” Thus did the apostles simply, and without respect of persons, deliver to all what they had themselves learned from the Lord. Thus also does Luke, without respect of persons, deliver to us what he had learned from them, as he has himself testified, saying, “Even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word.” [Quoting Luke 1:2]
XIV 3. Now if any man set Luke aside, as one who did not know the truth, he will, [by so acting, ] manifestly reject that Gospel of which he claims to be a disciple. [In other words, rejecting Luke one is not at all a Christian.] For through him we have become acquainted with very many and important parts of the Gospel; for instance, the generation [birth] of John, the history of Zacharias, the coming of the angel to Mary, the exclamation of Elisabeth, the descent of the angels to the shepherds, the words spoken by them, the testimony of Anna and of Simeon with regard to Christ, and that twelve years of age He was left behind at Jerusalem; also the baptism of John, the number of the Lord’s years when He was baptized, and that this occurred in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar. [Luke had a better emphasis on the importance of recording the gospel from a historical sense than the other apostles.] And in His office of teacher this is what He has said to the rich: “Woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation; ” and “Woe unto you that are full, for ye shall hunger; and ye who laugh now, for ye shall weep; ”and, “Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you: for so did your fathers to the false prophets.” All things of the following kind we have known through Luke alone (and numerous actions of the Lord we have learned through him, which also all [the Evangelists] notice): the multitude of fishes which Peter’s companions enclosed, when at the Lord’s command they cast the nets; the woman who had suffered for eighteen years, and was healed on the Sabbath-day; the man who had the dropsy, whom the Lord made whole on the Sabbath, and how He did defend Himself for having performed an act of healing on that day; how He taught His disciples not to aspire to the uppermost rooms; how we should invite the poor and feeble, who cannot recompense us; the man who knocked during the night to obtain loaves, and did obtain them, because of the urgency of his importunity; how, when [our Lord] was sitting at meat with a Pharisee, a woman that was a sinner kissed His feet, and anointed them with ointment, with what the Lord said to Simon on her behalf concerning the two debtors; also about the parable of that rich man who stored up the goods which had accrued to him, to whom it was also said, “In this night they shall demand thy soul from thee; whose then shall those things be which thou hast prepared? ” and similar to this, that of the rich man, who was clothed in purple and who fared sumptuously, and the indigent Lazarus; also the answer which He gave to His disciples when they said, “Increase our faith;” also His conversation with Zaccheus the publican; also about the Pharisee and the publican, who were praying in the temple at the same time; also the ten lepers, whom He cleansed in the way simultaneously; also how He ordered the lame and the blind to be gathered to the wedding from the lanes and streets; also the parable of the judge who feared not God, whom the widow’s importunity led to avenge her cause; and about the fig-tree in the vineyard which produced no fruit. There are also many other particulars to be found mentioned by Luke alone, which are made use of by both Marcion and Valentinus. And besides all these, [he records] what [Christ] said to His disciples in the way, after the resurrection, and how they recognised Him in the breaking of bread.
Here Irenaeus has listed the many things which, out of the four gospels, we see are recorded only in that of Luke. Note Irenaeus' general outlook, that where he says that through Luke “we have become acquainted with very many and important parts of the Gospel” he indicates that the Gospel is not any of the four accounts of it which we have, but rather transcends all four accounts. Each account is a gospel of one apostle or another, but each account is only one witness to The Gospel, which is the entire story but which is not recorded in any one place – ostensibly because God, and no man, can possibly be a witness to all things. As Paul said, “we see through a glass darkly”. It is further evident from reading Luke itself, that the apostle did not mean to record anything unique, but rather he testifies that the purpose of recording his gospel was that “that you may decide concerning the certainty of the accounts which you were taught”, as he states in his opening paragraph, where it is evident that all of Luke's accounts were already circulating in oral testimonies and he only chose to gather the records and record them for posterity. Therefore we see some things which the other gospels do not contain – and therefore we realize the reason for Luke's gospel. We see many things the other gospels do contain, and Luke also receiving those accounts included them. Then there are things in Matthew and Mark which are not in Luke, and we can only imagine that Luke, not having an independent original source for those things on his own, did not include them. All of the critics who dispute the veracity of the gospels because of information they share or do not share usually do so by taking their writing out of any historical context, and disputing it from a childish viewpoint. If the same news bureau story appeared in ten newspapers, and one historian later quoted it for one purpose, and another historian still later for a similar purpose, can it be said that one copied from another? Various gospel accounts had been circulating from many witnesses, and Luke collected what he could and compiled them into a single book, which is exactly what he told us he had done. If many of the stories appear with the same language in Matthew and in Mark, it is only because they too had those same accounts, or witnessed the same things that the other originators of those accounts had witnessed. The so-called “Higher Critics” are little but a den of dishonest, manipulative jews.
XIV 4. It follows then, as of course, that these men must either receive the rest of his narrative, or else reject these parts also. For no persons of common sense can permit them to receive some things recounted by Luke as being true, and to set others aside, as if he had not known the truth. And if indeed Marcion’s followers reject these, they will then possess no Gospel; for, curtailing that according to Luke, as I have said already, they boast in having the Gospel [in what remains]. But the followers of Valentinus must give up their utterly vain talk; for they have taken from that [Gospel] many occasions for their own speculations, to put an evil interpretation upon what he has well said. If, on the other hand, they feel compelled to receive the remaining portions also, then, by studying the perfect Gospel, and the doctrine of the apostles, they will find it necessary to repent, that they may be saved from the danger [to which they are exposed].
Irenaeus reasons that the followers of Marcion, claiming to have secrets from Paul which Luke did not have, by employing any part of Luke are actually contradicting themselves, and therefore if they cling to their false claims they are indeed refuting Luke. The followers of Valentinus, by inventing many tales yet employing certain gospel stories attested by Luke, also make themselves to be hypocrites, since in their invention of tales they deny much of those parts of Luke which they do not employ. They cannot pick-and-choose and have it both ways without being hypocritical. Those following Valentinus, according to Irenaeus in Book 1, chapter 1 of his Against Heresies, contrived a complex theology based partly upon the Gospels and partly upon Greek philosophy, and also had a particular false Gospel based on these ideas which they called the Gospel of Judas (meaning Iscariot). [Whether this was the same as the recently discovered Gospel of Judas I have not yet attempted to determine.] I have witnessed many of the modern critics of Paul do this same thing. They love to quote from Luke 10:17-18, or from Luke 19:27 and other passages. When they do so, they are revealed to be hypocrites, because only Luke preserved these accounts, and that same Luke testified of Paul.
From Book 3 Chapter XV.—Refutation of the Ebionites, Who Disparaged the Authority of St. Paul, from the Writings of St. Luke, Which Must Be Received as a Whole. Exposure of the Hypocrisy, Deceit, and Pride of the Gnostics. The Apostles and Their Disciples Knew and Preached One God, the Creator of the World.
XV 1. But again, we allege the same against those who do not recognise Paul as an apostle: that they should either reject the other words of the Gospel which we have come to know through Luke alone [meaning all of those accounts which the other apostles did not preserve], and not make use of them; or else, if they do receive all these, they must necessarily admit also that testimony concerning Paul, when he (Luke) tells us that the Lord spoke at first to him from heaven: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? I am Jesus Christ, whom thou persecutest; ” [Acts chapters 9, 22 and 26; Irenaeus had no doubts that the same Luke wrote both the Gospel and the Acts.] and then to Ananias, saying regarding him: “Go thy way; for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name among the Gentiles [Nations], and kings, and the children of Israel. [Acts 9:15, all three entities belong to the same children of Israel.] For I will show him, from this time, how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Those, therefore, who do not accept of him [as a teacher], who was chosen by God for this purpose, that he might boldly bear His name, as being sent to the forementioned nations, do despise the election of God, and separate themselves from the company of the apostles. For neither can they contend that Paul was no apostle, when he was chosen for this purpose; nor can they prove Luke guilty of falsehood, when he proclaims the truth to us with all diligence. It may be, indeed, that it was with this view that God set forth very many Gospel truths, through Luke’s instrumentality, which all should esteem it necessary to use, in order that all persons, following his subsequent testimony, which treats upon the acts and the doctrine of the apostles, and holding the unadulterated rule of truth, may be saved. His testimony, therefore, is true, and the doctrine of the apostles is open and stedfast, holding nothing in reserve; nor did they teach one set of doctrines in private, and another in public.
The Ebionites rejected Paul. Rejecting Paul, one must also reject Luke, who both bore that same Gospel attested to by Paul, and who also testified of Paul. (For which reason 2 Peter would also have to be rejected.) In order to realize why people reject Paul, the Ebionites are a good study. They are actually among the Judaizers who Paul often criticized in his letters. The Ebionites, a word derived from the Hebrew ebionim, meaning "the poor" or "poor ones", regarded Christ as the Messiah but also insisted on the necessity of following Jewish religious law and rites. The Ebionites used only one of the Gospels, that of Matthew, which Irenaeus attests to, and they revered James the Just and rejected Paul of Tarsus as an apostate from the Law. We see this same attitude reflected in Paul's meeting with James and with the subsequent events leading to Paul's arrest as they are recorded in Acts chapter 21. It is evident that many of the Hebrews, as Paul explains at length in his letter to them, misunderstood the Israelite's relationship to the Law in the New Covenant. Many of them still do.
Now if Luke were a physician, as we have seen Irenaeus also quote Paul's words at Colossians 4:14, where we see him mention “Luke, the beloved physician”, it is highly unlikely that Luke was a Hebrew, and almost certain that he was a Greek. Luke's very literate writing style assures that he had a good Greek education, as does his understanding of the need for historical references in order to relate the circumstances in which his accounts were set. While only mentioned in Scripture twice, both of which are in Paul's letters, it is clear that Luke was the companion of Paul through his several uses of the first person plural pronoun, “we”, describing the travels of Paul and those with him, for instance in Acts chapter 16 verses 10 through 13.
The traditions concerning Luke's being from Antioch are found no earlier than Eusebius, who wrote in the fourth century. This is from his Ecclesiastical History, Book 3 Chapter 4: “Luke, who was born at Antioch, and was by profession a physician, being for the most part connected with Paul and familiarly acquainted with the rest of the apostles, left us in two inspired books the institutes of that spiritual healing art which he obtained from them. One of these was his gospel in which he testified that he recorded 'as those who were from the beginning eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word' delivered to him, whom also, he said, he had in all things followed. The other was his Acts of the Apostles, which he composed, not from what he had heard from others but from what he had seen himself.”
As Eusebius states, Luke received the Gospel accounts from others and compiled them into a single historical record, but he said that Luke actually witnessed the events he recorded in the Acts. Yet Luke's opening to Acts reveals that he also received that account vicariously from others, since he only used the third person to describe those early events. Antioch was mentioned in Acts as early as Acts chapter 6, where it is implied that there are already a large number of Greek Christians, and there was much discourse between the apostles and the people of Antioch through Acts chapter 15. Luke appears in his account with his use of the first person plural pronoun in Acts chapter 16. At what time Luke became involved is difficult to tell, however it was certainly during the events recorded in these chapters, and most probably not any earlier than the events described in Acts chapters 6 and 7.
Many modern sources, all of them influenced by the jews, doubt that Luke wrote this gospel, somehow because they see conflicts between this gospel, the Acts, and Paul's letters. All of these doubts, first planted by the mostly-jewish so-called “German Higher Critics” (which is another one of the “big lies” of the jews, that the so-called “higher critics” were really German) are based on the many false premises of judaism and judeo-Christianity concerning the Bible, and not one of them has any merit whatsoever. The jewish version of the Bible produces nothing but conflict, because it is all based upon lies, false premises, and false assumptions concerning jewish and true Hebrew-Israelite identity. There is no doubt, as we proceed through Luke, the Acts, and Paul's letters, that Luke wrote this gospel, Luke wrote the Book of Acts, Luke was a constant and good companion of Paul, and that Paul's letters which reference his gospel are a reflection of this gospel recorded by Luke.
The witnesses to the text of Luke are numerous. When the Christogenea New Testament was translated, readings of the following texts were primarily considered: The Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, from the fourth century, and the codices known as 0171 from the third century, 0181 from the fourth century and 0182 from the fourth or fifth century. The Papyri P4, P45, P69 and P75 which are all from the third century, P7, from the third or fourth century, and P82 from the fourth or fifth century AD. So there are many ancient witnesses to the text of Luke, which helps to show how widely the gospel was accepted. There are, of course, many other hundreds of manuscripts dating to the subsequent centuries.
Luke Chapter 1.
1 Seeing that many have taken in hand to arrange a report concerning those matters fully ascertained among us, 2 just as they who from the beginning having been eyewitnesses and attendants of the Word transmitted them to us, 3 it seemed good also to me, having closely followed from the first in all things accurately, to write to you methodically, most excellent lover of Yahweh, 4 that you may decide concerning the certainty of the accounts which you were taught.
The language of these first four verses of Luke, at least in the Greek, is poetic and eloquent. My translation probably does not do it sufficient justice. Verse 1 seems to be a reference to the other gospels, but is not necessarily limited to the other gospels as we know them today. It seems to imply that there were indeed more accounts of the gospel, or of different events which the gospels comprise, than even those which we have now. John's gospel was reportedly not written until a late time, as the early Christian writers state, that he did not write his gospel until almost the time when he wrote the Revelation. Mark's gospel was also written at a late time, as the early testimonies say that Mark did not write his gospel, which was based upon Peter's accounts, until after the death of Peter. Matthew's gospel seems to have been first, and also seems to have been in circulation among the Christians of Palestine at an early time. In the second verse Luke admits that he did not witness these things himself, but rather that they were transmitted to him by those who did witness them.
In the third verse, Luke tells us that he “followed from the first in all things accurately”, which simply means that he carefully put all of the eyewitness accounts which he had in order from the beginning and made certain that they were accurate. Then he tells us that he did so in order to write them out methodically. This seems to have been necessary because Luke had material which did not appear in Matthew's gospel, or in Mark's, if that gospel was complete by this time, and because Luke felt that he was able from the material which he had to make a gospel account that was historically accurate, rather than one which was simply a collection of events retold.
We also see in the third verse that Luke calls his reader “most excellent lover of Yahweh”, or God, where the King James Version has “most excellent Theophilus”, as if Theophilus was actually the name of a particular person. Luke does use the words κράτιστε θεόφιλε, “most excellent theophilus”, as he does also in his opening to the Book of Acts. However θεόφιλος is not necessarily a proper name, and it belongs to no known individual. Rather, it is apparent that Luke is using the word as a literary device, as it means “lover of God”, as an address for whoever is reading his writing at any given time, since he should expect none but a “lover of God” to be reading them. It is no different than a modern writer using the term “dear reader”, or “dear Christian” or something similar.
In the fourth verse, “4 that you may decide concerning the certainty of the accounts which you were taught.” The King James Version reads “that thou mightest know...”, yet ἐπιγιγνώσκω (Strong's Greek # 1921), is also “to come to a decision, to resolve, decide” or “to acknowledge or approve” (Liddell and Scott). Where the King James Version has “instructed”, and the text is “taught” here, the verb κατηχέω is more fully “to sound a thing in one’s ears, to teach by word of mouth, to instruct...Passive to be informed...” (Liddell & Scott), and so the reason for Luke’s writing is manifest, for he endeavored to fully explain and record what was already being orally transmitted.
The nature of the four gospels and the circumstances which the earliest Christian writers related concerning their writing are absolutely agreeable. Mark's gospel was not written to be historical, but was only meant to be a record of the events of the ministry and life of Christ as transmitted to him by Peter. John's gospel, written very late, did not bother to retell much from the first three gospels, but rather concentrated on the ministry of Christ alone, and especially on its final weeks, which comprise nearly two-thirds of his gospel. It is written mostly from an eyewitness perspective which only John could have provided. Mark and John both begin their gospels around the start of Christ's ministry. Matthew's gospel is historical, and it recorded the events of the birth and life of Christ from a quite different perspective than that of Luke. Matthew focused at first on what was happening in Judaea and Jerusalem in relation to Christ, and then from an impersonal view he described some of the events concerning the life of Joseph and Mary with the infant Christ. Matthew's material may have come from many different sources, which can only be conjectured. Some of it may have come from Christ Himself, yet Matthew did not know Christ personally until he was chosen as an apostle, which is described in Matthew chapter 9 and also Mark chapter 2. Like that of Matthew, Luke's gospel is also historical, but the history it offers is from a very different perspective, that of Mary herself, and all of the things which she thought were important enough to keep. Luke tells us this himself in his second chapter , where he tells us twice that Mary “kept all these things”, and “kept all these sayings”, and therefore it is certain that Mary was indeed the source for Luke's material.
5 There was in the days of Herodas, King of the Judaeans, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abia, and with him a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabet.
The divisions of the priests were called courses in the Old Testament (cf. 1 Chronicles chapter 23:6). First instituted by David, they were re-instituted at the beginning of the Second Temple period. Here the word is ἐφημερία (Strong's Greek # 2183), which in the New Testament appears only here in Luke chapter 1. The course of Abijah was the eighth course, for which see 1 Chronicles 24:10.
Many people are persuaded by this line alone that Mary the mother of Christ was of the tribe of Levi, simply because her cousin was of Levi. It is not necessarily so. Elisabeth is called the συγγενής of Mary. Συγγενής, literally one of the same race, is a word with a wide meaning, although it implies that she was probably a cousin of one degree or another. If Elisabeth was a cousin of Mary's through an aunt or great-aunt, they may easily have belonged to two different paternal tribes, both Judah and Levi. So the fact that Elisabeth was a “daughter of Aaron” proves nothing about Mary's paternal tribal heritage.
The names Zacharias and Elisabeth are, as Hebrew names always had deeper meanings, quite Providential. Zacharias is from a Hebrew phrase meaning “Yahweh remembers”, and Elisabeth, which was also the name of the wife of Aaron (Elisheba), means “God of the oath”. Yahweh remembers His promises.
6 And they were both righteous before Yahweh, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of Yahweh blamelessly. 7 Yet there was no child for them, because Elisabet was sterile, and they were both advanced in their days.
Sterility among women who were then chosen to fulfill a purpose of God, or who remained sterile to fulfill a purpose of God, is a common theme in the Bible. It is seen in Sarah, Rachel, Manoah the mother of Samson, Hannah the mother of Samuel, and here in Elisabeth.
8 And it came to pass upon his serving in the duty of his division before Yahweh, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood he was assigned the entering into the temple of Yahweh to burn incense.
Λαγχάνω here is simply “to assign”. The word is literally “to obtain by lot, by fate, by the will of the gods...” (Liddell & Scott). It implies that the priests threw lots to see who would fulfill which of the duties in the temple.
10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the time of the incense. 11 And there appeared to him a messenger of Yahweh standing at the right side of the altar of the incense. 12 And Zacharias seeing it was troubled and fear fell upon him.
The story implies that a supernatural event was occurring here. It was absolutely forbidden for anyone except a priest fulfilling specific duties to enter into this area of the temple, which very likely may even have been guarded in these days.
It is a significant part of the Christian faith, that there is more to the Creation of God than what we perceive in these bodies and in this physical world. This was also a part of the ancient beliefs of all other branches of our Aryan race, in many of the myths and writings which we still have from them. While often the Hebrew or Greek words translated as angel can pertain to earthly messengers, quite often they signify something other than that. One can see that the angels who visited Lot, described in Genesis chapter 19, appeared to be men but when they were threatened by the men of Sodom they “put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.” There are many other such episodes described in Scripture, which cannot be sufficiently explained by the presence of human messengers alone.
13 And the messenger spoke to him: “Fear not, Zacharias, since your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elisabet shall produce a son for you and you shall call his name Iohannes. 14 And he will be a joy to you and an exultation. And many shall rejoice upon his birth. 15 For he shall be great before Yahweh, and wine and beer he shall not drink, and he shall be filled of the Holy Spirit yet in the womb of his mother.
The name John, or Iohannes, also is Providential. It means “Yahweh is a gracious giver” and appears in the King James Version Old Testament as Johanan. Here it infers the mercy of God being extended to the children of Israel. In the prophecy of Malachi concerning the coming messenger who was to go before the Christ, we see at Malachi 3:6 that it says “6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”
Σίκερα, “strong drink” in the King James Version, is a Hebrew word (Strong’s #7941) and is usually interpreted to be “a fermented liquor” (L & S). The case that the word was used to describe “beer” is presented in an article entitled “Beer and Its Drinkers: An Ancient Near Eastern Love Story”, which appeared in Near Eastern Archaeology, a publication of the ASOR, June 2004, p. 84. The article’s contention concerning σίκερα seems plausible even though another word, ζύθος (see the LXX at Isaiah 19:10), is used to describe beer in Biblical writings, and both ζύθος and κριθή were used along with οἶνος (“wine”) to describe beer, the former by Strabo (i.e. 3.3.7) and the latter by Herodotus (i.e. 2.77) and also Xenophon, as Rawlinson notes in his edition of Herodotus.
16 And many of the sons of Israel shall he turn to Yahweh their God. 17 And he will go on before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the purpose of the just, to make ready a people prepared for Yahweh.”
The fathers, the children, the disobedient, all of these things can only refer to the children of the ancient Israelites, and as we shall see several times in Luke, the gospel message can never be expanded to anyone outside of that context.
The last two chapters of Malachi, although they certainly must have a dual fulfillment as Christ Himself tells us explicitly at Matthew 17:10-12, are a prophecy concerning John the Baptist, which Christ also tells us in Matthew 11:14 where He said “And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.”
Malachi 4:5-6, from the King James Version: “5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
Here is Matthew 17:10-12, also from the King James Version: “10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.”
18 And Zacharias said to the messenger: “By what shall I know this? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in her days!”
Sarah also was advanced beyond the normal time of child-bearing.
19 And replying the messenger said to him “I am Gabriel who stands before Yahweh and have been sent to speak to you and to bring good news of these things to you, 20 and behold! You shall be silent and not able to speak until the day these things happen, because you did not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their time.”
Gabriel means “warrior of God”. The name appears elsewhere only in Daniel chapters 8 and 9, yet from Daniel 9 it is certain that it refers to a certain individual where it says at verse 21: “Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.”
The phrase “to bring good news” is the basic meaning of the Greek word εὐαγγελίζω, which gives us the word evangelize and its derivatives. The words εἰς τὸν καιρὸν αὐτῶν are “in their time”, rendering καιρός (2540) more fully, the phrase may have been written “at their proper time”.
21 And the people were expecting Zacharias and wondered at his being delayed in the temple. 22 Then coming out he was not able to speak to them, and they decided that he had seen a vision in the temple, and he was making signs to them, and remained mute. 23 And it happened as the days of his service were fulfilled, he departed for his house. 24 And after those days Elisabet his wife conceived, and concealed herself five months, saying 25 that “Thusly has Yahweh done to me in the days which He looked to remove my reproach among men.”
Where it says that “he was making signs” or “motions”, it is from the Greek word διανεύω (1269) “to express one’s meaning by a sign...” (Thayer), I may have written “he was indicating with signals”. The King James Version has if that “he beckoned unto them”.
The word ἀϕίημι (863), “to remove” here, of Elisabet's reproach, is “to send forth, discharge...to let loose...to let fall...to send away, let go, loose, set free...to release from...to dismiss...to put away...” (Liddell & Scott). It is worth mentioning here because it is very often rendered in the King James Version as forgive, in reference to sin.
26 Then in the sixth month the messenger Gabriel was sent by Yahweh to a city of Galilaia named Nazareth
The Codex Sinaiticus, א, has here “to a city of Judaea”. The Codex Bezae, D, wants the words “named Nazareth”.
27 to a virgin promised in marriage to a man whose name was Ioseph, from of the house of David, and the name of the virgin was Mariam.
Many suppose that the Greek word παρθένος (3933) may signify young womanhood apart from virginity, however this is simply not at all compatible with the word’s usage. In a moral society – as both the ancient Greco-Roman world and the Medieval English were for the most part, maidenhood is synonymous with virginity (as a ship before her “maiden voyage”). The παρθενόν (Parthenon), the temple of Athena the virgin on the citadel of Athens, is named for the perpetually virgin goddess. Other proofs of this word’s limited use in this sense, i.e. to refer to a virgin and not simply a young woman, are far too numerous to list. A παρθένος is a virgin, and there are several other ways to say “young woman” in Greek without the implication of virginity, such as κόρη or τᾶλις. While there was, no doubt, many people in the ancient world with corrupt morals, certain liberals of today endeavor to construct “norms” in both modern and ancient societies from their own corrupt viewpoints, yet they represent a mere vocal minority who only trash the cultures which they attempt to redefine.
The verb μνηστεύω (3423), is rendered here “promised in marriage” in order to avoid any possible confusion. It is “betrothed” in the King James Version. In modern vernacular, to say engaged would not be improper. One is not truly married in the ancient world until the act of consummation, regardless of any ceremony, vow or promise. Only after the consummation is a woman no longer considered a παρθένος, but a γυνή. For example, in Euripides’ Trojan Women, at line 1139, Hekuba – the captured Queen of Troy and mother of Hektor - ponders “the bed-chamber where she will become his bride”, in reference to the Greek hero Neoptolemus. Therefore we see that in the ancient mind, marriage occurred in a bed, not at an altar, and that is as it should be. (As an aside, all of the Greek heroes were said to have taken beautiful Trojan women as booty. But Neoptolemus evidently didn't get a very good deal, since it was said that Hekuba had already had nineteen children with the Trojan king Priam.)
The Codices Sinaiticus (א) and Ephraemi Syri (C) have here “the house and family of David”, which is seen at Luke 2:4.
Μαριάμ, with the stress on the final 'a', is the usual spelling of the name of the mother of Christ in the oldest mss., and not “Mary”. Some mss. Have Μαρία in places, with varying degrees of consistency. Like the names Zacharias, Elisabeth, and Iohannes, the name Mariam also bears the mark of Providence in how its meaning fits into the overall Biblical story. Mariam is derived from Hebrew words which can mean rebellious people, which the children of Israel certainly were. Therefore Yahshua Christ, God incarnate, was born of a rebellious people, which is perfectly true!
28 And going in before her the messenger said “Greetings, favored one, Yahweh is with you!”
The Codices Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C), Bezae (D), and the Textus Receptus all insert into the messenger’s dialogue at the end of this verse the exclamation: “Blessed are you among women!”, which does belong in the text at verse 42. The translation here follows the older Codices Sinaiticus (א), Vaticanus (B), and also the Washingtonensis (W), where the exclamation is not present.
29 But upon this saying she was confused and pondered what sort of greeting it could be.
The very different reading of the King James Version at this verse, “And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be”, is because the Textus Receptus, as it often does, follows the Codices Alexandrinus (A) and Ephraemi Syri (C), which are the principal known manuscripts of what is called the “Alexandrian tradition”. The text of the passage as it was given here follows the older Codices Sinaiticus (א), Vaticanus (B), where the Bezae (D) and the Washingtonensis (W) also agree.
30 And the messenger said to her “Do not fear, Mariam! For you have found favor before Yahweh. 31 Now behold, you shall conceive in the womb and you shall beget a Son, and you shall call His name Yahshua. 32 He shall be great and He shall be called ‘Son of the Highest’ and Yahweh God shall give to Him the throne of David His father, 33 and He shall rule over the house of Jakob for the ages, and of His Kingdom there shall be no end!” 34 But Mariam said to the messenger, “How shall this be, since I have not known a man?” 35 And replying the messenger said to her “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you, for which also the Holy One being born shall be called ‘Son of Yahweh’. 36 And behold! Elisabet your kinswoman, she also has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who is called sterile; 37 because not any word is impossible with Yahweh.” 38 And Mariam said: “Behold the maidservant of Yahweh! May it be with me according to your word!” And the messenger departed from her.
While it can indeed be argued that it is evident that the promise of salvation through a virgin birth was extant among the Hebrews for some time, the first explicit promise of such appears in the early chapters of Isaiah.
Here is Isaiah 7:10-17: “10 Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. 13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. 16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings. 17 The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.”
Matthew 1:22-23 interpret this as a prophecy of Christ: “22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”
Furthermore, Isaiah 9:6-8 again speaks of this promised child: “6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. 8 The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel.”
The circumstances of Isaiah chapter 7, the kings Ahaz and Pekah and the others who are mentioned within the chapter, prove that the chapter was written no later than 732 BC. While the text of the Septuagint differs at Isaiah chapter 9, the Masoretic version is in this instance fully supported by the version found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. However the text of Isaiah 7:14 is not disputed by the Septuagint, where it states: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Concerning the virgin birth. There are myriads of jewish scoffers, deceived Zeitgeist fanatics, and assorted others who seek to demean the basic tenets of Christianity by claiming that so many other such accounts had existed first, and that therefore Christianity merely borrowed this idea from elsewhere. The claim has absolutely no merit whatsoever.
The Krishna story is one of the most often-cited examples for sources of Christian ideas by the critics of Christianity. Many elements of the Krishna story as it is known today read very much like certain accounts in the gospels. However none of these elements can be proven to have existed before the time of Christ. There is not one shred of archaeological documentary evidence to prove that they did. That evidence of any of the stories which the Vedas tell may have existed before the time of Christ, is no proof whatsoever that the stories as they are now known had existed at that time. The age of the Vedas is pushed back further and further in time, from the third or fourth centuries AD, as many Western scholars initially and more correctly believed, to 1500 BC, to 3100 BC, and now to as early as 5000 BC. Any claim for a Krishna or Vedic civilization as they exist in stories today which is dated to before the time of Christ is based solely upon religious fervor or a desire to give Hinduism unwarranted credit, and is not based upon fact. Elements of the Vedas themselves stem from Western traditions, and not from anything indigenous to India. The Cushites were in India before 1500 BC. The Persians had a presence in India. The Saka and Massagetae, Scythians, occupied Sogdiana, Bactria, and the Jaxartes River valley from the 7th century BC. In the third century BC, Alexander left strings of forts and Greek soldiers from Mesopotamia to the Indus river. All of these influences contributed to the later religions of India. Today's Indians claim that the stories belong to them. However if the advanced culture of the Vedas belong to today's Indians, how is it that today's Indians live in squalor, and would have nothing outside of modern Western intervention? The Krishna stories as we now know them, are clearly corruptions of the Gospel received as it spread in early times.
Islamic parallels and stories in Sufism which mention muslims are used in this same manner. None of these have any credibility, since Islam by its content and its history is clearly a contrivance which was made in the 6th century AD. Islam is based in large part upon Hebrew literature and is an invention of the jews and jewish influences which has no business in any historical debate concerning Christianity.
Elements of Buddhism are also cited to discredit Christianity. However Buddhism was initially a development of the Saka, and the Saka were those Kimmerians, the Khumri, of the Assyrian deportations of the Israelites. Buddhism cannot be honestly dated before the 5th century BC, and it is only natural that the Hebrews from which it sprang had retained elements of their original religion. Furthermore, there is not one shred of archaeological documentary evidence which contain any claims of a virgin birth for Buddha before the time of Christ, and even Buddhist scholars have admitted that the early accounts of the birth of Buddha contain no such claims.
Invented stories concerning Semiramis and Tammuz are also contrived in order to discredit Christianity. However none this is known in early inscriptions, where the two are never connected. Semiramis was a historical figure, an Assyrian queen of the 9th century BC named Shammuramat. Remembered by the Greeks as Semiramis she was connected to the early stories of Assyrian conquest and she later became an idol, many myths being developed around her image. Yet no virgin birth myth was repeated concerning her by the Greeks from before the time of Christ. Tammuz, in ancient Mesopotamian inscriptions, was a minor god and a one-time consort of Ishtar who was cast into the underworld.
The ancient Akkadian creation epic describes the birth of Marduk, the chief idol in the Assyrian pantheon, in this way: “In the holy heart of Apsu was Marduk created. He who begot him was Ea his father.’ (Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, p. 62, column 1.) The Assyrians, who were Shemites as well as the Hebrews, certainly had myths which were in many respects similar to the accounts of the Hebrew Bible, and the creation of Marduk sounds much more like an elaboration of the creation of Adam than it does of the birth of Christ.
The similarities of Zoroastrianism and Mithraism to Hebrew Christianity are easily accounted for in the fact that these religions did not develop until after the deportations of the Israelites, and were a part of the dissemination of Hebrew beliefs throughout the Near East, originally among the racially homogenous peoples of the Medes, Assyrians and Persians. The Magi, for instance, were a priesthood among the Medes, Persians and Parthians who were expectant of the Hebrew Messiah. The historian Josephus, who was by no means a Christian, along with the archaeological records, proves the connection between the Parthians and ancient Israel.
Supposedly there is an Egyptian myth that Horus was the son of Isis, who was a virgin when she bore him. On page four of Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, where the Egyptian creation myths are published, in column one we may read that “Who is he? As for 'yesterday,' that is Osiris. As for 'tomorrow,' that is Re on that day in which the enemies of the All-Lord are annihilated and his son Horus is made ruler.” In column two we see “So Geb gave his (entire) inheritance to Horus, that is, the son of his son, his first-born.” Horus is called the son of Osiris in many other places in the Egyptian inscriptions. The Zeitgeist people are lying. But I already knew that: for the makers of Zeitgeist are jews. They throw all the filth they can at the pillars of our society, and they hope some of it sticks. Any Christian who follows a jew is a fool. Why is it, that jews can come into a Christian society and create such lies, and then Christians who seek to chastise those jews are labeled as evil? Or the real question to ask should be, when shall the pogroms begin? They are long overdue.