“I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea.”
“I commend unto you Phebe our sister”Literally:  “I commend to you our sister Phoebe.” 

          I COMMEND (Grk.–sunistêmi)—Literally: “to place with, to vouch for, recommend, commend,”Because the Roman Empire did not have a postal service, it was common then to bear letters of introduction to strangers, commending the person thus introduced to the favorable regards and attentions of those to whom the letters were addressed, (Acts 18:27; II Cor. 3:1). This epistle, with Paul’s commendation, was designed to introduce its bearer to the Roman Christians.

          PHEBE: (Grk.–Phoiben)—She was evidently a devoted an prominent Christian; a deaconess of the Cenchrean assembly. The mention of Phebe in this manner leaves it beyond a doubt that she was either the bearer of this epistle, or accompanied those who bore it to Rome. The epistle was therefore written, probably, at Corinth.

           OUR SISTER: (Grk.–adelphen hemon)—Literally:  “our sister.”  In Christ, not in the flesh; i.e., a member of the Christian church.

As Paul had not been at Rome previously to his writing this epistle, he could not have had a personal acquaintance with those members of the Church there to whom he sends these friendly salutations.  It is likely that many of them were his own converts, who, in different parts of Asia Minor and Greece, had heard him preach the Gospel, and afterwards became settlers at Rome.

“which is a servant” 
Literally in the original
Greek, “being {a} servant” (or deaconess)It is clear, from the N.T. that there was an order of women in the church known as deaconesses.  

           Reference is made to a class of females whose duty it was to teach other females, and to take the general superintendence of that part of the church, in various places in the N.T.; and their existence is expressly affirmed in early ecclesiastical history.
         Phoebe is here termed a servant, (Grk.–diakonon), a deaconess of the Church at Cenchrea.  In the primitive Church there were deaconesses in the primitive Church, whose business it was to attend the female converts at baptism (or persons who were candidates for baptism); to instruct the younger women, to visit the sick, and those who were in prison, and, in short, perform those religious offices for the female part of the Church which could not with propriety be performed by men. 
            They were chosen in general out of the most experienced of the Church, They appear to have been commonly aged and experienced widows, sustaining a fair reputation, and fitted to guide and instruct those who were young and inexperienced (comp. I Tim. 5:3,9-11; Titus 2:4).  The Apostolical Constitutions, Book iii., say, “Ordain a deaconess who is faithful and holy, for the ministries toward the women.” Pliny, in his celebrated letter to the Roman Emperor Trajan, says, when speaking of the efforts which he made to obtain information respecting the opinions and practices of Christians, “I deemed it necessary to put two maid-servants who are called ministrae (that is, deaconesses) to the torture, in order to ascertain what is the truth.”

“of the church which is at Cenchrea.”
 Literally:  “of the church in Cenchrea”–This is the only mention which occurs of a church at that place. It was probably collected by the labors of Paul. Being only about 5 miles from Corinth, it is probably that while he was living there in
Corinth, that Paul had visited this church several times.

                        CENCHREA: (Grk.–Kegchreai)–This was a seaport of Corinth.

            Corinth was situated on the middle of the isthmus, and had two harbors, or ports: Cenchrea on the east, about eight or nine miles from the city; and Lechaeum on the west opened into the AEgean Sea, and was the principal port. It was on this isthmus, between these two ports, that the Isthmian games were celebrated, to which the apostle refers so often in his epistles.
           These were the only two havens and towns of any note, next to Corinth, that belonged to this territory.  As the Lechaeum opened the road to the Ionian sea, so Cenchrea opened the road to the AEgean; and both were so advantageously situated for commerce that they were very rich. These two places are now usually denominated the Gulf of Lepanto, and the Gulf of Ingia or EginaIt was on the isthmus, between these two ports, which was about six miles wide, that the Isthmian games were celebrated; to which  Paul makes such frequent allusions.

         In Paul’s day, the city of Corinth was a crossroads of the Roman Empire, with a population of about 500,000.  Commercial ships, instead of sailing around the dangerous southern tip of Greece, were portaged across the Isthmus of Corinth from one port to the other.  The Greek word for this portage was “DIolkos.” The emperor Nero attempted construct a canal across the isthmus, using Jewish slaves to do the digging, but the task was abandoned after his assassination.

In 1882 a French construction company began to dig the canal and finally completed it in 1893.  The canal is 6,939 yards long and 75.6 feet wide (same as the Suez Canal) and the water is about 26 feet deep.  The canal shortened the trip from the Adriatic to Piraeus by 250 miles.

“That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever businesss she hath need of you; for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.”

“That ye receive her in the Lord”
Literally:  “That you may receive her in {in} the Lord.”–That you acknowledge her as being in the Lord, or as being a servant of the Lord; that is, as a Christian (comp. 14:3; Phil. 2:29). That is, as a genuine disciple of the Lord Jesus.  That you receive her in Lord, as becomes saints, and that you assist her in whatsoever business she has need of you: for she has been a helper of many, and of myself as well.

“as becometh saints”
Literally:  {As is} worthy of the saints.”   So as
saints should receive saints. As a Christian, and in a Christian manner.

BECOMETH:  (Grk.–axiôs)–Literally: “as is becoming of, asworthy, worthily.” As it is proper that Christians should treat one of their own; in a Christian manner.

“assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you”
Literally:  “And may assist her in what ever matter she may need of you.” 

          ASSIST: (Grk.–paristêmi)—Literally in the original Greek: “to place alongside, to stand by.”  Help her in whatever personal business she may have. (See Acts 1:3).  This is a legal term, of presenting culprits or witnesses in a court of justice.  

“she hath been a succourer of many”
Literally:  “For she also became a helper of many.”  A helper and benefactor.  She is one who assisted in the needs of  the apostles and preachers who came to minister at Cenchrea, and who was remarkable for entertaining strangers.

          SUCCOURER:  (Grk.–prostatis)—Meaning: “a patron, a help;” and was applied by the Greeks to one who presided over an assembly; to one who became a patron of others; who aided or defended them in their cause; and especially, one who undertook to manage the cause of strangers and foreigners before the courts.  This word is used only here in the N.T.

It was, therefore, an honorable title; and applied to Phebe, it probably means that she had shown great kindness in various ways to Paul, and to other Christians; probably by receiving them into her house; by administering to the sick, etc. Such persons have a claim on the respect and Christian attentions of others.



“Greet Priscilla and Acquila my helpers in Christ Jesus.”

“Greet Priscilla and Aquila”–This faithful couple had been forced to leave Rome, bythe edict of Claudius Caesar that all Jews leave Rome, (see Acts 18:2), and take refuge in Greece.

 It is likely that they returned to Rome at the death of Claudius, or whenever the decree was annulled.  It seems they had greatly contributed to assist Paul in his important labors.  Instead of Priscilla, the principal MSS. and versions have Prisca, which most critics suppose to be the genuine reading. Priscilla literally means, “little Prisca.”  The illa suffix on a Latin word means “little.” This might even be a nickname for Prisca because she was a small woman.

        GREET: (Grk.–aspasazomai)—“Salute” an imperative, without any special direction to any to bear the salutation.

         This implies Paul’s kind remembrance of them, and his wishes for their welfare.  Priscilla was the wife of Aquila. They are mentioned in Acts 18:2,26; I Cor. 16:19.  Paul at first found them at Corinth.  Aquila was a Jew, born in Pontus, an ancient Roman province located in the northern part of what is now Turkey, and on the southern side of the Black Sea.  He had resided at Rome, and come to Corinth, when Claudius Caesar expelled the Jews from Rome. 
         It is probable that they were converted under the preaching of Paul.  He lived with them, and they had the advantage of his private instruction, (Acts 18:3). At the death of the emperor Claudius, or whenever the decree for the expulsion of the Jews was repealed, it is probable that they returned to Rome. The wife is here named before the husband, probably as being the more prominent and helpful to the Church.

Roman Provinces in Modern Turkey

         “my helpers in Christ Jesus”
         Literally:  “My fellow workers in Christ Jesus.”–They had aided him in his work. A particular instance is mentioned in Acts 18:26. They are mentioned as having been with           Paul when he wrote the first epistle to the Corinthians, I Cor.16:19.

“Who have for my life laid down their own necks; unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.”

“Who have for my life laid down their own necks”
Literally:  “Who laid down their necks on behalf of my life.”–What this refers to we don’t know; but it appears that these persons had, on some occasion, hazarded their own lives to save that of Paul, and that the fact was known to all the Churches of God in that quarter, who felt themselves under the highest obligations to these faithful people for the important service which they had thus rendered.

“for my life”
Literally:  “on behalf of my life”– In order to save my life.

“laid down their own neck”
Literally: “laid down their necks”–That is as one would place their neck on an executioner’s chopping block.  They had risked their lives; either at Corinth (Acts 18:6, 9-  10), or more probably at Ephesus (Acts 19:30,31; and compare I Cor. 15:32).

          Exposed their lives to great danger to save mine. When this occurred we are not told. They must have returned from Ephesus (where we last find them in the history of the Acts) to Rome, whence the edict of Claudius had banished them (Acts 18:2); and doubtless, if not the principal members of that Christian community, they were at least the most endeared to Paul.
          To lay down the neck is to lay the head on a block to be cut off with the axe; or to bow down the head as when the neck was exposed to be cut off by the sword of the executioner.  The meaning is, that they had hazarded their lives, had exposed them-selves to imminent danger, to save the life of Paul. On what occasion this was done is not known, as it is not elsewhere referred to in the N.T. As Paul, however, lived with them, (Acts 18:3) and as he was often persecuted by the Jews, it is probable that he refers to some such period when he was persecuted, when Aquila and Priscilla took him into their house at the imminent hazard of their lives.
          Those who, from love to Christ, assist faithful ministers in their work, confer great benefits not only on them, but on the church and the world. Christians who enjoy their labors will gratefully acknowledge such benefits, and they will be acknowledged and rewarded by Christ at the great day.

 “all the churches of the Gentiles”
All the churches that had been founded by Paul. They felt their obligation to them for having saved the life of him who had been their founder and who was their spiritual father. Whose special apostle this dear couple had rescued from imminent danger.