Luke 2:1-20

Luke 2: 1-20
Christmas Eve ABC
Christmas Dawn ABC


AIn those days a decreeB went out from EmperorC AugustusD that all the worldE should be registered.F 2 This was the first registrationG and was takenH while QuiriniusI was governorJ of Syria.K 3 All went to their own townsL to be registered. 

Notes on verses 1-3

A (Untranslated) = ginomai + de. Literally “it came to pass, indeed” or “Now, it happened…”
B “decree” = dogma. 5x in NT. From dokeo (to have an opinion, seem, appear, suppose; a personal judgment; to think); from dokos (opinion). This is an opinion, edict, ordinance, or public decree. It could be civil, ceremonial, or ecclesiastical. This is related to the word for “glory” in Greek (doxa) and the word “dogma” in English.
C “Emperor” = Kaisar. From Latin (Caesar); perhaps from Punic caesai (elephant) OR from Latin a cesiis oculis (because of the blue eyes) OR from Latin a caesarie (because of the hair) OR from Latin a caeso matris utero (born by Caesarean section) OR from Latin caedo (to cut). This is Caesar or Roman emperor. It was a last name that became a title for emperor. See
D “Augustus” = Augoustos. 1x in NT From Latin augustus (majestic, august, venerable); from augeo (to increase, grow, honor). This is Augustus, the name of an emperor that meant sanctity, but not all the way to divinity. See
E “world” = oikoumene. 15x in NT. From oikeo (to inhabit, dwell, live; properly, making a home); from oikos (house – as a material building, as a household of family, lineage, nation, descendants; can be used for a palace or for the Temple). This is the inhabited earth and so the world. In this context, the Roman world was considered synonymous with the whole world.
F “registered” = apographo. 4x in NT. From apo (from, away from) + grapho (to write, describe, engrave). This is to copy, enroll, tax, or register. It is to give your name for a census or to write or copy a list.
G “registration” = apographe. 2x in NT. Related to “registered” in v1 (see note F above). This is register, enrollment, which implies an assessment for taxation.
H “taken” = ginomai. Same as untranslated word in v1. It is to come into being, be born, come about, happen. It refers to emerging from one state or realm to another.
I “Quirinius” = Kurenios. 1x in NT. From Latin Quirinus (after the Sabine town Cures) [perhaps from curis (spear) and curia (court, senate or meeting house)] + ius (suffix that turns nouns into adjectives). This is Quirinius. See;
J “governor” = hegemoneuo. 2x in NT. From hegemon (leader, governor, guide, prince, commander; one who governs a province); from hegomai (to lead, suppose, think, consider; to go before as chief; that which comes first in priority; to command with authority in an official capacity); from ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide, drive). This is command, govern, be governor. To acts as a ruler. Related to the word hegemony.
K “Syria” = suria. 8x in NT. From Akkadian Ashshur (named for the god Ashur, the head of their pantheon). This is Syria. In those days, the province was united with Cilicia. See;
L “towns” = polis. This is a city or the people who live in the city (or town). It is any settled area that has walls.

4 JosephM also wentN from the town of NazarethO in GalileeP to Judea,Q to the city of DavidR called Bethlehem,S because he was descended from the houseT and familyU of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary,V to whom he was engagedW and who was expecting a child.X 

Notes on verses 4-5

M “Joseph” = ioseph. From Hebrew Yoseph (he increases; Joseph son of Jacob and other Israelites); from yasaph (to add, again, increase, continue, exceed).
N “went” = anabaino. From ana (upwards, up, back, anew) + baino (to walk, to go). To go up literally or figuratively, ascend, climb, enter, go.
O “Nazareth” = Nazareth. 12x in NT. Perhaps from netser (branch) OR from natsar (watch, guard, keep; so the city would be watchtower or guard place or preserved or protected). See
P “Galilee” = galilaia. From Hebrew galil (a cylinder, rod, circuit, or district); from galal (to roll, rolly away, commit one’s cause to God, remove, seek occasion, trust; to roll literally or figuratively, to wallow). This is Galilee, a region as well as a sea.
Q “Judea” = ioudaia. From Iouda (Judah – the person or the place); from Ioudas (Judah, Judas, one of the twelve tribes, the Southern Kingdom); from Hebrew Yehudah (a son of Jacob, his descendants, the Southern Kingdom, four Israelites; literally “praised”); probably from yadah (to throw, cast, make confession, praise, shoot, give thanks; literally to use the hand; physically to throw at or away; especially to revere or worship with extended hands); from yad (hand). This is Judea.
R “David” = dauid. From Hebrew David (David); from the same as dod (beloved, love, uncle); the root may mean to boil, which is used figuratively to describe love. So, this implies someone you love such as a friend, a lover, or a close family member like an uncle. David’s name likely means something like “beloved one.”
S “Bethlehem” = bethleem. 8x in NT. From Hebrew bethlechem (Bethlehem); from bayit (house, home, palace) [probably related to banah (to build literally or figuratively)] + lechem (bread, food, loaves; can be food for animals as well as humans, particularly bread or grain) [from lacham (to use as food, eat)]. Bethlehem literally means “house of bread.”
T “house” = oikos. Related to “world” in v1. See note E. From the “house” of the world to the “house” of one lineage.
U “family” = partia. 3x in NT. From pater (father, ancestor, elder, senior; father in a literal or figurative sense). This is lineage, family, ancestry, tribe, nation.
V “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.
W “engaged” = mnesteuo. 3x in NT – all in reference to Mary and Joseph’s engagement. From mnaomai (to be mindful, remember); from meno (to stay, abide, remain, wait, continue, endure; to stay in a certain place or state). This is to be engaged or betrothed. This was more than engagement as we would think of it. To be engaged was more like two-thirds married. For example, if there was sexual infidelity at this stage, it was still considered adultery.
X “expecting a child” = egkuos. 1x in NT. From en (in, on, at, by, with, in the condition of) + from kuo (to swell, be pregnant; to swell with young). Literally, a swelling inside, hence, pregnant.

6 WhileY they were there, the time cameZ for her to deliverAA her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth,BB and laid him in a manger,CC because there was no place for them in the inn.DD

8In that region there were shepherdsEE living in the fields,FF keepingGG watchHH over their flockII by night. 9Then an angelJJ of the LordKK stood before them, and the gloryLL of the Lord shone aroundMM them, and they were terrified.NN

Notes on verses 6-9

Y (Untranslated) = ginomai + de. Same as v1. See note A.
Z “time came” = pleitho + ho + hemera. Literally “were filled the days.” Pleitho has the sense of filled up to individual capacity (the maximum amount appropriate) and so can mean accomplish, complete, or fulfill.
AA “deliver” = tikto. 18x in NT. This is to bringing forth as a mother, a plant, or the earth as a whole. So, it can be beget, give birth, yield, or produce. It can also refer to the pain of child labor.
BB “wrapped…in bands of cloth” = sparganoo. 2x in NT. From sparganon (swathing band, a strip); from the base of sparasso (to tear, rend, mangle, convulse); similar to spairo (to grasp); from spao (to pull out as one draws a sword). This is to swaddle an infant, to wrap in cloths or strips.
CC “manger” = phatne. 4x in NT – 3x of Jesus in a manger, 1x Jesus argues “Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to give it water?” in Luke 13:15. May be from pateomai (to eat). This is a manger, which is a feeding trough, or a stall where one feeds cattle.
DD “inn” = kataluma. 3x in NT – 2x of the guest room that Jesus seeks in which to eat his Passover for the Last Supper (Mark 14:14) (Luke 22:11) & 1x of Jesus’ birth story. From kata (down, according to, throughout, by way of) + luo (to loose, release, dissolve, untie; figurative for break or destroy). This is a lodging place, inn, or guest room. Properly, it is a place where one unyokes or unharnesses animals for the purpose of lodging. Alternately, it’s a place to break up a long journey.
EE “shepherds” = poimen. 18x in NT. This is shepherd literal of figurative. Also used for pastor.
FF “living in the fields” = agrauleo. 1x in NT. From agros (field, the country; particularly a field that has a crop; lands, country, estate, farm; a field where one drives cattle) [from ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide, go; by implication to drive)] + aule (courtyard, court, sheepfold; palace as a place that would have a courtyard) [from the same as aer (air that we breathe); from aemi (to breathe or blow without thinking about it; natural breath)]. This is camping in the fields – spending the night out in the open.
GG “keeping” = phulasso. Properly, to preserve something by being vigilant or keeping your eye on it. This is to be on guard literally or figuratively. It implies preserving, protecting, and observing.
HH “watch” = phulake. Related to “keeping” in v8. From phulasso (see note GG above). This a guard or the act of guarding, a watch (as a time period in which one guards), or a prison.
II “flock” = poimne. 5x in NT. Related to “shepherds” in v8. Probably from poimen (see note EE above). This is flock or fold, which could be sheep or goats. Flock is used literally and figuratively.
JJ “angel” = aggelos. May be related to “governor” in v2 & “living in the fields” in v8. Probably from ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide) + agele (flock, herd, drove) [also from ago (lead, bring, carry, guide)]. This is angel or messenger. Properly, it is one sent with news or to perform a specific task. This messenger can be human or an angel from heaven. More commonly, it is used for angels in the New Testament.
KK “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.
LL “glory” = doxa. From dokeo (to have an opinion, seem, appear, suppose; a personal judgment; to think); from dokos (opinion). This is literally something that evokes a good opinion – something that connects to our understanding of intrinsic worth. The ultimate expression of this is, of course, God and God’s manifestation. So, this is opinion, honor, and dignity, but also praise, glory, renown, and worship.
MM “shone around” = perilampo. 2x in NT. From peri (about, concerning, around, comprehensive) + lampo (to shine, beam, literally or figuratively). This is to illuminate around.
NN “terrified” = phobeo + phobos + megas. Literally “they feared great fear.” Phobeo is 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.

 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for seeOO—I am bringing you good newsPP of greatQQ joyRR for all the people:SS 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior,TT who is the Messiah,UU the Lord. 12 This will be a signVV for you: you will find a childWW wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitudeXX of the heavenly host,YY praisingZZ GodAAA and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,BBB
    and on earth peaceCCC among thoseDDD whom he favors!”EEE

Notes on verses 10-14

OO “see” = 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.
PP “bringing…good news” = euaggelizo. Related to “angel” in v9. From eu (well, good, rightly) + aggelos (see note JJ) This is literally “to announce the good news,” used for the gospel. It can refer to those who receive the good news or the gospel itself. This is also where “evangelism” comes from.
QQ “great” = megas. Whereas before, the shepherds were “terrified” [literally “feared great fear”], now they will have great joy. It is the same word for “great” as the one used in v9.
RR “joy” = chara. From chairo (to rejoice, be glad or cheerful; a greeting); from char- (to extend favor, lean towards, be inclined to be favorable towards). This is joy, delight, gladness. Can be understood as the feeling you get when you are aware of grace.
SS “people” = laos. This is the people or crowd – often used for the chosen people. This is where the word “laity” comes from.
TT “Savior” = soter. From sozo (to save, heal, preserve, or rescue. Properly, this is taking someone from danger to safety. It can be delivering or protecting literally or figuratively); from sos (safe, rescued well). This is savior, deliverer, or preserver.
UU “Messiah” = christos. From chrio (consecrate by anointing with oil; often done for prophets, priests, or kings). Literally, the anointed one, Christ. The Greek word for Messiah.
VV “sign” = semeion. From the same as semaino (to give a sign, signify, indicate, make known); from sema (a sign or mark). This is a sign given by God to confirm or authenticate a message or prophecy. It is not necessarily miraculous, but it can be. The Gospel of John generally uses this word instead of miracle.
WW “child” = brephos. 8x in NT. This is used for a newborn or a child not yet born (as when John the Baptist leaped in his mother’s womb).
XX “multitude” = plethos. From pletho (to be full, furnish, complete, fulfill; to fill to the full extent or maximum capacity). This is a large number, a multitude, a crowd, a company.
YY “host” = stratia. 2x in NT – both times of the heavenly host. From stratos (encamped army); perhaps from stonnuo (to spread, to make a bed, strew).  This is literally an army, but used figuratively for hosts of angels, hosts of heaven (that is to say, stars). It is a group that is ordered or organized in some fashion.
ZZ “praising” = aineo. 8x in NT. From ainos (praise; properly, this is a story, saying, or proverb; used for praise of God). This is praise or give praise.
AAA “God” = theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
BBB “highest heaven” = hupistos. 13x in NT. From hupsos (height, high position, elevation, the sky, heaven; used figuratively for dignity or eminence); from hupsi (on high, aloft); from huper (over, beyond, above, concerning). This is highest, most high, the heights. Can refer to God (the Most High) as supreme or the heavens as being the highest.
CCC “peace” = eirene. Perhaps from eiro (to join, tie together to form a whole). This is one, peace, quietness, rest, peace of mind, harmony. Peace was a common farewell among Jews (i.e. shalom) and this well-wishing included a blessing of health and wholeness for the individual. This word also indicates wholeness and well-being – when everything that is essential is joined together properly. This is peace literally or figuratively. By implication, it is prosperity (but not in the sense of excessive wealth. Prosperity would have meant having enough from day to day.)
DDD “those” = anthropos. This is human or humankind – refers to all genders.
EEE “whom he favors” = eudokia. 9x in NT. Related to “decree” in v1 & “glory” in v9 & v14. From eu (good, well, well done) + dokeo (see note B above). This is good pleasure, good will, favor, happiness, delight, desire. Properly, this is something that seems good or beneficial to someone – a subjective assessment. It can be subjective delight or objective kindness.

15 FFFWhen the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thingGGG that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 

16 So they went with hasteHHH and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known whatIII had been told them about this child;JJJ 18 and all who heard it were amazedKKK at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasuredLLL all these wordsMMM and ponderedNNN them in her heart.OOO 20 The shepherds returned, glorifyingPPP and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Notes on verses 15-20

FFF (untranslated) = kai + ginomai. Literally “and it happened…” See note A.
GGG “thing” = rhema. From rheo (to speak, command, make, say, speak of); from ereo  (to all, say, speak of, tell; denotes ongoing speech). This is word, which implies a matter or thing spoken, a command, report, promise, thing, or business. Often used for narration, commands, or disputes.
HHH “haste” = speudo. 6x in NT. May be from pous (foot, literal or figurative). This is to hasten, urge on, hurry, or desire earnestly. It can mean to go with speed or to await something with eagerness.
III “what” = rhema. Same as “thing” in v15. See note GGG.
JJJ “child” = paidion. Different word from the one used previously. From pais (child, youth, servant, slave); perhaps from paio (to strike or sting). This is a child as one who is still being educated or trained. Perhaps one seven years old or younger. Used figuratively for an immature Christian.
KKK “amazed” = thaumazo. From thauma (a wonder or marvel; used abstractly for wonderment or amazement; something that evokes emotional astonishment); may be from theaomai (to behold, look upon, see, contemplate, visit); from thaomai (to gaze at a spectacle; to look at or contemplate as a spectator; to interpret something in efforts to grasp its significance). This is to marvel, wonder, or admire. To be amazed out of one’s senses or be awestruck. Being astonished and starting to contemplate what was beheld. This root is where the word “theatre” comes from.
LLL “treasured” = suntereo. 3x in NT – new wine in new wineskins and old wine in old so both are preserved (Mt 9:17), Herod feared John the Baptist so he protected him (Mk 6:20), and Mary treasured all these words (Lk 2:19). From sun (with, together with, joined closely) + tereo (to watch over, guard, observe, keep; properly, to maintain or preserve, to keep in one’s care, maintain; used in a figurative sense to mean spiritually guard; specifically to mean guard from loss or harm in contrast to phulasso, which means guard to stop something from escaping or koustodia, which has the implication of some kind of military structure or fortress; can also mean to keep unmarried). This is to keep close, preserve, keep safe, keep in mind, treasure. It implies to protect something from ruin or, in a mental sense, to remember and live by something.
MMM “words” = rhema. Same as “thing” in v15 & “what” in v17.
NNN “pondered” = sumballo. 6x in NT. From sun (with, together with, joined closely) + ballo (to throw, cast, rush, place, put, drop; to throw in a more or less intense/violent way). This is properly to throw together. So, it can mean happening upon someone or something with or without hostile motives. In the sense of combining, it can mean to speak, consult, or dispute. Mentally, it can mean to consider something as throwing multiple ideas together to ponder and weigh them. It can imply coming to someone’s aid, joining them, or attacking.
OOO “heart” = kardias. Literally the heart, but figuratively mind, character, inner self, will, intention, thoughts, feelings. Also, the center of something. The word heart is only used figuratively in the Old and New Testaments. This is where “cardiac” comes from.
PPP “glorifying” = doxazo. Related to “decree” in v1, “glory” in v9, & “whom he favors” in v14. See note LL. This is to glorify, honor, bestow glory on, magnify, celebrate. Properly, it is a recognition of the real substance or value or someone or something.

Image Credit: Nativity by Jennifer Fleming, (2013)

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