The community dynamic of ministry became brightly illuminated as I read. Chapter 1 has “Paul AND Timothy” as the writers – written to “all the saints…together…overseers (plural) and deacons (plural).” Paul stresses “partnership” and “all” in his opening remarks. This certainly doesn’t reflect the current format of wide-spread dependency in the conventional context of “ministry.”
At our house church we have been rotating people sharing what God has taught them in their walk. The dependency on leadership and inspiration is not centered on one or two. This has been a very rich discipline as the Spirit-empowered “partnership in the gospel” has produced a strong corporate sense of our mutual transformation. The words of 1:6 jump to life: “…he who began a good work in you (2nd person plural – or in NC “all ya’all”) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” This encourages us collectively.
Paul urges this encouragement in chapter 2: “being united with Christ …like-minded …same love …one in spirit …” He implores a sacrificial investment of the very highest nature: “consider others better than yourselves.” We do not put feet on this principle like we think we do. It dawned on me that he is not talking about a trite gesture such as opening a coffee shop door for a stranger and uttering a surface mantra: “After you.” He’s speaking in the context of the “partnership” of ministry – the good work being carried to completion. Again, the letter is not addressed to the “Senior Pastor” and “staff.”
The bowels of the letter (and even most of Paul’s writings) follow in the first half of chapter 2 in what has been called “The Kenosis.(‘he emptied’).” I made some comments in my May 29 post. You can see the NIV translation there. What I want to do in my next post is “trans-paraphrase” Phil 2:5-11 from the original language as I interpret the root of each word and concept. Stand by or as Ryan Seacrest would say: “After the break.”