Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons:Philippians 1:1(NASB)
In his introductory comments to the Christians in Philippi, Paul included Timothy in his personal greeting. He considered this teenager as his son-in-the-faith. He was a much younger man than Paul, but in this letter the apostle graciously referred to him 'a fellow bondservant'. "Paul and Timothy - bond-servants of Christ Jesus", were Paul's opening words.
Both men loved the Lord Jesus, and both had devoted themselves to His service. Their great salvation, was secured at Calvary, through faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus. Their mutual faith in Christ formed so close a bond that it drew them together, in the unity of the spirit and for love of their Saviour.
It was much later when he was incarcerated in a Roman prison that Paul penned this well-loved letter.. "to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons". It was lovely of Paul to include Timothy in his initial greeting, for these Christians would have had many fond memories of that special visit, when the rich wisdom, self-assurance and extraordinary enthusiasm of the older apostle's authoritative teaching, was complimented with the quiet simplicity, deep assurance and fervour that has characterised the younger man.
It was during his second missionary journey that Paul not only met Timothy but invited him to join him in ministry, and he was with Paul when the church at Philippi was founded. Paul had received a vision of a man in Macedonia, beckoning to him to come over and teach them the gospel of Christ, and Paul concluded that the Lord wanted him to evangelise in that region.
Immediately he set sail with Timothy, and arrived at Philippi, where they remained briefly and taught there. Philippi was a Roman colony, and a leading city in the district of Macedonia. These two bond-servants of Christ Jesus ministered together in the city and joyfully met up with a group of believers, who trusted in the Christ for salvation.
This little group of believers met together each Sabbath day to worship God. They used to congregate somewhere outside the city gate.. They met close to the riverside, in fellowship and prayer, where they sang songs of praise to His holy name. Like all sinners who trust in Christ for salvation, these men and women were the redeemed of God - they were "the saints in Christ Jesus - in Philippi".
As believers they were set apart by God and called 'saints' because of their faith in Christ Jesus. By faith they were justified and declared righteous before Him - not because of what they did but because of what Christ did on their account. They were called saints, not because of who they were but because of their position "In Christ"
Not only was his letter addressed to "all the saints in Christ Jesus, who lived in Philippi", but Paul made a special point of "including the overseers and deacons" in his introductory salutation. Overseers and deacons are those entrusted with the different needs and necessities that may arise in the body of Christ.
While 'Overseers' or 'bishops' generally attend to the pastoral and spiritual needs of the saints and provided encouragement and edification to believers in their Christian walk, deacons are those entrusted with other material needs or financial issues that might impact the Christian church.
The simple structure of the early church is clearly defined in the opening verse of this letter to the Philippians, where saints, spiritual leaders and temporal stewards of the Church are all greeted by Paul and Timothy, whose humble status as bond-servants of Jesus Christ, is also in view.
Every member of Christ's body has a role to play in their homes, churches and communities. Some saints take on additional roles as overseers, elders or pastor-teachers, but each one is endowed with gifts and graces and each has a responsibility to live their life as unto the Lord.
May we take the responsibilities that God has given us seriously and seek to be bond-servants of Christ, who walk in the unity of the Spirit and in the truth of God's word.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the lovely example of Paul and Timothy, who were bond-servants of Christ and who used the gifts and grace with which they were endowed, to further the good news of the gospel of grace for the benefit of the whole Church. Develop in me the heart of a servant that is ready and willing to think of the other, before myself. Use whatever gifts and graces I have to forward the gospel in my little corner of the world. May I die to self and live for Christ for Your honour and glory, this I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.