Exegetical Notes: Luke 2:22-38

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord

“when the time came for their purification” -Referring to the time mentioned within the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 12), 33 days after Jesus’ circumcision. Making Jesus just under 6 weeks old.

23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”)

“Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord” -Noted from Exodus 13:2, 12

24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

“a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons” -The fact that Joseph and Mary offered birds in their sacrifice, demonstrates their lack of financial prosperity. The normal offering would require a lamb.

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

“Simeon” -Simeon is obscure in biblical history, yet he serves as a reminder that most champions of the faith are relatively unknown. Although he may be unknown, his character speaks volumes.

“righteous” – he did what God required regarding his relationships to God and man.
“devout” – he was reverent toward God, meaning he carefully considered the things of God, or negatively speaking, he worried about the things of God.
“waiting for the consolation of Israel” – he was a man of faith. He believed in God’s impending renewed comfort and hope for Israel.
“Holy Spirit was upon him” – He was led by Spirit.This also authenticates his blessing.

“consolation of Israel” -brought about by the inauguration of the messianic age and centered on salvation though Christ.

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.

“it had been revealed to him” -One of the reasons Simeon maintained such strong faith in God’s redemption was in the Spirit’s revealing to him that the Messiah would come in His lifetime.

APP: 1. We must also commit ourselves to the truth that Christ was the Messiah. 2. We must also maintain our faith, just as Christ came, scripture promises His return.

27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law,

28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29  “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;

“now you are letting your servant depart in peace” -Some assume Simeon to be old according to this statement. Almost as if he is retiring now that He’s seen the Christ. However, this may not be the case. The statement can also reflect upon the fact that God had kept His promise to Simeon and he no longer needed to concern himself with it’s fulfillment.

“according to your word” -God’s faithfulness is highlighted in the fact that He kept His word to Simeon, and to all others, through the birth of the Christ.

30  for my eyes have seen your salvation

“your” -Note that salvation is God’s doing. It flows from Him. He accomplishes it.

“salvation” -the means by which people experience divine salvation—‘salvation, the way of saving, the manner of saving.’
 Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 241.

31  that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

“that you have prepared” -Salvation through Christ is not God’s ‘plan B’. Rather, it is something that He has prepared, or planned.

32  a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”

Christ is salvation for all nations, both “Gentiles” and “to your people Israel”.

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.

34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed

The meaning of this parenthetical comment is not certain. The most common interpretation is that it refers to the sorrow Mary would experience in seeing her son rejected and crucified. It has also been suggested, however, that this should be interpreted in light of 8:19–21, and this refers to the fact that Mary would also stumble and experience difficulty in her son’s mission. Such passages as 8:21; 11:27–28; 12:51–53 and the fact that Mary was not stated as being present at the crucifixion tend to support this interpretation. However, Luke knew that Theophilus was well aware of Jesus’ rejection and death and possibly even of Mary’s presence at the crucifixion (cf. John 19:25, although Luke did not mention this). It is difficult to be dogmatic about which is the more likely interpretation, although the context favors the second. 
Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 117.

35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

“so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” – As in their “innermost thoughts”. This phrase is probably has a negative aspect and run in conjunction with opposition to the Messiah at the end of the previous verse. Jesus will reveal the lack of integrity and hatred of the religious leadership.

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin,

37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.

Note her single-minded devotion.

38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

2 Appropriate Responses to the Incarnation of Jesus:
1. Thanksgiving
2. Testimony