to address divisions within the Philippian ecclesna, which he views as rooted especially in conflicts between two prominent women, Euodia and Syntyche, whom he urges to reconcile (4:2). The consistent theme of this letter is a call to unity through humility and subservience for the greater good, as exemplifed by Christ (2:5-10), Paul's co-worker Timothy (2:19-24) and Paul himself (3:i7f.). The cultural hybrid that was Paul's gospel is nicely illustrated by his reminder to the Christ-believers to orient their life around the solemn apocalyptic promise that 'we have a politeuma ('commonwealth') in the heavens, from which we eagerly await the Lord Jesus Christ as saviour' (3:20), which is followed quickly by a set of ethical exhortations entirely consonant with Stoic popular ethics (4:8), but now rooted in Paul's own life and example (4:9). Because ofthe potential threat of Jewish Christian missionaries (disparaged as 'dogs'), Paul addressed the distinguishing mark of circumcision, this time with a simpler construal than in Galatians: his Gentile converts do not need to be circumcised because they already are - in the spirit (Phil 3:3).57

The continuity of Paul's Gentile mission in Macedonia into the next generations is confirmed by a later letter of Polycarp to the Philippians (c. 117):

the firm root of your faith, proclaimed from ancient times until now remains and bears fruit for our Lord Jesus Christ. (1.2)

Neither I nor anyone else like me is able to follow upon the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who when he was with you, face to face before those who were alive then, taught with precision and solidity the word of truth. And when absent he wrote you letters which, if you peer closely into them, will give you the power to be built up into the faith which was given to you. (3.2)


From Macedonia Paul and co-workers Timothy and Silvanus moved into mainland Greece. Details of his time in Athens (1 Thess 3:1) remain largely unknown to us. Luke paints an epic encounter between the apostle and Greek philosophy (Acts 17), which, although probably not a true account of any single day, surely captures some of the intellectual quandaries Paul's gospel would have raised in the Graeco-Roman world. Some time later he moved south-west to

57 Paul's sarcastic play in 3:2 between circumcision and mutilation (a pun that works only in Greek) is not paralleled in biblical or Second Temple Jewish texts, but the idea of spiritual circumcision - of hearts, ears, etc. - is (e.g. Deut 10:16; Jer 4:4; 9:25; iQHa 19.5; Philo, Quaest. Ex. 2.2).

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