While in Ephesus, the couple apparently saved Paul's life and exposed themselves to danger in the process. Although the incident is not explained, it was no doubt similar to several other episodes reported in Acts in which the feisty apostle was chased, beaten, or jailed by his opponents. Prisca and Aquila's unspecified intervention won them Paul's endless gratitude.
After the emperor's edict was lifted in 54, Prisca and her husband returned to Rome, where they re-established a house church and presumably labored for many more years. According to one legend, the fourth-century St. Priscae church on the Aventine Hill in Rome was built on the site of the couple's home. Others have suggested that Prisca authored the anonymous New Testament letter to the Hebrews. While neither legend can be confirmed, as Bassler notes, "they attest to the power of her memory in the early church."
"Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was."
A female apostle? So it seems, although not everyone agrees. The name of Junia appears once in the New Testament and scarcely anywhere else in church writings except in occasional discussions over the years as to whether she, in fact, was a she.
Assuming that Junia was a woman, as many modern scholars do, she probably was a freed slave who took on the name of her slave master and was subsequently granted Roman citizenship. Paul described her and her missionary partner—possibly her husband—as "relatives," which scholars say could mean blood kin or may simply mean fellow Jews.
That Paul describes her as an apostle is of greatest import to many modern readers. To Paul, it meant she had seen a vision of the risen Christ, as he did, and was engaged in missionary work. Some others in Paul's time and later have defined apostles as those who were chosen by Jesus as disciples and who saw him after the Resurrection—in other words, the original 12 (all men) less Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, plus the one chosen as Judas's replacement.
But for many, the question of gender is the stickler. As Bernadette Brooten, professor of Christian Studies at Brandeis University, has noted, early church writers "either explicitly interpreted Junia as a female or did not comment" on gender at all. It was not until the 13th century that church leaders began to assert that the person in question was not Junia but Junias, a man.