Book Reviews,  Complementarianism,  Egalitarianism,  Theology/Bible

Junia Is a Woman, and I Am a Complementarian

Scot McKnight is one of my favorite egalitarians. We are quite different in our theological perspectives, but he is an all around engaging personality. He is a fantastic New Testament scholar and a prolific writer. His interests are wide-ranging, and he is gifted both at producing serious scholarship and at reaching more popular audiences with his work. In my view, he’s a triple threat: serious scholar, popular blogger, and charismatic speaker. He has a gift for communicating serious ideas to wide audiences.

His new little e-book Junia Is Not Alone (Patheos Press, 2011) is no exception. In this little pamphlet, McKnight argues at the popular level in favor of an egalitarian reading of scripture (though he prefers to call his view “mutuality”). Taking Junia as his point of departure (Romans 16:7), he argues that women have been routinely overlooked in the life and ministry of the Christian church. Thus Junia is not alone in being slighted by a patriarchal vision of gender roles in the church and the home.

Though he makes mention of a litany of female Bible characters, McKnight gives most of his attention to explaining how and why Junia’s legacy has been suppressed. On this point, his argument is not new. He makes the case that—notwithstanding those who have manipulated the Greek accents to transform her into a man (“Junias”)—the name Iounias should be understood as feminine (“Junia”). Thus Junia is a woman who Paul names as an apostle, and as such she was a “Christ-experiencing, Christ-representing, church-establishing, probably miracle-working, missionizing woman who preached the gospel and taught the church.”

McKnight says that he bases his view of Junia’s gender almost entirely on Eldon Epp’s book Junia: The First Woman Apostle, and McKnight agrees with Epp’s conclusions that:

(1) Junia was a woman.
(2) There is no evidence that any man had the name “Junias.”
(3) Junia is not, as some have argued, a contracted name of Junianus.
(4) “Among the apostles” means Junia herself was an apostle and not simply that the apostles thought she was a good egg.

According to McKnight, a female apostle would have been totally uncontroversial in the egalitarian communities that Paul corresponded with. It is only subsequent generations of patriarchy that have silenced her and have given her a “sex change” by transforming her name into a masculine one.

At the heart of McKnight’s argument, however, is a critical weakness. Merely demonstrating that Junia was a woman (as all the early commentators do) does little by itself to advance an egalitarian point of view. The bottom line issue is not whether Junia was a woman. Complementarians like myself agree with the fact that Junia was a woman. The bottom line issue is Junia’s relationship to the apostles.

Though McKnight dismisses this as a possibility, there are serious and weighty arguments in favor of the translation that Junia was not one of the apostles but that she was “well known to the apostles” (ESV, NET). In 2001, for example, Daniel Wallace and Mike Burer defended the translation “well known to the apostles,” and the results of their research were published in “Was Junia Really an Apostle? A Re-examination of Rom 16.7,” New Testament Studies 47 (2001): 76-91. McKnight relies on Epp’s response to the Wallace/Burer proposal, but Burer has recently responded to Epp’s book and has shown the continuing strength of his and Wallace’s original thesis that Junia was “well known to the apostles.” Wallace and Burer’s argument cannot be easily brushed aside. [UPDATE: Four years after this post, Burer published another scholarly article presenting more evidence in favor of Junia as “well known to the apostles.” This position continues with great strength.]

But even if one disagrees with Wallace and Burer, that still doesn’t settle the issue in favor of recognizing Junia as an apostle. McKnight gives very little space to the possibility that the Greek term apostolos may be used in a non-technical sense in Romans 16:7. The word apostolos is not used in the New Testament uniformly to denote the authoritative office that was held by the twelve. In Philippians 2:25, for instance, Epaphroditus was an apostolos sent by the Philippians to minister to Paul’s need. No interpreter believes Epaphroditus to be an apostle. Rather, it is clear that Epaproditus was an apostolos in the sense of a “messenger” or an “envoy” who does not have any extraordinary status (cf. John 13:16; 2 Cor. 8:23). Given Paul’s well known prohibition of women in authority (1 Timothy 2:12), even if we were to regard Junia as an apostolos in some sense, at most we would simply understand her to be a “messenger” or “envoy.”

One doesn’t have to agree with these interpretations to understand that they are well within the mainstream of possibilities recognized by commentators. In any case, the existence of these interpretations invalidates one of McKnight’s central critiques—that scholars have suppressed the truth about Junia. He writes,

“Let me be clear once more: The editors of Greek New Testaments killed Junia. They killed her by silencing her into non-existence. They murdered that innocent woman by erasing her from the footnotes.”

This charge is not exactly fair. The fact of the matter is that many readers simply have a different interpretation of the text than McKnight does, and it will not hold water to allege that these readers are all motivated by a patriarchal desire to silence Junia. This is really good rhetoric but a very poor argument in my view.

McKnight’s central thesis is only as strong as his exegesis of Romans 16:7, and on this point I do not think he has provided sufficient exegetical warrant for his view in light of the countless interpreters who differ with his argument (e.g., Fitzmyer, Romans, p. 739; Schreiner, Romans, p. 796). There is not a single argument in this book that is new or that moves the gender debate forward. It simply assumes long-held egalitarian interpretations of the Bible, and then argues accordingly. I am doubtful that this method will be very persuasive to serious students of the Bible.

McKnight’s book may give the impression that there is a big cover-up when it comes to the identity of Junia and of women leaders in the Bible more generally. But nothing could be further from the truth. There’s no Complementarian cover-up—just a difference in interpretation, a difference with profound implications for the life of the church.

Scot McKnight. Junia Is Not Alone. Patheos Press, 2011. $2.99.

A version of this blog post was subsequently published as an editorial in The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 17.1 (2017): 2-4.


  • Don Johnson

    As Epp points out, there are 3 crux passages in the gender debate on women leaders in the church, Rom 16, 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2. There are egal readings for each of these as well as comp readings. If one assumes comp, then one can find a comp reading and if one assumes egal, one can find an egal reading. This is why I say that it is a choice for comps to be comp. It is not required by the text, it is determined by their interpretive choice.

    I admit I am egal by choice, that is because I think OTHER NT texts as best seen as egal when understood in context. And these 3 challenging texts can be interpreted in egal ways.

    I think it is a horrible practice to define church doctrine on disputed passages that are not clear and have various possible interpretations.

    • Denny Burk

      Romans 16:7 has been disputed through it’s long history of interpretation. The same cannont be said of 1 Timothy 2:12. The feminist readings are very recent phenomenon. Whatever you want to say about Romans 16:7, 1 Timothy 2:12 has not been a considered a difficult verse to understand until very recently.

      • Don Johnson


        Rom 16:7 was interpreted by early church fathers as Junia being an apostle. So comps need to claim that the first interpreters of this verse got it wrong. I see this is special pleading by comps. Comps do their best to deny the plain reading of the verse and their arguments are that they are not required to see it in egal way, which is a poor argument given the ECF testimony. So it is a choice they are making to read it that way.

        There is no question that the church became patriarchal, women were seen as inferior, this is well attested in all the literature. Since that argument does not fly anymore, both the comp and egal arguments start from the 20th century. It is simply not the case that comp doctrine was believed since the the founding of the church, it was only promulgated in the late 20th century, just like egal doctrine.

        On 1 Tim 2:12, you well know that there are a huge numbers of translation issues with it and a huge number of articles and books have been written on it. Comps do not accept the KJV translation of it in recent articles, this is because they want to read it in a thoroughly comp way. Trying to form doctrine using such a unclear verse is a very bad idea. I am sure you teach not to form doctrine using an unclear verse, but then why do you do it for this verse? As far as I can tell, the reason is that you CHOOSE to interpret it as a comp, when there are other choices available.

        Comps cannot claim that these 3 crux passages are clear and yet continue to write article after article on them in response to egals. Admit they are not clear and that there are various interpretations. I as an egal admit they are not clear and that there are various interpretations, this is also what I teach.

        • Denny Burk

          The “translation issues” that you cite with respect to 1 Timothy 2:12 a fairly recent. My point is that hardly anyone was interpreting Paul in an egalitarian way before the 20th century. For the vast majority of church history, everyone agreed that Paul had prohibited women from being elders and teachers over the gathered assembly. Do you dispute that?

          • Don Johnson

            The institutional church, both West (Roman) and East did have restrictions on women as leaders. They also had other restrictions, such as mandatory celibacy.

            The point is that ALL prots agree that both the West and East churches got some things wrong. The question then becomes what did they get wrong, that is, try to see where they veered off and why.

            Women were not allowed to get degrees for a long time, just like slaves were not. Under those restrictions, it is easy to see why women and slaves were seen as inferior to white males, they were not given the chances that while males were given to learn. It is only fairly recently in the 19th century that women and slaves got the right to be educated and then they demonstrated that they were no so inferior after all.

            When that demonstration, the possible reasons for restricting women from church leadership were challenged. This is why the question came up, the old rationales that were “obvious” to all were shown to be totally wrong. Some people believed that the old restrictions were correct but needed better justifications, thus was born CBMW. Some believers thought that the old restrictions were not correct, and thus CBE.

            And there is a very poor history in the church when the question is over who has authority “over” another and who does not. Kings used it to justify fighting democrats, but now most find that democracy is just fine. Slaveowers used the Bible to justify their actions and it took the SBC until 1995 to repent over this. I do not think it is coincidence that the largest denominations that are officially comp were formed over the slavery question, there is a history of using the Bible to claim to be “over” others that needs to be repented from. Christianity is not about being “over” it is about being “under” and serving others with Jesus the prime example.

          • Brandon


            slavery, women getting degrees, white supremacy?? Any more straw men hidden in that closet. What about homosexuality being suppressed by the early church?

  • Denny Burk

    Don, Paul stated the prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12 and elsewhere. My point is that it has always been a straightforward exegetical point until the rise of feminism. The same cannot be said of slavery. There was not an unbroken singular affirmation of slavery throughout the history of the Christian Church.

    • Don Johnson

      The 3 crux passages that I know about for women leadership are Rom 16, 1 Tim 2 and 1 Cor 14. There is a prohibition in 1 Tim 2, but there is a large debate about exactly what is being prohibited and who is being prohibited. Phil Payne gives an example of egal readings of all of them and there are others ways besides his.

      Where other than these 3 crux passages do you think Paul makes his prohibition?

      Also, if the passages were so clear, there would not be discussion even among comps about what is supposedly prohibited, yet there is. Given this state of affairs, I think it is best to admit that 1 Tim 2 is very complex and NOT clear at all.

      • PuritanD


        Hey, interesting to see you here again. Are you ready to answer the questions on Eph 5 raised on your last comments on the last article on egalitarianism? You do not seem to be too busy to keep trying to win the day for egals. Just really want to know how you answer the questions raised, especially on the “mutual” submission that hupotasso that has yet to be found in koine Greek? Did you find other examples?

        And of course the “to serve” equals “to submit” that you desire to argue for.

        Just curious,

          • Sue

            And may the church encourage and provide for all women to categorically rebel against all perversions. In fact, women should be given direct instruction on how to do so before marriage. the church needs to be responsible for the authority that it invests in men and act accordingly to prevent the damage before it happens. Women need assertiveness training in resisting all that is wrong in an relationship in marriage and out.

          • Sue

            There are many women over 50 who are now single who need to earn a living, put children through university, plan for retirement and recovery from physical and mental abuse. This is a difficult life that I and many of my cohort are living through. I don’t really care about how people feel about jargon. I want to know how women are expected to survive. I work 2 jobs and I do provide for my kids, but just barely. Where is the church? If our careers had been a priority before we hit 50 things might have been a little easier. Wake up and consider how women are to live!

            Care about women who have difficulties, not those who have it made as you clearly do. I am happy for you. But my kids need a life too!

  • Louis Tullo

    I find it very interesting that a debate on the issue of the role of women in the church can be argued by reaching to extrapolate something from a single verse of Scripture without looking at its total view of the issue. Certain issues are repeated and elaborated on many times in Scripture like the nature of baptism, the importance of the Lord’s supper, giving to the Church, and the roles of men and women.

    While critical looks at a very specific piece of text are good and I can admire Scot McKnight for actually making an intelligent argument for his stance, I would have to disagree with him because of what the totality of what Scripture says. If the Bible truly wanted us to see a picture of women in the role of apostle, pastor or teacher there would be examples of it, and there wouldn’t be texts that outrightly speak against it.

    Denny thanks for your thoughtful critique of Scot’s book.

    • Justin F

      I don’t know ancient languages, so I’m not an expert to discern their meaning. I do however agree with Louis that the dominate voice throughout scripture is of woman being submissive to man. But this doesn’t surprise me since this is also the case in egyptian culture, persian, greek, roman, ancient-modern far east, medieval & modern europe, the modern middle east, and until recently america. In fact with just a few exceptions, human history has held women to be submissive to men. Do we believe human nature is depraved, but this is the one thing that humans got unequivocally correct? So I’m really not surprised to see this view being the assumptions behind the biblical authors, this is not the exclusively “Biblical” worldview.

      So what we have throughout history is the view of women being submissive to men on a spectrum. On the lowest end, women are property to be exploited and abused. On the high end you have the complementarian view that women are valued by God equally to men, but they have non-leadership roles. But since the whole spectrum is defined by culture, why can’t we jump off this spectrum entirely and move to women in leadership? We haven’t totally adopted the “biblical” culture on women, it leaned further towards the low side of the spectrum (it was clearly not complementarian). We don’t adopt all the rules expected of women, like the infamous headcovering (despite this being a very serious cultural rule in many parts of the world today). We allow women to vote in politics, we allow women to own businesses and be ceos. Michelle Bachmann polled very strongly among evangelicals at one point and even spoke at Liberty. So we are content to let women lead in all aspects, except church leadership? (And I’m not even going to touch wifes-husbands at this point, since it would be a whole separate discussion)

      Paul was speaking to a specific people, at a specific time. A time that was not a utopia that we need to rediscover or revert to. Why do we have to fight so hard for this cultural marker when we’ve been content to let others pass? A cultural marker that doesn’t even uniquely identify us as Christian? Are we straining a gnat, but swallowing a camel?

      • Henry

        Are we straining a gnat, but swallowing a camel?

        And what was Jesus’ answer to those who did this?

        (He did not advise them to swallow the gnat as well).

      • Brandon

        Justin F,

        Presuppositions my dear Watson!

        Is the practice of women submitting to men seen in the Bible because it is common historical practice? Or is wifely submission a fundamental doctrine grounded in creation, therefore one would expect it to be retained through much of human history as shadow of what life was like before the Fall?

        “Do we believe human nature is depraved, but this is the one thing that humans got unequivocally correct?”

        You are not using the doctrine of total depravity correctly in your first paragraph. Total depravity is not the teaching man can do nothing right in regards to his follow man. Justin, the same question could be asked of your view. Do you believe man is depraved, but this one thing (recent egalitarianism) is the one thing humans got unequivocally correct in the 20th century?

        • Justin F


          I’d rather focus on societal leadership and specifically church leadership. Sorry to dodge on the wife-husband dynamic, but it’s an entirely different can of worms that should get its own response.

          Pre-Fall there was no “society” and no model that the bible records as an ideal model outside of the husband-wife argument. So you could speculate that patriarchal society is a “shadow” of something better, but we can’t know. Because like I asked, is the problem we are on the wrong point on the spectrum in regards to women submitting to men, or is the whole spectrum wrong? Why couldn’t a woman pastor a church? Because Paul writing in his time and culture gave restrictions to a church on the conduct of their women?

          The new testament authors wrote on a number of issues that were problem points in their culture and they pushed the envelope for what their culture allowed: circumcision, dietary laws, obedience to Roman authority, etc. There was even a little envelope pushing on male-female relations. Paul telling the church that in Christ there is neither male nor female was pretty revolutionary. Did he go full Ega? I don’t know I’m not an expert in the greek. But while the concerns about circumcision, dietary laws, and Roman authority have faded in the modern era, the male-female authority question has assumed a greater importance than at the time of the writing of the new testament.

          So I think we need to try to re-evaluate this question for our time based on the teachings of Jesus. I don’t think it’s appropriate to just copy what Paul said, because it was a different time and culture. If we lived our whole lives just copying what the original authors’ wrote about cultural norms we would not be fully functional human beings in society. How do we behave regarding democracy? Capitalism? the internet? Globalism? Does the Spirit have nothing new to teach us? We need to under the spirit of the law, and apply it in a new way for a new time.

          Ultimately there is no physical, emotional, intellectual, or other reason that a woman is incapable of leading men. And if she is an equal sister in Christ, then why not? Do we really want to cut our potential leadership pool in half?

          • Henry

            Justin F,

            a few points I think you should consider:

            Do you realise that Paul roots his commands for female submission in creation? That means you can’t say it was just mean’t for his culture. The creation order that Paul appeals to is still there and is not going away. This is a very basic point that you skip over time and again.

            Your argument could be used to shred the whole bible. Why can’t it be applied to wifely submission? Why can’t it be applied to homosexuality? It is no coincidence that many of the churches that moved to ordain women in the 70s are now thinking of doing so for homosexuals. Not to do so would be homophobic.

            Just where does your belief that “the whole spectrum” is wrong come from? How is that any more than your personal subjective fancies? What authority does it have?

            4) You say:

            Ultimately there is no physical, emotional, intellectual, or other reason that a woman is incapable of leading men.

            That is a very bold assertion, would you care to present a defence of it?

            I believe your statement is contrary to all good sense. Men do not naturally follow women, its not how they are wired. That is a societal fact. There is a reason why you don’t find many female coaches of men’s sports teams. It just doesn’t work. Yet conversely, you find many men coaching women’s teams. Even the unregenerate recognise gender differences at a basic level. If I were you I would slow down and take heed that you are not participating in one of the greatest heresies of our time.

          • Brandon

            @ Justin F,

            Like Henry said in his #2, when you say “Why couldn’t a woman pastor a church? Because Paul writing in his time and culture gave restrictions to a church on the conduct of their women?”…

            The whole Bible was given to a specific people in a specific time what lived in a specific culture. Your arguments ends with rejection of the whole Bible, or at the least picking and choosing based on some arbitrary (presupposed) hermeneutic. How do we decide which parts of the bible are applicable to us today and WHO gets to decide that?

            Must we re-evaluate everything according to our time? Each generation must re-evaluate the Scripture according to the “progress” said generation has made?

            So much of egalitarianism is about using inconsistent, off-the-wall HERmeneutics!

          • Justin F

            Replying to myself since the system doesn’t seem to let me reply directly to Henry or Brandon.


            1) I don’t deny that he did. I’m saying it was the norm for his culture, but we need to take another look for our day. See my next bullet.
            2) My point is that every generation re-evaluates what the bible and christianity means to them. Modern christianity is not like medieval is not like ancient. We have democracy, modern nations, modern communication, etc. It happened on a host of issues, it needs to happen on this one. We aren’t shredding the bible, we are trying to understand and apply it.

            And you shouldn’t dance because it leads to kissing, which leads to sex, which leads to babies, which leads to genocide ; ) I can do non sequitors too.
            3) It was an opinion, I was presenting two possibilities. The spectrum and my opinion that we needed to jump off the spectrum.

            4)”Ultimately there is no physical, emotional, intellectual, or other reason that a woman is incapable of leading men.

            That is a very bold assertion, would you care to present a defence of it?”
            Women CEOs, women directors, mothers, women Queens (as opposed to the other type), women writers, women presidential candidates, women’s testing scores being comparable to men’s

            And just because men are stubborn and won’t follow women, doesn’t mean women are incapable. And yes again, there are some physical differences, it’s why men have been able to dominate written history. But is the only requirement for leadership to be physically strong?

            “If I were you I would slow down and take heed that you are not participating in one of the greatest heresies of our time.”

            I guess we can’t end a dialogue without throwing out the “H” word.

  • Henry

    Denny I agree that whether she was a woman or not is fairly immaterial. But I’m not sure it is as settled as you say that Junia was a woman. I’d be interested to see if anyone knows of a response to the Al Wolters article (2008), he agrees that if the name was Greek, she was a woman, but that it may be a Semitic name – people don’t seem to consider this option:

    He says in the opening stages of his article:

    When we compare the evidence adduced in favor of ??????? as a masculine
    name with that brought forward in support of ??????? as a feminine name, there
    is really no contest. The latter clearly wins the day. However, before we conclude
    that the Latin name Junia is the only serious candidate for a reasonable interpretation of IOTNIAN in Rom 16:7, we need to consider another possibility, namely,
    that it reflects a Semitic, specifically a Hebrew, personal name. After all, it would not
    be surprising if a person whom Paul numbers among his kinfolk (?????????)
    should turn out to have a specifically Jewish name, comparable to the ????? of the
    previous verse. This is an option that is usually not considered by commentators.

  • Sue

    Please read my post on the BLT for a discussion of the Greek.

    I have also corresponded at some length with Al Wolters on this issue. I would be very willing to engage with Henry on Wolter’s article.

    I see an urgent need to resolve these issues, and a sound approach to the Greek. As henry can see, Mike Heiser willing posted my response to Al Wolter’s. I would be delighted to see this discussion proceed in a scholarly manner.

  • RD

    I think Don is right on target in this discussion. Both “camps” choose which interpretation they are going to honor. I think, on a much deeper level, there is a lot of Cultural Cognition going on with regard to this particular issue.

    Harvard professor David Ropiek wrote an interesting article in Psychology Today in which he makes the point that:

    the positions we take on so many of the issues of the day are based less on the facts themselves, and far more on the powerful imperative that drives us all to interpret the facts so our views match those in the groups with whom we most strongly identify, [this] phenomenon [is] called Cultural Cognition. With climate change or abortion or government spending or gun control or any issue, we cherry pick the evidence for the parts that reinforce OUR view. We twist and bend and play up or down the facts so they serve OUR argument. We defer to and adopt the beliefs and opinions of the leaders of OUR tribe.”

    The Cultural Cognition Project website at Yale University offers this statement, “Cultural cognition refers to the tendency of individuals to conform their beliefs about disputed matters of fact (e.g., whether global warming is a serious threat; whether the death penalty deters murder; whether gun control makes society more safe or less) to values that define their cultural identities.”

    Now, neither of these are refering specifically to the comp/egal debate, but the phenomenon of Cultural Cognition can, I think, be clearly seen in this dispute. Each side chooses, as Don says in his comments above, and there are scriptural references that can support either position.

  • Sue


    Burer and Wallace have never explained why they did not cite the entire phrase from Pss. of Solomon 2:6. At this point, the hypothesis that Junia was “well-known to” the apostles lacks scholarly support. Do you have an alternative example to substitute?

  • Sue

    I am going to try to post without using the Greek font. In Romans 16:7 the phrase is
    “episemoi en tois apostolois.”

    In Pss. of Solomon 2:6, the phrase is “en episemw en tois ethesin.”

    However, the article by Burer and Wallace respresented Pss of Sol 2:6 as saying “episemw en tois ethnesin.”

    This is a huge discrepancy. It is really worth discussing how this discrepancy happened and then starting over again from zero and trying to establish what the Greek actually says. It is a fascinating area of detective work. People need to realize that this is a wide open area, not in any way resolved.

      • Sue


        I will try again. My previous comment has been lost. The citation is no longer a parallel. Since it is considered the major piece of evidence supporting “well-known to” this changes the picture entirely..

        • Peter G.

          Sue, I’m still hazy on why the parallel is lost. I haven’t read the article so I don’t know what they try to prove from it, but I don’t see why ?? ??????? ?? ???? ??????? (Pss. Sol. 2:6) and ??????? ????? ???????? ?? ???? ?????????? (Rom. 16:7) aren’t similar enough for a valuable comparison.

          Again, I don’t know what conclusions Wallace-Burer draw from this but the comparison at least seems legit.

          For my take I would take the preposition as “among” in both cases unless there is good reason that I’m missing.

          • Sue


            Please understand that Denny deleted my comment which contained an explanation.

            I agree that in both cases the phrase means “among.” However, Burer and Wallace insist that it means “well-known to” and that this is proof that Junia is NOT an apostle.

            In the NET and ESV Bibles the phrase is translated as “well-known to the apostles” and is considered to be an indication that Junia is NOT an apostle.

            THis is considered proof that a woman cannot be an apostle.

  • Alan Molineaux

    You seem to want your complementarian cake and eat it on this one.

    1. Earliest translators thought that Junia was being described as an Apostle.

    2. That’s why the patriarchal wing of the church tried to so gymnastics with the name by making it male.

    3. Recent complementarians faced with this have accepted the name as make and tried to do gymnastics with the apostleship.

    Junia was a woman and was counted as an apostle. Get over it and let the women fulfil their God given calling.



    • Denny Burk


      Your argument is flawed historically. It is simply not true that the early interpreters drew egalitarian conclusions from the fact that Junia was a female.

      One of the most important early interpreters cited in connection with this verse is John Chrysostom (Scot cites him in the book). Chrysostom clearly identifies Junia as a female in his comments on Romans 16:7. But in his comments on Romans 16:6, Chrysostom acts astonished about Paul’s repeated exaltation of the women in Paul’s greeting list. Chrysostom concludes that Paul praises them for their piety and faithfulness to the gospel but that he does not approve of them teaching and exercising authority over the church. Chrysostom cites 1 Timothy 2:12 explicity to buttress his case.

      Right after this discussion, Chrysostom speaks of Junia as a woman and as an apostolos. Given Chrysostom’s comments on verse 6, it’s impossible to conclude that his comments on verse 7 would contradict it. No, Chrysostom isn’t a dullard. He simply uses the word apostolos in its non-technical sense–a meaning that is well within the range of possible meanings for apostolos (e.g., Philippians 2:25; John 13:16; 2 Cor. 8:23).

  • Ryan K.

    I agree with Louis on this matter. Time and again when this topic comes up and the avalanche of posts by Don and Sue begin, we are told to look for moon in the afternoon sky.

    It causes great strain to try and have to extrapolate so much from such small samples to make the egalitarian argument, all the while being blinded by the overwhelming light and totality of the complementarian sun being shown all over the Bible and the meta-narrative.

    And Don, I notice that you dodge admitting that until the recent rise of feminism the interpretation of 1 Tim. 2 was pretty unanimous throughout church history. It is not enough of a refutation just to play shift the subject and talk about other positions that have been held throughout church history.

    If Paul really was trying to celebrate and normalize when as church leaders through Junia in Romans 16:7 then why does he not do so any where else in his epistles to the early church? You would think if this is what Paul had wanted and he was the one setting up leaders in many of the early church, he would have installed women in these positions. Yet we have no evidence this happened and ample evidence that it did not.

    I think this is all well tread ground on this blog so no need to go down all the old roads on the topic, but I have noticed the strategy of many egalitarians has been to try and win this argument by sheer volume. I guess this seems like one way to go, but eventually you still have got to deal with the text.

  • Henry


    I wonder if you are being a bit unfair to Scot Mcknight, in Alistair’s blog he just made the following 2 comments:

    Nor do I think what I say about Junia proves my own conclusions about the ordination of women; that has to be done on other grounds.

    3. I can think of exactly no one who thinks because Junia is an apostle she’s the same as Paul; in fact, the assumption is that “apostle” has a variety of meanings, and I would say Junia is a church-planting, missionizing, etc… kind of apostle.

    So is there really any substantive disagreement between Scot Mcknight and complementarians as it pertains to this issue?

    • Denny Burk

      Scot never says that Junia is equal to the Twelve in so many words. But he clearly pushes the envelope in an egalitarian direction by saying that an aposlte is a “Christ-experiencing, Christ-representing, church-establishing, probably miracle-working, missionizing woman who preached the gospel and taught the church.” If McKnight is saying that Junia “taught the church,” then that would contradict 1 Timothy 2:12.

      • Alastair Roberts

        Many points of McKnight’s argument depend for their moral and rhetorical force upon the implicit suggestion that the failure to recognize women in positions of Church leadership over men is analogous to and illustrated by the treatment of Junia in Romans 16:7, and that a recognition of Junia is directly connected to a recognition of women in positions of Church leadership over men. While McKnight might claim the argument for women’s ordination must be made on other grounds (and I would be interested to know which), if you do not presume women’s ordination much of what he says about Junia has limited force.

        I have no problem with the idea that Junia was a female apostle. I suspect that she was the wife of Andronicus, and that she participated in and helped in a shared ministry of apostleship, in which Andronicus took the lead, and she taught, evangelized, and oversaw women, a pattern we see in 1 Corinthians 9:5 and elsewhere.

  • Sue

    The problem with 1 Tim. 2:12 is that “to assume authority” is from Calvin, “to usurp authority” is from the KJV, “to dominate” is from Jerome, “to be the lord of” is from Luther, and so on. This was always a passage with multiple interpretations, and should remain so.

    • Alastair Roberts

      I posted a follow up to my earlier post on the subject, in which I explain in detail the logic behind my understanding of Junia as a female apostle who did not exercise teaching authority over men. The meaning of 1 Timothy 2:11-12 becomes quite clear when we view in it the broader biblical frame provided by 1 Timothy 2:13-15.

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