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Who are the True Pastor/Scholars? (Philippians 2:2) - Mondays with Mounce

Categories Biblical Studies Greek

Philippians 2:2 is a confusing sentence grammatically, although its meaning is clear. Fee comments that in “the apodosis there is an equally striking compounding of synonymous phrases of such nature that the ‘wayfaring person though a fool’ could not possibly miss the point.” Sentences like this make me miss Gordon, who just recently went home to be with his Lord.

V 2 reads., “πληρώσατέ μου τὴν χαρὰν ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε, τὴν αὐτὴν ἀγάπην ἔχοντες, σύμψυχοι, τὸ ἓν φρονοῦντες.” It is the apodosis of a first-class conditional sentence started in v 1, which follows the overall charge to “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (1:27).

Paul begins by asking the church to make his own joy complete (πληρώσατέ μου τὴν χαρὰν). The ἵνα is confusing. Fee says it is “probably introducing a result clause here; so also Lightfoot, 108. But perhaps it is an epexegetical noun clause, giving the content of his ‘fulfilled joy.’ Either way, it comes out at the same place.” However, I am not sure how v 2 can be the result of Paul’s joy; that seems backward to me, so I prefer the latter option. The following is what completes Paul’s joy. This would fall under BDAG’s second definition, “2. marker of objective, that.”

Next, Paul explains what would complete his joy by piling up four phrases with the same basic meaning.

  1. Be like-minded (τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε) is not a call for cultish mind-control. Fee again comments that φρονέω “does not mean ‘to think’ in the sense of ‘cogitate’; rather it carries the nuance of ‘setting one’s mind on,’ thus having a certain disposition toward something.” Being unified in thinking.
  2. ”having the same love” (τὴν αὐτὴν ἀγάπην ἔχοντες) repeats his emphasis on unity.
  3. ”united in spirit” translates the awkward σύμψυχοι, a compound of σύν and ψυχή. The ψ changes the ν to a μ (see 24.1 in my Morphology).
  4. ”with a single purpose” reuses the verb φρονέω with its object being τὸ ἕν, “the one thing.” There is a textual variant replacing ἕν with αὐτό, making the meaning clearer.

As any true pastor knows, the life of the congregation is intimately tied up with his or her own. As the church conducts itself in a manner worthy of Christ, the Shepherd, it brings great joy to their pastor. “His own life and apostleship are deeply bound up with his converts’ well-being, and especially with their perseverance so that they themselves will experience God’s eschatological joy” (Fee).

This brings up one of my deeply-felt frustrations with people who claim to be a “pastor/scholar.” While there are some who truly deserve this title (Doug Stuart, for example), many others blow in Sunday morning to lecture and then retreat to their study. A true “pastor/scholar” is so tied to his congregation that their spiritual growth fills up his personal joy. That is the test of being a “pastor/scholar,” as far as I am concerned. Watching the congregation’s growth is one of the things I miss the most no longer being in the pastorate.

The reverse is also true. When a congregation fails to grow and even turns on their pastor, it can create a pain so deep that most people who are not in the pastorate can’t understand.

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