February 3, 2015

Who Really Was St. Symeon the God-Receiver?

St. Symeon the God-Receiver (Feast Day - February 3)

By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

There are many commentaries on Saint Symeon the God-Receiver.

Saint Joseph the Hymnographer, in the Orthros Canon for the day, identifies Symeon as a ministering priest: "O blessed priest, thou didst offer up the sacrifices of the law, the lamb, for ineffable mercy, showing forth beforehand the blood of the Savior; and receiving Him incarnate, O Symeon, thou wast shown to be more glorious than Moses and all the prophets" [Feb. 3rd, Orthros Canon of the Saint, Ode Eight, Mode Four, by Saint Joseph].

Saint Photios, in his Amphilochia, writes that Symeon was not a priest, but higher and more than a priest.

Others maintain that the venerable Symeon was one of the Seventy translators of the Old Testament during the time of Ptolemy II, who translating the verse "Behold a virgin shall conceive in the womb", doubted it, and so he received the grace to live until he holds in his arms the prophesied child of the Virgin, as mentioned by George Kedrinos [Synopsis], Meletios of Athens, Euthymios Zygadenos or Zygabenos [Commentary on Luke, ch. 2), and others. But if this is true, it would mean that the Elder Symeon was at least two hundred and seventy years old when he received the Christ Child in his arms.

There are scholars of genealogies that believe he was the son of the Hebrew patriarch Hillel, the father of the famous Gamaliel mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles.

There are others who say he presided in the first place over the assembly of the Jews.

The inviolate testimony of Sacred Scripture states: "Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Symeon, and this man was just and pious, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been divinely revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he should see the Christ of the Lord" [Lk. 2:25, 26].

Read also: Righteous Symeon the God-Receiver