"Paul's Commendation"

Romans  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:18
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Why just these verses?


“Commend” - “to recommend v. — to present as worthy of regard, kindness, or confidence.” (Faithlife, LLC. “To Recommend.” Logos Bible Software, Computer software. Logos Bible Software Bible Sense Lexicon. Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, LLC, May 6, 2023.)
Paul is recommending someone for their collective consideration. It is a call to consider someone for special treatment.
Paul was not the only one in his day who travelled to various places serving the church. There were others doing the same thing for various reasons. It was customary for them to bring letters of recommendations to give the church confidence in receiving them (Apollos - Acts 18:27 “And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed,” Paul - 2 Corinthians 3:1–2 “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all.”). The church people would provide food and lodging for these traveling ministers (3 John 1–8 “The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.”). That’s why it’s seems likely that Phoebe was the one who delivered Paul’s letter to the Romans. After all, Cenchreae was a port town for Corinth (where Paul wrote Romans) about 8 miles away. The 2 churches would have had much contact.
Since Paul is an Apostle, this is stronger than our modern idea of a recommendation. This is a more commanding commendation.

Who is Paul Commending? (v. 1)

Phoebe was in the group that Paul referred to as “brother” (Romans 15:30; Romans 16:17; Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”)
But this still is an acknowledgment of her gender - spiritually, she is a “brother”; practically, she is a sister (Philemon 1–3 “Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” James 2:15 “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,”; Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”)
This highlights the family aspect of the church. This is how we should relate to one another.
1 Timothy 5:1–2 “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”
Servant - διάκονος
Deacon in an official sense
Philippians 1:1 “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:”
1 Timothy 3:8Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.”
Servant in a general/descriptive sense
2 Corinthians 6:4 “but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,”
Ephesians 3:7 “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.”
2 Corinthians 3:6 “who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
Colossians 4:7 “Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.”
Colossians 1:7 “just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf”
Colossians 1:24–25 “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known,”
Either way, she stepped up to serve. Paul gives the only example of her service at the end of verse 2. She is an example to everyone in the church to step up and serve.
Phoebe’s commendation is not diminished or enhanced by whether she is or is not and official deacon.

What is Paul Commending? (v. 2a)

To receive her...
What? “Welcome” - to accept or receive favorably or in a friendly manner.
How? “Worthy” - suitable or appropriate - “in the Lord” may lean this towards meaning appropriate behavior for believers.
Ephesians 4:1 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,”
Philippians 1:27 “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,”
Colossians 1:10 “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;”
1 Thessalonians 2:12 “we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”
To help her...
What? “Help” - to come to the aid of
How? “Need” - practical

Why is Paul Commending? (v. 2b)

“Patron”/ “helper” - benefactor, giver to others
She has done the same for others.


Help those who help others.
Helpers helping helpers.
The church should be characterized by mutual help.
That’s a good description of church participation, versus “church membership.”
Church membership is not defined in the NT, it is demonstrated.
Being a church member is more than attending a service.
Church membership is really church participation.
And this text gives us one of the ways of participating - receiving and helping one another.
Benediction: Romans 16:25–27 “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:19–2:4
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