Phoebe was a committed Christian, who had the trust of the Apostle Paul and the congregation of fellow believers in Cenchrea. Phoebe was an officer in her church, and commissioned to go on a mission to the Christians in Rome. She was faithful and dedicated to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Phebe or Phoebe had a significant role in the early church. She was a servant of the church at Cenchrea. Paul considered her a servant of the church at Cenchrea.
Cenchrea according to Easton’s Bible Dictionary equals Millet was the eastern harbor of Corinth, about 9 miles east, and the passage for its trade with the Asiatic shores of the Mediterranean. When Paul returned from his second missionary journey to Syria, he sailed from this port. (Acts 18:18).
There was at the time of Paul’s writing of the epistle an organized church there. The western harbor of Corinth was Lechaeum, about a mile and a half from the city. It was the channel of its trade with Italy and the west.
Paul wrote to the Romans in his third journey, and alludes to the church at Cenchrea, of which Phoebe was “deaconess” according to Romans 16:1 (Fausset, 149).
Romans 16:1 begins with Paul speaking: “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: “
We are going to look at the Greek meaning using the Strong Concordance of the Bible. “Commend” is Strong #4921 and means 1) to place together, to set in the same place, to bring or band together. “Sister” is Strong # 79 and means one connected by the tie of the Christian religion. “Servant” is Strong #1249 and means 1) one who executes the commands of another, esp. of a master, a servant, attendant, minister and 2) a deacon, one who, by virtue of the office assigned to him by the church, cares for the poor and has charge of and distributes the money collected for their use. (Strong, 2001).
We can gather from this first verse that Paul is speaking about Phoebe as being a sister, a fellow believer in Jesus Christ. Paul calls her servant, or deaconess, of the church in Cenchrea. This would indicate that Phoebe was an active worker in the church in Cenchrea.
The second verses reads: “That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.” Romans 16:2.
“Receive” is Strong #4327 and means to accept (not to reject) a thing offered 2) to expect: the fulfillment of promises. “Saints” is Strong # 40 and is applied to persons as separated to the service of God as Christians. “Assist” is Strong # 3936 to provide, to place a person or thing at one’s disposal; 2) to stand beside, stand by or near, to be at hand, be present. “Succourer” is Strong #4368 1) a woman set over others; 2) a female guardian, protectress, patroness, caring for the affairs of others and aiding them with her resources.
We do not know specifically what the role of servant Phoebe had in the congregation at Cenchrea. We do know that Paul trusted her. He commended the church at Rome to receive her in a way worthy of the saints and give her whatever she may need.
Phoebe was probably a very wealthy businesswoman. Because she’s on a visit to Rome and Paul doesn’t tell us who those are who are with her. If she had been accompanied by a number of other members in the church, Paul would have stated that they receive not only Phoebe but receive these other members of the church who would have been with her. It is agreed that Phoebe carried the New Testament letter to the Romans written to Paul in Corinth to the congregation in Rome. Apparently Phoebe was a woman of independent means and was able to travel from seaport to seaport for Paul.
When a person would travel from place to place, especially when they were sent on an important errand they would have a letter of commendation from the people who sent it. The letters of commendation were sent in order to confirm or certify this person was legitimate of people for doing the significant errands. Paul therefore would give a commendation to Phoebe because she was doing something very important.
Paul acknowledges the substantial help that Phoebe had given the church in the seaport of Corinth. Paul asked Rome to give Phoebe the same substantial help. Paul asked the Roman Christians to receive her and show hospitality to her; then to receive her in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and in a manner worthy of the saint.
Paul asked the Roman Christians to give whatever Phoebe needs that could be tangible aid or any other kind of assistance she would require. This was because Phoebe was a faithful servant in the church at Cenchrea and she had been a patroness, and helper. It was because of this that it was important that the church in Rome help her.
So what are the attributes we find in Phoebe? She was a committed Christian, who had the trust of the Apostle Paul and the congregation of fellow believers in Cenchrea. Phoebe was an officer in her church, and commissioned to go on a mission to the Christians in Rome. She was faithful and dedicated to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Phoebe is used by many women in the churches and many denominations to be the example of having the right to speak and be ordained as a minister. Does it really matter what position Phoebe held in the church? It is my opinion that the most important fact is she had the respect of Paul and her congregation and then the Christians in Rome.
We all belong to the family of Jesus Christ both men and women together. There should be no competition between men and women. The LORD God created us as equal and to be partners in His kingdom. There are responsibilities and tasks for us all to accomplish in His name. It is not in our name and glory we should accept these responsibilities and tasks; but in the glory and in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Easton, M.G., (1897). Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition. New York. Thomas Nelson.
Fausset, A.R. (1949). Fausset’s Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapid , Michigan. Zondervan Publishing House.
Strong, James. (2001). The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Cite Article Source
MLA Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne “Phebe or Phoebe:.” Becker Bible Studies Library Jan 2015.< https://guidedbiblestudies.com/?p=2129,>.
APA Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne (2015, January) “Phebe or Phoebe:.” Becker Bible Studies Library. Retrieved from https://guidedbiblestudies.com/?p=2129,.
Chicago Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne (2015) “Phebe or Phoebe:.” Becker Bible Studies Library (January), https://guidedbiblestudies.com/?p=2129, (accessed).