By F. M. Perry, March 21, 2001.

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." Philippians 2:3, KJV.

"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself." Philippians 2:3. NASV.

The word "esteem" or "regard" is translated from the Greek word "hegeomai" with original meaning "to lead" or "to lead out."

The modern meaning of the word "esteem" is "have a high regard for, greatly respect, think favorably of." The modern meaning of the related word "regard" is "give heed to, take into account, let one's course be affected by."

Paul's admonition in Philippians 2:3 is set in the context of the close personal relationship of Christians working together in the Body of Christ under the leadership of Christ through His word and Spirit. The admonition defines the quality of an active working relationship. The admonition seems to urge an initiative upon each and every individual in the mutual Christian relationship. In the meaning of the words "esteem" or "regard" there is an understanding of one taking an initiative toward another. This seems also to be in keeping with the meaning of the Greek word for "lead" from which the translation comes.

The nature or quality of the initiative is to "let nothing be done through strife or vainglory," but let all be done "in lowliness of mind;" or, in the words of the other translation, "do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit," but do all "with humility of mind." The action of the initiative is for each one to "esteem" (greatly respect), or "regard" (give heed to) each other individual in the fellowship.

The degree of the quality of the "esteem" one must have toward any one or all others is stated "as more important than himself." This seems to be the important thrust of the admonition. This part of the admonition seems undoubtedly to bring it under the scope of that greatest of all characteristics defining the Christian relationship to others, that of "love," translated from the Greek word Agape and defined by Paul in I Corinthians 13. To "esteem someone as more important than oneself," one can do no more than "love" him, for:

"Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." 1st Corinthians 13:4-8.

© 2002. F. M. Perry