Re: Philemon 6 revisited

From: Richard Lindeman (
Date: Fri Mar 20 1998 - 14:50:23 EST

Now back to Philemon 6. Sorry about the delay in my response to your
observations George, but I got temporarily distracted by the Aktionsart

I wrote:

> My currently proposed translation for Philemon 6 is:
> "My prayer is that the partnership (we have) of your faith might be
> effective in the knowledge of every good thing we have in(to) Christ"

> "in order that our fellowship of faith with you may be effective in
> understanding every blessing which is ours in Christ".

George Blaisdell wrote:

>The thematic unity of ENERGHS, EPIGNWSEI, and EIS provide the key to
>this passage.
>ENERGEIS is an increasing [of effectiveness]
>EPIGNWSEI is an increasing [of knowledge, based on knowledge already
>EIS is an increasing [of us in Christ], otherwise Paul would have used
>the word EN

I am not convinced that ENERGHS means an increasing of effectiveness here.
Perhaps you have evidence to support this. But since I view KOINWNIA as a
reference to the partnership of Paul and Timothy and Philemon in Christ... I
would then take ENERGHS to mean that Paul prays here for an effectiveness
within that partnership. Therefore I take EN of ENERGHS to be local rather
than intensive. But I do agree with you that EPIGNWSEI is an increasing [of
knowledge, based on knowledge already possessed].

>Thus it is Philemon's sharing/fellowship of faith that is to benefit
>[become more effective] in additional knowledge [EPI-] of all good
>that is in us as we grow into Christ. The Greek elegantly enfolds
>several paragraphs per cogent word in this passage.
>An interesting aside is that s2 replaces KOINWNIA with DIAKONIA, which
>would make the effectiveness of Philemon's service, rather than his
>fellowship, the beneficiary of increase.

I am a bit reluctant to translate PANTOS AGAQOU TOU EN HMIN as "all good
that is in us". I would be more inclined to translate it this way if it
read PANTOS TOU AGAQOU EN HMIN. In contrast to concrete nouns it seems that
abstract nouns are often made definite by the absence of the definite
article and made indefinite by the articles presence in the attributive
position. Therefore I am more inclined to translate this "every good thing
which is in us" or "every good thing we have".

The increasing knowledge is either a knowledge of "every good thing we have
Christ" or else it is a knowledge of "every good thing we have *unto*
Christ". In the former case the "good things" are the spiritual blessings
that we have "in Christ" (That is where all spiritual blessings are to be
found). In the latter case the "good things" are referring specifically to
the blessings of a growth in faith and spiritual maturity *unto* Christ.

Although it is unusual for Paul to substitute EIS for EN it is not entirely
unheard of. But the formula "EN XRISTWi" is so pregnant with meaning
within Paul that it would seem to me almost unheard of for Paul to avoid its
use when called for. I am not sure and have not checked yet whether or not
Paul elsewhere uses EIS XRISTON as a substitute for the formulaic EN
XRISTWi. Therefore for the moment I must hold judgement as to whether to
translate EIS as "in" or as "unto".

However, rewording my translation once again. Here is where I am at for the

"My prayer is that the partnership(we have) of your faith might be effective
in increasing knowledge of every good thing which we have in/unto Christ."


Rich Lindeman

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