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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