Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 22, 1955
NUMBER 33, PAGE 2-3a

A Review Of Brother J. W. Roberts' Articles (No. II.)

George P. Estes, Maplewood, Missouri

In the September 1, 1955 Gospel Advocate, brother Roberts attempts to prove that the Philippian church was a sponsoring church, that is, it received funds from other churches of Macedonia and forwarded them on to Paul in Corinth and kept an account of all this financial transaction. He arrives at this conclusion by connecting 2 Cor. 11:8-9 with Phil. 4: 15, 16. "Thus, according to the argument, we have a precedent for one church to receive funds from several congregations and forward those funds to another work."

"The text of Phil. 4:15, 16 MAY actually contain a direct confirmation of this view. Paul said that no church 'had fellowship with me in an account of giving and receiving except ye only.' We now know that the term logos (the word rendered 'account' or 'matter' in verse 15) in connection with a financial transaction means an `account' and the terms `giving' and 'receiving' (dosis and lepsis) mean in the same connection `receipts' and `disbursements'. — The word koinoeo, which means `to share with,' 'to have fellowship with,' ordinarily is followed by the genitive case of what is shared and the dative case of the person with whom the sharing is done. Here, however, the genitive is replaced by a prepositional phrase which defines what the fellowship was, or what was shared. Thus the fellowship which Philippi alone had with Paul was in keeping an account of receipts and disbursements with Paul. Compare Plato, The Republic, 453a, where the same verb is also followed by eis and means to share in all employment. See any good modern commentary.."

Brother Roberts quotes Vincent on Philippians in the International Critical Commentary to support his view. Let us turn to Vincent and see what he really says: On fellowship, on page 147, Vincent refers his readers to Burtons' Galatian Commentary in the ICC who writes: "In Phil. 4:15 the verb is clearly mutual or neutral in meaning, though with emphasis on the side of giving. It seems probable indeed, that the word is always strictly neutral in meaning, as in English 'share', and the noun 'partner.' It is the context alone that indicates which aspect of the partnership is specially in mind. Since it is apparently an inclusive term referring to both spiritual and material good, koinoneito is best taken as in Phil 4:15 as referring to a mutual reciprocal sharing, wherein he that was taught received instruction and gave of his property." pg. 337.

"Koineo used by the classical writers from Euripides down, in the LXX, N. T. means in general 'to share' i. e. `to be a partner in' (a thing) or `with' a (person). The name of the person with whom one shares is in the dative, if expressed; the thing in the genitive, in the dative, or after a preposition. See Plato Rep. 453a "to be a partner with respect to one in anything." (Burton, pg. 336). This is not the meaning Roberts gives it.

Blass' Greek Grammar: "There seem to be places where eis actually stands for the possessive." (Genitive). pg. 246. "The functions of this case (dative) were in a large measure, more so than that of the accusative and genitive, usurped by different prepositions, particularly eis and en." pg. 109.

A prepositional phrase can interchange with the genitive case, so brother Roberts great discovery really amounts to nothing! "Koineo — dative of thing and in a transitive acceptation, eis, Phil. 4:15 (Winer: Gram. pg. 200).

Brother Roberts should never have quoted the ICC. Vincent on Phil. 4:15: "Eis logon-dosis and lepsis, 'as to an account of giving and receiving.' The matter is expressed in a mercantile METAPHOR. He means that the question of money given and received did not enter into his relations with any other church. The Philippians, by their contributions, had 'opened an account' with him. Others like Lightfoot dismiss the metaphor and render eis logon as regards' or 'with reference to' This has classical but not N. T. precedence." pg. 148.

The Holy Bible with Commentary (Anglican): "The gifts are conceived as entered in an account; in which they appear as givers, and consequently he as receiver. This figure does not imply (as some imagine) a regular book with debtor and creditor sides — still less (as Meyer) two books, one kept by each party." pg. 639. Thayer: "Here Paul, by a pleasant euphemism, refers to the pecuniary gifts, which the church bestowing them enters in the account of expenses, but he himself in the account of receipts." Lexicon, pg. 157).

One cannot take logon, dosis and lepsis literally. To show how ridiculous brother Roberts' position is, I refer to the word "fruit" (karpos) in vs. 17. In classical usage karpos means: fruits of the earth, profits, results, (Lid-del & Scott, pg. 746). If one takes dopsis and lepsis literally, he must take karpos literally also, which would mean that the Philippian church expected interest from the money they sent Paul. Ridiculous you say? Not any more so than taking dosis literally. Dosis is the word in Jas. 1:17 for gift. According to brother Roberts, God enters into a bookkeeping business for every material blessing. Against this see Matt. 5:45.

Brother Roberts says: "The answer which is most obvious, in the light of 2 Cor. 11:8f, is that Philippi received money from other churches and sent it on to Paul! Shades of a receiving church! — This interpretation is strengthened by a clear understanding of what the Greek text of Phil. 4:15, 16 means. First what is meant by hote ekselthon, which is rendered, "when I departed from Macedonia"? The aorist tense may be either ingressive (emphasizing the beginning of an action), effective (emphasizing the end of an action), or constative (referring to the event indefinitely)." If ingressive, he says, it would refer to the time when Paul escaped from Berea, Acts 17:14, 15. "The aorist is therefore most surely effective and means after he had left Macedonia, hence during the one year and six months stay at Corinth. (Acts 18:11). At any rate the tense of Phil. 4:15, 16 definitely places the time when only Philippi kept the account after he had left the province of Macedonia."

According to brother Roberts' theory he must get Paul down in Corinth so he can connect 2 Cor. 11:8-9 with Phil. 4:15. But "When I departed from Macedonia," must be taken in its context. Let us turn to Vincent again: "De" () passes on to mention former acts of liberality. 'In the beginning of the gospel', the reference is clearly shown by the succeeding words (when I departed from Macedonia) to be the first preaching of the gospel in Macedonia, about ten years before the composition of the letter. He alludes no doubt to money supplied BEFORE or AT his departure from Macedonia. (Acts 17:14)." pg. 147. "It does not of necessity refer to the time after Paul had left Macedonia, and we do not think that it does as a matter of fact refer to that time." (Moffatt: N. T. Comm.) pg. 220. So also The Interpreters Bible and others. The commentators have not had the endless difficulty that brother Roberts imagines!

On ekselthon, Thayer makes these remarks: "a. With mention of place out of which one goes, or the point from which he departs. apo with the gen. of place. b. of origin: whether of local origin, the place whence, of country, province, town, village from which anyone has originated or proceeded." (Lexicon, pg. 222). Thus the text, the grammarians and the commentators of note, state that the giving took place while Paul was still in Macedonia. The context would force the aorist to be inceptive or at the beginning of his departure. On apo (from) "The effect of prepositions on the meaning of verbs. Sometimes it has no effect at all. The prep. is merely local as in erchomai, "go out." ekselthon. Robertson, pg. 562. "Except" takes the very same verb as the preceding negation (Thayer, pg. 171). "Only" is used as in 2 Tim. 4:11: Luke was alone with Paul. (Robertson: Greek Grammar, pg. 549).

On Phil. 4:16, Roberts says: "It is certainly wrong to take the sixteenth as an explanation of verse fifteen. This would demand in Greek a gar clause not a hoti clause. One brother thinks that verse 16 is the explanation of verse 15. He thinks that "only Philippi sent to Paul while he was in Thessalonica — 'The two occasions were different.' But this writer has his wires crossed. Paul did not say that "while Paul was in Thessalonica" Philippi only came to his aid. Let the reader examine the text for himself. What Paul did say was that when he left Macedonia no other church did this and that (while he was still in Macedonia) they had already sent twice to him. Thessalonica is still in Macedonia; see a map. This brother's explanation will not do. The correct exegesis of Phil. 4:15, 16 then presents a difficulty of explaining how no church other than Philippi could have done what Paul said they did after he left Macedonia and yet how Paul during this same time took wages from the Macedonian churches. (2 Cor. 11:8f). Several commentators could be cited to show that this exegesis is correct."

The one who has his wires crossed is brother Roberts. One of the principal uses of hoti is to introduce a cause. "It is very common as a causal particle meaning because or for. Again, hoti is very common as a conjunction introducing an objective clause after verbs of knowing, saying, seeing, feeling, etc." (Dana and Mantey, Gr. Gr. pg. 252). "There is no doubt about the consecutive use of hoti." (A. T. Robertson, Gr. Gr. pg. 1001). "The principal causal subordinating particle is hoti. May be translated 'for'." (Blass. Gr. Gr. pg. 274). It is so understood by Vincent on Phil. 4:16: "Hoti: 'for' or 'since' justifying the statement of vs. 15." (Comm. pg. 148). And by Lange's Comm.: "Hoti confirms ei me (except) humeis (you) monoi (only). It does not depend on oidate (ye know). Designation of place can indeed be joined to epempsate (ye sent) but rather belongs to moi (to me). (Winer, pg. 414) and the prefixed kai (also) with an allusion to the beginning of the gospel denotes the earlier period of contribution." pg. 73.

According to all sensible rules of exegesis, verse 16 is an explanation of verse 15. To isolate verse 16 from verse 15 is to make a breach or break in a sentence for which there is no possible reason according to grammar; neither would brother Roberts have done this, if it had not been necessary to get Paul down in Corinth in order to prove his sponsoring church theory. In Nestles' Greek text verses 15 and 16 are separated only with a comma which means that he believes verse 16 to be a continuation of the same thought and the same sentence.

According to all the evidence brought forth from the commentators and grammarians it seems certain that all the giving and receiving which took place and mentioned in Phil. 4:15, 16 happened in Macedonia, even that referred to in the words, "when I departed from Macedonia." All that may be said from these verses is that only the Philippian church sent support to Paul while he was in Macedonia. At a later time and upon another occurrence the brethren came to Paul when he was in Corinth and brought him support. 2 Cor. 11:8f. It is not possible nor fair to the text to connect Phil. 4:15, 16 with 2 Cor. 11:8, 9.

Greek words have a natural and clear meaning in their context. It is only when one seeks to put his own interpretation on them or read into the text his theory, that difficulty arises. It is because of this that a study of the original languages — Hebrew and Greek is frowned upon in some places.