Jump to content
Kingdom of Adventistan
Sign in to follow this  
Tom Wetmore

Phoebe, a leader in the New Testament Church

Recommended Posts

Tom Wetmore

The article's summation...

Quote:
A careful reading of Romans 16:1, 2, thus, offers us a new glance at this remarkable woman who appears to be a close associate of Paul in spread­ing the gospel of Christ; who served as a leader of her house church in Cenchreae; who, despite all the dangers associated with travel on Roman roads, accepted the task of carrying the mes­sage of salvation to the Roman church; and who was recognized by Paul and others as a Christian leader in her own right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Johann

Thank you, Tom Wetmore, for bumping this reference to a most important artice in our MINISTRY MAGAZINE, the official General Conference publication for pastors world wide.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Johann
Fo Da Rome Peopo 16:1-2Hawai‘i Pidgin (HWP) Paul Tell Da Rome Bruddas An Sistas “Aloha!”

16 I like tell you guys some good tings bout our sista Febe. She one helpa fo da church peopo Kenkrea side. I like you guys take her in, jalike da peopo dat stay spesho fo God suppose to do, cuz she stay tight wit da Boss Up Dea. Kokua her wit wateva she need, cuz she wen help me an plenny odda peopo from befo time.

Hawai‘i Pidgin (HWP)

Copyright © 2000 by Wycliffe Bible Translators International. All rights reserved

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom Wetmore

And then there was Phoebe, recognized by Paul as a minister and leader in the NT Church.  

 

Just as some seek to now minimize and withhold recognition of EGW  according to how she was recognized by Church leadership in her day,  translators over the centuries have defined Phoebe as a mere servant and helper so as not to give her due recognition as Paul had intended.

 

Everyone should read this article.  If you already have, read it again.  If you haven't and don't want to. ask yourself why you are avoiding it?

Edited by Tom Wetmore

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rossw

Just started reading the article. Seems a bit dishonest to me at first glance. 

Paul likens Phoebe a deacon(servant) like Jesus yet she was of lower position than Paul. Is Paul of higher status than Jesus then? I think the biggest farce is likening the service Christ did for man kind to what services a deacon does for the elders.

Phoebe may have been a deacon but was not an elder. 1 Timothy 3 makes the distinction between elders and deacons. If Paul mentions phoebe as a deacon how is the pro-WO camp elevating her to an elder then? Romans 16 makes it clear Phoebe was in service to the higher elders.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rossw

The article is confusing as to whether they place Phoebe as a deacon or an elder. 

Please excuse my simplicity but that's were the logic in the matter will lie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom Wetmore

Perhaps rereading it might clarify your understanding of what the author said. I don't know that those terms are necessarily mutually exclusive within the NT.  

Here is how I understand it.  The two key Greek terms, diakonos and prostatis, together identify more completely her position/role in the NT church.  Although we derive the modern English word "deacon" from diakonos, The role in the NT church was not really the same as that of a modern day deacon in our Church.  It was more that of a minister and not that of a menial worker in the church taking care of the upkeep and maintenance or as is so often the case today, merely ushers and offering collectors.  Paul applied the term to himself and others serving the church as fellow laborers in the gospel ministry, preaching, teaching, and evangelizing. That Phoebe was associated with one specific church by name was somewhat unique and perhaps put in a similar role as Timothy was at Ephesus.  It is worth noting that the most frequent translation of diakonos is "minister" in reference to a specific man in his role with the church. Only with reference to Phoebe and her role with the church is it translated with its literal meaning of "servant".

The second word, prostatis, has the worst mistranslation, when compared to its common meaning outside of the NT and compared with the meaning of its related word forms.  Prostatis is the feminine form of the word and generally means "governess", or a female leader, official, or ruler. In its masculine form it is most frequently translated as "ruler", "leader", in reference to a government or community official or ruler.  In a sense it is somewhat similar to the more Jewish and less formal cultural idea of an elder. (That may have been part of what you found confusing.) Its literal meaning is "one who stands before", in other words, the leader who stands up in front of the group, the one who leads out.

Harmonizing the two words as minister/leader is also more consistent with the context of the rest of what Paul says about Phoebe than the traditional mistranslation of her as being merely a servant/helper.  Paul speaks highly of her, commending her to the Roman believers and calling her one of the saints.  And he directs those believers to do whatever she instructs/asks them to do.  That is not the introduction of one sent to be a mere helper to them, but rather as one that they should help and follower the direction of, in other words, a leader. She was sent by Paul to lead and instruct the Roman believers, apparently because of her reputation, experience and standing already in Cenchrea, and perhaps elsewhere.

Some have had a hard time accepting that Paul would regard her as a leader even of himself, as if somehow all others were and should be beneath him in the hierarchy of the church.  The problem there is that Paul often spoke of himself in self-effacing, humble terms and admonishing the believers to not think too highly of themselves, even considering others as better than themselves.  It seems very much in character for him to give Phoebe high recognition even somehow above him.  But the reality of the NT Church was that it was more pragmatic in the roles and functions of the people and not a status filled hierarchy, taking seriously Jesus' own words against lording it over one another as the heathens did.  (Or as I might suggest that the headship heresy tends to do.) 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom Wetmore

The Church has but one head, which is Christ.  The Roman Catholic Church perpetuated the hierarchy of headship within the church with the Pope being its head.  The headship idea which has gained traction among some opposed to women in minister and leadership is really a relatively new phenomenon in the Adventist Church, perhaps taken from evangelical teaching.  The idea of a head of the Church is in part that which EGW warned against and characterized as "kingly power".  The predominant and acceptable idea of leadership is that of servant leadership. And more so when it comes to the pastoral/ministerial function it is important to understand that the value of servant leadership in keeping with Jesus' own words about lording it over one another as the rulers of the world.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rossw

Initially I thought you were calling the belief in the headship of Adam and Christ a heresy.

Can the headship you describe be likened to the SDA hierarchy?---"The idea of a head of the Church is in part that which EGW warned against and characterized as "kingly power"". Should the position of GC president be likened to Israel's request of an earthy king?

I am a little surprised though that you think headship is a heresy because Scripture AND EGW both speak of the man being the head of the household and the household making up the church. Paul, I think, makes clear the requirements for an elder are for the man to be a good leader in the home first.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom Wetmore

Head of household is different from headship in the church.  Paul is very clear in saying that the Church has but one head, which is Christ.  One head.  Not many little heads.  Something with many heads is spoken of in Revelation...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rossw
On 7/2/2016 at 10:28 AM, Tom Wetmore said:

Harmonizing the two words as minister/leader is also more consistent with the context of the rest of what Paul says about Phoebe than the traditional mistranslation of her as being merely a servant/helper.  Paul speaks highly of her, commending her to the Roman believers and calling her one of the saints.  And he directs those believers to do whatever she instructs/asks them to do.  That is not the introduction of one sent to be a mere helper to them, but rather as one that they should help and follower the direction of, in other words, a leader. She was sent by Paul to lead and instruct the Roman believers, apparently because of her reputation, experience and standing already in Cenchrea, and perhaps elsewhere.

Isn't any and every believer who is saved considered a saint? Likening Phoebe to a saint does not lift her to a higher position unless maybe we allow some Catholicism to help determine word meaning?

Paul using the word diakonos should help us determine prostatis. She was helpful most definitely but helping a congregation in no way necessitates the application of 'elder'. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rossw
On 7/2/2016 at 10:28 AM, Tom Wetmore said:

prostatis, has the worst mistranslation, when compared to its common meaning outside of the NT and compared with the meaning of its related word forms.  Prostatis is the feminine form of the word and generally means "governess", or a female leader, official, or ruler. In its masculine form it is most frequently translated as "ruler", "leader", in reference to a government or community official or ruler.  In a sense it is somewhat similar to the more Jewish and less formal cultural idea of an elder. (That may have been part of what you found confusing.) Its literal meaning is "one who stands before", in other words, the leader who stands up in front of the group, the one who leads out.

Can you prove prostatis is so mistranslated? How much of Scripture is mistranslated?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom Wetmore

Read and understand the article. I have already answered your question in my post above. The author is a respected NT and Greek scholar. He is not just blowing smoke.  Nor is he alone in his conclusions. Other capable scholars support his conclusion.  It really isn't complicated. I am not a Greek scholar, but with available study guides and lexicons for 1st Century Greek, I discovered this on my own before I ever read any article or heard the author of this one speak on it. After my own study of those two texts about Phoebe, I then began reading and discovering that my interpretation was not wrong.

And as I have posted in other topics, this interpretation was first published within Adventism in 1861 in the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, when Uriah Smith was the editor. It was a republished article that he introduced as clear support for women in the gospel ministry, in others words to preach. The  burning question for those early Advent believers was whether women should be allowed to preach. Uriah Smith as well as a number of the founders of our Church clearly believed so from the very begining, as that article clearly demonstrates.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rossw

The reason for the confusion for me is the definition "the one who stands before" is applied to proistemi but that isn't the word used in Romans 16:2 is it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom Wetmore

Prostemi is a verb form of the root word which would mean "to lead" or "to rule", or literally, "to stand before". The  literal definition "the one who stands before" is for the feminine noun form of prostatis, which is used in Romans 16:2. That is the only place in the NT that the  noun form is used. However the masculine form, prostates, has the same meaning of "the one who stands before", and is used commonly elsewhere in contemporary Greek literature and in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the OT that was in existence in the 1st Century.  (As I recall, the feminine noun form is also used in early Greek literature.) The contemporary meaning of both the noun and verb forms as used in the 1st Century is quite clear. Regarding its use in the Septuagint, we can also compare it to the same passages in the original  Hebrew version and how the words have been translated into English.  Consistently the noun form as used in OT is used in reference to rulers, officials and leaders of the people. Likewise the verb forms which are used in the NT and the Septuagint are used to describe actions of leading, ruling or governing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Live4Him

The very fact that Origen is used as a reference of proof as well as the Septuagint should be warning flags.  As well as the fact that... well God plainly said... Don't do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×