Session 11 Preparation Questions - Phoebe and the Role of Women as Deaconesses
in the Church
Read Romans 16:1, 2, 7 and I Timothy 3:11 13. Read some of the passages
before and after these passages in order to gain some idea of context. In this
lesson we will address the role of women as deaconesses in the New Testament
and how these passages might be applied today.
- Considerable debate has emerged over the years among churches identified
with the Restoration Movement regarding the role (office) of women in the
church as deaconesses. Why do you believe this debate has emerged based on
your reading of the scripture?
- Phoebe is referred to as a diakonos (or deacon) in Romans 16:1 (the same
word used for men appointed to the office of deacon in I Timothy 3:8). Why
do you think the word is translated as servant in Romans 16:1 in both the
King James version and the New International Version (NIV)?
- From reading Romans 16, what arguments can you make that would support
Phoebe as a holder of a special office? What arguments can you make that Phoebe
was being referred to generally as a servant of the church?
- How does Paul refer to other women listed in Romans 16? What should we
make of these distinctions?
- What does the term protectoress imply in Romans 16:1? The term
is translated a great help in the NIV and a succourer
in the KJV. The word is only used once in the New Testament, namely to describe
- Most scholars today believe that the name translated Junias
in Romans 16:7 is better translated Junia or the female equivalent.
Do you think that Junia was an apostle? If not, why not? If so, what are the
- What is the meaning of the term apostle in the New Testament?
- If Paul provides special instructions for deaconesses in the New Testament,
where are these instructions found?
- If Paul is not referring to deaconesses in I Timothy 3:11 13, to
whom is he referring?
- If women were appointed as deaconesses in the early church, do you think
from your readings that the work of deacons and deaconesses was identical?
Do you think deaconesses focused their work exclusively upon the needs of
- Did women in the New Testament church only work separately from men or
did they at times work hand in hand with men?