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Bible Commentaries
Philippians 3

The Expositor's Greek TestamentExpositor's Greek Testament

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Verse 1

Philippians 3:1 . τὸ λοιπόν . Probably A.V. rightly translates “finally” (summing up all his exhortations to them). It must, however, be remembered that in late Greek λοιπόν had come to mean scarcely more than οὖν . Even in Plato, Gorg. , 458 [17] D , there is something very closely approaching this usage. Cf. Matthew 26:45 (and on it Aars in Zw. Th [18] . , xxxviii., 3, pp. 378 383), Acts 27:20 (where Blass translates by jam ), 2 Timothy 4:8 . For instances in Epictetus see Class. Review , iii., p. 71. It is used regularly in this sense in Modern Greek. ( Cf. also Schmid, Atticismus , iii., p. 135.) χαίρετε . This is the impression he wishes to leave upon them. Cf. chap. Philippians 2:18 , Philippians 4:4 . τὰ αὐτά . Alf [19] . , Ws [20] . , P. W. Schmidt and others refer this to his injunctions concerning joy. But that explanation does not seem to accord with the rest of the verse. “To go on writing the same thing is not irksome (tedious) to me, while for you it is safe.” In what cogent sense would it be safe to urge them to rejoice? But an excellent meaning is found when we connect the words with the warning that follows. That warning is expressly given for their safety . Nothing is more probable than that Paul had frequent correspondence with the Philippians. He must, for instance, have thanked them for their various gifts. In all likelihood, then, τὰ αὐ . refers to warnings formerly addressed to them against dangerous teachers apt to lead them astray. He prepares the way for a similar utterance here by a certain tone of apology. Perhaps the slight friction in the Philippian Church, which is hinted at here and there, may have been connected with tendencies in the direction of Judaising. If a connexion is necessary between χαίρετε and the subsequent warnings (which is very doubtful in an informal letter like this), it is obvious that the formation of parties (Jewish and heathen-Christian) would, above all things, mar the spirit of Christian joy. [Clemen ( Einheitlichk. , pp. 139 140) cuts the knot by deriving the latter half of Philippians 3:1 from the redactor. The whole section from Philippians 3:2 to Philippians 4:3 belongs to an old letter to the Philippians. Chap. Philippians 4:4 is the continuation of chap. Philippians 3:1 a .] Franke, on the occurrence of this strong warning towards the close of the letter, well compares the parallel case of Luther who, in prospect of death, could not depart without wishing for his followers not only the blessing of God but also hatred of the Pope (Myr [21] . , 5 p. 13).

[17] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[18] . Th. Zeitschr. f. wissenschaftl. Theologie .

[19] Alford’s Greek Testament .

[20] . Weiss.

[21] Meyer.

Verses 1-3


Verse 2

Philippians 3:2 . It is difficult to understand how anyone could find three different classes in these words ( e.g. , Ws [22] . , who divides them into ( a ) unconverted heathens, ( b ) self-seeking Christian teachers, ( c ) unbelieving Jews. See also his remarks in A. J. Th. , i., 2, pp. 389 391). The words are a precise parallel to Paul’s denunciations of Judaising teachers in Galatians and 2 Corinthians. Cf. Galatians 1:7 ; Galatians 1:9 ; Galatians 5:12 , 2 Corinthians 11:13 ; 2 Corinthians 2:17 . The persistent and malicious opposition which they maintained against him sufficiently accounts for the fiery vehemence of his language. To surrender to their teaching was really to renounce the most precious gift of the Gospel, namely, “the glorious liberty of the sons of God”. For, in Paul’s view, he who possesses the Spirit is raised above all law. Cf. 2 Corinthians 3:17 , and see Gunkcl, Wirkungen 2 , etc., pp. 96 98. βλέπετε . Thrice repeated in the intense energy of his invective. Literally = “look at” them, in the sense of “beware of” them. It is not so used in classical Greek. Apparently some such significance as this is found in 2 Chronicles 10:16 , βλέπε τὸν οἶκόν σου , Δαυείδ . Frequent in N.T. (see Blass, Gram. , p. 87, n. 1). He would have used a stronger word than βλ . had the Judaisers already made some progress at Philippi. There is nothing to suggest this in the Epistle. But all the Pauline Churches were exposed to their inroads. At any moment their emissaries might appear. τοὺς κύνας . Only here in Paul. Commentators have tried to single out the point of comparison intended, some emphasising the shamelessness of dogs, others their impurity , others their roaming tendencies , others still their insolence and cunning . Most probably the Apostle had no definite characteristic in his mind. κύων was a term of reproach in Greek from the earliest to the latest times. E.g. , Hom., Il. , xiii., 623. Often in O.T. So here. τ . κακ . ἐργ . Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:13 , ἐργάται δόλιοι . We have here clear evidence that the persons alluded to were within the Christian Church. They did professedly carry on the work of the Gospel, but with a false aim. This invalidates the arguments of Lips [23] . , Hltzm [24] . and M‘Giffert ( Apost. Age , pp. 389 390), who imagine that the Apostle refers to unbelieving Jews, probably at Philippi. τ . κατατομήν . A scornful parody of their much-vaunted περιτομή . W-M [25] . (pp. 794 796) gives numerous exx. of a similar paronomasia, e.g. , Diog. Laert., 6, 24, τὴν μὲν Εὐκλείδου σχολήν ἔλεγε χολήν , τὴν δὲ Πλάτωνος διατριβὴν κατατριβήν . Lit. = “the mutilation”. Their mechanical, unspiritual view of the ancient rite reduces it to a mere laceration of the body. The word occurs in CIG. , 160, 27; Theophr., Hist. Plant. , 4, 8, 10; Symm. on Jerem. , xlviii., 37 = notch, cutting, incision. It is only found here with any reference to circumcision.

[22] . Weiss.

[23] Lipsius.

[24] tzm. Holtzmann.

[25] Moulton’s Ed. of Winer’s Grammar .

Verse 3

Philippians 3:3 . ἡμεῖς . The contrast drawn, which has already been before his mind in the ironical expression κατατομή . ἡ περιτ . In LXX it is only found in Genesis 17:12 , Exodus 4:25 (Jeremiah 11:16 has another sense). The verb περιτέμνω is very common. Perhaps the choice of this particular compound to denote the rite of circumcision is due, as Dsm [26] . ( BS [27] . , p. 151) suggests, to the Egyptian use of it as a technical term for the same custom, long in vogue among the Egyptians. Examples are found in the Papyri. Paul uses it here in its strict sense as a token of participation in the covenant with God and of obligation to maintain it. But the further idea belonged to it of being the outward symbol of an inward grace. Cf. Deuteronomy 30:6 . As the rite was regarded essentially as one of purification, the grace associated with it was a cleansing process. This explains expressions like that in Jeremiah 9:26 , etc. οἱ … λατρεύοντες . The participle has become a noun denoting a class of men, spiritual worshippers. Contrast Hebrews 8:5 ; Hebrews 13:10 , and cf. Hebrews 9:14 . Most edd. with a number of high authorities read Θεοῦ (see crit. note supr. ). This gives a peculiar combination: “who worship by the Spirit of God”. But the occurrence of σαρκί immediately after clearly suggests the favourite Pauline antithesis of πνεῦμα and σάρξ . In that case Θεῷ , which is supported by some excellent evidence, would be the natural reading, governed by λατρεύοντες . Aptly parallel is Romans 1:9 , ὁ Θεὸς ᾧ λατρεύω ἐν τῷ πνεύματί μου . Certainly Θεοῦ , as the more difficult reading, must be considered. But as λατρεύω had come to have the technical sense of worshipping God, the word might be altered at an early date to get rid of a superfluity. λατρ . In LXX it is used exclusively of the service of God, true or false. But it is distinguished from its synonym λειτουργεῖν as including the worship of the people as well as the ritual of the priests and Levites. See esp [28] . SH [29] . on Romans 1:9 . καυχώμενοι . One of the Apostle’s most characteristic words. It expresses with great vividness the high level of Christian life at which he is living: “exulting in Christ Jesus”. It belongs to the same triumphant mood which finds utterance so often in this Epistle in χαίρω . This victorious Christian gladness ought to sweep them past all earthly formalism and bondage to “beggarly elements”. οὐκ ἐν ς . πεποιθ . οὐκ (instead of μή ) emphasises the actual condition of their own Christian life. ἐν σαρκί . On the phrase see Dsm [30] . , N.T. Formel in Christo ,” p. 125, who regards it as following the analogy of the Pauline ἐν Χριστῷ . This is manifestly so in our instance where the expressions stand in juxtaposition. Carnem appellat quicquid est extra Christum (Calvin). Here σάρξ has a double antithesis, both Χ . Ἰ . and πνεύματι . The ordinary use of “self” in the popular religious vocabulary corresponds with wonderful accuracy to the Pauline σάρξ (so also Moule). For a strangely kindred conception cf. Seneca, ad Marc. , 24, 5: illi ( animo ) cum hac carne grave certamen est (quoted by Hltzm [31] . , N.T. Th. , ii., p. 21). Of course σάρξ has become a technical term in Paul’s controversy with the Judaisers, and that particular side of its meaning must always be kept in view (see Romans and Galatians passim ). πεποιθ . The word occurs no less than six times in this short Epistle. Paul has reached firm convictions on the highest things. He knows what he believes and what he rejects. That is the real explanation of his strong, exultant joy.

[26] Deissmann ( BS. = Bibelstudien, NBS. = Neue Bibelstudien ).

[27] . Bibelstudien

[28] especially.

[29] . Sanday and Headlam ( Romans ).

[30] Deissmann ( BS. = Bibelstudien, NBS. = Neue Bibelstudien ).

[31] tzm. Holtzmann.

Verse 4

Philippians 3:4 . A very close parallel to the thought is found in 2 Corinthians 11:18-23 . καίπερ … ἔχων . A rare construction in N.T. Three exx. occur in Hebrews. Viteau (who regards it as a survival of the literary language, see Le Verbe , p. 189) would resolve the clause and its context into εἰ καὶ ἔχω πεποίθησιν καὶ ἐν σαρκί , ἡμεῖς ἐσμὲν οὐκ ἐν σαρκὶ πεποιθότες (p. 117), which seems a reasonable explanation. πεποίθσιν . The Apostle realised to the full what was involved in being a Jew. He felt the high prerogatives of the chosen people of God. Cf. Romans 3:1-2 . They were the heirs of the promises in a unique manner. But these remarkable privileges ought to have produced in them willing submission to God’s universal purpose of mercy instead of being incentives to mere self-complacency and bitter prejudice. καὶ ἐν σ . Zahn (see crit. note supr. ) omits καί with some good authorities, assigning its origin to a false exegesis which believed that Paul had some fleshly trust besides his Christian boasting. But καί seems quite in place, as Paul is simply, for the moment, regarding himself from a purely Jewish standpoint. εἴ τις δ . πεπ . “If anyone else presumes to trust.” A complete parallel is Matthew 3:9 , μὴ δόξητε λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς . cf. 1 Corinthians 11:16 . Akin to this use of δοκεῖν is such a passage as Aristoph., Ran. , 564, μαίνεσθαι δοκῶν , “Pretending to be mad”. We cannot help thinking that the usage is based on the impersonal use of the verb. In later Greek δοκεῖν frequently means “think,” e.g. , Acts 27:13 ; Acta Philip. , 95, 1; Plut., Timol. , viii., 3. In official Greek it is the regular equivalent of Latin censere , the technical term to denote the opinion of the Senate (see Viereck, Sermo Graecus , etc., p. 72). Holst, acutely notes that “ δοκεῖ puts the πεποιθ . ἐν σ . subjectively, and denies that there is a reality corresponding to this false opinion. In this subjectivity there is irony.”

Verses 4-6


Verse 5

Philippians 3:5 . The Apostle seems to feel a certain natural pride in recounting his hereditary privileges. περιτομῇ ὀκταήμ . The dative of περιτ . must be read, expressing the sphere to which ὀκταήμ . belongs. Literally: “Eight-days-old as regards my circumcision”. A.V. satisfies the requirements. He was born in Judaism, and lost none of its advantages from the outset. Proselytes were circumcised as adults. For the usage in this sense see the elaborate list of parallels in Wetstein on John 11:39 . ἐκ γένους Ἰ . ἐκ often denotes the class or country of a man, e.g. , John 3:1 . Paul shared in the glories of the covenant-people. Israel was the theocratic name. φυλῆς Β . B. This tribe stood high in Jewish estimation, not only as descending from Rachel, Jacob’s best-loved wife, but as remaining loyal to the house of David, and, after the exile, forming with Judah the foundation of the future nation. Ἑβρ . ἐξ Ἑβρ . For the phrase cf. Herodt., 2, 143, Πίρωμιν ἐκ Πιρώμιος ; Plat., Phaedr. , 246 [32] A , ἀγαθοὶ καὶ ἐξ ἀγαθῶν . The force of these words has been variously estimated. Lft [33] . and others draw a contrast between Ἑβραῖος and Ἑλληνιστής , the former being a Jew who retained the Hebrew language and customs (see Acts 6:1 ). But Euseb., H.E. , 2, 4, 2, applies the designation to Philo, and in Praep. Evang. , xiii., 11, 2, to Aristobulus, both of them Greek-speaking Jews with little if any knowledge of Hebrew. Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:22 . The Greek Comm [34] . , Th. Mps [35] . and Thdrt [36] . , believe that, in using the ancient name, Paul wishes to emphasise the purity of his lineage. Probably they are right. κατὰ νόμον . Are we to distinguish between νόμος and ὁ νόμος in Paul? Attempts have been made (notably that of Gifford, Romans in Speaker’s Comm [37] . , pp. 41 48) to show that when Paul omits the article he is thinking mainly of the principle of law as a method of justification in opposition to faith, etc. In our judgment it has been made abundantly clear by Grafe ( Die paulinische Lehre vom Gesetz , pp. 1 11) that, for the Apostle, νόμος with or without the article means the O.T. revelation of the will of God. He makes no distinction between a general conception of Divine law and the special one of the Mosaic law. The Mosaic law is for him the Divine law pure and simple, and therefore has a universal bearing. There are, of course, modifications of this central idea, but they can all be satisfactorily accounted for. Often the insertion or omission of the article with νόμος is entirely a question of formal grammar. Here νόμος is plainly the law of Moses. φαρισαῖος . Cf. Acts 23:6 . For an interesting discussion of the influence of the school of Hillel upon Paul see Wabnitz, Revue Théol. , xiii., p. 287 ff. The survivals of Rabbinic doctrines and methods in Paul’s thought, however, must neither be exaggerated, nor, because they are Rabbinic, be contemptuously dismissed. “If God was not moving in the Rabbinic thought of Christ’s day, what reason have we to say He … moves in the thought of to-day?” (P. T. Forsyth). Almost certainly Paul’s family must have been in thorough sympathy with strict Judaism. No doubt he would be disowned by them, and this, as Ramsay notes ( St. Paul , p. 36), would give special force to his words in Philippians 3:8 infr.

[32] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

[33] Lightfoot.

[34] Commentators.

[35] . Mps. Theodore of Mopsuestia.

[36] drt. Theodoret.

[37] Commentators.

Verse 6

Philippians 3:6 . Probably ζῆλος (neuter) is the correct form here. In N.T. the neuter occurs only in 2 Corinthians 9:2 , but it is found in Ignat., and, alternately with ὁ ζ ., in 1 Clem. It is perhaps colloquial (so W-Sch [38] . , p. 84), although ὁ ζ . is that used in LXX. ζῆλος would almost have a technical meaning for a strict Jew at that time in connexion with the fanatical party among the Pharisees who called themselves ζηλωταί ( cf. Schürer, i., 2, p. 80 ff.). Cf. Galatians 1:14 , περισσοτέρως ζηλωτὴς ὑπάρχων τῶν πατρικῶν μου παραδόσεων . διώκ . τ . ἐκκλησ . Cf. Galatians 1:13 , ἐδίωκον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ . ὁ διώκων is, in classical Greek, the technical term for the “pursuer” or prosecutor in the law-courts. Strangely enough it was by means of prosecutions that Paul usually persecuted. κατὰ δικ . τ . ἐν ν . “According to ( i.e. , tested by the standard of) the righteousness which belongs to the sphere of the law.” Of course this righteousness, which is here equivalent to right conduct as a whole, is regarded from the point of view of that which justifies before God. For the exceptional prominence which righteousness has in Jewish religious thought, see esp [39] . Weber, Lehren des Talmud , pp. 269 270, and Charles’ admirable note on Apocal. of Baruch , xxiv: 1. Cf. Ps. Sol. 9:9 for a very precise formulation of Jewish thought on this subject. It would be wrong to limit δικ . here merely to ceremonial observances. It includes, most probably, the ordinary moral precepts of the law as well. ἄμεμπτος . Exactly parallel to this description is the case of the rich young man in the Gospels. He also could claim to be κατὰ δικ . τ . ἐν νομ . ἄμεμπ . It was at the next step (Philippians 3:7 ) that he stopped short. He was unable to “count all things loss for Christ”.

[38] Sch. Schmiedel’s Ed. of Winer.

[39] especially.

Verse 7

Philippians 3:7 . ἀλλʼ ἅτινα . Although in later Greek ὅστις had lost almost all its peculiar force and become simply = ὅς ( e.g. , Matthew 22:2 , etc. Cf. Jebb in Vincent and Dickson’s Handbook , p. 302), one feels that something of that force is present here. “But these things, although they were of a class that was really gain to me.” Non de ipsa lege loquitur, sed de justitia quae in lege est (Estius). The prerogatives mentioned above were real privileges viewed from his old Jewish standpoint, might even be justly regarded as paving the way to salvation. κέρδη . In the plural it usually refers to money (see Jebb on Soph., Antig. , 1326). Perhaps the idea of separate items of profit is before the Apostle’s mind (so also Vaughan). For the antithesis between κέρδη and ζημίαν cf. Aristotle, Eth. Nicom. , 5, 4, 6, τὸ μὲν τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ πλέον τοῦ κακοῦ δὲ ἔλαττον κέρδος , τὸ δὲ ἐναντίον ζημία . ἥγημαι … ζημ . “I have considered and still consider.” Tersely, Thdrt [40] . , περιττὸς … ὁ λύχνος , τοῦ ἡλίου φανέντος .

[40] drt. Theodoret.

On Philippians 3:8-11 see Rainy’s admirable exposition in Expos. Bible , pp. 200 256.

Verses 7-9


Verse 8

Philippians 3:8 . ἀλλὰ μενοῦνγε . Probably γε ought to be read (see crit. note supr. ), as its absence in some good authorities is accounted for by the ease with which it could be omitted (so D omits it in 2 Corinthians 11:16 ; [41] D [42] F [43] G in Romans 8:32 ; B in Romans 9:20 ). Almost = “Nay, that is a feeble way of expressing it; I can go further and say,” etc. ἀλλά suggests a contrast to be introduced, μέν adds emphasis, while οὖν , gathering up what has already been said, corrects it by way of extending his assertion ( γε can scarcely be translated, representing, rather, a tone of the voice in taking back the limitations implied in ἅτινα … κέρδη ). “Nay rather, I actually count all things,” etc. We cannot well see, in view of the natural translation of ἀλλὰ μενοῦνγε , how the emphasis could be laid on any other word than πάντα . There is no need for contrasting ἥγημαι and ἡγοῦμαι . He does not compare present and past. ἥγημαι already expresses the fixed decision to which he has come. He has spoken of regarding his important Jewish prerogatives as “loss” for Christ’s sake. Now he widens the range to πάντα . This is the goal of Christian life. It is not to be divided up between Christ and earthliness. It is not to express itself in attention to certain details. “If we should say some things, we might be in danger of sliding into a one-sided puritanism” (Rainy, op. cit. , p. 191). τὸ ὑπερέχον τ . γνώς . Χ . Ἰ . κ . τ . λ . An instance of the extraordinary predilection of the later language for forming abstract substantives from adjectives and participles. Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:17 , τὸ … ἐλαφρὸν τῆς θηίψεως ἡμῶν . Probably = “the surpassing (or supreme) thing which consists in the knowledge,” etc. “We beheld His glory.” That glory outshines all this earth’s guiding-stars. τ . γνώσεως . This knowledge on which Paul is so fond of dwelling is, as Beysch. well expresses it, “the reflection of faith in our reason” ( op. cit. , ii., p. 177). It is directly connected with the surrender of the soul to Christ, but, as Paul teaches, that always means a close intimacy with Him, from which there springs an ever-growing knowledge of His spirit and will. Such knowledge lays a stable foundation for the Christian character, preventing it from evaporating into a mere unreasoning emotionalism. The conception, which is prominent in Paul’s writings, is based on the O.T. idea of the knowledge of God. That is always practical, religious. To know God is to revere Him, to be godly, for to know Him is to understand the revelation He has given of Himself. Cf. Isaiah 11:2 , Habakkuk 2:14 . It is natural that in the later Epistles this aspect of the spiritual life should come into the foreground, seeing that already the Christian faith was being confronted by other explanations of man’s relation to God. To know Christ, the Apostle teaches, is to have the key which will unlock all the secrets of existence viewed from the standpoint of religion. τοῦ Κυρίου μ . It was as Κύριος , the exalted Lord, that Paul first knew Christ. And always it is from this standpoint he looks backwards and forwards. To recognise this is to understand his doctrinal teaching. διʼ ὃν τ . πάντα ἐζημιώθην . τὰ πάντα = “the sum-total” as opposed to a part. (So also Holst.) Perhaps in contrasting ἐζημ . and κερδήσω , as in the similar contrast in Philippians 3:7 , he may have in view our Lord’s words in Matthew 16:26 . In N.T. only the passive of ζημιόω is used with various constructions. [It gives good sense to regard καὶ ἡγ . σκύβ . as a parenthesis, and thus to make ἵνα κερδ . along with its parallel τοῦ γνῶναι depend on ἐζημ . In this case the Apostle speaks from the standpoint of his conversion. See J. Weiss, Th. LZ [44] . , 1899, col. 264.] σκύβαλα . The derivation is uncertain. It is most probably connected with σκῶρ , “dung”. It is often used in this sense itself, but also in the wider meaning of any “refuse,” such as the remains of a banquet. See a large collection of exx. from late writers in Wetstein and Lft [45] . , and cf. the apt parallel in Plautus, Truc. , ii., 7, 5, Amator qui bona sua pro stercore habet . Probably εἶναι ought to be omitted, although there is great divergence in the authorities. (See crit. note supr. ) It might easily be inserted as parallel to the preceding εἶναι . ἵνα Χ . κερδήσω . “That I may win Christ.” There is nothing mechanical or fixed about fellowship with Christ. It may be interrupted by decay of zeal, the intrusion of the earthly spirit, the toleration of known sins, the easy domination of self-will, and countless other causes. Hence, to maintain it, there must be the continuous estimating of earthly things at their true value. Accordingly he looks on “winning Christ” as something present and future, not as a past act. (As to the form, an aorist ἐκέρδησα is found in Herod., Joseph., LXX, etc. See Kühner-Blass, Gramm. , ii., p. 457.)

[41] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[42] Codex Augiensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Trinity College, Cambridge, edited by Scrivener in 1859. Its Greek text is almost identical with that of G, and it is therefore not cited save where it differs from that MS. Its Latin version, f, presents the Vulgate text with some modifications.

[43] Codex Boernerianus (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Dresden, edited by Matthæi in 1791. Written by an Irish scribe, it once formed part of the same volume as Codex Sangallensis ( δ ) of the Gospels. The Latin text, g, is based on the O.L. translation.

[44] . LZ. Theologische Literaturzeitung .

[45] Lightfoot.

Verse 9

Philippians 3:9 . εὑρεθῶ . It is probably used here in the semi-technical sense which it received in post-classical Greek = τυγχάνω with participle (French se trouver ), “turn out actually to be”. “And actually be in Him,” from the eschatological standpoint (see Viteau, Le Verbe , p. 192). The idea is involved of a revelation of real character. Cf. Galatians 2:17 , εἰ δὲ … εὑρέθημεν καὶ αὐτοὶ ἁμαρτωλοί . ἐν αὐτῷ . The central fact of Paul’s religious life and thought, the complete identification of the believer with Christ. μὴ ἔχων . μή either depends directly on ἵνα or is used to express Paul’s own view of what is implied in εὑρεθ . ἐν α . This last thought must be regarded as the basis on which the clauses immediately following rest. ἐμὴν δικ . “A righteousness of my own.” Cf. Apoc. of Bar. , lxiii. 3 “then Hezekiah trusted in his works and had hope in his righteousness”. The noun δικ . is anarthrous to emphasise the idea belonging to it in its essential force. ἐμήν is added to define, and then the definition is elaborated by the clause with the article. An instructive parallel is Galatians 2:20 , ἐν πίστει ζῶ τῇ τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ (see an important note in Green, Gram. of N.T. , pp. 34 35). δικαιοσύνη , as usually in Paul’s writings, means a right relation between him and God. The retention of the word by Paul to denote the position of the Christian before God is, as Holst. ( Paulin. Theol. , p. 64) points out, a proof of his close connexion with the Jewish consciousness. We may call it a “forensic” word, for certainly there always lies behind it the idea of a standard appointed by God, a law, the expression of the Divine will. The qualifying words here show what Paul has in view. τὴν ἐκ νόμου . Cf. the lament for the destruction of Jerusalem in Apoc. of Bar. , lxvii. 6, “the vapour of the smoke of the incense of righteousness which is by the law is extinguished in Zion” (and see Charles’ note on xv. 5). This hypothetical δικ ., which he calls his own, could only spring from complete conformity to the will of God as revealed in precepts and commands. That is the kind of relation to God which Paul has found to be impossible. On νόμος without the article see on Philippians 3:5 supr. τὴν διὰ πίστεως Χ ., τὴν ἐκ Θεοῦ δικ . ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει . The exact character of this δικαιοσύνη which Paul prizes must be carefully noted. The presupposition of possessing it is “to be found in Christ”. It is not a righteousness which he can win by legal observances. It springs from God. What does this new relation to God precisely mean? The one condition of understanding the Apostle’s language is to remember that he combines in his thinking two conceptions of δικαιοσύνη , or perhaps we should rather say that his own experience has made vivid for him a two-sided conception of this relation. On the one hand, he thinks of δικ . as connected with God, the Judge of men. God, strictly marking sin, might condemn men absolutely, because all have sinned. Instead of that, because of His grace manifested in Jesus Christ the crucified and working through Christ’s death, He deals mercifully with sinners, treats them as righteous on account of the propitiation made by the Righteous One , treats them as standing in a right relation to Himself, i.e. , pardons them. δικαιοσύνη thus comes to be God’s gracious way of dealing with us, “forgiveness with the Forgiver in it” (Rainy, op. cit. , p. 231), the relation with God into which we are brought by His grace for Jesus’ sake, regarded more or less as an activity of His, practically = salvation (which, already in O.T., rested upon the rectitude of God’s character, see, e.g. , Isaiah 51:5-8 , Psalms 98:2 ). God’s justifying of us makes us δίκαιοι in His sight: we possess δικαιοσύνη . That, however, might appear arbitrary. But the Apostle gives no ground for such a suspicion. This δικ . ἐκ Θεοῦ is only reached “through the faith of Christ,” i.e. , the faith which Christ kindles, of which He is the author, which, also, He nourishes and maintains (see esp [46] . Haussleiter, Greifswald. Studien , pp. 177 178). This δικ . is securely founded on faith in Christ ( ἐπὶ τῇ π .). But what does such faith effect? It is that which makes the believer one with Christ. He shares in all that his Lord possesses. Christ imparts life to him. Christ’s relation to the Father becomes his. But this is no longer a being regarded or dealt with by God as if he were δίκαιος . Union with Christ makes it possible for the Christian to be δίκαιος , to show himself such in actual behaviour. Thus δικαιοσύνη may express something more than the relation to God into which believers are brought by God’s justifying judgment (which for their experience means the sense of forgiveness with the Forgiver in it). It embraces the conduct which is the response to that forgiving love of God, a love only bestowed on the soul united to Christ by faith (see esp [47] . Pfieid., Paulin. , i., p. 175; Hltzm [48] . , N.T. Th. , ii., pp. 127 129, 138 139; Häring, Δικ . Θεοῦ bei Paulus , Tübingen, 1896; Kölbing, SK [49] . , 1895, 7 ff.; Denney, Expos. , vi., 3, p. 433 ff., 4, p. 299 ff., Holst., Paulin. Th. , pp. 65 66).

[46] especially.

[47] especially.

[48] tzm. Holtzmann.

[49] . Studien und Kritiken .

Verse 10

Philippians 3:10 . τοῦ γνῶναι . This infinitive of purpose or motive is frequent in N.T. and later Greek. Among classical authors it is chiefly found in Thucyd., who favours it (see Goodwin, MT [50] . , p. 319; Viteau, Le Verbe , p. 169 ff.). It is perhaps connected with the use of the genitive after verbs of aiming, hitting, etc. Paul has already spoken in Philippians 3:8 of the γνῶσις of Christ. This thought again appeals to him, but now as being the natural development of winning Christ and being found in Him. For with Paul this Christian Gnosis is the highest reach of Christian experience. Cf. Wordsworth, Excursion , Bk. iv.:

[50] . Moods and Tenses (Burton, Goodwin).

For knowledge is delight, and such delight

Breeds love: yet suited as it rather is

To thought and to the climbing intellect,

It teaches less to love than to adore;

If that be not indeed the highest love.

γνῶσις is the necessary result of intimate communion with Christ. No better comment on the thought can be found than Ephesians 1:11-20 . Cf. , as a most instructive parallel, John 17:3 . The precise force of γνῶναι as opposed to εἰδέναι κ . τ . λ . is admirably brought out by Lft [51] . on Galatians 4:9 , where he shows that γν . (1) has in view “an earlier state of ignorance” or “some prior facts on which the knowledge is based,” and (2) contains “the ideas of thoroughness, familiarity, or of approbation”. γν . emphasises “the process of redemption”. τὴν δύναμιν τ . ἀνας .… κοινωνίαν παθημ .… συμμορφ .… τῷ θανάτῳ . As to readings, τήν must be omitted (with the best authorities) before κοιν ., because the latter forms one idea with the preceding clause. In the case of τῶν it is more difficult to decide. But the evidence, both external and internal, is, on the whole, against it. συμμορφιζόμενος is clearly right, having unassailable attestation. In this passage we have the deepest secrets of the Apostle’s Christian experience unveiled. Qui expertus non fuerit, non intelliget (Anselm). Two experiences are described which cannot be separated: the experimental knowledge of the believer embraces (1) the power of Christ’s resurrection, (2) the fellowship of His sufferings, conformity to His death. Paul puts the resurrection first, because it was the Risen Christ he came to know; it was that knowledge which gave him insight into the real meaning of Christ’s sufferings and death. But here he thinks altogether of a spiritual process which is carried on in the soul of him who is united to Christ. He has no idea of martyrdom before him (so, e.g. , De W., Myr [52] . ). Nor is any earthly suffering present to his mind except, perhaps, as a discipline which overcomes sin. Thus Colossians 1:24 is not a true parallel (so also Hpt [53] . ). The passages which illuminate his meaning are especially Romans 6:3-12 ; Romans 8:29 , Galatians 2:19-20 ; Galatians 6:14 . Christ, in Paul’s view, carries the man who clings to Him in faith through all the great crises which came to Him on the path of His perfecting. The deepest of men’s saving experiences run parallel, as it were, to the cardinal events of the Christian revelation, more especially to that atoning death accomplished once for all for the remission of sins. Cf. Romans 6:5 , σύμφυτοι γεγόναμεν τῷ ὁμοιώματι τοῦ θανάτου αὐτοῦ . This is the “crucifying of the flesh” in fellowship with Christ, which results in “newness of life” (Romans 6:4 ). On the Cross Christ died, i.e. , the earthly part in Him died His human flesh. But that was the only element in Him that could be tempted. And, as regards that element of His being, He died victorious, able to offer up His human life without spot unto God. They that are Christ’s are enabled, by His power communicated to them, through a process of overcoming, to die to earthliness and the appeals made to their fleshly nature. But in dying on the Cross Christ identified Himself with the sin of the world, acknowledging that God’s judgment upon sin was righteous and true, as the Head of mankind representing sinners and bearing the burden of their transgression. So, in the Apostle’s view, they that are Christ’s have the firm assurance that in Him the Crucified they have made full confession of their sin to the holy and gracious God. They know, by the witness of the Holy Spirit, that God accepts that confession and forgives them freely and joyfully. For they know that Holiness has accepted Love, and that Love has acknowledged Holiness, or rather, that the holy love of the Father and the Son is revealed in its unity on the Cross of Christ. The result of death with Christ is life in Him. This new life depends on Christ’s resurrection. “Because I live, ye shall live also.” The power ( δύναμιν ) of His resurrection as experienced by the believer is the effect of His victory over death and sin; that victory which has given Him all power in heaven and earth; which enables Him to impart of His own life to those who are in His fellowship. It is not they who live but “Christ liveth in” them. The organic connexion between Christ and the Christian is the regulating idea for the Apostle. Christ is, as we have said, the Head and representative of humanity. Hence conformity to Christ (Romans 8:29 , προώρισεν συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ ) all along the line, both in living and dying, is a return to the divinely-purposed type, for man was made in the image of God (see loc. cit. , εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν πρωτότοκον ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ). “In this appropriation of the death and rising of the Lord Jesus … there are three stages, corresponding to the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Eastertide. Christ died for our sins: He was buried: He rose again the third day. So, by consequence, ‘I am crucified with Christ: no longer do I live: Christ liveth in me’ ” (Findlay, Galat. in Expos. Bible ; p. 159). On the whole thought of this passage, see Pfleiderer, Paulinism , i., pp. 169, 192 207; Denney, Expos. , vi., 4, p. 299 ff.

[51] Lightfoot.

[52] Meyer.

[53] Haupt.

Verses 10-11


Verse 11

Philippians 3:11 . εἴ πως καταντ . This construction closely corresponds to the Homeric usage of εἴ κε or ἤν (as in Odyss. , 3, 83, πατρὸς ἐμοῦ κλέος μετέρχομαι , ἤν που ἀκούσω ) where the protasis really contains in itself its own apodosis “which consists of an implied idea of purpose” or hope (see Goodwin, MT [54] . , p. 180; Burton, MT [55] . , § 276; Viteau, Le Verbe , pp. 62, 116). Here the clause is almost equivalent to an indirect question. The Resurrection is the Apostle’s goal, for it will mean perfect, unbroken knowledge of Christ and fellowship with Him. Paul knows by experience the difficulty of remaining loyal to the end, of being so conformed to Christ’s death that the power of sin will not revive its mastery over him. So his apparent uncertainty here of reaching the goal is not distrust of God. It is distrust of himself. It emphasises the need he feels of watchfulness and constant striving ( cf. διώκω , Philippians 3:12 ), lest “having preached to others” he “be found a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27 . 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 , along with Romans 8:17 , are the best parallel to the passage before us). But, on the other side, he is always reminded that “faithful is He that calleth you” (1 Thessalonians 5:24 ). καταντήσω . Probably aorist subjunctive (as corresponding with καταλάβω in Philippians 3:12 ). τὴν ἐξαν . τ . νεκρ . Authority, both external and internal, supports the reading τὴν ἐκ νεκρῶν . ἐξανάστ . is found nowhere else in N.T., and never in LXX. In later Greek it means “expulsion”. It occurs only here in this sense. Holst, suggests that ἐξαν . is used here of the actual resurrection, because ἀνάστασις was used above of believers with an ethical, ideal meaning. We are disposed to believe (with Ws [56] . and others) that Paul is thinking only of the resurrection of believers ( cf. Ps. Sol. 3:13 16 for Jewish thought on this subject, the thought which had been Paul’s mental atmosphere). This is his usual standpoint. In the famous passage 1 Corinthians 15:12 ff. it is exclusively of Christians he speaks. We have no information as to what he taught regarding a general resurrection. But considering that it is with spontaneous, artless letters we have to do, and not with theoretical discussions, it would be hazardous to say that he ignored or denied a general resurrection. For him the resurrection of Christians depends on and is conformed to the resurrection of their Lord. Teichmann ( Auferstehung u. Gericht , p. 67), comparing chap. Philippians 1:23 with this passage, holds that Paul, although he has replaced the idea of resurrection by that of a continuous existence after death, occasionally (as here) uses the traditional termini technici. This may be so. More probably at one time he would give prominence to the thought of uninterrupted fellowship with Christ after death, while at another his longings would centre round the great crisis when Christ should acknowledge all His faithful servants and make them full sharers in His glory. It is not to be doubted that Paul, like the rest of the early Christians, expected that crisis soon to come.

[54] . Moods and Tenses (Burton, Goodwin).

[55] . Moods and Tenses (Burton, Goodwin).

[56] . Weiss.

Verse 12

Philippians 3:12 . οὐχ ὅτι . There is a curious difference (see W-M [57] . , p. 746) between the use of this phrase in classical and in N.T. Greek. λέγω is understood in both cases, but in the classical language the usage is rhetorical = “not only, but”. In N.T. its purpose is to guard against misunderstanding, “I do not mean that,” etc. ἔλαβον . The aorist sums up the Apostle’s experiences as far as the point he has reached, looking at it (with the usual force of the aorist) as a single fact. In English, of course, we must translate, “Not that I have already attained” (so R.V.). In Greek a sharper distinction is made between past and present. Cf. John 17:4 , ἐγώ σε ἐδόξασα ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς , τὸ ἔργον τελειώσας . It is needless to ask what is the object of ἔλαβον . None is required, just as we speak of “attaining”. He has in view all that is involved in winning Christ and knowing Him. Probably the remaining verses of this paragraph are a caution to some at Philippi who were claiming high sanctity, and so affecting superior airs towards their brethren. This would naturally lead to irritation and jealousies. τετελείωμαι . The interesting variant δεδικαίωμαι ( cf. 1 Corinthians 4:4 ) is plainly very ancient, the gloss, probably, of some pious copyist who imagined that the Divine side of sanctification was left too much out of sight. τελειόω is a favourite word of the writer to the Hebrews. It means literally “to bring to the end” determined by God. See Bleek, Heb. Brief. , ii., 1, p. 299. A striking parallel to our passage is Philo, Leg. Alleg. , iii., 23 (ed. Cohn), πότε οὖν , ὦ ψυχή , μάλιστα νεκροφορεῖν σαυτὴν ὑπολήψῃ ; ἆρά γε οὐχ ὅταν τελειωθῇς καὶ βραβείων καὶ στεφάνων ἀξιωθῇς ; ἔσῃ γὰρ τότε φιλόθεος , οὐ φιλοσώματος . διώκω . It is unnecessary to assume the metaphor of the racecourse. δι . and καταλαμβάνω are correlative words ( δι . esp [58] . frequent in Paul) = “seek and find,” “pursue and overtake”. Cf. Romans 9:30 , Exodus 15:9 (LXX). Of course both may be used with a metaphorical colour. Cf. 1 Corinthians 9:24 , and also 2 Clem. xviii. 2 (quoted by Wohl [59] . ). εἰ καὶ καταλ . See on εἴ πως καταντ . supr. The subjunctive here is deliberative as being in an indirect question (see Blass, Gramm. , p. 206). We believe καί ought to be read, as it would very easily slip out before κατ . It emphasises the correspondence with the following κατελήμφθην , and may possibly be a sort of correction of εἴ πως in the previous verse, “in the hope that I may really grasp (do my part in grasping)”. Hpt [60] . quotes aptly from Luther: “ein Christ ist nicht im Wordensein sondern im Werden, darum wer ein Christ ist, ist kein Christ”. ἐφʼ ᾧ . Two distinct interpretations are possible and equally good. It may (1) be = ἐπὶ τούτῳ ὅτι , “for this reason, viz. , that I,” etc., or (2) = τοῦτο ἐφʼ ᾧ , “that with a view to which I,” etc. Whichever be chosen, the sense remains the same. Paul lays, as it were, the responsibility of his attaining upon Christ. Christ’s grasp of his whole being ( κατελήμφθην ) must have a definite purpose in it. Paul’s Christian progress is the only thing that can correspond ( καί ) to his experience of Christ’s power. Χ . Ἰ . τοῦ is certainly to be omitted. It is difficult to decide whether Ἰ . ought to be read or not. There is some force in the remark of Ws [61] . that there would be no motive for adding Ἰ ., while Χ . alone would follow the analogy of Philippians 3:8-9 (see Ws [62] . , TK [63] . , p. 88).

[57] Moulton’s Ed. of Winer’s Grammar .

[58] especially.

[59] Wohlenberg.

[60] Haupt.

[61] . Weiss.

[62] . Weiss.

[63] . extkritik d. paulin. Briefe (Weiss)

Verses 12-16


Verse 13

Philippians 3:13 . ἀδελφοί . This direct appeal to them shows that he is approaching a matter which is of serious concern both to him and them. ἐγὼ ἐμαυτόν . Why such strong personal emphasis? Is it not a clear hint that there were people at Philippi who prided themselves on having grasped the prize of the Christian calling already? Paul has been tacitly leading up to this. He will yield to none in clear knowledge of the difference between the old and the new life. He knows more surely than any how completely he has broken with the past. Yet, whatever others may say, he must assume the lowly position of one who is still a learner. It makes little difference whether οὐ or οὔπω be read. The authorities are pretty evenly balanced. λογίζομαι . The word (often used by Paul) has the force of looking back on the process of a discussion and calmly drawing a conclusion. Cf. Romans 8:18 (with note of Sanday and Headlam ( Romans ). The Apostle expresses his deliberately formed opinion. ἕν δέ . There is no need to supply a verb. His Christian conduct is summed up in what follows. Never has there been a more unified life than that of Paul as Apostle and Christian. “When all is said, the greatest art is to limit and isolate oneself” (Goethe). τὰ μὲν ὀπ . ἐπιλανθ . There are a few exx. in classical Greek of ἐπιλανθ . with the accusative, e.g. , Aristoph., Nub. , 631. But in the later language there was an extraordinary extension of the use of the accusative. (See Hatz., Einl . , p. 220 ff.) Does τὰ ὀπ . mean the old life, or the past stages of Christian experience? If the metaphor were strictly pressed, no doubt the latter alternative would claim attention. But pressing metaphors is always hazardous. And parallel passages seem rather to justify the first meaning, e.g. , Jeremiah 7:24 , ἐγενήθησαν εἰς τὰ ὄπισθεν καὶ οὐκ εἰς τὰ ἔμπροσθεν (of disobeying God’s commands); Luke 9:62 , βλέπων εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω ; John 6:66 , πολλοὶ τῶν μαθητῶν … ἀπῆλθον εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω . τοῖς ἔμπρ . ἐπεκτ . τὸ and τὰ ἔμπρ . are found in Herodot. and Xenoph. Wetstein quotes most aptly from Luc., de Cal. , 12, οἷόν τι καὶ ἐπὶ τοῖς γυμνικοῖς ἀγῶσιν ὑπὸ τῶν δρομέων γίγνεται · κᾀκεῖ γὰρ ὁ μὲν ἀγαθὸς δρομεὺς τῆς ὕσπληγος εὐθὺς καταπεσούσης , μόνον τοῦ πρόσω ἐφιέμενος καὶ τὴν διάνοιαν ἀποτείνας πρὸς τὸ τέρμα κᾀν τοῖς ποσὶ τὴν ἐλπίδα τῆς νίκης ἔχων , τὸν πλησίον οὐδὲν κακουργεῖ . In using this comparison, Paul, of course, adapts himself, as among Greeks and Romans, to a custom of their national life. On this kind of adaptation see an excellent discussion in Weizsäcker, Apost. Zeitalter , pp. 100 104.

Verse 14

Philippians 3:14 . κατὰ σκ . “In the direction of the mark.” Exactly parallel is Acts 8:26 , πορεύου κατὰ μεσημβρίαν . Perhaps akin are uses like Thucyd., 6, 31, κατὰ θέαν ἥκειν ; Hom., Odyss. , 3, 72, κατὰ πρῆξιν (“for the sake of business,” Ameis-Hentze). It is needless to distinguish between σκοπόν and βραβεῖον in the Apostle’s thought. Both really point to that unbroken and complete fellowship with Christ which is attained through the power of His resurrection, that resurrection being the condition of the believer’s victory over sin and death, and making it possible for him to enter the “house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”. The purified life in heaven is, in a word, both the goal and the prize. Contrast with this exulting thought Omar Khayyám , xxxviii.: “The stars are setting and the caravan starts for the dawn of nothing”. εἰς τὸ βραβ . The word occurs in Comedy, Inscrr [1] . and N.T. (1 Corinthians 9:24 ). Cf. 1 Clem., 5:5, ὁ Παῦλος ὑπομονῆς βραβεῖον ὑπέδειξεν , where it is perhaps suggested by our passage. It is possibly one of those words which must have been common in colloquial Greek ( cf. the frequent use of βραβεύς ), but have survived only in a few books. εἰς must be read with the best authorities, for, as Lft [2] . notes, “the prize marks the position of the goal”. ἐπί is an explanatory gloss. τῆς ἄνω κλ . “The upward calling.” The Apostle seems to mean that the βραβεῖον is the ἄνω κλῆσις (so also Lips [3] . ). κλῆσις is the technical word in the Epistles for that decisive appeal of God to the soul which is made in Jesus Christ: the offer of salvation. Those who listen are designated κλητοί . Cf. Romans 8:30 and Hltzm [4] . , N.T. Th. , ii., p. 165 ff. This κλ . is not merely to “the inheritance of the saints in light”. Its effect must be seen in the sanctification of the believer’s life on earth. But here the addition of ἄνω suggests that the Apostle has before him the final issue of the calling which belongs to those who have endured to the end, who have run with patience the race set before them. The phrase seems to carry much the same meaning as Hebrews 3:1 , κλήσεως ἐπουρανίου . Cf. the suggestive comment of Chr [5] . , τοὺς μάλιστα τιμωμένους τῶν ἀθλητῶν καὶ τῶν ἡνιόχων οὐ στεφανοῦσιν ἐν τῷ σταδίῳ κάτω , ἀλλʼ ἄνω καλέσας ὁ βασιλεὺς ἐκεῖ στεφανοῖ . ἐν Χ . Ἰ . Although it would give a satisfactory sense to take these words with διώκω (so e.g. , Myr [6] . , Ws [7] . ), it is far more natural to join them closely with τ . ἄνω κλ . This is emphatically ἐν Χ . Ἰ . Only in connexion with Him has the κλῆσις either in itself or in its goal any meaning.

[1] scrr. Inscriptions.

[2] Lightfoot.

[3] Lipsius.

[4] tzm. Holtzmann.

[5] Chrysostom.

[6] Meyer.

[7] . Weiss.

Verse 15

Philippians 3:15 . τέλειοι . What Paul understands by τέλ . we can easily discover from Ephesians 4:13-14 , Colossians 1:28 ; Col 4:12 , 1 Corinthians 2:6 ( Cf. also the definition of the word in Hebrews 5:14 taken in connexion with Hebrews 6:1 ). In all these passages τέλ . depends upon knowledge, knowledge gained by long experience of Christ, resulting both in firm conviction and maturity of thought and conduct. It has not so much our idea of “perfect” = “flawless,” as of “perfect” = “having reached a certain point of completeness,” as of one who has come to his full growth, leaving behind him the state of childhood ( νήπιος ). Cf. chap. Philippians 1:9-10 . Lft [8] . supposes a reminiscence of the technical term τέλειος , used in the Mysteries to denote the initiated , and imagines Paul to speak with a certain irony of people at Philippi who claimed to be in this fortunate position as regards the Christian faith. There is no need to assume here the language of the Mysteries (as Anrich shows, Das Antike Mysterienwesen , Gött., 1894, p. 146, n. 1), or to find irony in Paul’s words. Probably there were some (see on Philippians 3:13 supr. ) at Philippi who boasted of a spiritual superiority to their brethren and who may have called themselves τέλειοι . This may have been due to special equipment with the Spirit manifesting itself in speaking with tongues, etc. See 1 Corinthians 12:0 passim . But Paul takes the word seriously and points out what it involves. [Wernle’s attempt in Der Christ u. die Sünde bei Paul. , pp. 6 7, to show that this passage is no argument against Christian perfection which he believes Paul to hold, rests on the erroneous association of τέλ . with the Mysteries.] τοῦτο φρ . Let us show our humble conviction that we are still far from the goal which we desire to attain. καὶ εἴ … ἀποκαλ . If, in the case of any separate detail of character or knowledge, you imagine yourselves to be τέλειοι , to have reached the highest point, God will reveal the truth (the true standpoint of humility) on this matter also. The form of the conditional sentence suggests that Paul knew of persons at Philippi who had erroneous views on this subject. But his hint of rebuke is very delicately put. εἴ τι κ . τ . λ . It is far-fetched to take this (as Hpt [9] . does) of their judgment on the Judaisers. Paul has forgotten, for the time, the special anxiety which weighs upon him, and has become absorbed in the glorious vista which unfolds itself to the Christian. καὶ τοῦτο κ . τ . λ . A firm conviction of the Apostle’s. See esp [10] . 1 Corinthians 2:10 (and Cf. Von Soden, Abhandlungen C. v. Weizs. gewidmet , p. 166).

[8] Lightfoot.

[9] Haupt.

[10] especially.

Verse 16

Philippians 3:16 . πλήν . It is quite common as introducing a parenthesis. “Only one thing! So far as we have come, keep the path” (Weizs.). For the word Cf. Schmid, Atticismus , i., p. 133, and Bonitz’s Index to Aristotle. εἰς ὃ ἐφθάς . In later Greek (as in modern) φθάνω has lost all idea of anticipation and simply means “come,” “reach”. Cf. 2 Corinthians 10:14 (and see See Hatz., Einl, p. 199; Sources of N.T. Greek , p. 156). “So far as we have come.” In what? Weiss thinks in right φρονεῖν , connecting the words immediately with τοῦτο φρονῶμεν . Kleiss supposes the νόμος δικαιοσύνης , referring to the earlier part of the chap. (esp Philippians 3:9 ). Does he not rather mean the point reached on the advance towards the goal (the κατὰ σκοπὸν διώκειν ), which is the subject directly before his mind? The very use of στοιχεῖν seems to justify this interpretation. τῷ αὐτῷ . It is, at first sight, natural to refer τ . αὐτ . immediately to ὅ preceding. And this may be right. But there is much force in the interpretation of Lipsius, who renders “let us walk on the same path” (so also Hlst.). The exhortation would then be directed against the difference of opinion and feeling which were certainly present in the Church at Philippi, and is suggested to Paul by the ἑτέρως φρον . of Philippians 3:15 . That this was an early interpretation is shown by the v.l. of TR. The words κανονι το αυτο φρονειν (not found in the best MSS.) are evidently a gloss on the text. “Only, so far as we have come, let us keep to the same path.” τῷ αὐτῷ is an instance of a dative common after verbs of “going” and “walking” in N.T. Cf. Buttm., Gram. , p. 184. στοιχεῖν . An imperatival infinitive found in Hom., Aristoph., Inscrptions (see Meisterhans, Gram. d. att. Inschrr. , § 88 A; Viteau, Le Verbe , p. 147). Probably this usage is closely connected with the origin of the infinitive, which was a dative, as is shown, e.g. , by the infinitive in English, e.g. , “to work”. This might easily become an imperative, “to work”! Analogous is the use of χαίρειν and ὑγιαίνειν in Letters. στ . is only found in late writers, although, from the frequency of στοῖχος , we may infer that it must have existed in earlier times. Literally it means “march in file”. Moule well observes that στ . more than περιπατεῖν (the common word) suggests the step , the detail.

Verse 17

Philippians 3:17 . συμμιμ . The compound is significant. Uno consensu et una mente (Calv.). This emphasis on their unity justifies the interpretation of τῷ αὐτῷ favoured above. Paul is compelled to make his own example a norm of the new life. It was not as in Judaism where the Law lay ready to hand as a fixed standard. There was, as yet, no tradition of the Christian life. σκοπεῖτε . A keen, close scrutiny. Cf. Romans 16:17 (but there = “mark so as to avoid”). οὕτω probably points back to μου . It seems more natural to give καθώς its common argumentative force, “even as”. τύπον = (1) “stamp” of a die, (2) “copy, figure,” as the stamp bears a figure on the face of the die, (3) “mould, pattern,” by transference from the effect to the cause. Wetst. quotes Diod. Sic, Ex. (?), τὸν ἑαυτοῦ βίον εἰς καλῶν ἐπιτηδευμάτων μίμησιν ἀρχέτυπον τιθέναι . See also Radford, Expositor , v., 6, p. 380 ff.

Verses 17-19


Verse 18

Philippians 3:18 . πολλοὶ κ . τ . λ . To whom does he refer? Plainly they were persons inside the Christian Church, although probably not at Philippi. This (against Ws [1] . ) is borne out by the use of περιπατεῖν compared with περιπατοῦντας (Philippians 3:17 ) and στοιχεῖν (Philippians 3:16 ), by κλαίων which would have no meaning here if not applied to professing Christians, and further by ἐχθρούς which would be a mere platitude if used of heathens or Jews. Some ( e.g. , Schinz, Hort, Cone, etc.) refer this passage to the same persons as he denounces at the beginning of the chapter, the Judaising teachers. And no doubt they might fitly be called ἐχθροὶ τοῦ σταυροῦ ( Cf. Galatians 6:12-14 ). But the rest of the description applies far more aptly to professing Christians who allowed their liberty to degenerate into licence (Galatians 5:13 ); who, from an altogether superficial view of grace, thought lightly of continuing in sin (Romans 6:1 ; Romans 6:12-13 ; Romans 6:15 ; Romans 6:23 ); who, while bearing the name of Christ, were concerned only with their own self-indulgence (Romans 16:18 ). If there did exist at Philippi any section disposed to look with favour on Judaising tendencies, this might lead others to exaggerate the opposite way of thinking and to become a ready prey to Antinomian reaction. Possibly passages like the present and Romans 16:18 point to the earliest beginnings of that strange medley of doctrines which afterwards developed into Gnosticism. That this is the more natural explanation seems also to follow from the context. The Apostle has had in view, from Philippians 3:11 onwards, the advance towards perfection, the point already attained, the kind of course to be imitated. It seems most fitting that he should warn against those who pretended to be on the straight path, but who were really straying on devious by-ways of their own. οὓς πολλάκις ἔλεγον κ . τ . λ . “Whom I often used to call,” etc. (so also Grotius, Heinrichs, Hfm [2] . ). Cf. Æsch., Eumen. , 48, οὔτοι γυναῖκας ἀλλὰ Γοργόνας λέγω . Hatz. ( Einl. , p. 223) remarks that in the Greek islands they say μὲ λέγει or λέγει με = “he names me”. Paul speaks with a depth and vehemence of feeling ( πολλοὶ … πολλάκις … κλαίων ) which suggest his genuine interest in those disloyal Christians who had once seemed to receive his message. If we imagine that the terms he uses are too strong to apply to professing Christians, we must remember that he speaks in a most solemn mood and from the highest point of view. τ . ἐχθροὺς τ . στ . τ . Χ . If we are right in taking λέγω = “call,” “name,” τοὺς ἐχθ . will come in as the remoter accusative. Otherwise it must be regarded as assimilated to the relative clause, as in 1 John 2:25 . The true Christian is the man who is “crucified with Christ,” who has “crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts”. The Cross is the central principle in his life. “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” Those here described, by their unthinking self-indulgence, run directly in the teeth of this principle. The same thing holds good of much that passes for Christianity in modern life. “Who has not known kindly, serviceable men hanging about the Churches with a real predilection for the suburban life of Zion … and yet men whose life just seemed to omit the Cross of Christ” (Rainy, op. cit. , p. 286). It is quite probable that Paul would feel their conduct all the more keenly inasmuch as Judaisers might point to it as the logical consequence of his liberal principles.

[1] . Weiss.

[2] Hofmann.

Verse 19

Philippians 3:19 . ἀπώλεια . Paul regards the two issues of human life as σωτηρία and ἀπώλεια (1 Corinthians 1:18 , 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 ). The latter, is a common word for “destruction”. There is much in the Epistles to support the statement of Hltzm [3] . ( N.T. Th. , ii., p. 50): “To be dead and to remain dead eternally, that is to him (Paul) the most dreadful of all thoughts”. (Similarly Kabisch, Eschatol. d. Paul. , pp. 85, 134.) ἡ κοιλία . Most comm. compare Eupolis, Κολακ . 4, κοιλιοδαίμων , a “devotee of the belly”. κ . is probably used as a general term to include all that belongs most essentially to the bodily, fleshly life of man and therefore inevitably perishes. Istorum venter nitet: nostrum corpus atteritur: utrumque schema commutabitur (Beng.). Hort ( Judaistic Christianity , p. 115 ff.) supposes that we have here the same development of Judaism which is attacked in Colossians 2:20-23 . But this type of life was by no means confined to Jews. ἡ δ . ἐν τ . αἰσχ . “Who boast of what is really a disgrace to them.” Wetst. aptly quotes Polyb., 15, 23, ἐφʼ οἷς ἐχρῆν αἰσχύνεσθαι καθʼ ὑπερβολήν , ἐπὶ τούτοις ὡς καλοῖς σεμνύνεσθαι καὶ μεγαλαυχεῖν . Cf. Proverbs 26:11 , ἔστιν αἰσχύνη ἐπάγουσα ἁμαρτίαν , καὶ ἔστιν αἰσχύνη δόξα καὶ χάρις . (So also Sir 4:21 .) This was apparently a current proverb. The limiting of αἰσχ . here to sensual sins is doubtful. οἱ τ . ἐπίγ . φρον . It seems reasonable to explain the nominative as a resumption of the opening words of the sentence, summing up tersely the character in view. Cf. Mark 12:38-40 . τὰ ἐπίγ . are opposed to τὰ ἔμπροσθεν or τὰ ἄνω . Curiously parallel is the Homeric phrase ( Odyss. , 21, 85), νήπιοι ἀγροιῶται ἐφημέρια φρονέοντες .

[3] tzm. Holtzmann.

Verse 20

Philippians 3:20 . τὸ πολίτευμα . “Our commonwealth.” (Tertull., municipatus . Cyp., Iren., conversation .) The thought is certainly suggested by ἐπίγ . φρον . in Philippians 3:19 (this is the force of γάρ ). This world has a characteristic spirit of its own. Worldliness is the common bond of citizenship in it. There is another commonwealth, not of the world (John 18:36 ), which inspires its members with a different tone of life. They “seek the things above where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God”. Cf. 4 Ezr. 8:52, Vobis enim apertus est paradisus … praeparata est habundantia, aedificata est civitas . The stability and security of the pax Romana (one of the most favourable influences for Christianity) filled the thought of the time with high conceptions of citizenship and its value. This would specially appeal to the Philippians, who must have prided themselves on possessing the jus Italicum with all its privileges (see Marquardt, Römische Staatsverwaltung , Bd. i., pp. 363 365). Again and again Paul himself found his Roman citizenship a sure protection. Perhaps the unjust treatment he had received in that capacity at Philippi (Acts 16:22-23 ; Acts 16:37-39 ) resulted in securing for the young Christian community a certain immunity from persecution through the favour of the magistrates who might fear the consequences of their gross violation of justice. The word πολίτευμα had been adopted by the Jews from Greek civic life long before this letter was written (see Hicks, Classical Review , i., 1, pp. 6 7, on the whole subject of political terms in N.T.). Cf. Philo, de Conf. Ling. , p. 78 (ed. Wendl.), πατρίδα μὲν τὸν οὐράνιον χῶρον ἐν ᾧ πολιτεύονται , ξένην δὲ τὸν περίγειον ἐν ᾧ παρῴκησαν νομίζουσαι ; Aug., de Civ. D. , xi., 1 (quoted by Wohl [4] . ); the Latin Mediaev. Hymn, Urbs Jerusalem beata, Dicta pacis visio, Quae construitur in caelis, Vivis ex lapidibus ; and see Hebrews 10:34 , James 4:4 , 1 John 2:17 . πολίτ . is used = “commonwealth” in 2Ma 12:7 and Inscriptions. There is a good discussion of Paul’s relation to the state in Hltzm [5] . , N.T. Th. , ii., p. 157 ff. ἐν οὐρανοῖς . Paul had no earthly home. ὑπάρχει . It is perhaps used to add dignity to the thought, or, possibly, to emphasise the idea of substantial existence and reality. Cf. ὑπάρχων in chap. Philippians 2:6 . ἐξ οὗ . It seems needless to make this an adverb. οὗ refers quite directly to πολίτευμα (so also Beng., Hfm [6] . , Lips [7] . , Holst., etc.). καί marks the reasonableness of looking for the Saviour from the heavenly commonwealth. Because their πολίτ . is in heaven they have a claim on the Saviour, just as the Philippians might rightfully look for protection to Rome. σωτῆρα . Used, no doubt, in the technical sense of Christ’s deliverance at His coming (so also Kl [8] . ), but strangely rare until the Pastoral Epistles. It corresponds to Paul’s use of σωτηρία . ἀπεκδεχ . The compound emphasises the intense yearning for the Parousia. It is no wonder that early Christian thought centred round that time. There was nothing to root their affections in the world ( Cf. Galatians 1:4 ). The dominant influence of this expectation in Paul’s thinking and working is only beginning to be fully recognised. See some suggestive paragraphs in Wernle’s Der Christ u. die Sünde bei Paul. , pp. 122 123. Κύρ . Ἰ . Χ . This order is always found in the phrase.

[4] Wohlenberg.

[5] tzm. Holtzmann.

[6] Hofmann.

[7] Lipsius.

[8] . Klöpper.

Verses 20-21


Verse 21

Philippians 3:21 . μετασχ . It is doubtful whether, in this passage, any special force can be given to μετασχ . as distinguished from μεταμορφοῦν , carrying out the difference between σχῆμα and μορφή . The doubt is borne out by its close connexion here with σύμμορφον . Perhaps, however, the compound of σχῆμα has in view the fact that only the fashion or figure in which the personality is clothed will be transformed. We have here (as Gw [9] . notes) the reverse of the process in chap. Philippians 2:6-11 . The locus classicus on the word is 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 . It is found in Plato and Aristotle in its strict sense. Cf. also 4Ma 9:22 . It is Christ who effects the transformation in the case of His followers, because He is πνεῦμα ζωοποιοῦν (1 Corinthians 15:45 ). Cf. Apocal. of Bar ., Leviticus 3:0 : “As for the glory of those who have now been justified in my law … their splendour will be glorified in changes, and the form of their face will be turned into the light of their beauty, that they may be able to acquire and receive the world which does not die”. τὸ σῶμα τ . ταπειν . The expression must apply esp [10] . to the unfitness of the present bodily nature to fulfil the claims of the spiritual life. It is pervaded by fleshly lusts; it is doomed to decay. ταπειν . is plainly suggested by δόξα which follows. σῶμα is “pure form which may have the most diverse content. Here, on earth, σῶμα = σάρξ ” (see an illuminating discussion by F. Köstlin, Jahrb. f. deutsche Th. , 1877, p. 279 ff.). Holst. ( Paulin. Th. , p. 10) notes that for this conception of σῶμα as “organised matter,” the older Judaism had no word besides בָּשָׂד . Later Hellenistic Judaism used the word σῶμα in its Pauline sense (see Wis 9:15 ). εἰς τὸ γ . α . is to be omitted with the best authorities. See crit. note supr. σύμμορφον is used proleptically as its position shows. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:13 , στηρίξαι τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν ἀμέμπτους . Perhaps the compound of μορφή is used to remind them of the completeness of their future assimilation to Christ. Cf. Romans 8:29 . The end of the enumeration in that passage is ἐδόξασεν . δόξα is the climax here. τ . σώμ . τ . δόξης α . With Paul δόξα is always the outward expression of the spiritual life ( πνεῦμα ). It is, if one may so speak, the semblance of the Divine life in heaven. The Divine πνεῦμα will ultimately reveal itself in all who have received it as δόξα . That is what the N.T. writers mean by the completed, perfected “likeness to Christ”. This passage, combined with 1 Corinthians 15:35-50 and 2 Corinthians 4:16 to 2 Corinthians 5:5 , gives us the deepest insight we have into Paul’s idea of the transition from the present life to the future. He only speaks in detail of that which awaits believers. Whether they die before the Parousia or survive till then, a change will take place in them. But this is not arbitrary. It is illustrated by the sowing of seed. The Divine πνεῦμα which they have received will work out for them a σῶμα πνευματικόν . Their renewed nature will be clothed with a corresponding body through the power of Christ who is Himself the source of their spiritual life. The σῶμα σαρκικόν must perish: that is the fate of σάρξ . If there be no πνεῦμα , and thus no σῶμα πνευματικόν , the end is destruction. But the σῶμα πνευματικόν is precisely that in which Christ rose from the dead and in which He now lives. Its outward semblance is δόξα , a glory which shone forth upon Paul from the risen Christ on the Damascus road, which he could never forget. Hence all in whom Christ has operated as πνεῦμα ζωοποιοῦν will be “changed into the same likeness from glory ( δόξα ) to glory”. Paul does not here reflect on the time when the transformation takes place. That is of little moment to him. The fact is his supreme consolation. On the whole discussion see esp [11] . Hltzm [12] . , N.T. Th. , ii., pp. 80 81 and Heinrici on 1 Corinthians 15:35 ff.; for the future δόξα Cf. Apocal. of Bar ., xv. 8 (Ed. Charles). κατὰ τ . ἐνέργ . ἐνέργεια is only used of superhuman power in N.T. Quia nihil magis incredibile, nec magis a sensu carnis dissentaneum quam resurrectio: hac de causa Paulus infinitam Dei potentiam nobis ponit ob oculos quae omnem dubitationem absorbeat. Nam inde nascitur diffidentia quod rem ipsam metimur ingenii nostri angustiis (Calvin). τοῦ δύν . “His efficiency which consists in His being able,” etc. The beginnings of this use of the genitive of the infinitive without a preposition appear in classical Greek. But in N.T. it was extended like that of ἵνα . Cf., e.g. , Acts 14:9 , 2 Corinthians 8:11 . See Blass, Gram. , p. 229; Viteau, Le Verbe , p. 170. ὑποτάξαι . Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:24-28 . ἑαυτῷ . αυτω must be read with the best authorities. How is it to be accented? Is it to be αὑτῷ or αὐτῷ ? W.H. read the former, regarding this as one of the exceptional cases where “a refusal to admit the rough breathing introduces language completely at variance with all Greek usage without the constraint of any direct evidence, and solely on the strength of partial analogies” ( N.T. , ii., Append. , p. 144). On the other hand, Blass ( Gram. , p. 35, note 2) refuses to admit αὑτῷ . Winer, although preferring αὐτῷ , leaves the matter to the judgment of edd. Buttmann gives good reasons for usually reading αὐτ . ( Gram. , p. 111). Certainly αὐτοῦ is quite common as a reflexive in Inscriptions of the Imperial age (see Meisterhans, Gram. d. Att. Inschrr. , § 59, 5). To sum up, it cannot be said that the aspirated form is impossible, but ordinarily it is safer to omit the aspirate. Cf. Simcox, Lang. of N.T. , pp. 63 64.

[9] . Gwynn.

[10] especially.

[11] especially.

[12] tzm. Holtzmann.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Philippians 3". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/egt/philippians-3.html. 1897-1910.
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