It’s my delight to serve Tony and submit to him. And it’s his joy to serve me and lay down his life for me. Really, it’s a race to go lower. A mutual submission.
It wasn’t always that way.
Early in our marriage, I might have been sitting down on the outside, but inside I was standing up. I might have appeared to be quiet and submissive. Inside, I was screaming, “But it isn’t fair!”
What’s the difference?
Early in our marriage I was taught a legalistic hierarchical view. God is over man. Man is over woman and specifically husband is over wife. Jesus said, “It shall not be this way among you” (referring to hierarchy).
When hierarchy is removed, it’s easy to obey Ephesians 5–Submit yourselves to one another, wives to husbands, and husbands laying down their lives for their wives. And it makes for a wonderful marriage relationship.
Priscilla worked with Paul. She and her Jewish husband, Aquila, who was born in Pontus, were living in Rome, but had to leave Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all the Jews from Rome They arrived in Corinth, Greece, where they set up a tent-making business. Paul arrived in Corinth on one of this missionary journeys, and met them both. He lived and worked with them because he was a tentmaker too.
When Paul left Corinth for Cenchrea (where Phoebe was a deacon), they accompanied him. From there he set sale for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him. They arrived in Ephesus, where Paul left the couple to oversee the work there while he traveled on to Jerusalem and Antioch.
Apollos, a Jewish speaker arrived in Ephesus from Egypt. He knew the Scriptures well and was eloquent and enthusiastic, speaking out boldly in the synagogue. But he had some areas of weakness in his theology. Priscilla and Aquila explained (the verb here is plural) the way of God to him more accurately.
Paul specifically mentions Priscilla and Aquila in three of his letters. In Romans 16:3 and 2 Timothy 4:19 he greets them. In 1 Corinthians 16 he sends greetings to the Corinthians from them and the church that meets in their home.
In every context where active ministry is concerned, contrary to Greek and Hebrew custom, Priscilla is mentioned first. This means she had a significant, probably even the dominant role in what went on. Luke speaks of her teaching Apollos with approval. Paul describes her as one of his co-workers in ministry.
Priscilla and Aquila are a great example of a married couple working together in ministry. It appears that Aquila encourages Priscilla to take an active, if not the most prominent role, in ministry. We need more examples of this.
I am very blessed that my husband, Tony, has done everything he can to make sure I play as active a role as the Lord leads me in ministry. Tony is a gifted speaker and communicator. A number of years ago, he realized that if he did everything, I would always remain in the background. So he started sharing his platform with me. In the beginning, I didn’t communicate nearly as well as he would have done, but over the years I’ve gained in confidence. Now we are both active in the Kingdom, each in our own right and in our own spheres.
Phoebe is mentioned only once in the New Testament, but a large amount of information can be garnered from that one passage.
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. Welcome her in the Lord as one who is worthy of honor among God’s people. Help her in whatever she needs for she has been helpful to many, and especially to me. (Romans 16:1-2)
Phoebe obviously played a key role in the early church in Cenchrae.
The word “deacon” here is translated in other versions as “servant” (for example, the NKJ version), but it is more likely that she is being described as a recognized leader in the church, similar to the 1 Timothy 3:11 use of the word about women as deacons. (NB: It takes being a servant to lead.)
Another word used to describe Phoebe is prostatis, translated here as helpful. It is a feminine word, which according to Strong’s concordance means “a woman set over others, or a female guardian, protectress, patroness.” It is a feminine version of the word proistemi which means “to be over, to superintend, to preside over” amongst other things. It’s from the same word used in Romans12:8–“he who leads, with diligence.” The word certainly holds connotations of leadership. Paul includes himself as one who has been “helped” (led) by her. Interestingly, it’s not the same word used for help earlier in the sentence. That is a word meaning “one who stands by.” Paul could have used that word again, but instead chose prostatis.
Since Paul commends Phoebe, and asks people to receive her, as opposed to sending her greetings as he does to the other people listed in Romans 16, most people think that Phoebe is the one who had been entrusted to carry the letter to the Romans.
I love the church that meets in our home. We are so blessed! How does one communicate the fun that we have just being together–the laughter and warmth as we share a meal? The joy in having visitors with us?
Usually we start the “spiritual” part of our time together by asking a question: “What has God done for anyone this week?”
This last Friday the following happened:
The “miracle baby” was with us for the first time and we celebrated God’s goodness to the family again.
A businessman shared how he had held a grudge against someone who had cheated him over a year ago. This week he finally forgave the person and his business took a sudden upswing.
A young woman shared how God has just set her free from years of incredible darkness with many medications. She’s a completely different person. It all happened following prayer.
A lady who was given a Bible at her baptism in December just finished reading the whole book through for the first time.
There were other great things shared too and we spent most of our time in praise and thanksgiving for God’s love and mercy and in prayer for each other.
Many people say that women can be deacons but not elders. There is clear scriptural precedent for women as deacons. For example, in Romans 16:1 the word used to describe Phoebe is diakonon (sometimes translated servant).
One of the arguments used to say that women cannot be elders is that the qualifications for being an elder includes being the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:1). A woman cannot have a wife–therefore she cannot be an elder.
However, one of the qualifications for deacons is that they, too, are to be the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:12).
Follow the logic. Deacons have to be the husband of one wife, and we know that there are female deacons. Elders also have to the be the husband of one wife. Why should there not be female elders too?
First Timothy 3:11 says, “let the wives (women) also be temperate… faithful.” This verse is often applied to female deacons. Why not to female elders too.
When Frank sent me a copy of his latest book, I was keen to read it because I knew it looked at the lives of Mary and Martha and their brother, Lazarus.
God’s favorite place when he lived on earth was their home in Bethany, the place where Jesus was accepted unconditionally and where he returned, time and time again. Part fiction (the moving story of Jesus in Bethany is narrated by Lazarus) and part insightful theology, Frank uses the story to help people facing many kinds of challenges–doubt, discouragement, fear, materialism. He demonstrates in a practical way how to deal with offense, both by God–when he doesn’t meet our expectations or doesn’t show up on time–or from others who may hurt or reject us. He challenges us to live a life free from offense.
I’ve studied the Gospels on many occasions, but certain things became clearer to me as I read this book. I saw details that had escaped me before. Example: I’d never noticed that Jesus’ ascension occurred in Bethany. The conversation between Jesus and Martha about his resurrection took on fresh power.
Frank writes powerfully and poetically. He challenges us, both as individuals and corporately, to love and follow Jesus wholeheartedly and to be a place where Jesus “feels at home.”
When women fight for justice for themselves in church circles, they are perceived as militant feminists. If men stand alongside them, shoulder-to-shoulder, then something that looks like “Kingdom” will result.
Where are the men who will champion women, standing up for their rights? Where are the Baraks who recognize women in leadership and refuse to go into battle without them?