Philippians 3:14

Philippians 3:14

The relevant paragraph is quoted here;


My question is on v. 14.

1. Am I on the right tract to understand (EIS TO BRABEION) THS ANW KLHSEWS as appositive genitive?

On this, I find just a few on my side, e.g. GNB (“…prize, which is God’s call ….”) and NET (its footnote – Grk “prize, namely, the heavenly calling of God”).

While most leave it as ambiguous as ‘prize of ~’, some have different understanding: Cf. HCSB (” … prize promised by God’s heavenly call …”, and NIV (“…prize for which God has called me…”). In that case, a question has to be answered – what is this prize.

2. What is thematically referred by SKOPOS in the phrase KATA SKOPON?

3. What is nuance of ANW – a high, noble, or heavenly (calling)?

Oun Kwon
Dear List,

I am studying I Cor. 9:24 and interested that TRECHONTES from TRECHO is the verb used here and in the other occurence of BRABEION (Phi. 3:14) DIWKW is used.  I’ve looked at some of the basic resources (Robertson, Louw/Nida, BGAD) but wanted to hear from the list as to the finer points.  I guess what I’m wondering is – Is the primary difference in the form of sport or in the extent of exertion?

Humbly yours, Billy

5 thoughts on “Philippians 3:14”

  1. I see this question has gone unanswered for several days. Perhaps if I attempt a response, others will “join me on the track.” Let’s check the text of the two passages in question first:

    1Cor. 9:24 Οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι οἱ ἐν σταδίῳ τρέχοντες πάντες μὲν τρέχουσιν, εἷς δὲ λαμβάνει τὸ βραβεῖον; οὕτως τρέχετε ἵνα καταλάβητε. [1Cor. 9:24 OUK OIDATE hOTI hOI EN STADIWi TRECONTES PANTES MEN TRECOUSIN, hEIS DE LAMBANEI TO BRABEION; hOUTWS TRECETE hINA KATALABHTE.]

    Phil. 3:14 κατὰ σκοπὸν διώκω εἰς τὸ βραβεῖον τῆς ἄνω κλήσεως τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. [Phil. 3:14 KATA SKOPON DIWKW EIS TO BRABEION THS ANW KLHSEWS TOU QEOU EN CRISTWi IHSOU.]

    The βραβεῖον [BRABEION] is the prize won by the winning racer. τρέχω [TRECW] is the more general word for “run.” διώκω [DIWKW] more specifically means “pursue (an objective)” The race track is clearly the metaphor involved in both passages. I think we might say that DIWKEIN = TRECEIN hWSTE TO BRABEION LABESQAI. What has always struck me as strange about Paul’s preference for this metaphor is that it is essentially a competitive one, as he clearly notes in “but one alone gets the prize” — yet at the same time he seems to urge all his listeners to participate in the race and seek to win the prize. I guess that what he seeks to instill in all is an intense drive toward the goal rather than competition among the racers.

    Carl W. Conrad Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

  2. 18 March 2011


    To add to the discussion, David J. Williams, in his book Paul’s Metaphors: Their Context and Character (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999), has an excellent and well-documented chapter on “Public Shows and Sporting Events.” He takes the metaphor of Philippians 3:13-14 and the “pursuit” there to be that of a chariot race: “Philippians 3:13-14 describes the charioteer, intent on the race, his eyes fixed on the front, not daring to look behind lest the slightest pressure ont he reins (wapped around his body) produce a false move and cause him to lose the race and possibly his life” (p. 262). (Can we think of like the famous chariot race in the movie “Ben-Hur”?) Williams takes DIWKW to mean “drive on” [toward the finish line] at Phil. 3:14. Philippi was a Roman colony in Macedonia; would chariot races have been characteristic of that location? Was there a hippodrome there? List members may have more resources than I on such questions.

    On the other hand, Corinth was, if I recall correctly, near the site of Isthmian games featuring track and field events, and much has been done archaeologically at that site. Again, if I recall correctly, the athletes who competed in such events were amateurs, who may have prepared themselves full-time for weeks or even months prior to the games but who had other usual occupations. So, if I may extend the thought a step further, there’s more of a level playing field for track and field events, and more of the idea that “we’re all running this race” together in 1 Cor., whereas in a chariot race, I’d guess that competing there involved a more specialized skill and one not generally available, so if Williams is correct in his interpretation, the idea would have more to do with single-minded pursuit and concentration.

    1 Cor. 9:24, it seems to me, has to do with the way a person runs–for example, staying in the lines, not getting tripped up, running to one’s utmost, doing the best you can, and so on; Phil. 3:13-14 has more to do with single-minded pursuit of the goal (more of an “eyes on the prize” idea).

    Hope this is helpful to list readers.

    Best wishes, Jeremy Spencer Pastor Odessa Baptist Church Odessa, NY

  3. Hi, Billy,

    τρέχει μεν ὁ χρόνος, διώκει δ’ ὁ θἀνατος. (TRECEI MEN hO CRONOS, DIWKEI D’ hO QANATOS.

    Mark L Φωσφορος


  4. Dear Billy,

    My apologies for the lateness of my reply. Mark L. and Carl Conrad have replied, but I wanted to look at Colin Brown, NIDNTT, Vol. III, pp. 945-947, “Walk,” POREUOMAI, TREXW, DROMOS and PRODROMOS;” Vol. II, pp. 803, “Persecution, Tribulation, Affliction,” DIWKW, EKDIWKW, KATADIWKW and DIWGMOS.”

    First, DIWKW, Vol. II, ppl 805-808. by G. Ebel, “CL DIWKW is perhaps connected with the Homeric DIEMAI, flee. It means lit. to chase, pursue, run after, drive away, and fig. to pursue something zealously, try to achieve something, try to obtain, prosecute.”

    OT 1. In the LXX DIWKW, along with EKDIWKW and KATADIWKW, is used primarily of pursuit by hostile soldiers (Exod. 15:9), or by anyone whose intentions are hostile (Gen. 31:23). It translates a number of Heb. vbs., but chiefly RADAP, pursue; thoe other vbs. in only isolated instances. This gives rise to the usage which is characteristic of the Pss. of individual lamentation (e.g. Pss. 7:1, 5[2,6]; 31[30]:15; 35[34]:3; cf. also Jer. 15:15; 20:11), where persecution and persecutors refer to the circumstances and persons that cuase the psalmist to suffer, without there necessarily being active persecution in the narrower specific sense. 2. The OT also contains exhortations to strive for a goal. In normal Gk. settings it will be the good, the beautiful, or virtue that is to be pursued. In the LXX it is relationships, e.g. social righteousness (Deut. 16:20; cg. also Josephus, Ant. 6, 12, 7), peace (Ps. 34[33]:14), and righteousness in the sense of true honouring of God (Prov. 15:9, that are to be followed. The corresponding NT usage has its roots here.”

    NT Summaruy of NT use. (a) The commonest meaning is to persecute, or be persecuted (some 30 times, especially in the Gospels, Acts, Paul, Rev.). … (b) The fig. use is found onluy in the Epistles, always with a positive meaning; the use in Phil. 3:12, 14 belongs here (cf. also ZHTEW,>Seek, and ZHLOW, Zeal).

    2. Pursuit of Christian objectives. The metaphorical meaning of the word shows more strongly than ZHTEW, seek, that there are certain things which the Christian must strive after, such as hospitality (Rom. 12:13), mutual peace (Rom. 14:19; 1 Pet. 3:11; Heb. 12:14), holiness, love (1 Cor. 14:1), doing good (1 Thess. 5:15), and righteousness (1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22). These are lasting objectives in the life of faith, which has as its goal the attaining of the > resurrection from th dead. Paul sees the Christian life as ultimately directed to this goal. He presses on to it like the runner set on winning the victor’s prize (Phil. 3:12ff), although he knows that “it depends not upon man’s will or exertion, but upon God’s mercy” (Rom. 9:16; cf. v. 30 f.).”

    Second, TREXW, Vol. III, pp. 945-947, by G. Ebel CL 2. TREXW, attested from Homer (OD. 23, 207; Il. 23, 392 f.) onwards, means to mover quickly, to run, especially at a contest in the stadium (> Fight, art. AGWN). Influenced by the philosophical criticism of over-estimation of purely physical contests, TREXW is also found in statements which express effort of achievement in respect of mental and spiritual matters.

    OT 2. TREXW is atteste some 60 times in the LXX mostly for Heb. RUS, to run, in the literal sense (e.g. Gen. 18:7: 1 Ki. 18:46). In the figurative sense it occurs in only a few passages: for the way of life according to the commandments of God in connexion wit the typical OT concept of way (Ps. 119[118]:32), of “running into lies” (ps. 61:5 LXX) and in the expression “running away into immortality” (4 Macc. 14:5, in the account of the martyrdom of the seven brothers).

    NT 2. TREXW, to run, is found in the NT in the literal sense, including the disciples running to the empty tomb (e.g. Matt. 27:48; 28:8; Mk. 5:6; 15:36; Lk. 15:20; 24:12; Jn. 20:2, 4; Acts 19:28). In 2 Thess. 3:1 it is used of the word of the Lord (cf. Ps. 147[146]:4). It is found in Paul predominately in the figurative sense. By using the vb., he expresses how the Christian life as a whole, like his apostolic service, is directed towards a goal (Gal. 2:2; 5:7; Phil. 2:16) and that, as in contest in the stadium (see CL 2), what matters is applying all one’s strength and holding out to the end (1 Cor. (:24 ff.; cf. Heb. 12:1). Rom. 9:16, by pointing to the mercy of God – which is the last resort, is alonge decisive – represents the necessary corrective. It also occurs in Heb. 12:1 and Rev. 9:9, SYNTREXW, run together, occurs in Mk. 6:33; Acts 3:11 (of people); 1 Pet. 4:4 (fig. of people plunging in to the same stream of debauchery).” (My note: I wonder if this latter use would be similar to the lemmings who plunge headlong to their deaths into the sea?).

    En Xristwi,

    Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

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