“Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons”
“with the bishops and deacons”
It is important to know something about the New Testament church. We are not concerned about individual denominations but the local church in the New Testament.
The word “church” or its plural occurs 114 times in the New Testament; it does not occur in the Old Testament. Out of the 114 times, 98 refer to the local church pinpointed geographically on earth and 16 refer to the “church which is His body” (Eph 1:22,23)—an organism that cannot be pinpointed because most of it is in heaven. It is the body of Christ anywhere of those who have come to know Christ personally.
Two groups of officers are indicated here—bishops and deacons. These people are responsible for the church.
Note that the words “saints,” “bishops,” and “deacons” are all in the plural. Titus 1:5 says,
“For this cause left I you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders.” Notice the word is plural.
The qualifications of elders follow: “If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop . . .” (Titus 1:6,7). This term “bishop” is the same term used in Philippians 1. So the words “bishop” and “elder” are used interchangeably in the New Testament. A bishop is an elder and an elder is a bishop.
The Bible says “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17). Another passage makes another comment about respect for leadership:
“And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor 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. Be at peace among yourselves” (I Th. 5:12,13).
In our day much division and disharmony is rampant in local churches. Often this is due to lack of respect for God’s divine order of leadership.
If a church respects its leadership, God will give them “peace.”
Each of us should be part of affirming publicly our support of the leadership of our local churches.