Ten Christian Women -- By: Elizabeth Myers
Ten Christian Women
Elizabeth Myers is an Anglican priest and a coordinator for the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism.
Junia, the female companion of Andronicus, has the unique distinction (for one of her sex) of being referred to by St. Paul as an apostle (Romans 16:7). Although she was one of Paul’s relatives, coming to faith ahead of her more famous kinsman, we know but little about her ministry. We do know that, whatever the nature of her activities, they were enough to land her in a Roman prison. Some church historians (from the fourteenth century onwards) have had the gall to think that she must really have been a man. John Chrysostom, however, spoke in glowing terms about her, knowing her to have been a woman. Considering some of the things that he had to say about women, that seems a fairly convincing proof of her gender!
The exact nature of Junia’s apostleship remains unclear. In normal New Testament (and subsequent ecclesiastical) usage, the word ‘apostle’ refers to individuals such as the Twelve, Matthias (who succeeded Judeas) and Paul himself. We do, however, read of Barnabas being named an apostle, without first fulfilling the usual requirements. Whilst we should not assume that Junia necessarily held some distinctive office, it would also be a mistake to assert that she could not have served the church in some way deserving of the appellation. She is one of ten women (out of a total of twenty-nine names) to be specially commended by Paul in this important chapter—and we can safely assume that the Holy Spirit would not have brought her to Paul’s remembrance at that point had He not wished her to stand as a source of encouragement to women of later centuries.
Blandina died in the year 177, thrown to the wild animals in front of the hostile Roman crowds, garnered in the amphitheatre for the gruesome spectacle. One source of our knowledge of her faith and her resulting martyrdom comes from the writings of the church historian Eusebius. Writing the revised edition of his Ecclesiastical History a century and a half after her death, he gives a vivid description of her last moments. He recounted how the power of God was evident in her life even as she experienced the terrible pain of physical torture. As she hung on a stake exposed to the wild beasts, he says that her fellow martyrs “saw in the form of their sister him who was crucified for them.” She was taken down from the stake when it became apparent that the animals were not going to touch her there, and she was eventually killed by a bull.
Martyrdom was a fate much prized in the early church; and while most of those martyrs whose names have come down to us were male, there were e...
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