Luke 2:9
And, see, the angel of the Lord came on them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) Came upon them.—The Greek verb, like the English, implies a sudden appearance. The form of the angel was probably, as in Mark 16:5, that of a young man in white apparel. (See Note on Luke 1:12). The wings of angels are, without exception, an after-thought of Christian imagination, those of Isaiah 6:2, Ezekiel 1:6, Revelation 4:8, being connected with the mysterious figures of the cherubim, the “living creatures” seen in apocalyptic vision.

The glory of the Lord . . .—The word suggests the thought of the Shechinah, or cloud of intolerable brightness, which was the token of the divine presence in the Tabernacle and the Temple (1Kings 8:10-11; Isaiah 6:1-3). (See Note on John 1:14.) Never before had there been such a manifestation to such men as these. What had been the privilege of patriarchs and priests was now granted to shepherds, and the first proclamation of the glad tidings was to those who were poor in their outward life as well as in spirit.

Luke 2:9-12. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them Επεστη αυτοις, stood over them, that is, appeared in a visible form, standing in the air over their heads; and the glory of the Lord shone round about them — Not only a great light, but such a glorious splendour as used to represent the presence of God, and was often attended with a host of angels, as here, Luke 2:13. And they were sore afraid — At so uncommon and so awful an appearance. And the angel said — In the mildest and most condescending manner; Fear not — Thus the angel Gabriel had encouraged Zacharias and Mary, Luke 1:12; Luke 1:30. As if he had said, The design of my appearing to you hath nothing terrible in it, but the contrary: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy — The original expression here is peculiar, ευαγγελιζομαι υμιν χαραν μεγαλην, I evangelize unto you great joy. So the Vulgate. Or, I announce unto you good tidings, which shall be matter of great joy, and that not only to you, and the Jewish nation in general, but to all people, to the whole human race: for unto you, and all mankind, is born this day, this welcome, blessed day, a Saviour — That Isaiah , 1 st, A Deliverer from ignorance and folly, from guilt, condemnation, and wrath, from depravity and weakness, in which the whole human race are involved through the fall of their first parents and their own actual transgressions; in other words, from sin, and all its consequences: 2d, A Restorer (so σωτηρ also means) to the favour and image of God, and communion with him, lost by the same fall: and, 3d, A Preserver, (as the same word also implies,) namely, unto eternal life; one as willing as able to keep such as perseveringly believe in him, through faith, unto final salvation; to keep them from falling, and to present them faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. Who is Christ — The Messiah, the divinely — appointed Prophet, Priest, and King of his people; their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; and who is sufficiently qualified to sustain these unspeakably important offices and characters, because he is the Lord, God as well as man, God manifest in the flesh, the Lord that in the beginning laid the foundations of the earth, &c., Hebrews 1:10; and without whom was not any thing made that was made, John 1:3; Colossians 1:16. The message refers to Isaiah 9:6, Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And this shall be a sign unto you — The angel gives them a sign for the confirmation of their faith in this important matter. You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling-clothes, &c. — Doubtless they would expect to be told that they should find him, though a babe, dressed up in fine robes, and lying in state, in the best house of the town, with a numerous train of attendants: no, you will find him lying in a manger. And surely they might know him by this token, for what other babe could be found in so mean a condition? For the shepherds to have found the Messiah lying in a manger, might have scandalized them. It was therefore very proper that the angel should forewarn them of this circumstance, and make it the signal whereby they should distinguish him. When Christ was here on earth, he distinguished himself, and made himself remarkable, by nothing so much as the instances of his humiliation. 2:8-20 Angels were heralds of the new-born Saviour, but they were only sent to some poor, humble, pious, industrious shepherds, who were in the business of their calling, keeping watch over their flock. We are not out of the way of Divine visits, when we are employed in an honest calling, and abide with God in it. Let God have the honour of this work; Glory to God in the highest. God's good-will to men, manifested in sending the Messiah, redounds to his praise. Other works of God are for his glory, but the redemption of the world is for his glory in the highest. God's goodwill in sending the Messiah, brought peace into this lower world. Peace is here put for all that good which flows to us from Christ's taking our nature upon him. This is a faithful saying, attested by an innumerable company of angels, and well worthy of all acceptation, That the good-will of God toward men, is glory to God in the highest, and peace on the earth. The shepherds lost no time, but came with haste to the place. They were satisfied, and made known abroad concerning this child, that he was the Saviour, even Christ the Lord. Mary carefully observed and thought upon all these things, which were so suited to enliven her holy affections. We should be more delivered from errors in judgment and practice, did we more fully ponder these things in our hearts. It is still proclaimed in our ears that to us is born a Saviour, Christ the Lord. These should be glad tidings to all.The glory of the Lord - This is the same as a "great" glory - that is, a splendid appearance or "light." The word "glory" is often the same as light, 1 Corinthians 15:41; Luke 9:31; Acts 22:11. The words "Lord" and "God" are often used to denote "greatness" or "intensity." Thus, "trees of God" mean great trees; "hills of God," high or lofty hills, etc. So "the glory of the Lord" here means an exceedingly great or bright luminous appearance perhaps not unlike what Paul saw on the way to Damascus. 9. glory of the Lord—"the brightness or glory which is represented as encompassing all heavenly visions" [Olshausen].

sore afraid—So it ever was (Da 10:7, 8; Lu 1:12; Re 1:17). Men have never felt easy with the invisible world laid suddenly open to their gaze. It was never meant to be permanent; a momentary purpose was all it was intended to serve.

Christ was promised to men who by their occupation were shepherds, Genesis 47:3. He himself was the chief Shepherd, and the true Shepherd, John 10:11. The first publication of his birth is made to shepherds; not to shepherds that were idle, but busied in their honest vocations, keeping their flocks. This publication of his birth is made by an angel, whether the angel Gabriel before mentioned, or another, is not certain. This angel surprises the shepherds, cometh upon them thinking no such thing, but only minding their business. The angel comes in a glorious appearance, probably an extraordinary light, for it is said, it

shone round about them: such an appearance of extraordinary light is Luke 9:31,32. That

they were sore afraid was but natural; we are naturally affected at sudden and unusual appearances with fear and amazement. And lo, the angel of the Lord,.... It may be Gabriel, who had brought the tidings of the conception of the Messiah to the virgin, and now the birth of him to the shepherds:

came upon them; on a sudden, unexpectedly, at once, and stood by them, as some versions read; or rather, stood over them, over their heads, just above them; so that he was easily and perfectly seen by them,

and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; or a very glorious and extraordinary light shone with surprising lustre and brightness all around them; by which light, they could discern the illustrious form of the angel that was over them:

and they were sore afraid; at the sight of such a personage, and at such unusual light and glory about them: they were not used to such appearances, and were awed with the majesty of God, of which these were symbols, and were conscious to themselves of their own sinfulness and frailty.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord {e} came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

(e) Came suddenly upon them, when they were not at all thinking about such a matter.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 2:9. ἐπέστη, used elsewhere by Lk. in reference to angelic appearances, eighteen times in his writings in all = stood beside; one more than their number, suddenly.—περιέλαμψεν: here and in Acts 26:13, only, in N. T. = shone around.—ἐφοβήθησαν, they feared greatly; yet they were not utterly unprepared, their thoughts had been of a Divine gracious visitation—waiting for the consolation of Israel; subjective and objective corresponding.9. And lo] The phrase often introduces some strange or memorable event.

the angel] Rather, an Angel.

came upon them] Epestê—a common word in St Luke, who uses it eighteen times, Luke 24:4; Acts 12:7, &c. It may mean stood by them.

the glory of the Lord] The Shechinah, or cloud of brightness which symbolised the Divine Presence, as in Exodus 24:16; 1 Kings 8:10; Isaiah 6:1-3; Acts 7:55. See on Luke 1:35. The presence of the Shechinah was reckoned as one of the most precious blessings of Israel, Romans 9:4.Luke 2:9. Ἄγγελος, the angel) In every instance of Christ’s humiliation, measures were taken by a kind of befitting protest [precaution against His humility causing His divinity to be lost sight of], to secure the recognition of His divine glory. In this passage this was effected by the announcement of the angel: in His circumcision, by means of the giving to Him the name ‘Jesus’ [= God Saviour]: in His purification, by the testimony of Simeon: in His baptism, by the objection John the Baptist raised [John forbade Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized of Thee,” etc., Matthew 3:14]: in His passion, by ways and means far exceeding in number all the previous instances.Verse 9. - The angel of the Lord came upon them; better, an angel. The Greek word rendered "came upon them" - a very favorite word with St. Luke - suggests a sudden appearance. The glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. The white shining cloud of intolerable brightness, known among the Jews as the Shechinah, the visible token of the presence of the Eternal, in the bush, in the pillar of fire and cloud which guided the desert-wanderings, in the tabernacle and the temple. It shone round the Redeemer on the Mount of Transfiguration. It robed him when, risen, he appeared to the Pharisee Saul outside Damascus. The occasional presence of this visible glory was exceedingly precious to the chosen people. The terror felt by the shepherds was the natural awe ever felt by man when brought into visible communion with the dwellers in the so-called spirit-world. Behold

Omitted by the best texts.

The angel

More correctly an angel, as Rev. The Greek has no article.

Came upon (ἐπέστη)

The word is used in this sense in classical Greek, as well as in that of to stand by, which Rev. prefers here, as in Acts 12:7. In Luke 2:38 of this chapter, Rev. renders coming up. The rendering to come upon has a hostile flavor, as properly in Acts 17:5, where the verb is rendered assaulted; so that the Rev. rendering here is preferable.

They were sore afraid

Lit., feared with great fear.

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