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Philippians 1:1-2

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the holy ones in Christ Jesus at
Philippi, together with the overseers and assistants. Grace and peace to you from God
our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
. Nominative absolutes. These nominatives appear in introductory
material, such as the opening salutation of a letter, and do not constitute a sentence (Wallace,
4951). The ancient Greek letter opened with a standard formula: Addressor (in nominative
case) Addressee (in dative case) Greeting (often the infinitive ). Only the Letter from
James (1:1) and two letters in Acts (15:23; 23:26) strictly maintain this minimal formula for the
salutation of a letter. Early Christians, as here, often expanded each of these elements with
further theologically significant descriptors (e.g., the other Pauline and Petrine letters as well
as the early second century Ignatian correspondence). The appearance of another name in a
Pauline salutation is not unusual as can be seen in 1Cor 1:1 (Sosthenes); 2 Cor 1:1 (Timothy);
Col. 1:1 (Timothy); and in both 1 Thess 1:1 and 2 Thess 1:1 (Timothy and Silvanus). Although
the mention of two names has led some to propose a dual authorship of this and other epistles
(Richards, 32-35), Pauls immediate switch to the first person singular (see 1:3-9 and the rest of
the letter), suggests that Timothy is mentioned simply as an associate or possibly as a
. Nominative in apposition to . At its most basic level,
denotes literal ownership by another, and there is an abundant amount of linguistic evidence
in Greek literature that a was a person who was owned by another free person (Plato,
Gorg. 57 502D; Dio Chrysostom 9 [10], 4; Philo, Sacr. 26; Abr. 251; Good 136, 139; Josephus, Ant.
16.126; War 7.336). Some have estimated that 20 percent of the people living in the Roman
Empire were slaves in the first century (Harris, 34). In its Jewish context, however, another idea
emerges. Religiously, connotes a special relationship between God and humans defined
in terms of possession (by God) and service (by humans). In the Hebrew Bible, the term

used to define such a religious relationship. Israel is called slave of the Lord in the LXX of
Psalms 134:1; 135:22; Isa 49:3; and Ezekiel 28:25. The religious expression of slavery as
dedication to God permeates the piety of the Psalms (LXX Pss 118:38, 76; 122:2; 133:1; 135:1;
142:12). In Isa 42:19, the Hebrew servant of the Lord is rendered by the LXX in the plural as
(slaves of God), the only instance of this phrase in the LXX. The term
is attributed to those leaders who mediate between God and humans, such as Joshua (Josh 14:7;
24:30; Judg 2:8), David (2 Sam 7:8, 25, 29; 1 Chr 17:4), and Moses (LXX Ps 104:26, 42; Mal 3:24).
More often, it is used of the prophets as messengers of the Lord (Amos 3:7; Joel 3:2; Jonah 1:9;
Zech 1:6; Jer 7:25; 25:4; Ezek 38:17). Although in the NT the term can be applied to Jesus (Phil
2:7) or to Christians generally (1 Pet 2:16; Acts 2:18; 4:29; Rev 10:7; 19:5; 22:3, 6), the perception
of Paul and his ministering companions was that they were slaves of the Most High God (Acts
16:17). Thus the Jewish usage of the term reflected here is as a title for Christian leaders, either
in the form slave of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:1; 2 Pet 1:1) or slave of Christ (Gal 1:10). The
functional sense of the word is as a servant like the prophets and other Israelite leaders.
Thus the term stresses more that noble role of a prophet/apostle/servant than that of an

ignominious slave. It is best to understand the self-title as both (1) an indication of humility,
for the servant does not come in his own name, and (2) a description of an office, for the bearer
of this title is in the service of a great king.
. Genitive of possession, because the semantics of the noun points to
ownership. Although English Bible readers usually consider Christ as part of Jesus personal
name, for early Christians retained much more of its original titular meaning, namely
the anointed one or Messiah, especially when preceding the personal name Jesus
(Wright, 1992, 407-09). BDAG acknowledges the Messiah translation in the Gospels and Acts
and also in the epistles when accompanied by the article (see e.g., Phil 1:15). He adds, however:
Christ, which many gentiles must have understood in this way (to them it seemed very much
like even in pronunciation) (1091).
Following a later Byzantine reading, the Textus Receptus transposes these two words which is
reflected in the Jesus Christ of the KJV and NKJV. This order is not characteristic of Pauline
salutations, where he will typically call himself an apostle of Christ Jesus or a servant of
Christ Jesus (e.g. Rom 1:1), but not of Jesus Christ.
. Dative of recipient (Wallace, 148). Because of the later ecclesiastical usage
of the English word saints, the translation holy ones is preferred (BDAG, 11.2.d.). See also
LN 11.27: Gods people).
. Spherical rather than locative. Discounting the locative use, Porter writes:
Another explanation, however, and one which appears to make better sense of Pauls
language, is a spherical use, according to which it is said that one is in the sphere of Christs
control (Porter, Idioms 159).
. Pres act ptc masc dat pl (attributive). Referring back to .
. Locative. In Pauline salutations where the destination follows , only the
letters to Philippians and Colossians are in the plural. Polycarps letter to the Philippians also
uses the plural (1:1). In the seven Ignatian letters, only that to the Trallians uses the plural
following . Robertson calls this an idiomatic plural (480). See also Campbell, BHGNT, 2.
. Accompaniment. In secular Greek, the words and
referred respectively to a guardian, overseer (LSJ, 657) and a servant, attendant
(LSJ, 398). This is the only verse in the NT where these two terms for early Christian leaders
appear together, although 1 Tim 3:1-7 discusses and 3:8-13 discusses . BDAG
glosses as overseer or supervisor, with special interest in guarding the apostolic
tradition (379). The translation bishop carries too many later ecclesiastical overtones to
serve as the best translation in the NT. BDAG glosses as attendant, assistant, aide and
adds: the Eng. derivatives deacon and deaconess are technical terms, whose mng. varies in
ecclesiastical history and are therefore inadequate for rendering the NT usage of ()
The textual variant replaces the two separate words in the correctors of B and D
and in K, P, 075, 33, 1241, 1739, and 1881. This is a patently late reading since the word has no
pre-history to the NT and does not appear elsewhere until the 4th century Fathers (Lampe,