"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 (Romans 16:1-2)."
Was Phebe a woman preacher? Does the text say she was a preacher? The answer is NO! You will notice that they have made Phebe a woman preacher, but no where do they say she was qualified because she was a prophetess. In all the previous examples, the women preachers have demanded that they be qualified based upon being called prophetesses. Now they have added a new slant to their Gnostic doctrine. A woman may be certified to be a woman preacher if she qualifies to be called a "servant". How is it that a widow woman, who has become a ward of the Church because she lacks surviving family, is so easily made a preacher? Aren't we finding again, that as the serpent altered use of words on Eve, so the old snake inspires someone to do the same thing here?
Phebe was not a woman preacher, "servant of God." Paul said she was a "servant" of the Church. The word "servant" may mean no more than that of "member". All saints are servants to Messiah and are under the management and stewardship of a Pastor. The Scripture DOES NOT SAY Phebe was a "servant of God", meaning she was a preacher. Herein the serpent attempts to make a switch of words again. Modern Eves' loving the exchange, because it promises them something they are not, are once again proving that interpretation and opinion of the Word of God are never safe in the hands and minds of plotting women.
It would be paradoxical for Paul to command a woman to be silent in Church and point back to the serpent and Eve's deception, and then command an entire Church to be turned over pew, altar, and pulpit to a woman preacher. In order for a woman to be chargeable to a Church, she had to be a widow above a precise age and not have surviving family to care for her. Rather than to be sold in the slave markets that trafficked heavily in poor and indebted people, Paul wanted these saints redeemed and cared for by Church benevolence.
It was customary among those first century Christians, when they saw another Christian was being sold as a slave, to purchase them when they could afford it and set them free again. Many of these, feeling indebted, became servants of the redeeming family or of the Church out of gratitude. For those older saints who had no family, they were not kept in bondage, but rather, having been purchased, were free. Some laboured for the Church in appreciation.
You will remember that Philemon redeemed a Christian named Onesimus who would otherwise have been bought by a pagan. He became a willing family slave till his debt was worked off to show his gratitude. Onesimus appears to have been a convert of Paul's in some previous better financial time. We do not know the circumstances leading to his becoming a servant. But we can be sure, it was much better preferred that he be purchased by a Christian, than to be bought, raped, beaten, or abused and killed, by those pagans who were not lifted to the humanitarian principals of the Christians. Onesimus ran away to Paul when he heard the Man of God who brought him salvation was in danger of his life in Rome. Paul sought for forgiveness on behalf of Onesimus from Philemon. Although unrelated, Phebe became an aged servant of the Church for some reason. It most certainly was not because she was a preacher.
We can not know of Phebe if she was one of these purchased or redeemed saints. The Bible is silent and there exists no official record, other than the few words Paul wrote to the Romans. Only two verses mention her, and from them we must glean the truth based upon the authority of existing Faith and Practice among the Churches. One thing is clear. There were no women preachers, so Phebe's "servant" work was other than preaching. We dare not permit the corruption of these two verses in the hands of women, or the entire Word of God is not safe. Such kinds of contradictions necessary to make Phebe a preacher, creates false doctrine, denominations, spiritual hardness of the heart, and brings eternal death.
Phebe was not sent to Rome by Paul to preach to the Church there. The text does not say this, and to make it say it, is falsehood. The purpose of Phebe's visit to Rome is clearly stated and it does not mention preaching.
At the time of Phebe's trip to Rome, the Christians had been experiencing heavy persecution there. Many had been put to death. Some were in prison. Some had been sold into slavery. Some were waiting in prison cells at the arenas and the theaters, there to be thrown to wild beast and to be mutilated by pagan gladiators at the next sports event. This climate of hatred against Christians was not good. Fear was in the hearts of many. They hid beneath Rome in the burial caverns known as the catacombs. Spies were sent out to infiltrate the Christians and find out who they were and where they met for Church. It became necessary for the Churches to find a way of communicating and commending those who were legitimate believers. A person could not openly confess his salvation or faith. Phebe was in Cenchrea and felt a burden to run to these hurting and desperate souls. She had been a succourer or helper to many and she wanted to go to Rome to help.
Somehow this was conveyed to Paul and he welcomed her desire. By way of the entire letter to the Romans, which no spy could ever hope to know how to write, Paul sent Phebe to Rome. There is no difference in this than a person carrying a Bible to Church today. The two verses establish her name, her past spiritual record in her home Church, her record of humanitarian service, and her qualifications and purpose for coming to Rome. The dedication of this precious woman is ignored, in the single effort to make her a woman preacher. This is the saddest conclusion a person could draw from such a sacrificed life.
Phebe went to Rome to "Succour" and that is all. This ministry is not preaching. It is serving humanity in the most benevolent love that can be shown. It is clearly not self-serving (usurping a preaching license), but soul-serving (giving). She went, no doubt, to rescue and hide those she could; To comfort the mothers who would lose sons and daughters to the beasts and pagan gladiators in the sports arenas and the theaters. (God hates these blood cursed shrines of human sacrifice, how can some of you go to these?) Phebe would wipe the brows of those sick from fever. She would minister to the injuries of those who suffered abuse. She would gather, distribute, and provide clothing for those suffering nakedness and cold. It is indeed strange for a woman to want to endanger her life in such a manner. This is devotion! I am sad to say, I have not found this spirit in any woman who has stolen Phebe's name for use to certify women preachers. To women preachers, Phebe's name is good only as an excuse to preach. She is never praised for the SAINT that she was. Phebe is an image of the true Apostolic Woman. Would to God that those women with large bank accounts and expensive homes would see just how much a blessing they could be to struggling works, if they would only look upon a needy world and go help succour. If you don't know how, call me and I will guide you. But don't call me to be ordained to preach.
I have known a number of women preachers, not one of them are a Phebe. Yet they want to steal a slot in the Five-Fold-Ministry using her servant work. I have seen plenty of Phebe's in my life, but never in the pulpit. They are the women who clean the Church; look after the kitchen; prepare food for the pastor's home when visiting Ministers are there; they visit and call the sick, sending them flowers and cards; they visit hospitals and nursing homes, comforting hearts, praying and reading Scriptures; they rush to hospitals and sit for hours in surgery waiting rooms praying for a Church brother or sister in a medical emergency; they prepare the items necessary for the Lord's Supper; they prepare goods for bake sales and knit and embroider the most beautiful of designs, to raise money for God's work; they give tithes regularly and when the social security check is barely enough, they still give; they loan money to friends and to help build churches; they carry sacks of groceries to the poor and give money to help some disadvantaged couple or family to have their utilities turned back on; they fast and pray; they are prayer warriors; they pray for their Pastor, his wife and family, with fervent prayer; and they work the altar to pray through the repenting souls and backsliders. They give money and make small missionary trips close to home and fill their cup of joy. They have no ambition to preach. As true Phebes, they minister with their hands and hearts, not their mouths, bad attitudes, or brashy spirits. The true Phebe will tell you she has no lust for a pulpit. She is totally spiritually fulfilled and her cup runneth over.
In the Roman account of Phebe, Paul told the Roman Church:
"That ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you."
The word "business" in this text comes from a Greek word that implies activity with "material" goods. The verse could well be paraphrased as:
"That ye assist her in whatsoever materials she hath need of you."
This makes the intent of Paul's instruction very clear. The Church people were to help Phebe and supply the materials necessary to perform her work of succoring. This ministry was the purpose of her trip. She was not preaching. No where in the Bible is preaching classified as "succoring".
Tertullian, who converted to the Montanist, adamantly taught until his death, that no woman among the original Apostolic Church was permitted to baptize, preach, serve communion, or have authority in the Church. Tertullian fought against the Gnostic influence that had corrupted so many Churches. The Gnostics were the antagonists of the early Church and the Apostle Paul. This cult venerated the serpent and Eve, and was the origin of the women preacher movement in the first and second centuries. My section on the Gnostics will more clearly tie the women preacher revolution to the Gnostic mystery of iniquity.
Phebe was not a "servant" of God in the sense of being a member of the New Testament Ministry. She was not a member of the Five-Fold-Ministry. She was not a member of the Order of Melchisdec in Jesus Messiah. To steal her good name and prostitute it with a character she would have repudiated and cried herself to sleep over, is wrong. Associating her with a conduct known only among the Gnostic women of her day, is wrong. It is evil. It is a sin.
Phebe is a wonderful example of the Apostolic Woman that should grace every Church. Every Pastor should be blessed with lots of Phebes. Throughout the world, there are beautiful Apostolic Women who are the true Phebes of our day. They often work behind the scenes and get very little praise or recognition. They perform their labor of love and worship in the beauty of holiness. They do not seek to capture a pulpit or to have the title of "woman preacher". All they want is a place to be used of God, loved, and respected, as an Apostolic Woman. They do not believe they are in bondage to some man-made legalism. God has spared their lives, healed their bodies, kept them from harm, given them grace, and they love and respect the honor he gave them. This is the true image of the Apostolic Woman. The woman preacher can never match or equal these women. The Phebes of the Church are in love with God, not in love with authority, rule, or control of the pulpit.
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