Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible

Luke Ch.1 / 24 Ch.s


** This evangelist is generally supposed to have been a
physician, and a companion of the apostle Paul. The style of his
writings, and his acquaintance with the Jewish rites and usages,
sufficiently show that he was a Jew, while his knowledge of the
Greek language and his name, speak his Gentile origin. He is
first mentioned #Ac 16:10,11|, as with Paul at Troas, whence he
attended him to Jerusalem, and was with him in his voyage, and
in his imprisonment at Rome. This Gospel appears to be designed
to supersede many defective and unauthentic narratives in
circulation, and to give a genuine and inspired account of the
life, miracles, and doctrines of our Lord, learned from those
who heard and witnessed his discourses and miracles.

* The Preface. (1-4) Zacharias and Elisabeth. (5-25) Christ's
birth announced. (26-38) Interview of Mary and Elisabeth.
(39-56) The birth of John the Baptist. (57-66) The song of
Zacharias. (67-80)

#1-4. Luke will not write of things about which Christians may
safely differ from one another, and hesitate within themselves;
but the things which are, and ought to be surely believed. The
doctrine of Christ is what the wisest and best of men have
ventured their souls upon with confidence and satisfaction. And
the great events whereon our hopes depend, have been recorded by
those who were from the beginning eye-witnesses and ministers of
the word, and who were perfected in their understanding of them
through Divine inspiration.

#5-25 The father and mother of John the Baptist were sinners as
all are, and were justified and saved in the same way as others;
but they were eminent for piety and integrity. They had no
children, and it could not be expected that Elisabeth should
have any in her old age. While Zacharias was burning incense in
the temple, the whole multitude of the people were praying
without. All the prayers we offer up to God, are acceptable and
successful only by Christ's intercession in the temple of God
above. We cannot expect an interest therein if we do not pray,
and pray with our spirits, and are not earnest in prayer. Nor
can we expect that the best of our prayers should gain
acceptance, and bring an answer of peace, but through the
mediation of Christ, who ever lives, making intercession. The
prayers Zacharias often made, received an answer of peace.
Prayers of faith are filed in heaven, and are not forgotten.
Prayers made when we were young and entering into the world, may
be answered when we are old and going out of the world. Mercies
are doubly sweet that are given in answer to prayer. Zacharias
shall have a son in his old age, who shall be instrumental in
the conversion of many souls to God, and preparing them to
receive the gospel of Christ. He shall go before Him with
courage, zeal, holiness, and a mind dead to earthly interests
and pleasures. The disobedient and rebellious would be brought
back to the wisdom of their righteous forefathers, or rather,
brought to attend to the wisdom of that Just One who was coming
among them. Zacharias heard all that the angel said; but his
unbelief spake. In striking him dumb, God dealt justly with him,
because he had objected against God's word. We may admire the
patience of God towards us. God dealt kindly with him, for thus
he prevented his speaking any more distrustful, unbelieving
words. Thus also God confirmed his faith. If by the rebukes we
are under for our sin, we are brought to give the more credit to
the word of God, we have no reason to complain. Even real
believers are apt to dishonour God by unbelief; and their mouths
are stopped in silence and confusion, when otherwise they would
have been praising God with joy and gratitude. In God's gracious
dealings with us we ought to observe his gracious regards to us.
He has looked on us with compassion and favour, and therefore
has thus dealt with us.

#26-38 We have here an account of the mother of our Lord; though
we are not to pray to her, yet we ought to praise God for her.
Christ must be born miraculously. The angel's address means
only, Hail, thou that art the especially chosen and favoured of
the Most High, to attain the honour Jewish mothers have so long
desired. This wondrous salutation and appearance troubled Mary.
The angel then assured her that she had found favour with God,
and would become the mother of a son whose name she should call
Jesus, the Son of the Highest, one in a nature and perfection
with the Lord God. JESUS! the name that refreshes the fainting
spirits of humbled sinners; sweet to speak and sweet to hear,
Jesus, a Saviour! We know not his riches and our own poverty,
therefore we run not to him; we perceive not that we are lost
and perishing, therefore a Saviour is a word of little relish.
Were we convinced of the huge mass of guilt that lies upon us,
and the wrath that hangs over us for it, ready to fall upon us,
it would be our continual thought, Is the Saviour mine? And that
we might find him so, we should trample on all that hinders our
way to him. Mary's reply to the angel was the language of faith
and humble admiration, and she asked no sign for the confirming
her faith. Without controversy, great was the mystery of
godliness, God manifest in the flesh, #1Ti 3:16|. Christ's human
nature must be produced so, as it was fit that should be which
was to be taken into union with the Divine nature. And we must,
as Mary here, guide our desires by the word of God. In all
conflicts, let us remember that with God nothing is impossible;
and as we read and hear his promises, let us turn them into
prayers, Behold the willing servant of the Lord; let it be unto
me according to thy word.

#39-56 It is very good for those who have the work of grace
begun in their souls, to communicate one to another. On Mary's
arrival, Elisabeth was conscious of the approach of her who was
to be the mother of the great Redeemer. At the same time she was
filled with the Holy Ghost, and under his influence declared
that Mary and her expected child were most blessed and happy, as
peculiarly honoured of and dear to the Most High God. Mary,
animated by Elisabeth's address, and being also under the
influence of the Holy Ghost, broke out into joy, admiration, and
gratitude. She knew herself to be a sinner who needed a Saviour,
and that she could no otherwise rejoice in God than as
interested in his salvation through the promised Messiah. Those
who see their need of Christ, and are desirous of righteousness
and life in him, he fills with good things, with the best
things; and they are abundantly satisfied with the blessings he
gives. He will satisfy the desires of the poor in spirit who
long for spiritual blessings, while the self-sufficient shall be
sent empty away.

#57-66 In these verses we have an account of the birth of John
the Baptist, and the great joy among all the relations of the
family. He shall be called Johanan, or "Gracious," because he
shall bring in the gospel of Christ, wherein God's grace shines
most bright. Zacharias recovered his speech. Unbelief closed his
mouth, and believing opened it again: he believers, therefore he
speaks. When God opens our lips, our mouths must show forth his
praise; and better be without speech, than not use it in
praising God. It is said, The hand of the Lord was working with
John. God has ways of working on children in their infancy,
which we cannot account for. We should observe the dealings of
God, and wait the event.

#67-80 Zacharias uttered a prophecy concerning the kingdom and
salvation of the Messiah. The gospel brings light with it; in it
the day dawns. In John the Baptist it began to break, and
increased apace to the perfect day. The gospel is discovering;
it shows that about which we were utterly in the dark; it is to
give light to those that sit in darkness, the light of the
knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. It is
reviving; it brings light to those that sit in the shadow of
death, as condemned prisoners in the dungeon. It is directing;
it is to guide our feet in the way of peace, into that way which
will bring us to peace at last, #Ro 3:17|. John gave proofs of
strong faith, vigorous and holy affections, and of being above
the fear and love of the world. Thus he ripened for usefulness;
but he lived a retired life, till he came forward openly as the
forerunner of the Messiah. Let us follow peace with all men, as
well as seek peace with God and our own consciences. And if it
be the will of God that we live unknown to the world, still let
us diligently seek to grow strong in the grace of Jesus Christ.