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Friday, September 20, 2013

Huparchon (or `Uparchon') - Does the word `being' in Philippians 2:6 [KJV], really mean `remaining' or 'not ceasing to be'?

(Philippians 2:5, 6 is a common, so-called 'proof'-text Trinitarians use to try and show the Scriptural validity of the Trinity Doctrine. It is NOT proof of the trinity. Phil. 2:5,6 is, in reality, proof that Jesus has never been equally God with the Father as the following will show. Links to additional information concerning Philippians 2:5, 6 can be found at the bottom of this post.)

Huparchon (or `Uparchon')

Some claim that Christ never ceased to be Jehovah even during His earthly incarnation. They point to the Greek term uparchon, translated `being' in Philippians 2:6 [KJV], and say that it literally means `remaining' or 'not ceasing to be'. Therefore, they claim that the context shows that Christ never ceased to be God.

But if uparchon really had such a meaning, we would expect it to be used especially for God. What else that exists has an eternal existence? But search as we will we never see this word used for God. Some examples where we would expect to see it used (if it really meant `eternal existence') in the Bible Greek of the ancient Septuagint are Isa. 43:10, 25; 45:15, 22; 46:4, 9. Like all other Scriptures referring to God, they use forms of the "be" verb (eimi), which may be used to mean an eternal existence, but they never use uparchon to describe his eternal existence. (Isa. 45:22, for example, says, "I am [eimi] the God and there is no other." - cf. James 2:19 [estin, form of eimi]) So why is uparchon never used to show the eternal existence for the only thing in existence that has always existed (and which will never cease to exist)?

Uparchon is never used for God because it actually, literally means:

"to make a beginning (hupo, `under'; arche, `a beginning')" - W. E. Vine's An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 390.

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance also defines huparcho as "to begin under (quietly), i.e. COME INTO EXISTENCE" - #5225.

And the authoritative (and trinitarian) An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon by Liddell and Scott tells us:

"[huparcho] ... to begin, make a beginning ... 2. to make a beginning of ... 3. to begin doing ... 4. to begin [doing] kindness to one ... Pass. to be begun" - p. 831, Oxford University Press, 1994 printing.

So, even though it may be rendered into English as "existed" or "is," it nevertheless must also be understood as something that has come into existence at some point.

In that sense, then, uparchon is very much like another New Testament word, ginomai, ginomai [#1096, Thayer's], which also literally means "become" or "come into existence" but is sometimes translated into English as "is," "are," etc. E.g., 1 Peter 3:6 "whose daughters ye are [ginomai]," KJV, NKJV, NAB, RSV, NIV, is more properly understood as "you have become [ginomai] her children," NASB, NRSV, NEB, NWT - Cf. John 6:17, "It was [ginomai] dark."

As respected trinitarian NT Greek expert Dr. Alfred Marshall tells us:

"[Ginomai] denotes the coming into existence of what did not exist before.... This verb [just like huparchon] is therefore not used of God...."

Marshall further explains that although ginomai is often translated into English as "is," "are," "were," etc. it must nevertheless be remembered that it still retains the additional meaning of having come into existence! - p. 106, New Testament Greek Primer, Zondervan Publishing House, 1978 printing.

For another good example of the similarity of huparchon with ginomai see Luke 16:23 and 22:44.

Luke 16:23 - "he lifted up his eyes, being [huparchon] in torment," NASB.

Lk. 22:44 - "and being [ginomai] in agony he was praying," NASB.

In very similar statements Luke has used the very similar (in meaning) huparchon and ginomai and the highly respected NASB has rendered them both "being." But in both cases their fundamental meanings of "coming into existence" (or "coming to be") must be remembered. In other words, the person had not always been in torment or agony, but at some point had "come to be" in such a condition!

If you examine the following examples of the Biblical usage of huparcho, you will find they are clearly speaking of conditions which once did not exist but which have come into existence ("have begun to be"): Luke 16:23; Acts 2:30; Acts 7:55; Ro. 4:19; 2 Cor. 8:17; James 2:15 (plural form).

These last three verses not only show a state that has begun recently but a state that is transient, temporary - e.g., Abraham hadn't always been [uparchon] 100 years of age and certainly wouldn't continue to be 100 years of age: he had begun to be [uparchon] about 100 years old at this point - Rom. 4:19.

2 Cor. 8:16, 17 tells us:

"But thanks be to God, who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus. For he [Titus] ..., being [uparchon] himself very earnest, he has gone to you of his own accord." - NASB.

It should be obvious to everyone that Titus hasn't been earnest from all eternity. He obviously came to be earnest at some point in time. And, in fact, we are even told in verse 16 that at some point in time God put this earnestness into Titus' heart. Obviously it was not always there if God put it in his heart at some point! The meaning of uparchon as "having come [or begun] to be" is very certain from the context alone in these two verses.

James 2:15 tells us, in the KJV: "If a brother or sister be [uparchon] naked [`without clothes' - NIV, NASB]," we must help him to become clothed again. Obviously the brother has not been naked for all eternity but has very recently come to be in this condition. It's equally obvious that the brother will not always continue in this condition. In fact his brothers are commanded to ensure that he not continue in this naked state. (Famed trinitarian Bible scholar Dr. Robert Young noted the correct, complete meaning for uparchon in this verse: "BEGIN to be [uparchon] naked" - Young's Concise Critical Bible Commentary, Baker Book House, 1977 ed.)

Therefore, huparcho (or uparchon) does not mean "eternal pre-existence" as claimed by some trinitarians, and it certainly does not have to mean a condition that must continue to exist as Dr. Walter Martin also implies. Notice the solitary example (1 Cor. 11:7) he has selected to "prove" that uparchon means "not ceasing to be": "For a man ... is [uparchon] the image and glory of God" - NASB. My trinitarian NASB reference Bible refers this scripture to Gen. 1:26; 5:1; 9:6; and James 3:9. These scriptures all state that man was created or made in the image of God. (In fact James 3:9 literally says that men "have come to be [ginomai, #1096] in the likeness of God" and is usually translated in trinitarian Bibles as "have been made [or created] in the likeness of God." - NASB, NIV, RSV.)

So there is the real parallel meaning for the uparchon of 1 Cor. 11:7 - created (or caused 'to come to be'). There obviously was a time (before he was created) when a man was not the image of God. Furthermore, Martin's solitary "example" states that "a man" (NASB) is the image of God. This means that every man who lives has these qualities in some degree. However, not every man will have these qualities forever. Many, when they return to the dust of the earth, will cease to reflect God's qualities and glory! It would be much better to translate this verse literally as "For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he has come into existence [huparchon] in the image and glory of God."

There is little doubt about what huparchon was actually intended to mean (regardless of how modern trinitarian translators wish to translate it). Noted trinitarian scholar and translator Dr. Robert Young (Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible; Young's Literal Translation of the Holy Bible; etc.) has even admitted in his Young's Concise Critical Bible Commentary (p.134, Baker Book House, 1977) that his own rendering of huparchon as "being" at Phil. 2:6 in his own published Bible translation should be, to be more literal,

"beginning secretly [huparchon] in (the) form of God ...." - Phil. 2:6

So, rather than any "eternal pre-existence" being implied by Paul's use of huparchon at Phil. 2:6 ("who `always having been' in God's form" - cf. TEV), it is more likely just the opposite: "Who came into existence (or was created) [huparchon] in a form [morphe] similar to God (or in God's image)"! Of course, if Jesus first came into existence in God's image, then he cannot be the eternal, always-existent God of the Bible (nor even the always-existent God of the trinity doctrine)!

Or, put even more simply, since huparchon is never used for God himself, then its use for the pre-existent Jesus shows, again, that Jesus cannot be God!

What we really have at Phil. 2:6-7, then, may be more accurately rendered:

"who, even though he had come into existence as a glorious spirit person in a likeness [external form or guise] of God (or a god), never gave even the slightest consideration that by force he should try to become equal to God (in even a single aspect or quality), but, instead, emptied himself of his glorious form and took on the likeness [external form or guise] of a slave, being born in the likeness of a man."

Phil. 2:6 is, in reality, proof that Jesus has never been equally God with the Father!

And, of course, it is also proof that Jesus existed as a person ('the Word' in John 1) in heaven long before coming to earth as the human Jesus.

For more concerning Phil. 2:6, see:

Philippians 2:5, 6 (rs p. 405-p. 426; Watchtower Online Library)

PHIL 2:6;   Phil. 2:6; Part 2 - Notes (Examining the Trinity)  

New World Translation and Philippians 2:6 (IN Defense of the NWT)

What does it mean when Phil. 2:6 says that Jesus was in God's form? (Search For Bible Truths)


Defend Jehovah's Witnesses