Romans 16:1-2 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That you receive her in the Lord, as become saints, and that you assist her in whatsoever business she has need of you: for she has been a succourer of many, and of myself also.
‘Phebe’ – she was a deaconess of the congregation at Cenchrea, her duties being to attend to female converts, helping them get ready for baptism; to visit the sick and those in prison, and attend to all parts of work among women which could not be performed by people. She was probably the bearer of the epistle to Rome.
‘A servant of the church’ – she served at the small group that was situated at Cenchrea in someone’s house, just as all ‘churches’ were. Congregation will be the better translation, for no small group of believers functioned independently from the others or had their own doctrines contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
‘Servant’ [Greek: diakonon] one who executes the command of another. It is used of: Servants of kings (Matt. 22:13) and servants at feasts (John 2:5,9). Ministers or officers of civil governments (Rom. 13:4) and men and women servants of congregations (Matt. 23:11; Mark 9:35; Rom. 16:1). Deacons of congregations or business elders and distinct from bishops or teaching elders (Php. 1:1; 1Tim. 3:10-13; Acts 6:1-7) Jesus Christ as a minister to the Jews in the work of preaching, teaching and healing (Rom. 15:8; Gal. 2:17; Matt. 4:23-24; 9:35; Acts 10:38) Ministers of congregations (Matt. 20:26; Mark 10:43). Teachers of the gospel (1Cor. 3:5; 2Cor. 3:6; Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:23, 25; 1Thess. 3:2). Ministers of Christ and of God (John 12:26; 2Cor. 6:4-10; 11:23; Eph. 6:21; Col. 1:7; 4:7; 1Tim. 4:6). Also used of ministers of satan to counterfeit the work of true ministers and to deceive (2Cor. 11:15).
‘Cenchrea’ – a city on the sea coast near Corinth.
‘As become saints’ – from Psalm 37 we see various things that constitute for a saint: Control of one’s own spirit (37:1, 7, 8); freedom from jealousy and envy (37:1); absolute trust in God (37:3, 5, 40); consecration to do good (37:3); constant delight in God (37:4); keeping life committed to God (37:5); simple and unwavering faith in God and absolute dependence upon God (37:7, 9, 39); freedom from anger and wrath (37:8); meekness and humility (37:11); abundance of peace and complete satisfaction with lot in life (37:16-19); boldness in evil times (37:19); mercy, compassion, and benevolence (37:21, 26); obedience to God’s leading (37:23); freedom from discouragement in adversity (37:24); household under control (37:26); righteousness (37:21, 29, 30); wisdom and justice (37:30); true to God’s law [now it will be N.T. law] (37:31, 34); propagating truth among men (37:30); living perfect and upright (37:37); possessing full salvation (37:39-40); standing firm in time of trouble (37:39).
‘Succourer’ [Greek: prostatis] protector. Athenian writers use the word of those that take in strangers (cp. Rom. 12:8; 1Tim. 5:9-10). She no doubt cared for the apostles and ministers who came to Cenchrea.