© 2018 Philip M Spence
In Part 1 of this blog, we looked at five ways in which we collaborate in the Kingdom of Heaven on Planet Earth. While we may be reasonably comfortable with the first 5 concepts, we may find the next five to be beyond the usual concept of how Kingdom people work together. This is because we are speaking from a Kingdom paradigm rather than a church perspective. I hope you enjoy having your mindset shifted into Kingdom realities!
The concept of co-soldiers is that of warriors camping out together in the field as part of a military campaign. They are co-campaigners who are united in a common cause and prepared to fight for that cause and give their lives for it.
The Apostle Paul first used this word when writing to the Philippian church, introducing Epaphroditus to them. He told them that Epaphroditus was like a brother to him, one who served him, a co-worker with him, and a fellow soldier in advancing the Kingdom. He then said that Epaphroditus was now an Apostle to them (Philippians 2:25).
Paul also described Archippus as a fellow soldier (Philemon 1:2). When writing to the church at Colossae, Paul asked them to give a message from him to Archippus. It was an exhortation to fulfil the ministry that the Lord had given him (Colossians 4:17). He had most likely done so after many battles and so Paul came to regard him as a fellow soldier.
Our covenant with God means we are committed to being a bond slave of Christ, and we are also to understand what it means to be prisoners together of Christ. In the first century, many believers were literally imprisoned for their faith, including the Apostle Paul who exclusively uses this terminology to describe some of his fellow workers and soldiers.
Firstly, Paul sent a salutation to Epaphrus who he called a fellow prisoner. The name ‘Epaphrus’ means to be fully devoted, so fellow prisoners are fully devoted the Lord, their fellow believers, and to the calling on their lives (Philemon 1:23).
Paul also called Aristarchus his fellow prisoner. His name comes from a word that means to lift or weigh anchor. His name means best at ruling, so he was able to rise and rule. Interestingly, it was Aristarchus who accompanied Paul to Rome where he was placed under house arrest (Colossians 4:10).
Finally, Paul calls Andronicus, one of his relatives who came to Christ before Paul, his co-prisoner. His name means man of conquest. Andronicus was an Apostle but because of how he carried himself and functioned, he was a noted Apostle (Romans 16:7). So, fellow prisoners are people of calibre: they are fully devoted, know how to conquer and rule over what they have conquered.
The Bible teaches us that we are aliens and foreigners here on Planet Earth because we are citizens of Heaven. More than our citizenship, and our eternal destiny, we are fellow citizens of Heaven. The concept was used in the first century to describe the bond between people who hail from the same town. For Kingdom people it means that we are united in covenant with each other because we come from the same place; Heaven (Ephesians 2:19).
Heaven is not just our eternal destination; it is where our origins are to be found because we have been born from above (John 3:3-8). We are of our Father who is in Heaven (Matthew 5:45; 10:20; Luke 12:30). It is said of Jesus that He knew where He had come from, what the Father had given Him, and that He was returning to the Father when His time here was done. So it is with us; we are fellow citizens of Heaven (John 13:3).
Co-heirs are participants in common in the Father’s inheritance because we contribute together to advance the Father’s name and business. Our rights and benefits are greater than that of citizens of Heaven because we are sons of God. Because we are sons of our Father in Heaven, we are joint heirs with Jesus who is God, and the Son of God (Romans 8:17).
The Apostle Peter also taught that the marriage covenant is an environment in which we become joint heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7). As sons of God, we are heirs together of His inheritance because He has promised it to us (Hebrews 11:9). Not only are the descendants of Abraham co-heirs of their Father in heaven, but in this New Covenant the Gentiles are also joint heirs of the same promises (Ephesians 3:6).
Finally, elders are to be covenanted together. The first century church exemplified team leadership, not in a hierarchical way, but a group of elders genuinely united and working together for the cause of the Kingdom. The church at Antioch was overseen by a group of Teachers and Prophets, two of whom became recognised as Apostles who came and went. The church at Jerusalem was overseen by a group of elders who happened to be the Apostles of the Lamb. Every city or regional church that Paul established was overseen by a group of elders either commissioned by Paul or a member of his apostolic team.
The concept of being a co-elder more literally means a co-presbyter. The Apostle Peter exhorted the elders of the church to which he wrote to oversee the flock, feed them sacrificially and unselfishly, and be an example to them (1 Peter 5:1-4). He affirmed his covenant relationship with them by describing himself as their co-elder even though he was very clearly an Apostle to them, and was not always present with them. At every level of Kingdom life and function we see Koinonia type covenant expressed, and as elders model this covenant, those they lead will follow their example.
All the concepts discussed in this blog point to the fact that there can be no lone rangers in the Kingdom of God. We must establish strong Koinonia bonds upon which we collaborate in Kingdom endeavours for the glory of God. There is no substitute for oneness that produces a synergistic approach to advancing the Kingdom of Heaven on Planet Earth.
Philip M Spence
Author – Speaker – Mentor – Musician