Romans 16:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 16:1, NIV: I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae.

Romans 16:1, ESV: I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae,

Romans 16:1, KJV: I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:

Romans 16:1, NASB: I recommend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea,

Romans 16:1, NLT: I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea.

Romans 16:1, CSB: I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church in Cenchreae.

What does Romans 16:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul continues to wrap up his long letter to the Romans. He launches into a list of recommendations and greetings, mentioning quite a few people by name.

He begins with Phoebe. She is the person who will deliver Paul's letter to the Christians in Rome, traveling from where Paul was staying in Corinth. Cenchreae was a seaport town located not far from Corinth. Paul describes Phoebe as "our sister" [in Christ] and as a servant of the church in Cenchreae.

The Greek word Paul uses for servant is diakonon, the same word sometimes translated as "deacon." It's possible Phoebe held some official position in the church, which may be one reason she was qualified to deliver the letter to the Romans on behalf of Paul. It's of note that Phoebe is referred to as a diakonon "of the church," rather than a servant in general. Likewise, in the next verse, she will be described as a prostatis, a term which often refers to a female guardian or overseer.

While Paul's explanation of the role of an elder is clear, when it comes to gender (1 Timothy 3:1–7), verses such as Romans 16:1 are one reason some Christians believe roles such as deaconess are biblically valid.