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Is Luke 2:25 alluding to Isaiah 57:18 LXX?

English Standard Version Luke 2:25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants] Καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄνθρωπος ἦν ἐν Ἰερουσαλὴμ ᾧ ὄνομα Συμεών, καὶ ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὗτος δίκαιος καὶ εὐλαβής, προσδεχόμενος παράκλησιν τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, καὶ πνεῦμα ἦν ἅγιον ἐπ' αὐτόν·

ESV Isa 57:18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners,

LXX Isa 57:18 τὰς ὁδοὺς αὐτοῦ ἑώρακα καὶ ἰασάμην αὐτὸν καὶ παρεκάλεσα αὐτὸν καὶ ἔδωκα αὐτῷ παράκλησιν ἀληθινήν,

Brenton LXX Isa 57:18 I have seen his ways, and healed him, and comforted him, and given him true comfort;

And if so (or even if not) then for what was he waiting?

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    (+1) A good question. I believe it would be an excellent question if the primary focus was to the NT meaning and use of παράκλησιν. Also you might want to consider the relationship of παράκλησιν and παράκλητος as significant (possibly more so?) to the fulfillment or realization of what is described or alluded to in the LXX, IOW instead of seeing Luke 2:25 in the context of looking back in time to Isaiah 57 as primary see it looking ahead to John 14-16 and 1 John 2 with the Isaiah (or other OT) as secondary. Jul 11 '16 at 17:24
  • @RevelationLad I was thinking about posting another post about παράκλησιν. Feel free to if you would like or I will. παράκλησιν is a tricky word.
    – user10231
    Jul 11 '16 at 17:42
  • Go ahead. It's your subject. I am only offering a suggestion to make the question more open to a range . Jul 11 '16 at 20:32
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    I think the question is excellent as written. Whatever Simeon was waiting for, it was certainly based on his knowledge and understanding of the Old Testament and not the New.
    – user33515
    Feb 2 '18 at 14:24
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I'm not sure that there is a direct allusion to Isaiah 57:18, but as you suggest it certainly seems to bring the verse to mind. Another might be Jeremiah 31:9 (38:9 LXX):

They went forth with weeping, and I will bring them back with consolation, causing them to lodge by the channels of waters in a straight way, and they shall not err in it.

ἐν κλαυθμῷ ἐξῆλθον, καὶ ἐν παρακλήσει ἀνάξω αὐτοὺς αὐλίζων ἐπὶ διώρυγας ὑδάτων ἐν ὁδῷ ὀρθῇ, καὶ οὐ μὴ πλανηθῶσιν ἐν αὐτῇ

The verses that follow in Jeremiah touch on a number of New Testament images:

Hear the words of the Lord, ye nations, and proclaim them to the islands afar off; say, He that scattered Israel will also gather him, and keep him as one that feeds his flock. For the Lord has ransomed Jacob, he has rescued him out of the hand of them that were stronger than he. And they shall come, and shall rejoice in the mount of Sion, and shall come to the good things of the Lord, even to a land of corn, and wine, and fruits, and cattle, and sheep: and their soul shall be as a fruitful tree; and they shall hunger no more. Then shall the virgins rejoice in the assembly of young men, and the old men shall rejoice; and I will turn their mourning into joy, and will make them merry. I will expand and cheer with wine the soul of the priests the sons of Levi, and my people shall be satisfied with my good things: thus says the Lord.

I find it interesting also that the very next verse (15) in the Jeremiah passage is:

A voice was heard in Rama, of lamentation, and of weeping, and wailing; Rachel would not cease weeping for her children, because they are not.

which Matthew (2:18) quotes almost verbatim from the Septuagint.


Regardless of whether there is a definite connection, Simeon was likely awaiting the things that the angel Gabriel announced to Mary (Luke 1:51ff) - essentially freedom from bondage:

He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.

Theophylact's commentary on Luke explains:

Simeon was not a priest, but a God-fearing man, who was waiting for the coming of the Messiah Who would bring consolation to the Hebrews, delivering them from their slavery to sin, and thereby, can we not say, even from their slavery to the Romans and to Herod. For he who has believed in Christ is indeed a free man ...*


* Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to Luke (tr. from Greek; Chrysostom Press, 1997), p.34.

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Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. (ESV)

καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄνθρωπος ἦν ἐν Ἰερουσαλὴμ ᾧ ὄνομα Συμεών καὶ ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὗτος δίκαιος καὶ εὐλαβής προσδεχόμενος παράκλησιν τοῦ Ἰσραήλ καὶ πνεῦμα ἦν ἅγιον ἐπ’ αὐτόν

The root of παράκλησις "consoloation" is παρακαλέω "comfort" which opens the prophecy of Israel's restoration in Isaiah 40:

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. (Isaiah 40:1)

παρακαλεῖτε παρακαλεῖτε τὸν λαόν μου λέγει ὁ θεός

Richard B. Hays sees this connection:

The theme of consolation is the keynote sounded at the beginning of Isaiah's prophecy of return and restoration: Comfort, comfort my people (LXX: παρακαλεῖτε παρακαλεῖτε τὸν λαόν μου), says God. (Isa 40:1). In other words, to say that Simeon was awaiting "the παράκλησις of Israel" can only mean one thing: he was remembering Isaiah 40 and awaiting the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy that Israel's time of punishment and exile would come to an end.1

Hays notes Simeon calls the consolation of Israel the salvation of God (2:30 ...τὸ σωτήριόν σου) which connects both Isaiah 40 and Luke 3:6:

These anticipatory ripples of Isaiah 40 in 2:30-32 are instances of the Vorklang of an allusion, faint sympathetic soundings that precede a louder citation later in the same text.2

Hays also notes that Luke 3:3-6 is the last citation the author makes in Luke-Acts and announces the mission is not only to end Israel's exile, but will bring salvation to "all flesh." (Luke 3:6 & Isaiah 40:3-5). This is the same note on which Acts closes:

Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God (τοῦτο τὸ σωτήριον τοῦ θεοῦ) has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen. (Acts 28:28)

The important aspect is Simeon sees the consolation of Israel not in the limited sense of restoring the kingdom to Israel but one which brings God's salvation to all people (2:32).


1. Richard B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels, Baylor university Press, 2016, p. 217
2. Ibid.

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  • I think the Isaiah 40:1 is spot on.
    – Ruminator
    Jun 2 '18 at 19:02

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