There are quite a few women in the Bible to admire. Sarah, Deborah, Esther, Ruth. They each have godly qualities that we would do well to emulate.
But my favorite woman is Phoebe, whom Paul mentions in Romans 16.
I commend unto you Phēbe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
That you receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. Romans 16:1–2
Sister, servant, saint, and succourer of many. What a beautiful tribute to her!
I want to be remembered as a ‘succourer of many’ too. Don’t you?
Welcome to my KJV Bible Word Study Series!
I love the King James Version Bible. I believe it is the most accurate and beautiful translation we can read.
But there are some antiquated words, and words that have changed their meanings over time, that might send us scrambling for the nearest dictionary or concordance.
In this series, I will take words that we may be unfamiliar with outside the Bible setting or that may be confusing to our modern-day English sensibilities, and expound upon their original meaning within the context of the verse.
By using Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible and Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, it is my hope to bring clarity to, and broaden our understanding of, many beloved and obscure KJV Bible passages.
Succour—#H5826: to surround, protect or aid; help
#G997: to aid or relieve, help Taken from #G998: a rescuer, Also taken from #G995: call (for aid) cry, shout
Succoured—#H5826, See above.
#G997, See above.
Succourer—#G4368: a patroness, a protectress; assistant Feminine variation of #G4291: to stand before, preside, maintain, be over, rule
Succor —(English spelling) from Webster’s New World Dictionary: to give assistance to in time of need or distress.
[Underlining and words in bold are added for emphasis in Bible verses throughout this study.]
The apostle Paul gave Phoebe (spelled Phebe in the Greek) the dignified title of succourer. He could have used the simpler word “helper”, but he recognized her service was far more than that.
Succourer (#G4368) comes from the Greek noun prostatis (a feminine variant of prostatēs). According to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, prostatēs was the title of a citizen of Athens who had the responsibility of seeing to the welfare of resident aliens who were without civic rights.
By this definition, we learn that Phoebe was a protectress. She was (most likely) wealthy and influential and used this advantage not for her own benefit, but for the benefit of her Christian brethren, taking on the responsibility to support and aid those in need.
Although the Bible does not say one way or the other, I believe she was a single woman.
Married women are spoken for, time-wise. We cannot be everywhere and be all things to all people. Our mission is to give of ourselves to our families first. So, instead of pouring herself out for a husband and children, Phoebe poured herself out for the children of God. She used her resources—time, money, and servant’s heart—to bless the church. She made it her business to be available and to love them well.
When you give of your precious time and energy to make a meal for a shut-in, send a get-well card to a sick member of your church, babysit for that exhausted mom, or say a prayer for a hurting friend while listening to her grieve, you are doing more than mere helping. You are giving them much-needed relief.
You are being a Phoebe.
We may not be able to succor with the same singleness of heart as Phoebe did for the church, but we can still be “a succourer of many” at home. Our husbands need us to protect our children from the evil that creeps into their lives via peers and entertainment and their own selfish attitudes. They need us to protect our marriage and guard our hearts by how we use social media and how we speak concerning them when they are not in the room.
We need to be, as Phoebe was, the best assistant they could ask for!
The translators of the KJV Bible often used the word help (#H5826) in place of succour (#H5826), but the meaning remains the same.
For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Isaiah 41:13
God is saying He will surround us, protect us, and give us His aid. Fear not, indeed!
And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because thy trust in him. Psalm 37:40
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake. Psalm 79:9
We, the Church, cry out to God for deliverance.
Who but God will surround us with His mighty angels, protect us from the wickedness that dwells around us, and fill us with His Spirit to crush the wickedness that dwells within us?
As a parent, I can relate to the immense love the father in Mark 9 has for his spiritually sick child. When I think of his distraught last remarks to Jesus Christ, it brings tears to my eyes.
And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
Jesus said unto him, If you canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. Mark 9:22–24
Help thou mine unbelief! Oh, yes, I struggle to be ever faithful. To never waver. I cry out to God with this same desperate plea.
The word help in Mark 9:22 and 24 is derived from #G996 (boethēo, specifically a rope or chain for securing a vessel), closely related to #G997, and #G998, of succour.
Imagine you have slipped into a deep and slimy pit. The sludge is weighing you down and mire thick with rotting vegetation is closing in around your face. You raise your head spitting muck from your mouth and shout in fear for help, for someone to rescue you from a horrible death.
Just then a sturdy rope appears tied to a solid immovable object, and with trembling arms and racing heart, you haul yourself out and lay quivering on the ground above, tears of relief leaking from your tightly closed eyes.
A life-line was hoisted to the father in Mark 9 and is within reach of us, too, my friends. Faith in Christ is that rope! The immovable object is Christ himself. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
Jesus Christ is our Rescuer and willing to save us from the imminent doom of this suffocating quicksand world.
We believe you, heavenly Father, please help us when we slip and doubt. Please throw us Your life-line and rescue us from ourselves.
Before the foundation of the world, God made a way for us to live eternally with Him. That way was His Son, Jesus Christ, who willingly chose to sacrifice Himself for the joy set before Him. We are that joy, dear Christian!
Christ lowered Himself from divinity to the likeness of men so that through death He could destroy him who had the power over death, that being the devil.
Christ, born flesh and blood like us, can understand our multitude of suffering, having lived it Himself, and therefore give us aid and relief as One who knows our pain.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15
For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. Hebrews 2:18
God has saved us through Christ. He has succored us with the hope found only in His name. Now is the time, dear Christian. Your salvation is right in front of you.
Hold on for dear life.
For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2
I love a good word study, don’t you? I hope you’ve gleaned, along with me, some additional insight into the rich words used in the KJV Bible.
If you would like to read more posts in this series, please check out my KJV Bible Studies page.
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Abiding in the Vine,
The post “Succour: KJV Bible Word Study Series” was first published on Desert Rain.