Tag Archives: Philippians

Resources to Diagram a Passage by Arcing/Tracing

Arcing and tracing are great ways to analyze the flow of an argument in a passage, especially discourse (such as the epistles; it is more difficult to use for narratives).

Note: Arcing and Tracing have the same goal. Arcing uses curves (arcs) whereas tracing uses brackets (usually easier to read). One can easily translate an arc diagram into a traced one or vice versa, depending on one’s preferences. Arcing in the Piper booklet below is presented as on a horizontal plane, utilizing only verse/proposition numbers without the text. The method on the BibleArc website uses text and arcs it vertically. Tracing uses the text with brackets instead of curves. Now that I’ve confused you, be sure to check out the resources below for clarification.

• www.BibleArc.com has to be one of the most innovative and helpful websites I’ve seen. It allows you to arc a passage of Scripture, save as a .pdf, and share with others. It has all the tools for dividing the verses into propositions and labeling them with their relationships to each other. It even allows you to save your own arcs on the web at the site to go back and edit or download again. (HT: Matthew Wireman)

• For more on “arcing,” see John Piper, Biblical Exegesis: Discovering the Meaning of Scriptural Texts (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God Ministries, 1999), 48pp. booklet with chart. Order fromwww.desiringGod.org at <http://www.desiringgod.org/Store/Booklets/ByTopic/54/85_Biblical_Exegesis/> or download for free at <http://www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf/booklets/BTBX.pdf> (booklet only; chart not included in online version).

Here’s a video of Piper talking about arcing:

• For more on “arcing” and “tracing,” see Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1990), 77-126. These two chapters are available online for free from links at his faculty webpage <http://www.sbts.edu/theology/faculty/thomas-schreiner/>:

“Diagramming and Conducting a Grammatical Analysis,” in Interpreting the Pauline Epistles (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), 77-96. Non-exclusive, one-time permission is granted to use this chapter, excluding any permission of a third source. The permission applies to this usage only. Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group, copyright 1990. <http://www.sbts.edu/documents/tschreiner/book_IPE_chapter5.pdf>

Tracing the Argument,” in Interpreting the Pauline Epistles (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), 97-126. Non-exclusive, one-time permission is granted to use this chapter, excluding any permission of a third source. The permission applies to this usage only. Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group, copyright 1990. <http://www.sbts.edu/documents/tschreiner/book_IPE_chapter6.pdf>

Here are some additional tips to make use of these methods.

1. Pray. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to see Him in His Word (cf. Ps. 119:18).

2. Choose a literal translation for this step of study (it does not have to be the same translation you preach from). The New American Standard is probably the best choice for its accurate rendering of prepositions. (Other options: ESV, NKJV)

3. Choose a passage. Try to find a unit in the length of a paragraph. Start with shorter units while learning tracing.

4. Divide the verses into propositions (a proposition is an assertion or statement about something and can even be a sentence fragment).

5. Read the passage and highlight key words that will serve as indicators of the relationships between propositions.

6. Find the relationships within each verse itself first. Then find relationships with neighboring verses. Then begin to link to other verses/relationships in the text.

7. Use your findings to structure the passage (outline it).

8. Summarize the argument of the passage and identify the exegetical idea/main point.

9. Now you are ready to do further study (observing repeated/contrasted words and concepts, looking up meanings of individual words, noting the verbs, relating the passage to the rest of the book and the whole Bible, finding application, etc.).

Philippians 1:1, Part 2

Click here to read part 1 (“Paul and Timothy”)

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: (Philippians 1:1, KJV)

“The servants of Jesus Christ”

In Philippians 1:1, Paul identifies himself and Timothy not only with the names they were called by, but with the position of servant, or slave.  Paul also identifies himself as a slave in his epistle to the Romans and to Titus.  In both these instances, he also identifies himself as an apostle.  In several of his epistles, he only identifies himself as an apostle (1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy).  He simply refers to himself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ in the epistle to Philemon, and uses no titles or designations in the letters to the church at Thessalonica.  Only in the epistle to the Philippians does he identify himself as a slave with no other designation.  As a reading of the text will show, one’s devotion, obedience, and service to Christ are major themes in this epistle.  And Paul sets that tone from the beginning by defining himself as a slave.

The word translated “servant” in the KJV originally conveyed the idea of a slave who belonged to a master.  A slave had no rights of his own and was completely subject to his master’s authority and will, and responsible to obey whatever was asked of him.  It is interesting to note Paul’s first encounter with the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus.  The first two responses he made to Christ acknowledged Him as “Lord,” asking “what wilt thou have me to do?” with the second response (Acts 9:5, 6).  From the very beginning of his Christian life, Paul knew that he was a slave and that Jesus was Master.  And he went on to serve just as Christ fortold in Acts 9:15-16, bearing His name before the Gentiles and suffering for His sake, just as the Philippians witnessed in Acts 16.

Notice too, that Paul and Timothy are not merely servants but “servants of Jesus Christ.”  First and foremost, they answer to Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, God’s chosen Savior and King.  While they certainly served others, they were doing so as an extension of their service to the king.  They were not out to win popularity contests, but to please their Master as they obeyed him and cared for the souls of others.

How would our lives change if we defined ourselves as slaves of Christ, truly viewing ourselves as such?  Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11), and if He is Lord (Master), we must be subject to His authority and will.

The next post in this series will focus on the recipients of this epistle, the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi.

Philippians 1:1, Part 1

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: (Philippians 1:1, KJV)

“Paul and Timothy”

Thus begins this ancient letter, the New Testament epistle to the Philippian saints.  Its author, the apostle Paul, wrote at least twelve other New Testament epistles.  Although the salutation is from Paul and Timothy (Timotheus is the Greek form of the name, transliterated accordingly in the KJV), the pronouns and subject matter throughout the epistle show that the thoughts being communicated, humanly speaking, are Paul’s.

Paul and Timothy first visited Philippi about ten years prior to this epistle if Paul wrote to them from a Roman imprisonment around AD 62, the same time period as the composition of Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon (the other “prison epistles”).  The view that Paul wrote from Rome is the traditional one, and the only view that is older than competing theories that have surfaced in the last few hundred years.

After a life-changing encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 9), Saul of Tarsus (later called Paul) was changed from a chief enemy of the church into a follower and apostle (officially commissioned and sent messenger) of Jesus.  He went on to spread the good news of Christ to many others, planting numerous churches, including the church at Philippi.

Acts 16 records the first meeting of Paul with the Philippians.  He arrived at Philippi on his second missionary journey.  This encounter brought the gospel to European soil for the first time.  Silas, Luke, and Timothy accompanied Paul during this part of his journey.  Acts 16 contains the Bible’s first mention of Philippi (16:12), and it also contains the first mention of Timothy (16:1), the son of a believing Jewish mother and a Greek father.

The Philippians would have remembered Timothy, and Paul communicates not only his intention go to the Philippians in person, but also his desire to send Timothy to them as soon as possible (Philippans 2:19-24).  Timothy, who was highly regarded by those who knew him in Lystra and Iconium (Acts 16:2) and by Paul himself (Philippians 2:20-22), was evidently present at the writing of this epistle (Philippians 2:19, 23).

The majority of Paul’s thirteen epistles designate others as sending the letter along with him.  Only five epistles designate Paul as the sole sender, and three of those are addressed to individual recipients (Romans, Ephesians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus).  Including the epistle to the Philippians, Timothy is listed as a co-sender of five of Paul’s letters (the others are 2 Corinthians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon).  Paul demonstrated his approval of and partnership with Timothy by designating him in the salutation.

In the next article of this series, we will consider the significance of the identification of Paul and Timothy as servants, or slaves, of Jesus Christ.

Free Download: Philippians Commentary by A. T. Robertson

Here is a free download (4+ MB, .pdf format) of a commentary on Philippians by Dr. A. T. Robertson (premier New Testament and Greek scholar of 20th century).  It is entitled, Paul’s Joy in Christ: Studies in Philippians.

Click here to read it online at Google Books

Click here to download it to your computer or smartphone