The Birth of Jesus Christ
Registration order is issued
1 In those days
a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that
all the world should be registered.
Word Study: The word decree is translated from a greek word “δογμα“, read in english as “dogma” which means a command or law. Augustus Caesar was born in 63BC and was adopted by his uncle Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar also made him heir to his throne. After Julius Caesar was murdered, Augustus defeated Antony at a battle in Actium and became the first Emperor of Rome around 2 September 31BC. He reigned until AD14.
Comment: The registrations were useful for tax purposes.
Message: Luke here is informing us about an order that was issued by Augustus for all the world to be registered. All the world here refers to all those that were under roman rule. As we will see below that the significance of this order led to our Lord Jesus to be born in Betlehem in Judea.
2 This was the first registration
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
Comment: According to Josephus (Josephus (37-100 AD) was an important Jewish historian of the first century C.E. As such his works (Against Apion; Jewish Antiquities; Jewish War; The Life) constitute an important firsthand account of the world in which Jesus and the early church lived.), Quirinius was governor of Syria a.d. 6–7 and conducted a census in a.d. 6, which according to most commentaries, Luke is aware of and mentions in Acts 5:37. But these census of AD 6, cannot be the census Luke is referencing here in verses 1 and 2, since these census of AD 6, occurred after the death of Herod the Great who died in 4 b.c., and it is known that Jesus was born during Herod’s reign (Matt. 2:1; Luke 1:5).
According to ESV Bible Notes, Various plausible solutions have been proposed in interpreting this. Some interpreters believe that because “governor” (participle of Gk. hēgemoneuō) was a very general term for “ruler,” it may be that Quirinius was the administrator of the census, but not the governor proper. Another solution is to translate the verse, “This was the registration before Quirinius was governor of Syria”, which is grammatically possible (taking Gk. prōtos as “before” rather than “first”; the Greek construction is somewhat unusual on any reading). This would make sense because Luke would then be clarifying that this was before the well-known, troublesome census of a.d. 6 (Acts 5:37). (One additional proposal is that Quirinius was governor for two separate terms, though this lacks confirming historical evidence.) Though the year cannot be determined with complete certainty, there are several reasonable possibilities which correspond well to Luke’s carefully researched investigation (Luke 1:3–4) and to the historical and geographical accuracy evidenced throughout Luke and Acts. The most reasonable date is late in the year of 6 b.c. or early 5b.c..
My personal comment is that, it is not important when the birth took place. The fact that the birth took place is more important.
Message: We can spend our lifetime trying to figure out the exact date of our Lord Jesus’s birth and that will still not ensure our salvation. What is important is that everyone agrees that the birth took place. Luke here is giving us a general date around which our Lord was born.
Joseph and Mary go for Registration
3 And all went to be registered,
each to his own town.
Comment: It is not clear wether to be registered in one’s town was part of the order but since it was far from Galilee to Betlehem (more than 112km through the mountains, about a three day walk), I would make an assumption that it was indeed part of the order since I don’t see why joseph would make a pregnant Mary walk all the way to Betlehem if it was not necessary.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee,
from the town of Nazareth,
to the city of David,
which is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and lineage of David,
5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
Related Verses:Old testament has always shown that Jesus will be born from the lineage of David and in Betlehem: Isaiah 11:1; Ezek. 37:24; Mic 5:2
Comment:The old testament has always indicated that Jesus would be born from the lineage of David and will be born in Betlehem, in Judea. Both Mary and Joseph were from the lineage of David. So, either way, Jesus was born in a royal family. Since each person was required to be registered in their own town, Joseph and Mary’s own town was Betlehem although they were living in Galilee. So, they had to travel to Betlehem for registration.
Message: Although the decree was given by Augustus Caesar which led to Joseph and Mary going to jerusalem, which in turn as we will see below, led to Jesus been born in Betlehem, it was always God’s plan and it was indeed God’s plan that was unfolding. God is always in control and will always be in control. Nothing takes place in this world that takes God by surprise.
Jesus is born
6 And while they were there,
the time came for her to give birth.
7 And she gave birth
to her firstborn son
and wrapped him in swaddling cloths
and laid him in a manger,
because there was no place for them in the inn.
Word Study: Swaddling cloths in ancient times were strips of cloth used to wrap babies to keep them warm and secure. Manger is a feeding trough for animals.The inn was a lodging place or guest house
Comment: Most commentaries agree that Jesus was born in a cave used for livestock. He was born here because they had no place in the inn
Message: Jesus’s brith place among livestock in a cave and placed in a manger used for feeding animals, associates Jesus with the poorest of the poor. This is typically how the poor of our world would find themselves giving birth. The important point here in my view is that Jesus was not born in a rich lavish place so he can be claimed and welcomed by the rich but even by His birth, our Lord humbled Himself and allowed Himself to be born in a vey humbling state so that He can be King for all people of the world.