Saturday, April 29, 2006

New Testament Reflections: Philippians 1:3-6 (prelude)

Philippians 1:3-6:

Prayers and Thanksgiving

Text and Translation

I-give-thanks to-the God of-me upon every [the] reminder of-you
Ευχαριτω τω θεω μου επι παση τη μνεια υμων

Always in every petition of-me in-behalf-of all of-you, with joy
παντοτε εν παση δενσει μου υπερ παντων υμων, μετα χαρας

the petition making, on-the-basis-of the fellowship/participation
την δεησιν ποιουμενος επι τη κοινωνια

of-you into/in the gospel from the first day until the now/present
υμων εις το ευαγγελιον απο της πρωτης ημερας αχρι του νυν

being-persuaded-by this same-thing, that the-one having-begun
πεποιθως αυτο τουτο, οτι ο εναρξαμενος

in/among you-all a good work will-perfect/complete [it] until
εν υμιν εργον αγαθον επιτελεσει αχρι

[the] day of-Christ Jesus
ημερας Χριστου Ιησου

Exegetical Exercise
To fully appreciate how Paul begins his letter to the Philippians, we must first place these opening words in context and give them a backdrop. I have developed some questions that will aid us in doing that, and which are intended to stimulate discussion about the text. The questions are both exegetical and reflective in nature. Think carefully through each of the questions, and post your responses in the comments section to stimulate even more discussion. Feel free to focus your attention on only one or two of these questions, to omit some altogether, or to add your own questions to the mix.

1. What does Paul mean by “I thank God upon every reminder/remembrance of you”? What is the direction of this reminder/remembrance? What are the exegetical options?

2. How does Paul’s thanksgiving here anticipate what he writes later in this letter? In other words, What exactly prompts this letter and his thanksgiving?

3. What is the precise nature of the Philippians “fellowship/participation (koinonia) in the gospel”? You may need to read the rest of the chapter, or even the rest of the letter for the answer to this.

4. What strikes you about Paul’s prayer life?

5. How exactly is v. 6 to be taken: “The one having begun a good work in/among you-all will perfect/complete it until the day of Christ Jesus”? To what “good work” does Paul refer? Does this apply to individuals in the church or to the church collectively?

6. How would you paraphrase this section of Paul’s letter, based on the literal translation above? Create your own expanded translation of what you think Paul is saying here. Pay special attention to just how you think the prepositional clauses relate to each other. You may go as deep, or remain as general, as you want on this!