Re: Logical biblical? (Phil. 2:12-13)

From: Eric Weiss (
Date: Fri Jun 06 1997 - 17:19:05 EDT

Re: Logical biblical? (Phil. 2:12-13)

Having just requested/hoped that this discussion would turn more toward
Greek grammar and steer away from what could become a flame war of a
liberal(?) interpretation of scripture (i.e., that scripture has
contradictions and paradoxes) vs. a conservative(?) interpretation
(i.e., that scripture has an internally logical and self-consistent),
let me attempt to do that by posing some exegetical thoughts raised by
the example discussion of Phil. 2:12-13.

I was speculating on the connection between 2:12b-13 and 2:5-12,
assuming the hWSTE indicated the following was a conclusion to be drawn
from the foregoing. The word order of the Greek seems to me (one who is
a "very little greek") in 2:12b to be emphasizing META FOBOU KAI
TROMOU and in 2:13 QEOS GAR ESTIN, with less emphasis on KATERGAZESQE
(2:12) and TO QELEIN KAI TO ENERGEIN. In other words, Paul wants
them to work out their salvation with an attitude of FEAR AND
TREMBLING because it is actually GOD HIMSELF - indwelling them or
living (by His Spirit) among them (depending on how you translate the
EN hUMIN) - who is working/producing in their lives the desire and the
ability to do so. Maybe a paradox in one sense, but not too much
different from the entire "mystery" called Christian faith or the
Christian life - and I don't mean something "mysterious," but rather the
revealed understanding of the fellowship the believer has through (or:
"in") Christ with God and with the Body of Christ, i.e., the
church/other believers.

Anyway, if my understanding of the emphasis in the Greek - due to word
order - is correct, then it seems that what Paul is possibly saying here
- and why it immediately follows the famous "kenosis" passage - is that
as Christ emptied himself and took on the form of a servant, with the
resulting humiliation and exaltation EIS DOXAN QEOU PATROS - all the
while letting the Father live in him and do His (i.e., the Father's)
works - likewise, then (hWSTE), the believer(s) is(are) to "work out"
their salvation - i.e., live their Christian lives - with the proper
attitude ("fear and trembling") of a "finite" creature indwelt by God,
for indeed GOD Himself - in a way much like God lived in and through
the "emptied" Son while he was on earth in the fashion of a man - is
really and truly living in and among them, and He Himself - not they -
is also giving them the desire and the ability (I believe that's how
Richard Young in his Intermediate Grammar suggests translating TO
QELEIN and TO ENERGEIN) to carry out this walk - and He is doing it
hUPER THS EUDOKIAS - a result/purpose not unlike the EIS DOXAN QEOU
PATROS that resulted from Christ, their "model," living out his indwelt
(by God) life. Their "walk" is truly a "walking on holy ground."

I'll quit there - lest I drift from exegesis to possibly even preaching
- and ask for responses to these grammatical/interpretive (theological?)

"Eric S. Weiss"
"Send those testimonies!"

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