What does Luke 2:22 mean?
ESV: And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
NIV: When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
NASB: And when the days for their purification according to the Law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord
CSB: And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
NLT: Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
KJV: And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
NKJV: Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord
Verse Commentary:
Mosaic law provided Israel a series of commands relating to ceremonial purity. One of these regulations involved childbirth, and here Mary and Joseph are completing the required purification (Leviticus 12). This cleansing is not an atonement for sin, but a symbolic restoration of purity. By law, those who could afford a lamb were required to offer one, in addition to a bird, for the purification sacrifice. Those unable to afford a lamb could bring two birds, rather than just one.

According to this passage, Joseph and Mary are poor enough that they fall into the latter category; they offer a pair of birds to fulfill their requirement (Luke 2:24). Their act not only satisfies ceremonial purity, but it also obeys the instructions given at Israel's exodus from Egypt: that firstborn were to be consecrated to God (Exodus 13:1–2).
Verse Context:
Luke 2:22–38 contains several interesting events. The infant Jesus is brought to the temple for purification and dedication, as commanded in Mosaic law. There, a devout man speaks through the Holy Spirit to celebrate the arrival of Messiah. Luke also mentions a prophetess named Anna, who likewise praises God for fulfilling His promises.
Chapter Summary:
The early part of this chapter is famously read at Christmas, while celebrating the birth of Jesus. Luke gives a relatively brief description of how Mary came to give birth in a stable, laying Jesus in a feeding trough. Nearby shepherds are informed of the news by multiple angels. Two people speak in praise of God at Jesus' circumcision. Years later, Joseph and Mary lose track of Jesus on the way back from Jerusalem, only to find Him astounding teachers in the temple with His wisdom.
Chapter Context:
Luke began his well-organized account by explaining the conceptions of Jesus Christ and John the Baptist, in chapter 1. In chapter 2, he briefly summarizes Jesus' birth and the arrival of shepherds directed by angels. Prophecies and prayers celebrate His dedication at the temple. After briefly losing track of a twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple, Jesus' parents take Him home to Nazareth. There, He grows up relatively normally. Chapter 3 leaps forward many years to the beginning of John the Baptist's preaching. This is followed by Jesus' genealogy. Chapter 4 relates Jesus' temptations by Satan and the start of His public ministry.
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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