According to Luke 2:1-52

2  Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Au·gusʹtus for all the inhabited earth to be registered.  (This first registration+ took place when Qui·rinʹi·us was governor of Syria.)  And all the people went to be registered, each one to his own city.  Of course, Joseph+ also went up from Galʹi·lee, from the city of Nazʹa·reth, into Ju·deʹa, to David’s city, which is called Bethʹle·hem,+ because of his being a member of the house and family of David.  He went to get registered with Mary, who had been given him in marriage as promised+ and who was soon to give birth.+  While they were there, the time came for her to give birth.  And she gave birth to her son, the firstborn,+ and she wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger,+ because there was no room for them in the lodging place.  There were also in the same region shepherds living out of doors and keeping watch in the night over their flocks.  Suddenly Jehovah’s angel stood before them, and Jehovah’s glory gleamed around them, and they became very fearful. 10  But the angel said to them: “Do not be afraid, for look! I am declaring to you good news of a great joy that all the people will have. 11  For today there was born to you in David’s city+ a savior,+ who is Christ the Lord.+ 12  And this is a sign for you: You will find an infant wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13  Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army,*+ praising God and saying: 14  “Glory in the heights above to God, and on earth peace+ among men of goodwill.” 15  So when the angels had departed from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another: “Let us by all means go over to Bethʹle·hem and see what has taken place, which Jehovah has made known to us.” 16  And they went quickly and found Mary as well as Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. 17  When they saw this, they made known the message that they had been told concerning this young child. 18  And all who heard were astonished at what the shepherds told them, 19  but Mary began to preserve all these sayings, drawing conclusions in her heart.+ 20  Then the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them. 21  After eight days, when it was time to circumcise him,+ he was named Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived.+ 22  Also, when the time came for purifying them according to the Law of Moses,+ they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to Jehovah, 23  just as it is written in Jehovah’s Law: “Every firstborn male* must be called holy to Jehovah.”+ 24  And they offered a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of Jehovah: “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”+ 25  And look! there was a man in Jerusalem named Simʹe·on, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for Israel’s consolation,+ and holy spirit was upon him. 26  Furthermore, it had been divinely revealed to him by the holy spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Christ of Jehovah.+ 27  Under the power of the spirit, he now came into the temple, and as the parents brought the young child Jesus in to do for him according to the customary practice of the Law,+ 28  he took the child into his arms and praised God and said: 29  “Now, Sovereign Lord, you are letting your slave go in peace+ according to your declaration, 30  because my eyes have seen your means of salvation*+ 31  that you have prepared in the sight of all the peoples,+ 32  a light+ for removing the veil from the nations+ and a glory of your people Israel.” 33  And the child’s father and mother continued wondering at the things being spoken about him. 34  Also, Simʹe·on blessed them and said to Mary, the child’s mother: “Look! This child is appointed for the falling+ and the rising again of many in Israel+ and for a sign to be spoken against+ 35  (yes, a long sword will be run through you),+ in order that the reasonings of many hearts may be revealed.” 36  Now there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanʹu·el, of Ashʹer’s tribe. This woman was well along in years and had lived with her husband for seven years after they were married,* 37  and she was a widow now 84 years old. She was never missing from the temple, rendering sacred service night and day with fasting and supplications. 38  In that very hour she came near and began giving thanks to God and speaking about the child to all who were waiting for Jerusalem’s deliverance.+ 39  So when they had carried out all the things according to the Law of Jehovah,+ they went back into Galʹi·lee to their own city, Nazʹa·reth.+ 40  And the young child continued growing and getting strong, being filled with wisdom, and God’s favor continued upon him.+ 41  Now his parents were accustomed to go from year to year to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover.+ 42  And when he was 12 years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival.+ 43  When the days of the festival were over and they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, and his parents did not notice it. 44  Assuming that he was in the group traveling together, they went a day’s journey and then began to search for him among the relatives and acquaintances. 45  But not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem and made a diligent search for him. 46  Well, after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers and listening to them and asking them questions. 47  But all those listening to him were in constant amazement at his understanding and his answers.+ 48  Now when his parents saw him, they were astounded, and his mother said to him: “Child, why did you treat us this way? Here your father and I have been frantically looking for you.” 49  But he said to them: “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in the house of my Father?”+ 50  However, they did not understand what he was saying to them. 51  Then he went down with them and returned to Nazʹa·reth, and he continued subject to them.+ Also, his mother carefully kept all these sayings in her heart.+ 52  And Jesus went on progressing in wisdom and in physical growth and in favor with God and men.


Or “host.”
Lit., “Every male opening the womb.”
Or “the way you will bring salvation; the salvation by you.”
Lit., “from her virginity.”

Study Notes

Caesar: Or “Emperor.” The Greek word Kaiʹsar corresponds to the Latin term Caesar. (See Glossary.) The name Augustus, a Latin word meaning “August One,” was first given by the Roman Senate as a title to Gaius Octavius, the first Roman emperor, in the year 27 B.C.E. He thus became known as Caesar Augustus. His decree resulted in Jesus’ being born in Bethlehem, in fulfillment of Bible prophecy.​—Da 11:20; Mic 5:2.

the inhabited earth: In a broad sense, the Greek word for “inhabited earth” (oi·kou·meʹne) refers to the earth as the dwelling place of mankind. (Lu 4:5; Ac 17:31; Ro 10:18; Re 12:9; 16:14) In the first century, this term was also used in reference to the vast Roman Empire, where the Jews had been dispersed.​—Ac 24:5.

to be registered: Augustus likely issued this decree because a census would help him to tax his subjects and conscript men for military service. In doing so, Augustus evidently fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy about a ruler “who causes an exactor to pass through the splendid kingdom.” Daniel further foretold that during the reign of that ruler’s successor, “a despised one,” something momentous would happen: “The Leader of the covenant,” or the Messiah, would be “broken,” or put to death. (Da 11:20-22) Jesus was executed during the reign of Augustus’ successor, Tiberius.

Quirinius . . . governor of Syria: Publius Sulpicius Quirinius, a distinguished Roman senator, is mentioned only once in the Bible. Scholars initially claimed that Quirinius served only one term of governorship over the Roman province of Syria in about 6 C.E., during which a rebellion broke out in response to a census. As a result, they attacked this passage and cast doubt on Luke’s account by reasoning that Quirinius was governor in 6 or 7 C.E., whereas Jesus’ birth was earlier. However, in 1764 an inscription was found that strongly suggests that Quirinius served as governor (or, legate) in Syria for two distinct terms. Other inscriptions too have led some historians to acknowledge that Quirinius served a term as governor of Syria earlier, in the B.C.E. period. It was evidently during this term that the first registration, mentioned in this verse, took place. Furthermore, the critics’ reasoning ignores three key facts. First, Luke acknowledges that there was more than one census, calling this the “first registration.” He was evidently aware of a later registration, which occurred about 6 C.E. That registration was mentioned by Luke in the book of Acts (5:37) and by Josephus. Second, Bible chronology rules out the possibility that Jesus was born during Quirinius’ second term. However, it does harmonize with Jesus’ being born during Quirinius’ first term, which was somewhere between the years 4 and 1 B.C.E. Third, Luke is well-known as a meticulous historian, one who lived in the era of many of the events he described. (Lu 1:3) In addition, he was inspired by holy spirit.​—2Ti 3:16.

went up from Galilee: There was a town named Bethlehem just 11 km (7 mi) from Nazareth, but prophecy specified that the Messiah would come from “Bethlehem Ephrathah.” (Mic 5:2) That Bethlehem, referred to as David’s city, was located in Judea, in the south. (1Sa 16:1, 11, 13) The direct distance (as the crow flies) from Nazareth to Bethlehem Ephrathah is about 110 km (69 mi). The actual travel distance through Samaria (based on present-day roads) may have been up to 150 km (93 mi). The route passes through hilly country, and the journey would have been an arduous one, taking several days.

the firstborn: This expression implies that Mary later had other children.​—Mt 13:55, 56; Mr 6:3.

manger: The Greek word phatʹne, rendered “manger,” means “feeding place.” It may have been some kind of feeding trough for animals, though the Greek word phatʹne can also refer to the stall in which animals are kept. (Compare Lu 13:15, where this Greek word is rendered “stall.”) In this context, it appears to refer to a feeding place, though the Bible does not specify whether this manger was an outdoor or an indoor trough or one connected with a stall.

lodging place: The Greek word could also be rendered “guest room,” as at Mr 14:14 and Lu 22:11.

shepherds: A large number of sheep were regularly needed for offerings at Jerusalem’s temple, so it is quite possible that some of the sheep raised around Bethlehem were intended for this purpose.

living out of doors: The Greek expression comes from a verb that combines a·grosʹ (“field”) and au·leʹ (“place open to the air”), so the word means “to live in the fields, to live under the open sky,” and implies spending the night outdoors. Sheep may be led out to pasture during the daytime in any season of the year. However, the shepherds were spending the night out in the fields with their flocks. So this indicates the time of Jesus’ birth. The rainy season in Israel begins about mid-October and lasts several months. By December, Bethlehem, like Jerusalem, frequently experiences frost at night. The fact that Bethlehem’s shepherds were in the fields at night points to a season prior to the start of the rains.​—See App. B15.

Jehovah’s angel: See study note on Lu 1:11 and App. C3 introduction; Lu 2:9.

Jehovah’s glory: The first two chapters of Luke’s account are rich with references to and allusions to passages and expressions from the Hebrew Scriptures where the divine name occurs. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the corresponding Hebrew expression for “glory” occurs along with the Tetragrammaton more than 30 times. Some examples are found at Ex 16:7; 40:34; Le 9:6, 23; Nu 14:10; 16:19; 20:6; 1Ki 8:11; 2Ch 5:14; 7:1; Ps 104:31; 138:5; Isa 35:2; 40:5; 60:1; Eze 1:28; 3:12; 10:4; 43:4; Hab 2:14.​—See study notes on Lu 1:6; 1:9 and App. C3 introduction; Lu 2:9.

who is Christ: The angel’s use of this title was evidently prophetic, since the outpouring of holy spirit at the time of Jesus’ baptism marked the time of his becoming in actual fact the Messiah, or Christ.​—Mt 3:16, 17; Mr 1:9-11; Lu 3:21, 22.

Christ the Lord: The Greek expression here rendered “Christ the Lord” (khri·stosʹ kyʹri·os, lit., “Christ Lord”) occurs only here in the Christian Greek Scriptures. The angel’s use of these titles was evidently prophetic, and the clause could therefore be rendered “who is to be Christ the Lord.” (See study note on who is Christ in this verse.) Under inspiration, Peter explains at Ac 2:36 that God had made Jesus “both Lord and Christ.” However, the expression rendered “Christ the Lord” has also been understood in other ways. Some scholars have suggested the rendering “the anointed Lord.” Others have considered this combination of titles to mean “the Lord’s Christ,” which is the reading found in a few Latin and Syriac translations of Lu 2:11. Along these lines, some translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew (referred to as J5-8, 10 in App. C) use the rendering ma·shiʹach Yeho·wahʹ, that is, “Jehovah’s Christ.” For these and other reasons, some have understood the term at Lu 2:11 in a way similar to the Greek expression rendered “the Christ of Jehovah” at Lu 2:26.

and on earth peace among men of goodwill: Some manuscripts have readings that could be rendered “and on earth peace, goodwill toward men,” and this wording is reflected in some Bible translations. But the reading employed by the New World Translation has much stronger manuscript support. This angelic announcement did not refer to an expression of God’s goodwill toward all humans regardless of their attitudes and actions. Rather, it refers to those who will receive his goodwill because they display genuine faith in him and become followers of his Son.​—See study note on men of goodwill in this verse.

men of goodwill: The “goodwill” referred to in this angelic statement is evidently that displayed by God, not by humans. The Greek word eu·do·kiʹa can also be rendered “favor; good pleasure; approval.” The related verb eu·do·keʹo is used at Mt 3:17; Mr 1:11; and Lu 3:22 (see study notes on Mt 3:17; Mr 1:11), where God addresses his Son right after his baptism. It conveys the basic meaning, “to approve; to be well-pleased with; to regard favorably; to take delight in.” In line with this usage, the expression “men of goodwill” (an·throʹpois eu·do·kiʹas) refers to people who have God’s approval and goodwill, and it could also be rendered “people whom he approves; people with whom he is well-pleased.” So this angelic statement was referring to God’s goodwill, not toward men in general, but toward those who would please him by their genuine faith in him and by becoming followers of his Son. Although the Greek word eu·do·kiʹa in some contexts can refer to the goodwill of humans (Ro 10:1; Php 1:15), it is frequently used with regard to God’s goodwill, or good pleasure, or to the way approved by him (Mt 11:26; Lu 10:21; Eph 1:5, 9; Php 2:13; 2Th 1:11). In the Septuagint at Ps 51:18 (50:20, LXX), the word is used about the “goodwill” of God.

which Jehovah has made known to us: The angels conveyed the message, but the shepherds recognized the source as being Jehovah God. In the Septuagint, the Greek verb rendered “has made known” is used to translate a corresponding Hebrew verb in contexts where Jehovah communicates his will to humans or where humans want to know his will. In such scriptures, the original Hebrew text often uses the Tetragrammaton. (Ps 25:4; 39:4; 98:2; 103:6, 7) Therefore, it would be natural to connect the divine name with what the Jewish shepherds are here saying.​—See study note on Lu 1:6 and App. C1 and C3 introduction; Lu 2:15.

the time . . . for purifying them: That is, the time for them to be ceremonially cleansed for worship. The Mosaic Law required that a mother undergo purification for 40 days after giving birth to a male. (Le 12:1-4) This law evidently taught, not a demeaning view of women and childbirth, but a vital spiritual truth: Through the process of childbirth, the sin of Adam is transmitted from one generation to the next. Mary was no exception, contrary to claims made by religious scholars. (Ro 5:12) Luke would not have used the pronoun “them” in this verse to include Jesus, for he knew that holy spirit had shielded Jesus from the sinful condition of his imperfect human mother, so he did not need cleansing. (Lu 1:34, 35) Because Joseph arranged for the trip and as family head was responsible for seeing that the sacrifice was offered, Luke may have included Jesus’ adoptive father in the word “them.”

to present him to Jehovah: As the following verse shows, Jesus’ being brought to the temple after his birth is in accord with Jehovah’s words to Moses at Ex 13:1, 2, 12, where parents were commanded to “devote to Jehovah every firstborn male.” Also, the expression “to present him to Jehovah” is similar to what is described at 1Sa 1:22-28, where young Samuel is presented “before Jehovah” and dedicated to His service.​—See study notes on Lu 1:6; 2:23 and App. C3 introduction; Lu 2:22.

Jehovah’s Law: The expression “Jehovah’s Law,” as well as “the Law of Jehovah,” occurs many times in the Hebrew Scriptures as a combination of the Hebrew word for “law” and the Tetragrammaton. (For example: Ex 13:9; 2Ki 10:31; 1Ch 16:40; 22:12; 2Ch 17:9; 31:3; Ne 9:3; Ps 1:2; 119:1; Isa 5:24; Jer 8:8; Am 2:4.) The expression just as it is written is a common introduction to Hebrew Scripture quotes in the Christian Greek Scriptures.​—Mr 1:2; Ac 7:42; 15:15; Ro 1:17; 10:15; see study note on Lu 1:6 and App. C3 introduction; Lu 2:23.

Every firstborn male: The passage at Lu 2:22-24 refers not only to the sacrifice made at the time of Mary’s purification (see study notes on Lu 2:22; 2:24) but also to the requirement in the Law that a couple pay five silver shekels at the birth of their firstborn. As the firstborn son, Jesus was sanctified to God and belonged to him. For this reason, the Law required that Jesus be redeemed by his parents, Joseph and Mary. (Ex 13:1, 2; Nu 18:15, 16) The payment was to be made when the child was “a month old and up.” So Joseph would have been allowed to pay the five shekels at the same time that Mary made her purification offering, that is, 40 days after Jesus’ birth.

Jehovah: The quote in this verse is based on Ex 13:2, 12, where the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text.​—See App. C.

they offered a sacrifice: Under the Mosaic Law, a woman remained ceremonially unclean for a set length of time after giving birth. Once the time had elapsed, a burnt offering and a sin offering were made for her.​—Le 12:1-8.

the Law of Jehovah: See study note on Lu 2:23 and App. C3 introduction; Lu 2:24.

a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons: The Law allowed for women of little means to offer birds instead of a sheep, which would have been far costlier. (Le 12:6, 8) Clearly, Joseph and Mary were poor at this time, which shows that the astrologers came, not when Jesus was a newborn, but when he was older. (Mt 2:9-11) If Joseph and Mary had already received the costly gifts that those men brought, the couple could readily have afforded a sheep for sacrifice when they went to the temple.

Simeon: This name comes from a Hebrew verb meaning “to hear; to listen.” Like Zechariah and Elizabeth, Simeon is described as righteous. (Lu 1:5, 6) He is also called devout, a rendering of the Greek word eu·la·besʹ, which is used in the Christian Greek Scriptures to denote being careful and conscientious in matters of worship.​—Ac 2:5; 8:2; 22:12.

the Christ: Or “the Anointed One; the Messiah.” The title “Christ” is derived from the Greek word Khri·stosʹ and is equivalent to the title “Messiah” (from Hebrew ma·shiʹach), both meaning “Anointed One.”​—See study note on Mt 1:1 and on the Christ of Jehovah in this verse.

the Christ of Jehovah: There are good reasons for using the divine name in the main text, although available Greek manuscripts literally read “the Christ of Lord” (ton khri·stonʹ Ky·riʹou). In existing copies of the Septuagint, this expression corresponds to the Hebrew term ma·shiʹach YHWH, that is, “anointed (one) of Jehovah,” used 11 times in the Hebrew Scriptures.​—1Sa 24:6 (twice), 10; 26:9, 11, 16, 23; 2Sa 1:14, 16; 19:21; La 4:20; see App. C3 introduction; Lu 2:26.

Sovereign Lord: The Greek word de·spoʹtes has the basic meaning “lord; master; owner.” (1Ti 6:1; Tit 2:9; 1Pe 2:18) When used in direct address to God, as here and at Ac 4:24 and Re 6:10, it is rendered “Sovereign Lord” to denote the excellence of his lordship. Other translations have used such terms as “Lord,” “Master,” “Sovereign,” or “Ruler of all.” Many translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew use the Hebrew term ʼAdho·naiʹ (Sovereign Lord), but at least two such translations (referred to as J9, 18 in App. C) here use the divine name, Jehovah.

letting your slave go: The Greek word for “to let go” literally means “to set free; to release; to dismiss.” Here it is used as a euphemism for “to let die.” For a person to die in peace could mean his dying a tranquil death after having enjoyed a full life or after the realization of a cherished hope. (Compare Ge 15:15; 1Ki 2:6.) God’s promise to Simeon had now been fulfilled; he had seen the promised “Christ of Jehovah,” God’s means of salvation. Simeon could now feel an inner peace and tranquility and be content with sleeping in death until the resurrection.​—Lu 2:26.

for removing the veil from the nations: Or “for revelation to the nations.” The Greek term a·po·kaʹly·psis, rendered “removing the veil,” denotes “an uncovering” or “a disclosure” and is often used regarding revelations of spiritual matters or of God’s will and purposes. (Ro 16:25; Eph 3:3; Re 1:1) Aged Simeon here referred to the child Jesus as a light, and he indicated that spiritual enlightenment was also to benefit the non-Jewish nations, not just the natural Jews and proselytes. Simeon’s prophetic words were in agreement with prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as those recorded at Isa 42:6 and 49:6.

the rising again: The Greek word a·naʹsta·sis used here is usually rendered “resurrection” in the Christian Greek Scriptures. (See study note on Mt 22:23.) Simeon’s words in this verse indicate that people would react to Jesus in different ways, uncovering the reasonings of their hearts. (Lu 2:35) To unbelievers, Jesus would be a sign to be spoken against, or an object of contempt. Such faithless ones would reject him, stumble over him, and fall. As foretold, Jesus proved to be a stone of stumbling to many Jews. (Isa 8:14) Others, however, would put faith in Jesus. (Isa 28:16) They would be figuratively resurrected, or raised up, from a state of being “dead in [their] trespasses and sins” and would come to enjoy a righteous standing with God.​—Eph 2:1.

a long sword: Since there is no Scriptural indication that Mary had an actual sword run through her, this expression evidently refers to the pain, suffering, and sorrow that Mary would undergo in connection with her son’s death on a torture stake.​—Joh 19:25.

you: Or “your own soul; your life.”​—See Glossary, “Soul.”

Anna: The Greek form of the Hebrew name Hannah, meaning “Favor; Grace.” By speaking about young Jesus to all those waiting for Jerusalem’s deliverance, she acted as a prophetess. The basic sense of the term “prophesying” is the declaring of inspired messages from God, the revealing of the divine will.​—See study note on Ac 2:17.

never missing from the temple: Anna was constantly at the temple, possibly from the time the temple gates were opened in the morning until they were closed in the evening. Her sacred service included fasting and supplications, indicating that she mourned over the prevailing conditions and longed for change, like other faithful servants of God. (Ezr 10:1; Ne 1:4; La 1:16) For centuries the Jews had been subject to foreign powers, and deteriorating religious conditions had reached even to the temple and its priesthood. Those conditions could well explain why Anna and others were earnestly “waiting for Jerusalem’s deliverance.”​—Lu 2:38.

rendering sacred service: Or “worshipping.”​—See study note on Lu 1:74.

God: The earliest Greek manuscripts here use The·osʹ (God). However, other Greek manuscripts and translations into Latin and Syriac use the term for “the Lord.” A number of translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew (referred to as J5, 7-17, 28 in App. C) use the divine name, and the phrase can be rendered “giving thanks to Jehovah.”

the Law of Jehovah: This expression, as well as “Jehovah’s Law,” occurs many times in the Hebrew Scriptures as a combination of the Hebrew word for “law” and the Tetragrammaton.​—Ex 13:9; 2Ki 10:31; 1Ch 16:40; 22:12; 2Ch 17:9; 31:3; Ne 9:3; Ps 1:2; 119:1; Isa 5:24; Jer 8:8; Am 2:4; see study notes on Lu 1:6; 2:23 and App. C3 introduction; Lu 2:39.

they went back into Galilee: Although this statement may seem to indicate that Joseph and Mary went straight to Nazareth after presenting Jesus at the temple, Luke’s account is highly condensed. Matthew’s account (2:1-23) provides additional details regarding the visit of the astrologers, Joseph and Mary’s flight to Egypt to escape King Herod’s murderous plan, Herod’s death, and the family’s return to Nazareth.

his parents were accustomed: The Law did not require women to attend the Passover celebration. Yet, it was Mary’s custom to accompany Joseph on the annual journey to Jerusalem for the festival. (Ex 23:17; 34:23) Each year, they made the trip with their growing family. It may have been a round-trip of nearly 300 km (190 mi) through hilly terrain.

went up: That is, they went up to Jerusalem, a journey that involved ascending through hilly and mountainous terrain.​—See study note on Lu 2:4.

asking them questions: As shown by the reaction of those listening to Jesus, his questions were not merely those of a boy seeking to satisfy his curiosity. (Lu 2:47) The Greek word rendered “asking . . . questions” could in some contexts refer to the type of questioning and counterquestioning used in a judicial examination. (Mt 27:11; Mr 14:60, 61; 15:2, 4; Ac 5:27) Historians say that some of the foremost religious leaders would customarily remain at the temple after festivals and teach at one of the spacious porches there. People could sit at the feet of those men to listen and to ask questions.

were in constant amazement: Here the form of the Greek verb for “be amazed” may denote continued or repeated astonishment.

he said to them: The words that follow are Jesus’ first words recorded in the Bible. As a young boy, Jesus was evidently not fully aware of his prehuman existence. (See study notes on Mt 3:16; Lu 3:21.) Yet, it seems reasonable that his mother and his adoptive father had passed on to him the information received during angelic visitations as well as through the prophecies of Simeon and Anna, spoken during the family’s trip to Jerusalem 40 days after Jesus’ birth. (Mt 1:20-25; 2:13, 14, 19-21; Lu 1:26-38; 2:8-38) Jesus’ reply indicates that he to some extent understood the miraculous nature of his birth and his special personal relationship with his heavenly Father, Jehovah.

I must be in the house of my Father: The Greek expression for “in the house of my Father” is literally rendered “in the [things] of my Father.” The context shows that Joseph and Mary were concerned about Jesus’ whereabouts, so it is most natural to understand these words to refer to a location, or place, that is, “the house [or “dwelling; courts”] of my Father.” (Lu 2:44-46) Later, during his ministry, Jesus specifically referred to the temple as “the house of my Father.” (Joh 2:16) According to some scholars, though, this expression could also be understood more broadly as, “I need to be concerned [or, “busy”] with the things of my Father.”

he went down: Jerusalem was about 750 m (2,500 ft) above sea level. The term ‘go down’ is used here of leaving Jerusalem.​—Lu 10:30, 31; Ac 24:1; 25:7; compare study notes on Mt 20:17; Lu 2:4, 42.

continued subject: Or “remained in subjection; remained obedient.” The continuous form of the Greek verb indicates that after impressing the teachers at the temple with his knowledge of God’s Word, Jesus went home and humbly subjected himself to his parents. This obedience was more significant than that of any other child; it was part of his fulfilling the Mosaic Law in every detail.​—Ex 20:12; Ga 4:4.

sayings: Or “things.”​—See study note on Lu 1:37.


Caesar Augustus
Caesar Augustus

Octavius was the first emperor of the Roman Empire. His full name was Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (Octavius or Octavian). He was the adoptive son of the Roman dictator Julius Caesar, who was murdered in 44 B.C.E. In September of 31 B.C.E., Octavius emerged as the undisputed ruler of the Roman Empire, and on January 16, 27 B.C.E., the Roman Senate gave him the title Augustus. In 2 B.C.E., Augustus issued a decree requiring all inhabitants of the empire to be registered, each one in “his own city.” (Lu 2:1-7) This decree resulted in Jesus’ being born in Bethlehem, in fulfillment of Bible prophecy. (Da 11:20; Mic 5:2) Augustus died on August 17, 14 C.E. (August 19, Julian calendar), in the month he had named after himself. The bronze sculpture shown here dates from 27 to 25 B.C.E. and is now kept in the British Museum.

Winter in Bethlehem
Winter in Bethlehem

Jesus could not have been born in December because the weather in Bethlehem is typically cold and rainy from November to March. In winter, snow may fall in this region. During this time of the year, shepherds would not be living out of doors, keeping watch over their flocks in the fields at night. (Lu 2:8) Bethlehem is located some 780 m (2,560 ft) above sea level in the Judean highlands.

Jesus in the Manger
Jesus in the Manger

The Greek word for “manger” used at Lu 2:7 is phatʹne, meaning “feeding place.” In Palestine, archaeologists have found large troughs cut out of single pieces of limestone and measuring about 0.9 m (3 ft) in length, 0.5 m (1.5 ft) in width, and 0.6 m (2 ft) in depth. These are thought to have served as mangers. It may also be that as in more recent times, mangers were cut in the rock walls of caves that were used for sheltering animals.

Turtledove and Pigeon
Turtledove and Pigeon

Under the Mosaic Law, a woman who had given birth was to offer a young ram as a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering. If the family could not afford a ram, as was evidently the case with Mary and Joseph, then two turtledoves or two young pigeons were acceptable. (Le 12:6-8) The turtledove (Streptopelia turtur) shown here (1) inhabits not only Israel but also Europe, North Africa, and western Asia. In October of each year, these birds migrate to warmer, southern countries, returning to Israel in the spring. The other bird shown here (2) is a rock pigeon (Columba livia). This species is found worldwide. They usually do not migrate.

View of the Valley of Jezreel
View of the Valley of Jezreel

The view shown here is from a cliff near Nazareth, looking south. The fertile Valley of Jezreel, prominent in various Bible accounts, is here shown extending eastward and westward. (Jos 17:16; Jg 6:33; Ho 1:5) To the left in the distance, the most prominent feature is the hill of Moreh, with the city of Nain on its slope. It was in Nain that Jesus resurrected a widow’s son. (Jg 7:1; Lu 7:11-15) In the middle of the horizon, Mount Gilboa is visible. (1Sa 31:1, 8) Jesus grew up in nearby Nazareth and may have come to this spot that overlooks a number of important locations in Israel’s history.​—Lu 2:39, 40.