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We read the following in Luke's Gospel (1:26-38 DRB):

And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, [kecharitomene], the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: Because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.


Question

My question is two-fold:

  • Was Mary troubled at

    • a) the fact of Gabriel's speaking with her, or

    • b) what he said to her (i.e. the "manner of" the greeting)?

  • If (b), what does this imply for Protestants about a) Mary, and b) the uniqueness of the (manner of) greeting as relates to other angelic visitations in Scripture (if any).


Thank you in advance.

  • For what possible reason could this question have been voted to be closed? – Sola Gratia Oct 8 '17 at 21:53
  • if you are asking for the Protestant answer you will get many opinions on that matter. In that case, this question should be closed as too broad! – Grasper Oct 9 '17 at 14:39
  • How might it be narrowed down? – Sola Gratia Oct 9 '17 at 14:41
  • Add protestant denomination that is the closest to your liking. – Grasper Oct 9 '17 at 14:54
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Part II - Mary, and the uniqueness of greeting.

1) Mary, Herself

Mary's place in scripture is very clearly that of a woman greatly blessed by being chosen to perform a quite unique service, but not to be promoted into a unique office. Gabriel's greeting underlines this, 'Highly favoured, among women'. She remains among women, as one of them, and is highly favoured.

Jesus never addresses Mary as mother. He calls her, 'Woman,' when she speaks to him in Cana at the wedding and he calls her, 'Woman,' from the cross when making provision for her with John. When Mary slips in her words and speaks of, 'Thy father and I,' she receives a mild rebuke from the twelve year old boy, 'Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business '

2) The Uniqueness of Circumstance

The LORD appeared to Abraham in the plains of Mamre, Genesis 18:1, and he looked and Lo, three men. 'My Lord,' he said. And the unnamed men rose up from thence. But the LORD continued to speak to Abraham. A messenger, malak, spoke to Moses out of a burning bush. The LORD saw and God called, Genesis 3:4. An unnamed angel spoke to the unnamed wife of Manoah, Judges 13, and later ascended up in the flame of the altar.

A man strove with Jacob till the breaking of the day and would not tell him his name, but he called Jacob 'Isra-el' for Jacob had power with God and had prevailed. Daniel saw the appearance of a man and he heard a man's voice say, 'Gabriel, make this one to understand. Later, Gabriel appears and says, 'O Daniel . . . .' One appeared to Daniel and told him, Daniel 10:13, that he was helped by Michael, the archangel.

And the greatest king upon earth, at the time, Nebuchadnezzar, saw four men in a furnace of flame, Daniel 3:25, and said, 'The form of the fourth is like unto the Son of God.' These seven occurrences are singular visitations of huge importance in the unfolding revelation of the purposes of God upon earth. They rise like seven pinnacles over the rest of the comparatively trivial events recorded by humanity of its own history.

And then, after Daniel and Malachi, comes silence. Not a word, for four hundred years. But there are a few faithful, such as Simeon and Anna, Zacharias and Elizabeth - and Joseph and Mary.

Then comes not just an angel but an archangel. And not unnamed - this is Gabriel who announces to Zacharias, 'I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God - - and behold thou shalt be dumb !' He has the power to strike a man dumb if his herald is not believed.

Michael is also called, apostolically by Jude, an archangel, Jude 9. John's visions indicate that Michael fights with the Lord's hosts, Revelation 12:7. But Gabriel stands in God's very presence.

There are three that appear significantly - two with personal names, Gabriel and Michael, and one who is only ever represented in ten descriptive terms, as Serpent, Satan, Diabolos, Antidikos, Poneros, Abbadon, Kategoros, Beelzebul, Apollyon, Lucifer, Animos and Drakon. This one is defeated by Michael, once it is righteously proper to do so.

3) The Uniqueness of Greeting

Only to Mary is it said that 'The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the Power of the Highest shall overshadow thee,' and only - ever - of that within Mary was it, or could it be, said that, 'Therefore, also, shall that generated holy be called Son of God.' [Literal Translation of TR.]

These words, and the circumstances of them, stand out even against the background of the seven previous singularities recorded in scripture. This event is breathtakingly momentous.

My wording - “generated holy ” - reflects the exactitude of the wording used, gennwmenon agion, of this momentous event . The English translation is unsatisfactory, even in the AV which I, otherwise, greatly respect. The wording comparison in Matthew and Luke is just stunning, utterly stunning, and deserves to be further highlighted.

[Edited after Post in order to keep closer to the text and to the answer required.]

  • 2
    Thanks for the answer. However, the first part seems to be largely a polemic against an implied worship of Mary (bringing up the First Commandment about worshiping God alone etc) which isn't pertinent to the passage. The tone deviates from your original answer, which I said I would have marked as the answer, sufficiently enough that I can't mark this as the answer—it really does have an anti-catholic (I assume) polemic kind of tone, rather than what is positively believed by Protestants, at least the first section. – Sola Gratia Oct 9 '17 at 14:41
  • P.S. Parts 2 and 3 are great. – Sola Gratia Oct 9 '17 at 14:42
  • @SolaGratia I haven't mentioned the organisation you indicate in your comment. Nor would I wish to do so. – Nigel J Oct 9 '17 at 15:01
  • The entire first part speaks of worship, which is nowhere implied in the text. I'm sure you didn't just assume people would think to worship Mary because of the text? Is that what you find implied in the text or claimed about it? How would this be your Protestant perspective, if so, and not a polemic against others'? This is all I'm saying. – Sola Gratia Oct 9 '17 at 15:23
  • @SolaGratia I hear you loud and clear, sir. And I accept that argument and have edited accordingly. – Nigel J Oct 9 '17 at 15:29
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I see from Strong's:

χαριτόω charitóō, khar-ee-to'-o; from G5485; to grace, i.e. indue with special honor:—make accepted, be highly favoured.

This word is only used three times in the New Testament. It is used for Mary, and then twice in Ephesians 1:6--

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made G5487 us accepted G5487 in the beloved.

Perhaps Mary had no context for the word Gabriel used and it puzzled her. Garbriel used a different word with a similar meaning in his next statement:

χάρις cháris, khar'-ece; from G5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude):—acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace(- ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank(-s, -worthy).

On http://blueletterbible.com I found this in the outline of Biblical usage for cháris/ G5463:

of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

With this further explanation of why an angel would be addressing her in an unfamiliar, perhaps unprecidented manner, Mary settled into the conversation. Unlike the priest, Zacharias, who disbelieved Gabriel, Mary only asked for clarification, so that she might understand what was about to happen to her.

Mary humbly submitted herself to God and the role He gave her. She thus was used of God to prepare the Way for all to come into God's favor who believe on her son, the Son of God. As such, she is called blessed, as both Gabriel (text in question above) and Elizabeth greeted her:

And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. (Luke 1:42)

And as Mary herself declared:

For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. (Luke 1:49-50)

I am unsure of other instances in Scripture where an angel greeted a woman directly. If Mary was familiar with the pentateuch, is it possible that she was frightened by the possibility that the angel was there to do her harm? (Genesis. 6:1-5) Because Gabriel declared that God was with her, I doubt it, but she may have needed a moment to register what He was saying and what it could mean, because his sudden appearance was so startling that he was compelled to tell her "Fear not..."

The Protestant view would not tend toward the level of veneration for Mary as seen in the Roman Catholic Church, but does not discount the importance of her role as an instrument of God for seeing His plan of salvation brought to completion. The incarnation required a mother, and she was selected. She bore the seed of the woman (Genesis 3) to crush the serpent's head, though His heel would be bruised.

Thankful though we are for Mary and her humble submission to God's plan, she is as she called herself, "the handmaid" (servant/bondservant) of the Lord.

Mary could be compared to John the Baptist, who also came to prepare the way for the Lord and announced, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." John did not elevate himself in God's kingdom, but said, "I must decrease, that He might increase." Jesus said about John:

Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11)

Perhaps it was because John's faith had wavered at that moment, indicating from prison by way of his own disciples, whom he sent with a question, that he was doubting Jesus' identity as Messiah.

Mary and John were both human agents of God's choosing for bringing us Messiah--first into the world by Mary and then into the public eye by John, when he baptized Jesus and declared His identity to the crowds.

We are grateful for them, just as we are grateful for all of the Old Testament prophets and saints (like Esther, whom God used to preserve the remnant from whom the Messiah eventually would descend in the kingly line of Judah). We are grateful for them just as we are grateful for the apostles, and every believer who has participated in faithfully passing along God's Word and the Gospel message of God's grace (cháris/ G5463) by which we are saved. We who believe now, all stand in God's favor, because of she who was greatly favored and chosen for such a special role. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

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    Very insightful! Thank you. This was a nice reflection indeed. I particular like the compared roles of St. John the Baptist, and Mary in their respective senses. It's almost certain that hardly any of the Greek of the New Testament was actually uttered by the people of whose words they are the record. The angel probably used an Ar. or Heb. equivalent to kecharitomene, such as אֵשֶׁת־חֵן (Detliszch). Thanks for this great answer. – Sola Gratia Oct 16 '17 at 10:13
  • Thank you @ Sola Gratia. I suspected as much about the Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew. In fact, I posted that as a question on Hermaneutics.SE. – MutluAnne Oct 21 '17 at 20:42
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Well, Mary was likely not only troubled by Gabriel's presence, but also his appearance. Remember, throughout the Bible angels are described as terrifying creatures.

Gabriel then went on to say that the Lord was already with her, and that she was being 'highly favoured'.

In such a situation, it is very unlikely that she will not be burdened with a great responsibility, and indeed she was.

  • I put the text in the question to avoid this confusion; namely, that it is the "saying" at which Mary is troubled, and the "manner of" the saying, and not at his appearance. Or at least, I'm not concerned with the appearance aspect for the purposes of the question. – Sola Gratia Oct 8 '17 at 21:47

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