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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!  May God's Love continue to bless each of you and your families during this Christmas season and continue throughout the coming New Year!  To God be the Glory!

 

Bailey Sadler Class

SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON STUDY GUIDE – Winter 2016-2017

 

Study Theme:  Spoken: The Rhythm of God’s Word

What This Lesson Is About:

Week of:

Lesson Title:

The focus for this study on Christmas Day is on how thankful we should be to God for the gift of Jesus and the difference He makes in our lives.

 

Dec. 04

God’s Word Delights

 

Dec. 11

God’s Word Fills My Heart

 

Dec. 18

God’s Word Gives Courage

 

Dec. 25

God’s Living Word Saves

 

Jan. 01

God’s Word is Always Relevant

 

Jan. 08

God’s Word is Truth

 

Jan. 15

Created for a Purpose

 

LIFE IMPACT:

Jesus is the ultimate Word from God who brings salvation.

FOCAL PASSAGE:

Psalm 119:41; Luke 1:30-35

LESSON OUTLINE:

I.    

II.

III.

God’s Living Word of Promise (Psalm 119:41)

God’s Living Word as Flesh (Luke 1:30-33)

God’s Living Word is Divine (Luke 1:34-35)

THE SETTING:  

  Psalm 119:41 is the first verse of the sixth stanza of the psalm.  In this stanza the psalmist once more sought the Lord through His Word, apparently during a period of persecution and hostility.  He prayed for God’s mercies and salvation according to what God has promised in His Word.  Being freed from oppression would allow the psalmist to live out God’s Word further, stand strong in adversity, and maintain a focus on God’s truth.  He would be able to speak about the Lord without shame.

The mercy and salvation the Lord promised would be given its ultimate expression in the sending of Jesus, God’s Son.  In Luke 1:30-35, we read of the angelic announcement to Mary’ young virgin of Nazareth, who would give birth to this unique Child, the Savior who would set us free from the oppression of sin.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

INTRODUCTION:

We can read books or follow news stories about individuals and think we know all there is to know about them.  However, our understanding—and relationship—with those persons may change dramatically when we meet them face to face.  God revealed Himself in many ways, one being through His Word.  In His Word, we learn about Him.  God’s fullest self-revelation, of course, was through Jesus Christ; the Word become flesh, fully human and fully divine.  Jesus came to declare the great love of God, to bring us salvation, and to make possible a right relationship with God.  In Jesus, we truly get to know God.  That is the wonderful message to be declared and celebrated on Christmas—and for that matter—all year long!

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

I.

God’s Living Word of Promise (Psalm 119:41)

41 Let Your faithful love come to me, Lord, Your salvation, as You promised.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.   When have you had big news you couldn’t wait to share?

2.   How would you explain the word “faithful”?  (See Digging Deeper.)

3.   Why do you think the psalmist asked for God’s faithful love to come to him?  (See Digging Deeper.)

4.   What do you think he meant by God’s faithful love?

5.   How would you explain the meaning of the word salvation (v. 41b)?  (See Digging Deeper.)

6.   What do you think the psalmist meant when he asked to experience God’s salvation?

7.   What is the connection between the terms “faithful love” (chesed) and “salvation”?

8.   How does God’s faithful love prepare a believer to: (1) share the gospel; (2) face scoffers; or (3) stand in the face of persecution? 

9.   If God extends His faithful love to His children, why do you think many believers feel they are ill prepared to share His Word?

10.   How would explain God’s promise that His salvation would come to us (mankind)?

11.   How would you explain that God’s faithful love is our salvation?

12.   What do you think makes the phrase “as You promised” something believers can stand on?

13.   How does this relate to what makes God’s Word trustworthy?

14.   How did God’s love and salvation find its fullest expression to mankind?

15.   How, then, can God’s love and salvation be experienced by mankind?

16.   What does Titus 1:1-2; 2 Tim. 2:11-13; and 2 Cor. 1:17-20; about the trustworthiness of God’s Word?

17.   What role do you think God’s Holy Spirit plays in God’s living Word of promise?

 

Lasting Lessons in Psalm 119:41:

1.  The Lord extends His faithful love to His children.

2.  God will bring His salvation to those who ask Him for it.

3.  God always keeps His promises.

 

II.

God’s Living Word as Flesh (Luke 1:30-33)

30 Then the angel told her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

1.   What was the setting for this passage of Scripture?

2.   When the message “Do not be afraid” came from an angelic being, what did it usually mean?

3.   What was the angel’s message to Mary (v. 30)?

4.   What do you think the angel mean when he said, “You have found favor with God.”?  (See vv. 27-28.)

5.   According to verse 31, what did the angel tell Mary?

6.   Given that Mary was not married at this time, what do you think she may have thought after what the angel told her (v. 31)?

7.   What did the angel tell Mary she was to name the baby (v. 31)? 

8.   In that traditionally, a boy child was named after his father, what was the significance of the name Mary was to give the child?

9.   What was the relationship between the name Jesus and Joshua?  (See Digging Deeper.)

10.   How was the purpose of Joshua, Isaiah, and Hosea the same as that of Jesus?  How was it different?  (See Digging Deeper.)

11.   How did the angel describe the baby Mary was to give birth (vv. 32-33)? 

12.   What do you think Gabriel meant when he told Mary that God would give Jesus the throne of His father David?

13.   How would you explain that this phrase linked Jesus to be fully human and fully divine?

14.   What do you think this description may have meant to Mary?

15.   Which description of Jesus have you experienced in your personal walk and know to be true?

16.   Jesus’ kingdom will have no end—so how can we be a part of it?

17.   What would you tell a non-believer so that they, too, can be a part of it?

 

Lasting Lessons in Luke 1:30-33:

1.  Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to David in 2 Samuel 7.

2.  As the descendant of David, Jesus is fully human.

3.  Jesus’ kingdom will have no end—and we can be a part of it.

 

III.

God’s Living Word is Divine (Luke 1:34-35)

34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?” 35 The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.”

1.   What did Mary ask the angel (v. 34)?

2.   Why do you think prompted Mary to ask this question? 

3.   Do you think is was because of unbelief or was it because of a lack of understanding?  (How would you support your answer?)

4.   What did Gabriel tell her (v. 35)?

5.   Using verse 35 as a foundation, how would you explain God’s plan as implied by what Gabriel told Mary?

6.   How would you explain why is it important that Jesus is fully divine?

7.   Do you think it is important that we be obedient even when we don’t fully understand what God’s way may be?

8.   What do you think it means to be overshadowed by: (1) God, the father? (2) Jesus Christ, the Son? (3) God’s Holy Spirit?

9.   How would you know if you were overshadowed by any of the three?

10.   How could God accomplish the seemingly impossible through you?

11.   What are some things that would help you to be used by God to accomplish something that seemed impossible?

12.   What are some things that would hinder God from using you to accomplish something that seemed impossible?

13.   How does God’s salvation continue to make a difference in your life?

14.   How would you summarize the message of this week’s study?

 

Lasting Lessons in Luke 1:34-35:

1.  We can obey even when we do not fully understand God’s ways.

2.  God can do the impossible—all we need to do is believe.

3.  Jesus is fully God and fully man—one unique divine-human Savior.

 

CONCLUSION:

How does Jesus’ being fully God and fully man affect you?  Because Jesus is fully God, He was able to offer the perfect sacrifice for sin.  Because Jesus is fully man, He can identify with us in every way.  Because we have received God’s gift of salvation, we should share this message of hope and love with someone this Christmas. 

The psalmist reached out to claim the salvation promise of God.  We can too.  God brought His promises to completion in Jesus Christ.  “He brought forgiveness and salvation.  He established His covenant once and forever.  He invites us to be a part of that covenant.  He invites us to believe that God has done the impossible.  God has opened a path for us to be in constant relationship with His mercy.  He invites us to admit our sins, let Him forgive them, and thus know His salvation.  He wants to make us holy, separated from the world to serve Him in moral purity.”1  All this becomes reality to any person who responds in faith and believes in Jesus, “the Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:32).  He is the ultimate Word of promise from God who brings salvation.  To God be the Glory! 

What are the implications of these truths for your life?  THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!

REMEMBER, the safest place for a believer is in the center of God’s will.

 

Lesson Outline, Introduction, Discussion Questions, and Conclusion adapted from the following sources:

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

 

FOCAL PASSAGE: 

Focal Passage from three different translations of God’s Word:

King James Version:  Psalm 119:41; Luke 1:30-35

Psalm 119:41-42 (KJV)

41 Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word.


Luke 1:30-35 (KJV)

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

 

New King James Version:  Psalm 119:41; Luke 1:30-35

Psalm 119:41 (NKJV)

41 Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD—Your salvation according to Your word.


Luke 1:30-35 (NKJV)

30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." 34 Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" 35 And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

 

New Living Translation:   Psalm 119:41; Luke 1:30-35

Psalm 119:41 (NLT)

41 LORD, give me your unfailing love, the salvation that you promised me.


Luke 1:30-35 (NLT)

30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” 34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” 35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.

 

 (NOTE:  Commentary for the focal passage comes from five sources: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Old Testament,Believer's Bible Commentary,The Complete Biblical Library Commentary,” “The Moody Bible Commentary,” and “The Pulpit Commentary,” and is provided for your study.)

 

Lesson Outline — “God’s Living Word Saves” — Psalm 119:41; Luke 1:30-35

I.

II.

III.

God’s Word of Promise (Psalm 119:41)

God’s Word as Flesh (Luke 1:30-33)

God’s Word is Divine (Luke 1:34-35)

COMMENTARY:

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Old Testament:  Psalm 119:41; Luke 1:30-35

The Waw Strophe (Psalm 119:41-48)

Psalm 119:41-42.  This strophe continues the elements of prayer and commitment. The words “unfailing love” (hasadim pl., “acts of love,” v. 41; cf. Isa 55:3) and “salvation” (teshu‘ah a synonym of yeshu‘ah; cf. vv. 123, 166, 174) explicate the prayer for renewal “in your righteousness” (v. 40). The “righteousness” of God extends to deliverance and vindication from the adversaries. When the Lord extends his “love” by delivering him according to his “promise” (‘imrah v. 41; cf. v. 38), then the dreaded “disgrace” (herpah from h-r-p v. 39) will be removed; and he will rebuke the one who “taunts” (horepi from the root h-r-p) him (v. 42). Hope in salvation is grounded in God’s word of “promise,” and his promise calls for “trust” (b-t-h v. 42; cf. 26:1) (see appendix to Ps 119: Yahweh Is My Redeemer).

SOURCE: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Old Testament; Frank E. Gaebelein; General Editor; Zondervan Publishing House; A Division of Harper Collins Publishers


Luke 1:29-30.  Zechariah had been “gripped with fear” (v. 12) at the very appearance of the angel, but it was the angel’s words—viz., his greeting (v. 28)—that “greatly troubled” Mary (v. 29). He responded first by assuring her that she had indeed “found favor” with God (v. 30; cf. Gen 6:8, where Noah is spoken of as having found favor with God). God’s grace, like his love, banishes fear of judgment (1 John 4:17-18).

1:31.  Gabriel now explains why his preliminary assurance of Mary’s having found grace with God is so significant for her. The wording here is virtually identical to the “virgin” passage in Isaiah 7:14 (LXX) and to the assurance the angel of the Lord gave the fugitive Hagar (Gen 16:11 LXX). The word “virgin” is not, however, mentioned in the allusion to Isaiah, though Mary’s question (v. 34) shows she was a virgin, a fact Luke has mentioned in v. 27.

The name Jesus (Joshua) had been common in OT times and continued to be a popular name through the first century A.D. (TDNT, 3:284-93). Matthew 1:21 provides an explanation for giving the child a name that contains, in its Hebrew form, the word “saves” (yasa(): “because he will save his people from their sins.”

1:32-33.  Some scholars consider it significant that whereas in v. 15 Gabriel had qualified his prophecy of the greatness of John (“he will be great in the sight of the Lord”), here his statement of the greatness of Mary’s Son has no qualification whatever. The striking term “Son of the Most High” (v. 33; cf. vv. 35, 76) leads to a clear messianic affirmation—the reference to the “throne of his father David.” Jesus’ divine sonship is thus linked to his messiahship in accord with 2 Samuel 7:12-14 and Psalm 2:79 (cf. Ps 89:26-29). The description of Jesus’ messianic destiny follows the statement of his sonship, and that sonship is related in v. 35 to his divine origin. Clearly Luke sees the messianic vocation as a function of God’s Son, rather than seeing sonship as just an aspect of messiahship.

The OT concepts of “throne,” Davidic line, “reign” (v. 33), and “kingdom” are spoken of as eternal—i.e., “will never end.” Though this idea is found in Micah 4:7, it is not common in Jewish thought.

1:34.  Unlike Zechariah, Mary does not ask for a confirmatory sign (cf. comments on v. 18) but only for light on how God will accomplish this wonder. As Luke has it, the question does not relate to the remarkable person and work of her promised Son but arises from the fact that she “does not know [ou ginosko, i.e., has not had sexual relations with] a man” (NIV, “I am a virgin”). “While the tense is present, it describes a state resultant from a past pattern of behavior—Mary has not known any man and so is a virgin” (R.E. Brown, Birth of the Messiah, p. 289; emphasis his).

Because she was betrothed, we may assume that Mary fully expected to have normal marital relations later. It is difficult, therefore, to know why she saw a problem in Gabriel’s prediction. The text does not say that Mary had Isaiah 7:14 in mind and wondered how she, still a virgin, could conceive. Perhaps Luke’s condensed account is intended to suggest (1) that Mary assumed an immediate fulfillment before marriage and (2) that the informed reader should understand the issue in terms of Isaiah 7:14, already hinted at in v. 31. Marshall (Luke: Historian and Theologian, pp. 69-70) lists several alternative explanations, none of which is satisfactory by itself (cf. also R.E. Brown, Birth of the Messiah, pp. 303-9).

1:35. Once again (cf. v. 15) Luke mentions the Holy Spirit, as he does six more times in his first two chapters (1:41, 67, 80; 2:25, 26, 27). The word for “overshadow” (episkiazo) carries the sense of the holy, powerful presence of God, as in the description of the cloud that “covered” (Heb. sakan; NIV, “settled upon”) the tabernacle when the tent was filled with the glory of God (Exod 40:35; cf. Ps 91:4). The word is used in all three accounts of the Transfiguration to describe the overshadowing of the cloud (Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:34). Likewise, in each account the voice comes out of the cloud identifying Jesus as God’s Son, a striking reminder of Luke 1:35 where the life that results from the enveloping cloud is identified as the Son of God.

The child whose life is thus engendered by the power of God, which power is identified as the Holy Spirit, is himself called by Gabriel “the holy one.” Because of this connection with the Holy Spirit, and because of the ethical meaning of “holy” in v. 49, that word probably relates here to the purity of Jesus instead of relating to separation for a divine vocation.

SOURCE: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary New Testament; Frank E. Gaebelein; General Editor; Zondervan Publishing House; A Division of Harper Collins Publishers

 

Believer's Bible Commentary: Psalm 119:41; Luke 1:30-35

119:41.  We must not take God's mercies and salvation for granted. We are as dependent on His compassion and protection as when we were first saved. So we claim His promise to care for and keep us day by day.

SOURCE: Believer's Bible Commentary; by William MacDonald; Copyright © 1995, 1992, 1990, 1989 by William McDonald. Database © 2014 WORDsearch.


Annunciation of the Son of Man's Birth: Luke 1:29-35:

1:29, 30.  Mary was understandably troubled by this greeting; she wondered what it meant. The angel calmed her fears, then told her that God was choosing her to be the mother of the long-awaited Messiah.

1:31-33. Notice the important truths which are enshrined in the annunciation:

The real humanity of the Messiah—you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son.

His deity and His mission as Savior—and shall call His name JESUS (meaning Jehovah is the Savior).

His essential greatness—He will be great, both as to His Person and His work.

His identity as the Son of God—and will be called the Son of the Highest.

His title to the throne of David—the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. This establishes Him as the Messiah.

His everlasting and universal kingdom—He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.

Verses 31 and 32a obviously refer to Christ's First Advent, whereas verses 32b and 33 describe His Second Coming as King of kings and Lord of lords.

1:34, 35.  Mary's question, "How can this be?" was one of wonder but not of doubt. How could she bear a child when she had never had relations with a man? Although the angel did not say so in so many words, the answer was virgin birth. It would be a miracle of the Holy Spirit. He would come upon her, and the power of God would overshadow her. To Mary's problem of "How?"—it seemed impossible to human reckoning—God's answer is "the Holy Spirit":

"Therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God." Here then we have a sublime statement of the incarnation. Mary's Son would be God manifest in the flesh. Language cannot exhaust the mystery that is shrouded here.

SOURCE: Believer's Bible Commentary; by William MacDonald; Copyright © 1995, 1992, 1990, 1989 by William McDonald. Database © 2014 WORDsearch.

 

The Complete Biblical Library Commentary: Psalm 119:41; Luke 1:30-35

Psalm 119:41-48:

There are practically no Hebrew words beginning with the letter required as the initial in this section, except the conjunction “and” (HED #2134). Each verse begins with it, and it is best to retain it in translation, so as to reproduce in some measure the original impression of uniformity. The verses are aggregated rather than linked. “And” sometimes introduces a consequence, as probably in v. 42, and sometimes is superfluous in regard to the sense. A predominant reference to the duty of bearing witness to the truth runs through the section.

The prayer in v. 41 for the visits of God’s steadfast love which, in sum, makes salvation, and is guaranteed by his word of promise, is urged on the ground that by experience of this, the psalmist will have his answer ready for all carpers who scoff at him and his patient faith. Such a prayer is entirely accordant with the hypothesis that the speaker is the collective Israel, but not less so with the supposition that he is an individual. “Whereas I was blind, now I see” is an argument that silences sarcasm.

SOURCE:  The Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Chronicles.  Copyright © 1998 by World Library Press Inc. Database © 2010 WORDsearch Corp.


Luke 1:30-35:

1:30.  The angel's response is similar to that given to Zechariah (1:13). The basis for the angel's reassurance was that Mary had "found favor with God," i.e., she was the recipient of God's grace (charin). A similar statement is found in Genesis 6:8 of Noah who also is said to have "found grace in the eyes of the Lord." For both, this grace was the catalyst of a divine salvation-related event.

1:31.  The opening phrase of the angel's message is similar to the angelic announcements made to Hagar (Genesis 16:11) and the wife of Manoah (Judges 13:3-5). The phraseology of this verse seems to be an adaptation of the Greek text of Isaiah 7:14. The name of this child was of great importance. While Luke does not place emphasis on the meaning of names, the parallel passage in Matthew 1:21 includes the purpose clause, "for he shall save his people from their sins." This purpose is born out in the meaning of the name Jesus, which is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew name Joshua, "the Lord saves."

1:32, 33. Whereas Matthew is content to confine the angel's message to one of salvation, Luke's version includes strong statements validating Jesus' right to sit on the throne of David, thus establishing Him as the Messiah. Several specific statements are made concerning this new divine king. The first confirms the greatness of Jesus. A common way in the Old Testament of referring to the importance of a king (cf. 2 Samuel 7:9; 1 Kings 10:23), this may well be a reference to the Messianic prophecy of Micah 5:4 installing the Messiah as the supreme heir to the Davidic throne.

The second statement provides the basis for His greatness: He will be called "the Son of the Highest." Some take "called" here to refer to "called by men." A more probable understanding is to see this passive form as including the Old Testament idea where a name expresses the character or existence of something (Coenen, "Call," NIDNTT, 1:274). Thus, Jesus was not simply thought to be the Son of God, He is the Son of God. This phrase "Most High" is found only in Luke-Acts, and it is equivalent to the more common title "Son of God." It translates the Old Testament title ʾēl ʿelyôn. In this context Jesus' divine sonship must be viewed in light of verse 35 and in light of the Old Testament. There we see the picture of Yahweh and the king as being in a father-son relationship (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12-14; Psalm 2:7-9).

The third phrase is an extension of the "Son of the Most High" title. Jesus' role as the messianic heir of David's throne is squarely grounded in His divine origins. Because He was the son of Joseph in a legal sense (as specifically mentioned by Luke in verse 27), Jesus is also the son of David. Patēr ("father") emphasizes Jesus' legitimate role as the messianic heir to David's throne.

Both phrases of verse 33 provide a type of parallelism reinforcing that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise made to David in 2 Samuel 7:13. Whereas Jesus' legal lineage through Joseph gave Him the right to sit on the throne, His relationship as the Son of God makes this reign eternal. "The house of Jacob" is an Old Testament phrase referring to the nation of Israel as a whole.

1:34. There are several possible interpretations to Mary's questioning how such an event might occur. Her reasoning, epei andra ou ginōskō, may question how such a thing could occur before she and Joseph are married. Another possibility is that she understood the implications of a virgin birth and wondered how this would come about. Finally, some have seen it as a literary device. As such it would fit the pattern of angelic announcements being met with human incomprehension. As well, it would serve to introduce the explanation of the Spirit's activity in verse 35.

1:35.  The angel does not attempt to explain the details of this miracle. Rather, in typical Lukan fashion, the miraculous work of God through believers in the new age is pictured in terms of the Holy Spirit "coming upon" an individual (cf. Acts 1:8; also 1 Samuel 10:6; 16:13).

Some, such as Turner, suggest that Luke may not have been referring to the third person of the Trinity in this instance. Rather, based on what Turner sees as Luke's general pattern of using the article with pneuma hagion, he proposes that the absence of the article here with pneuma hagion refers to "a divine influence possessing men," and as such it should be translated "a holy spirit," (Grammatical Insights into the New Testament, p. 18ff.). However, as Turner admits, exceptions to this rule can be found. In this verse the parallelism between the "Holy Ghost" and "power of the Highest" is reminiscent of Hebrew poetry. Thus pneuma hagion should be seen as equivalent to the "power of the Highest," i.e., the creative active power of God operative in the people of God.

The term for overshadow (episkiasei) is an intentional Old Testament image of the cloud of God's presence that descended upon the tabernacle (Exodus 40:35). Luke used the same image in the account of the Transfiguration in 9:34. The result (dio) of this overshadowing was that Jesus was to be holy, i.e., filled by the Holy Spirit from his conception.

Again Luke affirms the essential relationship between Jesus and the Father by the title "Son of God." This is the first occurrence of this title in the Gospel. It is a title that was to become a distinctive term in Christian confession for the uniqueness of the person and work of Jesus.

SOURCE:  The Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Chronicles.  Copyright © 1998 by World Library Press Inc. Database © 2010 WORDsearch Corp.

 

The Moody Bible Commentary: Psalm 119:41; Luke 1:30-35

Vav: God's Word is the Source of Reply to the Wicked (119:41-48)

119:41-48.  Experiencing God's lovingkindness (cf. vv. 64, 76, 88, 124, 149, 159) will allow the righteous person to have an answer for one who reproaches him. Instead of being overcome or confused by the skeptic or the wicked person, the righteous will trust in God's word... and not be ashamed (vv. 42, 46) because they love and meditate on God's statutes.

SOURCE: The Moody Bible Commentary; by Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham; © 2014 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Database © 2015 WORDsearch.


Greeting, Reaction, and Assurance about Jesus Christ (Luke 1:28-30)

1:28-30.  The angel began with two alliterative terms (chaire, kecharitomene), Greetings, favored one—literally, "Grace to you, graced one." She was assured the Lord (Kyrios) is with you. This note is actually rich with significance—with you is emphatic. Mary's reaction, in contrast to that of Zacharias, was not fear but thoughtful questioning. She kept pondering what kind of salutation this was, trying to think about the import of the words themselves, mulling them over. The angel's Do not be afraid, Mary (1:30) is literally, "Stop being afraid." His words you have found favor with God convey no mere pleasant sentiment—they indicated a divine intention to use this "favored one" in some important way.

The Message Is about Jesus Christ (1:31-33)

1:31-33.  The angel's message began with revealing the virgin birth and the name of the Child—you shall name Him Jesus (1:31). The transcendent significance of the Child was related: His person—He will be great (1:32a); His relation to God—He will be called the Son of the Most High (1:32b; a way of saying He is the "Son of God"), and His purpose—the Lord God (Yahweh of the OT) will give Him the throne of His father David (1:32c). This child will be the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant promises (1:33; cf. 2Sm 7) and the OT promises of the literal earthly kingdom for the nation of Israel (see also the comments on Mt 3:1-4).

Mary's Reaction, Angel's Explanation, Mary's Submission (1:34-38)

1:34-38. While the angel had been relating the transcendent significance of this child, Mary had been stuck on the first point—the matter of her pregnancy! Unlike Zacharias's, Mary's response was not an expression of disbelief but only a question of process—How can this be? (1:34). The angel's explanation was delicate, simple, and effective. The child will be the offspring of this young woman and the power of the Most High (1:35). This indicates He will be (fully) man and the Son of (fully) God (1:35c). Holy Child (1:35) indicates, among other things, that this child would not possess a sin nature and was holy from the moment of conception. To encourage her, the angel told Mary of Elizabeth's pregnancy (1:36) and reassured her that nothing will be impossible with God (1:37). Mary's humble submission (1:38) indicates the reason she was chosen for this tremendous honor.

SOURCE: The Moody Bible Commentary; by Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham; © 2014 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Database © 2015 WORDsearch.

 

The Pulpit Commentary – Psalm 119:41; Luke 1:30-35:

Psalm 119:41:

Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord; rather, and let thy mercies come unto me. Each verse of this stanza begins with the van conjunctive. Even thy salvation, according to thy Word; or, “thy promise” (imrah). God's Word was pledged, that he would grant mercy and salvation to all his faithful servants (Deuteronomy 28:1-13).

SOURCE:  The Pulpit Commentary; Volume 8: Psalms; Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.


Luke 1:30-35:

Verse 29:

She was troubled; more accurately, she was greatly troubled. Different to Zacharias, who evidently doubted in the mission of the angel, and who required some sign before he could believe, Mary simply wondered at the strangeness of what was about to happen. Her terror at the sudden appearance of the angel, who probably appearedto her as a young man clad in garments of a strange dazzling whiteness, is most natural.

Verse 31:

JESUS; the ordinary Greek form, the well-known Hebrew Jehoshua, the shortened Joshua, “The Salvation of Jehovah.”

Verse 32:

The Son of the Highest. It is singular that this title, given by the angel to the yet unborn child, was the one given to the Redeemer by the evil spirit in the case of the poor possessed (see Mark 5:7). Is this the title, or one of the titles, by which our Master is known in that greater world beyond our knowledge? The throne of his father David; clearly indicating that Mary herself was of royal lineage, although this is nowhere definitely stated (see Psalm 132:11). These words of the angel are as yet unfulfilled. They clearly speak of a restoration of Israel, still, as far as we can see, very distant. Nearly nineteen centuries have passed since Gabriel spoke of a restored throne of David, of a kingdom in Jacob to which should come no end. The people, through all the changing fortune of empires, have been indeed strangely kept distinct and separate, ready for the mighty change; but the eventful hour still tarries. It has been well observed how St. Luke's report of the angel's words here could never have been a forgery — as one school of critics asserts — of the second century. Would any writer in the second century, after the failure of Jesus among the Jews was well known, when the fall of Jerusalem had already taken place, have made an angel prophesy what is expressed here?

Verse 35:

The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. Again the angel makes use of the term “Highest” when alluding to the eternal Father. The expression of Gabriel, “the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee,” reminds us of the opening words of Genesis, where the writer describes the dawn of life in creation in the words, “The Spirit of God moved [or, ‘brooded’] over the face of the deep.” “The Word was conceived in the womb of a woman, not after the manner of men, but by the singular, powerful, invisible, immediate operation of the Holy Ghost, whereby a virgin was, beyond the law of nature, enabled to conceive, and that which was conceived in her was originally and completely sanctified” (art. 3., Bishop Pearson on the Creed).

SOURCE:  The Pulpit Commentary; Volume 8: Psalms; Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

 

DIGGING DEEPER: Key Word(s)

Favor with God (Luke 1:30)—Describes how God views and acts toward someone on whom He bestows His blessing(s). God favored Mary with His choice to send His Son into the world through her.

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.

FAVOR (‏חֵן‎, ḥēn, ‏רָצוֹן‎, rāçōn, with other Hebrew words; χάρις, cháris): Means generally good will, acceptance, and the benefits flowing from these; in older usage it meant also the countenance, hence, appearance. Alternating in English Versions of the Bible with "grace," it is used chiefly of man, but sometimes also of God (Genesis 18:3; Genesis 30:27; Genesis 39:21; Exodus 3:21; 2 Samuel 15:25, "in the eyes of Yahweh," etc.). It is used perhaps in the sense of "countenance" in Proverbs 31:30, "Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain" (the King James Version), where for "favor" the Revised Version (British and American) has "grace"; the reference is to external appearance. "Favored" is used in the sense of "appearance" in the phrase "well-favored" (Genesis 29:17; Genesis 39:6; Genesis 41:2, 4).; conversely, "ill-favored" (Genesis 41:3-4). For "favor" the Revised Version (British and American) has "have pity on" (Psalm 109:12), "good will" (Proverbs 14:9), "peace" (Song 8:10); the English Revised Version "grace" (Ruth 2:13), the American Standard Revised Version "kindness" (Esther 2:17; Daniel 1:9), etc. In the American Standard Revised Version "the acceptable year of the Lord" (Isaiah 61:2) is changed Into "the year of Yahweh's favor"; "Do I now persuade men" (Galatians 1:10) into, "Am I now seeking the favor of men," and there are other the Revised Version (British and American) changes.

SOURCE: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; James Orr, M.A., D. D., General Editor; Parsons Technology, Inc.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

FAITHFUL:  Steadfast, dedicated, dependable, and worthy of trust. It is derived from the Hebrew root having the basic meaning “to trust (a person),” or “to believe (a statement).” This is the same root that gives us the word “amen.” The derived meaning is that the one so described is trustworthy, dependable, trusting, or loyal. Moses was faithful in all God’s household (Num. 12:7). “Faithful” is used to describe the relation of God and Israel (Deut. 7:9). The faithful God keeps His covenant, and the faithful people keep His commandments.

In the New Testament the adjective “faithful” is a derivative of the Greek noun meaning “faith.” Here we get the translation “faithful” as a natural derivative of faith. Once again the fundamental meaning is that the one so described is trustworthy and loyal. The root idea is that one has fidelity toward another person or toward God. For example, in 1 Corinthians 7:25 Paul commended himself to the Corinthians as one who is “faithful” (KJV) or “trustworthy” (NAS). In Revelation 2:10 the church in Smyrna and subsequent readers are commanded “be thou faithful unto death.” And, in Ephesians 1:1 Paul addressed the letter “to the faithful in Christ Jesus.” In other cases, however, “faithful” describes God’s mode of relation toward persons or toward God’s creation.

Many of these passages speak of God as faithful in order to comfort and encourage Christians. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able” (1 Cor. 10:13). “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24).

The faithful person is steadfast, unchanging, and thoroughly grounded in relation to the other. This sort of fidelity, or faithfulness, is used in both the Old Testament and the New Testament to describe God’s relation to the world and to describe the quality of relationship that Israel and Christians are called upon to have with God and with one another.

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

Faithful Love (v. 41)—The psalmist asked God to bring His faithful love (KJV, “mercies;”  NASB, “lovingkindnesses;” ESV, “steadfast love;” ) to him.  The important Hebrew word is hesed and occurs more than 245 times in the Old Testament, 127 times in the Psalms alone.  The word is a theologically rich word that also can be translated “faithful love,” “loyalty,” “mercy,” or “covenant love.”  Indeed, the word describes many aspects of the blessings that come to us because we are God’s children.  The focus of Psalm 119 is God’s Word, and God’s faithful love in the psalmist’s life would enable him to live out that Word.

The psalmist wanted to experience God’s salvation.  Salvation in the Old Testament sometimes meant physical deliverance from an enemy (1 Sam. 11:9).  It could also describe salvation or deliverance from an affliction or difficult circumstance (Ps. 37:39; Lam. 3:26).  Here, the context probably denotes salvation from adversity as the psalmist walked with God.  The psalmist affirmed that if God’s faithful love came to him, he would have an answer for the one who taunted him (v. 42).  He could stand in the face of opposition as he lived according to God’s commands.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

SALVATION:  The acutely dynamic act of snatching others by force from serious peril. In its most basic sense, salvation is the saving of a life from death or harm. Scripture, particularly the New Testament, extends salvation to include deliverance from the penalty and power of sin.

Old Testament:  For Israelite faith, salvation never carried a purely secular sense of deliverance from death or harm. Because God and no other is the source of salvation, any saving act—even when the focus is preservation of life or release from national oppression—is a spiritual event. The primary saving event in the Old Testament is the Exodus (Ex. 14:13) which demonstrated both God’s power to save and God’s concern for His oppressed people (Ex. 34:6-7). Israel recounted God’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery in the Passover ritual (Ex. 12:1-13), in sermon (Neh. 9:9-11), and in psalms (for example, Pss. 74:12-13; 78:13,42-54; 105:26-38). The retelling of the Exodus event and of God’s provision during the wilderness years (Neh. 9:12-21; Pss. 78:14-29; 105:39-41; 114:8) provided a precedent for sharing other stories of national and even personal deliverance (Pss. 40:10; 71:15).

Some argue that the Old Testament does not link salvation with the forgiveness of sins. The recurring cycle of national sin, foreign oppression, national repentance, and salvation by a God-sent “judge,” however, witnesses the linkage (Judg. 3:7-9,12,15; 4:1-4; 6:1,7,12; also Neh. 9:27; Ps. 106:34-46). God’s sending of a deliverer is in effect God’s act of forgiveness of the penitent (compare Pss. 79:9; 85:4). Psalms 51:12 perhaps provides the best Old Testament case for personal salvation from sin.

In the Old Testament, salvation primarily concerns God’s saving acts within human history. The early prophets anticipated God’s salvation to be realized in the earth’s renewed fruitfulness and the rebuilding of the ruined cities of Israel (Amos 9:13-15). Salvation would extend to all nations who would stream to Zion for instruction in God’s ways (Isa. 2:2-4; Mic. 4:1-4; Zech. 8:20-23). The prophets also hinted of a salvation that lies outside history (for example, Isa. 51:6). The larger context of Isaiah 25:9 reveals that God’s salvation embraces abundant life (25:6) and the end of death (25:7), tears, and disgrace (25:8).

Throughout most of the Old Testament, salvation is a corporate or community experience. The Psalms, however, are especially concerned with the salvation of the individual from the threat of enemies (Pss. 13:5; 18:2,35; 24:5). Though the focus is negative—salvation involves foiling the enemies’ wrongdoing—there are hints of a positive content of salvation that embraces prosperity (as in Ps. 18:35). The Psalms are especially interested in God’s salvation of the “upright in heart” (Ps. 36:10) or righteous (Ps. 37:19-40) who rely on God for deliverance. Psalm 51:12 more than any other Old Testament text associates personal salvation with a conversion experience; renewed joy of salvation accompanies God’s creation of a new heart and right spirit and assurance of God’s abiding presence.

New Testament: For convenience, salvation can be viewed from the two perspectives of Christ’s saving work and the believer’s experience of salvation.

Christ’s saving work involves already completed, on-going, and future saving activity. Jesus’ earthly ministry made salvation a present reality for His generation. Jesus’ healing ministry effected salvation from disease (Mark 5:34; 10:52; Luke 17:19). Jesus offered God’s forgiveness to hurting people (Mark 2:5; Luke 7:50). He assured a repentant Zacchaeus that “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9). Through such encounters Jesus fulfilled the goal of His ministry: “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

The apex of Christ’s completed work is His sacrificial death: Christ came to “give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45); Christ “entered once for all into the Holy Place,… with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12 NRSV); “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor. 5:19 NRSV). Here ransom, redemption, and reconciliation are synonyms for salvation. With reference to Christ’s atoning work, the believer can confess, “I was saved when Jesus died for me.”

Christ’s present saving work primarily concerns Christ’s role as mediator (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 2:1). Christ’s future saving work chiefly concerns Christ’s coming again “to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him” (Heb. 9:28 REB) and salvation from the wrath of God’s final judgment (Rom. 5:9-10).

Though Christ’s sacrificial death is central, Christ’s saving activity extends to the whole of His life, including His birth (Gal. 4:4-5), resurrection (Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:17), and ascension (Rom. 8:34).

The believer’s experience also offers a perspective for viewing salvation. The experience again embraces the past, present, and future. God’s initial work in the believer’s life breaks down into various scenes: conviction of sin (John 16:8); repentance (turning) from sin to God (Luke 15:7,10; 2 Cor. 7:10); faith which involves commitment of one’s whole life to Christ (John 3:16,36); confession of Christ as Lord (Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:9-10). Scripture uses a wealth of images to describe this act: new birth (John 3:3; Titus 3:5); new creation (2 Cor. 5:17); adoption (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:4-5; Eph. 1:5); empowerment to be God’s children (John 1:12); the status of “saints” (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1). This initial work in the believer’s life is often termed justification. Justification, however, also embraces God’s final judgment (Rom. 2:13; 3:20,30).

God’s ongoing work in the believer’s life concerns the process of maturing in Christ (Heb. 2:3; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18), growing in Christ’s service (1 Cor. 7:20-22), and experiencing victory over sin through the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 7-8). Here sin remains a reality in the believer’s life (Rom. 7; 1 John 1:8-2:1). The believer is caught in between what God has begun and what God is yet to complete (Phil. 1:6; 2:12).

God’s yet to be finished work in the lives of all believers is sometimes called glorification (Rom. 8:17; Heb. 2:10). Scripture, however, uses a wealth of terms for this future saving work: adoption (Rom. 8:23); redemption (Luke 21:28; Rom. 8:23; Eph. 4:30); salvation (Rom. 13:11; Heb. 1:14; 9:28; 1 Pet. 1:5; 2:2); and sanctification (1 Thess. 5:23). God’s future work involves more than the individual; God’s future work extends to the renewal of heaven and earth.

Some Contested Issues:  (1) The relationship between faith and works: Scripture repeatedly affirms that salvation is the free gift of God appropriated through faith (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 3:28). No individual merits salvation by fulfillment of God’s law (Rom. 3:20). Saving faith is, however, obedient faith (Rom. 1:5; 16:26; 1 Pet. 1:2). We are saved for good works (Eph. 2:10). Faith that does not result in acts of Christian love is not salvific but demonic (Jas. 2:14-26, especially v. 19).

(2) The perseverance of the saints: Assurance of salvation is grounded in confidence that God is able to finish the good work begun in us (Phil. 1:6), that God who sacrificed His Son for sinners (Rom. 5:8-9) will not hold back anything necessary to save one of his children (Rom. 8:32), and that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ (Rom. 8:35-39). Confidence in God’s ability to keep those who have entrusted their lives to Christ is not, however, an excuse for any believer’s inactivity or moral failure (Rom. 6:12-13; Eph. 2:10).

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

Relationship between Joshua and Jesus:  Gabriel instructed Mary, you will call His name Jesus.  The name Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means “the Lord is salvation” or “the Lord has saved.”  Jesus’ name highlighted His mission as Savior of the world.  The biblical names Josiah (2 Kings 22:1), Isaiah (Isa. 1:1), and Hosea (Hos. 1:1) are all related names in the original Hebrew.  King Josiah and the prophets Isaiah and Hosea lived as men on earth and fulfilled God’s purpose.  Jesus, God’s Son, also would come to earth fully human and would fulfill an even greater purpose.  Eternal salvation would come to the world through Him!

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

 

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND READING:

 

The Messiah’s Birth Foretold and Fulfilled:

1.   Promised through the seed of Abraham: Prophecy: Genesis 22:18: 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice (KJV). Fulfillment: Matthew 1:1: 1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham (KJV).

2.   Promised through Isaac: Prophecy: Genesis 21:12: 12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called (KJV).  Fulfillment: Luke 3:34:  34 Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor (KJV).

3.   Star our of Jacob: Prophecy: Numbers 24:17:  17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth (KJV).  Fulfillment: Matt. 2:2:  2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him (KJV).

4.   Out of the tribe of Judah: Prophecy: Micah 5:2:  2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting (KJV).  Fulfillment: Luke 3:33: 33 Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda (KJV).

5.   Born from the family of Jesse: Prophecy: Isaiah 11:1: 1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:  Fulfillment: Luke 3:32:  32 Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson (KJV).

6.   Born to the house of David: Prophecy: Jeremiah 23:5-6: 5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (KJV).  Fulfillment: Luke 3:31: 31 Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David (KJV).

7.   Born in Bethlehem: Prophecy: Micah 5:2: 2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting (KJV).   Fulfillment: Luke 2:4-7: 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn (KJV). 

8.   Born of a virgin: Prophecy: Isaiah 7:14: 14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (KJV).   Fulfillment: Matthew 1:18: 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost (KJV).

9.   Worshiped and presented gifts by kings: Prophecy: Psalm 72:10:  10 The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.   Fulfillment: Matthew 2:11: 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh (KJV).

10.   Worshiped by shepherds: Prophecy: Psalm 27:9: 9 They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.   Fulfillment: Luke 2:8-9: 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid (KJV).

11.   Massacre of the innocents: Prophecy: Jeremiah 31:15: 15 Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.   Fulfillment: Matthew 2:16: 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

12.   Flight to Egypt: Prophecy: Hosea 11:1: 1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.   Fulfillment: Matthew 2:13-14: 13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt (KJV):

13.   Elijah would be His forerunner: Prophecy: Malachi 4:5:  5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:   Fulfillment: Matthew 17:11-13: 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.  13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

14.   He would be called “Lord.”: Prophecy: Psalm 110:1: 1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.   Fulfillment: Luke 2:11: 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Winter 2016-2017.

 

Mary, A Woman With God’s Favor

By Hal Lane

Hal Lane is pastor of West Side Baptist Church, Greenwood, South Carolina.

T

HE LORD SENT THE ANGEL GABRIEL to Nazareth to tell a young girl named Mary that God had chosen her to play the central role in fulfilling the Bible’s oldest Messianic prophecy.  God spoke the protevangelium (first announcement of the gospel) to the serpent in the garden: “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between you seed and her seed.  He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15).1  God promised to bring salvation to the fallen human race through the seed or offspring of a woman.  Old Testament prophecies repeated the promise to individuals such as Abraham (12:2-3), David (2 Sam. 7:12-13), and Isaiah (Isa. 7:14; 9:6).  Gabriel appeared to Mary to explain that God had chosen her to bring His Son into the world in fulfillment of these prophecies.

Why Mary?  What did Gabriel mean when he referred to her as “favored” (Luke 1:28)?  To address those questions, we will focus on the significance of the Greek verb translated “favor” (vv. 28,30).  A correct understanding of the meaning of these words provides insight into God’s selecting Mary to be the mother of Jesus.

The Greek noun charis (translated “favor,” “grace”) shares a common root with the Greek verb chairo (“rejoice”).2  Secular Greek writers used charis when referring to that which brought pleasure or good fortune.  Charis sometimes referred to a benefit that the gods or people extended to others.  The word could also mean “thanks” when referring to a blessing received.3 

In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) charis most often translates the Hebrew word chen (“favor,” “mercy”).  Because the Hebrew word is the basis of the proper name “Hannah,”  some scholars believe the use of charis with reference to Mary was intended to suggest parallels to the prophet Samuel’s birth.  The average Greek reader, however, would likely have missed the subtlety of the Hebrew word behind charis in the Septuagint, which means this parallel probably was not intended.4

The phrase “to find favor” is a Hebrew idiom in the Old Testament.  It describes relationships between people, as when Joseph “found favor” in the eyes of the Egyptian Potiphar and was rewarded with authority in his house (Gen. 39:1-4).  Writers also used the phrase to describe relationships between God and people.

The first person the Old Testament describes as having found favor with God is Noah (6:8).  Noah, in contrast to the wicked majority of his time, was “a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries” and a man who “walked with God” (v. 9).  We must be careful not to interpret Noah’s call to build the ark as a wage earned on the basis of good works.  Noah found favor with God through faith alone (Heb. 11:7).  God looked favorable upon Noah because of Noah’s faith; his works demonstrated the reality of that faith.

Mary, like Noah, was not rewarded with a great privilege because of good works or merit.  The greeting of Gabriel to Mary as a “favored woman” used the Greek verb charitoo meaning “highly favored.”  When Jerome translated this Greek verb in the Vulgate (the Latin translation of the Bible around AD 400), he used the phrase gratia plena, meaning “full of grace.”  This unfortunate translation led to the development of unbiblical doctrines such as Mary’s immaculate conception, perpetual virginity, and the concept of Mary as a repository of grace for others.5  Mary herself revealed the fact that she considered herself a sinner in need of salvation in her song when she referred to “God my Savior” (Luke 1:47, emphasis added).  The Savior whom God chose her to bear would be her Savior too.  Supporting this interpretation is the only other use of charitoo in the New Testament: “to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6).  This verse includes both the noun charis, “grace,” and verb charitoo, “favored.”

Charis became a key word for Paul in describing salvation by faith apart from works (Rom. 3:24; 4:4; 5:15, Eph. 2:8).  New Testament theology emphasizes that believers can never regard God’s grace or favor to be a wage or right to be earned.  To attribute the favor Mary found with God as earned is contrary to all we know from God’s revelation about the nature and origin of salvation.

The information about Mary in the New Testament is limited.  We can glean from the few references available that Mary was a humble, godly young woman of faith.  She was humbled and thrilled that God chose her to be the mother of His Son Jesus Christ.  Her response to Gabriel’s announcement that she would bear a Child was met with puzzlement based on her purity before marriage (Luke 1:34).  Later, visiting Elizabeth, Mary showed that she knew the Old Testament Scripture.  Her exaltation of praise, commonly called “The Magnificat” (vv. 46-55), was comprised of proclamations and thoughts from the three major parts of the Old Testament, the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.  These flowed from her memory.

Mary was a woman of faith.  The New Testament records only one sentence of instruction from Mary concerning Jesus; at Cana she said, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5).  In spite of being a person of faith, Mary was far from perfect.  She failed to understand the full implication of Jesus’ Person and calling when He was a young boy (Luke 2:50) and even during His public ministry as an adult (Matt. 12:46-50).  Nevertheless she believed and was present at Jesus’ crucifixion (John 19:25).  The last mention of Mary is with those praying and waiting for the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 1:14).

Mary belongs among the great women of biblical history who found favor with God.  Her contribution to the story of salvation should not be diminished or embellished.  Based upon His sovereign will, God chose Mary to give birth to His only begotten Son—who reversed the curse and opened paradise to all who through faith receive Him as Savior and Lord, including Mary.   

1.  All Scripture quotations are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).

2.  Conzelmann, (charis, favor) in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Kittel, ed. & trans. Bromiley, vol. 9 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 373.

3.  Ibid., 373-74.

4.  Stein, Luke, vol. 24 in The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1992), 83.

5.  Morris, The Gospel According to St. Luke  (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 72.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Spring 2015.

 

Angels As Heralds of God

By Roy E. Lucas, Jr.

Roy E. Lucas, Jr. is professor of Bible, Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, Pineville, Kentucky and pastor of First Baptist Church, Loyall, Kentucky.

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OMPARED TO MODERN LIFE where messages instantaneously speed around the world by telephone or by e-mail, communications in the first century AD was extremely slow and inefficient.  Messengers crossed paths on the dusty trails and paved Roman roads as they purposely searched for the people for whom their superiors had sent them.  Following the dictates of their superiors, these messengers carried a word related to matters of diplomacy in times of both war and peace.1

In classical Greek literature, a messenger (Greek, aggelos ) served as a substitute for the superior who sent him and who the mythological gods protected.  Two or more messengers served to authenticate the message and provide mutual protection.  The superior expected the messenger to faithfully communicate his intentions and his words.  To deliver the message exactly demonstrated the highest integrity of a messenger’s role.  Changing the message could constitute a serious crime.  Thus, memorizing or even reading the announcement aided in ensuring the truthfulness and authenticity of the message.  This background of human messengers in classical Greek culture illuminates the role of angels in both the Old and New Testament as God’s faithful messengers.2 

The Revealing Role of Angels

The four Gospels, Acts, and the Book of Revelation present most of the angelic encounters in the New Testament.  The Epistles contain only a few, short references to angelic activity, while several New Testament books do not mention angels at all.  When a text does mention an angel, the writer usually focuses more on the angel’s message than his appearance (see Luke 1—2; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

Angels’ activities in the Bible revolve around three basic, yet interrelated relationships.  First, angels are God’s messengers and servants.  They worship and praise Him (Isa. 6:1-3; Luke 2:13-14).  All of their activities are done in God’s service.  Second, angels serve to reveal God’s truth to humans and to guide and protect those who follow God’s will (2 Kings 6:15-17; Dan. 9:20-27; Matt. 1:20-21; 2:13).  Finally, angelic activity often is specifically connected to Jesus.  Angels are involved at four critical moments in Jesus’ life and ministry: His birth (Luke 1:26-38; 2:8-15); temptations (Matt. 4:11); resurrection (Matt. 28:1-7; Mark 16:4-7; Luke 24:4-7); and second coming (1 Thess. 4:16).  Their role as messengers of God’s revelation is most prominent in the Gospel narratives that describe Jesus’ birth and resurrection.

The Messenger Role of Angels

Luke 1—2—Luke highlights one of angels’ major roles in the New Testament: as messengers of God who announced the coming of the Christ.  Gabriel is the only angel the Gospels identify by name (Luke 1:19,26).  He announced to Zechariah that his wife would bear a son (John the Baptist) and that this son would prepare the way for the Messiah (vv. 11-20).  When Zechariah doubted the message, the angel’s words, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news” (v. 19, HCSB), revealed both his function and the source of his authority.  The angel stands in God’s presence as His personal servant and he carries out that service with God’s authority.

This same angel was also sent to announce to Mary that she would be the mother of God’s Son by the power of the Holy Spirit (1:26-38).  Luke specifically stated that this angelic messenger “was sent by God” (1:26, HCSB), again emphasizing that Gabriel was acting as God’s herald and with God’s authority.  An angel also revealed to Mary’s husband Joseph in a vision that her child had been conceived by the Holy Spirit and was the promised Messiah (Matt. 1:20-21).

When the Messiah was born, angels again served as God’s heralds in announcing the birth.  An angel appeared to shepherds in the field and “the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Luke 2:9; HCSB).  The angel told of the Messiah’s birth and emphasized that His coming was the work of God.  Suddenly, a heavenly host appeared, offering praise to God and telling of the Messiah who had come to bring peace (vv. 13-14).  The angels shared this message not with the social elite but with the group of common shepherds.  The message was clear: the good news of salvation is offered to all people.  For such important news, angels proved to be the appropriate messengers.

First Thessalonians 4:13-18—Angels will fulfill many roles as they accompany Christ at His second coming.  The significant phrase “with the voice of the archangel” (v. 16, NASB) reveals that a part of God’s angelic host will announce Christ’s return.  The three sounds mentioned (a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God) may be one sound which belongs to the archangel.  Other New Testament passages connect a voice with a trumpet (Rev. 1:10,12; 4:1), and a “mighty angel” serves as God’s herald (5:2; 7:2).  Overall, the biblical texts reveal two future functions of archangels: to proclaim the great news of the return of the Christ and to lead God’s angelic army into battle against those spiritual forces who oppose His will and purposes (12:7-9).

Titles for Angels

When Luke referred specifically to Gabriel or to another individual angel bearing a message from God, he used the Greek term aggelos, meaning “messenger” (1:11-19; 2:9).  But Luke used another term for the group of angels that appear to the shepherds: stratia  or “host” (2:13).  This angelic “host” appeared to declare God’s majesty at Christ’s birth.  A comparable Hebrew term is tsaba, which can also be translated as “host” (Ps. 103:20-21).  This Psalm also uses the terms malakim  and mishrathim  to refer to angels.  These make up the tsaba.  Both the Hebrew and Greek terms for “host” generally refer to God’s heavenly army of angels, who move at His command to fulfill His purposes.  In this role, the heavenly host serve God as an extension of His care for and supremacy over all creation.3

While extra-canonical literature commonly mentions archangels,4 the New Testament uses the term “archangel” only in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and Jude 9.  Paul refers to an unnamed archangel who will sound the trumpet (1 Thess. 4:16).  Jude 9 mentions Michael as “the archangel.”  This may mean Michael is better known than others rather than his being the top or only archangel.  Michael serves God by doing battle with Satan (Rev. 12:7).  If Gabriel is an archangel like Michael, then, in contrast to Michael, he serves as God’s special messenger to reveal God’s plan and kingdom to humanity.  The Book of Daniel, while not labeling Michael with the title archangel, does refer to him as a chief prince among the angels (Dan. 10:13, HCSB; see 10:21; 12:1).  The existence of archangels implies that other angels exist who are of lesser rank.

The New Testament proves consistent with the Old Testament picture of angels and their roles.  The most essential role is that of revealing God’s will and work to men.  In the New Testament the functions of the angels deal almost exclusively with Jesus’ life and ministry.  They directly revealed God’s message at Jesus’ birth and resurrection.  After these announcements though, Jesus Himself stands alone in the New Testament as the greatest revelation of the Father and His will (Heb. 1:1-13).     Bi

1.   Stephen F. Noll, Angels of Light, Powers of Darkness  (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1998), 155.

2.   Maxwell J. Davidson, “Angels” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels,  ed. Joel B. Green and Scot McKnight (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1992), 8; Noll, 155.

3.   C. Fred Dickason, Angels: Elect and Evil  (Chicago: Moody Press, 1975), 59; Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, in Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains (GELNT),  2nd ed. (New York: United Bible Societies, 1989), 1:144-45; in GELNT, 1:145.

4.   First Enoch 40:9-10 names four angels: Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, and Phanuel.  First Enoch 20 mentions three other names for archangels: Saraqa’el, Raguel, and Suru’el.  Enoch states Gabriel supervised the garden of Eden and the cherubim.  See E. Isaac, trans., “(Ethiopic Apocalypse of ) Enoch” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha,  vol. 1, Apocalyptic Liturature and Testaments, ed. James Charlesworth (New York: Doubleday, 1983), 23-24, 32.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Winter 2011-12.2008-09.

 

MARY All We Know                       

By Glenn McCoy

Glenn McCoy is associate professor of religion, retired, Department of Religion, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, New Mexico.

I

 DON’T WANT to appear negative, but let us begin by admitting what we do not know about Mary.  We know nothing of her parents, birth, or youth.  We do not know her age when Jesus was born, what thoughts she may have had about Him as her Son grew into manhood.  And, we do not know for certain when, where, and how she died.  Having said all of this, exploring what the New Testament does tell us about her is still worthwhile.  After all, Mary is the most noteworthy female in the entire New Testament.

Mary’s Family

Matthew introduces Mary as being Joseph’s wife and Jesus’ mother (Matt. 1:16).  Later we learn that Mary and Joseph had four other sons (James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas) and at least two daughters (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3).  Mary was related to Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother (Luke 1:36).  In addition, her sister was among those who observed Jesus’ crucifixion (John 19:25).

Mary and Joseph were likely young by our standards when their parents arranged their betrothal.  Rabbis had decreed the minimum age for marriage at 12 for girls and 13 for boys.1 We may assume that Joseph was somewhat older than Mary since Jewish men customarily married before they reached the age of 21.  Apparently Joseph died some time between Jesus’ twelfth birthday and the beginning of His public ministry.  The last time the Gospels mention Joseph is when Jesus was 12 years old (Luke 2:41-51).  This means Mary was left as a widow with at least seven children.

Mary and Jesus: The Infancy Narrative

Mary revealed her faith in God by trusting in Him even when she did not understand how she, a virgin, could give birth (1:34,38).  In fact, Luke suggests she was “deeply troubled”2 (v. 29), that is, confused and perplexed.3 Visiting Elizabeth seemingly had a soothing and settling impact on Mary.  While there, she uttered the Magnificat (vv. 46-55), which revealed her praise for God’s greatness and goodness.  She confessed that God is a God of justice and mercy, One who lifts up the lowly and humbles the mighty.

After Jesus’ birth Mary must have been flustered by all the attention given to her Son.  First there were the shepherds who came (2:8-20).  Mary responded to the shepherds’ visit by “treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them” (v. 19).

Eight days after Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph had Jesus circumcised and gave Him the divinely chosen name of “Jesus” (v. 21).  Thirty-three days later, the family went to the temple in Jerusalem for the rite of purification and the redemption of the firstborn (see Ex. 13:2,11-13), which involved sacrifice (see Lev. 12). The kind of sacrifice Mary and Joseph offered indicated they were a poor family.  While in the temple, two persons approached the family and indicated something unusual about their baby.  A devout man named Simeon was convinced he had seen the Messiah in the infant Jesus (Luke 2:25-35). Mary and Joseph were “amazed” at Simeon’s words.  Also an 84-year-old prophetess named Anna expressed her thanks to God for His coming redemption in Jesus (vv. 36-38).  The fact that Mary and Joseph so carefully kept the Mosaic law in reference to Jesus’ birth speaks highly of their religious commitment.

Sometime later, wise men came to Bethlehem to present gifts to the Christ child.  By this time Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were in a house, not in the place of His birth (Matt. 2:1-11).  Ironically the wise men’s coming to worship the holy Child indirectly led to Herod’s attempt to kill Him.  If the visits of the shepherds and wise men and the accolades of Simeon and Anna were high points for Mary and Joseph, the threat of Herod and their subsequent flight to Egypt must have been the low points.  We can imagine Mary’s sense of fear as her child was being threatened by the most powerful man in all of Israel.  Throughout this journey Mary trusted Joseph’s judgment at every turn. After a stay in Egypt, the family returned to their hometown of Nazareth (vv. 19-23).

When Jesus was 12 years old, the family went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival (Luke 2:41-50).  As the events unfold, we begin to see a transition in Jesus’ relationship to His parents.  This incident reveals three things about Mary and Joseph.  First, they were devoutly religious because they went annually to Jerusalem for the Passover festival (v. 41).  Their astonishment shows they did not understand how the 12-year-old Jesus questioned religious authorities in the temple (v. 48).4 Third, they did not understand what Jesus was trying to tell them about His mission (v. 50).

Mary and Jesus: The Public Ministry

Mary played an insignificant role in Jesus’ ministry.  This should not surprise us because the Gospels are about Jesus, not Mary.  “Any special dignity possessed by Mary results from her relationship to Jesus.”5 The Gospels mention Mary in connection with only three incidents in Jesus’ public ministry.

The first incident concerns Jesus’ turning water to wine at a wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11).  Three characteristics of Mary’s relationship to Jesus stand out in this story.  First, when a crisis arouse (no wine), she had learned to turn to Him for help.  Second, though she did not fully understand what He meant by saying His hour had not yet come, she had faith to do whatever He suggested (v. 5).  What Jesus seemed to be telling Mary was that her authority as His mother was no longer a primary influence in His life.  God’s (and Jesus’) will that He fulfill the purpose and plan in His role as Messiah was not the dominant governing authority in His life.  Jesus seems to have said to His mother that she would not be the governing force in His life—God the Father would.6 Third, Jesus intended no insult by addressing His mother as “woman.”  He used the same term when He referred to her from the cross (19:26).

The second incident reveals Mary’s concern for her Son’s welfare (Matt. 12:46-50; Mark 3:20-21,31-35; Luke 8:19-21).  John’s Gospel says that during Jesus’ public ministry, His brothers did not believe He was the Messiah (John 7:5).  At this stage, they probably considered their brother to be well intended but misled (see Mark 3:20-21).  Whether the family’s seeking out Jesus was Mary’s suggestion or His brothers’ we do not know.  In either case, a mother’s love motivated her to do what she felt was best for her Son’s welfare.  In refusing to speak with His brothers and mother, Jesus again, as He had done in Cana, demonstrated that His priorities were not those of His mother, but those of God and His kingdom (3:31-35).

The third incident involving Mary during Jesus’ public ministry occurred at the cross (John 19:25-27).  Jesus addressed His first words from the cross (in John’s account) to His mother.  Jesus’ words expressed His concern that someone would care for Mary after He was gone.  Remember, Joseph was  probably dead by that time and Jesus’ brothers were rather unsympathetic toward His ministry.  If in fact Salome was Mary’s sister (compare Matt. 27:55-56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25), it was natural for Jesus to commit the care of His mother to John, Mary’s nephew and a close follower of Jesus.

Mary Beyond the Gospels

After Jesus’ resurrection and His several appearances (one of which was to His brother James—1 Cor. 15:7), His brothers became believers.  We encounter Mary and her sons for the last time gathered with other believers for the purpose of prayer (Acts 1:12-14).  We are unsure of Mary’s role in the spread of Christianity during the years after Jesus’ ascension.  We may assume she shared the good news concerning her Son.  Her influence was certainly felt in two of her sons, James and Jude, who wrote letters found in the New Testament and the former became leader of the Jerusalem church.  What about Mary’s later years?  We are uncertain.  One tradition has her dying in Jerusalem and another suggests she accompanied John to Ephesus where she lived out her life.  We cannot be sure which tradition is correct (if either).  We can imagine that her later years were filled with precious memories of what her Son had accomplished. BI

1.  J. A. Thompson, Handbook of Life in Bible Times (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity, 1986), 85.

2.  All Scripture quotations are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

3.  The form of the verb suggests “she was thoroughly confused.”  See Fritz Rieneker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, vol. 1, Matthew through Acts, ed. Cleon L. Rogers, Jr. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980), 140.

4.  Jesus invoked the same response from His listeners in the synagogue at Nazareth.  They too were astonished (Luke 4:22).

5.  Pheme Perkins, “Mary in the Gospels: A Question of Focus,” Theology Today 56.3 (0ctober 1999): 298.

6.  James M. Howard, “The Significance of Minor Characters in the Gospel of John,” Bibiotheca Sacra 163 (January-March 2006): 66-67.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Vol. 35, No. 2; Winter 2008.

 

BIBLE CHARACTER TRIVIA

 

(1.135) What is the Answer To & Where in The Bible is This Week’s Trivia Question Found: What priest in the Bible is mentioned as having no mother or father? Answer Next Week:

Last Week’s Question:  Who were the two priests killed because they offered “strange fire” to the Lord? Answer:  Nadab and Abihu; Numbers 3:4.