Was Junia an Apostle?

Junia

I recently wrote why I accept women as leaders in the church. While I will get around to addressing the passages used against women in leadership, I like to start with examples of women in leadership. One of the most important of these examples Junia. In that previous post, I claimed that Junia was an apostle. But was she?

Not everyone accepts that Junia was an apostle. Here are some different translations of Romans 16:7.

  • Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. (KJV)
  • Greet Androni′cus and Ju′nias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners; they are men of note among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. (RSV)
  • Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also [b]were in Christ before me. (NASB)
  • Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. (NRSV)
  • Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. (NIV) – Please note that the NIV originally had the masculine Junias rather than Junia.
  • Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. (ESV)
  • Say hello to Andronicus and Junia, my relatives and my fellow prisoners. They are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. (CEB)
  • Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow countrymen and fellow prisoners. They are noteworthy in the eyes of the apostles, and they were also in Christ before me. (HCSB)
  • Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews and fellow prisoners. They are noteworthy in the eyes of the apostles, and they were also in Christ before me. (CSB)

What should be noted is that a translation is also an interpretation. If a translator comes with the assumption that a woman can’t be an apostle, that will affect the translation. The same if the translator is open to a woman as an apostle.

One of dealing with the problem of a female apostle is to turn the feminine Junia into the masculine Junias. However, scholars are pretty much agreed that Paul is talking about a woman in this verse.

That means the key interpretation problem will be her relationship to the apostles. Either she is outstanding as one of the apostles or she is outstanding in the eyes of the apostles.

The Greek of this verse is:

ἀσπάσασθε Ἀνδρόνικον καὶ Ἰουνίαν τοὺς συγγενεῖς μου καὶ συναιχμαλώτους μου, οἵτινές εἰσιν ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις, οἳ καὶ πρὸ ἐμοῦ γέγοναν ἐν Χριστῷ.

The Greek word ἐπίσημοι means notable or conspicuous. It seems to me that the plain reading is that Junia was notable among the apostles. If Paul wanted to distinguish Junia from the apostles, he could have done it much clearer.

What about Acts 1:21? It says, “Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us.” In this verse, they are looking for someone to replace Judas in the group of twelve apostles. It specifies that it is to be a man.

What we need to remember that there is a difference between the twelve and the apostles. The twelve are all apostles but not all apostles belong to the twelve. Consider this verse:

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

Nothing is the New Testament describes the qualifications of an apostle. Assuming that an apostle must be a man is outside of biblical witness.

This brings us to the plain reading of Romans 16:7 which seems to indicate that Junia was an apostle herself and not just appreciated by the apostles.




(Visited 200 times, 1 visits today)
Share
Liked it? Take a second to support Stephen Bedard on Patreon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *