Phoebe

In Study the Women of the Bible by revealadmin1 Comment

“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

“In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.” (1 Timothy 3:1-11)

Paul exhorts Timothy to instruct and guide the church in orderly worship and service. Overseers and deacons were to be respected and honoring of the Lord. The Apostle commends one such deaconess in the Corinthian church. “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess (servant) of the church in Cenchreae.”

In the busy sea port in Corinth, Paul establishes a relationship with a servant of Christ. A woman whom he commends in his letter to the Romans. Phoebe must have exhibited all the above aspirations. “She must have been a woman of some consequence for it 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.” [1]

To call her a sister in Christ, Paul is implying a spiritual relationship. Just as Paul called Timothy a spiritual son in the faith, Phoebe was a member of a spiritually family in which the relationship is based upon the redemption of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. [1]

Phoebe was not only a member of a spiritual family, but likewise a member of the visible church at Cenchrea when Paul arrived there on his third journey and from where he wrote Romans. She was not merely a confessing and active believer, she was also a ministrant of the church. The word for servant is diakonos, from which we have deacon or deaconess. She occupied such a valuable position in the church, such as a teacher of female inquirers of the faith or active in the needs of the poor among the flock. I am sure we can safely assume Phoebe was one of the first, a noble group of deaconess in the Christian Church. If hers was not an official ministry, it was a most gracious and effective one. She was the forerunner of a vast array of women whom have rendered such loyal service to Christ and His Church [1]

Paul also uses the term prostatis is a Greek word meaning, “one who stands by in case of need”. She had proven to be a “stand-by” of many, portraying an unselfish, helper patroness of the church. She must have been devoted and a brave friend of converts, especially to the Apostle. [1]

In regards to women serving in the church, Paul lists MANY women who advanced the kingdom, reported to the Apostle, and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Dorcas was a disciple of Christ (Acts 9), Priscilla with her husband Aquila were fellow workers with Paul who risked their lives for him and continued having Bible studies in their home (Acts 18, Romans 16:3, Corinthians 16:19, 2 Timothy 4:19), Nympha taught Bible studies in her home (Colossians 4:15), Lydia who was baptized by Paul had opened her home to him on several occasions (Acts 16:11-15, 40) and Lois and Eunice, Timothy’s grandmother and mother were acknowledged for teaching him the faith (2 Timothy 1:5). Mary, who worked very hard for the church (Acts 16:6), Tryphena and Tryphosa with Persis who worked very hard for the Lord, Rufus’ mother who was chosen in the Lord, Julia, Nereus’ sister and Olympas who Paul says to greet with all the saints, the women in the upper room on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14) and Mary the mother of John Mark whose home was used for prayer and gathering (Acts 12:12).

Chloe’s household reported to Paul the distresses in Corinth, pleading several topics be discussed (1 Corinthians 1:11), the apostles were accompanied by their wives (1 Corinthians 9:5), Philip had four daughters that prophesized (Acts 21:9) and Euodia and Syntyche were two women who contended at Paul’s side, but were at odds with one another. This is by no means and exhaustive list, but Scripture points to women who were touched by Christ, contended with the Apostle Paul, accompanied their husbands on missions trips, taught Bible studies, worked hard in their communities and churches, had prayer vigils and opened their hearts and homes to the apostles. Women were valuable in the spreading of the Gospel as part of the first church, Pheobe was no exception.

I read this list of women and I can only dream of being compared to them and their tireless work of spreading the Gospel. My prayer is we are women God can use to do great things. To fulfill our purpose on earth, glorifying Him such as these women did, is truly a gift from God. I pray we are approved workmen, trusted with His precious gift of grace.

Phoebe’s testimony during the foundation of the Christian church is amazing and inspiring. God used her to help, refresh, and love Paul as a sister in Christ. Her name is written in His Word for all women to read and remember, God uses His daughters in miraculous ways!

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