29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
1901 ASV Translation:
29 Now lettest thou thy servant depart, Lord, According to thy word, in peace;
Textual Issues:There are no textual variations between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26 in 2:29-32.
I. Luke calls Simeon's words a "blessing".
A. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament has an extensive article on "blessing" in which the point is made that when it is from God it signals an irrevocable commitment to accomplish a "good" for the one being "blessed" and when it is to God it signals a recognition of God's irrevocable commitment and, perhaps, even the experience of that commitment as it has played out in history. The "good" is seen to be some aspect of the covenant promises. Thus, "good" is defined as what God has promised to man for his joy.
1. Deuteronomy 30:19 uses the large concepts of "blessing" and "curse" as identical with "life" and "death".
2. Thus, a "blessing" is some aspect of "Life" that has been communicated to the one so blessed.
B. Simeon's words do, indeed, signal a recognition on his part that God has fulfilled an irrevocably given promise.
1. The irrevocably given promise was that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Christ.
2. Upon seeing Jesus, Simeon responded to God's "blessing" by "exulting gratitude".
3. Simeon addresses God, in respect to "blessing", as Despot, and identifies himself as "slave".
4. Simeon recognizes that the "Despot" is going to "release His slave in peace".
a. The word "release" (translated "let depart") is used in situations where someone or some thing is "bound" (a prisoner, a spouse -- divorce, a slave, etc.) to some condition(s). The condition(s) may be good or not as the context explains. But the case is that something has tied the person to certain constraints and "to be released" is to have those constraints abrogated.
b. The terminology implies that Simeon considered death a "good" that was being withheld from him until the Despot had fulfilled His commitment.
1) How can death be seen as a "good" unless living is seen as, at the very minimum, "not as good"?
2) Long life, under the Law, was seen as a "good" [Note Exodus 20:12 compared with Ephesians 6:2-3]. Long life with excellent health was an even greater good [Note Deuteronomy 34:7]. A shorter life with many difficulties was not seen in as favorable a light [Note Genesis 47:9].
3) Only a transcending confidence that what comes after death is superior to living on this earth makes "death" a "good". [Note Paul's clear declarations in both Romans 8:18 and Philippians 1:23.]
c. The verb "release" is not an imperative, but an indicative -- an expression of the awareness of what the Despot isdoing, not a request/demand that the Despot do something. Inherent within the promise of life until he "should see the Lord's Christ" is the recognition that death will come afterward. Simeon is not pictured as dreading the day when he "sees" the Lord's Christ because that means he is about to die. This means "death" was not a threat to him. This means he had embraced the promise(s) of Life just as fully as he embraced the Child when he saw Him in the temple.
d. The condition of Simeon's soul was that of being "peaceful". All of the disturbances have been silenced by his experience of seeing the Lord's Christ.
5. Simeon recognizes that the "Despot" is going to act "according to His word".
a. The "word" is the specific utterance of the Spirit: "You will not see death until you have seen the Lord's Christ."
b. This recognition is the final underpinning of the believer's emotional/spiritual life: the "Despot" is a despot whose despotic ways are very, very good for those under His "blessing".