(Φοίβη, radiant), a deaconess of the Church at Cenchreae, recommended to-the kind attention of the Church of Rome by Paul, who had received hospitable treatment from her (Ro 16:1). A.D. 55. Her name occurs first in the long list of Christian men and women of whom express mention is there made. For the most part these were persons who had been previously known to Paul, and had some connection with him in his apostolic labors, but were at the time residing in Rome. Phoebe, however, was in the neighborhood of the apostle, probably still in Cenchreae, and was on the eve of setting out for Rome — on what business it is not said; but that she had something of importance in hand is evident from the request of the apostle, that the Christians at Rome would "receive her in the Lord, and assist her in whatever business she had need of them" (verse 2). SEE PAUL. It is probable that she was the bearer of the Epistle to the Romans. SEE ROMANS, EPISTLE TO. "What is said of her is worthy of especial notice, because of its bearing on the question of the deaconesses of the Apostolic Church. On this point we have to observe,

(1) that the term διάκονος, here applied to her, though not in itself necessarily an official term, is the term which would be applied to her if it were meant to be official;

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

(2) that this term is applied in the Apostolical Constitutions to women who ministered officially, the deaconess being called ἡ διάκονος, as the deacon is called ὁ διάκονος;

(3) that it is now generally admitted that in 1Ti 3:11 Paul applies it so himself;

(4) that in the passage before us Phoebe is called the διάκονος of a particular Church, which seems to imply a specific employment;

(5) that the Church of Cenchreee, to which she belonged, could only have been a small Church: whence we may draw a fair conclusion as to what was customary, in the matter of such female ministration, in the larger churches;

(6) that, whatever her errand to Rome might be, the independent manner of her going there seems to imply (especially when we consider the secluded habits of Greek women) not only that she was a widow or a woman of mature age, but that she was acting officially;

(7) that she had already been of great service to Paul and others (προστάτις πολλῶν, καὶ ἐμοῦ αὐτοῦ), either by her wealth or her energy, or both; a statement which closely corresponds with the description of the qualifications of the enrolled widows in 1Ti 5:10;

(8) that the duty which we here see Phoebe discharging implies a personal character worthy of confidence and respect." SEE DEACONESS.

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