Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible

Luke Ch.2 / 24 Ch.s


* The birth of Christ. (1-7) It is made known to the shepherds.
(8-20) Christ presented in the temple. (21-24) Simeon prophesies
concerning Jesus. (25-35) Anna prophesies concerning him.
(36-40) Christ with the learned men in the temple. (41-52)

#1-7 The fulness of time was now come, when God would send forth
his Son, made of a woman, and made under the law. The
circumstances of his birth were very mean. Christ was born at an
inn; he came into the world to sojourn here for awhile, as at an
inn, and to teach us to do likewise. We are become by sin like
an outcast infant, helpless and forlorn; and such a one was
Christ. He well knew how unwilling we are to be meanly lodged,
clothed, or fed; how we desire to have our children decorated
and indulged; how apt the poor are to envy the rich, and how
prone the rich to disdain the poor. But when we by faith view
the Son of God being made man and lying in a manger, our vanity,
ambition, and envy are checked. We cannot, with this object
rightly before us, seek great things for ourselves or our

#8-20 Angels were heralds of the new-born Saviour, but they were
only sent to some poor, humble, pious, industrious shepherds,
who were in the business of their calling, keeping watch over
their flock. We are not out of the way of Divine visits, when we
are employed in an honest calling, and abide with God in it. Let
God have the honour of this work; Glory to God in the highest.
God's good-will to men, manifested in sending the Messiah,
redounds to his praise. Other works of God are for his glory,
but the redemption of the world is for his glory in the highest.
God's goodwill in sending the Messiah, brought peace into this
lower world. Peace is here put for all that good which flows to
us from Christ's taking our nature upon him. This is a faithful
saying, attested by an innumerable company of angels, and well
worthy of all acceptation, That the good-will of God toward men,
is glory to God in the highest, and peace on the earth. The
shepherds lost no time, but came with haste to the place. They
were satisfied, and made known abroad concerning this child,
that he was the Saviour, even Christ the Lord. Mary carefully
observed and thought upon all these things, which were so suited
to enliven her holy affections. We should be more delivered from
errors in judgment and practice, did we more fully ponder these
things in our hearts. It is still proclaimed in our ears that to
us is born a Saviour, Christ the Lord. These should be glad
tidings to all.

#21-24 Our Lord Jesus was not born in sin, and did not need that
mortification of a corrupt nature, or that renewal unto
holiness, which were signified by circumcision. This ordinance
was, in his case, a pledge of his future perfect obedience to
the whole law, in the midst of sufferings and temptations, even
unto death for us. At the end of forty days, Mary went up to the
temple to offer the appointed sacrifices for her purification.
Joseph also presented the holy child Jesus, because, as a
first-born son, he was to be presented to the Lord, and redeemed
according to the law. Let us present our children to the Lord
who gave them to us, beseeching him to redeem them from sin and
death, and make them holy to himself.

#25-35 The same Spirit that provided for the support of Simeon's
hope, provided for his joy. Those who would see Christ must go
to his temple. Here is a confession of his faith, that this
Child in his arms was the Saviour, the salvation itself, the
salvation of God's appointing. He bids farewell to this world.
How poor does this world look to one that has Christ in his
arms, and salvation in his view! See here, how comfortable is
the death of a good man; he departs in peace with God, peace
with his own conscience, in peace with death. Those that have
welcomed Christ, may welcome death. Joseph and Mary marvelled at
the things which were spoken of this Child. Simeon shows them
likewise, what reason they had to rejoice with trembling. And
Jesus, his doctrine, and people, are still spoken against; his
truth and holiness are still denied and blasphemed; his preached
word is still the touchstone of men's characters. The secret
good affections in the minds of some, will be revealed by their
embracing Christ; the secret corruptions of others will be
revealed by their enmity to Christ. Men will be judged by the
thoughts of their hearts concerning Christ. He shall be a
suffering Jesus; his mother shall suffer with him, because of
the nearness of her relation and affection.

#36-40 There was much evil then in the church, yet God left not
himself without witness. Anna always dwelt in, or at least
attended at, the temple. She was always in a praying spirit;
gave herself to prayer, and in all things she served God. Those
to whom Christ is made known, have great reason to thank the
Lord. She taught others concerning him. Let the example of the
venerable saints, Simeon and Anna, give courage to those whose
hoary heads are, like theirs, a crown of glory, being found in
the way of righteousness. The lips soon to be silent in the
grave, should be showing forth the praises of the Redeemer. In
all things it became Christ to be made like unto his brethren,
therefore he passed through infancy and childhood as other
children, yet without sin, and with manifest proofs of the
Divine nature in him. By the Spirit of God all his faculties
performed their offices in a manner not seen in any one else.
Other children have foolishness bound in their hearts, which
appears in what they say or do, but he was filled with wisdom,
by the influence of the Holy Ghost; every thing he said and did,
was wisely said and wisely done, above his years. Other children
show the corruption of their nature; nothing but the grace of
God was upon him.

#41-52 It is for the honour of Christ that children should
attend on public worship. His parents did not return till they
had stayed all the seven days of the feast. It is well to stay
to the end of an ordinance, as becomes those who say, It is good
to be here. Those that have lost their comforts in Christ, and
the evidences of their having a part in him, must bethink
themselves where, and when, and how they lost them, and must
turn back again. Those that would recover their lost
acquaintance with Christ, must go to the place in which he has
put his name; there they may hope to meet him. They found him in
some part of the temple, where the doctors of the law kept their
schools; he was sitting there, hearkening to their instructions,
proposing questions, and answering inquiries, with such wisdom,
that those who heard were delighted with him. Young persons
should seek the knowledge of Divine truth, attend the ministry
of the gospel, and ask such questions of their elders and
teachers as may tend to increase their knowledge. Those who seek
Christ in sorrow, shall find him with the greater joy. Know ye
not that I ought to be in my Father's house; at my Father's
work; I must be about my Father's business. Herein is an
example; for it becomes the children of God, in conformity to
Christ, to attend their heavenly Father's business, and make all
other concerns give way to it. Though he was the Son of God, yet
he was subject to his earthly parents; how then will the foolish
and weak sons of men answer it, who are disobedient to their
parents? However we may neglect men's sayings, because they are
obscure, yet we must not think so of God's sayings. That which
at first is dark, may afterwards become plain and easy. The
greatest and wisest, those most eminent, may learn of this
admirable and Divine Child, that it is the truest greatness of
soul to know our own place and office; to deny ourselves
amusements and pleasures not consistent with our state and