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Who Was Anna in the Bible?

Anna was a prophetess, a descendant from the Jewish tribe of Asher, elderly, and a widow who devoutly worshiped God with regular fasting and praying. She was also one of the first people to recognize, in faith, the baby Jesus as God’s promised Messiah.
Emily Hall
Who Was Anna in the Bible?

Anna was a prophetess, a descendant from the Jewish tribe of Asher, elderly, and a widow who devoutly worshiped God with regular fasting and praying. She was also one of the first people to recognize, in faith, the baby Jesus as God’s promised Messiah.

What Does the Bible Say About Anna?

Anna is first mentioned in Luke 2 when Mary and Joseph took baby Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem “for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses,” (Luke 2:22). She and a “righteous and devout” (Luke 2:25) man named Simon each bore witness to the child, Jesus, being God’s promised Messiah (Savior).

The Holy Spirit nudged Simon to go towards the temple courts where Jesus was. When Simon saw the child, he praised God:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).

Anna was right there as a witness.

“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36-38)

Lessons from Anna

Anna was alone from every perspective but God's. He was in touch with her constantly. And as she talked to the Lord, fasting and praying, He led her around to be involved in what mattered to Him.

One of the most noticeable characteristics of Anna’s life is how quickly her heart turned to praise God. Like a reflex, praise just flowed out of her. Anna praised the Lord right away when she saw an answer to her prayers, and she was also ready to share the good news with others.

This content was adapted from “Anna: Living a Grace-Energized Life of Praise” by Dr. John Barnett.

Anna’s Name Meaning

The Hebrew name, translated “Anna,” means “grace.” This name is fitting for a woman who, for decades, was waiting and praying for the Savior to come and redeem. Then in her old age, God allowed her to see the promised one, Jesus.

She is also called a prophet, which is a title given to very few women throughout the Bible. Other women who were prophets include Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Deborah (Judges 4:4), Huldah (2 Chronicles 34:22), Isaiah’s wife (Isaiah 8:3), and four unmarried daughters of Philip the evangelist (Acts 21:8-9).

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Originally published March 07, 2019.