Paul the Apostle, His Life, Letters, and Thought— Part Thirty Nine



pp. 575-78— Sanders cannot discern a structure in this letter, not least because he doesn’t read it rhetorically.

p. 579— This document may be a compilation of several letter fragments, but in any case Sanders thinks it all comes from Paul. He thinks the major break between 3.1 and 3.2 may hint at multiple letter fragments.

pp. 580-81— While it is true, as Sanders says, that Acts leaves out a lot and is episodic, this does not give a license to dismiss what he does say as correct. One needs evidence to counter what Luke says.

p. 582—2 Cor. 11.23 mentions far more imprisonments, and 1 Cor. 15. 32 mentions fighting with wild beasts in Ephesus, probably human opponents, 2 Cor. 1.8-10 refers to an affliction he suffered in Asia (Ephesus being its capital) which was so severe he feared for his life. Sanders thinks he probably was not thrown to the lions.

p. 583— he trots out the argument of distance— too far from Rome to Philippi, Ephesus is closer. Imprisonment probably not long enough to make room for all the journeys of Epaphroditus mentioned in Philip.

p. 584— he adds if Paul planned to come east from Rome to Philippi after release this must means he scrapped his Spain plans [maybe he did, because of the needs of the churches back east. This is what the Pastorals also suggest]. He argues that the planned visit to Philemon and request for a guest room almost entirely rules out Roman imprisonment [Why? Paul was always willing to travel considerable distances to do his work].

p. 584-85– He argues praetorium without the word cohort means in the first instance the general’s tent (this evidence he takes from the 19th century Lewis and Short dictionary— it is not correct). Praetorium is a building for the Praetor or princeps, which as a first meaning refers to the Emperor’s guard. But Sanders takes it to mean the governor’s headquarters. Everyone in the governor’s house knew Paul was imprisoned for Christ. He also takes the reference to those of Caesar’s household to mean Christians working in the governor’s residence [while the suggestion about the building is possible, the one about Caesar’s household is very unlikely to be correct. You don’t call the governor Caesar, and he doesn’t live in Caesar’s household. Period]. As a fall back Sanders suggests perhaps the reference is to the Emperor’s property in Ephesus, he had two in Ephesus, maintained by procurators. See Tacitus Annals 13.1. This is possible but where is the evidence those buildings or their staff were called ‘Caesar’s household’? This in combo with Praetorian is much more naturally taken as referring to a place in Rome. Paul would have to be referring to two different buildings and two different sets of officials if he was talking about Ephesus, but not so in Rome.

pp. 586-88— Sanders lists several additional possible punishments— assignment to the mines (exiles were only for the elites), assignment to a gladiatorial school, being assigned to fight unarmed against animals or gladiators. Prison was not a punishment. See R. A. Baumann, Crime and Punishment in Ancient Rome, (Routledge, 1996). For a description of friends helping someone in a prison in Rome, in this case Agrippa I see Josephus Ant. 18.168-206.

Sanders rightly notes that people being held in prison or house arrest were often people being accused without conclusive evidence while under investigation [This is Paul, who has the freedom of house arrest in Philippians].

p. 591— It is almost impossible to account for Phil. 3.2-16 without there already being Galatians, so Galatians must be earlier and Phil. fits nicely before Romans.

p. 592— Lightfoot found Philippians and Romans as especially close, and no other Pauline letter has as many parallels with Romans in his view. The full list of parallels (given on p. 593)

Phil. Rom.
1.3,4.7.8 1.9-11
1.10 2.18
2,8,9,10,11 14.9,11
2.2-4 12.16-19, 12.10
3.3 2.28; 1.9; 5.11
4.5 11.1
3.9 10.3; 9.31-32
3.10-11,21 6.5; 8.29
3.19 6.21; 16.18
4.8 12.1

p. 594—- Romans has many of the themes seen in the earlier Pauline letters which suggests it comes after them (he means 1 Thess, 1-2 Cor. Gal., and Phil.).

The plural of bishops in Phil. 1.1 makes clear there is no monarchial bishop like in the 2nd century. It probably has its generic sense of overseers here and is equivalent to elders.

pp. 597-98— autarkia in Phil. 4.11-12 gives us Paul’s most Stoic moment, he says he is mostly self-sufficient when it comes to material things. What it really refers to is being indifferent to one’s circumstances. One is serene regardless of what happens because those circumstances cannot affect or take away one’s internal virtue. It doesn’t affect the character of the inner person. It means to be above such petty things as poverty, wealth, pain, homelessness. One is content in whatever one’s circumstances. He knows what it is to be humiliated and to be well off (KJV— to be abased and to abound is right).

p. 600— Sanders says Paul may have read some Stoic compilations, and though he is not a Stoic he shows their influence here. Sanders thinks he knows some main themes of Greek philosophy. He knows at least one main point of Platonism and of Stoicism.

p. 601— Paul is calling for blamelessness, moral perfection in view of the soon to arrive Day of the Lord. [except Paul says nothing at all about it coming soon in this letter. He is concerned for them to be blameless on that day, he doesn’t say anything about the time is short, behave until then].

p. 602– In Phil. 2.5-11 Paul is probably adopting and adapting a hymn from someone else, a hymn used in early Christian worship.

p. 603— form of God doesn’t mean God “equality with, like ‘form of’ avoids direct identification of Christ with God, The New Testament authors had not yet thought of the idea of the Trinity, and so making Christ a part of a larger Godhead was not an option. His precise relationship to God was usually just called ‘sonship’, which could have a broad meaning…All Israelites were in some sense ‘sons of God’. [This is weak and does not do justice to Paul and his thought, morphe here means not merely looking like God it means having the very nature of God, and the phrase ‘not taking advantage of being equal to God the Father, means he had that equality’ so…… Sanders is wrong]. Sanders says form here means having some of the characteristics of, a definition not found in the lexicons and he says it means less than the later formulation being of one ousia with the Father.

p. 604— Paul uses Is. 45.23 twice once here in Phil. 2.5-11 and once in the normal sense in Rom. 14.11. Bending the knee to Jesus who is Lord and confessing him precedes the existence of the hymn see Rom. 10.9. Sanders recognizes that Paul is saying Jesus existed before he was human. On the idea that the divine presence or Lord or deity shares in human suffering can be seen in the Mekilta on Exodus quoted here.

p. 605— It was a problem of the two divine dispensations first God calls Abraham and eventually gives the Law to Moses, promising to protect and foster the Israelites, later he decided to send Christ to save people whether they were under the first dispensation or not [This is only a problem if Jews did not also believe God would one day send a messianic figure and say so in their lit. but they did].

p. 606— finally Sanders discusses Paul theology of the new covenant comparing 2 Cor. 3.3— the covenant written on stone tablets vs. covenant written on the heart. The ref. to Moses’ face and the veil is from Exod. 34.29-35. Diakonia here means ministry though the basic meaning is service. The ministry of condemnation had a glory but it has now been set aside, says Paul because of the more glorious covenant and ministry. Cf. 3.6 and 3.14 on new and old covenant. The old covenant was inadequate because it was veiled. He says a good translation would be ‘is fading away, or ‘is being done away with’ it’s an imperfect participle. It was a covenant/dispensation of death and condemnation. ‘the letter kills but the Spirit gives life’.

p. 609— the old covenant was given by God and was glorious but now it has been surpassed and surpassed so greatly that it is worthless.

Gal. 2.16 parallels Phil. 3.9— righteousness by faith in Christ
Gal. 2.16,21; 3.11 also parallels Phil. 3.9—righteousness is not by the law
Gal. 1.13-14;2.19 parallels Phil. 3.4b-16— Paul’s examples of himself
Gal. 2.15-20; 3.22-29 parallels Phil. 3.9-11— the progression from faith in Christ to being one person with Christ

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!