Reading through Romans
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory. You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.
A reading from Romans: Romans 16:1-2 (NLT)
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. Welcome her in the Lord as one who is worthy of honor among God’s people. Help her in whatever she needs, for she has been helpful to many, and especially to me.
Reflection: Romans 16:1-2 (John Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World)
Conclusion: The providence of God in the ministry of Paul (Romans 15:14–16:27)
Paul takes the Roman church into his confidence about the salient characteristics of his ministry… giving us insight into the outworking of God’s providence in his life and work.
His commendation and greetings (Romans 16:1–16)
‘I think’, wrote Chrysostom, ‘that many even of those who have the appearance of being extremely good men, hasten over this part of the epistle as superfluous …Yet’, he went on, ‘the gold founders’ people are careful even about the little fragments …it is possible even from bare names to find a great treasure.’
1. A commendation (1–2)
It seems very likely that Phoebe was entrusted with the responsible task of carrying Paul’s letter to its destination in Rome, although other business was apparently taking her to the city as well, perhaps commerce or ‘quite probably a law suit’. So she needed a ‘letter of commendation’ to take with her, which would introduce her to the Christians in Rome. Such letters were common in the ancient world, and necessary to protect people from charlatans. They are several times mentioned in the New Testament.
In his testimonial for Phoebe Paul asks the Roman church both to receive her, giving her a worthy Christian welcome and hospitality, and to give her any help she may need, as a stranger in the capital city, presumably in connection with her other business. Before and after these requests Paul supplies some information about Phoebe, ‘so placing on each side of the needs of this blessed woman’, writes Chrysostom, ‘her praises’. Indeed, he goes on, ‘see how many ways he takes to give her dignity’.
First, he calls her our sister, ‘and it is no slight thing to be called the sister of Paul’.
Secondly, he acknowledges her as a servant (‘minister’, REB; or ‘deaconess’, RSV and NIV) of the church in Cenchrea, which was Corinth’s eastern port at the head of the Saronic Gulf.
Thirdly, she has been a great help to many people, including Paul…. Phoebe was evidently a woman of means, who had used her wealth to support the church and the apostle.
“Come to the Banquet” – by Fay White
Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen