This blog post is a response to a recent blog article by J.R. Ensey. Ensey is former President of Texas Bible College and a well published Oneness Pentecostal theologian and author. Typically, I do not find myself disagreeing with Ensey but on this subject we take differing views. Nobody agrees all the time on everything so this is no surprise. However, a good Biblical discussion can only help clarify the respective positions. Another reply to Ensey’s article by Jason Weatherly can also be found here.
Is Junia a Female Name?
“The best available mss of Romans have Junia, a feminine name. Several later mss substitute “Junias,” a masculine name. Some early Christian scribes evidently altered the spelling from Junia to “Junias” in order to make the individual a male apostle.”
We can say with a degree of certainty that Junia is female name. There is no word for “man” or “male” in the Greek text to indicate otherwise. This is not really needed to understand who Junia might be. As we progress we will see that the context may contain indicators to help us see this more clearly. In the fourth century John Chrysostom refers to Junia as a female apostle. Another fourth century witness, Epiphanius, does use the noun in the masculine form but this is not convincing especially since he also refers to Prisca as a male as well.
Michael Burer and Daniel Wallace note, “The majority of patristic commentators regard this as a feminine name.”(4) The evidence, then, is actually against Junia being a male. Those in doubt should be those who would suggest she is not female. That seems to be the more tenuous position at this point. J.D.G. Dunn notes:
"But the simple fact is that the masculine form has been found nowhere else, and the name is more naturally taken as Ἰουνίαν = Junia … as was taken for granted by the patristic commentators, and indeed up to the Middle Ages. The assumption that it must be male is a striking indictment of male presumption regarding the character and structure of earliest Christianity…The most natural way to read the two names within the phrase is as husband and wife."(5)
Andronicus and Junia are referred to, by Paul, as though they were package deal and gives no hint of separate designations. Therefore, our hint may not be wrong. Paul and this couple seem to have had a long standing association with each other, since both were “fellow prisoners”, and both were “in Christ” before him. Romans 16 in particular has almost as many women mentioned as men: Phoebe, Priscilla, Mary, Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus's mother, Julia, Nereus's sister. And 9 of the 26 people greeted by Paul in Romans 16 were women. The probability for Junia being a female is significantly high.
Was Junia an Apostle?
If one assumes that only males are apostles then this text has been decided, however if apostles are not only males then this text presents no problems. An apostle isn’t just a part of the original twelve. Texts such as Galatians 1:17; Acts 14:4; 14; 2 Corinthians 8:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:6; Romans 1:1; Philippians 2:25 offer a wider sense. Roberston Nicoll cautions that “Paul’s use of the word Apostle is not such as to make it easy to believe that he thought of a large class of persons who might be so designated, a class so large that two otherwise unknown persons like Andronicus and Junias might be conspicuous in it.”
Romans 16:7 also indicates that Andronicus and Junia were “outstanding” (NASB) or “prominent” among the apostles. The Greek word for “outstanding” here or “prominent” (KJV) is episemos which occurs twice in the Greek New Testament and nine times in the Greek Old Testament (LXX). In Romans 16:7 this adjective is used in a plural form. This word can refer to bearing a mark or being notable. The following lexical sources indicate:
“excellent, distinguished; infamous…Rom 16:7: distinguished among the apostles (ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις)”
“splendid, prominent, …outstanding ἐ. ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις outstanding among the apostles Ro 16:7.”
Wallace and Burer suggest that this word, instead of here meaning prominent, suggest it is possible to translate Andronicus and Junia as esteemed by the apostles. Therefore, although Junia is female she may not necessarily be an apostle. Burer and Wallace’s study seem to hinge primarily upon pseudipigraphal works (Psalms of Solomon). However, more convincing that pseudipigrhaphal works is the apocryphal 3 Maccabes 6:1 which indicates the sense of “prominent among” as well. In addition, typically one who is esteemed by another is the one who is outstanding. Or, stands out above the others as in 3 Maccabes 6:1 which reads, “Then a certain Eleazar, famous among the priests of the country…” Eleazar was, quite literally, an outstanding priest.
Greek scholar Mark Goodacre from Duke disagrees and even suggests that Mary Magdalene is the first apostle. Goodacre also cites Eldon J. Epp who argues that Junia is a female and apostle. He also suggests that “the apostles” is being used as a descriptor about the status of Andronicus and Junia. He further notes,
“It makes sense and is perfectly Pauline. In the NET translation, on the other hand, "the apostles" is used in a less obviously Pauline sense. Now he is appealing to the authority of an external group labelled as "the apostles". He does not say that Andronicus and Junia are esteemed by "us apostles" (cf. 1 Cor. 4.9) or by "all the apostles, including me", as we might have expected if this were the sense of the passage. He continually refers to himself in Romans 16, and three times in this verse, 16.7, "my relatives", "my fellow prisoners", "in Christ before me", yet on the NET translation, he appears to give authority to a group called "the apostles" that does not obviously include him.”
Episemos is used to describe the ones to whom Paul refers. J.R. Ensey in a recent blog article suggests that we cannot really know if Junia was a female or even if she was an Apostle. The latter is probably more debated than the former but this does not keep us from being able to make good conclusions. Ensey notes:
“In the broader context of the New Testament record, it is highly unlikely that Paul would be naming Junia[s] as an apostle. Even if this reference were to a woman, she would be the lone and solitary example of a female apostle.”
Paul never suggests that ministry is limited to a particular gender. In fact, the first preacher of the Gospel was planned by God to be a female. Yet, here Ensey assumes, that Paul would never name a female as an apostle but since the Old Testament God has had plans to use females in his plan for believers. Ensey assumes his view and does not prove it. Unless one has an a priori assumption that an Apostle refers exclusively to males or only the original twelve the text can be read to suggest that Junia is a female and an Apostle. Perhaps, we will see further posts from Ensey concerning this.
Notice the below renderings of the final clause in Romans 16:7. The latter rendering, the NLT, seems to leave room for either interpretation.
The UBS Handbook on the Book of Romans suggests that this last clause should refer to those counted as “as apostles and were well known”. J.D.G. Dunn further notes,
"The full phrase almost certainly means “prominent among the apostles,”…The straightforward description “the apostles”, and the following clause, together strongly suggest that Andronicus and Junia belonged to the large group (larger than the twelve) of those appointed apostles by the risen Christ in 1 Cor 15:7 …That is, they belonged most probably to the closed group of apostles appointed directly by the risen Christ in a limited period following his resurrection and would include Andronicus and Junia within the select group of “premier” apostles (Eph 2:20), along with Barnabas (Gal 2:9; 1 Cor 9:5–6) and probably Silvanus (1 Thess 2:6–7). …We may firmly conclude, however, that one of the foundation apostles of Christianity was a woman and wife."(18)
Ensey also cites Albert Barnes. Barnes in his commentary suggests they were not apostles. He offers the following points against this interpretation of Romans 16:7. A reply will separate each point.
(1) There is no account of their having been appointed as such.
This is simply not sufficient. Outside of Paul’s reference in chapter 16 we do not even know the account of Andronicus and Junia being imprisoned as Paul. He simply recounts the historical experience as here. Are we to assume that Andronicus and Junia were not fellow-prisoners? No evidence is needed apart from Paul describing them as such.
(2) The expression is not one which would have been used if they “had” been. It would have been “who were distinguished apostles”; compare Romans 1:1; I Corinthians 1:1; II Corinthians 1:1; Philippians 1:1.
This is not decisive, but interesting. Differing constructions can be offered for almost any reading we choose. Likewise, if Andronicus and Junia were not apostles then we could expect something like 2 Corinthians 8:18: “We have sent along with him the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches;” However, this is not what we have in Romans 16:7.
(3) It by no means implies that they were apostles. All that the expression fairly implies is, that they were known to the other apostles; that they were regarded by them as worthy of their affection and confidence; that they had been known by them, as Paul immediately adds, before he was himself converted. They had been converted “before” he was, and were distinguished in Jerusalem among the early Christians, and honored with the friendship of the other apostles.”
This is to assume what he has yet to prove. As noted, episemos can refer to one who is outstanding among the apostles. But, an apostle nonetheless. Ensey also cites Jamieson-Faussett-Brown Commentary.
J-F-B Commentary states: “…where the connection or some qualifying words show that the literal meaning of ‘one sent’ is the thing intended, understand by the expression used here, ‘persons esteemed by the apostles’ [Beza, Grotius, De Wette, Meyer, Fritzsche, Stuart, Philippi, Hodge]. And of course, if “Junia” is to be taken for a woman, this latter must be the meaning.”
Ironically, the JFB commentators actually believe the feminine Junia is “more probable” at Romans 16:7. One cannot merely presume that the operative phrase “the apostles” cannot include one who is a female. This has yet to be proven. It well may be the case, I personally do not believe that it is, but that has not been proven. Therefore, interpretation is a primary factor no matter how we slice it. Ensey also notes:
"An interesting observation is that the Greek preposition “en” (en) can be translated in numerous ways. In Romans alone, the term is translated 156 times as “to” and only 9 times as “among.” It was a choice made solely by the translators. Tyndale, Cranmer, and the Geneva Bible translators rendered the term “well taken among the apostles.” Romans 15:9 may shed some light on the matter: “And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy: as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.” The use of “among” here did not mean that the one glorifying God, confessing Him, and singing unto His name (Christ) among the Gentiles was one of them. He was born a Jew and died a Jew, but He did these things among the Gentiles."
Words have various meanings depending upon their contexts. Perhaps, alternate readings are possible, as Burer and Wallace have demonstrated, but that does not mean it is being used in such a way here. In Luke 22:26 this same preposition is used in the dative and rendered “greatest among you” (ESV). Therefore, translating “en” as “among” seems to be a perfectly valid way of translating it in Romans 16:7 where it is also used in the dative. In summary Ensey notes:
"It is entirely possible to find those in academia who may feel pressure to say absolutely that Junia was a woman and an apostle, giving a nod to political correctness. Since the language chosen for the KJV seems to leave a small loophole in some minds, it has become the culturally popular position to take. However, looking at the whole of Scripture, and the preponderance of scholarly analysis, the conclusion most apparent is that these two individuals were faithful saints of God—perhaps ministers, although not stated—and were early converts well known to the apostles, having a reputation for faithful, outstanding service in the body of Christ. Beyond that, speculation takes over."
In his November blog contribution J.R. Ensey suggested that short pants on men has never been a part of the Apostolic Christian’s wardrobe. In the July blog post he states, “No one can deny that the vast majority of colleges and seminaries have been consigned to irreversible liberalism.” There is no question that believers are to be modest and we should spend our education dollars wisely. Neither of these follow to Ensey’s conclusions about short pants and neither does it imply we shouldn’t seek higher education. Even implying such a thing is dangerous to the development of the Christian mind. Using Ensey’s logic could he garner anyone in “academia” that would agree with him on his views of short pants or seminary? This type of logic can quickly come full circle.
 JRENSEY Blog: http://jrenseyblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/
 The Weatherly Report: http://theweatherlyreport.blogspot.com/2012/12/a-response-to-was-junia-romans-167.html
 Edwards, James. "Romans 16:7." Ed. Walter J. Harrelson. The New Interpreter's Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha. Nashville: Abingdon, 2003. 2033
 Daniel Wallace and Michael Burer, "Was Junia Really an Apostle?: A Re-examination of Romans 16.7", Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 6/2 (Fall 2001), http://www.michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/Was%20Junia%20Really%20an%20Apostle%20A%20Re%20examination%20of%20Rom%2016%207.pdf
 James D. G. Dunn, Romans 9–16, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998). 894.
 Nicoll, W. Robertson. "Romans 16:7." The Expositor's Greek Testament. New York: Dodd, Mead,
 Matthew 27:16; Romans 16:7
 Genesis 30:42; Esther 5:4; 1 Maccabes 11:37; 14:48; 2 Maccabes 15:36; 3 Maccabes 6:1; Psalm of Solomon 2:6; 17:30
 Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990-). 33
 William Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature : A Translation and Adaption of the Fourth Revised and Augmented Edition of Walter Bauer's Griechisch-Deutsches Worterbuch Zu Den Schrift En Des Neuen Testaments Und Der Ubrigen Urchristlichen Literatur (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979). 298.
 Goodacre, Mark. Associate Professor of New Testament Dept. of Religion, Duke University. http://podacre.blogspot.com/2009/09/nt-pod-12-junia-first-woman-apostle.html
 Eldon Jay Epp, Junia: The First Woman Apostle (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005)
 Goodacre, Mark. Associate Professor of New Testament Dept. of Religion, Duke University http://ntweblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/andronicus-and-junia-prominent-among.html
 Ensey, J.R. http://jrenseyblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/
 Ps 68:11 The Lord gives the word; the women who announce the news are a great host:; Matt 28:5, 10 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”; Mark 16:11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. Luke 24:10, 11 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
 Barclay Moon Newman and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on Paul’s Letter to the Romans, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1973). 292.
 James D. G. Dunn, Romans 9–16, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998). 894-95.