Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

More Thoughts on Phil 1:6

A commentator has rightly said that the “good work” in verse Phil 1:6

“…cannot be shaken loose from its immediate context and be interpreted primarily in terms of 'God’s redeeming and renewing' in the lives of the Philippians (Martin, 1959; see also Barth, Caird, Hendriksen, Jones, Müller). Rather ergon agathon [Greek for ‘good work in verse 6] finds its explanation in the fact that the Philippians were partners with Paul in the gospel (v 5), and shared their resources with him to make the proclamation of the gospel possible. This ‘sharing in the gospel’ is the good work referred to here (cf. 2 Cor 8:6)” (italics in the original) Gerald F. Hawthorne, Philippians, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1983), 21

This limited meaning of 1:6 is established by the inter-relationship between the "good work" and the preceding phrase in v 5, "the first day until now." The "good work" is what God began among them (v 6), i.e. from "the first day." The concept of completing the good work in v 6 carries the process on from the "now" (v 5) to the "day of Christ" (v 6). This can be diagrammed as follows:

Verse 5
!----------------------------------!
“from the first day” “until now”

verse 6
!----------------------------------!---------------------!
“He who began” “will complete it until the day of Christ”

The whole of Philippians 1:3-7 is but a single sentence in the Greek, forming a contextual unit. It creates a thematic epistolary introduction, beginning with a thanksgiving for the Philippians’ financial support of the spread of the gospel (vs 5), continuing with encouragement for their contributions (verse 6) and ending with Paul’s consideration of the Philippians as partners with Him in the gospel endeavor. Verse six is placed in the middle of verses 5 and 7, which speaks of the Philippians’ contribution to the spread of the gospel (verse 5) and their partnership with Paul in this specific endeavor (verse 7).

The chronological wording within the same sentence and unit delimits the “good work” to the koinwnia of verse 5. This is lock-tight solid! Paul is being specific and speaking concerning the Philippians’ “koinwnia”. The phrase “from the first day” corresponds to “He who began” in the chronology, speaking of the same topic: koinwnia (vs 5) / “good work” (verse 6). The only way that “good work” could mean a guaranteed perseverance and growth in faith and works is to define the “koinwnia” of verse 5 as the mystical union with Christ (eternal salvation). As we have seen in my last post, this is thoroughly unlikely.

John Hart (Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Spring 1996)
----------
That Paul is thinking directly of the Philippians’ contribution financially when he uses koinwnia in 1:5 is supported by the following reasons. First, Paul brings together in chapter four the verb koinwnew (4:15) and the compound verb synkoinwnew(4:14) to identify the gift they had sent him in his imprisonment. The compound noun synkoinwnoi ("fellow-sharers") is used in 1:7 and expresses a unity that the Philippians have with Paul in his imprisonment, and in defending and vindicating the Gospel. The koinwnia of 1:5 must essentially be the same as the synkoinwnoi in 1:7. This implies an inextricable connection with the gift motif in 4:10–20. At the same time, it ties together the concepts in 1:5–7, and demands an interpretation that treats all three verses as a flow of thought. In other words, 1:6 cannot go uninfluenced by the conceptions of the Philippian gift portrayed in 1:5 and again in 1:7, and finally in 4:10–20.
----------

Some in the Traditionalist camp, as our friend Ten Cent has, employ Phil 2:12-13 to support their contention that Phil 1:6 teaches the Perseverance of the Saints. Notwithstanding the evidence already submitted in the previous post and in this one thus far, this approach can be challenged in the following ways:

First, this approach utilizes the flawed exegetical and hermeneutical method of indiscriminately cross-referencing “ergon” (Greek: work) or its cognates and compounds. Other compounds of ergon in Philippians demonstrate that energew (2:13, "to work") and katergazomai (2:12, "to accomplish, work out") do not necessarily correspond with the "good work" of 1:6 or a salvation view of the verse. Clearly, the focus of ergon in the remainder of the letter is on the work of advancing the Gospel, not soteriological concerns. For example, cf. 1:22, karpos ergou ("fruitful labor") and 2:30, to ergon Cristou ("the work of Christ"), which indisputably reference the gathering of fruit for eternal life, IOW, the spread of the gospel. Most of the other cognates have a similar focal point: 2:25, synergon ("fellow worker"); 3:2, tous kakous ergatas ("the evil workers"); 4:3, synergwn mou ("my fellow workers").

Second, the "salvation" (soteria) in 2:12 is best taken as a "deliverance" other than a rescue from eternal damnation. If one were to do a lexical/word study of “soteria” in the Septuagint and other Koine Greek they would find that it has a very broad range which can include things as healing, health, well-being (both spritual and physical), prosperity, good fortune, triumphant endurance, deliverances from the afflictions of earthly life, moral and personal welfare, rewards in an eschatological dimension, and lastly, deliverance from hell (which would be the least likely assumption of the Greek reader!).

Phil 2:12 says "dear friends... work out your own salvation"

They are to "work out" which translates katergazomai, which simply means "to effect by labor, acheive, work out, bring about". They are to effect their own salvation by the condition of works!

A salvation (soteria) which can be achieved by labor is hardly the justification-by-faith-alone kind of salvation offered elsewhere in the Bible!

The salvation in Phil 2:12 thus cannot be the justification salvation that is by grace through faith found elsewhere in Paul; unless you would be content to allow for real contridiction in the Bible.

Also, if the Calvinist / Traditionalist takes the “salvation” in Phil 2:12 to be eternal salvation, wouldn't this then actually be a true(IOW, not the bogus one the Traditionalist accuses the FGer of) synergism (eternal salvation by partnership of God and man) which the Traditionalists always seems to be railing against?

Phil 1:3–7 is best understood as preparing for Paul’s gift motif developed in 4:10–20. In fact, the unusual harmony of 1:3–7 and 4:10–20 compels the exegete to perceive 1:6 from the vantage point of the Philippians’ gift to Paul. This can be seen quite pictorially by comparing Phil 1:3-7 with Phil 4:10-20:

Parallels Between Philippians 1 and Philippians 4 [Credit: John Hart]

Compare:
Phil 1:3 “I thank my God
Phil 1:4 “offering prayer with joy"
with
Phil 4:10 “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly”

Compare:
Phil 1:5 “your participation [koinwnia] in the gospel”
with
Phil 4:15 “no church shared [verb cognate of koinwnia] with me in the matter of giving and receiving"

Compare:
Phil 1:5 “your participation in the gospel from the first day
with
Phil 4:15 “at the first preaching of the gospel, after I departed from Macedonia”

Compare:
Phil 1:6 “He who began a good work in you”
with
Phil 4:14 “you have done well to share with me”

Compare:
Phil 1:6 “[He] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus
with
Phil 4:17 “the profit which increases to your account

Compare
Phil 1:7 “it is right for me to feel this way about you all
Phil 1:3 “for all your remembrance of me” (Moffatt NT)
with
Phil 4:10 “you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned

Compare:
Phil 1:7 “it is only right for me to feel this way
With
Phil 4:8 “whatever is right, … let your mind dwell on these things

Compare:
Phil 1:7 “in my imprisonment … you all are partakers[synkoinwnous] of grace with me”
with
Phil 4:14 “to share with me [synkoinwsantes] in my affliction"

The partnership with Paul, as seen in the financial contributions of the Philippians, is clearly apparent as the “good work” in Phil 1:6, and as such, fatally undermines the psuedo-scholastic exegesis of the Traditionalists.

The doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints has been read into Phil 1:6. This is shameful, as it has become one of the proof-texts extrordinaire in the arsenal of the Traditionalist.

The Perseverance of the Saints makes the Traditionalist’s gospel a false gospel, as it introduces another condition to final salvation: namely, perseverance until the end in faith and progressive sanctification. This is a reprehensible back-loading of works-based contingency into the simple offer of the gospel.

Antonio da Rosa
Key words: Calvin, Calvinism, doctrines of grace, TULIP

4 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

We are really blessed by these exegetical insights.

July 29, 2006 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Ten Cent said...

Antonio:

You said: "They are to "work out" which translates katergazomai, which simply means "to effect by labor, acheive, work out, bring about". They are to effect their own salvation by the condition of works!"

I believe your not doing this passage justice if you leave the "work" on the shoulders of the believer. Because right after Paul talks about working out your own salvation, he says "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

And for me it's not that perserverance (and my view differs with others, I'm sure) has anything to do with soteriology as much as it does with sanctification. God will finish the work He has begun in us. Which, it appears, you believe to be the sole responsibility of the believer to finish that work.

I'm still hard pressed to see your very narrow view of "fellowhip in the gospel". The first time I see Paul even mentioning the gift is in Chapter 4. And even then it's at the end of the chapter and Paul is careful to attach it to the truth of Christ, that by Him, Christ, God will supply all their needs. And he emphasises that he's learned to be content in any situation through Christ. The financial gift is not the emphasis.

Look at Colossians 1:4-6
"Since we heard of your faith in Christ jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth."

Does the Gospel not bring forth fruit? Does God not effect change in the heart and life of a believer?

So this is what I'm saying. Philippians 1:6 is not Pauls way of saying their financial gift will be multiplied in the Gospel. It's an assurance given to the Philippians that God is working IN them and that He will complete that work.

BTW, be careful not to lump me in with any group. It's the same courtesy that I'm sure you would expect to recieve from me. Thanks.

In Christ,
Ten Cent

July 30, 2006 7:47 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Ten Cent,

Don't put words into my mouth.

Whatever the salvation of 2:12 is, it is definitely a synergistic effort between both God and man. This is indisputable.

Insofar as 2:12, 13 talks about a salvation that is a synergism between the working of the individual and the energizing of God, it is not talking about the justification-by-faith-alone salvation!

you say:
----------
God will finish the work He has begun in us.
----------
You assert this as meaning sanctification for all Christians without a shred of proof! You haven't dealt with my arguments and exegesis, but you assert and nothing else.

My posts are clear and you have failed to interact with any of their arguments, NOR provide any exegetical basis for your assertions other than an indiscrimanate cross reference to 2:12, 13, that does not take into account the other cognates of "ergon" that most definitely has to do with the spread of the gospel, and NOT with personal sanctification of every genuine Christian.

You merely cross-reference 1:6 with 2:12, 13, and I have provided 2 challenges to that illegitamate course of argumentation.

The reason that you are so hard pressed to see the phillipians "participation" or "sharing" in the gospel, is your importation of your theology into the text rather than a dispassionate look at the evidence that I have already provided.

The comparison of Phil 1:3-7 with phil 4:10-20 and 2 Cor 8 and 9 compels us to see the "koinwnia" of 1:5 and the "good work" of vs 6 as the financial contribution of the Philippians towards the gospel endeavor.

Col 1:3-6

We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth
NKJV

His point about fruit is that it is being given in the whole world and bringing forth fruit, IOW, people are getting saved, just as it is bringing forth fruit, people are getting saved, since the first day it was being preached.

This is the prima facie reading of this text. It is you who has to bring in the idea of fruit meaning sanctification or good works here!

you are importing your own theology into the obvious meaning of what paul is saying. The gospel is bringing forth fruit = people are getting saved!

If the koinwnia of 1:5 is not talking about the Philippians' financial participation in the spread of the gospel, what is the koinwnia in the gospel spoken about in 1:5? Your case that it is some general sanctification is without exegetical grounds.

Antonio

July 30, 2006 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Ten Cent said...

Antonio:

You said: "Don't put words into my mouth."

To what are you referring? To my impression of what you seem to be saying about laying the burden of sanctification of the shoulders of the believer? Did I quote you incorrectly?

"They are to "work out" which translates katergazomai, which simply means "to effect by labor, acheive, work out, bring about". They are to effect their own salvation by the condition of works!"

What should I think when I read this?

Please forgive me if I offended you. It was not my intent. I was simply trying to point out the differences in our views. I'm definitely not trying to anger you.

I guess you'll have to be more clear in what arguements I've failed to address. I did, I admit, pick and choose, but I didn't think I had really avoided the issue. You believe that Paul is referencing the financial gift when refers to the "good work" in 1:6, right?

"Rather ergon agathon [Greek for ‘good work in verse 6] finds its explanation in the fact that the Philippians were partners with Paul in the gospel (v 5), and shared their resources with him to make the proclamation of the gospel possible. This ‘sharing in the gospel’ is the good work referred to here (cf. 2 Cor 8:6)” "

"That Paul is thinking directly of the Philippians’ contribution financially when he uses koinwnia in 1:5 is supported by the following reasons."


So what should I think after reading these quotes of different commentaries that you've included? I think I've rightly concluded that you believe the "fellowship in the gospel" that the Phillippians had with Paul is strictly their financial gift.

So for your first charge, I don't see where I put words into your mouth. But maybe I'm missing something.

In Christ,
Ten Cent

July 31, 2006 6:01 AM  

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