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A Female Apostle?

June 26, 2007



Does the Bible refer to a female apostle named Junia? At the end of Romans, nestled amid a series of greetings which Paul extends to various women and men, one finds this salutation, “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was” (Rom 16:7, NRSV).2 What makes the NRSV translation of this verse noteworthy is the gender of the latter individual, which is feminine. Older translators typically rendered the name in a masculine form, Junias, but the translators of the NRSV have followed a growing number of scholars who see this latter individual to be a woman.3

This translation has far-reaching implications. If it is indeed the proper understanding of this obscure verse, egalitarian scholars are provided with one instance in Scripture where a woman is called an apostle — and a prominent apostle no less, who may have planted churches throughout the Roman world and exercised governing authority over them.4 It challenges the traditional belief in an all-male apostolate, as well as the implication that complementarians have drawn from it, namely, that women should not exercise pastoral authority over men.5 Complementarians argue that since Jesus chose only men for the apostolic office, the church today should do likewise when appointing leaders. While some egalitarians have responded that Jesus was merely acting within the bounds of his patriarchal culture and was not wanting to offend unnecessarily the Jews of his day, an all-male apostolate remains nevertheless a weighty piece of evidence for the complementarian position and something of an embarrassment for egalitarians.6 But if the early church had at least one female apostle, as some argue, is there any reason why women should not exercise spiritual authority over men today?7

It is the purpose of this paper to evaluate the claim that Rom 16:7 refers to an authoritative female apostle named Junia. In order to evaluate this claim properly, at least three lines of investigation must be pursued: (1) whether the ambiguous Greek name Iounian found in Romans 16:7 is masculine or feminine in gender; (2) whether the construction en tois apostolois should be understood in a locative sense, “among the apostles,” or in an instrumental sense, “by the apostles”; and (3) whether the term “apostle” is used here technically as an authoritative leader in the early church, or in a more general way denoting a “messenger.” I intend to prove that, whether man or woman, the one whom Paul calls Iounian was not an authoritative apostle, but rather, alongside Andronicus, a prominent messenger entrusted to deliver letters to various churches, bringing back to Paul status reports on each of the congregations they visited.


In order to evaluate the claim that Rom 16:7 refers to a female apostle named Junia, it is necessary to examine the name itself to determine if it is the feminine name Junia or the masculine name Junias. While it is normally a simple task to determine the gender of a Greek noun (one need only examine the inflection, since masculine and feminine nouns generally have separate endings), in this particular instance the accusative ending –an is ambiguous and therefore problematic; it could be either masculine or feminine.

Throughout the history of the church, translators and commentators have been divided on the issue. One of the earliest translations, the Latin Vulgate, has manuscripts that support both readings.8 Among the modern translations, the majority favor the masculine reading (e.g., KJV–Scofield Reference Bible, RSV, NASB, NEB, NIV and NJB), while a growing number favor the feminine (e.g., KJV–American Bible Society, NKJV, REB and NRSV). With regard to modern commentaries on Romans, one egalitarian scholar writing in 1977 complained that most commentators adopt the masculine reading of Rom 16:7 without even being aware that there is an issue at stake.9 The tide appears to be changing, however, as most exegetical and/or critical commentaries written on Romans since that essay was published have adopted the feminine reading.10

This brief survey suggests that no consensus has been attained on the gender of the ambiguous Iounian.11 Therefore, in an attempt to determine it, I will examine in this section of the paper: (A) the morphology of the name Iounian; (B) an interesting textual variant in Rom 16:7; (C) the name Iounian as it occurs in secular Greek literature; (D) the name as it occurs in secular Latin literature; and (E) the witness of the early church fathers.


Unfortunately, morphology is of no help to us here. As mentioned above, the form Iounian is ambiguous and could be either masculine or feminine. The Greek text as found in NA26 has a circumflex accent over the alpha, denoting the accusative masculine singular of the masculine name, Junias.12 It must be acknowledged, however, that the only thing distinguishing the NA26 form from the feminine form Junia is the accent itself, which was not part of the original text but something added centuries later.13 The original text would have had simply Iounian, which could be either the accusative masculine of Junias or the accusative feminine of Junia.

Grenz appeals to the fact first declension nouns are mainly feminine. What he fails to mention, however, is that certain Greek masculine names, such as Andreas, are first declension nouns.14 In other words, there are a sufficient number of exceptions to render his point inconsequential. For instance, compare the masculine names Patrobas, Hermas, and Olympas in verses 14 and 15. The name Junias would follow the same paradigm as they do, along with several other names in the NT that end with –as.15 Thus, mere morphology cannot settle the issue, but other factors must be called upon.


Interestingly, not all Greek manuscripts read the ambiguous Iounian here: there exist a handful that make reference to a decisively feminine name. One of these, the important papyrus P46, along with several other less important manuscripts and versions, reads Ioulian.16 Ioulian is a feminine name, equivalent to our Julia. If this reading is to be preferred, then Paul is definitely referring here to a sister in Christ and not a brother.

It is unlikely that this reading is original, however.17 All of the other major manuscripts agree with reading preserved in NA26, and render the authenticity of the P46 reading dubious. It is most likely that the scribe who copied P46 inadvertently transposed “Julia” from verse fifteen.18

Grenz follows the NRSV in taking the name to be Junia, but mistakenly asserts that some manuscripts read “Junias.”19 Rather, the word as it stands in the text could be either Junia (feminine) or Junias (masculine), whereas some manuscripts have Julia, which is decidedly feminine. There are no manuscripts that plainly read “Junias” here. Some have suggested that since the scribe substituted what is clearly a feminine name here, it might imply that he or she, writing at the end of the second century, assumed that the second individual mentioned in Rom 16:7 was a woman. Yet, ultimately this is unknowable to us, for it may also be that the scribe was mistaken and took the pair for husband and wife, and so “corrected” what was otherwise held to be a masculine name. Thus, we are left again with the ambiguous form Iounian.


In seeking to determine the gender of Iounian, many scholars have examined Greco- Roman literature to find out how frequently this name appear in either Greek or Latin. My search of the TLG database found only two references in Greek that date to first century A.D., and one is the ambiguous usage in Romans.20 The other is a clear reference to a woman named Junia, who was both the wife of Cassius and the sister of Brutus (one of the men who murdered Julius Caesar).21 Apart from these two, there is perhaps only one other reference to a person named Junia or Junias in all extant first-century Greek literature. It is found in a partially defaced inscription, which reads: “[ ]ia Torquata.” This inscription may refer to a woman whom Tacitus mentions (Annals, 3:69), Junia Torquata, a Vestal Virgin who lived during the reign of Tiberius (c. A.D. 20).22

Thus, neither the male nor the female versions of this name were common in Greek literature.23 Of these three individuals, two are definitely women while the third, the person mentioned in Romans 16:7, is ambiguous. Significantly, there are no unambiguous references to a man named Junias in the Greek literature in the first three centuries of the Christian era, as egalitarians are quick to point out.24 In any event, the name — whether male or female — is not common in Greek literature.


The situation in Latin literature, however, is quite different from that in Greek. In Latin writings Junia appears as a fairly common woman’s name while Junias, the man’s name, is virtually nonexistent. 25 There is a masculine equivalent to Junia in Latin, but it is Junius, which when translated into Greek is Iounios, not Iounias.26 Many have adduced from this lopsided evidence that the individual mentioned in Rom 16:7 must therefore be a woman. Yet, at least two factors must be taken into consideration before adopting this conclusion.

First, this absence of the male equivalent could be explained by the process of forming nicknames in Greek.27 It was common during the NT era to form Greek terms of endearment by shortening the more formal name and adding –as to the end.28 An example of this in the NT can be seen in the name Silas, one of the companions of Paul (Acts 15:22, 27, 32, 34, 40, et al) and a Roman citizen (Acts 16:19-40). His formal Latin name was Silvanus, (cf. 1 Thess. 1:1; 1 Pet. 5:12), but when his name was converted to a Greek term of endearment it became Silas.29 With this practice in mind, it has been postulated that the name Junias is a Greek nickname for a longer Latin name such as Junianus, Junianius, or Junilius — all common names for men at that time.30 Grenz disagrees, however, asserting that Latin terms of endearment are generally longer than their counterpart, not shorter.31 He offers as an example Priscilla (Acts 18:2) and Prisca (Rom 16:3), where the latter is the shorter, formal name and the former is the longer term of endearment. While these scholars are correct about Latin terms of endearment being lengthened, they somehow fail to notice that Rom 16:7 is after all in Greek and, if it is indeed a term of endearment or nickname that has come from Latin into Greek, it would follow the latter’s rules, not the former’s. This would result in it being shortened, not lengthened as they suggest.32 Of course, there is no proof connecting the name Iounian with any of these, but names ending in –as frequently appear in Greek literature “without definitely identifiable full names.”33

Second, this absence could also be explained by the name change that took place when a slave was freed by his Roman master. Sometimes slaves were granted freedom, or given “manumission,” in exchange for a period of excellent service.34 Part of the manumission process involved the slave taking his master’s family name, not as it was, but rather with the ending modified to –as.35 Thus, any slave freed by a master having the family name Junius would adopt the name Junias. Junius was a common family name in the Roman world.36 Brutus, mentioned above, came from a family by that name. That is why his sister was named Junia; females born into the house would take the feminine equivalent of the family name. The fact that we have no extant references to any man with the name Junias — except perhaps for Rom 16:7 — is not surprising when one takes into account that much of what written in the ancient Roman world that has survived till today is the work of highly educated people who, circulating among the rich and politically powerful, wrote about the “movers and shakers” in society.37 We do not know nearly as much as we would like about the lives of common people in the ancient world. A freed slave, in my mind, would be more likely to go unmentioned by the elite historians and philosophers. That he would show up on the pages of the NT, a collection of writings reflecting to a much higher degree the lives of ordinary people, is substantially more likely. Consider Onesimus as recorded in Philemon, for instance. Would we have ever known about him had his memory not been preserved in the NT canon? Similarly, the name Peter (Petros) is unknown apart from Scripture in the centuries before and after the Christian era, while the feminine form, petra, is a common noun (even though not a proper noun). As far as we know, Jesus coined the name for Simon.38 No one doubts its authenticity, however, because it is referred to so many times in the NT, even though there is little or no external criteria by which to validate its existence as a masculine name. The problem with Iounian, of course, is that it is a NT hapax.

So what are we to make of all of this? While the preponderance of occurrences of the feminine form in Latin literature suggest that the person referred to in Rom 16:7 should perhaps be understood as a woman named Junia, the relative absence of the term in either gender in Greek literature, combined with our knowledge of the way Greek terms of endearment were formed and the way the names of freed slaves changed, make us hesitant. It is very possible that Rom 16:7 refers to a man named Junias, even if we –with our limited knowledge — are unaware of any parallels. Ultimately, a decision cannot be made on the basis of occurrences or non-occurrences in the extant literature alone because we simply do not possess a big enough sample to compile accurate statistics. This is especially true with regard to common people such as freed slaves, about whom little is preserved compared with wealthy and powerful families like the Juniuses. We are more likely to hear about their daughters named Junia than their former slaves named Junias. Thus, while the argument for understanding this to be a woman named Junia certainly has weight and merit, we will need to consider yet other evidence before making a final judgment.


Although the evidence is by no means unanimous, the strongest case for understanding Iounian to be a woman is found in the comments made on Rom 16:7 by some of the early Church Fathers. Many patristic exegetes understood the second person mentioned in Rom 16:7 to be the wife of Andronicus, such as: Ambrosiaster (c. 339-97); Jerome (c. 342-420); John Chrysostom (c. 347- 407); Jerome; Theodoret of Cyrrhus (c.393-458); Ps.-Primasius (c. 6th cent.); John Damascene (c. 675-749); Haymo (d. 1244); Hatto (?); Oecumenius (c. 6th cent.); Lanfranc of Bec (c.1005-89); Bruno the Carthusian (c.1032-1101); Theophylact (c. 11th cent.); Peter Abelard (1079-1142); and Peter Lombard (c. 1100-1160).39

Perhaps the most notable example is John Chrysostom. Though certainly against women serving as bishops, he nevertheless took Iounian to be a woman. Commenting on Romans 16:7, he said,

To be an apostle is something great. But to be outstanding among the apostles — just think what a wonderful song of praise that is! They were outstanding on the basis of their works and virtuous actions. Indeed, how great is the wisdom of this woman that she was even deemed worthy of the title of apostle.40

It is important to recognize, however, that Chrysostom did not take Junia to be an authoritative apostle, but rather as an apostle in a secondary sense, as one commissioned by the church for a certain task (cf. Acts 13:2-3; 14:14).41

No doubt due to the influence of the patristic exegetes mentioned above, the position that Andronicus and Iounian were husband and wife is still advocated today.42 Proponents of this view point to the mention of Priscilla and Aquila in v.3, noting that the syntax is identical to that in v.7: greeting + name 1 + kai + name 2. On this basis, they envision that Andronicus and Junia were a husband and wife team among the apostolic band. This interpretation goes beyond what can be said with certainty from the text, however. First, we do not know for sure whether this is even a feminine name! Second, in v. 12 we find two women, Tryphaena and Tryphosa, whose names are joined by kai just as with Priscilla and Aquila in v. 3, and Andronicus and Junias in v. 7. This shows that the syntax itself need not imply a marriage relationship. Andronicus and Junias very well could have been two men that Paul referred to in the same breath because they had these certain things in common with each other.43

This evidence from patristic sources has been used to make sweeping statements that distort the actual evidence. For instance, Tucker asserts with a touch of humor that it was not until “around the fourteenth century that Junia seems to have gotten a sex change,” implying that no one prior to that time held Iounian to be a man.44 Tucker takes most of her material on this issue from Spencer’s book, however, and does not substantiate her claim with any citations from primary sources.45 Grenz tentatively mentions that biblical commentators up until about 1200 were in large agreement that Junia was a woman, and according to him, Origen (c. 185-254) assumed that Iounian referred to a woman.46 Grenz provides no quote from Origen, however, but merely a citation. This is noteworthy, because the actual text in Epistolam ad Romanos Commentariorum 10.26; 39 says the very opposite of what Grenz suggests. The form of the name is nominative masculine singular in Latin, which demonstrates that Origen understood the person mentioned in Rom 16:7 to be a man. This fact alone calls into question the impression given by both Grenz and Tucker that it wasn’t until much later that commentators took Iounian to be masculine.47 Finally, Giles asserts that the early Church Fathers “unanimously took the name as feminine” and that “this commonly held modern idea [the masculine reading] was assumed by no commentator before the 12th century.”48 He is actually saying two different things here. To say that no commentator held Iounian to be masculine is much different from saying that the Church Fathers unanimously agreed that it is feminine. It is true that a handful of patristic exegetes touch on this passage, and when they do, they read it feminine. But it is overstating the evidence to claim that all the Fathers speak to the issue and agree on it. Most don’t even mention it, and Origen and Epiphanius disagreed with it (as we shall see below).

Contrary to the confident assertions made by egalitarians, not all the Church Fathers held that Iounian should be understood as a woman. Epiphanius (A.D. 315-403), bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, writing perhaps just prior to Chrysostom’s comments on Rom 16:7, includes a reference to Iounian in his Index of Disciples: “Junias, of whom Paul makes mention, became bishop of Apameia of Syria.”49 In this instance, the nominative form of the name is masculine, along with the relative pronoun, showing that Epiphanius understood this person to be a man. Apparently Brooten is unfamiliar with this passage when she says, “To date not a single Latin or Greek inscription, not a single reference in ancient literature has been cited by any of the proponents of the Junias hypothesis . . . . we do not have a shred of evidence that the name Junias ever existed.”50

Thus, while the clear majority of the Church Fathers adopt a feminine reading of Rom 16:7, I remain unconvinced that the text should be read that way. First, most of the patristic exegetes wrote in Latin many centuries after Paul penned the epistle to the Romans. Since they borrowed from earlier commentators, they do not constitute separate witnesses to the meaning of Rom 16:7, but rather serve as witnesses to the commentator from whom they borrowed, which in this instance is almost certainly Chrysostom.51 Thus, the testimonies of Origen, Epiphanius and Chrysostom must be weighed most heavily: Origen, because he is the earliest of the three exegetes, and the latter two because they are the first ones in extant Greek literature to refer to the name after Romans was written.52 According to Rufinus’ translation, Origen held that the name Junias lies behind the form in Rom 16:7.53 Likewise, Epiphanius holds that it was a man named Junias who eventually became a bishop in Syria. Chrysostom does not seem to know anything about Iounian apart from what is written in Romans, and even registers surprise that a woman might be given the title “apostle.” Since he was writing some 350 years after Paul put the pen to the paper, at a time when the knowledge of Greek was on the decline in the West, Chrysostom may have simply mistaken Iounian for a feminine name. If so, he influenced all commentators after him to read “Junia” until about the thirteen or fourteenth centuries.

Second, Greek minuscule manuscripts, which began having accents in the 9th century, all accent the name as though it were masculine — without exception.54 It is interesting that Cervin catalogs so many modern editions of the Greek text, including the modern Greek translation, and shows how most support the feminine reading, and yet fails to mention the accentuation found in the older Greek minuscules dating from the ninth and tenth centuries, which support unanimously the masculine reading.55 The latter are certainly closer to the source and thus constitute more weighty evidence than modern editions. The fact that all of the manuscripts accented it the same no matter what part of the world they were found in suggests that the gender issue had been settled some time before. Thus, Tucker’s tongue-in-cheek statement about the gender of Iounian being held unanimously as feminine up until her “sex change” around the 14th century is thus made at the expense of this evidence, which suggests otherwise.

So, with regard to the gender of the second individual mentioned in Rom 16:7, I am not convinced by the egalitarian arguments for reading it “Junia” — at least not without much hesitation. Although they raise many important factors for consideration, the heart of the egalitarian case really comes down to the testimony of John Chrysostom, a testimony which I do not find as weighty as that of Origen or Epiphanius, or the many scribes who unanimously accented their Greek texts with a circumflex accent in the ninth and tenth centuries. The ambiguity of the name itself and the lack of any other references to this individual in the NT or even in Christian writers the first two centuries after Christ, should make us hesitant in being too dogmatic either way, however. Perhaps I could sum it up this way: if I were serving on the NIV revision committee, my recommendation to the committee would be to translate the name Junias, but to acknowledge with a footnote the possibility that the name could refer to a woman named Junia.


As we have seen above, there are good reasons not to be too dogmatic in affirming the gender of Iounian in Rom 16:7, whichever position one holds. Though I have argued for the masculine reading, Junias, what if Paul really was referring to a woman named Junia when he wrote? Would we then have to conclude, as many have done, that this Junia was a prominent, authoritative apostle within the early church, serving as evidence in favor of women holding authoritative positions over men within the church today?

In order to answer this question, it is necessary to examine the phrase which seems to number Andronicus and Iounian among the apostles. In Greek, the phrase is hoitines eisin episemoi in tois apostolois, which is variously translated as follows:

KJV who are of note among the apostles
RSV they are men of note among the apostles
Barrett who are notable in the ranks of the apostles56
Phillips they are outstanding men among the messengers
NIV they are outstanding among the apostles
Cranfield they are outstanding among the apostles57
Kasemann who are prominent among the apostles58
Dunn who are outstanding among the apostles59
NRSV they are prominent among the apostles
Fitzmyer who are outstanding among the apostles60


It is plain to see that most take the phrase en tois apostolois as a locative use of the dative as opposed to an instrumental one, the latter of which could denote a personal agent.61 In other words, most scholars understand the text to say that Andronicus and Iounian were themselves prominent “apostles,” whatever that term might denote, and not just highly esteemed by the Apostles.62

While the scope of this paper hardly permits a full investigation into this construction, I would like to draw a few observations regarding the use of en + article + dative: (A) elsewhere in Romans; and (B) in the rest of the NT, but only as it touches on the question of human agency.63 Then, in the final section of this paper, I will seek to determine the meanings of the Greek words behind “prominent” and “apostles.”


An examination of the construction en + article + dative as used throughout the epistle to the Romans lends considerable support to the locative understanding adopted by most scholars, and for at least two reasons. First, when a NT author wants to denote the human agency in Greek, he will normally use the construction hupo + genitive, not en + dative.64 Had Paul wanted to say that Andronicus and Iounian were esteemed by the apostles, he could have easily employed a verb along with hupo ton apostolon. That he did not lends support to the reading “among” as opposed to “by” or “in the eyes of” in Rom 16:7.

Second, even though many of the 42 occurrences of this construction in Romans are instrumental uses of the dative (e.g., 1:9, 10, 27; 3:4; 5:9, 10; 10:9 [x2]; 13:9; 15:30), only two refer to persons rather than things (2:24; 16:7). In the former reference, Paul quotes Isa 52:5, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” The RSV translation takes this as a locative use, but the verse would also make sense translated as an instrumental use: “God is blasphemed by the Gentiles because of you,” where the Gentiles are the ones doing the blaspheming. This reading is not necessary, however; the fact that Paul could have simply used hupo + genitive militates against it. Even if we were to take Rom 2:24 instrumentally to denote human agency, it still would not apply perfectly to Rom 16:7, where an adjective is used instead of a verb. Thus, Paul’s use of this construction elsewhere in Romans suggests that the locative rendering, “among” is most likely correct in 16:7.


An examination of the construction en + article + dative throughout the NT also lends support to the locative understanding adopted by most scholars.65 This can be seen in the relative rarity of instrumental uses involving people. While the construction is regularly used to denote an instrument, it normally does so only with impersonal things (e.g. Rom 3:4, “That you may be justified by your words,” where “by your words” is en tois logois) and usually without the article.66 In the handful of places where it is used in reference to people, a verb is present in each to suggest that action is being done (e.g. Acts 12:18; 1 Cor 7:14; Heb 1:1). When no verb is present, the locative reading makes much more sense (e.g. Matt 2:6; Acts 5:12; and probably Rom 16:7).67

After an extensive search of syntactical parallels, John 7:12 is the only instance close to the Romans passage where someone could argue an instrumental understanding of en + article + dative used in conjunction with an adjective and not a verb. John 7:12 reads: “And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, ‘He is a good man,’ others said, ‘No, he is leading the people astray.'” The syntax matches closely:

discussion was great among the crowds
Andronicus and Iounian are prominent among the apostles


It could be argued from this usage that the great discussion about Jesus was being done “by the crowds,” and that we should therefore understand Rom 16:7 as “by the apostles,” but this is hardly necessary. Moreover, the fact that goggusmos, “discussion,” is not a proper noun breaks down the analogy because the noun goggusmos implies the verb, “discuss.” There is no comparable phenomenon going on with the proper nouns in Rom 16:7.

Thus, the locative understanding “among the apostles” is by far the best understanding of the construction en tois apostolois, whatever Paul might mean by the term “apostles.” It is very unlikely that Paul expects us to read “by the apostles” or “in the eyes of the apostles” here, for he could have used hupo ton apostolon with much less ambiguity. Therefore, regardless of whether Iounian is a man or a woman, and apart from whatever Paul means by the term “apostles,” Andronicus and his partner are envisioned as being prominent members of the group which Paul refers to as “the apostles.” We will now turn our attention to that word in order to determine what he means by it.


Even though I have argued above for the masculine reading Junias at Rom 16:7, I am assuming for the sake of the argument that the second person referred to in Rom 16:7 is really a woman named Junia. If so, must we assume that she was an authoritative apostle within the early church, serving as a historical precedent for the right of women to hold authoritative positions over men within the church today? This question was addressed partially in the previous section, where I dealt with the meaning of the construction en tois apostolois. In this section I will deal with the semantic range of the term apostolos to see if Paul intends here give Junia the appellation of “Apostle,” or if he is merely using the word in a general way to denote a “messenger.”

Brooten, for one, argues for the former understanding. She claims that that “we can assume that the apostles Junia and Andronicus were persons of great of authority in the early Christian community . . . .”68 Grenz likewise asserts that complementarians are too cautious about this problematic text, not wanting to read too much into it. The great danger, as he sees it, is too read too little into it. He concludes, “Because the weight of the evidence favors interpreting Junia as an authoritative apostle, Paul’s greeting sufficiently opens the possibility that women served in this capacity.”69 So also Dunn, who says, “We may firmly conclude, however, that one of the foundation apostles of Christianity was a woman and a wife.”70 It must be admitted, however, that the text says nothing whatsoever about authority at all. All of these scholars are reading that into the text.

What are we to make of Paul’s usage here? The term apostolos was used in classical Greek to denote a ship ready for departure. It later came to be used for an ambassador, delegate, or messenger.71 The term appears 80 times in the NT, and is used to denote at least three groups of people: (1) Peter and the rest of the Twelve (e.g. Matt 10:2; Mar 3:14; Luke 6:13; Acts 1:26; 2:42; 4:33; 6:6; 15:2; 1 Cor 9:5; 1 Pet 1:1; 2 Pet 1:1; Rev 21:14, etc.); (2) other authoritative church leaders who witnessed the resurrection of Christ and were commissioned by him to preach the Gospel, such as Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14; Rom 1:1; 11:13; 1 Cor 1:1; 9:1; 2 Cor 1:1; 1 Tim 2:7; 2 Tim 1:11, etc.) and James (1 Cor 15:7; Gal 1:19); and (3) those who assisted the apostles by serving as messengers to and from local churches, such as Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25) and the two unnamed brothers (2 Cor 8:23; cp. John 13:16; 1 Cor 15:7; and Heb 3:1, where Jesus himself is called an apostle). No one argues that Andronicus and Iounian were members of the first group. Rather, the debate centers around whether they were members of the second or the third groups. In this section, I intend to prove that Iounian, whether male or female, was a member of the third group, and did not exercise governing authority over churches. This will be demonstrated from the following evidence: (A) the use of apostolos with the context of Romans 16; (B) the meaning of the adjective episemos; and (C) certain external considerations.capacity.”69 So also Dunn, who says, “We may firmly conclude, however, that one of the foundation apostles of Christianity was a woman and a wife.”70 It must be admitted, however, that the text says nothing whatsoever about authority at all. All of these scholars are reading that into the text.


At least four inferences drawn from Romans 16 militate against the understanding that Iounian was an authoritative apostle, whether man or woman.72 First, Andronicus and Iounian are buried amidst a virtual pot pourri of greetings that Paul extends to members of the Roman church. It seems odd that Paul would not refer to two apostles until well into his greetings; one would think that they would be more prominent among the individuals mentioned. The fact that he mentions Phoebe, Prisca and Aquila, and others first suggests that Andronicus and Iounian were not as prominent in his mind.73 Second, Andronicus and Iounian do not receive the extravagant praise that these others do, like Phoebe, Prisca and Aquila. Why would two prominent apostles be given less praise? Third, if we are to understand the gender of Iounian to be feminine, the fact that she is mentioned second to Andronicus suggests that she may have been less prominent than he was (cp. the order in v. 3, where Prisca is mentioned first). In a modern context, even certain fundamentalist Christian groups who are strongly against women having spiritual authority over men will still refer to husband and wife missionary teams in the same breath — David & Helen Jones, missionaries to Kenya — even though it is the husband who does all the teaching and preaching. The fact that Iounian is mentioned second suggests a subordinate role, or at least one of less prominence. Finally, the fact that Paul refers to the “apostles” in the third person suggests that he was not himself among this group.74 This means that he was either referring to the first group listed above, the Twelve, or to the third group. Since the former is not possible, it must be the latter. All of this evidence suggests that Andronicus and Iounian were not among the first or second groups called “Apostles,” but rather among the third group, the “messengers.” As such, Paul was not using the term in a technical, distinctly Christian way, but rather generally, as it was used in the culture at large.


We learn something about what Paul meant by the phrase “among the apostles” by studying the adjective he uses predicatively of Andronicus and Iounian. The term episēmos, “conspicuous, prominent,” is not a very common word in the NT.75 In fact, it is used only two times; here in Rom 16:7 and once in Matthew 27:16 (there it is used with a negative connotation to refer to the “notorious” prisoner Barabbas). We find out more about it from uses outside the NT, such as in Josephus, where it refers to a woman who was “eminent” among the people because of family and fortune.76 It appears twice in the Martyrdom of Polycarp (14.1; 19.1), both times to denote how prominent Polycarp was as a Christian leader. The former reference likens him to a “noble ram out of a great flock,” while the latter refers to him as “a notable teacher.”77 The idea being conveyed is that Polycarp stood out among the other Christian teachers of his day — he was very prominent.

Episēmos is used eight times in the LXX (Gen 30:42; Est 5:4; 1 Macc 11:37; 14:48; 2 Macc 15:36; 3 Macc 6:1; Pss 2:6; 17:30), generally to denote that which is distinguished or conspicuous from that which is insignificant, nondescript or otherwise unnoticed. An important reference for our study is found in 3 Macc 6:1, “Then a certain Eleazar, famous among the priests of the country, who had attained a ripe old age and throughout his life had been adorned with every virtue . . . .” (3 Macc 6:1a, RSV). This occurrence, like the Polycarp passages above, bears upon our study in that it refers to someone who was distinguished among their peers in some sort of religious office. In the Greek text of Maccabees, unlike the passage in Romans, the author uses episēmos plus the genitive to show Eleazar’s distinction among his fellows. As such this is probably a genitive of comparison: “Eleazar was more prominent than the other priests of the country.” As priests they all had prominence; it is just that he had more prominence than they did. This suggests that whatever Paul does mean in Rom 16:7, he does not intend to say that Andronicus and Iounian are the most prominent of the apostles, or else he could have used the genitive case to heighten the comparison.

Thus, the use of this adjective, however limited, seems to involve a recognition of prominence on the part of an individual or thing in relation to his or her peers or surroundings. By using this term in reference to Andronicus and Iounian, Paul praises them for standing out en tois apostolois, where the latter would be seen as their peer group or the backdrop from which the comparison is made. Yet, if this is so, and Paul is claiming that Andronicus and Iounian stood out among the apostles — even though we never hear of them again in Scripture — we have to wonder what Paul means by apostolos here. To state it more bluntly, is it possible to have insignificant, nondescript, or otherwise unnoticed apostles from which Andronicus and Iounian could stand out? Are we to think that Paul here thinks of Andronicus and Iounian as standing out amidst the company of Peter, James, John, the rest of the Twelve and, not least of all, Paul himself? I think this highly unlikely, suggesting that Paul is using apostolos in a non-technical sense here.


Finally, there are two external considerations that must be taken into account when determining which group of apostles Paul means to identify Andronicus and Iounian with. First, we have the testimony of Epiphanius, who, as mentioned above, wrote than Iounian eventually became the bishop of Apameia in Syria. If Epiphanius is correct, then the “apostles” of Rom 16:7 are probably not authoritative apostles, but rather messengers. Had Iounian already held the office of Apostle, we would have to wonder how it would be a promotion to become bishop of Apameia. Would not the office of bishop be a step down for someone who is already an apostle? But if we understand Iounian as a messenger of Paul, however, then the office of bishop would indeed be a promotion.

Second, although it is an argument from silence, we have to wonder how some can assert that Andronicus and Iounian were prominent, authoritative apostles when they never appear again in any other verse in Scripture. Our verse says that they were Christians before Paul was, and yet we have not the slightest hint of the them in Acts or anywhere else in the NT. This is not to mention the centuries following the writing of the NT, where they are not mentioned until about 350 years after Paul wrote Romans, and then only a handful of times. In addition, if Iounian is understood to be feminine, the silence grows all the more noticeable. The NT is completely silent — with the possible exception of this verse — that a woman ever held the office of apostle. In all of the writings of the NT, there is no clear instance where a woman is numbered among the apostles or makes binding decisions for the church. Whatever is said here in Rom 16:7 regarding Iounian cannot be taken to mean that he or she was an authoritative apostle in the early church.


Therefore, in light of this evidence, I conclude that Andronicus and Junias were two prominent messengers that served Paul and the early churches by delivering important instructions from the former to the latter, and by relaying questions and concerns from the latter to the former. I tentatively affirm that the second person was a man named Junias, although I cannot be certain about the matter. But even if Iounian should be understood as feminine, it is plain from the context that neither Andronicus nor Junia were authoritative apostles within the early church. The egalitarian argument for a prominent, authoritative female apostle named Junia is thus both unlikely and unsubstantiated. For egalitarian scholars to lavish such attention upon this individual scholars is uncalled for, and it betrays the tendentious nature of their argument. As a result, I see nothing in Rom 16:7 that challenges the complementarian position for all-male leadership within the church.



Barrett, C. K. The Epistle to the Romans. New York: Harper & Row, 1957.

Bilezikian, G. Beyond Sex Roles: A Guide for the Study of Female Roles in the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985.

Black, M. Romans. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973.

Blass, F., and A. Debrunner. A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Trans. and rev. by R. W. Funk. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961.

Brooten, B. J. “‘Junia . . . Outstanding among the Apostles’ (Romans 16:7).” In Women Priests: A Catholic Commentary on the Vatican Declaration, ed. L. and A. Swidler. New York: Paulist, 1977, 141-44.

Bruce, F. F. The Letter of Paul to the Romans. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985.

Cervin, R. S. “A Note Regarding the Name ‘Junia(s)’ in Romans 16:7.” NTS 40 (1994) 464-70.

Cranfield, C. E. B. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. Vol. 2. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1979.

Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. London: Oxford University Press, 1958.

Dunn, J. D. G. Romans 9-16. Waco, Tex.: Word, 1988.

Fitzmyer, J. A. Romans. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1993.

Giles, K. “Apostles before and after Paul.” Churchman 99 (1985) 241-56.

Grenz, S. J., and D. M. Kjesbo. Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1995.

Keener, C. S. “Man and Woman.” In The Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, ed. G. F. Hawthorne, R. P. Martin and D. G. Reid. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1993, 583- 92.

Kostenberger, A. J., T. R. Schreiner, and H. S. Baldwin, eds. Women in the Church: A Fresh Analysis of 1 Timothy 2:9-15. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995.

Liefeld, W. L. “A Plural Ministry View: Your Sons and Your Daughters Shall Prophesy.” In Women in Ministry: Four Views. Edited by B. Clouse and R. G. Clouse. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1989.

Moule, C. F. D. An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek. 2d ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959.

Moulton, J. H., ed. A Grammar of New Testament Greek. Vol. 3, Syntax, by N. Turner. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1963.

Novum Testamentum Graece, ed. by K. Aland, M. Black, C. M. Martini, B. M. Metzger, and A. Wikgren. 26th ed. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1979.

Piper, J., and W. A. Grudem. Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1991.

Plutarch. Plutarch’s Lives. Edited by E. H. Warmington. Vol. 6, Brutus. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1918.

Richardson, P. “From Apostles to Virgins: Romans 16 and the Roles of Women in the Early Church,” TorJT 2 (1986) 232-61.

Sanday, W., and A. C. Headlam. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. ICC. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1897.

Schulz, R. R. “Romans 16:7: Junia or Junias?” ExpT 98 (1987): 108-10.

Schussler Fiorenza, E. “Missionaries, Apostles, Coworkers: Romans 16 and the Reconstruction of Women’s Early Christian History,” WW 6 (1986) 420-33.

Spencer, A. B. Beyond the Curse: Women Called to Ministry. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1985.

Tucker, R. A. Women in the Maze: Questions & Answers on Biblical Equality. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1992.

Tucker, R. A., and W. L. Liefeld. Daughters of the Church: Women and Ministry from New Testament Times to the Present. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987.

Zerwick, M. Biblical Greek Illustrated by Examples. 4th ed. Trans. J. Smith. Rome: Editrice Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 1990.


2 Although this quotation comes from the NRSV, other Scriptural quotations will be taken from the New Oxford Annotated Bible: Revised Standard Version, ed. by H. G. May and B. M. Metzger (New York: Oxford University Press, 1962, 1973).

3 The original RSV translation was, “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners; they are men of note among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me” (emphasis mine). This translation claims too much, however, for neither anthropos nor anēr, the two Greek words for “man,” are present in Rom 16:7. While the translators of the NRSV therefore have not altered the sense of the Greek text by omitting the word “men” from this verse, it is interesting, nevertheless, to witness the shift from the masculine form of the name in 1971, when the NT section (originally translated in 1946) was revised, to the feminine name in the NRSV, published in 1989.

4 I call this reference obscure for two reasons: (1) because the gender is not plain from the name itself, but must be determined by other factors; and (2) because this individual has managed to escape the notice of many serious Bible students. This latter point bears upon the conclusion of this study, as the reader will later see.

5 Throughout this paper I will use the term complementarian to denote the view that men and women, while equal in dignity and worth, have different roles within the home and the church, and that as a result, women should not teach or hold authority over men. I will use the term egalitarian for that position which affirms for women all the opportunities open to men, including pastoral oversight. Other terms, such as traditional and progressive, will be avoided.

6 Bilezikian, for one, holds that Jesus did not choose women for apostles because of “cultural constraints.” See G. Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles: A Guide for the Study of Female Roles in the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985) 236. See, however, the critique by T. R. Schreiner in “The Ministries of Women in the Context of Male Leadership,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, ed. by J. Piper and W. A. Grudem (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1991) 221-22. Schreiner points out that: (1) Jesus failed to be bound by “cultural constraints” with other controversial issues when something important was at stake; and (2) Bilezikian’s view implies that Jesus was more likely to capitulate to culture than was his church, for within a couple decades of his death the church, according to Bilezikian’s view, was willing to appoint female apostles. Schreiner asks, “Had the culture changed so dramatically in the few years since Jesus’ ministry that now such appointments were feasible?”

7 So Ruth A. Tucker, Women in the Maze: Questions and Answers on Biblical Equality (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1992) 121. See the essay by Brooten, which was written in reaction to the Roman Catholic Church’s declaration not to ordain women to the priesthood. If a woman was allowed to be an apostle, her reasoning goes, then why aren’t they allowed to be priests? See B. Brooten, “Junia . . . Outstanding among the Apostles” (Romans 16:7), in Women Priests: A Catholic Commentary on the Vatican Declaration, ed. by L. Swidler and A. Swidler (New York: Paulist, 1977) 143. Grenz understands this well, too. He mentions Rom 16:7 when dealing the question of the ordination of women. With it, he attempts to undermine the complementarian argument of all-male apostolate as being the basis for denying women ordination. He does acknowledge that the Twelve were all male, but appeals to their uniqueness to suggest that all-male leadership is not normative for the church. See S. J. Grenz and D. Muir Kjesbo, Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1995) 211, 219-20. So also Giles, who asserts that the twelve apostles had to be men by “historical necessity”: (1) they were to been seen as the counterparts to the twelve patriarchs; and (2) women were not allowed to be witnesses in that culture. Thus, their role was a “once-for-all thing,” which does not apply to any other ministry. See K. Giles, “Apostles before and after Paul,” Churchman 99 (1985) 249.

8 According to Cervin, the feminine reading has better textual support. See R. S. Cervin, “The Name ‘Junia(s)’ in Romans 16:7,” NTS 40 (1994) 465.

9 Brooten, 141. Fitzmyer agrees with this assessment, saying that the majority of modern commentators prefer the masculine form Junias over the feminine Junia. See J. A. Fitzmyer, Romans (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1993) 738. For major commentators who take the second person of Rom. 16:7 to be a man, see the following: W. Sanday and H. C. Headlam, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1897) 423; C. K. Barrett, The Epistle to the Romans (New York: Harper, 1957) 283-84; M. Black, Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973) 181; and E. Kasemann, Commentary on Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980) 411.

10 For instance, C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1979) 788-90; F. F. Bruce, The Letter of Paul to the Romans, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985) 258; J. D. G. Dunn, Romans 9-16 (Waco, Tex.: Word, 1988) 894-95; Fitzmyer, 737-40; and D. J. Moo, Romans, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996) page ?.

11 For the way the name is handled in various editions of the Greek New Testament, along with other translations and commentaries, see the overview by Cervin, 464-66. He surveys many of the older works to which I did not have ready access, while I mention some of the more current scholarship that he omits.

12 See Cranfield, 788.

13 According to Fitzmyer, 738, this happened at the beginning of the ninth-century, when Greek minuscule manuscripts began having accents. So also R. R. Schulz, “Romans 16:7: Junia or Junias?” ExpT 98 (1987) 109. Although it is not clear to what extent this should be determinative for the issue at hand, Fitzmyer mentions that all accented manuscripts from the ninth century bear the masculine accent; not one bears the feminine. If nothing else, it shows that many held the individual mentioned in Rom 16:7 to be a man prior to the twelfth century, contrary to the assertions of some egalitarians.

14 See Grenz, 95.

15 See J. Piper and W. A. Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1991) 80. See also F. Blass and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans. and rev. by R. W. Funk (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961) 68; herefafter BDF.

16 Since P46 dates from about 200 A.D. it is one of the oldest and most important witnesses for text-critical studies in Paul. The other support for this reading is found in 6 (XIII cent. A.D.), a & b (Old Latin versions dating from the IV & V centuries A.D., respectively), certain manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate, and the Bohairic version.

17 So also Cervin, 464, n. 3.

18 So also Cranfield, 788 n. 1.

19 See Grenz, 93.

20 So also Piper and Grudem, 79-80. References to Junia/Junias in subsequent centuries do exist, but they are not numerous and all of them are found in the writings of church fathers commenting on Rom 16:7, and thus do not refer to a different individual. See the following section on the church fathers.

21 Plutarch’s Lives, ed. by E. H. Warmington , vol. 6, Brutus (Cambridge: Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1918) 138-39.

22 Cited in Cervin, 466, n. 13.

23 Contra Brooten, 143, who asserts that Junia is a “common name in both Greek and Latin inscriptions and literature.” She makes the assertion without offering any proof to substantiate her claim.

24 So Grenz, 94. Liefeld mentions that one of his graduate assistants completed an extensive search of both the Greek and Latin literature, and was unable to find the masculine form of the name. See W. L. Liefeld, “A Plural Ministry View: Your Sons and Your Daughters Shall Prophesy,” in Women in Ministry: Four Views, ed. B. Clouse and R. G. Clouse (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1989) 152 n. 6. Cervin, 464, n. 2, adds that his search failed to turn up any masculine name that ended in –ias. See also Fitzmyer, 738; and Cranfield, 788.

25 One study lists more than 250 occurrences in Latin literature. See P. Lampe, Die stadtromischen Christen in den ersten beiden Jahrhunderten, WUNT (Tubingen, J.C.B. Mohr, 1987), cited in Dunn, 894. Similarly, Sanday and Headlam, 422; so also Schulz, 109. But see Schreiner, 506, n. 17, who points out how Spencer cites the evidence selectively on this point. She cites Moulton & Milligan, 306, to show that Junias as a man’s name has yet to be found in extra- Biblical sources, but, as Schreiner points out, she fails to mention Moulton & Milligan say on the same page that Iounian in Rom 16:7 is probably a contracted form of the male name Junianus, which is common in the inscriptional evidence.

26 Cervin, 469, argues that Latin nomina ending in –ius are regularly transcribed into Greek names ending in –ios, not –ias, which Junias would require. Yet, this fails to account for the process of name changing at manumission (see below).

27 Brooten, 142, refers to this as the “short form hypothesis,” which was in her eyes invented to make the Junias interpretation more plausible.

28 See BDF, 67-68, for examples.

29 So also Piper & Grudem, 80; BAGD, 750.

30 BAGD, 380, admits the lexical possibility that this could be a woman’s name, but decides against it. It opts for a shortening of Junianius. See also BDF, 67-68, and A. T. Robertson, 172.

31 See Grenz, 94-95. He may dependent upon Spencer for this point. See A. B. Spencer, Beyond the Curse: Women Called to Ministry (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1985) 101. For similar arguments, see Brooten, 143-44, and Schulz, 109.

32 For a similar critique, see Schreiner, 506, n. 17.

33 BDF, 68.

34 See E. Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987) 47.

35 See Fitzmyer, 738.

36 See Cervin, 468, who points out that the traditional founder of the Roman Republic was Lucius Iunius Brutus (vi-v B. C.). He also refers to a number of families from Latin literature who shared this name, along with their daughers named Junia.

37 It is interesting how Cervin, 468, argues for the wide use of the name Junia in the Greekspeaking world (since all daughters in any family named Junius would be named Junia), and does so despite the fact that the name appears perhaps only twice — unambiguously — in all extant Greek literature. What he is willing to allow for Junia, he does not allow for Junias, even though any male slave freed by a dominus named Junius would have the name Junias.

38 See BAGD, 654-55.

39 See Fitzmyer, 737-38. For a similar list, see Schulz, 110, n. 2, who points out that many of the later commentators simply borrowed from the earlier ones, especially from Chrysostom.

40 John Chrysostom, In Epistolam ad Romanos, Homilia 31, 2, in Patrologiae cursus completus, series Graeca, ed. by J. P. Milne, cited in B. Brooten, 141.

41 See Kostenberger, et al, Women in the Church: A Fresh Analysis of 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995) 228.

42 See Cranfield, 788; so also Dunn, 894.

43 So also Piper and Grudem, 80.

44 Tucker, 101. So also Grenz, 95.

45 According to Brooten, who does at least substantiate her claims with some references to primary sources, if not the actual quotes, Giles of Rome (c. 1247-1316) was the first to break with the patristic tradition and to interpret the pair as two men. See Brooten, 141. So also Fitzmyer, 738.

46 See Grenz, 95.

47 Brooten, 144, n. 4, claims that the editors have emended the text.

48 See Giles, 250.

49 Epiphanius, Index disciplulorum, 125.19-20.

50 See Brooten, 142. I concur with Piper and Grudem, who prefer Epiphanius’ understanding over Chrysostom’s since the former seems to know certain historical details about Junias, whereas the latter seems to be merely commenting upon the text and mentions no specifics at all. They acknowledge, however, that Epiphanius takes Prisca in 16:3 to be a man, even though we know from elsewhere in the NT that she was a woman. See Piper & Grudem, 479 n.19. Egalitarians thus dismiss the evidence from Epiphanius, pointing to a masculizing tendency on his part. See Cervin, 466, n. 13.

51 So also Schulz, 110, n. 2. This same principle is used in textual criticism: manuscripts that have been copied from others do not constitute separate witnesses, but rather as a “family” constitute one witness to a certain reading. Thus, I see the later writers collectively as one witness.

52 See Cervin, 466, n. 13, although he discounts the testimony of all three because of their late dates.

53 Origen’s original documents have been lost to us and are only preserved in Latin translations that date to roughly the same period as Chrysostom. These translation were completed by Rufinus (c. 345-410). According to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 1187, Rufinus was important as a translator of Greek theological works into Latin because the knowledge of Greek was declining in the West.

54 Fitzmyer, 738.

55 See Cervin, 464-65.

56 Barrett, 280.

57 Cranfield, 789.

58 Kasemann, 411.

59 Dunn, 890.

60 Fitzmyer, 733.

61 See BDF, 118.

62 Cranfield adds that the ancient commentators took it this way, seemingly without exception. See Cranfield, 789. Similarly Dunn, 894; Fitzmyer, 739; Grenz, 93; and Liefeld, 136. Sanday & Headlam, 423, point out three arguments for this understanding: (1) apparently all patristic commentators took it this way; (2) episemos, lit. “stamped, marked,” would be used for those distinguished among the apostles, not those known to the apostles; and (3) it is in accordance with the wider use of the term apostolos for traveling Christian evangelists.

63 For an overview of the uses of en + the dative, see C. F. D. Moule, An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959) 75-79. See also J. H. Moulton, A Grammar of New Testament Greek (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1963), vol. 3, Syntax, by N. Turner, 261, who quotes Moulton’s reference to en as the “maid of all work.” Turner then points out that the preposition grew increasingly vague over time, eventually vanishing from the Greek language altogether. The elasticity inherent in the NT uses demand that its meaning in a given usage must be adduced from context. Turner warns, “Such elasticity makes it dangerous to press doctrinal distinctions as though our authors were writing Classical Greek.” So also M. Zerwick, Biblical Greek Illustrated by Examples, trans. J. Smith (Rome: Editrice Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 1990) 38.

64 Moule, 65.

65 Although there is hardly enough space within the limitations of this paper to conduct an exhaustive survey, an examination of those instances where persons are referred to instead of places greatly reduces the sample and renders it more manageable. Most — if not all — references to places using this construction are locative, almost by default. Since the locative uses are beyond our present interest, they can be eliminated so we may focus our attention on those that refer to people, and thus constitute the best parallels to Rom 16:7.

66 So also Turner, 252.

67 Note that the Rom 16:7 has the adjective “prominent,” not a verb like “esteemed.” If the latter were present, the reading “by the apostles” would be more likely, for it would denote who was doing the esteeming.

68 Brooten, 143; emphasis mine.

69 Grenz, 96; emphasis mine.

70 Dunn, 895; emphasis mine.

71 BAGD, 99.

72 So also Piper & Grudem, 80-81. They argue that if Rom 16:7 refers to a female apostle, that she was a messenger along the same lines as Priscilla — someone who traveled with her husband and engaged in significant ministry, but without the kind of governing authority over early churches that Paul himself had. See also Cranfield, 789, understands the term “apostle” to have a broad meaning here. So also Dunn, 895.

73 So also Kasemann, 413.

74 So also Piper and Grudem, 80.

75 BAGD, 298.

76 Josephus, Jewish War, IV, 201.

77 See “On the Martyrdom of S. Polycarp,” in The Apostolic Fathers, ed. by J. B. Lightfoot (London: Macmillan, 1891; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978) 113, 115.

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