"SISTER PHOEBE" (Romans 16:1-2) was a woman. The Apostle Paul, in his precise Greek, says she was a Deacon of the Church. We would say Deaconess. The Greek word means servant and all the different forms of this noun (oblique cases) apply equally to men and women.
As some brethren see it, Bishops' wives could be good or otherwise, for we find no instructions concerning them specifically; while Deacons wives must measure up to the standard. Are Deacons more important than Bishops? Or maybe their wives are? Some people claim (without scriptural foundation) that the regulations of Deacons' wives extend also to the wives of Bishops. They're guessing.
The original Greek of this passage does not say "their wives." It says "women" and refers to women servants, women Deacons (I Tim. 3:11), just as it refers (I Tim. 3:12) to men Deacons. "Their" is not in the Greek, so this word has been added to the Scripture - interpolated, as they say. Paul said "women" right in the middle of the Deacons' qualifications. This, then, shows the female Deacon (Phoebe's) character. And the Apostle of Christ wrote it.
Paul said Phoebe WAS a deacon, so she must have been appointed. She HAD the office, and with Apostolic approval. The appointment of Phoebe, or any other Deaconess, would NOT place her "over" the men in the church, as some suggest. They would be no more over the men than the lady teachers in the church are. In fact, teaching is one of their scriptural duties. And Phoebe would not be "over the men" for Paul taught against that, while SHE had Paul's approval as a Deaconess (I Tim. 2:11-12; Rom. 16:1). She, and other Deaconesses, merely did the work they were appointed to do. But if, as some say, "A woman could not be a Deacon," then Phoebe could not be a Deacon. Yet Paul says she really WAS, and commended her to the church in Rome. Also, in Philippians 1:1, women Deacons WERE included, because the Greek word "Deacon" is both masculine and feminine, and thus it INCLUDES them all.
And if a woman is appointed to ANY duty, and if they serve "as appointed" will they not work as Deaconesses (Servants, or Helpers)? The difference among some brethren seems to be that they would have these women CALLED something different, and also would have them "appointed by the Elders," whereas the Apostle Paul had them qualified and appointed by the same authority that appoints the Bishops and Men-servants. As Paul said, "There are some that trouble you, and would pervert (or CHANGE) the gospel of Christ" (Gal. 1:7).
Even elderly men, and good preachers, have made this mistake because they knew no Greek. This is no black mark against them. It just shows they can make mistakes when they depend upon only one or two English versions without double-checking with men who know the original texts. They can mislead the church grievously, through their ignorance, simply because they misunderstood and spoke authoritatively.
Deaconesses were used in the churches of Christ from the days of Paul till the twelfth century, when their work was gradually taken over by the nuns. When England severed relations with the Papal church, she never did restore all things as they were in the primitive church. King James restricted his translators to usages of the Church of England of his day, and thus forbade their using the word "Deacon" when it referred to women - because they had no Deaconesses in the Church of England, of which he was the head.
But Christ Jesus is the head of the church of Christ, not any earthly king. And what HE placed in his church, we should use to the fullest advantage. For Jesus had a reason when he put this regulation in 1 Tim. 3:11; and any woman appointed (or ordained, KJV) to fulfill this work (or office, I Tim. 3:1), would be OBLIGATED to perform it "decently and in order;' as all other things must be (1 Cor. 14:40).
God needs Deaconesses. They are by nature fitted to do some things well, that a man could not do. God placed them in the church along with the other Deacons. Why must the Church of our Lord do without them in order to be like Catholics and Anglicans? We do not have nuns to take their place. We must obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29).
It is high time for the restoration of ALL things as the Apostles left them in the pristine church. Jesus said, "Observe whatsoever I commanded you" (Matthew 28:19). Are we too cowardly to do what Christ commanded? (Rev. 21:8).