9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
1901 ASV Translation:
9 And an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people:
There is one textual difference between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26. The Textus Receptus has the word "behold" which the Nestle/Aland 26 does not have.
I. The "larger" theme is related to the recurring issue of "fear" (Zacharias, Mary, and now, these shepherds).
II. There is another "recurring" issue: the announcement of the "angel".
III. There is a third "recurring" issue: "joy".
I. The "Angel".
A. The phrase is the same as in 1:11 -- "an angel of [the] Lord".
1. This does not automatically mean that it was the same one, who was identified in chapter one twice (1:19; 1:26).
2. The lack of personal identification is insignificant in this setting.
3. The point is the same as in chapter one: "I am a messenger from God...".
a. God did not, Himself, appear for all of the reasons that He does not typically do, Himself, what He wants done.
b. That it was "an angel" means, however, that the human response is supposed to be that of Mary (1:38) in contrast to that of Zacharias (1:18).
c. That the essential identity of an "angel" is "messenger" makes the faith-response even that much more significant: Messengers carry the words and intentions of those who send them.
d. That it was an angel rather than a prophet or some other human being means that the level of significance has been "racheted up" -- there is something a bit more compelling when an angel speaks than when it is a man. This is the point behind Paul's anathema in Galatians 1 -- "...if we, or an angel from heaven...".
B. The verb "stood by" is used with an interesting force in Luke's narrative.
1. It is used 21 times in the New Testament and 18 of those uses are Luke's.
2. It is consistently used to describe the "coming" of one who either has, or thinks himself to have, "authority" to govern the circumstances into which he/she "comes".
3. Luke consistently presents this "standing by" to indicate this "authority" issue and to emphasize it.
C. Thus, both "angel" and "stood by" carry the overtones of "irresistible force".
II. The "Glory of the Lord".
A. The automatic assumption here is of that brilliant outshining that characterized the presence of the Lord in the Old Testament wanderings at night when light was needed as was the conviction that the Sovereign Lord was present.
B. The "shining" is only referred to twice in the New Testament...the other time is in Acts 26:13 when Paul is telling of what happened to him on the road to Damascus. This use is in Paul's words, not the words of Luke in Acts 9 where the original event is recorded.
C. There is little escape from the fact that this "outshining" of the divine glory was intended to bring the force of the words to their maximum impressiveness (quite unlike the "still small voice" of 1Kings 19).
III. The Greatness of The Fear.
A. If Luke has one thing to say, it is this: God would not have those who "fear" Him to "fear" Him and He would have those who do not "fear" Him to "fear" Him.
1. Those who "fear" seem to God to be those who need "comfort".
2. Those who do not "fear" seem to God to be so arrogant as to be wholly unsuited to be vessels of life for others.
B. The angelic message is not one of fear.
IV. The Greatness of the Joy.
A. Luke deliberately contrasts the "great fear" with the message of "great joy".
1. The terminology of the great fear is a recurring echo first noted in 1:12.
2. Luke refers to "fear" by specific terminology at least 28 times in this "Gospel" alone.
3. Luke refers to "joy" by specific reference at least 19 times in this "Gospel".
4. Luke contrasts those who "fear not God" with those who "fear God" in this book and exhorts those who "fear" to "fear not" and those who "fear not" to "fear".
B. Luke deliberately says that "they ... returned to Jerusalem with great joy..." in the next to the last verse in this "Gospel" (24:52).