1 I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea,
The last chapter of Romans contains greetings to 33 people. Twenty-four of these individuals were in Rome. Nine were in Corinth, the city from which Paul wrote. In addition, there are two unnamed women and a number of nameless men. It is patently clear from this list that Paul was a “people person” as well as a great visionary.
Outline of chapter 16:
The bearer of the book of Romans, 16:1-2
Greetings to friends in Rome, 16:3-16
Warning against false teachers, 16:17-20
Greetings from Paul’s friends in Corinth to Rome, 16:21-23
1 I commend [recommend] to you Phoebe our sister,
The first person Paul mentioned in this chapter was Phoebe. This verse is all that we know of her. Paul commended or recommended her to the church at Rome. Phoebe is a pagan name, but she became a Christian—a “sister” in the Lord.
who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea,
Not only was Phoebe a Christian but she was a “servant of the church” in Cenchrea. Cenchrea was the eastern port of the city of Corinth on the Saronic Gulf (nine miles east of Corinth). Cenchrea was a thriving town with temples of Venus, Aesculapius, and Isis.
Phoebe probably carried the book of Romans to Rome because she stands apart from other groups mentioned in this chapter. Verses 3-16 refer to people at Rome, whereas verses 21-24 refer to those who were at Corinth who sent their greetings. Thus, Phoebe stands apart from these two groups at the beginning of this chapter. She acted as a postal servant for Paul. There was no postal service other than in the Roman army. Thus, Paul wanted the Roman church to know that he approved of Phoebe and her mission.
We do not have to choose between being goal oriented and being a “people person.”
It is valid to be interested in doctrine and people at the same time. Paul unfolded great truths in Romans, but he had an interest in individuals. He was concerned about Rufus and Tryphena.