Gabriel’s Greeting to Mary

21 Apr
Mary -1

from Google Images

Many folks will say, and I agree, that one could read a particular Scripture many times, yet, in reading it once more we would find something we never saw before. This is no less true even now, as I consider Gabriel’s greeting to a young maiden in Nazareth to announce what we call the Virgin Birth. Luke tells us that in the 6th month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (Luke 1:24, 26, 36) the angel, Gabriel (Luke 1:26-28; cf. verses 11 & 19), came to visit a young maiden named Mary. She was engaged to a man named Joseph, who was descended from King David, and she was a virgin (Luke 1:27).

There is something interesting in Gabriel’s greeting (Luke 1:28) and in Mary’s response (Luke 1:29) that I believe deserves consideration. Gabriel begins by saying “REJOICE” (Oh) accepted one! The Lord IS with you” (Judges 6:12) or “The Lord BE with you” (Ruth 2:4).[1] The first greeting was given to Gideon, whom God called to be a deliverer of Israel, while the second was used by Boaz who was to act as a kinsman redeemer for Naomi and Ruth, and such was to be the case of Jesus especially for Israel, but also for the world.

Judging from the content of Mary’s Song (Luke 1:46-55), Mary probably understood the inference to a redeemer in the angel’s greeting, but notice what troubled her. Luke tells us that Mary was agitated or troubled over the angel’s greeting rather than his appearance! Both Mary and Zacharias were troubled or agitated (G5015 – tarasso), but Mary more so (G1293 – dia-tarasso, the prefix, dia, showing an intensification of her concern). However, Zacharias was also afraid at the appearance of the angel (Luke 1:12). Yet, Mary’s concern seems to be solely over the angel’s voice, not his appearance. The manuscripts are divided as to whether Mary actually saw the angel. There is very good evidence for either premise. However, considering the context of her fear, the angel’s words, rather than his appearance (cf. Daniel 10:4-11), it would seem that she never saw the angel. She heard only his voice. After all, she was probably a young teenager (considering Jewish tradition regarding engagements). Why would she not consider what she saw when grown men were terrified at angelic appearances?

Gabriel’s greeting was meant to put Mary at ease. “Rejoice”! The Greek word is chario (G5463), and is translated rejoice, gladness or joy 62 time in the New Testament, while it is translated hail only 6 times. With the understanding it means rejoice, we can recall Hosea 14:2[2] and it will fit our context here in the angel’s words to Mary. He told her that she had found favor or grace (G5485) with God. This Greek word is related to her acceptance in verse-28, and in the context of Hosea 14:2 it fits the context of the remarks of the angel concerning Jesus.

Probably, Mary still wondered about the meaning of the angel’s greeting, “favored or accepted one” (G5487) in connection with his allusion to ancient redeemers / deliverers in Israel’s history. The Greek word is used only twice in the New Testament. Paul claims every person who is blessed in Christ is accepted (G5487) by God (cf. Ephesians 1:6). Probably it refers to the fact that Mary would bear about—physically—in her body what we all would eventually bear about spiritually. It seems Luke intends that we see the mobile Tabernacle or Temple of God in our mind’s eye. The Temple in the 1st century AD was supposed to be the only place in the world where God’s Presence dwelt. However, with the coming of Jesus the Gospel tells us that we bear about God’s Presence to the world. Mary was chosen by God to prefigure this in her body by carrying about what would be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35).


[1] The phrase: “Blessed are you among women” probably should not be here. It is not in the oldest manuscripts. Rather it is found in all manuscripts in Elizabeth’s greeting: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:42). Perhaps a margin note at verse-28 referring to verse-42 found its way into the text in some manuscripts.

[2] Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. (Hosea 14:2 KJV)

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Posted by on April 21, 2016 in Gospel of Luke


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