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Philippians 1:12-20: His Truth is Marching On

Posted by Gary Labels: ,

I want you to understand, brothers, that my circumstances have taken place, rather, for the advance of the Gospel. The result is that my bonds in Christ have become apparent to the entire palace guard, and everyone else, too. Also, the majority of the brothers in the Lord, through my bonds, are made confident to dare all the more abundantly to declare the Word fearlessly.

Some proclaim Christ out of envy and strife; others, however, do so because it is pleasing to God. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I stand for the defense of the Gospel; the former proclaim Christ due to selfish ambition -- not sincerely -- intending to cause distress while I am in bonds. So what?! Regardless, in every way, be it in pretense or truth, Christ is proclaimed! In this I rejoice.

And yes -- I will indeed rejoice! For I know that this will result in salvation for me through your petition and the supply of the spirit of Christ Jesus. This accords with my hope and eager longing that I not be ashamed, but with full boldness, now as always, Christ be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death.

____Translation Notes
- I'm trying to think of a better way to say "to become apparent" in verse 13. The idea is that the palace guard all know him now; he's somewhat famous. However, "famous" implies he's a super-star of some sort, which is not accurate. "Notorious" would also be misleading because of its negative connotation. Any ideas?

- I'd appreciate feedback on verse 14. It sort of flows in Greek and the word order is strange. I didn't purposefully try to make the word order strange in English, but I tried to capture the structure. Hopefully it's poetic, even if a bit awkward.

- I'm rendering two different words as "proclaim" because I can't think of an alternate that works. Traditionally the first word, kerusso, is rendered "preach," but I don't think "preach" gets the right idea across. Paul is referring to evangelism, not sermons in the pulpit.

- Concerning "petition" in v 19... I have to wonder if anyone petitioned the emperor or a governor on Paul's behalf. No doubt Paul mostly has the idea of prayer (a petition to God) in view, but perhaps he also might be thinking of a petition for his release. I don't know if people even did that in the Roman Empire, though. Who knows.

- Concerning "salvation" in v 19... This word can often be used in a non-theological sense to refer to "deliverance," though it's also the word used for "salvation" in theological jargon. I go against most translators here (following my professor, Curt Niccum) in saying that every day, in Paul's thought, is full of salvation moments. The other occurrences of this word (1:28, 2:12) definitely disturb some theologies, but it is what it is. He is not referring to mere "deliverance" here.

- In verse 20 it says "that in no way would I be ashamed," but that is not good English. The "in no way" is emphatically in front, so a bolded "not" fits English style and also conveys the emphasis.

In accordance with missionary thank-you letters, Paul follows up his thank-you by explaining to the Philippians how things are going. At the moment he has deemphasized mention of how their gift has made the difference and has instead attributed things to God's implicit providence in superintending Paul's current circumstances. House arrest has not reduced his opportunities for outreach. Actually, it's increased them and he also is an encouraging example for the fellow believers in Rome.

Confidence so far has been used in conjunction with God's work in sanctifying the Philippians (1:6) and God's work through Paul as an example of faith under fire (1:14). Paul also shows confidence that God will provide salvation for him through the power of prayer (1:19). His confidence is based on a fervent hope that he will have a clear conscience in knowing he did everything possible to give Christ glory (1:20). Compared to that, it doesn't matter if some people seem to be acting out of selfish conceit (1:15-17). Yes, it's wrong. But it doesn't stop God from acting. If chains and Roman guards can't stop the Gospel, then neither can selfish preachers.

Thus far, Paul's joy and hope are always looking forward to the Day of Christ. This future hope energizes and motivates for present action. He is not afraid he will be shamed by Jesus for committing sin; his highest longing is to work diligently and unswervingly so that he may hear "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Philippians 1:1-11

Posted by Gary Labels: ,

Today I start my translation work for Philippians. The goal is to make a poetic translation. Here goes...

From: Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus
To: All the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, particularly the overseers and deacons.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God every time you cross my mind, always in my every prayer for all of you, because of your participation in the Gospel from day one to today.

I am confident of this: that he who began in you a good work will carry through on it to the Day of Christ Jesus. For it is right for me to think this about all of you, because you have me in your heart, both in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel; you all are my partners in this calling.

For God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this I pray: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, for you to prove what is superior -- namely, that you be pure and blameless until the Day of Christ, filled with the product of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to God's glory and my praise.

Philippians is a missionary thank-you letter. When the original audience first heard it, they were expecting Paul to be saying "thanks so much for this gift you sent." He's under house arrest in Rome (or Ephesus?) at the moment. Having an income is difficult when you can't leave home, so he was reliant on churches to fund him. So far, nothing has occurred that will particularly shock the readers. Oh, but the letter will have its surprises for them, don't you doubt!

The one major note I have to make is concerning "what is superior." This is a term from Stoic philosophy that refers to the things that are most crucial. In other words, "the basics" of Christianity. And the basics are that you be "pure and blameless" (or, alternatively, the words could mean "sincere and inoffensive").

Also, I'm taking Papyrus 46's variant in verse 11. Most manuscripts say "to God's glory and praise," but I've heard good arguments for saying that P46's variant is original.

The next sections will be more fun. I promise.

Journey through Philippians: Some Preliminaries

Posted by Gary Labels: ,

I've decided I'm going to run through Philippians. This book has always been one of my favorite of Paul's letters. Currently I'm reading Jeffrey Reed's Discourse Analysis on Philippians, which is rather difficult for me. I never formally learned discourse analysis, so I'm trying to work through the basic terminology.

After this post, I'll post my translation, a section or two at a time, with some commentary. This will be a short enough study that I expect to finish it. Even if you don't know Greek, you'll be able to gain from the study, since the point is to practice my translation. However, for those of you who are learning Greek, I think you will gain more from this. For the purposes of translation, italics means minor emphasis. Bold means major emphasis. Key terms will be placed in parenthesis after they occur.

I intend to make this a stylish, literary translation. That is, I hope it will convey style like Paul's in intelligible English. At the same time, though, I'm going to try to render key terms concordantly (same Greek word->same English word). The difficulty is working out how the readers, assuming this was one single letter and not a compilation, interpret chapter 1 in light of chapters 2-4. I have chapter 1 basically done, but I need to fine-tune it.

Now, as to the book itself: Philippians is not simply a harmless book about thinking about pretty things in life and just being happy. This is a book of life and death. We stand together or fall alone. Yet if we stand together, we will not be put to shame in the Day of Christ. There's my (purposefully short) intro to Philippians.

Just for reference, I'm listing some key terms in the text, grouped by theme. I'll comment on them as the letter unfolds.

πέποιθα to be confident; this is the perfect passive of πείθω, to persuade. However, it is conventionally used in the perfect passive as "to be confident" (a state of being). It does not mean "to be convinced." This is obvious because the related noun πεποίθησις (3:4) means "confidence" and not "having-been-convinced-ness."
δοῦλος slave
δουλεύω to serve (as a slave)
δόξα glory
κενοδοξία vain glory
καύχημα bragging right; the thing you pride yourself on
καυχάομαι to boast/brag/put one's pride in
ἐριθεία selfish ambition
ταπείνωσις lowliness/humility
ταπεινόω to lower/humiliate

Cooperation/participation/getting along
εἰρήνη peace
χαίρω to rejoice
χαρά joy
συγχαίρω to rejoice with
κοινωνία participation/fellowship
κοινωνέω to share/participate
συγκοινωνέω to share/participate with
συγκοινωνός sharer/participant
ὑπερέχω to surpass (object in genitive or accusative case). This word is used for something that is of greater prominence, authority, or value.

φρονέω to think/consider
ταπεινοφρωσύνη lowly/humble thought, i.e. humility.
ἡγέομαι to deem; to lead
οἶμαι to suppose
εἰληκρινής & ἀπρόσκοπος this pair of words either means "sincere and inoffensive" or it means "pure and blameless."
ἐπιποθέω to long for
ἐπιπόθητος longed-for

πολίτευμα citizenship (one's status as a citizen); commonwealth/government
πολιτεύομαι to be a citizen. There is no easy way to explain this word. Generally, "to live" misses the point.
συν- Very noticeably, Paul often uses the prefix sun- on his verbs and nouns. This suggests either doing something *with* someone (thus, camaraderie or cooperation), or with some verbs it means conformity to something, such as with the next word.
συμμορφίζομαι to conform, i.e. to transform A so that it matches B
διώκω to doggedly follow/seek/pursue; to persecute
σχῆμα form
μετασχηματίζω to transform

πληρόω to fill
ἀναπληρόω to compensate. This verb only appears in 2:30. Compensation is not a theme in Philippians, really, but since it is a derivative of πληρόω, it contributes to how πληρόω is a key term. 2:30
περισσεύω to abound (i.e. to be plentiful); to have plenty
κέρδος gain/profit.
κερδάω to gain or profit.
καρπός fruit/product. When used in a financial sense, it refers to accumulated interest on a bank account.
πλεονάζω to increase; to accrue (of interest in a bank account)

ὑστέρημα lacking. Can be used of the part of something that is still not sufficient, can be used specifically of the lacking of a person's presence, i.e. a person's absence, or can be used to refer to being in want/need/poverty. 2:30
ζημία loss. The opposite of κέρδος.
ζημιόω to lose. The opposite of
σκύβαλον This word refers either to trash, or more specifically to feces. Its emotional use in 3:8 argues more for Paul using this as a certain four-letter word. I choose to politely reduce it to "crap" so as not to offend the audience.

λαμβάνω literally, "to take hold of" or "grasp," or simply "take." Used in 2:7 to refer to Christ "taking" the nature of a servant. The word is used figuratively in 3:12 to refer to mastering the Christian lifestyle.
καταλαμβάνω virtually synonymous with λαμβάνω. Also used figuratively twice in 3:12 and once 3:13 to refer to "getting the hang of" what it means to be a Christian.
τελειόω (passive): to be complete/mature. Used in 3:12 to refer to complete understanding of what it means to follow Christ.

προκοπή advancement/progress. Here, specifically of either the spread of the Gospel or of one's progress in faith.
βεβαιώσις confirmation.
ἀπολογία defense. Specifically, a logical explanation (not military defense).
Misc words
σωτηρία salvation/deliverance
θάνατος death

Gary's (Post)Modern Life

Posted by Gary

I'm in Oklahoma now visiting friends for 2-3 weeks. In that time, I'll still be able to post just as (in)frequently as always.

I'm currently focusing on memorization, working my way through the Greek version of Joel. At the same time, I'm still learning Genesis 1-11 (though not for memorization). I was thinking of writing a book, but without access to a library, I really don't have the resources to do the necessary research. Instead, I can make a fairly good essay. Current length is about 25 pgs single-spaced. I felt compelled to write on Genesis 1-11 since November and I'm not going to simply abandon the project! It's been great.

Thank you Jim and Jeff for your prayers about my family. Mom's doing a whole lot better now, and my stress level is back in manageable range. That week a while ago in seclusion was like a spiritual sauna. I just shed off everything that was weighing me down. God is so good!

As far as posts go, I'm going to try my hand at making a literary translation of Philippians. There's still several things to work out, but I should have the first post up by Monday.

Thought for the Day

Posted by Gary Labels: ,

I would like to try Chinese food with an Egyptian twist. Do you know anyone who can wok like an Egyptian?

Two wonderful Pro-Life moments

Posted by Gary

Both of these come from Pro-Life Tribe.

First, Mississippi is voting on including a Personhood amendment in their state constitution. At present, they have enough signatures to put it up for a state-wide vote, if I understand correctly. Article here.

Second, April is Abortion Recovery Awareness Month. You can read the story here. The National Help Line for Abortion Recovery can be dialed at 1-866-482-LIFE. There you will find someone to talk to who has experienced abortion and is willing to help. What a wonderful resource that is to have!