Philippians 1:1/ Beginning the Salutation

Before you begin this or any study of the Word of God, because you are ultimately taught by God the Holy Spirit, make sure you are in fellowship with Him.  When you are in fellowship with Him, He empowers you to both learn and apply Bible Doctrine.  To regain His filling, apply 1 John 1:9, by naming your sins to God the Father.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

 

For more information on this, read this article.

An Exegetical, Isogogical, Categorical Study of Paul’s Letter to the Philippian Believers

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The Salutation

An Exegetical, Categorical and Isagogical Study
Presented to Teleios Bible Church by Pastor Jim Oliver

Updated 6/11/12

Verse Outline

A. Introduction
B. God Promotes Prepared Believers
Doctrine of Paul
Doctrine of Timothy
Doctrine of Promotion
C. Slavery to Christ Jesus
Slavery to Christ Jesus
D. In Christ Jesus, Our Sanctification
Doctrine of Sanctification
E. Local Church
Doctrine of the Local Church
——————————————————————

A. Introduction

Normally before we undertake the study of a book we spend some time introducing it by looking at Philippi’s history, its citizens, religions or cults of the region, and other subjects germane to its writing.  But all of that would distract us from the primary purpose of learning the doctrines that Paul presented for our spiritual growth.  This was even Paul’s purpose of writing this letter, if not all of his letters.  This is reflected in a verse we’ll study down the road:

“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;” Philippians 1:27

Conducting your selves worthy of the gospel of Christ, standing firm in one spirit, having one mind or system of thinking and striving together for the faith of the gospel have in common spiritual growth. These all involve and result from our spiritual gift. That spiritual growth forms the purpose of Paul’s writing all of his epistles as well as the purpose for studying this letter. So let’s get on with our study.
As was customary in the time of writing, Paul began his letter to his beloved Philippians with a salutation. It covers the first two verses of Chapter 1. This at first glance appears to be a routine salutation for what theologians classify as a letter of friendship during this period in Greek culture. As we will see as we go through this study, that this entire letter follows the ancient Greek protocol for letters of friendship. However, even so, we will see from this study that this salutation is far from being routine. These few short words remind us of our unique relationship with Jesus Christ.

To begin this salutation, the writers, Paul and Timothy, identify themselves as writers of the letter and identify the intended recipients of the letter, believers in Philippi. Paul is the writer while Timothy probably served as his secretary or more accurately, his amanuenses. As for Timothy’s role in the writing of this letter, theologians are split on this but I don’t see it as being too big of an issue. Paul also mentioned him because he had a close relationship with the Philippian believers. He also, a mature believer could serve witness to the doctrines which Paul was about to expound. Some theologians also have alleged that this letter qualifies as pseudo-Pauline; however, learned theologians have gone great lengths to debunk this allegation. This is no pseudo-Pauline letter!
Before we get too deeply into our study, you will note that we will be working extensively with the original Greek text. This is, at least, as close as modern scholarship has been able to bring it. Due to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, along with many academic techniques, we believe that this is very close to the original signature. This is a good time to talk a bit about the Greek Language I don’t know how many of you are familiar with it. However, without getting too detailed on the subject now, let me discuss just a couple of points.
First, the New Testament was written by the original authors in Koine or Common Greek. Many other dialects were used as well. We’ll be discussing some of those as we come to them. But God chose, of all of the languages in the world, to communicate to us in the Koine Greek. So it behooves us to understand what concepts are communicated to us with this language that we may by-pass when translating to English. Every language reflects the thought characteristics of the culture that uses it. The Greeks were thinker and philosophizers; their language reflects that fact. The spiritual life of this Church Age is one that requires thought, so what better language is there?
Therefore I will be starting the study of each phrase by establishing the correct translation from the Greek using morphological, grammatical and syntactical principles. You may ask why we should go to the trouble of translating the Scripture from Greek. After all, there are many good translations. The NASB is one of the best as far as I am concerned. However, even with a good translation, many Greek words teach concepts which one word or even a group of words in the English cannot justly represent, so often an expansion of translation is necessary. Whenever I expand a translation to clarify or to bring in a point of doctrine, I do my best to let you know I have expanded it and what rationale I apply to justify it. Other times, I just simply disagree with the NASB translation. I usually am in good company when I make certain changes in the translation. The fourth word in this verse is a great example of what I consider a weak translation. Also, often you may wonder where a point of doctrine comes from. A doctrine or an application of doctrine may not be apparent in the English, so we go back to the Greek for a clarification. So, having said that, let us get on with our study.

B. God Promotes Prepared Believers

The New American Standard Bible, which will always be our starting point for translation, begins the verse with:

Paul and Timothy…

These words appear in the Greek as: Παλος καi Τιμόθεος, PAULOS KAI TIMOTHEOS. The first word, Παλος PAULOS is transliterated “Paul,” in the English. Grammatically it is a proper noun in the nominative case, in the masculine gender, singular in person. Being Paul’s name, a proper noun, syntactically, it is a nominative of appellation. The next word is καi KAI, a paratactic, connective conjunction, which coordinates and connects words of equal rank. Paul is not pulling his apostolic rank on Timothy or the Philippian believers here as he does in other letters. Therefore, this letter begins with a warm tone of friendship. Correctly translated, καi KAI reads as, “and.” The next word, Τιμόθεος TIMOTHEOS, when transliterated into the English reads, “Timothy.” For those of you familiar with the Greek, you may recognize the last five letters of Timothy’s name as θεος THEOS, God. Τιμόθεος TIMOTHEOS, like Παλος PAULOS is a proper noun in the nominative masculine singular. Being a proper name, it is a nominative of appellation. Timothy spent time with Paul during this Roman imprisonment. He had also been the Philippians first pastor. After establishing the Church, Paul left him there to teach while he continued his missionary journey.

Our translation so far is this:

Paul and Timothy…

Now that we have established who wrote this letter, let us look at these two men a bit more closely: Our concern is that God promoted these men. Two questions immediately come to mind when we look at these two men’s lives. The first question: Why did God see fit to use these men in this capacity? Why did He promote Paul and Timothy? God promoted Paul to the position of highest human rank in the church. God made him an apostle while He promoted Timothy to another position of authority, pastor-teacher.

The second question: Why does God seemingly bless some people with promotion, but not others? Let me head off a wrong application here. God did not bestow upon Paul and Timothy these gifts of communication because of spiritual success. He imputed these spiritual gifts to them the moment they believed in our Lord Jesus Christ as a part of their salvation package. However, because of spiritual success, He put them into positions where they used their spiritual gifts to the maximum. God promoted these men to positions whereby they could use their spiritual gifts. You decide, as these men did, to what degree God can use you in your area of spiritual gifting by the use of your volition, your freedom of choice. This is the most important issue in the Christian life. You decide to what degree you are going to grow up spiritually…if you decide to grow at all. God has provided everything you need to spiritually advance, you just need to decide to take advantage of what He has provided in order to do so.

The second issue deals with what area God promotes and blesses you in. God determines what spiritual gift He gives you at salvation. If He has imputed to you the gift of pastor-teacher, it is unlikely that you will be imputed great riches. Riches may well distract a man from the pastoral role. That imputation seems to be reserved for those with a gift of giving, though I do not ever want to be accused of trying to second-guess God!

The bottom line is this: God promotes and blesses people because of certain choices they make from their own free will. God was able to use Paul and Timothy because they made right choices in life. They did not choose the spiritual gift God gave them, but they did make the right choices to gain the capacity for the use of those gifts.

The first choice they made that enabled God to use them was to believe in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, This is a one-time faith decision. Our Lord personally evangelized Paul on the Damascus Road while Timothy’s grandmother evangelized him. The second choice these two men made was to “grow in grace and knowledge of our Savior, Jesus Christ…” as stated in 2 Peter 3:18. As the first choice they made was a one-time decision, spiritual growth involves many decisions, made on a daily basis. Their daily decisions to study God’s word, by either being taught, or, as pastors must, search the Word for themselves, insured their spiritual growth. Paul grew by his own consistent study whereas Timothy sat under Paul’s teaching until he, undertaking the responsibilities of a pastor, did his own studying. These things guaranteed that they fulfilled God’s operational will for their lives. Because these two men chose to exploit God’s grace to the maximum, He was able to use them to the maximum. God only uses prepared people. Preparation always begins with spiritual growth or “growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”
Peter continued verse 18 with why God has mandated us to grow up spiritually:

To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.  2 Peter 3:18

Whenever a believer grows up spiritually, God receives glory.

Preparation for ministry beyond salvation always varies with each spiritual gift. Both of these men had communication spiritual gifts. This category currently includes the gift of pastor-teacher and the gift of evangelism, both of which require formal academic training, including seminary training. Spiritual growth, however determines God’s ability to use the believer. God only uses spiritually mature believers. Your spiritual maturity comes only through making the perception and application of Biblical truths your first priority in life. If you fulfill this principle, through the expression of your positive volition, that is, your desire to do so, then God will promote you in your area of spiritual gifting. God promoted both Paul and Timothy because they prepared themselves first by believing in Jesus Christ, then by growing in grace, then by growing in grace. In many cases the spiritual gift that God gives you demands further education and training. He provides this training as you gain spiritual capacity for it. Again, God always promotes the prepared believer. God will promote you in the area of your capacity and in your area of spiritual gifting if you grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Having introduced Paul and Timothy, as well as the topic of Divine Promotion, let us turn out attention to a more detailed study of each of these men.

See the Doctrine of Paul

See the Doctrine of Timothy

See the Doctrine of Promotion

3. Slaves To Christ Jesus

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Let us return to our exegetical study. Our translation so far is this:

Paul and Timothy

Our next subject is “slaves to Christ Jesus.” At issue here is accuracy of translation. We must accurately interpret the Scripture. It all begins with an accurate translation. If we do not have an accurate translation we cannot interpret correctly. Without an accurate interpretation, we cannot learn the right lesson. If we do not learn the right lesson, we will not grow up spiritually. If we do not grow up spiritually, we will never glorify God, which is our very purpose in life.

This verse continues with what the NASB translates as, “…bond-servants of Christ Jesus…” The original Greek of this phrase sounds like this:

δολοι Χριστοs ησοu DOULOI CHRISTOU IESOU. This phrase begins with DOULOI the nominative masculine plural from the noun DOULOS. It is the subject of this sentence, therefore, a subject nominative correctly translated, “slaves.” The anarthrous construction, that this noun in not preceded by a definite article emphasizes the quality or the uniqueness of the status of this slavery. By using the term, “servant” or “bond servant” many translators weaken the force of Paul’s statement here. DOULOI should be translated as slave, not servant. Now, granted, the terms “slave” and “servant” appear to be very close in meaning, especially after watching some period movies. Some of the servants did appear to be slaves! In actuality, the lifestyle of a slave differs greatly from that of a servant. If Paul and Timothy were servants to Jesus Christ, their responsibilities to Him, and His to them, would be very different than if under slavery to Him. They were slaves to Him, not servants! Being a slave to Christ Jesus is a unique supernatural lifestyle. As God, with perfect integrity, there is no greater Master!
Χριστοs ησοs CHRISTOU IESOU are the next two words. CHRISTOU is in the genitive masculine singular, The genitive case generally describes or defines a substantive by ascribing a quality or relationship to it. It answers the question: “What kind?” Here: “What kind of slave are we talking about?” CHRISTOU is in the genitive of possession from the proper name CHRISTOS, transliterated Christ. YESOU is also a genitive masculine singular, grammatically, but an appositional genitive syntactically. It is transliterated “Jesus” which modifies or describes Christ. YESOU or “Jesus” is again, the proper name of our Lord.
These two words, transliterated as, “Christ Jesus” refer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. CHRISTOS, transliterated, Christ, is our Lord’s title meaning “Messiah.” Our Lord’s Messiahship refers to two aspects of His mission as the perfect God-Man to earth. First, it refers to His status of Jewish royalty, Son of David of which Israel is His family. As King of Israel, He will rule the earth for one thousand years in the Millennium. Secondly, it refers to His battlefield royalty, which ushered in this Church Age. He gained this royal patent when He completed His work on the Cross, was resurrected, ascended and seated at the right hand of the Father. His royal titles include King of kings, Lord of lords; His royal family is the Church, the bride of Christ. IYESOU transliterated, Jesus is the name for His humanity, which means “Savior.” As we mentioned, it is an appositional genitive describing Christ. Jesus Christ became our Savior by dying as our substitute:

God demonstrated His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners. Christ died as a substitute for us.  Romans 5:8

Our translation so far reads:

Paul and Timothy, slaves belonging to Christ Jesus…

The concept of “belonging” comes from the genitive of possession of “Christ”.
At this point, having come across the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, it would make sense to take some time to glory in His Person by studying about Him as we have Paul and Timothy. We will reserve this pleasure for chapter two where Paul details one of the richest passages of the Word about Him.

Next, we will embark on a short study of slavery. First, a few notes about Roman slavery. The slavery which existed in the Roman Empire at this time was evidently a far cry from the terrible institution of slavery, which blackened the history of this and some European nations. A Greek historian wrote that a person was far better off being a slave in the Roman Empire at this period in history than a free man elsewhere because slaves often shared in the general prosperity and benefits available in the Roman Empire at that time. That historian may have been biased because there were slave revolts; however, this comment does have some truth in it because slaves of the Romans did fulfill many societal roles, such as educators, accountants, and others which were not open to the slaves in the American South.

Paul used “slavery” as a dramatic concept. Though Roman slaves were given some societal benefits, the Philippian believers would have been shocked to hear Paul, a free Roman citizen, using this word to describe himself. He used this shock to impress upon his readers that Christ put Himself under the humiliation of subordination; that every believer should posses this same attitude of subordination and humility. For pastors, missionaries and evangelists, the application of this concept is this: pastors are better off being slaves to Christ than to be free under any system of freedom!

In salutations of letters to other churches Paul identified himself as an apostle, denoting his spiritual authority over them, but not to these believers. He identified himself as a slave with whom the Philippians are co-workers. The word “slave,” instead of “apostle” sets the tone for this letter. It is a mood of love based upon spiritual rapport not authoritarian correction, with which Paul wrote to other churches.

See Slavery to Christ Jesus

Now, let us continue our exegesis of Philippians 1:1. So far, we have studied the first part of verse one, which reads as:

Paul and Timothy, slaves to Christ Jesus… Philippians 1:1a

Our next subject is the sanctification of the believer in Jesus Christ. The NASB continues this verse with a prepositional phrase: “…to all the saints…” The Greek reads as:

PASIN TOIS HAGIOIS

The first word in this phrase is PASIN, the dative of direct object, masculine plural of the adjective PAS. Translated “all,” this letter includes the entire Philippian congregation. Paul leaves no member of the congregation out. All are included.

The next word in this phrase is TOIS a definite article in the dative masculine plural. This is the generic use of the definite article, which distinguishes one class or group from another. This letter is addressed to saints, that is, to those who believe in Jesus Christ.

The third word of this phrase is HAGIOIS, which is the dative masculine plural, a dative of advantage from the noun HAGIOS. HAGIOS is usually translated, “saints,” “sanctified ones” or “holy” making reference to “those who have been set apart for something special.” Every individual believer, as of the moment of salvation, is sanctified. Therefore, as a believer you are holy regardless of your status in life. The generic use of the definite article distinguishes this special category of people from all other categories. These believers are, as all believers in Jesus Christ in this Church Age, called “saints.” HAGIOIS, as noted above, means “holy” or “set apart for something special.” In this context, “saint” aptly describes Church Age believers because all believers have been set apart by God for a very special purpose, a purpose that spans into eternity! The dative of advantage denotes the fact that it is to every believer’s advantage to be a saint. It is a special honor to be given such privilege by God! There is no greater advantage or privilege a person can have. Being a saint is the ultimate advantage in all human history.

Our translation, as far as we have gone reads as:

Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the saints… Philippians 1:1a

The salutation continues with a reminder to the Philippians of how they received their royalty, that is, the mechanic for their “set apartness,” their sanctification or sainthood. The mechanics are the same for us in this year as it was for them.

D. In Christ Jesus, Our Sanctification

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This phrase appears in the NASB as, “…in Christ Jesus…,” EN CHRISTO IYESOU

The first word in the phrase, preposition, EN, possesses the basic meaning of, “within” or “in.” The title of our Lord, “CHRISTOS” in the locative case, masculine in gender and singular in person follows. The locative case, according to Dana and Mantey in A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, is the “in” case. This is a locative of sphere, which is an abstract, logical use of the locative, still exhibiting the root “in” idea. Paul considers the “in” concept so important and intense that he communicates it two ways. First by means of the preposition, “in,” then also he communicates it by syntactically indicating the concept by making CHRISTOS in the locative case, indicating the truth logically. The idea of “in Christ” is intensely important as we will discover as we study sanctification. YESOU, transliterated, “Jesus,” in the English is an appositional genitive masculine singular giving more information about “Christ.” This Christ is none other than “Jesus.” This prepositional phrase is translated, “in Christ Jesus.”

There are two fairly popular, though misleading understandings of this phrase, “in Christ Jesus.” In the first, theologians translate this as “by Christ Jesus” making this simply a statement as to the means of salvation. This is, of course, a fact. All believers are saved by faith alone in Christ alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Other theologians look upon being “in Christ” as being an inscrutable matter, something that we cannot understand. They say that it is mystery or mystical and really, not a discernable matter. Both sets of reasoning above severely limit the content of Paul’s message, so therefore stunt the believer’s spiritual growth if he fails to understand and apply this concept. Those who regard these two words as the mechanics of salvation are missing the uniqueness of being royalty while those who determine that this refers to some inscrutable mystery, bordering on mysticism, ignore the reality that God the Holy Spirit has made it possible for every Church Age believer to understand the whole realm of doctrine.

These three words are a reference to Church Age believers being in union with Christ, part of the uniqueness of this Church Age. Being “in Christ” is a reference to the theological phrase: “union with Christ,” referring to the mechanics of our sainthood or sanctification. If we are to become spiritually mature believers, we must understand and apply our set-apartness or sanctification! We need to understand what this means and how we apply this truth to our lives. Paul has communicated this mystery that believers may understand it and apply it to life. Understanding and applying this doctrine is essential to every believer in this age. At this point we need to turn our attention to the Doctrine of Sanctification.

See Doctrine of Sanctification

E. The Local Church

Let us now return to our exegesis and discussions in verse 1. The corrected translation thus far reads this way:

“Paul and Timothy, slaves belonging to Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus…”

Finally, we have arrived at the fifth and final topic of the first verse of the salutation to Paul’s letter to the Church in Philippi. The last phrase begins with: “who are in Philippi” in the NASB. The Greek reads as this:  TOIS OUSIN EN PHILIPPOIS.

The first word is TOIS, which is a definite article or determiner in the dative masculine singular. It is used as a relative pronoun, so it is translated, “who.”

The second word, OUSIN, the present active participle from the verb “to be,” EIMI follows. This word, along with the previous definite article, places emphasis on the following participle by pointing to or identifying those saints, members of the Royal Family of God, living in Philippi who make up this particular local church. Because the participle is preceded by the definite article, it is in the articular construction. We will be using the term “articular,” fairly regularly in this study. This participle is in the durative present tense, which means that the Philippians action of residency in Philippi began in the past and continues to the time of writing. The active voice denotes that they produce the action of this verb by fulfilling the responsibilities of sainthood. They are saints, as we’ve noted in our study of sanctification. One responsibility of sainthood is, to the degree possible, gathering together with other saints to listen to the teaching of God’s Word. Paul taught this to the Hebrew believers:

…not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

The following two words complete the thought of this verse. The preposition, EN with the locative of place of the proper noun, Φιλίπποις PHILIPPIOS, meaning, “in Philippi.” This last phrase is translated: “To those residing in Philippi.” This could just as easily be addressed to any believer, wherever he may live, whomever his pastor, whatever congregation he may gather with to hear the teaching of the Word. Every believer should produce the action of this verb by studying this Epistle to the Philippians. The issue here is the gathering place to hear the accurate teaching of the Word of God, that is, the local church. We can define the local church as the classroom provided by God, for the transmission of Word from the written page of the Scripture to the soul of the individual believer. This transmission requires teaching from one who has the spiritual gift of pastor-teacher, the ministry of God the Holy Spirit to both the pastor and congregation and, of course, you, a Church Age believer. Your first priority in life should be to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God has provided the local church to ensure the maturation of every individual Church Age believer.

Paul was also making a tongue-in-cheek point here that he emphasizes later in this epistle. Just as these Philippians were citizens of Rome in this little pocket of Rome in far away Macedonia, so also are these Philippian believers, royal citizens of Heaven, away from Heaven, in the city of Philippi. It would not have been too unusual for a citizen of Philippi to be addressed as “Citizen of Rome in Philippi!” Paul, in his tongue-in-cheek way, addressed them as “Citizens of Heaven in Philippi.” Paul had a great sense of humor!

The final phrase is this verse is a prepositional phrase that reads from the NASB as, “…together with bishop-overseers and deacons.” The Greek reads as, σuν eπισκόποις καi διακόνοις SUN EPISKOPOS KAI DIAKONOS.

This prepositional phrase begins with σὺν SUN, a preposition that means “with” or “together with.” It has two objects EPISKOPOIS and διακόνοις DIAKONOIS; both in the instrumental of association, masculine, plural. These two words, translated as “bishop-overseers” and “deacons,” introduce the system of hierarchy and organization in the local church. In the vocabulary form of both objects, you drop the iota (ι) preceding the final sigma (ς). EPISKOPOS which means “bishop-overseer,” refers to the pastor-teacher of the local church. This is one of several terms used for the local church pastor. This one emphasizes his authority and delegation of that authority within the local church organization. DEACONOS, from which we derive the word “deacon,” refers to men and sometime women to whom the pastor-teacher delegates authority to fulfill certain administrative responsibilities. This final phrase is translated: “together with pastor-teachers and deacons.”

At this point in our study, we will closely study principles of the local church. Our outline includes these subjects: The Lord Jesus Christ, The Bishop-Overseer, The Deacons and The Congregation.

Doctrine of the Local Church

Paul and Timothy, slaves belonging to Christ Jesus to all the saints in Christ Jesus to those residing in Philippi together with pastor-teachers and deacons. Philippians 1:1

Link to: Philippians 1:2

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Comments

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