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This page covers three stories from Luke 1, all presaging the births of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. These stories share many similarities.
- Annunciation of John's birth (1:5-25)
- Annunciation of Jesus's birth (1:26-38)
- Mary visits Elizabeth (1:39-56)
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Luke 1:1-4: Greeting to Theophilus
- Theophilus is a Greek name that means "lover of God." It is possible that Theophilus was a high Roman official, because the honorific "most excellent" was often used for such people. It is also possible that Luke here was using a literary device, referring to readers in general as lovers of God.
- Luke is the only writer who begins his gospel by telling us why he is writing it.
Luke 1:5-25: Annunciation of John's birth
- Notice the parallels between his description of the two births: the parents are introduced (verses 5-7 and 26-27), an angel appears to announce the birth (verses 8-23 and 28-30), a sign is given (verses 18-20 and 34-38), and a woman who has had no children becomes pregnant miraculously (verses 24-25 and 42).
Luke 1:26-38: Annunciation of Christ's birth
Luke 1:39-52: Mary visits Elizabeth
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →
- Luke 1:5-25. Why does Luke begin with John the Baptist’s birth rather than with Jesus’ birth?
- Luke 1:5-25. Why does he take so much care to make the birth stories parallel?
- Luke 1:5-25. Zacharias was chosen to burn incense on the incense altar, the holiest place in the temple, just outside the Holy of Holies. Since the priests making the offering were chosen by lot and there were only two times a year when any particular group (“course”) of priests was eligible, the chances of this happening at all were slim; the chances of it happening to the same person twice were null. Why do you think that the Lord chose that occasion to make the announcement of John the Baptist’s birth? What did the burning incense represent? Is that relevant to understanding this event?
- Luke 1:13-25. How does this story compare to the story of Abraham and Sarah and the birth of Isaac? What is the significance of that comparison?
- Luke 1:17. How does Gabriel describe John the Baptist's mission? How does his mortal mission relate to his post-mortal mission?
- Luke 1:19. What is the significance of Gabriel's statement that he stands in the presence of God?
- Luke 1:19. Joseph Smith tells us that Gabriel, the angel who made these announcements, is Noah (History of the Church 3:386). Why is it significant that Noah/Gabriel make these announcements? See also 1 Pet 3:20-22.
- Luke 1:28. What do you make of Gabriel's address to Mary? How ought we to think of her? Compare Mary’s response to the angel to Zacharias’s. What does that tell us about each?
- Luke 1:32-33. Gabriel describes Jesus's mission. Is this a description of both his mortal ministry and the ministry that will begin with his Second Coming?
- Luke 1:34. The JST leaves out the clause "seeing I know not a man". We know Mary was a virgin. Why was this removed?
- Luke 1:42-45. Why might Elisabeth’s reaction have been reassuring to Mary? How does Elisabeth know that Mary will be the mother of the Lord?
- Luke 1:45. What is Elisabeth saying in this verse?
- Luke 1:50-54. How are the themes in Mary's hymn important in the Old Testament? What do those themes have to do with the birth that she is expecting?
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Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.