Paul's Letter to the Philippians

Chapter 3

Paul warns them to beware of the false teachers of the circumcision, 1-3; showing that he has greater cause than they do to trust in the righteousness of the law, 4-6; but he renounces it all to gain Christ and his righteousness, 7-11; therein acknowledging his own imperfection, 12-14. He exhorts them to be thus minded, 15, 16; and to imitate him, 17, and to decline the ways of carnal Christians, 18-21.

1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

2 Beware of dogs. Beware of evil-workers. Beware of the mutilation. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he has reason to trust in the flesh, I yet more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; with respect to the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; with respect to the righteousness which is by the law, found blameless.

7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted as loss for Christ. 8 Indeed, I even count all things to be loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. For him I have suffered the loss of all things and count them to be dung so that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith, 10 So that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death, 11 If by any means I may attain to the resurrection of the dead.

12 It is not as though I had already attained, or am already perfect, but I pursue, if that I may obtain that for which Christ Jesus also obtained me. 13 Brothers, I do not count myself to have obtained, but this one thing I do: forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded. And if in anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to what we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

17 Brothers, be followers together of me and mark those who thus walk, as you have us for an example. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 20 For our conversation is in heaven, from where we also look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 Who will change our vile body so that it may be fashioned like his glorious body, according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things to himself.

Commentary

Matthew Henry Commentary - Philippians, Chapter 3

Notes

[v.1] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "Observe, 1. Ministers must not think any thing grievous to themselves which they have reason to believe is safe and edifying to the people. 2. It is good for us often to hear the same truths, to revive the remembrance and strengthen the impression of things of importance. It is a wanton curiosity to desire always to hear some new thing."

[v.2] - "mutilation" - Or, "concision." This is an expression of contempt Paul uses against false prophets. From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary: "Circumcision had now lost its spiritual significance, and was now become to those who rested on it as any ground of justification, a senseless mutilation. Christians have the only true circumcision, namely, that of the heart; legalists have only 'concision,' that is, the cutting off of the flesh." Another way to look at this, is to see the Church (i.e., Christians) as being the true circumcision who dwell in unity, and these false prophets as the concision who cut up, or divide, the unity of the Church with their deceptions. Reference, Matthew 7:15, 24:11, 24.

[v.3a] - "For we are the circumcision" - Reference, Romans 2:29.

[v.3b] - "the flesh" - That is, everything that is apart from Christ (John Calvin).

[v.4] - In this verse, Paul is essentially saying that if those false teachers have only their circumcision to boast in and certify their worship, then Paul has even more reason to do the same because, as noted in verse 5, he was not only circumcised, and that according to the law, but also a genuine Hebrew of the tribe of Benjamin. Furthermore, he made an occupation of the doctrines and rites of the Pharisees, who were regarded as the most strict in adhering to their customs and zeal for upholding the law of Moses.

[v.5] - "Circumcised the eighth day" - Reference, Leviticus 12:3.

[v.9a] - Paul is contrasting two types of righteousness in this verse. From John Calvin's Commentary: "[Paul] intimates, accordingly, that [one righteousness] is the reward of works, while the other is a free gift from God. He thus, in a general way, places man's merit in opposition to Christ's grace; for while the law brings works, faith presents man before God as naked, that he may be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. When, therefore, he declares that the righteousness of faith is from God, it is not simply because faith is the gift of God, but because God justifies us by his goodness, or because we receive by faith the righteousness which he has conferred upon us."

[v.9b] - "found" - The Greek word, heurisko (hyoo-ris'-ko), means to find by inquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, observation, hearing; to find out by practice and experience, i.e., to see, learn, discover, understand (Thayer's Greek Lexicon).

[v.10] - "the fellowship of his sufferings" - Reference, 2nd Timothy 2:11-12.

[v.12a] - "obtain(ed)" - That is, to lay hold of so as to make one's own (Thayer's Greek Lexicon).

[v.12b] - "obtain that" - That is, obtain that entire fellowship in Christ's sufferings, having a full taste of the power of his resurrection, and knowing him perfectly (John Calvin).

[v.12c] - "if that I may obtain that for which Christ Jesus also obtained me" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "Paul was apprehended (obtained) by Christ, [so that] he might apprehend (obtain) Christ; that is, that he did nothing except under Christ's influence and guidance."

[v.15] - "perfect" - That is, mature, or, "of mind and character, one who has reached the proper height of virtue and integrity" (Thayer's Greek Lexicon).

[v.17] - "followers" - Or, "imitators."

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