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I. Address

Chapter 1

Greeting.[a] Paul and Timothy, slaves[b] of Christ Jesus, to all the holy ones in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the overseers and ministers:(A) (B)grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.[c]

Thanksgiving.[d]

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Footnotes

  1. 1:1–2 See note on Rom 1:1–7, concerning the greeting.
  2. 1:1 Slaves: Paul usually refers to himself at the start of a letter as an apostle. Here he substitutes a term suggesting the unconditional obligation of himself and Timothy to the service of Christ, probably because, in view of the good relationship with the Philippians, he wishes to stress his status as a co-servant rather than emphasize his apostolic authority. Reference to Timothy is a courtesy: Paul alone writes the letter, as the singular verb throughout shows (Phil 1:3–26), and the reference (Phil 2:19–24) to Timothy in the third person. Overseers: the Greek term episkopos literally means “one who oversees” or “one who supervises,” but since the second century it has come to designate the “bishop,” the official who heads a local church. In New Testament times this office had not yet developed into the form that it later assumed, though it seems to be well on the way to such development in the Pastorals; see 1 Tm 3:2 and Ti 1:7, where it is translated bishop. At Philippi, however (and at Ephesus, according to Acts 20:28), there was more than one episkopos, and the precise function of these officials is uncertain. In order to distinguish this office from the later stages into which it developed, the term is here translated as overseers. Ministers: the Greek term diakonoi is used frequently in the New Testament to designate “servants,” “attendants,” or “ministers.” Paul refers to himself and to other apostles as “ministers of God” (2 Cor 6:4) or “ministers of Christ” (2 Cor 11:23). In the Pastorals (1 Tm 3:8, 12) the diakonos has become an established official in the local church; hence the term is there translated as deacon. The diakonoi at Philippi seem to represent an earlier stage of development of the office; we are uncertain about their precise functions. Hence the term is here translated as ministers. See Rom 16:1, where Phoebe is described as a diakonos (minister) of the church of Cenchreae.
  3. 1:2 The gifts come from Christ the Lord, not simply through him from the Father; compare the christology in Phil 2:6–11.
  4. 1:3–11 As in Rom 1:8–15 and all the Pauline letters except Galatians, a thanksgiving follows, including a direct prayer for the Philippians (Phil 1:9–11); see note on Rom 1:8. On their partnership for the gospel (Phil 1:5), cf. Phil 1:29–30; 4:10–20. Their devotion to the faith and to Paul made them his pride and joy (Phil 4:1). The characteristics thus manifested are evidence of the community’s continuing preparation for the Lord’s parousia (Phil 1:6, 10). Paul’s especially warm relationship with the Philippians is suggested here (Phil 1:7–8) as elsewhere in the letter. The eschatology serves to underscore a concern for ethical growth (Eph 1:9–11), which appears throughout the letter.

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