Concerning the Deaths of Two Simeons

by Pastor J. C. O'Hair

For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.

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Christians know more about Simon Peter than they do about the other Simeon. In Acts 15:14 Simon Peter is called “Simeon”.

The record of the other Simeon is found in Luke 2:25 to 35. It is a very interesting story. Read it prayerfully and spiritually.

“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 Spirit, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”

More than sixty years after Simeon held the holy Child Jesus in his arms and said, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy Word” (Luke 2:29), the aged Simeon wrote:

“Yea, I think it meet as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance.”

“Knowing that shortly I must put off this tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.”

“Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.” II Peter 1:13 to 15.

How long the first Simeon lived after the Lord had revealed that He would remain alive until Christ was born, it is not stated. But it is quite certain the second Simeon lived at least thirty years after the words of the Lord Jesus spoken after His resurrection: “Verily, verily I say unto thee, When thou wast young thou girdedst thyself, and walkest whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He saith unto him, Follow Me.”

The first Simeon lived to see the Lord’s Christ. The second Simeon lived to see many mighty workings of the Lord, beginning anew with His message to Israel on the day of Pentecost and ending with his second epistle, which closed with this reference to the Apostle Paul: “in all his epistles speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood.” II Peter 3:16. Paul spoke and wrote some things that had never been revealed when the first Simeon lived and they are too hard for most Christians even today.

Perhaps we might be wondering if these two Simeons are now together. There are some Christians who seem to get great consolation and blessing trying to prove that God’s saints are not in a conscious state while they are absent from their bodies and waiting for the day of redemption, the day when they will receive their resurrection bodies. But Stephen surely departed to be with the Lord when he said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Simon Peter said, “I must put off this tabernacle.” The “I” put off this tabernacle and the “I” departed to be with Christ. This is also what Paul meant in Philippians 1:23.

Surely both of these Simeons will be among those who belong to Christ and who will be made alive at His coming. I Corinthians 15:23. This wonderful resurrection chapter has no reference to that spiritual life experienced by God’s saints before they reach their graves: “you hath He made alive, who were dead.” Ephesians 2:1 to 6.

But we are told by our Premillenarian Bible teachers that, although both of these Simeons ministered in the same city to the same people (Israel), they will not be found in the same group of redeemed people in the ages to come; because Simon Peter died as a member of the Church, which is the Body of Christ, which they teach had its historical beginning on the day of Pentecost, whereas the other Simeon died as an Israelite, waiting for the Kingdom, some years before the Body began on the day of Pentecost. This teaching is worthy of prayerful, serious consideration and real Scriptural investigation. It means that these two Israelites died in different dispensations and departed this life with entirely different hopes. Let us see what light we can get by looking into the Word.

The first Simeon had undoubtedly died some years before the second Simeon was led to Christ by his brother Andrew, before Simon said, “depart from me for I am a sinful man.” The first Simeon was an especially blessed Israelite, because the Holy Spirit was upon him for a special message concerning Christ and the prophecy that many in Israel would fall and rise again. Luke 2:34. John the Baptist had been born and was to turn many of the children of Israel to Christ. Luke 1:16. The second Simeon was likewise an especially blessed Israelite: “blessed art thou Simon Barjona.” The Lord committed to him the keys of the kingdom of the heavens and was mighty in him to the apostleship of Israelites. Matthew 16:16 to 19. Galatians 2:7 to 9. Beginning anew his ministry on the day of Pentecost, Simon Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. Just when the gospel of the circumcision was committed unto Simon Peter for Israel we may not be sure; but we know that he was sent to the Twelve Tribes while Christ was in the midst of Israel in their land. Matthew 10:5 to 8. He was instructed to go not to Gentiles. And we know that his message on the day of Pentecost, addressed to devout Jews from every nation under heaven, was for all the house of Israel. Acts 2:5 and Acts 2:36. The “afar off” people of Acts 2:39 were the Israelites of Daniel 9:7. And we know that Simon Peter’s messages, during the first nine chapters of Acts, were addressed to Israel, unto whom the Lord sent Peter to say that Christ had been exalted to be Israel’s Prince and Saviour and give repentance and forgiveness to Israel. Acts 5:29 to 32. And we know that for many years after Christ had thus been exalted, it was not lawful for Simon to preach unto Gentiles. Acts 10:28. It was by the mouth of Simon Peter that many of the children of Israel, as foretold by the first Simeon, were turned to Christ. Acts 2:1 and Acts 4:4. Acts 5:14. Acts 6:7. But they preached to Jews only. Acts 11:19.

Both Simeons were in Jerusalem and ministered in Israel’s temple. Luke 2:27. Luke 24:53. Acts 5:42. The first Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel, the kingdom restored to Israel, Israel’s deliverance from the hands of their enemies. Luke 1:67 to 77. Luke 1:29 to 33. Luke 2:25. The second Simeon was promised a high place in that kingdom. Luke 22:28 to 30. He asked the risen Christ if He would at once restore the kingdom to Israel. Acts 1:6. Then it was by his mouth that God offered to send Christ back from heaven to Jerusalem and Israel, to establish the kingdom, for which the first Simeon was waiting, if Israel’s rulers would repent. Acts 3:14 to 21. On that day of Pentecost Simeon had given God’s word to Israel that Christ had been raised from the dead in fulfillment of David’s prophecy to take David’s throne. Simon Peter is to have a reigning seat in the kingdom for which the first Simeon was waiting. Matthew 19:28. He is to sit and eat with Israel’s Messiah in the same kingdom for which Simeon waited.

Now the question comes to our minds, just what place will the first Simeon occupy in the coming kingdom of the heavens? If he died outside of the Body of Christ and Simon Peter died as a member of Christ’s Body, which began with this key used in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, then these two Simeons will be separated in the millennium. Will the Body of Christ and Paul be seated with the Twelve Apostles, judging the Twelve Tribes when the Son of man shall come to reign? How is it that Peter will be there and not Paul, and both of them members of the same Body?

According to some teachers the two Simeons will meet again in the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21:2, after the millennium. Is this intelligent Bible study or is it speculation? It is regrettable that all earnest Christians cannot agree on these things. But already you have asked the question, how can Simon Peter have a throne reigning over the Twelve Tribes during the millennium and still be a member of the Body of Christ, seated with Christ in the heavenlies, and waiting to appear with Him in glory? And will not the first Simeon be with the Twelve Tribes and therefore in Simon Peter’s company?

Those who have Simon Peter unlocking the doors to the Body of Christ on the day of Pentecost try to forget that he is to sit on a throne with Christ the King reigning over Israel. They prefer not to be asked to explain Luke 22:18 and 30 and Matthew 19:28. They must begin Paul’s dispensation of grace and the dispensation of the mystery on the day of Pentecost and cut the Twelve Apostles off from John the Baptist, Simeon, and other Israelites who died before Pentecost, and raise them up to sit with Christ in the heavenlies on the day of Pentecost. If, in Acts 3:14 to 21, there is a real bonafide offer from God to Israel to send Christ to establish in their midst the kingdom foretold in Daniel 2:44 and 45, and proclaimed at hand by Christ in Matthew 4:17, then we are confronted with this problem. According to those who have the Body of Christ begin on the day of Pentecost, the 3000 Israelites saved on the day of Pentecost, then and there became members of that Body and were then and there raised up and seated in the heavenlies in Christ, according to Ephesians 2:6 and Ephesians 1:19 to 22. These teachers acknowledge that membership in the Body of Christ is far more desirable than a place under the King in the Kingdom.

Now if Peter was in the Body with the 3000, how could he have, conscientiously and sincerely, with Divine authority, offered the King’s return and the kingdom to Israel, when he was already eternally saved as a member of the Body and neither he, nor any of the other 2999, could have stepped out of the Body and have had a place in the offered kingdom? Moreover, he would have told the Israelites to again reject the kingdom and get something better, a place in the Body of Christ. Carefully read Acts 3:14 to 21 and, you will be convinced that no man of God was ever more sincere than was Simon Peter, as God’s mouthpiece, offering the kingdom to Israel. It is equally as difficult to prove that the Body of Ephesians 1:19 to 22 and Colossians 1:24 to 27 began, historically, on the day of Pentecost, as to prove that it did not. The many who believe that Pentecost was the birthday of that Church believe it because others have believed it. It is generally believed among Fundamentalists by implication or inference, rather than proved by rightly dividing the Word of truth. It cannot be proved by the word “Church”, translated from the Greek “ecclesia”, for this word is found more than sixty times in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament Scriptures. There was no more difference between the Church of God on and before Pentecost than there was between the Church of God in the early chapters of Acts and the Body of Christ in Ephesians and Colossians.

But according to the general teaching among Fundamentalists of the “Plymouth Brethren” school of interpretation the following statements are taught to be Divine truth and Scriptural facts:

  1. The Church, which is Christ’s Body mentioned in Ephesians 1:17 to 22, Ephesians 3:1 to 11 and Colossians 1:21 to 26 was unknown to any of Israel’s Old Testament prophets and was not mentioned by any of them.
  2. By the mouth of Peter, God, in Act. 3:14 to 25, made a definite, bona fide offer to send Christ back from heaven to establish the kingdom reign of Christ on earth, proclaimed by John the Baptist, Christ and the Twelve, in Matthew, beginning with the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, in fulfillment of the prophecies of Moses, Samuel and all of Israel’s prophets. Acts 3:22 to 25,
  3. The Church of Ephesians 1:19 to 22 and Colossians 1:21 to 27 had its historic beginning on Israel’s feast of Pentecost, fifty days after the resurrection of Christ.

Our answer is, if statements 1 and 2 are Scriptural facts, statement 3 is contrary to fact, because all that occurred on the day of Pentecost was in fulfillment of prophecy; so also was the kingdom of Acts 3:19 to 25; so also was the out-gathering of Gentiles, mentioned in Acts 15:13 to 17. We must conclude that the Body of Christ was either the subject of prophecy, or that it did not begin on the day of Pentecost.

But back to the two deaths. We have two puzzling questions:

  1. If the first Simeon was waiting for and expecting a real, literal, earthly kingdom, with the Lord’s Christ on David’s throne, in accordance with Luke 1:30 to 33 and Israel’s deliverance, in accordance with Luke 1:67 to 77, why should he want to die in peace rather than to remain alive and have a place in Christ’s kingdom of peace, in fulfillment of Isaiah 9:6 and 7?
  2. If, in accordance with John 21:18 and 19, the second Simeon had to live to an old age and then be put to death, how could there have been either the probability, or the possibility, of the acceptance of the offered kingdom in Acts 3:14 to 21, when Simon Peter was not yet an old man; and surely he would not have been put to death if the millennium reign of Christ had been established by Christ’s return from heaven.

For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.