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Word Pictures in the New Testament - Philippians
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Chapter 2

2:1 If [ei]. Paul uses four conditions in this verse, all of the first class, assuming the condition to be true. Comfort [paraklēsis]. Rather, “ground of appeal to you in Christ.” See 1Co 1:10; Eph 4:1. Consolation [paramuthion]. Old word from [paramutheomai], persuasive address, incentive. Of love [agapēs]. Objective genitive, “in love” (undefined as in 1Co 13). Fellowship [koinōnia]. Partnership in the Holy Spirit “whose first fruit is love” (Ga 5:22). Any tender mercies [tis splagchna]. Common use of this word for the nobler [viscera] and so for the higher emotions. But [tis] is masculine singular and [splagchna] is neuter plural. Lightfoot suggests an error of an early transcriber or even of the amanuensis in writing [ei tis] instead of [ei tina].

2:2 Fulfil [plērōsate]. Better here, “fill full.” Paul’s cup of joy will be full if the Philippians will only keep on having unity of thought and feeling [to auto phronēte], present active subjunctive, keep on thinking the same thing). Being of one accord [sunpsuchoi]. Late word here for the first time, from [sun] and [psuchē], harmonious in soul, souls that beat together, in tune with Christ and with each other. Of one mind [to hen phronountes]. “Thinking the one thing.” Like clocks that strike at the same moment. Perfect intellectual telepathy. Identity of ideas and harmony of feelings.

2:3 Through vainglory [kata kenodoxian]. Late word, only here in N.T., from [kenodoxos] [kenos, doxa], Ga 5:26, only here in N.T.), empty pride. In lowliness of mind [tēi tapeinophrosunēi]. Late and rare word. Not in O.T. or early Greek writers. In Josephus and Epictetus in bad sense (pusillanimity). For ostentatious humility in Co 2:18,23. One of the words, like [tapeinos] (Mt 11:29) and [tapeinophrōn] (1Pe 3:8, here alone in N.T.) that Christianity has ennobled and dignified (Ac 20:19). Better than himself [huperechontas heautōn]. Present active participle of [huperechō] in intransitive sense to excel or surpass with the ablative, “excelling themselves.” See Ro 12:10.

2:4 Looking [skopountes]. Present active participle of [skopeō] from [skopos] (aim, goal). Not keeping an eye on the main chance for number one, but for the good of others.

2:5 Have this mind in you [touto phroneite en humin]. “Keep on thinking this in you which was also in Christ Jesus” [ho kai en Christōi Iēsou]. What is that? Humility. Paul presents Jesus as the supreme example of humility. He urges humility on the Philippians as the only way to secure unity.

2:6 Being [huparchōn]. Rather, “existing,” present active participle of [huparchō]. In the form of God [en morphēi theou]. [Morphē] means the essential attributes as shown in the form. In his preincarnate state Christ possessed the attributes of God and so appeared to those in heaven who saw him. Here is a clear statement by Paul of the deity of Christ. A prize [harpagmon]. Predicate accusative with [hēgēsato]. Originally words in [-mos] signified the act, not the result [-ma]. The few examples of [harpagmos] (Plutarch, etc.) allow it to be understood as equivalent to [harpagma], like [baptismos] and [baptisma]. That is to say Paul means a prize to be held on to rather than something to be won (“robbery”). To be on an equality with God [to einai isa theoi]. Accusative articular infinitive object of [hēgēsato], “the being equal with God” (associative instrumental case [theōi] after [isa]. [Isa] is adverbial use of neuter plural with [einai] as in Re 21:16. Emptied himself [heauton ekenōse]. First aorist active indicative of [kenoō], old verb from [kenos], empty. Of what did Christ empty himself? Not of his divine nature. That was impossible. He continued to be the Son of God. There has arisen a great controversy on this word, a [Kenosis] doctrine. Undoubtedly Christ gave up his environment of glory. He took upon himself limitations of place (space) and of knowledge and of power, though still on earth retaining more of these than any mere man. It is here that men should show restraint and modesty, though it is hard to believe that Jesus limited himself by error of knowledge and certainly not by error of conduct. He was without sin, though tempted as we are. “He stripped himself of the insignia of majesty” (Lightfoot).

2:7 The form of a servant [morphēn doulou]. He took the characteristic attributes [morphēn] as in verse 6) of a slave. His humanity was as real as his deity. In the likeness of men [en homoiōmati anthrōpōn]. It was a likeness, but a real likeness (Kennedy), no mere phantom humanity as the Docetic Gnostics held. Note the difference in tense between [huparchōn] (eternal existence in the [morphē] of God) and [genomenos] (second aorist middle participle of [ginomai], becoming, definite entrance in time upon his humanity).

2:8 In fashion [schēmati]. Locative case of [schēma], from [echō], to have, to hold. Bengel explains [morphē] by forma, [homoiōma] by similitudo, [schēma] by habitus. Here with [schēma] the contrast “is between what He is in Himself, and what He appeared in the eyes of men” (Lightfoot). He humbled himself [etapeinōsen heauton]. First aorist active of [tapeinoō], old verb from [tapeinos]. It is a voluntary humiliation on the part of Christ and for this reason Paul is pressing the example of Christ upon the Philippians, this supreme example of renunciation. See Bruce’s masterpiece, The Humiliation of Christ. Obedient [hupēkoos]. Old adjective, giving ear to. See Ac 7:39; 2Co 2:9. Unto death [mechri thanatou]. “Until death.” See “until blood” [mechris haimatos], Heb 12:4). Yea, the death of the cross [thanatou de staurou]. The bottom rung in the ladder from the Throne of God. Jesus came all the way down to the most despised death of all, a condemned criminal on the accursed cross.

2:9 Wherefore [dio]. Because of which act of voluntary and supreme humility. Highly exalted [huperupsōse]. First aorist indicative of [huperupsoō] [huper] and [hupsos] late and rare word (LXX and Byzantine). Here only in N.T. Because of Christ’s voluntary humiliation God lifted him above or beyond [huper] the state of glory which he enjoyed before the Incarnation. What glory did Christ have after the Ascension that he did not have before in heaven? What did he take back to heaven that he did not bring? Clearly his humanity. He returned to heaven the Son of Man as well as the Son of God. The name which is above every name [to onoma to huper pan onoma]. What name is that? Apparently and naturally the name Jesus, which is given in verse 10. Some think it is “Jesus Christ,” some “Lord,” some the ineffable name Jehovah, some merely dignity and honour.

2:10 That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow [hina en tōi onomati Iēsou pan gonu kampsēi]. First aorist active subjunctive of [kamptō], old verb, to bend, to bow, in purpose clause with [hina]. Not perfunctory genuflections whenever the name of Jesus is mentioned, but universal acknowledgment of the majesty and power of Jesus who carries his human name and nature to heaven. This universal homage to Jesus is seen in Ro 8:22; Eph 1:20-22 and in particular Re 5:13. Under the earth [katachthoniōn]. Homeric adjective for departed souls, subterranean, simply the dead. Here only in the N.T.

2:11 Should confess [exomologēsētai]. First aorist middle subjunctive of [exomologeomai] with [hina] for purpose. Lord [Kurios]. Peter (Ac 2:36) claimed that God made Christ “Lord.” See also 1Co 8:6; 12:3; Ro 10:9. Kennedy laments that the term Lord has become one of the most lifeless in the Christian vocabulary, whereas it really declares the true character and dignity of Jesus Christ and “is the basis and the object of worship.”

2:12 Not as in my presence only [mē hōs en tēi parousiāi monon]. B and a few other MSS. omit [hōs]. The negative [] goes with the imperative [katergazesthe] (work out), not with [hupēkousate] (obeyed) which would call for [ouch]. Much more [pollōi mallon]. They are not to render eye-service only when Paul is there, but much more when he is away. Work out [katergazesthe]. Perfective use of [kata] (down) in composition, work on to the finish. This exhortation assumes human free agency in the carrying on the work of one’s salvation. With fear and trembling [meta phobou kai tromou]. “Not slavish terror, but wholesome, serious caution” (Vincent). “A nervous and trembling anxiety to do right” (Lightfoot). Paul has no sympathy with a cold and dead orthodoxy or formalism that knows nothing of struggle and growth. He exhorts as if he were an Arminian in addressing men. He prays as if he were a Calvinist in addressing God and feels no inconsistency in the two attitudes. Paul makes no attempt to reconcile divine sovereignty and human free agency, but boldly proclaims both.

2:13 Which worketh in you [ho energōn en humin]. Articular present active participle of [energeō] from [energos] [en, ergon] one at work, common verb from Aristotle on, to be at work, to energize. God is the Energy and the Energizer of the universe. Modern scientists, like Eddington, Jeans, and Whitney, are not afraid to agree with Paul and to put God back of all activity in nature. Both to will and to work [kai to thelein kai to energein]. “Both the willing and the working (the energizing).” God does it all, then. Yes, but he puts us to work also and our part is essential, as he has shown in verse 12, though secondary to that of God. For his good-pleasure [huper tēs eudokias]. So Whitney puts “the will of God” behind gravitation and all the laws of nature.

2:14 Without murmurings [chōris goggusmōn]. See on Ac 6:1 for this late onomatopoetic word from [gogguzō], to mutter, to grumble. Disputings [dialogismōn]. Or questionings as in Lu 24:38. The grumblings led to disputes.

2:15 That ye may be [hina genēsthe]. Rather, “that ye may become” (second aorist middle subjunctive of [ginomai], to become). Blameless [amemptoi]. Free from censure [memphomai], to blame). Harmless [akeraioi]. Unmixed, unadulterated as in Ro 16:19. Without blemish [amōma]. Without spot, “unblemished in reputation and in reality” (Vincent). In the midst of [meson]. Preposition with genitive. Crooked [skolias]. Old word, curved as opposed to [orthos], straight. See on Ac 2:40. Perverse [diestrammenēs]. Perfect passive participle of [diastrephō], to distort, to twist, to turn to one side [dia], in two). Old word. See Mt 17:17; Ac 13:10.

2:16 As lights in the world [hōs phōstēres en kosmōi]. As luminaries like the heavenly bodies. Christians are the light of the world (Mt 5:14) as they reflect the light from Christ (Joh 1:4; 8:12), but here the word is not [phōs] (light), but [phōstēres] (luminaries, stars). The place for light is the darkness where it is needed. Holding forth [epechontes]. Present active participle of [epechō]. Probably not connected with the preceding metaphor in [phōstēres]. The old meaning of the verb [epechō] is to hold forth or to hold out (the word of life as here). The context seems to call for “holding fast.” It occurs also with the sense of attending to (Ac 3:5). That I may have [emoi]. Ethical dative, “to me as a ground of boasting.”

2:17 And if I am offered [ei kai spendomai]. Though I am poured out as a libation. Old word. In N.T. only here and 2Ti 4:6. Paul pictures his life-blood as being poured upon (uncertain whether heathen or Jewish offerings meant and not important) the sacrifice and service of the faith of the Philippians in mutual service and joy (both [chairō] and [sunchairō] twice in the sentence). Joy is mutual when the service is mutual. Young missionaries offer their lives as a challenge to other Christians to match their money with their blood.

2:19 That I also may be of good comfort [hina kagō eupsuchō]. Present subjunctive with [hina] in purpose clause of the late and rare verb [eupsucheō], from [eupsuchos] (cheerful, of good spirit). In papyri and [eupsuchei] (be of good cheer) common in sepulchral inscriptions. When I know [gnous]. Second aorist active participle of [ginōskō].

2:20 Likeminded [isopsuchon]. Old, but very rare adjective [isos, psuchē], like [isotimos] in 2Pe 1:1. Only here in N.T. Likeminded with Timothy, not with Paul. Truly [gnēsiōs]. “Genuinely.” Old adverb, only here in N.T., from [gnēsios] (Php 4:3), legitimate birth, not spurious.

2:21 They all [hoi pantes]. “The whole of them.” Surely Luke was away from Rome at this juncture.

2:22 The proof [tēn dokimēn]. “The test” as of metals (2Co 2:9; 9:13). Three times they had seen Timothy (Ac 16:13; 19:22; 20:3f.). With me [sun emoi]. Paul’s delicacy of feeling made him use [sun] rather than [emoi] alone. Timothy did not serve Paul. In furtherance of [eis]. See Php 1:5 for this use of [eis].

2:23 So soon as I shall see [hōs an aphidō]. Indefinite temporal clause with [hōs an] and the second aorist active subjunctive of [aphoraō]. The oldest MSS. (Aleph A B D) have [aphidō] (old aspirated form) rather than [apidō]. How it will go with me [ta peri eme]. On the force of [apo] with [horaō] (look away) see Heb 12:2. “The things concerning me,” the outcome of the trial. Cf. 1Co 4:17, 19.

2:24 In the Lord [en Kuriōi]. Not a perfunctory use of this phrase. Paul’s whole life is centred in Christ (Ga 2:20).

2:25 I counted it [hēgēsamēn]. Epistolary aorist from the point of view of the readers. Epaphroditus [Epaphroditon]. Common name, though only in Philippians in N.T., contracted into Epaphras, though not the same man as Epaphras in Col 1:7. Note one article [ton] (the) with the three epithets given in an ascending scale (Lightfoot), brother [adelphon], common sympathy), fellow-worker [sunergon], common work), fellow-soldier [sunstratiōtēn], common danger as in Phm 1:2). [Mou] (my) and [humōn] (your) come together in sharp contrast. Messenger [apostolon]. See 2Co 8:23 for this use of [apostolos] as messenger (missionary). Minister [leitourgon]. See on Ro 13:6; 15:16 for this ritualistic term.

2:26 He longed after [epipothōn ēn]. Periphrastic imperfect of [epipotheō] (Php 1:8), “he was yearning after.” You all [pantas humas]. So again (1:5, 7, 8). Was sore troubled [adēmonōn]. Periphrastic imperfect again (repeat [ēn] of the old word [adēmoneō] either from an unused [adēmōn] [a] privative and [dēmos], away from home, homesick) or from [adēmōn, adēsai] (discontent, bewilderment). The Vocabulary of Moulton and Milligan gives one papyrus example in line with the latter etymology. See already Mt 26:37; Mr 14:33. In any case the distress of Epaphroditus was greatly increased when he knew that the Philippians (the home-folks) had learned of his illness, “because ye had heard that he was sick” [dioti ēkousate hoti ēsthenēse], “because ye heard that he fell sick” (ingressive aorist). He was sick [ēsthenēse]. Ingressive aorist, “he did become sick.” Nigh unto death [paraplēsion thanatōi]. Only example in N.T. of this compound adverbial preposition (from the adjective [paraplēsios] with the dative case.

2:28 Ye may rejoice [charēte]. Second aorist passive subjunctive with [hina] in final clause of [chairō], to rejoice. That I may be the less sorrowful [kagō alupoteros ō]. Present subjunctive with [hina] and comparative of old compound adjective [alupos] [a] privative and [lupē], more free from grief). Beautiful expression of Paul’s feelings for the Philippians and for Epaphroditus.

2:29 In honour [entimous]. Old compound adjective [en, timē], prized, precious (Lu 7:2; 14:8; 1Pe 2:4,6). Predicate accusative. Noble plea in behalf of Christ’s minister.

2:30 Hazarding his life [paraboleusamenos tēi psuchēi]. First aorist middle participle of [paraboleuō] (from the adjective [parabolos], to place beside. The old Greek writers used [paraballomai], to expose oneself to danger. But Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, p. 88) cites an example of [paraboleusamenos] from an inscription at Olbia or the Black Sea of the second century A.D. where it plainly means “exposing himself to danger” as here. Lightfoot renders it here “having gambled with his life.” The word [parabolani] (riskers) was applied to the Christians who risked their lives for the dying and the dead.

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