Anna the Prophetess

Here consideration ins given to Anna the Prophetess of God.

Luke 2:36-38 says: And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Anna was a prophetess who spoke when Jesus parents brought him into the temple to dedicate him to the Lord at the temple according to the provisions set forth in Leviticus requiring the dedication to take place at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation (Leviticus 12:6; 1 Samuel 2:22). She spoke of Jesus to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:36-38).

The prophetess Anna regular function within the temple was fasting and prayers (Luke 2:37). But when Jesus parents entered the Temple with the baby Jesus in that instant the scriptures indicate she began to prophesy about who he was, that he was the Messiah for who they looked. Her prophecy was a prophetic confirmation of and in support of the prophecy of Simon (Luke 2:25-35). Her prophecy was consistent with 1 Cor 11 provision that females may prophesy in the assembly of believers with restrictions, which she most likely adhered to.

Note that the Greek word (laleo, G2980) for spake used in Luke 2:38 is used of Jesus in Matt. 9:18 and Matt 28:18 where it is translated spake but not preached. Spake, spoke, talked and variants thereof are the usual translations of the word. Yet, in Acts 8:25; 11:19; 14:25; 16:6 it is translated preached with respect to the word of the Lord. Yet, in considering this word analysis one should also be mindful that preaching is teaching is speaking but speaking is not necessarily teaching and not necessarily preaching.

The Leviticus and 1 Samuel passages indicate that the women assembled at the door of the tabernacle and therefore most likely had a area separate from men in the temple where women assembled. But even if the women and men were assembled together in the temple, there is no indication that Anna or any other woman had spiritual authority in the midst of the assembly as the usual case is that in the temple it is Levite men who had spiritual authority to officiate at the temple. Indeed, even the doorkeepers identified in the bible are indicated to have been men (1 Chron 9:21; 15:23-24; 2 Chron 25:24; 31:14; Jer 35:4) even if the women assisted as doorkeepers.

Even if Anna the prophetess spoke within the assembly of both men and women rather than a non-assembly where people brought in children to be dedicated, she most likely spoke in the sense of the women mentioned by Paul in 1 Cor 11 who prophesied though not necessarily set aside prophetess since one does not need to be a set aside prophetess/prophet to be used by the Lord occasionally to speak prophetically.

Luke 2:36-38 gives one biblical example of a female (the Prophetess Anna) proclaiming in the Temple in that she “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem”. It is not clear where she was in the Temple. The Bible does not say but the most likely place is the Women Court of the Temple since other-than-bible-sources explicitly say women had restrictions on where they could go in the Temple. I do not base doctrine on other than bible sources, however. But given the rest of scriptures it is most likely true that she was not in the equivalent of our “Sanctuary” where the main church assembly functions take place. She may have been in a place equivalent to a fellowship hall or foyer or entrance way. In any case there is no clear biblical evidence that she stood before a congregation and preached to them. Or perhaps she prophesized to them in the sense of the females mentioned in 1 Cor 11 who did so under male authority in the presence of male authority and not presented as the primary person present. Note that a male who is in another building or city is not a male present; he is a male absent (e.g., a bishop in another city up the chain is a bishop absent). Moreover, note that Anna’s primary purpose was fasting and prayers (Luke 2:37). The conclusion is she was not a general preacher in the sense we think as a preacher.


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