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Philippians 1-2 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

I. Address

Chapter 1

Greeting.[a] Paul and Timothy, slaves[b] of Christ Jesus, to all the holy ones in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the overseers and ministers: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.[c]

Thanksgiving.[d] I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.[e] It is right that I should think this way about all of you, because I hold you in my heart, you who are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, 10 to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

II. Progress of the Gospel[f]

12 I want you to know, brothers, that my situation has turned out rather to advance the gospel, 13 so that my imprisonment has become well known in Christ throughout the whole praetorium[g] and to all the rest, 14 [h]and so that the majority of the brothers, having taken encouragement in the Lord from my imprisonment, dare more than ever to proclaim the word fearlessly.

15 Of course, some preach Christ from envy and rivalry, others from good will. 16 The latter act out of love, aware that I am here for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not from pure motives, thinking that they will cause me trouble in my imprisonment. 18 What difference does it make, as long as in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being proclaimed? And in that I rejoice.[i]

Indeed I shall continue to rejoice, 19 [j]for I know that this will result in deliverance for me[k] through your prayers and support from the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 20 My eager expectation and hope is that I shall not be put to shame in any way, but that with all boldness, now as always, Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. 22 If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. 23 I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, [for] that is far better. 24 Yet that I remain [in] the flesh is more necessary for your benefit. 25 And this I know with confidence, that I shall remain and continue in the service of all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your boasting in Christ Jesus may abound on account of me when I come to you again.

III. Instructions for the Community

Steadfastness in Faith.[l] 27 Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear news of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind struggling together for the faith of the gospel, 28 not intimidated in any way by your opponents. This is proof to them of destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. 29 For to you has been granted, for the sake of Christ, not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him. 30 Yours is the same struggle as you saw in me and now hear about me.[m]

Chapter 2

Plea for Unity and Humility.[n] If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.

Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,[o]

Who,[p] though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.[q]
    Rather, he emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    coming in human likeness;[r]
    and found human in appearance,
    he humbled himself,
        becoming obedient to death,
        even death on a cross.[s]
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
    and bestowed on him the name[t]
    that is above every name,
10     that at the name of Jesus
    every knee should bend,[u]
    of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11     and every tongue confess that
    Jesus Christ is Lord,[v]
    to the glory of God the Father.

Obedience and Service in the World.[w] 12 So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.[x] 13 For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work. 14 Do everything without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,[y] among whom you shine like lights in the world, 16 as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 But, even if I am poured out as a libation[z] upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. 18 In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.

IV. Travel Plans of Paul and His Assistants[aa]

Timothy and Paul. 19 I hope, in the Lord Jesus, to send Timothy[ab] to you soon, so that I too may be heartened by hearing news of you. 20 For I have no one comparable to him for genuine interest in whatever concerns you. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know his worth, how as a child with a father he served along with me in the cause of the gospel. 23 He it is, then, whom I hope to send as soon as I see how things go with me, 24 but I am confident in the Lord that I myself will also come soon.[ac]

Epaphroditus. 25 With regard to Epaphroditus,[ad] my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, your messenger and minister in my need, I consider it necessary to send him to you. 26 For he has been longing for all of you and was distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 He was indeed ill, close to death; but God had mercy on him, not just on him but also on me, so that I might not have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I send him therefore with the greater eagerness, so that, on seeing him, you may rejoice again, and I may have less anxiety. 29 Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy and hold such people in esteem, 30 because for the sake of the work of Christ he came close to death, risking his life to make up for those services to me that you could not perform.

Footnotes:

  1. 1:1–2 See note on Rom 1:1–7, concerning the greeting.
  2. 1:1 Slaves: Paul usually refers to himself at the start of a letter as an apostle. Here he substitutes a term suggesting the unconditional obligation of himself and Timothy to the service of Christ, probably because, in view of the good relationship with the Philippians, he wishes to stress his status as a co-servant rather than emphasize his apostolic authority. Reference to Timothy is a courtesy: Paul alone writes the letter, as the singular verb throughout shows (Phil 1:3–26), and the reference (Phil 2:19–24) to Timothy in the third person. Overseers: the Greek term episkopos literally means “one who oversees” or “one who supervises,” but since the second century it has come to designate the “bishop,” the official who heads a local church. In New Testament times this office had not yet developed into the form that it later assumed, though it seems to be well on the way to such development in the Pastorals; see 1 Tm 3:2 and Ti 1:7, where it is translated bishop. At Philippi, however (and at Ephesus, according to Acts 20:28), there was more than one episkopos, and the precise function of these officials is uncertain. In order to distinguish this office from the later stages into which it developed, the term is here translated as overseers. Ministers: the Greek term diakonoi is used frequently in the New Testament to designate “servants,” “attendants,” or “ministers.” Paul refers to himself and to other apostles as “ministers of God” (2 Cor 6:4) or “ministers of Christ” (2 Cor 11:23). In the Pastorals (1 Tm 3:8, 12) the diakonos has become an established official in the local church; hence the term is there translated as deacon. The diakonoi at Philippi seem to represent an earlier stage of development of the office; we are uncertain about their precise functions. Hence the term is here translated as ministers. See Rom 16:1, where Phoebe is described as a diakonos (minister) of the church of Cenchreae.
  3. 1:2 The gifts come from Christ the Lord, not simply through him from the Father; compare the christology in Phil 2:6–11.
  4. 1:3–11 As in Rom 1:8–15 and all the Pauline letters except Galatians, a thanksgiving follows, including a direct prayer for the Philippians (Phil 1:9–11); see note on Rom 1:8. On their partnership for the gospel (Phil 1:5), cf. Phil 1:29–30; 4:10–20. Their devotion to the faith and to Paul made them his pride and joy (Phil 4:1). The characteristics thus manifested are evidence of the community’s continuing preparation for the Lord’s parousia (Phil 1:6, 10). Paul’s especially warm relationship with the Philippians is suggested here (Phil 1:7–8) as elsewhere in the letter. The eschatology serves to underscore a concern for ethical growth (Eph 1:9–11), which appears throughout the letter.
  5. 1:6 The day of Christ Jesus: the parousia or triumphant return of Christ, when those loyal to him will be with him and share in his eternal glory; cf. Phil 1:10; 2:16; 3:20–21; 1 Thes 4:17; 5:10; 2 Thes 1:10; 1 Cor 1:8.
  6. 1:12–26 The body of the letter begins with an account of Paul’s present situation, i.e., his imprisonment (Phil 1:12–13; see Introduction), and then goes on with advice for the Philippians (Phil 1:27–2:18). The advance of the gospel (Phil 1:12) and the progress of the Philippians in the faith (Phil 1:25) frame what is said.
  7. 1:13 Praetorium: either the praetorian guard in the city where Paul was imprisoned or the governor’s official residence in a Roman province (cf. Mk 15:16; Acts 23:35). See Introduction on possible sites.
  8. 1:14–18 Although Paul is imprisoned, Christians there nonetheless go on preaching Christ. But they do so with varied motives, some with personal hostility toward Paul, others out of personal ambition.
  9. 1:18 Rejoice: a major theme in the letter; see Introduction.
  10. 1:19–25 Paul earnestly debates his prospects of martyrdom or continued missionary labor. While he may long to depart this life and thus be with Christ (Phil 1:23), his overall and final expectation is that he will be delivered from this imprisonment and continue in the service of the Philippians and of others (Phil 1:19, 25; Phil 2:24). In either case, Christ is central (Phil 1:20–21); if to live means Christ for Paul, death means to be united with Christ in a deeper sense.
  11. 1:19 Result in deliverance for me: an echo of Jb 13:16, hoping that God will turn suffering to ultimate good and deliverance from evil.
  12. 1:27–30 Ethical admonition begins at this early point in the letter, emphasizing steadfastness and congregational unity in the face of possible suffering. The opponents (Phil 1:28) are those in Philippi, probably pagans, who oppose the gospel cause. This is proof . .. (Phil 1:28) may refer to the whole outlook and conduct of the Philippians, turning out for their salvation but to the judgment of the opponents (cf. 2 Cor 2:15–16), or possibly the sentence refers to the opinion of the opponents, who hold that the obstinacy of the Christians points to the destruction of such people as defy Roman authority (though in reality, Paul holds, such faithfulness leads to salvation).
  13. 1:30 A reference to Paul’s earlier imprisonment in Philippi (Acts 16:19–24; 1 Thes 2:2) and to his present confinement.
  14. 2:1–11 The admonition to likemindedness and unity (Phil 2:2–5) is based on the believers’ threefold experience with Christ, God’s love, and the Spirit. The appeal to humility (Phil 2:3) and to obedience (Phil 2:12) is rooted in christology, specifically in a statement about Christ Jesus (Phil 2:6–11) and his humbling of self and obedience to the point of death (Phil 2:8).
  15. 2:5 Have…the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus: or, “that also Christ Jesus had.” While it is often held that Christ here functions as a model for moral imitation, it is not the historical Jesus but the entire Christ event that Phil 2:6–11 depict. Therefore, the appeal is to have in relations among yourselves that same relationship you have in Jesus Christ, i.e., serving one another as you serve Christ (Phil 2:4).
  16. 2:6–11 Perhaps an early Christian hymn quoted here by Paul. The short rhythmic lines fall into two parts, Phil 2:6–8 where the subject of every verb is Christ, and Phil 2:9–11 where the subject is God. The general pattern is thus of Christ’s humiliation and then exaltation. More precise analyses propose a division into six three-line stanzas (Phil 2:6; 7abc, 7d–8, 9, 10, 11) or into three stanzas (Phil 2:6–7ab, 7cd–8, 9–11). Phrases such as even death on a cross (Phil 2:8c) are considered by some to be additions (by Paul) to the hymn, as are Phil 2:10c, 11c.
  17. 2:6 Either a reference to Christ’s preexistence and those aspects of divinity that he was willing to give up in order to serve in human form, or to what the man Jesus refused to grasp at to attain divinity. Many see an allusion to the Genesis story: unlike Adam, Jesus, though…in the form of God (Gn 1:26–27), did not reach out for equality with God, in contrast with the first Adam in Gn 3:5–6.
  18. 2:7 Taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness: or “…taking the form of a slave. Coming in human likeness, and found human in appearance.” While it is common to take Phil 2:6, 7 as dealing with Christ’s preexistence and Phil 2:8 with his incarnate life, so that lines Phil 2:7b, 7c are parallel, it is also possible to interpret so as to exclude any reference to preexistence (see note on Phil 2:6) and to take Phil 2:6–8 as presenting two parallel stanzas about Jesus’ human state (Phil 2:6–7b; 7cd–8); in the latter alternative, coming in human likeness begins the second stanza and parallels 6a to some extent.
  19. 2:8 There may be reflected here language about the servant of the Lord, Is 52:13–53:12 especially Is 53:12.
  20. 2:9 The name: “Lord” (Phil 2:11), revealing the true nature of the one who is named.
  21. 2:10–11 Every knee should bend…every tongue confess: into this language of Is 45:23 there has been inserted a reference to the three levels in the universe, according to ancient thought, heaven, earth, under the earth.
  22. 2:11 Jesus Christ is Lord: a common early Christian acclamation; cf. 1 Cor 12:3; Rom 10:9. But doxology to God the Father is not overlooked here (Phil 2:11c) in the final version of the hymn.
  23. 2:12–18 Paul goes on to draw out further ethical implications for daily life (Phil 2:14–18) from the salvation God works in Christ.
  24. 2:12 Fear and trembling: a common Old Testament expression indicating awe and seriousness in the service of God (cf. Ex 15:16; Jdt 2:28; Ps 2:11; Is 19:16).
  25. 2:15–16 Generation…as you hold on to…: or “…generation. Among them shine like lights in the world because you hold the word of life….”
  26. 2:17 Libation: in ancient religious ritual, the pouring out on the ground of a liquid offering as a sacrifice. Paul means that he may be facing death.
  27. 2:19–3:1 The plans of Paul and his assistants for future travel are regularly a part of a Pauline letter near its conclusion; cf. Rom 15:22–29; 1 Cor 16:5–12.
  28. 2:19 Timothy: already known to the Philippians (Acts 16:1–15; cf. 1 Cor 4:17; 16:10).
  29. 2:24 I myself will also come soon: cf. Phil 1:19–25 for the significance of this statement.
  30. 2:25 Epaphroditus: sent by the Philippians as their messenger (literally, “apostle”) to aid Paul in his imprisonment, he had fallen seriously ill; Paul commends him as he sends him back to Philippi.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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