Posted by: mattcolvin | January 31, 2012

“Approve the Things that are Excellent”?

Monday of the Fourth Week after Epiphany: Philippians 1:1-11.

Just a Greek note here:

1:10 – εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τὰ διαφέροντα, ἵνα ἦτε εἰλικρινεῖς… Paul prays that the Philippians may abound “in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent”. This phrase is used in Romans 2:18 of unbelieving Jews, who “rest on the law, and make your boast in God, 18 and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law.”

This word διαφέροντα is an interesting one. Kittel, in TDNT says,

The participle as noun is used by Paul at R. 2:18 and Phil. 1:10 in the expression δοκιμάζω τὰ διαφέροντα and denotes the ascertaining of what is essential for the Jew and the Christian, whether in the Law and in conduct faithful thereto on the one side, or for walking in the love of Christ on the other. As R. 2:18 suggests, this term, which was current in ordinary Hellenistic speech, had already found its way into the Hellenistic synagogue, and meant there much the same as what the νομικός (Mt. 22:36) had in view in his question about the great commandment.

It’s helpful to be told that it was current in ordinary Hellenistic Greek speech. I would have been tempted to suspect that it was a Semitism.

I still don’t know about the translation “things that are excellent.”

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