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Luke 2:29-35

Context

2:29 “Now, according to your word, 1  Sovereign Lord, 2  permit 3  your servant 4  to depart 5  in peace.

2:30 For my eyes have seen your salvation 6 

2:31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples: 7 

2:32 a light, 8 

for revelation to the Gentiles,

and for glory 9  to your people Israel.”

2:33 So 10  the child’s 11  father 12  and mother were amazed 13  at what was said about him. 2:34 Then 14  Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “Listen carefully: 15  This child 16  is destined to be the cause of the falling and rising 17  of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be rejected. 18  2:35 Indeed, as a result of him the thoughts 19  of many hearts will be revealed 20  – and a sword 21  will pierce your own soul as well!” 22 

1 sn The phrase according to your word again emphasizes that God will perform his promise.

2 tn The Greek word translated here by “Sovereign Lord” is δεσπότης (despoth").

3 sn This short prophetic declaration is sometimes called the Nunc dimittis, which comes from the opening phrase of the saying in Latin, “now dismiss,” a fairly literal translation of the Greek verb ἀπολύεις (apolueis, “now release”) in this verse.

4 tn Here the Greek word δοῦλος (doulos, “slave”) has been translated “servant” since it acts almost as an honorific term for one specially chosen and appointed to carry out the Lord’s tasks.

sn Undoubtedly the background for the concept of being the Lord’s slave or servant is to be found in the Old Testament scriptures. For a Jew this concept did not connote drudgery, but honor and privilege. It was used of national Israel at times (Isa 43:10), but was especially associated with famous OT personalities, including such great men as Moses (Josh 14:7), David (Ps 89:3; cf. 2 Sam 7:5, 8) and Elijah (2 Kgs 10:10); all these men were “servants (or slaves) of the Lord.”

5 tn Grk “now release your servant.”

6 sn To see Jesus, the Messiah, is to see God’s salvation.

7 sn Is the phrase all peoples a reference to Israel alone, or to both Israel and the Gentiles? The following verse makes it clear that all peoples includes Gentiles, another key Lukan emphasis (Luke 24:47; Acts 10:34-43).

8 tn The syntax of this verse is disputed. Most read “light” and “glory” in parallelism, so Jesus is a light for revelation to the Gentiles and is glory to the people for Israel. Others see “light” (1:78-79) as a summary, while “revelation” and “glory” are parallel, so Jesus is light for all, but is revelation for the Gentiles and glory for Israel. Both readings make good sense and either could be correct, but Luke 1:78-79 and Acts 26:22-23 slightly favor this second option.

9 sn In other words, Jesus is a special cause for praise and honor (“glory”) for the nation.

10 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the consequential nature of the action.

11 tn Grk “his”; the referent (the child) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

12 tc Most mss ([A] Θ [Ψ] Ë13 33 Ï it) read “Joseph,” but in favor of the reading ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ (Jo pathr autou, “his father”) is both external (א B D L W 1 700 1241 pc sa) and internal evidence. Internally, the fact that Mary is not named at this point and that “Joseph” is an obviously motivated reading, intended to prevent confusion over the virgin conception of Christ, argues strongly for ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ as the authentic reading here. See also the tc note on “parents” in 2:43.

13 tn The term refers to the amazement at what was happening as in other places in Luke 1–2 (1:63; 2:18). The participle is plural, while the finite verb used in the periphrastic construction is singular, perhaps to show a unity in the parents’ response (BDF §135.1.d: Luke 8:19).

14 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

15 tn Grk “behold.”

16 tn Grk “this one”; the referent (the child) is supplied in the translation for clarity.

17 sn The phrase the falling and rising of many emphasizes that Jesus will bring division in the nation, as some will be judged (falling) and others blessed (rising) because of how they respond to him. The language is like Isa 8:14-15 and conceptually like Isa 28:13-16. Here is the first hint that Jesus’ coming will be accompanied with some difficulties.

18 tn Grk “and for a sign of contradiction.”

19 tn Or “reasonings” (in a hostile sense). See G. Schrenk, TDNT 2:97.

20 sn The remark the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed shows that how people respond to Jesus indicates where their hearts really are before God.

21 sn A sword refers to a very large, broad two-edged sword. The language is figurative, picturing great pain. Though it refers in part to the cross, it really includes the pain all of Jesus’ ministry will cause, including the next event in Luke 2:41-52 and extending to the opposition he faced throughout his ministry.

22 sn This remark looks to be parenthetical and addressed to Mary alone, not the nation. Many modern English translations transpose this to make it the final clause in Simeon’s utterance as above to make this clear.



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