Vol. 18, No. 13 – March 31, 2019
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.”
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 ones 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 for 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.
II. The Identification of the Son of Man with Men, Luke 1:5-4:13.
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.”
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:
1) Philip the Evangelist’s four daughters, Acts 21:9.
2) 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:
1) Miriam, Aaron’s sister, Ex 15:20. She called upon Israel to celebrate God’s deliverance.
2) Deborah, the Judge of Israel, Judge 4:4. She combined the offices of prophetess and judge, even accompanying Barak into battle.
3) 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.
4) The wicked false prophetess Noadiah, during Nehemiah’s time, Neh 6:14. She tried to frighten Nehemiah.
5) 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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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#19-031 & 19-032 & 19-033
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!