Interpreting The Word Meanings, And The Bond Between All Believers

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Paul’s concluding words in Philippians provide the reader with a sense that he cares deeply for them, and the bond between all believers in Christ is far reaching. When interpreting scripture it is important to consider the original meaning of the words used by the author and determine how they fit within the context of the Scripture passage (Klein, Blomberg, & Hubbard, Jr., 1993). Klein, et al. (1993) list criteria an interpreter needs to be aware of including “words are semantic signs” (p. 241), have “a range of meanings” (p. 242), “word meanings change over time” (p. 244), the “word meanings overlap” (p. 243), and finally, “have connotative and denotative meanings”(p. 246). By determining the meaning and significance of key words in Philippians 4:21-23, a person can ascertain the message Paul was conveying to the Philippians while determining the significance of the message today. Paul’s message is one of encouragement and reassurance for the people of Philippi as they were clearly in partnership with him to spread the Gospel. He writes as though a personal relationship existed between them; they had history and a common bond was present in their friendship (Elwell & Yarbrough, 2013). Evidence of this relationship, exposed by the use of the verb “greet” in verses 21 and 22 (NIV), the Greek root being ἀσπάζομαι or aspázomai (G782), has several meanings, including “to salute” or “pay respects to,” to “bid farewell” or “take leave of” or “to embrace them” (Vine, 1996). Commonly used in a final greeting, “to salute” most appropriately defines the use in this verse to those who support the work being done by fellow Christians. The phrase ‘God’s people’, or saints, found in some translations, Greek root is ἅγιος or hagios (G40), defi... ... middle of paper ... ...n bond, between Paul, all believers, and God. Lastly, the use of ‘brethren’ solidifies the community of believers, connected with affection in Christ. This sense of community and support of one another’s desire to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ rings true during Paul’s time as well as now. Fowl states that “theological interpretation of the Bible is not determined by any particular method but by the goal of growing into ever deeper communion with the triune God and with others” (2002, p.45). Fowl continues, “For contemporary Christians, it is in the course of interpreting scripture theologically that they discern the movements and characteristics of God 's economy of salvation” (2002, p. 58). Ultimately, while examining Scripture, specifically Paul’s message in Philippians, the reader gains the sense of community among fellow believers and a relationship with God.

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