In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God.”
Earlier in the chapter, an angel had announced to the elderly priest Zacharias that he and Elizabeth would have a son, John (Luke 1:5-25). Six months into Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Gabriel now appears in the town of Nazareth of Galilee to her relative Mary, a virgin who was betrothed to one of King David’s descendants, a man by the name of Joseph. Most likely in her teenage years at the time, Mary is disturbed when the angel greets her and tells her that the Lord is with her and favors her. Gabriel tells her to not be afraid because she has found favor with God, and then foretells her conception and pregnancy which would result in a son, Jesus.
Gabriel then informed Mary that her son would be “great,” and would be called “the Son of the Most High” (v. 32). This would be what Jesus would come to be called, for at the time prior to his human conception he was known as the eternal “Word” (John 1:1-14). The angel foretold that the Lord God would give to Jesus the throne of his ancestor David, a genealogical fact recorded in Matthew’s genealogy (Matt. 1:1ff). Jesus receiving the throne of David would be the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy God gave to David through the prophet Nathan centuries earlier (2 Sam. 7:12-16).
Premillenial dispensationalists talk a lot about how Jesus will reign from Jerusalem for a thousand years, but God’s messenger Gabriel gave a different prophecy to Mary when he foretold that Jesus would reign over the house of Jacob “forever,” and “of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33). So much for a reign of one thousand years…
The Jews of Jesus’ day made an erroneous assumption similar in one respect to the error of today’s premillenialists in that they also thought that Jesus’ kingdom would be a physical one (Luke 17:20-21; Acts 1:6). In reality, Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). It is a spiritual kingdom manifested today in his body, the church (Eph. 1:22-23). Just as the church is said to never die (Matt. 16:18-19), so this kingdom will last forever also (cf. Dan. 2:44). The members of the church are the citizens of this kingdom, this spiritual Israel (Gal. 6:16; Rom. 2:28-29; Col. 1:13; 1 Thess. 2:12; Heb. 12:28; Rev. 1:4, 6, 9; cf. 1 Pet. 2:9). If we as Christians grow to be like Christ as God directs us, an entrance into the eternal kingdom will be abundantly supplied to us (2 Pet. 1:5-11) at the end when Christ delivers the kingdom back to his Father after having conquered all his enemies on the day of Judgment, including death (1 Cor. 15:24-26; cf. Rev. 20:11-14). However, if we fall back into unrepentant sin we will be taken out of the kingdom on that day and will be cast into hell (Matt. 13:40-42; cf. Rev. 20:15; Heb. 10:26-31; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
Mary understandably wanted to know how this could happen, considering that she was still a virgin. Gabriel then told her that her conception would be miraculous, that it would happen by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that the child to be born of her would be Deity, the Son of God, holy and set apart from the rest of the world. Despite the erroneous teaching of Catholicism that she would perpetually stay a virgin even after the birth of Jesus, the New Testament very clearly states that after his birth Mary fulfilled her betrothment to Joseph by having sexual relations with him in marriage that would result in more children (Matt. 1:24-25; cf. 13:55; Mark 6:3; John 2:12; 7:3-10; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 9:5; Gal. 1:19). However, she miraculously conceived Jesus as a virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit in order to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the birth of the Messiah (Matt. 1:18-23; cf. Is. 7:14).