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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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A few days ago I received a personal message asking for a source of material for the Baptist Church. In my reply to the individual I stated, among other things, that I would do more lessons on this Bible study on, "The Local Church."

First, I will have to review the previous lessons to refresh my memory on what passages have been discussed. So, my next lesson may not be soon.

Second, starting next weekend, we are in the process of reporting to churches on our furlough. So, the time between lessons, and responses, may be long. 

Third. Since we will be on the road reporting to churches, I will not have much source material, besides the Bible, to use in the lesson. So, let the Bible be our source and not worry too much about Church History, personages, current philosophy, Greek definitions, etc...

Looking forward to your participation, discussions, comments, and helpful additions.


Edited by Alan
punctuation added Greek definitions

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I will be starting the next lesson soon. Our last lesson was on Philippians 1:1. So, we will continue the study of the local church as recorded in the book of Philippians. We will be looking at the phrase, "... persecuting the church ..." in Philippians 3:6. In connection with Philippians 3:6 we will be looking at parts of Acts 8, 9, and 22


Edited by Alan
deleted doubled word

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“Persecuting the Church,” Philippians 3:6

The apostle Paul had previously warned the pastors, deacons, and the saints at the local church at Philippi this solemn warning, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” Philippians 1:29 & 30. The apostle Paul clearly warned the local church at Philippi that persecution for the name of Christ was coming.

In his testimony, Paul the apostle stated, “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” Philippians 3:5 & 6

In the book of Acts the apostle Paul, then called Saul, persecuted the local assembly of saints, the church at Jerusalem, Acts 8:1-3. Then Paul recounted, twice, in his personal salvation experience with Christ how he persecuted the church.

First, we will concentrate on Acts 8:1-3. In Acts 8:1-3 we read, “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judæa and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.”

Saul, in his zeal as a Pharisee, persecuted the church at Jerusalem and then, in his zeal, desired letters from the high priest to persecute the saints as far away as Damascus.

The church at Jerusalem was pastored by the Apostles, they followed the baptism of John the Baptist, were meeting in the Temple, and, apparently, in houses. The church at Jerusalem is considered the first local church mentioned in the scriptures. Saul was determined to break up the meetings, haul the saints to jail, and persecute the church in an effort to destroy it.

The Church – the Body of Christ

In the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul is explaining more fully the saints spiritual relationship to the Lord Jesus. In Ephesians 1:3, 22-23; 2:6, 19-22; 3:6; 4:1-5, 11-12, 16; 5:23-33, we read of the mystery of, “The Body of Christ.” At the moment of salvation, the individual is saved, he is a saint, and enters a spiritual relationship with Christ. The promises, and blessings, to the saints in the New Testament church are spiritual.

1. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3

2. “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6

3. “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:12

4. The marriage relationship between a man and a woman is a type of the church: Ephesians 5:22-33. So, the spiritual relationship between the saints and Christ is a mystery not completely understood this side of heaven. “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:32

As God created the institution of marriage to populate this world, so did Christ institute the church to populate the streets of heaven.

The saint in the New Testament local church is in, “the body of Christ.”

In Acts 9:1-20 and 22:1-16 Paul goes in more detail concerning his conversion experience with Christ and the Lord Jesus clearly shows that when a person, or a religion, the Muslim religion as an example, or a denomination, I will give the Catholic Church as an example, or a Government, I will use the Communist Chinese Government as an example, is persecuting true saints, the local church, than in reality they are persecuting the Lord Jesus.

In Acts 9:4 b & 5 we read these words from the lips of the Lord Jesus, “… Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Was Saul literally persecuting the Lord Jesus? No. Was Saul persecuting the local church at Jerusalem? Yes. Therefore, spiritually speaking, Saul was persecuting the body of Christ.

In Acts 22:7b & 8 we read, “… Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.” When a person, or a denomination, I will give the Catholic Church as an example, or a religion, the Muslim religion for example, or a Government, I will use the Communist Chinese Government as an example, persecutes, maligns, slanders, the local church then that person, or religion, or denomination, or government, is persecuting, maligning, and slandering the Lord Jesus Christ.


The Lord Jesus stated, “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.” John 15:20 This world is not our home nor is the saint in the local church welcomed in this world. All our treasures, all our hopes, and our Lord and Savior, are in the world to come.










Edited by Alan

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Thank you Jim.

In my understanding, the church at Philippi, the church at Ephesus, and the local assemblies in the early church, more fully understood that they were a part of, "the body of Christ" instead of some generic "Universal Church" as is the main emphasis in our age.  The early assemblies, it seems to me, believed their union with Christ in salvation, service, persecution, joy, and blessings, was of a personal nature. The Lord Jesus made it very clear that when a person, government, religion, or denomination, persecutes the church or a saint, whether physically, legally, or verbally, they are really persecuting the Lord Jesus.

Anybody else have any thoughts, discussions, or comments?

Edited by Alan
spelling added 'the church or a saint'

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“Independent Assemblies” Philippians 4:15

The apostle Paul is now on his second missionary journey that he and Barnabas started in Acts 15:36.

“Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.” Philippians 4:15 & 16

The apostle Paul is commending the Philippian church, or local assembly, for helping him with his physical necessities.

Three Locations Mentioned

1. Philippi. The city where the current church, or assembly, is located. We will also take note that the accepted time of the writing of the book of Philippi was in 64 A. D. Also, according to Acts 16:6-12, while at Troas, Paul received the Macedonian call. So, instead of travelling to Asia, the East, the Lord directed Paul and his companions on the first missionary effort towards the West, the Roman province of Macedonia and Europe.

2. Macedonia. The Roman Province that Philippi and Thessalonica is located.

3. Thessalonica. A city further south from Philippi. At the time of the writing of the epistle to the Philippians, 64 A. D. , the church at Philippi had know of the events that took place at Thessalonica, Acts 17:1-9.

The book of 1 Thessalonians was written in 54 A. D. So, since the distance between the two cities was not great, and there was an church in both places, and as Paul clearly indicates that the the two churches were in close contact with one another, both of the churches had fellowship with one another but there was no other ties between the two churches nor with the other churches in the area.


Map is the courtesy of BibleStudy.org

I would like to bring to mind that at that time the apostle Paul mentioned only one church, or local assembly, was giving towards his necessities as a missionary. Later on in his missionary journey that situation changed. In 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 we read, “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering of the saints.”

Different Churches not a Universal Church

“… no church ...” As led by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul clearly differentiated between the church at Philippi from the other churches in any other city, region, or location. In this passage, Paul mentions the church, or assembly, at Thessalonica. Therefore, the saints at various locations, when they assembled together, constituted a local church and were independent of other local churches, or assemblies.

Independent Assemblies

“… communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.” The church at Philippi knew the brethren at the church at Thessalonica. The two churches, and probably more churches than we know, had close fellowship with one another. But, besides fellowship, there was no denominational binding of the assemblies together.

Even though Paul had stated other churches, only the church at Philippi gave toward his necessities. So, it is plainly evident that the local assembly makes the decision to use its funds, or time, or other goods, or any other decision, without the authorization of any other assembly.

Every church is a local entity, independent, from other local churches, or assemblies. There is no ecclesiastical authority, or hierarchy, above a true, New Testament, local church.

As with Paul the Apostle, when it comes to missionary effort, if a church wants to support a missionary, or any other decision affecting the assembly, than they make the decision. In the New Testament, let me repeat that, in the New Testament, there is no denominational board, nor is there any religious hierarchy over the church, making any decision.

All, as in every one, of the churches in the New Testament were independent from one another with no denominations, or a religious hierarchy, binding them together.

The New Testament Bishop

We had previously looked at 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.” Even though the church at Philippi was in close proximity with the church at Thessalonica, and with other assemblies in the region of Macedonia, the bishops at Philippi did not, repeat, did not, have any authority over the church at Thessalonica nor in any other assembly in the region of Macedonia.

In the New Testament, the bishop was the overseer, or the pastor, or the elder, of only the local assembly. The concept of a bishop being the overseer of a region, or in an ecclesiastical hierarchy, over numerous local assemblies, is foreign to the scriptures and a man-made position.




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