(Mt 1.1; Mk 1.1
). See Acts 1.1–2. Jn 20.30–31; 21.25
show similar awareness of sources used by the Gospel writers. This literary prologue resembles the openings of many classical
or Hellenistic Greek works, particularly histories. Accordingly, 's refers to previous early Christian writings, acknowledges
sources, and explains the need or purpose of his own work.
Theophilus means “friend of God” and may address a person of prominent social standing, since Theophilus is designated “most excellent,”
terminology typically applied to persons of high official or socioeconomic status. while the address may be to a particular
person, the symbolic sense of the name may designate any ideal Christian, as it has been understood since the earliest interpretations
of 's's Gospel.
In the days of King Herod of Judea refers broadly to
BCE. The specific time in view in this story is probably
BCE (see Mt 2.1,15
). The priestly order of Abijah was the eighth of twenty ‐four divisions of priests (
1 Chr 24.10
) who served twiceannually, for one week at a time, in the Jerusalem Temple. These priests were Levites who served God both
in behalf of and in the place of the firstborn males of all the tribes of Israel (Num 3.11–13
). As a descendant of Aaron, Israel's first priest, Elizabeth was also from a priestly family.
The mention of Elizabeth, the righteousness of the couple, their childlessness, and their advanced age all anticipate the
appearance of the angel and are not directly related to Zechariah's Temple service. The description also echoes images and
lines from the Hebrew Bible (Gen 15.3; 16.1; 25.2; 29.31; Judg 13.2–3; 1 Sam 1.2; Ex 30.6–8
The privilege of offering the incense was normally granted only once in a lifetime.
The name John (Heb “J[eh]ohanan”) means “God has shown favor.”
Num 6.1–4; Judg 13.4–5; 1 Sam 1.11
He will go before him, that is, he will be the forerunner of the messiah (Mal 4.5–6; Mt 11.14); on Elijah, see 1 Kings 17–19; 21
Gabriel means “God is my hero” and is one of two angels named in the Hebrew Bible (Dan 8.16; 9.21
Among Jews sterility was regarded as a sign of divine disfavor and therefore a disgrace (see Gen 16.2; 25.21; 30.23; 1 Sam 1.1–18; Lev 20.20–21; Ps 128.3; Jer 22.30
in southern Galilee.
Jesus, the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, meaning “God has saved” (see Mt 1.21
The Son of the Most High implies both divinity (see Sir 4.10
) and royal authority (see 2 Sam 7.13–16; cf. Lk 2.35,76; 6.35; 8.28; Acts 7.48; 16.17
the angel offers Mary some corroboration, on which she acts (v. 39
Elizabeth's being filled with the Holy Spirit may also acknowledge the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit at work in relation to the unborn John in her womb.
Prior to his birth Jesus is designated Lord.
These verses form the first of four “canticles” or “hymns” in the infancy narrative of 's. This “song” is the “Magnificat”
(so called from its first word in the Latin or Vulgate translation); compare the prayer of Hannah in 1 Sam 2.1–10
, a passage to which these verses relate.
Gen 17.7; 18.18; 22.17; Mic 7.20.
Fear (rendered “awe” in
) designates humble, reverent recognition of the limits of human understanding and power before God (
; Acts 2.43,46–47; 5.5,11; 19.17
The second hymn, called the “Benedictus.”
A mighty savior, lit. “a horn of salvation,” uses a biblical metaphor (“horn”) for power (Ps 18.3;
75.5–6; 89.18; 112.9; 148.14
) and here refers to one who will bring salvation; see Ps 92.10–11; 132.17–18
These words cover a period of approximately thirty years (see 3.23
). In the wilderness,
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