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Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 1996 -- Volume 9:17

Does Philippians 1:6 Guarantee Progressive Sanctification?
Part 2

Professor of Bible
Moody Bible Institute
Chicago, IL


I. Introduction

In Part 1 of this article, an investigation was begun regarding the nature of the declaration in Phil 1:6 that, "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus ."1 It was observed that the most wide spread perspective was to view this verse as addressing the salvation/sanctification of the Philippians, and Christians in general. Nevertheless, many scholars object to this interpretation, opining that such exegesis imposes foreign ideas on the text. As an alternative, they suggest that the verse and its context speak of the Philippians’ financial partnership with Paul in the advance of the Gospel.

The context preceding 1:6 was seen to agree most readily with this latter approach. The epistolary introduction in Philippians (1:3–11), as in other epistles, anticipates themes developed in the body of the letter. To be specific, Phil 1:3–7 is best understood as preparing for Paul’s gift motif developed in 4:10–20. In fact, the unusual harmony of 1:3–7 and 4:10–20 compels the exegete to perceive 1:6 from the vantage point of the Philippians’ gift to Paul. We also discovered that koinwnia ("partnership") in v 5, taken with the following preposition eis ("in, toward"), stresses the partnership the Philippians had with Paul in spreading the Gospel, not a partnership in salvation/sanctification. The details of 1:6 must now be examined.


II. Exegetical Considerations in Verse 6

A. The "Good Work"2

1. The Relationship of 1:6 to 1:5

What has been implied in Part 1 is that the koinwnia of 1:5 and the sygkoinwnos ("co-partners") of 1:7 delimit the meaning of "good work" in 1:6.3 Hawthorne analyzes the problem in approaching 1:6 by warning that the phrase "good work"

cannot be shaken loose from its immediate context and be interpreted primarily in terms of "God’s redeeming and renewing" in the lives of the Philippians (Martin, 1959; see also Barth, Caird, Hendriksen, Jones, Müller). Rather ergon agatJon finds its explanation in the fact that the Philippians were partners with Paul in the gospel (v 5), and shared their resources with him to make the proclamation of the gospel possible. This "sharing in the gospel" is the good work referred to here (cf. 2 Cor 8:6) [italics original].4

This restricted meaning of 1:65 is confirmed by the interrelationship between the "good work" and the preceding phrase in v 5, "the first day until now."6 The "good work" is what God began among them (v 6), i.e. from "the first day." The concept of completing the good work in v 6 carries the process on from the "now" (v 5) to the "day of Christ" (v 6). This can be diagrammed as follows:


Verse 5 "from the first day" "until now"


Verse 6
"he who began"    "will complete it until the day of Christ"

2. The Relationship of 1:6 to 2:12–13

One line of support for the thought that "good work" should be regarded as a reference to salvation is Paul’s uses of a verbal compound of ergon ("work") in 2:13: "for it is God who is at work (Jo energwn) in you, both to will and to work (to energein) for His good pleasure." It is further argued that immediately preceding v 12 Paul addresses the Philippians to "work out your [own] salvation" (thn Jeautwn swthrian katergazetJe). Here Paul conjoins "salvation" (swthria) with another compound of ergon. By this or similar exegesis, Silva feels able to draw from 2:12–13 the theological categories of human responsibility (2:12) and divine sovereignty (2:13) and to apply them to 1:5 and 1:6 respectively.7

But the use of 2:12–13 to assist in the traditional (salvation) interpretation of 1:6 can be challenged on the following grounds: First, this approach employs the unsound exegetical and hermeneutical method of indiscriminately cross-referencing ergon or its cognates and compounds. Other compounds of ergon in Philippians demonstrate that energew (2:13, "to work") and katergazomai (2:12, "to accomplish, work out")8 do not necessarily correspond with the "good work" of 1:6 or a salvation view of the verse. Clearly, the focus of ergon in the remainder of the letter is on the work of advancing the Gospel, not soteriological concerns.9

Second, the "salvation" (swthria) in 2:12 is best taken as a "deliverance" other than a rescue from eternal damnation. Hawthorne translates, "Obediently work at achieving spiritual health [swthria]" (italics added), referring to the church’s corporate experience.10 While wanting to maintain a distance from a purely sociological understanding of "salvation" in 2:12, Fee nevertheless expresses a similar opinion: "The context makes it clear that this is not a soteriological text per se, dealing with ‘people getting saved’ or ‘saved people persevering.’"11 On the other hand, Silva argues against a non-soteriological or non-eschatological sense of swthria in 2:12: "Perhaps the strongest objection to the new interpretation is that it lends itself so . . . to a remarkably weakened reading of a remarkably potent text."12 Silva’s "strongest objection" begs the question, and can stand only if the reader assumes what Silva hopes to prove. Why can’t Phil 2:12–13 be "a remarkably potent text" about a "salvation" other than a salvation from hell?13

3. The Relationship of 1:6 to Gal 3:3 and 2 Cor 8–9

Supporters of the traditional (salvation) approach to 1:6 often feel that they have evidence for their view in the fact that enarcomai ("begin") and epitelew ("complete") appear in combination together in Gal 3:3 and that this verse is the only other place where enarcomai appears in the NT.14 But severe problems arise in using Gal 3:3 in this manner as a parallel with Phil 1:6. First, Gal 3:3 seems to prove the very opposite of how the traditional (salvation) view interprets Phil 1:6. The Galatians were not persevering in godliness, even though Paul knows that they have "begun by the Spirit" (3:3) and were born again.15 Second, God is not technically the subject of the beginning or completion. The Galatians are.16 The NIV reads, "After beginning [enarxamenoi] with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal [epiteleistJe] by human effort?" (italics added).17

A more impressive parallel with Phil 1:6 is the use of the two words in 2 Cor 8:6, 10–11. Although the compound proenarcomai ("begin [beforehand]"18) is used with epitelew, the reference is crucial since it is the only other place in the NT where the two words come together. Silva admits that the 2 Corinthians passage is intriguing because of the double conjunction of these two Greek words, and because the contexts of both books where the words occur highlight a financial contribution.19 In comparing 2 Cor 8–9 with Phil 1:3–7, our attention is immediately captivated by the fact that the Macedonians (Philippians) are the repeated object for discussion in the 2 Corinthians unit.20 This alone should cause us to give greater notice to 2 Corinthians over Galatians 3.

In examining these parallels, we discover that 2 Cor 8–9, the largest NT passage on giving, contains all the major concepts surrounding Phil 1:6. First, 2 Corinthians brings together (pro) enarcomai ("begin beforehand") with epitelew ("complete") twice. It may be that enarcomai in Phil 1:6 carries sacrificial overtones.21 This would be in keeping with Paul’s priestly imagery of the Philippians’ gifts in the remainder of his letter.22 Second, this context uses koinwnia twice with reference to financial giving.23 Third, 2 Corinthians specifically mentions caris ("grace") in connection with the sacrificial giving of the Macedonians (8:1) and the financial contributions of others (8:6, 7, 19; cf. 9:8, 14).24 It is fascinating to note that apart from the use of caris in the salutation and the benediction of Philippians (1:2; 4:23), 1:7 is the only use of the noun in the whole letter.25 Fourth, in 2 Cor 9:8 material gifts are categorized as an ergon agatJon ("good deed"), as verse 9 implies.

The following chart lists these parallels and several others of importance.


Parallels Between Philippians 1 and 2 Corinthians 8–9


Philippians 1:3–7

2 Corinthians 8–9

1:3 "I thank My God [eucaristw tw TJew]" 9:12 "the ministry of this service is… overflowing through many thanksgivings to God [eucaristiwn tw TJew]"
1:5 "your participation [th koinwnia] in the gospel" 8:4 "the favor of participation [thn carin kai thn koinwnian] in the support of the saints"

9:13 "your generosity in sharing [ths koinwnias] with them"

1:6 "For I am confident [pepoitJws]"
8:22 "because of his great confidence [pepoitJhsei] in you"
1:6 "He who began [Jo enarxamenos] a good work in you will perfect [epitelesei]"
8:6 "as he [Titus] had previously made a beginning [proenhrxato], so he would also complete [epitelesh] in you this gracious work "
8:10–11 "[you] were the first to begin [
proenhrxastJe]…to do this,… But now finish [epitelesate] doing it also, that…there may be also the completion [to epitelesai] of it"
1:6 "that He who began a good work [ergon agatJon] in you" 9:8–9 "you may have an abundance for every good deed [ergon agatJon]; as it is written ‘… He gave to the poor’" 26
1:6 "He who began a good work in you [en Jymin]" 8:1 "the grace of God which has been given in the churches [en tais ekklhsiais] of Macedonia"

8:6 "he would also complete in you [eis Jymas] this gracious work"

1:6 "perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus [epitelesei achri hhmeras Christou Ihsou]" 9:9 "…He gave to the poor, His righteousness abides forever [Jh dikaiosynh autou menei eis ton aiwna]"

9:10 "He…[will] increase the harvest of your righteousness [ta genhmata ths dikaiosynhs Jymwn]" 27

1:7 "you all are partakers of grace [ths caritos] with me" 8:1 "the grace [thn carin] of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia"

8:6 "complete in you this gracious work [thn carin tauthn]"

8:7 "see that you abound in this gracious work [en tauth th cariti]"
See also 2 Cor 8:4, 19; 9:8, 14


 4. Conclusion

Taking "good work" in Phil 1:6 in a similar fashion to the same phrase in 2 Cor 9 is quite appropriate. In fact, in the NT, ergon agatJon ("good deed")28 always has humans as the primary agent of the action and never God.29 If the "good work" in Phil 1:6 is salvation, God alone becomes the agent of ergon agatJon ("good deed"),30 excluding the Philippians as actively participating, since salvation is apart from good works (Rom 4:5). But if the "good deed" is the Philippians’ participation with Paul financially in the advance of the Gospel, then their own actions could have begun the "good deed" that God empowered and stimulated.31

If this view of "good work" is correct, the phrase en Jymin ("in/by/among you [plural]") takes on a more corporate impact.32 The preposition en could denote the instrument ("by means of you"),33 a close association ("among you"), or the locality ("within you"). Any of these options can be harmonized well with the conception of the "good deed" already presented.34 However, the en Jymin construction is used two other times in Phil (2:5, 13) and both references yield a better sense when understood corporately.35 So if we must choose, the use of the phrase elsewhere in the book tips the scales to the translation, "among you."36 Paul then would be explaining how God began a good deed among them as a congregation, stressing the unity he desires to continue among them. The absence of en Jymin after epitelew ("complete") may then imply that the carrying on and completion37 of the good work is accomplished through others, and not through the Philippians themselves.38

B. Day of Christ39

An apparent exegetical difficulty with our interpretation of 1:6 confronts us at the climax of v 6. As expressed by Volf, the phrase "until the day of Christ"

poses an additional problem for the interpretation of ergon agatJon as an ongoing human activity. For the death of individual Christians puts a stop to their good works whereas Phil 1:6 portrays the good work as continuing until its completion at the Day of Christ Jesus, i.e., his parousia.40

This argument also works against Volf. Calvin noted the identical problem for any view of progressive sanctification supported from v 6. That is, the death of the individual Christian puts a stop to progressive sanctification whereas Phil 1:6 portrays the good work as continuing until its completion at the parousia. Calvin’s answer was that "there will be no absurdity of speaking of them [Christians] in progress, inasmuch as they . . . do not yet enjoy the felicity and glory which they have hoped for."41 However, it is questionable whether this adequately answers the objection he himself raises.

Dillow, holding that "good work" refers to the Philippians’ financial partnership, notes three options concerning the completion of the good work at the day of Christ:

The "completion" of this "good work" would then be either (1) its continuation; (2) its consummation in being rewarded at the day of Christ; or (3) its achievement of its final aim—multiplied fruit in the lives of others through Paul’s defense and confirmation of the gospel. Indeed, Paul tells them that as a result of their contribution they have become partners with him in this defense and confirmation (v. 6). It is easy to see how this latter kind of "completion" could be carried on until the day of Christ. . . In other words, like many missionaries who followed, Paul is assuring his supporters that the good work of giving which they began will be completed by God with significant impact for Christ through Paul’s ministry to others.42

As noted above, the construction in 1:6 may not require the good work to continue as an ongoing human activity by the Philippians themselves.43 If their gifts and participation with Paul are carried on by the Lord himself in the lives of others (Dillow’s third option), Volf’s objection does not hold. In this interpretation, there is a literal sense in which God continues to carry on their partnership until the parousia.44 As individuals come to faith in Christ through the believers’ financial support of the Gospel, and these new believers in turn carry on the message of salvation to others down through the ages, those sacrificial gifts continue to be perfected.45

If Dillow’s first or second option46 is adopted, Paul’s confidence (pepoitJws)47 in God’s work among them could be construed as a pastoral anticipation and optimism about the future partnership of the Philippians, i.e., an expectancy rather than an infallible certainty. An examination of peitJw (perfect, "to be confident") in the book (1:14, 25; 2:24; 3:3, 4) could suggest this. For example, in 1:25 Paul expresses a confidence (peitJw) that he will soon be released from prison for the benefit of the Philippians. Swift observes that, in mentioning his confidence here, the apostle was exemplifying the ability to "discern what is best" (1:10).48 Along similar lines, Kent remarks that the confidence in 1:25 "represents [Paul’s] personal conviction based on what seemed to be probable in the light of all the factors."49 The same conception may be true for 1:6. Paul’s statement about his confidence—using Kent’s words—"represents his personal conviction based on what seemed to be probable in the light of all the factors" concerning the Philippians’ past and current ("until now," 1:5) faithfulness in partnership.50

II. Exegetical Considerations from Verse 7

Paul’s confidence expressed in 1:6 does not seem to be placed solely in the work of God’s sovereignty.51 Verse 7 adds the human side to the "good work" God began among the Philippians.52 Here Paul states "the ground of his hoping well of them."53 In other words, v 7 supplies the subjective rationale for Paul’s confidence.54 Here he brings to the forefront the dual subject behind v 6:55 "it is only right for me to think this about all of you" (Jyper pantwn Jymwn). Paul is not contradicting the divine origin of the "good work." God is indeed the source of all the believer’s good deeds. But Paul brings to the surface the human side of this action as well.56

The apostle also notes in v 7 the cause of his optimistic thoughts about the future ministry of God among them in carrying on their joint partnership with Paul in his missionary labors. It is "because (dia to) you hold me in your heart"57 (NRSV). Most versions and commentators translate this phrase as Paul’s love for the Philippians rather than their love for him. But there are valid reasons syntactically, contextually58 and grammatically59 to find here another expression of the Philippians’ love and gift. Because of their love for him, i.e., their partnership with him in the Gospel, Paul is able to anticipate what God will do among them in the future.

One could hardly claim that the Philippians’ "good work" of missionary partnership was a result of self-righteousness. On the contrary, like Paul, they had participated in grace (caris, 1:7). In this context grace cannot be soteriological or redemptive grace.60 Taking the "grace" as redemptive grace forces the interpreter to ignore the parallel between v 5 and v 7.61 In addition, the experience of this grace as outlined in v 7 is specifically related to Paul’s recent imprisonment, in which he is fulfilling his appointment as an apostle to defend and confirm the truth of the Gospel (cf. 1:16–17).

Some conclude that the grace in 1:7 is the enabling sufficiency that both Paul and the Philippians experienced in order to promote the Gospel, even in suffering.62 This is thought to be supported by the verbal form carizomai ("to give, grant") in 1:29. But as Barry observes, "It is true that in verse [29 and] 30, he [Paul] speaks of the Philippians as having themselves to undergo ‘the same conflict’ as his own; but the expression ‘in my bonds, &c.,’ can hardly be satisfied simply by this kind of fellowship."63 Paul is in chains, the Philippians are not. They have shared with him (sygkoinwnhsantes) in his afflictions (4:14). In other words, the focus in 1:7 (and 4:14) is surely on Paul’s sufferings, not on the Philippians’.

Another possibility is that "grace" defines Paul’s apostolic gift and the accompanying privileges and/or hardships (Eph 3:8; Rom 1:5; 15:15–16; Gal 2:9).64 As a result, the Philippians participate in Paul’s suffering and proclamation in an ideal, rather than a real sense.65 The text could then be read as in the KJV, "partakers of my grace," making the grace more exclusively Paul’s.66

But in light of previous conclusions in this article, it is quite appropriate to draw interpretive help from the only other passage where caris is mentioned as experienced by the Philippians: 2 Cor 8:1-5.67 It is here that Paul brings together koinwnia and caris68 (2 Cor 8:4)69 in a similar way to that in Phil 1:5–7. In 2 Cor 8, the grace given in the Macedonian church was the "grace of giving" (2 Cor 8:7, NIV).70 It seems reasonable, then, to conclude that the experience of grace for Paul involved his call to defend the Gospel as the apostle to the Gentiles (cf. Rom 1:5). But the grace experienced by the Philippians was the grace of sacrificial giving to meet Paul’s needs and to advance the cause of the Gospel he defended.71 In both cases, the experience of grace was real, not merely ideal.

IV. Conclusion

Of all of Paul’s congregations, he was especially thankful to the Philippians. Their partnership (koinwnia) with him began early in the history of their church when Philippian believers sent financial help to Paul. They were concerned for his personal needs. But they also cared about spreading the Gospel. So they joined in partnership with Paul— including a recent gift to him in prison. Up to now, they had maintained this joint missionary endeavor.

While disunity threatened to undermine their own progress in the faith (1:27; 2:2-4, 14; 4:3-4) and to destroy the "good work" of their partnership, the apostle was confident in the Lord that either 1) they would respond to his exhortations, or 2) God would carry on the good work through others. If they continued to obey as in the past (2:12), God would also bring to completion at the day of Christ the gifts and partnership that he himself initially inspired among them. Their good work would result in a full reward at the Bema, the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 John 8).

Nothing in the details surrounding Phil 1:6 or in the terms of the verse itself can be adduced to substantiate the claim that sanctification is guaranteed to the Christian. In reality, the verse says nothing about the specific nature of salvation or the process of sanctification, precisely because such subjects are far removed from the actual intent of the passage. Eadie has stated well a similar conclusion:

Those who maintain the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, take proof from this verse, though certainly without undisputed warrant, and it must be in the form of development; for it refers to a particular action, and is not in itself a general statement of a principle . . .72

Phil 1:6 is not a text on which to build a doctrine of salvation or deterministic sanctification. Instead, it is a rich text for advancing a theology of stewardship and missions. Sacrificial financial investments to promote the cause of Christ—made by faithful believers who are motivated by God Himself—will reap rich spiritual dividends in this life73 and eternal rewards in the next. Paul was eager for the profit that was accruing to the Philippians’ heavenly account (4:17). J. B. Phillips’s rendering of v 17 is very helpful: "It isn’t the value of the gift that I am keen on, it is the reward that will come to you because of these gifts that you made."74

We should be no less eager for the same profit to come to ourselves and others.


1 Unless noted otherwise, English translations will be taken from the New American Standard Bible.


2 Judith M. Gundry Volf, Paul and Perseverance: Staying In and Falling Away (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1990), 33, calls this term the crux interpretum to the meaning of 1:6.


3 Of all the commentators I have studied who take the traditional view of 1:6, only Lenski is consistent in interpreting 1:5–7 as a unit with all three verses portraying the Philippians’ "fellowship" in faith and adherence to the Gospel (salvation); R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1937), 708–715. He reluctantly admits on p. 715 that the gift is in the background of the unit, but the koinwnia would be fully possible without the gift. Peter T. O’Brien, Introductory Thanksgivings in the Letters of Paul (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1977), 22–23, 45; and Paul Schubert, Form and Function of the Pauline Thanksgivings (Berlin: A. Topelmann, 1939), 78, conceive of the unit as moving from the specific to the general (1:3, the gift; 1:5, the broad cooperation in advancing the Gospel; 1:6, eschatological salvation). Other commentators understand Paul to be moving from the Philippians’ partnership (1:5) to God’s gift of salvation (1:6) back to the Philippians’ partnership (1:7). Cf. William Hendriksen, Exposition of Philippians (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1962), 51; Ralph P. Martin, Philippians, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, ed. R. V. G. Tasker (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1959), 60–62; Volf, Perseverance, 37–38; Gordon D. Fee, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, New International Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Ned B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, and Gordon D. Fee (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995), 90. Moisés Silva, Philippians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Kenneth Barker (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992), 51, goes so far as to interpret 1:6 as a contrast with 1:5 rather than a continuation. As will be seen below, this is contextually and exegetically unlikely, if not impossible.


4 Gerald F. Hawthorne, Philippians, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1983), 21. Timothy Dwight also equates the "good work" with the koinwnia of v 5: H. A. W. Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Epistles to the Philippians and Colossians, and to Philemon, 4th ed., translated by John C. Moore, rev. and ed. by Wm. P. Dickson, preface and supplementary notes by Timothy Dwight (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1889), 48,


5 "By ergon agatJon ["good work"] is not meant vaguely and generally a work of faith and love . . . but that special good work, that koinwnia, which the apostle has just particularized"; John A. Eadie, A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, ed. W. Young, reprint ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979), 11.


6 Volf, Perseverance, 37, objects to this interconnection between vv 5 and 6: "The text offers no compelling reasons to identify koinwnia Jymwn eis to euangelion with ergon agatJon. Rather, a differentiation between the two seems more apparent." She adds later (ibid., 40), "the difference in time spans of the activities (acri tou nun, ‘until now’ v. 5, but acri Jhmeras Cristou Ihsou, ‘until the day of Christ Jesus,’ v. 6) also speaks for a differentiation between the phrases." But contrary to Volf, the difference in time spans in vv 5 and 6 does not require that the activities be distinct. Even Lenski, Philippians, 709, who interprets both verses to relate to salvation, believes that "He who began" (1:6) picks up the phrase "from the first day." Also in agreement with the identity of these phrases in vv 5 and 6 are Fee, Philippians, 85-86, nn. 64, 88; George Panikulam, Koinwnia in the New Testament: A Dynamic Expression of Christian Life (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1979), 84–85; L. A. Wiesinger, Biblical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistles to the Philippians, to Titus, and the First to Timothy, Clark’s Foreign Theological Library, trans. by John Fulton (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1851), 31.

Even seeing some distinction between vv 5 and 6 does not preclude taking v 6 as a reference to the Philippians’ financial assistance. Zane C. Hodges, The Gospel Under Siege: Faith and Works in Tension, rev. and enlarged ed. (Dallas: Redención Viva, 1992); 95, implies 1:5 refers to all of the Philippians’ previous gifts, but 1:6 speaks only of their most recent gift. He understands the singular ergon agatJon ("good work") as a reference to one specific gift. We must admit this possibility. Even if this is accepted, "good work" becomes a collective or corporate response of numerous good deeds (gifts) of individuals in the congregation.

On the other hand, the singular ergon agatJon may be collective, viewing the Philippians’ gifts as a whole in a united partnership. The use of the Greek phrase (in the singular) elsewhere in the NT is ambiguous. Excluding Phil 1:6, it only occurs ten times. All but two references employ a construction with pan ("every good work"), a construction that cannot be equally compared with Phil 1:6. However, the exceptions (Rom 2:7; 13:3) could be considered collective. Another collective construction using kalon ergon is found in 1 Tim 3:1, where the whole ministry of an elder is summed up with the singular, "good work."

But the fact that "good work" (v 6) can be equated with "partnership" (v 5) is enhanced by the following consideration. In Part 1 of this article (see fn 68 there), the phrase "the first day until now" (1:5) was seen to parallel 4:15, "at the first preaching of the gospel," lit. "in the beginning (arch) of the gospel." The phrase in 4:15 describes the time in Paul’s ministry after leaving Macedonia when the Philippians gave their recent gift. Cf. Dieter Georgi, Remembering the Poor: The History of Paul’s Collection for Jerusalem (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1992), 191, n. 42. The parallel between 1:5 and 4:15 may help confirm the interconnection of v 5 with v 6 since arch ("beginning") in 4:15 is etymologically related to enarcomai ("begin") in v 6.


7 Silva, Philippians, 51. For a similar linking of 2:12–13 with 1:6, cf. Hendriksen, Philippians, 54; Marvin R. Vincent, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles to the Philippians and to Philemon, International Critical Commentary (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1897), 8; and by allusion, Ben Witherington III, Friendship and Finances In Philippi: The Letter of Paul to the Philippians (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1994), 38.


8 Interpreting 2:12 as a soteriological concern is highly dependent on the nuance of the English translation of katergazomai as "work out." This, however, is not a translation ever used elsewhere for this Greek verb (found 22 times in the NT) in such versions as the KJV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, or NIV. The more natural translation is simply, "accomplish" or "produce." William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans. from Walter Bauer, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), s.v. "katergazomai," 421 (hereafter referred to as BAGD), while translating the verb, "work out" in Phil 2:12, places the verse under the heading, "bring about, produce, create." But unless swthria ("salvation") refers to a deliverance other than from eternal condemnation, translating the 2:12 phrase as "accomplish your salvation" presents formidable problems for a soteriological approach to the verse. The Roman Catholic Jerusalem Bible boldly renders the phrase, "work for your salvation." Similarly, the Good News translates, "keep working to complete your salvation." These translations are not incorrect if one approaches swthria in a non-soteriological manner.

9 For example, cf. 1:22, karpos ergou ("fruitful labor") and 2:30, to ergon Cristou ("the work of Christ"). Most of the other cognates have a similar focal point: 2:25, synergon ("fellow worker"); 3:2, tous kakous ergatas ("the evil workers"); 4:3, synergwn mou ("my fellow workers"). The one remaining compound is more general: 3:21, thn energeian ("the exertion [of the power that He has]").


10 Hawthorne, Philippians, 96. His defense is found on pp. 97–100. Cf. also Martin, Philippians, TNTC, 110–13; ibid., Philippians, New Century Bible (Greenwood, SC: Attic Press, 1976), 102–104; Robert C. Swift, "The Theme and Structure of Philippians," Bibliotheca Sacra 141 (July–September 1984): 245. A slightly more preferable slant on "salvation" (swthria) in 2:12 is that of Hodges, The Gospel Under Siege, 96–99. He proposes that the "deliverance" is realized in honoring Christ in the midst of suffering. This nuance receives support in Paul’s parallel explanatory statement that his own "salvation" (swthria) could be accomplished as Christ was exalted in his body, in life or in death (1:20). But this "salvation" also depended on the Philippians’ prayers for him (1:18).


11 Fee, Philippians, 235.


12 Silva, Philippians, 137.


13 Even if 2:12–13 has reference to eternal salvation, the clause, "for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for [His] good pleasure" (v 13), can’t imply divine sovereignty or support a doctrine of perseverance. Otherwise, God must be blamed every time a Christian sins. In other words, if this perseverance doctrine is biblical, any sin in the Christian must mean that at that point God stopped His work of sovereignly moving the Christian to will and to act according to the divine pleasure.


14 Alvin L. Baker, "Eternal Security Rightly Understood," Fundamentalist Journal (September 1984): 20; Silva, Philippians, 52; Homer A. Kent, Jr., "Philippians," Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978), 11:107; Fee, Philippians, 86, n. 63; O’Brien, Thanksgiving, 26.


15 It is at this very point that the perseverance doctrine enters various contradictions. Silva, Philippians, 52, reasons that the evidence in the Galatians was so small that "Paul could not presume on the genuineness of their faith so as to exclude the possibility of their perdition (4:11, 20; 5:4)." On the other hand, Paul’s "assurance that the Philippians will persevere to the end arises from the external, visible evidence that their lives provided." Yet, contrary to Silva, Paul addresses the Galatians as "brothers" nine times (1:11; 3:15; 4:12, 28, 31; 5:11, 13; 6:1, 18), mentions that God "called" them (cf. Rom 8:30; to be called is to be justified and eventually glorified), and reminds them that their genuine beginning as true Christians (3:3) was confirmed by the miraculous activities of the Spirit among them (3:5). Paul certainly feared his labors among the Galatians might be in vain (Gal 4:11). But the potential for his labors being in vain among the Philippians also existed (Victor C. Pfitzner, Paul and the Agon Motif: Traditional Athletic Imagery in the Pauline Literature [Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1967], 107) should they fail to hold fast (not "hold out," NIV) the word of life (2:16). Also, perseverance theology can view Phil 1:6 as Paul’s absolute confidence about the enduring quality of the faith of the Philippians, yet view 3:11–12 as Paul’s doubts about his own perseverance and final redemption (Silva, Philippians, 192–93).


16 Volf wants to avoid any implications for Phil 1:6 from the use of human subjects in Gal 3:3. She holds that enarcomai ("begin") and epitelew ("complete") in Galatians are intransitive, but in Philippians they are transitive. She adds: "The beginning and completion (of the Christian life) in Gal 3:3 is attributed not to the readers’ activity but to the activity of the Spirit or the flesh, as the instrumental datives pneumati and sarki indicate . . ." (Perseverance, 40, n. 195). But it is surely the "readers’ activity" to which Paul refers when he asks, "are you now being perfected by the flesh?" Even if the datives are taken as instrumental, the subject of the activity in both verbs is the Galatians themselves.

17 BAGD, s.v. epitelew, 302, translates, "you have begun in the Spirit; will you now end in the flesh [italics added]?"


18 Ibid., s.v. proenarcomai, 705.


19 Silva, Philippians, 52, n. 18, however, rejects this meaning in Phil 1:6, objecting that Gal 3:3 is a "closer parallel" than 2 Corinthians 8, and "Paul can hardly mean that the Philippians must raise yet another offering for the Last Day." Volf also objects: "But to what activity which the Philippians had begun and were certain to finish could Paul be referring here? Not a financial contribution, for Paul had just received a gift from the Philippians and can now say, ‘I have everything and abound, I have been filled’ (4:18)" Perseverance, 40. Kent’s reasoning is similar: "Paul would not have hinted that their gift was only a beginning, and that more should follow" ("Philippians," 105). However, that a financial understanding of 1:6 must imply that Paul is asking for additional gifts is a non sequitur. For example, Joseph C. Dillow, The Reign of the Servant Kings: A Study of Eternal Security and the Final Significance of Man (Hayesville, NC: Schoettle Publishing Co., 1992), 206, views the completion of the "good work" as the multiplied fruit in the lives of others through the Philippians’ financial partnership in Paul’s defense of the Gospel. Yet he rejects the implication that Paul is teaching that the Philippians’ contributions should continue until Christ returns.

Viewed from another perspective, Paul may be hinting that the Philippians should continue their partnership with sacrificial giving until the Lord returns. He told them, "Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account" (4:17, NIV). What faithful pastor would not encourage his congregation to give sacrificially in order to promote the Gospel, and to believe that God will richly reward their giving at Christ’s return? Paul wrote 2 Corinthians 8–9 for the very reason of motivating the Corinthians to give financially.


20 Some commentators see 2 Corinthians 9 as a separate letter from chap. 8. E.g., Ralph P. Martin, 2 Corinthians, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1986), 249–50; Hans Dieter Betz, 2 Corinthians 8 and 9: A Commentary on Two Administrative Letters of the Apostle Paul, ed. George W. MacRae (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985), 27–36. To the contrary, the two chapters are to be handled as a unit of thought. In defense of the unity of chaps. 8–9, see Charles H. Talbert, "Money Management in Early Mediterranean Christianity: 2 Corinthians 8–9," Review and Expositor 86 (1989): 359–61; Stanley K. Stowers, "PERI MEN GAR and the Integrity of 2 Corinthians 8 and 9," Novum Testamentum 32 (1990): 340–48; Victor Paul Furnish, II Corinthians, Anchor Bible (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1984), 429–33.


21 J. B. Lightfoot, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, reprint ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1965), 84; William Barclay, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, reprint ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975), 16; James Hope Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1930), s.v. enarcomai, 211; H. C. G. Moule, Philippian Studies: Lessons in Faith and Love (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., n.d.), 26. Denying the ritual sense in the word, see J. Hugh Michael, The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, Moffatt New Testament Commentary (London: Hodder and Stoughton, Ltd., 1928), 12; Gerhard Delling, s.v. telos, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, trans. by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1965), 8:62, n. 5 (hereafter TDNT).


22 The words tJysia ("offering," 2:17; 4:18) and leitourgia ("service," 2:17, 30) are common sacrificial terms Paul employs in Philippians to describe the giving of money to his needs. Phil 4:18 and Heb 13:16 are perhaps the clearest verses to show that sacrificial giving is a priestly activity accomplished by the NT believer-priest. (Cf. also leitourgia, "service," in 2 Cor 9:12 and leitourgew, "to serve," in Rom 15:27, both in financial contexts. The latter verse also employs the verb koinwnew.)


23 The collection project discussed in 2 Corinthians 8–9 has as its purpose the unity of the Jewish and Gentile churches. Paul S. Minear, The Obedience of Faith (Naperville, IL: Alec R. Allenson Inc., 1971), 5; C. Thomas Rhyne, "II Corinthians 8:8–15," Interpretation 41 (October 1987): 408; Talbert, "2 Corinthians 8–9," 360; Richard R. Melick, Jr., "The Collection for the Saints: 2 Corinthians 8–9," Criswell Theological Review 4 (1989): 99, 102–103. In a similar way, Paul viewed the financial gift of the Philippians as a tangible sign of their unity with one another and with his mission. It is widely recognized that Paul’s letter was written to correct disunity in the church at Philippi. The specific disunity centered around two women (4:2). We suggest that the gifts given to Paul were bound up in the disunity in the church and between these two women. Having been directly and publicly named in the letter is significant in itself, highlighting the problem they had. Further, "their feud [must have been] particularly disruptive for Paul to name them specifically" David E. Garland, "The Composition and Unity of Philippians," Novum Testamentum 27 (1985): 172. Theodor Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament, translated by Melancthon Williams Jacobus and John M. Trout et al., reprint ed. (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1953), 1:530 is right in stipulating that the problem among these two women must have been congregational, not personal. Paul describes these two women as those who have "struggled together" (synatJlew) with him and were "fellow workers" (synergos) (4:3). These appellations cannot mean that they traveled together with the apostle in his missionary endeavors. The word synatJlew appears in the NT only in 4:3 and 1:27. In 1:27 the whole congregation is challenged to "struggle together" for the faith of the Gospel. The word synergos is applied to Epaphroditus (2:25), but not in the sense that he worked side by side with Paul in evangelism during Paul’s imprisonment. The word appears in the verse with apostolos ("messenger") and leitourgos ("minister"). For the significance of the latter word in financial concerns, see leitourgew ("to serve") and leitourgia ("service") in n. 22 above. As Georgi, Remembering the Poor, 63, notes, the former word (apostolos) is used of the delegates who conveyed the Gentile collection to Jerusalem (2 Cor 8:23). Clement is also called a synergos ("co-worker," 4:3), but did not seem to have traveled with Paul. Garland, "Unity of Philippians," 151, n. 36; cf. also Colin O. Buchanan, "Epaphroditus’ Sickness and the Letter to the Philippians," Evangelical Quarterly 36 (1964): 159.

It is possible that these women (1) hosted Paul as Lydia did during one of his visits to Philippi; or (2) had significant ministries among other women or among widows (cf. Dorcas, Acts 9:39). They could not be among the elders or deacons of the church (1:1) since Paul did not allow women to hold these offices (1 Tim 3:2, 8; Titus 1:6; however, there may be a role of deaconess in 1 Tim 3:11). But more probable is that these two women were known to have made substantial contributions to Paul’s ministry. Francis X. Malinowski, "The Brave Women of Philippi," Biblical Theology Bulletin 15 (April 1985): 61, adds, "From what we see in Acts 16 and in the letter to the Philippians and the two references to Macedonian churches (2 Cor 8–9 and Rom 15:25–29) we are compelled to keep in the foreground that financial actions were important to the Philippians and Paul, and constituted a vivid proof of their mutual admiration and love. And this Philippian financial generosity began with women. Its unusual continuance we can confidently suppose was due to such female influence." It is apparent that the first convert to the faith in Philippi, Lydia, was a woman of apparent wealth. This is derived from the fact that Lydia (1) was a "dealer in purple cloth" (Acts 16:14, NIV) and purple cloth was a symbol of wealth (Melick, "Collection for the Saints," 106, n. 34); (2) may have had servants (Acts 16:15); (3) was originally from Asia Minor (Acts 16:14) and may have traveled in her business; and (4) was financially able to host Paul (Acts 16:15, 40). Melick, in the same place, also suggests there were influential Romans in the early Philippian church because the city was a Roman colony and because of the reference to Caesar’s household (Phil 4:22). Some of these could have been wealthy women (cf. Luke 8:3). Lydia was one who from the first gave freely to Paul (cf. Acts 16:15). This congregation as a whole was composed of those who were experiencing deep poverty (2 Cor 8:2). So, we may conjecture that if Euodia and Syntyche were affluent and contemplated discontinuing their financial contributions to Paul because of some rivalry, others may have lost motivation to give. Perhaps they thought that their gifts would be too insignificant without the assistance of a few who were wealthy.


24 The grace (caris) of the Lord Jesus is mentioned in 2 Cor 8:9. In analyzing this verse, nearly every commentator mentions Phil 2:6–11 as the closest parallel in thought; John Reumann, "Contribution of the Philippian Community to Paul, and to Earliest Christianity," New Testament Studies 39 (1993): 452. Melick, "Collection for the Saints," 102, believes the kenwsis passage lies behind Paul’s thoughts in 2 Cor 8:9. Cf. also Rhyne, "II Corinthians 8:8–15," 411–12; Martin, 2 Corinthians, 263; Furnish, II Corinthians, 417; Panikulam, Koinwnia, 51–52; Betz, 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, 62; C. K. Barrett, The Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Harper’s New Testament Commentaries, gen. ed. Henry Chadwick (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1973), 218. Surely Paul saw the generosity of the Philippian church in financial matters as a kind of "self-emptying" (Phil 2:7–8) similar to that of Christ (Malinowski, "Brave Women," 61). As 2 Cor 8:5 speaks of it, "they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God." Christ’s example in both passages forms the motivation for humble, sacrificial giving of every kind—my money or myself to God and others. But Volf, Perseverance, 37–38, 43, goes too far in her view that Paul intentionally portrayed salvation in 2 Cor 8:9 as a "good work" parallel to almsgiving and parallel to the ergon agatJon of 2 Cor 9:8. This is a major support for her opinion that Paul moves from the Philippians’ "good work" of giving financial aid for Paul (Phil 1:5) to the "good work" of God in which he gives salvation to them (1:6). The telltale absence of the phrase ergon agatJon as a reference to salvation in 2 Cor 8:9 makes this exegesis rather strained. In addition, the "good work" in 2 Cor 9:8 is too far removed contextually from 8:9 (a whole chapter) to read the phrase or concept into 8:9 without clear verbal clues.


25 The verb carizomai is used in 1:29 and 2:9.


26 The good deeds in this verse "have a yet narrower religious sense and refer to charitable deeds, especially material aid (cf. v. 9 and the larger context)" (Volf, Perseverance, 33–34). She argues that the Corinthians’ beginning and completing of their contribution to the Jerusalem collection is therefore considered contextually to be a good work in the technical sense. Ibid., 43, n. 211.


27 "Righteousness" in 2 Cor 9:9–10, since it is in an OT quotation, should be read in light of the Jewish concept of righteousness as almsgiving and good works to be rewarded by God in the future life (Panikulam, Koinwnia, 55; Volf, Perseverance, 43).


28 While understanding "good work" as referring to salvation, Volf, Perseverance, 34, 46, acknowledges that Paul never used the Greek phrase elsewhere with God as the subject. In fact, in all of Jewish and Christian literature, she is able to find only one reference to the Greek phrase with God as subject (1 Clement 31:7). Even in this reference, God’s "good work" is not salvation but his handiwork in physical creation. Additionally, 1 Clement 33:1 uses the phrase, "let us be zealous to accomplish every good work" (pan ergon agatJon epitelein)—an interesting verbal parallel to Phil 1:6. But Volf, ibid., 40, n. 194, contends that the absence of the companion verb enarcomai makes the parallel insignificant. This objection is not persuasive (cf. again, 1 Clement 33:7, "With good works [en ergois agatJois] all the righteous have been adorned.") The remaining arguments to support her view focus on passages and texts that view God as altruistic—feeding the poor, healing the sick, etc. In conclusion, she believes that Paul "could also have used a technical term [‘good work{s}’] from this [Jewish/Christian] tradition to characterize a divine work" (ibid., 36). What is meant is that Paul could have used a technical term used exclusively for human charity and adopted it for God’s generosity in giving salvation. This is an enormous exegetical leap.


29 The word ergon ("work, deed") modified by agatJos ("good") occurs 14 times in the NT (Acts 9:36; Rom 2:7; 13:3; 2 Cor 9:8; Eph 2:10; Phil 1:6; Col 1:10; 2 Thess 2:17; 1 Tim 2:10; 5:10; 2 Tim 2:21; 3:17; Titus 1:16; 3:1). It never refers to "salvation." In each NT use the focus is on believers meeting the practical, earthly needs of others. Occasionally the phrase contains obvious overtones of financial or material giving (Acts 9:36; 2 Cor 9:8; and perhaps 1 Tim 5:10). Cf. also the verbal form, agatJoergein ("to do good") in 1 Tim 6:18, where material sharing is in view and the word koinwnikos ("generous") occurs. The other occurrence of this compound verb is used with God as the subject, but not of salvation ("he did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons," Acts 14:19). Theologically, we may refer to our salvation as a "good work" effected by God, but there are no grounds for this exegetically in the Greek phraseology of Phil 1:6.

Even synonymous constructions cannot produce an example of the phrase "good work" as describing God’s redemptive plan or employing God as the subject of the work. Phrases with ergon + agatJos are probably synonymous with ergon + the adjective kalos ("good, beautiful") as seems evident from 1 Tim 5:10 (cf. also 6:18). All 16 uses of the latter construction speak of deeds of human kindness (Matt 5:6; 26:10; Mark 14:6; John 10:32, 33 [used of our Lord’s earthly ministry]; 1 Tim 3:1; 5:10, 25; 6:18; Titus 2:7, 14; 3:8, 14; Heb 10:24; Jas 3:13; 1 Pet 2:12). All other uses of synonymous constructions are restricted to human action: agatJopoios ("doing good," 1 Pet 2:14); agatJopoïa ("doing good," 1 Pet 4:19); agatJopoiew ("do good," Mark 3:4 [Majority Text]; Luke 6:9, 33 [twice], 35; 1 Pet 2:15, 20; 3:6, 17; 3 John 11); poiew + agatJon as a substantival direct object ("to do good," Rom 7:19; 13:3; Eph 6:8; 1 Pet 3:11); and poiew + kalon as a substantival direct object ("to do good," Rom 7:21).

The only appearances of ergon modified by agatJos in the LXX are found in Job 21:16 and Sirach 39:33. In Job, God is not the agent and the subject is not salvation. The phrase (translated "prosperity" in the NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV) is not helpful otherwise. Sirach uses agatJos as a predicate adjective: "All the works of the Lord are good" (NRSV). The works belong to God, but the reference to good is generic.


30 Lenski, Philippians, 709–10, holds that the lack of an anaphoric article (or article of previous reference) with "good work" (1:6) confirms the fact that this phrase cannot refer back to koinwnia in 1:5. Volf, Perseverance, 40, insists that the lack of the demonstrative adjective ("this good work") confirms the same thing. In answer to these arguments, it should be noted that (1) when the anaphoric article is employed to address that which is known from the previous passage, the identical noun is repeated. For example, cariti ("grace," Eph 2:5) with th cariti ("by [the] grace," Eph 2:8); Damaskon, ("Damascus," Acts 9:2) with th Damaskw ("to [the] Damascus," Acts 9:3). The use of an anaphoric article in 1:6 would only be appropriate if Paul employed thn koinwnian ("the partnership") in v 6. On the anaphoric article, see F. Blass and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Early Christian Literature, trans. by R. W. Funk (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), §25 and §258 (hereafter BDF). (2) The repetition of the demonstrative adjective would be awkward in this verse: "confident of this (toutou) very thing, that he who began this (toutou) good work." (3) The absence of the article alone cannot negate the possibility that a conceptual link exists between "partnership" (1:5) and "good work" (1:6). The contextual and exegetical clues mentioned throughout this article are what support the identification of these phrases. The link is conceptual, not grammatical. (4) It can be argued that the absence of the article with ergon agatJon ("good deed") is less harmonious with the traditional view. Moule, Philippian Studies, 26, n. 2, seems to observe the incongruous nature of the anarthrous construction for the traditional view. He reasons that the article must be supplied in English since "the reference is to the work of works" (italics original). But if salvation is behind Paul’s thinking, why did he not write, "the good work" (to agatJon ergon), rather than, "a good work," since salvation is the acme of all God’s good works for mankind? The anarthrous construction in 1:6 is best suited to the view that "good work" points to the missionary partnership of the believers in Philippi. Translating the phrase as "a good work" leaves open the possibility of other good deeds that God had begun or will begin (and complete) in the Philippians.


31 The "good work" is "that of advancing the Gospel by human means, and in this instance by the Philippian church" (italics original), but it "was not a human accomplishment in which they could take personal pride or credit. God had initiated a divine work (‘began,’ 1:6)"; Hawthorne, Philippians, 21.


32 The word enarcomai means "to make a beginning." The prepositional prefix in the word does not require the idea of "in" or "within." The use of the verb in Gal 3:3 demonstrates this fact; ibid., 21.


33 Hawthorne adopts the instrumental use ("by means of"), reasoning that the work of God in creation lies behind Paul’s thoughts (ibid.). As God created by his Word, he has now begun another good work by the Philippians—his human agents. Cf. O’Brien, Thanksgiving, 27, who sees in the "good work" of 1:6 the new creation that alludes to and parallels God as Creator in the OT. We agree with Silva, Philippians, 51–52, that such an allusion to creation is very indirect, if even existent. Also, the LXX of Genesis consistently uses kalos ("good, beautiful") rather than agatJos ("good") for God’s work of creation. "Why would Paul have used the synonym agatJon if he meant to refer to the Genesis description of God’s good work?" (ibid., 51).


34 Even to argue that en Jymin must mean "in each of you individually" does not contradict the conclusion that the good work is the Philippians’ partnership with Paul. Every good deed done by the Christian first takes place in the heart by faith. But nothing in the text demands that the Philippians will persevere in their heart response that led to their gift to Paul’s mission.


35 Silva, ibid., 107, translates 2:5, "Adopt [then] this frame of mind in your community . . ." (italics added). On the other hand, he resists this approach in 2:13. But Hawthorne, Philippians, 96, 100–101, is more in keeping with the context to translate 2:13, "For the one who effectively works among you creating both the desire and the drive to promote good will is God" [italics added].


36 Also favoring this translation: NRSV; Delling, s.v. telos, TDNT, 8:62. Second Corinthians 8:1, referring to the Philippians’ generosity, is a parallel: "the grace of God which has been given in the churches [en tais ekklhsiais] of Macedonia."


37 Volf, Perseverance, 40–41, is probably correct to argue that epitelew must have a telic significance ("finish") when used with enarcomai ("begin"). But the following temporal reference acri Jhmeras Cristou Ihsou ("until the day of Christ Jesus") requires an ongoing process that goes uncompleted in this life. Therefore, epitelew is best translated as a progressive future, "carry on to completion" (cf. the NIV). If the "good work" speaks of the participation in the Gospel, especially by means of giving, a harmony exists with Paul’s metaphor for Christian giving (2 Cor 9:6, 10; Gal 6:7–8) as a sowing (beginning) and reaping (finishing).


38 I am indebted to Zane Hodges for this suggestion.


39 This phrase (1:10; 2:16) carries the thought of the testing and evaluation of the believer’s works (2 Cor 5:10; Rom 14:10; 1 Cor 3:12–15); cf. Michael, Philippians, 13; Volf, Perseverance, 41, n. 201; Lightfoot, Philippians, 84; Kent, Philippians, 105–106, 108. Kent is correct in making some distinctions between "the day of Christ" and the "day of the Lord" (ibid.).


40 Volf, Perseverance, 41.


41 John Calvin, The Epistle to the Philippians, reprint ed. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1965), 229–30.


42 Dillow, Reign of Servant Kings, 206.


43 While the absence of en Jymin ("among you") in the last clause of 1:6 could imply that the good work is completed through others, I could not find a similar construction that demonstrates this possibility. On the other hand, it is natural to imply that where no change is made, en Jymin is to be understood. Philippians 2:13 provides a parallel: "For it is God who works among you [en Jymin] to will and to act [implied, en Jymin] for mutual goodwill" (author’s translation). Cf. also, Luke 22:26, "Instead, the greatest among you [en Jymin] should be like the youngest [implied, en Jymin], and the one who rules [implied, en Jymin] like the one who serves [implied, en Jymin]."


44 Hodges explains how this truth relates to the book of Philippians itself. "In fact, this very epistle can be seen as part of the fruit which that ‘good work’ produced, since the Philippians’ gift occasioned the letter. Whatever spiritual impact Paul’s letter has had on the Church down through the centuries (who can calculate it?) is therefore part of the ‘interest’ which has accumulated on this simple material investment in the cause of Christ" (The Gospel Under Siege, 95).


45 White, Form, 78, generalizes that the Philippians’ lack of confidence was in the progress of the Gospel itself. So Paul clarifies in 1:6 his certainty in the ultimate success of the Gospel (ibid., 64–65).


46 Swift, "Theme and Structure," 237–38, combining these two options, explains how the Philippians’ partnership can be regarded as being perfected until the day of Christ. "When the first half of verse 6 is taken as suggested, then the rest of the verse (‘perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus’) should be seen as a reference to the outcome at the judgment seat of Christ, an interpretation fully in harmony with the eschatological reference in verses 10–11. . . All the rest of the letter [after 1:1–11] is concerned with their development as koinwnoi so that they may be blessed with a temporally fruitful, eternally rewardable partnership in the gospel."


47 The participle is not causal as some suggest (O’Brien, Thanksgivings, 25; Schubert, Form, 78), but an attendant circumstance to eucaristw ("I thank") in 1:3; Meyer, Philippians, 18; Dwight’s notes in ibid., 48; Hawthorne, Philippians, 20; Fee, Philippians, 85, n. 61; Eadie, Philippians, 11 (who defines the function of the participle as auxiliary with a slight causal force). Since 1:5 and 6 (and v 7) are a unit, there is only one expressed cause for thanksgiving (i.e., in 1:5), not two. Paul’s normal pattern is to express just one ground for thanksgiving in his epistolary introductions. Volf, Perseverance, 39, n. 171, wishes to counter this objection, citing 1 Thess 1:3, 4 as evidence of multiple reasons for thanksgiving in Paul. But the Thessalonians’ "work" (ergon), "labor" (kopos), and "endurance" (Jypomonhj) seem more like common elements in one unified cause than three separate causes for thanksgiving.


48 Swift, "Theme and Structure," 242.


49 Kent, Philippians, 116; cf. also David E. Garland, "Philippians 1:1–26: The Defense and Confirmation of the Gospel," Review and Expositor 77 (1980): 329.


50 Elsewhere in the NT, peitJw and pepoitJhsis are often used to express a pastoral heart in thinking the best of a congregation or individual without indicating the absolute certainty of the future. E.g., Gal 5:10, "I have confidence in you in the Lord, that you will adopt no other view." Cf. also 2 Tim 1:5; Heb 6:9; 2 Cor 1:15; 2:3; 8:22 (see the chart above on parallels between Philippians 1 and 2 Corinthians 8–9); Rom 15:14; Acts 26:26; 2 Thess 3:4; Philemon 21. Rudolf Bultmann, s.v. peitJw, TDNT, 7:6, equates confidence in someone with confidence in the Lord. "Hereby a certain limit is set on confidence . . . Materially, then, it does not differ from the confidence in God expressed in Phil 1:6." At least, one must conclude that the paraenetic nature of the rest of the letter (e.g., 1:25, 27; 2:14–16) works against a view that Paul had an absolute confidence in the progressive sanctification of the Philippians. "The ground of Paul’s confidence in their perseverance is the belief that it was God’s grace which began the good work [of advancing the Gospel] in them, and, not being resisted (as was obvious by their enthusiasm for good), He would complete what He had begun" (italics added). Alfred Barry, Ellicott’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, ed. C. J. Ellicott (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, n. d.), 8:66. Cf. also Meyer, Philippians, 14: "The idea of resistance to this grace, as a human possibility, is not thereby excluded." Cf. the resistance of the Corinthians to the grace of giving in 2 Corinthians 8–9.

If the confidence in 1:6 is a pastoral confidence, it is designed with several didactic or corrective thrusts. First, some within the congregation may have doubted that God could "bring to completion" their participation in the Gospel since Paul was now in prison (cf. 1:12–14). To the contrary, Paul affirmed that God would continue to advance the Gospel. Those who join in furthering the Gospel with a firm confidence in the Lord (1:14) will find their good work carried on to completion. Second, Zahn, Introduction, 1:526–8 (cf. also Lenski, Philippians, 74), suggests that the Philippians believed Paul thought disparagingly of their progress and the church became dissatisfied with their partnership and gifts to him (4:10). Philippians 1:6 was written to reaffirm his positive view of their past and future cooperation in the Gospel. Third, there is a hint in the epistle that the error of perfectionism had influenced some of the Philippians. Martin, Philippians, TNTC, 41, and Garland, "Defense," 330, contend that in this letter Paul is combating a view of the Christian life in which one can "arrive" spiritually and resist pressing on for the prize (cf. 3:3–16). Paul even follows his introductory thanksgiving with a prayer for their spiritual well-being (1:9–11). Garland, "Defense," 330, finds that this prayer for more love corresponds to 1:6, and together they gently hint at the need for continued progress. Fee, Philippians, 88, is probably right in holding that the Philippian congregation began to neglect an eschatological expectation that helps orient a proper Christian walk (1:10–11, 23; 2:9–11, 16; 3:12–14, 20–21; 4:5, 17). The apostle was concerned about the Philippians’ accountability at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Philippians 1:6 helps correct this neglect. While perfection in their good work cannot be attained in this life, they must still strive for the prize (3:13–14).


51 Meyer, Philippians, 13–14, contra Fee, Philippians, 86: "This confidence has very little to do with them and everything to do with God . . ."


52 Several interpreters (Donald Guthrie, Epistles from Prison: Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, Bible Guides, ed. William Barclay and F. F. Bruce [New York: Abingdon Press, 1964], 32; Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Philippians, translated by James W. Leitch [Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1962], 16; Kenneth Grayston, The Epistles to the Galatians and to the Philippians [London: Epworth Press, 1957], 81; Lenski, Philippians, 711) want v. 7 to reach back to vv 3–5 and skip over v 6. But katJws ("just as") and touto pJronein ("to think this") most naturally relate back to the confidence (pepoitJws) Paul expressed in v 6, not to his joy in prayer (v 4). Vincent, Philippians, 8, remarks, "katJws is a nearer definition of pepoitJws, stating its ground in the affectionate relation between Paul and his readers." Later, he adds "The reference to pJronein here is to pepoitJws, not to supplication (v 4)" (ibid., 9). Meyer, Philippians, 14, draws attention to the fact that pJronein cannot return to 1:4 because the word reflects the feelings of Paul for the Philippians, not his prayers. Volf, Perseverance, 47, n. 231, agrees that v 7 supplies Paul’s subjective justification but not the grounds for his confidence in v 6. In her view, Paul’s confidence is in a sovereign God who guarantees perseverance, but "vv 7, 8 express why Paul can apply this conviction to the Philippian Christians . . . [italics original]." In answer to this theological perspective, see n. 15 and n. 50.


53 Calvin, Philippians, 230.


54 Swift, "Theme and Structure," 238.


55 Lightfoot, Philippians, 84; Zahn, Introduction, 1:192; Eadie, Philippians, 13–14. Volf, Perseverance, 39, concedes what we believe we have already proved: "But could a dual subject, though not explicit, be implied? Only if ergon agatJon is identified with some clearly human activity in the context. For example, if koinwnia Jymwn eis to euanggelion at 1:5, which denotes a human activity, can be identified with ergon agatJon at 1:6, we could conclude that the koinwnia which Paul describes as the Philippians’ doing is shown ultimately to be God’s work." Georg Bertram, s.v. ergon, TDNT, 2:643, holds a view similar to what we are presenting: "Even the most secular action in the interest of the Christian work of mission may be regarded as ergon kyriou ["the work of the Lord"], and it is thus understandable that in the active expression of faith, Paul can see both work for the Lord and the work of the Lord."


56 Second Corinthians 8:1–3 is an excellent parallel in addressing the dual subject behind the Philippians’ giving. The divine element is mentioned in v 1: "Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia." The human side is mentioned in v 3: "For I testify that . . . they gave of their own accord." (All italics added.)


57 Since kardia ("heart") is singular, it carries a corporate sense in this phrase. This is an established exegetical possibility in Pauline epistles (Rom 1:21; 2 Cor 3:15; 6:11; Eph 1:18; 4:18; 5:19; 6:5; 1 Thess 2:17; 2 Tim 2:22).


58 Syntactically, Jymas ("you") is thrust to the end of the clause for emphasis. (See BDF, §473, for a discussion on how words and phrases, when removed from their natural elements, carry special emphasis.) The question is whether Paul desires to say, "I have affection toward you—especially you," or "You—especially you—have affection toward me." Five advantages weigh in favor of the latter option. (1) The former solution smacks of favoritism. Paul had deep affection for other churches besides the one at Philippi. (2) The latter solution is in harmony with the statement in 4:15 that the Philippian congregation was thoroughly unique in its sacrificial (affectionate) gift to Paul. (3) Contextually, 1:7 gives the rationale for 1:5–6. Verses 5–6 have described Paul’s optimism about the Philippians’ future participation with him based on their past prolonged affection for and participation with him and his ministry. Paul’s love is an insufficient subjective grounds for the apostle to anticipate so noble a future for any congregation. (4) If the first option is adopted, v 8 becomes an unnecessary repetition about Paul’s affection for the Philippians. Philippians 1:8 is best explained on the grounds that Paul’s affection for the Philippians arises from their generosity to him. This is harmonious with 2 Cor 9:14 where Paul argues that if the Corinthians give sacrificially to the Jerusalem saints, "their hearts will go out to you because of the surpassing grace God has given to you" (NIV). 5) A structural parallel exists between the clause under discussion and the final clause of the sentence. In the final clause, the subject ("all of you") is also emphatically placed at the climax of the clause.

1:7a dia to ecein me en th kardia Jymas

because to have me in the heart you [subject]

1:7b sygkoinwnous mou ths caritos pantas Jymas ontas

joint-partners with me of the grace all of you [subject] being

59 Commentators and translators divide as to whether dia to ecein me en th kardia Jymas is describing Paul’s affection for the Philippians ("since I have you in my heart," NIV; also NASB, RSV, JB, TEV) or to the Philippians’ affection for Paul (Hawthorne, Philippians, 23; Wuest, Philippians, 33; NRSV, NEB; RSV margin; cf. Amplified). Some have determined that the word order favors me ("I/me") as the subject (Kent, "Philippians," 107; Michael, Philippians, 15; Vincent, Philippians, 9; Lenski, Philippians, 711–12). Greek grammarian, A. T. Robertson (Paul’s Joy in Christ: Studies in Philippians [New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1917], 64), holds that the Greek phrase could be either. Two recent studies have examined the grammar of this Greek phrase: Jeffrey T. Reed, "The Infinitive with Two Substantival Accusatives: An Ambiguous Construction?" Novum Testamentum 33 (1991): 1–27; Stanley E. Porter, "Word Order and Clause Structure in New Testament Greek: An Unexplored Area of Greek Linguistics Using Philippians as a Test Case," Filología neotestamentaria 6 (1993): 177–206. Reed has analyzed the infinitive with two accusative substantives and has shown that in about 90% of the occurrences, the first of the two accusatives will be the subject. Porter (ibid., 196–97), drawing heavily on Reed’s research, notes that in the three other appearances of the same infinitive construction in Philippians, the subject always precedes the complement. But neither author isolates and examines the infinite ecein (and compounds) with two accusatives. In every other occurrence of ecein (or paracein in Luke 18:5) with two substantival accusatives (Luke 18:5; 1 Cor 5:1; 1 Thess 1:8; Heb 8:3; 10:2), the subject follows the complement. In two cases (Luke 18:5; Heb 10:2), the construction involves dia to + ecein—the same phraseology in Phil 1:7. Of these five verses, Reed, "Infinitive," 4–5, cites only Luke 18:5. But in this verse, he argues for taking the first accusative as the subject, resulting in the translation, "yet because trouble [first accusative] brings me this woman [second accusative], I will see that she gets justice." This is meant to be superior to taking the second accusative as the subject and translating, "yet because this woman [second accusative] causes trouble [first accusative] for me . . ." Contextually, this translation is highly questionable. The woman’s troubles brought her to the judge at the very first, so why does the judge give her justice now? Also, grammatically, by choosing his translation of Luke 18:5, Reed admittedly sets aside the fact that paracein kopon occurs four other times as an idiom for "to cause trouble" (ibid., 4;Mark 14:6: Luke 11:7; Matt 26:10; Gal 6:17). The infinitive ecein + a double accusative appears in Heb 10:34 in the critical text and is cited by Reed (ibid., 10). If the critical text is accepted, the verse helps confirm Reed’s grammatical rule. But if the Majority Text is read, in every infinitive construction with ecein or parecein + two related accusatives, the object is written first. Therefore, we contend that there are good grammatical grounds for the translation we have chosen. The infinitive ecein apparently falls within the 10% of occurrences that do not follow Reed’s rule.


60 Hawthorne, Philippians, 23. Those who interpret "grace" soteriologically in 1:7 include among others Kent, "Philippians," 106; Lenski, Philippians, 713; J. A. Motyer, Philippian Studies: The Richness of Christ (Chicago: InterVarsity Press, 1966), 21.


61 Silva, Philippians, 53.


62 Swift, "Theme and Structure," 238; Meyer, Philippians, 16, 48–49; Grayston, Philippians, 82; Vincent, Philippians, 10; Fee, Philippians, 91–93.


63 Barry, Commentary, 66. Because of the same limiting phrase ("in my chains, etc."), Eadie, Philippians, 15, comments: "Nor can we understand the term [grace] simply and broadly of the grace of the gospel."


64 Lightfoot, Philippians, 66; Lenski, Philippians, 713; Martin, Philippians, TNTC, 63–64; Silva, Philippians, 53–54. Vincent, Philippians, 9, denies this possibility in light of the standard wording Paul consistently used to speak of his apostleship, i.e., "grace was given to me" (Rom 12:3; 15:15; 1 Cor 3:10; 15:10; Gal 2:9). This seems an unnecessary restriction on how Paul identified his apostolic calling in grace (cf. Rom 1:5).


65 Barth, Philippians, 19; Vincent, Philippians, 9; Michael, Philippians, 15; Wiesinger, Philippians, 32.


66 Calvin, Philippians, 230 (although his comments are brief); Panikulam, Koinwnia, 84; F. W. Beare, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Philippians, Black’s New Testament Commentaries (London: Adams and Charles Black, 1959), 53.


67 The word grace (caris) appears 12 times in 2 Cor 8–9. The repetition shows the prominence of the concept in Pauline thinking about giving (Melick, "Collection for the Saints," 100). An inclusio is formed with the word in 8:1 with 9:14, and 8:1 with 8:5 (Panikulam, Koinwnia, 46). Cf. also Barrett, Second Corinthians, 218. Of the 12 uses of caris, 5 refer specifically to material giving (8:1, 4, 6, 7, 19).


68 In 2 Cor 9:8, Paul demonstrates the relationship between "grace" (caris) and "good work" (ergon agatJon). As an aside, note that in 2 Cor 8:2 Paul also brings together with these two words another significant thematic concept found in Phil 1:4 and throughout the book— cara ("joy").


69 The Greek phrase in 2 Cor 8:4, "begging us with much entreaty for thn carin kai thn koinwnian (‘the grace and partnership’) in the support of the saints," may be either hendiadys or epexegetical. Betz, 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, 46, and Furnish, II Corinthians, 401, favor hendiadys. Panikulam, Koinwnia, 49, views either option as acceptable. Regardless of the choice, the two words are clearly joined in a special relationship.


70 At its very core grace involves generosity (Barrett, Second Corinthians, 218). In this context and others it carries the richness of generosity in giving materially (Panikulam, Koinwnia, 49). Therefore, it becomes a technical term for the gift given toward the Jerusalem collection (H. H. Esser, s.v. "Grace," New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown [Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976], 2:119).


71 For a similar view, see Frank Thielman, Philippians, NIV Application Commentary Series, ed. Terry Muck (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 40.


72 Eadie, Philippians, 12. Hawthorne, Philippians, 22, believes that applying 1:6 to the work of grace in all believers must be given a secondary status and not a primary one. Similarly, T. Dwight (in Meyer, Philippians, 48) doubts that 1:5–6 "can be regarded as, in themselves establishing the doctrine of the perseverance of all Christians . . . This must find its main subject elsewhere."


73 The Philippians questioned how God could use their gift to advance the Gospel (1:12). Paul reminded them that despite earthly circumstances, God would see to it that the Gospel would prosper. Therefore, their good work of giving to promote the Gospel was not in vain.


74 J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1960) 417.


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