Anna in the Bible remains one of the most admired heroines of faith in Scripture. Only mentioned once in the Bible, Anna is famed for her role in the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy about the birth of Jesus.
In this post, we take a closer look at the characteristics of Anna and lessons we can learn from her life.
The story of Anna in the Bible summary
When we meet Anna, she is a very old woman. The Bible tells us that her husband died just seven years after they were married. After that, Anna decided to remain a widow.
But, this being the case, she also decided to dedicate her entire life to ministry. Anna went to the temple every single day.
She spent scores of hours every week in fasting, prayer and Bible study.
Her relationship with God grew so close that she became known as the prophetess.
Anna spent her life looking for the fulfillment of a single promise: the coming of Jesus, the Messiah.
When Mary and Joseph turned up at the temple to have Jesus dedicated, Anna instantly knew by the power of the Holy Spirit that this baby was the promised Messiah.
Anna broke out in praise and worship as she saw the fulfillment of God’s promise with her own two eyes.
You will often find the story of Anna and Simeon in the Bible intertwined because they were the only two people at the temple who recognized the fulfillment of the prophecy and the promise.
Anna in the Bible verses
The story of Anna can be found in Luke 2:36–38.
Characteristics of Anna in the Bible
There are just about three verses in the Bible about Anna. But this little old lady was such a powerhouse.
What are qualities of Anna in the Bible?
Let’s find out.
Anna was a prophetess
Scholars do not all agree on exactly what this means. For 400 years between the time of the Old and New Testament, there was no prophetic word from God.
Malachi was the last major prophetic voice. And the people living in Anna’s time were waiting for the prophecies of the Old Testament to be fulfilled concerning the birth of Jesus.
Some scholarships say Anna was not the foretelling kind of prophetess. Rather, she taught the word of God from the Old Testament Scriptures of that time.
She interpreted the Scriptures and helped people to understand what was being said and what God was saying. She proclaimed God’s word.
Anna was completely dedicated to God
Like many Jewish women of that time, Anna might have married at about age 13 – 16. This would make her approximately 20 – 23 years old when her husband died.
After she became a widow, she devoted her existence to God. The temple became her home as she spent her time there fasting and praying.
Scholars estimate that Anna might have had living accommodations at the temple because of her status as prophetess. This enabled her to always be at the temple.
On the other hand, she might not have lived there but was present in the temple so often that she practically lived there.
Either way, she never wanted to be away from the presence of God more than she needed to be.
Anna was actively seeking a friendship with God on a daily basis. Not even food was as important to her existence as she fasted and prayed regularly.
Anna had given up everything in this world and was living for God.
Anna had strong faith
The prophecy about Jesus’s birth was well-known among the Jews. Any devout Jew knew to keep their eyes and ears peeled for the fulfillment of the prophecy.
She took God at His word. She knew without a shadow of a doubt that this prophecy, this seemingly impossible thing of a virgin birth, would happen.
Anna was expectant
Because Anna believed the prophecy about Jesus coming as a baby, she lived in expectation.
Everyday as she fasted and prayed and tarried in the presence of God, she looked for the fulfillment of the prophecy.
Her whole life was centered around living in expectation.
Anna was filled with the Holy Spirit
The moment Anna saw baby Jesus, she knew who he was. Having spent so much time in the presence of God, only the Holy Spirit could have revealed such a powerful truth to her in that moment.
There was nothing outstanding about Mary and Joseph with their baby. But to the spiritual eye, this scene was everything.
And because Anna was living in faith-filled expectation, she was primed and poised to receive the fulfillment of the promise.
Anna had a heart of joy and gratitude
When Anna realized that she lived to see the fulfillment of the promise, she could hardly contain herself.
Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God… Luke 2:38
The picture created of Anna here is of one who breaks out in audible praise and worship and does so over and over and over.
Anna was having her own little praise party in the temple. She just couldn’t hold still or be silent.
Because when your faith becomes sight, that makes you want to dance!
Lessons from Anna in the Bible
There are literally only three verses in the whole Bible about Anna. But what a life she lived with God! What do we learn from Anna in the Bible?
Let’s explore this stellar woman of faith.
Become better rather than bitter as you experience the messiness of life
Anna was still quite young when she was widowed. Seven years of marriage is just enough to make you miss someone for eternity. (Side note – I am writing this just a few weeks away from my seventh wedding anniversary so I know).
It would also seem that she didn’t have any children. The amount of time she spent at the temple would have definitely interfered with motherhood.
After 7 years of marriage and no children and then becoming a widow, it seems like Anna had her fair share of woes early in her life.
Childless, widowed women lived in very unfortunate conditions back then.
But Anna wasn’t bitter. If anything, she became better. Especially when she immersed herself in serving God, she found a purpose for living that was brand new and fresh every single day no matter how old she got.
Don’t let the circumstances of your life make you bitter.
Draw close to God and he will make you better for having experienced all that you have.
You can live a godly life in an ungodly world
You might think Anna had it made. That she didn’t have as many distractions to deal with in her day. That she didn’t have all the stuff to contend with so that’s why she was able to have such a thriving relationship with God.
This could not be further from the truth.
Anna lived during one of the darkest eras in the history of mankind.
The religious system had become corrupted by self-righteousness, legalistic and hypocritical leaders who were driven more by political ambition and money than anything else.
Traditions and rituals took the place of authentic worship. There was such thick spiritual darkness that even the church participated in the oppression of the poor, the disabled, and the disadvantaged.
Religion became big business. (Think about Jesus driving the money lenders out of the temple).
Does any of this sound familiar?
Despite all this, Anna kept her lamp trimmed and burning for God. She hunkered down in her spiritual life.
Every single day she made deposits in her spiritual bank account so that she was hiding away her treasures in heaven. And God gave her strength to do it.
We are living at a time just like Anna’s. But God can give us the power to shine. We just need to do our part in going to the spiritual temple every day to invest in our spiritual bank account.
Start with making fasting and prayer a habit like Anna did.
Learn to live in expectancy
Anna had no doubt in her mind that Jesus was going to come to save us from our sins.
And what did she do?
She fasted and prayed in readiness and she devoted her life to helping others believe.
Let’s look at another example from Scripture.
When Moses was told by God that the angel of death was coming to Egypt, he told the people to get ready.
They were to kill a sheep, put its blood on their doorposts, put their bags on their backs and eat all of the sheep.
By the time the angel of death passed through and Pharaoh chased them out of Egypt, they didn’t need to stop to pack.
They had already been expecting. So, they just needed to move when they received the word they were waiting on.
If you are expecting something from God, He’s also expecting something from you.
He’s expecting that your expectancy will lead you to act…
To be obedient to his voice.
To take the first step.
If you need a scholarship for school, you should probably try to get an acceptance letter first or write that essay.
If you are expecting God to bless your family life, you should probably be making time to invest in spending time with your spouse and kids.
Living in expectancy is active not passive.
God always has his tribe of the faithful
After Anna recognized that Jesus had finally arrived according to the prophecy she,
…spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:38
Did you get that?
Anna wasn’t the only one living in faith-filled expectation of the Messiah’s coming.
And so as the prophecy was fulfilled, they were already in position to receive the message of its fulfillment.
They were already in position to take advantage of the freedom that was coming through Christ.
God preserves those who believe Him and his promise. He honors their faith. And when His word comes to pass, He reveals it to them.
You are not alone in believing God for something. There are others just like you. Find your tribe and keep close to them.
Pursuing God is worth it, always
One of the characteristics of Anna was her fervency and consistency and relentlessness in pursuing God. Anna spent thousands of thousands of hours at the temple, fasting and praying.
So that she could get as much as possible out of her relationship with God.
And God honored her pursuit of Him.
We know that because she was called a prophetess. This means that God showed up regularly to inspire her. We also see that the Holy Spirit revealed that baby Jesus was on the scene right when she was in the temple.
And make no mistake, her being at the temple along with Simeon at that very moment was divinely orchestrated.
This is another reason we know God honored Anna’s hunger for the presence and power of God.
How is your pursuit of God?
Has it grown cold? Or is it on fire? Or is it somewhere in between?
My dear friend, God wants you to pursue Him. There is so so so much He wants to show you, guide you to, open to you, give you. But it will not come unless you pursue God with all your heart.
Make fasting and praying a habit. Purposefully plan and strategize how you will spend time with God, even on busy days.
Spend time in the Word. Start a habit of journaling. Find a group of people who are pursuing God and become friends.
God honors those who seek him diligently. If you want to take your faith life and family life and professional life to the next level, start pursuing God today.
Read Psalm 27:4 to start your pursuit.
God always keeps his promises, no matter how long it takes
Waiting isn’t fun. It becomes less and less fun when waiting goes from years to decades.
This was Anna’s reality.
Anna isn’t the only Bible character who had to wait on God.
Abraham and Sarah, for example, waited 25 years for God to fulfill his promise.
Noah waited 120 years before people would stop laughing at his silly prophecy about rain.
But here is the thing: God never goes back on his word. He ALWAYS keeps his promises.
Keep believing. Keep looking. Keep waiting in expectancy.
God will keep his promise to you. Anna waited her whole life before things came to sight.
Many Bible characters died before some of God’s promises were fulfilled.
But God’s timing isn’t ours. Don’t stop trusting His word.
Look for Jesus to come again
This is the greatest hope of those of us who believe in Jesus. When Anna lived, her hope was for the first advent. Today, we modern day Anna’s wait for the second advent.
There is little doubt that this world is much like Anna’s day. Jesus warned that it would be that and much worse.
This should not make us afraid though. While we do not rejoice over the suffering that others are facing because of the cruelty of the times, we know that the prophecy of our rescue from this world is close to being fulfilled.
How are you preparing?
Are you like Anna spending time pursuing God’s heart? Or are you like the rich young ruler trying to figure out how you can juggle the world with the Word?
Don’t get me wrong: we should be living as full a life as possible while here. But that full life must be in view of eternity.
On a daily basis, ask yourself, if this is the day Jesus should return, am I ready to meet Him in peace? Is my souls secure with Christ in God?
FAQs about Anna in the Bible
I have included some more fun facts for you about Anna. Here goes…
Meaning of Anna in the Bible
Her name is similar to Hannah in the Old Testament. It means favor or grace.
How old was Anna in the Bible
There are some interesting arguments about Anna’s age. The Bible says she was married for 7 years before her husband died “and then was a widow until she was eighty-four” (Luke 2:37).
Different translations say this differently. Some scholars think there is a possibility that she might have really been about 105 years old. Whatever the case, whether she was 84 or 105, she was very old.
Who was Anna’s husband in the Bible
There is no mention of Anna’s husband in Scripture.
Final words about Anna in the Bible
Anna stands out as one of the most remarkable women of faith in the Scriptures.
Her extraordinary life of complete dedication to God is worthy of our admiration.
Anna made the decision to live above the darkness of this world, she lived in expectancy, she lived by faith.
God rewarded her with the power of the Holy Spirit. God can do the very same thing for you as well.