Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Philippians Resurrected Part I

Many of you who visit this blog (BTW-Thanks!) will recall that I attempted to memorize Philippians in Greek. Well, I'm thinking of making another attempt at it, so I will repost my translations starting here:

Paul's Salutation to the Philippians (1:-2)
1 Παῦλος καὶ Τιμόθεος δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ πᾶσιν τοῖς ἁγίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Φιλίπποις σὺν ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις,2 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

My translation:
1 Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the saints (lit. 'holy ones') in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


  • 'Paul and Timothy' : These two are mentioned in tandem in other Pauline salutations (2 Cor. 1:1; Col. 1:1; Phm. 1) and also where Silvanus is brought into the fray (1 Thes. 1:1; 2 Thes. 2:1; O'Brien; 44). This marks the only place in Paul's letters where Paul includes another in the 'slave of Christ' designation. (Nod to John Byron!)
  • 'slaves': A seldom used Pauline designation (Rom. 1:1; 2 Cor. 4:5; Gal. 1:10; Tit. 1:1). To oversimplify the issue, there are two camps that attempt to resolve what Paul had in mind with his 'slave' language. One would be the Greco-Roman background, as Fee nicely summarizes the background: "Indeed douloi were so common in Greco-Roman society that no one would have thought it to refer other than to those owned by, and subservient to, the master of a household "(63). The second posited background for Paul's 'slave' designation is to be found in its OT background, i.e. 'servant of God', which was an 'honorific title for those in special service to God' (Fee 63; n.25 and the references found there.) In the end, there is little point in choosing between the two options such as Hawthorne (5), O'Brien (45), and Silva (40 n.2) who decide in favor of a Greco-Roman understanding of Paul's 'slave' designation. As Byron has demonstrated throughout his work, there is a strong argument to be made for 'the slave of God' designations used widely throughout the OT and Second Temple Literature. It seems best to me to give a nod to Fee when he refers to this as a "double connotation"(63), i.e. Paul uses this designation to refer to both Greco-Roman slavery and its Jewish background simultaneously.
  • "in Christ Jesus": A favorite Pauline expression (Rom. 3:24; 6:11,23; 8:1f,39; 15:17; 16:3; 1 Co. 1:2,4,30; 4:17; 15:31; 16:24; Gal. 2:4; 3:14,26,28; Eph. 1:1; 2:6f,10,13;3:6,21; Phil. 1:1,26; 2:5; 3:3,14; 4:7,19,21; Col. 1:4; 1 Thess. 2:14; 5:18; 1 Tim. 1:14; 3:13; 2 Tim. 1:1,9,13; 2:1,10; 3:12,15; Phlm. 1:23). O'Brien writes: It is a phrase denoting incorporation...believers are united with Christ in his death and resurrection, and the new corporate life into which they have entered is their share in his resurrection life. ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ frequently points to Christ Jesus as the sphere in which the Christian lives and moves. So the Philippians' glorying will abound 'in Christ Jesus' (1.26; 46).
  • "bishops and deacons" : The only occurrence of ἐπίσκοπος in the undisputed Paulines (cf. 1 Tim 3.2; Tit 1.7). These were obviously recognized positions within the Philippians community. These positions, however, were probably not as developed as what is seen in the later church (i.e. the Church Fathers; e.g. 1 Cl. 42:4f; I. Ep. 3:2; I.Ph.l. 10:2; I.Ph. 10:2; Herm. Vis. 3 5:1; Herm. Sim. 9 27:2; Did. 15:1).

Notes: (v2)

  • "Grace to you and peace": A Pauline adaptation to the standard Greco-Roman letter opening ( Rom. 1:7; 1 Co. 1:3; 2 Co. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Col. 1:2; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:2; Phlm. 1:3)


Byron, John. Slavery Metaphors in early Judaism and Pauline Christianity. WUNT II/162. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

Fee, Gordon D. Paul's Letter to the Philippians. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995.

Hawthorne, Gerald. Philippians. World Biblical Commentary. Waco, Tex.: Word, 1983.

O'Brien, Peter T. The Epistle to the Philippians. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991.

Silva, Moises. Philippians. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 2d ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.

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