The Book of Romans Bible Study Chapter 16 Part 1

Romans 16:1-16

Is it acceptable for women to have teaching responsibilities over men in a congregational setting (example: a woman pastor over a congregation etc)? Some theologians use this next passage of Scripture to advocate for woman pastors and elders. 

v1: Commend: Literally ‘to stand with’. 

  • Phoebe: Phoebe was a woman who was used by G-d. She was a servant or a minister of G-d. However, nothing in this passage reveals that she was the leader, a teacher, or a preacher in a local congregation, a local church. What Paul does commend her for is her assistance to many people.  
  • Take note of 1 Cor 14:33-35. This does not mean that women were not allowed to converse with one another or that they could not praise G-d within the congregation. Within the context this means that she could not speak in the midst of the congregation in an argumentative (inquiring) kind of way. In those days and in that culture a church service was not held like it is today – with one person standing before the people and delivering a message. In that day the service involved several people questioning, debating, arguing etc. This all needed to be done within the order of G-d and women were to be silent observers of this process. If they had a question, they had to either ask their husbands when they got home or, if they were unmarried, they could ask the question of someone who was in authority over them. She was not to present her opinions and arguments in a public way as it could lead to disorder, hard feelings etc. 
  • See also 1 Tim 2:11-15. Here Paul instructs Timothy to not allow women to usurp a man. This means that they were not allowed to challenge G-d’s positioning of a man in a leadership role within a congregation. This is not limited to Paul’s time or culture. The facts about Adam and Eve remain consistent through all of time. It is as true today as it was when Timothy was leading his congregation. 

Man was created first. The woman was the one deceived in the garden of Eden – not the man. It is for these two reasons that G-d, in order to maintain the order that He desires in a congregation, set this commandment of a woman being silent in a congregation in place. This is one of the consequences of the fall – a woman is not to teach over men. This (the fall in Eden) is the Biblical reason for G-d stating that He didn’t permit women to teach over men. 

  • A servant: Women should serve and minister to G-d within the boundaries that He has set for them. There are a large variety of things that women can do within a local congregation – preaching or teaching over men in this formal setting falls outside of the boundary that G-d has set. ‘I do not permit’ (1 Tim 2:12) reveals to us that this issue is not debateable. It is not a grey area in the Bible and therefore is not open to interpretation. 
  • Cenchrea: This is where Phoebe primarily served, but she also had a ministry that went beyond her local congregation. 

v2: Worthy (manner): In a proper way 

  • Worthy of the saints: These believers were instructed to receive Phoebe in the way that saints (fellow believers) were meant to be received. 
  • Assist her in whatever… she has need: The believers were instructed to assist Phoebe if she had a need, as she was instrumental in assisting, and being a blessing to, the congregations. 
  • A helper of many: She added to what was lacking. 
  • Of myself also: Phoebe had not only assisted the congregations, but she had also been of assistance to Paul. 

v3: Priscilla and Aquila: Acts 18:18, Acts 18:24-28, 1 Cor 16:19. Aquila and Priscilla were a husband-and-wife team who served G-d together and who ministered together. At times they travelled alongside Paul in order to further his ministry and to play a part in the purposes of G-d. Paul was greatly blessed by this couple. 

v4: Risked their own necks: Priscilla and Aquila sacrificed for Paul. They were willing to risk their lives in order to further G-d’s call on Paul’s life and ministry. 

  • The churches of the Gentiles: The congregations that were outside of Israel. 

v5: Church: Congregation. The local assembly

  • My beloved: This was a term of endearment at that time. Paul lifted up this man as a special friend. 
  • The firstfruits of Achaia: Epaenetus was probably the first believer in Achaia. 

v6: Mary: Literally ‘Miriam’ in the original language. 

v7: My kinsmen: They were fellow Jews.

  • Were in Messiah before me: These two men came to faith before Paul did. 

v8: This was another one of Paul’s close friends.

v9: Paul is lifting up these individuals who have been a blessing to him. These people have helped Paul and have served together with Paul. 

v10: Approved in Messiah: Apelles had a powerful testimony. It had been proven that he was in Messiah. 

v11: Herodian: Another Jewish individual.

v13: His mother and mine: Paul had a close relationship with Rufus’s mother. She was like a mother to Paul. 

v16: Note: Paul has laid out a very important truth for us in this closing chapter: we should be respectful and acknowledge the fellow servants that G-d uses. We need to greet them, welcome them, help them, assist them in doing the work of G-d. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top