In our outline of Luke, we find ourselves in Chapter 2, vs. 21-38, regarding the adoration of Jesus at the Temple.
II. The Identification of the Son of Man with Men, Luke 1:5-4:13.
D. The Advent of the Son of Man, Luke 2:1-20.
1. The birth narrative, vs. 1-7.
2. The announcement to and adoration from the shepherds, vs. 8-20.
E. The Adoration of the Baby, as Jesus is presented at the Temple, vs. 21-38.
1. The circumcision and later presentation at the Temple, vs. 21-24.
2. The adoration from Simeon, vs. 25-35.
3. The adoration from Anna, vs. 36-38.
F. The Advancement of the Boy, including the Temple incident at age 12, vs. 39-52.
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We begin this portion with:
E. The Adoration of the Baby, as Jesus is presented at the Temple, vs. 21-38.
1. The circumcision and later presentation at the Temple, vs. 21-24.
Luke 2:21, “And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
Similar to the narrative of John the Baptist’s advent and circumcision, Luke 1:59-63, here we see our Lord being given the name Jesus by Joseph and Mary just prior to His circumcision. This is the name the angel Gabriel told them to give to Him, Mat 1:21, 25; Luke 1:31.
Luke 1:31, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.”
Therefore, Luke reminds us that the name Jesus was the choice of heaven and not of men, so in faith, Joseph and Mary named Him Jesus, which is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name Joshua, YESHUA that means, “the Lord saves,” as in the Greek “Jesus,” is IESOUS, Ἰησοῦς that means the same. This indicates that He is both God, as Lord, and Savior. The name and its origin are appropriate, for in ancient days the name expressed the character of the individual.
Mat 1:21, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Like John’s parents, Jesus’ were also faithful to abide by God’s Word found in the Law, as they were still under the Law in the Age of Israel, the Jewish Dispensation. According to Lev 12:3; Gen 17:12; 21:4.
Gen 17:12, “Every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants.”
Lev 12:1-3, “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2’Speak to the sons of Israel, saying: ‘When a woman gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of her menstruation she shall be unclean. 3On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised’’.
As we noted in Chapter 1, the ritual of “circumcision,” (PERITEMNO, περιτέμνω), was a form of identification with God as a new member of the unique racial species called Hebrew or later Israel. It was a demonstration through the removal of the flesh, which represents the sin and the Old Sin Nature, so that new life may come forth. Circumcision was given to Abraham prior to conceiving Isaac, according to God’s promise, to establish a new racial species. The creation of and identification with the new racial species was a type of the creation of and identification with the new spiritual species the Church Age believer is made and entered into at the moment He believes in Jesus Christ as his Savior, cf. 2 Cor 5:17: Gal 6:15.
Gal 6:15, “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”
2 Cor 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Luke 2:22, “And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.”
Verses 22-23, present two events: The purification of Mary and Joseph, along with the presentation of the baby Jesus to God; the latter being more significant. This shows that they responded not only to the supernatural revelation of the angel, but also to the written Word of God.
The purification of the woman after giving birth along with the presentation of Jesus to the Lord was prescribed in the Law in Lev 12:1-8. For the woman, if she gave birth to a son, she was ceremonially unclean for 7 days, (7 meaning spiritual perfection), and then she stayed at home an additional 33 days, making a total of 40 days, (40 meaning probation, trial, or chastisement, but not judgment). For the birth of a daughter, the time of seclusion was extended to 80 days. Therefore, this purification took place on the fortieth day after the nativity of Jesus.
“By declaring women ritually unclean during menstruation, the Lord blessed women with time off from the daily routine, providing them with privacy and rest long before feminine hygiene products made normal activities possible. And by declaring new mothers ritually unclean for several weeks after childbirth, He protected women and their newborns from potential disease due to contact with the general population.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary)
The plural personal pronoun “their” may indicate that Joseph needed purification too, most likely because he assisted in the birth, or that he was in daily contact with Mary who was “unclean.” Another possibility is that Luke is alluding to all the sacrifices involved in the ceremonies and that those offerings, some hers and others theirs, are combined.
Lev 12:6-8, “When the days of her purification are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting a one year old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. 7Then he shall offer it before the LORD and make atonement for her, and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female. 8But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.”
So, they presented Jesus to the Lord at the Temple in Jerusalem on the 40th day and presented the necessary sin offerings for purification.
By this rite, Jesus was “made like his brethren,” Heb 2:16-17, that is, He became a member of the covenant nation, and became a debtor to the law, Gal 5:3.
“Purification” is the Greek Noun KATHARISMOS, καθαρισμός that means, “purification or cleansing.” This was a ritual washing with water, see Mark 1:44; Luke 5:14; John 2:6; 3:25, to demonstrate the cleansing of sins Jesus would provide for all of mankind, especially the believer, at the Cross, Heb 1:3; 2 Peter 1:9. This Noun is only used in these 7 verses in the NT.
John 2:6, “Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each.” This was the wedding at Cana when Jesus performed His first miracle changing the water into wine. Wine represents His blood sacrifice at the Cross, cf. 1 Cor 11:25; Luke 22:20; Mat 26:28; Mark 14:24; cf. Ex 24:6-8.
Heb 1:3, “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
2 Peter 1:9, “For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.”
The dedication was not a redemptive act which cleansed from sin, but an act of setting someone aside for a special purpose. It also reminded the Jews that God had spared the firstborn Israelites at the Passover in Egypt and had delivered them all from slavery; just as Jesus would deliver us all from the slavery to sin. In this we see another, yet unmentioned, part of the Law that relates to this narrative: the “redemption money” paid for the new born male. Originally, the firstborn or eldest son was priest of the household after his father’s death; but God chose the Levites to serve in His sanctuary in the place of these firstborn or household priests, Num 3:11-13, 49-51; 8:14-19; but this choosing did not annul the statute which required the payment of redemption money. The redemption money for a male was five shekels of the sanctuary, or about $3.75, Lev 27:6. We do not see this mentioned in the case of Jesus in any of the birth narratives, most likely because Jesus was the High Priest chosen by God, Heb 2:17; 3:1; 4:14-15; 5:5, 10; 6:20, etc.
Heb 2:17, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
Luke 2:23, “(As it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD’).”
The circumcision and presentation of the new born was in fulfillment of the Mosaic Law, as noted in Ex 13:2, 11-15; 22:29; Lev 12:1-8; Num 3:13; 8:16-17; 18:15-16; Neh 10:36; cf. Deut 15:19. From the beginning of His earthly life, even before He could talk, walk, or exercise His will as a human, Jesus fulfilled the requirements of God’s covenant with the Jews.
Ex 13:2, “Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me.”
Num 3:13, “For all the firstborn are Mine; on the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, from man to beast. They shall be Mine; I am the LORD.”
Being called “holy” and being “sanctified” are one and the same. Each firstborn male was considered holy, that is, dedicated to God for the special role of priest. Like the prophet Samuel, Jesus was given over to God’s service, 1 Sam 1:22-24, which Mary alluded to in the “Magnificat,” that we noted in Luke 1:46-55.
As we have noted, the first son was to be presented to the Lord and then, so to speak, bought back with an offering, Num 18:15; cf. 1 Sam 1:24-28, where Hannah actually gives up Samuel to the Lord. Likewise, there is no mention of Joseph and Mary paying the redemption money to redeem Jesus back from the Father in the Gospels, although most assume they did as part of the presentation ritual. By not mentioning it, Luke is telling us that Jesus was given over to the Father for a special work and service, just as Samuel was.
Yet, if they did pay the redemption money at the time of Joseph’s and Mary’s sacrifice, it would indicate that the life of Jesus was ceremonially redeemed from God the Father, so that Jesus’ consecration of it to do the will of the Father might be voluntary and perfect. As such, when Jesus, the spotless and Holy One, subjected Himself to these requirements, it was not for His own sake, but to show that He was voluntarily placing Himself under the Law and fulfilling the obligations laid upon His people in order to bring about their salvation.
Interestingly, “opens,” is the Verb DIANOIGO, διανοίγω that means, “open fully, explain, expound.” It is a compound word from the Preposition, DIA, “through,” and the Verb ANOIGO, “to open,” it means to open what before was closed, open as the firstborn opens the womb, Luke 2:23, and in the Septuagint, Ex 13:2; 34:19.
In addition to our verse, it is used 8 times in Mark 7:34-35; Luke 24:31-32, 45; Acts 7:56; 16:14; 17:3. Luke 2:23, is the only time it is used for child birth. In all the other verses, it is related to faith with the result of someone gaining healing, knowledge, or understanding. Jesus came to heal the sinner and give them the knowledge of God the Father for salvation. This presentation of the Lord Jesus at the temple was an acknowledgement of His consecration and sanctification to complete the plan of God the Father for salvation to heal the world from sin through the knowledge of God’s salvation.
“Womb,” is more typically GASTER, “belly, stomach, or womb,” in the NT, as we saw in Luke 1:31. But, here it is a unique word, METRA, μήτρα, similar to METER “mother,” but does mean “womb,” and is only used here and Rom 4:19, recalling Sarah’s dead womb that was opened to provide for a new racial species. Mary’s womb was opened to provide a new spiritual species, 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15, as we noted regarding the symbolism of circumcision.
Luke 2:24, “And to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, ‘A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS’.”
This offering was in recognition of God’s goodness to the parents, and also in recognition of the fact that even little children, as sweet and comparatively innocent as they are, come from a sinful race and need a Savior. Again, this was not a redemptive offering because of Jesus’s sin, because He was born without sin. But, it was in recognition of what He would provide through the Cross.
Notice that this is the “Law of the Lord,” NOMOS KURIOS. The Lord is its author and perfecter. Even though it is called the Law of Moses, Moses was its recipient and communicator to the people. But, its author was the Lord, YHWH, Ex 24:12; 31:18; 32:15; Deut 5:22.
Ex 24:12, “Now the LORD said to Moses, ‘Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction’.”
Ex 31:18, “When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.”
Apparently, because Joseph and Mary were not well off, as they offered the lesser but acceptable sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” Lev 5:7; 12:8. This also tells us that it occurred prior to the Magi from the east appearing, because based on the gifts they gave to Jesus, Joseph and Mary could have definitely afforded the more expensive sacrifice of a lamb.
Lev 12:8, “But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.”
The Burnt Offering was a sacrifice of general atonement, an acknowledgement of the sin nature and a request for renewed relationship with God. The ultimate fulfillment of the burnt offering is in Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. His physical life was completely consumed, He ascended to God, and His covering, that is His garment, was distributed to those who officiated over His sacrifice, Mat 27:35. But most importantly, His sacrifice, once for all time, atoned for our sins and restored our relationship with God.
The Sin Offering was made for sins committed in ignorance, or unintentional sins, Lev 4; Num 15. The sin offering was a poignant picture of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world. He was a “lamb without blemish,” 1 Peter 1:19; cf. Lev 4:32, whose precious blood was spilled after being publicly slain. He was crucified outside the city of Jerusalem, just as the sin offering was to be burnt outside the camp, Heb 13:12; cf. Lev 4:12. Therefore, it speaks not only of salvation but to the “Rebound Technique,” of 1 John 1:9, to confess our sins before God and receive “cleansing of all unrighteousness.”
The interesting analogy here is more than just that Joseph and Mary’s bird sacrifices were the “poor man’s” sacrifice, indicating the fact that Jesus rendered Himself poor by depriving Himself of His Deity and became a man, Phil 2:7. But, that they were “substitutionary” sacrifices, just as our Lord Jesus Christ was our “substitutionary” spiritual sacrifice upon the Cross, Rom 5:8-21; 1 Peter 3:18; Gal 3:13.
Rom 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”
“Pair,” is the Greek Noun ZEUGOS ζεῦγος that means, “a couple, yoke, or pair.” Unlike ZUGOS, “yoke,” which describes the device for linking two draft animals, ZEUGOS refers to the number of animals so linked, two. Thus a “yoke” meant “two or a pair.”
It is only used here and Luke 14:19, in the parable of the man who threw a great banquet, where all the invited guests declined the invitation. In vs. 19, that one’s excuse was he “bought five yoke or pairs of oxen.” So, he had his servant, “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame,” vs. 21, and “Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled,” vs. 23. In other words, the man “opened” his house to those who “needed healing.” That is who our Lord particularly came for, Luke 5:31-32; 10:9; Mat 9:12-13; Mark 2:17.
Mark 2:17, “And hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners’.”
So, we see that for those who have faith and believe in Jesus, they are healed from their sins and the two, (Jesus and believer), become one and are yoked together for all of eternity.
“Turtledoves,” is the Noun TRUGON, τρυγών in the plural. It is only used here in the NT. When a word is only used once in the NT, it is called a hapaxlegomena. A TRUGON was used as a sacrifice because it was noted for its plaintive cooing and affectionate disposition. It is used in the OT for a sacrifice of sin offering, Gen 15:9; Lev 12:6, and represents the love of Christ, as seen in His suffering sacrifice, who would die for our sins, Psa 74:19.
Psa 74:19, “Do not deliver the soul of Your turtledove to the wild beast; Do not forget the life of Your afflicted forever.”
In the second substitutionary sacrifice, we have “two,” DUO, “young,” NOSSOS, “pigeons,” PERISTERA.
PERISTERA, περιστερά means a “dove or pigeon.” In the OT, the English word “dove” was the bird used by Noah to find land after the flood had subsided, Gen 8:8-12, and therefore is a great symbol of peace with God. In the OT, the English word “pigeon” is only used in Gen 15:9; Lev 12:6, for the sin offering sacrifice, as also could be the turtledove.
In the NT, PERISTERA is used:
- In this narrative for the substitutionary sacrifice.
- For the disciples to be innocent as a dove, Mat 10:16, as Jesus had no sin of His own.
- When Jesus turned over the money changing tables in the temple, Mat 21:12; Mark 11:15; John 2:14-16.
- At Jesus’ Baptism to represent the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit and the beginning of His ministry, Mat 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32.
“Young,” is the Noun NOSSOS νοσσός that is only used here in the NT; another hapaxlegomena. NOSSOS denotes, “a young bird, any young animal, or a young child.” This young child named Jesus who was consecrated to God through circumcision would be our substitutionary spiritual sacrifice.
We also see principles of poverty here found in the “Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary”:
- Poverty is not a sin.
- Poverty is not God’s disapproval.
- Poverty does not prevent a person from worshiping God.
- Poverty does not necessarily doom a person to poverty forever.
- Poverty does not excuse unrighteousness.
- Poverty is not shameful in and of itself.
- Poverty is a cross that God entrusts to some people for a time.
“If some teacher or preacher tries to convince you that poverty is a sin, that poverty is God’s condemnation of you, that you have to give a certain amount of money to worship God, or that poverty excuses your sin, then do not listen to that teacher.” (Christ-Centered Exposition).
Prov 28:6, “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than he who is crooked though he be rich.”
Eccl 4:13, “A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction.”
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E. The Adoration of the Babe, as Jesus is presented at the Temple, vs. 21-38.
2. The adoration from Simeon, vs. 25-35.
The journey of Jesus’ parents to the temple in Luke 2:22-24, combines three separate ceremonies as recorded in God’s law: the purification of a woman forty days after the birth of a child, Lev 12:2-4, 6, the presentation of the firstborn to God, Ex 13:2, 12, 16; 34:19; Num 18:15-16, and the dedication of the firstborn into the Lord’s service, 1 Sam 1-2. Though this dedication to service is like many others that took place in Israel for centuries, this one is unique because of the call of this child as now indicated by two proclamations one by Simeon and the other by Anna. Once again Luke uses two witnesses as he does throughout his gospel, recognizing the principle of evidence given by God in Deut 17:6; 19:15; Mat 18:16.
Luke 2:25, “And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”
“And there was a man in Jerusalem,” Luke begins once again with a deliberate historical statement, reflecting his methodology of his writing.
The name “Simeon” in the Greek is SUMEON, Συμεών and means, “hearing, that hears or obeys, or that is heard.” Simeon was a devout Jew who lived in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus’ birth. He was seeking the fulfillment of messianic prophecy when Israel would be restored. Luke neither associates Simeon with a leading sect or party nor calls him a priest. As such, we are not told Simeon’s vocation, but sometime previously in his life, God promised him that he would not die before seeing the Christ. When Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the Temple for the purification rites, Simeon announced to them God’s plan for the boy, vs. 34, as he provided further Divine confirmation to Jesus’ messiahship. He is said, in our verse, to be a “righteous/just and devout” man.
There was a Simeon who succeeded his father Hillel as president of the Sanhedrin about A.D. 13, and whose son Gamaliel was the Pharisee who Paul was educated under, Acts 22:3. It has been conjectured that he may be that Simeon here, but we do not know for sure. In addition, tradition says that he was a very old man, maybe even 113 years old, but nothing in Scripture supports this and it is only tradition.
“Righteous/Just,” is the Adjective DIKAIOS widely used in the NT, and is linked to the fulfillment of religious obligations. It indicates one who is ethical. It can be translated as, “just, righteous, right, upright, impartial, lawful, or virtuous.” It is first and foremost a relational term, specifically describing man’s relationship to God. Cf. Luke 1:6, (Zachariah and Elizabeth); Acts 10:22, (the Centurion Cornelius). Therefore, we see Simeon as a very faithful individual who was walking with and waiting on the Lord.
Simeon is also said to be “devout,” the Adjective EULABES, εὐλαβής that means, “devout, pious, or reverent.” It was used in Greek culture of statesmen. Philo used this word to describe Abraham. As the shepherds symbolized the average person on the street, Simeon represents the testimony of a wise elder who has walked with God.
EULABES is only used here and in Acts 2:5; 8:2; 22:12. In other words, only Luke uses this word in the NT. It describes “religious reverence, godliness, or piety” e.g., Simeon; Jews attending the Feast of Pentecost, Acts 2:5; those who buried Stephen, Acts 8:2; and Ananias, Acts 22:12. Luke used it in an extremely positive sense. Devout Jews were those who responded to the gospel and became believers. Luke did not denigrate Jewish piety, i.e., keeping the Law, because those who truly kept the Law and its spirit responded to the message that Jesus is Messiah, as noted in the next phrase, “looking for the consolation of Israel.” Therefore, we see that Simeon was “right” in his outward life and “devout” in his inward life
“Looking for” is the Verb, PROSDECHOMAI προσδέχομαι in the Present, Middle, Participle that means, “receive, admit, welcome, accept, await, expect, or hold.” It is from PROS, “face to face” and DECHOMAI, “take, receive, accept, or approve.” In the NT, it predominately means “to wait,” or “await” for something. It is also used with the next character in this narrative, Anna, vs. 38, and Joseph of Arimathea, Mark 15:43; Luke 23:51, who all were waiting for the coming of the kingdom of God.
Principle of Faith: Like Zachariah and Mary, Simeon is expectant that God will deliver Israel. He has not given up believing that God will complete His promise, and living in light of that hope brings perspective to his present situation, just as we are to live in the hope of God’s glory each and every day. This corresponds to the promises we are to expectantly wait for, in faith, found in 1 Cor 15:51 and 1 Thes 4:17.
1 Cor 15:51, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.”
1 Thes 4:17, “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”
Simeon indicates this waiting for the Kingdom of God in the phrase, “for the consolation of Israel,” a beautiful title of the coming Messiah. “Consolation,” is the Noun PARAKLĒSIS παράκλησις that means, “exhortation, encouragement, comfort.” The Holy Spirit is sometimes called the PARAKLETOS. Here, Simeon was looking for the “comfort” of Israel meaning that God would provide a redeemer who would give them rest. This is a semitechnical use of this word that refers to the Messiah as the PARAKELSIS. The term “‘consolation’ was a standard rabbinical term used by the Jews for the messianic age, cf. Isa 40:1; 61:2. Bauer notes that at a later date the Jews referred to the Messiah as MᵉNACHES̱, the “comforter,” cf. Isa 40:1; 51:12; 57:18; 61:2; 66:13. Therefore, the title of Messiah as, “the consolation of Israel,” is eschatological pointing to Him as the One who brings the predicted and long-awaited comfort to Israel, i.e. Messianic salvation.
Isa 40:1, “‘Comfort, O comfort My people,’ says your God.”
Isa 61:2, “To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn.”
Isa 66:13, “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you will be comforted in Jerusalem.”
Principle: Saints in touch with God’s heart often await expectantly the completion of God’s promises.
Finally, we see that Simeon was empowered by the Holy Spirit at this time, to proclaim the upcoming message, as “the Holy Spirit was upon him.” Simeon is associated with the Holy Spirit three times, vs. 25, 26, 27. Here was a man endued with the Holy Spirit, vs. 25, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, vs. 26, and led by the Spirit, vs. 27.
This is the enduement of the Holy Spirit that uniquely came upon some OT saints, but not all, and is unlike the NT indwelling of the Holy Spirit that all believers receive and is permanent throughout the rest of the believer’s life.
Luke 2:26, “And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”
This is the second Spirit led application. Apparently, sometime prior in Simeon’s life, God the Holy Spirit told him he would not die before the coming of the Messiah. The Holy Spirit is the source of all revelation and testimony.
The emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit continues in Simeon’s witness to Jesus. He is the fourth Spirit-inspired witness to Jesus that appears in the infancy narratives, the others appearing in Chapter 1, John, vs. 15, 41; Elizabeth, vs. 41; and Zachariah, vs. 67.
“Revealed,” is the Extensive Perfect, Middle, Participle of the Verb CHREMATIZŌ, χρηματίζω that means, “be given a revelation, receive a warning, or be named.” It is used here for a Divine “revelation,” a word from God that he had previously received. It is also used in Mat 2:12, 22, to designate a Divine communication.
The specific mode of this revelation is not known. Was it a vision, dream, voice, insight, etc.? Nevertheless, it was the Holy Spirit, HAGIOS PNEUMA who told him, “he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ (KURIOS CHRISTOS).”
“Would not see death (THANATOS),” is an OT expression for dying, cf. Psa 89:48; John 8:51; Heb 11:5. How important it is for people to see God’s salvation, Jesus Christ, before they see death.
“The Lord’s Christ,” is also an OT expression, 1 Sam 24:6, 10; 26:9, 11, 16, 23; Psa 2:2. Literally it is “the Anointed One of the Lord / God.” The title “Lord” has probably been substituted for YHWH as was customary out of reverence for the sacred name of God. The CHRISTOS or Messiah was anointed, i.e., specially empowered to fulfill the promise God had given to Israel through David who, like Jesus, was anointed to rule Israel.
Luke 2:27, “And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law.”
This is the third Spirit led application. “And he came in the Spirit,” probably does double duty here to indicate he was endued with the Holy Spirit at this time, and motivated by the Spirit to give this message. Therefore, he is led by God the Holy Spirit to offer a note of praise known as the Nunc Dimittis, a name that comes from the Latin beginning to the hymn, which means, “Now let me depart.”
“Into the temple,” the temple, HIERON, ἱερόν, in Jerusalem where Joseph and Mary brought Jesus for the dedication according to the Law of the Lord, as noted above. Luke apparently means the temple precinct in general. Since the inner parts of the temple were forbidden to women and since the inner sanctuary was restricted to priestly activity only, Simeon probably met the holy family in the Court of the Women or the Court of the Gentiles. See chart of Herod’s Temple.
We see that in the same way, Simeon knew he would see the Christ before his death, he also knew to come to the temple on this particular day, and which couple carried the Christ child. Therefore, we can assuredly assume that it was the leading ministry of the Holy Spirit that brought him and gave him the insight to recognize the Christ child.
Here the word PAIDION is used for Jesus, (IESOUS), as a “little child,” as we noted the changeover from BREPHOS, (baby), to PAIDION back in vs. 17, to correlate with the circumcision and presentation language used in the OT.
“When the parents brought in … to carry out for Him,” means, as we also noted above, Jesus in His infant humanity, could not by Himself fulfill the Law, so his human parents as custodians, did it for Him, so that He would keep every letter of the Law in fulfillment of it.
Luke 2:28, “Then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said.”
“Took Him into his arms,” is DECHOMAI AUTOS EIS HO ANKALE. ANKALE, ἀγκάλη means, “the curve of the arm or bent arm.” It is only used here in the NT.
Interestingly, our Lord used a cognate Verb in Mark 9:36; 10:16, ENANKALIZOMAI, “take in one’s arms, embrace.”
Mark 9:36-37, “Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, 37’Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me’.”
In rebuke of the disciples in Mark 10:13-16, “But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15’Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.’ 16And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.”
Simeon taking Jesus into his arms and recognizing the child with unhesitating certainty and without needing Mary to inform him of what had occurred in her life, portrayed his faith beautifully. “The remarkable act of taking the baby into his arms must not be overlooked. It was as if he had said, “This is all my salvation and my heart’s desire”.” (New Commentary on the Whole Bible – Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown).
“Blessed” is the Verb EULOGEO once again, cf. Luke 1:28, 42, 64, we will see it again in vs. 34. As noted above, this blessing is called the Nunc Dimittis. Therefore, when he took the baby in his arms, he offered to the Lord a hymn of praise. The lines of his blessing bear the telltale rhythm and meter of a song, just like the praise songs of Mary, Luke 1:46-55, and Zachariah, Luke 1:68-79.
So, this is the fifth and last of the “Christmas songs” in Luke, Elizabeth, Luke 1:42-45; Mary, Luke 1:46-56; Zachariah, Luke 1:67-79; the angels, Luke 2:13-14.
In Luke 2:29-35, we have Simeon’s blessing called The Nunc Dimittis that comes from the Latin beginning of this doxology and means, “Now let me depart.” It has two parts: 1) Regarding God’s fulfillment of the promises He made to Simeon, both directly and through OT Scriptures, vs. 29-32, 2) Regarding His blessing to Joseph and Mary, especially Mary, of the consequences of what Jesus’ life would bring, vs. 33-35.
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Luke 2:29, “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word.”
This is Simeon’s praise of God fulfilling His promise to Simeon that was noted in vs. 26. In that promise, Simeon was told he “would not see death,” i.e., die, before seeing the Messiah. Now that he has witnessed the Messiah, God will let him die at some future time, i.e., “releasing,” him. “Releasing” is the Present, Active, Indicative of the Verb APOLUŌ ἀπολύω that means, “release, let go, send away, dismiss, let die, divorce, or to depart.” It comes from the Preposition APO, “from,” and the Verb LUO, “loose, untie, set free, etc.”
So, used here as a euphemism for death, the verb can also mean “release or dismissal” as from an assignment or task. It seems that Simeon was bound to life on earth in the flesh, until he had seen the Messiah. Now that he had, God would free him of his flesh to depart from God’s service on earth as His “bond servant,” DOULOS. Simeon considered himself a watchman who had successfully carried out his duty.
“Lord” is not the typical KURIOS, but DESPOTES, δεσπότης that also means, “Lord, master, owner, ruler, lord of the house, etc.” It was used in the Greek language to differentiate between a master and a slave, a ruler and subject, or between a god and a man. The emphasis is upon the authority invested in the DESPOTES by virtue of his position and his absolute authority; thus the term is not relational, but positional.
It is used in the NT 10 times, (the number of perfect government). About half are in relation to human masters and servants, cf. 1 Tim 6:1-2; Titus 2:9, and the others relating to God’s authority over man, especially His servants, “believers,” cf. 2 Tim 2:21; 2 Peter 2:1; Jude 4. The way it appears in the NT, it provides the differentiation for earthly masters and their servants and when used of God, it has the connotation of the servant’s affairs here on earth in relation to their Master the Lord God. So, it carries an earthly tone of servanthood, as Simeon is noting here, regarding His Master. It also highlights the fact that God is in charge of history. As such, the context tells us that God is sovereign over our life and death. Simeon is recognizing God’s authority to take him from earth. Therefore, the righteous and devout Simeon is ready to die according to the word of his DESPOTES.
“In peace,” is EIRENE. In addition to its normal meaning, it also has the idea of everything has been done that was necessary or being fulfilled. It also gives us the sense of the difference between being a servant in the flesh here on earth, where sin reigns, and our heavenly abode that will be one of indescribable and unimaginable peace. Therefore, Simeon can die in peace knowing that God’s will and plan has been fulfilled in him.
“According to your word,” uses RHEMA, “a thing spoken, a word, a message, etc.” Here, it refers to God’s direct promise to Him. Once again, we do not see an intermediary like the angel Gabriel, as was with Zachariah and Mary. It appears Simeon had a direct revelation from God the Holy Spirit as noted in vs. 26.
Luke 2:30, “For my eyes have seen Your salvation.”
This is similar to Isa 40:5; 52:10, that the whole world will “see salvation,” and what is stated about John the Baptist’s ministry in Luke 3:6.
Isa 40:5, “Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
Isa 52:10, “The LORD has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God.”
Here, Simeon is the one who has seen God’s salvation, and assigns this title, “Salvation,” SOTERIOS, to the baby Jesus through the inspiration of the God the Holy Spirit. SOTERIOS σωτήριος is an Adjective that means, “delivering, saving, or salvation.” Here, it is used pronominally, as a noun, for “Salvation,” thereby being a title given to Jesus. Salvation was not only something Jesus did, but it was also who He was. He himself was, and is, the embodiment of salvation.
This is the first time it is used in the NT, which means its connotation carries to all the other uses of this word in the NT. It is used in Luke 3:6; Acts 28:28; Eph 6:17; Titus 2:11. As such, in each of its uses, we could substitute “salvation” for “Jesus,” with the understanding of what He brought or accomplished for all of mankind.
Acts 28:28, “Therefore, let it be known to you that this salvation (Jesus) of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.”
Eph 6:17, “And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION (Jesus), and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”
Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation (Jesus) to all men.”
SOTERIOS is also used in the LXX in Psa 50:23, “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; and to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.”
Interestingly, in the Greek language, this word could also refer to a thank-offering for salvation as noted in Psa 50:23 above, or a physician’s fee. Again, we see our Great Physician, Jesus Christ, who we are to thank for bringing salvation into the world.
“Therefore, when Simeon saw Jesus he said, “I have seen Your salvation.” If you would ever see God’s salvation you must see the Lord Jesus Christ. If, when you look by faith upon Him, when you behold Him as the One who was sent by the Father, who came to this world in grace, and gave Himself as a ransom for our souls, when you can see Him you are beholding God’s salvation. So, if you would know God’s salvation you must receive Christ.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary).
Luke 2:31, “Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples.”
This salvation, i.e., Jesus, God has “prepared,” (the Aorist, Active, Indicative, Verb HETOIMAZO, ἑτοιμάζω that means, “Put or keep in readiness, make ready or prepare,”), “in the presence of all peoples,” KATA PROSOPON, (cf. “before,” Luke 1:76), PAS HO LAOS.
From eternity past, God the Father has had and prepared a plan for the salvation of the world. From eternity past, God the Father has prepared God the Son for this mission to bring salvation to the world. From eternity past, Jesus Christ has prepared and been prepared to come into the world to bring salvation to all peoples of the world. From eternity past, God the Holy Spirit has been prepared to sustain the person of Jesus Christ to fulfill the Father’s plan of salvation for all peoples of the world.
Acts 2:23, “This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”
Luke uses “in the presence of all peoples,” in such a way that at the Advent of Jesus Christ, the world now sees God’s great plan of salvation in the flesh, cf. Isa 49:6, giving us the universal scope of salvation offered in Christ.
Luke 2:32, “A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
In this verse, Simeon is referring to Jesus as the Isaianic Servant-Messiah, (i.e., how Isaiah described Him), cf. Isa 42:6; 49:6.
Isa 49:6, “He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations (i.e., Gentiles) so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth’.”
You might have expected Simeon to reverse this expression, for it was prophesied in the OT that the Messiah was coming first to bring blessing to Israel and then, through Israel, to the Gentile world. But, he realizes and recognizes that there is a break in God’s way in dealing with men; so he puts the Gentiles first, and then Israel. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he was giving us a glimpse into the coming change over from the Age of Israel to the Church Age, the age of Grace, where the Gentiles would build His church because of the rejection by the Jews. The Spirit of God knew that when our Lord came the first time in lowly grace, His own people would refuse Him. They would turn away from Him. They would not receive Him as their Messiah. So, their hour of blessing was to be deferred.
As such, Simeon notes that the “consolation of Israel” is also the “light of the world/Gentiles,” which is God’s plan of salvation for both Gentiles and Jews. He notes that this babe will bring the light and glory of salvation not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles. The fact that Simeon prophesied this is evidence of the large spiritual knowledge given to him, since even the apostles were slow to grasp the fullness of Christ’s world-wide mission. He is to be the Savior of the world, and all the nations will come to Him for light and life, Job 33:28, 30; Psa 36:9; John 1:4; 2 Tim 1:10.
Job 33:28, “He has redeemed my soul from going to the pit, and my life shall see the light.
Job 33:30, “To bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life.
Psa 36:9, “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”
John 1:4, “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.”
2 Tim 1:10, “But now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
“A light of revelation,” PHOS EIS APOKALUPSIS, ἀποκάλυψις, meaning, “revelation, reveal, disclosure, or manifestation.” Here combined, light and revelation express God’s plan of Salvation to the world, Isa 42:6; 49:6; 52:10; Psa 98:2-3; Acts 13:47; 26:22-23.
Psa 98:2, “The LORD has made known His salvation; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations. 3He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”
Acts 13:47, “For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, that You may bring salvation to the end of the earth’.”
Acts 26:22-23, “So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; 23that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”
“Revelation,” APOKALUPSIS, is also used here for the first time in the NT. It is from APO, “from” and KALUPO, “to cover or hide.” So, it means the opposite of covering or hiding and means, “to unveil, disclose, or reveal.” It is one of the most prominent words in the NT for conveying the Biblical concept of Divine revelation. It denotes God’s tangible self-revelation to men. Whereas in the past, under the old covenant, God spoke in various ways and on different occasions through the prophets, in these final days, He has revealed Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ, especially to the Gentiles, Heb 1:1; cf. John 1:1f.; Eph 1:9-11
Heb 1:1, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways.
John 1:1-5, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
This revelation is an unveiling of God’s plan of salvation to the Gentiles, Isa 25:7; 60:2, 5; John 1:7; 12:35, 36. “Gentiles,” is the noun ETHNOS that can mean, “nation, people, heathen, pagans, or Gentiles.” Here it is used for everyone that is not of the people or bloodline of Israel. Simeon first notes the Gentile peoples, where Jesus would be a great light unto them, as He is “the light of the world,” Psa 27:1; 2 Cor 4:4; John 8:12; 9:5; 11:9.
Psa 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?”
2 Cor 4:4, “In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
John 8:12, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life’.”
John 9:5, “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”
John 11:9, “Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world’.”
Jesus is the revealed light of God’s plan of salvation to the Gentile peoples who did not have the promises given to them, cf. Duet 32:43; Isa 11:10; Psa 117:1; Rom 3:29; 11:30f; 15:9-12; Eph 2:11-13.
The same light, Isa 49:6, that brings “revelation” to pagans, cf. Luke 1:78-79, brings “glory” to Israel, cf. Luke 1:77, as Jesus is also the “glory” DOXA of “Your people Israel,” who received the promises of God, Rom 9:4; Acts 2:39; 13:32.
Notice that “Your” is capitalized, which emphasizes the fact that Israel was “God’s people,” His chosen race. Since they have that status and have been given many promises and covenants, the fulfillment of them is “glory,” which is more than just a praising of God, but also a type of revelation that tells of God’s salvation. Take note of Simeon’s emphasis on eyes, seeing, light, and glory. The archetype of light as a symbol for truth can be traced throughout the Bible. This is in keeping with the idea that the Jews had a previous understanding of salvation which the Gentiles did not enjoy, Isa 46:13; 60:1-3; Acts 13:46; Rom 1:16; 2:10.
Isa 46:13, “I bring near My righteousness, it is not far off; and My salvation will not delay. And I will grant salvation in Zion, and My glory for Israel.”
Isa 60:1-3, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. 3Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
Rom 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
Rom 2:10, “But glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
Furthermore, God’s “glory” had long been associated with light, with the radiant splendor of His character often being manifested in the light that came to be called the Shekinah Glory, that reminds the Israelite, and us, of the manifestation of Jesus Christ to Israel in the Temple and Tabernacle, as the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, Ex 40:34-38; Num 9:15-23; 1 Kings 8:11.
From the LXX translation of the Hebrew KABOD YHWH, “the Glory of the Lord,” Psa 24:7, 10; Isa 40:5; Hab 2:14, we see God’s action in salvation history, cf. 1 Cor 2:8; James 2:1.
Isa 40:5, “Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
Habakkuk 2:14, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”
1 Cor 2:8, “The wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
Applying the use and understanding of KABOD of the OT as a term of salvation history, DOXA functions in the NT as a universal expression for the visible “glory of God,” and for His “honor and power.” The theme of the glory of the Lord permeates the birth narratives in Luke’s Gospel, as we have seen in Luke 2:9, 14; cf. John 2:11. It also functions in reference to “brightness of light.” Therefore, Simeon uses DOXA as the revelation of God’s splendor and majesty, which is wrapped up in a little baby called “salvation,” Who would reveal or bring to light God’s plan of salvation to the Jews, as well as the Gentiles, Heb 1:3.
Heb 1:3, “And He (Jesus) is the radiance of His (God the Father’s) glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
Jesus has had this glory from eternity past, John 17:5, 22, 24.
John 17:5, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
John 17:22, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one.”
John 17:24, “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
The glory of the Messiah is expressed in His affliction and suffering. Because the Cross is the demonstration of the saving power of God made manifest, it becomes the first stage in the glorification of Jesus, and is the central focus of the glorification of Christ. The Cross is the tangible witness that the saving power and glory of God are operating in and through Jesus Christ. “The hour is come, that the Son of Man should be glorified,” John 12:23-28; 13:31; 17:1, cf. Luke 24:26; Phil 2:5-11.
Luke 24:26, “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”
As a result of the Cross, at Jesus’ resurrection He has received this glory as the ascended and living Lord of Glory. It is the resurrected living Savior who expresses God’s saving glory, Rom 6:4; 2 Cor 4:4f.; Phil 3:21; 1 Peter 1:11, 21; Rev 5:9-12. Likewise, this glory will be revealed at His return, Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 4:13; 5:1; cf. Mark 8:38; 10:37; 13:26.
The return of Jesus in His glory has become the hope of the believer. Therefore, the glory of God which is revealed in and through Jesus Christ is a redeeming and transforming power which is presently at work in the world. This is our “hope of glory,” Col 1:27; 2 Thes 2:14; 1 Peter 5:10.
Col 1:27, “To whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
2 Thes 2:14, “It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 5:10, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”
In summary, “Perhaps you don’t know what you think about Jesus. Maybe you’re aware of your slight opposition to him, but you don’t really know where it comes from or how it got there. It could have gotten there by any number of things you’ve been taught over the years. But the ultimate source of that opposition is your sin nature. You were born that way. All of us were. In our sin we have this opposition to Christ, to his claim on our lives, to his lordship and deity. And so we rebel against him.
But that rebellion will be put down. God will not always strive with us in our sin. If we continue in it, we will fall—or, rather, be pulled down by God. Christ was sent to save us and bring us into his light, but men love darkness rather than the light (John 3:19). Our deeds are evil, and we don’t want to be found out.
But God knows. He sees us in our sin. He sends us a Savior in Jesus Christ. Jesus is a Savior you either love or hate. The cross says he loves you. Unbelief and sin say we hate him. But repentance and faith say we love him. For our hate, we deserve and we receive death. For our love, we don’t deserve but we do receive life. Choose life. Choose Christ. Believe in him so that you might be saved.” (Christ-Centered Exposition).
Rom 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
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Part Two: Simeon stopped praising and started prophesying, using three important images: the stone, the sign, and the sword. Simeon’s blessing/prophecy to Joseph and Mary, especially Mary, was of the consequences of what Jesus’ life would accomplish, vs. 33-35
Luke 2:33, “And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.”
In this verse, we see Jesus’ adopted father (PATER) and His birth mother (METER) were “amazed,” which is the Present, Active, Participle, Nominative, Plural of the Verb THAUMAZO, θαυμάζω that means, “to wonder, admire, be astonished, or be amazed,” which we noted in Luke 1:21, 63; 2:18. And later, Luke will use this word often to describe the reaction of witnesses to the miracles of Jesus. It carries the idea of wonder or astonishment. In our passage, the ASV, RSV, and KJV use “marveled or marveling.”
Joseph and Mary were not questioning the things that were being said by Simeon, but were in awe at what he said, just as any parent who hears a good report about their child is. This was not a surprise to them. They already knew the exceptionality of their Son, but this was additional information about Him; more gleanings from the OT prophesies concerning Him. Therefore, they were gaining a better understanding and appreciation of Jesus’ work; that it was beyond just Israel and in fact, would encompass the entire world. This caused them to stop and be at awe and amazement.
Luke 2:34, “And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed.”
We do not have the presumed additional content of Simeon’s blessings to both parents. It may have been Luke’s way of addressing the common “priestly blessing,” at this time, cf. 1 Sam 2:20; Numb 6:23ff, and we do not even know if Simeon was a priest or not. We only see what he said in follow up to Mary.
“Child,” is in italics, because it is not in the Greek. This passage only uses the Demonstrative Pronoun HOUTOS, “this, this one, he, etc.,” to point to Jesus in this doxology.
“Is appointed for,” interestingly, uses the same word we noted in the manger scene for “lying” or “laid” in the manger, vs. 12, 16. It is the Present, Passive Deponent, Indicative of KEIMAI, “lie, be laid, recline, set; appoint, enact, establish.” Here, it speaks to the predesigned Plan of God the Father to bring salvation into the world through this baby; once He became a man. It is Jesus’ predesigned destiny as set or established by God the Father.
Two things are the result of Jesus’ predesigned plan from God the Father, “the fall and rise of many in Israel.” Once again, we have two witnesses to Jesus’ Messiahship; one negative and one positive.
The negative is given first, “fall,” which is the Greek Noun PTOSIS, πτῶσις that means, “a fall or stumbling.” It is only used here and in Mat 7:27. Interestingly, PTOSIS is used in the English language as a medical term for the drooping or falling of the eye, or the upper eye lid.
This tells us that many Jews will reject Jesus Christ as their Messiah, Savior, and Lord, as depicted in the parable of the foolish man who built his house on a sandy foundation, Mat 7:27, “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
This “great fall” is the due to the rejection of Jesus Christ that Scripture tells us is the “stumbling stone, the rock of offense,” that people trip over and fall down, Luke 20:178-18; Rom 9:32-33; 1 Cor 1:23-24; 1 Peter 2:6-8; Acts 4:11; cf. Isa 8:14-15; 28:13-16; Hos 14:9.
Isa 8:14-15, “Then He shall become a sanctuary; but to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, and a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15Many will stumble over them, then they will fall and be broken; they will even be snared and caught.”
Luke 20:17-18, “But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘What then is this that is written: ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone’? 18Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust’.”
Acts 4:11, “He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone.”
Rom 9:32, “Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33Just as it is written, ‘BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED’.”
This “fall” is antithetical to the positive witness, “rise,” which is the Noun ANASTASIS ἀνάστασις, “rise, rising, resurrection.” In the NT, ANASTASIS is used primarily for the resurrection of the dead, Mat 22:23-31; John 11:24-25; Rom 1:4; 6:5; 1 Cor 15:12-13, 21, 42; Phil 3:10; Heb 6:2; etc.
John 11:24, “Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ 25Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies’.”
Its cognate verb, ANISTEMI is also used for the resurrection of the dead, John 6:39-44, 54; 1 Thes 4:14-16.
John 6:40, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
1 Thes 4:16, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”
Resurrection, is one of the basic doctrines of Christian faith, Heb 6:1-2, “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.”
Yet, within Judaism contemporary with Jesus, disputes about resurrection were common.
Mat 22:23, “On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him.”
The Sadducees, the hierarchy of Jerusalem, denied resurrection; neither did they believe in the existence of angels or spirits, Mark 12:18. Jesus rejected their stance, and He quoted from the Books of Moses to prove His point. He demonstrated that they did not know the Scriptures or the power of God, Mat 22:23-29; cf. Luke 20:27-38. Contrary to the Sadducees, the Pharisees believed in a resurrection of the dead, Acts 23:8.
Acts 23:8, “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.”
The Pharisees opinion represented most of later Judaism, in which the resurrection was viewed as an integral part of its religion, just as we Christians do.
Given this context of resurrection for “rise,” we see that belief in Jesus Christ is in view, because one must believe that Jesus is the Savior in order to be resurrected. Likewise, “fall” must mean more than unbelief but eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire, due to one’s unbelief in Jesus.
The two groups specifically mentioned by Simeon are all Israelite, “of many in Israel,” POLUS EN ISRAEL, even though it is the same for the Gentiles; some will be resurrected to eternal glory and others will be cast into the Lake of Fire. Belief in Jesus Christ is the determining factor as to whether one rises or falls, and will divide Israel.
So, we see the “stone.” One view is the stone of offense that is stumbled over resulting in a fall to the Lake of Fire, and the other view is of a precious cornerstone, 1 Peter 2:7-8; Acts 4:11; 1 Cor 3:11, one that provides a firm and solid foundation that results in a resurrection to eternal life in heaven with God, Mat 7:24-25.
1 Cor 3:11, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
Mat 7:24-25, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.”
This verse, as well as others, speaks to our eternal security. Therefore, Jesus will split the nation in two, some will stumble and fall, while others will accept Him and be raised to eternal glory.
Next, we see that Jesus is, “a sign to be opposed,” as we have noted previously, the Jews look of a “sign,” SEMEION. We noted SEMEION in vs. 12, it means, “sign, token, signal, miracle, or portent.” Typically, it is used for a miracle performed. Here, Jesus’s entire life on earth would be that miracle, John 20:30-31.
Signs were something which challenged the attention of people and were full of significant meaning. Signs were intended to calm and relieve controversy, and to exclude contradiction, but Jesus provoked both. The great controversy in their generation, and throughout all generations, over the person of Jesus Christ is a great sign to the Jews that He is the Messiah.
Luke 11:30, “For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.”
Jonah was a very controversial figure for the Ninevites, who reluctantly brought God’s message of repentance or disaster to the people.
Unfortunately, unlike the Ninevites who accepted God’s messenger and message, Simeon reiterates that many Jews will “oppose” this sign, which harkens back to the “stumbling stone and rock of offense,” once again.
“Oppose,” is the Present, Passive, Participle, Accusative Singular of the Verb ANTILEGŌ, ἀντιλέγω, that means, “speak against, contradict, opposition, or refute.” This is the first time this word is used in the NT, and is used 9 times, (the number of judgment), Luke 20:27; John 19:12; Acts 13:45; 28:19, 22; 10:21; Titus 1:9; 2:9. It comes from ANTI, “against,” and LEGO, “speak,” and expresses sharp disagreement, refusal, and protest, and may also convey the idea of rebellion or defiance, as in John 19:12; Titus 2:9.
In the Passive Voice and Direct Object Accusative, Jesus is the object who receives this opposition, rebellion, and rejection. Therefore, this is more than just unbelief. It is verbal antagonism towards Jesus Christ, with rejection and opposition. This was also a synecdoche figure of speech, as Simeon mentioned only the verbal insults hurled at Christ, but the expression actually embraced more than that. It speaks of Israel’s rejection, hatred, and crucifixion of the Messiah.
Therefore, Jesus’ rejection by his people, cf. John 1:11, which was already known to Luke’s readers, is announced early in His infancy. As such, Jesus would be a sign of salvation, yet a sign that would be rejected by many, as Isaiah and his children were, Isa 8:18.
Isa 8:18, “Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.”
Therefore, the coming of Jesus would mean salvation and exaltation for some and judgment and destruction for others. His ministry reveals where the thoughts of everyone’s hearts are. As the salvation of God and the expression of God’s will, the reaction to Him reveals one’s reaction to God. John the Baptist’s preaching pointed to the same; either/or, blessing/judgment, that is the character of the kingdom of God coming in Jesus.
Luke 2:35, “And a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed’.”
Simeon knew and understood Isaiah’s prophecies of the suffering Messiah, Isa 42:14-43:12. As such, he first adds this parenthetical section to prepare Mary’s soul of what she also would have to endure. Mary, as all mothers do, desired the highest and best for her Son. But, the reality of His rejection and opposition would cause her much pain and sorrow during his life.
This child will be a light, but he will be the kind of light that exposes. Because the light of Jesus will expose, He will face opposition. The opposition will be a violent piercing, a piercing that will penetrate even his mother’s heart. As such, “Simeon predicted the baby’s effect on Mary personally and on the nation as a whole. The Messiah’s death would be like a soldier’s sword to His mother, and it would divide the nation like a broadsword, separating true children of the covenant from unbelievers (cf. Matt. 10:34-39).” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary)
“And a sword will pierce even your own soul,” uses the rare word RHOMPHAIA, ῥομφαία, which is a “large or broad sword.” It is only used here and in the book of Revelation 6 times, Rev 1:16; 2:12, 16; 6:8; 19:15; 19:21, which all speak of the “sword of judgment” of our Lord from His mouth, (i.e., His Word that will judge), except for 6:8, that speaks of the horsemen of war, which too is a judgment allowed by the Lord. In the LXX, BDAG notes, “Always of the angel’s flaming sword, Gen 3:24.”
So, this is the only time it is used in the NT, other than in Revelation. It is figurative for the anguish Mary will have in her soul when she witnesses the rejection of and opposition to her son, including her witness of His crucifixion. She will feel the pain of motherly sorrow as though a sword were piercing her heart.
“Pierce,” is the verb DEIRCHOMAI that means, “go through, come, go, go about.” We noted this in vs. 15, for the shepherds “going” to see the Lord. It is not the word NUSSO or EKKENTEO, John 19:34, 37, that was used for the piercing of Jesus’ side upon the Cross.
Here, DEIRCHOMAI means to “go through” or “pierce,” like a sword, Mary’s “soul,” PSUCHE. It is another way of saying her inner most being that has feelings and emotions will be negatively affected.
Because Jesus exposes, he will face opposition. That opposition will be a violent piercing upon the Cross, a piercing that will have a penetrating affect even on His mother’s own soul.
“The mother’s pain will emerge from the intense rejection the child will experience and from his priorities in ministry. Nothing can be done to avoid it. In a sense, the initial fulfillment of this remark comes in the next event, where Jesus’ commitment to do the Father’s work causes Him to stay at the temple, and His parents have to journey back to Jerusalem, causing them pain. That is but the start, however, since the cross will cause Mary to suffer even more.” (NIV Application Commentary).
Therefore, Mary felt “the sword” in her heart repeatedly as she watched her Son during His ministry and then stood at the Cross where He died, John 19:25-27. When Mary stood beneath that cross and watched Jesus die, it was with a broken heart. “Of course her suffering had nothing to do with your salvation; her suffering had nothing to do with her salvation. Her suffering was due to a human relationship. She was His human mother. She had brought Him into the world and raised Him. He was her son. You see, when our Lord looked down from the cross and said, “…Woman, behold thy son!” (John 19:26), a human relationship was there that no one else had. She was suffering as His mother. And at that time the prophecy of Simeon was fulfilled — the sword pierced through her soul also.” (Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee).
“To the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed,” is after the parenthetical remarks to Mary and now Luke picks up where he left off in vs. 34.
It uses the Nominative plural Noun DIALOGISMOS, διαλογισμός that means, “thought, inward reasoning, doubt, questioning.” It comes from DIA, “through” and LOGISMOS, “reasoning,” and comes to mean, “thinking through by personal thought, deliberation, and inward reasoning.” In the NT, it is typically used with a derogatory connotation, (5x in Luke and 8x in the rest of the NT), whereby the inner thought life causes both sinful and carnal motives, and therefore is used to signify bad or evil thoughts towards, (i.e., rejection of) Jesus Christ.
It is used here with KARDIA, “heart,” or the right lobe of the soul.
Mat 15:19, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”
Then we have the Aorist, Passive, Subjunctive of the Verb APOKALUPTO, ἀποκαλύπτω, “to reveal, uncover, or disclose.” It is a cognate of APOKALUPSIS that we noted in vs. 32. This is the more popular word for “revelation” that bears religious and theological significance. It is used 26 times in the NT.
Though it appears to be focused on the rejection side, because it picks up on the dual theme of vs. 34, this passage can also state the revealed hearts of those who believe in Jesus as their Messiah. Therefore, it can mean both the rejection of the Messiah would reveal the appalling truth about the apostate state of the Jewish people at that time, as well as the elevated state of the believing heart, both Jew and Gentile. Therefore, the unbelief and belief in Israel would expose the inmost thoughts of all who beheld the Messiah, cf. 1 Cor 1:21-25.
1 Cor 1:21-25, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
The Cross of Jesus Christ cuts one way or the other, there is no neutral ground or in-between when it comes to Jesus and your salvation.
Finally, notice that Simeon blessed God, and he also blessed Mary and Joseph; but he did not bless the Baby, because Jesus is the source of every blessing. He refrained from blessing the child, lest it might appear that he did it as a superior.
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E. The Adoration of the Baby, as Jesus is presented at the Temple, vs. 21-38.
3. The adoration from Anna, vs. 36-38.
This is the third of the three main witnesses to the Advent of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel, 1) the Shepherds, 2) Simeon, and 3) Anna.
Luke 2:36, “And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage.”
“Prophetess,” is the Noun PROPHETIS προφῆτις meaning “a female messenger of God.” In the Hebrew it is NEBI’AH, נְבִיאָה. A prophetess is a female prophet, a woman serving as God’s spokesperson. It means she had a special gift of declaring and interpreting God’s message. She received revelation from God.
PROPHETIS is only used here and in Rev 2:20. In Rev 2:20 we have the evil, “Jezebel” was a self-proclaimed prophetess. She attempted to involve the church of Thyatira in idolatry.
Other NT women are said to have prophesied, PROPHETEUO, and thereby be Prophetesses including:
- Philip the Evangelist’s four daughters, Acts 21:9.
- Some women in the Church of Corinth, 1 Cor 11:5, and by extension potentially other women in the early church.
There are five women are who are explicitly identified as prophetesses in the OT:
- Miriam, Aaron’s sister, Ex 15:20. She called upon Israel to celebrate God’s deliverance.
- Deborah, the Judge of Israel, Judge 4:4. She combined the offices of prophetess and judge, even accompanying Barak into battle.
- Huldah, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe, who lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter, 2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron 34:22. She spoke God’s words of judgment, 2 Kings 22:16-17, and forgiveness, vs. 18-20, to King Josiah.
- The wicked false prophetess Noadiah, during Nehemiah’s time, Neh 6:14. She tried to frighten Nehemiah.
- Isaiah’s wife, Isa 9:3. This may have been a title of association with Isaiah the prophet, as she was his wife.
In addition, there is the Hannah of 1 Sam 2:1-10, who was Elkanah’s wife and Samuel’s mother who potentially may have been a prophetess.
1 Sam 2:1, “Then Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD, my mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.”
The OT warned against female prophets who spoke from their own inspiration, Ezek 13:17. It also prophesied that one day the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all of mankind, i.e., Jew and Gentile, so that “sons and daughters will prophesy.” Joel 2:28-29. The early Church Age is the fulfillment of the prophecy about prophetesses, Acts 2:17-18.
Anna, as a prophetess, was not called to lead Israel in worship; that was the job of qualified male priests even in the OT. Nevertheless, it is interesting that although there are many, many more male prophets than there are female, gender is never raised as an issue. The female prophets are not seen as unacceptable or inferior; rather their existence is taken for granted alongside their ability to hear from God and to speak for God.
Luke suggests that prophecy was common in the early Church and that a number of people in each Christian community were prophets. He mentions one group in Jerusalem, among whom he names Agabus, Acts 11:27-28; 21:10, and Judas and Silas, Acts 15:22-32. Another group is found at Antioch, of whom he names Barnabas, Symeon, Lucius, Manaen and Paul, Acts 13:1. With them we see the four daughters of Philip who resided in Caesarea are another group since Luke makes it clear by the use of the present tense, PROPHĒTEUOUSAI, that they prophesied regularly, Acts 21:9.
A prophet or prophetess was one who was Divinely inspired to communicate God’s will to His people and to disclose the future to them. The function of the prophet was not merely the disclosure of the future, but included the exposition and application of the law, the declaration of God’s will, and the teaching of the mystery doctrines for the Church Age during the early Church. It thus contained two elements: 1) The moral, or doctrinal, and 2) the predictive. The Scriptures teach that the prophets received their communications by the agency of the Spirit of God, Num 11:17, 25; 1 Sam 10:6; 19:20; 2 Peter 1:21.
2 Peter 1:21, “For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
“The persons we broadly classify as “prophets” were given various titles at various times and places in Israel’s history: “seer” (ro’eh, e.g., 1 Sam 9:9, 11, 19; Amos 7:12), “prophet” (nab̠î‘, e.g., Gen 20:7; Deut 34:10; Hos 6:5), “visionary” (ḥozeh, e.g., 2 Chron 19:2; 33:18), “Servant of the Lord” (Is 20:3; 42:19; 49:5; 50:10), “Man of God” (1 Sam 2:27; 1 Kings 13; 20:28), “Son of Man” (Ezek 2:1, 3, 6, 8, etc.). The Hebrew terms ro’eh, nab̠î‘ and h̠ozeh are sometimes used with apparent discrimination (1 Chron 29:29) and sometimes in overlapping senses.” (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery).
This prophetess was named “Anna,” Ἄννα, which is the Greek form of Hannah and a transliteration from the Hebrew equivalent HANNAH that means, “grace or gracious; one who gives.”
She is the “daughter of Phanuel.” Her father’s name PHANUEL in Greek is actually PENUEL in Hebrew, meaning, “face of God.” He was of the tribe of Asher, and thus a Galilean, living in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ birth.
“Of the tribe of Asher,” tells us of the second son of Jacob and Zilpah, Gen 30:12-13, whose name means “happy.” Part of the Northern Kingdom, though the ten tribes were scattered at the Assyrian invasion, many individuals belonging to them remained in Judah, Acts 26:7; Jas 1:1. Though the tribe of Asher was not outstanding, Gen 35:26, Luke considered it important to show her true Jewishness.
So, combined it tells us: “Grace in the face of God makes one happy.”
Tradition also says that the tribe of Asher was noted for the beauty and talent of its women, who for these gifts, were qualified for royal and high-priestly marriage. While the tribe of Asher was not among the tribes that returned from the Babylonian exile to Palestine, many of its chief families must have done so as in the case of the prophetess.
“Advanced in years,” is the Verb PROBAINŌ προβαίνω that means, “go on ahead,” Mat 4:21; Mark 1:19, or “advance,” as in age or being old, Luke 1:7, 18; 2:36, with EN HEMERA POLUS, “in days many,” or “advance in many days.” This is an idiom for being old in age.
She “lived,” ZAO, “with her husband,” META ANER, “seven,” HEPTA, “years,” ETOS, “after her marriage,” APO HO PARTHENIA AUTOS, which is literally, “from the virginity of her,” or better “from her virginity,” as PARTHENIA is only used here and means, “virginity, maidenhood, or state of being unmarried.”
So, Luke once again points out in detail fashion, the historicity of these events
Luke 2:37, “And then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.”
Her husband died after seven years of marriage and from that time forward she did not get remarried, as she was a “widow,” CHERA, to the age of 84.
In determining her age, some later manuscripts use HOS instead of HEOS here to say she was widowed for 84 years. That would make her approximately 106 = (~15 + 7 + 84) years old at this time. But, the earlier and more reliable manuscripts use HEOS, which tells us she was a widow until age 84, the time in which she saw and blessed the baby Jesus.
“Eighty-four,” is either the compound word OGDOĒKONTATESSARES ὀγδοηκοντατέσσαρες as in some manuscripts or two words OGDOEKONTA, “four score or eighty,” and TESSARES, “four.” It is the only time 84 is used in Scripture.
“She never left the temple,” it is not known whether she lived on the Tabernacle grounds or that daily she would come and serve in the Temple. Nevertheless, she and Simeon attended regularly morning and evening the services at the temple.
“Never left” uses OUK APHISTEMI which means, she “did not – fall away, depart, or desert,” i.e., she never went into reversionism and stopped serving God. She most likely, like the disciples in Luke 24:53, centered her life in the Temple, HIERON.
She kept on “serving,” the Present, Active, Participle, Nominative of the Verb LATREUO, λατρεύω that means, the religious form of “serving or worshipping.” Other than two passages, the verb is employed exclusively for serving the only true God.
Women who remained celibate after the death of their husbands and who devoted themselves to God were held in high esteem among both the Jews and the Early Christian Church, 1 Cor 7:7, 8; 1 Tim 5:5. Anna appears to be an early example to the honored Christian widows who in their later years were supported by the Church as they performed good works with prayer and supplication, 1 Tim 5:16.
She kept on “fasting,” the Noun NESTEIA νηστεία that means, “fasting, going without food, going hungry; or starving.” The early Christians saw fasting as a means of strengthening prayer. In addition, Luke notes that elderly prophetess Anna served God in the temple “with fastings and prayers night and day.” He also noted that Paul and Barnabas “prayed with fasting,” when they ordained elders in the cities of Asia Minor, Acts 14:23. So it was a form of honoring God especially in the prayer life of service.
Next, we see two aspects of the prayer life demonstrated in Anna, 1) Petition prayers, 2) Thanksgiving prayers.
1. Her Petition Prayers:
The first type of prayer we see in Anna is that she kept on “praying,” which the noun DEESIS, δέησις that means, “request, petition, prayer, or supplication,” cf. Luke 1:13. It is sometimes used with PROSEUCHE, “prayer,” and therefore means supplication; the entreating or petitioning part of our prayers, when we petition God on behalf of ourselves or others. Here the emphasis is on prayers for others, just as our predominate prayers should be.
She did this, “night,” NUX and “day” HEMERA. “Night and day” does not necessarily mean a continuous 24-hour day. It probably means habitual, consistent, or daily worship. “Night and day,” as a Hebrew idiom corresponds well to the Jewish reckoning of time since a day began at sunset and came before day, cf. Acts 20:31; 26:7.
Luke 2:38, “At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
Luke, once again notes the timing and orchestration of witnesses by the Holy Spirit. “At that very moment,” uses HORA that means, “hour, period of time, or time of day.” This is the time of day that Joseph and Mary brought Jesus up to the Temple for his presentation and dedication, as well as their sacrifice for purification, and right after Simeon doxology and prophecy. At the instant of Simeon finishing his prophecy, Anna gave her prophetic prayer and praise by giving thanks to God for the revelation of His Messiah.
“She came up,” is the Aorist, Active, Participle, Nominative of the Verb EPHISTĒMI, ἐφίστημι that means, “stand by or near, approach, appear, be present.” We noted this in vs. 9, for the Angel who “appeared or stood” before the Shepherds.
Coming up to them, as Simeon was concluding His thanksgiving to God, Anna also broke forth in praise for the fulfillment of the Divine promises. On hearing Simeon’s words at the presentation of Jesus, she commended the child as the “long-awaited Messiah” and praised God for the fulfillment of His promises.
2. Her Thanksgiving Prayer:
“And began giving thanks,” which uses the rare word ANTHOMOLOGEOMAI, ἀνθομολογέομαι in the Imperfect, Middle Deponent, Indicative for ongoing “praise or give thanks.” ANTHOMOLOGEOMAI is a hapax legomenon in the NT. Her “giving thanks” confirms her prophetic recognition of the infant as “the redemption of Jerusalem.” Thanksgiving and praise in Luke’s Gospel are the marks of the faithful and a sign of reception of the claims of the Son of God.
Her thanksgiving is directed towards, “God,” THEOS. Some later manuscripts have KURIOS here, but it should be THEOS.
So, the first thing she does is thank God. When you realize God has sent a Savior you ought to thank Him. Do not be like the nine lepers Jesus healed who went off with no word of thanks. Be like the one leper who returned out of gratitude, Luke 17:11-19.
As we see this aged woman giving thanks to God, we are reminded that sometimes age has a way of making people bitter rather than thankful. Do not let that be you and me. As we age, let us become more expert in giving thanks to God for the thousands of days of fresh mercy he has shown us. Anna gives thanks for her Savior. She proves to us that you never age out of worshiping God!
“And continued to speak of Him,” KAI LALEO PERI AUTOS. The Imperfect, Active, Indicative of LALEO means that Anna joined the company of witnesses to Jesus in Luke’s Gospel when she began to speak continually to all saintly Jews of Jesus’ arrival. This was the apparent prophecies she spoke about our Lord that is unrecorded in the Bible. This was the moment of her prophetic utterances that we do not have. We will have to wait until we get to heaven to find out what she actually said.
As such, this aged woman becomes one of the first evangelists of the NT, saying, “I have seen the Savior. He has come, the One who is to bring redemption.” She uses her gift and call as a prophetess to declare the good news of Jesus’s birth. She believes, and so she speaks. In speaking of Jesus, she becomes a real promoter of Jesus. She encourages others to trust in Him, as She spoke “to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
“Looking,” is not a word like EIDON that means viewing with the eyes. Here, it is the Present, Middle, Participle, Dative of the Verb PROSDECHOMAI, προσδέχομαι that means, “receive, admit, welcome, accept, await, expect, or hold.” It is used most predominantly to mean “expect, look, wait for, or await,” as we noted in Simeon’s “waiting for the consolation of Israel,” in vs. 25. It is the expectation that something is going to occur. The thing these two and their listeners where waiting for was “the redemption of Jerusalem.” She and Simeon “were waiting for the consolation / redemption of Israel.”
Simeon used “consolation,” Anna uses “redemption,” which is the Noun LUTROSIS, λύτρωσις that means, “release, deliverance, or redemption,” that we noted in Luke 1:68, as part of Zachariah’s doxology. It is only used 3 times in Scripture, as it is only otherwise used in the NT in Heb 9:12, “And not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
Like Simeon and Joseph of Arimathea, Mark 15:43; Luke 23:51, there are those who await the messianic kingdom of God, and there is also the object of Christian expectation, such as the resurrection from the dead, Acts 24:15, eternal glory at the return of Christ, Titus 2:13, the mercy of Christ in the judgment, Jude 21, and the Lord Himself, Luke 12:36, that we believers of the Church Age are expectantly waiting for.
So, as Anna is viewed only once in the Tabernacle in the NT and prays for redemption, Jesus entered the Holy Place once and for all to obtain it! Cf. Heb 9:12.
Heb 9:12, “And not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
This all took place in “Jerusalem,” HIEROUSALĒM, Ἱερουσαλήμ. It is also used in vs. 25, as Simeon was there. Jerusalem is used here as a synonym for Israel. It is a figurative way of indicating the nation of Israel as a whole by reference to its capital.
“Two different Greek spellings of the toponym Jerusalem can be found in the New Testament (cf. Blass and DeBrunner, Greek Grammar of the New Testament, pp.21,31). The proper transfer of Hebrew yᵉrûshᵉlem (or yᵉrûshālayim) into the Greek sound and writing system would be Ierousalēm (with the initial “consonantal iōta” pronounced like an English y) which is consistently found in Paul’s letters, Hebrews, and Revelation. The other Greek spelling, Hierosoluma (2389), is a more hellenized form from a presumed (or perhaps popular) etymology of two words: hieron (2387), “temple,” and Solomōn (4526), “Solomon;” thus, “Solomon’s temple.” This spelling is found in Matthew (except in 23:37), Mark, and John. Both spellings appear frequently in Luke-Acts with no obvious explanation for the alternation and no apparent significance associated to either spelling.” (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary).
This hope of redemption sustained her through decades of patient waiting. In the birth of Jesus, her faith was abundantly rewarded, and she became a grateful and ceaseless witness that the day of their spiritual deliverance had come. As God had told Simeon, who was waiting for “the Messiah to come and rescue Israel,” that he would see the Messiah before he died, Anna told “everyone who had been waiting for the promised King” that their Redeemer had come.
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F. The Advancement of the Boy, including the Temple incident at age 12, vs. 39-52.
Luke 2:39, “When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth.”
Luke’s Gospel takes the baby Jesus directly from Bethlehem back to Nazareth. Yet, we know from Matthew’s Gospel that they were side tracked before returning to Nazareth, Mat 2:13-23. Vs. 15 is a quote from Hosea 11:1, and vs. 17 from Jer 31:15. Vs. 23, “called a Nazarene,” probably means “called contemptible or despised,” given Nazareth’s reputation, as we noted in Luke 1:26-27, cf. Isa 53:3; Psa 22:6; with Mark 1:24; John 18:5, 7; 19:19.
Isa 53:3, “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”
Psalm 22:6, “But I am a worm and not a man, a reproach of men and despised by the people.”
John 19:19, “Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, ‘Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews’.”
Also, as we noted, Nazareth comes from the Hebrew Noun NETSER that means “a shoot or branch,” which too is part of the fulfillment of prophecy, Isa 11:1, “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.”
Luke 2:40, “The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”
Just as Luke noted regarding John the Baptist in Luke 1:80, he notes that Jesus grew and became strong, cf. Luke 2:52. It means He grew in the knowledge of the Word and with power of the Holy Spirit sustaining Him. Some later manuscripts added PNEUMA here for the Holy Spirit, but it is not in the more reliable texts. “The grace (CHARIS) of God was upon Him,” means that God was watching over Him and His family as noted in Matthew’s narrative with the multiple warnings Joseph received from God.
Luke, nor the other Gospel writers, provide us much information on the childhood of Jesus, as do some fanciful Apocryphal books like the Gospel of Thomas. Luke’s innocuous childhood fits the narrative more appropriately, as Jesus was rejected by His hometown people, Luke 4:28-30, rather than amazing and terrifying them with miracles and wonders when He was a child, as the Gospel of Thomas claims.
Vs. 41-52, The Temple Incident.
This account foreshadows Jesus’ future greatness, as well as His future teaching mission and reveals an awareness of His unique relationship with God. It has many allusions to His victory over sin and death as the resurrection is an underlying theme seen in the Greek words used by Luke. Therefore, it forms a fitting transition to Jesus’ ministry in Luke 3:1ff.
Luke 2:41, “Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.”
Here, we see that Jesus grew up in a faithful religious family. This too was seen in the typology of Samuel, 1 Sam 1:3, 7, 21; 2:19. Just as Joseph and Mary did at His birth, they continued to live faithfully and righteously in the application of the Law throughout Jesus’ childhood.
“Every year,” KATA ETOS, they would make the pilgrimage to the Temple in “Jerusalem” to celebrate the “Feast of Passover,” HEORTE, ἑορτή, PASCHA, πάσχα, as mandated in Ex 12:11; 23:15; Deut 16:1-6, 16.
God gave the people of Israel seven annual Feasts to celebrate: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. Jesus fulfilled the first four spring Feasts during His First Advent with His death, burial, resurrection, and sending of His Holy Spirit. He will fulfill the last three Fall Feast with the Rapture of the Church, His Second Advent, and the establishment of His Millennial Reign.
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According to Deut 16:16, there were three Feast that the adult males where mandated to attend at the Temple,
Deut 16:16, “Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread (that included the feasts of Passover and First Fruits) and at the Feast of Weeks (i.e., Pentecost) and at the Feast of Booths, (i.e., Tabernacles) and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed.”
They commemorated the freedom from Egypt, the giving of the Law, and a thanksgiving for God’s provisions during the 40 years they dwelt in tents while wandering in the wilderness, respectfully.
Passover took place at the full moon which occurred next after the vernal equinox. It was celebrated on the fifteenth day of Nisan. At this Feast, the first fruits of the harvest were offered, Lev 23:10-15. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which immediately followed, lasted up to a full week and ended with the Feast of First Fruits, Deut 16:1-4; Ezek 45:21-25. Luke viewed them as one Feast, cf. Luke 22:1. Jesus’s family would have stayed in or around Jerusalem, perhaps in Bethlehem, during this time.
Luke 2:42, “And when He became twelve (DODEKA), they went up there according to the custom of the Feast.”
Here, we see that Joseph brought his wife and child, Jesus. Whether this is His first visit to the temple or not is uncertain. Since His parents came every year, it is safe to assume Jesus came with them on other religious pilgrimages.
“During Bible times Jewish boys became “sons of the Law” (Hebrew, bar mitzvah) at age 12. They were then considered adult members of the Jewish community and were obligated to keep the Law. (Modern Jews perform a bar mitzvah for each boy when he turns 13.) So, this feast in Jerusalem was probably the time of Jesus’ bar mitzvah. The Mishnah (Yoma 8:4) required the attendance of boys 1 or 2 years before this bar mitzvah so they might be prepared for their initiation as a full member of the synagogue.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
Joseph, as a good father and as tradition would have, exposed his son to the things of God and the Law. Father’s today have the same responsibility; to teach their children about God and His Word. Sadly, fathers in our country today are failing miserably at this great responsibility.
Luke 2:43, “And as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it.”
The KJV reads “And Joseph and his mother knew not of it.” This is from later manuscripts, but the more reliable ancient texts state, “His parents,” GONEUS.
“Stayed behind” is a foreshadowing of His later days in Jerusalem including His crucifixion as this Verb HUPOMENO ὑπομένω means, “abide, wait, endure, undergo, be patient, suffer, or stay behind,” and is only used literally in this narrative and Acts 17:14. All other usages mean endure, “bear patiently or suffer,” as Jesus did upon His advent to the Cross.
Jesus taught that the Christian must “endure” to the end, Mat 10:22; 24:13; Mark 13:13. As such, we are encouraged to “endure” in difficult times and circumstances, 1 Cor 13:7; Heb 10:32; 12:7, etc. In addition, we are to endure “patiently,” Rom 12:12; 1 Peter 2:20. The thought of continued endurance entails suffering, 2 Tim 2:12. Therefore, while enduring and suffering, the Christian is admonished to be patient.
So, as His parents left to return to Nazareth, Jesus remained in Jerusalem at the temple, and His parents did not know that He stayed behind. As the following verse tells us, they traveled with family and friends and must have assumed Jesus was with one of them. Jesus being a good boy, one who they probably never had to discipline, they would not have expected Him to not return with them.
Luke 2:44, “But supposed Him to be in the caravan (SUNODIA, only used here), and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances.”
A day’s journey was about twenty to twenty-five miles. After traveling for one day, Joseph and Mary realized Jesus was missing and “began looking” for Him among their other “family members,” (SUNGENES) and “close companion,” (GNOSTOS) caravanners, who were traveling with them.
“Began looking,” is only used here and vs. 45, and Acts 11:45. It is the emphatic use of the Imperfect, Active, Indicative of the Verb ANAZETEO, ἀναζητέω that means, “seek, look for, inquire into, or search for.” The prefix Preposition ANA means, “in the midst of, up, or upwards,” and the root verb ZETEO means, “seek, look for, etc.” Combined, in the Imperfect, it means they were continually searching diligently and carefully for Him. From this word, we see the great concern His parents had for Him and His whereabouts. In Acts, it is used for Barnabus who was diligently looking for Saul / Paul.
Luke 2:45, “When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him.”
Now their frantic search for Jesus took them back to the big city. Their extreme concern for Him, led them to leave the safety of the caravan and journey back to Jerusalem. This was a beginning of Simeon’s prophecy over Mary, that her heart would be pierced with sword, vs. 35.
We too, are to look for Jesus in Jerusalem, the place of His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension for our salvation!
Luke 2:46, “Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.”
Joseph’s and Mary’s travel back to Jerusalem would have taken at least one day, and then they searched for Him for two other whole days. Maybe they had to go back to Bethlehem too, if they were staying with relatives there during the feast, supposing he was there. But, we do not know that. Or, maybe they searched two whole days for Him in the big city. Could you imagine?
Interestingly, it took them three days to find Him! It foreshadows His three days and three nights in the grave before His resurrection, Mat 12:40; 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Mark 9:31; 10:34; Luke 9:22; 18:33; 24:7, 21; 24:46; Acts 10:40.
“They found Him in the temple,” most likely the outer courts as Rabbinic instruction usually occurred in the outer courts or rooms of the temple, and since both Mary and Joseph found Him, because women were not permitted in the inner areas.
“Sitting,” is the Verb KATHEZOMAI, καθέζομαι that means, “to sit” and rest that also reminds us of Jesus’ resurrection in John 20:12, “And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.” This is a beautiful picture of the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle.
Here, Jesus was sitting with the “teachers,” DIDASKALOS’, as He “listened,” AKOUO and “asked questions,” EPEROTAO. The temple was not just a center for sacrifice and prayer; it was also a place for teaching and exhortation. The rabbinical method of instruction was to state cases, or problems, bearing upon the interpretation or application of the Law, which cases or problems were to be solved by the pupils, e.g., Mat 22:15-46.
As such, we see Jesus’ humanity learning Bible Doctrine in humility. Jesus Christ, though God, deprived Himself His Divine attributes, Phil 2:5-11, to solve His human problems, including learning Bible Doctrine. Thus, He had to learn like you and I do, and had to depend on God’s spiritual instruction like we do. God the Holy Spirit assisted Him, as noted in vs. 40, as He does us, to learn the Word of God.
From the next verse, we can only imagine how in depth and challenging His questions were. His questioning was probably two-fold to lead them to understand the signs of the Messiah.
Later, during His ministry, Jesus would be considered a Rabbi by the followers of His ministry, John 1:38, 49; 3:2; cf. Mat 23:7-8, and He would teach at the temple, Luke 20:1, cf. Mat 26:55.
Luke 2:47, “And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.”
Apparently, Jesus did more than just listen and ask questions, there must have been opportunity for Him to respond to questions in the rabbinical fashion. In listening to Jesus’s questioning and responses, the people and teachers were amazed.
“Amazed” is the Imperfect, Middle, Indicative of the Verb EXISTEMI, ἐξίστημι that means here continually, “astound, amaze, or astonish.” In the Greek, it meant to move people from one way of thinking to another, change their mind or opinion of something to something new. It is predominately used for people’s reaction to the miracles Jesus performed, Mat 9:8; 12:23; Mark 2:12; Luke 8:56. Although no miracle was done here, this verb indicates that the teachers knew they were not just in the presence of a brilliant young student. They recognized the wisdom of God in the Boy. As such, Jesus moved/changed their thinking from the old legalistic thoughts to the truth of the Messiah.
The Gospel had already noted that the grace of God was upon Jesus, vs. 40. Therefore, since this amazement is frequently the result of an encounter with the supernatural, cf. Luke 8:56; 24:22; Acts 2:7, 12, Luke may have intended us to envision a supernatural display of wisdom.
This also reminds us of the resurrection narrative as it is used in Luke 24:22, for two men on the road to Emmaus that were amazed at the report of the women who viewed the empty tomb of Jesus.
The temple teachers and learners were amazed at Jesus’ “understanding,” SUNESIS and “answers,” APOKRISIS.
“Understanding,” is the Noun SUNESIS, σύνεσις that means, “understanding, knowledge, comprehension, insight, or intelligence,” Mark 12:33; 1 Cor 1:19; Eph 3:4; Col 1:9; 2:2; 2 Tim 2:7.
It speaks to Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Him, Isa 11:2, “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.”
And, it describes how Jesus loved the Father, as we should too, Mark 12:33, “And to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
“Answers,” is the Noun APOKRISIS, ἀπόκρισις, that means, “an answer, a refutation, an official response to a request, or a rescript,” that has overtones of authority associated with it. It is used here and in Luke 20:26; John 1:22; 19:9.
Luke 20:26, “And they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of the people; and being amazed at His answer, they became silent.”
John 19:9, “And he entered into the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.”
Luke 2:48-51, “When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You’.”
To Mary and Joseph, Jesus was lost and now is found! Just as we were lost to sin, and now are found, cf. Mat 10:39; Luke 15:6, 9, 24, 32. This too, reminds us of the typology of Samuel, in 1 Sam 9:20, “As for your donkeys which were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found. And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s household?”
Jesus’ parents finally find Him, and as you can imagine, were upset with Him for staying behind. They were “astonished” when they found Him, not at His teaching, but at the fact that they had finally found Him in the Temple and what He was doing there.
“Astonished,” is the Aorist, Passive, Indicative of the Verb EKPLESSO, ἐκπλήσσω that means, “be amazed, overwhelmed, strike with astonishment.” It is a synonym to EXISTEMI, “amazed,” from vs. 47. In Greek it meant, “a profound reaction associated with shock.”
This would be the trait of Jesus’s ministry, as this word is only used for people’s reaction to His teaching, in Mat, Mark, Luke. He kept on astonishing people.
Mark 6:2, “When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands?’”
Even after His death, resurrection, and ascension, His teaching kept astonishing people, Acts. 13:12.
Acts 13:12, “Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.”
“Son, why have You treated us this way?” Mary does not call Him son, HUIOS, but “child,” TEKNON, in rebuke. And, like a typical Jewish mother, tries to throw a little guilt complex at Him, lol, as she was offended by His action of staying behind.
“Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” Notice Mary rightly calls Joseph, “your father,” PATER.
“Anxiously” is the Verb ODUNAOMAI, ὀδυνάομαι that means, “cause pain, feel pain, or be tormented.” The word ODUNAO means, “to cause intense pain” in its active sense, or “to be anguished or tormented” in its passive sense. Here, it is in the Present, Passive Deponent, combining both. Once again, we see the beginning of Simeon’s prophecy of a “sword piercing her heart” coming true. This is a word used only by Luke, here, and in Luke 16:24-25; Acts 20:38.
In Luke 16:24-25, the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the rich man was physically, mentally, and spiritually “tormented” in the flames of hell. This is analogous to how His mother Mary felt when they had lost Him for three days; a piercing of her heart!
Luke 2:49, “And He said to them, ‘Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?’”
These are the first recorded words of Jesus. Addressing “them,” both Mary and Joseph, He confounded them in a different way. In His response, He did not use the world OIKOS for “house.” That is why it is in italics. He literally said, “in the of my Father,” meaning “in the things or affairs of my Father.” In other words, He had to be around the teaching and worshipping of His Heavenly Father. Jesus shows His self-understanding of His calling, even as a young boy. His priority will be ministering in the manner God has called Him to do. Engaging in teaching about God will be central to this calling, as the entire context of this scene shows.
In addressing them both, including His earthly father Joseph, and saying, “Father,” it should have reminded them of who He truly was; The Son of God! Luke 1:32, 35, etc.
“Jesus did not nonchalantly forsake His parents and their feelings; rather, He heard the call of His Heavenly Father and obeyed (see also Luke 14:26).” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
We also see that by the age of 12, Jesus had a Personal Sense of Destiny, knowing God’s Plan for His life and walking in it, although it would not begin publicly for another 18 years.
Luke 2:50, “But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them.”
“Did not understand,” is the Greek negative OUK with the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb SUNIEMI συνίημι that means, “understand, comprehend, perceive.” It emphasizes the perception, or lack of perception, one has regarding something. So, Joseph and Mary “did not understand or comprehend” what Jesus was conveying to them at this time. In other words, they could not wrap their heads around what He was saying to them, probably because they were too upset with Him and at the same time relieved that they found Him. We know that they knew who He was and what His mission would be, but due to the circumstances, they could not comprehend His meaning at this time, which is understandable.
Luke 18:34, “But the disciples understood none of these things, (His prophecy of His death and resurrection 3 days later). and the meaning of this statement was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said.”
Let us not allow the details, cares, and worries of life to so occupy our minds that we do not comprehend the plain and vital messages from God and His Word.
This also may have been a foreshadowing of the overall nation of Israel, who did not comprehend their Savior, Messiah, Lord, and King when He came to them.
Luke 2:51, “And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.”
In humility, Jesus left with His parents and went back to Nazareth, and “continued in subjection,” HUPOTASSO, to them. He submitted to their authority, honored and respected them and their rules and regulations.
In continued fulfillment of the Law, Jesus honored His father and mother applying the Fifth Commandment, Ex 20:12; Deut 5:16; Eph 6:1-2.
This is the last time we have a mention of Joseph in the timeline of the Bible. Mary, once again is said to have “treasured” or better “retained,” (DIATEREO, “guard, keep, preserve”), “all these things,” (RHEMA, “spoken words or a matter”), in her “heart,” (KARDIA, the right lobe of her soul).
Mary had stored and retained the sayings of the angels, shepherds, wise men, and prophets. She now added to these the sayings of the people at the temple and Christ Himself at the age of 12.
Luke 2:52, “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
This parallels vs. 40, and Luke 1:80, regarding John the Baptist. It also parallels Samuel in 1 Sam 2:21, 26, in typology.
1 Sam 2:26, “Now the boy Samuel was growing in stature and in favor both with the LORD and with men.”
“Increasing,” is the Imperfect, Active, Indicative of the Verb PROKOPTO, προκόπτω that means “making progress, advancing, go forward, proceed, increase, etc.” It was used by the sailors to describe making headway in spite of winds and by pioneers in cutting a path through a forest. It is used 6 times in the NT for “to advance or make progress;” three times positively and three times negatively, Rom 13:12; Gal 1:14; 2 Time 2:16; 3:9, 13.
Jesus’ advancement was in spiritual wisdom and maturity, as noted in the next words. As a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit from birth, the humanity of Christ resided inside the prototype spiritual life where He matured very quickly, both spiritually and physically.
Jesus increased in “wisdom,” SOPHIA, already mentioned in vs. 40. As truly a man, the Christ child experienced mental, spiritual, and physical development in keeping with His humanity. He grew and increased in wisdom. The wisdom of Jesus marked all of His teaching and ministry, and it created much astonishment among the people, Mat 13:54.
In addition, He increased in “stature” HELIKIA, ἡλικία, which can refer to either height or age. This does not mean that Jesus merely grew taller or matured into manhood. It emphasizes a mental, spiritual, and sociological maturity. Perhaps its use in Eph 4:13, says it best, “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
Of course, at the end of a short time elapse, our Lord was mature. By the time He was thirty-three and went to the Cross, He was way beyond the spiritual maturity of anyone who ever lived.
He also advanced in the “grace of God,” CHARIS HO THEOS. The word “grace,” in both Greek and Hebrew, has a variety of meanings. Here, it carries the meaning of God’s blessings in His life. It is not that God liked Him more and more each day, but that Jesus received and applied God’s grace more and more each day to learn, grow, and walk in God’s plan for His life. Note that Mary received a special CHARIS from God, Luke 1:30.
Likewise, Jesus gained the grace or favor with “men,” ANTHROPOS. Even though rejected by men, He was well respected by men, undoubtedly because of His stature: honesty, integrity, virtue, wisdom, kindness, gentleness, graciousness, etc.
In addition, note the priority. Favor or grace with God must precede favor or grace with mankind. Favor with mankind does not imply favor with God, which was the thinking of Adam and the woman in the Garden.