Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Women: Defenders of FaithRomans 16: 1-16
V 1 “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the sins and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.”
What is faith: Hebrew 11: 1 says: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The context for faith is a life in which things are hoped for but not yet seen or possessed. Faith grasps things promised by God but so far unfulfilled in our experience. Paul is sending a young woman known to him as a faithful person, a deacon, in the church at Cenchreae, to an unknown place and people to do the ministry of the Lord.
Romans 16 is the final chapter in which Paul commends Phoebe, who is a deacon of the church in Cenchreae, which was the port city of Corinth. She was the woman who Paul sends to Rome to spread the gospel among the gentiles and Jews in Rome. Paul asks for their help for her since she helped many people including Paul and ends with greetings to many people he knows in Rome. He is giving urgent instructions about false teachers and also greetings to those who are with him in Corinth, including Timothy. Paul closes out the letter with a hymn of praise to the God who has revealed to all the nations of the earth the gospel of salvation by faith in Christ Jesus.
Paul is an apostle not appointed by Jesus, or the one selected in place of Judas Iscariot when he betrayed Jesus and then committed suicide. Paul believes that he is appointed by Jesus on his way to Damascus to kill Christians and later became the apostle to gentile Christians to bring several of them to Jesus, especially the gentile Christians in Rome. In this last chapter of Romans, he greets all those who supported his ministry and who worked hard to spread the gospel in Rome at the risk of their lives. Remember, it was only in the 4th century that Emperor Constantine recognized Christianity and thus ending the persecution against Christians in Rome.
Paul’s letter is an example of Jesus, who did extraordinary things through ordinary people who believed and had their faith in him. Paul greets all other people including women in Rome who stood for the faith in Jesus and defended their faith at the risk of their lives. These women named in the last chapter of Romans stood for their loyalty and defended their faith amidst the persecution of Christians by the Roman government. How many of us will defend our faith in such circumstances?
Three times in this list of greetings Paul uses a certain Greek word ‘kopian’ for Christian toil, which means toil to the point of exhaustion when talking about Mary (Romans 16:6) and of Tryphaena and Tryphosa and Persis in this passage. Thus, faith can move anyone anywhere by risking their life. (Barclay’s Study Bible)
Paul’s testimony provides us with the importance of personal relationships, working together for God’s purpose, and the value of encouragement. The church is made up of ordinary, diverse people, men and women, who know the Lord, grow with him, and serve him by loving one another.
Whatever gifts are given to each one of us, the important thing is that we know that Christ saved us from eternal judgment because we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and now we need to move forward and look for how we can serve the Lord like these women and other servants of the Lord helped Paul in his ministry.
Women in the Bible are celebrated for their courage, vision, hospitality, spiritual giftedness, and faith in the Lord; hence they are essential to God’s plan in all ages and times. It was not their natural qualities that made women extraordinary, but their faith in God and as defenders of that faith by risking their lives and the power of the one true God, whom they worshipped and served.
Thought for the Day
We need to have faith in God, who is the world's light and promised to give us life in its fullness to all.
Mary L. Varghese, MTC Dallas, Farmers Branch