I’ve always wondered about my spiritual genealogy – who am I a spiritual descendant of? In other words who told someone about Jesus who told someone about Jesus who — on through generations of people — told me about Jesus? Am I a descendant of Peter, the Rock? John the Beloved? Doubting Thomas?
Of course, there’s no way to know this side of Heaven, but I read something interesting in Romans recently that got me thinking:
“Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.” Romans 16:7
Junia, also written as Junias, is a feminine noun in Latin meaning “youthful” and is historically understood to refer to a Christian woman in Rome who was esteemed as an apostle. And, possibly a young(er) one, given her name.
But the thing that jumped out at me is this — Paul was given the primary assignment of preaching the gospel message to the Gentiles (of which I am one). So until I read this verse more closely, I figured I somehow am a descendant of Paul, who was affected largely by the martyrdom of Stephen. So I could reasonably count Paul and Stephen as my spiritual ancestors. But here we see that Junia – a young, Christian, Gentile, ministry-leader woman, was a believer before Paul, and doing the work of spreading the gospel to the Gentiles before him.
How cool would it be if I am a descendant of Junia? I sure can relate to her, being a younger woman in ministry leadership. I think if I could pick an ancestor, she would be it!