Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent, , at sacred-texts.com
Forasmuch as (ἐπειδὴπερ)
Only here in New Testament. A compound conjunction: ἐπεί, since, δή, as is well known, and περ, giving the sense of certainty.
Have taken in hand (ἐπεχείρησαν)
Used by Luke only. A literal translation. The word carries the sense of a difficult undertaking (see Act 19:13), and implies that previous attempts have not been successful. It occurs frequently in medical language. Hippocrates begins one of his medical treatises very much as Luke begins his gospel. "As many as have taken in hand (ἐπεχείρησαν) to speak or to write concerning the healing art."
To set forth in order (ἀνατάξασθαι)
Only here in New Testament. The A. V. is true to the core of the word, which is τάσσω, to put in order, or arrange. Rev. happily gives the force of the preposition ἀνὰ, up, by the rendering draw up.
A declaration (διήγησιν)
Only here in New Testament. From διά, through, and ἡγέομαι, to lead the way. Hence something which leads the reader through the mass of facts: a narrative, as A. V., with the accompanying idea of thoroughness. Note the singular number. Many took in hand to draw up, not narratives, but a narrative, embracing the whole of the evangelic matter. The word was particularly applied to a medical treatise. Galen applies it at least seventy-three times to the writings of Hippocrates.
Which are most surely believed (τῶν πεπληροφορημένων)
From πλήρης, full, and φορέω, the frequentative form of φέρω, to bring, meaning to bring frequently or habitually. Hence, to bring full measure; to fulfil. Compare Ti2 4:5, Ti2 4:17. Also of full assurance. Applied to persons. Rom 4:21; Heb 10:22. As applied to things, therefore, the sense of the A. V. is inadmissible. Render as Rev., have been fulfilled. The word is chosen to indicate that these events happened in accordance with a preconceived design. Wyc., been filled in us.
Explained by the words in the next sentence, who were eye-witnesses and ministers.
Referring to the composition of the narrative.
Not necessarily excluding written traditions, but referring mainly to oral tradition. Note the distinction between the many who attempted to draw up a narrative and the eye-witnesses and ministers who handed down the facts.
From the beginning (ἀπ' ἀρχῆς)
The official beginning, the commencement of Jesus' ministry. Compare Act 1:1, Act 1:21, Act 1:22; Joh 15:27.
Eye-witnesses and ministers
Personal knowledge and practical experience were necessary elements of an apostle. Eye-witnesses (εὐτόπται). Only here in New Testament. Peter uses another word, ἐπόπται (Pe2 1:16). Frequent in medical writers, of a personal examination of disease or of the parts of the body. Compare the modern medical term autopsy. Ministers (ὑπηρέται). See on Mat 5:25. In medical language denoting the attendants or assistants of the principal physician.
Having had perfect understanding (παρηκολουθηκότι)
Incorrect. The verb means to follow closely, and hence to trace accurately. See Ti2 3:10, where Rev. reads thou didst follow for thou hast fully known. Rev. renders here having traced the course. The word occurs frequently in medical writings, and sometimes, as here, with ἀκριβῶς, accurately. Tynd., having searched out diligently.
From the very first (ἄνωθεν)
Lit., from above; the events being conceived in a descending series.
From ἄκρον, the highest or farthest point. Hence to trace down to the last and minutest detail.
In order (καθεξῆς)
Used by Luke only.
Mightest know (ἐπιγνῷς)
See on Mat 7:16. With the idea of full knowledge; or, as regards Theophilus, of more accurate knowledge than is possible from the many who have undertaken the narration.
From ἀ, not, and σφάλλομαι, to fall. Hence steadfastness, stability, security against error.
Wast instructed (κατήχηθης)
From κατηχέω, to resound; to teach by word of mouth; and so, in Christian writers, to instruct orally in the elements of religion. It would imply that Theophilus had, thus far, been orally instructed. See on delivered, Luk 1:2. The word catechumen is derived from it.
Properly words (so Wyc.), which Rev. gives in margin. If the word can mean thing at all, it is only in the sense of the thing spoken of; the subject or matter of discourse, in which sense it occurs often in classical Greek. Some render it accounts, histories; others, doctrines of the faith. Godet translates instruction, and claims that not only the facts of the gospel, but the exposition of the facts with a view to show their evangelical meaning and to their appropriation by faith, are included in the word. There is force in this idea; and if we hold to the meaning histories, or even words, this sense will be implied in the context. Luke has drawn up his account in order that Theophilus may have fuller knowledge concerning the accounts which he has heard by word of mouth. That his knowledge may go on from the facts, to embrace their doctrinal and evangelical import; that he may see the facts of Jesus' life and ministry as the true basis of the Gospel of salvation.
A title decreed to Herod by the Roman Senate on the recommendation of Antony and Octavius. The Greek style now gives place to the Hebraized style. See Introduction.
Lit., daily service. The college of priests was divided into twenty-four courses. Each of these did duty for eight days, from one Sabbath to another, once every six months. The service of the week was subdivided among the various families which constituted a course. On Sabbaths the whole course was on duty. On feast-days any priest might come up and join in the ministrations of the sanctuary; and at the Feast of Tabernacles all the twenty-four courses were bound to be present and officiate. The course of Abijah was the eighth of the twenty-four. See Ch1 24:10.
A Hebrew expression. Compare Gen 7:1; Act 8:21.
Well stricken (προβεβηκότες)
Lit., advanced. Wyc., had gone far in their days.
His lot was (ἔλαχε)
Four lots were drawn to determine the order of the ministry of the day: the first, before daybreak, to designate the priests who were to cleanse the altar and prepare its fires; the second for the priest who was to offer the sacrifice and cleanse the candlestick and the altar of incense; the third for the priest who should burn incense; and the fourth appointing those who were to lay the sacrifice and meat-offering on the altar, and pour out the drink-offering. There are said to have been twenty thousand priests in Christ's time, so that no priest would ever offer incense more than once.
The sanctuary. See on Mat 4:5.
Burn incense (θυμιᾶσαι)
Only here in New Testament. The incensing priest and his assistants went first to the altar of burnt-offering, and filled a golden censer with incense, and placed burning coals from the altar in a golden bowl. As they passed into the court from the Holy Place they struck a large instrument called the Magrephah, which summoned all the ministers to their places. Ascending the steps to the holy place, the priests spread the coals on the golden altar, and arranged the incense, and the chief officiating priest was then left alone within the Holy Place to await the signal of the president to burn the incense. It was probably at this time that the angel appeared to Zacharias. When the signal was given, the whole multitude withdrew from the inner court, and fell down before the Lord. Silence pervaded the temple, while within, the clouds of incense rose up before Jehovah. (For a more detailed account see Edersheim, "The Temple, its Ministry," etc.).
Is heard (εἰσηκούσθη)
If we render the aorist literally, was heard, we avoid the question as to what prayer is referred to. The reference is to the prayer for offspring, which, owing to His extreme years, Zacharias had probably ceased to offer, and which he certainly would not be preferring in that public and solemn service. Hence the aorist is appropriate, referring back to the past acts of prayer. "That prayer, which thou no longer offerest, was heard."
Meaning God is favorable, or Jehovah showeth grace.
Joy and gladness (καρά καὶ ἀγαλλίασις̔͂̀Language:English}})
The latter word expresses exultant joy. See on Pe1 1:6.
Strong drink (σίκερα)
A Hebrew word, meaning any kind of intoxicating liquor not made from grapes. Wyc., sydir.
Even from his mother's womb
Ἔτι, yet, still, means while yet unborn. Tynd., even in his mother's womb. Compare Luk 1:41.
Wyc., prudence. This is a lower word than σοφία, wisdom (see on Jam 3:13). It is an attribute or result of wisdom, and not necessarily in a good sense, though mostly so in the New Testament. Compare, however, the use of the kindred word φρόνιμος in Rom 11:25; Rom 12:16 : wise in your own conceits; and the adverb φρονίμως, wisely, of the unjust steward, Luk 16:8. It is practical intelligence, which may or may not be applied to good ends. Appropriate here as a practical term corresponding to disobedient.
Adjusted, disposed, placed in the right moral state.
Whereby (κατὰ τί)
Lit., according to what? It demands a standard of knowledge, a sign.
I require a sign, for I am old.
Meaning man of God. In Jewish tradition the guardian of the sacred treasury. Michael (see on Jde 1:9) is the destroyer, the champion of God against evil, the minister of wrath. Gabriel is the messenger of peace and restoration. See Dan 8:16, Dan 9:21. "The former is the forerunner of Jehovah the Judge; the latter of Jehovah the Saviour" (Godet).
Thou shalt be silent (ἔσῃ σιωπῶν)
Lit., thou shalt be being silent. The finite verb and participle denote continuance.
Not able to speak
Showing that the silence would not be voluntary.
My words which (οἵτινες)
The pronoun is qualitative, denoting a class. "My words, which, incredible as they seem to you, are of a kind which shall be fulfilled.
In their season (εἰς τὸν καιρὸν)
The preposition implies exactness: at the completion of the appointed time. The process of fulfilment, beginning now, will go on, εἰς, up to, the appointed time, and at the time will be consummated. Καιρὸν, season, is more specific than χρόνος, time. It is an a appointed, fitting time: the right point of time when circumstances shall concur.
Waited (ἦν προσδοκῶν)
The finite verb and participle, denoting protracted waiting. Hence, better as Rev., were waiting. Wyc., was abiding.
According to the Talmud, the priests, especially the chief priests, were accustomed to spend only a short time in the sanctuary, otherwise it was feared that they had been Main by God for unworthiness or transgression.
They perceived (ἐπέγνωσαν)
Clearly perceived. See on Mat 7:16, and Luk 1:4.
He beckoned (ἦν διανεύων)
Better Rev., continued making signs. Again the participle with the finite verb, denoting frequent repetition of the same signs. Wyc., was beckoning.
From λεῖτος, belonging to the people, public, and ἔργον, a work. Hence service of the state in a public office. Trench observes that "when the Christian Church was forming its terminology, which it did partly by shaping new words, and partly by elevating old ones to higher than their previous uses, of the latter it more readily adopted those before employed in civil and political life, than such as had played their part in religious matters." Hence it adopted this word, already in use in the Septuagint, as the constant word for performing priestly and ministerial functions; and so in the New Testament of the ministry of the apostles, prophets, and teachers.
Mr. Hobart ("Medical Language of Luke") says that the number of words referring to pregnancy, barrenness, etc., used by Luke, is almost as large as that used by Hippocrates. Compare Luk 1:31; Luk 1:24; Luk 2:5; Luk 1:7; Luk 20:28. All of these, except Luk 1:24, are peculiar to himself, and all, of course, in common use among medical writers.
Only here in New Testament. Περί signifies completely; entire seclusion.
Neither A. V. nor Rev. render ὅτι; taking it, as frequently, merely as recitative or equivalent to quotation marks. But it means because. Elizabeth assigns the reason for her peculiar seclusion. Her pregnancy was God's work, and she would leave it to him also to announce it and openly to take away her reproach. Hence the specification of five months, after which her condition would become apparent. Fully expressed, the sense would be: She hid herself, saying (I have hid myself) because, etc.
Looked upon (ἐπεῖδεν)
Used by Luke only.
The annunciation and the angel Gabriel are favorite themes with Dante, and he pictures them with exquisite beauty. Thus both appear on the sculptured wall which flanks the inner side of the purgatorial ascent.
"The angel who came down to earth with tidings
Of peace that had been wept for many a year,
And opened heaven from its long interdict,
In front of us appeared so truthfully
There sculptured in a gracious attitude,
He did not seem an image that is silent.
One would have sworn that he was saying Ave!
For she was there in effigy portrayed
Who turned the key to ope the exalted love,
And in her mien this language had impressed,
Ecce ancilla Dei! as distinctly
As any figure stamps itself in wax."
Purgatory, x., 34-35
In Paradise Gabriel appears as a light circling round the Virgin and singing:
"I am angelic love, that circle round
The joy sublime which breathes out from the womb
That was the hostelry of our desire;
And I shall circle, Lady of heaven, while
Thou followest thy Son, and mak'st diviner
The sphere supreme, because thou enterest there."
Paradise, xxiii., 103-108.
"And the same love that first descended then,
Ave Maria gratia plena singing,
In front of her his wings expanded wide."
Paradise, xxxii., 94-96.
Thou that art highly favored (κεχαριτωμένη)
Lit., as Rev. in margin, endued with grace. Only here and Eph 1:6. The rendering full of grace, Vulgate, Wyc., and Tynd., is therefore wrong.
All the best texts omit blessed art thou among women.
Cast in her mind (διελογίζετο)
See on Jam 2:4. The imperfect tense, "began to reason."
From the same root as χαίρω, to rejoice. I. Primarily that which gives joy or pleasure; and hence outward beauty, loveliness, something which delights the beholder. Thus Homer, of Ulysses going to the assembly: "Athene shed down manly grace or beauty upon him" ("Odyssey," ii., 12); and Septuagint, Psalms 45:3, "grace is poured into thy liPsalms" See also Pro 1:9; Pro 3:22. Substantially the same idea, agreeableness, is conveyed in Luk 4:22, respecting the gracious words, lit., words of grace, uttered by Christ. So Eph 4:29. II. As a beautiful or agreeable sentiment felt and expressed toward another; kindness, favor, good-will. Co2 8:6, Co2 8:7, Co2 8:9; Co2 9:8; Luk 1:30; Luk 2:40; Act 2:47. So of the responsive sentiment of thankfulness. See Luk 6:32, Luk 6:33, Luk 6:34 :; Luk 17:9; but mostly in the formula thanks to God; Rom 6:17; Co1 15:57; Co2 2:14; Ti2 1:3. III. The substantial expression of good-will; a boon, a favor, a gift; but not in New Testament. See Rom 5:15, where the distinction is made between χάρις, grace, and δωρεὰ ἐν χάριτι, a gift in grace. So a gratification or delight, in classical Greek only; as the delight in battle, in sleep, etc. IV. The higher Christian signification, based on the emphasis of freeness in the gift or favor, and, as commonly in New Testament, denoting the free, spontaneous, absolute loving-kindness of God toward men, and so contrasted with debt, law, works, sin. The word does not occur either in Matthew or Mark.
Thou shalt conceive
See on Luk 1:24.
See on Mat 1:21.
"Denoting the mildest and most gentle operation of divine power, that the divine fire should not consume Mary, but make her fruitful" (Bengel). Compare Exo 33:22; Mar 9:7. Compare the classical legend of Semele, who, being beloved of Jove, besought him to appear to her as he appeared in heaven, in all the terrors of the thunderer, and was consumed by his lightning. The metaphor in the word is taken from a cloud, in which God had appeared (Exo 40:34; Kg1 8:10).
The nature of the relationship, however, is unknown. The word is a general term, meaning of the same family. The best texts substitute for it a feminine form, συγγενίς, which is condemned by the grammarians as unclassical, but rightly rendered by Rev., kinswoman. Wyc., cosyness, i.e., cousiness.
With God nothing shall be impossible (σὐκ ἀδυνατήσει παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ πᾶν ῥῆμα)
Ῥῆμα, word, as distinguished from λόγος, word, in classical Greek, signifies a constituent part of a speech or writing, as distinguished from the contents as a whole. Thus it may be either a word or a saying. Sometimes a phrase, as opposed to ὄνομα, a single word. The distinction in the New Testament is not sharp throughout. It is maintained that ῥῆμα in the New Testament, like the Hebrew gabar, stands sometimes for the subject-matter of the word; the thing, as in this passage. But there are only two other passages in the New Testament where this meaning is at all admissible, though the word occurs seventy times. These are Luk 2:15; Act 5:32. "Kept all these things" (Luk 2:19), should clearly be sayings, as the A. V. itself has rendered it in the almost identical passage, Luk 2:51. In Act 5:32, Rev. gives sayings in margin. In Luk 2:15, though A. V. and Rev. render thing, the sense is evidently saying, as appears both from the connection with the angelic message and from the following words, which has come to pass: the saying which has become a fact. The Rev. rendering of this passage is, therefore, right, though a little stilted: No word of God shall be void of power; for the A. V. errs in joining οὐκ and πᾶν, not every, and translating nothing. The two do not belong together. The statement is, Every (πᾶν) word of God shall not (οὐκ) be powerless. The A. V. also follows the reading, παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ, with God; but all the later texts read παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ, from God, which fixes the meaning beyond question.
Entered into the house
"This detail," says Godet, "serves to put the reader in sympathy with the emotion of Mary at the moment of her arrival. With her first glance at Elizabeth she recognized the truth of the sign that had been given her by the angel, and at this sight the promise she had herself received acquired a startling reality."
The babe (τὸ βρέφος)
See on Pe1 2:2.
She spake out with a loud voice (ἀνεφώνησε φωνῇ μεγάλῃ)
For φωνῇ, voice, read κραυγῇ, cry: inarticulate, though φωνή may also be used of inarticulate utterance. Rev., rightly, She lifted up her voice with a loud cry; thus rendering in the verb the force of ἀνὰ, up, besides picturing the fact more naturally. Elizabeth's sudden and violent emotion at the appearance of Mary, and the movement of the child, prompted an exclamation which was followed by words (εἶπερ, said). The verb The verb ἀναφωνέω occurs only here in the New Testament. It was a medical term for a certain exercise of the voice.
For joy (ἐν ἀγαλλιάσει)
Lit., in joy. See on Luk 1:14.
Many, however, prefer that, referring to the substance of her belief: "She believed that there shall be a fulfilment," etc. It is urged that the conception, which was the principal point of faith, had already taken place, so that the fulfilment was no longer future. On the other hand, the angel's announcement to Mary included more than the fact of conception; and Elizabeth, in the spirit of prophecy, may have alluded to what is predicted in Luk 1:32, Luk 1:33.
Simply. Compare Luk 1:42. "Elizabeth's salutation was full of excitement, but Mary's hymn breathes a sentiment of deep inward repose" (Godet). Compare the song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2). Hannah's song differs from Mary's in its sense of indignation and personal triumph compared with Mary's humility and calmness.
My soul - spirit (ψυχή - πνεῦμα)
See on Mar 12:30. The soul is the principle of individuality, the seat of personal impressions, having a side in contact with the material element of humanity, as well as with the spiritual element. It is thus the mediating organ between the spirit and the body, receiving impressions from without and from within, and transmitting them by word or sign. Spirit is the highest, deepest, noblest part of our humanity, the point of contact between God and man.
God my Saviour (τῷ θεῷ τῷ σωτῆρί μου)
Note the two articles. "The God who is the or my Saviour." The title Saviour is often applied to God in the Old Testament. See Septuagint, Deuteronomy 32:15; Psalms 24:5; 25:5; 95:1.
See on Jam 2:3. Compare 1 Samuel 1:11; Psalms 31:7; 119:132, Sept.
The word emphasizes the misery with which grace (see on Luk 1:30) deals; hence, peculiarly the sense of human wretchedness coupled with the impulse to relieve it, which issues in gracious ministry. Bengel remarks, "Grace takes away the fault, mercy the misery."
From generation to generation (εἰς γενεὰς καὶ γενεὰς)
Lit., as Rev., unto generations and generations.
The word is used in both a good and a bad sense in the New Testament. For the latter, see Mat 21:46; Mar 6:20; Mar 11:32; Luk 12:4 :. For the former, as here, in the sense of godly reverence, Act 10:2, Act 10:22, Act 10:35; Col 3:22; Rev 14:7; Rev 15:4.
Shewed strength (ἐποίησεν)
Lit., made strength. So Wyc., made might. A Hebrew form of expression. Compare Psalms 118:15, Sept.: "The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly" (ἐποίησε δύναμιν, made strength).
In the imagination (διανοίᾳ)
The faculty of thought, understanding, especially moral understanding. Wyc. refers the word here to God: with mind of his heart. Some prefer to render "by the imagination," thus making the proud the instrument of their own destruction. Compare Co2 10:5.
Hath holpen (ἀντελαβέτο)
The verb means to lay hold on: thence to grasp helpfully or to help. To lay hold in the sense of partaking (Ti1 6:2), carries us back to the primitive meaning of the word according to its composition: to receive instead of, or in return (ἀντὶ), and suggests the old phrase to take up for, espouse the cause of. Wyc., has took up, but probably not in this sense.
Often child, son or daughter, but here servant, in allusion to Isa 41:8. Meyer truthfully says that the theocratic notion of sonship is never expressed by παῖς. See Rev., Act 3:13, Act 3:26; Act 4:27, Act 4:30.
Had shewed great mercy upon her (ἐμεγάλυνεν τὸ ἔλεος αὐτοῦ μετ' αὐτῆς)
Lit., magnified his mercy with her. So Wyc. A Hebrew expression. See 1 Samuel 12:24, Sept.
They called (ἐκάλουν)
The imperfect tense signifies, as Rev., they would have called: they were about to call: or, as Bishop Lightfoot has happily suggested, they were for calling.
They made signs (ἐνένευον)
Imperfect tense. While the colloquy between Elizabeth and her friends was going on, they were consulting Zacharias by signs.
Table was formerly used in the sense of tablet. Thus Shakspeare:
"Yea, from the table of my memory,
I'll wipe away all trivial fond records."
Hamlet, i., 5.
Tynd., writing-tables. The meaning is a little writing-tablet, probably covered with wax. Only here in the New Testament. Used by medical writers of a physician's note-book. Wyc. has poyntel, i.e., a style for writing.
A Hebrew form of expression. See Kg2 10:6.
Occurring nineteen times in the New Testament, and seventeen of these in Luke. Thirteen of the seventeen are in connection with miracles of healing, or the infliction of disease or death. Used in a similar way by medical writers.
Were noised abroad (διαλελεῖτο)
Were mutually (διά) talked of.
Compare Psa 132:17.
That have been since the world began (ἀπ' αἰῶνος)
A needlessly verbose rendering, retained by Rev. The American Rev. insists on of old.
Originally to serve for hire, from λάτρον, hire. Plato uses it of the service of God.
Holiness and righteousness (ὁσιότητι καὶ δικαιοσύνῃ)
The adjective ὅσιος, holy, is properly what is confirmed by ancient sanction and precept. Ὁσία is used in classical Greek to denote the everlasting principles of right, not constituted by the laws or customs of men, but antedating them; such as the paying of the proper rites of sepulture. Compare the fine passage in the "Antigone" of Sophocles (453-55):
"Nor did I deem thy edicts strong enough,
That thou, a mortal man, shouldst overpass
The unwritten laws of God that know not change,
They are not of to-day nor yesterday,
But live forever, nor can man assign
When first they sprang to being."
Hence ὁσιότης is concerned primarily with the eternal laws of God. It is "the divine consecration and inner truth of righteousness" (Meyer). Throughout the New Testament its look is godward. In no case is it used of moral excellence as related to men, though it is to be carefully noted that δικαιοσύνη, righteousness, is not restricted to rightness toward men. Compare Eph 4:24; true holiness; literally, holiness of the truth.
Knowledge of salvation
Wyc. has the science of health.
Tender mercy (σπλάγχνα ἐλέους)
Lit., bowels of mercy. See on Pe1 3:8; and Jam 5:11. Rev. gives heart of mercy in margin. Wyc., frightfully, entrails of mercy.
The day-spring from on high (ἀνατολὴ ἐξ ὕψους)
Lit., the rising. The word occurs in the Septuagint as a rendering of branch, as something rising or springing up, by which the Messiah is denoted (Jeremiah 23:5; Zechariah 6:12). Also of the rising of a heavenly body (Isaiah 60:19, Sept.). Compare the kindred verb arise (ἀνατέλλω) in Isa 60:1; Mal 4:2. This latter is the sense here. See on Mat 2:2. Wyc. has he springing up from on high.
Hath visited (ἐπεσκέψατο)
See on Mat 25:36; and Pe1 2:12. Some, however, read ἐπισκέψεται, shall visit. So Rev.
To guide (κατευθῦναι)
From εὐθύς, straight. Wyc. has dress, which is formed through the old French dresser, to arrange, from the Latin dirigere, to set in a straight line, draw up. Hence the military term dress for arranging a line.
The deserts (ταῖς ἐρήμοις)
The article indicating a well-known place.
The word was used of the public announcement of an official nomination; hence of the public inauguration of John's ministry.