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Junias In The Bible

The name Junia is mentioned just once in the Bible, in Romans 16:7.

The passage reads: “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.”

This brief mention of Junia has led to a lot of debate over whether she was a man or woman. Some scholars argue that Junia was a man’s name at the time—so it could be that Paul was referring to this person by his name instead of her name. Other scholars argue that Junia was a woman’s name at the time—so it could be that Paul was referring to this person by her name instead of his name.

In the Bible, Junia is a woman who was prominent in the early Christian church. She was a part of the missionary team that preached the Gospel in Rome and was also a leader in the early Christian community.

In Romans 16:7, Paul refers to Junia as “outstanding among the apostles.” This is significant because it shows that Junia was a fully-fledged apostle, one who had been sent out by Christ as a missionary. Additionally, she is referred to as an “apostle” in Acts 18:26.

Junias in the bible

Junia is only mentioned once in the Bible, but her inclusion raises some interesting questions. Not only is she commended for her suffering for Christ, she is the only woman that the New Testament refers to by a certain title. 

Who Was Junia in the Bible?

Who was Junia in the Bible? What made her so special that her name is in Romans 16? Junia was a common Latin name for females. However, she is the only woman in the New Testament called an apostle.

Where Does the Bible Talk about Junia?

The book of Romans is a letter by Paul to the people of Rome. Paul was known as a convert to the faith that he previously persecuted. He had noat visited Rome, yet he wrote a letter to the church, sharing the way to live a faithful life in Christ. He shared the personal journey to his belief in God, for he wanted everyone to have hope and salvation in God. 

In his message, Paul defends the gospel and shares that Junia and Andronicus served alongside him. He mentions that Junia was imprisoned with him and others, that Junia and Andronicus were prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before he was in Christ (Romans 16:7).

Romans is the only place in the Bible that lists Junia by name, and she is one of three women mentioned in Romans 16. The text indicates that the three women – Phoebe, Prisca, and Junia – were well known to the apostles. Andronicus was thought to be Junia’s husband, although some historians question whether he was her husband or brother. We don’t have the words Junia shared. We do know she was an important part of spreading the love of God.

What is the Context of Romans 16?

In Romans 16, Paul sends his personal greetings and lists individuals who have worked with him and others to share the gospel. Paul begins by commending Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae. Paul also asks that the people of Rome welcome Phoebe and the others he lists. Among those he cites is Junia. Each person Paul names has an important role in history. He is giving thanks for their dedication and asking the people of Rome to greet each person (Romans 16:1-6). He also shares a warning for everyone to keep an eye on those who cause dissension and trouble and reminds the people of Rome to live in faith and trust God.

What Made Someone an Apostle?

You may have heard or read the questions “What is an apostle? What is a disciple?” A disciple is often referred to as a student. Jesus had many followers (several hundred in fact), and an inner circle of twelve followers called disciples. Those men learned from Jesus. He shared the message of the Father. When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, He sent those people to be witnesses. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) and Jesus’ statement that anyone who abides in his words is a disciple (John 8:31) indicate that while the twelve had a special connection, we are called on some level to be Jesus’ disciples.

An apostle is someone sent to deliver a teaching or message. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology points out that different New Testament writers use the word in several different ways, but it usually refers to someone that Jesus personally appointed to deliver his message. Because of this limit, an apostle had to be someone that had been with Jesus from the start to when he ascended into heaven. We see this in Acts 1:21-22 when the eleven disciples picked Jesus’ follower Mathias as a replacement for Judas Iscariot. While Paul did not feet these details, Jesus personally appeared to him on the road to Damascus and gave him a new mission (Acts 9). Therefore, he qualified to be an apostle along with the twelve, and perhaps James the brother of Jesus (Galatians 1:9). 

However, Paul also uses the word apostle to describe Junia, Andronicus, his ministry partner Barnabas (1 Corinthians 9:1-6), and more generally to people like Titus and Epaphroditus who were co-laboring with him to deliver the message (2 Corinthians 8:23Philippians 2:25). The New International Version translates these two passages as “co-worker.” Since Junia was following Jesus before Paul, she might have been one of Jesus’ original followers and designated as an apostle by him. Alternatively, Paul may have meant that like Epaphroditus and Titus, she was a “co-worker” spreading the message. Either way, the fact that she is mentioned makes her vital to the mission.

What Can We Learn from Junia?

We may not get many details about Junia, but we do see some important lessons in her inclusion in Paul’s letter.

Women Can Share the Gospel

We all have the opportunity to share God’s Word, no matter our age or background. Jesus welcomed women into his inner circle. Jesus knew that men and women could share the gospel’s good news. Women were important then and today in showing the love of Christ. The Bible shares how women held church in their homes and funded churches from their own resources (Luke 8:1-3). Women cared for the widows, the sick, and the homeless (James 1:27).

Serving God is a Relational Activity 

Could Paul have written a shorter letter and not mentioned anyone by name? Yes, he could have given a message without listing names or giving thanks. Instead, Paul chose to share the names of people who were important in helping share the message. When he wrote each name, perhaps he pictured each person. When you write a letter and mention someone by name, do you see their face? Do you smile? Paul may have been smiling when thinking of all the people who had helped him along the way. While the glory is God’s alone, we serve God in a family of believers we are called to love.

We Serve God Even if No One Records What Happened

Some Scripture shares specific details about certain people. Some Scripture only provides a name and little else. We don’t know where Junia was from. Her hair color, height, weight, and eye color are details that Scripture doesn’t share. Although we don’t know the specifics of Junia’s daily routine or who she spoke to about faith in God, we do know she played a vital role in Paul’s ministry. Paul even mentions that Junia and Andronicus were in Christ before him. We must remember that all of God’s creations are vital. Details of appearance are not needed to know that Junia was important in her ministry. God created each person and animal with unique gifts and qualities. Whether our name is listed on places for everyone to see, or our name goes unrecorded, we can know that God loves each one of us. We are special and important. His love is forever.

Suffering Will Come and Go

Junia and Andronicus were imprisoned along with Paul. Can you imagine the feelings of knowing you would be in prison with many others? Were the men and women separated? The Bible doesn’t share any of Junia’s emotions about being imprisoned. The fact that she was a  known follower of Jesus may have brought fear about what she would experience in prison. Or, perhaps her faith kept fear away. We don’t know the daily suffering she endured, but we know that she kept to her faith during this time. We will have troubles and trials in this life. God promises that even while this time on earth may be filled with turmoil, we can rest in His promises and His love. 

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