Rom 16:1-5 “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.”
As Paul closes out his letter to the church at Rome, he speaks to them of specific individuals that have proven their love for the church of God. While some would have us believe that Paul had no use for women, he is very diligent to mention several sisters here who were vital to the church in that day. There is much debate today about what women can and cannot do in the church. However, one thing is very clear: God has given the sisters gifts to use for His glory just as He has the brothers.
One such sister was named Phebe. Phebe was probably a Corinthian based on the fact that she was a servant of the church at Cenchrea. Cenchrea was a port city in Corinth. It was also, according to historians, a place where Poseidon (Greek god of the sea) was revered.
The preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ certainly had affected Phebe in a mighty way for her to be a servant of the church in a place which had been devoted to Poseidon for many years. It was here that Paul shaved his head because he had a vow (Acts 18:18). Since Aquila and Priscilla sailed with Paul when he left Cenchrea, it is likely they were acquainted with Phebe as well. While Paul does not spell out what business Phebe may have had, he was clear in his instruction to the saints at Rome to receiver her and assist her in any way they could.
One thing is very clear. Phebe had offered assistance to many of the Lord’s people, including Paul. In the same vein, Paul commended both Priscilla and Aquila to the brethren at Rome. Paul called both of them his “helpers in Christ Jesus.” The word translated as helpers literally means co-laborers.
Paul was not calling them his subordinates or treating them as employees or servants. His meaning was that they were important to the cause of Christ and the spreading of the gospel. They had even put their own lives at risk for Paul’s sake. Paul refers to them as being precious to all the churches of the Gentiles.
Apparently, Aquila and Priscilla had their household with them. Furthermore, there were believers in their house. Paul referred to the believers in their household as the church that is in their house. As servants today, we need to always be mindful of the church that is in our house and the houses of our brothers and sisters.
Finally, Paul calls on them to salute his “wellbeloved Epaenetus.” This brother was apparently one of the early Greeks to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. One thing is abundantly clear: Paul never considered himself to be alone. He knew that God had placed people in his path that loved him in Christ Jesus. He clearly realized that no one individual is more vital to the church than another.
May we have grace to recognize those who labor with us for the sake of the churches, and my we give God glory for faithful companions!