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“Among” or “to” the Apostles?

In Romans 16:7, Paul gives four pieces of information about a couple named Andronicus and Junia. Up until 2001, one of these pieces of information (ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις/episēmoi en tois apostolois in Greek) has usually, but not always,[1] been understood as meaning that Andronicus (a man) and Junia (a woman) were outstanding or notable among the apostles.

Native speakers of ancient Greek, such as Chrysostom, took it that way.

And indeed to be apostles at all is a great thing. But to be even among these of note, just consider what a great tribute this is! But they were of note owing to their works, to their achievements. Oh! How great is the wisdom of this woman, that she should be even counted worthy of the appellation of apostle! Chrysostom, Homily 31 on Romans.

But in 2001, the English Standard Version (ESV) was published and they translated the phrase that was formerly rendered in English as “outstanding among the apostles” (e.g., NASB 1995, NIV), or “of note among the apostles” (e.g., KJV, RSV), as “well known to the apostles.” (Italics added.)

The CEV, CSB, NASB 2021, NET, and a few lesser-known translations have the same idea as the ESV. (Translations of Romans 16:7 can be compared on BibleGateway, here.)

The ESV translation, “well known to the apostles,” may have been based on the work of Michael Burer and Daniel Wallace. Burer and Wallace published a journal article in January of the same year the ESV was published: “Was Junia Really an Apostle? A Re-examination of Romans 16:7,” in New Testament Studies, CUP, 47.1 (January 2001), 76-91. In their conclusion, Burer and Wallace state,

It would be more accurate to say that phrase ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις almost certainly means “well known to the apostles.” Thus Junia, along with Andronicus, is recognized by Paul as well known to the apostles, not as an outstanding member of the apostolic band.[2]

Burer and Wallace’s Conclusion

I’ve read the 2001 paper (and Burer’s 2015 follow-up paper) and found that much of the actual information provided did not support or prove the paper’s conclusion.

Linda L. Belleville has said about the 2001 paper:

Burer and Wallace assume a conclusion not found in the evidence. Despite their assertions to the contrary, they fail to offer one clear biblical or extra-biblical Hellenistic example of an ‘exclusive’ sense[3] of ἐπίσημοι ἐν and a plural noun to mean ‘well known to.’ Burer and Wallace admit this early on, but then go on to conclude otherwise.[4]

David A. Shaw likewise states that Burer and Wallace “have not, however, been able to supply sufficient evidence to demonstrate their argument conclusively.”[5] Shaw goes on to say, “This is not to say Rom 16:7 cannot mean ‘well-known to.’ Burer and Wallace helpfully put what evidence there is on the table but it does not support their conclusion that the phrase ‘almost certainly means’ well known to the apostles.’’ What they have demonstrated is that both options are possible.”[6]

Other scholars who find fault with the 2001 paper and refute its conclusion include Richard Bauckham[7] and Eldon Jay Epp.[8] Yii-Jan Lin has responded to Burer’s 2015 paper.[9] Furthermore, there are scholars at the top of their field in New Testament studies who, despite the work of Burer and Wallace, state that Andronicus and Junia were notable among (Greek: ἐν) the apostles. As one example, Peter Lampe, a foremost scholar of early Christianity, succinctly states, “The ἐν has to be translated as ‘among’ (the apostles) like in 1 Corinthians 15:12 and James 5:13-14, 19.”[10]

Paul Makes it Personal

As well as understanding the grammar and vocabulary of ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις, we need to understand how this phrase fits with the other parts of Romans 16:7, and we need to understand Paul’s overall intent and tone.

As a way of fostering unity, Paul wanted the Christians in Rome to greet Andronicus and Junia (as well as the other people listed in Romans 16:1-16), and he gives four phrases of praise and affirmation about the couple. Paul refers to Andronicus and Junia as (1) “my relatives” (i.e. fellow Jews), (2) “my fellow prisoners,” (3) “who are ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις,” and (4) “who were in Christ before me.” (Italics added.)

In three of the four phrases, Paul connects and compares Andronicus and Junia with himself and he uses Greek personal pronouns meaning “my/ me.” Paul is making the connection and the comparisons personal. If we take the third phrase to mean “of note among the apostles” then, here too, the couple is connected and comparable to Paul who is himself among the apostles. Andronicus and Junia are included.

On the other hand, “of note to the apostles” is less personal. It sounds as though the couple is known to a group of apostles or missionaries who are somewhat distant. The fact that no one in this group is identified increases the feeling of distance. According to the “to” translation, Andronicus and Junia are not included in this group.

Overall, the inclusive sense of “among the apostles” matches Paul’s tone in the other three phrases of Romans 16:7 better than the exclusive sense of “to the apostles.”

Who are the Apostles in Romans 16:7?

Some assume the group of apostles referred to in Romans 16:7 are Jesus’ twelve disciples. However, Paul was not one to put great store in the approval of the Twelve (cf. Gal. 2:6ff).[11] Paul identifies Cephas, understood to be Simon Peter, as an apostle in Galatians 1:18-19. He mentions Cephas/ Peter a few times and John once (Gal. 2:9), but he doesn’t mention any other individuals who belonged to the Twelve in his letters.

Moreover, in 1 Corinthians 15:5-7, Paul identified the Twelve as “the Twelve,” not as “apostles,” and they are distinct from another group which he does call “the apostles.” Leon Morris has noted that, while Paul uses the term apostle “a good deal” (the word occurs 34 times in the Pauline letters), “he rarely uses it for the Twelve. Mostly he uses it for himself or of the apostles generally.”[12] Apart from the author of Luke-Acts, the word “apostles” is rarely used by other New Testament authors for the Twelve. (See here.)

Furthermore, by the time Paul wrote his letter to the Romans in the winter of AD 56/57 or 57/58, at least some of the Twelve had been scattered and their number depleted (cf. Acts 12:1-2). So I suggest it is unlikely Paul is referring to the Twelve (or to a remnant of the Twelve), but to missionaries closely associated with himself.[13]

Somewhat along these lines, Craig S. Keener writes,

Since [Andronicus and Junia] were imprisoned with him, Paul knows them well enough to recommend them without appealing to the other apostles, whose judgement he never cites on such matters . . . [Furthermore,] Paul nowhere limits the apostolic company to the Twelve plus himself, as some have assumed (see especially 1 Cor. 15:5-11).[14]

However, if Junia was well-known to the remnant of the Twelve, this itself is a remarkable commendation of her ministry.[15] Even with this understanding, Junia and her partner were, most likely, successful and well-known missionaries who, like some other missionaries, had been imprisoned because of their gospel ministry. Nevertheless, “among” fits better with Paul’s inclusive tone in Romans 16:7.

My Conclusion

Translating precisely from Greek into English can be difficult, and translating Romans 16:7 is no exception. Still, in all honesty, I can only see one reason to say that Andronicus and Junia (a woman) were not among the apostles or missionaries, and it has little to do with Greek grammar.

I agree with Craig Keener:

It is unnatural to read the text as merely claiming that [Andronicus and Junia] had a high reputation with “the apostles.” . . . Those who favor the view that Junia was not an apostle do so because of their prior assumption that women could not be apostles, not because of any evidence in the text.[16] (Italics added.)

The more obvious reading is that Andronicus and Junia, as well as being fellow Jews and fellow prisoners of Paul, were also fellow apostles or missionaries. The couple may even have known Jesus personally, as they had become Christians early on, even before Paul’s conversion.

Here is my translation of Romans 16:7:

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding (or, notable) among the apostles, and who were in Christ before me.”


[1] For example, in the early nineteenth century, the Canon of Chester, Rev. James Slade, wrote that the phrase in question “may either mean that they were highly esteemed by the Apostles, or that they were themselves eminent teachers.” Annotations on the Epistles, Vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1816), 161. (Google Books)

[2] Burer and Wallace, “Was Junia Really an Apostle?” 90. (A pdf of the paper is here. A pdf of Burer’s 2015 paper is here.)

[3] Burer and Wallace have labelled the two views regarding Junia’s apostolic status as “inclusive” and “exclusive.” They explain,

The approach that regards Andronicus and Junia as in some sense apostles we will call the inclusive view; the interpretation that regards them as non-apostles we will call the exclusive view. The inclusive view is thus represented in the translation ‘outstanding among the apostles’ while the exclusive view is seen in the translation ‘well known to the apostles.’
Burer and Wallace, “Was Junia Really an Apostle?” 79.

They acknowledge, “The vast bulk of commentators follow the inclusive view …” (p. 79)

[4] Belleville, “Ἰουνιαν … ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις: A Re-examination of Romans 16.7 in Light of Primary Source Materials,” in New Testament Studies 51 (2005): 231-49, 244-245.

[5] Shaw, “Is Junia also among the Apostles?: Romans 16:7 and Recent Debates,” in Churchman 127.2 (2013): 105-118, 111. (A pdf of this paper is here.)

[6] Shaw, “Is Junia also among the Apostles?” 112-113.

[7] Bauckham notes that “their evidence does not actually support [their] conclusion.” He further notes that the paper has “serious defects” and its conclusion is “highly tendentious, even misleading.
Bauckham, Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 172-179, 174.

[8] Epp states that “even a cursory examination of [the evidence] presented raised significant doubts about the authors’ stated thesis . . .”
Epp, Junia: The First Woman Apostle (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005), 73. (This book is available to read on the Internet Archive website.)
See also, Epp in “Text-Critical, Exegetical, and Socio-Cultural Factors Affecting the Junia/Junias Variation in Romans 16,7,” in NT Textual Criticism and Exegesis: Festschrift J. Delobel (ed. A. Denaux; BETL 161; Leuven: Leuven University/Peeters, 2002), 227–91.

[9] Lin makes this statement in her conclusion,

All grammatical, morphological, and historical evidence—the meaning of ἐπίσημος + ἐν + dative, the occurrences of the feminine name ΙΟΥΝΙΑ in ancient Rome, the understanding of the church fathers—point to a prominent woman apostle named Junia. In the context of Paul’s emphatic and sometimes strident defense and his claims of unique apostleship and authority, we can confidently understand Junia as an apostle before Paul.
Yii-Jan Lin, “Junia: An Apostle before Paul,” Journal of Biblical Literature 139.1 (2020): 209, 209.

Lin argues in her paper that Paul’s acknowledgement that Andronicus and Junia were in Christ before him supports his statement that the couple were among the apostles.

[10] Lampe, “The Roman Christians of Romans 16,” in The Writings of St. Paul, Wayne A. Meeks and John T. Fitzgerald (eds) (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007), 665.

[11] James B. Hurley writes that “it is unlike Paul to make something like acquaintance with the apostles a matter of praise.” Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective: A Study in Role Relationships and Authority (Leicester: InterVarsity Press, 1981), 121. (Google Books)

[12] Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 39.

[13] At the beginning of his letter to the Romans, Paul uses plural and inclusive language when he tells his audience, “Through [Jesus Christ] ‘we received’ (elabomen) grace and ‘apostleship’ (apostolē) to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” (Rom. 1:5). Unlike in his other (undisputed) letters, Paul does not identify a co-sender or co-author at the beginning of Romans. However, at the end of his letter, he indicates that “Timothy, my coworker” and others are with him (Rom. 16:21). Elsewhere Paul indirectly identifies Timothy as an apostle (1 Thess. 2:7 cf. 1 Thess. 1:1). There is no real reason to exclude Andronicus and Junia from a group that included Paul (Rom. 1:1), Timothy, and others who, like them,  broadcast the name of Jesus to the nations.

[14] Keener, Paul, Women & Wives (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1992, 2009), 242.

[15] The last phrase in Romans 16:7 is different in Western texts than in other Greek texts that contain this verse. In Codex Claromontanus (Dp/ 06), Codex Augiensis (Fp/ 010), and Codex Boernerianus (Gp/ 012), the last phrase can be translated as, “outstanding among the apostles, those [apostles] who were before me in Christ.”

The following is taken from Philip J. Abbott’s 2015 master’s thesis, Bringing Order to 1 Corinthians 14:34–35 (Pepperdine University, Malibu) where he notes the difference. A pdf of Abbott’s thesis is freely available here.

western text of Romans 16.7

Dr Abbot has made a chart listing some variants in verses in Western texts that mention women. The chart can be viewed in my article on Codex Bezae, here.

[16] Keener, Paul, Women and Wives, 242.

© Margaret Mowczko 2019
All Rights Reserved
Last edited April 12, 2023

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36 thoughts on “Was Junia well known ‘to’ the apostles?

  1. It’s still November 28th here in the US, Thanksgiving Day. And I wanted to let you know, Marg, you’re one of the people I’m very thankful for. Today’s post, plus the rest of your incredible website, have been a great source of information, assurance and inspiration. I pray the Lord will continue to guide and strengthen you for this very necessary work.

    1. Thank you so much, Bob.
      Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Thank you for this very interesting study of Junia. It has made me think a great deal about the problems of translating and interpreting the Bible and how that relates to cultural expectations.

  3. Thank you for this clear and crisp reflection that locates the greeting: and both pins it down and lifts it up at the same time. Wonderful. It is a rare gift to us all.

  4. Great piece of work Marg
    Junia was right there in the mix with the Apostles, possibly martyred for her faith? Spoken highly of in the Bible by Paul. Enough said!
    Thanks again
    Alan Bohling

  5. Their minds were already made up. They don’t let the facts confuse them.

    Is there any other topic where well meaning believers can mess up a translation to suit themselves and get away with it?

  6. Great article… I especially appreciate your Chrysostom reference. Also, when I look at the word, ἐπίσημοι, and find that it is “kin” to the Greek word for “miracle”, I am aware that this was no mere social compliment that Paul gave to Junia. Andronicus and Junia were highly distinguished among the apostles.

    1. Hi Gerald,

      “Distinguished” is a good definition of ἐπίσημοι as it applies to Andronicus and Junia. ἐπίσημοι is related to the Greek word for “sign,” and in the NT the word “sign” is sometimes used for miracles as they signify something.

      1. Daniel Wallace thinks that they were both well known to the apostles.
        “Thus, if in Rom 16:7 Paul meant to say that Andronicus and Junia were outstanding among the apostles, we might have expected him to use the genitive4 τῶν ἀποστόλων. On the other hand, if an elative force is suggested—i.e., where no comparison is even hinted at—we might expect ἐν + the dative.”

        “When, however, an elative notion is found, ἐν plus a personal plural dative is not uncommon. In Ps Sol 2:6, where the Jewish captives are in view, the writer indicates that “they were a spectacle among the gentiles” (ἐπισήμῳ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν). This construction comes as close to Rom 16:7 as any I have yet seen. The parallels include (a) people as the referent of the adjective ἐπίσημος, (b) followed by ἐν plus the dative plural, (c) the dative plural referring to people as well. All the key elements are here. Semantically, what is significant is that (a) the first group is not a part of the second—that is, the Jewish captives were not gentiles; and (b) what was ‘among’ the gentiles was the Jews’ notoriety. This is precisely how we are suggesting Rom 16:7 should be taken.”

        However, as I considered this strong argument it occurred to me that he might be missing the meaning of Ps Sol 2:6. “en” always carries the idea of the aforementioned thing or description being within what is mentioned in the second part of the statement. If Ps Sol 2 Is about Israel being exiled among the Gentiles, this sentence probably refers to the fact that the Jews are physically living within the lands of the Gentiles rather than their notoriety being widespread. I am not familiar with the Psalms of Solomon so I wouldn’t know. Have you considered this argument?
        I also think that if Paul meant to say that the pair were praised by the apostles or were commended for their notorious ministry he would have used a choice of words more like 2 Corinthians 8:18. Does my reasoning seem sound?

        1. Hi Dana, thanks for this. I personally find it difficult to see an elative nuance in the preposition en. It typically has an inclusive “within” or “at” sense.

          However, Belleville notes, “There is the rare instance in the NT of ἐν plus the dative of persons as equivalent to the simple dative. In these cases, however, the phrase is used with an action verb or idea to denote advantage or disadvantage to/for someone.” And she cites Matt. 17:12, Mark 14:6, 1 Cor. 9:15, 2 Cor. 4:3, and 2 Cor. 8:1. Belleville, “Ἰουνιαν …” p. 243-244.

          Douglas Moo, admittedly writing before Burer and Wallace’s work, writes that “with a plural object, en often means ‘among’; and if Paul had wanted to say that Andronicus and Junia were esteemed ‘by’ the apostles, we would have expected him to use a simple dative [without the preposition en] or hupo with the genitive.” Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 923 fn 39. Moo repeats this in the more recent edition of his commentary.

          However, I don’t think there’s much point in suggesting what could have been. This goes for 2 Corinthians 8:18 too.

          Paul commends and praises fellow ministers in a variety of ways. And, to be fussy, the praise in 2 Corinthians 8:18 is the praise of others διὰ πασῶν τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν. It’s not specifically Paul’s praise. Rather he is using their praise as a commendation. On the other hand, Paul’s comments about Andronicus and Junia are very personal.


          I’m starting to wonder if Paul’s indirect statement about Andronicus and Junia as apostoloi was because women were not typically called apostoloi. It might have been unheard of and weird to call a woman an apostolos. (I’ve been doing a little research on this.) So rather than directly saying “Andronicus and Junia are apostoloi,” he says “they are well-known/ outstanding among the apostoloi.” Chrysostom also speaks indirectly (this is not clear in the common English translation); yet, at the same time, he definitely identifies Junia as an apostolos. And Chrysostom knew Greek!


          Psalms of Solomon 2:6 is worth a closer look. To be precise, it’s the necks of the Jewish people that are noteworthy or significant (ἐπίσημος). Also, the Jewish people remain in a distinct, exclusive group even though they are now living among (ἐν) the gentiles.

          Here is Ps Sol 2:6 (with ἐν three times):
          οἱ υἱοὶ καὶ αἱ θυγατέρες ἐν αἰχμαλωσίᾳ πονηρᾷ ἐν σφραγῖδι ὁ τράχηλος αὐτῶν ἐν ἐπισήμῳ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν
          My translation: “The sons and the daughters are in painful captivity; with a seal [tattoo? collar? wound?] their necks are marked (lit. “with a mark”) among the gentiles.”
          The sense being, the necks of the Jews who are living among the gentiles are marked with a conspicuous or notorious seal.

          The Jews and Gentiles are clearly distinguished and in separate groups. This context supports Wallace’s “exclusive” idea but ἐν still seems to mean “among.”

          Here’s Brenton’s translation: the sons and the daughters in painful captivity, their neck in a seal, in (a place) visible among the gentiles.

          Here’s Brenton’s translation of 2:7 for added context.
          According to their sins He [God] did to them this: He abandoned them to the hands of those who prevailed.
          κατὰ τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν ἐποίησεν αὐτοῖς ὅτι ἐγκατέλιπεν αὐτοὺς εἰς χεῖρας κατισχυόντων

          Unlike Andronicus and Junia, who may well have been included in the group of apostles/ missionaries, the Jews were not included as gentiles, yet they were living among them in their land. The Greek preposition en means “among” here.

          1. Is it true that Origen of Alexandria offered two possibilities in regard to the pair? One where they may have been considered excellent by the apostles and a different possibility where the pair were considered to be prominent apostles?

          2. Hi Dana, where does that idea come from?

            Origen seems to make it clear that he believes the couple were involved in apostolic ministry, and he makes this suggestion:

            … it may be understood that they were perhaps of the seventy-two (septuaginta duobus) who were themselves also called apostles (ipsi apostoli nominati sunt), and that it is on that account that he says they are excellent among the apostles (ideo nobiles eos in apostolis dicat), even among those who were apostles before him (in his apostolis qui ante eum fuerunt).

            This quotation is taken from a translation of Origen’s words (Commentary on Romans 10.21.1-27) on Junia here: http://www.weighted-glory.com/2018/12/origen-apostle-junia/

            This translation includes a note on nobiles in apostolis, words are taken from the Latin translation of Origin’s quotation of Romans 16:7.

            It is possible for the Latin in + ablative to mean “in the eyes of;” for example, De Bello Civili 1.61, “Caesaris in barbaris erat nomen obscurius / The name of Caesar was more obscure among the savages [but Caesar was not himself a savage].” However, Origen’s comments demonstrate that he interpreted the phrase inclusively
            (I’ve emphasised the last line in bold.)

          3. “Hi Dana, where does that idea come from?”
            I read it somewhere while researching this issue some time ago. I can’t remember where it came from or who wrote it. Thank you for explaining that. I tried looking it up myself, but I wanted another trustworthy opinion to analyze it. For some reason I missed that part where Origen of Alexandria clarifies “who were themselves also called apostles (ipsi apostoli nominati sunt), and that it is on that account that he says they are excellent among the apostles (ideo nobiles eos in apostolis dicat), even among those who were apostles before him (in his apostolis qui ante eum fuerunt).”

          4. I just found out about this a few days ago. Al Wolters has come up with an alternative hypothesis where the accented name is actually a male Jewish name Yĕḥunnī that was converted into a gentile form. What do you think about Al Wolters’ hypothesis?

          5. I regard Junia being Yehunni the same way as Wolters regards Junia being Joanna, “It is just possible, but highly unlikely.”
            See http://paulandco-workers.blogspot.com/2011/02/al-wolters-responds-on-junia.html

            Also, instead of “a Gentile form,” I’d say “a Latin equivalent written in Greek.”

          6. OK thanks I can remember Latin name written in Greek

          7. Hi Marg
            Your link to Shaw’s “Is Junia also among the Apostles?… in Churchman is no longer working. Or at least it’s not working for me in the USA. I think they moved the paper somewhere else or took it down from the web page because the Church Society website says “Sorry, we couldn’t find the page you were looking for”
            Also, if you could provide a PDF of Linda Belleville’s paper that would help people like me independently assess the claims for and against the patristic interpretation of Junia. Even if you don’t put up the PDF it might be a good idea to put up an article on your blog with Belleville’s Greek counterexamples against Burer and Wallace. Anyway, it’s just a suggestion. I understand that you do this kind of work all the time.

        2. Thanks for letting me know about the changed web address. Here’s the new web address for Shaw’s paper: https://www.churchsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Cman_127_2_Shaw.pdf

          I don’t think a pdf of Belleville’s paper is freely (and legally) available. But it is available through many libraries and other institutions if you want to do further research. It is excellent and worth getting.

          Note also my response below to Philip about what Linda Belleville said about responding to Burer’s follow up paper: “Not worth my time. Same manipulation of texts.”

          Here are some excerpts from Belleville’s paper.

          Primary usage of ἐν is inclusive ‘in’/‘among’ and not exclusive ‘to’ (as claimed by Burer and Wallace). The following are representative:
          Matt 2.6 But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah (ἐν τοῖς ἡγεμόσιν Ἰούδα).
          Acts 4.34 There were no needy persons among them (ἐν αὐτοῖς).
          1 Peter 5.1 I appeal to the elders among you (ἐν ὑμῖν) as a fellow elder.

          While dative personal nouns are typically used to show the recipients (‘to’/‘for’), this is not the case for the preposition ἐν plus the dative. There is the rare instance in the NT of ἐν plus the dative of persons as equivalent to the simple dative. In these cases, however, the phrase is used with an action verb or idea to denote advantage or disadvantage to/for someone. p.243-244

          Burer and Wallace assume a conclusion not found in the evidence. Despite their assertions to the contrary, they fail to offer one clear biblical or extra-biblical Hellenistic example of an ‘exclusive’ sense of ἐπίσημοι ἐν and a plural noun to mean ‘well known to’. The authors themselves admit this early on, but then go on to conclude otherwise. More, in this pool (despite claims to the contrary) the
          Hellenistic parallels to ἐπίσημοι ἐν plus the dative plural bear the inclusive meaning ‘a notable member of the larger group’ and not the exclusive ‘well-known to’. p.244-245

          Belleville then provides the following examples on p.245 (shown) with two more on the following page (not shown). Click on this link:

          There’s lots more relevant information in her article.

  7. You are a trusted source and I quote your site often, recommending it to friends with questions. Thanks for your steadfastness in supporting women’s calls to ministry.

    1. Thanks, Phill.

  8. What do you think Marg about Ben Witherington’s theory that Junia may indeed have been the same woman as Johanna mentioned in the gospels as one of the women who accompanied Jesus and provided for the apostles? I found his arguments quite convincing. I have always thought of Joanna as a very interesting person. To leave her husband Chuza (aide to Herod) and the town/city of Tiberias ( one place Jesus never visited because of its connection to vice at that time) and follow Jesus, seems like a huge and courageous decision to make for a woman then. Connecting the spirit of these 2 names seems remarkable yet not incredible to me.

    1. Hi Myra,

      Richard Bauckham, another eminent scholar, also argues that Junia and Joanna are one and the same. I think it’s interesting, but I don’t know how we can know this for certain. I’ve written three short paragraphs on the idea in this article on Junia: https://margmowczko.com/junia-jewish-woman-imprisoned/

  9. I’m, frankly, baffled by your conclusion. It does nothing to clarify the English interpretation of the Greek, nor substantiate your (apparent) egalitarian view that Junias was an apostle. Indeed, I agree with Craig Keener as well – as stated by you and your italics. Or, v 7 itself is inconclusive in assigning any apostolic office to Andronicus and/or Junias – regardless of one’s attending desire. In contract law, such an appeal to v 7 results in an apparent “ambiguity.” In clarifying an ambiguity, you appeal to different parts of the same contract and then, if necessary, arbitration by higher authorities. Rewriting a contractual clause to suit one’s hopes is typically a last resort option – and does not happen without high-level interaction. In this case, it is no option at all.

    This dispute rests on the Greek preposition, “en” and the corresponding English preposition, “among.” In the context and grammar of the surround letter, there is, really, no other possible translation that removes the ambiguity of that preposition (“numbered among” vs “living among”). Imagine the damage to the integrity of one’s translation to render verse 7 along, say, egalitarian lines, by inserting English words unsupported by the Greek to resolve that ambiguity. E.g.:

    Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding (or, notable) among the [member] apostles,
    and who were in Christ before me”

    Clearly that strategy doesn’t work with peer reviewed papers, nor with opposing sides of this (contractual) dispute. With that, one must appeal to attending scripture to resolve the ambiguity, which takes us back to Paul’s unambiguous instructions on the role of women in the church. That is noteworthy for more than a couple reasons, I’ll state one here: in most jurisdictions, ambiguous contracts are said to be resolved “against” the party that drafted the contract. Thus, to resolve this apparent prepositional ambiguity, you must indict Paul for his inability to precisely state key requirements of the contract in writing. If Paul does it here, the rest of his capability rightly comes into account and forces subsequent scrutiny. Given the opposing views thus stated, an appeal must be made to a greater, mutual authority to resolve Paul’s failures. However, in doing so, you create a fatal fracture in the work of Paul and, thus, the Spirit of Christ Himself, as the author. I would call that … an “untenable position.”

    Or, do you believe the Holy Spirit is revealing things to you (all) He somehow withheld from Paul?

    1. Hi Dave, my article is primarily about how to correctly translate the pertinent phrase in Romans 16:7, in particular, the word en. And for the reasons above, I translate en as “among.” Furthermore, my interpretation is the same as Chrysostom’s: Andronicus and Junia were outstanding apostles.

      I suspect when you say, “Paul’s unambiguous instructions on the role of women in the church” you are referring to 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-15. In these verses, Paul corrects bad behaviour; he is not prohibiting sound ministry from godly women. I address these passages elsewhere. (See here and here.) Most Christians do not regard these verses as unambiguous and this is demonstrated in the various ways these verses are implemented and applied. (See here and here.)

      Paul’s general teaching on ministry in Romans 12:6ff, 1 Corinthians 12:1-31, and Ephesians 4:11, as well as his encouragement of communal participation in church gatherings in 1 Corinthians 14:26 and Colossians 3:16, included women.

      I see no fatal fracture. I see a wonderful life-giving and mission-motivating consistency in Paul’s teaching on ministry, and in his teaching on community (Gal. 3:28; 1 Cor. 12:1ff; etc), and in his affirmation of women ministers such as Junia, Priscilla, Phoebe, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Persis, Nympha, Apphia, etc. Paul’s ministry terminology, including the word apostoloi, included women. (See here.)

      In answer to your final question: no.

      1. Greetings Marg! Thank you for the response. I believe I understood your intentions and further contend neither your translation (essentially the NASB rendering), nor your conclusion clarified the historic ambiguity in question. Therefore, your appeal to Chrysostom as a mitigating authority seemed … wanting.

        Regarding your exegesis of 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy, your (et al) stated egalitarian position creates the ambiguity which you attempt to resolve by an appeal to the dual authorities of culture and linguistics/grammar respectively. In doing that, you either miss or disregard Paul’s own appeal to the authority of the Law to resolve both his instruction and subsequent activities governed by it. That Law (1 Cor 34) is further refined in vs 37-40 and applies to 1 Tim 2:1-8 as instruction to men first and the corresponding activities of women in vs 9-15 second. Noting your disagreement on its clarity, Paul’s theology and subsequent doctrine rests on the order of creation (1 Cor 11:3; Eph 1:22, 5:22, 24 [there is no “kephale” without the attending “hupotasso”]; 1 Cor 15:20-28). And that order extends beyond Paul, through Jesus and the Old Testament to the cornerstone human relationship — marriage (Matt 19:1-9). In addition, Paul uses Christ, the Church, marriage and a mystery to seamlessly connect the beginning to the end (Eph 5:25-33). Thus, my appeal is to the authority of the Spirit through Paul to Christ and ultimately, His Father to reveal His manifold wisdom – in the Church – to clarify that mystery and attending ambiguities (the role of women in ministry). Remember, Jesus came to fulfill the Law (Matt 5:17) which we, in turn, meet Its requirements through the Spirit (Rom 8:4).

        The active participation of women in the ministry of the Spirit is not in question. In fact, I would say, taken as a whole, it is equal to the contributions of men in necessity and fullness of unity. However, it must be done in a lawful manner (1 Cor 14:40; 15:23). In light of that, I see nothing of contention in your observation of the “wonderful life-giving and mission-motivating consistency” regarding Paul’s teaching. But only if it is based on the authority of Law versus unprecedented arguments (women as anointed apostles) and opinions of muted commentators.

        I’m happy you answered “no,” some have not and attempt to rewrite or eliminate scripture in doing that. So, I wonder, what is so important about being an apostle, or pastor, or teacher that “you” demand the attending but (apparently) forbidden authority over men (a man) to attain it? The general justification to those offices is “equality” in Christ. I’ve endeavored to understand what equality means to an egalitarian — that definition has eluded me (I arrived at your website when I was researching Huldah). Perhaps you can enlighten me concerning that definition.

        1. Hello David

          ~ I don’t regard Chrysostom as a mitigating authority, but as someone who knows Koine Greek a lot better than Michael Burer.

          ~ I don’t disregard Paul’s appeal to the “law” in 1 Corinthians 14:34. There is no statement in the Torah that tells women or wives to be silent or submissive. So I suspect nomos is used with the sense of “custom,” which is a common meaning of the word. Jesus also never tells women or wives to be silent or submissive.

          1 Corinthians 14:34 is the only verse in the whole Protestant Bible where women are told to be silent. (1 Tim. 2:12 contains a word that means quiet or “tranquil”; it doesn’t mean “silent.”) Two other groups of people are also told to be silent in 1 Corinthians 14:26-40, using the same Greek word as in v. 34, sigaō. The speech of these three groups was unruly and causing disorder in Corinthian assemblies.

          Paul encourages prophecy and participation in ministries as long as it’s done in an edifying, orderly manner, something you acknowledge. Paul instructions in 1 Corinthians 14:26-40 are bookended by appeals for edification and order. We must not overlook this context. Paul was silencing unedifying and unruly speech. He was not silencing edifying, instructive and sound ministry. I’ve written about these verses here. I don’t wish to repeat myself further.

          ~ I do not say or imply that culture has authority. In fact, I find your assumption strange. Several of your comments indicate that are reading more into my words than what I state. But surely the Greek New Testament has more authority than any English translation. I take Paul’s Greek words literally and seriously. I take the whole Bible seriously. Linguistics and grammar are tools we use every day, often unconsciously, to make the meaning of words comprehensible. I’m using these skills now as I read your comment and I use them when I read the Bible. But linguistics and grammar do not have authority; this is another odd notion.

          ~ Kephalē is often used in the NT without hypotassō as a counterpart, and vice versa. Paul does not mention submission in 1 Corinthians 11:3ff; his concern was with the respectable appearance of the heads and hair of the men and women who were praying and prophesying in Corinthian assemblies. (And he does not silence these men and women.)

          Conversely, Colossians 3:19-20 says nothing about kephalē. (It also says nothing about leadership or authority.) “Husbands love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” That’s it! Paul elaborates on this in Ephesians 5:25ff. Furthermore, hypotassō is used in Ephesians 5:21 without any counterpart of leadership or authority. I could provide more examples, but I won’t.

          ~ I suggest any ambiguity you are feeling is because you are reading my words through the lens of your own ideas. You are also making many unfounded assumptions. I don’t regard ministries as offices. I never say being an apostle, or pastor, or teacher is “so important.” These are your ideas not mine.

          I also never say that it’s okay for a woman to have authority over a man (though this is not what 1 Timothy 2:12 is about). The authorisation for ministry, given ultimately by the Holy Spirit, is an authority to function in a certain ministry; it is not an authority over another capable brother or sister in Christ. But I do say that none of the ministries listed in Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1ff, 14:26; Ephesians 4:11, Colossians 3:16, etc, are forbidden to suitably gifted and called men and women. Christian ministers are to be servants, not rulers.

          ~ I explain Christian egalitarianism here. Having said that, I prefer the idea of mutuality rather than equality, but I’ve found that the concept of mutuality is more difficult for people to grasp than equality.

          Anyway, if you have any more questions, you can write search terms into the search field provided on this page. I’m just repeating things here that I’ve written about previously. And it’s a waste of my time to provide an answer to ideas that I do not even hold, such as Chrysostom being a mitigating authority; that I have disregarded the reference to “law,” that I demand forbidden authority over men, etc.

          I don’t know whether your intention was to insult me or not, but let me say that I do not demand anything. I never have. You clearly do not know me at all. I am a quiet, gentle, and completely undemanding person. I don’t know what kind of creature you have imagined in your mind, but she doesn’t think or act the way I do. Furthermore, I repeatedly state on my website that authority over another capable brother or sister in Christ is the antithesis of what Jesus taught and demonstrated regarding Christian ministry and regarding Christian community (i.e. the church).

          Furthermore, there is no reason why you should suspect, just because your understanding on a few points is different to mine, that my appeal or approach or foundation is any different to yours, namely, the authority of the Spirit through Paul to Christ and ultimately, His Father to reveal His manifold wisdom in the church.

          I have refrained from judging you even though I think your understanding of some concepts, such as the created order, is incorrect. It is a shame you could not do likewise. If you want to argue with someone who does not think it’s wrong for godly and gifted women to be apostles, pastors and teachers, perhaps take it up with one of these people.

          I think you will appreciate that I am wasting my time by talking to someone who overlays my actual words their own preconceptions and has a mistaken and low opinion of who I am. I won’t be approving any further comments from you simply because I just don’t have the time for an ultimately fruitless conversation.

  10. Burger and Wallace respond to those who criticise their original findings at the link below. Shouldn’t any article which criticises their findings incorporate their response to criticisms?


    1. Hi Philip,

      Thanks for the link. This is handy.

      I’ve read the article previously and found it was more of the same. Linda Belleville was recently asked on Facebook if she would respond to the second paper and succinctly replied, “Not worth my time. Same manipulation of texts.”

      It seems to me that Burer has searched for patterns in Greek texts that aren’t really there, made a rule out of the patterns, and then applied his rule to Romans 16:7. And it seems the aim of this exercise has had one purpose: to prove that Junia was not an apostle, and therefore, presumably, did not have an influential ministry that required leadership and/or teaching.

      The main reason I believe Paul was saying that Andronicus and Junia are among the apostles is because of the inclusive nature of Paul’s other three affirmations of the couple. Chrysostom’s comment is also persuasive. The debate between Burer and Belleville et al is very much secondary and included simply because without Burer’s papers there would be no real issue about how to translate episēmoi en tois apostolois.

      Update: I’ve added a couple of lines from Yii-Jan Lin’s 2020 paper which was published after I wrote this article. Dr Lin sees flaws in Burer’s second paper and concludes Junia was an apostle.

  11. I’ve just “discovered” the Inclusive Bible which renders Romans 16.7 as “and to Andronicus and Junia, my kin and fellow prisoners; they are outstanding apostles, and they were in Christ even before I was.”

    1. That makes it pretty clear. Though I do think Paul is saying A & J are his fellow Jews rather than kin. Though if they are related to Paul by blood, they are both.

      Paul uses the word suggeneis a few times in Romans and, while it can mean “kin/relatives,” I believe he repeatedly uses it in the context of being Jewish.

      I’ve written a review of The Inclusive Bible here: https://margmowczko.com/the-inclusive-bible/

  12. Why can’t they see it is their bias influencing them about Junia?

    1. If people are convinced that women cannot be apostles, then the verses that says Junia is an apostle needs to be explained in some other way.

  13. […] The debate about whether Junia was “outstanding among the apostles” or, as some argue, that she was “well-known to the apostles” and not an apostle herself, has not been resolved.[2] But either way, Junia was a prominent figure in the apostolic church. Junia and her partner Andronicus were not part of the Twelve, but they were well-known and respected Christian missionaries. […]

  14. “The more obvious reading is that Andronicus and Junia, as well as being fellow Jews and fellow prisoners of Paul, were also fellow apostles or missionaries.”

    This goes to the secondary meaning of “apostle”: “sent ones” NOT of Christ personally (as with the Twelve + Paul), but of the /churches/. That is: missionaries/outreach workers. In other words, Paul in Romans 16:7 isn’t necessarily referring to the capital-A “Apostles,” who were commissioned directly and personally by Jesus Himself.

    Andronicus, Junia, Barnabas, et al, were /not/.

    1. Hello AJ, No one is arguing that Andronicus and Junia were among the 12. No one.

      Also, the 12 are seldom called “apostles” (apostoloi) in the Gospels: once in Matthew, once in Mark (twice in the Textus Receptus), five times in Luke, and never in John. (See Matt. 10:2; Mark 3:14 TR; Mark 6:30; Luke 6:13; 9:10; 17:5; 22:14; 24:10.)

      Just because the 12 are called apostoloi doesn’t mean that some other apostoloi, like Andronicus and Junia or Paul, were not commissioned directly and personally by Jesus. Since Andronicus and Junia were “in Christ” before Paul, as it says in Romans 16:7, the couple may have followed Jesus while he was on earth and Jesus may have commissioned them then.

      I count 21 apostles in the New Testament: the 12 (with Matthias replacing Judas) plus eight others who are all referred to as apostoloi. This number doesn’t include Jesus who is called “the Apostle and High Priest of our confession” in Hebrews 3:1, and it doesn’t include the unknown number of anonymous brothers who are called apostoloi in 2 Corinthians 8:23.

      I have more on the apostoloi in the New Testament here:

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