The proposition

Struggle together for the truth of the gospel


After Paul details his personal circumstances as a prisoner, 1:12-26, he moves on to outline his thesis about a citizenship which is worthy of the gospel, which reflects a higher calling, a citizenship which is focused on standing together for the truth of the gospel. He calls on his readers to "stand fast" together for the gospel, striving against all opponents, v28, through suffering v29, and conflict, v30.


i] Context: See 1:1-11. The move to a new section of the letter is marked by monon, "only one thing", one thing the Philippians must not fail to do: conduct themselves "worthy of the gospel." This one thing is Paul's proposition / thesis which is then developed in chapters 2 and 3.


ii] Background: See 1:1-11.


iii] Structure: Struggle together for the truth of the gospel:

Good citizens are called to redouble their efforts:

Struggle side by side on behalf of the faith proclaimed, v27-28;

Suffering is an integral part of a believer's struggle, v29-30


iv] Interpretation:

Paul's driving concern, expressed in this short passage, is that the Philippians' grow in steadfastness and unity in the face of trouble. At this point, Paul moves from narrative to imperative; his Philippian friends "must conduct their lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ ..... so contending together with one accord for the faith of the gospel." The imperative is singular in focus; the Philippians are to strive for the truth of the gospel in good times and bad.


In this propositional statement, Paul mentions the "struggle" facing the Philippians, of those who "oppose" and cause them to "suffer". Martin argues that the problem facing the Philippians is secular; they face pagan opposition. Given the strength of Paul's refutatio, refutation, in chapter 3, it seems likely that the troublemakers in Rome and Philippi are believers, rather than pagans. The struggle is most likely with members of the circumcision party; See "Background", 1:1-11.

Text - 1:27.

Unity and steadfastness in Christ: i] Paul begins this passage with an exhortation, v27-28. Together, and as individuals, the Philippians must behave in a worthy manner within society (ie., be good citizens). Despite the difficult circumstances they face they must remain steadfast, united and unmoved for the truth of the gospel. This behavior will expose the false motives and the inevitable end of those set on troubling the church.

monon adv "whatever happens" - only. Here transitional, serving to draw a particular conclusion from the previous passage; "one thing I do want to say to you", Barclay.

politeuesqe (politeuw) imp. "conduct yourselves" - perform duties as citizens. The word particularly applies to the duties and obligations of Roman citizens. Philippi was a Roman colony and therefore, the word had weight for Paul's readers. Yet, for believers, citizenship is heavenly and carries its own duties and obligations, so Paul is probably using the word metaphorically rather than of literally, ie., of being good Roman citizens. "Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel", ESV.

axiwV + gen. "in a worthy manner" - worthily. Modal adverb, expressing manner.

tou euaggeliou (on) gen. "of the gospel" - of the message. Genitive after the adverb "worthily of" which takes a genitive of persons +.

tou Cristou (oV) gen. "of Christ" - The genitive is usually classified as verbal, either objective, "about Christ", or subjective, "from Christ", although it could be classified as "adjectival, epexegetic, limiting "gospel / important news" by specifying it, a gospel "which concerns the person and work of Jesus Christ", or ablative, source / origin, "from Christ"; "the good news about Christ", CEV.

iJna + subj. "then" - that, [whether having come and having seen you or being absent, I may hear]. Introducing a consecutive clause expressing consequence / result / hypothetical result, "then ..... I will know that you stand ....", or possibly a purpose clause, "in order that"; "so that ... I may know that you are standing fast", Phillips.

eite .... eite "whether ...... or" - either .... or. Forming an disjunctive coordinative construction here supported by three conditional adverbial participles, elqwn, "having come", idwn, "having seen", apwn, "being absent."

akouw pres. subj. "only hear" - i may hear. The NIV, as with most translations, has linked this verb to the third participle in a group of three, "having come, having seen you, or being absent" to form the phrase "only hear about you in my absence." This then leaves the following clause without a verb, which must then be supplied, eg., "I will know." The sense of the three participles is clear without the verb "hear"; "in order that, whether I visit you or not, I may hear / know / learn of the news about you."

ta "-" - the things. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the prepositional construction "about you" into a substantive; "hear about the things concerning you."

peri + gen. "about [you]" - concerning, about [you]. Reference; "concerning you." "The things about you" that Paul wants to hear is the "standing firm", so the phrase is often left out, "I will hear that you are standing fast", Barclay.

oJti "I will know that" - that. Here introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul hopes he will hear / learn of the Philippians; "that you are standing firm in one spirit / Spirit."

sthkete (sthkw) pres. "you stand firm" - you are standing. "Hold your ground" (a military image), leading to the idea of firmness and uprightness.

en eJni pneumati "in one spirit" - This prepositional phrase introduced by en is adverbial, expressing manner. Possibly referring to the Holy Spirit, but more likely "spirit" in the sense of the element of our being that is sensitive to God; "a united spirit", Phillips; "with one common purpose", TEV.

sunaqlounteV (sunaqlew) pres. part. "contending / striving" - working together with, struggling together side by side. The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner in which the action of the verb "your are standing" is accomplished; "I will hear that your are standing fast, one is spirit and one in heart, one in your united contest for the faith of the gospel", Barclay.

mia/ yuch/ (h) dat. "as one man / together as one" - [one] soul, self, inner life. Dative of direct object after the sun prefix verb "to work together with", although Varner suggests it is instrumental, expressing means. Most likely in apposition to "one spirit". For Paul and his contemporaries, the soul was the psyche, the substance of a person, their being, and thus the source of their affections and passions. Its seat was a person's stomach, their loins. On the other hand, the "spirit" (not the Holy Spirit), if a distinction can be made, and often it can't, is a person's ideals, principles of a higher life, intuitive morality. As for the "heart", it was the source of intelligent thought, intellect, reason. So, Paul wants his readers to act with a focused ideal / purpose (spirit) and be united in their aims and objectives (soul); "one in spirit, one in mind", REB.

th/ pistei (iV ewV) dat. "for the faith" - in the faith. Probably a dative of interest, advantage, "for". "The faith", in the sense of teachings or truths, rather than "belief".

tou euaggeliou (on) gen. "of the gospel" - of the message, gospel. If "faith" = "belief", then the genitive could be classified as verbal, objective, "the faith (in the sense of belief) in the gospel", or subjective, so Hawthorne, but better adjectival, epexegetic, "the faith which is the gospel", or attributive, limiting "faith", "contending for gospel truth." Possibly even ablative, source / origin, "the faith which is based on the gospel", O'Brien.


"Without being frightened." Against those hostile to the gospel, we must stand without fear. Such a stand evidences two things to those who resist the gospel: it is a sign of their inevitable destruction, and a sign of the salvation of those who believe.

Westcott suggests that v28-30 is an ellipsis and proposes that "what is for them a sign of perdition is your salvation ..." commences a parenthesis made up of 28b + 29, best arranged to follow 28a + 30. This reads well, but is accepted by few translators. Best to follow the NIV and start a new sentence at "this", although its antecedent is unclear.

pturomenoi (pturw) pas. part. "frightened" - [and not] being terrified, startled. The participle, as with "contending", is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner by which the verb "you are standing", v27, is accomplished. A hapax legomenon (once only use in the NT), often used to describe a startled horse. Paul probably has in mind the consequence of fear, namely being debilitated and therefore, wavering. We are always frightened, but don't always let fear get the better of us. "Without being frightened", without wavering "in any way", or literally "not any thing." Not wavering from the obligations and responsibilities of a citizen of heaven.

en + dat. "in [any way]" - in [nothing]. Adverbial, modal, expressing manner; "in any form of intimidation."

uJpo "by" - Here expressing agency.

twn antikeimenwn (antikeimai) pres. mid. part. "those who oppose you" - the one's opposing. The participle serves as a substantive. Possibly the judaizers (Jewish law-bound Christians who opposed Paul's "by faith alone" theology), or Jews, and / or local heathen opponents.

endeixiV (iV ewV) "a sign" - [which is] an evidence, indication, proof. Predicate nominative. Here, their firm resolve in the face of persecution serves as an evidence of the ultimate punishment of the persecutors under the hand of God, and of the salvation of believers; "this will prove to them", TEV.

autoiV dat. pro. "to them" - Dative of interest, advantage; "which is for them a sign."

apwleiaV (a) gen. "that they will be destroyed" - of the = their destruction, ruin. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "sign"; "a sign to them of their doom." Varner classifies the genitive as verbal, objective.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step to a contrasting point.

swthriaV (a) gen. "that [you] will be saved" - of salvation [of you]. The genitive, as for "of destruction", is adjectival, either attributive, limiting "sign", or verbal objective. "Salvation" = "eschatological vindication, but possibly suffering now", Reumann.

apo + gen. "from [God]" - [and this] from [god]. Expressing source / origin.


ii] The suffering presently faced by the Philippians is grounded in God's will, v29-30. Paul indicates that two things have been graciously given to us by God because of our association with Christ, they are salvation and suffering. The kingdom comes with glory and pain; such was the experience of Christ, the experience of Paul and the apostles, and now the experience of the Philippian believers.

oJti "for" - because. Introducing a clause explaining why "that (this) is by God." The "that" being the standing firm and its sign value.

to "-" - the [the benefit of christ was given to you]. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the prepositional phrase "on behalf of Christ" into a substantive, subject of the verb "was given."

ecarisqh (carizomai) aor. pas. "it has been granted" - it was given, granted. Paul sees suffering as a high privilege indicating God's favour. The root sense of the verb is "grace". Presumably the agent of the gracious act is God, so "it has been granted by God."

uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage.

uJper + gen. "on behalf of [Christ]" - Expressing representation / advantage, benefit, "on behalf of Christ", Cassirer, but possibly somewhat causal, "because of your association with Jesus / union with Christ."

to ..... pisteuein (pisteuw) pres. inf. "to believe in [him]" - [not only] to believe. This articular infinitive, as with to ... pascein, "to suffer", introduces a noun clause subject of the verb "was granted." The present tense indicates continuation rather than a once only act; a reliance upon / toward the person of Jesus. The gift is probably not faith itself, the capacity to believe, but that which faith (Christ's faithful act and our faith response) realizes, namely, salvation.

eiV + acc. "on / in [him]" - into [him] A common expression used by Paul for belief in Christ; interchangeable with en.

alla "but" - Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction.

uJper + gen. "for [him]" - [and = also to suffer] on behalf of [him]. Expressing representation / advantage, benefit.


econteV (ecw) part. "since you are going through" - having. The "you" of v29 is likely to be the assumed subject of this participial clause. The participle itself is adverbial, best treated as causal, expressing cause / reason, for "to suffer has been granted to you ...... because ....", as NIV "You have to fight the same battle as you once saw me fight, and which, as you hear, I am still fighting", Barclay.

ton auton "the same" - Accusative direct object of the participle "having". "With me", TEV. Share in the troubles associated with the gospel.

agwna (wn wnoV) "struggle" - a gladiatorial, or athletic contest. Paul sees persecution in gladiatorial terms. He reminds them that when he was in Philippi, he too suffered persecution.

oi|non pro. "that" - [you saw] such as. This pronoun serves as the direct objec of the verb "to see", "Which you saw in me."

en + dat. "I still have / I had" - in [me]. Local, expressing space, metaphorical; "in my life."


Philippians Introduction


[Pumpkin Cottage]