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Luke 2: 1-20 Introduction

The simplicity of the historical

record of the birth oOesusis in marked
contrast with the unparalleled,
rruimentous significance of this event.
The Global Census of Caesar Augustus
and the Plan of God
Although "scholars once
adiuracy concerning
the historical details
of Jesus' birth,
Christians have never
since what he wrote
is the Word of God.
Moreover, now a
mass of papyri and
inscriptions give
sufficient evidence
that Augustus did
issue the census
decree whic!t Luke
.. nientioIjs, "that \twas
II' new, epocli-nillking measure, and
. that iriaugurateda periodic enrollment
in the empi're which continued for
over two centuries at intervals of
. founeen years."-Lenskt
The present tense of verb, "a census
be taken; (apographesthai in Greek),
suggests "a continuing series of
enrollments for purposes of taxation.
This correSponds exactly with the new
. discoveries of a periodical, founeen
year taxing which, in the case of Egypt,
the papyri carry back as farasA.D., 20.
Publius Sulpictus Quirinius was not
only the regular governor of Syria in
A.b. 6, he functioned in a governing
capacity from B.C. t onward, . The
. word in verse tWo the NASV translates
as "governor .. can be translated simply
as "acting in a governing capacity."
Herod the Great died in the spring of
B.C. 4, and Jesus was born a year or
two before his death. At the time of
Jesus' binh, Varus became governor of
Syria. While he was governor,
Quirinius controlled the armies and
directed the foreign policx";9fSyrla. In
this capacity he supervised the census
for taxation in Herod's kingdom. I
point this out because some have
questioned the accuracy of Luke's
statement concerning QUirinius .. "The
genitive absolute, 'Quirinius goveming
in Syria; is not so much a date as a
statement regarding the control of the
enrollment for taxation. Acting in a
governing capacityin Syria, and having
broader powers than those of the
regular governor, Quirinius managed
the enrollment also in Herod's
domain. -Lenski
"Taking all the facts into
considerarion, we may confidently
assen that no one has yet succeeded in
PROVING that Luke is mistaken (in
any of his facts). On the contrary,
according as our knowledge of the
.. f THE. COUNSE.L of Chalcedon October, 1993

has increased, the accutac;y anc(
trustworthiness of Luke'ssiatements
have become . lllott , clearly
eviderit."-Geldenhuy:s.(Pot more on
the accuracy of Luke regardingCaesar's
census and Quirinius's governorship
see Geldenhuys, ' Special Note: The
Enrollment under Augustus; pg,
God orchestrates and uses this
global imperial decree to fulfill the
prophecy of Micah 5:2 regarding the ,
place of the Messiah's birth. God
moves emperors and elllpires around
to accomplish His plan of redemption ...
No one can stop Him or effectively
resiSUhe devel-
opment of that
plan, Isai.iih
.' Under this
imperlal cen5Iis
decree people
traveled to their
according to the
orders in each province and region
which put the decree in effect locally,
vs .. 2. This is why Joseph and Mary left
the town of Nazareth, where they
were living, and traveled to Bethlehem
to be registered. Under this decree the
name, occupation, property and
relatives had to be entetedin the public
registers. This probably took plliee
with a view of levying taxes.
Although some have questioned
the accuracy of Luke's statement
concerning the necessity of] oseph and
Mary to return to liethlehem to be
registered, "the genuineness of the
statement that everyone had to go into
his own city to be enrolled has also
been strikingly confinned. It was a
characteristic feature of Augustus's
action towards a subject people that he
gave every consideration to their
national customs. Especially since he
had the enrollment made through
Herod, who ruled as king of the jews,
it goes without saying that the jewish
custom was followed to let the
inhabitants go to their original nature
city for the taxings. -Geldenhuys
Since joseph and Mary were of the
royal House of David the King, they
had to go to Bethlehem, the city of the
King, where David was born about
1000 years earlier. Today the town
has 8,000 citizens, most of whom are
Christians. joseph was fully aware of
his Davidic descent, because jews from
earliest times kept their genealogies
with amazing, detailed accuracy.
Although it was not necessary for Mary
to accompany him on this trip,
nevertheless, because the time for her
delivery was imminent, he did not
want to leave her behind in Nazareth.
Surely MalY, and probably joseph,
knew that according to Micah 5:1-2
the Messiah would be born in
Bethlehem; therefore, more than likely
thatwas a major factor in their decision
to travel to Belhlehem.
According to Matthew 1:24-25 it
appears thatj oseph married Mary right
after her return from Elizabeth. When
jesus was born they had been married
for less than nine months, and yet
Luke speaks of Mary as "betrothed" to
joseph, ("engaged" in the NASV).
Why? Luke uses this tenninology to
remind us that although they were
married, they were living as "engaged"
persons, without engaging in marital
sexualactivity,Mat. 1:25, to emphasize
again that Mary was pregnant, not by
joseph, but because of the
overshadOwing of the Holy Spirit of
God. FurtheIDlore, joseph may have
taken Mary with him from Nazareth to
Bethlehem "to shield her against
slanderous tongues, and in order to
give her all the protection and help
that she needed in her condition, and
not to leave her in the care of others.
Mary herself must also have greatly
desired to leave Nazareth with]oseph.
Providence so shaped events that the
two left Nazareth just at this
time." -Lenski ..
The Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ
In two verses Luke records the most
important event in all of human
history---the incarnation of God in
jesus, the binh of the Divine-Human
Savior of the world. To save man, He
humbled Himself to beborn as a human
baby in the lowliest of circumstances,
"and was laid in a manger, because
there was no room for Him in the inn.
"The extreme simplicity of the narrative
is in very marked contrast with the
momentous character of the event thus
Because the little town ofBethlehem
was so crowded with people because
of the reqUirements of the census,
joseph and Mary could find no proper
lodging, so they spent the night in a
stable, where animals were kept. There
Mary gave binh to the Son of God
incarnate. The early church father,
justinManyr,(c, A.D. 150), wrote that
the "stable" was, in fact, a cave. InA.D.
330 Constantine the Great built a
church over this cave. Some expen
historians believe this cave was most
probably the real place ofjesus' birth.
Later justinian refurbished and
beautified the church, which stands to
this very day over the cave. This
present edifice is "mainly the same as
the one erected over 1600 years ago.
The day on whichjesus was born is
unknown. "The decision that Christ's
binh occurred on December 25 was
reached in the fourth centuty, i.e.,
during the . reign of Constantine, the
first Christian emperor, (period of
reign: A.D. 306-337). It was then that
the date of the Savior's birth was made
to coincide with Saturnalia, the
orgiastic pagan festival celebrating the
return of the sun after days of constantly
increasing darkness.' -Hendriksen
. While jesus' conception was
miraculous and supernatural, He was
born naturally, as all babies are born:
Mary went into labor, birthpains set
in, her "water broke," her cervix dilated,
and the baby passed through themouth
of the womb into the world. Luke
simply puts it: "she gave birth to her
firstborn son . .. ." "Firstborn, or
prototokon in Greek, most naturally
suggests that Mary had more children.
In fact, the Gospels mention that jesus
had brothers and sisters, Mat. 13:55,56;
jn. 7:35. His brothers are named in
Matt. 13:55 as james, joses, Simon
and judas. "The Roman Catholic
opinion that Mary bore no further
children, (and was a perpetual virgin),
cannot be maintained, for then we
should have expected there mono gene,
(only begotten) and not prototokon,
(fi rs tb om)." - Ge I den h uys.
Furthennore, "firstborn" must be
understood also in the O.T. sense of
Exodus 13:2, IS; 34:19, i.e., the
firstborn son was the primary heir of
the family wealth, and was to be given
to God's service unless "redeemed"
with a saCrifice, Num. 18: 15. The
"firstborn" was the representative of
all the children ina family, who, unless
"redeemed" was to serve the Levites,
who were the representatives of the
entire Holy Nation, which was the
representative of God in the world. It
is fitting that jesus bearthis title, since,
as our Mediator, He is in fact: (1). The
Heir of all creation, Col. 1: 15; Heb.
1:2; and (2). the representative-
substitute of the chosen people to bear
their sins away, so that they might
comprise "the church of the firstborn,'
Heb. 12:23, heirs themselves of God
and creation, because they are "in
Christ," Rom. 8: 17; I Cor. 3:21-23.
(For the im ponance of the doctrine
of the virgin birth of jesus, and of
Christians believing it see pages 17-19
October, 1993 THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon 5
in my exposition of l,.uke 1.:26-38
entitled . of the
Incarnation of Christ to the Virgin Mary, ")
The Revelation of the
Foolishness of God
Once agairi God is faithful to His
revealed tnetho4 .of oPeration in the
advance of His kingdom, He uses the
lowly and l:nis,e to overturn
the high and :rhe mighty,
the foolish to defeat the'
wiSe, the weak to. shame
the: that no man
should boast before Him, I
Cor, 1:26-29, God does
that look foolish in
the eyes of the world, so as
to confuse and destroy His
enemies, How "foolish" to
make mankind depe1,ld
upqn the testimony of two
first -century women for its
understanding" of the
gn:atest event of all
times--the incarnation,
foolishness of God is wiser than men, and
the weakness of God is stronger than
men," I Cor. 1:25,
The Angel of the Lord Himself
comes to the shepherds to preach the
gospel of the newborn King and Savior
to them, He came to Zacharias to
announce the birth of the Forerunner,
1:IL He came to Mary to announce
And now, the Savior is born, and with the virgin conception of the Savior and
that birth, the Kingdqni of God has Messenger of the Covenant, 1:26, And
entered humari history and its saving nqw He comes to the shepherds to
power. begins' its conquest of men's "bring the good news of great jQy which
hearts and sOcieti,es, After the birth of shall be for all the people," 2:10, As we
Christ the Ahgel comes from God to 4ave seen, "the Angel of the Lord,"
pn!ac4 the gospel to SflEPFIERDS, Who reveals God's will to His people
w40 in turn share the good news of in the O,T, is a pre-incarnate
Christ to otIlers, SHEPHElWS! These llppearance of the Son of God, the
eternal Word of God, ' the Second
men, w!iitingin faith fonhe<i?,ming of PerSon of the Holy Trinity, Now the
the Messiah; but as a class shepherds Angel of .the Lord speaks of the
not a respected lot. These accompli$hment of His incarnation in
shepherds were also simple men of a Jesus to the shepherds, What mystery
despised c1ass which wasalwaysundei, ' we have here!
suspicion for disllonesty:,and theft, The Glory-Cloud of the Lord also
They were not allowed trustWorthy:, to the shepherds that I]ight
enough tQ testify and give evi,dence in in the fields, and it "shonearound them;
court proceedings, ,And ,yet, ,these and they were terribly frightened,' The
shepherds are the ones to whom the "gloty," (doxa in Greek), oftheLord is
gos'pelisfirst'preachedandwh6begin the magnificent display of His
the evangelization of the world, "The perfections, The was
6 TIlE COUNSEL of Chalcedon October, 1993
that radiant pillar of fire that led the
children of Israel through the
wilderness, and that hovered over the
Tabernacle and sometimes filled the
Holy of Holies in the Temple, It
the miraculous and, glorious
visualization of the active Presence of
Jehovah with His covenant people,
Israel, the pledge and guarantee of His
fellowship with them and prOtection
of them, By that "Gl.ory-Cloud" God
led His people, protected His people,
and assured them of His
grace and faithfulness
toward them, .Where the
:'Glory-Cloud'" was., God
was, for it was a sign .of His
prese)lce, When , the
disappe:i\red, it was a sign
that God was angry with
His people and had
removed His presence and
His blessing from them,
Now with the
incarnation of Jesus God
supremely reveals Himself
and all His glorious
perfectiOns in ,the salvation .of His
people and Hi; creation, so
can speak ofjesus as "the Exposition.of
God," Jn, 1:18, "And the Word became
flesh and tabernacled among us, and we
behe1dHis GLORY, GLORY asofthe only
begotten of the Father, full of and
truth," ln, 1: 14, When God enables a
person to believe inJesus, that person,
by faith, sees "the GLORYof God in the
face ,of Je,us Christ," II Cor, 4:6,
Therefore, to impress the world with
the fact thatJt;sUS is the Glory of God
incarnate, God caused the Glory of His
Presence to be bIilliantly visualized to
some shepherds in the fields
immediately after the birth of Jesus,
filling the entire sky and annbspbere
around them With the effulgence of
His Glory'Cloud, "The splendbr of
the Lord blazed around them." -Morris
"stop being aJraid"
As might be expected, the
shepherds were terrified by this
extraordina!}' incident. So, the Angel
spoke to them, saying, "Stop being
afraid. There is nothing in all this to
terrify you. This revelation of God's
Glo!}' will calm all your fears." We are
only in mapter two of Luke's gospel,
and already we have heard the Angel
telling people not to be afraid three
times, 1:13; 1:30; 2:10. Why were
these people afraid when they saw and
heard the Angel of the Lord? What
terrified them? Knowing
'jar behold,! bnng you good news
oj great joy which shall be
Jar all the people"
"The gospel for sinners must always
begin with 'fear not,' for it removes sin
and fear. The angel justifies the
command with 'gar,' ('For'), and
exclaims at the greatness of this
justification with 'idou,' ('Behold'). But
he states first the effect and then the
cause, first the joy and then the birth
that produces that joy."-Lenski
"I bnngyougood news"is one word
in Greek, EVANGELIZOMAI, from
which we get OUt word, evangelize. It
again, Luke is a "singing gospel," which
begins and ends in praise and rejoicing,
1: 14; 24:52. Luke's Gospel is
dominated by ecstatic joy that salvation
and the Kingdom of God have come to
man in Jesus Christ. This exuberant
joy and passionate hope is based on
the revelation that salvation is a present
reality and a future certainty in total
perfection. And, as we shall see when
we study chapter 15, eve!}' time a
sinner is received into the company
and fellowship of Jesus, there is joy
among those who live with God in
heaven. Therefore, the gospel ofJesus
Christ brings j oy to angels, men and to
God Himself. Luke "sees God at work
bringing men salvation and
these encounters were
supernatural and from God,
were they afraid that God
was coming to judge them
for their sins? This fear in
the presence of God "is a
plain sign our nature is
fallen from her original;
Heaven and we are not in
the tetnlS we should be, not
the best of us all." -Bishop
Andrewes in Plumer. This
fear was rooted in a guilty
conscience before the Living
"Luke'e Goepel ie dominated by
ecet&ltic joy that ealvation and
the Kingdom of God have come
it is his pleasure to bring
out a variety of aspects of
this great saving
to man in Jeeue Chriet. Thie
exuberant joy and paeeionate
hope ie baeed on the revelation
. that ealvation ie a preeent
reality and a future certainty
in total perfection."
The Angel of the Lord
clearly identifies those who
will expelience this great
joy because the saving
power of Christ's Kingdom
their lives: it "shall be for
all the people." In Greek
God, Who is majestic in
"The majesty of God could not but
swallow up the whole world, if there
were not some mildness to mitigate
the terror which it brings. And so the
reprobate full down lifeless at the sight
of God, because He appears to them in
no othercharacterthan that of a judge.
But to revive the minds of the
shepherds, the angel declares that he
wassentto them fora different purpose,
to 'announce to them' the mercy of
God. Whenmenhearthissingleword,
that God is reconciled to them, it not
only raises up those who are fallen
down, but restores those who were
ruined, and recalls them from death to
life." -Calvin
is in the present tense, which means
that it denotes action in progress. Luke
1:19 is the first time this word, which
plays such a central ro1ein the N.T., is
used in the N.T. See also Luke 3:18;
4:18,43; 7:22; 8:1; 9:6; 16:16; 20:1.
The good news the Angel
proclaimed to the shepherds is the
gospel of] esus Christ: God has visited
the human race in Jesus Christ to bling
redemption from sin. The hope of the
centuries has been fulfilled. The
knowledge and experience of salvati on
through faith in Jesus Christ, as the
Divine-Human Savior, brings great joy
to believers. As we have seen time and
there is an article, "the", preceding
"people", and it must be maintained in
the translation. Some translations
mistakenly read that it "shall be for all
people," leaving a wrong impression
that all people without exception will
experience the joy of salvation. The
Angel makes clear that this Gospel of
Jesus, this joy of salvation is for "ALL
THE PEOPLE." Matthew 1:21 says,
"You shall call His name, Jesus, Jar it is
He Who will save HIS PEOPLE Jrom
their sins." "The people," ("to lao" in
Greek), found also in 1:68, 77; 7:16,
was generally used to designate Israel,
the covenant people of God. In the
incarnation of Jesus Jehovah is now
fulfilling His promise to Abraham that
October, 1993 THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon T 7
He would bring the blessings of
salvation to His seed; the chosen people
of God, Gal. 3:29, and through them
to a world full of the chosen people of
God, Gen. 12: 1 ff. The object of.
Jehovah's saving purposes in Jesus
Christ is "all the people," the elect af
God, ' separated from the rest af the
sinful world by sovereign grace, Eph,
3: Iff.
" "F(Jf today in the dty of David
thert has beel! born for you a savior,
who is Christ the Lord"
.. "
Jehavah as the Redeemer afIsrael define
, the title, Saviar, as it is applied to Jesus.
Althoughtheward, "Savior,"isused
rarelytn the Gospels, the verb behind
it, "tosave"isfrequentlyused. "'Saving'
is one ofthose conceptions which by
the very commonness of usage have
suffered attrition af meaning and last
the sharp cantours af their ariginal
impart. The average sense connected
with che ward in the present-day
religious mind is the very general orie
, af deliverance without any too clear
reflection upon the 'wherefram', or
, uppn the 'whereto',' the negative sense
The gaod news, the gaspel of the onthewholepredominatinginamore
Angel,isaboutthebirthofababy,who or less hazy appreherlston."-G, Vas,
is the Savior of the world. TheSelf-bis<;losure of Jesus , pg.258.
ciline into the 'world to save sinnrn,' I ' ,<, ' ' , '",' ''',
Tim. 1:15. He was riamedjesu5, In, the Gospels the Greek word for
because "it is He Who will save His , sadzein, has two predominant
{, h mea,nihg' s',' "to de,liver" and "co heal," or
peopleJrom t ir sins: Mat, 1:21.
,"to' make whole." However, in , the
Although there is no article, "the," . Gaspels, .save," when translated,
before that daes not mean "heal," never depits the healing acc
the noun is indefinite since the relative fram a purely medical paint af view.
clause makes it definite, theref()re, ' "The healing process is subordinated
"Savior" can be translated,"the SaviaC '(0 a higher purpase, and this higher
Jesus is Savior in the same sense that purpose furnishes the Chief reasOli why
God is Savior, 1:47, See Isruah45: 15, the', OCqmence is so qenaminated.
20; Hab. ;3:18; 1>51\., 79:9. , Whatisthishigherideathatst.aD.dsin
Divine, Htiman Savior would ,' ,
accompliShsalvact6n for God's peop1e , the: background? It is thac of the '
in the fullest se!iSe of the word; and tranSference out of the sphere ojdeath
then seel{ and save thoSe who are lost. into the sphere of life ... -Vos, pg. 260. See
Th.istltle, "Savior,';underliesthenarne, Luke 6:9; Mark 3:4 and Mark 5:23;
Matthew 16:25-27; Mark 8:35-38;
,,- Luke 9:24-26,
the first time' Jesus is called Savior in
the N.t. He is referred to as Savior' "Like Matthew 1:21, this passage
only one other time in the gospels, clearly' indicates that to the circle in
Jolih 4:42. Paul speaks af Hhn as whichJesusmoved His coming as the
Savior in Philippians 3:20; EpheSians Messiah was connected with the great
5:23; II timothy i:io;'titus 1:4; 2: 13; ' series of prophecies which promised
3:6. Luke uses the term twice in Acts the advent of Jehovah for the
with 'reference ' to JeSus, 5:31; 13:23. redemption of His people, as truly as
Peter speaks of JesuS as saVior in IT with those which prediCled thecomtnK
Peter 1:1; il; 2:20;3:2,18; and Jude of the Davidic King. The terms, 'a
uses the title in verse 25. John uSes it Savior, which is Christ the Lord,' are,
in'his first epistle in 4: 14. In some of indeed, an express cambination of the
these 'passages ChnSt'ssaviorhood and : two lines of prophecy, an impart that
deityaielinked.Jesusissaviorbecause ' the Child who' was born in the city af
HeisGodincamate, TheO.T, ideas of David was both the pramised
8 'I' mE COUNSEL of Chalcedon f October, 1993
Redeemer of ISrael and! the Anointed
King that was to come."-warfield, The
Lord of Glory, pg. 107f.
Isaiah teaches us, that the fact that
God is the Savior of His people is the
basis of the entire OT revelatian. He
prophesies of a great Divine-Human
Savior, who would bring salvatian to
the elect of God and to the entire
casmas. See 19:20;43:3, 11; 45:15,
21; 49:26; 60:16; 63:8; 25:9; 33:22;
35:4; 37:20, 35; 38:20; 45:20;' 46:7;
47:13, 15; 49:25;59:1; 63:1. The
Hebrew wards use'd in theSe verse far
Savior and save come fram the Hebrew
word, YASHA', which along with its
derivatives are used 353 times iri the
Q,T. The word denotes freedom from
distreSS and the ability to pursue one's
o\vp.oIijec;tives, Tomqvefromdistress
to safety requires ' deliverance, and
deliverance tequires victory aver
enemies and removal of dangers: The
One who brings victory, deliverance,
and the restoration of peace and health,
Socially and individually, is known as
the , Savior, these messianic
prophecies of ISaiah c:oncerning the '
coming Savior are ultimately
fulfilled in Jesus Christ and the
salvatiOn He brings 'to His church. '
Isaiah 19:20
The savior will reveal Himself to
those who were the enemies af Gad's
people am\ canvert them into His
peaple, and will save them. fram their
enemies. As a result of the saving work
of the MeSSiah, it will be said,
"Blessed IS Egypt My people, amlAssyria
the of My hq'l)di, and Israel My
inheritance;' vs. 25., "
, , ,
Isaiah 43:3,11
The Savior will redeem,fellowship '
with, protect and deliver His' people
by destroying their enemies. He will
save His people globally whicn will
include the nations arid the peoples of
the world assembled to warship Him,
because, as Hesays, '7, even r; am the Lord;
and there IS no Savior besides Me," vs; 11.
Isaiah 45:15,21
The Savior is the Sovereign God of
Israel, Who says of Himself: "I am the
Lord, and there is no other, the One
forming light and creating darkness,
1 am the Lord who does all these," vs. 7.
He is "a righteous God and a Savior"
who not only calls all nations to
worship Him, but Who has sworn that
every knee will bow before Him, and
every tongue will swear allegiance to
Him, vs. 22-25.
Isaiah 49:26
As the Savior destroys all the
enemies and oppressors of His people,
"all flesh will hnow that I, the LORD, am
your Savior, and your Redeemer, the
Mighty One of Jacob."
lsaiah 60: 16
The Savior will transform the
attitude of the world toward His people,
from one of hostility to one of
appreciation. He will cause the civil
governments of the nations to
recognize theirresponsibility of protec-
ting and caring for the church of God.
When that happens people will know
that "I, the LORD, am your Savior, and
your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. "
Isaiah 63:8
The Savior will show loving-
kindness, great goodness and
compassion toward His people
transforming their characters from
disobedience to obedience. His
salvation of them was totally
undeserveq., unmerited and unearned.
"In His love and in His mercy He redeemed
them ... /' vs. 9. "In all theirajjliction, He
was afflicted. .. ," vs. 9.
Closely related to these prophecies
of a coming Savior are the lsaianic
propheCies of the Redeemer of Israel,
which also are to be interpreted as
ultimately fulfilledinJesusChrist, Who
is Jehovah in human flesh, 41:14;
43:14; 44:6, 24; 47:4; 48:11; 49:7;
49:26; 54:5, 8; 59:20; 60:16; 63:16.
In Isaiah 60: 16 God identifies Himself
by saying, "I, the LORD, am your Savicr,
and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of
Jacob." In Luke 1 and 2 Jesus is
identified as "the Lord," and "Savior,"
hence, He is also "Redeemer" and "the
Mighty One o[Jacob" in human flesh.
This newborn infant of MalY, as
Savior is "Christ the Lord." THE
THE LORD, 2: 111 Later on the Day of
Pentecost Peter says, "God has made
this same Jesus w)wm you have cnu:ified
both LORD and CHRIST." This
combination, "Christ the Lord," occurs
nowhere else in the N.T. "There is
here a declaration that in this Child
born in the city ofDavid, the functions
of Redemption, Messiahship and
Supreme Lordship are united."-
Warfield, pg. 109.
Jesus is the Christ sent from the
Lord. "Christos" is the Greek word for
the Hebrew word, "Mashiach,"
meaning "Messiah," or "the Anointed
One." Every J ew of that day understood
the designation as referring to the great
Savior whom Jehovah had promised
to send Israel. As "Christ" He is the
One Who would fulfill all the covenant
promises of God in the O. T.. He is the
Anointed One, appointed, ordained
and anointed by God Himself to be the
saving His people from the blindness,
punishment and slavery of sin. In the
O.T. prophets, priests and kings were
anointed upon their installation into
office to symbolize the fuct that they had
been chosen and called of God to that
office, and fully equipped by His Spirit to
carry out aU the functions required of
them as prophets, priests or kings.
Jesus refers to Himself as "the
Christ" in Matthew 16:17, 20; Mark
9:41; Luke 24:26, 46. Others referred
to Him as such in Matthew 16: 16;
Luke 4:41; Matthew 27: 17, 22; Luke
23:2,35. His public anointing was at
His baptism by John. But what is the
significance of referring to Jesus as
"the Christ," Le., "The Anointed One"?
Why are we to associate Jesus with the
practice of anOinting of prophets,
priests and kings in the O.T.?
One who is anOinted is one who
has been commissioned and sent out
with a specific mission to accomplish
in behalf of the One Who anointed.
Jesus is God's chosen and sent
Representative, "the Servant of the
Lord," Who is to cany out the will of
the Father perfectly. "The voice from
heaven at both the baptism and the
transfiguration in its second statement,
'whom I have chosen' places at the
very beginning of our Lord's ministry
the attestation of His holding it under
the sovereignty ofGod."-Vos, pg.l08.
InJohn 4:34 Jesus said, "My food is to
do the will of Him who sent Me, and to
accomplish His work."
"Anointing" not only includes a
declarative, appointive element, it also
emphasizes the close association of the
anointed with God and the resulting
sanctity of the anOinted. In the O.T.
the pouring of the oil on the person
anointed brought lhat person into
closer contact and communion with
Jehovah, so close in fact, that injury
done to him amounts to assault upon
God. The Lord's Anointed must be
treated with great reverence.
Furthermore, it is a great crime to
harm Him in anyway, I Sam. 24:6;
26:9; II Sam. 1:14. Hence, Gabriel
informs Mary that she is carrying a
"Holy" offspring in her womb, because
He is the Anointed One. To reject
Jesus as the Christ is to reject God
Himseif,John 14:6. To know Jesus as
the Christ is to know God, for He and
the Father are one. When one saw
Him, they saw the Father.
October, 1993 THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon 9
Jesus is the Anointed! One because
the Holy Spirit of God was poured out
upon His humanity at His baptism.
This gift, of the Spirit, as a dove
descending on Him from heaven,
amounted to a divine declaration of
His Messiahship. Whereas the Spirit
came upon all the prophets in the
QT, "the descent of the Spirit upon
Jesusat the baptism Wq$ quite unique;
it was intended for permanent
possession, and not limited by any
measure of communication, In.
3:34."-Vos, pg. 109.
This. possession of the
and to others, as belonging to the
sphere of the supernarural."-Vos, pg.
By vinue of the anointing of jesus
with the Spirit, the Anointed becomes
the "Anointer," the Baptizer with the
Spirit, Acts 1-2; II Cor. 1:21; I jn.
2:20,27. "The same principle of the
Messianic receiver communicating
what He has received to His followers
finds expression, though without
reference to the figure of anointing, in
the divine injunction given j oNn the
prophecies that the MesSiah will be
born in Bethlehem as "Ruler in Israel,"
One of the characteristics of Luke's
Gospel is his frequent reference to
jesus as "Lord," 1:45,2:11,19:31,34;
12:36,42,43. The prevailing form of
address tojesus in Luke is "Lord," 5:8;
10:17,40; 11:1; 12:41; 17:37; 22:33,
38, 49. To address Jesus as "Lord,"
"was to acknowledge His authority
and involved subjection to His
commandments."-Warfield, pg. 101.
CallingJesus "Lord" not
only emphasized the
Holy Spirit ''marks its
bearer as panaking of
the holiest intimacies
of God,"-Vos, pg. 1l0.
This is the reason why
blasphemy against the
Holy Spirit in His
Messianic operations is
called the unforgivable
sin. "In the Holy Spirit
the blasphemer
touches the very
sanctities of God,
which inhere in the
Messiah."-Vos. See
"Calling Jesus 'Lord' not only
emphasized the contrast between
Him and the emperor in Rome, it
was used, when applied to Jesus,
with the deepest reverence, because
it indicated the Jesus is Jehovah
incarnate. Jesus is 'the Lord'
visiting earth in our humanity."
contrast between Him
and the emperor in
Rome, it wasused, when
applied to Jesus, with
the deepest reverence,
because it indicated that
Jesus is Jehovah
incarhate. Jesus is "the
Lord" visiting earth in
ourhumanity, Mal. 3: 1 f;
4: If. The point ofthis
designation is toidentify
the person ofjesus with
jehovah, to emphasize
Acts 4:26,27.
"The anointing implies that not
merely a cenain stamp is placed upon
the anOinted, nor merely a close bond
" .established between him and God; it
likewise involves that something
substantial is communicated from God
to him."-Vos. To anoint came to mean
to endow with the Spirit, James 5:14;
II Cor. 1:21. Jesus understood His
anointing-baptism to be a special
impaning of the Holy Spirit. "To Him
the baptism must have been the
anointing at the opening of His public
career, and the anointing must have
been that which fully made Him the
Christ. And such possession of the
life, with all its activities, to Himself
Baptist, In. 1:33: 'He who sent me to
baptize in water said to me, He upon
whom you see the Spirit descending and
remaining upon Him, this is the One Who
baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'''-Vos, pg.
jesus Christ is the Lord Himself
for "Lord," KURIOS, is the translation
meaning "Sovereign Master. " It isused
in the O.T. with reference to Jesus
Christ in Psalm 110: l--"The LORD,
(YAHWEH), said to my Lord, (ADHON
in Hebrew, KURIOS in Greek), Sit at
My right hand, until I make Your enemies
afootstoolforYourfeet." And Micah 5:2
10 THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon October, 1993
His mediatorial sover-
eignty --"All authority in heaven and in
earth has been given to Me. "--and His
Divine majesty --"Christ the Lord". The
Christ of Luke's Gospel is a
divine-human person, who exercises
Divine prerogatives and who "asserts
for Himself a Divine personality and
partIClpation in the Divine
Name."-Warfield, pg. 145.
The exact words of the angel to the
shepherds were: "For today in the dty
of David there has been born for you a
Savior ... : 2: 11. The Angel is very
careful to be clear on the identity of the
persons whom Jesus came to eanh to
save from sin. In fact, throughout this
narrative Luke has been equally. as
careful to point out that the objects of
God's saving grace in Christ are not all
human beings without exception, but
in particular, the elect of God, i.e.,
those whom God chose for Himself
before the creation of the universe,
and with whom in covenanted to be
their God. The Angel identifies the
"saved" as "all The People," "for you",
(the jewish shepherds), and, as we
shall see, the "men upon whom God's
good pleasure rests." In the Magnificat,
Mary sings that in Christ God "has
given help to Israel His servant, in
remembrance of His (covenant) mercy,
as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham
and his seed forever: 1:54-55. In the
Benedictus Zacharias praises God
because "He has visited US and
accomplished redemption FOR HIS
PEOPLE," 1:68. Matthew 1:21 tells us
that jesus came "to save HIS PEOPLE
from THEIR sins." The Bible is clear,
God sent jesus to eanh to save His
elect, all of them, only them, to show
forth the glory of His grace. How may
one tell if he is one of the elect? Acts
13:48 answers: "As many as were
ordained to eternal life, believed (in jesus
Christ as their Lord and Savior)."
Luke sees God'smightyactsinjesus
Christ as the great, central
intervention of God into the history
of mankind to accomplish global
salvation for His people, 2:36;
4:10-12; 17:30f. ForLuke,JesusChrist
is the central focus of all histOlY. "Luke
emphasizes that salvation has become
present in Christ with a &'equent use of
the adverbs 'NOW' and 'TODAY: He
uses 'now' founeen times, (Matthew 4
times, Mark 3 times) and 'today' eleven
times, (Matthew 8 times, Mark once).
In Jesus the time of salvation has
come."-Leon Morris. ("Now", NUN
in Greek, appears in Luke's Gospel in
1:48; 2:29; 5: 10; 6:21, 25; 11:39;
12:52; 16:25; 19:42; 22:36, 69; and
"today," SAMERON in Greek, appears
in 2: 11; 4:21; 5:26; 12:28; 13:32,33;
19:5,9; 22:34; 23:43; 24:21.
"and this will be a sign for you: you
will find the baby wrapped in cloths, and
lying in a manger.
What was the purpose of this
"sign"? Surely it was not to prove that
the Angers words were true. Rather it
was a sign by which the shepherds
could find and identify the Child, in a
small city crowded with people visiting
fonlW census. Taking for granted that
the shepherds will go to Christ the
Lord, the Angel informs them tqat
they will find Him not surrounded by
splendor and outward glory, but as a
little Child wrapped in swaddling
clothes and lying in a manger. What
humiliation this Child experienced in
order to save His People from the
humiliation of sin!
John Calvin explains the purpose
of "signs as they relate to the
sacraments, "Sending down to us from
heaven the word of the Gospel, He
enjoins us to embrace Christ crucified,
and holds out to us signs in eanhly and
fading elements, which raise us to the
glory of a blessed immonality. Having
promised to usspiritual righteousness,
He places before our eyes a little water:
by a small ponion of bread and wine,
He seals the eternal life of the soul."
Immediately upon the conclusion
of the Angers message of Good News
to the shepherds, "a multitude of the
heavenly host" burst fonh in angelic
praise to God, saying: "Glory to God in
the highest, and on earth peace among
men with whom He is pleased," 2:14.
Thousands of thousands of angels fill
the entire sky, all for the sake ofa few,
poor shepherds! Their song is
comprised of three poetical lines,
stressing three nouns: "glory," "peace,"
and "good pleasure." "The second line
is in contrast with the first, and the
third isin coordination and explanation
of the second. That is why no KAI,
"and," introd uces the third
line ... ." -Lenski
This praise of God, based on the
incarnation of Christ, is an assertion, a
statement of fact. "Glory" is the
magnificent display of God's
perfections in Christ forthe redemption
of His people. "What has happened,
the birth of the Redeemer, is the
outcome and revelation of the glOlY of
God, for in the coming of Chrtst the
zenithofthe divine Self-revelation has
been reached. Therefore to God
belongs the honor and the glory and to
Him who is in the Highest Heaven all
praise should be accorded for the
event."-Geldenhuys. With the
incarnation of Christ through the virgin
Mary, the glorious display of God's
wonderful perfections radiates
throughout the whole creation, from
eanh to the highest heavens. Jesus is
"the radiance of God's glory," Heb.
"Let us remember the final cause,
why God reconciled us to Himself
through His Only Begotten Son. It was
that He might glorify His Name, by
revealing the rtches of His grace, and
of His boundless mercy." -Calvin
The Glory of God radiating from
the person and work of Jesus Chlist
produces real peace on earth, i.e., the
restoration of God's order on earth
based on the redemptive work of
Christ. This peace, (EIRENE in Greek
and SHALOM in Hebrew), 1: 79, is the
consequence of the incarnation of
Chrtst and His redemptive work,
turning away the anger of God, and
reconciling His people to God. Peace
in the N.T., EIRENE, rests on the O.T.
concept of peace as SHALOM, meaning
wholeness, prospertty, well-being,
October, 9 9 ~ t- THE COUNSEL !If Chalcedon t- 11
- -- ." ------_ .. _- --_._- --_ .. _-_.-- ---- ----- -----_. _. _ .. _-,._- ..
good of any kind. "Christ restores us
into that relationship with God which
brings us into communion with Him
who blesses us with wholeness and
prosperity. Peace in this sense is
declared by both Testaments to be
characteristic of the Messianic Times,
for God's covenant is a covenant of
peace, !sa. 54: 10; Ezek. 34:325f; 37:26.
The Messiah is Himself the Prince of
Peace, Isa. 9:6f; Mic. 5:5; Zech. 6:13.
!Tis a time also of joy, !sa. 55:12. It is
a time of universal knowledge of God,
Isa. 54: 13. Peace shall be worldwide
and centered in the true Zion or City of
God, !sa. 66: 12. --- Peace is thus first
of all a restored communion with God,
a present possession, and then a
growing material and spiritual
well-being and prosperity Which
encompasses the world. Peace 'is the
direct result of the redemption bf
Christ, Eph. 2:17, and consists
primarily in a state of conscious
reconciliation with God, Rom. 5:1,
though often used in a broader sense
to denote all the blessings which
accompany and flow from that
When wa5 Je5u5 saved?
reconciliation.' (Brown)." -Rushdoony,
Revolt Against Maturity, pg. 253.
"Some of the basic aspects of peace
are thus, PIRST, reconciliation with
God the Pather through the atonement
ofJesus Christ. SECOND, this peace
with God enables us to be at peace
with ourselves. -- THIRD, Christ and
His Utw-Word are the principles of
our peace with men. This means,
POURTH, that Christian reconstruc-
tion is a basic aspect of peace. To
re-establish Christian h u r h ~ and'
schools, states, homes, institutions,
sciences and callings on the UtW-Word
of God is a necessary task of the
peace-maker. Itisthe blessedorjoyful
peace-makers who are called the
children of God, Mat. 5:9, because
they ate those who do the will of their
Pather in heaven.
"PIPTH, ... peace, in its Biblical
sense, does not in any sense mean
compromise. Compromise is a form
of surrender; the word compromise is
not to be found in Scripture. Peace
rather is akinto power and is an aspect
of the manifestation of God's power
How was Je5u5' edu"atlon different from
our publl" 5"hool edu"atlon?
What "an we learn about our5elve5 from
12 year old Je5u5 111 the Temple?
The relatlon5hlp of freewill and the 50verelgnty of God?
12 ~ TIlECOUNSELofChaIcedon ~ October, 1993
unto salvation and victory, Prederick
Douglass once observed that ,'Power
concedes nothing.' Least of all does
the sovereign and omnipotent God
concede anything: His peace is on His
terms and is grounded on His
righteousness and grace. --- Peace is
thus more' than an emotional state. --
When Christ spoke of peace at the last
Supper, it was after He promised the
coming of the Comforter or Advocate.
Then, He declared, 'Pecue I leave with
you, mY peace I give to you: not as the
wqrld gives, give unto you. Let not your
heart be troubled, neither letit be afraid, ,
to be neither troubled nor afraid, our
Lord Was not advocating 'positive
thinking' or psychological self-help.
He was assuring them of peace in a
troubled world precisely because 'all
power' was His, Mat. 28:18. As' a
result, His people )lave the assurance
of peace, lJecause Christ absolutely
rules and reigns over all things. As He
declared, 'These things I have spoken to
you; that in Meyou mighthavepecue.In
the world you shall haye tribulation: but
be of good cheer, I have overcome the
world: John 1,6:33. Christ's peace is
grounded in ,Chrisr'svidory."
-Rushdoony, pg. 254f.
Based on this primary meaning of
"peace" and its basic aspects, "peace"
includes: (1). harmonious
relationships between people, MIt.
10:34; Rom. 14:19; (2). harmonious
telationships between nations, Luke
14:32; Acts 12:20; (3). friendliness,
Acts 15:33; I Cor; 16:11; Heb. 11:31;
(4). freedom from harassment and
molestation, Luke 11:21; 19:43; Acts
9:31; 16:36; (5). cirderin the state; (6).
the harmonized relationships between
God and man; accomplished through
the gospel, Acts 10:36; Eph. 2:17; (7).
the sense of rest and contentment
consequent thereon, Mat. 10: 13; Mark.
5:34; Luke. 1:79; Rom .. 8:6.-Basedon
Vine, Expository Dictionary of N. T.
A more accurate translation of this
phrase is "among men who are the
objects of God's good pleasure." This
phrase should NOT be translated,
"Good will toward men," or "among
men of good will." "The good pleasure
or good will proceeds from God, not
men. The meaning is that peace on
earth will in the highest instance
become a reality among those who are
blessed by the good-will and gracious
favor of God, those redeemed in Christ,
those ordained to full salvation as
children of God." -Geldenhuys.
"EUDOKIA" is regularly used in the
Greek Bible to designate "the good
pleasure of God," i.e., His free and
sovereign determination to save men
of His choosing, Mat. 11:26; Eph ..
1:5,9. So that, the phrase refers to
those people upon whom God's good
pleasure rests, or those who have been
sovereignly chosen by Him for
salvation according to the good
pleasure of His will to the praise of the
glory of His grace, Eph. 1:3ff.
The Response oj the Shepherds to the
Angelic Message
As soon as the angelic choirs
finished their singing they vanished as
suddenly as they appeared. The
shepherds, convinced that the Angelic
Good News was an actual revelation
from the Lord, they agree to go
immediately to Bethlehem to see the
Savior Who is Christ the Lord. "And
they came in haste and found their
way to Mary and Joseph, and the Baby
as He lay in the manger." "What a
tremendous contrast it must have been
to them---the miraculousness of the
announcement of the nativily and now
the poor and humble circumstances in
which they find Him!"-Geldenhuys
"The glory of God was so fully
before their eyes, and reverence for
His Word was so deeply impressed
upon their minds, that the elevation of
their faith easily rose above all that
appeared mean and despicable in
Christ, so that it does not hinder them
from acknowledging the height of His
divine majesty."-Calvin
The shepherds discuss with one
another what they had seen and heard,
and promptly obeyed .the Divine
After visiting the Child
"they made known the statement which
had been told them about this Child,"
2:17. Just as these simple shepherds
were the first persons to whom the
gospel was revealed after the binh of
Jesus, so they were the first ones to
bear witness to the gospel of the
incarnation to others. "The Lord had
made them the wimesses of His Son to
the whole world." -Calvin
Everyone who heard the witness of
the shepherds were astonished at the
things which the shepherds told them.
"And the shepherds went back (to their
flocks in the fields), gloriJying and
praising God Jor all that they had heard
and. seen, just .as had.been told them:
2:20. Like the angelic hosts, the
shepherds glorified and praised God
for His incarnation. What they began
has continued ever since! "Their zeal
in 'glorifying and praising God' is an
implied reproof of our indolence, or
rather of our ingratitude. If the cradle
of Christ, (the little rags in which the
childJesuswas wrapped), had such an
effect upon them, as to make them rise
from the stable and the manger to
heaven, how much more powerful
ought the death and resurrection of
Christ to be in raising us to God?
While everyone who heard the news
of the incarnation was 'astonished,
"Mary treasured up all these things,
pondering them in her heart, " 2: 19. The
story the shepherd's recounted about
the angelic "preaching" to them was
"another link in the golden chain of
miraculous happenings that had
commenced on the day when the angel
Gabriel brought her the news that she
would become the mother of the
Messiah. Everyone of these events
made her realize better the divine
glory of her Son. "-Geldenhuys
"Treasured up" is literally
translated, "guarded closely." Mary,
young contemplative woman that she
was, said nothing. It was all to holy,
too supernatural, too miraculous, too
stupendous for her. And, in addition
to guarding these things closely, she
continued pondering them in her
heart." "Pondered" is a present
paniciple, matching the imperfect verb,
"treasured up," both of which denoting
continual action. "The idea in the
participle is that of throwing things
together, compaling, letting one
explain and add to another. We catch
a glimpse of the depth of Mary's
character, it was calm and deep,
spiritually receptive and strong, steady
and persevering in grace." -Lenski
"If we are wise, it will be our chief
employment, and the great object of
our life, to COnsider with attention
those works of God which build up
our faith."-Calvin
The incarnation of Christ remains
the only basis upon which confidence
and faith in the Living God, instead of
terror and dread can be built. "For the
child of God the invisible and eternal
can no longer have any terror, because
the Christ who has come out of the
unseen world and has returned to it
and now fills the whole universe is his
Redeemer and Lord. " -Geldenhuys Q
October, 1993 THE COUNSEL of ChaIcedon l3