Joanna was the wife of Chuza (the manager of Herod Antipas's household), and a patron of Jesus's ministry. She was known as a woman who helped fund the ministry of Jesus Christ and his apostles from her personal wealth. She was also present at Jesus' burial along with several other women.
Joanna (Gr: Ἰωάννα) is the feminine version on the name John (Heb: יוֹחָנָן, Johanan), and means "Yahweh is gracious". It is derived from Yah, the shortened form of the name of God, and the verb חָנַן, "to show favor, to be gracious".
Early Life and Family
Joanna was born into a prominent Jewish family in the latter years of Caesar Augustus (prior to AD 14). As a young woman, she was given in marriage to a member of the Jewish aristocracy named Chuza. The office of steward, which her husband held in the court of Antipas, would have had to pay handsomely to prevent fraud. In such a position, Joanna had a life of ease.
However, as her name indicates, she grew up believing in the God of Jews. Living close to Jerusalem, she would have accompanied her family to Jerusalem from an early age, possibly from about the time Jesus first began to preach in his Judean ministry. However, it was an encounter in Galilee that changed her life forever.
Apparently a socialite, Joanna had many friends, such as Mary and Susanna, who had come down with odd infirmities. Her family and friends had sought out Jesus, who had been healing as many as would come to him in and around Capernaum. Whether it was a demon or some earthly sickness, Joanna's suffering had ended. Healed, she began to assist Jesus monetarily for the rest of his ministry.
Disciple of the Master
Things had not been going well for Chuza's employer. The king had been dealing with John the Baptist as the preacher began to meddle in personal affairs. The prophet had been arrested and put in prison, but seemed to be favored by Herod. Then there was a big party, at which the ruler got drunk. His wife (also sister-in-law) had been the reason that the Baptizer had been arrested. She took advantage of the situation, having her daughter request John's head as a reward for her performance at the party.
About this time, possibly due to the influence of evil at the top, the household of Herod Antipas also suffered. Popularity fell as John's successor to the office of prophet became the talk of the whole region. Joanna had become sick, or even demon-possessed, and the new preacher had been working miracles. Taking a risk, Chuza took her to Jesus. Soon afterwards, she would spend much of her time following the rabbi and ministering to him out of her allowance.
This ministry continued to the end of Jesus' ministry, and probably beyond. It was through the generosity of families like those of Joanna that the early church was able to begin among the common people to whom they served. It had not been easy, for Antipas had been curious as to the popular preacher, and even was glad to see him during his incarceration and trial. However, the two of them did not get along, Jesus remained quiet during questioning, and Antipas would later have James, one of Jesus' closest friends, killed to please the Jewish leaders in their campaign against the growing church.
Nevertheless, Joanna was among the women that had first brought the message of the resurrection of Jesus to the rest of the disciples. As the disciples learned of coming things from Jesus in his post-resurrection ministry, Joanna was likely there. With the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Even by then, Chuza and Joanna had likely lost favor with the king who had become an ardent enemy of Christians before his death. By the time the Galilean Jews had became a minority in the church of the region known for its Gentile population, no mention of Joanna and her friends is made in the record.