"I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also." Romans 16:1-2
Phoebe, a pure and radiant light for Jesus, had overcome the pagan origins of her name to gain a reputation of being a highly capable Greek woman of significant social status, and through the gospel achieved a respectable reputation. She was a Gentile Christian from the port city of Cenchrea.
In Greek cities, rulers routinely appointed patrons to look after the interests of foreigners. Phoebe may have held an office where one of her duties was to protect the rights and meet the needs of Cenchrea's numerous foreign visitors and resident Jews. She was a person of significance who used her wealth and influence in the service of the Christians there.
Paul spoke highly of Phoebe. He introduced her to the Roman Christians as a sister, servant, saint, and helper. Without a doubt her ministry was in serving the church and her fellow spiritual leaders. She may have held an office that was created to equip a corps group of godly saints to meet physical and social needs so that the apostles would not be pulled away from the primary ministry of the Word.
In the scripture above, Phoebe had traveled to Rome on business. Paul, knowing that she would pass through Corinth, took the time to write to the Roman Christians a letter commending her to the church in Rome. Paul knew that the Roman Christians would be able to provide Phoebe with hospitality and fellowship, as well as with advice on the state of Roman politics and law. Paul respected her as a fellow servant to the Lord Jesus Christ and a sister in the faith.
One of the words Paul used in describing her was 'servant'. The translation of this word is "deacon" and the Greek root of this word means "one who ministers or serves." She was called a "deaconess" in the early church along with countless other women who had given untiringly to the work of the Kingdom through ministries within the local church. Phoebe gave herself to the cause of Christ, fully devoted and in love with her Savior.
What better way to serve the Lord than by serving others in ministry?
I love you & He loves you more!
Lord, Thank You for the women who have gone before us, leaving a legacy of fruitfulness in what is possible when we are sold out to You. May I strive to be one who ministers or serves wherever You lead me, loving others the way You would have me to. In Jesus' name. Amen.