Sharon Wilharm Bible Storyteller


Gentiles in the city of Rome formed a church. Though Paul had not been to the church yet, he wrote to encourage the believers in that church. The book of Romans is his message to them. He chose Phoebe to deliver the letter.

Phoebe was a Greek Christian from the city of Cenchrea, a seaport town known for its wicked reputation. She’s the only Christian woman we know about from there, but Paul must have established a church since he references her being a deaconess at the church in Cenchrea.

The word used for deaconess means servant, attendant, church leader, or pastor. You’ll recall the early deacons were called to provide for and serve the widows and the poor. Phoebe was a church servant.

Phoebe was a woman of wealth and independence. She traveled over 600 miles from Corinth, where Paul was to the church in Rome. Bible scholars aren’t sure the exact reason she was making the journey, but many speculate she was a businesswoman taking care of legal business. When Paul found out where she was going, he entrusted her to deliver his message.  

Phoebe wasn’t a mere postal deliverer. Some believe she was the one who read the letter and presented the message to the church, so Paul provided an endorsement. He let the Roman church know that she was “in a way worthy of the saints” and “a patron of many and of myself as well.” (Romans 16:1-2)

Paul wasn’t a man easily impressed, especially of females, but he had no problem praising worthy women. May we be women worthy of praise for our work in the Lord. 

Read about Phoebe: Romans 16:1-2

Phoebe bite-sized Bible story

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