Phoebe: Living Unique

From the Love God Greatly Study, “Beautifully Surrendered”

Today’s Reading: Rom 16:1-2; 1 Cor 12:12-26; SOAP: 1 Cor 12:12

12 For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body—though many—are one body, so too is Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12 NET

Ok, so before we look at our SOAP passage I think we need to at least spend a minute on Phoebe, don’t you? Here’s what we know about her from Paul, who introduced her to the Church in Rome.

  • She is a sister (in Christ) – indicating she is a believer
  • She is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, which is where she lived, and according to the NIV Study Commentary, Cenchrea was the eastern port of Corinth
  • Being new to the community she may have needed help
  • She had been a great help to many people, including Paul
My Observations:

First of all, since our verse starts with: For just as the body …”, lets look back first to the verses preceding verse 12, where Paul has been teaching on spiritual gifts and how different gifts are given by the Spirit to each member of the body. Paul was instructing them on the gifts and their purpose because the gifts had become a source of contention among the body at Corinth instead of being the effective tool they were meant to be.

Arriving at verse 12 we hear Paul teaching that as the church, which is the “Body of Christ”, we are to live and work together as one ‘body’, which is the reason for Paul’s comparison of the human body and the body of Christ. I believe that reading verses 12-26 can be both confusing and helpful at the same time – but that they clearly make the point that we are meant to work together as one, rather than competing with one another or comparing ourselves to others. We are to unite ourselves and our gifts to accomplish God’s purpose for the church, which is making Him known through the Gospel message – God’s power for salvation.

How Then Should We Live? (the application)

If we all have different gifts and different places and purposes within the body, how then do we live and function as though we are one? I believe, as with much of Christianity, it boils down to the attitude of the heart. Perhaps this is why the second commandment that Christ mentions in His answer to a ‘teacher of the law’ concerning the ‘greatest commandment’ says, love your “neighbor as yourself”, Mark 12:29-31. If our concern is for the building up of the church and those within the body of Christ we will have a servant’s heart – using our gifts to glorify God and better the body and not ourselves – much like Paul’s description of Phoebe.

What might this look like? When we have a servant’s heart, perhaps we will

  • like Phoebe, support the ministries of others,
  • or like Paul, commend others and their gifts to the church so that they can plug in and find the help they need
  • or perhaps, as Paul requested of the Church in Rome, we will be asked to welcome and help those who are new to the body

Whatever the case, I believe verse 25 of 1 Corinthians 12 makes clear the reason for us to function as one and perhaps paints the best picture of what the body will look like –

“So that there may be no division in the body, but the members may have mutual concern for one another”.

1 Corinthians 12:25
My Response of Prayer:

Father, make me a servant humble and meek, Lord let me help those who are weak – and may the cry of my heart always be – make me a servant today. A servant like Jesus who made Himself nothing and became obedient to death – for the sake and salvation of sinners and the pleasure of You – His Father. Yes Lord, Yes – make me a servant today!

My Response of Worship:
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