Phil 2:6 and ALL' hOMWS (Longish)

From: Alex / Ali (
Date: Wed Jan 05 2000 - 09:31:30 EST


So Carl, yesterday (regarding bandwidth). I think that TIS might be J B

Just before Christmas I contributed to the thread regarding Philippians 2:6,
a passage many persons over many years have wrestled with; for a long time
I'd been happy to keep my mind open on this one, but in the course of our
discussion found myself more inclined to take hUPARCWN as causal rather than
concessive, and to take hARPAGMON as "robbery". It seemed to me that "since
he was in the form of God he did not consider it robbery to be equal to God,
but he emptied himself..." was an easier understanding than "although he was
in the form of God, he did not consider equality with God to be hARPAGMON,
but he emptied himself ..."; this growing preference was on the basis that
if we take it in the latter way, there are three distinct ideas: 1 "although
in the form of God", 2 "he did not count equality with God as hARPAGMON",
and 3 " but he emptied himself". On this understanding, the weight of
establishing the relationship - and so the transition - between the first
and second idea is borne by the participle hUPARCWN without help from any
particles to guide the reader's understanding. Since at the formal level
the participle favours neither the concessive or causal understanding (any
more than it favours any other understanding allowed by a participle in
context), the idea that the construction could be simplified into two main
ideas, with the transition clearly marked by ALLA, became attractive: 1
"Being in the form of God he did not consider equality with God to be
robbery" 2 "but (ALLA) he emptied himself ...". (Clearly, 1 contains "being
in the form of God" as a subordinate idea supportive of the main idea, "He
did not count it robbery to be equal with God"; but, on balance, I was
inclined to think it easier to give some causal or explanatory weight to
hUPARCWN ['because/since he was in the form of God'] and see two main ideas
whose transition was marked by the adversative particle.)

After the usual rush of this time of year, I had time to do some further
reading, including reference to BGreek's archives with interesting
contributions found there from past years. I also again read Lightfoot,
whose commentary has a section on 'Different interpretations of OUC
HARPAGMON hHGHSATO' that is well worth reading. In one part he says,

"If hARPAGMOS 'plundering' is taken to mean 'robbery,' 'usurpation,' then
the expression asserts that the equality with God was the natural
possession, the inherent right, of our Lord. This interpretation suits the
words themselves well enough, when isolated from their context, and so far
is free from objection. But it takes no account of the clauses which
immediately precede and follow. (1) It neglects the foregoing words. For
the Apostle is there enforcing the duty of humility, and when he adds 'Have
the mind which was in Jesus Christ,' we expect this appeal to our great
Example to be followed immediately by a reference, not to the right which He
*claimed*, but to the dignity which He *renounced*. The dislocation of
thought caused by this interpretation is apparent; 'Be ye humble and
like-minded with Christ, who partaking of the divine nature claimed equality
with God.' The mention of our Lord's condescension is thus postponed too
late in the sentence. (2) And again this interpretation wholly disregards
the connexion with the words following. For in the expression OUC hARPAGMON
hHGHSATO K.T.L. ALLA hEAUTON EKENWSEN, the particles OUC and ALLA obviously
correspond, '*not* the one *but* the other'; so that EKENWSEN hEAUTON must
contain the idea which directly contrasts with hARPAGMON hHGHSATO. On the
other hand the interpretation in question renders ALLA as equivalent to ALL'
hOMWS. Besides being unnatural in itself after OUC, this rendering fails
entirely to explain the emphatic position of hARPAGMON."

So J B Lightfoot says, ALL' hOMWS. Any comments?

Alex Hopkins

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