Profiles in (RE)Purpose-Junia

By on June 24, 2013

By Cheri Cowell—

Perhaps it is the story of the change of the name of Junia (female) to Junias (male) by Bible translators that made the headlines. From the 13th century until recently when biblical scholars righted this wrong, Junia was known as a male, named Junias. While the early church fathers never questioned that Junia was female and an apostle, it seems later translators found it difficult to imagine a female apostle and thus added the “s” to her name making her masculine. Junia is mentioned in only one verse along with another apostle, Andronicus, and it is generally assumed that they were husband and wife. Paul refers to them as “fellow Jews who have been in prison with me.  They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was” (Romans 16:7 NIV).


natural sunscreen with zinc oxide

We don’t know when Junia received Christ, but it was before Paul’s conversion. It is assumed they were eyewitness to the crucifixion and/or resurrection events and could have been present at Pentecost; we don’t know for certain, but we do know the timing is there. What we also know is the exercise of her and her husband’s faith made them targets for the Romans. They were imprisoned together with Paul, suffering persecution and imprisonment for the sake of the Gospel.

(re)Purposing Lessons

Paul recommends Junia and her husband to the Roman Church as apostles with high regard. No matter how you translate the word apostle and what Paul meant by using it here, it is clear he respected the work of Junia and her husband. No doubt she’d earned his respect while in prison and, following their release, in the example they’d set in their ministry to the Roman Church.

(re)Purposing Steps

Have you been overlooked, dismissed, or maligned simply because you are female?

Junia’s story reminds us of some key things about womanhood and ministry.

  • The mistranslation of her name into a male name by Bible translators through several centuries did not mean Junia or her recognition by Paul were diminished. You may be marginalized, but your efforts are still recognized and remembered by God.
  • Your ministry work may not be well received by some simply because of your gender, but your sufferings for the sake of the Gospel will always be received by the One who suffered for your sake.
  • Finally, whether you are known as prominent among the greats or only to those with whom you faithfully serve, if you have witnessed the Risen Christ, then you are like Junia, commended to the ministry to which you are called, even as an apostle.

Originally posted on My Purpose Now.

About My Purpose Now

Deb is ‘wife’ to her high school sweetheart, mom to three incredible sons and Gigi to two perfect grandboys. She is a former Californian who now lives in the Dallas area. She is excited about the next stage of life and what God has for her now. An author, speaker, and executive coach, Deb travels extensively and is always seeking a quiet place to write. Read Deb at:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Profiles in (RE)Purpose-Junia