Phoebe - The Woman the Badge of Kindness  

We know nothing of this pious female who delivered Paul's "inestimable packet" - The Epistle to the Romans - to Rome. We have just a brief mention of her name and service. But the Phoebe whom Paul so highly commended shone as a light for Jesus, the "Light of the World." That she must have been a woman of some consequence appears from the fact that she planned a long journey to Rome on business of her own, and offered to convey to the saints there Paul's letter - "an inspired master-piece of logic which struck the keynote of orthodoxy for the universal Church through all the succeeding ages." In some fifty words, Paul gives us a beautiful cameo of this saintly servant of Christ for whom he urged the saints of Rome to do their utmost. The importance of her visit is indicated by the appeal of Paul to the Romans to "assist her in whatever matter she had need of." Phoebe was not merely a confessing and active believer, she was also "a ministrant of the Church." The word for "servant" of diakonos, from which we have "deacon" or "deaconess." It is not known whether such an official female Order as "Deaconess" was in vogue at that time. Phoebe, however, occupied such a position in the church, and as such could be a teacher of all female inquirers of the faith, and be active in the relief of the temporal needs of he poor among the flock. If hers was not an official ministry, it was certainly a most gracious and effective one, and the vast army of women who have rendered such loyal service to Christ and His Church. Phoebe is witness to what Christ can accomplish through consecrated spinsterhood. ~ H. Lockyear



  More on Phoebe  

fe'-be (Phoibe; the King James Version Phebe): Described by Paul as (1) "our sister," (2) "who is a servant of the church that is at Cenchrea," (3) "a helper of many, and of mine own self" (Romans 16:1,2). (1) "Our (Christian) sister": Paul calls the believing husband and wife "the brother or the sister" (1 Corinthians 7:15), and also asks, "Have we no right to lead about a wife that is a sister?" (1 Corinthians 9:5 margin). The church was a family. (2) The Greek word translated "servant" is diakonos. "Servant" is vague, and "deaconess" is too technical. In the later church there was an order of deaconesses for special work among women. If Phoebe had voluntarily devoted herself "to minister unto the saints" by means of charity and hospitality, she would be called diakonos. (3) The Greek word prostatis translated "helper" is better "patroness." The masculine is "the title of a citizen in Athens who took charge of the interests of clients and persons without civic rights" (Denney). Many of the early Christian communities had the appearance of clients under a patron, and probably the community of Cenchrea met in the house of Phoebe. She also devoted her influence and means to the assistance of "brethren" landing at that port. Paul was among those whom she benefited. Gifford thinks some special occasion is meant, and that Paul refers to this in Acts 18:18. The vow "seems to point to a deliverance from danger or sickness" in which Phoebe may have attended on him. It is generally assumed that this letter was taken to Rome by Phoebe, these verses introducing her to the Christian community. In commending her, Paul asks that the Roman Christians "receive her in the Lord," i.e. give her a Christian welcome, and that they "assist her in whatsoever matter she may have need" of them (Romans 16:1,2). ~ S. F. Hunter




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