By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Women in the New Testament

  • Elizabeth and Anna lived during the reign of Herod the Great (37-4BCE).
  • Herod was a Jew, but cooperated with the Roman occupiers. The Jews hated him, and in an effort to win them over, he had the temple rebuilt.
  • Most Jews were expecting some sort of "deliverer," or "anointed one," or "Messiah," or "Christ." The words are synonymous.
  • Elizabeth means "one to whom God has sworn."
  • Elizabeth was of priestly descent.
  • She was obedient to God's commands, devout.
  • Barrenness was considered to be a sign of God's disfavor.
  • Elizabeth was late in years, probably menopausal (Sort of reminds us of Abraham and Sarah's situation).
  • Her pregnancy was miraculous.
  • We don't know why Elizabeth remained in seclusion for 5 months after she became pregnant.
  • When Mary came to visit her, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
  • Acting as a prophet (God's spokesperson), she blessed Mary.
  • Mary stayed for three months, but left before John was born.
  • Elizabeth named John because Zechariah was still struck dumb.


Aland, Kurt. Synopsis of the Four Gospels. Germany: Bible Society Stuttgart, 1972.

Beare, F.W. The Gospel According to Matthew. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981.

Brown, Raymond. The Birth of the Messiah. New York: Doubleday, 1993.

Gaventa, Beverly. Mary: Glimpses of the Mother of Jesus. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1999.

Geldenhuys, Norval. Commentary on the Gospel of Luke. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 1977.

Griffith-Jones, Robin. The Four Witnesses. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2000.

Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Gospel of Luke. Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991.

Sallberg Kam, Rose. Their Stories, Our Stories. New York: Continuum Publishing, 1995.

Summers, Ray. Commentary on Luke. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1972.

Bible Characters