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Woman studying BibleStudy to show thyself approved

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Series - Women Pastors in the New Testament
with Citations from Church History

Luke 2:36-38 - Anna, Preacher and Widow

Revised May 19, 2005

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Baptist Women in Ministry
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Author
Carolyn Goodman Plampin
Coordinator of Lessons on Women
1220 Vienna Dr., #504
Sunnyvale, CA 94089-2007
(408) 734-5141
Send email to Carolyn Goodman Plampin (cplampin@ix.netcom.com)
Master of Teaching, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil, March 20, 1968
Master of Divinity, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, June 2, 1978
Missionary to Brazil of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1957-1988
Academic dean (without title) and professor of the
Instituto Bíblico Batista, A.B. Deter and Seminário Teológico Batista do Paraná, Curitiba (1959-1979)
Academic dean and professor of the Seminário de Educação Cristã, Recife, Brazil (1980-1986)
The Holy Bible, New American Standard (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 1985)

Project WittenberGreek Transliteration Table
by Rev. Robert E. Smith, 10 May 1996
(http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/greek-table.txt)

Greek Transliteration Table

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Contents

Luke 2:36a - Anna was a preacher (prophetess)
Luke 2:36b-37a - Anna was a widow
Luke 2:37b - Anna lived in the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers
Luke 2:38 - Anna spoke of Jesus to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem

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Bible Text

Luke 2:
36 - And there was a prophetess (prophehtis), Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with a husband seven years after her marriage.
37 - and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. And she never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.
38 - And at that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
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Luke 2:36a
36a - And there was a prophetess (prophehtis), Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.

Prophetess: To speak before, openly.
A female interpreter speaking for the deity; or the wife of a prophet (cf. "duke" and "duchess").
In the OT the term is applied to Miriam, the sister of Moses (Exod. 15:20); Deborah (Judg. 4:4) -- in both instances seen by many scholars as a relatively late ascription; to Huldah, a contemporary of Jeremiah and a functioning woman prophet (II Kings 11:14) {Note CGP - also II Chron 34:22); to Noadiah, an adversary of Nehemiah and presumably also a professional (Neh. 6:14); and by Isaiah to his wife (Isa. 8:3).
In the NT the term is used of Anna (Luke 2:36) and of one Jezebel (Rev. 2:20); [Note CGP - and of the four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9)].
[The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible George Arthur Buttrick et. al., dictionary editor. (New York, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962) Vol. K-Q .]
In the Statutes of the Apostles, written in Egypt (Orient) early in 300 C.E., the preachers (prophets) are said not to have magnified themselves above the Apostles. Women preachers (prophetesses) are said not to have magnified themselves above men. It is significant that only two men preachers are named while eleven women preachers are mentioned.
We do not indeed disparage the true prophets; we know that the work in them and in the holy ones is from the Spirit of God. But we are causing to cease the hardness of heart of the covetous, and we inform them this, that God causes to cease his gift from such as these, because God resisteth the proud and giveth his grace to the humble. Silas and Gayuis [Gaius] were two before us, but they did not magnify themselves above the Apostles, nor went out of their limits, because they loved God. And women also prophesied in the old (testament), Miriam the sister of Moses and Aaron, and after her Dafura [Deborah], and after them Audla [Huldah] and Judith, the one in (the time of) Adratarsis [Ahasuerus] and the other in the time of Darius, and in the new (testament) the Mother of the Lord and Alish'a [Elizabeth] her cousin and Hannah [Anna], and also the daughters of Philip, and these did not magnify themselves above the men, but kept their limits. But women and men when they share in these graces shall be humble.
[The Statutes of the Apostles, G. Horner, translator. (London: Oxford, 1915) 272-273, also 192, 339, also found in “Constitutions of the Holy Apostles,” in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950) Vol. VII, Book VIII, Section I, Paragraph II, 481.]
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Luke 2:36b-37a
36b - She was advanced in years, having lived with a husband seven years after her marriage.
37a - and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four.

Pseudo-Clement wrote “Recognitions” about 175-225 C.E. which is a story about Peter, and testifies to the early existence of the order of widows.

He (Peter) appointed, as bishop over them, Maro, who had entertained him in his home, and who was now perfect in all things; and with him he ordained twelve presbyters and deacons at the same time. He also instituted the order of widows and arranged all the services of the Church.
[Pseudo-Clement, "Recognitions," in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950) Vol. VIII, 156.]
In the Pseudo-Clementine “Homily XI,” among other things related to the ordering of the church, Peter arranges matters relating to widows.
Peter ... having baptized them in the fountains which are near to the sea, and having celebrated the Eucharist, and having appointed Maroones ... as their bishop, and having set apart twelve elders, and having designated deacons, and arranged matters relating to widows, and having discoursed on the common good that was profitable for the ordering of the church, and having counselled them to obey the bishop Maroones ... he bade those in Tripolis of Phoenicia farewell.
[Pseudo-Clement, "The Clementine Homilies," Homily XI, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950) Vol. VIII, 292.]
Ambrose, "Concerning Widows," Milan, Italy (West), 339-397 C.E. wrote a large treatise in which he speaks of the liberty of the widow and of her office.
21. Scripture then teaches us how much grace is conferred by unity, and how great is the gift of divine blessing in widows. And since such honour is given them by God, we must observe what mode of life corresponds thereto; for Anna shows what widows ought to be, who, left destitute by the early death of her husband, yet obtained the reward of full praise, being intent not less on the duties of religion than on the pursuit of chastity. A widow, it is said, of fourscore and four years, a widow who departed not from the temple, a widow who served God night and day with fastings and with prayers. 22. You see what sort of person a widow is said to be, the wife of one man, tested also by the progress of age, vigorous in religion, and worn out in body, whose resting-place is the temple, whose conversation is prayer, whose life is fasting, who in the times of day and night by a service of unwearied devotion, though the body acknowledge old age, yet knows no age in her piety. Thus is a widow trained from her youth, thus is she spoken of in her age, who has kept her widowhood not through the chance of time, nor through weakness of body, but in large-heartedness in virtue. For when it is said that she was for seven years from her virginity with her husband, it is setting forth that the things which are the support of her old age began in the aims of her youth.
[Ambrose, "Concerning Widows," in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, editors. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955) Second Series, Vol. X, Chap. IV, 394-395.]
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Luke 2:37b
37b - And she never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.

In the early church manual, Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, Rome, Italy, around 215 C.E., one of the important duties of the widows was prayer. Only widows and virgins were required to fast frequently, and this may have contributed to the belief of the early church that their prayer was so powerful.

Widows and virgins shall fast frequently and shall pray for the church; presbyters, if they wish, and laymen may fast likewise. But the bishop may fast only when all the people fast.
[Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, Burton Scott Easton, translator. (Ann Arbor: Archon, 1962) 50.]
Four centuries after New Testament times, The Testament of Our Lord, one of the early church manuals.around 400 C.E., shows that the widows and deaconesses resided in the church and that the widows sat in front with the clergy.
I tell you therefore how the sanctuary ought to be ...
Let the house of the bishop be beside that place which is called the fore-court.
Also that of those widows who are called "those that sit in front."
Also let that of the presbyters and deacons be behind the baptistery.
Let the deaconesses abide beside the door of the Lord's house.
Let the Church have a house for entertaining near by, where the chief deacon shall entertain strangers.
[The Testament of Our Lord, James Cooper and Arthur John Maclean, translators. (Edinburghh: T. & T. Clark, 1902) 62-64.]
The early church manual, Didascalia Apostolorum, Palestine or Siria (East), 200-249 C.E., and "Constitutions of the Holy Apostles" probably compiled by Pseudo-Ignatius at Antioch, Syria, around 380 C.E. both speak of the widow who prays and presently receives her request.
But a widow who wishes to please God sits at home and meditates upon the Lord day and night, and without ceasing at all times offers intercession and prays with purity before the Lord. And she receives whatever she asks, because her whole mind is set upon this. For her mind is not greedy to receive, nor has she much desire to make large expenses; nor does her eye wander, that she should see aught and desire it, and her mind be withdrawn; nor does she hear evil words to give heed to them, because she does not go forth and run about abroad. Therefore her prayer suffers no hindrance from any thing; and thus her quietness ... and tranquility and modesty are acceptable before God, and whatsoever she asks of God, she presently receives her request. For such a widow, not loving money or filthy lucre, and not avaricious nor greedy, but constant in prayer, and meek and unperturbed, and modest and reverent, sits at home and works at (her) wool, that she may provide somewhat for those who are in distress, or that she may make a return to others, so that she receive nothing from them.
[Didascalia Apostolorum, R. Hugh Connolly, translator. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1929) Chap. XV, 136, 138, also found in "Constitutions of the Holy Apostles", in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950) Vol. VII, Book III, Section I, Paragraph VII, 428.]
The Testament of Our Lord, around 400 C.E., shows that the church supported the widow so that she could live a life of prayer and praise.
After she is [appointed] [katastasis] thus, let her not be anxious about anything, but let her remain solitary and having leisure for supplications of piety. For the foundation of holiness and life for a widow such as this is solitude. For She hath loved none other but the God of gods, the Father which is in heaven. But at fixed times let her give praise by herself, in the night [and] at dawn.
[The Testament of Our Lord, James Cooper and Arthur John Maclean, translators. (Edinburghh: T. & T. Clark, 1902) 109.]
The Syriac word for "appointed" has no reference to the imposition of hands. It is often used of ordination of clergy, but also of any appointment or election, e.g. of an emperor. It seems to refer to the whole action from election to ordination inclusive. The corresponding word in Greek, which is probably here underlying the Syriac, namely katastasis, is the most common word for ordination as a complete act.
[The Testament of Our Lord, James Cooper and Arthur John Maclean, translators. (Edinburghh: T. & T. Clark, 1902) 153.]
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Luke 2:38
38 - And at that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

The four daughters of Philip who were preachers serve as an example of women preachers.

And on the next day we departed and came to Caesarea; and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses. (Acts 21:8-9)
Eusebius cites a writer of Hierapolis who in turn cites Miltiades a historian before him, in which he criticizes the practice of Montanus, and the women preachers Priscilla and Maximilla, of preaching in ecstasy. This historian of Hierapolis names nine New Testament preachers, five of them women (the four daughters of Philip and Ammias of Philadelphia) and four men. These are cited as New Testament authorities on the proper way to preach. He, among the orthodox, chides those considered heretics for not having women preachers.
"But the false prophet," he says, "is carried away by a vehement ecstasy, accompanied by want of all shame and fear. Beginning, indeed, with a designed ignorance, and terminating, as beforesaid, in involuntary madness. They will never be able to show that any of the Old or any of the New Testament were thus violently agitated and carried away in spirit. Neither will they be able to boast that Agabus, or Judas, or Silas, or the daughters of Philip, or Ammias in Philadelphia, or Quadratus, or others that do not belong to them, every acted in this way. Again, after a little, he says: "If after Quadratus and Ammias in Philadelphia, the women that followed Montanus succeeded in the gift of prophecy, let them show us what women among them succeeded Montanus and his women. For the apostle shows that the gift of prophecy should be in all the church until the coming of the Lord, but they can by no means show any one at this time, the fourteenth year from the death of Maximilla."
[Eusebius Pamphilus, The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981) Book V, Chapter XVII, 199-200.]

We have already met Judas and Silas in Acts where we have a word picture of the ministry of prophets.

And Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message. And after they had spent time there, they were sent away from the brethren in peace to those who had sent them out. (Acts 15:32-33)
Every Christian, including women, should earnestly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of preaching which is to speak to people for edification and exhortation and consolation.
But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especialiy that you may prophesy. ... one who prophesies speaks to men (anthrohpois)for edification and exhortation and consolation ... greater is the one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues. (I Cor. 13:13, 14:1-5)
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