A Chronological Comparison Of English Translations Of Philippians 2:5 With The ESV

Our preacher this morning read from Philippians 2. As we read along with him I was struck by the way the ESV (2001, 2016) translates Philippians 2:5. Struck, because I have been reading Philippians in Greek since 1984 and it had never occurred to me to translate it as the ESV has nor has it apparently occurred to many other translators except the RSV, on which the ESV was based.

Nestle-Aland 28: Τοῦτο φρονεῖτε ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ


(Wycliffe; 14th cent; based on the Vulgate): Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus

(Tyndale; 1525): Let the same mynde be in you that was in Christ Iesu

(Geneva Bible; 1559): Let the same minde be you that was in Christ Jesus

(KJV; 1611): Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus

(American Standard Version; 1901): Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus

(Phillips; 1958): Let Christ Jesus be your example as to what your attitude should be

(New English Bible; 1970): Let your bearing towards one another arise out of your life in Christ Jesus

(Living Bible; 1971): Your attitude should be the kind that was shown us by Jesus Christ

(New American Standard Bible; 1971): Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus

(Revised Standard Version; 1971, 2nd ed.): Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus

(New Revised Standard; 1989): Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

(New King James Version; 1982): Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus

(Good News Translation; 1992): The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had

(21st Century King James; 1994): Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus

(New American Standard Bible; 1995): LHave this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus

(New Living Translation; 1997): Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had

(The Message; 2002): Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.

(New International Version; 2011): In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus

(Amplified Bible; 2015): Have this same attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus [look to Him as your example in selfless humility]

(ESV; 2001, 2016): Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus

(Christian Standard Bible; 2017): Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Hey Scott –

    Looks like you put the ESV text in the KJV spot, which should read “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”


  2. As you read this passage in Greek, how have you typically translated it (into English)?

    • Hi Richard,

      The traditional translation reflected e.g., in the RV (1880s) is correct:

      “Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”

      I don’t doubt that Paul would say what the RSV/ESV has him saying but I quite doubt that is what the passage is saying.

  3. Notice that The Message translation is much different than every other listed translation and of course the weakest link as well. In fact it’s just unsurprisingly awful.

  4. The ESV translation fails to indicate that the mind for the Philippian Church to have is Christ’s mind.

    • Dear Robert,

      You well note: “The ESV translation fails to indicate that the mind for the Philippian Church to have is Christ’s mind.”

      I think this is in large part because of the Alexandrian Text the ESV uses. The Alexandrian Text (Nestle-Aland) says “mind” (active voice) ‘that which is in Christ Jesus (i.e., ‘His servant walk’). But the Byzantine Text/Textus Receptus says ‘be minded’ (passive voice). But I read the Byzantine Text to say ‘be minded of that [mind] which was in Christ’, i.e., His servant character which is implanted in the believer with the new nature.

      • Dear Albert,
        Many thanks for your comment. As “phroneistheu” is Present Passive Imperative, I find that the KJV’s phrasing of it is better: “Let this mind be”. Further, the ESV neglects “kai” (“and”, “also”).

  5. The reading of the Byzantine Text (and Textus Receptus) is markedly different than the Aland Alexandrian Text. The Byzantine Text/Textus Receptus read:

    τοῦτο γὰρ φρονείσθω ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ·

    The Alexandrian Text is active: ‘mind this’. Τοῦτο φρονεῖτε. The Alexandrian Text says ‘mind this among yourselves which also in Christ Jesus’, that is, His example. The Byzantine Text seems to be saying, [Of] this be minded amongst yourselves, [namely] that [frame of mind of servanthood] which also is in Christ Jesus. The Byzantine Text focuses more on the habitual bent of mind, i.e., ‘Christ formed in the soul.’ Whereas, the Alexandrian Text seems to be more works-oriented: ‘follow His example.’

    Whereas the Alexandrian Text seems to be saying ‘think on that which is in Christ Jesus’, with less emphasis on the habitual frame of mind.

  6. Scott,
    Which reading is the True reading based on what The Scripture teaches as
    the way which God preserves His Scripture?

    Is it from a single reading hidden out of sight not in use by the Church, that was
    found in a waste basket , hidden in a cupboard, in a seclusive monastery, in an
    inhospitable barren rocky desert or is it from the reading that had many copies,
    that were in public use with the Byzantine Church in its own native greek tongue

    • Robert,

      I’ve never understood this defense of the Byzantine and Western text types, i.e., the criticism that the Alexandrian was preserved the wrong way. Well, it was preserved wasn’t it?

      Only certain types of providence are permitted?

    • Scott,

      I was of the opinion that the Westminster Confession means something specific
      when it says ” singular care & providence ” that it was not the ordinary run of the
      mill sort of providence, the fact that the Church being the ground & pillar of the
      truth (thy Word) needed it for its very being, since the true preaching of the
      Gospel is the chiefest mark of a true church, which it could not have without the
      physical possession of the Scriptures, the Lord commanding us to live by every
      word which proceeded, I cannot see how Isa 59:21 could be fulfilled either by
      2 manuscript which were hidden away from God’s Covenant people & their seed

      [Isa 59:21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit
      that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not
      depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth
      of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.]

      It’s a promise which also seems to speak of the Scriptures as a perpetual
      necessary possession of the Church & Christian Families particularly the
      latter as parents are to teach the Scriptures to their children, which could
      not be done by having 2 manuscripts, which differ so much between them-
      selves, one secreted away by the vatican & the other in a desert monastery!

      I seem to have got off track, it seems that the New American Standard Version
      of 1971 has the same translation as the KJB, so the Tradional text & the Eclectic
      don’t seem to differ then in the reading, the Esv would have the same greek
      reading as the Nasv, so would be a translation choice away from its intended
      essential Literal translation technique,

      Oh I see what they’ve done they have retained the same reading as the 2nd Ed
      Revised Standard Version of 1971, which they were supposedly updating!

      • Robert,

        The Lord did exercise special providence in preserving his Word! I don’t think that we lost the Word prior to the discovery of the Alexandrian texts. We did gain additional insight, however, about certain passages.

        It seems to me the real question here is whether we do text criticism at all. Faithful Christians were comparing texts for a long time before Modernity. Then the argument is that we should ignore the Alexandrian texts because we don’t like their provenance. That doesn’t seem very intelligent. The Treatise to Diognetus (incorrectly called a letter) was found in a Constantinople fish shop. Should I refuse to read it because it was absent for so long (and not even mentioned by the early church)? No. Of course Diognetus isn’t Holy Scripture but its history does illustrate the problem of refusing to deal with texts found out of time, as it were.

        • It is important to note that the Confession of Faith says that God’s SINGULAR care is over Scripture, but there is no such care over the “The Treatise to Diogenes”, so the analogy really does not hold. This comparing tin to precious gold. Your comment is well noted.

        • With regards to the provenance of the Alexandrian Text, it is important to note that none of the autographs were in that area; indeed, it’s doubtful that any apostle even visited that area. In contrast, several apostolic churches which received the autographs were in the Byzantine area: Thessalonica, Colossus, Philippi, Ephesus, etc. Moreover, we read in Colossians 4:10 that Aristarchus of Thessalonica was in prison with Paul in Rome, and Tychicus, an elder of the Byzantine area, visited them, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to think that Paul did not supply Tychicus with a precise copy of Romans to take back to Colossus, a Byzantine congregation. And another Byzantine congregation, Antioch, was Paul’s home church, and they would certainly have had precise copies of all his epistles.

          Moreover, the Apostle John was for many years the pastor of Ephesus, and so, the autograph of the Fourth Gospel, and John would surely have had precise copies of the other Gospels.

          In short, the Byzantine area was the home of most of the autographs and of eminent apostles, whereas this was not at all the case in Alexandria or Egypt.

          • Albert,

            You’ve reasoned from a possibility to a certainty. That doesn’t follow. The truth is that we do not know where the Apostles were at all times hence your conclusion re the Alexandrian provenance doesn’t follow.

            Re: my analogy with Diognetus, I noted the distinction between Scripture and Diognetus.

    • Not at all but there were texts discovered in the 16th century, e.g., Codex Bezae, and none of our Reformed fathers dismissed them on the basis that they had not been present until the 16th century. Textual criticism is an ongoing work.

      • A correction: Codex Bezae was unanimously rejected by the Reformation. There is no Reformed forefather who accepted the authority of that manuscript. We do need to be honest here.

        Moreover, the Byzantine Text was unanimously accepted as the Providential Preserved Text by our Reformed Forefathers. Those who would erroneously set the Alexandrian Text as the authoritative text necessarily undermine the Reformed Confessions themselves. The Alexandrian Text, for example, omits Christ’s prayer on the cross for His enemies, and the account of Christ’s Bloody Sweat. But these texts are prooftexts in all the Reformed Confessions, and are amply testified to by the early church fathers going back to the Diatessaron, a 2nd century document. Christ’s Bloody Sweat is cited by Irenaeus in his monumental work “Against Heresies.”

        Researches by the Society for Biblical Literature have recently confirmed Erasmus’ conclusions that the Byzantine Text is no product of conflation, but rather, was indeed the text of the 4th century Byzantine Fathers (Basil, Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, etc., albeit with variants), and that its citations by such documents as the Diatessaron prove its existence even in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A D. And indeed, this is the text that was used publicly in the Greek Church from that time forward.

        The Westminster Confession of Faith well says: “The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical;[17] so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them.”

        Note that the Confession of Faith says that the Word of God was “kept pure in all ages.” This means that to revise audaciously the Traditional Text on the basis of manuscripts that were discovered in the sands of Egypt, unused for centuries, is contrary to the Scripture, and contrary to the Confession. Indeed, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, two very corrupt manuscripts, disagree with one another in 3,016 places in the Gospels alone! Whereas, the unanimity of the Traditional Text is overwhelmingly proven in the researches of Jean Francois Racine in his detailed analysis of the text of Basil in the Gospel of Matthew, which only confirmed the previous work of Harold Oliver as regarding the text of Basil in the four Gospels.

        Isaiah 59.21 tells us as regarding the Providential Preservation of the Biblical Text: “As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever” (Isa. 59:21). Note that the LORD promises to preserve His words in THE MOUTH OF THE TRUE CHURCH, AND IN THE MOUTH OF THEIR SEED. And therefore, a text which was not cited by the Church is not to be trusted.

        Bottom line: the early fathers were far closer to the originals than we are, and who are we to overthrow the text criticism of the early Church? They had access to far more manuscripts than we! And there were reasons they specifically rejected the Alexandrian Text. For that matter, the research of Carl Cosaert in the text of Clement of Alexandria proves that the text of Vaticanus was unknown in the 2nd century A D in Alexandria. The text of Vaticanus is a 3rd century contrivance, a vain attempt of the Alexandrians to reconcile their hopelessly contradicting manuscripts. After all, 3,016 differences just in the four Gospels between Vaticanus and Alexandrinus – how can a serious scholar take that seriously?

        Interestingly, scholars of Homer agree that the Byzantine text of the Middle Ages of Homer is far more reliable than the Alexandrian Text of the 3rd and 4th century. The copyists of Alexandrian, following Aristarchus of Samothrace, were far too given to speculative emendation. They even deleted portion of Homer which had been cited by Plato and Aristotle!

        • Albert,

          The Codex Bezae was discovered by Theodore Beza. He’s a Reformed father. It’s regularly cited in the text-criticism apparatus of the UBS and NA.

          You’re building arguments upon assumptions that I don’t necessarily accept. E.g., your account of the Byzantine tradition is far more optimistic than others I’ve read.

    • As per Al, I always understood the Codex Bezae to be pretty corrupt.
      Two, the critical texts don’t even agree amongst themselves, never mind the TR.
      Three, the doctrine of providential preservation, like textual criticism, also developed, but in a response to the Roman rebuttal of the Reformation’s Sola Scriptura: “Where is your word of God to be found? In which manuscript, etc.?” This particularly in light of the fact that with Vaticanus, Rome could and did claim to actually have a more faithful copy of the NT Scriptures than the Protestants. Yet oddly enough, for some arcane reason, that manuscript didn’t see the light of day until the 1800’s when a collation was finally published.
      Four, are we ultimately to treat the sacred text like the Treatise to Diogenes which is uninspired?

      IOW color me just a little skeptical of the claims of modern textual criticism and bible versions which, even further, does not necessarily make one an obscurantist or an ignoramus. Even Burgon, a strenuous and ahem, shall we say vehement defender of the RT over and against Hort and Westcott, noted that in his judgement the RT had been corrupted in places.

      • Bob,

        Whether the Codex Bezae is corrupt is a question of text criticism. I might agree but the point is that the tradition did textual criticism. They didn’t rule out texts or families a priori because they were from the “wrong” part of the world.

        The Scriptures were copied. Scribes made mistakes in copying them. We can trace those mistakes. That’s why we compare texts.

        I suspect that we are working with different definitions of “singular” care. This discussion has helped me get a clearer picture of how advocates of the MT think of it. I didn’t get that sense from Harry Sturz. My understanding of “singular care” is that God operated specially through the ordinary means.

        The autographa are present in midst of the various text families.

        The hard work of text criticism, including the use of objective and subjective criteria, is unavoidable.

  7. RSC,
    The Codex Bezae is corrupt? Compared to what? (Les McCann and Eddie Harris want to know.)
    A Received Text is inevitable and the Eclectic Text seems to have morphed into exactly that: a constantly evolving Received Text that is not a “Received Text”. But then maybe we have opened Pandora’s box and the flux is guaranteed to continue in that Hort had an agenda and his internal textual criteria were speculative and subjective. (Personally, I might put him in the realm of Darwin, Freud and Marx, all frauds that outreached their grasp.)
    True, modern textual criticism has long left Monsieur Hort in its wake, but perhaps providential preservation is one thing, providential restoration of the providentially discarded texts by modern textual critics quite another.
    At least if that is Letis’s take on the situation (“BB Warfield, Common Sense Philosophy and Biblical Criticism, The Ecclesiastical Text, 1997, p.22) , the mainstream majority might seem to think that the only opposition to their POV is on the order of the KJVOnly folks. Still, Burgon, Miller and Scrivener were all capable textual critics that disagreed with Messrs. Hort and Westcott at the time, much more the presuppositions to W&H’s arguments grounded in the Enlightenment’s modern skepticism to the historic – and scholastic? – view of the traditional text and its preservation.

    • Bob,

      1. In the defense of the RT and MT there seems to be an a priori definition of “preservation” which has to be defended rather than assumed.

      2. One of the arguments for the superiority of the RT and MT which seems least persuasive is the implied argument that we were not doing text criticism prior to the discovery of the Alexandrian texts.

      3. I’m also not at all moved by the ad hominem arguments against 19th- and early 20th-century textual critics and criticism. Such arguments are inherently fallacious and should move no reasonable person.

      4. Ditto for guilt by association.

  8. RSC,

    Briefly yes, the traditional text gets the nod, before we start necessarily remodeling it according to the eclectic critical text.

    1. Yes, the assumed position is that the church possesses in its common usage, the approved text – though it is not perfect contra the KJVOnly crowd – as opposed to the view that the text exists out there, but particularly the Greek speaking church doesn’t know about it until the modern post Enlightenment textual critics discover it and clue them in. (Really?)

    Regardless, it might be of interest to determine one, what was the WAssembly’s position in 1:8 and two, has it been left behind – even by both sides in the debate?

    2. ? Not sure what you are trying to say here. Again, if the church was practicing textual criticism before its heyday, maybe that’s why the critical texts were discarded. Are we sure the early church wasn’t acquainted with the critical texts?

    3. Burgon, Scrivener and Miller engaged in ad hominem arguments? Exclusively? They didn’t back anything up? Hort didn’t have an agenda? The majority position in the debate isn’t pretty much ignorant of the alternative minority position, similar to the majority position in the RPW discusssion?

    In conclusion, I don’t consider the modern critical text/translation thing a slam dunk. Yes, some do. I get that.
    But that still doesn’t mean imh(redneck)o all the fundamental questions have been answered, all accusations of ad hominem and guilt by association not withstanding.


    • Bob,

      …that Hort had an agenda…

      This is ad hominem.

      (Personally, I might put him in the realm of Darwin, Freud and Marx, all frauds that outreached their grasp.

      This is guilt by association.

      Every form of text criticism has both objective criteria (date, provenance) and subjective criteria (the critic’s judgement as to which reading is more likely in context).

      Serious questions:

      1. Do you read Greek?

      2. Have you read Metzger et al.?

    • RSC

      Contra the mandate for the revision, Hort substituted his version of the Greek text in the RV instead of working with the traditional text because of his stated dislike for it.

      Serious questions:

      1. Have you read Burgon, Scrivener and Miller’s objections to W&H?
      Has Metzger? I am not aware that he has.

      2. Are B,S & M guilty of ad hom or GBA?

      3. Are we sure older is necessarily better when it comes to texts?

      • Bob,

        You didn’t answer my questions.

        Yes, I read Burgon et al. in defense of the Western text and defenses of the Byzantine text.

        I’ve been reading Greek and learning text criticism since 1981.

        So, your answers?

    • RSC

      Neither did you answer mine, much more what is closer to the real status questionis (if not an ad hom red herring at this point in the discussion):

      Does one really need to know Greek to read the qualified textual critics of the day, such as Burgon, Scrivener and Miller that opposed Westcott and Hort’s view of the traditional text, the latter of which has pretty much become the mainstream view, as represented by Metzger et al today?

      Two, are we supposed to be shocked that there are contrary views to what is now the established narrative?

      Three, is it a sufficient rebuttal of such views to ignore, sidestep or suppress them?

      Again, color me skeptical of the claims of modern textual criticism and the modern translations of being a slam dunk. After all, the received text was at least good enough for the Reformation. Can it be improved upon? I suppose, but maybe not all that is called an improvement really is an improvement whatever the experts tell us.

      Thank you.

    • Sir,

      This has not been about doing textual criticism.
      This has been about textual critics who have differing opinions on the traditional/critical texts – gasp, even admittedly the minority position.

      Neither did we expect the expert card to be played in order to shut off discussion, in that we have come to expect more from the HBlog.

      Obviously, we stand corrected on at least that point.
      It is duly noted.

      Thank you.

      • Bob,

        Do you think everyone is qualified to practice law or medicine (without law school or med school)? Reading Gray’s Anatomy does not qualify one to discuss surgery. Read’s Blackstone’s Commentaries does not make one a lawyer.

        To say “learn Greek” is not “playing the expert card” and “shutting off discussion” is is encouragement to become qualified to participate in the discussion. One who does not read Greek certainly is not qualified to discuss the text criticism of the Greek New Testament. That’s not elitism, that’s common sense. It’s no more elitism than requiring a student who wants to discuss the Latin text of Calvin’s Institutes to read Latin or requiring someone who wants to talk about the relative merits of John Deere tractors versus Case/IH to know something about tractors and agriculture.

  9. Dear Dr Clark,

    I appreciate your post and responses regarding textual issues, especially your counsel that we need to avoid flawed reasoning (e.g., ad hominen, guilt by association) on such matters. I do not read Greek (though I am still learning it) and I am not a scholarly expert on textual criticism. As such, I should be humble so as to reserve judgement and refrain from speaking beyond my expertise.

    I am quite sure there are many who would vilify Westcott and Hort, but would not be able to read Greek and exegete philippians 2:15 in a theologically and biblically sound fashion. And this is something I find missing in much of the responses to your post.


  10. Dear Dr Clark,

    Apologies, I indicated philippians 2:15 when it should be 2:5.


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