Reflections On The "Gentleness" Paul Calls For In Philippians 4:5
Wendland, Paul O.
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On the face of it, Philippians 4:5 seems to present few difficulties. That perspective changes, however, as soon as a person takes a closer look at τὸ ἐπιεικὲς. What can Paul mean by using a word that one commentator called "difficult to pin down with precision"? Besides the NIV's "gentleness," various English translations render it with "magnanimity," "moderation," "forbearance," and "reasonableness." Not only do these suggested translations cover a fairly wide semantic range, but there is also the problem of the abstract nature of this encouragement. What precise attitudes or actions is Paul calling for here? More than anything else, at issue is the question of whether or not to take τὸ ἐπιεικὲς as a "power word." To put it another way: in this context, does this word connote the type of attitude that should be displayed by someone who enjoys a superior status? Professor Wendland explores the issues of this fascinating word in this paper.