Luke 2 The Birth of Jesus
Summary

This chapter begins by telling us when and under what circumstances Jesus was born. After his birth, angels appear to shepherds near Bethlehem. Later, Jesus is circumcised and presented to God in the temple. Two older Jewish believers, Simeon and Anna recognize the baby Jesus as the one they had looked forward to coming. After this Jesus is taken to Nazareth where He grows up with His parents. At the age of twelve, Jesus goes to Jerusalem with Joseph and Mary for a Passover feast. When the parents start home, Jesus stays behind and goes to the temple. There he talks to the teachers. They were amazed. After three days, his parents found him and he told them why he had stayed.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

2In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration when[1] Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[2] who was with child. 6And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Question 1

Who was ruling when Jesus was born?

Question 2

Why did they go to Bethlehem?

The Shepherds and the Angels

8And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[3]

15When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Question 3

How did the shepherds praise God?

21And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Jesus Presented at the Temple

22And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

Question 4

What else was done after Jesus’ birth? Why were these things done?

29“Lord, now you are letting your servant[4] depart in peace, according to your word; 30for my eyes have seen your salvation 31that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

33And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

36And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.[5] She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Return to Nazareth

39And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

The Boy Jesus in the Temple

41Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48And when his parents[6] saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?”[7] 50And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

Question 5

Explain Jesus’ visit to Jerusalem at age 12.

52And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature[8] and in favor with God and man.

People
  • Joseph
  • Mary’s husband; Jesus’ male guardian

  • Mary
  • Jesus’ mother; Joseph’s wife

  • Angels
  • Sent to praise Jesus at His birth

  • Shepherds
  • Those told of Jesus’ birth

  • Simeon
  • A devout believer who blesses them

Places
  • Bethlehem
  • Zacharias served in Jerusalem in the temple

  • Fields near there
  • where angels appear to the shepherds

  • Jerusalem
  • where they go to the Temple

  • Nazareth in Galilee
  • where Jesus grew up

The Birth of Jesus Christ

2In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration when[1] Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[2] who was with child. 6And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Luke 2:1

Caesar Augustus was the Roman Emperor, Octavius, who ruled from 27 B.C. to A.D. 14..


Luke 2:2

Quirinius (or Cyrenius) was the governor of Syria who oversaw the taxation for this region.


Luke 2:4

Galilee was the northern region of Palestine (Israel). Nazareth was west of the Sea of Galilee.


Luke 2:4

Bethlehem was in Judea, the southern region of Palestine. They traveled the 85 to 90 miles because their ancestral and tribal land allotment were determined by their relationship to David.


Luke 2:7

We are not told the day or month when Jesus was born.


Luke 2:7

Jesus was Mary’s “firstborn” son; Mary’s other children are mentioned in the Bible (Matthew 12:46-47; Matthew 13:55-56;Mark 3:31-32;Mark 6:3;Luke 8:19-20;John 2:12;John 7:3-5,10;Acts 1:14).

The Shepherds and the Angels

8And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

Luke 2:12

“Swaddling cloths” were strips of soft cloth wrapped around a baby to keep it warm and safe.


Luke 2:12

A “manger” was a feeding trough for animals, often in a stable and hewn from stone.

14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[3]

15When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

21And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Luke 2:21

Circumcision was one of two symbols of God’s covenant with Israel. It was the “personal” sign (Genesis 17:9-14; Romans 4:11). The “national” sign was observance of the Sabbath ( Exodus 31:12-18).

Jesus Presented at the Temple

22And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

Luke 2:22

“Purification” was a Jewish ritual 40 days after the birth of a son (see Leviticus 12:1-4).


Luke 2:22

“Presentation” is explained in verse 23 and involved the child’s life being dedicated to God.


Luke 2:25

“The Consolation of Israel” refers to the fulfillment of prophecy in the coming of Messiah.

29“Lord, now you are letting your servant[4] depart in peace, according to your word; 30for my eyes have seen your salvation 31that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

33And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

Luke 2:34

Many would reject Christ and fall; many of them would rise again spirtually by receiving Him.


Luke 2:35

Mary’s soul would be pierced with grief when she saw Jesus rejected and then crucified.

36And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.[5] She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Return to Nazareth

39And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

The Boy Jesus in the Temple

41Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48And when his parents[6] saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?”[7] 50And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

Luke 2:49

Some versions read: “…in My Father’s house.” Literally it says, “…in the things of my Father.”

52And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature[8] and in favor with God and man.

Luke 2:52

With this, Luke ends his account of the life of Jesus from birth to beginning of ministry.

Perspectives

Mary and Joseph were conscientious, law-abiding, religious people. They went under extreme circumstances to pay taxes. They observed all Jewish laws concerning Jesus’ birth and early life.

Jesus’ coming into the world was the fulfillment of prophecy and a source of glory to God.

John the Baptist was to go before Jesus to prepare His ways (76).