Friday, 7 February 2014
…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 16:2
Speaking of Phoebe from the previous verse, Paul continues his thought. He commended her to the Romans because she was a “servant of the church in Cenchrea.” Because of this he desired that they would “receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints.” In Christ, the once-limiting or exalting distinctions of “Jew,” “Gentile,” “male,” and “female” are set aside and all are one in Him. Therefore, it was his desire that she be so noted and treated.
In addition to receiving her, he wished them to go even further and to “assist her in whatever business she has need of” from them. If this meant time, resources, or money then Paul would desire them to go to those lengths in order to accommodate her. It is certain that if men had been sent on this mission, they would have received such things and Paul was establishing now that the same courtesies should be extended to women. As Paul’s letters are doctrine for the church, this precedent is intended to be carried out in all subsequent generations.
Finally, he gives another reason for his request. It is because “indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.” The word here for “helper” is prostatis and it indicates a female guardian, protector, or patroness. This is an honorable title and so it is Paul’s way of saying she is deserving of their assistance because of the position. This word prostatis is used only here in the New Testament. The verb form of it is always used with some sort of leadership position and so modern and liberal scholars make the unfounded supposition that she was therefore in such a leadership position.
This is inappropriate handling of such a word because elsewhere Paul has stated that women are not to be in such positions of authority over men. Therefore the translation “helper” is certainly appropriate. To translate this as a “leader,” particularly in the context of Paul’s surrounding words, would lead to exceptional confusion in doctrine and disorder within the church. The title, as given here, means that she probably was one who greatly helped Paul and others by providing meals, lodging, etc. She was probably also one to visit the sick in the congregation and to help others at the expense of herself; a tireless servant of the Lord.
As she was probably a widow (as noted in the previous verse), she would be the ultimate example of one, such as is described in 1 Timothy 5:9, 10. Paul recognized her importance, used her in the significant cause of transmitting the epistle because of this, and desired others to recognize her and reward her as well.
Stop. Ask yourself, “Have I been a tireless servant of the Lord? Have I used my time and energy in the most effective way in serving Him?”
Consider. What can you do to improve upon the negative answer you just gave to yourself?
Determine. Resolve to develop your service for the Lord.
Act. Put your resolution into action.
Honor. Don’t let your future service become a point of boasting. Instead, give God the glory for whatever you do in the name of Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father, today I want to consider what I have actually done for You with my life. What would You consider of value when I stand in Your presence for the judgment of my deeds? As I consider this, I know it hasn’t been very much and so I ask You now to redirect my thoughts and actions to Your glory and for the sake of the exalted name of Jesus Christ. Amen.