What does Luke 1:59 mean?
ESV: And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father,
NIV: On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah,
NASB: And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zechariah, after his father.
CSB: When they came to circumcise the child on the eighth day, they were going to name him Zechariah, after his father.
NLT: When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father.
KJV: And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.
NKJV: So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias.
Verse Commentary:
According to Old Testament law, male children were circumcised eight days after they were born (Leviticus 12:3; Philippians 3:5). This was also when the baby would be formally given his name. The child in this passage has been born under unique circumstances. His parents are elderly and assumed they'd never have children (Luke 1:5–7). An angelic message said otherwise (Luke 1:13–17) and now Elizabeth has given birth (Luke 1:57–58).

When the baby's father, Zechariah, was told about the impending pregnancy, the angel told him the baby should be named John (Luke 1:13). However, Zechariah was temporarily prevented from speaking because of his doubt (Luke 1:18–20). Most likely, he still told Elizabeth about what he'd seen and heard. It's possible, but very unlikely, that he had not mentioned the baby's intended name to her. It does seem that he didn't pass that information on to friends and family. When the moment comes to declare the newborn's name, those performing the ceremony plan to give him the same name as his father.

Elizabeth will reject this name (Luke 1:60), which will surprise everyone since it's not one of the family's traditional names (Luke 1:61). Zechariah will confirm the name "John," breaking his curse of silence and amazing everyone (Luke 1:62–65).
Verse Context:
Luke 1:57–80 describes the first of two births predicted by the angel Gabriel in this chapter (Luke 1:13, 31). Despite their old age, Elizabeth and Zechariah have had a son, who now needs to be named. Zechariah has been stricken mute for months, after doubting the angel's message. Elizabeth surprises her family by naming the child "John." When asked, Zechariah writes down the same name and is immediately able to speak again. Amid the awestruck reaction of family and neighbors, the legendary reputation of John the Baptist has begun. Zechariah then prophesies about the powerful ministry of his son.
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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