[B-Greek] Philemon 6

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Wed Jun 1 04:10:15 EDT 2011


Dear David,

Yes, I am not denying that the text talks about Philemon's faith rather than 
Paul's faith. But I still see faith as limiting the type of fellowship, 
Philemon's faith fellowship. Philemon is not the only one having faith, but all 
who are part of that faith fellowship of his have that same faith in common. I 
think we have come as far as we can with the grammar. A grammatical analysis 
will only take you to a certain point, and the overall meaning is derived from 
grammar, semantics, pragmatics and context, all taken togehter.

Iver Larsen

----- Original Message ----- 
From: =)
To: Iver Larsen ; B-Greek List
Sent: 1. juni 2011 10:55
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Philemon 6


Dear Iver,



On 1 June 2011 13:15, Iver Larsen <iver_larsen at sil.org> wrote:

Fronting the SOU would put a contrastive spotlight on YOUR fellowship of faith 
as opposed to Paul's or somebody else's. Such is spotlight seems quite 
irrelevant to the context. The key part of the noun phrase (head noun) and the 
subject for the later verb is KOINWNIA. It is this fellowship that Paul prays 
will become strong (ENERGHS), be energized. It ought to come first. PISTEWS 
limits the fellowship to the kind of fellowship that is built around a common 
faith, since there can be many possible kinds of fellowships. The SOU further 
limits the faith fellowship to the one which Philemon is part of. Presumably 
Paul is not part of that fellowship, or I would have expected "our" rather than 
"your".


Similarly, fronting THS PISTEWS would put a spotlight on FAITH and thereby 
remove the natural focus from FELLOWSHIP. I don't think that would fit what Paul 
wanted to say. Ambiguities are not resolved by playing around with word order, 
but by context and the background information that is shared by the writer and 
reader. The main reason that we have a hard time dealing with grammatical 
ambiguities is that we lack much of the shared background information, in this 
case between Paul and Philemon and the situation that Philemon found himself in, 
including the local saints that he has shown such love towards. Later Paul 
appeals to Philemon to accept Onesimus into his fellowship of faith. V. 16 
describes Onesmus as no longer a slave, but a beloved brother in the Lord. Paul 
appeals to Philemon to show love (including forgiveness/compassion) to Onesimus 
both as a human being (EN SARKI) and as a brother in the faith (EN KURIWi). 
After all, he has already shown his love to other brothers that he has 
fellowship with as indicated in verse 5 and 7. It is these verses that seem to 
be the most crucial part of the context. The immediately surronding verses (5,7) 
are always the most important.


I agree that the emphasis would be different, but the meaning of "the communion 
[which is] of your faith" is the same in this context because Philemon's faith 
is precisely the reason and foundation of the communion that he has. Others may 
place their faith in different things but Philemon's faith (not Paul's faith or 
their common faith) is specifically mentioned in verse 5, which is "THN PISTIN 
HN ECEIS PROS TON KURION IHSOUN KAI EIS PANTAS TOUS AGIOUS" = "the faith that 
you have towards the lord Jesus and for all the holy [ones]". This faith that 
Philemon has results in the communion that he has, therefore I believe verse 6 
likewise is referring to his faith and the communion which is of his faith.

Also, verse 5 mentions both Philemon's love and his faith, "SOU THN AGAPHN KAI 
THN PISTIN", and I find it natural that verse 6 is about his faith, "THS PISTEWS 
SOU" just as verse 7 is about his love, "TH AGAPH SOU". Just as verse 7 says 
that Paul has much grace and comfort upon (based on) Philemon's love because; 
"CARIN GAR ECOMEN POLLHN KAI PARAKLHSIN EPI TH AGAPH SOU"; so also it seems to 
me that verse 6 implies that Paul prays that the communion based on Philemon's 
faith might come to be operative in recognition of every good thing in them for 
Christ Jesus; "H KOINWNIA THS PISTEWS SOU ENERGHS GENHTAI EN EPIGNWSEI PANTOS 
AGAQOU TOU EN HMIN EIS CRISTON IHSOUN".

So while I agree that the phrase is still ambiguous, I wish to ask if my 
interpretation of the grammatical structure is a valid possibility, since I see 
no reason why the phrase cannot refer to Philemon's faith.


Best regards,

David Lim 



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