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Luke 2:31-35

Context

2:31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples: 1 

2:32 a light, 2 

for revelation to the Gentiles,

and for glory 3  to your people Israel.”

2:33 So 4  the child’s 5  father 6  and mother were amazed 7  at what was said about him. 2:34 Then 8  Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “Listen carefully: 9  This child 10  is destined to be the cause of the falling and rising 11  of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be rejected. 12  2:35 Indeed, as a result of him the thoughts 13  of many hearts will be revealed 14  – and a sword 15  will pierce your own soul as well!” 16 

1 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).

2 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.

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

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

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

6 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.

7 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).

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

9 tn Grk “behold.”

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

11 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.

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

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

14 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.

15 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.

16 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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