Phoebe: The Shining One
“I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchreae, 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 NKJV
This week, I’d like to share a significant yet rarely mentioned woman leader in the Bible. Her name is Phoebe, and we can see in Romans 16:1-2 Phoebe was a well-respected servant of the church in Cenchreae.
The Holman Study Bible for Women states that Phoebe’s character, service, and quality of work gained the respect of Paul and the early church.
A little background on the meaning of her name. Phoebe originated from Greece and means “radiant, shining one,” which I believe perfectly reflects the character of this woman with a heart for sharing God’s Word.
Although Phoebe is only mentioned in two verses of the New Testament, we know that from the letters of the apostle Paul, her servitude held significant meaning for the early church.
It is believed that Phoebe held a position of leadership within the church. In the Greek language, the title servant was often interchangeable with that of a deacon or minister who served the church and the poor.
Phoebe was a woman of God who saw a need in front of her and illuminated a solution. Living up to her name, she brought the reflected light of God’s love to those who had no hope, and she helped wherever needed. Phoebe was a true saint in the early church, and she gave her time, talents, and resources to further God’s kingdom.
As women of God, we too can shine God’s light to those around us as we serve in a multitude of places – our homes, churches, workplace, and communities. Much like Phoebe, many of us serve in a ministry role, whether formal or informal. And while our assistance doesn’t need to be extravagant – it can be as simple as a prepared meal, a ride to a necessary appointment, or a meaningful word of encouragement – it may be a treasure to those in need.
It was customary for Christians traveling from church to church to carry letters of introduction, a reference, for the church members and the individual serving in a ministry role. In verses 1-2, we see Paul doing just that. He was introducing Phoebe to the Romans and in his letter, affirmed her significance and encouraged the Romans to offer assistance should she be in need of their help.
Phoebe not only served those in need, but she also hand-delivered the illuminated words of God to Rome, a letter that would later be known in our Bibles as the book of Romans.
Lockyer’s All the Women of the Bible states Phoebe shone as a light for Jesus. This daughter of God, a “radiant shining one,” was bringing the light of heaven’s inspired words to the world and for all eternity. And because of her obedience and willingness to serve, she would also be a part of the legacy of Christ’s love.
Sharing the Light
How beautiful the feet of those who bring good news!
In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:14-16, we are reminded that we are the light of the world, and God did not intend for us to keep the light for our benefit but to be the light for others. We, His followers, are called to reflect His light – the light of God the Father for all to see and witness.
While we may never get the opportunity to hand-deliver the Word of God to other nations, each day, we are given the opportunity to share the good news with those around us.
As a woman of God, you have the choice of bringing the light to those around you. Whether you share your personal testimony with a new friend, a Bible story with your children before bed, or a social media post of what Jesus means to you and has done for you, you are choosing to serve as Phoebe served. You are a part of the legacy of Christ’s love.
My friend, my heart yearns for the opportunity to share all that God has done for me – to shine for Him! Let us be women of radiant light, God’s light, as we journey through the darkened places of our world. For we know, the more we serve, pray, and devote ourselves to God’s Word, the more intense Christ’s light will be reflected from our hearts to the world’s. We are light-bearers for God.
Keep on shining!