The Story of Anna
Who is Anna? In Luke 2, Anna the Prophetess is named. There is not a lot said about her, but she is one of the witnesses who saw Jesus presented at Temple. The scripture records this account saying,
“And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Luke 2:36-38
Why is Anna important? There are a variety of reasons why Anna is important for us today. Let’s look at some of them.
- First, Anna is important because she is listed along with Simeon (a male) as one of the first witnesses of the birth of Jesus Christ. This is significant, because scripture records both a male and a female witness. The work Jesus Christ did on Calvary gave a different value system to women than their surrounding culture. Jesus Christ valued women and their leadership in the church. Jesus began his earthly ministry by choosing both a female and a male witness to his birth. Both Simeon and Anna were followers of the Messiah, and one might say these were the first two named disciples of Jesus Christ.
- Secondly, Anna is important, because she is given the title and gift of a prophetess. This is significant, because it allows us as modern readers to know women held leadership positions in the early church. The author of Luke tells us Anna was a prophetess, and that she spoke to those at the temple who were waiting for the Messiah. This is an example of a female who was publicly speaking to people right outside of the Temple. The Temple was the highest religious order in that day, and it is significant for Anna a female to be speaking outside of the Temple. Today, Anna might be considered a modern day street preacher.
There are several people who do not believe women held leadership positions in the early church. This is not true. There were several women who led services, had house churches, and worked alongside many of their male co-workers. Unfortunately, the names of these women often have not been recorded and they have been lost in history. I am glad Anna is recorded in Luke 2. We have an example of a female prophetess/preacher who was a leader in her community, and led the people with her example of prayer and fasting. She was a true worshiper.
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