PHILIPPIANS ONE ONE
This first verse of Paul's letter to the church at Philippi gives us a picture of a typical local church from God's perspective I believe. In the NLT version it reads "This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. I am writing to all of God's holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the elders and deacons". We can see clearly four different groups of people listed here by Paul, who was the man to whom God had revealed the mystery of "His Church". (Eph 3:1-13). Since Paul was God's chosen vessel to bring this great revelation to the human race, we can safely assume that this description given here is the correct one! How did we ever get so far removed from God's original plan? A simple brief study of early church history will lead you to the fourth century, when Emperor Constantine joined the "Church" of the day to the mighty Roman Empire that ruled the world at that time!
These four components listed here are 1/ The apostolic leadership team,
2/ The group of God's holy people, 3/ The elders, 4/ The deacons. There we have it friends, the church that God revealed to Paul, that he used to start churches all over that part of the Roman Empire, that "turned the world upside down", or should we say "right side up"? Let's have a little closer look at these four groups that compose God's Church.
1/ The apostolic team---Jesus always sent out His original disciples/apostles 2 by 2, and never alone. Paul never started out on his missionary journeys by himself either, but always with at least one or more companions. In this case it was Timothy, and notice his closing remarks where he mentions the "brothers (plural) who are with me", indicating more than just Timothy. In some of his letters he mentions several others by name.
2/ God's holy people---This would include all those who were "born again" believers who had received Jesus as Lord and Savior, and had been adopted by the Father into His "Forever Family".
3/ Elders---Notice they are always listed as plural, meaning there was always more than one, and they were the leaders of the church.
4/ Deacons---They were also listed as being more than one, and apparently assisted the elders in their task of giving leadership to the Church.
(more to follow in a separate article.)
Dave Jamer 04/02/12