What does Luke 2:26 mean?
ESV: And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
NIV: It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Messiah.
NASB: And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
CSB: It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord's Messiah.
NLT: and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
KJV: And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
NKJV: And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
Verse Commentary:
The man mentioned here is named Simeon (Luke 2:25), the same as one of Israel's tribal ancestors (Genesis 29:33). Over hundreds of years, Israel was given prophecies predicting the arrival of a Savior. This Mashiyach, or "Messiah," was predicted to be the One to win a final victory over evil and to restore Israel for all eternity (Jeremiah 23:5; Isaiah 9:6–7; 40:1–5; 57:18). Simeon is one of the Israelites expectantly longing to see this figure arrive.

Scripture does not tell us anything else about Simeon, other than that he was devout and heavily influenced by the Holy Spirit. One result of that spiritual influence was the divine promise explained in this verse.

Readers and commentators often presume Simeon was very old when he finally saw Jesus (Luke 2:27)—however, the Bible says nothing about his age. He was given a promise that he would live long enough to see Messiah on earth, not that he would die immediately afterwards, or that fulfillment would not happen until he was old. It's not unreasonable to conclude Simeon was elderly, but neither is it necessary.

Simeon's relationship with the Holy Spirit will bring him to the temple as Joseph and Mary are presenting Jesus to fulfill cleanliness rites (Luke 2:22–24). Through the influence of the Spirit, he will recognize the infant Savior and praise God for sending "a light of revelation" (Luke 2:28–32). This is followed by a dire prediction for Mary, indicating that the controversy of Jesus' ministry will result in her own personal, emotional pain (Luke 2:34–35).
Verse Context:
Luke 2:22–38 contains several interesting events. The infant Jesus is brought to the temple for purification and dedication, as commanded in Mosaic law. There, a devout man speaks through the Holy Spirit to celebrate the arrival of Messiah. Luke also mentions a prophetess named Anna, who likewise praises God for fulfilling His promises.
Chapter Summary:
The early part of this chapter is famously read at Christmas, while celebrating the birth of Jesus. Luke gives a relatively brief description of how Mary came to give birth in a stable, laying Jesus in a feeding trough. Nearby shepherds are informed of the news by multiple angels. Two people speak in praise of God at Jesus' circumcision. Years later, Joseph and Mary lose track of Jesus on the way back from Jerusalem, only to find Him astounding teachers in the temple with His wisdom.
Chapter Context:
Luke began his well-organized account by explaining the conceptions of Jesus Christ and John the Baptist, in chapter 1. In chapter 2, he briefly summarizes Jesus' birth and the arrival of shepherds directed by angels. Prophecies and prayers celebrate His dedication at the temple. After briefly losing track of a twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple, Jesus' parents take Him home to Nazareth. There, He grows up relatively normally. Chapter 3 leaps forward many years to the beginning of John the Baptist's preaching. This is followed by Jesus' genealogy. Chapter 4 relates Jesus' temptations by Satan and the start of His public ministry.
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
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