Crossroads: A Great Helper – Phoebe

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Romans 16:1-2

Stats about Phoebe

• Helped in the church at Cenchreae, the eastern seaport of Corinth
• Probably gave financial support to the church or to Paul’s missions
• Paul calls her his sister—means that they worked together at some point

My Story

When I was seven or eight years old, my parents decided to move a piano from one floor of our house to another. It was a good idea because my mother was a piano teacher, and if we moved the piano, she would have a more private place to teach piano lessons. The only problem was that we had to move a piano up eight stairs, and the piano was very, very heavy.

My father asked one of his friends, Larry, to help him move the piano. I stood by and watched as my father held the back of the piano while Larry lifted the front end up each step. They were able to move that heavy piano almost all the way to the top step, but the final step was a little higher than the others, and Larry needed some help. As he struggled with that heavy piano, they asked me to help. I ran over and helped Larry lift the piano the last inch to the very top of the stairs.

I felt so proud. I actually helped these grown men move a very heavy piano! My father said to me, “We couldn’t have done it without you. You were a big help.” And Larry said, “I didn’t think such a little guy could be such a big help, but you were. You are a great helper.”

Your Story

Tell a story about a time in your life when you were able to help someone in a way that might have surprised them.
• What did you do? How did you help the person?
• Were you asked to help, or did you volunteer? Why did you decide to help in this particular situation?
• How did you feel after helping with that task or project? Did it make you want to help in other situations?
• Describe a time when someone has helped you. How did it make you feel to have someone help you?
• Why is helping others so important? Why does God want us to be helpful people?

The Bible Story

The Bible story today is short, but the message is very important. Here at the end of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul writes, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess/servant of the church in Cenchrea.” Phoebe was one of the first women leaders in the early church. In fact, she may have been the first woman deacon. The term “diakonos” used here to describe Phoebe is the same term given to Paul, Apollos, Timothy, and many others. We know from these words that Phoebe was a strong leader and an important person in the early Christian church.

But we also know something else about Phoebe—she was a great helper. Paul goes on to write that the Christians in Rome “should receive Phoebe in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints . . . for she has been a great help to many people, including me.” Phoebe was probably the person responsible for delivering Paul’s letter, written at Corinth, a city near Cenchrea, to Rome. Her help may have surprised many people because there were not many women leaders at this time. But God had given Phoebe the ability to help others, and she was faithful in using her gifts to help Paul and work for God.

Discussion Questions

• Why do you think Phoebe wanted to help Paul?
• How did Paul feel about the help he received from Phoebe?
• What lessons do we learn from Paul’s words about Phoebe?
• Can you be a great helper like Phoebe? What can you do today or this week to be a great helper to someone else?
• Jesus also spent a lot of time helping others. Talk about several ways Jesus helped other people.

Prayer and Action

– Thank God for giving us the ability to help other people and for the example of great helpers in the Bible like Phoebe.
– Ask God to show you ways you can be a great helper this week.
– Talk as a family about ways you can work together to be great helpers.

Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.

Kevin Head began serving as Minister to Young Families at First Baptist Roswell, Georgia, in February 2012. He has pastored three churches in Kentucky and more recently served as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Lumberton, North Carolina. In 2007, Kevin and his wife, Amy, began a ministry-based counseling practice called New Perspectives for Life in East Cobb, Georgia. He is a graduate of Furman University (B.A.) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Ph.D., M.Div.) in Louisville, Kentucky. Kevin was ordained by the First Baptist Church of Belvedere, South Carolina. His model of ministry is based on John 8 and the amazing, continual grace of Jesus Christ. Kevin and Amy have two children, Jenna and Joshua.

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