1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
These official brethren, called episcopoi and diakonoi, "overseers and assistants," (Phil. 1:1), constituted the pneumatikoi, or spirituals, of the congregations, because they were endowed with pneumatika, or spiritual gifts (Gal. 6:1), while the rest of the saints, constituting the ruled, were styled idiotai, or privates. To the Spirituals were given nine different gifts, called spirits (pneumata, 1 Cor. 14:12), not for their own gratification, but for the common good.
These spirits are enumerated as, "a word of wisdom," "a word of knowledge,"
"faith to remove mountains," "gifts of healing," "inworking of powers," "prophecy," "discerning of spirits," "kinds of tongues," and "interpretation of tongues;" "all these inworked the one and the same Spirit dividing to each one respectively as he willed" (1 Cor. 12:1-11).
Being thus ordered in Corinth and elsewhere, Paul said to them, "Ye are Christ's body, and members partitively" -- they were all of the body, but it was only specially endowed saints who constituted the foot, hand, ear, eye, and so forth, of the body; these special ones were members partitively -- special parts of the whole.
The official saints collectively constituted in each congregation the presbytery, or eldership (1 Tim. 4:14); and that each brother might know his place, they were set in regular order. They were called "apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers" (Eph. 4:11); and were ranked as, "first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that, powers; then gifts of healing; sixth, helps; seventh, directors; eighth, kinds of tongues" (1 Cor. 12:28).
This eldership thus remarkably endowed, was the Lightstand of the Ecclesia, each member thereof being a bowl, or vessel, containing the anointing oil, or spirit, so that when they exercised their functions in the midst of the saints, they were as trimmed lamps with their lights burning (Matt. 25:4; Luke 12:35). They shone collectively as a bright STAR in the midst of the body; and as the spiritual gifts were sent "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the building of the body of the Anointed," the PRESBYTERIAL STAR is styled "the ANGEL of the Ecclesia," from angelos, "one that is sent."
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge! -- get all you can. It's the stuff of which spiritual transformation is made. Knowledge of the Word, of course -- there is no other REAL knowledge. Hunger and thirst for it. Never feel you have even begun to have enough. Realise your utter comparative ignorance. At very best, we never really scratch the surface of true knowledge.
All is seen through a glass so dimly. But though we are so limited, God requires us to show our love and zeal by getting every bit of knowledge about Him and His Word that we can. We shall be called to account for all wasted time -- not so much for itself, but because it so tragically betrays our spiritual dullness, our fatal presumption of sufficiency, our shallowness and weakness of love and desire.
God can only use, in His eternal Purpose, those who are intensely alive to the beauty and glory and wonder and infinite desirability of eternal, spiritual things. Though we are all by nature slow-witted and ignorant and fleshly, we CAN develop this living spiritual intensity. But it takes long, plodding, tiring effort, like playing the piano. Don't sit back and expect it just to come.
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
And so it must come to be with us, if we are to live at all, in any true, and spiritual, and joyful sense.
The love of Christ was Paul's greatest possession -- the fellowship of Christ his greatest pleasure. We need not pity Paul for the burden of his suffering, nor commiserate him for the loss of all the rubbish the stupid world holds dear.
Rather we should envy him for the unassailable joy of his single-minded devotion, and emulate him in his casting aside of all things that he might win Christ.
Bro Growcott 'In labours More Abundant'.