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Bible Commentaries
Philippians 3

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-17

The Living Examples

19 The word soul has lost its significance in English, especially in its compounds, hence we render idiomatically "good cheer," for "well souled" and "equally sensitive" for "equal souled."


25 This is a most pathetic picture of the suffering which often accompanies the service of the Lord in this economy. In the previous economy Paul could and would have healed Epaphroditus, for his very handkerchief was potent with power. That course was in keeping with the kingdom which he then proclaimed. But now, when all blessing is spiritual ( Eph_1:3 ), Paul does not attempt to heal Epaphroditus and tells Timothy to use a sip of wine for his frequent infirmities ( 1Ti_5:23 ). How full of feeling is the statement that he was depressed, not by his own condition, but because the Philippians had heard of it and would be concerned about him!

26 Epaphroditus was commissioned by the Philippian ecclesia to bring their contribution to Paul. He was their apostle . His case aptly illustrates the meaning of the term.


2 Those who are elsewhere called the Circumcision are here termed the " Maimcision ," and true believers in Christ Jesus are the genuine Circumcision. Circumcision signified the cutting off of the flesh, but speedily became a badge in which the flesh took great pride. Instead of cutting off the flesh it gave it the place of privilege. Only those circumcised dared to hope for God's blessings. Now a mere mutilation of the flesh is replaced by doing, in spirit, what circumcision typified. We cut off the physical altogether.

3 The divine ritual of Judaism is replaced, in our case, by real spiritual worship, acceptable to God wherever it is offered.


4 Paul is the most brilliant example of the results of a divine religion in which the flesh is given a place. His birth gave him the most favored place among men. His attainments gave him the highest place among his own race. But he forfeits all this and flings it from him because it interferes with the superior position accorded to him in Christ. His religion made him the chief of sinners, Christ's bitterest enemy. Now he will have no more of his own, but that which is founded on Christ.

8 Refuse is defined (Syr.274) ''as when one sifts with a sieve, the refuse remains." "What is thrown to the dogs." ( Suid .)

10 It is notable that Paul never engages our attention with the life of Christ while on earth. Then, he tells us, He was a Servant of the Circumcision ( Rom_15:8 ). All His practices and precepts were directly connected with the proclamation of the kingdom, which is now in abeyance. We have no vital relation with Him until His resurrection. We, too, are accounted as alive in resurrection. We, too, are ascended and seated among the celestials in Him ( Eph_2:5-6 ). Let us conduct ourselves, then, in harmony with this. This is our goal. Let us approximate it as nearly as we can in anticipation. The apostle has no doubts about attaining the actual resurrection. He is not so sure that he realizes its power in his present experience. All will be raised then. Not all realize it now. We should, however, accommodate ourselves to those who are still observing the rudiments.

14 We have here the ideal experience of a believer in Christ Jesus. The shortcomings and sins, the aims and ambitions of the past are all forgotten, lest they hinder us in our race to the goal, which is conformity to Christ Jesus in His glory. Though we cannot fully attain this until resurrection, we should aim to come as near it as possible in our present experience. He who comes nearest this ideal will obtain the prize.


17 The imitation of Christ, when He was concerned with an economy which was, in some ways, the opposite of the present, has led to endless failure and confusion. The reason for Paul's exhortation that he be made a model for their imitation arises from the

Verses 18-21

Exhortation to Imitate Paul fact that in him alone do we see the resurrection life of Christ interpreted in terms of present conduct. Christ's earthly life needs no such interpretation, so none of the other apostles are models in this sense even for the Circumcision.

18 The enemies of the cross of Christ are those who, failing to apprehend the significance of His shameful death, still cling to the terrestrial and the physical. The cross of Christ brings before us the manner of His death. It was an ignominious, shameful, malefactor's death, to which God's curse was attached. Hence we may avail ourselves of the efficacy of His blood, and yet, by clinging to the world and the flesh, become enemies of His cross .

20 Our citizenship, or enfranchisement, in contrast to that of Israel, is in the heavens. We have no political privileges where the sovereignty of our Lord has been rejected. But we have high hopes both politically and physically. We shall reign with Christ in the celestial spheres. And this body of humiliation will be transfigured to conform to His glorious body. He is coming as a Saviour.

21 Here we have the definite assurance of His ability to subordinate the entire universe. This will not be accomplished until the consummation ( 1Co_15:24-28 ).

5 The Lord is always near when men are high handed with us. It is not our place to retaliate but to be lenient and considerate, for He is near and will take care of our interests.

6 Worry kills more men than war. To get beyond its reach is one of the most precious privileges of all who belong to Christ. There is no promise here that our prayers will be answered, or that, if several agree, they shall have their request. It goes far deeper than that. The knowledge that God is guiding all things to the goal He has set before Him, unhindered by the stress and storm which so distresses us, leads us to wonder whether our own petitions are in line with His will, and whether it is better to leave all with Him, confident that He will grant that only good which we crave but do not apprehend. We enter into His peace and acquiesce in

His will whether our prayer be answered or not.


10 The Philippians seem to have had Paul constantly on their hearts though circumstances, at times, kept them from contributing to his needs.


11 It is blessed for the believer to recognize the fact that his environment and his condition are all of God, Who is using them for his welfare. Wealth or want, opulence or poverty are alike means for our blessing. There is no real contentment apart from this.


13 What encouragement there is in this brief word! Nothing is too great for those who know their own weakness and the invigorating power of Christ.


14 The gift of the Philippian ecclesia is especially precious because of the memories it awakens in Paul's mind. They alone came to his aid at the first, and then helped him even in Thessalonica, among his friends. Their contribution, being a token of their heartfelt appreciation and love, not only meets his need, but ascends, like the sacrifice of old, redolent with the perfume which speaks of the sacrifice of Christ. In return he reminds them of the glory that Christ has brought to God and that they, in Him, shall have all their needs supplied according to God's estimate of His work.

19 While God does not fill all our wants , He supplies all our needs . Nor does He do this in accord with our service or deserts, but in harmony with the glory which has come to be His in Christ Jesus. Thus He ever deals with us, not as we are in ourselves, but as He sees us in Christ. This should assure our hearts of His continual care and provision notwithstanding appearances to the contrary. Paul was humbled at times, and hungry, yet this to him was an evidence of His care as well as the times of superabundance.

21 Every saint "in Christ Jesus" limits this greeting to those who know Christ, not after the flesh, but after the spirit.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Philippians 3". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/philippians-3.html. 1968.
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