Phoebe Was a Minister.In Romans 16:1, Paul refers to Phoebe as, "A servant of the church in Cenchreae." The English word "servant" in this passage is misleading. It is from the Greek word diakonos and should be translated as "minister." Indeed, diakonos is translated as "minister" in 23 places where it is used of men, including Paul, Barnabas and Apollos (1 Cor. 3:4). In this one place where it is used of a woman, these same translators chose to use the word "servant," a clear example of their bias (Hyatt, Paul, Women and Church, 26). Diakonos does literally means "servant" but became a word for Christian leaders as a result of Jesus using it in response to the request by James and John for special seats of power in His kingdom. Jesus replied that whoever wanted to be great must become a diakonos, that is, a "servant." -- Eddie Hyatt
Now Hyatt introduces some Greek but does not seem to truly grasp the argument. The word diakonos means servant. I assume he means 1Corinthians 3:5, not verse four but even verse 5 uses the word servant, not minister. It is true as the church developed diakonos became the root for the word deacon but that would be after Paul writes this letter. So what we need to look at is what were Paul, and God, saying at the time he wrote the letter. This point is so clear that the translators of the ESV actually use the word servant. She was not a leader of the church in Cenchreae beloved. To say so is to read beyond the text. Hyatt references 23 other times that this word was used differently and claims gender bias? He forgets however that God is omnipotent. In the world of Eddie Hyatt God cannot control translators to ensure His Word is represented the way He intends. Instead we must seek some gnosis, or hidden secrets within the text. Oh those pesky translators undermining God's true design of women pastors! The argument is ludicrous. Don't take my word for it beloved. Let's take the Apostle Paul's word, as clearly displayed earlier in this exact same letter:
For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. -- Romans 13: 3-4 (ESV)
Let's see. This is speaking about people in governmental authority, as in rulers. Using Eddie Hyatt's assertion this would read: "for he is God's minister for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the minister of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer." Well, that doesn't seem to make any sense whatsoever. No it is clear that Phoebe was not a minister nor a leader at the church at Cenchreae. She was however a helper that was deeply respected by Paul. Hyatt continues:
From that declaration of Jesus, diakonos became a common designation for Christian ministers, highlighting the servant character of Christian leadership. The well-known evangelical theologian, E. Earle Ellis, wrote: Diakonos is used frequently in the Pauline letters for those who exercise ministries of teaching and preaching. The title is given to Paul and to a number of his associates who are active on a continuing basis as traveling missionaries or as coworkers in local congregations. In terms of modern function, it best corresponds to the modern designation "minister" (Hyatt, Paul, Women and Church, 27). -- Eddie Hyatt
This was a clever sleight of hand by Hyatt but obvious when you really examine it. So he would have us believe that from the moment Jesus utters the word in response to the mother of the sons of Zebedee that the term diakonos forever changed to mean minister so therefore when Paul wrote Romans he was calling Phoebe a minister, not a servant. Except that is not how language works Eddie. It is true that the church, which would not be formed for hundreds of years, would adopt the term deacon as an elder based upon the previous usage of helper. This makes sense from the teaching of Jesus Hyatt references. If you want to lead in his church you must be a servant. There are two things Eddie Hyatt cannot escape however. First of all, the core definition never changes. Diakonos means helper or servant. Secondly, even if eventually this word would be used by later generations as a term for minister, elder or deacon, it is clearly not what Paul meant when he wrote this just 20 or so years after Christ walked the earth. Hyatt continues:
Phoebe Was a Woman "Set Over" Others - Paul also said that Phoebe had been a prostatis to many, and of myself also. The KJV and NKJV translate the word as "helper," but Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon says that prostatis refers to "a woman set over others" and that it describes Phoebe as a "guardian, protector and benefactor." Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says that prostatis is a word of "dignity" and indicates the high esteem with which she was regarded. These definitions are correct for prostatis is made up of the prefix pro, meaning "before," and "istemi," meaning "to stand." It, therefore, literally means "to stand before" and identifies Phoebe as a leader with the qualities one would expect in a modern-day pastor (Hyatt, Paul, Women and Church, 28). -- Eddie Hyatt
Beloved, when we have self-determined what we want the Bible to say we can convince ourselves of anything. Hyatt goes to great lengths to concoct this "stand before" translation and then assumes it must mean in a leadership or even pastor position. It is all supposition however based upon the bias he had when approaching the text. The notion we have to believe than is that for thousands of years everyone got it wrong but Eddie Hyatt has finally figured out what everyone else in history could not. It is much wiser to compare some commentaries on a verse such as this to see if they addressed the usage of the word prostatis.