Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States


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The Holy Bible mentions many women who played different roles in the history of Israel and the early Christian church. Among these women is Joanna known as the wife of Chuza.

The name Joanna means Yahwehs gift or Jehovah has graciously given. It is a variation of the name "Anna" which means grace, or favor. Although Joanna is not mentioned by name in any of the Holy Gospels except St. Lukes, her role in attending and catering to the Lord is well established.

During His ministry on earth, our Lord Jesus Christ performed many miracles of physical and spiritual healing. Joanna was one of the many women who had been miraculously healed of various "evil spirits and infirmities" and like Mary Magdalene and others became a faithful believer and followed our Lord Jesus Christ. "Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmitiesMary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herods steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance" (Lk 8:1-3).

Joannas husband, Chuza was Herod Antipas steward. Herod Antipas was the Tetrarch of Galilee and one of the six sons of King Herod The Great who ordered the killing of the children of Bethlehem in an attempt to have the Lord Christ killed as an infant. Herod Antipas married his brother's wife while the brother was still living, an act forbidden by the Mosaic Law. He is the one who ordered the death of St. John the Baptist and saw the death of our Lord Jesus Christ

Chuza, being the tetrarchs steward, was a man of high position managing Herod's income. Such an important position would have earned him a good salary, enabling him to provide high-quality living for his family. Therefore, Joanna being a wealthy woman had all the means needed to travel and follow the Lord wherever He went and support Him in His mission on earth. This traveling life was not easy for men let alone for women, but Joanna did not hesitate to join the Lord and His disciples devoting not only her money but her time to support our Lord as He went from one city to the other touring the whole Judea and Galilee. Joannas husband must have been a believer himself otherwise he would have not permitted his wife to commit herself to Christ and provide for Him from their money.

Joanna was probably among the many women who accompanied our Lord on His last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. Looking on from afar, she saw her Lord and Master on the Cross unlike most of His disciples who fled away.

Joanna is depicted in some Orthodox icons as the Myrrh-bearer for her role on the day of the Resurrection. She was one of the women who went, very early on the first day of the week, to the tomb of our Lord bringing spices to anoint His Body. "Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared" (Lk 24:1).

For her faithfulness to the Lord, she deserved to be one of the very first people who discovered the resurrection of our Lord before the apostles did. Together with the other women, she found the stone rolled and the tomb empty. Being perplexed over the empty tomb, the women saw angels who declared to them that our Lord Jesus Christ had risen. Along with the other women she recalled our Lord Jesus Christ's words of His death and resurrection. "But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.'"

Along with Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, Joanna became the first to report our Lord Jesus Christ's resurrection to the Apostles, but until St. Peter and St. John the beloved went to the tomb and saw for themselves the linen cloth and no body of their Lord, the women's declaration was at that point disbelieved. "And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened" (Lk 24:2-12).

Although not mentioned by name, Joanna is most probably counted as one of the women who joined the disciples and St. Mary, the mother of the Lord, in the upper room constantly in prayer and supplication. She was among the group of 120 who chose St. Matthias to fill the vacancy that was left by Judas, as well as being present on the Day of Pentecost.

May we learn from this blessed woman to willingly commit ourselves to the Lord in humble servitude, to freely give our time, our resources, and effort for Him, dedicating ourselves to His ministry and be faithful witness of His Gospel.

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