On Church Offices

8:03 PM Evening, blog peeps! Here are a few takeaways I had today from our discussion of Phil. 1:1-2:

1) The opening salutation is a window into Paul’s view of leadership in the church. Leadership is always shared. Paul’s ministry was a “co-worker” ministry! Note: “Paul and Timothy”; “overseers and deacons.” Clearly, Paul taught and practiced a “fellowship of leadership” (Michael Green).

2) Moreover, several elements in these verses make Paul’s salutation unique: his inclusion of Timothy’s name alongside his own; his description of himself and Timothy as “slaves” (rather than as apostles); and finally his reference to the church’s leaders, done in such a way as to emphasize that they are extensions of the church and not over it.

3) Are church “offices” in view here? The answer would seem to be an emphatic No! The anarthrous nouns emphasize qualities or characteristics. Paul is referring to people who oversee and serve. He has a point! Wholehearted care and service is the inescapable responsibility of church leaders.

4) Point in passing: the church at Philippi had no senior or lead pastor. It had a multiplicity of leaders. Both “overseers” and “deacons” are plural nouns. Oh, the church had a “Senior Pastor.” But His name was Jesus Christ. The task faced by the solitary pastor today in so many of our churches is overwhelming; but it is a task to which the Savior called no one.

5) Are you a “saint”? Somehow it sounds blasphemous to claim to be one. Yet it is a thoroughly biblical concept. We can be called “saints” (holy ones) firstly because of our relationship to Christ. Sainthood is not conferred by the church; it is a gift from God. Second, we are “saints” in view of God’s purpose for our lives: to be holy, different, separate from all else and set apart for some sacred purpose.

6) The lesson is clear. No Christian is to go it alone. None of us is allowed to “do our own thing.” The moment we come to Christ for salvation we are in fellowship with every other Christian in the world. We are saints together. And together we are to put our collective hand to the plow and be about the Father’s business. Amen?  To be a saints is a great privilege, but it is also a great responsibility. Privilege and responsibility go hand in hand.

(From Dave Black Online. Used by permission. David Alan Black is author of Energion titles The Jesus Paradigm, Christian Archy, and Why Four Gospels?.)