The Doctrine of the Incarnation in the Bible

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
—Luke 2:11

Jesus Christ: Incarnation

In grace God sends an angel to announce Jesus’s birth not to the rich and powerful, such as Caesar Augustus or Governor Quirinius, but to lowly shepherds. God’s glory appears at night to them, and the angel quiets their fears and conveys joyous good news, not just for Israel but “for all the people” (v. 10): “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (v. 11). This amazing declaration names a newborn infant Savior and Lord, the same titles Caesar Augustus, who claimed divine characteristics, gave himself.

The Greek translation of the OT uses “Savior” to name God (Isa. 45:15, 21), as does Mary (Luke 1:47), and God transfers it to Jesus at his birth (2:11). He is also “Christ,” the Greek rendering of the Hebrew “Messiah,” the promised deliverer, who came not as the Jews expected—as a military leader to lead a revolt against Rome—but as the Savior from sin. Moreover, Jesus is “Lord,” a word Luke uses to refer to God himself (1:11, 17) and also to Jesus (vv. 43, 76).

ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible

ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible

This new study Bible was created by a team of 26 contributors to help readers see how Christian beliefs are rooted in God’s Word, featuring over 400 short in-text doctrinal summaries connecting Christian beliefs to specific Bible passages and 25 longer articles explaining important theological topics in greater depth.

Theology for Life

A multitude of angels worship God at the announcement of Jesus’ birth to shepherds, who also worship after seeing Jesus (2:14, 20). Believing hearts cannot help but join in the praise.

For more on Christ’s incarnation see:

  • John 1:14, 18
  • Heb. 2:14–15
  • Phil. 2:6–11

This article is adapted from the ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible.


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