Junia

In the case of Junia, Paul writes in the letter to the Romans, “Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me” (Romans 16:7). The New American Bible changes the text slightly to say “relatives” in place of “kinsmen,” and “prominent” replaces the words, “of note.” Paul, in his word choices, seems to be indicating that these two individuals — Junia and Andronicus — are not only his relatives, but have achieved a level of respect and stature in their preaching and commitment to carry forth the work of the fledgling Church. Further, they had been believers and workers in Christ before Paul. Their long service to the Lord's work must have impressed Paul for him to reference it. Although some modern scholars believe Junia(s) was a man, early fathers of the church — Jerome and John Chrysostom, in particular — believed Junia was female; the name was popular for women in biblical times.

Junia may have worked in partnership with her husband (or brother) Andronicus, much like another wife/husband team of Priscilla and Aquila, whose story follows. Of all of the women in the New Testament, Junia is the only woman to be called an apostle.

Feminist theologians and biblical historians place great emphasis on Paul's reference to Junia as “…of note among the apostles…” (Romans 16:7). They assert that his remark proves that women served in all levels of leadership in the infant church, but today, even though they may be spiritually called to serve the Lord, they're forbidden entry into the priesthood.

Some readers might think that to be an apostle, the person would have to have met Jesus and studied with him. It is true that the Twelve knew Jesus, spent time with him, and learned from him while he was still was in his physical body, but Paul never met the earthly Jesus. Paul, formerly Saul, and persecutor of the followers of Jesus, had a powerful conversion experience on the road to Damascus that made him believe in the Lord and repent of his previous actions against the Jesus followers. After that he became known as Paul, and self-proclaimed Apostle to the Gentiles. Read about Paul's conversion in Acts 9:3–9.

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