In a long list of greetings, most of which are one liners from the Apostle Paul to many different people, Paul honors Junia with this:
Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Romans 17:7
Like the running credits after a movie, Junia’s name appears so briefly in Scriptures as to be almost missed. But if you put those credits on a brief pause, you’ll see that Junia was outstanding in her faith and a significant contributor to the Christian Church.
Junia was mentioned in partnership with Andronicus.
Whatever their relationship was; husband and wife, siblings, or friends, they were a two person team, supporting the premise that God doesn’t call us to live out our faith journey alone but in connection with other believers.
Junia was thrown in prison for her faith.
Her “works” for the Kingdom landed her in prison with Paul. Junia trusted God through her season of suffering and imprisonment. As we know, God uses all things for our good. Is it possible that this dark, solitary isolation of imprisonment was spiritually rich soil for Junia’s faith; a time of rest, renewal, and growth under the bright spiritual light of God’s love?
Junia was recognized for her outstanding faith.
Junia was a Jew, so highly regarded in history that during medieval times the powers in place, in disbelief that a woman could have such a great honor bestowed upon her, added an “s” to her name, changing “Junia” to the masculine form, “Junias”. Modern day scholars now believe that Junia was, in fact, a woman. However, not every modern scholar believes that Junia was an apostle.
Junia was serving in Christ’s Kingdom while Paul was still Saul.
While Junia was laying her life down for Christ, putting herself at risk of imprisonment and death to win converts for Christ, Paul was her enemy. He was not subtly cruel. He was openly venomous to every follower of Christ. He not only hated Christians, he dragged them out to be violently flogged and even murdered. He was an enemy of Junia; a servant of Satan; and an enemy of Christ. But not unforgivable.
On the road to Damascus, during Paul’s conversion, Jesus didn’t ask, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute My people,” instead, He challenges, in Acts 26:14, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?”
When we are persecuted; when others are intentionally unkind, subtly cruel, or openly venomous, Jesus sees it and feels our pain as His own pain. Yet we are called transcend our circumstances, remembering that every person is capable of change and calling upon the Holy Spirit to help us love those who hurt us, to forgive them and to pray for them. Junia was greatly rewarded for her faithfulness. Her enemy became the friend who magnanimously exalted her for all generations. God’s rewards for our sacrifices are beyond our imagination.
The best way to destroy your enemies…is to make them your friends. ~Abraham Lincoln.
Junia was the only female apostle mentioned in Scriptures.
Whether she was or was not an official apostle, the fact remains, that, “among the apostles” she was “outstanding”.
To be a brief blip on the list of credits, barely mentioned and untitled, or ambiguously titled, at best; to be a part of an elite group of people, without the benefit of sharing their title and its ensuing respect and recognition; to serve the most and be recognized the least, is this not the mark of greatness in God’s Kingdom?
How many of us dedicate our lives daily to Christ without pay or profit; without title or recognition; yet fully employed in service to our King: deployed messengers in the army of God, “sent out” to bring in, those who are perishing. Is there a greater honor in all this world?
Like Junia, we all began as disciples; followers of Christ, students of His message, lovers of our Lord. We were called by God to let go of our lives and follow Him. Disciples are called; apostles are sent. All apostles are disciples; not all disciples become apostles.
Junia was part of the larger group, the disciples of Christ, first. She followed His teachings, trusted in His protection, obeyed His commands, served sacrificially in His Kingdom, and then “went out” to share Christ’s message with the world. Are you being drawn, like Junia, in radical pursuit, obedience, and service to God, to also rise up to the call of apostle-ship in Christ’s Kingdom, going out into the world to share the love of God and the message of Jesus Christ with others?
May we, through the help of the Holy Spirit, be a blip, however brief, in the credits of the Kingdom of God, serving in faith and friendship, like Andronicas and Junia, teaming up in tolerance and love to become a breathtakingly beautiful, powerful, force of love, so that the world may believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord of love and the Lord of all.
By Rhonda Krill