41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
1901 ASV Translation:
41 And it came to pass, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit;
42 and she lifted up her voice with a loud cry, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come unto me?
- 1. In verse 41, there is a different word order in the Nestle/Aland 26 than in the Textus Receptus, but all of the words are the same, so there is no significant meaning-difference.
- 2. In verse 42, the Textus Receptus' use of "pho-ne" [voice] is replaced by the Nestle/Aland 26 with "krau-ge" [cry], but every other word in both texts is the same and the word order is the same. The difference in meaning is "a loud voice" as opposed to "a loud cry"...but there isn't much obvious significance involved...both result in our understanding that Elizabeth's outburst was a stepped up version of normal conversation in terms of volume of sound. The editors of the Nestle/Aland 26 felt that the Textus Receptus' text was so poorly attested that they didn't even bother to mention it.
- 3. In verse 43, the Textus Receptus has "me" and the Nestle/Aland 26 has "eme". This is only a spelling variation of the same word, in the same declension; there is no difference in meaning or significance here.
- 1. The text of verse 40 informed us that Mary had "greeted" Elizabeth upon arriving at her house.
- 2. The text before us indicates that this "greeting" sparked a series of repercussions.
- a. John "leaped" in his mother's womb.
- b. Elizabeth was "filled" with the Holy Spirit.
- c. She then loudly declared the "blessedness" of Mary and, also, the "blessedness" of Jesus as "the fruit of Mary's womb".
- d. She then asked Mary why she, as the "mother of her [Elizabeth's] Lord", had come "to her".
- 1. The "salutation" is mentioned in verses 40, 41, and 44. It is interesting for two reasons. First, that Luke repeats the term three times, and, second, that he refrains from giving us the content of the "greeting/salutation". In other words, it is not what Mary said that is important; rather, it is that her voice sparked the subsequent events.
- a. Also, however, Luke's deliberate use of the word in these verses show us a certain form in his literary structure...
- 1) Verse 40 sets the stage with the telling that Mary "greeted" Elizabeth.
- 2) Verses 41-43 record the subsequent reactions.
- a) John leaped
- b) Elizabeth was suddenly filled with the Spirit
- c) She loudly proclaimed her "blessings" and...
- d) asked her question.
- 3) Verses 44-45 record Elizabeth's reiteration of the order of events...
- a) When the sound of your greeting came into my ears, (repetition of verse 40)
- b) my baby leaped for joy in my womb. (repetition of the first part of verse 41)
- c) "Happy" is she who believed that there would be for her an accomplishment of what the Lord had said (a variation off of the "blessedness" theme of verse 42).
- b. This "structure" is deliberately repetitious with certain "omissions".
- 1) There is no repeat of the fact of Elizabeth's "filling" by the Spirit.
- 2) There is no repeat of the question Elizabeth asked Mary.
- 3) There is no repeat of the "blessedness" of the "fruit of Mary's womb".
- 2. There is also the abundant emphasis upon the impact and content of "voices".
- a. In verse 40, Mary "greets" Elizabeth (with her "voice").
- b. In verse 41, Elizabeth "heard" Mary's salutation (the sound of the voice entered Elizabeth's ears).
- c. In verse 42, Elizabeth "voiced" a great "voice/cry".
- d. In verse 44, Elizabeth said "when the 'voice' of your greeting came into my ears..."
- 3. Interestingly, there is no answer to Elizabeth's question recorded: why, indeed, did Mary came to Elizabeth? The mother of the "Lord" came to serve the mother of the "Lord's servant".
- a. It is notable, however, that Elizabeth, by the Spirit, probably "served" Mary in a way that Mary would only realize later: Elizabeth affirmed the reality of God's part in Mary's pregnancy so that Mary would have a "fall-back position" in the difficult days to come when no one was going to believe her and she was going to go under the cloud of suspicion and humiliation.
- b. It is always the case, in a servant-kingdom, that the servants will serve and be served.
- 4. Luke tells us that when Mary's salutation was heard, the baby, John, "leaped" in his mother's womb.
- a. Luke is the only New Testament writer who uses this verb, and the only other time he does so outside of this story is in 6:23 where we are told that Jesus told his disciples to "leap" and "rejoice" in the day that they are mistreated for His sake because of the greatness of the reward that comes to those that are so treated.
- b. The question Luke raises...
- 1) What is the significance of John's in-the-womb-leap? His mother tells us, by the Spirit, that it was motivated by "joy" -- not "chara", but "exuberance" [see Hebrews 1:9 and Jude 24]. The implication is that, when the "Lord" is present in an already "joyful" setting, the "joy" builds to great peaks.
- 2) Why does Luke deliberately make "exuberance" the "result" of the Lord's doings [See 1:14 and Acts 2:46]? There are many of the acts of the Lord that do not lead, at least initially, to joy, let alone exuberance.
- 5. The issue of Elizabeth's "filling" with the Spirit needs some consideration...
- a. The promise regarding John was, according to 1:15, that he would be "filled with the Holy Spirit" from the womb in the same way that Elizabeth is now recorded as "filled".
- b. The word translated 'filled' is only used by Luke, John and Matthew. John uses it once, Matthew uses it twice and Luke uses it in 24 verses of Luke/Acts. It is not the same word that is used by Paul in Ephesians 5 in his exhortation to be "filled" with the Spirit.
- 1) The word Paul used is typically used to refer to some intention that is brought to pass in history (...thus, the Scriptures were fulfilled which said...).
- a. Paul appropriated a word that is generally used to refer to how a given biblical meaning is come into its full historical realization to address the believers' need to not be drunk with wine, but to be "filled" with the Spirit.
- b. This term is also used of an odor that filled the house and of a sorrow that filled the hearts of those who heard terrible news.
- c. The issue of this word is not 'saturation' as Luke's word implies, but 'specific focus'...wine doesn't saturate, but it does significantly influence. Wine releases inhibitions to the lowest common denominator; in contrast to that, the Spirit binds believers to their highest ideals. Rather than being given over to a release from compelling motivations, we are to be rather aggressively attached to the highest of the Spirit's ideals. The command to "be filled with the Spirit", then, is a command to permit the Spirit to dominate our intentions. This, then, is no promise of infallibility; rather, it is a command to focus upon our intentions. This makes our living 'intentional' rather than 'infallible'. The real issue appears to be one concerning the level of direct control that the Spirit will exercise.
- 2) The word Luke used generally signifies a total fulness that did not allow anything else...i.e., one that pretty much totally dominates/controls.
- a) In Luke/Acts, the "filling" of the Spirit resulted in certain specific actions that were beyond the normal capabilities.
- i. The word itself is used to express the idea that certain defined capacities were reached to their greatest measure (...the boats were filled with fish so that they began to sink...the sponge was filled with vinegar so that it couldn't hold any more... the minds and emotions of people were so full of one particular characteristic that they were completely dominated by it...people were so dominated by the Holy Spirit that He took over their vocal cords to express Himself through them...etc.).
- ii. The implication is that even those who typically lived in obedience to Paul's command to be "filled with the Spirit" were "filled" in a different way on certain occasions so that they could do some special thing completely outside the bounds of their typical Spiritual abilities. This is pretty much the kind of thing that one reads about in the Old Testament references to the Holy Spirit's "coming upon a human being" to accomplish a given task.
- iii. Interestingly, this kind of "fulness of the Spirit" generally just "happened" and is not "commanded" of Christians. Thus, we should not "expect" this kind of filling of the Spirit, but neither should we be surprised if it should "happen". Apparently, this kind of "filling" occurs when God's plans are absolutely crucial and cannot be given over to a less-controlled methodology.
- b) The word Luke used has no uses beyond the Gospels/Acts; it does not take up residence in any of Paul's instruction in the New Testament
- c.Elizabeth's "filling" was guaranteed to give us absolutely true words. Interestingly, there is no mention in the text of Mary being "filled" before her utterances are recorded. Later, when John is born, Zacharias will also be "filled" and "speak".
- 1) When Elizabeth was "filled", she "cried out".
- a) This is the only time in the New Testament that this particular emphasized form of "to utter" is used.
- b) Luke, by putting the emphatic prefix on the normal word for "to utter" and then adding the description "with a loud cry", obviously wants us to think that Elizabeth is either near to, or actually, shouting.
- c) Luke then writes "and said"...raising the question of whether Elizabeth's "loud cry" was an unrecorded exclamation followed by her statements in a normal tone of voice, or whether what Luke recorded her as "saying" was done in the heightened decibels of loudness.
- d) The obvious question is: what is the reason for telling us that when Elizabeth "was filled", she got loud? And, did this "loudness", then, carry over to what she said to Mary?
- i. There would be no point to a loud cry that went unrecorded; thus it is highly unlikely that Luke just wanted us to visualize Elizabeth "crying out" without knowing what she uttered.
- ii. The issue of the "loud cry" is, for us, what it would be for Mary...a riveting sound that made her "hear" what was uttered.
- 2) When Elizabeth was "filled", her entire attention went to the "blessedness" of Mary and the fruit of her womb and the question of why Mary as the Lord's "mother" was at her house.
- a) The issue of "blessedness"...
b) The focus upon Mary...
- i. Has its roots in "to speak well of" (etymology).
- ii. But it moves rather rapidly into the idea that the speaker holds the "spoken of" in extraordinary esteem (Come, ye blessed, enter into the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!).
- iii. It is the word used to refer to Jesus' speech when He "blessed" the loaves and fishes at the miraculous feedings.
- iv. This is the second time Luke uses the word: the first time, Gabriel told Mary she was blessed above all women; this time, Elizabeth agrees.
- v. The apparent "opposite" concept is "to curse" -- giving the idea that "to bless" means to pronounce benefit upon someone.
- vi. Paul, in 1Corinthians 14, makes "giving thanks" the equivalent of "blessing God".
- i. The "blessing" is announced upon one who is "blessed among women".
- ii. Then, there is another "blessing" upon "the fruit of your womb".
- iii. Then, there is the question of why "the mother of my Lord should come to me".
- c) There is no question that Elizabeth, by the Spirit, identified Mary's Son as her Lord.
- i. This is the reason for the "blessedness".
- ii. Obviously, the Spirit wanted both Elizabeth and Mary to understand the extraordinary benefit that was to be to them because of the arrival of the Son of David/Son of God upon the scene. This is, perhaps, the most crucial issue before all of humanity: the fact that God is so "for" us that to even dream that He is "against" us so corrupt that it sponsors every bit of the "death" that comes upon them who accept the nightmare as the reality. Obviously, there is a reality in the nightmare; but, it is driven by the demonic perversity that absolutely refuses to allow the possibility that there is another "side" to God than "justice...judgment...wrath...vengeance...and extreme hostility". There are two "worst case scenarios" with men: God does not exist; and, God is only Vengeance Personified.
- iii. But, just as obviously, the Spirit would not have prompted Elizabeth's question if He had not intended us to ponder its answer: why, indeed, was the mother of the Lord at the house of Elizabeth? There is some reason to think that the question stands unanswered so that the lack of an answer forces one to think about a possible answer; but, there is also some reason to think that just "maybe" what Mary has to say is the answer: God is of such a character that He exalts the servant hearted because He is the Greatest Servant Heart in existence.