Does Philippians 1:6 Guarantee Progressive Sanctification? Part 2 -- By: John F. Hart

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 09:2 (Autumn 1996)
Article: Does Philippians 1:6 Guarantee Progressive Sanctification? Part 2
Author: John F. Hart

Does Philippians 1:6 Guarantee Progressive Sanctification?
Part 2

John F. Hart

Professor of Bible
Moody Bible Institute
Chicago, IL

I. Introduction

In Part 1 of this article, an investigation was begun regarding the nature of the declaration in Phil 1:6 that, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”1 It was observed that the most wide spread perspective was to view this verse as addressing the salvation/sanctification of the Philippians, and Christians in general. Nevertheless, many scholars object to this interpretation, opining that such exegesis imposes foreign ideas on the text. As an alternative, they suggest that the verse and its context speak of the Philippians’ financial partnership with Paul in the advance of the Gospel.

The context preceding 1:6 was seen to agree most readily with this latter approach. The epistolary introduction in Philippians (1:3–11), as in other epistles, anticipates themes developed in the body of the letter. To be specific, Phil 1:3–7 is best understood as preparing for Paul’s gift motif developed in 4:10–20. In fact, the unusual harmony of 1:3–7 and 4:10–20 compels the exegete to perceive 1:6 from the vantage point of the Philippians’ gift to Paul. We also discovered that koinōnia (“partnership”) in v 5, taken with the following preposition eis (“in, toward”), stresses the partnership the Philippians had with Paul in spreading the Gospel, not a partnership in salvation/sanctification. The details of 1:6 must now be examined.

II. Exegetical Considerations in Verse 6

A. The “Good Work”2

1. The Relationship of 1:6 to 1:5

What has been implied in Part 1 is that the koinōnia of 1:5 and the sygkoin̄nos(“co-partners”) of 1:7 delimit the meaning of “good work” in 1:6.

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