Thursday, December 10, 2009

Philippians Resurrected II: Philippians 1.3-5 Translation and Notes

This will be the last time "resurrection" is in the header. That is simply because there were no other posts to 'resurrect!'

Here goes:

Philippians 1.3-5 Translation and Notes

Here is my second installment of my Philippians translation: (Note: These verses are part of a larger subunit that stretches to v.11. This unit comprises of Paul's Thanksgiving and Prayer for the Philippians. I have decided to follow Silva [41-45] in breaking this in to smaller chunks).

Paul's Thanksgiving (vv.3-5 [8]): Initial Statement

3 Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ μνείᾳ ὑμῶν
4 πάντοτε ἐν πάσῃ δεήσει μου ὑπὲρ πάντων ὑμῶν, μετὰ χαρᾶς τὴν δέησιν ποιούμενος,
5 ἐπὶ τῇ κοινωνίᾳ ὑμῶν εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἀπὸ τῆς πρώτης ἡμέρας ἄχρι τοῦ νῦν,

My Translation:

3 I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you,

4 always in my every prayer for all of you, I make my petition with joy,

5 because of your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,

Notes (v3)

•"I give thanks..." A favorite Pauline stock opening (Rom. 1:8; 1 Co. 1:4; Eph. 1:16; Col. 1:3; 1 Thess. 1:2; 2 Thess. 1:3; Phlm. 1:4).

•"...for every rememberance of you." There has been much discussion as to the best possible translation of 1.3. The questions usually center around the preposition ἐπί and the sense of the genitive ὑμῶν. As Holloway notes (419-420), the majority view still considers the genitive objectively while rendering the preposition temporally to provide a reaading: 'I give thanks to my God whenever I remember you' (419, n.1; See references there). The second, and minority viewpoint, renders the preposition causally but renders the genitive subjectively, providing a reading: 'I give thanks to my God for your every rememberance [of me]' (Holloway 419-420; n.2; See references there.)

•Like Holloway (419), I have preferred the most natural way of expressing the Greek, namely, interpreting ἐπί causally and ὑμῶν objectively: 'I give thanks to my God for every rememberance of you,' (e.g. 1 Cor. 1.4; 1 Thess. 3.9; Holloway 420-421; Fowl 22 n.5).

Notes (v4)

•As Sumney notes, 'Paul uses forms of πᾶς more often in Philippians than at the beginning of any other thanksgiving' (8; e.g. Phil. 1.1,3,4[2x],7[2x],8). One could also include v.9, but this section (vv.9-11) is more geared to Paul's prayer.

•The adjective πάσῃ with the anarthrous noun ( 'a noun without the definite article') δεήσει('prayer') would translate as 'my every prayer for all of you' (Sumney 9).

•"I make my petition with joy..." Fee calls this phrase "awkward," writing:

The word order ('with joy the prayer making') gives this phrase special emphasis; indeed this is the first of 16 occurrences of this word group ("joy") in the letter. ...The very awkwardness of the phrase in this case forces it upon the Philippians'- and our-attention (81).

•In n.43 of the same page (81), Fee writes:

...Paul has already mentioned his standard 'thanksgiving for you always in every prayer of mine.' By adding the phrase 'with joy' he feels compelled to note that the joy comes in context of 'his every prayer.' Thus he repeats, 'the prayer making,' all of which means, 'thanking God for you always in every prayer of mine for all of you, making that prayer with joy.'

Notes (v5)

•"because of your fellowship in the gospel..." The noun κοινωνία might be better translated "participation" or "partnership"(Fee 82-83). This "participation"/"partnership" is not merely referring to the collection mentioned later in the letter (4.15-16), but to the broader concerns of the gospel and its proclamation and spread (Fee 83-84; Fowl 22-24; O'Brien 63).
•"from the first day until now," Fee says that this phrase refers to the Philippians' conversion (85), that is, they have been participating in the gospel in Philippi since the time of their conversion.

Holloway, Paul A. "Thanks for the Memories: On the Translation of Philippians 1.3."NTS 52 (2006).

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

Fowl, Stephen E. Philippians. The Two Horizons New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005.

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.

Sumney, Jerry L. Philippians: A Greek Student's Intermediate Reader. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007.


Justin Dodson said...

Do you see koinonia from 1.5 being used in 2.1 and 3.10 in the same way or not?

Matthew D. Montonini said...


I will answer this in a separate blog post.

Thanks for your astute question.