Saturday, May 7, 2011

Focus on Philippians 4

This week I spent time studying Philippians. I read it in multiple translations. In most translations I read it at least twice. And what I noticed almost from the start where the differences in word choice among the translations. In just a handful of places, for the most part. I'm choosing to focus on Philippians 4:4-7.

Since I have to start somewhere, I'll use the ESV translation to introduce the passage to you.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The NASB reads: Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.
The Holman Christian Standard Bible reads: Let your graciousness be known to everyone.
The NIV (2011) reads: Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The KJV reads: Let your moderation be known unto all men.
The NLT reads: Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.
The NKJV reads: Let your gentleness be known to all men.
The CEB (Common English Bible) reads: Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people.
The American Standard Version reads: Let your forbearance be known unto all men.
The GNT (Good News Translation) reads: Show a gentle attitude toward everyone.
The Message reads: Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them.
The Contemporary English Version reads: Always be gentle with others.
The New Century Version reads: Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind.
The English Revised Version 1881 reads: Let your forbearance be known unto all men.
The Revised Standard Version reads: Let all men know your forbearance.
J.B. Phillips reads: Have a reputation for gentleness...
William Beck reads: Everybody should know how gentle you can be.
The New English Bible reads: Let your magnanimity be manifest to all.
The Tyndale reads: Let your softness be known unto all men.
Lexham English Bible: Let your gentleness be made known to all people.
The NET Bible reads: Let everyone see your gentleness.

According to the resources at, the Greek word transliterated is epieikēs.

from (epi) and (eiko); appropriate, i.e. (by implication) mild :- gentle, moderation, patient.

I'm not exactly sure why I became fascinated with how this verse was translated. It just felt like there is a difference--at least in initial perception--between these words. Forbearance, for example, which might be defined as "patient endurance" or "self-control" brings to mind something different from gentleness, which might be defined as "not severe" or "kindly." And moderation--well--that's something more I think of as restraint--NOT doing something--at least not doing something too much. Don't you perceive graciousness as something (slightly) different (at the very least) from moderation or reasonableness?!

Perhaps this verse should be read alongside Ephesians 4.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3, ESV)


Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32, ESV)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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