The Berean Expositor
Volume 45 - Page 173 of 251
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go any further we will set out the structure of the epistle, and for this we are indebted to
Mr. 100: H. Welch:
A | 1: 1, 2. Salutation. Saints in Christ Jesus.
B | 1: 3-26. Fellowship in gospel from the first day.
C | 1: 27 - 2: 5. Conversation here. Stand fast. Mind of Christ. Now.
D | 2: 6-11. Sevenfold humiliation of Christ. Example.
E | 2: 12-17. Exhortation. Work out.
F | 2: 17-30. Example of Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus.
E | 3: 1-3. Exhortation. Beware.
D | 3: 4-19. Sevenfold loss of Paul. Example.
C | 3: 20 - 4: 10. Conversation there. Stand fast. Body of glory. Then.
B | 4: 11-20. Fellowship in beginning of the Gospel.
A | 4: 21-23. Salutation. Saints of Csar's Household.
The structure is an introversion and is self-explanatory. There are many parallels with
the epistle to the Hebrews. In each case a race is envisaged, and maturity as the goal
(Phil. 3: 12-15; Heb. 6: 1; 12: 1, 2), and we should not be surprised at this when we
realize that Hebrews is the `prize' epistle of the Acts period, as Philippians is to the
church of the Mystery revealed after the Acts.
Some find the mention of `bishops and deacons' in verse 1 a problem, but, rightly
regarded, this is not so. We feel this may have come about through the idea that
organized assemblies only existed during the Acts period; and afterwards, when the great
secret of Ephesians and Colossians was revealed, such united witness finished and
churches somehow were dissolved and thus ceased to be. When one tries to examine the
basis for such an idea, one searches in vain for any solid reason. Even later on, when so
many deserted the Apostle (II Tim. 1: 15 R.V.), this did not stamp out the various
churches, unless one assumes that all these people became atheists! There was still
plenty of Christian witness left, even though it was largely devoid of the truth of the
sacred `deposit' given to Paul by the ascended Christ. In the sub-apostolic period we
know for certain that the churches at Corinth and Philippi were still in existence because
Clement wrote to the former and Polycarp to the latter and we have their letters today.
(See The Early Centuries and the Truth).
Now it is God's will that things be done "decently and in order". The Apostle Paul
was constantly concerned that this should characterize the various groups of believers. A
pagan world was watching and only too ready to pounce on any irregularity among the
Christian churches. We can thus understand that the provision of leaders was a necessity
in all circumstances, and the lowly but valuable office of bishops (overseers) and deacons
(servants of the church) were a gift from the Lord to this end. We must cast out from our
minds any modern conception of a bishop. In Paul's day these were just humble and
faithful believers, whose homes were examples of what Christian homes should be, and
therefore a fit place for believers to meet with one another in study, praise and worship
(I Tim. 3: 1-13).