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;
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(36) One Anna, a prophetess.—The fact is in many ways remarkable. We find a woman recognised as a prophetess at a time when no man is recognised as a prophet. She bears the name of the mother of the founder of the School of the Prophets, identical with that which the legends of Apocryphal Gospels assign to the mother of the Virgin. She is named, as if it were a well-known fact, as having been the wife of Phanuel, and she is not of the tribe of Judah, but of Aser. That tribe, then, though belonging to the Ten that had been carried into exile by Shalmaneser (2Kings 17:6), had not been altogether lost. Some, at least, of its members survived and cherished the genealogies of their descent, as one family of the neighbouring tribe of Naphthali are said to have done at Nineveh (Tobit 1:2). In that family also we find the name of Anna (Tobit 1:9).

Seven years from her virginity.—The words are emphasised (1) as expressing chastity prior to marriage, and (2) as excluding the thought of a second marriage.

Luke 2:36-38. And there was one Anna, a prophetess — A person of some note; she was a widow of about fourscore and four years — These were the years of her life, and not of her widowhood only; who departed not from the temple — The meaning is, not that she abode continually in the temple: for none lived there save the priests and Levites; but she attended there constantly at all the stated hours of prayer. But served God with fastings and prayers — Even at that advanced age; night and day — That is, spending therein a considerable part of the night, as well as of the day. She coming in at that instant — The providence of God so ordering it, that another important testimony might be borne to the child Jesus; gave thanks likewise unto the Lord — Praised the Lord, as Simeon had done, for sending the long-expected Messiah: or, in her turn confessed to the Lord, as ανθωμολογειτο τω Κυριω, properly signifies. The expression seems to have a reference to Simeon’s speech, and might be intended to intimate that this of Anna was a kind of response, or counterpart to his. And spake of him to all that looked for redemption in Jerusalem — She spake afterward of the child, under the character of the Messiah, to all her acquaintance at Jerusalem, that had any sense of religion, or faith in its promises. The sceptre now appeared to be departing from Judah, though it was not actually gone: Daniel’s weeks were plainly near their period. And the revival of the spirit of prophecy, together with the memorable occurrences relating to the birth of John the Baptist, and of Jesus, could not but encourage and quicken the expectation of pious persons at this time. Ought not the example of these aged saints to impress and animate those, whose hoary heads, like theirs, are a crown of glory, being found in the way of righteousness? Should not those venerable lips, so soon to be silent in the grave, be employed in the praises of their Redeemer, that they may have the pleasure to see, through their pious attempts, the rising generation improve in true religion? and that they may quit the world with the greater tranquillity, in the view of leaving those behind them, to whom Christ will be as precious as he hath been to them, and who will be waiting for God’s salvation when they are gone to enjoy it?

2:36-40 There was much evil then in the church, yet God left not himself without witness. Anna always dwelt in, or at least attended at, the temple. She was always in a praying spirit; gave herself to prayer, and in all things she served God. Those to whom Christ is made known, have great reason to thank the Lord. She taught others concerning him. Let the example of the venerable saints, Simeon and Anna, give courage to those whose hoary heads are, like theirs, a crown of glory, being found in the way of righteousness. The lips soon to be silent in the grave, should be showing forth the praises of the Redeemer. In all things it became Christ to be made like unto his brethren, therefore he passed through infancy and childhood as other children, yet without sin, and with manifest proofs of the Divine nature in him. By the Spirit of God all his faculties performed their offices in a manner not seen in any one else. Other children have foolishness bound in their hearts, which appears in what they say or do, but he was filled with wisdom, by the influence of the Holy Ghost; every thing he said and did, was wisely said and wisely done, above his years. Other children show the corruption of their nature; nothing but the grace of God was upon him.Of the tribe of Aser - The tribe of Aser, or Asher, dwelt in the northern part of the land of Canaan. Why Anna was called a prophetess is not known. It might be because she had been the wife of a prophet, or because she was employed in celebrating the praises of God (compare 1 Chronicles 25:1-2, 1 Chronicles 25:4; 1 Samuel 10:5), or because she herself had foretold future events, being inspired. 36. Anna—or, Hannah.

a prophetess—another evidence that "the last times" in which God was to "pour out His Spirit upon all flesh" were at hand.

of the tribe of Aser—one of the ten tribes, of whom many were not carried captive, and not a few reunited themselves to Judah after the return from Babylon. The distinction of tribes, though practically destroyed by the captivity, was well enough known up to their final dispersion (Ro 11:1; Heb 7:14); nor is it now entirely lost.

lived, &c.—she had lived seven years with her husband (Lu 2:36), and been a widow eighty-four years; so that if she married at the earliest marriageable age, twelve years, she could not at this time be less than a hundred three years old.

Ver. 36-38. God took care that our Saviour’s nativity should be fully attested. To the testimony of the angels, the wise men, the shepherds, Simeon, here is added another. It is that of Anna, who is described here by her tribe and by her father. She was

of the tribe of Aser, one of the meanest tribes, and of those ten tribes that were carried into the captivity of Assyria, having before made a defection (under the conduct of Jeroboam) both from the house of David and from the true worship of God. But though the generality did so, yet many particular persons removed, to enjoy the true worship of God, and joined themselves to Judith. Jeremiah 1:4, it was prophesied, that the children of Israel should come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping, to seek the Lord their God. What her father

Phanuel was we read not. She is also further said to be

a prophetess. Such there were amongst the Jews; we read of Deborah, and Miriam, and Huldah, to whom king Josiah sent. They were called prophets and prophetesses who revealed the will of God unto the people; but in the Old Testament it most generally signified, such as God enabled to foretell things which were to come. The spirit of prophecy had much failed amongst the Jews for four hundred years before Christ; about Christ’s coming it began to revive. This woman seems to have been upwards of a hundred years old, if we account the eighty-four years here mentioned from her widowhood; not so, if we count them from her birth. She was but seven years married, all the rest of her life she had spent in widowhood. She

departed not from the temple night or day; that is, she was frequently there, giving up herself wholly to religious exercises, prayer, and fasting, that she might be more fit for prayer. This woman

coming in at that instant where Simeon took up Christ in his arms, &c.,

gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to such as she knew in Jerusalem,

who looked for the redemption of Israel. There is no place where God hath had a name, but, however it be corrupted and debauched, hath a number that keep close to God. God in Ahab’s time had seven thousand in Israel; and in this most corrupt time there was a Simeon and an Anna, and also others, who had a true notion and expectation of the Messiah; and these the Holy Ghost taketh more notice of than of all the Jewish doctors, all the scribes and Pharisees, whose names are enrolled, while what these persons said and did shall remain for a memorial of them wherever the gospel shall be preached to the end of the world.

And there was one Anna,.... The name is the same with Hannah: so Hannah, the mother of Samuel, is by the Septuagint called Anna, in 1 Samuel 1:2 and it signifies "grace"; or "gracious": and as was her name, so was she, a gracious woman; One that had the grace of God herself, and was a publisher of the glad tidings of grace and redemption by Christ, to others; and she was

a prophetess: for though prophecy had ceased among the Jews for some hundreds of years, it now revived upon the coming of the Messiah; and though instances of women prophets were rare, yet some there were, both before, and after the coming of Christ; as Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, Deborah, the wife of Lapidoth, and Huldah, the wife of Shallum; and this Anna, at the time of Christ's birth, and afterwards four daughters of Philip the Evangelist, who were virgins. This woman was

the daughter of Phanuel; it is the same name with Penuel; and which, by the Septuagint, in 1 Chronicles 4:4 is called Phanuel, as here. This man might be a person of some note, or he may be mentioned for the sake of his name, which signifies the face of God, and is the name Jacob gave to a certain place where he had seen God face to face, Genesis 32:30. And now Phanuel's daughter both saw and gave the light of the knowledge of God, in the face of Jesus Christ, and now beheld his face in the flesh, who is God over all, blessed for ever,

Of the tribe of Aser; the same with Asher; for so Asher is called, as here, by the Septuagint, in Genesis 30:13 and elsewhere: and though this tribe was carried captive with the rest of the ten tribes; yet there were some of the ten tribes that returned along with Judah and Benjamin, and were dispersed among them. This tribe had its seat in Galilee; so that though the Jews denied that any prophet came from thence, yet it seems a prophetess did,

She was of a great age: the phrase is the same with that in Luke 1:7 there rendered, "stricken in years"; See Gill on Luke 1:7. Her age will appear to be great, if it be observed, that she was seven years a married woman, and fourscore and four years a widow, which make ninety one; and if she was married at twelve years and a half, at which time the Jews (o) reckoned females marriageable, she must be an hundred and three years old; and perhaps her age might be eight or ten years more:

and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity: this is mentioned to observe her chastity, that she was in her virginity, or a chaste virgin, when she became a wife; such an one as the high priest was obliged to have, Leviticus 21:13 and that the tokens of her virginity were brought, which the Jewish laws obliged to, Deuteronomy 22:15 and that she lived honestly, and honourably, with her husband, during the term of her marriage state,

(o) Maimon. Hilehot Ishot, c. 2. sect. 2.

{6} 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;

(6) Another witness besides Simeon, against whom no objection may be brought, inviting all men to the receiving of the Messiah.

Luke 2:36 ff. Ἠν] aderat, as at Mark 8:1; Mark 15:40; also 1 Corinthians 14:38.

After αὕτη, Luke 2:36, the copula ἦν is not unnecessarily to be supplied, in which case (so usually, as also by Lachmann and Tischendorf) a point is placed after Luke 2:37; but this αὕτη is the subject to which ἀνθωμολογεῖτο belongs as verb, so that all that intervenes contains accompanying definitions of the subject, namely thus: This one, being advanced in great age, after she had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, she too a widow up to eighty-four years, who departed not from the temple, with fastings and prayers rendering service to God night and day and having come forward at that same hour, offered praise to the Lord, etc. Observe as to this—(1) that ζήσασααὐτῆς, Luke 2:36, is subordinate to the προβεβηκ. ἐν ἡμ. πολλ.; (2) that at Luke 2:37 there is to be written, with Tischendorf and Ewald, καὶ αὐτή (not as usually, καὶ αὕτη), so that the definition καὶ αὐτὴ χήραἐπιστᾶσα, Luke 2:37-38, contains a further description of the woman co-ordinated with the προβεβηκ. ἐν ἡμ. πολλ.; (3) that καὶ αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐπιστᾶσα (see the critical remarks) without any separation links itself on continuously to the preceding participial definition; finally, (4) that καὶ αὐτή, Luke 2:37, she too, places Anna on a parallel with Simeon; as the latter had come forward a pious aged man, so she also a pious aged woman.

προφῆτις] Plat. Phaedr. p. 244 A; Eur. Ion. 42, 321; LXX. Exodus 15:20; Isaiah 8:3, al. Hebrew נְבִיאָה, an interpretress of God, a woman with the gift of apocalyptic discourse, Revelation 2:20; Acts 21:9; Acts 2:17. She makes use of this gift, Luke 2:38.

ἑπτά] consequently a brief and (ἀπὸ τ. παρθεν. αὐτ.) her only marriage, after which she remained in widowhood, which among the ancients was accounted very honourable. See Grotius and Wetstein on 1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Timothy 5:9.

Luke 2:36-38. Anna.—Another aged saint of the O. T. type comes on the stage speaking thankful prophetic words concerning the Holy Child.

36–40. Anna the Prophetess. The Return to Nazareth

36. Anna] The same name as Hannah (1 Samuel 1:20), from the root Chânan, ‘he was gracious.’

a prophetess] like Miriam, Deborah, Huldah (2 Chronicles 34:22).

Phanuel] ‘The Face of God;’ the same word as Peniel, Genesis 32:30.

Aser] Though the Ten Tribes were lost, individual Jews who belonged to them had preserved their genealogies. Thus Tobit was of the tribe of Naphthali (Tob 1:1). Comp. “our twelve tribes,” Acts 26:7; James 1:1.

from her virginity] I.e. she had been married only seven years, and was now 84 years old. א, A, B, L read ἔως (for ὡς) which is best taken with “of great age,” the intervening words being parenthetic, a widow even unto fourscore years.

Luke 2:36. Φανουὴλ, Phanuel) The father of Anna is named, rather than her husband. He was as yet known as one who looked for redemption: Luke 2:38.—Ἀσὴρ, Aser) See 2 Chronicles 30:11.

Verses 36-38. - Greeting of Anna the prophetess. Verse 36. - There was one Anna, a prophetess. The name of this holy woman is the same as that of the mother of Samuel. It is not necessary to assume that this Anna had the gift of foretelling future events. She was, at all events, a preacher. These saintly, gifted women, though never numerous, were not unknown in the story of the chosen people. We read of the doings - in some cases the very words are preserved - of Miriam, Hannah, Deborah, Huldah, and others. Of the tribe of Aser. It is true that at this period the ten tribes had been long lost, the "Jews" being made up of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin; but yet certain families preserved their genealogies, tracing their descent to one or other of the lost divisions of the people. Thus Anna belonged to Asher. Luke 2:36A prophetess (προφῆτις)

Only here and Revelation 2:20.


That tribe was celebrated in tradition for the beauty of its women, and their fitness to be wedded to high-priests or kings.

Of great age (προβεβηκυῖα ἐν ἡμέραις πολλαῖς)

Lit., advanced in many days.

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