Saturday, April 25, 2009

Philippians Translation 1.1-2 and Notes

I have been memorizing Philippians in Greek--although my pace has come to almost a stand-still.

I thought in order to encourage some progress in this area, I would offer up my own translating work as it happens. Well, look no further than right 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).
  • '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). Probably the term refers to a function rather than an official position.

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.


Sean said...

Hey Matthew, I am curious as to why you think that "bishops and deacons" refers to a function rather a position?

Matthew D. Montonini said...


Thanks for your comment. I decided to do more reading on this and possibly revise my thinking on this particular issue.

Intially, I was thinking more along the lines of "developed positions" which seem to be the case later on in the Pastorals and even more so in the Apostolic 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).

I will do some more reading on this in the next few days and get back to you.

Thanks for stopping by,


Byron said...


You might also note that this is the only letter in which Paul includes someone else in the 'slave of Christ' designation. This, I believe, is because Paul goes on to talk about Timothy enslaving himself for the sake of the gosepl in 2:22.


Mike S. said...

Hey Matthew,

I ran into your blog just bumping around the NT blog world, just wanted to say keep up the great posts and memorization... I'm challenged to do the same!

Can I ask, are you currently finishing your MA-NT or Th.M?

take care!

Matthew D. Montonini said...


Thanks for stopping by and for the encouragement.

I completed my MA in NT from Ashland Theological Seminary in 2006, and still have designs on eventually continuing on for PhD work.