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In this chapter, Paul sounded again "the prevalent note of the epistle, `rejoice in the Lord,' added a few supplementary counsels and acknowledged the contribution sent through Epaphroditus." However, beginning in Philippians 3:4, there is a typical Pauline diversion.
Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the concision.
Here is more repetition, the threefold "beware" being one of the most dramatic warnings in Scripture. What a tragedy is the butchering of this text by so-called translators. The RSV, for example, changed this to "Look out for the dogs!" As Foy E. Wallace, Jr., said, "This is an example of ruining the language and literary quality of the Scriptures." "Beware" is a far better word in this place than "look out for."
Dogs ... evil workers ... concision ... Many believe that these are not three classes of enemies but three designations of one class, that class being rather effectively identified by the word "concision," which is a derogatory reference to circumcision and points squarely at the Judaizers who were the gospel enemies beyond all others of that era. The secular, nationalistic Jews were also enemies but when Paul referred to them, his references to circumcision were more respectful. As Martin said: "But what did infuriate him was the insistence that the rite be enforced on Gentile Christians in order to make them `full Christians'
Concision ... This means "Those who mutilate the flesh" (RSV); "The verb is used in Septuagint (LXX) of cuttings forbidden by Mosaic law."
Dogs ... "This applies to those of unholy tastes and desires, of whom Jesus warned the multitude in the Sermon on the Mount: 'Give not that which is holy unto the dogs' (Matthew 7:6)." Furthermore, the status of dogs in that ancient culture was a far different thing from what it is in our own. The dog in America today is a loved and appreciated creature; but the dog was held to be most contemptible in ancient times. The Jews referred to Gentiles as "dogs"; the prophet Isaiah compared the false shepherds of Israel to dumb dogs, lazy dogs, and greedy dogs (Isaiah 56:9-11); and the Psalmist designated the enemies of the Messiah, stating that "the dogs have encompassed" him (Psalms 22:16).
Ill-workers ... The opinion of Dummelow cannot be ruled out that there are three classes of gospel enemies in this passage, the expression here meaning the establishment of national Israel (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). "Unbelieving Jews are here intended, radically opposed to the gospel of Christ .... Jewish hostility was violent beyond measure in Macedonia (Acts 17). If this view should be accepted, then the three classes of enemies would be:
dogs ... those of unholy desires and appetites.
... the unbelieving Jews who tried to exterminate the gospel.
the concision ... the believing Jews who sought to pervert it.
Despite the widespread opinion to the contrary, Dummelow's views appear convincing to this writer.
 Foy E. Wallace, Jr., A Review of the New Versions (Fort Worth, Texas: The Foy E. Wallace, Jr., Publications, 1973), p. 446.
 R. P. Martin, op. cit., p. 136.
 Robert H. Mounce, op. cit., p. 769.
 James William Russell, Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1964), p. 494.
 J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 975.
For we are of the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
Both the Judaizers and the unbelieving Jews supported their opposition to Christianity by appealing to their circumcision as proof of their standing within the covenant of Abraham. They called themselves "the circumcision .... as proof of their right descent from Abraham and the only objects of God's favor. Here Paul challenged them.
We are the circumcision ... Christians, not those fleshly descendants of Abraham, are the true Israel of God. This is a theme which Paul developed extensively in Romans; and for a further discussion of this subject see my Commentary on Romans, Romans 2:25ff and Romans 9:7ff.
MacKnight's paraphrase of this is:
The Judaizers, being destitute of the qualities signified by circumcision, have no title to the name and should be shunned. But we are the true circumcision, who worship God in Spirit and in truth, and boast in Christ Jesus as our Saviour, and have no reliance upon our descent from Abraham
 James Macknight, Apostolical Epistles with Commentary, Volume III (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1969), p. 440.
 Ibid., p. 445.
Though I myself might have confidence in the flesh: if any other man thinketh to have confidence in the flesh, I yet more.
In this and the following verses, Paul defended himself against any who might have said, "Paul is decrying privileges to which he himself cannot lay claim. He minimizes them because he never had them and cannot get them. The grapes are sour! As Barclay put it, "Paul set out his credentials, not in order to boast, but to show that he had had every privilege that a Jew could enjoy, and had risen to every attainment to which a Jew could rise."
 William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, Philippians (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1962), p. 155.
 William Barclay, op. cit., p. 57.
Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; as touching zeal, persecuting the church; as touching the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless.
The incredible importance of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus in the early rise and spread of Christianity is seen in this very paragraph. It was who and what Paul was which disarmed and frustrated the Jewish opposition. Paul was the equal or superior of every Jew on earth, and his wholehearted acceptance of Christ as the true Messiah of Israel annihilated in one fantastic act of acceptance every argument of the Jewish hierarchy who denied it.
Circumcised the eighth day ... The ancient Jew placed an inordinate amount of emphasis on this, even affirming that no circumcised person could be lost!
Of the stock of Israel ... As Barry noted, "These words are emphatic ... a true scion of the covenanted stock, the royal race of the Prince of God."
Of the tribe of Benjamin ... This tribe gave Israel their first king (Saul), their wisest man, Mordecai, and they remained faithful despite the departure of the ten tribes; but their greatest contribution to both Israel and the whole world was the apostle Paul.
A Pharisee ... Paul was one of the noble Pharisees, the same being one who sincerely and honestly tried to measure up to all of the strict and scrupulous teachings of this demanding group. For discussion of other types of Pharisees, see my Commentary on Matthew, Matthew 3:7. The Sadducees were materialists, politically minded unbelievers, who denied many teachings of the Scriptures. The Pharisees were far better than they, but the Sadducees held most of the high offices.
As touching zeal, persecuting the church ... Whereas many of the Pharisees held religious convictions like Paul, they did nothing about it. Paul fanatically pursued his faith by persecuting the church.
As touching righteousness which is the law ... Paul was here speaking of the Law of Moses, not of "law-works" or of "law-righteousness" as these words are frequently read in an effort to make Paul's reference here inclusive of the law of Christ; but Paul was speaking in this passage of the Mosaic regulations. See under Philippians 3:9.
Blameless ... By this, Paul did not lay claim to perfection, but on the other hand affirmed by this that his record was without charge of violation.
Howbeit what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ.
No earthly honor, or preferment, no mortal achievement, no wealth, social standing or earthly glory would the great apostle exchange for the knowledge of Christ.
The loss of all things ... It cannot be known what all this might have included. Was his wife, or family, included in the things he lost? No one can say, but the haunting possibility exists. Whatever he lost for the sake of gaining Christ, Paul considered his status as a child of God far above and beyond any privilege he might have lost.
... That I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith. (Philippians 3:8b-9)
We agree with Monroe who flatly declared that "here is Paul's most concise statement of justification by faith"; and there is, therefore, all the more reason why people should take heed to the meaning of it. The undeniable fact is that the English Revised Version (1885), the RSV and most of the so-called modern translations pervert the meaning of this passage by rendering "faith in Christ" instead of "faith of Christ"; and for a justification of the rendition followed here, see under Galatians 2:16, and in the extended note 3 at the end of Galatians 3.
And be found in him ... The great Pauline expression "in Christ," or as here "in him," which is found more than one hundred fifty times in his letters, identifies the place of redemption as being "in the Lord." The New Testament reveals no way of being "in the Lord" except through being baptized "into him"; and, therefore, the conclusion is absolutely mandatory that Paul is addressing these words to people who have been baptized into Christ with the admonition that they strive to be "found in him," either when death overtakes them or the Lord shall come. The teaching of all of the holy New Testament writers agrees perfectly with this admonition. As the apostle John expressed it:
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them (Revelation 14:13).
Righteousness ... of the law ... That is, of the Law of Moses. The contrast here is not between obeying the ordinances of the gospel of Christ and being saved by "faith alone"; but the contrast is between trusting in the ceremonies of the Law of Moses for salvation as contrasted with believing and obeying the gospel of Christ.
That (righteousness) which is through the faith of Christ ... As Boice said, "The are two kinds of righteousness," that which comes of men, and that which is achieved by God. The righteousness which saves was not achieved by people, but by Christ; therefore, it is called here the "righteousness of Christ," or the "righteousness of God through the faith of Christ." One who wishes to be saved must become a participant in the righteousness achieved through the faith and perfect obedience of Christ. For five hundred years, the monstrous heresy has prevailed that people achieve that perfect righteousness merely through believing subjectively in Christ, Paul revealed how truly people become sharers in Christ's righteousness. They renounce self, deny themselves, believe in Christ and obey the gospel by being baptized into Christ, thus becoming Christ, in the sense of being "in him" and identified with Christ. The righteousness that saves is not theirs but Christ's; and even in the case of Christ's righteousness, it was not achieved by faith only but by faith and our Saviour's perfect obedience. Thus every man who will be saved shall not be saved as Joe Doakes, but as Jesus Christ. See extensive discussion of this in Galatians and Ephesians but also in my Commentary on Romans, Romans 3:22ff.
The righteousness which is from God by faith ... This clause, with its reference to sinner's faith, is the irrefutable denial that it is sinner's faith mentioned in the preceding clause. The comment of Hendriksen to the effect that it is here merely "repeated for the sake of emphasis" cannot be allowed, because in several other similar passages there is a distinct differentiation between the saving faith and righteousness "of Christ," as distinguished from that of sinners. See under Galatians 3. There can be no doubt that the same distinction is evident here.
By faith ... Even here, the meaning is not the mere subjective faith of sinners; for, as Boice said: "The most common distortion of faith in our day is the attempt to make it subjective." The usual theological jargon of the current era makes faith to be absolutely subjective; but nothing could be farther from the truth. George Howard, as cited earlier in this volume, has effectively proved that in the New Testament Greek, the word for faith almost never has the sense of subjective believing. The true meaning is nearer to our word "fidelity" or "faithfulness," meanings which Paul plainly included in the expression, "the obedience of faith," with which he both began and concluded the Book of Romans.
Faith of Christ ... Although this is translated "faith in Christ" by many versions and translations, it would be just as correct to translate "knowledge of Christ" (Philippians 3:8) and "cross of Christ" (Philippians 3:18) as the knowledge or cross "in Christ" as it is to make "of Christ" read "in Christ." In all these cases, the Greek word for Christ stands without the article; and, as a glance at the Greek New Testament shows, the preferable rendition is "of Christ." The KJV renders this verse "faith of Christ"; and this student is simply unwilling to allow that any of the modern translators is in any manner superior in knowledge of the Greek to the translators of the Authorized Version, nor have their discoveries uncovered anything whatever that justifies perverting these texts by rendering them "faith in Christ." May the discerning student beware.
 Robert H. Mounce, op. cit., p. 771.
 James Montgomery Boice, op. cit., p. 200.
 William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 166.
 James Montgomery Boice, op. cit., p. 208.
 Alfred Marshall, The Nestle Greek Text with a Literal English Translation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), p. 785.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death; if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead.
As Barry pointed out, "The order of these verses is notable and instructive The three mountain peaks of interest are: (1) the resurrection of Christ; (2) the fellowship of Christians with him in sufferings; and (3) the glorious resurrection unto eternal life at the last day. The three-fold emphasis discernible in these verses provides a thumbnail abbreviation of the apostolic gospel, an abbreviation which by extension can be made to include nearly everything in the entire New Testament. Note:
I. The Resurrection of Christ.
This, of course, includes all of the gospel record which preceded and led up to the resurrection, all of which, especially the sufferings and death of our Lord, were in a sense validated, confirmed and endowed with eternal significance by the resurrection. This focal emphasis on Christ's resurrection was not exclusively Pauline, but characterized all the New Testament writers. Peter tied the entire Pentecostal sermon to the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:24), making forgiveness of sins and the reception of the earnest of the Holy Spirit derivative from the fact of our Lord's resurrection, ascension and sending the Comforter; and, while true enough that Peter promised forgiveness and the gift of the Spirit as blessings to be received subsequently to and in consequence of the recipient's believing, repenting, and being baptized into Christ, the sacred word makes it clear enough that the sinner's part in such marvelous blessings is limited to his fulfillment of the preconditions prior to receiving them, and that Christ, not the sinner, is the fountain source from which all blessings flow.
It would be impossible to trace in a single chapter the amazing manner of Paul's making all to depend on Christ's resurrection. Everything depends on it; without it, we are still in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17); it is the pledge of our justification and forgiveness (Acts 13:30,38,39), etc.
2. Suffering with Christ.
This is the "partaking of Christ's sufferings," "the conformity to his death," the "taking up the cross," and being "crucified with Christ," as stressed throughout the New Testament (1 Peter 4:13; Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Colossians 1:24; 2 Timothy 2:11). It was expected that every Christian should suffer as a result of his faith; indeed it was a proverb or "faithful saying" that "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him" (2 Timothy 2:12).
3. Attainment to the Resurrection from the Dead.
This means the final and glorious resurrection of the redeemed at the last day, an event so nobly referred to by Paul a few moments later in Philippians 3:20,21. Another Pauline reference to this is: "If we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection" (Romans 6:5). Also in 1 Corinthians 15:12-23, Paul made the resurrection of Christ, appealed to as a fact which not even the enemies of the faith could deny, to be a pledge of the Christian's own resurrection at the last day. See notes in this series on those references.
Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus.
Not that I have already obtained ... Paul never viewed the Christian prize of eternal salvation as being something that one might "get" in any final and irrevocable act. The Pauline view, in evidence here, was that the Christian life was a race to be won, a life to be lived, a course to he completed, and that no one ever had it made until the probation of life was completed. There was no lack of confidence in Paul, as evidenced by these words; but this was merely his way of saying that he was still running the Christian race.
Or am already made perfect ... There are two different uses of "perfect," here and in Philippians 3:15, the word being the same in both cases. In the 12th verse, Paul is speaking of that personal and individual perfection which God will give to every Christian on the last day; but in Philippians 3:15 he is claiming, not merely for himself but also for all of the Philippians (or at least the majority of them) the full attainment of that same perfection; but in this instance the reference is to the perfection of Christ which rightfully belongs to every Christian.
In Matthew 5:48, Jesus laid down the law that underlies eternal salvation, the law of absolute perfection, "even as God is perfect." No one ever attained such perfection in his own right, except the Lord; but every Christian enjoys that status as a result of his being baptized "into Christ," identified with Christ, and in a sense, being Christ! It was to that status which Paul referred in Philippians 3:15; but in this verse (Philippians 3:12) Paul referred to every Christian's final perfection in heaven (see under Colossians 1:28). Also see article on "perfection" under Ephesians 1:4.
Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before ...
I count not myself yet to have laid hold ... See comment on this same thought expressed at the beginning of Philippians 3:12.
Laid hold ... This was a favorite expression with Paul. He viewed the priceless gift of eternal life as a prize to be seized eagerly and without delay, something to be taken with determination never to let go of it. It was that same determined seizing and laying hold of which had characterized the Saviour's "laying hold on" him for the preaching of the truth, hence the words in the preceding verse, "I was laid hold on by Jesus Christ."
Forgetting the things which are behind ... Paul was not one to live in the past. The past he properly appreciated; but his thoughts continued to dwell upon the future. The great prize still lay forward at the finish line.
Just how did Paul forget the past? "Well, he certainly did not forget his knowledge of the Bible, nor God's grace or God's great mercies ... his writings prove this? Boice thought Paul's forgetting was "ceasing to let the things which in the past overshadow the present. He let the past, both good and bad, be past, constantly looking forward to the work God had for him to do." All Christians need the grace to do the same thing.
 James Montgomery Boice, op. cit., p. 227.
I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
As Hendriksen expressed it, "Paul's intense yearning and striving for spiritual perfection is expressed now under the symbolism of the familiar foot race? Commentators often illustrate this passage by bringing forward vivid accounts of the ancient Olympic contests in various cities of the ancient empire; but the modern Olympics which have been brought into millions of homes through the wonder of television are just as excellent illustrations, in which the agony of defeat and the ecstasy of victory are seen as starkly today as when viewed by the apostle nearly two millenniums ago. Of course, in this verse, it is the eagerness and determination of the contestant to win which dominate the thought. See my Commentary on Hebrews 12, "The Christian Race," for a more extended look at the analogy of the Christian life compared to a foot race.
Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye are otherwise minded, this also shall God reveal unto you.
We agree with Mounce that "There is no reproachful irony here (Lightfoot)." The perfection in Christ was a very real and genuine thing to Paul; and thus it should be to every Christian. Again, reference is made to the article on this subject under Ephesians 1:4.
This also shall God reveal ... Lipscomb applied this to all "having a sincere desire to know and to do God's will, and without any wish or preference except to do the will of God." He cited John 7:17 and Hosea 6:3 as confirming his conclusion. Mounce arrived at a similar conclusion, thus: "The condition for future enlightenment is to walk according to present light."
Indeed, if one does not walk in the light he already has, it may be considered certain that God will not provide more light than he is willing to use.
 David Lipscomb, A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles, Volume IV (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Company, 1964), p. 210.
 Robert H. Mounce, op. cit., p. 772.
Only, whereunto we have attained by that same rule let us walk.
While, admittedly, "the precise meaning of this compressed verse is doubtful," it appears to this writer that Paul here instructed the Philippians to keep on walking in the light they already had received and by which they had come thus far. Darrell Royal, famed University of Texas football coach, was once asked about a key post-season game, wanting to know if he had any new plays, etc. Royal answered, "Well, we plan to dance with who brung us?" It seems that this was what Paul meant here. Sometimes when churches grow and attain some measure of what the world would call prosperity, they wish to brighten up their image in the community, sometimes even softening the old doctrines preached by those who built the church; but the homely wisdom of staying with that which is already proved was here enunciated by an apostle.
Brethren, be ye imitators of me, and mark them that so walk even as ye have us for an ensample.
Imitators of me ... See other comment on this in this series in my Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:16,10:11; also under Ephesians 5:1.
Mark them that so walk ... Significantly, there is some positive marking as well as negative that should engage the attention of Christians. Marking them that cause divisions (Romans 16:17) has ever been the delight of some of the church's professional "markers" in all generations; but here an opposite kind of marking is stressed. If churches and those who love the church were more diligent to honor and promote those who "walk even as" Paul walked, it may be that so much of the other type of marking would not be necessary.
For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ.
For many walk ... These are the evil walkers, and Christians are admonished also to mark these (Romans 16:17), that is, to identify them in order to thwart their evil devices against the church.
MacKnight's paraphrase is valuable, thus:
For many teachers walk very differently, who I have often said to you, and now even weeping I repeat it, are enemies of the cross of Christ, both by teaching that men are pardoned only through the Levitical sacrifices, and by refusing to suffer with Christ for the truth
"Those described here were not Judaizers; this would have elicited a different reaction than weeping." This, of course, is a different view from that expressed in Macknight's paraphrase; but there is no reason why both classes of evil-workers were not in Paul's view. (Nevertheless, Lightfoot also took the persons denounced in this passage to be "the antinomian reactionists, the same as those in Romans 16:18)." Those were the persons, professing to be wise, and yet by no means innocent in their wisdom. In any case, a more complete description of those "enemies" is in the next verse.
 James Macknight, op. cit., p. 457.
 Robert H. Mounce, op. cit., p. 773.
 J. B. Lightfoot, op. cit., p. 155.
Whose end is perdition, whose god is the belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.
This description includes all of every name and doctrine whose interest and concern are focused upon the earth and earthly considerations alone. The apostolic description fits a great many people who would be chagrined and embarrassed to admit it; but it is evident to all except themselves that their one and only interest is centered in the present life on earth.
For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Citizenship ... in heaven ... Russell pointed out that this illustration "was drawn from the fact that the Philippians' citizenship was in Rome. Paul developed the same idea in Hebrews 13:14."
Whence also we wait for a Saviour ... The Second Coming is the background of this. Paul represents himself and the Philippians as living in a state of expectancy, awaiting the coming of the Son of God from heaven, who would raise the dead, appoint the hypocrites their portion in hell, and redeem the righteous unto eternal glory. While true enough that no apostle ever taught that Christ was sure to come within the age wherein they lived, nevertheless they certainly taught that it was possible to be "at any time," that people should live expectantly in regard to it, and that they should be ready at all times for the coming of the Lord. This was sound doctrine then; and it still is.
Boice was correct in diagnosing the cause of much of the malaise which has fallen upon modern Christianity, thus:
In our day, belief in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ has faded into a remote and sometimes irrelevant doctrine into any large segments of the Christian church; and it is entirely possible that our present lack of courage and lack of joy flow from this attitude
 James William Russell, op. cit., p. 492.
 James Montgomery Boice, op. cit., p. 247.
Who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself.
The body of our humiliation ... Dummelow's interesting remarks on this appear to be true:
The apostle keenly felt the humiliation of man's mortal state. The idea of the body of glory was given him by the form of the heavenly splendor in which he had seen the Lord Jesus on the Damascus road
The KJV is surely in error on this. "It is not our vile body that is to be changed ... the body is not vile, and the Bible nowhere says it is." Nevertheless, the mortal body is sooner or later in every life a source of humiliation and ultimately death. See my Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:4ff.
Changed ... This change must occur in either one of two ways: (1) as a result of death itself, following which the body crumbles into dust, or (2) as a result of the change mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:52. This writer will spare the reader any detailed explanation of just how that will occur! But, whether following death, or the change of the living at the Second Coming, all people shall be endowed with the new life at the resurrection and a body "as it pleases God."
 J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 977.
 D. A. Hayes, Paul and His Epistles (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1969), p. 439.
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Philippians 3". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29