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“ Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory, but in lowliness of mind, let. each esteem other better than themselves. Lonk not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind he in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.'
We have here, throughout, an exhortation to humility, and an absence of all vain glory. As an example of this our Saviour is introduced ; and yet, according to our present translation, the very first sentence exhibiting this example states, that he, “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God !” Upon the first view of the words I have strong evidence that there must be an error somewhere, because they are in complete opposition to the whole argument. If, in the words I have quoted, uttered by our Saviour, you can shew an equal opposition to his argument, I will be content to take your explanation of them. If not, will you listen to our explanation of the apostle's language.
What are we to understand by form of God?” You will not say that it
meantour Saviour's external form or shape. It could then only mean, the divine poweers which he possessed, which we allow. Theword“ equal,” being used adverbially, should have been translated like. So it is translated by Archbishop Newcome, Whitby, and others; “ like God.” But the sense of the verse principally rests apon the words “ thought it not robbery to be," like God. Archbishop Newcome renders the expression, “ did not esteem it a prey.” This translation may give a clue to its meaning ; “ did not esteem a prey or plunder (for his own private enjoyment) the circumstance of being like God."* No one will dispute that the words
with equal propriety, be translated, - esteem it a prey," as " thought it a robbery.” With the idea suggested in connection with this translation, the whole appears to be clear and consistent, and quite in point with the apostle's argument. As a pattern of humility, and of freedom from all ostentation and vain-glory, he introduces Jesus Christ, * Who being in the form of God, (possess
* To slyat, substantive,
ing divine powers) did not esteem the circumstance of his being like God, a prey for his own private gratification, but made himself of none account, assuming the form of a servant (or slave), being in the likeness (or appearance) of other men.*
* Upon this word (apmaylor), translated robbery, Arch bishop Newcome inserts the following note.
“ Wetstein quotes all the places hitherto known where harpagmos is used.”
“ Plutarch's words, where alone harpagmos has been found, except in ecclesiastical writers, who may have adopted it from St. Paul, refer to a custom among the Cretans, of procuring their favourite youths, not by persuasion, but apmayn, seizure. Notice was given that a particular youth would be seized on in a few days. If the person who was to seize on the youth was worthy of him, no resistance was made to the force used, but it was esteemed honourable to the youth who was seized on.” Newcome in loc.
Mr. Belsham, in his “Calm Inquiry into the Person of Christ," enters into a full investigation of the meaning of this word and of the whole passage, p. 128–145. Respecting the use of the word harpagmos, by other writers, he says, “ that it searcely occurs in any other Greek writer;" and in a note he adds, “The word is found in Plutarch, de Liberor. Educ. but in a connection which throws but little light on the sub"ject.” With deference to the opinion of this learned and highly valuable Expositor, may I be permitted to hazard an idea that this passage in Plutarch affords a clue to the meaning of the word as used by the apostle Paul. Φευκλέον ερωτας και τον εκ Kförns nahóuevov áprraymòr. P. 20– 10. Steph. Ed. 1572.
“ Etenim arcendi sunt qui pulchritudinem corporis spectant;
3d. Such expressions as the following are adduced in proof of the divinity of
animæ autem amatores omnino deligendi; et amores quidem, quales Thebes sunt et Elide et quæ in Creta vocatur harpagmon." P. 18. 19 C.
From this expression of Plutarch we learn:
1st, That it was not a word in general use among Greek writers.
2d, That it was invented and applied only to one particular practice.
3d, And that it was so invented and applied in Crete. “ In Crete it is called harpagmos."
That Paul had this sense of the word in view when he used it, finfer,
ist, From its peculiarity, and its never having been used by any writer in any other sense.
2d, The apostle had been in Crete not very long before he wrote this Epistle to the Philippians.
3d, That he was well acquainted with Cretan phraseology and literature, appears from his quotation from a Cretan poet, Titus i. 12.
4th, The distance of Philippi from Crete is only the extent of the Archipelago.
5th, It is more than probable that the Philippians would understand the word as they had been accustomed to hear it used.
The Cretan use of the word will therefore, I conceive, explain the meaning of the apostle.
The Cretan harpagmos could not with any propriety be con sidered a robbery ; because
Ist, Notice of the intended capture was always given three days before it took place.
2d, If the person who gave the notice appeared not unworthy of the object of his affection, a faint resistance was at first
Jesus Christ; “ He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” John xiv. 9. Con
made in obedience to the law, but at last all joyfully favoured his enterprize.
3d, If the person who gave the notice was considered as unworthy of such excessive attachment, he was always prevented from executing his design.
4th, It was always considered as a high honour to the persons thus selected. “ Theirs were the first places in the halls and at the race.
They were permitted to wear, during the rest of life, those ornaments which they owed to the tenderness of friendship; and that mark of distinction testified to all who saw them, that they had been the objects of some fond attachment.” Strabo, p. 739, ed. Casaub. 1707. Encyclopæd. Britan. Art. Crete,
It appears then to have been private friendship, selfish gram tification, taking its name from the burlesque shew of resistance made at first. Plutarch enumerates it inter amores fugiendos.
One other author is referred to by Wetstein as having used this same word, Cyril of Alexandria. The connection in which it is introduced is the following. He is describing the appearance of the two angels to Lot, and his conduct on that occasion. Gen, xix. 1, 2, &c. He states the dreadful depravity of the inhabitants of Sodom; "incolæ exagitati graviter voluptatibus quæ preter naturam," &c.; mentions the refusal of the angels to enter the house of Lot, and their determination to pass the night in the streets ; (ver. 2) and then represents the venerable man as more urgent with them to enter, because he did not suspect their refusal to be harpagmon: “ δικαιος μειζόνως κατεβιαζετο, και ουχ αρπαγμών την παραιτησιν, ως έξ ανδρανές και
Sapecté CS ÉTOIEITO Operós. Cyrilli de Adoratione I. p. 25. A. Lutetiæ, 1638. Justus magis urgebat, non ratus rapinam vel lucrum (harpagmon) recusationem, quasi scilicet frigida, et minus seria mente invitasset.” Ed, Basil, 1566. II. p. 425. C.