joo'-ni-as or joo'-ni-a (Iounias, Iounia): One to whom, with Andronicus, greetings are sent by Paul at the close of his letter to the Romans (Rom 16:7). The name may be masculine, Junias, a contraction of Junianus, or feminine Junia; it is Iounian, the accus. form, that is given. In all probability this is the masc., Junias. Paul defines the two as (1) "my kinsmen," (2) "my fellow-prisoners," (3) "who are of note among the apostles," and (4) "who also have been in Christ before me."
(1) They were Jews. Paul calls the Jews "my brethren," "my kinsmen according to the flesh" (Rom 9:3). Because Prisca and Aquila, a Jew and Jewess, are not designated as kinsfolk, Conybeare and Howson suppose "the epithet to denote that the persons mentioned were of the tribe of Benjamin."
(2) They had been companions of Paul in some unrecorded imprisonment. The phrase denotes more than the fact that they, like Paul, had suffered imprisonment for the sake of Christ.
(3) This may mean (a) that they were well known to the apostolic circle (so Gifford and Weiss), or (b) distinguished as apostles. The latter is probably correct, "apostle" being used in a wide sense (compare 1 Cor 15:7). The prophetic ministry of the early church consisted of apostles, prophets and teachers (1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11), the apostles being missionaries in the modern sense (see Lindsay, Church and Ministry, chapter iii). Some apostles were missionaries sent out by particular churches (Acts 13:2,3; 2 Cor 8:23; Phil 2:25).
(4) They were among the first converts, "early disciples" like Mnason of Cyprus (Acts 21:16).
S. F. Hunter