Bible blog 2142

I thought I’d completed my translation of Philippians but I’d missed the final greetings. Here they are:

Philippians 4

Share my greetings with all the holy ones in Messiah Jesus. The brothers and sisters here with me send their greetings, indeed all the holy ones send greetings, above all those of the Imperial Household! The kindness of the Lord Jesus Messiah be with you.

I take the Greek imperative ‘ Greet the holy ones’ to refer to Paul’s greetings. But does  the phrase ‘in Messsiah Jesus’ go with the greetings or the holy ones? I’ve chosen the latter. If my translation is right it’s yet another illustration of what has been at the heart of this letter, the ‘shared life’ of believers with one another and with Jesus. Paul’s term ‘hagioi’ is often translated as ‘God’s people’ today, but I think he saw members of the assembly as holy and expected them to live up to this designation.

I think the reference to the Imperial Household is a made with a smile. Probably it’s the Ephesian HQ where Paul was imprisoned, and where he perhaps gained a convert or two.

In the final sentence Paul says ‘ with your spirit’ but as I don’t know what this adds to the pronoun ‘ you’ I’ve left it out.

Paul’s affectionate greetings in his letters to the church assemblies may provide guidance for the very frequent email correspondence in churches today. Email is a very rapid way of doing business, but our communications should always bear the mark of the life we share with each other and with Jesus. If some poor soul in the future has the task of looking at my present correspondence with church members, I want them to detect mutual affection, above all.

The ‘ koinonia’ (shared life so evident in this letter, is based on the ‘kindness’ of Jesus which is represented in chapter 2 in the poem or hymn that speaks of his self- emptying. As I’ve indicated, I think this hymn sets out a new human model, no longer that of Adam and Eve who grabbed at equality with God, but on Jesus whose generous humility took him to execution. I detect in Paul a quick assertion of authority, a pride in his role as an emissary of Jesus, which often gets near to arrogance. Because he detects this tendency in himself he is very acute at noticing in others, and in applying the remedy which works for him, the story of Jesus’ downward mobility.

All believers share an immersion in Jesus’ humility which frees them to appreciate each other.




  1. Beautiful conclusion, especially your personal and pastoral reflections at the end. I disagree with your omission of “with your spirit.” You think it adds nothing to ‘you’ but you’re just betraying your own liturgical usage. Why omit it? Paul doesn’t use that form often, so perhaps it meant something to him here. But note how my few criticisms of your posts are usually nit-picking. That’s because the substance of what you write is so brilliant and so beautifully expressed.

  2. I think your criticism is justified, but in fact our liturgical usage is: The Lord be with you/ And with your spirit. I think itbis probably a Hebrew ruach that Paul means, seen as the enlivening spirit of a living creature. But yes, mea culpa, The word should be used.

  3. Ah, so you’re Orthodox after all 😇🤓

  4. No, no, we got it direct from our national saint, the Apostle Andrew, who came here for the whisky…

  5. Wait a minute. Did he come to Scotland before or after he was crucified upside down in my hometown, Patras? You know we have his skull at the big St. Andrew’s church in Patras. Next time I’m in Patra, I will look to see if they also have his whiskey bottle with his skull. That would be a pretty awesome vintage!

  6. Of course he came to Patras after Scotland when due to the whisky he was already upside down…
    Cultural note: whiskey is Irish, whisky Scots.

  7. I’m having a riotous laugh over these exchanges. Thank you for the cultural note too! I of course had no idea. But I’m not a drinker of whisky or whiskey. Funny, funny, funny!

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