Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Philippians 3:4a-13

3:4 Grammar note: The "ei" clauses here is accompanied by an indicative verb here, suggesting that it should be translated "Since..." not "if anyone is convinced."

3:6 Paul's bragging here has a double rheotical effect -- he will return to the words "persue" (dioo-koo) and "righteousness" (dikaiosunehn) later in this section (3.9, 3.14, 3.16).

3:7 Paul here echoes back to 2:5 and 2:6 in the Christ hymn; Christ did not regard (hegeo-mai) equality with God as something to be exploited. Here Paul is saying he regards all of his beneifts as loss through Christ.

3:8 He considers them: Skubala -- dung (Grammer note: the hina clause here is more of a "lest" than a "so that" clause) (Second grammer note: The subject of the infinitive clauses here in Greek are all in the accusative)

3:9 Side comment: Faith-righteousness appears outside of Romans and is not simply an misreading of Paul by Luther or Augustine.

3:10 Paul's use of an infinitive here suggests that justification's purpose is to know God, the power of the resurrection and the fellowship of suffering. In otherwords, 9 and 10 are linguistically linked by Paul and a strong possible reading is purpose...vs 9 (justification) is for the purpose of vs 10 (resurrection)

3:10 Cont'd. Paul know begins to come full circle on the Christ hymn. Jesus was in the "morph" or shape of a God; Paul know says that we are syn-morphed into Jesus' death. Our life with Christ is a process of becoming more Christ-like, indeed, but this does not circumvent suffering, even as Paul talks about resurrection.

3:11 Here Paul uses "ei" with a subjunctive verb, leaving some uncertainty about the possibility of resurrection.

3:12 The confusing part of this verse is not the final theology -- Paul definitely wants to claim that Jesus has already claimed him -- but rather what Paul is referring to in the sentence. The second-half literally reads "I an pursuing (indicative present) and if even I obtain (subjunctive aorist), upon it (epi hoo) even I have been obtained by Christ." The question is how to translate the epi hoo. It cannot refer to the resurrection (because of the gender of the article). The last word that makes sense is actually Christ's death (vs 10). "I am pursuing resurrection -- and if I even obtain it, in Christ's death I have already been obtained by Christ." (Side note: this phrase "epi hoo" is the phrase in Romans 5:12 that is so debated)

3:13 Paul here again uses the word obtain/overcome (katalamban-oo; See also John 1!). The problem is that Paul said he was, in the aorist, obtained...but now in the perfect tense he says he has not been obtained. Here is Paul at his grammatical worst and perhaps theological best: The event on the Christ obtained Paul for Christ, but this process is not finished!

Also, in this verse, Paul has both verbs in the second half (forgetting and looking ahead) in the present tense, suggesting this is an on-going process of doing this.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Matthew 21:23-32

Although this passage is interesting, I am not sure how much the Greek illumines it. The word for authority is "exousia," which relates to being but often just means power or ability to do something.

Perhaps one small connection is that the word for "will" (vs 31) is the noun form of the verb in Philippians where God is the one at work so that we might will/want to do things for his good pleasure.

Philippians 2:1-13

Note, Paul uses just about every key Christian term in this section: encouragment (paraklysis), love (agape), sharing (koinoonia) and compassion (splangchna) are all in the first verse!

2:1 These "if" clauses are ambiguous to their bases in fact. They could be translated "Since there is X, Y and Z."

2:3 One interesting word here (among the many) is "conceit," which is literally "kenodoxia." Christ will "keno" himself before his "glory." But this is a different type of empty glory!

2:5 The key verb/idea here is "phrone-oom" which means have a mind/regard/think. This verb is found twice in 2:2

- This sentence "did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited" could also read "did not regard exploitation/grasping as worthy of God."
- The idea of form is important -- Greek gods, as any museum will show you, had beautiful forms, not those of slaves! Click here for more

2:7 Ken-oo is the key verb here (emptied)

2:12 The verb here for work out is "katergazo-mai" from kata (intensifier) and erg-oo (to work). One possible meaning for this verb is simply "achieve" but another one is "to work up," ie, to make use of; fields, for example, are worked on to make them ready for harvest. Make use of your salvation!

A personal note -- Coming from a strongly Lutheran tradition, I struggle with this verse. However, I wonder if the fear and trembling is because what it means to achieve salvation is to undergo our own road to the cross.

2:13 The agent in this verse is clearly God! The word for enable here is literally "energe-oo."

Philippians 1:21-30

1:21 The NIV more literally translates this verse "to live is Christ" but the NRSV "living is Christ" perhaps better gets at the active, on-going tense of the infinitive verb here.

1:23 Paul uses the word "epithymia" for "desire" here, which he will elsewhere caution Christians against (make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires...Romans 13:14)

1:25 The word for progress (prokopeh) here is precisely this, progress. Paul boasts in Galatians that he had progressed in his Judaism (1:14)

1:26 The word for Paul's visit is "parousia" is the word in the NT used for Jesus' second coming. The word can also mean presence (2 Cor 10:10)...or triumphal entry.

1:27 This verse has a KEY word: "politeuo-mai," which they translate as live. It literally means though, be a citizen. In Philippians Paul will describe a heavenly citizenship (3:20). This is foreshadowing of this.

1:27 Paul also commends people "in one spirit to fight/work together." (synathle-oo) In 4:3 he thanks God for the women who have done precisely this. More importantly, the root word here "athlew" is our word for athelete. Which today has connotations of merely sport, but here, it seems, Paul is emphasizing the public nature of Christian faith together. This links up well with 1:28 which talks about the public display of our faith.

1:30 Paul not only uses the word suffer (pasch-oo) in vs. 29 but also now uses the word "agon" (agony!) for struggle in vs. 30.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Matthew 18:21-35

18.21 The verb for sin (amartan-oo) forgive (aphie-mi) here are in the future, not the subjunctive (there is no "if" clause). In short, Peter expects sin and forgiveness. The sentence literally reads: "How often will my brother against me and I forgive him? Until seven times?"

18.24 The word debtor here (opheiletes) is the same word Paul uses in Gal 5:3 -- The one who is circumcised is obligated to obey the entire law.

18.25 Matthew includes a word here: apodidoo-mi (to give back). Matthew uses the word more than any other NT author; neither Mark nor John even use it. It appears numerous times in this parable. We heard it two weeks ago when Jesus said the son of Man will return to "repay" everyone for what they had done (16.27)

18.27 The word for "debt" (daneion) here is unique to the NT; there is a suggestion of interest, even usury with this debt.

18.28 The exact construction of the phrase "Pay what you owe me" is rather interesting. It actually includes an "ei ti" phrase. This phrase is normally translated "if anything," as if to say, the man was not even really sure what the debt was, if in fact, it was anything.

18.29 The verb for beg/plead here is parakale-oo and it is in the present tense -- continued to ask!

18.31 The next time people in the Gospel of Matthew will be distressed (lype-oo) is when the rich young man is told to sell his possessions (19.22). The next time after this is during the last supper when Jesus lets them know that one of them will betray him (26.22).

18.32 The master indicates this servant did the same action (parakale-oo) as the other servant did to him in vs. 29

18.33 The word "fellow slave" is two words in English, but it has been "syndoulos" throughout this text.

18.34 The word for "anger" here is actually a verb (orgiz-oo/mai) used in participle form. This word is not common in the NT (8 times), but appears 3 times in Matthew's Gospel. One little note-this is the word that Luke uses to talk about the older brother in the Lost Son parable.

Romans 14:1-12

14.1 It is striking that Paul would encourage people to NOT quarrel/judge over matters only three verses after he encouraged people to put on the armor of Christ. Also, the NRSV does a better job than the NIV with this verse of capturing the fact that Paul is concerned with the intent, which the NRSV helps point to by translating "but not for the purpose of..."

14.3 The NIV translates "exouthene-oo" as "must not look down on him," but the verb is even stronger, indicating more like to treat as nothing (how Herod treated Jesus during the trial); the NRSV seems closer with "dispise."

14.6 The word here for "give thanks" is literally "eucharist-oo."

14.11 The word for bend-knee (kampt-oo gony) and confess (exomologe-oo) are the same as in Phillipians 2.10

14.12 The word for account here is "logos," which is the same word in the Matthew text for the Master wanted to settle accounts.

[Note: The grammer in this section is good practice without being cruel; lots of substantive participles, good uses of the dative and some subjunctive clauses]

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Matthew 18:15-20

18:15 Both "ifs" here, as in "if a brother sins," and "if he listens to you" are completely hypothetical, meaning this may or may not happen.

The word gain here (kerdain-oo) is the same as in last week's reading -- what will it benefit him if he gains the world...

-The NRSV imports the word "member" into this verse here; there is no such word in the Greek text.
-The word for Gentile is literally "ethnic"

18:18 Both verbs relating to sins -- binding and loosing -- are in the perfect, meaning the deed in complete.

18:19 The word here that the NRSV uses for "agree" is acutally "symphone-oo" So, literally, if there is a symphony, it will be done.

18:20 Every other verse in this section has an "if" clause; here Jesus simply declares -- Where two or three are gathered, I am in the midst of you. Also, the word for gathered (synago) is in the perfect passive, hinting that it is not we who gather, but God who has already gathered us. Thus, we move from human action to God's promise. Also worth noting that Jesus promises his presence in the midst of the office of the keys and congregational conflict.

Romans 13:8-14

13:8 Here Paul uses the word fulfilled (plero-oo) and the law (nomos)...Paul also uses the words together in 8:4 in conjunction with the Spirit's work in us. In fact, Paul uses these words together in Galatians 5:14; the translations there say the law is "summed up" in this one command. One more note -- the word fulfilled here is in the perfect tense, which means that there is nothing more that has to be done, that is completely finished and remains finished.

13:9 The big word here is "anakephalaio-oo"; literally again-headed or recapitulate. It means bring or sum together. It is the word that Paul uses in Ephesians to talk about how things were summed up and brought together in Christ. Here is Romans Paul does not say all things are summed together in Christ. Instead he uses indicates that all the commandments are summed up in this Word (logos; it is not commandment). (Technical grammatical note; look at the gender of possible antecedents to see why it is Word and not commandment). It is curious why Paul switches back to logos language here, perhaps again connecting the word, the law and the work of Christ. Also interesting is that Paul in Galatians 5:14 uses this same language of the fulfillment coming in this one Word (logos), instead of saying the law is fulfilled in one commandment. This is too easy of a Lutheran out, but I find it fascinating the neither the law nor the commandments are fulfilled or summed up in a law, but rather the word.

13:12 Paul encourages people to put on the "armor" of light. The word here for armor is "hoplov," which is what Paul discusses in chapter 6 of Romans. Hoplites, in fact, are the name of the common soliders in ancient Greece (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoplite)

13:13 This verse is the verse that sent St. Augustine to God! Interestingly, the word here for "live honorably," is euschemonoos. The word in here -- schema -- is the word we heard in Romans 12:2, not to be conformed to the scheme of this world.

13:14 Now we find out who the armor of light is -- Jesus Christ. It is the same verb that is used in 13:12 for put on the armor of the light.