Of Junia and Andronicus (Romans 16:7)

Romans 16:7 seems to be of great interest to some people for reasons other than the indication it gives that Paul knew and respected them. We are told by Paul that these two people were his relatives, that they were in Christ before him, and that they were esteemed among the apostles.

From things that I’ve read, some people want to believe that Andronicus and Junia (who was most likely a woman) were apostles.  The aim of this belief seems to be that, if Junia were an apostle, then woman ought to be ordained into the teaching ministry of the church.

I think that there are several problems with this sort of inference.

There is the ambiguity of the Greek preposition ‘en’. It can have the force, along with the dative form of a noun, of ‘in’, ‘with’, ‘among’, ‘at’ or even ‘to’.

The word episemos can mean ‘illustrious’ or ‘of note’.

So we have this request from Paul that the church at Rome greet his relatives, Andronicus and Junia ‘who are illustrious (or of note) among the apostles’.

Some believe that Paul means these two were particularly eminent apostles, others say that the apostles thought these two were pretty impressive Christians. The first group thinks Andronicus and Junia were apostles, the other group does not think they were apostles.

Let the fight begin! But I think the effort to sort out the meaning of the preposition etc, though interesting and possibly instructive, would not resolve what I see as the main question.

If Andronicus and Junia were really eminent apostles, don’t you think we would have heard  a little more of them?

The original twelve were prominently identified in the four gospels as particularly chosen by Christ, even though one was a devil. They were called, named, and instructed. They witnessed all that Jesus began to do and teach. They were commissioned to take the good news of salvation to the nations.

After Judas’s death, the choice of Matthias was preceded by a description of the requirements needed before a person could become an apostle of Jesus Christ (Acts 1). Any candidate had to have witnessed the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ (This is why there are no apostles of Jesus Christ today, unless they are 2000 years old). So, after finding two candidates who fulfilled all these requirements, the apostles prayed asking the Lord to indicate which of the two should replace Judas. The lot fell on Matthias.

Paul was called to the apostleship by the direct intervention of the risen Lord Jesus. Paul himself refers to his calling as being one born out of time (1Cor. 15:8). Nevertheless, there are many occasions in the book of Acts where the story of his calling is told.

In short, the apostles of Jesus Christ do not pop out of nowhere. In every case, scriptural evidence is given for the calling — along with details of how, when, and where. This is particularly true of eminent apostles like Peter, James, John and Paul.

For this reason, I do not believe that either Andronicus or Junia were apostles of Jesus Christ.