I need help with Philippians 2:6-8

How do I work out the meaning of a Greek text? How can I best understand the forms and vocabulary in this particular text?
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I need help with Philippians 2:6-8

Postby Eduardo Ortega » July 1st, 2012, 1:44 am

Hello: I need to study these three verses in deep, and I need some help from people that knows Greek better than me. I hope you can help me with this.

Please leave aside any theology and please rather focus in the possible meaning of the text.
My first question is:

About verse 6:
The words θεοῦ and θεῷ are both without the article ὁ.

According to Dr. Strong:
θεός
Of uncertain affinity; a deity, especially (with G3588) the supreme Divinity; figuratively a magistrate; by Hebraism very: - X exceeding, God, god [-ly, -ward].

He says that it means the only supreme God when it's precedes by the artice G3588 (ὁ).

But in Philippians 2:6 it is without the article.

Could these renderings be possible?:
1) a god
2) divine

Thanks in advance.
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Re: I need help with Philippians 2:6-8

Postby Jonathan Robie » July 2nd, 2012, 11:19 am

Let's start by quoting the verses - I'll expand this to include a complete sentence from start to finish:

Philippians 2 wrote:5 τοῦτο φρονεῖτε ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ,

6 ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ, 7 ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος· καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος 8 ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου, θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ·

9 διὸ καὶ ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν, καὶ ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα, 10 ἵνα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῃ ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων, 11 καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός.


First observation: there's no article in verse 11 either:

εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός

So I don't believe what you said Dr. Strong says is true. I would say that ὁ θεὸς always means God, without the article θεὸς can mean either "a God" or "God", you have to look at the context.

I'm not sure how to square 'divine' with ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ, that seems to mean "in the form of God". Grammatically, it could also mean "in the form of a God", but I don't think that fits the context.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: I need help with Philippians 2:6-8

Postby David Lim » July 2nd, 2012, 11:35 am

Eduardo Ortega wrote:He says that it means the only supreme God when it's precedes by the artice G3588 (ὁ).


I think the article is often omitted if the context makes it clear that it is referring to a specific entity, especially from the genitive or dative or the object of a preposition. You could take a look at all the occurrences of "θεος" and come to your own conclusion. :) (http://www.crosswire.org/study/wordsear ... orph=N-GSM) You can also compare with another common word, "γη". (http://www.crosswire.org/study/wordsear ... orph=N-GSF)
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Re: I need help with Philippians 2:6-8

Postby Eduardo Ortega » July 2nd, 2012, 12:31 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:First observation: there's no article in verse 11 either:

εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός


I checked all the occurrences of θεοῦ πατρός and they are all without the article.
I think it's because saying πατρός there is no need for the article.

It must be as David Lim says: "I think the article is often omitted if the context makes it clear that it is referring to a specific entity", but could be perhaps some other circumstance where the article is omitted?

Jonathan Robie wrote:So I don't believe what you said Dr. Strong says is true. I would say that ὁ θεὸς always means God, without the article θεὸς can mean either "a God" or "God", you have to look at the context.

I'm not sure how to square 'divine' with ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ, that seems to mean "in the form of God". Grammatically, it could also mean "in the form of a God", but I don't think that fits the context.


I think that Strong meant what you are saying.
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Re: I need help with Philippians 2:6-8

Postby Eduardo Ortega » July 2nd, 2012, 12:35 pm

David Lim wrote:
Eduardo Ortega wrote:He says that it means the only supreme God when it's precedes by the artice G3588 (ὁ).


I think the article is often omitted if the context makes it clear that it is referring to a specific entity, especially from the genitive or dative or the object of a preposition. You could take a look at all the occurrences of "θεος" and come to your own conclusion. :) (http://www.crosswire.org/study/wordsear ... orph=N-GSM) You can also compare with another common word, "γη". (http://www.crosswire.org/study/wordsear ... orph=N-GSF)


I need to understand this because I have to teach about these verses.

Anyone knows how long do I need to wait before being able to send private messages? (I'm new to the forum)

Thank you for your help.
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Re: I need help with Philippians 2:6-8

Postby timothy_p_mcmahon » July 2nd, 2012, 12:38 pm

Eduardo:

First thing you need to do is burn Strong's.

The original language material in the back of Strong's concordance is garbage. If you use the concordance itself, just rip out those pages and flush them.

The use of the article in Greek is very complex and no little one-liner will ever do it justice. Whether θεός denotes 'God' or 'a god' or 'divine' has nothing to do with whether it takes an article or not.
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Re: I need help with Philippians 2:6-8

Postby Eduardo Ortega » July 2nd, 2012, 10:44 pm

timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:Eduardo:

First thing you need to do is burn Strong's.

The original language material in the back of Strong's concordance is garbage. If you use the concordance itself, just rip out those pages and flush them.


Hello Timothy,

Two things:

1) Anyone else agree (or disagree) with that?

2) What other dictionary do you suggest to use for biblical Greek (and better if it has also Hebrew)?

timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:The use of the article in Greek is very complex and no little one-liner will ever do it justice. Whether θεός denotes 'God' or 'a god' or 'divine' has nothing to do with whether it takes an article or not.


And what do you think about the two appearances in Ph 2:6, what's their meanings?
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Re: I need help with Philippians 2:6-8

Postby timothy_p_mcmahon » July 2nd, 2012, 11:10 pm

The standard NT Greek dictionary is Bauer. It's quite expensive but indispensable if you want to pursue a serious study of the Greek NT.

For Hebrew I'd recommend Koehler & Baumgartner. Equally pricey, unfortunately.

My own intuitive take on your verse is that the anarthrous occurrences of θεός stress God categorically rather than God personally, but I'm sure there are other ways of looking at them.
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Re: I need help with Philippians 2:6-8

Postby Barry Hofstetter » July 3rd, 2012, 6:48 am

Eduardo Ortega wrote:
Hello Timothy,

Two things:

1) Anyone else agree (or disagree) with that?

2) What other dictionary do you suggest to use for biblical Greek (and better if it has also Hebrew)?


I agree with it, though "burn" is a bit strong. I would merely rip it to bits to save energy... :lol:

The problem with Strong's dictionaries is that they are tied to the original language texts underlying the KJV, that they reflect outdated scholarship, that they provide simple glosses rather than definitions, and that they are too often idiosyncratic (and so really in error). They also make it easy for those who don't understand the languages to pick and choose the meaning they want for a text, rather than the actual meaning in context. Avoid. As already noted, Bauer for the NT is the standard, though expensive (but worth in it, IMO). The classical lexicon, Liddell & Scott (LSJ) is available for free online. For Hebrew, Brown-Driver-Biggs (BDB) is available for free in various places online as well.


And what do you think about the two appearances in Ph 2:6, what's their meanings?


It is impossible to translate them in this way.

ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ, 7 ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος· καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος 8 ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου, θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ· 9 διὸ καὶ ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν, καὶ ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ ⸀τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα, 10 ἵνα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῃ ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων, 11 καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός.


1. Context makes it very clear that God in view is God the Father. One does not not have to read theology into the text to see that the point is Jesus' humility with respect to God. Vs. 9 specifies clearly that it is God in view with the articular usage.

2. Paul frequently omits the article with the oblique usages of θεός, and particularly the genitive and dative cases. I believe this is for syntactical reasons, not categorical or semantic, and particularly that these usages tend to refer to God in his activity, the noun used as an adverb, and the tendency is to omit the article in such contexts (and not just with the noun θεός).

3. As already mentioned, the use of the article in Greek can be somewhat complex, and it's difficult to make any rule which covers all circumstances and explains all the phenomena. For example, Ignatius regularly omits the article before θεός even in the nominative and accusative cases, contrary to the regular practice of the NT authors when he obviously means God. The use of the article can vary from author to author, and one must exercise caution.
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Re: I need help with Philippians 2:6-8

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » July 3rd, 2012, 6:55 am

Eduardo Ortega wrote:
timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:Eduardo:

First thing you need to do is burn Strong's.

The original language material in the back of Strong's concordance is garbage. If you use the concordance itself, just rip out those pages and flush them.


Hello Timothy,

Two things:

1) Anyone else agree (or disagree) with that?

I Strongly agree. Strong's "dictionaries" are worthless. They are basically lists of KJV equivalents of G/H words and therefore aren't really dictionaries at all. As computer resources they can work as quick reminders of word meanings, if you already know them but don't quite remember.

2) What other dictionary do you suggest to use for biblical Greek (and better if it has also Hebrew)?


BDAG (Bauer/Danker/Arndt/Gingrich) is the standard one. Danker has also written The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament which is easier, smaller and cheaper, although still too expensive IMO.

timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:The use of the article in Greek is very complex and no little one-liner will ever do it justice. Whether θεός denotes 'God' or 'a god' or 'divine' has nothing to do with whether it takes an article or not.

That's true. Actually the use of the article has traditionally been one of the most difficult areas of Koine for scholars. Hyperbolically it could be summarized as something like "you can either put the article there or leave it off". There are of course many clear rules and cases, but things get difficult for even the most distinguished scholars when the article could seemingly be used but isn't or vice versa. The functional linguistics view and information structure is probably the way to go, but it requires much andvanced background knowledge.

If you want to just start somewhere, take for example D. Wallace's Exegetical Grammar and try to understand what it says about the article.
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