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Who was Phoebe in the New Testament?

The name Phoebe means “radiant,” or “bright.” It is is a feminine form of the male name Phoebus. Not much is known about Phebe in the Bible except what is mentioned in Romans 16. Paul wrote, “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 could have been the bearer of Paul’s epistle. The apostle invited that church to receive her as both a faithful Christian and a sister in the body of Christ. For she was one that is worthy of a treatment of the honorable saints. The word servant probably meant that she could have held the office of being a “deaconess” in the congregation at Cenchreae – the eastern seaport of Corinth, about 7 mi. from the city.

Paul asked the members “to stand by” and assist her in whatever business she needed. This may imply that she needed some help in legal proceedings in Rome. Phoebe may have been a woman in a position to help her fellow believers not only financially but politically and socially as well.

The fact that Paul commends the church in Rome to help Phoebe says a lot of her giving service to the work of the Lord. And this confirms that “he that watereth shall be watered also himself” (Proverbs 11:25) and he who blesses others blesses himself (2 Corinthians 9:6–15).

In her service, love and devotion to God’s work, Phoebe followed the Lord’s words, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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