What does Luke 1:7 mean?
ESV: But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
NIV: But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
NASB: And yet they had no child, because Elizabeth was infertile, and they were both advanced in years.
CSB: But they had no children because Elizabeth could not conceive, and both of them were well along in years.
NLT: They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.
KJV: And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
NKJV: But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.
Verse Commentary:
In the ancient world, a person's legacy was largely defined by their children. Concepts such as retirement, social security, and other systems simply did not exist. Those who grew old without surviving children were in a difficult position. This was worse for women, who didn't have the same opportunities for income as did men. A lack of children—especially for a woman—was embarrassing. It would have been common for friends and neighbors to suspect that childlessness was punishment for sin, yet Zechariah and Elizabeth are well-known for their godliness (Luke 1:6; John 9:1–3).

As they age, the priestly couple's hopes of having children all but disappear. That they'd given up on having a child is reflected in two comments made by Luke. When an angel appears to Zechariah, predicting that Elizabeth will conceive (Luke 1:12), Zechariah's response is disbelief (Luke 1:18). When she becomes pregnant, she celebrates it as wiping away her humiliating condition (Luke 1:24–25).
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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