What does Luke 1:78 mean?
ESV: because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
NIV: because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
NASB: Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
CSB: Because of our God's merciful compassion, the dawn from on high will visit us
NLT: Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
KJV: Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
NKJV: Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
Verse Commentary:
The father of John the Baptist (Luke 3:2–3) is celebrating God's fulfillment of prophecy (Luke 1:67–68). Old Testament prophets promised a herald to announce the coming of the Messiah (Isaiah 40:3). As Zechariah speaks, that prediction is coming true in the birth of John (Luke 1:14–17, 57). Prior verses explicitly pointed out that John's role was to be an announcer of sorts for the Promised One (Luke 1:76–77). That Promised One, the "Most High," is Jesus (Luke 1:31–33). John's ministry of preaching repentance and baptism (Matthew 3:1–5) will set the stage for Jesus' work in offering salvation to all who believe (John 3:16–17; Philippians 2:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Malachi was the last prophet of the Old Testament. His message included more details about the person who would announce the ministry of the Christ (Malachi 3:1; 4:6). Part of Malachi's prophecy included references to sunrise (Malachi 4:2). The imagery of the sun, rising over the horizon to touch earth with light and warmth, symbolizes the arrival of the Savior (John 1:9). John the Baptist is not that Light (John 1:6–8), but he clearly draws people's attention to Jesus (John 1:19–23).
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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