Women Paul wrote to in Rome

Junia (Romans 16:7)

The second point of controversy has been about whether Junia (and Andronicus) were apostles, or were simply well-known and admired by the apostles.

First, what is an apostle? Well, here’s a definition, taken straight off the internet




noun: apostle; plural noun: apostles

  1. each of the twelve chief disciples of Jesus Christ.
    • any important early Christian teacher, especially St. Paul.


disciple, follower 

    • vigorous and pioneering advocate or supporter of a particular policy, idea, or cause.


advocate, apologist, proponent, exponent, promoter, supporter, upholder, champion, booster

Greek: ‘apostellein’ meaning ‘sent forth’ or ‘apostolos’ meaning messenger.

So, depending on which definition is chosen, will drive who is seen as an apostle. Who were the apostles in the New Testament (this isn’t a word that shows up in the Old Testament). I’ll give you the short and sweet summary of all the possibilities:

1. Jesus Himself, Who was called an apostle in Hebrews 3:1, and was sent by the Father to be the gospel. He is the Word, and has all authority and power.

2. The original disciples (minus Judas, of course) who were sent out by Jesus with the power and authority to heal and cast out demons, and to spread the news about the Kingdom of God. Some of these men also wrote Scripture.

3. Paul, who was specially commissioned by Jesus after Jesus rose from the dead—in other words, though Paul was not Jesus’ disciple during Jesus’ ministry, Jesus came to Paul to bring him to faith, to disciple him as He had discipled His other original followers, and to send him out with the authority to work miracles and spread the gospel. Paul wrote scripture as well.

4. Barnabas, who was called an apostle in Acts 14:14, and Epahroditus, in Philippians 2:25, but, so far as we know, did not perform miracles, were not personally sent out by Jesus, and did not contribute to the scriptures.

5. There seems to be a general category of “apostle” as people who are “sent” with a special message.

6. Evidently, one must meet two crucial qualifications to be counted as an apostle—one had to have been involved in Jesus’ earthly ministry before He died on the cross, and had to have later seen the risen Lord.

7. And both Paul and John warned of false apostles.

This actually still raises questions, though, right?

What about Luke? He often accompanied Paul on his missions trips, spreading the gospel; and, he made a big contribution to the New Testament with his biography of Jesus, and his chronicling of the disciples’ and Paul’s early years in the ministry.

What about the Samaritan woman? Her testimony brought her whole village to Jesus, and they put their faith in Him.

What about Mary of Magdalene? She was there almost from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and she was the first to see Him risen from the dead. Jesus specially commissioned her with the good news, to give to His disciples.

And what about the original 120 believers gathered in the Upper Room? They all had been with Jesus throughout His ministry, saw Him risen from the dead, witnessed His ascension into heaven, were the first to receive the Holy Spirit, then fanned out through Jerusalem, speaking the Gospel in every known language?

More on this in the next post.

All passages taken from the New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.