The Epistle to the Philippians

Ferdinand Christian Baur

The first edition of F. C. Baur's book, Paulus, Der Apostel Jesu Christi, appeared in 1845. A second, revised edition was published in 1866, ten years after Baur's death. Baur was unable, before he died, to revise the section of his work dealing with what he called the "second class of Pauline epistles," including Philippians. However, he had addressed problems relating to Philippians, and responded to his critics, in a number of articles in the Theologische Jahrbuch (see below, note 1). And Eduard Zeller, who edited the revised edition, included several excerpts from these studies as notes to the original text, and attached a lengthly addendum at the end of this essay (below pp. 64-79).

This essay is taken from the English translation of the second edition of Baur's book, Paul. The Apostle of Jesus Christ (London/Edinburgh, 1875), Vol 2, pp. 45-79. In what follows, page numbers from the ET are given in brackets. The original translation by the Rev. A. Menzies has been largely preserved. But this has been compared with the original German, and numerous emendations have been made for the sake of readability, or, in many cases, accuracy. In addition, English translations have usually been provided for citations originally given in Greek.  DJD

The critic who first ventured to cast doubt on the genuineness of the Epistle to the Ephesians has lately asserted of the Epistle to the Philippians that its genuineness is above all question. 1 It is true that no sufficient reasons have been alleged as yet for doubting its apostolic origin; yet I think there are such reasons, and I deem it necessary to state shortly, for the further consideration of criticism, what they are. I think there are three points to be considered. 2

1. This Epistle, like the two we have just discussed [Colossians and Ephesians], is occupied with Gnostic ideas and expressions, and that not in the way of controversy with Gnostics, but employing, them, with the necessary modifications, for its own purposes. Phil 2:6, a passage of great importance for dogmatics, and of as great difficulty, [46] can scarcely be explained save on the supposition that the writer's mind was filled with certain Gnostic ideas current at the time. What an extraordinary conception is it that Christ, though he was in the form of God, did not count it robbery, or, to give the words their exact grammatical force, did not think that he must make it the object of an actus rapiendi, to be equal with God. If he was God already, how could he wish to become what he was already? But if he was not equal with God, what an eccentric and perverted and self-contradictory thought must it have been, to become equal with God! Is it the inconceivableness of such a thought that is to be expressed in the words ouch harpagmon hêgêsato ("did not regard it as rapacity")? But how could the Apostle have said something so inconceivable about Christ, even if it was merely to deny it? Though Christ did not proceed to such an act of rapacity and arrogance, it nevertheless seems that it was possible for him, even if not in a moral sense.

How is this to be explained? The doctrines of the Gnostics show us how our author may have come to entertain such a conception. It is a well-known Gnostic representation, that in one of the aeons, the last of the series of them, the Gnostic Sophia, there arose the passionate, eccentric, and unnatural desire to penetrate forcibly into the essence of the primal Father, in order to unite herself directly with him, the Absolute, and to become one with him. This desire is described as a proallesthai, a darting forward, as a rash and passionate striving, as a tolmê, a bold and violent attempt (Irenaeus, AH 1.2.2). That aeon thus sought forcibly to seize and to appropriate what according to its nature could never belong to it, and what it had no claim to. This whole act, and what it intends, is something purely "spiritual" ["contemplative"]. 3 Sophia wished, as the Gnostics express it, kekoinônêsthai tô patri tô teleiô, to associate herself with the Father, the absolutely Perfect, and katalabein to megethos autou, to take up into herself spiritually his greatness, his absolute essence, which amounts to such an identity with God the Absolute as is conveyed by the expression to einai isa Theô ("to be equal with God") in the Epistle to the Philippians.

Now, precisely this fact, that, according to the original Gnostic conception, this act was a purely "spiritual" one makes it intelligible how our Epistle comes to speak of such a self-contradictory attempt as einai isa Theô. On the one side, the identity with God is a thing still to be realized; on the other, the reality of it is presupposed. Interpreters of the Epistle are thus driven to remark that the correct rendering of ouch hapagmon hêgêsato is compatible only with such a conception of einai isa Theô as something which Christ did not yet possess; for otherwise it could not be said that he did not wish to seize it for himself. But, they say, in order that the renunciation may be conceived as a voluntary one, we must ascribe to Christ the possibility which lies in his en morphê Theou huparxhôn ("being in the form of God"). Christ then had the divine glory potentia ("potentially") in himself, and could have claimed it, could have made it appear in his life. But since it did not accord with the plan of salvation that Christ should at once receive divine honour, it would have been a robbery, an act of presumption, if he had taken it to himself. But, we must ask, what was Christ, if being "in the form of God," he possessed the divine glory only "potentially" — if actually being God, he yet was not God? And what conceivable reason is there for saying that he voluntarily renounced a thing, which, from the nature of the case, it was impossible that he should have?

This being and not being, this having and not having, is possible only in the spiritual sphere [of ideas]; it is the difference between what exists in itself and what exists not only in itself, but also for consciousness. The Gnostic aeons are the categories and conceptions in which the absolute becomes the object of the subjective consciousness; and they are themselves are the spiritual subjects in which the absolute subjectivates and individualizes itself ; or they are the subjective side, on which the Absolute is not only the absolute in essence, but is also the Absolute self-consciousness. Since, however, they are in plurality what the Absolute is in unity, the descending series of aeons exhibits an ever-growing divergence between the consciousness of which the Absolute is the object, and the Absolute itself as the object of consciousness. The consciousness of these spiritual subjects, these aeons in which consciousness shows [48] itself as the subjective side over against that objective side, can, by its own nature, deal with nothing but the Absolute, and yet the further off they stand, the less can they with their consciousness embrace and comprehend it (katalabein). So the aeon we spoke of now directs itself to the Absolute with the whole energy of its spiritual activity, seeks to grasp the Absolute, to comprehend it, to become equal with it, to be one with it; but in this it undertakes a thing which is in itself impossible, by which it overleaps the boundaries of its own spiritual nature, and seeks, as it were, to commit an unnatural robbery of the Absolute. Thus, in the very nature of the case, it cannot possibly succeed;4 and if it let itself be swept away by this impulse or its spiritual nature, it will only become aware of the negativity of its own being, which the Gnostics represented by saying that the aeon fell out of the Pleroma into the kenôma.5

Thus our passage also speaks of a kenoun ("emptying") in connection with the harpagmos ("rapacity"); and it is very clear from this that the author of the letter to the Philippians moves in the same conceptual sphere, and makes such conceptions the basis of his presentation, only with this difference, that what had a purely speculative significance for the Gnostics is employed in a moral sense. For the Gnostics the harpagmos actually takes place, but as an unnatural enterprise terminates itself by itself, and has only negative consequences;6 in this case, however, due to [49] the moral self-determination, such a harpagnos cannot arise, and the negative that does come about — not as the result of a misdirected act, but of an act that it does not take place at all — is now the voluntary renunciation and self-abasement, through an act of the will; instead of the Gnostic genesthai en kenômati, we have an eauton kenoun. Only from the presupposition of this Gnostic harpagmos in its speculative sense can the moral renunciation of the harpagmos in the sense this appears in Philippians be rightly understood. For what meaning would it have, when the issue is made a moral one, as it is here, to say that prior to his moral probation Christ did not seek to seize a something which could only be attained by means of moral probation? What can be gained only through moral effort, no one can gain save as the fruit of his moral effort. This is self-evident. And if this is not said first, but is nevertheless said here, it can only be said with reference to some other speculation, which provides the occasion to say something that one could not otherwise say, at least not precisely in this form.7

[50] Other expressions used in this passage afford additional evidence of how much the writer had Gnostic modes of thought and expression before him and made them the basis of his presentation. The contrast morphê Theou ("form of God") and morphê doulou ("form of a slave") seems to be very simple; yet the actual conception of the morphê Theou can only be understood from the language of the Gnostics, for whom the expressions morphê, morphoun, morphôsis were very common. That which constitutes the peculiar character of a higher spiritual being, which is a concept appropriate to its being, is its morphê. Hence the Gnostics said of the fallen aeon [Sophia], that when she found herself outside of the light and the pleroma, she had become amorphos kai aneideos, hôsper ektrôma ("without form or shape, like an abortion"), and indeed dia to mêden, kateilêphenai ("having received nothing at all"), because what constituted her spiritual nature was wanting to her. Hence when Christ was sent out of the pleroma to help her, the first thing he did for her was tê idia dunamei morphôsai morphôsin, tên kat' ousian monon, all' ou tên kata gnôsin ("he imparted a form to her, with regard to substance, but not knowledge") (cf. Iren. 1.4.1, 5.1; Theod. Haer. Fab. 1.7). The aeon was to come to itself again out of the state of utter negation in which it found itself; it was to receive again its morphê, and in such a way that in the process of this morphoun, the morphsis kat' ousian, referring to that which the aeon first was in essence, in substance, was followed by the morphôsis kata gnôsin, by which he became in consciousness also what he was already in essence. It already follows from this that the en morphê Theou huparchein means the same thing and is identical with einai isa Theô.8 But this can be more definitely shown from the Gnostic use of language.

[51] The Gnostics said of the nous or monogenês that he was homoios te kai isos tô probalonti ("both similar and equal to the one who had produced him"), to the primal aeon, or the absolute primal cause; as the monos chôrôn to megethos tou patros, in so far as he alone comprehends the absolute greatness of the Father, in him the Absolute unfolds itself to consciousness (Iren. AH 1.1.1). On this account he is also called the embodiment of all the aeons of the Pleroma, the archê kai morphôsis pantos tou plêrômatos. The number of the aeons is completed by Christ and the Holy Spirit. Christ taught the aeons that the essence of the Father is in itself fully incomprehensible, and that knowledge of it is mediated only through the monogenês, and that the cause of the eternal existence of the aeons was that absolute, and for them quite incomprehensible, nature of the Father. The cause of the genesis of the the Monogenes, however, through whom alone the Father is known, and of his morphôsis, was that which is comprehensible in the Father, hô dê isos esti (ho monogeonês); he is equal with him, identical with him, in so far as as he comprehends the Father, and is subjectively what the Father is objectively. Precisely this isos einai tô patri ("being equal with the Father") is accordingly his morphôsis or his morphê ("form"), and since this morphê is nothing other that being like the Father, being one with him, he is imself essentialy the morphê of the Father, or huparchôn en morphê Theou ("existing in the form of God"). Through the Holy Spirit, all the aeons were held to have become morphê kai gnônê isoi, like one another, so that each was what the others were, and thereby as much isos to the Father as the Nous or Monogenes is; and their morphê consisted just in this, that they were thus isoi.9

In a writer so obviously influenced by Gnostic ideas, it cannot surprise us to find also such a close approach to the Docetism [52] of the Gnostics as is undoubtedly the case in verse 7. If Christ, as en homoiômati anthrôpôn genomenos ("becoming in the likeness of a man") was only homoios ("similar") to men, then he was no true and actual man, but only seemed to be so. The expression homoiôma can signify only similarity, analogy; it cannot denote identity or parity of essence (cf. Rom 6:5). The passage Rom 8:3, where it is said of the Son that God sent him en homoiômati sarkos hamartias ("in a likeness of sinful flesh") cannot be reckoned a parallel to this; it proves precisely the opposite, in so far as the homoiôma there predicated of the Son is that likeness which as the Son he necessarily bears to the sarx hamartias. In Phil 2:7, however, the homoiôma is extended to humanity in general, which is just the difference between the Docetic view and the orthodox. That this is the meaning of homoiôma in our passage can be doubted even less since the phrase schemati heuretheis hôs anthrôpos, standing close beside it, does not admit of any other interpretation. Though we should not exagerate the hôs and heurethênai (even though hôs indicates no more than an opinion, a view, a comparison; and hurethênai is not directly equivalent to einai, but refers merely to the outward appearance, to the qualities by which a subject presents itself to external observation), in the term schêma ("outward form") we have as clearly as need be the notion of an externus habitus, of a thing changing, passing away, and quickly disappearing (cf. 1 Cor 7:31).10

Purely Gnostic, again, is the author's view of the three regions, the heavenly, the earthly, and the subterranean, to all of which equally the power and rule of Christ extend. The katachthonioi ("beneath the earth") cannot but remind us of the Gnostic idea of the descent into hell. The peculiar manner, noticeable both in this Epistle and in the two which we last considered, in which Gnostic and Catholic conceptions are mingled and pass into each other; the unsuspecting use the writers make of notions, bearing unmistakeably the stamp of Gnosticism, and which they modify only so far as the practical and religious objects they had to serve, made it necessary to do so — these things manifestly belong to a time when Gnosticism had not yet become the definite and striking phenomenon that it was afterwards, and when it was still in process of development out of [53] the various elements then present. It was the era of the first awaking of Christian speculation, excited by the floating ideas of the time, from which speculation the Christian consciousness itself was to receive its peculiar dogmatic contents. At its outset Christian speculation found its leading and most powerful interest in the idea of the person of Christ; it was around this idea that the absolute contents of the Christian consciousness crystallized into their definite objective form. This growing occupation with the person of Christ comes out very strongly in doxological passages, such as Eph 1:19ff.; 3:8ff.; Col 1:15ff., and, more than in any of these, in the passage we have been considering, which has quite the air of a doxology.

2.  This affinity with Gnosis is the primary feature which the Epistle to the Philippians has in common with those to the Ephesians and Colossians. It differs from them chiefly in its prevailing subjectivity of tone. This is generally extolled as the peculiar beauty of this Epistle, and the sentiments and dispositions which it exhibits to us are certainly sweet and touching; yet this must not blind us to the fact that the Epistle is characterized very decidedly by monotonous repetition of what has already been said, by a want of any profound and masterly connection of ideas, and by a certain poverty of thought, of which the writer himself seems to have been somewhat painfully aware, as he says in excuse in 3:1: ta auta graphein humin, emoi men ouk oknêron, humin de asphales ("To write the same things to you is not irksome to me, and is safe for you").

Connected with this is another consideration that constitutes a further criterion for evaluating the Epistle, namely, that we find no motive or occasion for it, no distinct indication of any purpose, or of any leading idea. There is certainly polemic against Jewish opponents; but one can hardly avoid the impression that this is present simply because it seemed to belong to the standing character of Pauline Epistles. There is nothing fresh or natural in this polemic; the circumstances do not stand out with any palpable form. Could any description of the opponents of Christianity be more vague or general than this? — "For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies [54] of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things" (3:18f). The comments made by interpreters in characterizing these Judaizing opponents and false teachers are borrowed from other epistles; our Epistle itself affords nothing special. One does not even know where these opponents are to be looked for, whether at Rome or at Philippi. It is in vain that our author uses the strongest phrases to describe his antagonists; they fail to bring his polemic the colour which it wants. How harshly does his argument begin with the rude words in 3:2: "Watch out for dogs," and how forced is the contrast that is attempted to be drawn between peritomê and katatomê, circumcision and concision! Christians are supposedly the true circumcision (peritomê), the Jews, the spurious circumcision, or the katamonê. But how askew is this expression of the qualitative difference between the true and the false circumcision through the quantitative comparison of peritomê and katatomê! And this peculiar and inappropriate contrast is clearly not intended to say anything relating to the issue itself, but only to provide an opportunity for the apostle, by referring to his own circumcision, to discourse on his own person, which, as we have already noted, is very important for writers of pseudo-apostolic letters, so conscious are they of their duplicitous personality.

Let us, however, examine the passage in which the apostle speaks of himself; it is manifestly nothing but an imitation of the passage in 2 Cor 11:13ff. With the ergatai dolai ("deceitful workers") in v. 13 we already have before us the kakous ergatas ("evil workers") in our passage, and in what follows one passage connects with the other in a number of ways. Even the introduction of the apostle's person through the idea of peritomê can be explained from the original. In 2 Cor 11:18ff. the apostle speaks of kauchasthai ("boasting") in contrast to the kauchasthai of his Judaizing opponents, which he characterizes in v. 18 as a kauchasthai kata tên sarka ("boasting according to the flesh"), and which calls forth the response: if so great importance is to be attached to outward things of that sort, he himself can boast of the same [55] advantages as they possess, reluctant though he be to speak of them. Now the author of our Epistle related this "boasting according to the flesh" especially to the glory of circumcision, and thus has the apostle immediately say (in v. 3), hêmeis gar esmen hê peritomê ("We are the circumcision!"). Then, in order to ascribe to the apostle the true circumcision, he first takes the idea of circumcision in a spiritual sense: "who serve God in the Spirit, and boast in Christ, and place no confidence in the flesh"; but in the words that immediately follow holds fast to the idea of bodily circumcision: kaiper egô echôn pepoithêsin kai en sarki ("Even I also have confidence in the flesh"). Here we recognise what the apostle says about himself in 2 Cor 11:18: kagô kauchêsomai ("I will also boast"), namely, en sarki ("in the flesh"), and how in what follows there (cf. v 23, huper egô) he seeks to surpass his opponents with his boasting. So here also we read: "If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more." This "confidence in the flesh" (pepoithênai in sarki), which is merely another expression for "boasting according to the flesh" (kauchasthai kata tên sarks) in 2 Cor 11:18, is then further developed in v. 5 with circumcision placed at the beginning as the principle concept. After the words peritomê oktaêmeros ("circumcised on the eithth day"), it is said, ek genous 'Israêl ("of the people of Israel") instead of 'Isralitai eisi; kagô ("Are they Israelites? I also."), and Hebraios ex Hebraiôn ("a Hebrew born of Hebrews") instead of Hebraioi eisi; kagô ("Are they Hebrews? I also"), 2 Cor 11:22. This, however, is merely an introduction which allows the apostle to speak further about himself, and to contrast his present Christian view of life with that which "places confidence in the flesh."

Can it possibly be doubted that the author had before his eyes that passage of the Corinthian letter, and followed it as the apostle himself could never have done? The use of the expression kunes ("dogs") can only be explained from the strong and vehement language in which the apostle denounces his opponents in 2 Cor 11, and from the accustomed exaggeration of imitators. But how uncalled for and how forced does this speech of the apostle about himself appear when we compare it with the manner in which he deals with his opponents in the original passage. There we see at once what it is all about. How weak and lifeless is this imitation! What the apostle is made to say about his former life is just what nobody could fail to know. How petty is the stress on his circumcision [56] on the eighth day, how far from Pauline is the conception of a dikaiosunê en nomô ("righteousness through the law"), how dull and uninteresting is the whole episode! There are other ideas and expressions in this part of the Epistle which remind us of the Corinthian Epistles; cf. v 10 with 2 Cor 4:10f.; vv 11-14 with 1 Cor 9:10f; v. 15 (teleioi) with 1 Cor 2:6; v. 17 (summumêtai mou ginesthe) with 1 Cor 11:1 (mimêtai mou ginesthe); v. 19 with 2 Cor 11:15; v. 21 with 1 Cor 15:27f.

This more or less obvious reflection of passages from the older Epistles, together with the intentional leading of the discourse to the apostle's own person, his earlier and his present life, must certainly awake strong suspicion against our Epistle, especially since, for all of this, we can discern no clear reason which motivated the apostle to write this Epistle. A particular reason is indeed mentioned in 4:10ff, namely, a present which the Philippians are said to have sent to Rome for the apostle's support. The connection of this, however, with other similar subsidies, received earlier, likewise raises doubts. Speaking of this support here provides an occasion in 4:15 for the apostle to remind his readers of the fact that from the commencement of his preaching of the gospel, ever since his departure from Macedonia, he has received such gifts from no church but that of Philippi, and that during his stay at Thessalonica they sent him assistance more than once; but we must ask how this is to be reconciled with the apostle's distinct assertion in 1 Cor 9:15, according to which he stood in no such relation with any church whatever: "I made no use of any of these things", namely "to make my living from the gospel." (v. 14). His "reward" was that "in preaching I might present the gospel of Christ without charge, not making full use of my authority in the gospel." Now the strict truth of these words is certainly qualified by the apostle's own confession in 2 Cor 11:9 that during his stay at Corinth, brethren who came from Macedonia supplied his needs. Precisely because the statement in the first passage, however, is only qualified, not entirely falsified, by the second, that which is spoken of in 2 Cor 11:9 can only have been an exception. But here, in Phil 4:15, it is made to appear as if there had been a system of such support from the very beginning, [57] as if the apostle had received regular contributions from the Philippians, and had a sort of account of expenditures and receipts (logos doseôs kai lêpseôs) with them. One has to suspect that the writer of this letter had the passage in 2 Cor 11:9 before him, and following this exclusively, derived too much from it. The logos doseôs kai lêpseôs itself is only another expression for the same relationship of plus and minus characterized in 2 Cor 11:9 as prosanaplêroun to husterêma ("supplying the needs").

Another remarkable circumstance here claims our attention. Interpreters of this Epistle likewise assume that there is a relationship here with 2 Cor 11:9. They argue that the words hote exêlthon apo Makedonia ("when I left from Macedonia") point to the subsidy received at Corinth, and that the information in Phil 4:16 regarding what he had earlier received in Thessalonica was added to provide a full account. De Wette thinks that the kai requires this interpretation, and that the reason why this information is not presented in chronological order is that the subsidy received at Corinth was the most considerable, and so suggested itself first to the apostle's mind. But if it was so considerable, why is this not expressly said at that point where one would first expect to find it mentioned? For the words "when I left from Macedonia" cannot be specially understood to refer to a subsidy received explicitly at Corinth; the statement made is a general one, that he received such assistance from them from the time of his leaving Macedonia. It is clearly not the apostle himself, who could not have passed over the most important instance without mentioning it, but someone else who writes in this way. This other writer assumed that the case mentioned in 2 Cor was well known. In view of this, he enumerated the additional acts of support, which since they were less known he thought necessary to identify explicitly, introducing them with the particle kai, which can only be explained in this way. The more often these subsidies took place, and the more the apostle was in a position to count upon them as ordinary occurrences (at least in the case of the Philippian church)., the more difficult it becomes to reconcile such continuous support with the principle enunciated in 1 Cor 9:15. [58] Against the assumption that the apostle repeatedly received support during his stay in Thessalonica there is also the fact that Acts seems to know nothing of a lengthly stay of the apostle in Thessalonica. Thus hardly any other conclusion is open to us than this, that the author generalized what he found in 1 Cor 11:9 about the "brethern who came from Macedonia," and was thus led to represent the apostle as having been supported by regular contributions from the Philippian church from the time he left from Macedonia, since he is no longer in Macedonia ("when left Macedonia") — or rather, as soon as he left Philippi, since he includes the apostle's stay in Thessalonica, which was also in Macedonia, in his departure from Macedonia (from which can be seen that he understood only Christians from Philippi to be included among the "brethern who came from Macedonia" referred to in 2 Cor 11:9). Accordingly, what is said in Phil 4:10 of a special occasion for the writing of the Epistle gives us no clear insight into the circumstances under which it would have been written by the apostle himself. This of itself could lead us to conclude that we have before us no actual historical circumstances, but only an imaginary situation — which becomes even more probable the more closely we consider the historical motivation of the Epistle.

3.  Special attention must still be given to what is said in Phil 1:12, not only about the great progress of the Gospel in Rome, but also about the deep impression which the imprisonment of the apostle and his preaching of the Gospel are said to have produced in the whole Praetorium and throughout that city (en holô tô praitôriô kai tois loipois pasi — Who are these loipoi pantes if not the Roman public as such?). This statement stands quite alone; it is not corroborated either by the Epistles which profess to have been written from the apostle's captivity in Rome, or from any other quarter. Yet the fact is not in itself incredible; and no one would have thought of calling it in question had not the author himself taken up into his Epistle another fact which gives us so clear an insight into his plot, that it is impossible for us to take his assertions as simple history. As we see from 4:22, the attention which the Gospel commanded in the whole Praetorium, and in Rome generally, is supposed to have had as its consequence that there were now believers even in the imperial household. "They greet you," the writer says at the conclusion of his letter, "all the saints, and especially those of Caesar's household." One sees here how much importance is placed on the magnificant results of the apostle's preaching at Rome; and there can be no doubt that with the loipoi pantes in 1:13 the author had particularly those persons "of the household of Caesar" in view. How is it then that this remarkable result of the apostle's activity at Rome during his imprisonment, something so important for the history of Christianity, is found nowhere but in the Epistle to the Philippians? The key to this question is found in the Clement who is mentioned in 4:3. This Clement is named nowhere else in the apostolic Epistles. And it must be self-evident that his being named precisely here, in a letter in which no other of the apostle's friends or assistants is mentioned by name as sending greetings, is a special distinction, made for a particular reason. Since neither history nor tradition knows of any other Clement at that time, he must be the same Clement who appears elsewhere in close association with the apostle Peter, and who is said to have been ordained by him as the first bishop of the Church at Rome. Now in the early legendary history it is reported of this same Clement that he was relative of the imperial house. The Clementine Homilies, which derive their name from this Clement, represent him as the disciple, the companion, and the successor of the apostle Peter, and narrate his life in the form of a Christian romance, also say of him that be was anêr pros genous Tiberiou Kaisaros, from the family of Caesar Tiberius (Clem. Hom., 4.7; cf. 14.10). Legend, then, was acquainted with a Clement who was a member of the imperial household, and who was converted by an apostle; so we have in this Clement exactly the man in whose person Christianity is represented in the sphere of Caesar's house.

Given one such person, by extrapolation the author of the letter could let his apostle relate greetings to the community in Philippi from a plurality of believing members of Caesar's household. But how had Christianity gained access to the imperial house? How could even the report [60] about it have found its way there? To explain this, there was another well-known bit of information, namely, the relationship with the Praetorium which Paul came to have as a Roman prisoner. The Praetorium, of course, was closely connected with the imperial household. And at his arrival in Rome, the apostle had been handed over to the praefectus praetorio, the stratopedarchês ("military commander") of Acts 28:16, and guarded by a soldier of the imperial guard. Here, then, was a door through which, as soon as it had found belief in the Praetorium, Christianity might penetrate to the house of the emperor. Thus one circumstance fits into another in a perfectly natural way, and it is easy to account for the emphasis on the "advance of the gospel" and the apostle's imprisonment for Christ having become known "among all the Praetorium and all the rest" at the very beginning of the Epistle. Two pieces of data are given: the Roman Clement, on the one hand, and the praefectus praetorio, on the other. What lies between the two — the interest of the whole Praetorium in Paul and in Christianity, and the conversion of several members of the imperial house — follows as a natural consequence from these two pieces of data.

We must not conclude, however, simply because this combination seems so natural, that the events actually unfolded in such a way; what we know of the Roman Clement will not allow us to do so. He cannot, indeed, be said to be altogether the creature of legend; there is some fact or other at the root of the legend. But these facts only serve to show that the apostle himself could not have referred to the Roman Clement in this way. It has long been correctly observed11 that the basis for the legend of the Roman Clement, is that Flavius Clemens who is known to us from Suetonius (Domit. c. 15), Dio Cassius (In the extract of Xiphilinus, 67.14), and Eusebius (EH 3.18). The correspondence can hardly be mistaken, and it is sufficiently remarkable as an example of the process of formation of a Christian legend, which has to do where with so important a [61] personage in Christian legend as the Roman Clement, that we can see to the bottom of the process,. It is reported of both, the Clement of the Roman imperial history and the Clement of Christian legend, that they were related to the imperial family. Suetonius explicitly refers to Flavius Clemens a patruelis ("nephew") of Domitian. We can rightly conclude that he was friend and adherent of Christianity from the fact that the atheotês ("atheism") for which he was sentenced to death by Domitian, and which is equivalent in the narrative of Dio Cassius to the êthê tôn 'Ioudaiôn mentioned by him in the same connection, is the common heathen designation of Christianity. The contemtissima inertia ("contemptable slothfulness") with which Suetonius charges him, agrees with this very well, since as a Christian he could not take any great interest in the political life of Rome, which must have been most remarkable during his consulate. For this reason, as Suetonius reports his fate, Domitian repente ex tenuissima suspicione tantum non in ipso ejus consulatu interemit. Then, as the family of the Clement of the Homilies was forced to leave Rome, due to some dark destiny hanging over them, and returned thither only after sundry experiences and vicissitudes, so at least the wife of Flavius Clemens, Flavia Domitilla, experienced a similar change of fortune. According to Dio Cassius, she was banished to the island Pandateria for the same reason for which her husband lost his life, and afterwards returned to Rome, since Domitian, as Tertullian says, when speaking of the persecution carried out under Domition, facile coeptum repressit, restitutis etiam, quos relegaverat (Apol. ch. 4). This is the historical basis of the legend of the Roman Clement. There is no reason at all to assume the existence of an apostolic Clement who differs from this Flavius Clement, for whom alone there is historical evidence. For the passage in the Epistle to the Philippians cannot count as evidence, as soon as there be reason to doubt the apostolic origin of that Epistle.

Baur notes: "The Epistle extant under the name of Clement cannot be appealed to as evidence that there was actually an apostolic Clement different from this Clement. Whatever be the date assigned to that Epistle, from the name prefixed it can never follow that it was written by the Clement of Christian legend, any more than we are obliged to hold the Epistle of Bamabas, because of its name, to have been written by the Barnabas with whom we are acquainted."

[62] The death of Flavius Clemens is said to have been followed by frightening phenomena (continuis octo mensibus, says Suetonius, fulgura facta nuntiatague sunt), which caused a great sensation among the Romans. This would make it the more intelligible how this Clement, as one of the first Romans of good family to confess Christianity, and to become a martyr to that faith, received so prominent a place in Christian legendary history. In order to make him a companion of the apostles and the successor of Peter in the Roman Church, be was removed further back, and made a relative of Tiberius instead of Domitian. Now if he became a Christian only in the reign of Domitian, how could the apostle Paul call him his co-worker? This connexion with the apostle Paul can only have been ascribed to him by one writing in the post-apostolic age, when the Clement we have spoken of had already been transformed into the well-known Clement of the Roman legend.

The mention of Clement in the Epistle to the Philippians is thus not only a criterion in judging of the genuineness of that Epistle, but also throws a new light on the whole composition of the Epistle. Connected with this Clement's sympathy for the cause of the gospel, and that of the household Caesar attested to by him, is the "advance of the gospel" referred to in 1:12 as well as that fervent joy which is expressed all through the Epistle as the fundamental disposition of the apostle. Whatever the author makes the apostle write about, no single subject is left without a connection with the apostle's prevailing feeling of joy, that appears again and again as the refrain of every passage (2:17f, "I have joy, and rejoice with you all. Likewise you should have joy and rejoice with me,"; cf. 3:1, "Rejoice in the Lord"; 4:1, "my joy and crown"; 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice"; 4:10, "I rejoice in the Lord greatly"). Given this overwhelming feeling in the heart of the apostle, all the cares of his present situation, the pressure, the restraint, the clouded future in which there was so little prospect of further activity in the cause of the Gospel, must retreat into the background. In this respect the Epistle to the Philippians presents such a great contrast with 2 Timothy [63] Timothy, that it has long been felt that these two writings must be placed at very different periods of the apostle's imprisonment at Rome.

Only this prevailing feeling of joy can explain to us how the author ventures to make his apostle express the hope of speedy deliverance from his imprisonment (2:24). And yet it appears very natural that an author living at a later period could not quite conceal how the well-known end of the apostle hovered before his mind. Mixed with the apostle's joyful sentiment, we find also thoughts of an imminent death, and these two conditions of his spirit neutralize each other in sentences such as this: "As always, so also now Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far bedtter. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account." (1:20-24). Can it really be denied that a frame of mind wavering thus between life and death is far less appropriate to the apostle, if it was really the case that at that time in Rome such splendid prospects, far exceeding all expectations, had opened up for the cause of the Gospel, than for an author who saw before him as a historical fact that end of the apostle which so little harmonized with all these suppositions?

It cannot be without some special purpose that the author of our letter places the Roman Clement, the genuine disciple of Peter, as he is otherwise always regarded, at the side of the apostle Paul as his a fellow worker. He is also intended to be a new bond in that harmonious relationship in which the two primary apostles were to be more and more exhibited. 12 [64] How was it possible that Paul would not have known a man of such importance for the Roman Church, if indeed Christianity only found its way into the imperial household, to which Clement belonged, through the Praetorium? In general, the essential object of this Epistle may best be recognized in its endeavor, through its entire picture, in which a marvelous personality stands before us, to place the reputation of the apostle it its bright light. To this end everything conspires that the writer has to say about the great success of the apostle's preaching at Rome, the insufficiently recognized martyrdom he endured in his long incarceration in Rome, his affectionate and sympathetic feelings towards the Christian communities, and the constant focus of his spirit on Christ, in whom alone he lived.

In conclusion, we may add that neither the episkopoi ("bishops") and diakonoi ("deacons") mentioned at the beginning of the Epistle, nor those persons named in the last chapter in such a peculiar and mysterious way, Euodia and Syntyche (who in view of the exhortation to concord might be thought to be rather two parties than two ladies), with the even stranger appeal to a suzugos gnêsios ("genuine yokefellow") accord with what we find in other Pauline Epistles.


The foregoing section (from p. 45) has received such significant elaboration in Theol. Jahrb. 8, pp. 517-532, that I think it appropriate to print this part of that discussion in its entirety, since it would scarcely be possible to make individual extracts from it. (Zeller)

No other Epistle contains so many passages in which some [65] kind of difficulty is present, so many sentences wanting in clearness, loosely connected, and made up of nothing but repetitions and commonplaces. Take the very first passage, where, after the seemingly Pauline introduction, there is a distinct thought expressed (1:15). Here we are at a loss to know who the tines ("some") are, whether "brethern in the Lord" or others. "Some preach Christ from envy and contentiousness, some from goodwill; some from love, because they know that I keimai (= "am placed"?) for the defence of the Gospel." — What an expression, take it as we may! "But others preach Christ from party-spirit, not with pure intentions, thinking to add affliction to my bonds." What are we to conceive the difference between these two parties to have been? "What then? nevertheless, in every way, whether from pretence or in truth, Christ is preached." How could the apostle, who elsewhere judges his opponents with such severity, write this, and take pleasure even in those who preached Christ only prophasei ("in pretense"), without goodwill or honest intentions? If, as interpreters remark, the content of these people's teaching could only have been an anti-Pauline Jewish Christianity, since men of Pauline views would not have worked against the apostle as enemies, we know from other quarters what he thought of such opponents, that he saw them simply as perverters of sound teaching. Why is he so indulgent here? To explain this, it is said that the community which these adversaries disturbed was not one which the apostle himself had founded, and that in his situation at the time he must have been impressed with the importance of the spread of the Gospel in Rome, even in its Judaeo-Christian form; but all this is quite inconsistent with the apostle's character. The passages cited could only have been written by an author who, in the spirit of rejoicing, which he believed should be the key-note of the Epistle, made the apostle continually overlook everything that was disturbing and distressing, and thought that he was able the smooth over the conflicts. Hence the often recurring "I rejoice," and the more intensive "I will rejoice." [66] But what is the reason for his joy? The following touto (2:19) hardly provides a clear conception of the matter! And what about the connection of his readers' deêsis ("prayers") with the "giving of the Spirit of Jesus Christ"? Did the apostle ever characterize the intercession of his fellow-Christians, and the grace of God working in him in furtherance of his apostolic calling, as a "giving of the Spirit of Jesus Christ," as he does here? Indeed, Gal 3:5 speaks of a "giving of the Spirit," and the author of our Epistle doubtless borrowed the expression from that passage; but there the apostle refers to the imparting of the Spirit to Christians generally. But how could he, who said of himself as an apostle, "I think I have the Spirit of God" (1 Cor 7:40), speak of a "giving of the Spirit of Jesus Christ" only now reaching him?

Whatever the touto ("this") in v. 19 may mean, the apostle knows that it will turn out for his salvation, because he cherishes in general the expectation and hope that he will not be put to shame by anything, but that en pasê parrêsia... megalunthêsetai Christos en tô sômati mou... ("with all boldness... Christ will be glorified in my body"). What the word parrêsia means here is not clear; but even more difficult is the expression megalunthêsetai Christos en tô sômati mou.... Of course, it can only be taken in a qualitative sense; but where else does the apostle use such an expression about Christ? Is it in accord with his way of thinking at all to say that Christ is made great through him? Or is it not rather Christ who glorifies himself through him and in him? Just as the writer's use of "giving the Spirit" derived from a misinterpretation of Gal 3:5, so here his un-Pauline sentiment seems to have been suggested to him by the megalunthênai in 2 Cor 10:15. The eite dia zôês eite dia thanatou ("whether by life or by death") that directly follows (v. 20) is a variation of the two passages: Rom 14:7f and 2 Cor 5:6.

It was certainly quite in keeping with the situation in which the author of this Epistle conceived the apostle to be, to represent him as reflecting on his situation, hovering between life and death; yet the whole passage, vv. 20-26, is nothing but a general meditation on life and death, and is not motivated by anything that might be gathered from the apostle's special situation. The remaining verses of this chapter (27-30) contain an exhortation to a Christian conduct so general that it could have stood in any other epistle just as well. [67] Yet traces of other passages are not wanting here. It is usually said that hêtis ("which") in v. 28 refers grammatically to the following endeixis ("sign"), but actually, with regard to the matter at hand, to the preceding to mê pturesthai ("not being freightened"). But why should not hêtis refer to the "faith of the gospel" (v. 27), so that "and not your opponents" should really be placed after sunathlountes ("striving together"). The "faith of the gospel" is thus an omen of destruction for one person and salvation for the other, and indeed "from God," just as in 2 Cor 2:15, where the apostle calls himself "the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." Similarly, with regard to the kauchêma... in v. 26, compare 2 Cor. 1:14, 15.

It is primarily in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians from which we again and again find echoes here. The explanation of this is self-evident: in no other Epistle does the apostle's personality, in its subjective relationship to the readers, emerge so directly as in that one, so that if the author was to make the apostle write a letter of so subjective a character as this one is, he must have had above all 2 Cor before his eyes. I will not place too much importance on the fact that he motivates his exhortation to unity, to auto phronein ("to have the same mind"), which is the chief purpose of the epistle (cf. 2:1f), by a reference to the person of Jesus (2:5f), in the same way as Paul grounds his exhortation to benevolence in 2 Cor 8:9; all the more, however, it seems to me that the writer must have had that chapter in 2 Cor before him when he wrote Phil 2:19-30. This passage, however, contains several exceptional features in itself. The apostle here expresses the hope that he will soon be able to send Timothy to the Philippians, so that he also may be comforted by learning how they are. Why should the apostle desire this so strongly if Epaphroditus had brought him news from Philippi a short time before? And can we believe he would have sent Timothy away for this purpose, the man of whom he says in this same passage that he is the only one who as a true friend shares a common dedication, and who he regards as upright both within himself and in the work of the Gospel? It seems scarcely probable that he would have sent away a companion whose services he so much required in his present situation merely to take despatches to Philippi, which Epaphroditus, who was sent off [68] at the same time, could have taken equally well, or to bring news from Philippi, a task for which Timothy in particular would not have been necessary. What is more, how harshly on this occasion does the apostle judge his other friends and fellow-labourers! It is by no means enough to soften down hardness of this judgment by saying that Luke for one was then no longer present at Rome. The judgment in v. 21 is so general that we cannot help including Luke and Titus in its scope. Only a writer who projects the situations of his Epistle out of his own fancy could be led into such exaggerations.

Now let us compare this passage with 2 Cor 8:17-24. As in our Epistle Timothy and Epaphroditus, so there Titus and another are despatched on an errand of great importance to the apostle, and here as there the messengers are recommended in the most honorable terms. Just as in 2 Cor 8:23 the deputies are termed apostoloi ekklêsiôn ("apostles of the churches"), so in Phil 2:23 Epaphroditus is not called merely sunergos ("fellow worker"), like Titus in 2 Cor 8:23, but with regard to the Philippians their apostolos ("apostle"). The same word is used in both Epistles to characterize the apostle's great earnestness (spoudaioteros) in respect to this journey, with the difference that in Phil 2:28 the earnest person is the apostle who sends, while in 2 Cor 8:17 it is Titus, and v. 22 the other the persons who are sent. Both passages conclude with a special exhortation to give the deputies a worthy reception. The phrase "Receive him in the Lord with great joy, and honor such men" in Phil 2:29 represents exactly the apostle's sentiment in 2 Cor 8:23f. It is, of course, obvious, that the two passages differ in many points — the reasons alleged for the mission are different, for one thing; but this simply means that the author was not copying, but only imitating. Can it be regarded then as a mere chance that the two passages correspond in the features we have called attention to? And do we not find here an explanation of the seemingly unmotivated mission of Timothy? The writer of the Epistle wished to represent the apostle as giving the Philippians a very special proof of his love for them. So he relates as happening now what had happened before in a similar [69] case. As Titus on that occasion, so here Timothy is sent with another brother — who is very naturally Epaphroditus — and the apostle gives them his highest recommendation.

It may be objected that if analogies and resemblances like this are to prove anything, the theory that is based upon them can be rendered more plausible only if it can be pursued further. This is precisely the case here. In 3:1ff we encounter a passage that, as I have already shown (above, pp. 54f), is an imitation of 2 Cor 11:18f. The two apologists, of course, cannot grant that this is so. They clearly exhibit (Lünemann even by printing the texts side by side) how different the two passages read, and show, with all due emphasis, how natural it is that the apostle should speak more than once of such merits, which he certainly did possess, and how appropriately he does so here, where everything stands so well in the proper place. They ask, how could I then overlook, in speaking of the apostle's circumcision on the eighth day, that this was just the difference between the born Jew and the proselyte, and how much worth was a descent from the tribe of Benjamin, the tribe which remained true to the house of David at the division of the kingdom! If one presumes that the passage 2 Cor 11:18f has been made use of here, they say, one could just as well call to mind also Gal 1:13f; 6:12; Rom 11:1.

Objections of this kind are not easy to withstand. Nevertheless, I will not be argued out of my inquiry, and must further remark that this is not merely question of words and expressions which may be found here or there, but of the whole character of the passage under consideration, and a phenomenon which is not isolated, but connected with many others which raise the same suspicion. Precisely from a passage such as 3:1ff it can be seen very clearly that if an epistle such as this should not be reckoned among the products of the apostle's own genius, he would not suffer any great loss. What have the two apologists done to justify this passage against the charge that the spirit of the apostle is conspicuously absent from it? They cannot even separate the writer of the Epistle from his own admission of constant repetition, and even suggest [70] that the apostle wrote several other letters of this kind to the Philippians, with whom, as one can see from the gaphein ("to write") in 3:1, he was in constant correspondence. (How this would accord with 2:19, we scarcely need to remark.) The phrase "to write the same things" refers to nothing but the "rejoice in the Lord,", that is, to the entire contents of the Epistle, whose basic tone and leading idea are expressed in this constantly recurring chairete ("rejoice"). De Wette thinks it decisive, against my claim that the reference here is to chairete, that the term asphales ("safe") could only refer to some danger such as is spoken of in what follows; and in the case of another writer this consideration would have some weight. In our Epistle, however, where there is so much that is awkward and illogical, this is of no consequence. The offensive refrerence to the "dogs" (3:2) is not removed by mentioning passages in Homer where this predicate is given even to goddesses (Lünemann, p. 27). In 2 Cor 11:14f. the apostle calls his opponents servants of Satan; but there we know the why he does so. Here, however, we can discern nowhere a specific purpose or association. The only thread holding things together here is the author's reminiscence of 2 Cor 11:12. Here, as there, the apostle speaks of himself in contrast to his opponents. What he says of himself there may be summarized in the general idea that he desires to know of nothing but what he is in his relation to Christ, and that he will let his grace be sufficient for him. His imitator here makes him express the same idea in the words that he counts all things as loss, as a detriment to his true salvation, because of the surpassing excellence of the knowledge of Jesus Christ his Lord, for whose sake he had suffered loss of everything that he had counted or might yet count precious.

What is further attached to this (v. 9) looks entirely like an intentional summary, in the most general way, of what can be abstracted from the teaching of the Pauline Epistles. As if the apostle here, where he speaks about himself, had made a confession of his faith, the writer has him expound with all due accuracy the primary proposition of Pauline theology, the doctrine of justification by faith. Where else does the apostle speak of the righteousness by faith with this purely subjective and personal reference to [71] himself? Where else does he as here make the resurrection, the sufferings, the death of Cbrist, the subject of an abstract theoretical contemplation, that he may know "the power of his resurrection"? How differently does he speak of all this elsewhere: 2 Cor 4:14f; 5:14-21; 13:3, 4; Gal 2:ff; etc. What then is the "power of his resurrection" (v. 10) supposed to be? How loosely are all these ideas connected with each other! When the apostle speaks elsewhere of these great elements of his religious consciousness, he unfolds them in the full content of their interrelationship, and places them in perspectives that allow us to comprehend at once into whole profundity and inner necessity of the divine economy of salvation. And when he speaks of his own experience, he gives us a very different far more concrete picture of his inner life.

Then the dubious "íf somehow I may attain the resurrection of the dead," which is appended to what precedes in order to continue the discourse through a discussion of this doubt. The writer of the letter has made the apostle recapitulate his whole life, beginning at his circumcision, and so now he goes on to the very end, to the resurrection from the dead. But how could the apostle be in any doubt as to his own attaining to the resurrection from the dead? Do not all the dead arise? He means, it is asserted, the blessed resurrection of which the apostle speaks in 1 Cor 15:52, but there certainly in a connection which precludes the reader from thinking of any other. But even if this be what is meant, we must ask how the apostle could speak of the resurrection in a tone of doubt and uncertainty, as he does here. Take all these statements in connection with each other: the apostle wishes to win Christ, and to be found in him with the righteousness by faith, in order to know "the power of his resurrection" and the "fellowship of his suffering," in which he becomes like him in his death (which can only be understood as a death of martyrdom analogous to the death of Jesus). In these outwardly connected ideas, it is hard to see what is the relationship between the practical summorphousthai tô thanatô autou ("being conformed to his death") [72] and the theoretical gnômai ("to know"), and even more difficult to understand how, being "conformed to his death," he can can still ask, as if in doubt, "if somehow I may obtain the resurrection of the dead." How differently, with what certainty of consciousness, does the apostle speak elsewhere of his fellowship of death and life with Christ. Compare Rom 8:11: "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you." 2 Cor 4:11ff: "For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifestede in our mortal flesh... knowing that he who raised the Lord will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence." How can he who regards himself as being "conformed to his death" be in doubt even for a moment, that along with death, the principle of life that shall awake him out of death is in him? "For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will be united with him a resurrection like his" (Rom 6:5). Is it conceivable that views like these, wrought as they were into his inmost consciousness, should ever have become foreign to him — that at that particular time he could not attest with the same certainty to his fellowship of death and life with Jesus, or the consciousness of joy he had so often spoken of before when looking forward to the final decision? If there be anything that our apostle cannot possibly have written, it is that dubious "if somehow I may attain the resurrection of the dead," where his whole fellowship with Christ is put in question. Where at all in the apostle's writings does the resurrection appear, as it does here, as the last event man has to look for, removed from all connection with the momenta by which is conditioned, and relegated, it appears, to the most distant future? To the apostle's mind the Parousia was so near, that for himself is could speak just as well of a transformation as a resurrection (1 Cor 15:52). Can we, then, resist the conviction that the apostle himself would certainly have expressed himself in an entirely different way, and that this dubious "if somehow" was placed in his consciousness by someone else, a writer who, not being the apostle himself, could not make him [73] speak with that confidence and assurance that one can only have in himself.

The duplicity of consciousness, which such a writer can never disavow, has as its natural consequence that in many matters he makes the man in whose name he writes express himself waveringly and indecisively, with only half certainty, as if either the one thing or the other might be true. With the words "which I shall choose I do not know" (1:22), the writer thus conveys only his own uncertainty concerning which course the apostle would have chosen; there can be no doubt that the apostle himself would have known quite well which of the two to choose. The same wavering uncertainty and lack of bearing is prolonged in what follows (vv. 11-14), where the writer makes the apostle reflect on his own moral and religious condition in self-contemplations which likewise have no resemblance to Paul's own ways of thinking. When the apostle says in 3:12 that he has not yet apprehended, but that he is already apprehended by Christ, we have here again, as 1:22, two propositions which mutually limit each other in such a way that it is hard to see what is actually meant. It is clear that if the apostle has been laid hold on by Christ, he must lay hold of him also; but he says that he has not yet laid hold. What does this mean? Of what has he not yet laid hold? And how does the justification by faith, spoken of in v. 9, agree with this not having yet laid hold? Has not the one who has laid hold of Christ in faith (and we see this assurance of faith expressed everywhere in the apostle's writings) received in his faith everything on which it is necessary to lay hold in order to be certain of his union with Christ and of his salvation? What would faith in a Pauline sense be if were not also certainty of faith? It seems indeed a very plausible explanation to say that the apostle could not yet have been assured of his moral perfection; but one should consider whether there can be a moral perfection in the Pauline sense such as that presupposed here. Faith, with all that faith comprehends, cannot be conditioned by moral perfection; otherwise this moral perfection would simply bring us back again into justification by works.

[74] This is of a piece with the whole character of the Epistle; it is written altogether in a very mild and subdued tone, avoiding extremes, neutralizing differences. It appeared to the author that in an Epistle to the Philippians the apostle might be expected to speak much of himself; that in speaking to so dear a community he would disclose his inmost heart in confidences and confessions. So he concluded that he could not make him speak too humbly, too meekly, and too depreciatingly of himself. And in fact the apostle does speak of himself here in such a way that his true self is not recognisable at all. Humility is certainly a basic trait of the apostle, but where, even when speaking of himself most humbly, did he ever employ such an expression as "not that I have already received"? The deeper his feeling of humility, the more preponderate is also his consciousness of boundless grace of God, mighty in him even in his weakness, through which alone he is what he is, through which, however, he is already what he is to be. If he himself had been speaking here, there could not have failed to be some recognition of this grace of God.

In a passage where he looks to what still lies before him, and describes his striving towards that goal with the same metaphor which the author of our Epistle makes use of (3:14), he says to his readers: "So run, that you may obtain it"; but concerning himself he says, "so I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating air" (1 Cor 9:24f.). He knows nothing here of any "not that I have obtained, but I pursue to make my own." Only the writer of this letter, in whose unclear conception the ideas of perfection in the ethical sense and the physical sense were confused, believes that because the apostle has not yet quite reached the goal of his earthly journey, and in view of the still impending martyrdom, he must cast doubt on his having obtained this goal in this ambiguous way. I need not comment further here on the lack of any clear and natural flow of thought or language in the following verses, and the laborious efforts of interpreters to obtain a clear understanding from of these wavering concepts and the vague portrayal of the apostle's opponents (cf. above, p. 54).

[75] Another issue that remains unclear concerns the occasion which may have led the apostle to write such an Epistle to the community at Philippi. The usual assumption is that the financial support said at the close of the Epistle to have been brought to the apostle by Epaphroditus provides a sufficient explanation. And if the letter proved to be Pauline in other respects, there could be no objection to the assumption that the apostle wrote an epistle whose primary purpose was to express his sympathetic feelings towards a community that had given him such a joyful demonstration of their continuing loyalty to him. Yet even this point is not clearly evident, and what the most recent defenders of the Epistle have said about this has not removed my doubts. They insist that it is a misunderstanding on my part to take the words of the apostle in 1 Cor 9:12f. — that it is his principle to preach the gospel without remuneration — as true generally, instead of referring them only to the Corinthian community in particular. I will not argue about whether the words of the apostle in that passage, especially in vv. 15-18, admit of such a limitation. The question is merely whether what is said in Phil 5:15 about the subsidies received by the apostle from the Philippians does not raise the suspicion that in this instance also the writer of this letter derived his information from the second Corinthian Epistle, and used what he found there for his own purpose. There is no trace in the authentic letters of the apostle of his having stood in such a special relation to the community at Philippi as is implied in Phil 4:16. The name of that community is not once mentioned. He speaks only of the churches of Macedonia, and we might even conclude from 2 Cor 11:8, where, as distinct from the Corinthian church, he speaks of "other churches" from which he had received financial support during his residence in Achaia, that he also had this same relationship with other communities. According to Phil 4:15, however, this relation existed exclusively between the apostel and the Philippian community; it is said expressly: "no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving except you only." The assumption that the writer of the Epistle took what the apostle himself said regarding the support he received from Macedonia and applied it especially to the Philippian community, for which, as his letter shows, he had a special interest, can easily be combined with other considerations which make the origin of the Epistle doubtful. [76] Since the writer thought very naturally that the Philippians would not leave the apostle without aid during his imprisonment, and he made use of this as the occasion of his Epistle to the Philippians. It may indeed be argued that since, as we know from 2 Cor, the apostle did receive aid from the Christians of Macedonia, it is very probable that the Philippians actually did what is reported of them in Phil 4:15. Since, however, the Pauline origin of the Epistle as such is doubtful, the above assumption is likewise probable; it simply exhibits that derivative character of the Epistle which has already been demonstrated on other grounds. In a genuine Pauline Epistle we should expect that, besides the spiritual content, one should expect some new information not derivable from other sources — about the situation and circumstances at the time, the occasion of the writing, and so many matters of interest which unmediated reality transmits of itself. Here, however, we have poverty of thought, absence of any historical motivation, lack of coherence; we have nothing specific or concrete, nothing to give us the impression of originality, nothing but a dull and colourless reflection. As for the lack of coherence, it is indeed possible, by making out a general list and overview the contents, to make apparent a certain succession of passages, to at least make the transition from one to the other somewhat easier to the reader — for which Mr. Brückner shows a considerable adroitness (supra, note 1, 38f). De Wette calls the Epistle a lovely weaving of two main components, the affairs of the Philippians and those of the apostle, and displays this in a table, where the two components intersect one another in such a way that they appear alternately. But when at a crucial place (3:1), where the issue has to do with continuity, he is forced to help himself by putting a dash between the two chapters, this is at least not a Pauline continuity. In this Epistle, that consists of a multitude of independent sentences, which superficially connect larger sections, one after the other [77], and that concludes and then begins again with its "rejoice" (2:18; 3:1), any idea that ties everything together is entirely absent. If one observes, as an excuse for this, that this Epistle has the character of an actual letter more than any of the others, it must be said that 2 Cor is also such a letter, but how entirely different is everything here.

As for my theory regarding the historical data of the Epistle associated with the person of Clement, I have little to add. Lünemann and Brückner bring all their acuteness to bear against my view, and seek to prove that the Clement mentioned in 4:3 must be a Philippian. Lünemann exalts the thoroughness of his refutation by a construction of the words of that verse which he gratuitously imputes to me. The critics might have said more simply, as Ritschl does in his review of my Paulus, "Unless I be greatly deceived, this Clement is a member of the church at Philippi, and has nothing to do with that Clemens Romanus so famous afterwards in legend" (Halle Allgemeine Lit. Zeitung, 1847, p. 1008). What more is needed to prove the authenticity of the Epistle if Messrs. Lünemann and Brückner have the same view! It is certainly quite in keeping with the vagueness of our Epistle that nothing in it has its fixed and certain place, so that it is impossible to know where the persons spoken of belong, where the opponents who are impugned are to be sought for, whether at Rome or at Philippi. The apostle himself can speak in one passage of his bonds and his anticipations of death, and immediately thereafter think about setting out for Philippi (2:24). But the primary issue, which these critics seem to have overlooked altogether, is that Clement is expressly called a "fellow worker" of the apostle, and thus is regarded as one of those who worked with him and beside him for a long time in the proclamation of the gospel. Although nothing whatever is known from the apostle's own writings about such a fellow worker, in itself it might well be possible that besides the Roman Clement, who appears in other quarters as an adherent of Peter, there was another apostolic man of this [78] name. But one should consider what stage has been already reached in the criticism of our Epistle when we come to speak of' this Clement named at 4:3. Here is an author who exhibits so little independence in other particulars, who has nothing to say that is new or unique to himself, whose sources of information can be pointed out in a number of instances. From what other source should his Clement come than from that tradition to which the Clement already known to us belongs? With this the rest is explained at once. About the enigmatic suzugos ("yokefellow") of the apostle (in 4:3) I have nothing to say any more than others. Schwegler thought of the apostle Peter, and this is at least as reasonable as the suggestion of Wieseler (Chronologie der Apostelgeschichte, p. 458), who takes this yokefellow to be Christ, "who helps every one to bear his burden," or that of Rückert, who recognises in him the that actual brother of the apostle who is supposedly the adelphos spoken of in 2 Cor 8:18, 22.

The language of the Epistle also betrays the imitator in many particulars, even though an author writing in the name of the apostle was of course obliged to write in a Pauline style. There is a considerable number of words and expressions that are unique to this Epistle (cf. Zeller, "Studien zur neutest.Theol.," Theol. Jahrb., 1843, pp. 507f.). I have also been especially struck by the repeated use of the particle plên ("nevertheless"), which the author is fond of using as a particle of transition, to externally join together sentences which inwardly have no very close connection. In this brief Epistle plên is used in this way three times (1:18; 3:16; 4:14). In the unquestioned Epistles of the apostle, the particle is found only once (1 Cor 11:11). On the other hand, the particle ara ("so"), which the apostle uses so frequently, is not once found here. Furthermore, the emphasis which the author seeks to gain by the repetition of the same word: 1:9, mallon kai mallon; 1:18, chairô, alla kai chrêsomai; 1:25, menô kai sumparamenô; 2:17, chairô kai sugchairô; 2:18, xhairete kai sugchairete; 2:27, lupên epi lupên; 3:2, blepete... blepete... blepete; 4:2, Euodian parakalô kai Suntuchên parakalô; 4:17, ouch hoti epizêtô to doma, all' epizêtô ton karpon. [79] Also the same word used two times in the same verse (3:4, 8). Similarly, synonymous or similar expressions used together: 1:20, apokaradokia kai elpis; 2:1, splagchna kai oiktirmoi; 2:2, hina to auto phronête... to en phronountes; 2:16, ouk eis kenon edramon, oude eis kenon ekopiasa; 2:17, thusia kai leitourgia tês pisteôs. In 2:25 Epaphroditus is called not only adelphos kai aunergos, but also, with exaggeration characteristic of such writers, sustratiôtês; and all this is followed by humôn de apostolos, kai leitourgos tês chreias mou. In contrast to this, in 2 Cor 8:23 the apostle calls Timothy simply his koinônos, and in reference to the Corinthians his sunergos. In 3:9 we have dikaiosunê hê dia pisteôs Christou, hê ek Theou dikaiosunê epi tê pistei; in 4:7, tas kardias humôn kai noêmata humôn; 4:12, en panti kai en pasi; 4:18, osmê euôdias, thusia dektê euarestos tô Theô. This entire phraseology is not very Pauline, but much more like a writer who must compensate for a paucity of ideas with a plethora of expressions. On the other hand, there are also expressions which though of rare occurrence with Paul are yet so specifically Pauline that by using tham the writer himself indicates the source from which they were drawn: 1:8, martus gar mou estin ho Theos, hôs..., cf. Rom 1:9; Phil 1:10, dokimazein to diapheronta, cf. Rom 2:18. As the apostle in 2 Cor 9:23 refers to himself as a sugkoinônos of the gospel, so our writer makes Paul say to the Philippians (1:7) that they are sugkoinônoi tês charitos.  Phil 1:19, epichorêgia tou pneumatos, as Gal 3:5; Phil 1:26, kauchêma humôn, as 2 Cor 1:14; Phil 1:22, zên en sarki, as Gal 2:20; Phil 2:16, eis kenon edramon, as Gal 2:2; Phil 2:30, to ergon Christou, as 2 Cor 16:10; Phil 3:30, anaplêroun to husterêma, as 2 Cor 9:12; Phil 3:3, kauchasthai en Christô, 1 Cor 1:31; 2 Cor 10:17, etc. We are also reminded of the Apocalypse (Rev 13:8) by the expression hôn ta onomata en biblô zôês in Phil 4:3.

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1De Wette: Einl. in's Neue Test. 4 Aufl. 1842, p. 268. [Zeller: In his Fifth Edition, published in 1848, de Wette referred to the doubts expressed on the subject in this work and by Schwegler (Nacbap. Zeit. ii. 133, sq.), but only very cursorily, characterizing them, without reason shown, as an "attack on frivolous grounds." Lünemann (Pauli ad Philipp. Epist, Gottingen, 1847); Brückner (Epist. ad Philipp. Paulo auctori vinclicata); and Ernesti ("über Philipp. ii. 6, 8q.," Theol. Stud. und Krit., 1848/4, pp. 858-924) defended the authenticity of the Epistle against Baur at greater length. He judged only the last of these arguments to possess any scientific value, but replied to them jointly in the Theol. Jahrb. 8:1849, pp. 501-553 (in a section of the paper, "zur neutesumentlichen Kritik "). Ernesti returned to the subject in the Stud. und Kritiken, 1851, pp. 591-632, and was answered by Baur, Theol. Jabrb. 11:1852, pp. 133-144, in the paper "über Philipp. ii. 6 f." I shall refer to these two essays by Baur where they add anything to the discussion in the text, and shall reproduce the more important parts of them.)

2 Zeller: Cf. Theol Jahrb. 8:502: " What appears auspicious to me in the Philippian Epistle may be reduced to the following three heads: l. The appearance of Gnostic ideas in the passage, ii. 6-9; 2. The want of anything distinctively Pauline; 3. The questionableness of some of the historical data."

3Rev. Menzies consistently translated the German word geistig as "spiritual." For Baur, however, this word also had the connotation of "contemplative" — relating to the sphere of ideas. Thus, a "spiritual" act is one that takes place in the " subjective consciousness" (see below). On this basis, Baur then distinguishes between the Gnostic conception of harpagnos, which has a "purely speculative meaning," and the "moral" perspective in Philippians, which has no real place for such a Gnostic harpagnos.  DJD

4Irenaeus, 1.2.2: dia to adunatô epibalein pragmati.

5Irenaeus, 1.4.1: en skiais kai kenômatos topois exw phôtos egeneto kai plêrônatos. 1.4.2: en tô skotei kai tô kenônati. Cf. Theodoret, Haer. Fab. 1.7: exô tou plêrômatos en skia tini kai kenômati diagein.

6Zeller:  This statement, however, is not unconditionally vaild (as is observed in Theol. Jahrb. 8:507): " That aeon which sought to grasp and comprehend the absolute essence of God, and, because it strived for that which was essentially impossible, fell from the plrôma to the kenôma, did nevertheless finally obtain the plêrôma. For the plêrôma does at last, when the world reaches its consummation, receive all spiritual beings, becoming one with the Absolute. This shows us what the unnatural attempt spoken of here really signifies. It was unnatural in that the aeon in question desired to attain immediately and at once what could not be attained save as a result of the entire process, in which, according to Gnostic views, the development of the world consists.... In so far as it arose in the aeon from what, in the nature of the matter, was an antagonistic impulse of its subjectivity, and in so far, however, as it was, at the same time, the beginning from which the development of the world proceeded, it was a necessary moment, since the origin of the world, if it is regarded as a falling away, is always both subjectively arbitrary and, at the same time, objectively necessary." The harpagmos therefore denotes "that the aeon sought to assert at a leap, as it were, at once, through a violent act or a robbery, that identity with the absolute which could only be realized through the whole cosmic process;" that it "sought to seize by au act of will, violently and prematurely, what it could only gain by a certain definite process."  Christ did the opposite of this: he did not seize the einai isa Theô, "the divine honor making him equal with God," violently, as a right belonging to him in virtue of his divine nature (the morphê Theou), but earned it by voluntary self-abnegation (cf. Theol. Jahrb. 11:134ff., 8:505ff.). In this regard, the author also explicitly recognizes (Theol. Jahrb. 11:142) that the term harpagmos cannot be shown to be a Gnostic term; but he thinks that this is of no great importance if the matter denoted by the term is found in Gnostic systems.

7Zeller:  The author insists again on this point in Theol. Jahrb. 8:508ff. "If," he says, "Christ was en morphê Theou huparchein, then his nature was from this very fact divine. Now if this en morphê Theou huparchein was not equivalent to einai isa Theô, this must mean that what he was essentially, as en morphê Theou huparchein, could only proceed to the einai isa Theô (i.e. become the true and actual contents of his consciousness) by his vindicating his divine nature in the way of moral effort by the proof of his obedience. But if the einai isa be thus a question of moral achievement, how could it be said of Christ that he ever dreamed of the possibility of attaining, without moral action, that which could not exist save as the fruit of moral action? It is clear that the writer is referring here to certain other views. It could never have suggested itself to him to connect with Christ such an absurd and self-contradictory idea or intention, even though it were only to deny that he cherished it. The idea must have been suggested to him from withont." Ernesti admits the force of this, but finds the suggestion in the Mosaic narrative of the Fall. Baur replies (Ibid., 8:509ff., 11:138ff.) that this parallel is little to the point, and that our passage exhibits no trace of any reference to that narrative. He points out that the condition of our first parents before the Fall does not in the least correspond to the morphê Theou here ascribed to Christ; that the robbery of the tree in Paradise which they committed is entirely unlike the harpagmos said to have been before the mind of Christ; and that the einai isa Theou which he did not obtain through a harpagmos, is quite a different thing from the esesthe ôs theoi promised to our first parents by the serpent, and which they actually attained by eating the forbidden fruit. This latter was simply the knowledge of good and evil.

8Zeller:  However (as the author explains in Theol. Jahrb. 8:507), with the "distinction between what the being is in itself and what it is not merely in itself but also in consciousness."

9To see how great the difficulties are with which this classical passage must be surrounded, so long as the solution is not sought in the way I have indicated, one has only to look at the exertions expended on it by Usteri — certainly not without good reasons (Entw. des paul Lehrb. 4 A., pp. 309-315). Rightly addressing the primary issue, he cannot resolve the antinomy of the question whether the expressions en morph Theou huparchôn and isa einai Theô, an understanding of which is also crucial for understanding their antipodes, are to be taken in an ethico-religious or in a physical and substantial sense.

10See further Theo. Jahrb. viii, 515ff.; 11:144.

11Already by Cotelier, Recogn. S. Clem, 7.8.  Patr. Apost., vol. 1, p. 554.

12Baur:  Clement was a very suitable personage for this. He was a Gentile by birth, and had yet attached himself to Peter and to Jewish Christianity; thus lie was a natural mediator between the Judaeo-Christian and the Gentile-Christian parties, and his great reputation could be serviceable in procuring acceptance for the Judaizing form of Christianity. He appears in this mediatorial capacity in the Shepherd of Hermas (Herm. Vis. 2.4), where the Church appears to Hermas in the form of an old woman and commands him to write down the new revelations: "Write two little books and send one to Clement... Clement will then send it to the cities abroad (Gentile-Christian churches), for that is his duty." As middleman between Jewish and heathen Christians, he was represented as the depository of all the traditions held for apostolic, which were to be valid and obligatory for Jewish and heathen Christians equally. Cf. my essay "Über den Ursprung des Episcopats," Tüb. Zeitschr. für Theol. 1838/3, p. 126.

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Darrell J. Doughty
Institute for Higher Critical Studies
Drew University, Madison, NJ, 07940