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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.


  1. Anonymous

    I know it's not being literal, but couldn't "Christ" be "Messiah?" It's not literal but it puts the feel a tad into the original culture, at least for me. Or, if we really want to get funky, "Messiah Yeshua." (-: Anyways, I'm just having fun.

  1. Anonymous

    I take that back I think. This could have been a congregation that had "0" Jewish believers. Your thoughts?

  1. Gary

    Hehe, well, I think it's fair to say that Paul and those guys didn't fight so much over "Messiah Yeshua" vs. "Jesus Christ" the way some people do today. Messianic Jewish restorationists seem more strict about this than Paul was.

    The scholarly opinion I'm aware of (but can't contribute to) is that "Christos" becomes a technical term by the time of the Epistles, though in the Gospels it means specifically Messiah in the Jewish context.

    Honestly, I'm so Greek-oriented that I prefer sticking with "Jesus Christ." If I was a Hebrew fanatic then maybe I'd have a different opinion though...

    Hope work goes OK for you, Byron! Keeping you in prayer.

  1. Gary

    Also, Philippians never quotes the OT. That says something about how free we are to take Greek as Greek and not as a replacement for Hebrew. If people don't understand Messiah, then there's not much point to making the Greek sound like Hebrew.

    But it is fun once in a while :)

  1. John Hobbins


    Thanks for a smart translation. I can see how much care you put into it.