Notes on Luke Chapter One

Luke 1:6, Righteous…blameless. Zachariah and Elizabeth (Heb. Elishevah) were totally Torah-observant to the point of being blameless in YHVH’s eyes. This confirms Moses’ words in Deut 30:11–14 that Torah-obedience isn’t outside the realm of human possibility as some in the church erroneously teach today.

Luke 1:10, Praying … incense. Incense is not only a biblical metaphor for prayer (Ps 141:2; Rev 5:8; 8:3–5), but in the temple, was used while praying. 

Luke 1:19, Gabriel. Beside this reference, Gabriel is only elsewhere mentioned in Daniel (Dan 8:16; 9:21). Gabriel means “strong, mighty man or warrior of El.” Michael is the only other archangel mentioned in the Scriptures (Dan 10:13, 21 12:21; Jude 9; 12:27).

Luke 1:20, Because you did not believe. There is a lesson for us in YHVH muting the mouth of Zachariah for a season. If the spiritual leaders are unable to believe what YHVH has told them already, how can he give them more revelation—more things to speak and teach about? If we’re not hearing new revelation from Elohim, maybe it’s because we haven’t believed what he has already told us.

Luke 1:28, Blessed are you among women. These words of Gabriel were repeated verbatim in Elizabeth’s prophecy concerning Yeshua (verse 42). Doubtless this was a supernatural confirmation to Mary concerning her role as the mother of the Messiah, for how could her cousin have known what the angel had spoken to her previously?

Luke 1:36, Elizabeth your relative. While Mary was of the royal lineage of David through her father, she also was a relative on her mother’s side of Elizabeth, the priest-wife of Zacharias, who was a daughter of Aaron (Luke 1:5).  In Matthew one and Luke three two different genealogies are given for Yeshua, both of which  go back to King David. One is presumed to be that of Joseph and the other is that of Mary. In this way, Yeshua was a direct descendant of David legally through Joseph, his step-father, and genetically through Mary, his mother. Does this mean that Mary was of priestly as well as Davidic lineage. Yes, but not patrilineally, only matrilineally. In the Scriptures, tribal lineage was determined through the father’s family line and not the mother’s. 

In the case of Mary and Elizabeth, they would have shared common grandparents making them cousins. Their grandfather would have been a priest. In the case of Elizabeth, her father—the son of her priestly grandfather—would have carried the priestly line making her a daughter of Aaron (Luke 1:5). In the case of Mary, her mother would have been her priestly grandfather’s daughter meaning that she was of priestly lineage but not her children, unless she married a priest.

It seems that Yeshua would have carried some priestly blood in his genes, but he was not legally a priest through patrilineal descent. To be sure, Yeshua was a priest, but not one of Aaronic lineage but after the order of Melchizedek, which was the priesthood of the firstborn son passed on generationally. Yeshua was the first born son of Elohim eternally, which is why he is presently at the right hand of Elohim acting as our Great High Priest (Heb 1:3 cp. 3:1; 4:4; 8:1).

Therefore, Mary laid claim to a Davidic as well as a priestly lineage (Jesus the Messiah, by Edersheim, p. 105). This means that Yeshua was not only of direct Davidic lineage but was of priestly lineage as well.

Has also conceived…in her old age. Was Mary an older, barren woman like Elizabeth? If not, why the word also?

 

Being Focused Isn’t Being Rude

Luke 10:4, Greet no one. The orientals of Yeshua’s day would engage in salutations that to us would seem complicated, tedious and time-consuming. Such greetings would involve the asking of many questions about one’s personal life, family and business. This is why Yeshua instructed his disciples whom he had sent out to preach the gospel to greet no one along the way. For them to involve themselves in such lengthy customs would have sidetracked them from the all important mission (Manners and Customs, p. 274). Yeshua isn’t prohibiting here a simple common courtesy of a quick verbal greeting as one is passing by another.

 

The Dunamis Power of Elohim and Divine Healing

Luke 5:17, The power [Gr. dumanis] of YHVH was present. Sometimes the power of YHVH is present to heal people, sometimes it is not. There are many factors that determine this such as the sovereign will of Elohim, the faith of the individuals performing or receiving the healing, repentance of sin or the lack thereof, whether one is a saint or not and many more of which we may or may not be aware in our limited understanding of the spiritual dimension where Elohim operates.

Let’s explore the healing activities of Yeshua. The Greek word dunamis means “strength, power, ability” or as often used in the Testimony of Yeshua, “miraculous power.” (In fact, our English words dynamic, dynamo and dynamite originate from this Greek word.) This is an interesting statement pertaining to the dynamics of Yeshua’s healing activities. Did Yeshua heal all people all the time, or only when the power of Elohim was present for him to do so? This verse, at least in this case, would indicate the latter. Elsewhere, we read that Yeshua “healed many that were sick” (Mark 1:34), but not all that were sick. On other occasions, the Gospels record indicates that Yeshua did in fact heal all the sick who were brought to him (Matt 4:23–25; 9:35; Luke 6:19).

The Gospels reveal some other interesting facts about Yeshua’s healing activities that we often pass over. On at least one occasions, Yeshua prayed to heal someone and they were only partially healed. After he prayed for them the second time, they were completely healed (Mark 8:22–25). Often Yeshua healed people after he was “moved with compassion [love and pity]” for someone who was sick (Matt 14:14; Mark 1:41; Luke 7:13–15). The Greek word for compassion, literally means “to be moved in one’s bowels,” or in the deepest areas of one’s emotions. Some people simply touched Yeshua’s clothing as he was walking by, and the miraculous power (Gr. dunamis) of Elohim flowed from him and healed them (Matt 9:20; Mark 6:56; Luke 8:44 cp. Luke 6:19).

Elsewhere, it appears that Yeshua’s healing activities were hampered by the presence of those who ridiculed him and exhibited doubt and unbelief, which is why, on one occasion, he put the unbelievers out of the room and closed the door behind them when he raised the little girl from the dead (Mark 5:40–42). Similarly, in his hometown of Nazareth, Yeshua “could do no mighty works there” except for healing a few sick people, “because of their [the townspeople’s] unbelief” (Mark 6:5–6; also Matt 13:58). Matthew’s account adds that the people of Nazareth were offended (literally, scandalized) by Yeshua, or that they stumbled over (or judged unfavorably, distrusted) Yeshua. Because of their low esteem for him, they lacked the faith to receive healing, which is why he healed so few people in that town.

When in doubt, always look for an opportunity to pray for a sick person. Before praying, one must discern the situation. Does the person have faith to be healed? Is the anointing or Presence of YHVH is there to heal the person? How is the Spirit of Elohim directing one to pray? Sometimes we sense the need to pray more authoritative prayers, other times, more pleading or intercessory prayers, and still other times prayers of agreement while asking for the healing.

What’s more, prospective converts and new believers tend to have their prayers for healing answered more quickly, since this is a demonstration of the signs Yeshua promised that would follow the preaching of the gospel. The saint can be healed, but often this will occur after having their faith stretched and refined. Therefore, the healing often takes longer to receive.

 

“You brood of vipers!” saith John the Baptist

Luke 3:7–17, Then he said to the multitudes. What’s really going on in this exchange between John the Baptist and the religious folks of his day? Let’s step back and look at the bigger picture.

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The multitudes of Jews had to make the long, hot and arduous journey down through the Judean mountains down to the Jordan River, which was the lowest spot on earth, to hear John the Baptist who was the latest fad preacher to come on the scene. However, when they arrived at his lonely wilderness pulpit, instead of stroking their egos by complimenting them for their religious zeal, he excoriates them and calls them a brood of vipers. John confronts them when he says that if they don’t repent, the fires of YHVH’s judgment will consume them (John 3:7–9). John’s preaching pierces their hearts, and lays them low spiritually, and they ask him what he expects them to do (John 3:10). John then preaches a message of social justice involving giving to the poor, being fair and honest in your business dealings, and if you’re a government worker, treating the citizens you serve with respect (John 3:11–14).

Interestingly, he doesn’t instruct these religious Jews in what many might consider to be the specificities and dos and don’ts of the Torah-law, although it could be reasoned that many of these folks already had a basic understanding of Torah already. Whether they were living up to it or not is another question.

Whatever the case, in our day, most gospel-believing Torah teachers are telling their listeners to punctiliously start observing the 613 commandments of the Torah, and to Continue reading

 

Was Yeshua Born in a Manger or Sukkah?

Luke 2:7, Manger. The Greek word means “feeding trough” and according to the word’s etymology and lexicology as stated in the TDNT, gives no indication for this manger to be anything but a manger. Nevertheless, this manger may have been a sukkah or tabernacle, which is the flimsy little hut that Israelites build during the biblical Feast of Tabernacles (Heb. Chag Sukkot) as commanded in the Torah (Lev 23:33–43).

Christmas nativity scene

We see the connection between a manger and a sukkah in Genesis 33:17 where Jacob built booths (or tabernacles; Heb. succot or sukkot is the plural form of sukkah) for his livestock showing us that the Hebrew word sukkah (pl. sukkot) can also mean “livestock barn or manger” as well as a temporary habitation where Israelites dwell during the biblically commanded festival of Sukkot.

This raises the possibility that Yeshua was born in a festival sukkah during the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot and not just in an animal barn as Christian folklore would have us believe. The LXX Greek word for sukkah in Gen 33:17 is skenas meaning “habitation, dwelling or tabernacle” and is the same word used in John 1:14 and Rev 21:1–3 in reference to Yeshua tabernacling with his people.

Putting all the pieces together, Yeshua may have been born in a sukkah-manger prior to or during the Feast of Tabernacles with a human sukkah (or body, of which the physical sukkah during Sukkot is a metaphorical picture) in order to redeem man from sin, so that Yeshua might tabernacle with redeemed men forever in the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:3).

 

Peace on Earth; Good Will Toward Men(?)

Luke 2:14, Peace on earth. (See William Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek textbook, p. 43 for further explanation on this.) This often quoted phrase can also be translated as “on earth, peace toward men of good will.” This phrasing makes more sense, since the biblical concept of peace or shalom is a blessing only to men who have good will, make good choices or who are benevolent or of kindly intent, which is the definition of the Greek word eudokia.

green planet with the word peace

The shalom or total well-being, which is a gift from YHVH, doesn’t come to men who are of ill-intent or ill-will.

For example, when Yeshua was teaching his disciples how to preach the gospel, when going from town to town, he instructed them to lodge in homes that were worthy to hear the message. Upon them, the disciples were to leave their peace. Those homes who didn’t receive the gospel message were to considered unworthy and their peace was not to be left with them (Matt 10:11–14).

This teaches us that peace is something that is befitting of those who are worthy or of good will, and not to those who are unworthy or of ill-will.

 

The Rest of the Story: Shepherds Abiding in the Field

Luke 2:8, Shepherds living out in the fields. According to the Mishnah (a rabbinic Jewish legal-historical document from the end of the second century AD), these were no ordinary sheep or shepherds, but were shepherds who watched over sheep that were destined to become burnt offerings, peace offerings and the Passover offering for the temple service in Jerusalem (Mishnah Sheq 7:4; The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, by Alfred Edersheim, pp. 132–133).

Shepherds and angel silhouette

Such sheep were kept in the environs of Jerusalem including Bethlehem which lies just five miles south of that city.

These sheep were apparently kept outdoors all year round. Presumably they were carefully watched over to keep them safe from incurring any blemish that might render them unusable for the temple service.

Imagine the spiritual and prophetic significance of heaven’s angelic messenger revealing to these shepherds the birth in Bethlehem of the spotless and sin-free Lamb of Elohim who was destined to be sacrificed from the beginning of the world (Rev 13:8; John 1:29; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 John 3:5). The angel announced that this newborn child was YHVH the Messiah (Isa 53:1; Christ the Lord)—the Savior (Luke 2:8 cp. Isa 53:6, 10–11). He once and for all would take away the sins of the world (Heb 10:10, 12), thus rendering their jobs as temple shepherds unnecessary.