Thought for Thursday

Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Romans 16:7

An argument exists among some theological debaters as to whether our text identifies Junia as the first woman recognized as an apostle. It takes quite a stretch of translation to come up with such a conclusion; the verse is clearly not saying that Junia was an apostle, but only that she and her husband were well known and highly regarded by all of the apostles. However, these two people are remarkable, from what Paul says about them in our text, and a brief examination of them is very worthwhile.

Identified as kinsmen, Andronicus and Junia were, like Paul, Jews who had become Christians. Like Paul, they would had suffered persecution from their own people, and rejection by many of their family and friends. Therefore, they could be a source of great encouragement to Paul, knowing all about his desire to see the Jews saved but feeling the sting of their rejection and disdain. So it is with us, when we encounter people who came from the same background as ourselves and who have experienced the same problems. There is much comfort in such companions.

Andronicus and Junia were also very special to Paul in that they had been in prison with him. Prisons in those days were unlikely as comfortable or as pleasant as today’s prisons, so sharing the prison experience would have been significant. Like Paul, they were imprisoned for their faithfulness to Christ, willing to pay a huge personal price for their testimony. Paul deeply appreciated them for that. So it is today that a very special bond develops among those who share in the shame of Christ’s rejection.

To be of note among the apostles was a high commendation. We are not told about the service that this godly and faithful couple rendered to the Lord’s people, and especially to His servants. But it must have been significant. They were undoubtedly hospitable to those servants, but their service probably went much further. Were they teachers like Priscilla and Aquilla? Were they travel companions like Luke and John Mark? Were they involved in Gospel outreach, or in Assembly planting, or in other areas of service? We don’t know. But we do know folks around us who are so remarkable in their service to the Lord and His people that all the preachers and most of the Christians know and respect them.

Finally, Paul mentions that Andronicus and Junia were saved before he was. As such, they may well have experienced some of the persecution that Saul of Tarsus had been responsible for before his conversion. They did not harbour any resentment, but had embraced the apostle as a dear friend and fellow worker. They had no doubt rejoiced at Paul’s spiritual growth, and had supported him in his development and exercise in the work of the Gospel. This teaches us that we should also be an encourager of young Christians, and do all we can to see them move into all the spiritual growth that our Lord would desire.

Andronicus and Junia are a fine example for us to examine and to copy today. – Jim MacIntosh

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