[B-Greek] Phil 2:17 genitive PISTEWS

Iver Larsen iver at larsen.dk
Wed Mar 1 13:00:12 EST 2006

>From Iver Larsen. See below:

> Shalom Webb,
> Thank you for the email and question. The Greek you've quoted looks
> normal to me. TO ARQRON "the" groups QUSIA and LEITOURGIA together, to
> which group THS PISTEWS UMWN hangs, just as you explained. The
> sacrifice and service would appear to be produced by the faith, though
> I have not checked the context.
> INcidently, Hebrew does not have an article-grouper like this.
> Randall Buth
> On 2/28/06, Webb <webb at selftest.net> wrote:
>> Dear Mitch,
>> This looks like a Hebraism to me, so that THS PISTEOS modifies hH QUSIA KAI
>> However, even if I'm also poured out on your faithful/faith-filled sacrifice
>> and offering, I rejoice, and I rejoice together with you all.
>>  I've copied Randall Buth on this reply--no doubt he'll have a better sense
>> than I as to whether this is a Hebraism.
>> Webb Mealy

If I understand Webb correctly, he wants to construe hUMWN with THi QUSIAi KAI LEITOURGIAi instead of with PISTEWS. I 
think this is very unlikely, and this is apparently not how Randall would see it either, since he puts THS PISTEWS hUMWN 

That QUSIA and LEITOURGIA are grouped together under one article, does indicate a close connection. One way of 
indicating this is by translating the two nouns together as "the sacrificial service". This is how BAGD renders Phil 
2:17 in the entry for LEITOURGIA, and they suggest that it is Paul's sacrificial service.

How the genitive phrase THS PISTEWS hUMWN is related to Paul's sacrificial service is a different matter, and I don't 
think it can be decided without reference to the context.

Paul must be talking about his sacrificial service (to God) for the benefit of the Philippians (and other churches where 
he has worked). He expects that his sacrificial service over the years may soon be crowned or topped (EPI) by the final 
sacrifice of his death. The only way I can make sense of this passage is to understand the genitive as expressing the 
object of Paul's sacrificial service, namely the faith of the Philippians. Therefore, the best translation is probably 
with a "for" as we find it in God's Word to the Nations: "My life is being poured out as a part of the sacrifice and 
service [ I offer to God ] for your faith". This is also how the latest Danish authorized version has rendered it, which 
is a departure from the earlier version that simply did not make sense.
NIV talks about the sacrificial service "coming from your faith". If anyone can explain to me what that is supposed to 
mean, I'll be grateful.
Most versions keep the unclear genitive "sacrifice and service of your faith", even though an English genitive does not 
work here.
TEV says "an offering on the sacrifice that your faith offers to God." I have no idea what that is intended to mean.
NLT says " the sacrifice of your faithful service." But that does not fit the context, because Paul is talking about his 
own sacrificial service, not that of the Philippians.

My rule of thumb is that when a non-literal translation does not make sense, the underlying exegesis is probably wrong. 
The literal translations do not reveal the exegesis (or lack of it) behind them.

Iver Larsen 

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