Summary: Andronicus and Junia successfully brought many to Christ and demolished many temples of idolatry. The tradition holds that they were capable of performing miracles, by which they drove out demons and healed many of sickness and disease.
Title: Andronicus and Junias
Andronicus and Junia successfully brought many to Christ and demolished many temples of idolatry. The tradition holds that they were capable of performing miracles, by which they drove out demons and healed many of sickness and disease. Andronicus died as a martyr.
There has been a dispute surrounding both Junia's gender and apostolic status. However, she has been viewed as female through most of Christian history and by the majority of scholars. However, the precise nature of her apostolic status has been debated more. Except for the reference to a masculine "Junias" purportedly from the fourth-century bishop of Salamis, Epiphanius, the first texts regarding Junia as a male named Junias come from 12th-century manuscripts. The first author to describe Junia as a male was Giles of Rome in the 13th century.
Romans 16:7 is the only place in the New Testament where Junia is named. However, some have also identified her with a woman from the Gospels named Joanna, the wife of Chuza, who appears in Luke 8:1–3 and the narrative where the women visit the tomb of Jesus towards the end of the Gospels.
Romans 16 is the final chapter of Paul's Letter to the Romans. In this chapter, Paul mentions his greetings to some other members of the Christian sect in his time, one-third of them being women. Of the twelve members that Paul describes in this chapter as having contributed the most to the Church, seven were women, whereas five were men. Among those women was Junia, who is introduced in Romans 16:7: "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). Most scholars have understood Paul to be referring to Junia as an apostle in this passage, although some have disagreed.
What does Romans 16:7 mean?
Paul's greeting is directed to a pair known as Andronicus and Junia/Junias. Though we do not know for sure, most scholars think it likely Junia is a woman's name, making this the second married couple included in Paul's list of greetings.
Andronicus and Junia are described as Paul's "kinsmen," likely meaning Jewish. If so, Andronicus, given his name, was probably a Hellenistic Jew. He had grown up as a Jewish person assimilated into Greek culture and spoke Greek instead of Hebrew. Paul refers to the pair as fellow prisoners. Paul often spent time in jails and prisons preaching the Gospel. Andronicus and Junia shared that experience, though we do not know if they were in prison with Paul at the same time.
Depending on the translation, the couple has been either well known "to" the apostles or "among" them. Given Paul's next statement in the following verse, it seems likely Andronicus and Junia at least knew the original 12 who came to hold the official office of Apostle. Paul writes that they were in Christ before him, meaning that Andronicus and Junia may have been Christians long enough to have been part of the very birth of the Church led by Peter and the others in Jerusalem.
Some scholars suggest that Paul referred to the pair as being "among" the apostles themselves, using the term in a general sense as he sometimes did to refer to other messengers of the Gospel like Barnabas and Silas (Acts 14:14; 1 Thessalonians 2:6). Andronicus and Junia must have been vocal in proclaiming Jesus if they spent time in prison for it.
Romans 16:1–16 includes a list of two dozen or so people or groups that Paul wants his readers to greet for him in Rome. He introduces them to Phoebe, the lady who will deliver this letter from him in Corinth. He asks them to greet his good friends and longtime partners in work and ministry, Prisca—or Priscilla—and Aquila, who have returned to Rome from their time in Asia. Also on the list are close friends, slaves, royal families, and members of the various house churches that meet in Rome; Andronicus and Junia were also on the list, as we have seen.
In the first millennium of Christianity, Junia was described by Paul as an apostle. "Greet Andronicus and Junia . . . who are outstanding among the apostles."To be an apostle is something incredible. However, to be outstanding among the apostles—think what a wonderful song of praise that is! They were outstanding based on their works and virtuous actions. Indeed, how great the wisdom of this woman must have been that she was even deemed worthy of the title of Apostle.
All others in the first millennium of the ancient Church also took the name to be feminine. The first commentator on the passage, Origen of Alexandria, assumed the name to be feminine. In the 2nd century CE, Christian commentators did not indicate doubt that the epistle referred to Junia and that she was a woman and an apostle, including Jerome (4th-5th century), Hatto of Vercelli (10th century), Theophylact, and Peter Abelard (both 11th century). The earliest instance of someone taking the name to be masculine is Aegidius of Rome in the 13th-14th century. However, it demonstrates that the name was not commonly seen as masculine until well after the Reformation. Likewise, the most ancient New Testament manuscript versions (that is, the Vulgate and Old Latin) all read "Junia." The name Junia was also provided as the most likely reading in the Greek New Testament from its inception in 1898 until its 13th revision in 1927, at which point (without any new manuscript evidence to bring about the change), the preference changed to the male "Junias"; Junia was not restored until its 27th revision in 1998.