Anna the Prophetess


Anna the Prophetess

In Luke 2:36-38 we read about Anna, a prophetess, and in those three short verses there is a lot of information to be gleaned by any believer willing to take the time to search the scriptures for the wisdom to be found there as if they were filled with hidden treasure…because that is exactly what the scriptures are…just as we are exhorted to do in Proverbs 2:3-3: “Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.

So what exactly are the hid treasures to be found in the three verses which discuss Anna the prophetess? Please let’s look together.

We read in Luke 2:36, “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; 37 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. 38 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

To begin, let us start with the very name, Anna, and search out its meaning. Anna is a Latin form of the Greek name Ἅννα and the Hebrew name Hannah (Hebrew: חַנָּה Ḥannāh‎‎, meaning “favor” or “grace”)! Grace! What a perfect name for a true believer! Anna is in fact an allegorical representation of all true believers who are blessed to come under the Grace of God through the Person and Redemptive Work of the Lord Jesus Christ! We know that this is true because we read in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Prophetess

We read that she was a “prophetess.” This means that she was qualified by God to declare the scriptures, the Word of God! She was preceded by other prophetesses in the Old Testament like Meriam in Exodus 15:20; Deborah in Judges 4:4; Huldah in 2Kings 22:14; and succeeded in the New Testament by the four daughters of Phillip, the evangelist, who was one of the seven deacons, as we read in Acts 21:8-9. It is clear that as a “prophetess”, Anna is being used to spiritually typify the “Church” which is the spiritual “Bride of Jesus Christ.” She spiritually represents all of the believers in the world who are mandated to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ as declared in the scriptures. (Please note that there are many cases in the Bible where God uses women to spiritually  represent the church. For more on this, please also see the attached commentaries found on this website which address key women in the Bible like Esther, Ruth, and Deborah.)

Phanuel

We read that Anna was the daughter of Phanuel. Phanuel means “Face of God”. By naming Anna as his daughter we gain additional insight to the fact that the Face of God had looked upon her and she was a saved individual for we read three time in Psalm 80:3, 7 and 19 the following, 3 “Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.” 7 “Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.” 19 “Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.”

The Original Greek word for Phanuel actually comes from Peniel as we see in Genesis 32:30, “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Just as Jacob/Israel had seen the Face of God and had his life preserved (he was saved), so too is Anna’s (eternal) life preserved…she too is saved. She can also be likened as a friend of God even as Moses in Exodus 33:11 where we read, “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.

Aser (Asher)

Asher means “Happy and blessed” as we read in Genesis 30:13 “And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.” Asher was the 8th son of Jacob. The number 8 reminds us of the circumcision because all males were to be circumcised on the 8th day as we read in Luke 2:21:“and when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”

Anna received the circumcision of the heart and was a “true Jew”.   God makes this clear in both the Old and New Testaments by comparing and contrasting the earthly outward physical circumcision with the inward spiritual circumcision. In Deuteronomy 30:6, we read, “And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” And in Romans 2:29, “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

 The blessings of Asher by Jacob in Genesis 49:20 apply directly to Anna (“Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.”) because she is being richly fed by the Word of God Who is Jesus, as we know from John 1:14: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” And then in John 6:35 we read “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” and Isaiah 55:10-11, 10 “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Moreover, Anna is provided with food suitable for royalty (the dainties) as all believers are considered to be kings and part of the royal priesthood (1Peter 2:9). Anna is also like Martha’s sister Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus and was fed directly from the Master (Luke 10:39), in being able to behold the Christ child, she saw God, face to face.

The blessings of Asher as prophesied by Moses in Deuteronomy 33:24-25 also apply to Anna. There we read, “And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.” As a typological portrait of the church, Anna represents all true believers who are blessed with spiritual children (the elect) who are brought into the church through the preaching and hearing of the Word. Anna, like all believers, also receives spiritual blessings as we read in Ephesians 1:3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” As a believer she was accepted, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” The oil represents the Holy Spirit (this is made clear in other studies) and He is in control of her paths (Proverbs3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

With the further blessing of Asher, then Anna, described as having shoes, meant that she was not naked spiritually (barefoot, see Isaiah 20:2-3), but rather she was shod with the preparation of the gospel as we read in Ephesians 6:15, “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;” Anna’s shoes being “iron and brass” meant that as she prophesied, the words were the savour of life unto life to the elect, and death unto death to the non-elect (2Corinthians 2:16) as they bring judgment to us…one way or another there is judgment to be encountered. Iron relates to bondage to sin and brass represents the judgment (Revelation 1:15) and together they relate to hell and punishment from which the believers will escape (because Jesus paid the price) and the non-believers will not. The gospel is a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4: 12). Anna was of great age (as a widow having been married 91 years earlier, she was likely well over 100) so her life of many days reflects the strength of her faith. While Moses prophesy pertaining to Asher, in the first instance, is really speaking of Jesus Christ, it also refers to Anna (and all believers) as she represents the body of Christ.

Great Age

As mentioned above, Anna was of great age. This is considered a blessing if one is a believer according to the Bible as we read in Psalms 92:12-14,“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;” Anna flourished in prophesying, please see Matthew 21:43 “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” And Psalms 126:6, “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Finally, Anna being in the Way of Righteousness (in Christ), her old age was a crown of glory as we read in Proverbs 16:31, “The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.

Husband

Anna, as a typological portrait of the church, is a wife which in the spiritual sense means she is the bride of Christ. 2Corinthians 11:2 says, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” And in Revelation 21:2, we read: “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

Virginity

Anna was a virgin at the time of her marriage. This means she was chaste in her life walk. Spiritually speaking, true virgins are qualified to marry the High Priest (Jesus Christ). Anna was also typifying the daughters of The King (God) who were virgins (2Samuel 13:18, “And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king’s daughters that were virgins apparelled. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her.”) Anna represented the five wise virgins in the parable of Jesus in Matthew 25:1-13 who had sufficient oil (The Holy Spirit) in their lamps (The Holy Spirit breathed Word of God… Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”) who went into the bridal chamber.

Widow

Widows are addressed in depth in the study of Ruth (both Ruth and Naomi were “widows indeed” like Anna). Anna was married for seven years, but at the time of Jesus’s first coming she was a widow for her earthly husband was dead and evidently had no other family. While being a true widow, and hence desolate, she trusted in God and continued in “fastings and prayers night and day” just as we read in 1Timothy 5: 3 and 5, “Honour widows that are widows indeed. Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.”

Departed not from the Temple

The true Temple of God, in the spiritual sense, is the body of believers. She did not depart from that assembly. The Greek word for “departed” is “aphistemi” is translated “fall away” in Luke 8:13 in reference to those who are not steadfast in faith because they had no root (Jesus is the Root of David, Revelation 5:5) as we read,“They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.” Anna was steadfast and was well rooted in her faith and did not depart the temple or fall away.

Served God with Fasting and Prayers Night and Day

True fasting has to do with declaring the gospel to loose us from the bondage to sin and the devil…this is clear when we read Isaiah 58:6, “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” Anna was prophesying the Word of God and hence the true gospel and serving God in the process.

Spake of Him

Anna was speaking of Jesus! The Greek word that was translated “spake” is also translated “preach” six times elsewhere in the Bible. (in Mark 2.3, Acts 8:35, 11:19, 13:42, 14:25, and 16:6). This means that Anna was “preaching” about Jesus, just as we read in 2Corinthians 4:5, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.”) Moreover, Anna had been expecting Jesus’ first coming just as believers are expecting and preaching/declaring His second coming soon.

To All Them Who Looked For Redemption in Jerusalem

Everyone who is a believer is looking forward to the day of redemption by that Great Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ.   The word translated “Look for” is “prosdechomai” which is used in Titus 2:13 where we read that the believers are, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Anna is a typological prefigure of all believers who are as in 2Peter 3:12, “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

Redemption is the Greek word that is use on three times in the Bible, but in Hebrews 9:12, we read, “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. That eternal redemption is the completion of the believers’ salvation with the second coming of Jesus Christ.

 Finally, there are only two Jerusalems, the one on earth that is located today in national Israel, which remains in bondage to the law, and the heavenly one that is above that is free from the law, as we read in Galations 4:25-26, “For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” Those with whom Anna spoke were in the literal physical Jerusalem and were expecting the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as their Redeemer, but as believers they would also be looking for that eternal redemption, as they also knew that there was a better place ahead, the spiritual new Jerusalem of which they would all be part as we read in Reveleation 21:2.

The message

This study, like all others on this website, is meant to share insights on the magnificent crafting of the Bible by God, which He provides us to gain insights on Who He is and how He has controlled time and space for His Glory and for the enlightenment of His church. As we read in 2Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Sometimes this is easier to see in some places in the Bible than in others, but in each case it requires at least a bit of time and effort in the scriptures to search things out.  In this case, it seems clear that Anna is a prefigurement of all believers, as she was a faithful witness ,and she typified the believers with all of her attributes as expounded in the above. She was a prophetess who faithfully witnessed about Jesus Christ. Anna is one more role model that God has set forth in His Word for our exhortation, and to strengthen our faith in Him and our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is coming again soon.  Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible Studies

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: