Phil 2:17-18
Wed, 23 Oct 1996 17:21:13 -0400

In Phil 2:17 Paul tells the Philippians " I rejoice and I rejoice with you
all" (CHAIRW KAI SUGCHAIRW PASIN hUMIN). Because Paul says that he "rejoices
with" (SUGCHAIRW) with Philippians, the implication is that the Philippians
were already rejoicing. However, in v. 18 Paul follows with an imperative,
"you also should rejoice and rejoice with me" (KAI hUMEIS CHAIRETE KAI
SUGCHAIRETE MOI). How can Paul exhort the Philippians to rejoice in v. 18
when v. 17 (SUGCHAIRW) implies they are already rejoicing?

Lightfoot (Commentary on Philippians, p. 119) sought to solve the problem by
arguing that SUGCHAIRW means "congratulate." BAGD (p. 775) lists
"congratulate as a possible meaning here and in Luke 1:58. Silva (Commentary
on Philippians, p. 152) observes that Lightfoot's suggestion has not received
much acceptance. "Congratulate" does not seems to make any sense in

Silva notes that "Kennedy helpfully points to 1 Cor 12:26." This is a
reference to Kennedy's commentary in the Expositor's Greek Testament. Silva
solves the problem by translating SUGCHAIRW with "share my joy." Apparently,
he believes that 1 Cor 12:26 may offer some support for this translation.
This translation does solve the problem: (v. 17) "I rejoice and share my joy
with you all..." (v. 18) "you also should rejoice and share your joy with

Loh and Nida in their A Translator's Handbook on Paul's Letter to the
Philippians (published by the United Bible Societies) follow TEV/GNB and also
translate SUGCHAIRW as "share my joy." Interestingly, however, in the United
Bible Societies lexicon by Louw and Nida they list no such meaning for

Any thoughts?

Bill Combs
Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary