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Was Junia of Romans 16:7 a female apostle?

“Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among [esteemed by] the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was” (Romans 16:7 -NIV).

Proponents of female ordination argue that Junia was both a woman and an apostle. Since apostles had authority over men in the church, Junia shows that women can be ordained to gospel ministry.

Bible Translations on Julia

Bible translations, and even the underlying Greek manuscripts disagree about whether Junia was a woman. The Greek construction of the name could refer to a woman or a man depending on where the accent is placed. However, accents were not used in Greek writing until hundreds of years after Paul wrote his letter to the Romans.

Historians viewpoints on Julia

The church fathers were divided on this issue.

  • John Chrysostom (AD 359–407) believed Junia was a woman
  • Origen (AD 185–254) believed Junia was a man
  • Epiphanius of Salamis (died AD 403) uses the masculine form, Junias, and claims to have specific biographical information. He later wrote that “Junias, of whom Paul makes mention, became bishop of Apameia of Syria.”

Final Thoughts on Julia

The truth is that Paul could not be contradicting himself for in 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 1 Timothy 2:12. He clearly teaches that women should not serve in the capacity of ministers or elders because doing so would place them in a leadership over men. Ministers are the New Testament equivalent to the Old Testament priests. Ministers and elders lead out in communion, which is the New Testament equivalent of offering a sacrifice—a role that was performed only by males.

Junia would not be regarded as a female apostle because the entire teaching and context of the Bible limits leadership in the organized church to men. A female apostle is a major claim, and it would require major clear biblical evidence, which is not found in the Bible. For more on this topic, you can also check out: Hasn’t the gospel freed women from the headship of men?

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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