Luke 2:25
And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
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(25) Whose name was Simeon.—Some writers have identified the man thus described with a very memorable Simeon in the annals of the Jewish scribes, the son of Hillel, and the father of Gamaliel. He became president of the Sanhedrin, A.D. 13. Singularly enough, the Mishna, the great collection of expositions of the Law by the leading Rabbis, passes over his name altogether, and this suggests the thought that it may have done so because he was under a cloud, as believing in the prophet of Nazareth. On this assumption, his looking for the “consolation of Israel” may be connected on one side with the fact that he, too, was of the house of David, and on the other, with the cautious counsel of Gamaliel in Acts 5:38-39. Against this view there is the fact that St. Luke’s way of speaking leaves the impression that the Simeon of whom he speaks was of a very advanced age, waiting for his departure, and that he, who names Gamaliel’s position (Acts 5:34), would hardly have passed over Simeon’s. There was an aged Essene of this name living at the time of Herod’s death, who rebuked Archelaus for marrying his brother’s widow, and prophesied his downfall, and who more nearly fulfils the conditions; but the name was so common that all conjectures are very precarious.

Devout.—The Greek word expresses the cautious, scrupulous side of the religious life, and is therefore used always in the New Testament (Acts 2:5; Acts 8:2; Acts 22:12) of Jewish devoutness.

The consolation of Israel.—This is the first occurrence of this word. In its general use it included the idea of counsel as well as comfort. Here the latter is obviously the dominant thought. We cannot pass over the words without remembering that the Child of whom Simeon spoke called Himself the Comforter, and promised His disciples to send them another, who should bear the same name (John 14:16).

The Holy Ghost was upon him.—The words point to a special moment of inspiration, rather than a continuous guidance.

Luke 2:25-33. Behold there was a man, &c. — There was now in Jerusalem one Simeon, venerable on account of his age, piety, and virtue. For, he was just and devout — Righteous toward his fellow-creatures, and holy toward God; waiting for the consolation of Israel — A common phrase for the Messiah, who was to be the everlasting consolation of the Israel of God. And the Holy Ghost was upon him — That is, as the word here signifies, he was a prophet. And it was revealed unto him, &c. — God, in reward of his piety, had favoured him so highly as to assure him by a particular revelation, that he should not die till he had seen the Messiah. And he came by the Spirit into the temple — That is, by a secret but powerful direction and impulse of the Holy Spirit; when the parents brought in the child Jesus — Just at that very juncture of time when they brought him into the court of Israel there. Then took he him up in his arms — Having discovered him by the supernatural illumination with which he was favoured; and blessed God, and said — Aloud, it seems, in the hearing of all the people then present; Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, &c. — Let me depart hence with the satisfaction of having seen the Messiah, according to the gracious promise thou wast pleased to make me. This good old man, having attained that which had long been his highest wish, the happiness of seeing God’s Messiah, and having no further use for life, desired immediate death. Yet he would not depart of himself, knowing that man cannot lawfully desert his station till God, who placed him therein, calls him off. For mine eyes have seen thy salvation — Thy Christ, the Saviour. Simeon, being well acquainted with the prophetic writings, knew from them that the Messiah was to be the author of a great salvation, which, because it had its origin in the wisdom, power, and love of God, he refers to him; and, putting the abstract for the concrete, or the effect for the cause, he terms the Messiah God’s salvation. Thus, God is called, our defence, our song, our hope; that is, our defender, the subject of our song, the object of our hope. Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people — Here it appears that Simeon knew that this salvation was not confined to the Jews, but was designed for all mankind. A light to lighten the Gentiles — Who then sat in darkness, and who were to receive the knowledge of God, of true religion, and of divine things in general, especially of a future state, through him; and the glory of thy people Israel — It was an honour to the Jewish nation, that the Messiah sprung from one of their tribes, and was born, lived, and died among them. And of those who were Israelites indeed, of the spiritual Israel, he was indeed the glory, and will be so to all eternity, Isaiah 60:19. For in him shall the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory, Isaiah 45:25. And Joseph and his (Jesus’s) mother marvelled at those things which were spoken — For they did not yet thoroughly understand them; or they marvelled how Simeon, a stranger, came to the knowledge of the child.

2:25-35 The same Spirit that provided for the support of Simeon's hope, provided for his joy. Those who would see Christ must go to his temple. Here is a confession of his faith, that this Child in his arms was the Saviour, the salvation itself, the salvation of God's appointing. He bids farewell to this world. How poor does this world look to one that has Christ in his arms, and salvation in his view! See here, how comfortable is the death of a good man; he departs in peace with God, peace with his own conscience, in peace with death. Those that have welcomed Christ, may welcome death. Joseph and Mary marvelled at the things which were spoken of this Child. Simeon shows them likewise, what reason they had to rejoice with trembling. And Jesus, his doctrine, and people, are still spoken against; his truth and holiness are still denied and blasphemed; his preached word is still the touchstone of men's characters. The secret good affections in the minds of some, will be revealed by their embracing Christ; the secret corruptions of others will be revealed by their enmity to Christ. Men will be judged by the thoughts of their hearts concerning Christ. He shall be a suffering Jesus; his mother shall suffer with him, because of the nearness of her relation and affection.Whose name was Simeon - Some have supposed that this Simeon was a son of the famous "Hillel," a distinguished teacher in Jerusalem, and president of the Sanhedrin; but nothing is certainly known of him but what is here related. He was an aged man, of distinguished piety and reputation, and was anxiously expecting the coming of the Messiah. Such an "old age" is especially honorable. No spectacle is more sublime than an old man of piety and high character looking for the appearing of the Lord, and patiently waiting for the time to come when he may be blessed with the sight of his Redeemer.

Just - Righteous before God and man; approved by God as a righteous man, and discharging faithfully his duty to man.

Devout - This word means "a religious man," or a "pious" man. The original expresses the idea of "good reputation, well received," or of high standing among the people.

Waiting for the consolation of Israel - That is, waiting for the "Messiah," who is called "the consolation of Israel" because he would give comfort to them by his appearing. This term was often applied to the Messiah before he actually appeared. It was common to swear, also, by "the consolation of Israel" - that is, by the Messiah about to come. See Lightfoot on this place.

The Holy Ghost ... - He was a holy man, and was "divinely inspired" respecting the Messiah about to appear.

25. just—upright in his moral character.

devout—of a religious frame of spirit.

waiting for the consolation of Israel—a beautiful title of the coming Messiah, here intended.

the Holy Ghost was—supernaturally.

upon him—Thus was the Spirit, after a dreary absence of nearly four hundred years, returning to the Church, to quicken expectation, and prepare for coming events.

Ver. 25-28. Interpreters have spent much pains in fortifying their conjectures (for they can be no more) that this Simeon was Rabban Simeon, the son of Hillel, the father of Gamaliel, but to what purpose I cannot tell; it can hardly be thought that a man of that note should do such a thing as this so openly, and no more notice be taken of him. That which Calvin, and Brentius, and other Reformed divines do think is much more probable, that he was some ordinary, plain man, of an obscure quality as to his circumstances in the world. There was a general expectation of the Messias at this time, but very few had a right notion of him, but lived in a vain expectation of I know not what secular prince, who should bring them a temporal deliverance. These few were scarce any of them of their rabbis or rabbans, but a poor despised sort of people, whom those great doctors counted accursed, John 7:48,49. The revelations of Christ were to none of the Pharisees, but to Joseph, a carpenter, to Mary, a despised virgin, though of the house of David, to an ordinary priest, Zacharias, to shepherds; and why we should fancy this Simeon a principal doctor I cannot tell. The evangelist gives him his highest title,

A just man, and devout, and one that waited

for the consolation of Israel. One of the remnant, according to the election of grace, mentioned by the apostle; a holy and righteous man, one who waited for the consolation of Israel. Which is the same in sense with the character given of Joseph of Arimathea, Luke 23:51, that waited for the kingdom of God. Simeon waited for Christ, that is meant by the consolation of Israel. For it is very observable, that the prophets ordinarily comforted the people of God amongst the Jews, against all their sad tidings they brought them, with the prophecies of the coming and kingdom of Christ, Isaiah 66:13 Jeremiah 31:13 Zechariah 1:17. Herein old Simeon showed the truth of his piety and devotion, that he believed and waited for the coming of Christ; he had a true notion of the Messiah promised, he believed that he should come, and he waited for his coming.

And it was revealed unto him, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ: God by the Holy Ghost gave him this special revelation, as the reward of his faith and the answer of his prayers, that he should live to see Christ born. The same Holy Spirit moved him to go into the temple, at that very time when Joseph and Mary brought in Christ, to present him to the Lord according to the law, and (though it be not expressed) certainly the same Spirit did intimate to him that that Child was the Lord’s Christ. The old man takes him up in his arms, blesseth God, and saith, Luke 2:29-32And behold there was a man in Jerusalem,.... Not in Nazareth, or Bethlehem, but in Jerusalem, the metropolis of the nation: one that lived there, was an inhabitant of that city, and a person of fame and note. So Joseph ben Jochanan is called (z) a man of Jerusalem, an inhabitant of that place:

whose name was Simeon; not Simeon, "the just", the last of the men of the great synagogue, of whom the Jews often make mention (a); though this Simeon bears the same character, yet could not be he; because he was not only an high priest, which, if this man had been, would doubtless have been mentioned; but also lived some years before this time. Many have thought, that this was Rabban Simeon, the son of Hillell, who was president of the sanhedrim forty years; and in which office this his son succeeded him; and which Simeon was the father of Gamaliel, the master of the Apostle Paul, of whom the Jewish chronologer thus writes (b):

"Rabban Simeon, the son of Hillell the old, received from his father, and was appointed president after his father; but the time of the beginning of his presidentship I do not find in any authors:

and a little after,

"Rabban Simeon, the son of Hillell, is the first that is called by the name of Rabban.

There are some things which seem to agree with, and favour this thought; for certain it is, that Christ was born in his time, whilst he was living: so the above writer says (c), after he had observed, that "Jesus of Nazareth was born at Bethlehem Judah, a parsa and a half from Jerusalem, in the year 3761 of the creation, and in the 42nd year of Caesar Augustus; that, according to this computation, his birth was in the days of Rabban Simeon, the son of Hillell.

And it is worthy of notice also, what another genealogical writer of theirs says (d), that "Rabban Simeon, the son of old Hillell, the prince, or president of Israel, as his father was, as it is in Sabbat, c. 1. is not "mentioned in the Misna."

Which looks as if he was not a favourer of the traditions of the elders, nor in great esteem with the Jews, that they ascribe none of them to him; yea, it may be observed, that he is entirely left out in the account of the succession of the fathers of tradition, in the tract called Pirke Abot; which is somewhat extraordinary, when he was the son of one, and the father of another of so much note among them. One would be tempted to think, that such a neglect of him, should spring from ill will to him, on account of his professing Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah. But there are other things which do not so well accord, as that this Simeon lived some years after the birth of Christ; whereas our Simeon seems to be in the decline of life, and just ready to depart: as also, that he was prince of Israel, or president of the sanhedrim, after this; which it is not likely he should, after such a confession of Jesus being the Messiah: likewise, seeing that his son Gamaliel was brought up a Pharisee: to which last Dr. Lightfoot replies, that holy fathers have some times wicked children; and that it was thirty years from Simeon's acknowledging Christ, to Gamaliel's education of Paul, or little less; and so much time might wear out the notice of his father's action, if he had taken any notice of it, especially his father dying shortly after he had made so glorious a confession; but his last observation is an objection to him. Upon the whole, it must be left uncertain and undetermined who he was:

and the same man was just and devout; he was a holy good man in his life and conversation; he was one that feared God, and avoided evil; he was righteous before men, and devout towards God, and exercised a conscience void, of offence to both:

waiting for the consolation of Israel; that is, the Messiah; for this was one of his names with the Jews, who sometimes style him, "the comforter": for so they report (e) that "there are some that say his name is Menachen the comforter; as it is said, "because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me". Lamentations 1:16.

And again (f), It is observed, that "the name of the Messiah is Menachem, the comforter; and Menachem, by "gematry", or numerically, is the same with Tzemach, the branch, Zechariah 3:8.

And so they often call him by the name of the "consolation": , which Dr. Lightfoot renders, "so let me see the consolation", but should be rendered, "may I never see the consolation", was a common form of swearing among them; and used much by R. Simeon ben Shetach, who lived before the times of Christ, of which there are several instances (g):

"says R. Juda ben Tabai, "may I never see the consolation", if I have not slain a false witness. Says R. Simeon ben Shetach, to him, "may I never see the consolation", if thou hast not shed innocent blood.

The gloss (h) on it is,


{5} And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the {i} Holy Ghost was upon him.

(5) Simeon openly in the temple foretells the death of the coming of Messiah, of the casting out of the greatest part of Israel, and of the calling of the Gentiles.

(i) He was endued with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and this is said using the figure of speech metonymy.

Luke 2:25 f. Who this Simeon was (“primus propheta, qui diceret Christum venisse,” Bengel), is utterly unknown. The supposition that he was son of Hillel, and father of Gamaliel (Michaelis, Paulus, and older commentators), who became president of the Sanhedrim in A.D. 13, does not agree with Luke 2:26; Luke 2:29, where he appears as an aged man; and there is generally the less ground for entertaining it, in proportion to the frequency of the name שִׁמְעוֹן.

δίκαιος κ. εὐλαβής] Comp. Plat. Polit. p. 311 B: τὸ δίκαιον κ. εὐλαβές, and shortly before: ἤθη εὐλαβῆ καὶ δίκαια. The word εὐλαβής is only used in the N. T. by Luke. It denotes religious conscientiousness.[54]

παράκλησιν] The Messianic blessing of the nation, as its practical consolation, after its sufferings (comp. λίτρωσιν, Luke 2:38), is called, according to prophetic precedent (Isaiah 40:1), in the Rabbinical literature also very often נחמה. See Vitringa, Obs. V. p. 83; Lightfoot and Wetstein in loc. The Messiah Himself: מנחם. See Schöttgen, Hor. II. p. 18. The same in substance is: ΠΡΟΣΔΕΧΌΜ. ΤῊΝ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΊΑΝ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ, Mark 15:43.

ἘΠʼ ΑὐΤΌΝ.] having come upon.

κεχρηματισμ.] a divine responsum, see on Matthew 2:12. There is no hint of a dream (Kuinoel).

πρὶν ἤ] See on Matthew 1:18.

τὸν Χριστὸν κυρίου] comp. Luke 9:20 : the Messiah of God (whom God has destined and sent as Messiah).

For the expression to see death, comp. Hebrews 11:5; John 8:51; Psalm 89:48. On the classical use of ὁρᾶν in the sense of experiundo cognoscere, Dorvill. ad Char. p. 483; Jacobs, ad Anthol. VII. p. 108.

[54] Comp. Delitzsch on Hebrews 5:7 f., p. 191.

Luke 2:25-28. Simeon.—Συμεών, introduced as a stranger (ἄνθρωπος ἦν). The legendary spirit which loves definite particulars about celebrities of Scripture has tried to fill up the blank. The father of Gamaliel the son of Hillel, one of the seventy translators of the Hebrew Bible, are among the suggestions. A bracketed passage in Euthy. Zig. says, in reference to the latter suggestion, that Simeon alone of the company objected to the rendering of Isaiah 7:14 : “the virgin shall conceive,” and that an angel told him he should live to take the virgin’s son into his arms.—δίκαιος καὶ εὐλαβής. The evangelist is careful to make known what this man was, while giving no indication who he was (“who they were no man knows, what they were all men know,” inscription on a tombstone in a soldiers’ graveyard in Virginia), just and God-fearing, a saint of the O. T. type.—προσδεχόμενος παράκλησιν τ. .: an earnest believer in the Messianic hope, and fervently desiring its early fulfilment. Its fulfilment would be Israel’s consolation. The Messianic hope, the ideal of a good time coming, was the child of present sorrow—sin and misery prevalent, all things out of joint. The keynote of this view is struck in Isaiah 40:1 : “comfort ye”.—παρακαλεῖτε. The Rabbis called Messiah the Comforter, Menahem. Cf. προσδεχ. λύτρωσιν. in Luke 2:38.

25–35. Simeon and the Nunc Dimittis

25. a man … whose name was Simeon] This cannot be Rabban Shimeon the son of Hillel (whom the Talmud is on this account supposed to pass over almost unnoticed), because he would hardly have been spoken of so slightly as “anthropos,” ‘a person.’ The Apocryphal Gospels call him “the great teacher” (James xxvi., Nicod. xvi.).

waiting for the consolation of Israel] See Genesis 49:18. “They shall not be ashamed that wait for me,” Isaiah 49:23. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God,” Isaiah 40:1. Joseph of Arimathea is also described as one who “waited for the Kingdom of God,” Mark 15:43. “May I see the consolation of Israel!” was a common Jewish formula, and a prayer for the Advent of the Messiah was daily used.

Luke 2:25. Ἰερουσαλὴμ, Jerusalem) The Saviour was shown to this city at the very earliest time.—Συμεὼν, Simeon) the first prophet who said that Christ had come; and the one by whose instrumentality God proved that He, who was being presented to Him, was His First-begotten.—δίκαιος, just) in the discharge of duties.—εὐλαβὴς) Vulg. timoratus[27] in the disposition of his soul towards God.—ΠΡΟΣΔΕΧΌΜΕΝΟς ΠΑΡΆΚΛΗΣΙΝ ΤΟῦ ἸΣΡΑῊΛ, waiting for the consolation of Israel) not merely as Jacob, Genesis 49:18 [I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord], looking to distant times; but as by this time approaching, Luke 2:38. Gradually the expectation of believers became concentrated into a shorter compass [more brought to a point], as is the case now with respect to His glorious second coming.—ἐπʼ αὐτὸν, upon him) as a prophet. See following verse.

[27] “One whose character was marked by reverential fear:” this answers to the idea of caution or circumspection which is in εὐλαβὴς.—ED. and TRANSL. Μωνσέως. D reads αὐτοῦ: abc Vulg. ejus: Rec. Text, αὐτῆς.—ED. and TRANSL.

Verses 25-35. - The episode of Simeon and his inspired hymn. Verse 25. - And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. Many expositors have believed that this Simeon was identical with Simeon (Shimeon) the son of the famous Hillel, and the father of Gamaliel. This Simeon became president of the Sanhedrin in A.D. . Strangely enough, the Mishna, which preserves a record of the sayings and works of the great rabbis, passes by this Simeon. The curious silence of the Mishna here was, perhaps, owing to the hatred which this famous teacher incurred because of his belief in Jesus of Nazareth. Such an identification, although interesting, is, however, very precarious, the name Simeon being so very common among the people. Waiting for the consolation of Israel. There was a general feeling among the more earnest Jews at this time that the advent of Messiah would not be long delayed. Joseph of Arimathaea is especially mentioned as one who "waited for the kingdom of God" (Mark 15:43). Dr. Farrar refers to the common Jewish prayer-formula then ill use: "May I see the consolation of Israel!" A prayer for the advent of Messiah was in daily use. Luke 2:25Devout (εὐλαβής)

Used by Luke only. The kindred word, εὐλάβεια, godly-fear, occurs twice' Hebrews 5:7; Hebrews 12:28. From εὖ, well, and λαμβάνω, to take hold of. Hence of a circumspect or cautious person who takes hold of things carefully. As applied to morals and religion, it emphasizes the element of circumspection, a cautious, careful observance of divine law; and is thus peculiarly expressive of Old Testament piety, with its minute attention to precept and ceremony. Compare Acts 2:5.

Consolation of Israel

Compare hope of Israel, Acts 28:20, and Isaiah 40:1. The Messianic blessing of the nation. Of the Messiah himself, Rest. See Isaiah 11:10. A common form of adjuration among the Jews was, So may I see the consolation

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