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From His Mother's Womb

Luke 1:13-15
   But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
   And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
   For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled [pletho] with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.

   The angel Gabriel told Zacharias that he would have a son who would be "filled with the holy spirit even from his mother's womb."   God uses figures of speech in His Word to emphasize that which is important.  In the Bible, prior to the day of Pentecost when it became available to have God's holy spirit born within, God would put holy spirit upon individuals (conditionally) who were walking rightly before Him in order to communicate His Will to His people.  The operation of the manifestation (use of) holy spirit requires the free will action of the individual believer who has holy spirit.  In the verses above, the word "filled" is the Greek word "pletho" which indicates operation - or overflowing fullness.   A new born baby cannot do much of anything; and an unborn child in his mother's womb even less.   As a child grows and learns he or she becomes able to make decisions and choices and becomes accountable for his or her actions.  Some have attempted to set a particular age at which a child becomes accountable, but I believe this varies with the individual and his or her upbringing.  Operating the manifestations of holy spirit require free will choice and a mental awareness of what you are doing.  John could not operate holy spirit as an infant.  To be filled from his mother's womb then must be a figure of speech which we will see indicates the believing and commitment of his parents and the attention and direction of God in his upbringing as well as the resulting commitment of John as he grew up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

From the Womb

Judges 13:3-5
   And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.
   Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:
   For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no rasor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

   The first use of the figure "from the womb" is used regarding Samson.  The angel told his mother that Samson was to be a Nazarite.  A Nazarite was a commitment made to God.  Again, a baby cannot make a commitment; nor can an unborn child in the womb.  But Samson's parents were taught by the angel how to raise him to stand committed to God and His Word.  This commitment began with teaching his mother how she was to care for herself while pregnant.  It continued with Samson's father, Manoah, asking God to send the angel back to tell them more:

Judges 13:12
   And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass.  How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?

   Samson's parents went to God and asked how to raise him.  And when he was born they taught him to walk God's Word.  As he grew up he learned to walk on his own and God blessed him.

Judges 13:24-25
   And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him.
   And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

   When Samson grew up and became able to walk the walk of a Nazarite he began to operate holy spirit.  He was to be a Nazarite from his mother's womb - but he walked the walk of a Nazarite after he was old enough to make the Nazarite commitment himself.  From his mother's womb indicates the commitment of his parents and his upbringing.

   John the Baptist also had believing parents who raised him according to the Word of God.

Luke 5-6
   There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
   And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

   John's parents were "both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."  They were believers able to raise their son to be a believer.  We already read that the angel Gabriel brought the news of a son to Zacharias in response to prayer.  Zacharias was a priest of God, an Aaronite, and he walked the Word of God, and he prayed.

   Now, if John was to learn to operate holy spirit "from his mother's womb" then his parents must have had a knowledge of operating holy spirit.  Lets look at his mother Elisabeth.  She was the cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Elisabeth was six months pregnant with John when Mary was told that she also would have a baby - the Christ!  Mary, needing comfort and encouragement, went to visit her cousin Elisabeth.  What better way to be edified than to hear words of encouragement from God via the manifestation of holy spirit?  When Mary entered Elisabeth's house, Elisabeth operated the manifestation of prophesy which (according to 1 Corinthians 14:3) brings edification, exhortation, and comfort.

Luke 1:41-46
   And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled [pletho] with the Holy Ghost:
   And she spoke out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
   And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
   For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
   And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
   And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord.

  What edification!  You are blessed!  Your unborn child is blessed!  Your child is the Lord - the Christ!  There SHALL be a performance of the things God told you!  In other words, you will have the baby and there will not be any problems with the pregnancy.  What comfort!  What exhortation!  The result of the operation of the manifestation of holy spirit . . . Mary's soul magnified God!  She got blessed.  So Elisabeth operated holy spirit.  What about John's father Zacharias?

Luke 1:67
   And his father Zacharias was filled [pletho] with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,

   Zacharias also operated holy spirit and prophesied.  The prophesy of Zacharias brought edification, exhortation, and comfort to those present for the birth of John.

   This prophesy is also an excellent and obvious example of literary structure in scripture.  All of the Word of God has structure.  It is ordered and precise.  The closer you look at man made things the more imperfection you see, but the closer you look at God's Word the more you see the perfection of the Creator in it.  Just as in the creation itself, the things of God are perfect even on a microscopic level.  The prophesy of Zacharias is structured in an introversion of subjects.

Luke 1:68-79

   With the birth of John came the springing of a new day as God visited His people bringing light, peace, and redemption.   Men of God represent God.  With the birth of John came a knowledge of salvation and remission of sins to arise from the house of David.  The subject of God's Word delivered by men like John is a knowledge of the Christ.  With the birth of John came a prophet like the prophets sent since the world began; going before the face of the Lord speaking His Word to His people.  There had not been a walking prophet sent to the Children of Israel for almost 400 years prior to John.  With the birth of John came the opportunity for God's people to be delivered from their enemies and to walk in righteousness and holiness serving God.  And central to the whole prophesy: God's holy oath, His Word, promised to Abraham.  The edification, exhortation, and comfort of this prophesy was that a baby had just been born who would walk before God's people as a man of God.

Luke 1:80
   And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.

   John was raised in God's Word, and grew strong spiritually as he learned, from his mother's womb, to operate the manifestations of holy spirit , until the day he was ready to stand before the Children of Israel on his own as a man of God.

October, 1999
Michael Cortright