July 4, 2011

Prisoner For Christ X: Overseers That Are Underseers

Overseers and Deacons (Philippians 1:1)

Are we in the Pastoral Epistles of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus? Apparently not. Philippians is not the Pastoral Epistles but there is something to be learned in Philippians about the roles of overseers and deacons in the Church based solely in Paul’s introduction. The first thing that speaks to me here is the explanation to this introduction. The first verse immediately elucidates the fact that overseers and deacons  are “over” no one but rather alongside and addressed in the same capacity as the rest of those in the Philippian church. Paul distinguishes them as having a different purpose or being different from the others but not higher or better than the others. Unfortunately, this is very often missed in our churches nowadays. Being given a title often equates to being entitled in our society.

This is not so in the Church. When being given this title, the reality is you are being given more responsibilities and having more expected of you but not for you to expect more from others in terms of attention and other intangible/tangible benefits. You are expected to do more and expect less or nothing in return. Its agape folks. If anything, overseers and deacons being given this role should actually step down and do things akin to feet washing for the Church. When being bestowed these roles in the church one actually becomes a servant of the servants of God…just as pastors and elders do. The word deacon is actually a form translated from the Greek word διάκονος / diakonos or servant. One must be lowered to serve the higher purposes of God and thereby by honored for such practice by God. This is the true mind of Christ that will later be visited in Philippians 2:5-11 in the Kenosis. This is just another one of those lovely paradoxes exhibited and lived out by our Savior Jesus Christ: To be exalted by God we must make ourselves of “no accord” like Jesus.

Fee, Gordon D.. Philippians . Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999. Print.

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