For with God nothing shall be impossible. – Luke 1:37
Meaning of Luke 1:37
The verse Luke 1:37, ‘For with God nothing shall be impossible’, is self-explanatory and easy to grasp. It means that God is the supreme power over everything and all situations. Luke 1:37 is one of the most prominent verses used in the nativity scene, which is spoken by the angel Gabriel while visiting Mary. A similar account is also repeated in the book of Matthew. Through this verse, the author Luke is reminding the readers that God can change any circumstance if He is willing. Hence, Gabriel reminds her that her cousin Elisabeth is having a child at an old age, as Mary is chosen to have Jesus without knowing a man. In other words, Mary being a virgin, cannot bear a child, but this was possible because of God.
Interpretations of Luke 1:37
Luke 1:37 is one of the verses that are not easy to misinterpret unless the reader is in disagreement with the Bible or Christianity. A few interpretations are given below.
Interpretation #1 God causes destruction
In this interpretation, the reader is likely to be an agnostic who believes in God’s existence and feels anger with the events of the world. Here the believer might have gone through a personal loss or trauma and blames God when there is a natural disaster or a war. In this version, the reader or listener knows that ‘For with God nothing shall be impossible’, and thus he or she concludes that God is causing such destruction and doesn’t care about His children or humanity.
Interpretation #2 God may not be all-powerful as claimed
Here the reader is likely to be progressive-minded and does not consider God as the complete authority as taught in the Bible and traditional churches. He or she may believe in universalism, similar to the New Age belief. Thus, in this version, the reader will claim that God in the Bible, also known as the Father of Jesus, is not the only supreme being in the universe. It also implies that the other gods and goddesses are equally powerful—for example, Zeus in Greek mythology, Ra in Egyptian mythology, and Krishna in Hindu mythology.
Interpretation #3 The verse is only applicable to Mary
As the verse is spoken by Gabriel, addressing Mary as an encouragement to prepare her to give birth to Jesus while she was still a virgin. In this interpretation, ‘For with God nothing shall be impossible’ means God has done the impossible thing to allow Mary to give birth to Jesus supernaturally. Such an event or incident has not been possible in the Bible or in any historical records. Hence, the reader also believes that God has done something powerful only a few times in the Bible, such as delivering Egyptians through Moses, saving Daniel from lions, choosing shepherd boy David as the King of Israel, including the births of John the Baptist and Jesus.
Interpretation #4 Hope makes things possible through God
In this interpretation, a reader understands that Gabriel’s reminder to Mary is also a promise to anyone who willingly accepts that God is omnipotent. The following assurance, ‘For with God nothing shall be impossible’ is one of the most used verses by the priests in every denomination, with a few exceptions. However, it also requires the Christian to believe in Jesus Christ to claim the promise completely. Here the reader also believes that meditating on this verse, it gives them hope and a positive attitude in life to change their circumstances, overcome temptation, etc.
Historical background of Luke 1:37
The book of Luke covers the events from the birth of Jesus until His ascension. It was likely written around 85 A.D., under the rule of Roman emperor Domitian. The verse Luke 1:37 is meant to be a reassurance to Mary as she was chosen to give birth to Jesus while being a virgin. Also, such an incident was and still is scientifically impossible, and an event like that would likely have a woman stoned to death. However, by reminding Mary that nothing is impossible for God, Gabriel gives an opening for the great Nativity story.
Literary Devices of Luke 1:37
The verse Luke 1:37 is one of the short verses in the Bible. However, a few literary devices from the verse are given below.
Consonance – The verse has two repetitive consonant sounds without quick successions. For example, the sound of /th/ and the sound of /l/ in ‘For with God nothing shall be impossible’
Parallelism – The verse Luke 1:37 is also a good example of parallelism, a rhetorical device that shows the same structure in the same or a different sentence. Here Luke 1:37 is parallel to Genesis 18:14. Also, a parallel account can be read in Matthew 1:18–25.