Andronicus and Junias By Scarlett Stough
Paul sent greetings to a team of Christian workers at the end of his letter to the church at Rome: “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. (Romans 16:7)

Junias was the female partner of her husband (or possibly her brother) Andronicus. Paul’s greeting leaves open the possibility that both Andronicus and Junias were apostles in the general sense of being missionaries. The wording could mean the original twelve Apostles highly esteemed them and their work.

Whether or not they were apostles by title and function is not the significant lesson in this brief greeting. God is the one who assigns people their gifts; we don’t get to choose them, only to use those gifts as he intends. (I Corinthians 12:11, 28)We do so whether others approve or not. (Acts 5:29)

The significant lesson from Andronicus and Junias is their willingness to suffer hardship including imprisonment for telling others about Jesus the Christ. Before Jesus ascended back to heaven he gave instructions to his disciples:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
When you know that all authority has been given to Christ Jesus, no other authority can supersede his authority.  However, Jesus did not send his followers out to conquer the nations with military force and tyrannical intimidation. We are sent as “sheep among wolves.” (Matthew 10:16) We are sent to be teachers who suffer the hardships of soldiers without doing harm to others. We are sent, not with bayonets and rifles, but with the sharp, two-edged sword of the Spirit and Truth. (Hebrews 4:12-13; Ephesians 6:17)

Despotic governments know the power of the Word of God and fear it. They attempt to silence those who speak it. Yet, the real enemy to truth is an invisible enemy: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Prompted by destructive urges they don’t understand, people in authority try to silence and stop the spread of the knowledge of the Creator God who is the Authority over all. When murder, torture, and imprisonment fail to end God’s kingdom in the hearts of men, more subtle strategies are used. We may allow ourselves to be deceived by a distorted message about Christ. We may allow ourselves to believe God does not exist and that Jesus was merely a man who is long dead. We may allow our minds to be so focused on survival or acquiring more stuff that we imprison ourselves in a pursuit of happiness through the pursuit of wealth, status, and pleasure. We may find ourselves taken captive by addictions of various kinds.

But people like Andronicus and Junias prefer freedom in Christ which is a freedom from sin and death and a freedom of spirit that cannot be imprisoned. These faithful people are willing to give up material comfort, material security and physical freedom for the true freedom only God can give. They know their citizenship is in an eternal realm beyond the death of their physical bodies. (I Thessalonians 4:13-18)

*“fellow prisoners” (KJV)or “in prison with” (NIV) Strong’s number 4869 means “one of fellow captives  in war” (from aichme, “a spear,” and haleskomai, “to be taken” at spear point) is used by Paul (1) of Andronicus and Junias, Rom 16:7; (2) of Epaphras, Philem 23; (3) of Aristarchus, Col 4:10” from The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew and Greek dictionaries, Thomas Nelson Publishers copyright 2001

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: In Prison With Me