THE WOMEN IN PAUL'S LETTERS
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant [a] of the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.
[a] Or deaconess.
"Servant" - diakonos - servant, deacon. If a male name appeared in this context virtually all commentators would agree on the translation "deacon" as an officer of the church, and few would note that he was only a servant.
In view of this reference to Phoebe as a deacon it is likely that 1 Timothy 3:11 refers to women deacons, not deacons' wives (see notes to follow).
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus.
"fellow-workers" - i.e. they were both Paul's colleagues in missionary service in the fullest sense. The mention of Priscilla first confirms that she was an active missionary, not merely a companion for a missionary-husband.
Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.
Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.
Paul uses this word 'work' elsewhere to refer to his own missionary work, as well as the work of the elders and those whose work was teaching and preaching.
Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
"Junias" - the KJV has the feminine "Junia" following several Greek manuscripts. There is no occurrence of the masculine "Junias" in any Greek literature. Andronicus and Junia were outstanding among the apostles, i.e. they were regarded as outstanding apostles, not 'highly regarded by the apostles'. Scripture applies the term 'apostle' to others beside The Twelve, including Paul, Barnabas, James and Silas. Andronicus and Junia may have been a husband-and-wife team, but they were regarded equally as apostles.
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
This passage indicates some sort of team-effort and does not hint at separate work done by the women. The women are regarded as co-labourers, colleagues of Paul’s in the fullest sense.
Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
House-churches met in Nympha’s home, and the home of Priscilla and Aquila (Romans 16:5). This expression suggests a role in the house-church beyond providing the venue for their meetings, as no other mention is made of leaders or elders. This role probably involved leadership of some kind.