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New Testament

Week 9: Luke 1:1–9:50.


1) Introduction to Luke.
a) About the gospel itself:.
i) Luke is the longest of the four gospels, and the longest book in the New Testament.1
ii) Like Matthew, is dependent on Mark for his basic narrative, but expands his book
with material from Q and from other unique sources (L).
iii) Luke has the most unique material of any of the Synoptic Gospels: 35% of Luke is not
found in Mark or Matthew.2
iv) Luke’s appeal is largely found in its stories: The author was a master storyteller,
weaving rich and beautiful narrations of Jesus’ birth, ministry, and passion.
(1) It’s no wonder that, at Christmastime, we prefer Luke’s account of the birth of
Jesus to Matthew’s: Luke chapter 2 draws us into Mary and Joseph’s world in a
more powerful way than any of the other gospels.
b) Who wrote Luke?
i) Tradition affirms that the two books were written by Luke the physician (Colossians
4:14) who was a “fellowlabourer” with Paul (Philemon 1:24)3 and accompanied him
on his mission to Rome (2 Timothy 4:11).
ii) Whether or not that’s true, it’s certain both the author and his audience were Greek-
speaking gentile Christians.
iii) Luke’s gospel was written by the same author as the Acts of the Apostles. The two
books together are referred to by scholars as Luke-Acts.
(1) Both letters are addressed to a man named Theophilus (“loved of God”—Luke 1:3;
Acts 1:1), who was probably Luke’s patron who sponsored the writing of the two
manuscripts.
(a) He is called “most excellent” (Luke 1:3), a term usually indicating some sort of
government official, or at least high social rank. Theophilus may have been a
Roman official, perhaps one in Rome itself.
(2) Acts 1:1–12 also contains a short recap of and expansion on the end of Luke.
Together the two books make up more than a quarter of the New Testament.4
(3) The author himself participated in some of the events he described: In the book
of Acts he uses the first-person plural (“we”) to describe his journeys as a
missionary companion with the apostle Paul.5
1
Luke has 19,482 Greek words, 6.2% longer than Matthew (18,345 words), 24.6% longer than John (15,635 words), and
72.3% longer than Mark (11,304). Outside of the gospels, the longest New Testament book is Revelation, at 9,852 words. By
word count, the Gospel of Luke comprises 14.1% (or about 1/7th) of the entire New Testament. See http://catholic-
resources.org/Bible/NT-Statistics-Greek.htm
2
See handout 2 from lesson 6; http://bit.ly/LDSARCNT06h02
3
Luke’s name in Greek is λυκας (lucas). KJV Philemon 1:24 translates this literally instead of Anglicizing it as it does in
Colossians 4:14 and 2 Timothy 4:11.
4
Luke has 19,482 Greek words, and Acts 18,451. Of the 138,020 words in the New Testament, Luke-Acts comprises 27.5%.
(See link in footnote 1.)
5
The so-called “we passages” are in Acts 16:10–17; 20:5–8, 13–15; 21:1–18; 27:1–28:16.

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Luke 1:1–9:50 Week 9, Page 2

2) The conception of John and Jesus.


a) Background.
i) Only Matthew and Luke tell the story of the conception and birth of Jesus. Only Luke
recounts the conception and birth of John the Baptist and makes the family
connection between John and Jesus.6
ii) Matthew tells the conception story from Joseph’s point of view; Luke relates the
story of the conception of Jesus from Mary’s point of view.
(1) The narratives focus on Mary’s acts, inner thoughts and psychological state (e.g.,
1:29, 2:19, 51).
b) 1:5–25, 57–80. John the Baptist’s conception and birth.
i) 1:5, 8–10. Zacharias (Hebrew: ‫ זכריהו‬/ Zechariah = “Jehovah remembers”) is
temple priest or the order of Abijah (KJV “course of Abia”).
(1) The Temple priests were divided into 24 orders, each of which would be on
temple duty twice a year for one week at a time. Abijah was the 8th of the 24
orders.7
(2) A priest would enter the holy place in the Temple twice each day (at 9:00 AM and
3:00 PM) to clean and trim lamps on the golden candlestick and burn incense on
the altar of incense.
(a) Smoke from the incense was symbolic of the prayers of God’s people
ascending to him.8
(b) When 1:10 indicates that “the whole multitude of the people were praying”
outside, this would be the 3:00 PM service, the time of evening prayers.
(c) This duty was determined randomly (“he was chosen by lot”—NRSV 1:9).
(d) Zacharias would probably have had the chance to perform this duty only once
in his entire life.
ii) 1:6–7. How are Elisabeth and Zacharias described?
(1) Typically barrenness a sign of sin and shame (a reproach), so Luke makes it clear
that Elisabeth and Zacharias are faithful and pious.
(a) We can compare this to other pious, but barren, couples in the Bible:
Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 18:9–15), the mother of Samson (Judges 13:2–
5), and Hannah, mother of Samuel (1 Samuel 1). Luke is indirectly making
this connection on purpose.
(2) 1:13. They had probably prayed for many years that they would be blessed with a
child, but God did not grant them this blessing until the time was right to
accomplish his purposes.

6
According to Luke 1:36, Elizabeth was Mary’s συγγευής (syngenes). The KJV renders this “cousin,” but the Greek word
only indicates that she was related (not necessarily by common grandparents). Modern Bible translations render this word as
“relative” (NRSV, NET, NIV, ESV, NASB, NLT, NAB).
7
See 1 Chronicles 24:1–19; cf. Nehemiah 12:1–7.
8
See Exodus 30:1–10; Revelation 8:3–4.

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Luke 1:1–9:50 Week 9, Page 3

iii) 1:11–17. Gabriel9 appears to Zacharias, standing on the right side of the altar of
incense.
(a) He instructs Zacharias to name his son “John” (Greek: Ίωάννης / ’Iōannĕs =
Hebrew: ‫ יוחון‬/ Yochanan = “Jehovah is gracious/has shown favor”).
(2) 1:15–17. Gabriel prophesies about John’s mission:
(a) “He shall be great in the sight of the Lord” (1:15).
(b) He “shall drink neither wine nor strong drink” (1:15).
(i) This was part of the vow of a Nazarite (Numbers 6:3–4), individuals who
consecrated themselves to God by a special vow.10
(c) “He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb” (1:15).11
(d) “Many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.” (1:16).
(e) “He shall go before [God] in the spirit and power of [Elijah], to turn the hearts
of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to
make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (1:17; alluding to Malachi 4:6).12
(3) Modern revelation also indicates that John was “ordained by the angel of God13 at
the time he was eight days old unto this power,14 to overthrow the kingdom of the
Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to
prepare them for the coming of the Lord” (D&C 84:28).
(4) Joseph Smith taught:
An angel of God also appeared unto Zacharias while in the Temple, and told
him that he should have a son, whose name should be John, and he should be
filled with the Holy Ghost. Zacharias was a priest of God, and officiating in the
Temple, and John was a priest after his father, and held the keys of the
Aaronic Priesthood, and was called of God to preach the Gospel of the kingdom
of God. The Jews, as a nation, having departed from the law of God and the
Gospel of the Lord, prepared the way for transferring it to the Gentiles.
***
John, at that time, was the only legal administrator in the affairs of the
kingdom there was then on the earth, and holding the keys of power. The Jews
had to obey his instructions or be damned, by their own law…. The son of
Zacharias wrested the keys, the kingdom, the power, the glory from the Jews,
9
Gabriel is a prominent angel who, along with Michael (the only other angel with a name in the Old Testament), stands in
the presence of God (cf. Luke 1:19). Gabriel reveals mysteries of the end times in Daniel 8:15–26; 9:21–27. The apocryphal
book of 1 Enoch reveals his duty to watch over the Garden of Eden, the serpents, and cherubim (20:7), and to judge the
children who are born of “the Watchers,” or fallen angels (10:9–10; cf. Genesis 6:1–4 and Old Testament lesson 6, page 3:
http://scr.bi/LDSARCOT06n). In modern scripture Gabriel is listed as one of the angels who spoke to Joseph Smith (D&C
128:21). Joseph identified Gabriel as the prophet Noah (History of the Church 3:385; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith
157; Words of Joseph Smith 8).
10
See Numbers 6:1–21. The period of consecration could either be for a specific time, or for their entire lives. John, like
Samson (Judges 13:2–7) and Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11), was consecrated before birth for life.
11
This promise would be fulfilled in Luke 1:41.
12
Jesus would later declare John to be a fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy (Matthew 17:9–13). See lesson 7, page 12;
http://scr.bi/LDSARCNT07n
13
D&C 84:28 doesn’t give the name of this angel, but I think it’s safe to assume it was Gabriel, the same angel who appears
to Zacharias in the Temple.
14
The phrase “ordained…unto this power” is often misunderstood to refer to the Aaronic priesthood mentioned in the
previous verses. The ordination was not to a priesthood office, but to the commission given at the end of verse 28 (“to
overthrow the kingdom of the Jews,” etc.). His ordination to the priesthood came later, after his baptism and preparation for
his ministry. See Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary (Deseret Book, 1965), 1:89.

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Luke 1:1–9:50 Week 9, Page 4

by the holy anointing and decree of heaven, and these three reasons constitute
him the greatest prophet born of a woman.15
iv) 1:18–20. We’re familiar with the story: Zacharias doubted Gabriel’s words, and so he
was struck dumb as a sign to him that these things would come to pass.16
v) 1:59–63. He and Elisabeth named their son John, obeying God’s command rather
than following tradition.
vi) 1:68–79. Zacharias prophesied about the missions of the Messiah and of John. This
passage called the Benedictus (from the Latin for “blessed be”), one of four poetic
passages in the opening chapters of Luke.
c) 1:26–56. Jesus’ conception.
i) 1:26–38. Six months after John is conceived, the angel Gabriel is sent to a virgin
named Mary (Hebrew: ‫ מרים‬/ Miryam).
(1) 1:30–33. He tells her that she has found favor with God, and so will conceive and
bear a son, and that she will call his name Jesus (Greek: Ίησονς / ’Iesous =
Hebrew: ‫ יהושוצ‬/ yehhoshuah [Anglicized “Joshua”] = “Jehovah saves”).
(2) 1:35. The method of her conception is described by the angel as “The Holy Spirit
will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you”
(NSRV 1:35a), and therefore the child will be holy and be called “Son of God.”
(a) The idea that she would be “overshadowed” by the Holy Ghost recalls the
presence of God in the cloud that covered the tabernacle in the wilderness
(Exodus 40:34–35).
(b) Brigham Young taught:
When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten
him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost.17
(i) In other words, God the Father is the father of Jesus Christ; the Holy
Ghost is not Jesus’ father.18
(c) Elder Robert D. Hales said:
What we must remember about the Savior is that He and He alone had
the power to lay down His life and take it up again. He had the ability
to die from His mortal mother, Mary, and the ability to overcome death
from His immortal Father. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, went willingly and
deliberately to His death, having told His followers that this would
happen.19

15
Joseph Smith, sermon at the Nauvoo Temple, 29 January 1843. HC 5:257, 261; TPJS 273, 276; WJS 157, 160, 162.
16
It appears that he was deaf as well, as the guests at John’s circumcision had to make hand gestures to him to ask what
the boy should be named (Luke 1:61–63).
17
Brigham Young, address in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, 9 April 1852. Journal of Discourses 1:50;
http://en.fairmormon.org/Journal_of_Discourses/1/8#50
18
Matthew 1:18b, 20b seem to indicate that Jesus was the product of the Holy Ghost. Luke 1:35a is only slightly more clear
on this point.
19
Robert D. Hales, “In Remembrance of Jesus,” General Conference, October 1997; http://bit.ly/Ensign199711Hales

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Luke 1:1–9:50 Week 9, Page 5

(d) In the early period in Utah, when Church leaders felt free to speculate openly
from the pulpit, some of them made statements that indicate that Jesus was
conceived by sexual intercourse between God the Father and Mary.20 This idea
persists to this day as something of a Mormon “urban legend.”21
(i) The scriptures do not indicate that this was the case. In fact, Nephi1’s
vision of Mary in the Book of Mormon is vague—I believe, purposely so—
on exactly what happened: He saw “a virgin, most beautiful and fair above
all other virgins” who was “carried away in the Spirit,” after which he saw
her “bearing a child in her arms” (1 Nephi 11:13–20).
(ii) Elder Harold B. Lee warned:
We are very much concerned that some of our Church teachers seem to
be obsessed of the idea of teaching doctrine which cannot be
substantiated and making comments beyond what the Lord has actually
said…. Never have I talked about sexual intercourse between Deity and
the mother of the Savior. If teachers were wise in speaking of this
matter about which the Lord has said but very little, they would rest
their discussion on this subject with merely the words which are
recorded on this subject in [the Gospel of] Luke. [Quotes Luke 1:34–35.]
Remember that the being who was brought about by [Mary’s]
conception was a divine personage. We need not question His method to
accomplish His purposes…. Let the Lord rest His case with this
declaration and wait until He sees fit to tell us more.22
(iii) President Ezra Taft Benson taught:
[Jesus Christ] was the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father in the
flesh—the only child whose mortal body was begotten by our Heavenly
Father. His mortal mother, Mary, was called a virgin, both before and
after she gave birth.23
ii) 1:39–56. Mary goes to visit Elizabeth, who hails her with, “Blessed are thou among
women, and blessed in the fruit of thy womb” (1:42).
(1) 1:46–55. Mary’s song of praise is called the Magnificat (from the Latin for
“magnify”).24
iii) I’d like to pause for a moment and discuss Mary and Joseph’s ages.
(1) The scriptures say nothing about how old they were.
(2) We know that Mary was engaged to Joseph, so she had to be at least of
marriageable age. For Jewish women of that time, that would mean that she had
begun her menstrual cycle, so we can estimate her age at somewhere between 11
and 14.

20
For example, see Brigham Young’s comments on 8 July 1860: “…[T]here is no act, no principle, no power belonging to
the Deity that is not purely philosophical. The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the
result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood—was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers.” JD 8:115;
http://en.fairmormon.org/Journal_of_Discourses/8/27#115; cf. JD 1:238; 4:218.
21
For an examination of this issue, see http://en.fairmormon.org/Jesus_Christ/Conception
22
Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Bookcraft, 1996), 14.
23
Ezra Taft Benson, “Joy in Christ,” Ensign (March 1986), 3–4, italics added; http://bit.ly/Ensign198603Benson
24
Compare this with Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1–10.

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Luke 1:1–9:50 Week 9, Page 6

(3) Medieval paintings depicting Joseph as an elderly man are based on a passage in
the Gospel of James,25 an apocryphal Gospel written in the late 2nd century A.D.
(a) This book describes Joseph as an old man, a widower, who is assigned by lot
to take the twelve-year-old Mary as his wife (8:2–9:2).26
(b) However, there’s no reason to accept these stories as true. We simply don’t
know Joseph’s age, but there’s no reason to believe that he was anything other
than a typical young man, probably in his late teens.
3) 2:1–52. The birth and childhood of Jesus.
a) 2:4–7. The circumstances of Jesus’ birth.
i) In 2:7, the Greek word translated as “inn”27 is καταλυμα (kataluma). This word
appears two other times in the New Testament (Mark 14:14; Luke 22:11), where it
refers to the upper room (or “guestchamber”) of a two-story home, like the one in
which the Last Supper was held.
(1) Instead of the traditional image of a hotel with a “no vacancy” sign and a
heartless innkeeper, it appears more likely that Joseph and Mary went to stay
with extended family, and, finding no room in the upstairs living quarters
(because of so many people coming for the census), they lodged downstairs in the
animal keep.
(2) The King of Kings, the Creator and Savior of the world, was born in the most
humble circumstances imaginable.
ii) Swaddling clothes (2:7) are strips of cloth four or five inches wide and about six
yards long. Anciently the practice was to bind children tightly as soon they were
born, believing that this would cause them to develop proper posture.28
b) 2:8–20. The shepherds.
i) 2:10. Fear is a common reaction of those who are visited by angels or other divine
beings.29
ii) 2:14. This is the third hymn in Luke’s infancy narrative.
(1) The later Greek manuscripts used by the King James translators30 have the angels
singing “on earth peace, good will toward men” (2:14). Most modern Bibles,
however, use an earlier reading, “on earth peace among those whom he [God]
favors” (NRSV, italics added).31
25
It is also known as the Infancy Gospel (or Protoevangelium) of James, because it deals with Jesus’ birth and early
childhood.
26
Text available at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf08.vii.iv.html. The Gospel of James is also the source for many
other non-Biblical traditions, such as Mary being born miraculously (4:1–5:2; the origin of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the
Immaculate Conception); that Mary was a perpetual virgin, even after the birth of Jesus (9:1); that Mary rode a donkey from
Nazareth to Bethlehem (17:2); and that Jesus was born in a cave (18:1). It also has a number of bizarre accounts, including one
where Joseph literally sees time stand still as Jesus is being born (18:2).
27
The Joseph Smith Translation changes the KJV’s “inn” to “inns.”
28
This practice fell out of favor in the 17th century A.D., but has recently become popular again because evidence seems to
indicate that it helps babies fall and stay asleep, and may prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swaddling
29
See Genesis 15:1; 21:17; 26:24; Exodus 3:6; Matthew 28:4–5; Luke 1:12, 29; 24:5; Revelation 1:17; Joseph Smith—
History 1:32.
30
Meaning the Textus Receptus. See lesson 2, pages 10–11; http://scr.bi/LDSARCNT02n
31
Other translations include “peace among people with whom he is pleased” (NET); “peace to men on whom his favour
rests” (NIV); “peace among those with whom he is pleased” (ESV); “on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased”
(NASB).

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Luke 1:1–9:50 Week 9, Page 7

(a) The earlier reading seems to indicate that the angels brought a message of
peace to the people of Judah, whom God had favored by causing his Son to be
born among them.
c) 2:21–24. Mary’s purification and offering at the temple.
i) After Jesus was circumcised at eight days old (Luke 2:21), we read:
22
And when the days of [Mary’s] purification according to the law of Moses were
accomplished, they brought [Jesus] to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; 23(As
it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be
called holy to the Lord;)32 24And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said
in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. (Luke 2:22–24.)
ii) To understand this, we must understand Mary’s obligations under the Law of Moses:
(1) Blood is doctrinally significant in both the Old and New Testaments.
(a) From the earliest times blood was recognized as a symbol of life, long before it
was scientifically proved to be vital to the existence of life.
(b) The Law given to Moses was concerned with the use of blood in the expression
of worship, and it played a key part in daily sacrifices and regular feasts.33
(c) We know from modern revelation that these concepts go all the way back to
Adam and that blood sacrifice is symbolic of the atoning blood of Jesus.34
(2) Like other bodily discharges, bleeding from a woman’s reproductive organs
(through menstruation, disease, or following childbirth) caused ritual
uncleanness.35 The period of uncleanness typically lasted seven days.36
(a) As we discussed back in lesson 3, Jesus healed a woman whose bleeding had
lasted twelve years37; when she touched Jesus’ garment, he should have
become unclean as well, but his power cleansed her instead.38
(3) To purify a man or woman after a period of uncleanness, the Law required that
the person bring an offering to the tabernacle (or, later, the temple). The
purification rite following childbirth is laid out in Leviticus 12:
KJV Leviticus 12:1–4 NRSV Leviticus 12:1–4
1
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 1
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
2
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, 2
Speak to the people of Israel, saying:
If a woman have conceived seed, and If a woman conceives and bears a male
born a man child: then she shall be child, she shall be ceremonially unclean
unclean seven days; according to the for seven days; as at the time of her
days of the separation for her infirmity menstruation, she shall be unclean.
shall she be unclean.
3
And in the eighth day the flesh of his 3
On the eighth day the flesh of his
foreskin shall be circumcised. foreskin shall be circumcised.

32
Luke 2:23 doesn’t actually quote Exodus 13:2 correctly: “Every male” is not dedicated to the Lord, but every firstborn
male, both human and animal. Jesus was Mary’s firstborn, and was so dedicated to God.
33
Examples of this include Exodus 12:7; 24:3–8; 29:20; Leviticus 1:5; 16:15.
34
For example, see Moses 5:5–8.
35
For more on this, see Old Testament lesson 11, page 5; http://scr.bi/LDSARCOT11n
36
See Leviticus 15:19–30; cf. Numbers 5:21.
37
Mark 5:25–34; Luke 8:43–48; Matthew 9:20–22.
38
See lesson 3, page 9; http://scr.bi/LDSARCNT09n

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Luke 1:1–9:50 Week 9, Page 8
4
And she shall then continue in the blood 4
Her time of blood purification shall be
of her purifying three and thirty days; she thirty-three days; she shall not touch any
shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come holy thing, or come into the sanctuary
into the sanctuary [i.e., the tabernacle [i.e., the tabernacle or temple], until the
or temple], until the days of her purifying days of her purification are completed.
be fulfilled.
(4) Following the birth of a male child, the woman was to wait 40 days, then bring an
offering to the temple:
KJV Leviticus 12:6–8 NRSV Leviticus 12:6–8
6
And when the days of her purifying are 6
When the days of her purification are
fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she completed, whether for a son or for a
shall bring a lamb of the first year for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at
burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a the entrance of the tent of meeting [i.e.,
turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the the tabernacle] a lamb in its first year for
door of the tabernacle of the a burnt-offering, and a pigeon or a turtle-
congregation, unto the priest: dove for a sin-offering.
7
Who shall offer it before the LORD, and 7
He shall offer it before the Lord, and
make an atonement for her; and she shall make atonement on her behalf; then she
be cleansed from the issue of her blood. shall be clean from her flow of blood.
This is the law for her that hath born a This is the law for her who bears a child,
male or a female. male or female.
8
And if she be not able to bring a lamb, 8
If she cannot afford a sheep, she shall
then she shall bring two turtles, or two take two turtle-doves or two pigeons, one
young pigeons; the one for the burnt for a burnt-offering and the other for a
offering, and the other for a sin offering: sin-offering; and the priest shall make
and the priest shall make an atonement atonement on her behalf, and she shall
for her, and she shall be clean. be clean.
(5) The well-to-do were to bring a lamb for a burnt offering and a pigeon or
turtledove for a sin offering. The poor were excused from bringing a lamb, and
could instead bring two pigeons or turtledoves.
(a) Mary brought the latter, confirming that she and Joseph were a typical lower
economic class family. Again we have the scriptural irony that the King of
Kings was born into conditions of poverty and humility.
d) 2:25–38. While at the Temple to present their offering, Joseph and Mary encountered
two people—Simeon and Anna—who prophesied of Jesus’ mission.
i) 2:25–35. Simeon was apparently a quite elderly man who had been promised, by the
Holy Ghost, that he would not die until he seen the Lord’s Messiah.39
(1) 2:29–32. Simeon’s prayer—the fourth and final hymn in Luke’s infancy narrative
—is known as the Nunc dimittis (Latin: “now dismiss”). Many composers have set
this text to music, usually coupled with the Magnificat (Luke 1:46–55), for use in
religious services.40
(2) 2:34. The phrase the fall and rising again of many emphasizes that Jesus will
bring division in Israel, as some will be judged (falling) and others blessed

39
Luke 2:25 says Simeon was “waiting for the consolation of Israel.” The word translated “consolation” is παρακλησις
(paraklesis). It is closely related to the word translated “comforter” in places like John 14:16, 14:26, and 15:26. Literally the
Greek word means “one who calls out” or “one who calls to,” so it means “an exhorter” or “one who beseeches.”
40
A search on YouTube for “Nunc dimittis” turns up some wonderful arrangements and performances of this passage;
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Nunc%20dimittis

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Luke 1:1–9:50 Week 9, Page 9

(rising) because of how they respond to him. Here is the first hint that Jesus’
coming will be accompanied with difficulties, and that some will reject him (“a
sign which shall be spoken against”).
(3) 2:35. A sword shall pierce through thy own soul also looks forward to the day
when Mary herself will stand at the foot of the cross to which her son has been
nailed.
ii) 2:36–38. A widow of about fourscore and four years can either mean that Anna was
an 84-year-old widow (NRSV, NIV), or that she had been a widow for 84 years
(NET). If it’s the latter, and assuming that she had married at age 13, her 7-year
marriage and 84-year widowhood would make her 104 years old.
e) Teaching in the Temple (Luke 2:40–52).
i) When Joseph and Mary find Jesus in the temple with the learned men, Jesus asks
them, rhetorically, “[knew] ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”
(2:49). The Greek literally reads “in the [things] of my Father,” which is likely a
direct reference to the temple.41 Jesus is puzzled that they wouldn’t know he’d be in
temple, his Father’s house.
4) 3:1–20. The ministry of John the Baptist.
a) John is a classic “wilderness prophet”: An outsider, not from the accepted priestly class,
who comes from nowhere preaching repentance.
i) You can compare him to Enoch, Moses, Elijah, Abinadi, Samuel the Lamanite, and
Joseph Smith, all of whom were obscure or unknowns, and none of them were
accepted by the people to whom they were sent.
ii) John preached in the wilderness areas of the Jordan River, between the Sea of
Galilee and the Dead Sea (3:2–3).
iii) John completes the “wilderness prophet” motif by living an ascetic lifestyle: He
wears rough clothing and eats locusts42 and wild honey (Matthew 3:4).
(1) Elijah was described wearing similar clothing (2 Kings 1:8).
iv) Because of these descriptions of him, many scholars have concluded that John was
an Essene, a Jewish group during that time who lived simple lives in the desert away
from towns, practiced baptism, and claimed that the Jewish priests in Jerusalem
were corrupt and that God was coming to cleanse his people.43
b) 3:3, 7–18. John’s teaching can be broken out into four basic messages:
i) 3:3. His primary message is baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
ii) 3:7–9. He is critical of the existing religious leadership, and condemns the powerful
people who support it (Pharisees and Sadducees).
iii) 3:10–14. He has a very practical theology, requiring people to give freely of their
substance, and to be honest in their business dealings.

41
Most modern Bible translations render it this way: “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (NET).
“Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (NIV). “Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” (NASB).
“You should have known that I would be in my Father’s house” (NLT). “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s
house?” (NRSV).
42
Dried locusts were considered clean animals under the Law (Leviticus 11:22).
43
The Qumran community, writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls, are the best know group of Essenes.

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Luke 1:1–9:50 Week 9, Page 10

iv) 3:15–18. Finally, he denies being the Messiah, and tells the people that the Messiah
is greater than he is and is coming.
v) Note that John uses the symbolism of fire three times:
(1) 3:9: Unproductive trees (hypocrites; unbelievers) are cut down and burned
(damned).
(2) 3:16: John baptizes with water, but Jesus will baptize “with the Holy Ghost and
with fire.”
(a) This refers to the purifying and cleansing effect of receiving the Holy Spirit.
(i) Adam’s was “quickened in the inner man” after his baptism (Moses 6:64–
66).
(ii) Alma2 taught that
25
…all mankind…must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from
their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being
redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; 26And thus they
become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise
inherit the kingdom of God. (Mosiah 27:25–26.)
(3) 3:17. Christ will separate the wheat from the chaff, and burn the chaff
unquenchable fire.
(4) The first and third examples use fire as an instrument of destruction, but the
second uses fire for cleansing and purifying.
5) 3:21–22. The baptism of Jesus by John.
a) Jesus comes to John to be baptized, and Matthew has an account of the dialogue
between them that’s not in the other gospels:
KJV Matthew 3:13–15 NRSV Matthew 3:13–15
13
Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan 13
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at
unto John, to be baptized of him. the Jordan, to be baptized by him.
14
But John forbad him, saying, I have need to 14
John would have prevented him, saying, “I
be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? need to be baptized by you, and do you
come to me?”
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it
15 15
But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now;
to be so now: for thus it becometh us to for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all
fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered righteousness.” Then he consented.
him.
i) Jesus indicates that it was necessary for him to be baptized so that he could perform
completely what is right.
(1) Nephi1 taught:
6
And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God
did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water? 7Know ye not that he was
holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men
that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and
witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his
commandments. (2 Nephi 31:6–7.)
(a) Nephi1 therefore concluded that “if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should
have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Luke 1:1–9:50 Week 9, Page 11

much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!”
(2 Nephi 31:5.)
b) 3:21–22. After Jesus was baptized, all three Synoptic Gospels record that there was a
voice from heaven accepting Jesus as God’s Son.44
i) The words spoken are an allusion to Psalm 2:7 (“I will declare the decree: the LORD
hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.”), only the ending
is has been modified in the gospels (“in thee I am well pleased”).45
ii) Note that the Father speaks to Jesus in Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:22, but to others about
Jesus in Matt. 3:17.
iii) An observation: In scriptures, whenever the Father speaks, he bears witness of his
Son.46
iv) With regard to the sign of the dove, Joseph Smith taught:
The sign of the dove was instituted before the creation of the world, a witness for
the Holy Ghost, and the devil cannot come in the sign of a dove. The Holy Ghost is
a personage, and is in the form of a personage. It does not confine itself to the
form of the dove, but in sign of the dove. The Holy Ghost cannot be transformed
into a dove; but the sign of a dove was given to John [the Baptist] to signify the
truth of the deed, as the dove is an emblem or token of truth and innocence.”47
6) Next week we’ll continue our study of Luke by covering “Luke’s Special Section” (9:51–
18:14), which includes the sending out of the Seventy, the parables of the Good Samaritan
and the Prodigal Son, and Jesus’ teachings on repentance, humility, and gratitude.
a) Reading: Luke 9:51–19:44.
b) Next week is our final class before we take a 7-week break for the holidays.

44
Compare Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22b.
45
Interestingly, one Greek and several Latin manuscripts at Luke 3:22 have “today have I begotten you” as the conclusion
to the sentence. Despite the limited manuscript evidence, virtually all the early Church Fathers quote Luke 3:22 this way,
indicating that was the common reading in the 2nd century. The more widely-attested version (“in thee I am well pleased”)
may be a scribal change to harmonize Luke with Matthew and Mark, and to counter the arguments of Christian adoptionists,
who believed that Jesus became God’s Son at his baptism. See Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, 158–61.
46
See Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22), the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke
9:35), at the conclusion of Jesus’ public ministry in Jerusalem (John 12:28), in the Sacred Grove (Joseph Smith—History 1:17).
47
Joseph Smith, sermon at the Nauvoo Temple, 29 January 1843. HC 5:26; TPJS 276; WJS 160, 163.

© 2011, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.