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Luke 2:1-20

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 22, 2015


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular:  2900 words    Communion: 2500 words Video: 333 words in 2 minutes / 166words/min.  Adjusted word count sb 3700

Video = 2:59 2:21 1:26 4:57 = 11:43, or 1960 words

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Luke was a doctor and a travelling companion of the apostle Paul.

He wrote this book while Paul was in prison.

In writing his book, Paul made use of other older documents like the Gospel of Mark, as well as extensive eyewitness accounts.

We have looked at the events leading up to the birth of Jesus, including the birth of John the Baptist to old Elizabeth and Zacharias.

Video: Elizabeth Skit Guys

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2:1-7 Jesus is born

:1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.

:2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.

:1 decreedogma – doctrine, decree, ordinance

:1 Caesar Augustus

He was born Gaius Octavius, the grand nephew of Julius Caesar.

He was the first of the Roman Emperors, reigning from 27 b.c. to a.d. 14

Matthew (Mat. 2:1) records that Jesus’ birth took place during the reign of Herod the Great, and his reign ended in 4 BC.

We would probably favor putting Jesus’ birth somewhere around 4 BC.

:2 censusapographe – a writing off

This was about Roman record keeping.

They would make a record of people, their income, and their property.

This would be the basis of future taxation.

Forms of this word are translated “registered” in vs. 1, 3, 5.

:2 was governinghegemoneuo – to be leader, to lead the way; to rule, command

:2 Quirinius

He was governor over Syria from 6-7 AD.  This doesn’t fit with what Luke seems to be saying, at least in light with Herod the Great’s rule.  Answer:  the word translate “first” (protos) could also be translated “before”, as it is in John 1:15; 15:18.  So, a better translation would be, “this taxing was made before Quirinius was governor of Syria”.

:2 governing Syria

Syria was the province that the land of Israel was a part of in the Roman Empire.

:3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

:3 registeredapographo – to write off, copy (from some pattern); to enter in a register or records; spec. to enter in public records the names of men, their property and income

:3 everyone to his own city

It was the Roman custom to have people taxed in the city they lived in, but it was a Jewish custom to go to the city of your heritage. 

The Jews in Israel followed the Jewish custom to obey a Roman law.

:4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,

:5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

:4 lineagepatria – lineage running back to some progenitor, ancestry; family, in a wider sense, nation, people

:4 city of David … Bethlehem

Bethlehem was the family ancestral home of King David.

Because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he was required to travel to Bethlehem to register for the census.
It was actually the home of David’s great-great-great-grandfather, Boaz, the man who married Ruth (Ruth 2:4).

Video: Nazareth to Bethlehem map clip

To travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, they probably headed east to the Jordan River, down the Jordan River valley to Jericho, then up into the hills to Jerusalem, then south six miles through the hills to Bethlehem.
The total trip would be about 90 miles. With a young gal in her ninth month of pregnancy.

:5 registeredapographo – to write off, copy (from some pattern); to enter in a register or records; spec. to enter in public records the names of men, their property and income

:5 betrothedmnesteuo – to woo her and ask her in marriage; to be promised in marriage, be betrothed

There were three phases to getting married in Jesus’ day.

Parents would arrange marriages for their children when they were as young at two years old.
A year or so before the actual marriage, the couple was considered “betrothed”. Though they had not yet had sex, they were considered by custom to be as if they were married (cf. Gen. 29:21; Deut. 22:23-30).
The only way to break the “betrothal” was to get a divorce.
Mary and Joseph were seriously engaged, but have not had sex yet.
The marriage was finalized with the wedding.

:5 with childegkuos – big with child, pregnant

The word is based on the word for “waves”, like the curve of a swell on the sea.

(Matthew 8:24 NKJV) And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.

:1 all the world should be registered

should be registeredapographo – to write off, copy (from some pattern); to enter in a register or records; spec. to enter in public records the names of men, their property and income

This census or “registration” was not a taxation on the people, though it probably was the basis for future taxes.

The decree came from the emperor in Rome, some 1500 miles away from Nazareth.

And yet the result of this government decree forced Joseph and Mary to travel 90 miles, during a time when they shouldn’t be traveling.

And in the end, the baby was born in Bethlehem.

There was an ancient prophecy that spoke of this.

(Micah 5:2 NKJV) “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
Micah wrote this 700 years before Jesus.
It was recognized by the Jews as indicating where the Messiah would be born.

When the Wise Men will show up in Jerusalem to ask King Herod about the birth of a new king, Herod asked the priests where that would be taking place, and they used this Scripture to point to Bethlehem.


God knows how

God knows how to get you where you need to be.
He used the pagan ruler of the world to move Joseph and Mary.
There are times when we wonder why things are forcing us to go in directions that are uncomfortable.
It wasn’t a great time for Mary to be traveling.
Yet perhaps God might be at work to get us to where we need to be.
(Romans 8:28 NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
IN THE 1870s Horatio Spafford was a successful Chicago lawyer and a close friend of evangelist Dwight L. Moody. Spafford had invested heavily in real estate, but the Chicago fire of 1871 wiped out his holdings. His son had died shortly before the disaster. Spafford and his family desperately needed a rest so in 1873 he planned a trip to Europe with his wife and four daughters. While in Great Britain he also hoped to help Moody and Sankey with their evangelistic tour. Last minute business caused Spafford to delay his departure, but he sent his wife and four daughters on the S.S. Ville Du Havre as scheduled, promising to follow in a few days. On November 22 the ship was struck by the English ship Lochearn, and it sank in twelve minutes. Several days later the survivors landed at Cardiff, Wales, and Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband the brief message, "Saved alone. What shall I do?"
When Horatio Spafford made the ocean crossing to meet his grieving wife, he sailed near the place where his four daughters had sunk to the ocean depths. There, in the midst of his sorrow, he wrote these unforgettable words that have brought solace to so many in grief:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blessed assurance control,

That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

The story doesn’t end with the writing of a hymn.
Spafford belonged to a Presbyterian church, and they considered the tragedies that his family had gone through as some sort of divine punishment from God.  Spafford disagreed.  He formed his own group called “The Overcomers” and in 1881 set out for Jerusalem.  They would form what would be known as “The American Colony” in Jerusalem.  For the next seventy years, this group would be used to relieve the suffering of all those living in Jerusalem – Jews, Muslims, and Christians, through the running of soup kitchens, hospitals, orphanages, and other charitable ventures. When WWI hit Palestine, they were an important source of aid and were trusted by all sides of the conflict.
This group that had 70 years of healthy, productive, compassionate ministry, was birthed by a man who had endured great pain.
Beloved, God knows how to get you where you need to be.
When things don’t make sense or seem out of control, God knows all about it.
You can trust Him.

Just think of Joseph getting his summons to report to Bethelehem…

:6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.

:6 completedpletho – to fill; to be fulfilled, to be filled

:6 to be deliveredtikto – to bring forth, bear, produce (fruit from the seed); of a woman giving birth

:7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

:7 brought forthtikto – to bring forth, bear, produce (fruit from the seed); of a woman giving birth

:7 firstbornprototokos – the firstborn

:7 wrapped … in swaddling cloths

 sparganoo – to wrap in swaddling clothes

From the word for “strap”, as to strap something down.

Even now, when your baby is first born, you are taught to wrap them up tight in their blanket. A baby needs to feel wrapped up, like they were in the womb.

The language suggests that it was Mary who wrapped the baby in the swaddling clothes. In other words, there had been no midwife. Mary had given birth on her own without any help.

:7 laidanaklino – to lean against, lean upon; to lay down

:7 laid Him in a manger

mangerphatne – a crib, a manger

It comes from the word for “eat”. This is a place where animals eat, a feeding trough.
Jesus used this word when talking about how people treat their animals on the Sabbath.
(Luke 13:15 NKJV) The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?
Tradition has it that Jesus was born in a cave in the hillside behind the inn.


Humble Example

Here is the climax of the grand event in which the Creator of the Universe has come to visit earth by taking on human flesh.
Instead of being born in marble floored palaces, He was born in a stable.
Instead of being welcomed by multitudes of wealthy, influential people, there was no room for Him at the inn.
If God was able to work things out so that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem in order to fulfill prophecy, why didn’t He make the entrance of His Son into the world a little more glorious?
(2 Corinthians 8:9 NKJV) For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

He did it for our sake.

God is concerned that we too learn humility.
(Philippians 2:3–8 NLT) —3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Life is not about getting what you “deserve” from others.

Real life is all about loving and serving others.

:7 no room for them in the inn

:7 roomtopos – place, any portion or space marked off, as it were from surrounding space

:7 innkataluma – an inn, lodging place

(Mark 14:14 NKJV) —14 Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?” ’

Video: Innkeeper Skit Guys

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2:8-14 Angels Announce

Linus tells us that this next passage is what Christmas is all about. Follow along in your Bible.

Video: Charlie Brown Christmas - Linus

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:8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

:8 living out in the fieldsagrauleo – to live in the fields, be under the open sky, even at night

:8 keepingphulasso – to guard; to watch, keep watch

:8 watchphulake – guard, watch; a watching, keeping watch

:8 keeping watch – literally, “guarding their guard

:8 shepherds living out in the fields

Shepherds weren’t considered the most likeable of people.

They were considered thieves and cheats.
If the shepherds came to town, you might want to lock up your kids to keep them safe.
Some have suggested that these shepherds may have been tending flocks that contained lambs which would be used for the Passover Sacrifice.

Flocks were only kept out in the field all night from the time of Passover in the spring until the fall.

It’s not likely that Jesus was born in December.

Linus read so … skip to …

:9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

:9 an angel of the Lord

This is not to be confused with the person in the Old Testament known as “The angel of the Lord”, which we believe was Jesus. 

The word “angel” (angelos) simply means “messenger”.  John the Baptist was called a “messenger” (aggelos) (Mat. 11:10).  Here (Luke 2:9), this person is of the species of angelic creature that we commonly call “angel”, but the word isn’t always used that way.  Jesus, as “the angel of the Lord” in the Old Testament wasn’t of the class of creatures we call “angels”, but He was at times a “messenger” of God.

:9 shone aroundperilampo (“around” + “shine”) – to shine around

:9 greatly afraid – literally, “fearing they were afraid

:9 the glory of the Lord


:10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold,

:10 … I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.

:10 bring … good tidingseuaggelizo (“good” + “message”) – to bring good news, to announce glad tidings

We get our word “evangelize” from this.

:10 which will be to all people

The good news wouldn’t just be for the Jews, though Jesus did come for them.  The whole world has benefited from Jesus’ coming to earth.

:11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

:11 borntikto – to bring forth, bear, produce (fruit from the seed); of a woman giving birth

:11 born to you this day …a Savior

Jesus wouldn’t one day become a Savior. He was born a Savior.

:12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

:12 the signsemeion – a sign, mark, token

:12 a Babebrephos – an unborn child, embryo, a foetus; a new-born child, an infant, a babe

:12 wrapped … in swaddling clothssparganoo – to wrap in swaddling clothes

:12 mangerphatne – a crib, a manger

:12 lying in a manger

This is how they would recognize the child.

This newborn will not just be wrapped in swaddling cloths like all newborns, this one will be laying in a feeding trough.


Within reach

Jesus was not born in a golden palace, away from the riff-raff of the world.
He was born in a place that even shepherds would be able to enter, even be familiar with.
Jesus is not beyond you.
He is within your reach.

:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

:13 suddenlyexaiphnes – of a sudden, suddenly, unexpectedly

:13 multitudeplethos – a multitude

:13 hoststratia – an army, band of soldiers

Don’t think of “host” like Martha Stewart.  These are angelic warriors.

:13 praisingaineo – to praise, extol, to sing praises in honour to God

:13 a multitude of the heavenly host

Don’t think of “hosts” as in Martha Stewart.

The Bible word for “host” means “army” or “soldiers”.

A huge angelic army suddenly appears before the lowly shepherds. And they say…

:14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

:14 Glory to God in the highest

or, “the highest glory to God

:14 goodwilleudokia – will, choice; good will, kindly intent, benevolence

:14 Glory … peace, goodwill


The Message

The angels are proclaiming two things:
God deserves honor
To God belongs the highest glory

What God has just done is completely amazing. God has sent His Son.

(2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT) For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Man can know God
Men can have God’s peace and kindness

What Jesus is going to do is going to bring peace between God and men, and they will know God’s kindness.

This comes when we believe in Jesus, when we trust what He has done by dying for our sins.

(Romans 5:1 NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

This is our message as well. This is the “good news”.

2:15-20 Shepherds Visit

:15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

:15 gone away from them into heaven

I wonder what that looked like? Did they just disappear suddenly, or did they fly higher and higher?

:15 this thingrhema – that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word; subject matter of speech, thing spoken of

:16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

:16 with hastespeudo – to haste, make haste

:16 foundaneurisko – to find out by search

:16 mangerphatne – a crib, a manger

:16 the Babe lying in a manger

The shepherds found the Babe just where the angel had said He would be, in a feeding trough.

Video: Shepherd Skit Guys

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:17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.

:17 they made widely knowndiagnorizo – to publish abroad, make known thoroughly

:17 the sayingrhema – that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word; subject matter of speech, thing spoken of

:17 Childpaidion – a young child, a little boy, a little girl

:17 they made widely known the saying

These lowly, common shepherds “evangelized”.  They spread the good news of what God had done.

They share the same message that was told to them by the angels.

God deserves honor.
Man can know God.

:18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

:18 marveledthaumazo – to wonder, wonder at, marvel

:19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

:19 keptsuntereo – to preserve (a thing from perishing or being lost); to keep within one’s self, keep in mind (a thing, lest it be forgotten)

:19 these thingsrhema – that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word; subject matter of speech, thing spoken of

:19 ponderedsumballo – to throw together, to bring together; to converse; to bring together in one’s mind, confer with one’s self

:19 Mary kept all these things and pondered

I wonder if this is hinting that Mary might have even made a written record. We do believe she is one of Luke’s eye witnesses.

:20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

:20 heard and seen

The shepherds hadn’t just “heard” things. They followed up and verified that what they heard was true.

This is descriptive of an eyewitness account.

:20 glorifying and praising God

The shepherds learned to do what the angels did. They gave praise to God.  Let’s review…

Video: Christmas Hallelujah

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