The Presentation in the Temple (Luke 2:22-38)

The Presentation in the Temple.

22* When the days were completed for their purification* according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord,h 23 just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,”i 24 and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel,* and the holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. 27 He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, 28 he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

29“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word,

30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,j

31 which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,

32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”k

33 The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; 34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradictedl 35 (and you yourself a sword will pierce)* so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” 36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.38 And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.m


Verses 29 to 32 are known as the Canticle of Simeon and, as you might guess, I prefer a different translation that, to me, is more poetic.  I offer it here with a little bit of comment:


Canticle of Simeon

What I see in it

29 Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: Lord, now I can die happy because you kept your word.
30 my own eyes have seen the salvation I have seen the Messiah
31 which you have prepared in the sight of every people For all the world to see
a light to reveal you to the nations Through the Messiah, everyone will come to know God
and the glory of your people Israel And they will also know how glorified the Israelites are.


Forty days after His birth Jesus is taken to the temple and consecrated to God.  Why?  Because Jesus was the first child born to Mary and Joseph and “every male that opens the womb” belongs to the Lord.  So when did this practice come about?  How did it start?

The Lord has anticipated our question.  This was instituted after the Exodus from Egypt and scripture explains it all.

you will dedicate to the LORD every newborn that opens the womb; and every firstborn male of your animals will belong to the LORD.  Every firstborn of a donkey you will ransom with a sheep. If you do not ransom it, you will break its neck. Every human firstborn of your sons you must ransom.

And when your son asks you later on, ‘What does this mean?’ you will tell him, ‘With a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of a house of slavery.  When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt, the firstborn of human being and beast alike. That is why I sacrifice to the LORD every male that opens the womb, and why I ransom every firstborn of my sons.’  It will be like a sign on your hand and a band on your forehead that with a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.” (Exodus 13:12-16)

Recall that Egypt endured ten plagues from the Lord before Pharaoh released the Israelites.  The tenth and final plague being death of the firstborn.  Since God spared the lives firstborn of the Israelites they henceforth belong to Him.  And this temple dedication is a reminder to the Israelite people of the salvation and deliverance that the Lord has done for them.


Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition© 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


  1. Ed February 16, 2016 Reply
  2. Mike Hanson May 29, 2016 Reply

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