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.
Women have fulfilled some of the most important positions and functions throughout the history of the church. In today’s verse we meet Phoebe, one of the leaders in the church in Cenchreae. Paul acknowledged her in his letter to the church in Rome, setting her up as example not only in Cenchreae, but everywhere the Bible has gone in these last 2000 years. He used two words to describe the work of Phoebe in the church. The first word was servant or diakonos, the very word we get deacon from. This is Thayer’s wordbook’s definition for diakonos
– deacon, deaconess
one who executes the commands of another, especially of a master, a servant, attendant, minister
a deacon, one who, by virtue of the office assigned to him by the church, cares for the poor and has charge of and distributes the money collected for their use.
The second word Paul used was patron or prostates. The KJV translates this word succorer.
Here is Thayer’s definition.
patron – succorer
a person who supports with money, gifts, efforts, or endorsement an artist, writer, museum, cause, charity, institution, special event, or the like: a patron of the arts.
Phoebe was a very important part of the local church in Cenchcreae, her gifts were able to enable and support the work of the ministry. We are grateful to God for all of the powerful women of God in our church. They are preachers, administrators, exhorters, soul winners, prophetesses, helpers, business women, givers, worshipers, teachers, mothers, and wives. Women play a critical role in the work of God, what a shame some want to put a religious yoke on fifty per cent of the body of Christ.