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Was Junia/Junias a female apostle?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
At the end of the book of Romans, Paul greets many individuals by name. Romans 16:7 reads, "Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the...

July 01 2013 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie Supporter Housewife, Artist, Perpetually Curious
Most likely, Junia was a female apostle who served alongside her husband. She was also a fellow prisoner for Christ, though not necessarily in the same jail cell or jail.

Andronicus and Junia are called outstanding among the apostles, which places them within the grouping of apostles.

"En" is a greek preposition, much like our English "In". It literally means 'inside' or 'within' something. Figuratively, it refers to 'in the realm of' something, such as location, proximity, contents, etc, and can also refer to the means by which something is accomplished. It can be then translated in/on/among/etc depending on what it is modifying [In the synagogue, on the street corner, among the crowd, sanctified in the spirit, judged by us, etc] - but it retains the relationship of "in". 

This preposition is used almost 3000 times in the NT. The following are types of the various ways it is used:

Mary was found to be with child - or literally, she was found "in" womb to have child, and that child conceived "in" her was from the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:18-20) Jesus was born "in" Bethlehem (Matt 2:1) A voice was heard "in" Rama, weeping for her children (Matt 2:18) When Jesus discovers power has gone out from Him, He turns around "in" or "among" the crowd (Mark 5:30-31). Paul's instructions were written "in" his letter (I Cor 5:9). A lustful look at a woman is adultery "in" one's heart (Matt 5:28). Jesus was moved "in himself" by the death of Lazarus (John 11:38) Paul uses it in the sense of "in my case" in I Cor 9:15. In I Cor 4:2 it is used as in, of, among - that among the stewards a faithful one be found (I Cor 4:2). Believers are called those who are "in" God the Father in Jude 1:1. The tomb of David was among/in the midst of the Jews (Acts 2:29) The 24 elders are clothed with/in white garments (Rev 4:4) The king should count if he along with 10,000 can meet a larger army (Luke 14:31). John baptized 'with' water to repentance (Matt 3:11). We are to pray for those "in" authority (I Tim 2:2). The ministry of death was engraved "in" letters on stones and yet was produced "in" glory (II Cor 3:7). Paul's ministry was commended 'in' endurance, 'in' the Holy Spirit, etc (II Cor 6) And so forth!

Following this usage of the Greek, Junia and Andronicus were outstanding in/among the apostles, being part of the group. This is the more probable given the grammar and word use. This is also the view held by many church fathers and scholars (Origen, Calvin, Luther, etc).

A less likely reading, which ignores the general meaning of the Greek 'en', is the that the group of apostles merely found Junia/Andronicus outstanding. 

"To interpret the statement as meaning that these were outstanding in the estimation of the apostles scarcely does justice to the construction in the Greek" (The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 10, p. 164). 

Moving on from word use and grammar, there is no real reason to think Junia could not have been among the apostles:

In the same passage, Paul greets Priscilla and Aquila, another husband/wife team (Rom 16:1-15), and he greets many other women. While Paul was single, there were many disciples and Apostles who were married. There were widows who hosted house churches, daughters who prophesied, and there was even a deaconess, Phoebe, that Paul called a 'commander of many'. Women were active in the ministry of the church, though most seemed to stay closer to home. Junia would have spread the gospel alongside her husband, until the two were eventually imprisoned.

There were apostles besides the 12. Explicitly mentioned are the 70/72 (Luke 10:1-17) - Mark the evangelist was probably among these; James the brother of the Lord (Gal 1:19); Barnabas (Acts 13:2, Acts 14:4); Jesus (Heb 3:1); and Andronicus and Junia. An apostle is 'one who is sent' - such as for mission work, to share the gospel, plant churches, encourage believers, etc. We see husband/wife teams, and even teams of women, going out and doing this work to this day.

October 27 2014 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Image41 Ezekiel Kimosop
My reading of Romans 16:7 confirms that neither Junias nor Andronicus were apostles and neither was female. The Greek text renders that they were splendid or influential persons or persons of good note who were known to the apostles presumably for their good works of faith. I have listed the verse in a few major literal translations to facilitate a fair comparison. The Young Literal Translation (YLT) is recognized by Bible scholars as one of the most literal texts besides the KJV.

ESV Romans 16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.

KJV Romans 16:7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

NJB Romans 16:7 Greetings to those outstanding apostles, Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and fellow-prisoners, who were in Christ before me.

YLT Romans 16:7 salute Andronicus and Junias, my kindred, and my fellow-captives, who are of note among the apostles, who also have been in Christ before me.

All the translations are in agreement that the two were not apostles but simply associates of the apostles. The leading Greek texts are also in agreement regarding this fact. For instance the BNT NA27 Greek Translation renders the verse of Romans 16:7: (my translation here): To Greet (salute) Andronicus and Junias my kindred (relative) and fellow prisoner who is splendid (or outstanding, known) in (or among) the apostles and who was before me in Christ." 

This clearly confirms that the two were not apostles and were male Jews. Both names in the Greek are in the noun accusative masculine singular proper indicating that the Junia too was male and not female as some have commonly assumed. Both men were Jewish by reason that Paul was writing to the church of Rome (which was predominantly a Gentile church) and they were certainly not married to each other! It appears that the confusion may have arisen from the manner in which Paul salutes couples such as Priscilla and Aquila (Romans 16:3). 

We can therefore conclude that the prominent reason for the mention of Andronicus and Junia is that unlike those others mentioned, both were Jewish believers and both came to Christ much earlier than Paul and both suffered with him in prison for their work of faith in Christ. It is possible that both were held in the same prison with Paul or that they may have been jailed at diverse times and in different places by the Roman authorities.

There is therefore no clear biblical basis for concluding that the two were a couple unless there was a manuscript error in the original texts, a fact which no New Testament Greek scholar has manifestly determined for the church. My view is that the claims recorded in some Bible commentaries in support of a male female relationship between Andronicus and Junias are not founded on sound exegesis of the Greek text and should be treated as mere suppositions

October 28 2014 13 responses Vote Up Share Report

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