Date: Thu Nov 30 1995 - 07:13:07 EST
This is a translation of Romans 16:1-2 carried out by Lorain Delaney who is a
Lecturer in New Testament Greek at Morling College (Baptist Thelogical)
As she does not have Email access I forward this to the list with her
permission for your comment.
Sunisthmi de _min Foibhn thn _delfhn _mwn o_san
1ps vt pia dp asf gp e_mi asf ptc pr act
[kai] diakonsn thV _kklhsiaV thV _n KegcreiaV
asm/f gsf gsf adj cl +dat
_na a_thn prodexhsqe _n Kuri_ _xiwV twn
+subj purpose cl asf A1 subj pass +dat dsm adv gpm
_giwn kai parasthte a_th _n _ _n
gpm paristhmi 2ppA2subj nsf +dat rel pron dsm +subj
_mwn cr_z_ pragmati_ kai gar a_th
gpm 3ps subj pres creia dsn emphatic/indeed nsf
prostatiV pollwn _genhqh kai _mou a_tou
nsf gp adj 3psA2pass accensive emphatic gs gsm reflexive
I recommend to you our sister Phoebe, being a servant of the church which is
in Cenchrea, I trust (my wish is) that you have received her in the Lord in a
worthy manner and have given her whatever assistance she may require of you
for indeed she has become prostatiV of many; even me.
Sunisthmi - commend, recommend, give approval to, show, prove, demonstrate.
_xiwV - adverb of manner + gen ie in a manner worthy of (ie Christians) in a
manner worthy twn _giwn (of the saints)
Foibhn - Phoebe - a gentile Christian inferred from her name which finds its
origin in pagan mythology
thn _delfhn _mwn - our sister - indicates membership/relationship within the
o_san... k.t.l. indicates Phoebe is a diakonoV. In line with general New
Testament teaching diakonsV can only be seen as office in two New Testament
references. These two only possible references in the New Testament are (1)
Phillipians 1:1 where Paul addresses the Bishops and deacons and (2) 1 Timothy
3:8 where previous section on the qualifications for the office of bishop
(linked with _sautwV ie in the same manner as the bishops) supports that
rendering of the office of deacon. (NB: the qualification in no way matches up
with the "7" in Acts).
diakonsV has no separate feminine form therefore we can conclude that there is
no such office of deaconness only male or female deacons/servants. diakonsV
and its cognates should be interpreted in terms of function ie a servant not
In this verse however we have no such supportive evidence and in the light of
the weight of internal evidence (NT) I find there is no alternative but to
give the diakonsn its true rendering of servant. So then with some
translations to render diakonsn as deacon/deaconness is clearly out of line
and a possible meagre attempt to give this woman of stature some degree of
honour. BUT it has missed the mark.
Apart from Phillipians 1 and 1 Timothy 3:8 every reference in the NT where
diakonsV is used it clearly indicates FUNCTION not office ie servant NOT
thV introduces an adjectival clause.
_na + subjunctive = purpose clause (not result). Introduces a statement of
two-fold purpose of Paul's commendation of Phoebe.
1. a_thn prodexhsqe _n Kuri_ _xiwV twn _giwn - in the first instance Paul
wants the Christians in Rome to welcome Phoebe "in the Lord" ie as Christians
receiving a fellow Christian loved for the Lord's sake. The words _xiwV twn
_giwn (worthy of Christians/worthy of saints/in a worthy manner) adds nothing
that goes beyond _n Kuri_ in actual content but call into plan a special motif
for required Christian behaviour, namely the motif of Christian self-respect,
of respect for one's own dignity and extending to respect and dignity towards
others as someone who belongs to Christ. _n Kuri_ signifying the manner in
which they are to regard their leaders.
2. kai parasthte a_th _n _ _n _mwn cr_z_ pragmati_ - assist her in any
(_n) possible way - whatever it may be - in which she has need. They are
instructed to loyally stand beside her - assist her, support her._n + subj. is
significant in as much as it is not specific - whatever is required of them
they are to stand beside her and give practical/spiritual aid where necessary.
It is all inclusive.
kai gar a_th prostatiV pollwn _genhqh kai _mou a_tou. For she has
become a prostatiV of many - even me - adds a further reason why they ought to
be ready to help Phoebe. She herself has already become (Aor. Pass) a
prostatiV of many - including Paul himself. Note that Paul was itinerant -
this was a settled church. For ministry comparisons and functions cf Didache
and proisthmi = to set over to appoint with authority, to preside, to govern,
to superintend, one who stands in front of, before, a leader, a protector,
champion, patron, to be at the head of, to rule, direct, manage, conduct. Used
of officials and administrators - it carries the additional idea of caring,
It means to take over the direction of the people, to be president, to
The o_ pro_stamenoi are a special group separated by the Spirit for
the primary task of caring for others. It's a caring/authority role with an
emphasis equally upon pastoral care and the sense of a great deal of
authority. Very often in the NT we find the verb form which would indicate
function but here - a noun which could indicate office.
pro_sthmi and its noun/adjectival/participial/cognates is, in the NT
used in the sense of caring authority cf 1 Timothy 5:17 "the elders who rule
well". 1 Timothy 3:4 where the Bishop must "manage/rule his own household well
keeping his own children in submission". 1 Timothy 3:5 "if a man does not know
how to manage his own household". 1 Timothy 3:12. Romans 12:8, 1 Thessolians
5:12 et al. In such instances pro_sthmi has been translated as rule,
authority, manage etc because the subject is man - here however used of a
woman the translaters have seemingly found difficulty and chosen to translate
according to their own limited cultural context.
Translation I recommend to you our sister Phoebe being a servant of
the church which is in Cenchraea. I trust that you have received her in the
Lord in a manner worthy of the saints and have given her whatever assistance
she may require of you. For she has become a leader of many even me.
This verse was not taken in isolation without regard to the exegetical
context ie literary, historical and theological. The sources used in this
research has included the Septuagint, Patristic literature, Hellenistic
literature, Ante-Nicaean fathers in addition to the NT.
Lorraine R. Delaney 12/1980
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