Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 19, 1963
NUMBER 49, PAGE 2,9b

The Church At Philippi

Robert C. Welch

A study of the letter to the church at Philippi needs a prerequisite study of the background in establishing membership and relationships of the writers to those who receive the letter. Much of this is suggested in the salutation which is contained in verses one and two. The following outline covers the material of the previous meditative essays on Philippians. At the same time it serves as an introduction to the study of the epistle.

I. Establishment Of The Church At Philippi. (Acts 18) A. Those First Added Together.

I. Lydia.

a. Jewish, or at least a proselyte worshipper.

b. At that time she would have been considered of the middle or upper class because of her occupation.

2. Jailor.

a. A Roman and pagan.

b. An official, perhaps a citizen, of Rome which was considered as a very high honor.

c. Altogether different from the other in race, religion, general background and social status.

d. The unifying force of the gospel is demonstrated in this case as much as in any in in the New Testament.

B. The Nature Of The City.

1. A Roman colonial city, not composed of native Macedonians, practically a garrison and administrative depot for that section.

2. This apparently is the reason for the worship being outside the city.

C. The Process Of Establishing.

1. Fundamentals of the gospel were preached.

a. This opened Lydia's heart to give heed.

b. The jailor wanted to hear as a result of the miraculous events and his consequent fear.

2. They obeyed in faith, repentance and baptism.

3. This obedience with the blessings promised brought rejoicing.

II. Character Of The Congregation.

A. This is the only letter by Paul to a church in which there is little, or no, criticism.

B. Rejoice or rejoicing could be said to be the key to the book, the word is used some 16 times.

C. The liberality of this church in the spreading of the gospel and in helping poor saints is outstanding. (Phil. 1:4; 4:14-18; 2 Cor. 8:1-5)

III. Relationships Of Apostles And Evangelists. A Companions In Travel, Labor And Writing.

1. Such companionship in work is the common thing in the New Testament.

2. This was one of age and youth. (1 Tim. 4:12; 2 Tim 4:7)

a. Experience and youthful zest complement each other.

b. Children and youth need parents In whom they can confide. (Col.3:21; Titus 2:4)

c. The trend toward separating the youth from others in worship and work in the church is working against the unity of the body.

B. They were servants (bond-servants, slaves) of Christ.

1. A real realization of this relationship will eliminate pride and arrogancy in preachers and all Christians.

2. This is not the same word in the original which is translated minister, servant, deacon.

IV. Relationships, Organization, In And Of The Church.

A. Saints.

1. Not dead, but living. They did not have to wait until after death to be declared saints, as is the practice of Romanism.

2. Not sinlessly perfect by a second working of grace, as taught by various Holiness sects.

3. Sanctified by the truth, set apart to a holy calling (John 17:17); hence, they need to live up to their calling. (Phil. 1:27; Romans 8:12, 17, 18)

4. Working, worshipping as a unit, body, church. (1 Cor. 1:2; 12: 12, 13)

5. Functioning, under the oversight of the elders, through the special tasks assigned to the deacons. (Heb. 13:17; 1 Thess. 5:12, 13)

B. Bishops.

1. Elder primarily meant older, then honor belonging to age, and then applied to these so designated in the church as having an honorable and dignified office. (Compare 1 Tim. 5:1 and 5:17; 1 Tim. 3:1)

2. The word for bishop is translated, and denotes, overseers. (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2)

3. Rulers (Heb. 13:17); not lords. (1 Peter 5:3)

4. Examples. (1 Peter 5:3)

5. Limited in their Spirit given capacity to the flock. (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2)

8. An example of a plurality in each church, as is true of every case where the number is mentioned.

C. Deacons.

1. The word denotes service for and in the church. (1 Tim. 3:10,13)

2. They are not rulers or overseers of the congregation. They would need to be consulted and advised concerning their' functions as deacons by the overseers But the New Testament authorizes no such thing as a board of elders and deacons which directs the church.

3. Their function, position and relationship in the church is that of honor. (1 Tim. 3:13)

— 1932 S. Weller, Springfield, Missouri