What an amazing book. I have to say that for me, while I love the entire book, Phil. 2:5-11 is one of the most amazing passages in the NT. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
There are few passages that sum up the life of Christ so perfectly and succinctly. It is a literary masterpiece!
The First Epistle to To Timothy:
1 Tim. 3:1-13 lays out an detailed list for those who provide leadership within the church. There are two classifications: elders and deacons. Elders are the highest human authority in the church. Of course, we know that ultimately, Christ is the head of the church (Eph. 5). However, leadership in the church is to be provided by men who fit the qualifications laid out here an in Titus chapter 1. Deacons are to be servants. There is some disagreement as to whether or not women can serve in the office of deacons. I personally believe the answer is yes. In Romans 16:1 we are introduced to a female deacon. Likewise, the word translated "wives" in verse 11 by the NIV can also be translated "women." Thus, a possible translation of that passage is: "In the same way, the women are to be women worthy of respect..." One reason for this interpretation is that it makes no sense for Paul to have qualifications for deacon's wives (a lesser office) and not for elder's wives (the highest office in the church). If Paul is talking to just women, what women is he talking about? Why would he take a verse in the middle of qualifications of deacons to talk to the women of the church? The way the passage can be read then is that verses 1-7 are qualifications for elders. Verses 8-10 are qualifications for male and female deacons. Verse 11 gives specific instructions to female deacons while verses 12-13 gives specific instructions to male deacons. This reading of the passage accounts for the most evidence with the least amount of problems.
While all that is interesting, the important part is to see how set apart and special the offices of church leadership are to Christ. Many churches today struggle because they do not have biblical leadership. There is a reason that these passages are given.
The Epistle of James:
What a fantastic book. If you want to know practically how to live the Christian life, read James. It is not deep theological stuff. However, try to live your life in line with James. It may be simple in theory but complex in actuality.
The First Epistle of John:
1 John 4:1-3 says, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world."
What a fantastic warning. I believe this is a great place to end our journey through the Bible. We need to make sure that we test everything against Scripture. There is absolute truth and authority. It is given to us by God through His words. As 2 Tim. 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."