(August 27, 2017) 2:50 PM Here’s my somewhat tentative rendering of Phil. 1:3-11:
I always [pantote modifies eucharisto] thank my God for you every time I think of you. Whenever I pray, I myself [middle voice] make my requests for all of you with joy because of the way you helped me in the work of the Gospel from the very first day until now. I’m convinced of this very thing — that God, who began a good work [anarthrous construction] like this among you, will carry it through to completion on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Indeed, it’s only right that I should keep on thinking [imperfective aspect] this way about all of you, since you are always in my heart. For all of you have shared with me the grace of God, whether I’m in prison or free to defend and establish the truth of the Gospel. God is my witness how I long to see all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus Himself!
It’s my prayer that your love for one another will keep on growing [imperfective aspect] still more and more, together with true knowledge and perfect discernment, so that you will continue to choose [imperfective aspect] what is best and will be pure and blameless on the day of Christ’s return, seeing that you are filled [stative aspect] with the good qualities that a right relationship with God brings — qualities that come only through Jesus Christ, for the glory and praise of God.
Take note: The theme of Philippians, as we’ve often said, is partnership in the Gospel. How clearly is this seen in Phil. 1:3-11! First of all, Paul explicitly thanks God for the Philippians’ partnership with him in the Gospel over many years. Second, this partnership has been negatively impacted by “relational breakdowns” (Fee). Hence Paul prays for an increase in the Philippians’ love for one another.
The immediate purpose of Paul’s prayer is that the Philippians might continue to choose what is best (i.e., continuing to live for the Gospel), and the ultimate purpose is that they might be “pure and blameless” when Christ returns. All of this is possible because God has already filled the Philippians with the results of being rightly related to Him, including the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him (cf. 2:13).
Impeccably logical? Indeed! In fact, Paul is only being consistent with what he writes in 1 Thess. 5:16-18: Always be joyful, prayerful, and thankful. Paul is being all three of these things here. The man sure practices what he preaches!