I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well.
As I heard this scripture passage from Romans being read in worship, I wondered, “Who is Phoebe?” Pastor Eric soon gave me the history lesson that I needed to understand the purpose she served. I learned that she was a deacon and a financial supporter of the church. That she was a recent convert to Christianity and that Paul gave her a job of reading and interpreting his letters to the Roman congregation. But then I wondered how Phoebe came to be a deacon? What did she do to earn a salary? I wondered how a woman was chosen to deliver this message instead of a man? And what did it say about her character and integrity for Paul to have trusted her for this job?
After doing some research, I discovered that there aren’t many details of Phoebe’s life or her position in the church. However, all the commentaries I found agreed that Phoebe was a sister, a servant and a trusted member of the body of believers. Phoebe was trustworthy, brave, wise and compassionate. Although we are not told the specific details, Paul valued her and thought she was the right person to deliver God’s message of unity to the divided kingdom. Paul believed that faith in Jesus would unite all in Christ and Phoebe understood Paul’s vision that unity would heal the Roman nation. Phoebe was a godly woman who was fulfilling her calling.
As we go about our lives this week, please help us to have a strong character like Phoebe. Teach us what it means to be a trustworthy and wise servant. Help us overcome our differences with others and be united through love and compassion. Grow our faith in your precious Son. Amen.
Written by Julie Anderson