What does Luke 7:16 mean?
ESV: Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and "God has visited his people!"
NIV: They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people."
NASB: Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, 'A great prophet has appeared among us!' and, 'God has visited His people!'
CSB: Then fear came over everyone, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen among us," and "God has visited his people."
NLT: Great fear swept the crowd, and they praised God, saying, 'A mighty prophet has risen among us,' and 'God has visited his people today.'
KJV: And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.
NKJV: Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.”
Verse Commentary:
Two crowds met at the gates of Nain. One was entering; the other was leaving to bury the only son of a widow. Traditionally, anyone meeting a funeral procession would join out of respect. This time, however, the first crowd included Jesus. He raised the dead man, and the two crowds join in celebration (Luke 7:11–15).

Responses to Jesus' miracles vary but often include fear. That's a natural response when something extraordinarily powerful happens. Here, the people fear Him and glorify God. When He calms the storm, the disciples fear Him (Luke 8:25). When He expels the Legion of demons from a man, the man begs to be allowed to stay with Him, but his neighbors react in fear (Luke 8:37).

The quotes from the people strengthen Luke's association between Jesus and the Old Testament prophets even more. They call Jesus "a great prophet." Once again, specific words imply key details. The people refer to Jesus without using the article "the," meaning they see him as "a" prophet among many. They perceive Him like Old Testament prophets, but not as the Messiah promised by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15). They associate Jesus with Elisha who raised the dead (2 Kings 4:32–37; 13:20–21) but particularly Elijah who raised the only son of a widow (1 Kings 17:17–24) (Matthew 16:13–14).

"God has visited his people" also ties into the words of Zechariah, John the Baptist's father. After John is born, Zechariah becomes filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesies. He begins, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people" (Luke 1:68). The people of Nain don't realize Jesus is the Messiah, but Luke's readers should.
Verse Context:
Luke 7:11–17 is the story of Jesus in the village of Nain. There, Jesus raises to life the only son of a widow. The people are terrified, but praise God. The mother parallels the sinful woman caught powerless in a male-dominated society (Luke 7:36–38); the boy is like the demoniac who cannot ask for healing (Luke 8:26–39). Luke again ties Jesus to Old Testament prophets, specifically Elijah, with the healing of the son of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8–24), and Elisha, who raised the Shunammite woman's son (2 Kings 4:18–37).
Chapter Summary:
Luke 7 presents a chiasm: a set of themes mirrored around a reflection point. The humble centurion (Luke 7:1–10) contrasts the legalistic Pharisee (Luke 7:39–50). The widow of Nain (Luke 7:11–17) and the sinful women (Luke 7:36–38) have nothing to offer but gratitude for Jesus' blessings. In the center are John the Baptist and his disciples who struggle to trust that Jesus is worth following (Luke 7:18–23), then the sinners who do choose to follow Jesus and the religious leaders who refuse (Luke 7:24–35).
Chapter Context:
Luke 7 continues Jesus' mission primarily to the people of Galilee expressed as a series of pointed events and teachings punctuated by calls to follow Him. He has finished teaching the rigors of discipleship (Luke 6:17–45) and invited the crowd to place their faith in Him (Luke 6:46–49). Here, Luke describes different reactions to Jesus' miracles and message. Next, Jesus will reveal the mechanics of and reactions to His call (Luke 8:4–21) before showing His great authority over nature, demons, sickness, and worldly powers (Luke 8:22—9:17). After a final call to the disciples to deepen their faith (Luke 9:18–50), Jesus will turn toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51—19:27).
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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