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Junia and Andronicus with Athanasius

We don’t know a lot about Junia. We do know that she was an early follower of Jesus, a church leader in Biblical times, and that Paul thought very highly of her.

Paul the apostle wrote a long letter to the church in Rome. At the end he sent a long list of greetings to all sort of people he knew in the church there – the list is in Romans 16. It is one of those lists it is easy to skip over when reading the Bible: lots of names and not much else. In the middle of the list he says ‘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)

It is fairly natural to assume that Andronicus and Junia were husband and wife, but that may not be the case. They obviously became Christians very soon after Jesus’ death and resurrection if they had been Christians longer than Paul. Paul calls them ‘relatives’ – this might just mean that they came from the same place as he did, or it might mean they were somehow related.

Andronicus and Junia had been in prison with Paul: we know that Paul was imprisoned because he followed Jesus, and so probably it was true for them as well. They are ‘prominent among the apostles’: ‘apostles’ in the Bible sometimes means the twelve men who Jesus chose to be with him through his ministry, but often also means people who traveled to spread the message of Jesus. (‘apostle’ just means something like ‘ambassador’.)

We get a picture of Andronicus and Junia travelling, sometimes with their friend Paul, teaching others about Jesus, probably starting new churches from the people they had converted the way that Paul did. And like Paul they have suffered – been thrown into jail – because they were faithful witnesses to Jesus.

We don’t know a lot about Junia, but she was a church leader right at the beginning of the life of the church, someone whose ministry was commended by the apostle Paul himself.

[Background details on Junia here]