31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
1901 ASV Translation:
30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples;
32 A light for revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of thy people Israel.
Textual Issues:There are no textual variations in 2:30-32 between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26.
I. Simeon's Explanation of His Peacefulness.
A. It begins with being given the privilege of "seeing" the Lord's Christ.
1. He was told that he would not "see" death until he had "seen" the Lord's Christ.
2. He exclaims that he can now "depart in peace" because his eyes "saw" what he calls "Thy salvation".
a. The question here is this: How was Simeon's perspective different from that of Joseph and Mary?
1) The text tells us that they "were marveling" at Simeon's words regarding Jesus Who had been with them for six weeks to this point, while Simeon was "blessing God" for granting him a momentary, visual encounter with Jesus.
2) This has to signal a rather significant difference in the "understanding" of what Jesus meant to Simeon in contrast to Joseph and Mary.
3) Apparently Simeon's grasp of the issues involved was far deeper than that of Joseph and Mary.
a) Joseph was a relatively young man; Simeon was at death's door.
b) Joseph is left "undescribed" and "unquoted" by Luke in significant contrast to the other "major" characters in his narrative.
b. The issues involved in "seeing" are not "physical sight" as much as "personal experience" -- as the phrase "you will not see death until..." indicates.
c. The issues involved in "seeing the Lord's Christ" are greater than "seeing His person" -- as Simeon deliberately calls Him "Thy Salvation".
1) The phrase suggests a personal focus upon "the benefit He brings".
2) This suggestion turns us away from seeing the Christ as One at Whom we should marvel to seeing Him as the Instrument of our Blessedness.
3) This focus upon Him as the Instrument of our Blessedness seems to be what God, through Luke, wishes to communicate: "John" (Yahweh is gracious) opened the door to the theological focus of Luke, and Simeon fleshes it out by turning our attention to the Instrument of His Grace.
B. It has to do with God's "preparation before the face of all the peoples."
1. The terminology translated "before the face" literally means "according to the appearance" and is often translated to refer to "personal presence" -- in the sense of "in the presence of". But, God did not prepare Jesus in the presence of all of the peoples. Thus, we look for another meaning.
a. The word "face" is used as a figure of speech to refer to the "essential identity".
b. Simeon's statement means that God had "prepared" Jesus according to the standard essence of all of the peoples -- i.e., He was a human being.
2. The point is that God had made Christ a human being so He could be the Instrument of God's Salvation.
C. It results in a "light of revelation" for Gentiles and "the glory" of Israel.
1. The "humanity" of the Christ as the Instrument of Salvation was a light for revelation for the Gentiles.
a. The Gentiles needed to understand the way of salvation (Paul said to the Athenians "Whom ye worship in ignorance, I set forth unto you" -- Acts 17:23).
b. The way of salvation was only to be "by" a man [Note Acts 17:31].
c. Paul called the Cross a matter of "foolishness" for the "wisdom-seeking" Gentiles whose pride was wrapped up in their "intelligence": they rejected the proclamation of vicarious atonement in the Man, Christ Jesus, because they refused to see the implications of the human condition in respect to the justice of God...that it takes a "man" to atone for human sins.
1) "Wisdom-seeking" is, at its roots, both a matter of insecurity (life is too dangerous for me without wisdom) and a matter of pride (I can gather the necessary data and figure out how to live well).
2) The Gentiles "gods" were mere "supermen" who had the same foibles as the men who worshiped them, so the wisdom-seekers among them had little "respect" for a "superman" doctrine and the typical un-intellectual Gentile had little "hope" from a "superman" doctrine.
3) The Gentiles also had little interest in any "sign" (the resurrection of Christ from the dead was a teaching that they sneered at because, if true, it would make their "wisdom-seeking" useless).
2. The "humanity" of the Christ as the Instrument of Salvation was Israel's greatest "glory" in that Christ was "produced" by Israel for the accomplishment of salvation by God.
a. The Jews needed to see that Jesus was their "most glorious work".
b. Paul called His Cross a "stumbling block" to the sign-seeking Jews who "gloried" in demonstrations of God's special favor upon them: they rejected the proclamation of vicarious atonement in the Man, Christ Jesus, because they also refused to see the implications of the human condition in respect to the justice of God...that no "man" can atone for his own sins.
c. The Jews, in their "sign-seeking" discounted the "wisdom of men" and "gloried in" the various "proofs" (signs) that divine revelation was in their possession (divine favor rested upon them in the form of the Law as divine revelation).