Philippians 1.1 – Three Roles

Philippians is generally held to have been written around the year A.D. 61. It’s addressed to the church founded by Paul around 11 years earlier (Acts 16), and comes from both Paul and Timothy (v.1). They write to three categories of people, one or more of which we all fall into. 

Paul and Timothy write to all the saints in Christ Jesus, they write to the overseers, and they write to the deacons. We all fall into one or more of these groups. 

First and foremost, we are all counted with the saints in Christ Jesus who are at [wherever you are!]. For me, that would be the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Bahrain. All the saved are saints. All believers are saints. Saints are not just those with a statue or a church named after them: saints, Biblically, are those who have put hope, and faith, and trust in Jesus (Romans 1.7, 1 Corinthians 1.2, Jude 1.3, and more).

Those with a leadership role in church can be referred to as the overseers. Interestingly, and crucially for perspective and purpose within church life, the word we read as overseer was regularly used to describe someone with a general leadership role before it was used to talk of this very particular role in the life of a Christian church (Titus 1.5, 1 Peter 5.1, etc.). 

Those with a serving role in church can be referred to as the deacons. Again, very simply, this word means those who serve, those who follow the directions of others, those who practically help with the needs of others. Really, we all ought to be deacons, right?

So for you and me today, we all fall into one of these roles within church life, maybe more than one. If you are believer in Jesus, you are among the saints. If you lead a group or a ministry, teach a class or lead the church in corporate worship, you are among (in the purest use of the word) the overseers. If you do anything to help church life thrive, if you set out chairs, clean bathrooms, make cups of coffee, advance the slides, set the sound levels, or vacuum the sanctuary, you are among the deacons.

Today I would encourage you to pause and think, ‘Where do I fit in to my church family? What do I do? What would I like to do?’. 

Reach out to the man called of God to put things into order in your church (Titus 1.5, Exodus 18) and talk about which group you fall into, how, and which you would like to move into in the future.

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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