Junia (3): a different witness from history

Posted on December 8, 2011

2


From (an English translation of) a commentary on Romans:

Though Paul is not wont to make much of kindred, and of other things belonging to the flesh, yet as the relationship which Junia and Andronicus bore to him, might avail somewhat to make them more fully known, he neglected not this commendation. There is more weight in the second eulogy, when he calls them his fellow-prisoners; for among the honors belonging to the warfare of Christ, bonds are not to be counted the least. In the third place, he calls them Apostles: he uses not this word in its proper and common meaning, but extends it wider, even to all those who not only teach in one Church, but also spend their labor in promulgating the gospel everywhere. He then, in a general way, calls those in this place Apostles, who planted Churches by carrying here and there the doctrine of salvation; for elsewhere he confines this title to that first order which Christ at the beginning established, when he appointed the twelve disciples. It would have been otherwise strange, that this dignity should be only ascribed to them, and to a few others. But as they had embraced the gospel by faith before Paul, he hesitates not to set them on this account before himself.

The author knows that Junia is a woman; indeed he never even considers the alternative; he knows that she is an apostle, and doesn’t consider any other possible translation to be worth mentioning. He lists the works she did as teaching in her own church; a broader evangelistic ministry; and church-planting. He paints Junia as a significant and active leader in the early church.

Who is this raving feminist, this traitor to traditional Christianity? He wrote his Romans commentary, his first attempt at Biblical exposition in 1539, in Strasbourg; later he moved to Geneva, where he preached and and published some more Biblical commentary; rightly or wrongly, however, he is more famous for a work entitled Institutes of the Christian Religion

…take a bow, John Calvin!

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