And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Look! This child is appointed to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be continually opposed, Bible see other translations

“Look!” The Greek word is idou (#2400 ἰδού), and it is used to get our attention. See commentary on Matthew 1:20.

“appointed.” The Greek is keimai (#2749 κεῖμαι), which has a number of meanings, including, to be set in place, thus to lie, or be set; to be placed on something; to exist or have a place; to occur, appear, or be found; to be appointed or destined. Although some translations go with “destined,” we did not feel that was the correct meaning, and is very close to “predestined.” Jesus was human, and as a human could have failed in his mission. God “appointed” him as Messiah, but Jesus had to rise to the occasion, and walk out his appointment and calling. So does each Christian.

“to cause.” The eis (#1519 εἰς) in this verse has a causal meaning. Compare NIV and HCSB translations.

“falling and rising.” These are translated from the Greek words ptosis (#4431 πτῶσις) and anastasis (#386 ἀνάστασις). Louw-Nida translates ptosis—usually rendered “falling”—as “to suffer destruction or ruin, with the implication of having formerly held a position of eminence.”a Anastasis is used everywhere else in the New Testament, 39 times, to indicate “resurrection.” We were sorely tempted to translate it thus here as well, but did not because the word can also mean “rising,” and is used that way in the LXX, and because the anastasis here seems to include a broader sense of “rising” than just resurrection; although we are quick to add that resurrection is clearly implied here by Simeon. Hence, a narrower translation would be “for the destruction and resurrection of many in Israel.”

The Greek is ambivalent as to whether it is the rise of some and the fall of some, or whether everybody falls and then rises. The greater scope of scripture points to the former. However, due to the ambiguity of the Greek, there is the implication that many will fall before they rise, as is the case with the apostle Paul who first stumbled because of the Lord, then rose up to seize eternal life.

that will be continually opposed.” “Will be” is supplied because it is a prophecy regarding the future. “Continually” (cp. Williams) comes from the present tense of the verb, in this case, a durative present indicating continual action (See commentary on 1 John 1:7 for more on this usage of the present). The Greek is antilegō (#483 ἀντιλέγω). It has two distinct meanings: to be spoken against, or to be opposed. Both fit here, and thus the Greek gives a fuller sense than can be given in English. Christ will be spoken against, but more than that, he will be opposed in general in every way. Jesus is, and always has been, opposed and spoken against by those who will not submit to God’s rule and rules. Robertson writes: “Spoken against (antilegomenon). Present passive participle, continuous action. It is going on today. Nietzsche [the German philosopher who was known for the phrase, “God is dead”] regarded Jesus Christ as the curse of the race because he spared the weak.”b

There is certainly a sense in which the entire life of Christ was a sign. Jesus Christ himself is a sign that is continually opposed. The sign also can refer to the resurrection of Christ. As Christ told the Pharisees who were asking him for a sign:

Matthew 12:39-40

An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

The sign of Jonah was to be the sign for that generation, and this sign was opposed by the Jews (e.g., Matt. 16:21-22; 27:62-64); it makes sense then that the resurrection of Christ was partly what Simeon was referring to.

If the resurrection was the sign, then this verse indicates Christ was “appointed” beforehand for this, which is why God could not take “this cup” from him in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42). Having been appointed for this, Christ was the “Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Rev. 13:8 NIV).

Louw and Nida, Greek-English Lexicon, s.v. “πτῶσις.”
Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 2:29.

Commentary for: Luke 2:34