The Story of Anna in the Bible: A Faithful Witness

The story of Anna in the Bible takes up only a few short verses in the Gospel of Luke but it’s powerful and impactful. Anna is the only female prophet who was actually named in the New Testament making her an interesting woman worth knowing about.

She is one of the lesser-known heroines of faith in the word of God but her story is incredible. In her old age, she had the privilege of meeting the coming Savior Jesus Christ, the one who had been expected for so long.   

As we dive into the details of her life and learn about who she was, the circumstances she was in, and her willingness to be a devoted servant of God, we can truly take away great lessons from her life.

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old woman holding baby Jesus

What is the Story of Anna in the Bible?

The story of Anna in the Bible summary is filled with powerful and valuable lessons to help us grow in our faith in God, despite the circumstances we are in. Anna is a Hebrew name which means “grace.” In her life, we indeed see the grace and mercy of God being manifested.

Who was Anna in the Bible? She was a female prophet and a widow who was devoted to the Lord and stayed at the temple praying and worshipping the Lord all day and night. It was at eighty-four years old that she had a life-changing encounter of seeing baby Jesus.

She was from the tribe of Asher, which was one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Anna is one of the few females in the Word of God whose tribal listings are highlighted. Asher means “happy” or “blessed.” Anna likely was full of joy and happiness in her soul, and she was indeed blessed. 

There are only a few short verses where we read the story of Anna in the Bible. It happened that when baby Jesus came to be dedicated to the Lord in Jerusalem, there was a man there named Simeon who was filled with the Holy Spirit. God had revealed to him that he would not die until he saw the coming Messiah. 

Led by the Spirit of God, Simeon went into the temple courts to Mary and Joseph, took the baby Jesus in his arms, praised God, blessed Him and His parents, and prophesied about what would happen to Jesus in the future (Luke 2:25-35). Anna witnessed this, and then she came to them, gave thanks to the Son of God, and spoke about the child to all who were expectantly waiting for the Messiah. 

Anna in the Bible Scripture: Luke 2:36-38

Anna in the Bible verse is found in Luke’s gospel. While she has a few short verses, we learn a lot about her incredible character in them. 

Luke 2:36-38

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.

Why Are Mary and Joseph in Jerusalem?

At eight days old, the infant Jesus was taken by his mother Mary and Joseph to Jerusalem. He was to be presented to the Lord according to the Jewish laws. 

The birth of a male child was of great significance in that culture and at that time. He was set apart as the firstborn and dedicated to the Lord along with a purification sacrifice. 

Luke 2:22-24 

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; 

(As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)

And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

What Did Anna Do When She Saw Jesus?

When Anna saw Jesus Christ, the Son of God, she gave thanks to God. She had been in the temple for many years hearing about the Savior of the world who would come and set people free. The prayer of Anna in the Bible was to see this Messiah, Savior, and Redeemer, and the Lord answered her. 

Her heart was full of gladness, and she could not keep this good news to herself. She shared with those around her who were waiting in anticipation and hoping to experience the transformation that Jesus would bring. 

Characteristics of Anna in the Bible

What were the characteristics of Anna in the Bible? She was a remarkable, God-fearing, and gifted woman who devoted her time and her life to serving the Lord. 

Prophetess

Anna was a prophetess, and this was her gift. Prophesy is one of the gifts of the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). Anna is the only female character who is named in the New Testament. The others are Philip’s daughters who are referred to as “virgins who prophesied” (Acts 21:8-9), but their names were not given. 

Anna could see future events and things hidden from ordinary people. At that time the Holy Spirit would reveal mighty things relating to the kingdom of God in dreams or visions. Because of this gift, she recognized the child Jesus as the coming Messiah. 

Servant

Anna became a widow at a young age and dedicated her life to serving God at the temple. She was faithful, loyal, and committed to being a servant of God praying, praising, and fasting in the temple. 

Evangelist

An evangelist is a messenger who shares the Good News of the Gospel to those around them. Once Anna realized that the Lord Jesus was in the temple, she started to evangelize to God’s people who were present and were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. 

What Do We Learn From Anna in the Bible?

Anna’s story is a powerful reflection of how God uses women to make an impact on those around them for His kingdom and glory. In just a few short verses there are rich lessons from Anna in the Bible that we can apply in our own lives and situations. Let’s dive into what we can take away from her story! 

 

1) The Story of Anna in the Bible teaches us to pray without ceasing.

One of the most important Christian disciplines that transforms our lives, situations, and the world around us is prayer. Communication and fellowship with God are so important that the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Anna offered God prayer night and day. She was committed and devoted to always talking to her Heavenly Father. She knew that in Him, she had everything she needed. 

Anna offered God prayer night and day. She was committed and devoted to always talking to her Heavenly Father. She knew that in Him, she had everything she needed. 

2) Anna’s story illustrates the importance of patience.

Abraham was 100 years old, and Sarah was 90 when they had Isaac. Isaac and Rebekah had their twin boys Jacob and Esau 20 years after praying to the Lord. At an old age, God answered Anna’s prayers to see the coming Savior.

There is power in waiting for the Lord and trusting Him to do things in His time. God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the timeline that we want or expect. He is still faithful and He wants us to be patient and trust in His perfect timing.

3) Anna teaches us about gratitude. 

The first thing Anna did when she saw Jesus was give thanks to God. Praise and thanksgiving flowed effortlessly from her life. There is power in having an attitude of gratitude. 

When our prayers are answered and when we experience God’s blessings and goodness, let us give thanks. Even in the tough seasons, there is always something to be grateful for. 

4) The Story of Anna in the Bible shows us the power of faith

Anna was a woman of remarkable faith. Prayer, fasting, praising, worshipping, reading the Word of God, and fellowshipping with other believers produce great faith in our lives. She surrendered to God and believed His Word and promises. She teaches us not to just speak about our faith but to live it and practice it daily. 

For more help growing in your walk with God, you’ll want to be sure to check out all these Practical Ways to Get Closer to God Today!

5) The story of Anna teaches us to live a life of service 

Anna was devoted and committed to the Lord’s work and to ministering in the temple. Being a faithful servant of God doesn’t only happen for those who are missionaries or serve in the ministry or church full time. It means being faithful believers in our roles in the home, workplace, community, or places of business. 

We can be ambassadors of God wherever we are planted. That is your ministry ground. Like Anna, we too can share what the Lord has done and is doing in our lives and watch Him work to change those around us. 

6) Anna’s story illustrates the importance of contentment 

Anna could have been bitter about losing her husband after only seven years of marriage. Like most married women, she likely had her hopes of growing old and enjoying her marriage, but that never materialized. 

What is inspiring about this woman is she doesn’t become bitter and blame God for her loss and pain. She is an inspiration to young widows and every other woman of the right attitude to take when things don’t go our way. 

Anna committed the rest of her life to God, serving Him and being loyal to His work. She was content in her circumstances because she trusted in God’s purpose and plan for her life, and she teaches us to do the same.  

7) Anna’s life shows that God blesses those who seek Him diligently 

When we have faith, seek the Lord, and faithfully commit ourselves to serving His kingdom, we will be rewarded. God rewarded her by letting her be one of the first few women to recognize and meet the Lord Jesus Christ as a baby. Her faith and devotion paid off, and ours will too. 

8) The story of Anna teaches us to use our gifts for God’s kingdom 

The gifts and talents we have are from the Lord, and we ought to use them to serve Him. Anna was a prophetess who served the Lord and used her gift in the temple. Prayerfully ask the Lord to reveal to you your own special gifts, and use them to glorify God and serve others (1 Peter 4:10). 

What an amazing and inspiring woman Anna was. In just a few short verses in the Gospel of Luke, she teaches us about faith, gratitude, prayer, fasting, contentment, and God’s reward for those who serve him diligently. 

In small ways, we too can serve God and make an impact in the lives of those around us when we allow the Holy Spirit to live and work through us. May we live surrendered lives of devotion to the Lord as did Anna. 

Learn More About the Story of Anna in the Bible

If you’d like to dive deeper into her story, you’ll want to check out this story of Mary Magdelene in the Bible study that comes with free resources! 

FREE! Character Bible Study on Anna

Download these Anna Bible Study Questions for FREE! Included are 10 study questions and 5 reflection questions, along with the specific Bible passages to read her story.

Resources to Learn More about Inspiring Bible Women

If you’d like to study the story and lives of other inspiring women of the Bible, you’ll want to check out this 30-day Bible reading plan and journal >> Inspiring Women of the Bible Study Journal – Digital & Printable!

Be sure to read more from our Women of the Bible Series!


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