Sunday, September 11, 2016
Paul the Apostle Sends Greetings to a Female Apostle in Rome
In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul sends personal greetings to twenty-four people in the latter part of the letter, i.e., chapter sixteen. These individuals are friends and co-workers who are dear to his heart.
Of the twenty-four mentioned by name, ten are women. Many of these obviously functioned in roles of leadership in the churches. One woman named Junia is specifically referred to as an apostle. In Rom. 16:7 Paul says, Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles who also were in Christ before me.
"Junia" is a feminine name and was universally recognized as a female apostle for the first several centuries of the Church’s existence. The famous church father of the fifth century, John Chrysostom, exclaimed, "Oh how great is the devotion of this woman, that she should be even counted worthy of the appellation of apostle" (Hyatt, Paul, Women and Church, 23).
Concerned by the presence of a female apostle, some have attempted to argue that the name should be translated as “Junias,” which is male. There are insurmountable facts, however, that militate against this argument.
First of all, without exception, all ancient Greek manuscripts have the feminine form of "Junia," not "Junias." Secondly, the female name "Junia" was quite common in the first century whereas the male name, "Junias," is unknown. "Junias," therefore, is a hypothetical name put forward by those who assume that an apostle must be a male. Thirdly, as mentioned above, "Junia" was universally recognized as a female apostle for the first several centuries of the Church’s existence.
Why then have some modern translations, such as the 1984 NIV, rendered the name Junias instead of Junia? Dr. N. Clayton Croy, Professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, says, “It is hard to see any reason other than the translators’ bias against the possibility that a woman could be an apostle” (Hyatt, Paul, Women and Church, 23).
Well-known New Testament scholar, James G. D. Dunn, agrees and says, “The assumption that the name must be male is a striking indictment of male presumption regarding the character and structure of earliest Christianity” (Hyatt, Paul, Women and Church, 23).
The evidence is conclusive that Junia was a female apostle and recognized as such by Paul himself. The evidence is so conclusive, in fact, that the 2011 edition of the NIV has replaced the word “Junias” with “Junia.”
Paul’s recognition of Junia as an apostle clearly demonstrates that women exercised leadership roles in the New Testament churches. But she is not alone, for a careful perusal of Scripture reveals other women who also functioned in leadership roles Their examples serve as models for women today who also sense the call of God to serve Him in leadership roles within Christendom.
This article is derived from Eddie Hyatt’s latest book, Paul,Women and Church, available in the Kindle format from Amazon and soon to be available in paperback. To see Hyatt’s vision for the church in America and around the world, visit his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.