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Commentary On The Bible: Phebe Of Cenchrea.

July 25, 2019

20181124_083303“I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the Church which is at Cenchrea…” (Romans 16:1-2).

Who was this woman of Cenchrea that the Apostle Paul spoke so highly of? (Cenchrea, now the city of Kechries, was a ancient harbor of the City of Corinth, Greece). What comments can be made of this woman’s brief mention for us today? Phebe was obviously someone the Apostle Paul thought very highly of. He may have had something negative to say about women preaching in the church but nothing but praise for their value in all other aspects of the life of the growing Church. So, what can be learned by this very brief fragment of a life via Scripture? Is there a lesson to learn from a woman of such devotion to Christ and the Apostle Paul. Devotion to my reading is this brief mention is the crux of her life in Christ. Devotion to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ that the Apostle Paul preached as it appears to some scholars she was the one who delivered this Epistle to the Romans to the Church of Rome. She had a devotion to the Christ who saved her. Who loved her. Who went to the cross for her. There was a devotion to the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to her life. It’s a thought but did this devotion to Christ cost Phebe her life during the persecution during the reign of the Emperor Nero? Did her devotion to Christ allowed her to die as Stephen did with a prayer for her killers? Was she able to pray for those who screamed for her death because of her faith in Christ in the arena in Rome?

What is devotion? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as enthusiastic loyalty to a person or cause; great love. What greater person than Christ or the cause of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to live for and die for? The Apostle Paul’s devotion to the Gospel of Christ could and would be summed up in his own words, “I am a servant of Christ.” The life of Phebe of Cenchrea can also be summed up in those exact same words of faith and devotion to Christ. The core of devotion to Christ is the first great commandment and it created a duty toward the second great commandment. The essence, core, very heart of devotion is to love, serve, and worship the Lord God with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength, (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Mark 12:29-31). the obedience to the first great commandment bears the fruits of loving thy neighbor as thyself. There is no doubt that Phebe had that sort of quality that the Apostle Paul wrote about and preached about. Devotion to God practiced what was written by the bother of Jesus, James, in his own epistle, “But, be ye does of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22).

A brief aside as to not leave out of the vast history of the First Testament and the many stories of devotion to a cause or person. The Book of Ruth is a pinnacle story of the power of what devotion is for one person toward another in the story of Ruth and Naomi. It’s a great story of true love and devotion to each other is told in that short book of the Bible. The friendship between the not yet king of Israel and the son of the present king of Israel is a classic story of love and devotion to friendship in David and Jonathan. The prophets of God are a history of devotion to a higher relationship with the very God of creation. The lives and sometimes some very horrible deaths of the prophets of the Lord was and is written in blood; Isaiah was traditionally said to have been place in a log and sawed in half under the evil King Manasas for preaching the truth from the mouth of God. That is devotion to a great and holy cause. Service to God is the highest calling of the human life and the prophets lived it in power and their own blood. The Book of Nehemiah is a book of devotion and duty of one Jew named Nehemiah to those Jews still in Jerusalem and the devotion to rebuild the Temple; the Book of Ezra is also a story of strong devotion to the same cause. The revolt of the Maccabees against the tyranny and idols of Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid Empire was a devotion to the idea of Jewish freedom and the Temple and to restoring of a faith to God. Devotion to a cause or person is a powerful motivation to live and die for.

Phebe of Cenchrea did the same thing. She was obviously a woman of substance both in material and the most important the spiritual realms of her life. Her devotion to Chriat and the message that the Apostle Paul preached was well-known to the Church in Rome. Paul may have had an issue with women in leadership via preaching in the Church but he seemed to have no issues with them spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ; which for the Apostle Paul was the only real important part of the Church. The Book of Romans is the clearest sermon on the Gospel of Jesus Christ her Lord and Savior. Paul was many things but he was not a man to stand in the way of that Gospel being spread and devotion to Christ. Devotion to Christ should always be evident in the Christian life and service. Devotion is like one’s integrity and that it should be without approach or negative comment before God. Out integrity we take everywhere we go and it is or at least should be the first thing people can or do say about us via the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phebe had an integrity that the Apostle Paul saw in a great usefulness in the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to deliver the greatest explanation of the Gospel in one letter to the Church at Rome that explained a complete understanding of salvation by grace and grace alone via the cross of Christ. Phebe of Cenchrea may have been one of those crucified and set ablaze in the arena under the Roman Emperor Nero for her devotion to Christ and died for that devotion to Christ and message that the Apostle Paul preached and was himself beheaded for in Rome by the same Emperor Nero. The thousands of Christians tortured and put to death for that very devotion and love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is written in it’s long history of devotion to the same God and Savior the Apostle Paul was beheaded for and possibly Phebe also died for in the arena in Rome. Devotion is love put into practice and these early Christians went to their deaths for a devotion to the Gospel that the Apostle Paul and Phebe preached. Devotion is a powerful motivation to serve, worship, and love the Lord who saves those who call upon Him.


Bible. (KJV).

The Search For The Twelve Apostles. By. William Steuart McBernie.

Foxes Book Of Martyrs. By. John Foxe.

The Cross Of Christ. By. John R. W. Stott.

The Message Of Acts. By. John R. W. Stott.

Early Christian Doctrines. By. J. N. D. Kelly.

Four Witnesses: The Early Church In Her Own Words, Edited By. Rod Bennett.

Early Church Fathers. Edited By, Cyril C. Richardson.

Early Christian Writing. (Penguin Classics).

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