"And there was a prophet named Anna ... a widow of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day ... and she continued to ἐλάλει of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem" (Luke 2:36-38 NAS).
I have used the Greek verb ἐλάλει in quoting the text above without translation. Before I show you how this word is used throughout the New Testament, let me remind you of a few things to set the context of this very important text. I believe the Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God, and our beliefs and behavior should reflect the biblical standard.
(1). The gospel writer Luke is describing the first public appearance of Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) in the Temple of Jerusalem.
(2). The law of first mention makes this verse vitally important in showing how Christ is to be revealed to people.
(3). Simeon has already preached a stirring proclamation of Christ to all (see Luke 2:34-36).
(4). Anna now takes center stage and ἐλάλει of Christ to all.
The word ἐλάλει is used throughout the New Testament. This word is used of Jesus in Mark 2:2 where he "preached the word" (KJV) in Capernaum. This word is translated "stating the matter plainly" in Mark 8:32 (NAS). It is most often used of Jesus when he "speaks" to His disciples for the purpose of instruction. This word conveys in its etymology and essence: "To speak for the purpose of teaching."
Anna taught the people of the Temple. She didn't teach just women. She taught all. Anna had no "covering" over her, such as a husband, because she had her authority from God. She was gifted and inspired by the Spirit, enraptured and enthralled by the Savior, and moved by need of the people. Again, Anna needed no covering from any man because she had her calling from God. Anna preached Christ. Sure, there would have been men who refused to listen or who walked out as she spoke of Christ. These would have been the rabbinical and Temple leaders who "were not looking for the redemption of Jerusalem," but believers--both men and women--welcomed her teaching them.
To be honest, I am stupified by John Piper, Don Carson, and others who add to Scripture and try to impose on women restrictions that are nowhere found in the New Testament. What puzzles me is how the clear and direct teaching of the entire New Testament is seemingly ignored in the minds of these men. The only explanation I can find is that their errant interpretation of one passage of Scripture (I Timothy 2:11-15) leads them to deny the infallible text of Scripture. If you count yourself as one who is confused by what seems to be a contradiction of the entire New Testament by this Timothy passage, then I would urge you to print off and study carefully a blog I posted years ago entitled Are the Sisters Free to Function? I think this article will help you see the error of interpreting Paul to mean something that is contrary to the rest of the New Testament, and to the very thing Anna actually did in the Temple. I wonder if patriarchalism, disguised by the modern misnomer "complementarianism," is actually a hindrence to the gospel; particularly when its advocates are denying the clear teachings of the New Testament.
This weekend we are interviewing a delightful woman for a pastoral position at Emmanuel. Our Leadership Team is moving the position that my assistant held (she is retiring) from the secretarial pool into a ministry position. The person we are interviewing is a M.Div graduate from Dallas Theological Seminary and their "star student" according to the professors to whom I spoke. If she becomes part of the pastoral staff at Emmanuel, she will join two other smart, competent women who will form our pastoral team of ten. I am grateful to be among Christian people in Enid who--had we been in the Temple when Anna began to ἐλάλει of Christ-- would not feel the need *"to pull a Piper."
One of these days male leaders in the Bible-believing community will take for granted that the New Testament teaches the Spirit empowers people to serve based on the His giftings and not gender. One of these days the idea that the Spirit withholds certain gifts because of gender will be rendered as unbiblical and unhealthy as the ancient notion that certain people ought to be slaves because of color. Equating women teaching men about Christ (something Anna did) to same-sex sexual activity, and then calling both activities "sin," renders powerless the very definition of sin. Sin is any transgression of the law of God (I John 3:4). It is clear from Luke 2 that when the Lord first appeared the Temple, one of the persons who preached of Him to the men and women present was a woman. Why do we call "sin" the very thing God uses to bring honor to Christ? It's about time we Christians lived our lives in accordance to the standards of Scripture and not according to the traditions of men.
(*The phrase "to pull a Piper" means "to so focus on gender that one misses Christ.")