Luke 1:46-55

Luke 1:46-55
A Women’s Lectionary – Annunciation of the Lord


46 And MaryA said,

“My soulB magnifiesC the Lord,D
47 and my spiritE rejoicesF in GodG my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favorK on the lowlinessI of his servant.J
    Surely,K from now onL all generations will call me blessed;M
49 for the Mighty OneN has done great thingsO for me,
    and holyP is his name.Q

Notes on verses 46-49

A “Mary” = Mariam. From Hebrew Miryam (Aaron and Moses’s sister); from marah (to be contentious, rebellious, bitter, provoking, disobedient; to be or make bitter or unpleasant; figuratively, to rebel or resist; causatively to provoke). This is Miriam or Mary.
B “soul” = psuche. From psucho (to breathe, blow). This is breath, the breath of life, the self, individual, soul. This is the word for that which makes a person unique – their identity, will, personality, affections. This isn’t the soul as the immortal part of us, but as our individuality. It is also not life as a general concept, but specific to people. This is where the words psyche and psychology come from.
C “magnifies” = megaluno. 8x in NT. From megas (great, large, abundant, arrogant, great person, great thing, older). This is to make or declare great, to enlarge or lengthen, increase, exalt, hold in high esteem. Figuratively, to extol.
D “Lord” = kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.
E “spirit” = pneuma. From pneo (to blow, breath, breathe hard). This is wind, breath, or ghost. A breeze or a blast or air, a breath. Figuratively used for a spirit, the human soul or part of us that is rational. It is also used supernaturally for angels, demons, God, and the Holy Spirit. This is where pneumonia comes from.
F “rejoices” = agalliao. 11x in NT. From agan (much, very) + hallomai (to leap, leap up; when used to describe water it means to spring up or bubble up; figurative to gush). This is being so full of joy that one leaps up. To exult, rejoice, be full of joy.
G “God” = theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
H “looked with favor” = epiblepo. 3x in NT. From epi (on, upon) + blepo (to look at, see, perceive, discern; to be observant or watchful; to behold). This is to look at with full attention and focus, to regard something and give consideration. Generally used in a positive sense for favor, pity, or partiality.
I “lowliness” = tapeinosis. 4x in NT. From tapeinoo (to make or bring low, depress. Figuratively, to humble, abase, or humiliate); from tapeinos (low-lying in a broad sense, depressed. Figurative for lowly, humble, meek. Could be lowly in spirit or circumstance). This is humble state or humiliation; low or depressed circumstances or feelings.
J “servant” = doule. 3x in NT. From doulos (slave, bond slave, servant; a slave literally or figuratively, voluntary or involuntary; one who is subservient); from deo (to tie, bind, fasten, impel, imprison, put in chains; to bind literally or figuratively). This is specifically a female slave or bondservant, whether voluntary or involuntary. This is where the word doula comes from.
K “surely” = idou. From eido (to be away, see, know, remember, appreciate). This is see! Lo! Behold! Look! Used to express surprise and or draw attention to the statement.
L “now on” = nun. This is now as in the present moment or just now or immediately. It also conveys the sense that that which happens now is happening in light of what precedes it i.e. it is the logical next step that follows what happened before.
M “call…blessed” = makarizo. 2x in NT – here and James 5:11 “we call blessed those who showed endurance.” From Makarios (blessed, happy, fortunate); from makar (happy); from mak– (become long or large) This is to bless, pronounce blessed or happy, to esteem fortunate.
N “Mighty One” = dunatos. From dunamai (be able, have power or ability); related to dunamis (miraculous power, might, strength, physical power, force, efficacy, energy; deeds that show physical power including marvelous or miraculous ones; it is force literally or figuratively; the power of a miracle or the miracle itself). This is mighty, able, or powerful when used of people and possible when used of things or circumstances.
O “great things” = megas. Related to “magnifies” in v46. See megas in note C above. This is large, great, exceeding: big literally or figuratively.
P “holy” = hagios. From hagnos (holy, sacred, pure ethically, ritually, or ceremonially; prepared for worship, chaste, unadulterated, pure to the core; undefiled by sin; figurative for innocent, modest, perfect). God is totally different from humanity and thus set apart. That which is consecrated to worship God (elements of worship) or to serve God (as the saints) are holy because they are now set apart for God’s purposes. Holy because important to God. This is sacred physically, pure. It can be morally blameless or ceremonially consecrated.
Q “name” = onoma. May be from ginosko (know, recognize, learn from firsthand experience). This is a name, authority, cause, character, fame, reputation. The name was thought to include something of the essence of the person so it was not thought to be separate from the person.

50 His mercyR is for those who fearS him
    from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strengthT with his arm;
    he has scatteredU the proudV in the thoughtsW of their hearts.X
52 He has brought downY the powerfulZ from their thrones,AA
    and lifted up the lowly;BB

Notes on verses 50-52

R “mercy” = eleos. This is pity, compassion, or tender mercy. It can be used to describe the mercy of God or of humans.
S “fear” = phobeo. From phobos (panic flight, fear, fear being caused, terror, alarm, that which causes fear, reverence, respect); from phebomai (to flee, withdraw, be put to flight). This is also to put to flight, terrify, frighten, dread, reverence, to withdraw or avoid. It is sometimes used in a positive sense to mean the fear of the Lord, echoing Old Testament language. More commonly, it is fear of following God’s path. This is where the word phobia comes from.
T “strength”- kratos. 12x in NT. This is strength, might, dominion, power, mighty deed, exerted power. It is vigor literally or figuratively.
U “scattered” = diaskorpizo. 9x in NT. From dia (through, because of, thoroughly) + skorpizo (scatter, disperse, dissipate, waste, distribute alms). This is to separate, winnow, disperse. Figuratively to squander, waste, rout.
V “proud” = huperephanos. 5x in NT. From huper (over, beyond, concerning) + phaino (to bring to light, shed light, become visible or clear, show self as; to lighten or show literally or figuratively) [from phos (light, source of light, radiance]. This is proud, arrogant, disdainful. Properly, this word is to over-shine. To set oneself over others as being haughty.
W “thoughts” = dianoia. 12x in NT. From dia (through, because of, from side to side, thoroughly) + noieo (to think, perceive, understand, consider, realize; to use one’s mind to read a conclusion) [from nous (mind, understanding, reason, intellect)]. This is covering all sides of an issue thoroughly to reach solid, balanced conclusions. So, it is through, intellect, insight, but also includes the notion of critical thinking that amounts to a personal conclusion, a deep thought.
X “hearts” = kardia. Literally refers to the heart and figuratively to the mind, character, inner self, will, intention, center, thoughts, feelings. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.
Y “brought down” = kathaireo. 9x in NT. From kata (down, against, according to; down from a higher to a lower place) + haireo (to take, choose, prefer; to take by choice). Properly, this is to take someone or something down by personal choice – to yank down with some force. To destroy totally, cast down. To lower with or without violence, demolish literally or figuratively. Could be pull down, tear down, depose, or dethrone.
Z “powerful” = dunastes. 3x in NT. Related to “Mighty One” in v49. From dunamai (see note N above). This is ruler, potentate, sovereign, or court official. It could refer to someone who rules by force (as a negative) or more generally for someone holding great authority. Note the contrast between God as the Mighty One and the purported might of earthly rulers.
AA “thrones” = thronos. Probably from thanos (bench); from thrao (to sit). This is a throne or seat. Used metaphorically as a metonymy for power, dominion; a potentate.
BB “lowly” = tapeinos. 8x in NT. Related to “lowliness” in v48. (see note I above) This is low-lying, humble, depressed, meek, cast down.

53 he has filledCC the hungryDD with good things,EE
    and sent the richFF awayGG empty.HH
54 He has helpedII his servantJJ Israel,KK
    in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promiseLL he made to our ancestors,MM
    to AbrahamNN and to his descendantsOO forever.”PP

Notes on verses 53-55

CC “filled” = empiplemi. 5x in NT. From en (in, on, at, by, with, among) + same as pleistos (most, very great, much, very numerous) [from polus (much, many, often, plenteous, abundant)]. This is to fill up or satisfy literally or figuratively.
DD “hungry” = peinao. From peina (hunger); related to penomai (to work for daily bread, a laborer or poor person); from peno (to toil for subsistence). This is to hunger, be hungry, be needy. It is to famish generally or in comparison to others. Figuratively, to crave.
EE “good things” = agathos. This is good, benefit, good things. It is that which is intrinsically good.
FF “rich” = plouteo. 12x in NT. Related to “filled” in v53. From ploutizo (to make rich, cause to abound, enrich, bring fullness); from ploutos (riches, wealth, abundance – in a material or spiritual sense); from polus (see note CC above). This is to be rich, become rich, abound in. It is to have a lot of resources, increase of goods.
GG “sent…away” = exapostello. 13x in NT. From ek (from, from out of) + apostello (to send, send away, send forth, dismiss; to send as a messenger with a mission) [from apo (away from) + stello (to send, set, arrange, prepare, gather up)]. This is properly to send out from. Could be to send out on a mission or to dismiss.
HH “empty” = kenos. 18x in NT: 10x for in vain, 6x for empty-handed or empty, 2x for vain or senseless. This is vain, empty of morality, ineffective, foolish, worthless, false, unreal, hollow. It is properly empty and thus worthless. This is where the word kenosis comes from.
II “helped” = antilambano. 3x in NT. From anti (over against, instead of, corresponding to) + lambano (to take or receive actively or aggressively – with initiative and not passively). This is to take in stead of, take hold of, help, share in, partake of, enjoy. Properly, to take hold in a way that is proportional or fitting – acting in a way that corresponds to what is needed in the situation. In terms of helping, this is giving the help that matches what is really needed.
JJ “servant” = pais. This is a child who is still being trained up, a boy, slave, or servant. One who still needs to grow and learn.
KK “Israel” = Israel. From Hebrew Yisrael (God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring); from sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is Israel the people and the land.
LL “promise” = laleo. From lalos (talkative). This word is less promise and more generally used for talk, speak, say.
MM “ancestors” = pater. This is father literally or figuratively so it includes ancestor, elder, senior, and progenitor.
NN “Abraham” = abraam. From Hebrew Abraham (exalted father); from ab (father) + perhaps rum (to be high or exalted, rise, bring up, extol). This is Abraham, father of many nations.
OO “descendants” = sperma. From speiro (to sow a seed, spread, scatter); probably from spao (to draw as when drawing a sword). This is that which is sown, a seed. Figuratively, it is used for offspring and descendants. This is where the word sperm comes from.
PP “forever” = aion. Perhaps from the same as aei (even, unceasingly, always, perpetually). This is an age, space of time, continued duration and also eternal, or forever. This is where eon comes from.

Image credit: “I am the Lord’s Servant…” by the LUMO Project, from

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