Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Can Women Be Pastors, Elders, or Apostles? Part 1: The Apostle Junia

Okay, time to dive in. I'd like to take one point at a time on this issue of pastors, elders, and apostles.
I want to make clear first that my husband and I are huge supporters of Sarah Palin and believe that it is completely appropriate for women to hold public office.
Second, I want to make clear that the specific disallowing argument we have is for women authoritatively teaching men in the home or the church. I want to look at what the bible does say and what it doesn't say. I want to be honest and not avoid when there is something left to debate.

In the argument for women allowed in authoritative leadership in the church there is brought up the issue of Junia. I have been researching a great deal and found that this question answer format discussion on Junia had the most fair, biblically founded, and historically researched response.

In Romans 16:7, Paul wrote, “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.” Isn’t Junias a woman? And wasn’t she an apostle? And doesn’t that mean that Paul was willing to acknowledge that a woman held a very authoritative position over men in the early church?

Let’s take these three questions one at a time.
1. Was Junias a woman? We cannot know. The evidence is indecisive. We did a
complete search of all the Greek writings from Homer (b.c. ninth century?) into the fifth century a.d. available now on computer through the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (Pilot CD ROM #C, University of California at Irvine, 1987), which contains 2,889 authors and 8,203 works. We asked the computer for all forms of Iounia- so that we would pick up all the possible cases. (We did not search for the possible first declension masculine genitive Iouniou, which morphologically could come from a masculine Iounias, because there is no way to tell if Iouniou might come from the man’s name Iounios; so that all these genitive forms would be useless in establishing a masculine Iounias.)
The result of our computer search is this: Besides the one instance in Romans 16:7
there were three others.
1. Plutarch (ca. a.d. 50-ca. 120), in his Life of Marcus Brutus, wrote about the tension between Brutus and Cassius, “. . . though they were connected in their families, Cassius having married Junia, the sister of Brutus (Iounia gar adelphe¯ Broutou sunoikei Kassios).”17
2. Epiphanius (a.d. 315-403), the bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, wrote an Index of
Disciples, in which he includes this line: “Iounias, of whom Paul makes mention, became bishop of Apameia of Syria” (Index disciplulorum, 125.19-20). In Greek, the phrase “of whom” is a masculine relative pronoun (hou) and shows that Epiphanius thought Iounias was a man.
3. John Chrysostom (a.d. 347-407), in preaching on Romans 16:7, said in reference to
Junias, “Oh! how great is the devotion of this woman, that she should be even counted
worthy of the appellation of apostle!”1873
What we may learn from these three uses is that Junias was used as a woman’s name
in the time around the New Testament (Plutarch). The Church Fathers were evidently
divided as to whether Paul was using Junias that way, Epiphanius assuming it is
masculine, Chrysostom assuming it is feminine. Perhaps somewhat more weight may be
given to the statement by Epiphanius, since he appears to know more specific information about Junias (that he became bishop of Apameia), while Chrysostom gives no more information than what he could deduce from Romans 16:7).19
Perhaps more significant than either of these, however, is a Latin quotation from
Origen (died 252 a.d.), in the earliest extant commentary on Romans: He says that Paul refers to “Andronicus and Junias and Herodian, all of whom he calls relatives and fellow captives (Andronicus, et Junias, et Herodion, quos omnes et cognatos suos, et concaptivos appellat)” (Origen’s commentary on Romas, preserved in a Latin translation by Rufinus, c. 345-c.410 a.d., in J. P. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 14, col. 1289). The name Junias here is a Latin masculine singular nominative, implying-if this ancient translation is reliable-that Origin (who was one of the ancient world’s most proficient scholars) thought Junias was a man. Coupled with the quotation from Epiphanias, this quotation makes the weight of ancient evidence support this view.
Masculine names ending in -as are not unusual even in the New Testament: Andrew
(Andreas, Matthew 10:2), Elijah (Elias, Matthew 11:14), Isaiah (Esaias, John 1:23),
Zacharias (Luke 1:5). A. T. Robertson (Grammar of the Greek New Testament [New
York: Hodder and Stoughton, 1914], pp. 171-173) shows that numerous names ending in
-as are shortened forms for clearly masculine forms. The clearest example in the New
Testament is Silas (Acts 15:22) from Silvanus (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Peter 5:12).
So there is no way to be dogmatic about what the form of the name signifies. It could
be feminine or it could be masculine. Certainly no one should claim that Junia was a
common woman’s name in the Greek speaking world, since there are only these three
known examples in all of ancient Greek literature. Moreover the fact that Andronicus and Junias, like Prisca and Aquila (16:3), are given as a pair does not demand that they be husband and wife, because in 16:12 two women are greeted as a pair: “Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord.” Andronicus and Junias could be addressed as two men, since Tryphena and Tryphosa are addressed as two women.
2. Was Junias an apostle? Possibly so, but this is not certain. Grammatically “of note among the apostles” could mean that the apostles held Andronicus and Junias in high regard. Thus they would not be themselves apostles. But this is unlikely because Paul himself is an apostle and would probably not refer to them in the third person. On the other hand, since Andronicus and Junias were Christians before Paul was, it may be that their longstanding ministry (reaching back before Paul’s) is precisely what Paul might have in mind when he says “of note among the apostles.” They may well have been known among the apostles before Paul was even converted. Here again we cannot be certain.
3. Did Junias have a very authoritative position in the early church? Probably not. The word apostle is used for servants of Christ at different levels of authority in the New Testament. Revelation 21:14 refers to “the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (cf. Matthew19:28; Acts 1:15-26). The twelve had a unique role in bearing witness to the resurrectionof Jesus. Paul counted himself among the privileged group by insisting on having seen and been called by the risen Christ (Galatians 1:1, 12; 1 Corinthians 9:1-2). Very closely related with this unique inner ring were the missionary partners of Paul, Barnabas (Acts14:14) and Silvanus and Timothy (1 Thessalonians 2:6), as well as James, the Lord’s brother (Galatians 1:19) and perhaps others (1 Corinthians 15:7).
Finally, the word apostle is used in a broad sense as “messenger,” for example, of
Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25, and of several “messengers of the churches” in 2
Corinthians 8:23. Therefore, if Andronicus and Junias were apostles, they were probably 74 among the third group serving in some kind of itinerant ministry. If Junias is a woman,this would seem to put her in the same category with Priscilla, who with her husband seemed to do at least a little travelling with the Apostle Paul (Acts 18:18). The ministry would be significant but not necessarily in the category of an authoritative governor of the churches like Paul (2 Corinthians 10:8; 13:10).

(the above is taken from this article sorry it got chopped up like that)

What are my thoughts?
I agree that there is great lack of surety on this one person in the scripture. So, when there is a lack of clarity in the bible I can go to what is clear.
1) Every single Apostle (other than this one that may or may not be a woman) are men. I find that a strong statement.
2) Plenty of men in history have feminine gender names
Let's look at the name Junia:
Feminine gender of Lunius, derived from Roman goddess Juno
Origin and meaning of the name from the word "Junius" An original form of Junia is the Latin "Junius". The Roman name Junius could be from the Roman goddess Juno. The name Junia was borne by an early Christian mentioned by Paul in his Epistle to the Romans, who was described as an important person, the gender of the person is not clear. (reference here)
Note that the original for of Junia is the masculine "Junius".
3) Not a valid point in the proof this is a man, but still notable is the fact that men can have names given to them that are of the feminine gender. As the above article also states. We all know that girls are also given boy gender names as well.
4) It does not fit the biblical pattern, that being, that men are to be the leaders when it comes to authoritative leadership in the home and the church. If the only fray in the fabric of this pattern is possibly not a fray at all, then we should stick with the patterns strength.

My conclusion on women apostles: To come up with a theology you need to look at what is clear and not what is unclear. It is clear to me that every Apostle is a man. It is not clear that one is a woman. The weight is on the side of the allowance for men. I admit that the unclear allows for a possible hole (and even the fact that there is this hole is uncertain) in the structure of the argument. So, I go again to where there is clarity. That is in 1 Timothy 2. That is where it is supported. That is where I will be going next with this topic. There is no where in scripture where the uncertain issue of women apostles is supported. No where. If I'm wrong, I want to be shown.
This is how I draw my conclusion.

On a final side note: where are the women standing up for this issue? I am reading many women chatting about it and all the women in disagreement are biting their tongues. Now is not the time for timidity. It is probably a virtue that you are quiet but there is no need to be quiet when the Word of God is being stretched into another belief system. This is not about who has the better argument, this is about loving God with our minds by digging, finding, and then defending. Where are the women who will stand up for biblical womanhood and defend it?


Donna said...

I think it is so obvious that if God really exists as a being separate from us and totally "other" that we will find ourselves in disagreement with Him. That something He says or does will make us uncomfortable or confused. The temptation is to change what He says to seem as though God agrees with us. The controversy on biblical womanhood is a perfect example. Biblical womanhood is at odds with our society and we don't want to be also at odds with society. (lots of sinful, weak human reasons for that) But, we also don't want to be at odds with God. So, we change the meaning of God's words. Then, we look as if we are in tune with society and with God.

I'll come across as harsh and judgmental when I say this, but this response reveals a lack of belief that God is an actually real being who has actually said something. If we disagreed with a friend or neighbor or someone we physically knew we wouldn't claim that they had actually said something else. We would just admit that we disagreed. Maybe even have a big fight. But, we wouldn't go around claiming that the person actually said something else and really agreed with us. Why do we do that with God?

I know some Christians who believe that the church has got it wrong all along. That God always meant for women to be pastors or elders and that finally we have figured that out. I shudder to think what else we have got wrong. Isn't it disconcerting to think that Christians can be so wrong for so long? How can we be confident in other doctrines if we have been so wrong on this one for so long?

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. I'd feel much safer just confessing that I disagreed with God than I would trying to make it seem like He agreed with me.

I do think that there are Christians who honestly believe that this new interpretation of scripture is correct and that the church needs to repent of it's treatment of women. I think we all need to pray to be led to the Truth. So, I can be gracious about this most of the time. Where I get frustrated is when there doesn't seem to be a teachable attitude about it. They just see this new doctrine as the real one and become intractable. No humility to think that perhaps the church has been right all along and that they are the ones who disagree with God. I 'd rather be the one examining my heart to see if I'm willing to submit to God. Even when He has said something that puts me out of step with society.

Well, talk about conservative! Luke listens to Limbaugh and Hannity while he does his school work.

Oh, just a quick thing on Palin. The bible's teaching on women is for the church and the family. I don't see it crossing over to government or business at all. I think she'll make a great VP and later on a great POTUS.


julie said...

hi alicia,
i have spent some time reading your entries and also reading the correspondence with your friend at "in other words'.

i know this issue is pressing upon your heart, because it shows in your postings. i think it is so good that you and your hubby have come to a position where you and hubby feel that God has clarified and illuminated His position for you and your family.

i guess my question is...what now? this is rhetorical:) it is so good to dig deep into God's word. it is good to have the Lord lead us through His unchanging and infinite Word. a living and breathing message that transcends time. even within the church you now attend there are probably people with positions on both sides of this issue. not to mention bible studies, homeschool groups, fellow blog members etc. where do you rest and know that within yourself you are at peace with what God has shown you?

i ask you this because of one of your last questions "where are the women speaking out about this?" i think there are many out there that are. (at least in the blog world that i frequent.) i doubt that you and daja will ever be completely reconciled to each other's beliefs. you've probably already realized this.:) what about women as deacons? (the Word says they are to be of one wife...hhhmmm?)i noticed on your friend's blog she blogged not too long ago about todd bentley of the lakeland revival fame....a false prophet if there ever was one! should we be blogging to everyone about this as well? oh alicia there are so many points to ponder and question against the Word of God but i wonder in what forum and and when?

your heart seems to be in the right place. that is most important. but don't let this one point get you too riled up. i recently read a great book by shane claiborne that really rocked my spiritual world. it isn't endorsed by some conservatives (oh well) but his message of focusing on your life on Jesus and his message that we are called to be a servant. what about caring for one another? bearing each other's burdens? encouraging? lovingly and gently admonishing each other, financially opening our pocketbooks to others in need, thinking GLOBALLY in terms of Christ's message of salvation? do we do ourselves and Christ a disservice by focusing on things like men vs women pastors, spiritual gifts being available now vs spiritual gifts ceasing after the close of the canon, hymns vs contemporary music, reformed vs evangelical, doctrine vs practical application and sadly neglect the most precious life changing important messages of all to those who need to hear.

don't get me wrong alicia. it is good for you to be digging deep like you are. and i agree with you! let me go on record that i don't think women should be in pulpit. i think the word of God is pretty clear. i can't see trying to piece together ambiguity to support your opinion. i also believe that the Word of God is the same yesterday, today and forever....that means that i believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit are also for today. but one of my dearest friends disagrees strongly with me. i can't lie down on the tracks for this and sacrifice my dear friendship. i am not going to break fellowship with her over this.

so, to end this too long post:), i encourage you to not spend precious time agonizing over things that may not be the most important thing to agonize over as you "shoot for eternity."

Alicia said...

I thought all you had to say was good Donna but I especially thought one point was fresh and profound. That I would be better to disagree with God than change his Word. That is a new strong idea to me. I had to give it some thought. It's very true, my children can disagree with me but still obey respectively until they day they come to understand why I had them do things a certain way. The same can be true of God. We don't have to agree with Him, we have to lovingly obey. To change what he says we would no longer accept His authority over us.

Alicia said...

Thank you for commenting. I thought what you had to say was very thought out and lovingly explained. You are an example to me in something for which I struggle.

The difference on this is that it is not an issue of Christian liberty that I would just be settled between myself and my husband (much like the schooling issue). This on the other hand has been proclamation of what God's word says and what it means. I feel no need to apologize for being riled up about God's words about biblical womanhood being misproclaimed.
You are right, where in the world is there enough time and enough grace to take on all these issues? Which are worth separating ourselves for the sake of? Well, thankfully not all of them.
I have two things to say about that though. You are wise to bring up the friendship aspect and it is something I have been pondering on the past few days. Like C.S Lewis says "Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.".
If I could go back, I would have discussed this topic on my blog alone with no reference to my friend. For this reason I have gone back and deleted the entries alluding to her, and I won't be discussing that here in the comments either. This is not about people it is about truth. I was unwise to try to discuss it on her blog since it is my conviction. My original intent was to keep it about the topic, and it was my hope that others would be willing and eager to seek the Truth, but by responding to this friend personally I made it personal when it did not have to be. I won't be doing that again.

As far as the topic itself. I feel I should have the freedom to take on any issue on my blog that I feel is important enough to address. Just as many others do. I ask that of women because there are voices out there against Truth and so few for it. If we are speaking and defending the very Word of God we do not have to be ashamed or fearful. Again, this is only if the issue is a false teaching. Am I sticking my neck out? Yes. Do I feel it's worth it? Yes. On this issue I do because it is the core of biblical womanhood. What can I say, I'm a woman so that hit's to the core of me.
Like the quote said I put the other day:"It is easier to perceive error than to find truth, for the former lies on the surface and is easily seen, while the latter lies in the depth, where few are willing to search for it."
I am here to find the Truth, not the errors of all.
The forum to speak the Truth of God is anytime, anywhere. The when is as the Spirt of God leads.
I think the real question, and the one I am sinful in and God is teaching how?
That is what I want to learn to do better. That is what I fail at. That is what God is working on me with right now in many areas of my life. I am a work in progress and a sketchy one at that.
Your words on loving one another, bearing one anothers burdens and so on is also a passion and burden of my heart and one I strive for. Though I can think globally I live intimately with people one on one as they step across the threshold of my life. I cannot take on misrepresentation of the Word everywhere it takes place, but I can every time it comes in my path. I dare say, I must. Just as I can sease every oportunity to bear a burden and love my brother's and sister's and those needing salvation. I do not do Christ a disservice by focusing on biblical Truth, I support his sacrifice to bring people to it. Salvation is the first stepping stone, the milk as it says in Hebrews 5:11-13, all other truths are the meat of the gospel of Truth. They are more challenging to chew for sure! Like I said, many of the things you came up with (though not all) are issues of Christian liberty. I may give my opinion on our direction from the Lord on those but they are (as I've said recently on the blog) very wrong reasons to draw lines in the sand.
Let us NEVER neglect the gospel itself, no! Let us sing of it, write of it, speak of it when we rise and when we lay down! You are so right!
Let us also not let the very Words of God be misrepresented to the masses!
I don't find the arguments from the word ambiguous (something of doubtful meaning), quite the contrary. I believe that when we seek, we are promised to find. I believe those things God found important he made clear, and those he wanted us to be individualistic on, he kept silent so we would come and seek him on each one.
I also don't want to support my opinion. I want to search the Word of God to see what it really says. My opinions mean nothing in the light of eternity, only what is True will be important.
And...that leads up to how this is my part in "Shooting For Eternity". I want to shoot for eternity by proclaiming Truth. "Thy Word is Truth." John 17:17
Eternity will be thick with truth, I can't wait. As the song I love says "When it's all been said and done, did I do my best to live for Truth? Did I live my life for You?" I live my life for Christ by living for Truth. This mission is not agonizing to me, it is my very food! The Words of God are my food. And when I taste foul, I spit it out and try to tell others not to eat it. They need food. The Words of God are food to the soul that will bring the the optimum blessing He wants so badly to give them.
Again, I appreciate you absolute tenderness in sharing with me, thank you. I am blessed that you are trying to sense my heart and I take great joy in your words, and your passion for our Lord and his Word.
Thank you!

tricia said...


You make great points. I agree with you. I am not a scholar and do not claim to know everything about the Bible. I know a few important facts the Bible is the truth, it is God's Word, and it does not contractict itself.

Since the Bible does not contract itself, Paul would not be saying in one place that men are the leaders (elders and teachers) of a church and then in another place say that a woman was a teacher (an apostle). This is a contraction. Junia would have to be male.

Maybe, my thinking is to simple.

Thank you for sharing your research with everyone.

Alicia said...

Oh, my goodness... I cannot believe I did not see that. Wow.
You are so right!
Here I am digging away and glad that I did, I'm learning a lot and it's a joy to study to have an answer for the hope I have. Yet, you have made what I think is the most profound point of all!

bless you! I feel like I just got a much needed wake up slap! "Ouch", and yet "HELLO, where was I?" Somehere on planted "Intelect". Thanks for bringing me back. :)

julie said...

thank you alicia,
just a couple things extra....:) i noticed as i reread my comment about should have said "support one's opinion." i, in NO way was referring to you, but to those in general who pick and choose scripture to support "pet" doctrines or beliefs. ( i am sure you have run across this before.) my apologies for the confusion.:)(UUGGHH i hate having to proofread something.) also, indeed it is your blog. you may and should (!) proclaim your ideas, opinions and gleanings from the Word. i would never suggest otherwise! (i think you know that i wholeheartedly believe in "spewing" as you call it on my own blog!!!:)please understand i don't think you need to make any apologies for your choice of topic or position on that don't have to be apologetic (and i am not suggesting that you be) about being riled up! its just that i have been where you are right now, (perhaps not on the same topic), and felt strongly convicted in area that was NOT just a Christian liberty. i let my emotions run pretty high. isn't that easy to do when you are dealing with your faith? i don't think, in hindsight, that i handled myself as well as i could or should have. your passion and vibrancy are evident ( and this must make our Savior smile!) i like your words...

"I also don't want to support my opinion. I want to search the Word of God to see what it really says. My opinions mean nothing in the light of eternity, only what is True will be important."

YES! well said. just remember to "season" your words with grace. i need to be reminded of this each hour and i am continually falling short in this area.

hang in there and keep "spewin'"

Alicia said...

thanks for sending me the second head's up for the note btw, I did not see it at first, thought it was the one from yesterday! :*

Thank you for taking the time to clearify.
You are so right, and learning to do that seasoning is one of the things on the soon to come part three that the Lord is showing me to do. If I could balance my sense of urgency with my sense of compassion I would have a huge victory indeed.
Thank you for the admonishment and reminder!:)