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ESV Philippians 1:

3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 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. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Apparently the Philippians left Philippi to the Islamic Turks in the 14th century. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippi

Was Paul mistaken or has "the day of Christ" already come and gone?

  • I think the reference in your question should be Phil 1:6, 10 not 11?? – user25930 Sep 23 '18 at 22:09
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    A very good point. Extra credit ***. – Gina Sep 25 '18 at 11:04
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Yes, that day of Christ has come and gone.

The better translation is Young's Literal which renders it as "a day of Christ" both times.

"5 for your contribution to the good news from the first day till now,

"6 having been confident of this very thing, that He who did begin in you a good work, will perform [it] till a day of Jesus Christ, .....

*"10 for your proving the things that differ, that ye may be pure and offenceless -- to a day of Christ," (YLT)

The definite article "the" is not in the original Greek. Strong's Gr. 2250 is "ἡμέρα, ας, ἡ", "hemera" and means "a day". Even the Interlinear put it as "the day".

A day of Christ is the same sense and meaning as "the day of the Lord", or "the day of God" (2 Pet. 3:10, 12), and is the same as "a day of their calamity" (Deu. 32:35), or "a day of vengeance" (Prov. 6:24).

It is the same as "the time of the iniquity" (Ezek. 21:25, 29), and as the days of recompense" (Hos. 9:7), or "the time of their visitation" (Jer. 50:27).

A day of the Lord, or the day of God, or a / the day of Christ was a time appointed by God for judgment to be poured out from His throne on high. There have been many of them. We can count a few.

The flood of Noah's day was a day / time of judgment. The burning of Sodom and Gomorrah was another time of judgment. The plagues poured out upon Egypt were times of judgment. Taking the ten northern tribes into Assyria, and the two southern tribes of Judah into Babylonian captivity were days of judgment, days of the Lord. The judgment upon Babylon was "a day of the Lord" (Isa. 13: 6, 9).

The same day that Paul called a day of Christ was stated by Peter as "the day of the Lord" (2. Pet. 3:10) and two verses later he called it "the day of God".

They both were referring to the time of judgment that was about to be poured out upon Jerusalem and all Judea for crucifying Christ. That judgment day has already come and gone. It happened at the destruction of Jerusalem and that temple (which had become profane after His sacrifice) by the Romans in AD 70. God did not wait 2,000+ years to dispense that judgment.

That does not mean that there have not been other days of judgment since then. Christ rules at the right hand of the Father. That means He is sitting on His throne and that means that He is continually judging the nations, and the people.

The OT shows the methods and agents God used to dispense His judgments. He used "fire" from heaven in Sodom and Gomorrah. He used the waters in the flood of Noah. But he also used foreign armies (Assyrians, Medes & Persians, Greeks, Romans, Babylonians). He used droughts and locusts and pestilence (disease) and famines.

All of these were His rods and messengers (Isa. 10:24; Rev. 2:7). They were his strong arm (Psa. 89:10) and hand (Isa. 40:10). They were referred to as "coming in the clouds" for the imagery of God and His son traveling from heaven to earth in the clouds (Job 22:14; Psa. 104:3; Dan. 7:13).

The Jews knew this language. That is why Caiaphas became so angry in Matt. 26 when questioning Christ. He knew Christ had just pronounced judgment upon him when Jesus said in Matt. 26:64,

"...Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." (KJV)

Caiaphas illegally tore his clothes (high priests were never to do that), and proclaimed Christ to have blasphemed because Caiaphas did not recognize Jesus as the Son of God, and believed that Jesus had presumed to pass judgment in place of God. That is why he sent Jesus to be killed.

But, Jesus' judgment upon Caiaphas was a direct judgment, and it was referencing the same day of judgment, the same day of Christ, the same day of God that both Paul and Peter warned of in Philippians and 2 Peter. (See also Acts 2:20, 1 Cor. 1:8; 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:14; 1 Thess. 5:2).

I have actually heard preachers and elders state from the pulpit that Paul, a man filled with the Holy Spirit, one whom Christ appointed (Acts 9:3-18), must have been mistaken. Such arrogance that when scriptures can be questioned as mistaken because they counter our beliefs? Should we proclaim the scriptures in error, or should we begin to reexamine what we think we know?

We are not told of every day / time that God has poured out His judgment upon the people or nations. The Holy Spirit recorded a few of them in the OT. He recorded the one that was coming upon that generation in the NT.

Matt. 23:35-36,

"35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation." (KJV)

A day of judgment was promised to that generation of the first century AD. We cannot presume that it was the only day of judgment, or that there would never be another time of judgment ever again.

The very essence of Christ's reign from on high is an everlasting, continual kingdom, a never ending continual priesthood, and a continual rule. Its very nature denotes continuing judgment. He is in control. We only see the natural events surrounding us. Some of those natural events - tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, tornados - or foreign armies could be His judgments today. His providence is still working for those that love the Lord (Rom. 8:28).

See also "The Days of His Visitation" at my blog ShreddingTheVeil here.

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  • Why might Paul have suggested that in 70AD the gospel work would be "completed"? 6 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. – Ruminator Sep 25 '18 at 11:04
  • Also, please review Mounce's comments regarding the use of the Greek article. The idea that only nouns with a definite article in the Greek are definite or that if there is no article one must supply "a" or "an" in English translation are both fallacies: billmounce.com/monday-with-mounce/… – Ruminator Sep 25 '18 at 11:14
  • "ἐπιτελέω" or epiteleo, Strong's Gr. 2005 means to perfect, to accomplish, to finish. What was to be finished? The work God had begun, namely the spread of the gospel of Christ, the knowledge of His word. "Then shall the end come" Matt. 24:14, the preaching of the gospel to "all the world" which was their world of the Roman empire. When that time came, which Paul stated it had (Rom. 10:18, Col. 1:23) by about 62 AD, then would be the time that Christ came for that judgment. The gospel had to be preached first, and that was the completion of the work for that time of judgment. See 2.. – Gina Sep 25 '18 at 11:17
  • "It's Not The End of The World, Part X: And Then Shall The End Come" as well as "Frequent Mistakes- Part IV: Where was All The World?" at my blog. Both speak more on this completion. – Gina Sep 25 '18 at 11:19
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    @Ruminator, reviewed Mounce's comments. Can agree with that the "the's" are important. But, they are some times inserted where they should not be. That is a problem with the English translations, and can only be determined through context of the scriptures, and balancing all of the scriptures. Too many time, ppl today are inserting the "the's" to make the scriptures conform to their interpretations. – Gina Sep 25 '18 at 11:26
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As we understand, Jesus is called “Lord” in the NT (Greek "kyrios" – eg, 1 Cor 5:4, Gal 6:18, Phil 4;23, 1 Thess 1:1, 5:28, 2 Thess 1:1, 2, 12, 2:1, 3:18, Plm 1:25, James 1:1, 2:1, 1 Peter 1:3, etc., about 101 times in NT). Thus, it is not much of a stretch to say that "day of Jesus Christ" (Phil 1:6), "day of Christ" (Phil 1:10 AND 2:16) are equivalent to "day of the Lord". Both expressions are used similarly, always in a future sense (except for Acts 2:20??), and eschatologically; and without the definite article.

"Day of the Lord" occurs in Acts 2:20 (signs in the sun moon and stars); 1 Cor 5:5 & 2 Cor 1:14 (final salvation); 1 Thess 5:2 (sudden destruction); 2 Thess 2:2 (coming of Jesus); 2 Peter 3:10 (heavens pass away, suddenly, elements destroyed, etc). This NT references also echo numerous OLD references such as Isa 2:12, Amos 5:18-20, Joel 2:32, Mal 4:5, etc.

This day is so important it is often referred to simply as "that day" (Matt 7:22, 24:19, 36, etc.) There is an allusion to this phrase in Rev 6:17, 16:14, and 1 Thess 4:16, 17. Thus, the phrase, "day of Jesus Christ", or "day of the Lord" refers to more than just final judgement, it also refers to the final eschaton with all that the NT points to about that. This includes the final (completed) salvation of the saints, and it is in this latter sense that Phil 1:6, 10, 2:16 uses it.

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  • In an earlier question of mine we examined whether the many references to the "day of the LORD" ("day of YHVH") pointed to a single specific event or if it referred to any visitation and the evidence seems to clearly point to the term referring to any visitation. I think your answer sees them as all pointing to a single day. You might want to review the post here: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/32821/… – Ruminator Sep 25 '18 at 23:23
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The key to Philippians 1:6 is context.

The Spread of the Gospel

Let's look at the context of Philippians, chapter 1. It is all about the spreading of the gospel. Paul is reassuring his ministry partners (Philippians 4:15-16) that despite his imprisonment, the gospel was continuing to go out. Note that Paul is not preaching on sanctification or assurance of sanctification here. He is talking about the spread of the gospel.

Therefore, it is best to put Philippians 1:6 in this context. Therefore, the "good work" is the gospel; the "day of Christ Jesus" is Jesus' return. Thus, Paul is confident that the gospel will continue to spread around the world until Jesus returns.

The Philippians believed the gospel and they were then helping to spread it to others by financially supporting Paul's ministry. The rest of the chapter is assurance of this process despite Paul's chains. Indeed, the worldwide spread of the gospel will cease with Jesus' return.

Assurance of Sanctification?

Many people, including my pastor, use this as "assurance of sanctification" or the perseverance of the saints. I support the doctrine of "assurance of sanctification" or the idea that true believers will remain faithful to the end. However, I don't think Philippians 1:6 is about this. Instead, why not claim a much better verse for this, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24? People's love for this doctrine makes them shove that meaning into Philippians 1:6 even though it does not fit well.

Other arguments:

False promise? How could Paul know that each person who read or heard the letter to the Philippians would have this assurance of sanctification and remain faithful? The "you" in Philippians 1:6 is plural. It is not "each of you". It might be translated " in y'all" or "in you all".

What does the "day of Jesus Christ" refer to? The options are: 1) When you go to be with the Lord, or 2) When Christ returns. Now, I think it is very likely that Paul believed that Christ was returning soon and so that this "day of Jesus Christ" would be happening at any moment. Thus them going to be with the Lord and the Lord's return would have been simultaneous. Paul might have seen these as happening at the same time, thus his lack of precision about what the "day of Jesus Christ" was.

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