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Interpreting the New Testament Word Study Assignment Student: Karina Loayza

New Testament Word Study Assignment Student: Karina Loayza WORD STUDY ASSIGMENT - 

WORD STUDY ASSIGMENT - in Philippians

1. The use of the word “"in Philippians

In order to grasp correctly the meaning of as it is used by Paul in Philippians, we

need to consider at least the following internal evidence of the letter. First, Paul is writing this

letter while in prison (1:19). Second, the only reason for his imprisonment is his work as a

proclaimer of Christ (1:13). Third, the believers in Philippi are well regarded by Paul, it is

noticeable that there’s not any serious call for repentance or correction of a sinful behavior, all

the contrary, Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians is to keep making spiritual progress (1:9, 1:27,

4:1, 10, 15). By having this background in mind we will be able to better perceive the nuances

of the word in the letter.

The meaning of as a work being made by Paul with the participation of the

Philippians is found in verse 5. Here, has the connotation of “a corporate work (or

activity) category 1since Paul is saying that all are participating in the gospel, it seems like

the gospel is something you work in, in fellowship, summing your effort to the efforts of others.

Then, Paul gives light to this idea in verse 7 when he describes this gospel as a matter of

“defense” and “confirmation”, so now this gospel has a new nuance: “ a kind of testimony-

category 2. It is truthfulness that needs to be defended and confirmed by Paul. In this sense,

verse 12 and 16 repeat the idea of a testimony that it is being propagated, and for which Paul is

his appointed defendant. Finally, in verses 17 and 18, Paul connects the word  (in

v.16) with the proclamation of Christ category 3. Therefore, it’s possible to infer that the

testimony that Paul is defending, confirming, and propagating is (or about) Christ. This

possibility is confirmed in the next use of in verse 27 when he exhorts the believers

Interpreting the New Testament Word Study Assignment Student: Karina Loayza

New Testament Word Study Assignment Student: Karina Loayza to conduct themselves in a manner w orthy

to conduct themselves in a manner worthy “of the gospel of Christ”. Here, the relation between

gospel and Christ is one of an ownership.

Thus far, we have been reducing the concept of from a general idea of “a corporate

work”, “a kind of testimony” to one more specific, “the testimony of Christ”. Furthermore, Paul

develops this concept when he connects the testimony of Christ with the behavior of a group of

believers, then it could be said that this testimony is not only meant to be proclaimed by words,

and that needs to be defended and confirmed by Paul only, but also by a worthy behavior of the

entire community, “a communal worthy behavior- category 4(v.27). This is an interesting

nuance that seems to be very appropriate for the church at Philippi, a healthy and mature church

doing well so far. Finally, the use of in verses 2:22, 4:3, 15, repeat the concept of

gospel as a work that has to be made in fellowship (Paul and Timothy, Paul and Euodia and

Syntyche), and that of a testimony, or message, that is being proclaimed.

After considering the different nuances of , we are ready to define what Paul seems

to mean when he uses this word within the context of Philippians, as follows: “The testimony of

Christ which is meant to be proclaimed by the fellowship of his followers”.

2. The use of the word “"in Philippians in comparison with its use in

Galatians and Romans

The goal of this brief discussion is to compare the different nuances of Paul´s use of

as it is presented in the letters to the Philippians, the Romans and to the Galatians, in

order to extend the range of meaning that this word may have in Paul´s mind.

First, we do need to understand the different circumstances Paul had in each instance. Second,

we do need to identify some of the principal characteristic of his audience. Undoubtedly, his

Interpreting the New Testament Word Study Assignment Student: Karina Loayza

New Testament Word Study Assignment Student: Karina Loayza message in these three letters presents a different

message in these three letters presents a different nuance, intention or purpose in mind and that

will influence the different connotations that Paul gives to the word "in his letter to

the church in Philippi, Rome, and finally to the church in Galatia.

The believers of the church in Philippi are very close to the heart of Paul, this is evident in his

very affectionate salutation, and many personal references of his imprisonment that show Paul´s

heart so vividly. But his affection is not based merely on emotional ground but on their common

participation in the gospel. In this letter Paul doesn’t describe the power for salvation of the

gospel as he does in Romans. It seems to be that his emphasis is on the gospel as a testimony, of

Christ, carried by the community of believers by proclamation and by their way of living. It is

well stated that Paul is the appointed defendant for the gospel, but he makes clear that he´s not

alone in this effort because the church in Philippi is participating in the gospel by providing for

Paul´s needs (4:15-16) and by their prayers (1:19).

The church in Rome is not only dear to Paul (1:11-12) but also well regarded by the apostle

(15:14), so much so that he gives them very solid aliment appropriate for mature Christians and

not just milk for babies (15:15). With this brief and preliminary comment, and without entering

in a heavy theological debate, we will just indicate that in this letter one of Paul´s repetitive ideas

is to establish a very clear and explicit contrast between the Jewish nation, and the Gentiles. Why

Paul does so? In order to provide the gospel of a very special nuance, this is, to be the reference

point to understand God´s adoption (or engrafting) of the Gentiles and the partial hardening of

the Jewish Nation (11:28). In addition to this, it is also very interesting to notice that Paul defines

the gospel as the promised message announced by the prophets about His son (1:1, 9, 10:16,

15:19) from the very beginning, and also he states clearly the gospel´s purpose: “to lead all the

Interpreting the New Testament Word Study Assignment Student: Karina Loayza

New Testament Word Study Assignment Student: Karina Loayza nations to obedience of faith (16:26). Finally, we

nations to obedience of faith (16:26). Finally, we consider that the main nuance in the concept of

is Paul´s definition of the gospel as the power of God for salvation (1:16).

Finally, the letter to the Galatians is very different from the other two. This letter has a very brief

and general salutation, and begins just in v. 6 with a hard reprimand: “I am astonished that you

are so quickly deserting him”. This letter is the harshest since it is plagued with direct rebukes

like: “Oh foolish Galatians!” Paul is more than concerned about the believers in this region for

they are being influenced by the party of the circumcision, which is persuading the Gentiles to

circumcise, this is a turning back again to the rudiments of the Law that is opposed to the

freedom Christ has gained for the believers once for all. Therefore, in the light of this serious

issue we are going to perceive a different nuance in the letter to the Galatians: “the gospel as a

message of freedom in Christ” (2:5, 7, 14). But Paul doesn’t go right to this point, he has set first

a solid ground for the validity of the gospel by stating in the beginning that there´s no other

gospel (1:6-7), that the gospel is a message revealed to Paul through a revelation of Jesus Christ

and not man´s (1:11), and that he´s preaching the same gospel Peter is preaching to the

circumcised (2:2), in doing so Paul is affirming the universality of the gospel in contrast to this

gospelthat the Galatians are following. Here, to the Galatians, the gospel is a set of God-given

beliefs, a message of freedom in Christ and therefore in total contradiction to the teachings of the

party of the circumcision.

After our discussion about the use of by Paul in three different letters, we notice that

the concept has different emphasis according to the needs of the moment that Paul perceives and

he wants to address. However, the concept of the gospel as the unique message revealed by God

about His Son is always central in Paul´s mind.