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Speaking, prophetically, of the one to be born to Zacharias, Gabriel, the angel, says :

For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias ... [Luke 1:15-17a KJV]

Zacharias reiterates this in his own prophecy :

And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; [Luke 1:76 KJV]

This is a striking text - the words in the mouth of the angel Gabriel - for he is stating, firstly, in saying that John will go before the Lord their God, that the one before whom John will go is both Lord and God.

And, secondly, Gabriel is stating that the one before whom John proceeds is the Lord who is the God of Israel.

Mark states quite clearly :

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. [Mark 1:1-3 KJV]

And all four gospels narrate the precedence of John prior to the ministry of Jesus.

Do Gabriel's words convey that Jesus of Nazareth is the same person as He whom the 'children of Israel' followed prior to the coming of Christ into the world ?


ADDITIONAL EDIT IN RESPONSE TO ANSWERS

To make this more clear :

Thou shalt call his name John. 14And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. 16And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

17 And he shall go before him. . . . .

All of this relates to John.

And John shall go before him . . . . .

What does that mean ?

Who shall John go before ?

The antecedent is 'the Lord their God'.

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    I think you are missing the point @Dottard My question is, specifically, about the words of the angel Gabriel. I have added context - from another Gospel. My question is about the words (uttered by an angel) he shall go before him the 'him' being (in antecedent) Israel's 'Lord and God'.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 20, 2023 at 6:31
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    This question appears to be simply seeking confirmation of an existing opinion and thus is not a true question. If that is true, I shall delete my answer.
    – Dottard
    Sep 20, 2023 at 11:44
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    @Dottard The words of Gabriel are profound and have profound consequences. I am seeking a genuine, hermeneutic analysis of the the actual words which Gabriel uttered. I am surprised to see the difficulties that seem to be getting in the way of a straightforward logical analysis of vocabulary and grammar.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 20, 2023 at 12:18
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    @OldeEnglish Yes, indeed, the antecedent is 'the Lord their God' and 'the Lord their God' is the one whom John will 'go before'. Since John actually 'went before' Jesus of Nazareth (as documented by the four evangelists) then one can make a very obvious deduction . . . . . . .
    – Nigel J
    Sep 21, 2023 at 6:47
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    @OldeEnglish I have not expressed any 'Trinitarian' views nor doctrines in this question, That is a completely false description of my activity. I point you to the logical words of the accepted answer : _This is where the penny should drop. Malachi foretold one coming to do a work of preparation for the Lord God of Israel. Jesus showed that John the Baptist, who prepared the way before him, was the fulfilment of that prophecy. _
    – Nigel J
    Sep 21, 2023 at 16:28

3 Answers 3

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The text in question makes no mention of anyone called Jesus.

The angel Gabriel is speaking to Zacharias, telling him that his aged wife Elizabeth will give birth to a son who will be called John. Gabriel specifically speaks of the baby yet to be conceived as destined in the will of God to “be great in the sight of the Lord”. This is the Greek word kyrios, but context is totally unambiguous that this Lord is the Lord God of Israel. John will be great in the sight of Israel’s Lord and God.

Gabriel continues to say that John will be filled with the Holy Spirit of God, even from his mother’s womb, and that he shall turn many in Israel to their God the Lord.

It is not until Elizabeth is six months pregnant that Gabriel speaks again in the written record, being sent to the virgin Mary, and this is the first time the name ‘Jesus’ is spoken by him. This is in verse 31 of that same first chapter of Luke, when he tells Mary that the Holy One to be born will be called Jesus, and also be called the Son of the Highest.

Jesus is described as coming for the first time in Hebrews 9:26 – and Gabriel appropriately only names the one whom John the Baptist was to prepare the way for at the announcement of Mary’s miraculous conception of this Jesus. It is significant that Jesus himself, as an adult, said that John the Baptist was the fulfilment of the prophecy about the Elijah to come (Matthew 11:14 & 17:12 cf. Malachi 4:5). This is where the penny should drop. Malachi foretold one coming to do a work of preparation for the Lord God of Israel. Jesus showed that John the Baptist, who prepared the way before him, was the fulfilment of that prophecy. John the Baptist himself agreed with that – John 1:19-27 – saying he was preparing the way for the Lord, the Lord who came after him, whose laces he was not worthy to untie.

To answer the question then: The significance of what Gabriel said in Luke 1:15-17a was fully known to him, without him ever mentioning Jesus. When he did mention the coming of Jesus, many months later, he also knew then how John would fulfil the prophecies, but he did not spell that out. It was Zacharias who, in the second text of the question, gave the meaning, saying of his son, “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways” (Luke 1:76 KJV). Gabriel said in Luke 1:31 that Jesus would also be “called the Son of the Highest”.

Gabriel understood that John was the prophet of the Highest (the Lord God of Israel), and that Jesus, being Son of the Highest, would have John prepare his way for him.

Jesus himself explained the significance of John, who went before him to prepare people for the Messiah, also called kyrios. It is for those who have been prepared for Messiah, and who have received him as their Saviour and their Lord, to let the scriptures speak to them by the teaching of the Holy Spirit. John turned many in Israel to their God the Lord by turning them to Jesus Christ as their Saviour and their Lord. The one whom the 'children of Israel' followed prior to the coming of Jesus into the world was, indeed, this Lord God of Israel. To turn to the Lord Jesus in the way Gabriel said is to turn to the Lord God of Israel.

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  • Up-voted +1. To turn to the Lord Jesus in the way Gabriel said is to turn to the Lord God of Israel.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 20, 2023 at 14:44
  • Rather than reiterate the comment I gave under the OP's question, I now refer you to it. Sep 21, 2023 at 5:16
  • @OldeEnglish . . . . . and I now refer you to my response to it.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 21, 2023 at 6:49
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    @OldeEnglish I have not expressed any 'Trinitarian' views nor doctrines in this question, That is a completely false description of my activity. I point you to the logical words of the accepted answer : This is where the penny should drop. Malachi foretold one coming to do a work of preparation for the Lord God of Israel. Jesus showed that John the Baptist, who prepared the way before him, was the fulfilment of that prophecy. . . . . . . . . To turn to the Lord Jesus in the way Gabriel said is to turn to the Lord God of Israel.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 21, 2023 at 16:29
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First, "Lord and God" does not appear in the passages nominated by the OP.

Second, based on the words of Gabriel ALONE, one cannot determine whether Gabriel is referring to Jesus as God because Gabriel uses the phrase, "the Lord their God" (Luke 1:16).

Now, "Lord" (κύριος) can refer to either:

  • God the Father as per Matt 11:25, Luke 10:21, 1:68, Mark 12:29, Rev 11:17, Luke 20:37, etc
  • Jesus Christ as per, Rom 7:25, Acts 11:17, 1 Peter 1:3, 2 Cor 11:31, 1 Cor 1:9, etc.

Thus, the fact that "Lord" can refer to God the Father, means that Gabriel's words in Luke 1:16 could be referring to God the Father as Lord. Equally, if one believes in the divinity of Christ, then "the Lord our God" could also refer to Jesus Christ.

The decision between these two alternatives must be made on the basis of other information, especially (in this case) what the original prophecy in Mal 3:1-5 is referencing. However, this aspect is specifically excluded from the OP's question scope and will not be discussed here.

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    και πολλους των υιων ισραηλ επιστρεψει επι κυριον τον θεον αυτων και αυτος προελευσεται ενωπιον αυτου '... and many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God and he will go before him ... 'Lord' and 'God' is in the passage. 'the Lord their God' is the antecedent. 'he will go before him' refers to John the Baptist going before the Lord their God. Is this not clear to you ?
    – Nigel J
    Sep 20, 2023 at 11:12
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    @NigelJ - I know what you are saying and I agree with the interpretation but that cannot be conclusively deduced from this passage alone. Do you always downvote any answer with which you simply disagree?
    – Dottard
    Sep 20, 2023 at 11:14
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    @NigelJ - further, Gabriel appears to be alluding to Mal 4:6 which does not refer to the Messiah.
    – Dottard
    Sep 20, 2023 at 11:17
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    The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? (Matthew 22:44). There is no word Father in this passage. You assume Lord is Father. But even in the OT Father is absent. You claim it refers to the Father. Clearly the Holy Spirit did not include the term. Sep 21, 2023 at 6:10
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    @RevelationLad Good point. And also the fact that David says 'my Lord'. Personally he knew One whom he called 'my Lord'. So even under the Old Testament situation, faith could apprehend that Person and call him 'Lord'. And faith could distinguish that One from another One whom he called 'LORD'. (Despite that the terms 'father' and 'son' had yet to be given to men.) How astute.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 21, 2023 at 14:20
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Do Gabriel's words convey that Jesus of Nazareth is the same person as He whom the 'children of Israel' followed prior to the coming of Christ into the world ?

Gabriel's words do not convey that Jesus of Nazareth is the same person as He whom the 'children of Israel' followed prior to the coming of Christ into the world.

There is no record in the bible that show Zacharias believed and understood that the angel Gabriel referred to Jesus as "the Lord their God" meaning "Israel's Lord and God".

There is no verse in the bible that show an angel referred to Jesus as "Israel's Lord and God". Further examining this question, we find that the same angel, Gabriel, told Mary the mother of Jesus that Jesus shall be called son of the Most High and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. Luke 1:26-32. Thus, Jesus is not the Most High God or the LORD God of Israel.

Moreover, there are records where Jesus' relatives thought Jesus was crazy while others said "He hath Beelzebub". Mark 3:21-22. If Jesus is "Israel's Lord and God:, how could the Israelites mistook their awe inspiring "Lord and God" for someone who is crazy or demon possessed?

John the Baptist's preaching exposed the peoples' disobedience and the need to repent and turn to God's will and law. That is how he prepared the people for the LORD.

And he shall go before him. . . . .

All of this relates to John.

And John shall go before him . . . . .

What does that mean ?

Who shall John go before ?

The antecedent is 'the Lord their God'.

John the Baptist going before the Lord could not be taken to mean the verse refer to Jesus as "Israel's Lord and God". The angel Gabriel, John the Baptist and Jesus serve and worship the same God. The same God that confirmed Jesus is His son after John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Matthew 3:13-17. Should we discredit God to justify our inference?

John going before the Lord should be understood in the sense that Jesus came in his Father's name. John 5:43.

Consider the account in Luke 17:21 where Jesus told some of the Pharisees that the spirit of God is within them. How could God's kingdom be within the people who would later be involved in Jesus' killing? The kingdom of God was among them because Jesus, God's appointed king, Luke 1:32-33. was standing before them.

Gabriel knows the God he and Israel serve. Examining this question reveals it to be clearly half true. The whole truth becomes evident when the rest of the bible is examined about the question.

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