What does Luke 2:5 mean?
ESV: to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
NIV: He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
NASB: in order to register along with Mary, who was betrothed to him, and was pregnant.
CSB: to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant.
NLT: He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
KJV: To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
Verse Commentary:
The registration required is one ordered by Augustus, then the Emperor of Rome (Luke 2:1). Part of this requirement is for people to go to their ancestral hometowns (Luke 2:3). Since Joseph's lineage is through David, his destination is Bethlehem (1 Samuel 17:12; Luke 2:4). Scholars are divided on whether this travelling and registration happened when Quirinius was in control of Syria (Luke 2:2), or if the registration happened before an actual taxation was levied later, possibly after the death of Herod (Matthew 2:19).

Joseph's relationship to Mary is "betrothal," which is only vaguely like modern "engagement." Betrothal in the ancient world was more like "pre-marriage." It required a divorce to break, but the couple did not live together or consummate the relationship. Since Joseph and Mary are not truly married, it would have been unusual for them to travel together. In this case, however, Mary is already pregnant, with a baby miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:30–33). Since she was close to giving birth (Luke 2:6), it seems it made the most sense for her to be with her promised husband when it happened.

This will also fulfill the prophecy that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
Verse Context:
Luke 2:1–7 gives a brief explanation of Jesus' unusual birth. Some traditional details of this event are just that: traditional, and not necessarily given in Scripture itself. Luke establishes a historical timeframe, when Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem to participate in a taxed census. Due to the number of travelers, lodgings are crowded. Mary gives birth and lays Jesus in an animal's feeding trough.
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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