What does Luke 1:17 mean?
ESV: and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
NIV: And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.'
NASB: And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF FATHERS BACK TO their children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.'
CSB: And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people."
NLT: He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.'
KJV: And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
NKJV: He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Verse Commentary:
One of the more popular prophecies of the Old Testament was the claim that Elijah would return, prior to the arrival of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5). This was tied to the prediction that a prophet would act as a herald for the Promised One (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1).

Zechariah, who has just learned that his wife's soon-to-be-conceived son will fulfill this role (Luke 1:11–16), will recognize this connection. After the child—later known as John the Baptist—is born, Zechariah will allude to this herald's role (Luke 1:76). Interestingly, Jesus will point out that this role as Elijah has a conditional aspect. John the Baptist will not literally be Elijah, in some form of reincarnation (John 1:19–21). Had the people of Israel fully accepted John's message, he would have fulfilled this very function (Matthew 11:14). Instead, most people would turn away from the complete truth of the gospel (John 6:66).

Still, John's ministry would be powerful and effective. His preaching would prepare others to understand the messages taught by Jesus (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:2–3). Even after his own death (Mark 6:17, 27), and Jesus' ascension into heaven (Acts 1:8–9), John's preaching would be part of the early church's process of evangelism (Acts 13:24–25; 19:4).
Verse Context:
Luke 1:5–25 explains how Elizabeth, the childless wife of a priest, learns that she will give birth to a prophet. This child will eventually be known as John the Baptist. Her husband, Zechariah, learns this from an angel but doubts due to his advanced age. As a result, he is rendered temporarily mute, and likely deaf as well (Luke 1:62). As predicted, he and Elizabeth conceive and await the birth of their son. This occurs several months before Elizabeth's relative, Mary, receives even more amazing news from an angel.
Chapter Summary:
The angel Gabriel predicts two miraculous births. The first is a son born to Zechariah and Elizabeth: an older, childless priest and his wife. Because Zechariah initially doubts this message, he is temporarily made unable to speak. Their child will be known as John the Baptist, a powerful herald of the Messiah. The Promised One whom John will proclaim is the second birth predicted by Gabriel. He tells an engaged virgin, Mary, that God will miraculously conceive His Son in her. The two women meet and rejoice over their blessings. John's arrival sets the stage for Luke's familiar account of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Chapter Context:
Luke was a travelling companion of the apostle Paul (Acts 16:10); his book of Acts is a direct "sequel" to the gospel of Luke (Acts 1:1–3). Those two books make up more than a quarter of the New Testament. Luke begins by explaining how his orderly approach is meant to inspire confidence in Christian faith. His work is based on eyewitness interviews and other evidence. The first chapter details the miraculous conceptions of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. Chapter 2 continues with Jesus' birth.
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
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