Luke 1.5-7

The text

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.

If the Jews kept temple records, here is an opportunity for historical confirmation. I don’t know whether such records were kept, but it’s interesting that Luke includes the detail he does. He assumes that his reader, Theophilus, knows the significance of all this: priestly division of Abijah; descendant of Aaron.

Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.

Confusing: I thought no one kept the commandments and regulations blamelessly, thus necessitating Jesus’s sacrifice.

But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.

Echoes of Abraham and Sarah.

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2 thoughts on “Luke 1.5-7

  1. Jared Olar says:

    Josephus mentions more than once that the priestly families maintained genealogical records wherever they lived — whether in the Holy Land or in Babylon or Egypt — because no priest would be allowed to exercise his ministry, nor to marry the daughter of a priest, unless he could prove that he belonged to an accepted priestly family. Josephus himself, a priest of the division of Jehoiarib and closely related to the Maccabees, demonstrates his own knowledge of his priestly lineage going back to circa 170 B.C. Of the 24 priestly divisions, half were descended from Eleazar, son of Aaron, and the other half were descended from Eleazar’s younger brother Ithamar (who, incidentally, the Bible says wrote some of the Pentateuch at Moses’ behest). The division of Jehoiarib (descended from Eleazar) was the first of the 24 divisions, meaning they were the most senior priestly family after that of the High Priests of the line of Zadok. The division of Abijah (also descended from Eleazar) was the eighth priestly division — just as King David was the eighth son of Jesse.

    Confusing: I thought no one kept the commandments and regulations blamelessly, thus necessitating Jesus’s sacrifice.

    That’s a common misconception, but Jesus’ sacrifice was not made necessary by failure to observe the Sinaitic covenant — rather, He is the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, before any sin was ever committed. Nor is it true that no one ever kept the Law of Moses blamelessly. Some Protestants like to say that humans do not have the ability to observe the Law blamelessly, but the Pentateuch insists that it is humanly possibly, and it would be a God truly unworthy of our worship who would command us to do things He knew we were incapable of doing and then punish us for failing to do what we were incapable of doing.

  2. The Itch says:

    This has me reeling. Many times I made similar complaints: ” it would be a God truly unworthy of our worship who would command us to do things He knew we were incapable of doing and then punish us for failing to do what we were incapable of doing.”

    I never realized how truly different Protestant theology is from Catholic theology, that the very Jesus’ very salvific nature can have an entirely different explanation than that I grew up with and absorbed from our predominantly Protestant culture.

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