“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.”1
The role of women in the church has long been questioned. We’ve heard of some churches that require their women to be silent in church, whereas others are led by a woman pastor. There are religions where women are accumulated as wives here on earth in exchange for crowns in heaven; and others where the wife is covered and hidden — fit only to walk behind her husband. But if we allow God’s Word to be our guide, we see that women had active roles in ministry throughout the Bible. God frequently used women for His glory — from wives and mothers to judges and queens, women have had prominent roles in scripture.
In the New Testament, we see various women involved in Jesus’ ministry and later in the ministries of the apostles. One such woman was Phoebe, the apostle Paul’s sister in the Lord, helper and servant of the church, and fellow missionary. Although we know little about her personal aspect, we do know that Phoebe was a committed Christian woman who loved the Lord and was dedicated to using her gifts to serve Him and His people. Paul opened the sixteenth chapter of the book of Romans with a greeting especially for her. He encourages the church to treat her in a way worthy of a saint and tells them to help her with anything she might need. He gives her the importance that few women received in the church of that day, and even in the church of today. But whether Phoebe’s role was big or small, she served well. She carried her role out fully and in doing so, earned the trust and respect of the entire congregation, as well as the church leaders. What was important then, and holds the same importance today, is not the office we hold in the church, but the trust and respect we earn from doing it whole-heartedly, as to the Lord.
Paul also set an example for church leaders by demonstrating his confidence in Phoebe; entrusting her with important missions for the church and allowing her to hold a significant role in his ministry. We can thank God for leaders who have Paul’s attitude — and pray for those who do not.2
Suggested Prayer: Dear God, thank you for allowing me to live in a country where I am free to worship you. Give me the opportunity to use my gifts and talents to serve others, giving all the glory and honor to you. Allow others to see you in everything I do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
1. Romans 16:1-2 (ESV).
2. Excerpt taken from “Every Woman in the Bible” by Sue and Larry Richards, 1999.
Today’s Encounter was written by: Veronica B.
All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.