Janelle Peters, «Crowns in 1 Thessalonians, Philippians, and 1 Corinthians», Vol. 96 (2015) 67-84
The image of the crown appears in 1 Thess 2,19, Phil 4,1, and 1 Cor 9,25. However, the crowns differ. While the community constitutes the apostle’s crown in 1 Thessalonians and Philippians, the crown in 1 Corinthians is one of communal contestation. In this paper, I compare the image of the crown in each of the letters. I argue that the crown in 1 Corinthians, available to all believers even at Paul’s expense, is the least hierarchical of the three crowns.
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72 JANELLE PETERS
markable lack of adversaries Paul encounters. At Philippi Paul finds
brothers and sisters (1,14) instead of those who preach another
gospel (Gal 1,6) or another Jesus (2 Cor 11,4), though he still ad-
monishes them to beware of dogs or evil workers (Phil 3,2).
Interpreters have argued that Paul’s claim to ownership of a
stephanos that is, in fact, a community plays on the role of public bene-
factor 18. There is a linguistic basis for interpreting mou th/j ca,ritoj
in Phil 1,7 as “my benefaction” rather than “my grace”. Paul sug-
gests that the Philippians being found “pure and blameless for the
day of Christ” acquires glory and praise for himself. This sentiment
is consistent with Paul’s statements elsewhere to the effect that, on
the Day of Christ, the guiltless state of his addressees will be a
source of boasting for him, as in Phil 2,15-16 and 1 Thess 2,19,
where Paul asks, “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting
before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?” In Philippians
4, Paul reiterates the Philippians’ position as his joy and crown, and
he uses the financial language of benefaction that permeated vol-
untary associations in Philippi in referring to “the interest that ac-
crues to the account” of the Philippians (Phil 4,17) 19.
Ascough finds additional support for interpreting the crown as one
of benefaction in the use of the term politeuma, which occurs as a
noun in Phil 3,20 and in verbal form in Phil 1,27. While he acknow-
ledges the term’s political connotations of “commonwealth”, “state”,
“citizenship”, “colony of foreigners”, or “colony”, Ascough also notes
the use of the term for voluntary associations in Roman Egypt 20. This
ranges from politeuma indicating a general assembly dedicated to
F.W. DANKER – R. JEWETT, “Jesus as the Apocalyptic Benefactor in Sec-
ond Thessalonians,” The Thessalonian Correspondence (ed. R.F. COLLINS)
(Leuven 1990) 486-498.
Ascough has identified metaphors taken from business language in
Philippians: ASCOUGH, Paul’s Macedonian Associations, 113-115.
See W. RUPPEL, “Politeuma. Bedeutungsgeschichte eines staatsrechtli-
chen Terminus”, Philologus 82 (1927) 268-312, 433-454, also summarized
in H. STRATHMANN, “Polis, k)t)l)”, TDNT (1968) VI, 519-520; P. BÖTTGER,
“Die eschatologische Existenz der Christen. Erwägungen zu Philipper 3.20”,
ZNW 60 (1969) 244-263; A.T. LINCOLN, Paradise Now and Not Yet. Studies
in the Role of the Heavenly Dimension in Paul’s Thought with Special Ref-
erence to His Eschatology (Cambridge 1981) 96-100; G. LÜDERITZ, “What
is the Politeuma?”, Studies in Early Jewish Epigraphy (eds. J.W. VAN HENTEN
– P.W. VAN DER HORST) (Leiden 1994) 185-188; J.-N. ALETTI, Saint Paul Épî-
tre aux Philippiens (Paris 2005) 273-274.