"Receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints..."
Text: Romans 16:2
MINISTRY IN THE FIRST CENTURY
Ministry for the Lord in the first century was most challenging in more ways than one. There were problems that did not favour women who desired to serve the Lord.
1. The place of women in the first century
a) Society was not kind or favourable to women in the first century.
b) Men played key roles.
c) Women at best were given supportive roles (if at all).
2. The place of women in the Church
a) Paul broke new ground when he taught that both men and women enjoyed equality of status in Christ (Cf. Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11).
b) Men and women could worship the Lord together without any discrimination.
3. One special restriction
a) Paul made an exception with reference to the ministry of “teaching” the Scriptures
(1 Timothy 2:12).
b) The word “teaching” would be a special reference to the work of a pastor teaching the word of God.
c) Paul objected to women fulfilling this role for that would make her have authority over men (1 Timothy 2:12).
4. Receiving Phoebe as a servant of the Lord
a) If we understand that Phoebe was fulfilling the role of a “servant (deacon) of the Church in Cenchrea” there would be no conflict with what Paul had taught in his pastoral epistle to Timothy.
b) Phoebe was not serving in the capacity of a pastor-teacher when she served the Lord in the church at Cenchrea
c) Her work was to be commended because she was obviously serving admirably in the Church in Cenchrea. Her work would probably see her travel for the Lord and that too was to be acknowledged and appreciated!