Re: Phil 2:17-18

Carl W. Conrad (
Wed, 23 Oct 1996 19:03:58 -0500

At 4:21 PM -0500 10/23/96, wrote:
>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?

A thought, albeit one that appears to run counter to all this advice. What
seems natural to me, at any rate, is that the natural sense of 2:17 (CHAIRW
KAI SUGCHAIRW PASIN hUMIN) OUGHT to be "I am happy and I share the
happiness of you all--and that the naturasense of 2:18 (KAI hUMEIS CHAIRETE
KAI SUGCHAIRETE MOI) OUGHT in the same fashion to be "Be happy, you also,
and share my happiness."

After all, when XAIRE/TE is used as a salutation or farewell, it's sense is
"you should be happy" or "I wish you happiness." Therefore, it seems to me
that 2:18 ought to MEAN "I wish you happiness and I bid you share my
happiness." It seems to me that the happiness shared ought to be that
accruing to the party indicated by the dative pronoun.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR