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Christian Unity and Christ’s Humility

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit,[a] any affection or mercy,[b] complete my joy and be of the same mind,[c] by having the same love, being united in spirit,[d] and having one purpose. Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition[e] or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned[f] not only[g] about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.[h] You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had,[i]

[j] who though he existed in the form of God[k]
did not regard equality with God
as something to be grasped,
but emptied himself
by taking on the form of a slave,[l]
by looking like other men,[m]
and by sharing in human nature.[n]
He humbled himself,
by becoming obedient to the point of death
—even death on a cross!
As a result God highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow
—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—
11 and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord
to the glory of God the Father.

Lights in the World

12 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence,[o] 13 for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of his good pleasure—is God. 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world[p] 16 by holding on to[q] the word of life so that on the day of Christ I will have a reason to boast that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice together with all of you. 18 And in the same way you also should be glad and rejoice together with me.

Models for Ministry

19 Now I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be encouraged by hearing news about you. 20 For there is no one here like him who will readily demonstrate his deep concern for you.[r] 21 Others are busy with their own concerns, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know his qualifications, that like a son working with his father, he served with me in advancing the gospel. 23 So I hope to send him as soon as I know more about my situation, 24 though I am confident in the Lord that I too will be coming to see you[s] soon.

25 But for now[t] I have considered it necessary to send Epaphroditus to you. For he is my brother,[u] coworker and fellow soldier, and your messenger[v] and minister[w] to me in my need.[x] 26 Indeed, he greatly missed all of you and was distressed because you heard that he had been ill. 27 In fact he became so ill that he nearly died.[y] But God showed mercy to him—and not to him only, but also to me—so that I would not have grief on top of grief. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him,[z] so that when you see him again you can rejoice[aa] and I can be free from anxiety. 29 So welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 since it was because of the work of Christ that he almost died. He risked his life so that he could make up for your inability to serve me.[ab]

Footnotes

  1. Philippians 2:1 tn Or “spiritual fellowship” if πνεύματος (pneumatos) is an attributive genitive; or “fellowship brought about by the Spirit” if πνεύματος is a genitive of source or production.
  2. Philippians 2:1 tn Grk “affection and mercy.” The Greek idea, however, is best expressed by “or” in English.
  3. Philippians 2:2 tn Or “and feel the same way,” “and think the same thoughts.” The ἵνα (hina) clause has been translated “and be of the same mind” to reflect its epexegetical force to the imperative “complete my joy.”
  4. Philippians 2:2 tn The Greek word here is σύμψυχοι (sumpsuchoi, literally “fellow souled”).
  5. Philippians 2:3 tn Grk “not according to selfish ambition.” There is no main verb in this verse; the subjunctive φρονῆτε (phronēte, “be of the same mind”) is implied here as well. Thus, although most translations supply the verb “do” at the beginning of v. 3 (e.g., “do nothing from selfish ambition”), the idea is even stronger than that: “Don’t even think any thoughts motivated by selfish ambition.”
  6. Philippians 2:4 tn On the meaning “be concerned about” for σκοπέω (skopeō), see L&N 27.36.
  7. Philippians 2:4 tn The word “only” is not in the Greek text, but is implied by the ἀλλὰ καί (alla kai) in the second clause (“but…as well”).
  8. Philippians 2:4 tc The bulk of the Western witnesses (D*,c F G K it) dropped καί (kai) here, most likely due to ascetic concerns (the absence of the καί makes the statement express absolute self-denial). Strong external attestation for its inclusion from excellent witnesses as well as the majority (P46 א A B C D1 Ψ 075 0278 33 1175 1241 1505 1739 1881 2464 M sy) also marks it as autographic.tn Verses 1-4 constitute one long conditional sentence in Greek. The protasis is in verse 1, while vv. 2-4 constitute the apodosis. There is but one verb not in a subordinate clause in vv. 2-4, the imperative “complete” in v. 2. This is followed by a subjunctive after ἵνα (hina, translated as an epexegetical clause, “and be of the same mind”) and three instrumental participles. Thus the focus of these four verses is to “be of the same mind” and all that follows this instruction is the means for accomplishing that.
  9. Philippians 2:5 tn Grk “Have this attitude in/among yourselves which also [was] in Christ Jesus,” or “Have this attitude in/among yourselves which [you] also [have] in Christ Jesus.”
  10. Philippians 2:6 sn This passage has been typeset as poetry because many scholars regard this passage as poetic or hymnic. These terms are used broadly to refer to the genre of writing, not to the content. There are two broad criteria for determining if a passage is poetic or hymnic: “(a) stylistic: a certain rhythmical lilt when the passages are read aloud, the presence of parallelismus membrorum (i.e., an arrangement into couplets), the semblance of some metre, and the presence of rhetorical devices such as alliteration, chiasmus, and antithesis; and (b) linguistic: an unusual vocabulary, particularly the presence of theological terms, which is different from the surrounding context” (P. T. O’Brien, Philippians [NIGTC], 188-89). Classifying a passage as hymnic or poetic is important because understanding this genre can provide keys to interpretation. However, not all scholars agree that the above criteria are present in this passage, so the decision to typeset it as poetry should be viewed as a tentative decision about its genre.
  11. Philippians 2:6 sn The Greek term translated form indicates a correspondence with reality. Thus the meaning of this phrase is that Christ was truly God.
  12. Philippians 2:7 tn See the note on the word “slaves” in 1:1.
  13. Philippians 2:7 tn Grk “by coming in the likeness of people.”sn The Greek expression underlying by looking like other men is similar to Paul’s wording in Rom 8:3 (“in the likeness of sinful flesh”). The same word “likeness” is used in both passages. It implies that there is a form that does not necessarily correspond to reality. In Rom 8:3, the meaning is that Christ looked like sinful humanity. Here the meaning is similar: Jesus looked like other men (note anthrōpoi), but was in fact different from them in that he did not have a sin nature.
  14. Philippians 2:7 tn Grk “and by being found in form as a man.” The versification of vv. 7 and 8 (so also NRSV) is according to the versification in the NA28 and UBS5 editions of the Greek text. Some translations, however, break the verses in front of this phrase (NKJV, NASB, NIV, NLT). The same material has been translated in each case; the only difference is the versification of that material.sn By sharing in human nature. This last line of v. 7 (line d) stands in tension with the previous line, line c (“by looking like other men”). Both lines have a word indicating form or likeness. Line c, as noted above, implies that Christ only appeared to be like other people. Line d, however, uses a different term that implies a correspondence between form and reality. Further, line c uses the plural “men” while line d uses the singular “man.” The theological point being made is that Christ looked just like other men, but he was not like other men (in that he was not sinful), though he was fully human.
  15. Philippians 2:12 tn Grk “with fear and trembling.” The Greek words φόβος and τρόμος both imply fear in a negative sense (L&N 25.251 and 16.6 respectively) while the former can also refer to respect and awe for deity (L&N 53.59). Paul’s use of the terms in other contexts refers to “awe and reverence in the presence of God” (P. T. O’Brien, Philippians [NIGTC], 284; see discussion on 282-84). The translation “awe and reverence” was chosen to portray the attitude the believer should have toward God as they consider their behavior in light of God working through Jesus Christ (2:6-11) and in the believer’s life (2:13) to accomplish their salvation.
  16. Philippians 2:15 tn Or “as stars in the universe.”
  17. Philippians 2:16 tn Or “holding out, holding forth.”
  18. Philippians 2:20 tn Grk “For I have no one who is like-minded who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.”
  19. Philippians 2:24 tn The words “to see you” are not in the Greek text, but are implied, and are supplied in the translation for clarity.
  20. Philippians 2:25 tn Grk “But.” The temporal notion (“for now”) is implied in the epistolary aorist (“I have considered”), for Epaphroditus was dispatched with this letter to the Philippians.
  21. Philippians 2:25 tn Grk “my brother” instead of “For he is my brother.” Verse 25 constitutes one sentence in Greek, with “my brother…” functioning appositionally to “Epaphroditus.” sn The reason why Paul refers to Epaphroditus as his brother, coworker, fellow soldier, etc., is because he wants to build up Epaphroditus in the eyes of the Philippians, since Paul is sending him back instead of Timothy. This accent on Epaphroditus’ character and service is implied in the translation “For he is…
  22. Philippians 2:25 tn Grk “apostle.”
  23. Philippians 2:25 tn The Greek word translated “minister” here is λειτουργός (leitourgos).
  24. Philippians 2:25 tn Grk “servant of my need.”
  25. Philippians 2:27 tn Grk “For he became ill to the point of death.”
  26. Philippians 2:28 tn Grk “I have sent him to you with earnestness.” But the epistolary aorist needs to be translated as a present tense with this adverb due to English stylistic considerations.
  27. Philippians 2:28 tn Or “when you see him you can rejoice again.”
  28. Philippians 2:30 tn Grk “make up for your lack of service to me.”

Imitating Christ’s Humility

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit,(A) if any tenderness and compassion,(B) then make my joy complete(C) by being like-minded,(D) having the same love, being one(E) in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.(F) Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,(G) not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.(H)

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:(I)

Who, being in very nature[a] God,(J)
    did not consider equality with God(K) something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing(L)
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,(M)
    being made in human likeness.(N)
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death(O)
        even death on a cross!(P)

Therefore God exalted him(Q) to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,(R)
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,(S)
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,(T)
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,(U)
    to the glory of God the Father.

Do Everything Without Grumbling

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,(V) 13 for it is God who works in you(W) to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.(X)

14 Do everything without grumbling(Y) or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless(Z) and pure, “children of God(AA) without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c](AB) Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ(AC) that I did not run(AD) or labor in vain.(AE) 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering(AF) on the sacrifice(AG) and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.(AH) 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Timothy and Epaphroditus

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy(AI) to you soon,(AJ) that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him,(AK) who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests,(AL) not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father(AM) he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me.(AN) 24 And I am confident(AO) in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker(AP) and fellow soldier,(AQ) who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.(AR) 26 For he longs for all of you(AS) and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him,(AT) so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him,(AU) 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.(AV)

Footnotes

  1. Philippians 2:6 Or in the form of
  2. Philippians 2:7 Or the form
  3. Philippians 2:15 Deut. 32:5

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