Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Philippians--A Paraphrase

I have just completed a paraphrase of Paul's letter to the Philippians which I've done as part of my daily devotions over the last few weeks. On Thanksgiving Eve, here's the letter of rejoicing in the face challenge.

Philippians Paraphrased

1 This letter is from Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus.
It’s addressed to all the saints in Christ Jesus who live in Philippi, as well as all the overseers and deacons of the church:

2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ!

3 Every time I think of you, I thank my God for you. 4 Here's how I pray, every single time: with joy, for each and every one of you 5 because of your willing partnership in spreading the good news about Jesus, right to the present time. 6 And I’m confident that God will keep it up, this great good work in your lives, right until the day Christ Jesus comes back.

7 And this is the way I feel about you; I carry you in my heart all the time; my affection comes from the right place. As for me, well, whether I am in stuck in prison in chains or outside defending and confirming the good news, I know that you stand beside be in all that God’s grace is doing. 8 God Himself can say how I pine for all of you with the deep affection that comes straight from Christ Jesus.

9 So this is how I pray for you: that you may be rich in love, knowledge and deep insight, more and more and more! 10 With that you may be able to truly understand the things in life that are the best and that you may be pure and absolutely blameless until the day when Christ comes back to judge; 11 that you may be filled every good thing that comes from a right relationship with God that comes through Jesus Christ—and that God gets all the glory and praise.

12 Dear family in God, I want you to know that my circumstances have really served to keep the Good News advancing. 13 Because I’m here, the whole palace guard and everyone else for that matter, has had an opportunity to hear the message loud and clear—they all know that the only reason that I am in chains for the cause of Christ. 14 And do you see?--because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the God’s word with even more courage and without fear.

15 Now it’s true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry—“Now that Paul’s behind bars, I can be the center of attention!”—but others preach Christ boldly from the very best of motives. 16 The latter do so from a motive of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the Good News. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, with the mistaken notion that they can somehow stir up trouble for me while I’m imprisoned. 18 I don’t really care either way! The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true motives, Christ is preached. This makes me rejoice all the more.

Yes, and I’m going to keep on rejoicing, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, all that’s happened to me will turn out for my vindication. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be put to shame, but instead I’ll have enough courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by it’s by my continued life or by my death. 21 You see, for me, to live means opportunities to keep serving Christ; and to die—that’s no loss—it’s gain! 22 So if I am to go on living in this body, that means more fruitful labor for me. What do I do? What do I do? I don’t know! 23 I’m really torn between the two: I really want to depart this life and be with Christ, which is by far the better; 24 but for now, it’s more important, for your sake that I remain in this body here on earth. 25 The more I think of it, the more I’m convinced that I will remain for a while, and I’ll continue with all of you for your continued progress and your joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you once again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow because of what God did for me.

27 Whatever happens, live your lives in such a way that gives a good reputation to the Good News of Christ. Then, whether I come and visit you or if only hear about you in my absence, I’ll know that you’re standing firm, united in spirit, fighting like one man for the Good New faith, 28 without being frightened in any way by those rise to oppose you. Your united stand is a sign to them that they will be defeated, but that you will be vindicated, God Himself. 29 You’ve been given the privilege not only to put your trust in Christ, but also to suffer for Christ, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you’ve seen me go through, and now hear that I still going through.


1 So if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if you have any comfort from his love, if you enjoy any fellowship with the Spirit, if you’ve experienced any of His tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, by having the same love for each that Christ has for you, and by being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Instead, don’t do anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but instead in humility, put the needs of others ahead of your own—prioritize them ahead of yourself. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6 Even those in His essence He was God,
He didn’t regard that divine equality as something to hold tightly to,
7 but instead He made himself nothing,
taking on the very essence of a slave,
looking just like any human being.
8 So there He was, looking like any human,
and he humbled himself
and became obedient to the Father’s plan, to the point of death—
even the worst death of all—on a cross!
9 That’s why God exalted him to the highest place
and gave Him the name that is above every name,
10 with this privilege: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
whether in heaven and on earth and under the earth for that matter,
11 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

12 So, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed the whole message of the good news—not only when I was with you, but even now much more in my absence—continue to work out the full implications of your spiritual rescue with reverent fear and trembling, 13 because God is at work within you, forming you to desire His ways and then to live by His purposes.

14 So do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 because that way you demonstrate and develop your blameless and pure character, real children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine bright like stars in dark sky16 as you forth the glorious word that gives life. If you do that, I can truly boast on the day I stand before Christ that I did not run fast or labor hard for nothing! 17 And if the time has come for me to be poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and on the service coming from your faith, then I’m glad and I rejoice with all of you. 18 So if I die, you too should be glad and rejoice with me as well!

19 My hope in the Lord Jesus is to send Timothy to you soon, because I’d love to hear some good news about you. 20 There’s no one else like him—he has a passionate interest in your welfare. 21 It seems that everyone just looks out for his own interests, not the interests Jesus Christ! 22 But you know that Timothy’s not that way—he’s proved himself, because like a son working alongside his father he has served with me in the work of the good news of God. 23 So I hope to send him as soon as I see how things go with me in my legal issues. 24 And then I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come see you soon.

25 But I do think that it’s necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus. He’s my brother, my fellow worker and my fellow soldier, as well as your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs to be with you all and he’s distressed because you heard he was sick. 27 Indeed he was ill, and he almost died. But God had mercy on him—and not on him only but also on me, to spare me one more sorrow upon the ones I’ve already had. 28 That’s why I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you, on your part, can be glad and I, for my part, may have less anxiety. 29 Welcome him back in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ, here risking his life serving beside me in your place.


1 Finally, my dear brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It’s no trouble for me to write the same thing over and over, and it’s a safeguard for you.

2 Watch out for those “dogs”, those men who do evil, those eager mutilators of the flesh. 3 They think that they do good by forcing new believers to be circumcised. Nonsense! We’re the real “circumcision”, not because of a surgical procedure, but because we worship by the Spirit of God, we take our greatest joy from Christ Jesus, and we put no confidence in the flesh— 4though if there was ever anybody who could have done that, it was me!
If anyone thinks he has reasons to put confidence in his descent and things done to the body, I have more: 5 I was circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew with only Hebrews ancestors; in regard to the law, I was a Pharisee; 6 in regards to zeal, I persecuted the church; and as for legalistic righteousness, I was faultless.

7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider gone and forgotten for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything gone and forgotten compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Following Him has meant that I’ve lost everything Judaism and this world considers valuable. I consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a self-righteousness that comes from doing the law, but a real righteousness that comes through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 And now, I just want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection in my life and even the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 with the ambition that, through the miracle of his grace, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

12 No, I’m not there already, and I’m certainly not perfect, but I press on to fully grasp the task that Christ Jesus took hold of me to do. 13 Brothers, I don’t believe that I yet have a full grasp of the things get seized me to do, but one thing I do: Forgetting what’s past and straining toward what’s ahead, 14 I keep pressing on toward the goal to win the prize that God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

15 All of us who are mature in their faith should have the same perspective. And if on some point you think differently, well, God will straighten you out on that! 16 For now, let’s live up to way of life which we have already received from God.

17 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you by example. 18 For—as I have often told you before and now say again with tears in my eyes-many so-called believers live as true enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their final destiny is destruction, their true god is their appetites, and the things they glory in is their shame. Their mind is stuck on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Rescuer from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our weak and lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious resurrection body!


1 So, my brothers—whom I love and long to see again, you who are my joy I wear like a crown—this is exactly how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!

2 For instance, I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord, setting aside past differences. 3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal co-worker, help these women who have fought hard at my side in the cause of the good news, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are already written down in the book of life.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentle ways be evident to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t be anxious about anything, but instead, in everything, by means of prayer and petition, mingled with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And when you do that, the peace of God, which transcends all human understanding, will come to guard both your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is speaks the truth, whatever is ennobles a person, whatever is right, whatever makes a person pure, whatever is truly beautiful, whatever is admirable—if there’s anything in something that is excellent or truly worthy of praise—fill your mind with thoughts of these things. 9 And whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in my life—put them into practice. Do this, and the God of peace will be with you.

10 I’m very happy in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. I know that you’ve been concerned, but that you had no opportunity to demonstrate it. 11 I’m not saying this because I am in need, because I’ve learned how to be content whatever my circumstances. 12 I know what it’s like to be in need, and I know what it’s like to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether I’m well fed or hungry, or whether I’m living in plenty or in want. 13 As a matter of fact, I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 If you’ll recall, in the early days of your introduction to the good news, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in financial support, expect one: You! 16 Even when I was in the next town over, in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17 Now I’m not hinting for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your heavenly account. 18 I have received full payment for you all and even more; I am amply supplied, especially now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are like a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice on the altar, very pleasing to God. 19 And I’m sure that my God will meet all your needs in proportion to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever! Amen!

21 P.S. Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings. 22 All the saints here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar's household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Your comments on this paraphrase are appreciated. Remember this was developed for devotional purposes, and would no doubt need some corrections to stand up to academic review. The "carmen christi" section in chapter two is especially prone to translation challenges.

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