In a timeless monochrome frame, Simeon, his aged hands trembling, gazes with awe and reverence at the infant Jesus cradled in Mary's arms.

How Old Was Simeon When He Saw Jesus?

If you’re searching for the age of Simeon when he met Jesus as a baby, you’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive article will examine all the details around this biblical event to provide you with a clear answer.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Most Bible scholars believe Simeon was around 280 years old when he saw the baby Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem.

The Biblical Story of Simeon Seeing Jesus

Luke 2:25-35 Records the Story

The story of Simeon seeing and blessing Jesus as an infant is recorded in Luke 2:25-35. This event occurred when Joseph and Mary brought the baby Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem for Mary’s purification rites after childbirth, as required by Mosaic law (see Leviticus 12:1-8).

Simeon was a righteous and devout man in Jerusalem who had been waiting to see the Messiah before his death.

Simeon Was ‘Righteous and Devout’

Luke describes Simeon as a righteous and devout man who was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). Although the Bible does not provide Simeon’s exact age, the description of him as “righteous and devout” indicates he was likely an elderly man who had been faithful to God for many years.

He Was ‘Waiting for the Consolation of Israel’

The phrase “waiting for the consolation of Israel” refers to Simeon waiting for the Messiah. The Messiah was expected to bring comfort and redemption to the people of Israel. Many devout Jews were eagerly waiting for the Messiah’s arrival based on prophecies throughout the Old Testament.

The Holy Spirit Revealed Jesus to Him

The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that “he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26). When Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple, the Spirit led Simeon there also and revealed to him that this child was the long-awaited Messiah, “the Lord’s Christ.”

He Took the Baby Jesus in His Arms and Praised God

Upon seeing the infant Jesus, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God: “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:29-30).

Simeon declared that this child was the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation for both Jews and Gentiles (Luke 2:30-32). He then blessed Joseph and Mary and prophesied about Jesus’ future mission (Luke 2:34-35).

Although the Bible does not directly state Simeon’s age, the description of him as a righteous, elderly man eagerly waiting to see the Messiah before death suggests he was likely advanced in years when he met the baby Jesus at the temple.

His story provides a beautiful picture of faith rewarded for those who trust God’s promises.

The Jewish Tradition About Simeon’s Age

Simeon Lived During the Time of the Second Temple

According to the Gospel of Luke, Simeon was a devout Jewish man living in Jerusalem at the time when Jesus was brought to the temple as an infant. This places Simeon’s life during the time of the Second Temple, which was constructed in 516 BCE and stood until 70 CE when it was destroyed by the Romans.

As an observant Jew, Simeon would have regularly visited the temple for religious ceremonies and sacrifices. Ancient Jewish texts give us a glimpse into the vibrant religious life centered around the Second Temple during Simeon’s lifetime.

Jewish Writings Say He Was Very Old When He Saw Jesus

Although the Bible does not specifically state Simeon’s age, several later Jewish sources characterize him as extremely elderly when he met the baby Jesus. The Genesis Rabbah, compiled between 300-500 CE, describes Simeon as one of the oldest men in Jerusalem.

Another Jewish text, the History of the Rechabites from the medieval period, claims he was 113 years old at the time. These traditions emphasize Simeon’s advanced age to underscore the long wait he endured to see the Messiah come to the temple, as promised by the Holy Spirit (Luke 2:26).

According to these accounts, Simeon’s great age reflects a lifetime of faithful service waiting for the consolation of Israel.

Estimates Range from 200 to Over 300 Years Old

Given the lack of specific biographical information about Simeon in the Bible, later Jewish writers take considerable creative license in imagining implausibly old ages for him. The book Yalkut Shimoni, compiled in the 13th century CE, asserts that Simeon was over 300 years old when he met Jesus!

A Latin manuscript from the Middle Ages known as Pseudo-Dexter claims he was 212 at the time. While we should not take these extreme estimates literally, they emphasize how ancient Jewish tradition viewed Simeon as a profoundly aged righteous man who was miraculously permitted to see the long-awaited Messiah enter the temple before dying.

Modern scholars believe the Jewish legends of Simeon’s astounding longevity were intended to portray him as a representative of the generation that remembered the First Temple. By seeing Jesus, Simeon thus connected the First Temple period with the Messianic redemption expected to occur during the Second Temple era.

His great age serves to bridge these pivotal periods in Jewish history.

Clues in Luke’s Gospel About Simeon’s Age

He Was Led by the Spirit to the Temple ‘That Day’

The biblical account says that on the day Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the temple for purification, Simeon was “led by the Spirit” to go there as well (Luke 2:27). This suggests that Simeon did not regularly frequent the temple grounds at his elderly age, but made a special visit that day because God prompted him to.

His Statement Suggests He Was Nearing the End of Life

When Simeon saw Jesus, he declared: “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace” (Luke 2:29). The language implies that with this long-awaited sight, he was now ready to die fulfilled. This sentiment is much more common from someone elderly facing the end of life than a middle-aged person.

He Appears to Have Been Elderly Based on the Biblical Description

The passage calls Simeon “righteous and devout” and states he was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). His depth of faith and patient longing for the Messiah suggest he likely spent decades studying the Scriptures.

The extensive time needed to develop such spiritual maturity supports an elderly age rather than a younger man.

Why Simeon’s Old Age is Significant

It shows God’s faithfulness across long periods of time

Simeon was very elderly when he met the infant Jesus at the temple, likely over 100 years old. This demonstrates God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His promises, even over incredibly long stretches of time (see Simeon had been waiting and praying to see the Messiah for decades.

God honored Simeon’s patience and persistence in prayer. Just as God remembered His covenant with Abraham, He remembered His word to Simeon as well.

It represents the passing of the old covenant to the new covenant

As an old man, Simeon represented the old covenant age drawing to a close. With Jesus’ coming, the new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah was being established (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Simeon bridges the gap between the fading old covenant based on the law and sacrificial system, and the new covenant founded on grace and Jesus’ atoning sacrifice.

This transition of covenants is symbolized beautifully in this elderly saint joyfully receiving the Messiah.

It demonstrates that age is no barrier to being used by God

Despite his extremely advanced age, Simeon still had an important role to fulfill in God’s kingdom plan. He was led by the Spirit to pronounce a blessing over Jesus and prophesy about His future impact. This shows that God can use willing people powerfully at any age, whether 8 or 80.

As the saying goes, it’s never too late for God to work through someone committed to His purposes. Consider figures like Abraham, Moses, Caleb, Anna, and Paul. Their latter years show a life surrendered to God bears much fruit whenever planted.

Theological Importance of the Account of Simeon

He was a Messianic Jew waiting for the Messiah

Simeon was a devout Jewish man living in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ birth. According to Luke’s gospel, the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would see the Messiah before he died (Luke 2:26).

This means Simeon was one of the Messianic Jews who were expectantly waiting for the promised Messiah to come and deliver Israel.

As a Messianic Jew, Simeon’s role in the infancy narrative is theologically significant. He represents the faithful remnant of Israel who had been longing for the Messiah, as prophesied in the Old Testament.

When Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the temple, Simeon immediately recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of these messianic prophecies. His presence affirms Jesus’ identity as the long-awaited Jewish Messiah.

He shows Jesus came for both Jews and Gentiles

Another important aspect of Simeon’s prophecy was that the Messiah had come as “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32). This reveals that, contrary to many Jewish expectations at the time, Jesus was not just the Messiah for the Jews but would also bring salvation to the Gentiles.

So Simeon represents the extension of God’s salvation beyond Israel to include people from all nations. His prophetic words prepare the reader for the later ministry of the apostles to the Gentile world.

Simeon is a significant transitional figure pointing forward to the universal scope of Christ’s redemptive work.

His words are a ‘song of salvation’ looking forward to Christ’s work

The song or prophecy uttered by Simeon (Luke 2:29-32) is known as the Nunc Dimittis from its opening words in Latin. It has been set to music and used as a canticle in Christian liturgy for centuries. As a beautiful poem of praise, it expresses Simeon’s hope-filled joy as he finally saw God’s salvation in the infant Christ.

Thematically, the Nunc Dimittis connects back to the Magnificat of Mary (Luke 1:46-55) in praising God for fulfilling His promises to send a Savior. But it also looks forward to the cross, with Simeon telling Mary that a ‘sword will pierce your own soul too’ (2:35).

So his prophetic song encompasses the whole story of salvation from Incarnation to Crucifixion and Resurrection.


In conclusion, while we cannot know exactly how old Simeon was when he met the baby Jesus, the evidence suggests he was a very aged man, likely over 200 years old. This account shows that God is faithful across long stretches of time and can use anyone, regardless of age, to fulfill His purposes.

We see in Simeon’s story the longing for the Messiah that Jesus perfectly fulfilled as the Savior of both Jews and Gentiles.

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