Blue Parakeets in the House of Junia

When first I met Junia I humbly confess that it was with a vexed spirit having little, maybe no consideration for Scot McKnight’s vantage and its validity. The verses we have in Holy Writ regarding women in ministry are so straightforward, aren’t they? Who the heck is this Junia anyway, and who gives her the right to go upsetting my apple cart?

JinAThis male-ish-ness on my part is what employs libbers occasion to make the claim; ‘the created first seldom desire for the feminine side of humanity’s equation to find its place where only men are allowed to trod, no matter that there may be some things in Scripture suggesting otherwise.’

After all, the simple adding of a mark can resolve many issues, eh?

See, you too may have met Junia. Unfortunately, as I, it may be that you didn’t know you were meeting Junia. Chances are pretty high instead you met Junias.

What’s all the flak you ask? Quite frankly, being unfamiliar myself with what constituted a man’s name versus a woman’s in antiquity, I could have read the passage from Romans 16:7 for the rest of my life and never have given second thought. It seems though that through the history of biblical translation, according to Mr. McKnight, an apostle of Jesus Christ was forced into a sex change; Junia, a woman, became Junias, a man. The flak comes because this Junia or Junias is afforded great accommodation by Paul as outstanding among the Apostles.

Says the author of many translator’s efforts, “Let me be clear once more. The editors of Greek New Testaments killed Junia. They killed her by silencing her into non-existence” (p. 14).

It would seem an easy enough argument to dispel if Mr. McKnight is barking up a fallacious tree, right? Rather, treading cautiously, with my admitted limited abilities and resources, it seems his claims are credible, rendering this thought; an intentional effort was made by men to expel any consideration of a woman serving as an apostle. It appears that Junia was most likely a woman, who suffered the mishap of being a woman living in a man’s world. And as the title suggests, Junia is not alone.

A closing thought that may add to stir the pit is the recent effort of translators to move Junia back in to a place where Junias resided for a lengthy stay, but not without a footnote at least reserved for Junias.

About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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12 Responses to Blue Parakeets in the House of Junia

  1. Rob Barkman says:

    Bro MT.
    Thanks for the two additional passages. If you notice in vs 26 of Luke 14: he prevously told them the need to “forsake” family members to follow Him. I believe, if we keep verse 33 in context we need to look at it in the same way. He is not saying we must leave our family members to follow Him. He is saying if we are placed in a position where we must choose between family and Him we are to choose Him, and at that point, forsake our families. Same applies to material possessions. I agree this should be followed. If our possessions come between us and the Lord we are to be willing to give them up to remain faithful to Him. But to be honest, that is really not what happened in the church mentioned in Acts. They simply chose to take care of those who were impoverished by selling their possessions. If they could have accomplished the same thing by doing something else, they would have been free to do so.

    Concerning the head covering passages. He is simply saying that if a woman doesn’t wear long hair she might as well shave her head and have no hair at all. One of the great purposes of the woman’s long hair is to reflect the authority that is over her. If she wears short hair she is undoing the very purpose of long hair and might as well have no hair at all.

    By the way, I did forget to mention, both the long hair teaching in the Bible and the anointing with oil we had mentioned previously I have taught and we have practiced in every church I pastored. My only point is there are still many churches that hold to these things. Although it is easy to assume because it is not practiced by a majority, it is not practiced by any. But that really isn’t the case.

    Lord bless you my friend.

    • mtsweat says:

      Thanks for the elaborated thoughts good friend. In your closing paragraph you mention that some of these are still adhered to today, and Mr. McKnight ackowledges that also. Your explanations I believe are plausible as they are those I would normally employ, but in reading behind this author I’m finding it interesting to ask the questions he asks and consider options he considers.

      It is of course taking the discussion a bit off course from the initial post, but this is how the author builds the case for considering the role women have played in the ministry of the church, even in Scripture, and to at least give the benefit, for the sake of seeking truth, that the world of men has definitely downplayed some amazing accomplishments of women of faith. His primary goal is to remind us these women are still here today faithfully serving our Savior beside us each and every day, and in hope of recognizing that in the Kingdom, their roles are equally as important for its furtherance as ours.

      I think those statements many will accept. It is when we begin to see that there are biblical cases though of leading women where the road gets bumpy for most. It’s where most I’ve groped for most my life gets a jolt. Looking forward to your carrying this into a note or two of your own my friend.

  2. Rob Barkman says:

    The verse in question can more easily be translated..

    ” Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.” ESV

    “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow countrymen and fellow prisoners. They are noteworthy in the eyes of the apostles, and they were also in Christ before me.” HCSB

    There is nothing in the ancient manuscripts that dictates Junia, or Junius, must be included with the holders of the Apostolic office.

    Also, please keep in mind, the term “apostle” simply means one sent with authority and MANY times is used to describe men who never held the office of Apostle. Christ is the greatest example of this in Hebs 3:1.

    Therefore, even if the verse in question does teach Junia was a part of the “diaconos”. It does not dictate that she would be a part of the Apostolic office holders.

    I am quite certain Mr Mcknight understands these basic truths about the translations of the text and the usage of “diaconos” in the Bible, but I am curious if he shares this in his book.

    Lord bless you MT.

    • Rob Barkman says:


      Sorry I made a mistake, I meant to say “apostolos” instead of “diaconos” in the above posting. Sorry again.

      • mtsweat says:

        I looked forward waiting patiently for your words Pastor Rob. I was not disappointed. I may be wrong, but I think the author is primarily trying to get the reader to understand that even in the sacred act of translating Scripture, some biases play their hands. He does not limit his discussion to Junia(s) alone, and also presents some great ladies of history whose contributions were muffled gender based. Regardless of where one ends up in their belief on the topic of women and ministry, it is difficult to avoid the obvious failure to recognize them as we should; could be said of more than just our ladies though I suppose.
        The other side of this equation and that upon which Mr. McKnight builds his evidence from is our method in which we decide what will be transitioned down through history as merely cultural and what will be strictly adhered to as regulative. This one has me stymied. When I look at the myriad of things we no longer do that was a part of first century church, I wonder who and how it was decided that we need no longer do them. If an argument can be made that it was simply cultural, where does the list end?
        I think the body of Christ is ever growing, changing to meet the culture of its day and of every nation. It was eye-opening to see how a missionary goes into Africa having shed his western culture (as much as possible), to become as one of them that he might save some.
        The verdict I reckon is not in for me here, but this author sure has me thinking. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Thanks my Brother… blessings.

        • Rob Barkman says:


          I think I understand your dilemma. But please bear with me due to ignorance. Could you please give me a few of the issues you are talking about when you say…

          “When I look at the myriad of things we no longer do that was a part of first century church, I wonder who and how it was decided that we need no longer do them.”,

          I am really curious as to what these might be. Thanks so much.

          • mtsweat says:

            No bearing necessary as I treasure reasoning these things with the brethren. First, it would appear with reading that community and fellowship meant something altogether different for first century believers. Seems they came together much more often than weekly for prayer, Word study, breaking bread, etc. It also appears that the selling of one’s possessions was commonplace to meet needs (we have post-NT records of this still being practiced). During those services, it also is apparent that the service was structured with boundaries, some certain of us still uphold, but then we find observances mentioned like hair and head coverings. We read of foot-washings and the laying on of hands and anointing with oil.

            The list goes on but I think you get my drift. Some of these are explained as transitional by them having cultural significance: foot-washing made sense in a land where everyone walked, but makes little sense in the west… maybe transformed into washing the neighbor’s car?

            Point being, who decides in these matters save that culture changes and so do the people in the cultures. (This is one argument where the Catholic Church has a probable upper hand.) I’m very aware of all of the explanations why, just not so much how, unless as Mr. McKnight concludes “The same life-changing gospel fits perfectly into every culture and society. Means and methods change and adapt and the same gospel slides into place as though made for that era in time or space. God spoke to Moses in his day and his way… Jesus in His day in His way, to Paul… and so on with God’s speaking.”

            We see Paul at one point conform to Jewish practices then another time forbade their activities. At one point he can eat anything he pleases, then teaches restraint. An argument could be made that many changes have always been taking place where God’s people are concerned, so who is to say the whole issue of women in ministry isn’t culturally adaptable too? Well, other than those seemingly very direct statements by Paul?Looking forward again to your response, and hoped others to join in. This is getting long so for now I’ll say, thanks my friend.

          • Rob Barkman says:

            Thanks so much for the further information. I trust the Lord I will be getting back with you on these either as a comment here or a posting on SIH in the weeks ahead.

            Just few quick points.

            The best I can tell from your list, several (but not all) the issues you list involve practices that were simply chosen by an individual church to practice without any actual command from Christ or the Apostles. In those cases, I would say they are definitely optional based upon the will and needs of the assembly at any given time.
            (I am talking about things like frequency of meeting together, selling of possessions etc. To my knowledge no place are we commanded to sell, or not sell our possessions nor the number times we are to meet weekly. Therefore let each assembly decide for themselves based upon the needs of the indivdual assembly).

            The things such as anointing the sick with oil by elders and head coverings (either artificial coverings or I believe long hair) are practices that I believe are commanded and therefore, should be practiced. Why are they not? I have no idea, they should be.

            Please understand these answers are just off the top of my head and I reserve the right to backtrack a bit as I study some of these issues more fully. But my basis is simply if it is commanded it is to be done period (including the principles involving worship by the different sexes). It is clearly commanded by Paul therefore it is not optional.

            Any practice that was not specifically commanded to a local assembly, but practiced by an assembly in the NT is optional for each assembly based upon the individual needs of that assembly.

            More on this later, Lord willing.

          • mtsweat says:

            Thank you for the gracious words and the optimism to further the conversation either here or at your place… both will be greatly appreciated.

            To add to your preparation may I lean upon your patience to mention a couple of passages that seem to have prompted these activities in the early church but that we’ve abandoned.

            I think it is feasible that the early followers believed it was in obedience to Jesus’ call to forsake all and follow Him that led to selling their all to meet needs. His words (Luke 14:33) don’t reflect an optional suggestion and the word forsake is defined as “abandon, desert, renounce, bid farewell, send away.” As stated, we have records of this communal activity recorded long after these first churches did so, but today, save for a missionary here or there, I know of no one selling everything so that those in need can have essentials.

            On the matter of head coverings (1 Cor. 11), the text really doesn’t allow for Paul to be talking about long hair, for he says if she will not cover her head, then let her cut her hair short…

            In honestness, for each of the explanations we use to abandon a practice from the early church, there is an equally valid reason why we should not. Once again, consider me stymied as how we can pick and choose what we will literally continue doing and what we resign to past cultures, except that Mr. McKnight’s writings be given some creedance.

            Thank you my friend as it is good of you to open our conversation so I might gather a firm grip on these things. Many blessings to you as I anticipate a series kicking in over your way.

  3. ccragamuffin says:

    When I was studying Acts 6 for a Bible study class, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the earliest named deacon in church history was Phoebe (Romans 16:1). That also, is often masked by the language. Many translations call her “a servant”, but it is the word diakonos….deacon. That got me chasing the rabbit named deacon on a very interesting trail….you may want to follow it in Greek.
    If we are to be the people of Truth, then we should seek a true understanding of The Word and we should proclaim truth. You may find that is not as easy as it sounds. One other lesson learned from studying Acts…those who were persecuted, were persecuted simply for telling Truth. Hmmmmmm.

    • mtsweat says:

      What it is that I’m learning is how to make crickets chirp. 🙂 I will venture to say that a post like this or even one that questions how much land does a man really need do not put one on the list to win popularity contests. Still, I think you make a valid observation we need to take very seriously. Will we be a people desiring only the truth, no matter how painful, or just another brick in the wall of tradition and cultural influence?

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