Finally, to complete the list of women surrounding the birth of Christ, we finish with the Gospel of Luke, introducing us to the only named woman prophet in the Christian Testament, Anna.


Anna the Prophet

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38 (NRSV)
Anna the Prophet | Grace and Peace, Joanne

How long have you been waiting for the longing you have been praying about to be fulfilled? A longing you have felt certain God has invited you to pray about, that you feel certain God has indicated will be fulfilled?

Anna’s story can be told in three stages: There was tragedy early in her life, then came the temple where she lived most of her life, and finally came the testimony God gave her towards the end of her life.

  • I Tragedy, Luke 2:36
  • II Temple, Luke 2:37
  • III Testimony, Luke 2:38

Simeon, most likely a priest in the temple, had been hoping all his life on the fulfillment of a prophecy he had been given. Now a very old man, and an otherwise perfectly ordinary, routine day, his hope was fulfilled, and Simeon was inspired by the Holy Spirit to make a prophecy of his own. Right by his side,

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age

Luke 2:36 (NRSV)
By Rembrandt – Photographer and uploader was Hajotthu at de.wikipedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75313708

She is already notable for being named a prophet, but more than that, she is the only named woman prophet in the whole Christian testament. Philip the Evangelist had four unmarried daughters who were prophets, and evidently in the first century church were many women who prophesied. But only Anna is named.

Through Anna, we learn that

  • God provides in times of tragedy.
  • Living into God’s calling brings life satisfaction.
  • Prophets–including women– publicly praise God and proclaim Jesus is Messiah.

God surely meant for Simeon’s and Anna’s prayers, prophesy, and proclamation to strengthen and encourage Mary and Joseph as they began to raise the most unique person who has every lived, God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

But God’s purpose in Anna goes so much farther! Tragedy in Anna’s life became an opportunity to live for God. For you and I today her life reveals the joy and satisfaction that comes with living close to God, living fully every day, full of hope, full of joy, full of love, and the reward patient faith in the Lord brings.


Each video is designed to offer background scholarship on the topic, including setting, culture, original language, and archaeology, as well as a theological study.

The “Broken, Searching, Trusted, Powerful” video series is a companion to the book, available on Amazon, and published by Wipf and Stock.

13 thoughts on “Anna the Prophet

  1. Reblogged this on Zero Lift-Off and commented:
    Fascinating as always Sister/Professor Joanne! This fine expose on the humbled life of Prophetess Anna provided me with a perspective I didn’t have up till now, and I find it extraordinary that they weren’t advocated generally speaking in history over all; at least not in any of my formative education years.
    In doing a very simple cursory search on the topic I did come up immediately with this apparent fact that I’d like you to help me clear up, because Anna as you explain is the only named or bona-fide female prophet and I wonder if there is some disagreement with theologians or something else going on with regard to any misconceptions or even bias in the historical record to account for this difference of perspective.
    Here are the other prophetesses; eleven of them but only nine are actually considered such according to this source.
    “There are only eleven women that the Bible specifically called a prophetess. Nine of them were true prophetesses. They are: Miriam (Exodus 15:20); Deborah (Judges 4:4); Huldah (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chronicles 34:22); wife of Isaiah (Isaiah 8:3); Anna (Luke 2:36-38); and the four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:8-9). Two of them were false prophetesses: Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14) and Jezebel (Revelation 2:20).
    Over half of these prophetesses (six) appear in the New Testament. Four of the prophetesses are virgin daughters. Three of the prophetesses are wives (Deborah, Huldah, and the wife of Isaiah). One is known as a widow named Anna.”
    http://www.neverthirsty.org/bible-qa/qa-archives/question/prophetesses-in-the-bible/
    This source had this very beautiful statement about God choosing Saint Francis of Assisi!
    “When someone asked Saint Francis of Assisi why and how he could accomplish so much, he replied: “This may be why. The Lord looked down from heaven upon the earth and said, ‘Where can I find the weakest, the littlest, the poorest man on the face of the earth?’ Then He saw me and said, ‘Now I’ve found him, and will work through him. He won’t be proud of it. He’ll see that I am only using him because of his littleness and insignificance.”
    – C. Reuben Anderson[1]
    I’m looking forward to learning more and understanding what the facts surrounding these women are, and they should be given due deference for their humbled service to our Lord! Moreover they need to be recognized for any of their significant advancement of the faith and their charity to others they accomplished; the way you explained how Anna gave so much to anyone she came in contact with; so this can translate to others who in turn can now learn and grow in their own faith getting closer to God!
    Thank you very much!
    May God bless you and keep you so Dear to Him as you continue in His service!
    Brother in Christ Jesus,
    Lawrence Morra III

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    1. Thank you for reposting this, Brother in Christ Lawrence, the prophet Anna’s story is close to my heart

      She is the only named woman prophet in the Christian Testament. The prophets you are thinking of, who are named are all in the Hebrew Scriptures.

      The are a good number of un named women prophets in th e Christian testament, and we are glad of the connection to Phillip’s four daughters, but they, too, are not g given their own names.

      A number of named women do prophecy, though, most notably the Virgin May. But only one, Anna, is called prophet.

      On my YouTube channel, you will see a video about Deborah, and two others on Miriam, magnificent prophets from the Hebrew scriptures.

      Grace and peace, Joanne

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My Dearest Sister in Christ Joanne!
        I’m so fortunate to have you in my wheelhouse as it were, for me to exchange these morsels or any modicum of insight or knowledge I may have in me somewhere!!! I may be a bit bullish and even too agitated at times, but, please never take it as meant to be or directed at you at all! Maybe another bad hair day for me is all; eventually there won’t be much of that to give me one! I’m a bit hardcore man and I’m really a pussycat inside even after all of the chaos and pain I was put through by others and in some ways still reeling from; if that makes any sense, which I figure you already know why I am the way I am for the most part.

        This article was beautiful and really touched me in my heart as I envisioned the lives long ago of these noble, strong and deeply faithful women that my God, if I could have only been there to witness them or maybe, even considered worthy enough in God’s eyes to be paired with one such specially blessed Ladies! But, that is a pipe-dream and here I am never married “not even close” to it, no door prize or cigar either! I was told I’m too picky by some people and that is behind me, because now I’m set in my ways I’m afraid! Well and God wanted it this way!

        I’m so happy though that Anna is so indeed special and powerfully significant in your life; that sure makes you specially Graced by God in my eyes!

        And excuse my ignorance there is so much I don’t know about these matters perhaps only having had a passing cursory study of them in my earlier student days or in reading the Bible, or watching documentaries.

        Oh I’m sure there are so many unnamed and most precious women in the historical past just like the “unsung heroes” who we can’t even begin to know about them all, who in battles and circumstances that were so treacherous they were steadfast and brave facing all odds to do their duty, and they did deeply believe in God wholeheartedly!

        I didn’t get to view the video about Deborah yet, and thank you for the reminder which I will do thanks to you, and, it is special to me how you did just mention “Miriam” whom my life is forever associated with that name from birth.

        As things are I’m so happy to have the Virgin Mary and Anna to look up to as the shining examples of service to our Lord God that they were and are such women of Virtue and Grace that I can’t come close to being myself, being a bit of a bull in the china-shop that I am at times; then at least other times I’m a gentle dove! I hope the balance of the two is enough! Thank you again for these vitally important insights!

        Grace and Peace to you and yours Sister Joanne!
        Brother in Christ,
        Lawrence
        Shalom

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Greetings in our Lord, Brother in Christ Lawrence, thank you for this kind note, and please forgive this tardy reply (I have been in hospital, and yesterday was quite taxing. I am home now).

        It sounds like God has set you aside for the Lord, to be solely concerned with God’s concerns rather than share your concerns with family matters, as the apostle Paul wished for every believer (1 Corinthians 7). Jesus also spoke of this special category when He said, “there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (Matthew 19:12, when Jesus was teaching on marriage). He was speaking of those, like Paul and many, many others since, who have given themselves entirely to the Lord for God’s purposes. I admire and respect that holy office, though it was not my own destiny.

        God has raised up both men and women through humankind’s existence as a”Blessed Alliance” to care for the earth and for people, to carry out God’s purposes. Being a woman, I actively look for the stories of women in the scriptures. I have found their stories are often either not told, or not told as well a they could be.

        Still, God leads us to understand and live by the -whole- counsel of God, which I see you doing, with great fervor. May God continue to grow you in wisdom and passion.

        Grace and peace, Joanne

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hi Sister in Christ Joanne! First I’m very sad to hear you had to go to the hospital and I trust the Lord this minute to share in my heart that all is well and on the mend! I will say a prayer for you immediately after this comment is sent!

        This you said here is the key for me, “God’s purposes,” that is what is comes down to as I just wrote this the other day and it is exactly the point! But I’m leaving the whole very long comment because I felt in my heart it is totally relative and the one point that came to my mind inspiring me to do this was this key point you brought out!

        “Broken over a lost relationship and a career he told me right out; “Lawrence, we are only here to love and serve God Almighty that’s it; and if people would just get that through their thick heads and then let it happen, they would be way better off, just like I would have been if I had done it!”

        Hey Joe! God bless you and Happy New Year! This is very to the point what you wrote, and I love it; not some rambling like I’m typically doing! But you touched on a few massive learning curve aspects of life I think for sure.

        First your Mom is very optimistic and sounds like she is more a positive person than most! That is a blessing if that was truly the case and my own mother could be that too during my formative youthful years. But she did have a spot in her where pain and confusion would bubble up and mostly when I would irritate or not understand like I do now, so would be stepping on toes in a sense. But overall it was fine because my mother as compared to so many guys I grew up with was so talented and special; so I have zero complaints about either of my parents, and of course they weren’t perfect but as one of my sisters says they are the best in her mind with many good qualities! But what your Mom said about “anything is possible,” I see as the aim high because why not set an exciting goal and as I see it now we can adjust as the total picture or reality eventually sets in! Well actually a priest I met after a family member passed on who I got to know as a friend through the funeral told me the same basically, when I was visiting him at the rectory sitting in the kitchen talking about really good things! But, at the time I had a dog that had just died and I missed really badly! And being single living alone I do invest totally into my dogs making them my best friends on earth, I think the kid in me never stops and I relate to how you said once you were a businessman you had to buck up and put those fancy free ideas away!

        Check this out it’s really true and does fit though, even with holding onto the child in our hearts.

        “10but when the perfect comes, the partial passes away. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I set aside childish ways. 12Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:11

        So this Scripture may seem to be telling us to forget about it when we get grownup, if we do, then we stop being the kid. But I’m still both and that priest who since passed on too, which really is sad because having him to connect with was awesome, he was so down to earth and real a great human being, also a paramedic! And he had Irish/Swedish roots which I think gave him such a down to earth kindness in his bones; really just one of the most genuine kindest persons I ever met! He said to me when I was struggling with missing my dog and also the hardness of losing a family member; he just matter of fact said with God anything is possible so trust in the Lord. I think both he and your Mom are right!

        Now you and I both know we all make mistakes and that is absolutely unavoidable but like my Dad always told me when growing up, God forgives you if you ask him sincerely to forgive you and mean it, but then He expects you to try your absolute best to not do that again. Now I know we humans being creatures of habit and fallen, we can do a good job with that if we mean it but we may still stumble especially when things get dicey like in a messed up dysfunctional relationship, which I had a couple of those too; as you say Settled don’t get me wrong nice enough ladies with careers and all the typical things but just not right for me and I couldn’t be good enough for them; my Dad said you don’t know how to pick them but I say in this world today relationships are strained and it’s a big blessing from God to have the right ideal person who we can work with to build total trust and happiness based on true love; and if not I stick to being single just fine! But that was a long while back and I didn’t waste my time or like Dad said didn’t go barking up the wrong tree!

        I learned my lesson especially about romantic relationships that they can become toxic, you know the old infatuation thing, and like no get out in a heartbeat then rip and tear you a new one in a flash! Playing with fire we are, when we jump into those situations! The test of time is the major thing when developing a long term partner type of relationship as I see it now. But there is more, I see now that we guys don’t just bark up the wrong tree but we can be tying too damn hard to think we can make it happen the way we want it to; and so, set ourselves up for failure! And even that adage of let your conscience be your guide is good, but, not enough I have tested that out! If it’s me making the thing happen or trying to run my own life into the future that I envision it; rather than what is my real purpose here in this short life, I come up with problems; so the only way I fly now is I have to do my best to stay in close contact with Jesus Christ our Savior and let him through the Holy Spirit show me what the Father’s will is for me day by day! It’s actually a relief to let Him show me what is best for me, step by step, one day at a time, but, then the right pattern and situation will come!

        As a family member told me years ago when very sick after a hard life of some of the kind of torment you mention and even having to ride the rails and live like a hobo, it was unreal to me how he could have made it through all of that and still in the end even sickly and knowing as he told me how he didn’t listen to the right people and was doing what he damn well pleased and was even broken over a lost relationship and a career he told me right out; “Lawrence, we are only here to love and serve God Almighty that’s it; and if people would just get that through their thick heads and then let it happen, they would be way better off, just like I would have been if I had done it!” He even said listening to his parents would have been so much better, because if you have at least one good one, and listen because they love you like no other persons on earth can, so we need to not be stubborn and think we got it all worked out!

        I hope something in all this will flash to you a good message from heart, to reach soul, and help in building that close connection with Jesus Christ even more! If I fail to explain well enough just tell me and I will try harder to put it in a nutshell! I say that because I talk a lot, I’m sure you noticed; so often time’s economy of words is far from my wheelhouse!

        Keep up the great outlook and good soul searching that brings us to God’s Truth!
        Amen.

        Well, if you found any time to get through all of that at least I know I shared with you something significant and also to let you know how I understand how you say it’s so important to find the factual history about all of those great women of the past whom I did mention in my previous question to you about the record being inaccurate or suppressed for various reason by some theologians possibly. I know what they do with the Climate Fiasco so why not religion and any Dogmas of Truth from our historical record! Look what they do now here trying to rewrite history to serve a political far left agenda and communism!

        Anyway I’ll run for now and say that prayer for you! Thank you for this specific information about others God has assigned to the same lot in life as me; all for the best as I see it because who knows better than God of course!

        God bless you and hope to get very encouraging news from you about you soon!
        Brother in Christ,
        Lawrence

        Like

      4. Hi Again Sister in Christ Joanne!
        I just wanted to add for clarification and maybe so you can tell me if any further Scriptures may pertain to my circumstance!

        I did have some long term relationships with one in particular were we wanted to get married but I was off in other directions to work in the Film Industry and she an elementary school teacher I thought it best we part until we could see when the best time to proceed would be. But in my mind and heart I knew by walking away even with some intention of possibly marrying her that I was talking a big risk that something would happen to our real precious love and another guy would want to snap her up in a heartbeat she was so lovely in all regards I mean guys later told me I must be nuts to blow it that way; one guy saying you never walk away from real love! So in the following I can explain further.

        “This article was beautiful and really touched me in my heart as I envisioned the lives long ago of these noble, strong and deeply faithful women that my God, if I could have only been there to witness them or maybe, even considered worthy enough in God’s eyes to be paired with one such specially blessed Ladies! But, that is a pipe-dream and here I am never married “not even close” to it, no door prize or cigar either! I was told I’m too picky by some people and that is behind me, because now I’m set in my ways I’m afraid! Well and God wanted it this way!”

        I did mean that after a period of time passed my chance with her was blown and another man came along at the right time and I lost her! I cried because I was happy for her to get what she really wanted; to be settled down and have two children which she did, but I cried too initially because I loved her enough to let her go the best way for her! After that I had girlfriends that I cared about and felt very excited to be with but it was never going to be the same or be what I had at it seemed the perfect time and with the perfect lady for me that she was, all he best but, nothing is perfect either; so I know there could have been bumps in the road and I thank God it worked out for the best; for all concerned!
        So that is what I meant when I said; no door prize not even close, I never won in love again!

        Like

      5. Shalom Brother in Christ Lawrence, the shalom of our Lord Jesus, Whose peace goes beyond our understanding– for it is far more for the heart and spirit to cherish and be encouraged by than it is for the mind to comprehend.

        Heartache takes a long time to heal, sometimes a lifetime. You may not have known it at the time, but the draw to films and filmmaking, which took you from the side of your beloved, ended up seeing you apart to the Lord, in the long run, even through other relationships.

        Hudson Taylor has a wonderful story of how God set him apart to become a missionary to China. His story may inspire you. These things often happen without us really knowing– in the moment– where it will eventually lead.

        I am reminded of the time Elijah cried out to God that he was the only believer left in all Israel. Not so, God told him. “I  have reserved seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18)

        Were all 7,000 faithful because of a purposeful answer to God’s specific call? I tend not to think so. I think each individual story was different, yet somehow, for reasons that seemed random at the time, 7,000 ended up never attending worship of Ba’al. It was God’s doing.

        I will be loading a video on suffering this Sunday on my YouTube channel. Perhaps there will be something in there for you.

        Grace and peace to you, as the Lord gives, your sister in Christ, Joanne

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Isaiah 55: 8, 9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 9“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

        You’re so right Joanne, and I love the lesson conveyed that I always remembered from my youth reading about when Job asked God why all of this had to happen to me, and God says “where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth.”

        This you said here is perfect genuine and crystalline to me! “Filmmaking, which took you from the side of your beloved, ended up seeing you apart to the Lord.” So much can I feel this truth and I will read about Hudson Taylor as well as Deborah, you had mentioned, I think there was a link that you have which I thought I had but haven’t found! Also, I think what I may have wanted to express about these highly humble and strong Biblical women, is I think of the wonder of what it would be like if I could have been a friend or maybe even the partner of such a remarkable woman! Just my imagination getting me going.

        And this is so right I think; “for reasons that seemed random at the time, 7,000 ended up never attending worship of Ba’al. It was God’s doing.” God works in mysterious ways so how can we be ahead of His thinking and plan! Impossible!
        I look forward to that video Sister Joanne!

        One time talking with my Dad who was much more quiet and sure than me, as I spoke about these things and was going over much of the same history I had brought up previously, he calmly looked me in the eyes and said you’re right where God wanted you to be now; I could see in my dear loving Dad that he was so right! You’re saying the same thing I see with further explanation but my Dad always knew so well that we are in God’s hands and serving His purpose which we are not fully cognizant or capable of fully comprehending which would be the equivalent of comprehending God Himself; which Scriptures tell us is not possible!

        Excellent lesson Sister Joanne! Thank you very much.
        I do hope you are well on the way to being completely well since some health concern had arisen! I will pray again for you!
        God bless you.
        Brother in Christ,
        Lawrence
        Shalom.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Sister Joanne. I had just reblogged this but realized at that moment it might seem like I’m more in a questioning mode of thought and that should rightly be a comment for now! I removed the reblog and I’m not sure if the copy stays with your site! Let me know about this please.
    Thank you.
    Brother in Christ,
    Lawrence

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Brother in Christ Lawrence! It came up as a post, and I answered it, though am not sure where that answer is.

      You asked a good question, and I welcome questions and other points of view, this is the robust fellowship we in the Body of Christ benefit from.

      The short answer is the Anna is the only named woman prophet in the Christian (or New) Testament. The other named women prophets are all in the Hebrew (or Old) Testament.

      I was grateful you reblogged that post, as I feel an affinity to Anna. Her story teaches me so much about faith and faithfulness.

      Grace and peace, Joanne

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Sister Joanne! I actually without further inquiry said that to my sister a little while ago how Anna was in the first century or the time of our Lord here on earth, so that does make it even more special in my eyes! I removed the reblog to be sure I wasn’t doing something that would be offbeat or out of place which I tend to do without trying anyway, and would have left it here! So I can ask you if you want it as a question comment or a reblog I like both ideas and a reblog is special as it might open something to someone’s eyes that looks at my site too!
        Whatever is more accommodating for you!
        I’m here hoping to make up my mind so feel free to zip me a message!
        Brother in Christ,
        Lawrence

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Fascinating as always Sister/Professor Joanne! This fine expose on the humbled life of Prophetess Anna provided me with a perspective I didn’t have up till now, and I find it extraordinary that they weren’t advocated generally speaking in history over all; at least not in any of my formative education years.

        In doing a very simple cursory search on the topic I did come up immediately with this apparent fact that I’d like you to help me clear up, because Anna as you explain is the only named or bona fide female prophet and I wonder if there is some disagreement with theologians or something else going on with regard to any misconceptions or even bias in the historical record to account for this difference of perspective.

        Here are the other prophetesses; eleven of them but only nine are actually considered such according to this source.
        “There are only eleven women that the Bible specifically called a prophetess. Nine of them were true prophetesses. They are: Miriam (Exodus 15:20); Deborah (Judges 4:4); Huldah (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chronicles 34:22); wife of Isaiah (Isaiah 8:3); Anna (Luke 2:36-38); and the four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:8-9). Two of them were false prophetesses: Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14) and Jezebel (Revelation 2:20).

        Over half of these prophetesses (six) appear in the New Testament. Four of the prophetesses are virgin daughters. Three of the prophetesses are wives (Deborah, Huldah, and the wife of Isaiah). One is known as a widow named Anna.”
        http://www.neverthirsty.org/bible-qa/qa-archives/question/prophetesses-in-the-bible/

        This source had this very beautiful statement about God choosing Saint Francis of Assisi!

        “When someone asked Saint Francis of Assisi why and how he could accomplish so much, he replied: “This may be why. The Lord looked down from heaven upon the earth and said, ‘Where can I find the weakest, the littlest, the poorest man on the face of the earth?’ Then He saw me and said, ‘Now I’ve found him, and will work through him. He won’t be proud of it. He’ll see that I am only using him because of his littleness and insignificance.”
        – C. Reuben Anderson[1]

        I’m looking forward to learning more and understanding what the facts surrounding these women are, and they should be given due deference for their humbled service to our Lord! Moreover they need to be recognized for any of their significant advancement of the faith and their charity to others they accomplished; the way you explained how Anna gave so much to anyone she came in contact with; so this can translate to others who in turn can now learn and grow in their own faith getting closer to God!
        Thank you very much!

        May God bless you and keep you so Dear to Him as you continue in His service!

        Brother in Christ Jesus,
        Lawrence Morra III

        Like

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