Mounce Archive 18 - You Plural, You Individual
Everyone needs a break once in a while, and Bill Mounce is taking one from his weekly column on biblical Greek until September. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the “Mondays with Mounce” archive for your summer reading and Greek-studying pleasure.
In Philippians 1:6, Paul says he trusts God to continue working in "you" plural. But can the believer also use this verse to rest assured the Lord will work in each of us individually? Mounce concludes: "[I]f God is working among the believers as a group, the only way to do that is for him to work in the life of each individual believer."
Begin with the excerpt below or read the complete post here.
Paul begins his letter to the Philippians with praise for them, and then says this now famous verse. "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (ESV).
It is not that difficult of a verse to translate. The only really question is the translation of en hymin. The "you" is plural, a fact obscured by the English language. This is partly why some translations prefer "among" instead of "in" since it helps clarify that Paul’s confidence is in God’s work within all the people of the Philippian church.
But these types of constructions can be confusing. Can this verse be used, as it often is, to reassure a single believer that God will bring his work to completion in an individual, or is this only a promise to the larger group of the church? The plural "you" alerts us to the fact that it cannot only be a promise to an individual but that it is primarily for the group. But is that the end of the discussion?
William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics at Koinonia. He is the author of numerous works including the recent Basics of Biblical Greek Video Lectures and the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek. He is the general editor of Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV.
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