"A Light To Lighten The Gentiles"

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Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 524

Context: Scholars are not agreed upon the authorship of this gospel. Though it is evident that Luke and Acts were both written by the same person, there is some doubt that he is actually the physician Luke, friend and companion of the Apostle Paul. Some have found internal evidence, in the form of terminology a medical man would have been likely to use, which lends support to the traditional attribution. In Chapter 1 the author comments upon the large number of people who are writing gospels, and makes it clear that he has been careful to obtain much of his own material from eyewitnesses and others who actually took part in the great drama of Christ's ministry. "Theophilus," to whom he dedicates this book, may have been a Roman official sympathetic to Christianity. Chapter 1 is largely introductory, covering those events which led up to the birth of Jesus. In Chapter 2 he gives what has become the most popular and familiar account of the Nativity, telling it with great tenderness and beauty. Luke's version is that which most frequently forms a part of the celebration of Christmas. When Jesus is eight days of age he is circumcised and is named according to instructions given Mary by the angel of the Lord. After Mary's days of purification according to the law are ended, Jesus is taken to Jerusalem that he may be presented to the Lord in the Temple, and that a sacrifice may be offered. This sacrifice is made according to holy law, and consists of a pair of turtle-doves or young pigeons. While Jesus and his parents are in the Temple, two persons who are inspired with prophecy enter and foretell something of the consolation that this child will bring to his people, and to the other nations of the world. The first of these is Simeon, an old man; the second is Anna, who confirms his words.

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

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