Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People
Most versions call her a “servant [or, deaconess]” (ALT 2005); “Greek: diákonos” (BD 2011 fn).
134 versions (Geneva 1587, followed by LEB, Mounce, NASB, NKJV, ULT, etc.) call her a “servant” (or refer to her service).
32 versions (Tyndale 1534, followed by MB 1537, GB 1539, BB 1568, NABRE, etc.) identify her either as having served “in the ministry of the church” (DRB) as “a minister of the congregacion of Chenchrea” (Tyn. 1534; cf. MB 1537, etc.) or as having “ministered to the congregation of Cenchrea” (NMB).
66 versions (Reina-Valera 1602, followed by Alx., ALT, AMP, AMPC, AOB, BDS, BL, BNP, BYO, CCB, CCBT, CEI, CNVS, CNVT, CSBS, CSBT, CST, CUV, CUVS, DHH, ERV-ZH, Eth., GWT, Hw., HNZ-RI, ISV, JBS, KJA, Lm., LBLA, LND, LSG, Mace, NBLA, NBV, NCB, NEG, NGU-DE, NIV, NLT, NR1994, NR2006, NTLH, NTLR, NTV, NTVR, NVB, NVI, Ph., RCU17SS, RCU17TS, RHB, RMNN, RSV, RUSV, RVA2015, RVC, RVI, RVR1960, RVR1995, SENT, SG21, TNIV, & VKF) call her a “deacon” (NIV) or “a deaconess” (ISV).
Of the range of translation possibilities for διάκονον—“a ·helper [or servant; or minister; or deacon; 1 Tim. 3:11]” (EXB 2011)—we have followed the traditional, conservative, literal rendering “deaconess."
Although Acts 6:1-7 may refer to administering monetary assistance by giving the money to widows across a banking table, it might instead refer to ministering to their needs by making purchases and providing food for them—putting food on the table.
Perhaps this network of care was bolstered by “women such as Mary Magdalene, Joanna, “Chuza, Susanna, and many others” who, earlier, had been “ministering to [Jesus and the Twelve] out of their own means” (Luke 8:1-3).
Could Paul be saying she was “a minister [of my needs]” (MLV 2014; although a rare rendering unique to the MLV)—like Epaphroditus, sent “to take care of my needs” (Php. 2:25) in prison? At one point, Paul had needed a cloak and scrolls (2 Timothy 4:13).
Or, maybe her service included ministrations such as tending to the elderly and sick. [An interesting side note: Incidentally, the Old Spanish translation “feruicia” (Oso 1569)—i.e. “serviciar” (to serve)—sounds like the Spanish “saureciar” (to heal); i.e., serving through nursing.]
διάκονον (as a Romanian translation footnotes) is “designating a specific service in the church; [and] is derived from the verb diakoneo (to serve, to take care of something)” (NTLR 2006).
Romans 16:1 is a good place to start. Perhaps the bible translation you use reads similarly to the Geneva (1587), KJV, NKJV, ESV, or the UnfoldingWord Literal Text (June 2021) which renders Phoebe as being a “servant” of the church in Cenchrea—“a ministrant of the assembly” (YLT). The VFL (1999) footnotes that the literal rendering is "deaconess." Thus, the AMP (2015) calls her "a deaconess (servant)." Wycliffe (1385) (cf. Oso 1569) rendered this as meaning that she “is in the service of the church,” implying that this is an office she holds. The Lexham English Bible (2010) footnotes how Phoebe was "a servant [“a deaconess”; some interpreters understand this term to refer to a specific office (deacon/deaconess) which Phoebe held in the local church at Cenchrea].” The word can refer to caring for others—ministering to their needs the way that “many women … had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him” (Mat. 27:55 ESV; cf. KJV, NKJV, LSV 2020; BIB 2016, “ιακονοῦσαι diakonousai … ministering”). Or, if linked to the banking duties of the Seven in Acts 6:1-7, it could refer to administrating care by managing and distributing money allocated for financial assistance.
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship … in truth" (John 4:24). If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person … is not living in the truth” (1 John 2:4). Accepting God includes accepting guilt for having broken His statutes: “The land … will enjoy its sabbaths without them; … they will accept their guilt, because they despised My judgments and because their soul abhorred My statutes” (Lev. 26:43). “And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to … test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not” (Dt. 8:2). “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” (Dt. 5:29). May we “earnestly obey [His] commandments ... to love … God and serve Him … heart and … soul” (Dt. 11:13). May we pray, “With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!” (Ps. 119:10): https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/the-new-covenant-does-it-abolish-gods-law/a-new-covenant-for-transforming-the-heart
On the one hand, "Through the Bible we see the opportunity to repent as [being] a gift from God, [an opportunity made] possible only when God draws us to Him. As … Jesus … stated, 'No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him' (John 6:44).
'It is impossible for anyone, acting alone, to completely surrender his or her will to God. Humanly we cannot comprehend the depth of change that God desires to see in our hearts and minds. We need help even to understand what sin is!
'That’s why God must grant us repentance (Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25). In addition, we need the will—both the desire and the choice—to repent. This willingness to repent, too, comes from God: 'For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him' (Philippians 2:13...)”: https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/the-road-to-eternal-life/repentance-your-first-step
"[However, although] God 'desires all men to be saved,' He doesn’t force anyone to repent (1 Timothy 2:4). His kindness and goodness lead us to repentance as mentioned (Romans 2:4), but He doesn’t make the choice for us. The decision is still ours … [to] surrender our will to Him … to bring into our lives His way of thinking and living as revealed in His Holy Scriptures. He wants every one of us to rid ourselves of our former way of thinking and living and become a 'new man' in thought, attitude and character (Ephesians 4:22-24) … [to] “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23).
'These admonitions mean a lifetime of growth and change for us, starting with the initial change—the repentance God expects before baptism. He asks us to reorient our hearts, aiming for a new direction in life.
'To be carnally minded is death,' said Paul, 'but to be spiritually minded is life and peace' (Romans 8:6). We must be willing to let the revealed Word of God, the Bible, change our thinking. That is where real repentance begins": https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/the-road-to-eternal-life/repentance-your-first-step
We must still "'Choose life'" (Deut. 30:19)!