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The Shepherds’ Visit

Now[a] there were shepherds[b] nearby[c] living out in the field, keeping guard[d] over their flock at night. An[e] angel of the Lord[f] appeared to[g] them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were absolutely terrified.[h] 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen carefully,[i] for I proclaim to you good news[j] that brings great joy to all the people: 11 Today[k] your Savior is born in the city[l] of David.[m] He is Christ[n] the Lord. 12 This[o] will be a sign[p] for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.”[q] 13 Suddenly[r] a vast, heavenly army[s] appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory[t] to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among people[u] with whom he is pleased!”[v]

15 When[w] the angels left them and went back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, that the Lord[x] has made known to us.” 16 So they hurried off and located Mary and Joseph, and found the baby lying in a manger.[y] 17 When[z] they saw him,[aa] they related what they had been told[ab] about this child, 18 and all who heard it were astonished[ac] at what the shepherds said. 19 But Mary treasured up all these words, pondering in her heart what they might mean.[ad] 20 So[ae] the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising[af] God for all they had heard and seen; everything was just as they had been told.[ag]

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  1. Luke 2:8 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the transition to a new topic.
  2. Luke 2:8 sn Some argue that shepherds were among the culturally despised, but the evidence for this view of shepherds is late, coming from 5th century Jewish materials. December 25 as the celebrated date of Jesus’ birth arose around the time of Constantine (ca. a.d. 306-337), though it is mentioned in material from Hippolytus (a.d. 165-235). Some think that the reason for celebration on this date was that it coincided with the pagan Roman festival of Saturnalia, and Christians could celebrate their own festival at this time without fear of persecution. On the basis of the statement that the shepherds were living out in the field, keeping guard over their flock at night it is often suggested that Jesus’ birth took place in early spring, since it was only at lambing time that shepherds stood guard over their flocks in the field. This is not absolutely certain, however.
  3. Luke 2:8 tn Grk “in that region.”
  4. Luke 2:8 tn Grk “living in the field (see BDAG 15 s.v. ἀγραυλέω) and guarding their flock.”
  5. Luke 2:9 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
  6. Luke 2:9 tn Or “the angel of the Lord.” See the note on the word “Lord” in 1:11.
  7. Luke 2:9 tn Or “stood in front of.”
  8. Luke 2:9 tn Grk “they feared a great fear” (a Semitic idiom which intensifies the main idea, in this case their fear).sn Terrified. See similar responses in Luke 1:12, 29.
  9. Luke 2:10 tn Grk “behold.”
  10. Luke 2:10 tn Grk “I evangelize to you great joy.”
  11. Luke 2:11 sn The Greek word for today (σήμερον, sēmeron) occurs eleven times in the Gospel of Luke (2:11; 4:21; 5:26; 12:28; 13:32-33; 19:5, 9; 22:34, 61; 23:43) and nine times in Acts. Its use, especially in passages such as 2:11; 4:21; 5:26; 19:5, 9, signifies the dawning of the era of messianic salvation and the fulfillment of the plan of God. Not only does it underscore the idea of present fulfillment in Jesus’ ministry, but it also indicates salvific fulfillment present in the church (cf. Acts 1:6; 3:18; D. L. Bock, Luke [BECNT], 1:412; I. H. Marshall, Luke, [NIGTC], 873).
  12. Luke 2:11 tn Or “town.” See the note on “city” in v. 4.
  13. Luke 2:11 tn This is another indication of a royal, messianic connection.
  14. Luke 2:11 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”sn The term χριστός (christos) was originally an adjective (“anointed”), developing in LXX into a substantive (“an anointed one”), then developing still further into a technical generic term (“the anointed one”). In the intertestamental period it developed further into a technical term referring to the hoped-for anointed one, that is, a specific individual. In the NT the development starts there (technical-specific), is so used in the gospels, and then develops in Paul to mean virtually Jesus’ last name.
  15. Luke 2:12 tn Grk “And this.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
  16. Luke 2:12 sn The sign functions for the shepherds like Elizabeth’s conception served for Mary in 1:36.
  17. Luke 2:12 tn Or “a feeding trough,” see Luke 2:7.
  18. Luke 2:13 tn Grk “And suddenly.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
  19. Luke 2:13 tn Grk “a multitude of the armies of heaven.”
  20. Luke 2:14 sn Glory here refers to giving honor to God.
  21. Luke 2:14 tn This is a generic use of ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos) referring to both males and females.
  22. Luke 2:14 tc Most witnesses (א2 B2 L Θ Ξ Ψ ƒ1,13 M sy bo) have ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία (en anthrōpois eudokia, “good will among people”) instead of ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας (en anthrōpois eudokias, “among people with whom he is pleased”), a reading attested by א* A B* D W (sa). Most of the Itala witnesses and some other versional witnesses reflect a Greek text which has the genitive εὐδοκίας but drops the preposition ἐν. Not only is the genitive reading better attested, but it is more difficult than the nominative. “The meaning seems to be, not that divine peace can be bestowed only where human good will is already present, but that at the birth of the Saviour God’s peace rests on those whom he has chosen in accord with his good pleasure” (TCGNT 111).
  23. Luke 2:15 tn Grk “And it happened that when.” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated. Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
  24. Luke 2:15 sn Note how although angels delivered the message, it was the Lord whose message is made known, coming through them.
  25. Luke 2:16 tn Or “a feeding trough.”
  26. Luke 2:17 tn Grk “And when.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
  27. Luke 2:17 tn The word “him” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. Direct objects were frequently omitted in Greek when clear from the context.
  28. Luke 2:17 tn Grk “the word which had been spoken to them.”
  29. Luke 2:18 tn Grk “marveled.” It is a hard word to translate with one term in this context. There is a mixture of amazement and pondering at work in considering the surprising events here. See Luke 1:21, 63; 2:33.
  30. Luke 2:19 tn The term συμβάλλουσα (sumballousa) suggests more than remembering. She is trying to put things together here (Josephus, Ant. 2.5.3 [2.72]). The words “what they might mean” have been supplied in the translation to make this clear. Direct objects were frequently omitted in Greek when clear from the context.
  31. Luke 2:20 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the conclusion of the topic.
  32. Luke 2:20 sn The mention of glorifying and praising God is the second note of praise in this section; see Luke 2:13-14.
  33. Luke 2:20 tn Grk “just as [it] had been spoken to them.” This has been simplified in the English translation by making the prepositional phrase (“to them”) the subject of the passive The closing remark just as they had been told notes a major theme of Luke 1-2 as he sought to reassure Theophilus: God does what he says he will do.