Patron Saints of the Bible
“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.” Romans 16:1-4
In this passage, Paul gives us a glimpse into how mature Christians relate to each other in the church to the glory of Christ. For example, he referred to Phoebe as a servant of the church and a patron to many, including the apostle Paul. A patron is someone who gives help and support to another. “In Catholic thinking, a saint is a deceased individual who, having achieved sanctification and a notable degree of holiness, is officially declared an intercessor to whom the living may pray. A patron saint is a saint who is looked to for protection and intercession by a person, a guild, or a place”. In the Bible, however, a saint is a term that means “holy one” and is used to describe all believers. All believers are saints because all have been made holy in Christ and set apart for God’s service.
So, as believers, we should not look to saints in heaven to serve and support us. Rather, we should be coming before the throne of heaven and seeking God’s direction and grace to be patron saints to each other. In doing so, we not only support one another, but we demonstrate to the world an otherworldly love and we become living proof of the reality of Jesus in our lives. To be a healthy church, we must all strive to mutually support and encourage one another in the Lord. We are called to love one another as Christ has loved us. To be the best we can be for Christ, we must support one another in the power of the Spirit and in the love of Christ.
We should be coming before the throne of heaven and seeking God’s direction and grace to be patron saints to each other. In doing so, we not only support one another, but we demonstrate to the world an otherworldly love and we become living proof of the reality of Jesus in our lives.
What does Christlike patronage and servanthood look like? Christlike patronage gives selfless and sacrificial support to others so that they can be all that they are called to be in Christ (Philippians 2:3-11). If the Apostle Paul was thankful for the support that he received from others, what does that say about the support that we need to give to each other? Remember, Paul prayed without ceasing to be able to go to Rome to impart a spiritual gift and receive mutual encouragement (Romans 1:8-13). He also solicited prayer from other saints so that he might be delivered from the opposition he was experiencing and continue to faithfully serve the Lord’s people (Romans 15:30-33).
According to a recent Barna poll, 42% of pastors have seriously thought about quitting ministry in the last year. “It’s a significant crisis that has to be taken seriously, particularly when there isn’t a long line of qualified young pastors waiting to take their place” (Carey Nieuwhof). In this survey, pastors cite the following reasons as the main drivers behind their desire to exit:
1. The immense stress of the job (56%)
2. Feeling lonely and isolated (43%)
3. Current political divisions (38%)
4. Unhappy with the effect this role has had on their family (29%) (tie)
5. Not optimistic about the future of their church (29%) (tie)
6. Their vision for the church conflicts with the church’s direction (29%) (tie)
I am not one to blame every negative thing that happens, including our own failures, on the devil. However, you can be certain that the enemy fiercely opposes the ministry of pastors. It’s not because they are more valuable than any other saint, but by virtue of their position and influence, they are a strategic and special target of the enemy.
You can be certain that the enemy fiercely opposes the ministry of pastors. It’s not because they are more valuable than any other saint, but by virtue of their position and influence, they are a strategic and special target of the enemy.
John Calvin noted: “The life of a Christian, it is true, is a perpetual warfare, for whoever gives himself to the service of God will have no truce from Satan at any time, but will be harassed with incessant disquietude. It becomes, however, ministers of the word and pastors to be standard-bearers, going before the others; and, certainly, there are none that Satan harasses more, that are more severely assaulted, or that sustain more numerous or more dreadful onsets…For we must take this into account, that the gospel is like a fire, by which the fury of Satan is kindled. Hence it cannot but be that he will arm himself for a contest, whenever he sees that it is advanced.”
Knowing this opposition from the enemy, Paul urged the saints to pray for him. While he was in prison and experiencing opposition in and outside the church, Paul wrote, “For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance” (Philippians 1:19). Paul understood that it was through the prayers of the saints in the church that he would be delivered—that the demonic opposition to his ministry would turn into divine opportunities for ministry. He also understood that the help of the Spirit of God came to him in greater measure through the prayers of the saints.
Paul understood that it was through the prayers of the saints in the church that he would be delivered—that the demonic opposition to his ministry would turn into divine opportunities for ministry.
If Paul so urged the church to pray for him, should not the saints today be much in prayer for the pastor and elders of their church and other churches outside their fellowship? Charles Spurgeon noted: “The apostle evidently expected to be prayed for. He had the fullest confidence that his brethren at Philippi were praying for him. He does not ask for their prayers so much as assume that he is already receiving them. And truly I wish that all pastors could always, without doubt, assume that they enjoyed the perpetual prayers of those under their charge. Some of us are very rich in this respect, and this is our joy and comfort, the reward of our labour and the strength of our hands. We have abundant evidence that we live in the hearts of our people; but I am afraid that there are many of my brother ministers who are sad because they hear not their people’s loving intercessions, weak because they are not prayed for, and unsuccessful because they have not so gained their people’s affections that they are borne upon their hearts at the mercy seat. Unhappy is that minister who dares not take it for granted that his people are praying for him. Paul exceedingly valued the prayers of the saints. He was an apostle, but he felt he could not do without the intercessions of the poor converts at Philippi. He valued Lydia’s prayers and the prayers of her household; he valued the jailer’s prayer, and the prayers of his family; he desired the prayers of Euodias and Syntyche, and Clement, and the rest — the most of them, probably, persons of no great social standing, as the world has it— yet he valued their supplications beyond all price…Now if the apostle thus felt indebted to the pleadings of the brethren, how much more may we, who are so far inferior to him!”
As great a leader as Paul was, he coveted the support and prayers of saints in the church. We must do the same. May we pray fervently and frequently for ministers of the gospel today, and also seek for God to personally use us to give strong support to each other and to our leaders so that we may be all that we are called to be for the greater fame of Jesus.
Copyright © 2022 Marco David. All rights reserved
Pastor Marco David came to know Jesus as his Redeemer and Lord at the age of seventeen after a zealous evangelist knocked on his brother’s apartment door and came in for a visit. For 20 years he served the city of Chicago in various roles in the correctional system and the police force. Ordained in 2000, he began to serve the Church in a part-time capacity until he retired from the police force in 2015 to become the lead Pastor of Midwest Bible Church. He also serves as a Regional Leader for the 6:4 Fellowship and as a Renewal Coach with the 6:3 Discipleship. His passion is to make disciples who spread the fame of Jesus as he prayerfully relies on the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Marco married his high school sweetheart Elizabeth and they have four sons who are all in law enforcement.