Who was Simeon the devout in the New Testament?

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Simeon was an aged man (Luke 2: 25-29) who was given the assurance that he would live to see the Messiah. He was “devout,” and pious at heart, in respect to his duties toward God, and “just” in his conduct toward his fellow men. He was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” which was part of a common Jewish prayer that reflects OT Messianic prophecies that speak of the “comfort” of the Messianic hope (Isa. 12:1; 40:1; 49:13; 51:3; 61:2; 66:13; etc.). The devout in Simeon’s day had the assurance from the prophecies that their generation would see the Messiah.

Simeon apparently belonged to the group of humble searchers of the Scriptures, such as Zacharias and Elizabeth (Luke 1:6, 67), Joseph (Matt. 1:19), Mary (Luke 1:28), the shepherds (Luke 2:8-20), Anna (Luke 2:37), the wise men (Matt. 2:11), Joseph of Arimathaea (Mark 15:43), and a few others (2:38). It was to these faithful ones who were looking for the Messiah that Heaven made known the appearance of the Messiah (Heb. 9:28).

Guided by the Holy Spirit, Simeon was led to the temple (v. 27) where he saw Mary and Joseph with the child Jesus. And God revealed that the baby Jesus will be the future Messiah. Simeon realized his heart’s desire as, by faith, he saw in the infant Jesus the fulfillment of the Messianic promises of the OT.

So “he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:28-32).

Joseph and Mary marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then, Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (v. 33-35).

Simeon was speaking prophetically to describe the sorrow that would pierce Mary’s heart at the cross (John 19:25). This is the first NT foreshadowing of the passion of Christ which reflects the prophecies of Isa. 52:14; 53:12. Like all other Jews, Mary expected Jesus to reign gloriously upon the earthly throne of David (Luke 1:32). This expectation, shared even by the disciples of Christ, could only make the disappointment of the cross more bitter. But God in His mercy gave her this intimation of what to expect.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team