A Commendation Of Praise

A Commendation Of Praise

A Commendation of Praise


Pr Edi Giudetti

Romans 16:1-2

1I 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.


A COMMENDATION of one person 1-2

Salutation to 26 people verses 3-16

A warning and command is given them concerning those which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrines of the faith, 17-20

Salutation from 9 people (including Paul) verses 21-24

The final benediction and a dedication to “him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ” (v25).

(Nine women noted in this chapter: Phoebe, Priscilla, Mary, Tryphena, Thyphosa, Persis, Rufus’ mother, Julia, and Nereus’ sister).

From the corpus of Christian Theology to personal affection and love.

A Commendation In Relation

1I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea.

As noted in the summary, there is a single commendation in the chapter and it is respecting a woman by the name of Phebe who is most likely the LETTER BEARER to the Church at Rome.

Paul most likely wrote this epistle to the Romans from the City of Corinth and many argue that this is demonstrated in all likelihood from this verse.

Paul, he recommends to the Romans Phebe, the phrase “Commend unto you” gives the clearest impression that the letter to the Romans was placed in her hands to deliver, for Paul here presents to the Romans “Phebe our sister”. 

It is very difficult to think that such a recommendation can be made without the knowing introduction of the individual being recommended. 

Paul here evidently presenting her and therefore commending her to the Church at Rome.

The passage goes on to say that she was a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea (Κεγχρεαι).

This is a small harbour town about 7km south of the city of Corinth, one of two ports the City had, Lechaio to the north side of the Isthmus and Cenchrea here in south looking toward Israel.  

Paul is recorded to have made a vow in this town in Acts 18 after spending a year and six months in Corinth and before he sailed into Syria.

Acts 18:18 

The reference to him being in Corinth is in verse 11 after Jesus appeared to him in a vision saying he had “much people in this city”;

18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. 

So, it is likely that after being in Corinth for some 18 months and travelling to Cenchrea before sailing to Syria, the evangelism of Paul had reached Phebe, who became a sister AND a servant of the church that formed in that town.

1I commend unto you Phebe our sister,

One thing is clear and that is that Phebe was not a blood relative of Paul’s though there is certainly here a Commendation In Relation

Phebe carries the remnant of a Pagan name related to the Moon God, but just as we no longer regard the pagan origins of many names, including the English days of the week, she retains hers as a typical gentile name.

 1I commend unto you Phebe our sister,

Phebe is one of at least nine women referred to in this chapter, but she is the only one not being saluted, she is being “Commended” and that as a “sister”, and not just a sister of Paul’s, but a sister of all those being saluted “our sister”.

I love seeing Paul regard so early in the Christian story, people such as Phebe as a “Sister”.

Paul had lost all familial relation with the people of his nation Israel. Though he loved them and desired them and went first to them to share the gospel of Christ, their rejection of the word of God had seen him both separated, persecuted and condemned by them. They wanted nothing to do with him, “away with such a fellow from the earth” shouted they when he addressed them in Acts 22, but now he has brethren, sisters, brothers…

Turn to

Mark 10:28–30 

28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. 29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. 

Those we may lose as brothers, sisters, mothers, children etc in this temporal life for the sake of the Gospel, our love of the sharing of this hope gains to us an hundredfold abundance both now and for that life everlasting.

We now have a familial relationship one with another.

Paul gave a COMMENDATION IN RELATION respecting Phebe, and we are related also to her as we are with every individual who is born again. 

And lest you say we are not related by blood, let me remind you that we all have a share in the blood of Christ. It is HIS blood shed for us that links us.

The Church is the gathering of a family, an ASSEMBLY OF BRETHREN, and when a member of this same family appears who we had not met before, we receive them as a brother or sister in the Lord

Romans 16:1–2 

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, 

Paul gave a COMMENDATION IN RELATION when he introduced Phebe to the Church at Rome. It was one they would well have understood, and a sister they would certainly have embraced.

There is something quite incredible when you meet a true Christian who has that glorious hope of the Lord and share in the knowledge of the word of God singing from the same hymn book, if you will, even when meeting them for the first time.

It does not matter where in the world such Christians come from, when they love God and know him as you do, there is always a relationship. 

And when those who love the Lord are sent into the mission fields or to other churches, there will always be a COMMENDATION IN RELATION.

A Commendation Through Reputation

1I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:

Phebe was an active member of the Church at Cenchrea, no bystander, no attendee and certainly not one who simply received all and gave little. Paul speaks highly of her and goes on to relate to industrious activity in verse 2 (which we shall address in the next point).

She is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea, note the present tense of the statement. 

She is not traveling to Rome with the intent of remaining there, she has certain dealings to attend to in Rome, but first and foremost her dedicated occupation is as “a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea”.


Now before I go on to speak to this service and the blessed nature of her work there, I need to first dispel what I see not uncommonly in Commentaries concerning this passage.

Many relate to her as a “Deacon” in the Church referring to Phebe as a Deaconess and giving the strong impression that her role is one seen as an official office in the Church. 

The problem with this is that the word related to Deacon is found multiple times in the New Testament, at least 20 depending on the spelling, in all but five occurrences it is translated as Minister, Ministering, Servant or service. 

Those five occurrences that the word is translated directly as “Deacon” clearly refer to an office by their respective contexts. Four out of the five occurrences of this translation it is found in 1 Tim chapter 3 which clearly relate to the responsibility of the office pertaining to that of a man.

Beloved, unlike the thinking that surrounds this controversy, this does not preclude any individual for serving in the Church, quite to the contrary, the epistle to the Corinthians commands all to serve in the Church as ALL have been given gifts for the purpose of service, both men and women, ALL ARE A PART OF THE BODY OF CHRIST!

But just like the office of the pastor, that secondary and final office in the Church is designated again to a man. 

The Lord has made clear that the office of a deacon requires them to be “apt to teach”, yet the same portion of scripture also tells us that God “does not suffer a woman to teach or to usurp authority over the man”.

It tells that they need to be “the husband of one wife”, this precludes a woman from ever being a husband of one wife, and certainly not more than one wife.

Those learned men who insist this to be equal to the responsibility of office negate the plainness of the exclusion and do so both at their own risk and that of those who are MISLED by them.

It is clear however that Phebe’s role as a servant in the Church goes ahead of her by reputation. 

She is to be received in the Lord AND ALSO to be assisted in “whatsoever business she hath need of you”, signifying that she is held in the highest regard by Paul as if whatever she does is faithful. (More to that in the next point).


Her work in service is such that she is the first of all the names given in this list and she is commended specifically by the “Apostle To the Gentiles”, to an entire Church at Rome, and referring back to her resume as a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea.

We notice also that she is not “THE servant of the church” but “A servant of the church which is at Cenchrea”. All of those who are members of a Church are ministers IN the Church, Phebe was not the only one. 

Beloved, when the servants of the Church are faithful in their work for the Lord their reputation precedes them. When we all are faithful in the least, only then is the Lord pleased to grant unto us much.

There are today those who desire offices and recognition and promotions and high levels of pay and great titles, who have not even finished School. 

They think they deserve a six-figure income because they finished basic training, or are suddenly qualified in their work. They won’t do the meagre task because they think themselves beyond it. 

The same ones want also to be spoon-fed instructions rather than use basic initiatives. If their boss (who has a million things to think about) does not give them a specific task, then they simply sit around waiting.

If I had ever seen one of my employees do that, I would have simply sacked them on the spot. New employees, I would give some grace, but those who worked for me for some time in my businesses knew I always believed there was something for them to do.

But those who take initiative, are faithful in the least and they build to themselves a reputation, not only from their employer but ALSO from work collogues.

        We see what a blessing it is for those who are seen to be faithful in the secular world, but what of those seen by the LORD in his work?

Those who you work for may not see you always, but God can.

Colossians 3:22–25 

22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: 23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. 

A Commendation For Occupation

1I 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:

There is no knowledge of the business Phebe had need of attending. Some say she was a woman of means and wealth. That her ability to travel without a husband may indicate widowhood and yet her youth enabled her to remain productive rather than idle and relying on the Church to support her. To the contrary, she was a servant of the church.

The word “Business” in the Bible does not indicate work to be of a commercial nature, but simply one of dealing or industry or gainful and active employment. 

The first mention of the word is Genesis 39:11 when Joseph went into the house to do his Business before the wife Potiphar accosted him.

The second mention is that of Deut 24:5 when a newly married man should not go out to war nor be charged with any business

There are those in the book of Judges who had no business with any man (Jud 18:7 & 28)

   ‘Dealings’, or ‘industrious activity’, or ‘gainful employment’ are reasonable synonyms to help us define this word and its use in the Bible.

 It does not RULE out a COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE, but it does confirm that the work is a self-motivated and active employment of whatever kind.

The point is that Phebe was not an idle person and came to Rome to attend to an activity that Paul was encouraging those of Rome to assist her in.

That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you:

Consider the level of trust Paul had in her both to carry this priceless letter to the Roman church that we today are beneficiaries of (not sure what I would have preached today if she hadn’t delivered this letter back then), and that, without identifying or even knowing what business she had to attend to, he instructs the Church to assist her!

Paul does not indicate that he is aware of the business, though he might be, yet it did not seem to matter to him for he knew enough that her faithfulness in that which is least assures him of faithfulness in much.

SEE Luke 16:9–13 

Phebe has, through the writing of Paul, a COMMENDATION FOR OCCUPATION.

that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you:

There is a phrase in modern Psychology called “Meaning-Making”, that involves the process of how people understand, interpret, and make sense of life and their respective place in it. 

A great part of it involves what people spend most of their time doing and how they ascribe value to it. Most particularly their jobs.

In a 2018 book by American Anthropologist David Graeber which relates to Meaningless Jobs (The actual title of the book is not suited to this forum, simply type “Meaningless Jobs” into Google together with the name David Graeber and you will find it). 

In this book he speaks in detail about how people diligently try to ascribe meaning and purpose to A JOB they see as meaningless.

He interviews many people and is often given an answer like; “You don’t really want to know what I do. The truth is I don’t really do anything.  He says, I hear this over and over again. I thought about it and realized this is something nobody ever talks about. There are millions of people who secretly feel their jobs shouldn’t exist.”

During an interview Mr Graeber says, 

We have 3 times as many people pushing papers even though we have computers. Why have we effectively made up these jobs? Whole industries exist that don’t really need to exist. 

He says,

We used to make fun of the Soviet Union because they would make up these jobs so that they would have an ideal level of em- ployment. 

Yet corporations are doing the same exact thing. You would think that the last thing they would do is hire people who don’t do anything. If you talk to people in the corporation, they say. “I explained to my boss that my job was unnecessary. Then he would say, “Don’t tell anyone because I need to have more people under me to be important.”” 

There are all these internal mechanisms. There are all these people who are like ‘I am the east coast manager’. If you talk to them and get them drunk, they will tell you that they don’t really do anything they just go to meetings etc. 

How many of us have driven past the recent rail works here in Sunbury only to see three of more people simply standing around talking and doing absolutely nothing of “Meaningful value”, turning signs that any mechanical device can do without the need for holiday and sick pay? Then we remember that the SAME number of people doing nothing are on the OTHER SIDE of the tracks!

MATH: say 4 people x $50 ph (inclusive) x 8 hours = $1600 per day x 2 sides of the track….$3,200 per day cost for ?????

The most interesting thing we find, and this is confirmed in the book, is that the meaningless jobs need to pay more money to keep people “gainfully employed” to SUBSIDISE the lack of MEANING-MAKING.

Those however who have “meaningful and purposeful” jobs from which they obtain value are generally paid less because the Job itself is satisfying. They feel they are doing work that has VALUE in and of itself. 

Some people are even willing to take on meaningless jobs to help sustain their pursuit of MEANINGFUL jobs.

But imagine your occupation has INFINITE VALUE!

Imagine your occupation is one that can change the life of a single person for ETERNITY.

IMAGINE your opportunity to do this sort of work is available every moment of every day and your reward is ALSO INFINITE!

Consider an evangelist for a moment,

 do you think there is value in such business?

Let me assure you that you would do another job just to be able to afford to do such business as this.

But you are not an evangelist you say…

Yet you have the means with which to support such a work, does that not bring meaning to whatever JOB you do?

The evangelist has as his only concern the souls of those he preaches to, and knows that having food and raiment are therewith content (1 Tim 6:8), but there are those who see it as their meaningful enterprise to PRAY for the work.

  • Some give of their material possessions to support the work, and SO see meaning in the use of their JOBS
  • Others support the work in prayerAnd so see meaning in the use of their TIME.

Beloved, each one of us can be OCCUPIED in eternal matters, some directly and some indirectly.


She, like many, had a burning in her heart to do the work of the Lord alone. 

She, like Paul, is constrained for the work of Christ, she is MOTIVATED, MOVED, for this work and travels long distances for the business she is to attend to, that Paul blesses through his commendation to her.

There was Amos, a herdsman of Tekoa and a gatherer of sycamore fruit, he was not a rich man, but the fire burned within him as “truth was fallen in the streets”. He was not a prophet, nor was he a prophets son, but the Lord took him as he followed the flock and said unto him “Go, prophesy unto my people Israel (Amos 1:1, 7:14-15).

To the other end there was Isaiah, a servant in the courts of Kings who, in the year that King Uzziah died saw the Lord high and lifted up (Isa 1) . He was a man of unclean lips and dwelt among a people of unclean lips, but God was searching for a man saying “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” to which Isaiah raised himself after the Lord had touched and cleaned him saying, “here I am send me”.

We see Jeremiah, but a child, a youth, and young man whom God had called saying Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Persecuted for the word of God he promised he would speak no longer, but he could not keep it in But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (Jer 20:9).

Of Paul we see separated from his mothers womb and called by Gods grace (Gal 1:15), who all his life “Kicked against the pricks” and now “necessity is laid upon him, “woe unto me, if I preach not the Gospel”.

Of the rest of the apostles of Christ we hear them, say to Christ “Lo, we have left ALL and followed thee”, to whom Jesus promises they should have “manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting” (Lk 18:29-30).

We see the list of faith in Hebrews 11, and for us all we think ourselves unworthy of this call until we fall here, In Romans 16 where we see yet another list

A list of plain and ordinary folk whose names are listed forever in the eternal OCCUPATION OF GOD, even Phebe to whom pertains this COMMENDATION.

What of your name?

How are you employed? 


Is the work you are presently engaged in supporting your eternal engagement?

One way or another beloved, you are all SERVANTS of a local Church, each of whom has BUSINESS to attend to for the Lord.


A Commendation By Appreciation

1I 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.

It is not until we come to the final dozen words that we see the eternally significant value of Phebe;

for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.

She has given of herself in times of need to the help of others. 

In times of distress and difficulty, she had been there to provide for those in time of need. And not only to a few, but to manyfor she hath been a succourer of many.

It is not during times of convenience to her that people were in need. It is not when it suited her that the distress of others fell into her lap. 

Times when she had other business to attend to, when the trials of many would have been during times of inconvenience to her, she “succoured” them, helped them, comforted them. 

She set her needs aside, like a mother to her children. She placed the needs of the people occupied with the business of Christ ahead of her own, and she did so for many.

But not only to many…

 for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.

The antagonism against Paul in Corinth is a matter of history, it was here where Paul committed his life for the Gospel to the Gentiles, it was here where Jesus appeared to him in a vision to encourage him and it was most likely that during this 18-month period Phebe heard the truth of Christ and believed. 

Acts 18:1–11 

After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. 

And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. 8And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: 10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. 

In the next few verses we see again the people making insurrection against Paul (12), we see Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue beaten (17), and we see Paul take his journey to Cenchrea, the small harbour town where the Church to which Phebe becomes a servant will rise (v18).

Now Paul writes to the church of Rome of his personal testimony concerning Phebe, a COMMENDATION OF APPRECIATION is eternally inscribed in Holy Writ IN INFINITE  memorial of her care for many.

Beloved, have you ever truly given consideration to what you do, now that you belong to Christ?

Yes, Phebe’s commendation is eternally recorded in the word of God, but do you think your work in the Lord is going to be forgotten like your works in the world?

The secular world desire’s to enshrine their temporal works with plaques, with statues, street names, names of houses and cities, names on door mats and farm entrances. 

This seems to be a way in which people long to ascribe value in themselves, but all of the work in this world, for this life, is set to be “burned up”,

2 Peter 3:10 

1… in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 

When the new heaven and earth come to open before the Lord after this event spoken of by Peter, all those 

Isaiah 65:17 

17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. 

Even the atheist philosopher Bertrand Russel wrote;

That “All the noonday brightness of human genius are destined to extinction(A Free Man’s Worship, 1903) 


All we attend to for our work in the Lord is set not only to be forever held in memorial but set for reward.

  • Not a cup of water given in the name of Christ shall be without reward (Mrk 9:41).
  • Not a soul saved through our prayers, through our speech or through our distant support will be forgotten.
  • Not a word shared in season concerning Christ will return void, all will do its perfect work.
  • Not a person forgiven for their transgression against you is forgotten by the Lord, that which we bind on earth is bound in heaven, that loosed on earth is loosed in heaven (Mt 18:18).

Daniel 12:3 

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

Beloved, the light you shine concerning Jesus now, will be forever reflected in heaven.

We have seen Phebe’s COMMENDATION OF PRAISE given by Paul, what will be yours given by Christ?

1 Corinthians 7:29–31 

29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; 30 And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; 31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away. 

The time is short.




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