Luke 1:26-38 and Waldenström’s Commentary

by Paul Peter Waldenström and translated by Tommy Carlson

Dr. Paul Peter Waldenström based his comments on a Greek New Testament text which he translated into Swedish. Tommy Carlson has translated both the Biblical text and Waldenström’s comments from the Swedish text, 2nd Edition, 1902. — Ed.

Verse 26 — But in the sixth month1 the angel Gabriel was sent out from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,

1. Counted from the time when Elizabeth became pregnant.

Verse 27 — to a maiden, who was engaged1 to a man who’s name was Joseph, from the house of David,2 and the virgin’s name was Mary. (See Matthew 1:18.)

1. Note that she is called a maiden. She was not yet a wife.
2. This could be said either about the maiden or about Joseph. The latter is most likely. Compare chapter 2:4. Even Mary was of David’s house. See comments to verse 32.

Verse 28 — And when the angel came in to her, he said: Be glad1 you highly favored one! The Lord (is) with you.2

1. See comments to Matthew 26:49—“In the Greek language the standard greeting means “ Be glad!” The greeting among the Greeks implies a wish for happiness. In Hebrew the standard greeting implies a wish for peace ( Judges 19:20), for God’s grace or help ( Genesis 43:29) for blessing (Judges 6:12; Ruth 2:4; compare Luke 1:28). In Swedish the standard greeting is a wish for a good day, a good night, etc.
2. The words in our regular Bibles: “Blessed are you among women” are not found in the oldest and best original texts. They come no doubt from v. 42.

Verse 29 — But she was greatly perplexed1 over his words and reflected2 what this greeting could mean.

1. Verbatim: “thoroughly perplexed.” Adding thoroughly gives a higher degree of intensity to the main word.
2. The Greek word in the original text expresses careful, thoughtful reflection.

Verse 30 — And the angel said to her: “Fear not, Mary; because you have found grace1 with God,

1. See Genesis 6:8. The expression is the same as the word: “you blessed one” in verse 28. It implies the special call of grace for which Mary has been chosen.

Verse 31 — and look, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and you shall name him Jesus. (See Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21; and Luke 2:21.)

Verse 32 — He shall become great and shall be called the highest son and the Lord God shall give him the throne1 of David his father. (See II Samuel 7:12.)

1. Meaning the messianic throne. The messianic kingdom is a perfect restoration of David’s kingdom. Calling David the father of Christ means only that Christ comes from the house of David. It is clear that Mary, too, must be a descendent of David.

Verse 33 — And he shall be king over the house of Jacob1 and to the ages2 and to his kingdom there shall be no end.”3 See I Chronicles 17:14; Psalms 45:7, 89:37; Jeremiah 23:5; Daniel 2:44; and Micah 4:7.

1. The house of Jacob is the people of Israel. These people shall be the core of the Messianic kingdom. Had Israel believed in him, he would have established his kingdom then. “But Israel’s unbelief has grounded the plan and turned history upside down, which is the reason the completion of these promises have been postponed, even unto this day” (Godet). This is a terrible burden resting on Israel.
2. Meaning eternity. Compare Isaiah 9:6; Daniel 7:13; and Psalms 110:4.
3. The idea of an eternal Messianic Kingdom is talked about in John 12:34 and II Peter 1:11 also. This does not go against I Corinthians 15:24 where it says Christ shall leave the kingdom to God. Because this is not the kingdom’s end but rather its eternal perfection.

Verse 34 — But Mary said to the angel: “How can this be, when I do not know1 (any) man?”

1. Meaning, I have not had matrimonial relationship with any man. Compare Matthew 1:25; Genesis 19:8; Judges 11:39; and other places. These words also show that Mary understood that the angel’s pronouncement was something completely independent of her upcoming marriage to Joseph.

Verse 35 — And the angel answered and said to her: “The Holy Spirit shall come over you1 and the highest power shall overshadow2 you, and the holy which was conceived3 shall be called the Son of God.4

1. Compare the expression in Acts 1:8.
2. The same expression is used in both Acts 5:15 and Matthew 17:5. In this case, the expression is an image borrowed from the visual revelations of God in the Old Testament that appeared in the sky.
3. In you. In the original text the word means conceive and give birth. The former meaning applies here. Compare Matthew 1:20.
4. Christ is called God’s son because of the supernatural conception and birth. In the Bible the name God’s son has a completely different meaning than others who are called sons of God, God’s children etc. He is distinguished from others as God’s only born son. (See John 1:14, 3:16, and others.)

Verse 38 — But Mary said: “See the Lord’s handmaiden1 let it be according to your word.”2 And the angel left her.

1. I leave everything in His hands. A maidservant (slave) belonged completely to her master.
2. She not only believed, she also prayed, that it may happen what the angel had said. Note that this story about the announcement does not conflict with the story in Matthew 1:18-25, in which the angel reveals to Joseph several months later what has happened to Mary. It may seem peculiar that Mary had not told her betrothed what had happened to her. But if we look closer, from her perspective, the opposite would be more strange. It must have been unthinkable for her, that Joseph should believe her words. She would only be looked upon by him, as a seducer and a liar. On one side her maidenly shyness and her knowledge about her maidenly virginity, and on the other side noble intention and complete surrender to God, kept her from saying anything to Joseph.

Paul Peter Waldenström was a Swedish revival preacher, and served as editor of Pietisten from 1868-1917.

See all articles by Paul Peter Waldenström

Tommy Carlson remodels homes and is an editor of Pietisten.

See all articles by Tommy Carlson