28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
1901 ASV Translation:
28 then he received him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Textual Issues:In 2:28 the Textus Receptus has the actual word "his" in respect to "arms" whereas the Nestle/Aland 26 does not. The translators acknowledge the reality of, at least, the "implication" that Simeon used "his" arms. The absence of the term in the Nestle/Aland 26 provides an emphasis upon Simeon's arms that would have to be justified by the explanation of why Simeon is said to have "taken Him up in his arms".
I. Luke's Focus Upon Simeon's Attitude.
A. There was a reason behind the Spirit's revelation to Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Christ.
1. It is apparent that it was significant to him -- just as it is apparent that there weren't a lot of others to whom the same promise had been given.
2. It is also apparent that his taking Jesus into his arms was an expression of how significant this was to him -- having the Lord's Christ actually in his arms was of great significance to him...
a. Because the verb translated "took...up/received" is typically the word chosen when the action is especially important to the one taking it.
b. Because the word translated "arms" is unique to this text in all of the New Testament and is rare in the Septuagint -- implying Luke's choice was deliberately suggestive. In the Septuagint it is found in the story of the wisdom of Solomon regarding the two women who were both claiming the same child because one had rolled over on hers in the night and suffocated it. The mother of the child claimed that the other woman took her baby "from her arms".
c. Both word choices signal a rather intense level of interest by Simeon.
3. This raises the question of "special privilege" in two ways...
a. Why was Simeon given this privilege and not so many others?
b. What was the nature of the privilege? What did it do for Simeon to be able to hold Jesus in his arms?
4. The answers are linked...
a. There are those of us for whom it would not have been a "big deal" to hold Jesus in our arms, just as there are those of us for whom it would have been a very "big deal".
1) In our natural arrogance, we often "look down our noses" at those who do not share our own perspective of things, but the problem is ours when we do that, not the person's at whom we have "looked down our noses".
2) But, at the same time, it is God's plan to develop each of us according to His own plan, not according to the prejudices of the self-centered who think that they are God's gift to humanity. Try to imagine God's development of Benaiah (1 Chronicles 11:22) so that he could be one of David's personal guard in contrast to His development of John Mark so that he could be one of the authors of the four most critical pictures of Jesus ever developed.
b. The issue of privilege is an issue of the individual relationship God has with each of His own. He treats none of His own as "a number", or a "one size fits all" kind of being. He gives special privileges to each of us that are unique to our own relationship with Him. He does this in anticipation of His placement of us in our position in His Kingdom. It is not a thing of which to be "jealous", for He is as free with His special privileges with one as He is with another. But, it is a thing that addresses our own development in light of His Kingdom.
1) It seems apparent that Luke mentioned Simeon's personal qualities (just and devout over a long period of time) as a foundation for the answer to our question of privilege.
a) His "just" and "devout" character was in the context of a temple to which Jesus responded with great outrage at the beginning of His ministry (John 2:12-22) and at the end (Luke 19:45-48).
b) It is impossible to be "just and devout" and not be "assaulted" by the suffocating presence of great wickedness.
2) In the seven letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3, there are seven special promises made of special privilege that will be extended to certain types of people whose personal development reaches to certain levels of achievement.
3) It is indisputable that God counter-responds to His people according to the way they respond to Him. He extends privilege asHecan -- His ability being determined by how His people respond to His grace. If a person abuses grace, what God can do is limited because of this tendency to abuse -- as God is not in the habit of ruining people by privilege except in judgment. On the other hand, if a person responds in gratitude when grace is extended, God is free to extend privilege because it can be done without damage. Gratitude is the single most significant attitude that man can adopt when it comes to God's extension of privilege.
B. There was a reason that Luke included the record of Simeon in his effort to edify Theophilus.
1. It was not to attempt to pour Theophilus into Simeon's mold.
2. It was, rather, to attempt to pour a legitimate picture of God into Theophilus' mind.
a. Luke would have been a very poor disciple of the apostle Paul indeed if he had come away from all that exposure and not understood that people are transformed by the renewing of their minds.
b. Luke's attempt, by writing both Luke and Acts, was to give Theophilus (as well as the rest of us who would end up studying his Picture of Jesus) a basis for his mental renewal.
1) This basis was not going to be an account of people for Theophilus to mimic.
2) This basis was going to be an account of God for Theophilus to love...an account of divine integrity in the face of the frustrating magnitude of great wickedness in the hearts of the "people of God".