Previous Verse Next Verse


and a widow about 84 years.

Go to footnote number

She never departed from the temple; but served

Go to footnote number

day and night with fasting and prayers.


and then she was a widow for about 84 years. She never left the temple complex but served and

worshipped continually through fasting and prayer.



”: Does this mean she was 84 years old? or that she had been a widow for 84 years? Scholars are much divided on this issue. The simplest and most obvious reading of the Greek text leads me to believe she had been a widow for 84 years. Consider this, there are three clauses that describe her age, one says she was very old, one specifies how long she was married, and one describes her widowhood. The clause telling us she was very old, and the one detailing her time of marriage, both included a participle, the last clause did not include any verb form, so we must insert one. Should we insert the same participle as the previous clause? “lived” as a widow for ___ years? This would fit the construction of the previous clauses. The other problem with making this sentence say she was 84 years old rather than 100 plus, is that we need to add something that is not there in order to make it say that. The text says “and a widow about 84 years,” it does not say “and a widow of about 84 years.” Without the insertion of the word “of,” the meaning naturally leans toward “a widow for about 84 years.” As I see it, everything points to her having been a widow for about 84 years, making her 104 to 106 years old since girls were often married between 13 and 15 years old. I have seen no good argument for the idea that she was a widow of about 84 years old. It seems that such an argument is largely based on the thinking that people of that day did not live that long, so 106 was impossible.

I believe this verse goes into as much detail as it does in order to tell us that she was very, very old. Just like Simeon, she was waiting for the arrival of the expected Messiah. Just like Simeon, she was allowed to live long enough to witness His arrival, whether she was told it would be so, or not. The fact that some people saw such longevity of life impossible is exactly why it is mentioned with such detail in the text. It highlights the reality that there were many devout and righteous people yearning for the coming of the Messiah, waiting an entire lifetime to see it, and for these two individuals, God honored that yearning.

The text says “about 84 years” because it was probably common back then for people to not know exactly what year they were born in or how old they were; this was especially true of women.


This word means “to serve,” and as an extension it means “to worship.” Worship is one of the ways we serve God. Did this usage have in mind only the more narrow idea of “worship,” or did it also include the broader concept of “service?” We cannot be sure and therefore you can find a number of Bible translations that read “serving” and a number that read “worshipping.” The Jews of Jesus’ day would have known that the word meant “serving” and it meant “worshipping.” They would not have separated the two. This is another case in which the richness of meaning makes it seem to us like a double meaning, but to them it was just what the word meant—not double, just full. For that reason I choose to express both ideas in the paraphrase column above.

Her method of serving and worshipping was to pray and fast for spiritual renewal, for revival, for eyes to be opened, for sin to be repulsed, for leaders to lead in a godly fashion, for worldly influences to be rejected, and for God’s Savior to come. Her service was not focused on rituals, or on outward appearance, but rather she was acting as a cheerleader to encourage God to fulfill His divine plan. That is precisely why she was given the blessing of witnessing the “arrival” of the Savior, and why she is mentioned in the text. Such a close connection to God, such a deep yearning, and such an example to others would not go unnoticed or unrewarded by God.