Romans 16 is a letter of recommendation, the earliest letter of recommendation for a Christian minister, and it's written for a woman, Phoebe, who is, in the beginning of the chapter, said to have been a deacon, not a deaconess--but a deacon in the sense of a preacher, a minister--because Paul uses the same word for himself. He calls himself, in a number of instances, a deacon of the new covenant in 2 Corinthians. -HELMUT KOESTER
One of the common arguments against women in ministry is that the word deaconess is used when referencing women in the New Testament with regard to calling and gifts. This point of view defines deaconess as one who helps only, not one who leads. If women are always denoted as deaconesses and not deacons in the Scripture, then clearly they are not meant to be lead pastors or shepherds. However, this quote is from an article that refutes the idea that women cannot be preachers/ministers. The author makes the argument that translators have commonly interpreted the same word as deaconess for women and deacon for men.

So, it looks like Phoebe could and should be a role model for women. She is our foremother. By the way, my computer didn't recognize the word foremother. But it did recognize deaconess.


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