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Philippians 1:1, “The Local Church at Philippi.”

Philippians 1:1, “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.”

In Acts 16:6-12, after the vision of the Macedonian man while they were at Troas, Paul and his companions left Asia Minor and travelled west to Europe. The first recorded European city to hear the gospel was at Neapolis and the first recorded church to be established was on the banks of the river side at Philippi in the region of Macedonia. Obviously, the congregation outgrew the banks of the river and in the process of time a local congregation was established and bishops, or pastors, and deacons, were appointed.

According to1Corinthians 4:17, all of the teaching concerning the “bishops and deacons” and the saints at the church at Philippi, are applicable to all of the churches. “For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach in every church.” 1Corinthians 4:17 Please take careful note that Paul plainly stated, “...in every church.” Every church that Paul started was local in scope and authority. No “universal or invisible” church is implied nor was a denominational hierarchy established.

Also, in my study on the book of Titus, here on OnLineBaptist, we discussed the titles of bishop, elder, and pastor. Here is the link to that study:

First, let us establish the biblical fact that in the entire process of the establishment of the church at Philippi, except for the pastors and deacons, not one time is a reference made to a church hierarchy. All of the church hierarchies, or denominations, in the religious realm are not scriptural.

Secondly, The church at Philippi was a local congregation of saints with pastors and deacons. Except for fellowship, the church at Philippi was independent of all of the other churches. The church at Philippi was not “universal,” or, “invisible” in scope, authority, or in any other manner. The concept of “bishops” overseeing numerous churches in a given territory, is not scriptural and is strictly a means of controlling the local church.

Thirdly, apart from the apostolic authority given verbally by the Lord Jesus, and then the written scriptures, the only authority over the congregation of saints was the pastor and deacons. In a direct reference to the physical leadership in the church at Thessalonica, Paul states, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13,

Evangelist Oliver B. Greene stated, “God’s Word makes it plain that we are to have respect and high esteem for His undershepherds and overseers of the flock. It is extremely honorable to be a deacon appointed by the Holy Spirit – but just so privileged the position, just so grave the responsibility.”i Evangelist Oliver B. Greene was correct.

The Approval of the Pastor and Deacon of a New Testament Church

The apostle Paul further states in Philippians 1:10, “That you may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.” If a saint was to be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ, the pastor of the congregation must be approved according to the “excellent” qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9

Also, in my study on Titus conducted here on OnLineBaptist, I had previously discussed all of the qualifications for the pastor of the church.

The American Heritage Dictionary gives the meaning of “approve” as follows. “approve>v. -proved, -proving 1a. To consider right or good. b. To express approval. 2. To consent to formally; authorize.” ii

The Apostle Paul, as an example to every church, “approved” and “authorized” Timothy to act in his behalf: 1 Corinthians 4:17 and 1 Thessalonians 3:2. Or, as 1 Timothy 1:3 and 5:22, indicates, the pastor of the church at Ephesus. Also, although not inspired, the note at the end of 2 Timothy states as an historical fact, “The second epistle unto Timotheus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians, was written from Rome, when Paul was brought before Nero the second time.”

Not one time, in any fashion, do we have an example of a minister “approved” or “authorized” to pastor a church by a denomination, or any religious hierarchical organization, in the New Testament.

Historically speaking, independent fundamental Baptists adhere to the biblical of approving the minister according sound biblical doctrine, moral integrity, and to every one of the qualifications as written in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 and not according to the dictates of a denomination.

2 Corinthians 10:18, “For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.”

i Greene, Oliver B., Philippians, (The Gospel Hour, Inc.: Greenville, SC), 1965. Page 10.

ii “Approve.” The American Heritage Language Dictionary, (New York, NY.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). 2012.

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