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Bible Commentaries

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Philippians 3

Verse 1

The same things ; which he had before inculcated. Some suppose that he has especial reference to the exhortation to rejoice, which he had already given, chap Philippians 2:18 , and repeats again emphatically, chap Philippians 4:4 . No persons have so much occasion for, or possess so much real joy, as true Christians.

Verse 2

Dogs ; contentious and impure false teachers.

The concision ; that is, the cutting, namely, of the flesh in circumcision. The apostle applies the term to those who contended for the outward mark of circumcision as essential to salvation. We should beware of the doctrines of those who rely on external observances, or on their own works for salvation; especially when, by propagating their doctrines, they seek to promote divisions among Christians.

Verse 3

We ; believers in Christ.

Are the circumcision ; they had the true circumcision, which alone was essential, that of the heart; they were cut off from the love of sin, and justified through faith in Christ, of which the outward mark was a sign, or, as revealed, Romans 4:11 , a seal of the righteousness of faith.

No confidence in the flesh ; in any natural goodness, external privileges, distinctions, or works of their own, as a ground of salvation. True Christians possess that, the necessity of which was indicated by circumcision; without the sign they have the thing signified, as had Abraham before he was circumcised. Romans 4:11 .

Verse 5

Touching the law ; in his view of it and of his mode of keeping it.

Verse 6

Touching the righteousness which is the law ; as to that external observance of it on which the Pharisees relied for salvation.

Verse 7

What things were gain ; those by which he once had hoped to gain eternal life.

Loss ; he renounced all dependence on them, sensible that dependence on them, should it continue, would cause the loss of his soul.

Verse 8

All things ; as a ground of dependence for salvation.

Verse 9

Not having mine own righteousness ; as a ground of acceptance.

The righteousness which is of God by faith ; see note to Romans 1:17 .

Verse 10

Know him ; Christ in his true character, by trusting in him and experiencing the transforming effects of such knowledge in my own soul.

The power of his resurrection ; according to some, the full power which the fact of his resurrection should have on the mind. But we may better understand here, as in Romans 6:4 ; Ephesians 1:19-20 ; Ephesians 2:1 ; Ephesians 2:5-6 , the power of God manifested in the resurrection of Christ. The meaning then will be, that I may know, by blessed experience in my own person, the divine power which raised Christ from the dead: first, as manifested in quickening me more and more from my former death in sin to a life of holiness in Christ; secondly, as exerted in raising my body, as that of Christ was raised, to a glorious immortality.

The fellowship of his sufferings ; the endurance of trials when called to it as Christ was, in communion with him and in the exercise of his spirit.

Conformable unto his death ; his life of suffering which led to and ended in death; the same as "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus," and "always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake." 2 Corinthians 4:10-11 .

Verse 11

Resurrection ; that which awaits the just-in the likeness of Christ, to shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever. For that we may be glorified with him, we must first suffer with him. Romans 8:17 ; 2 Timothy 2:12 . Souls enlightened and renewed by the Holy Spirit renounce dependence for salvation upon privileges and external distinctions, as well as upon works, and make it their great object to be justified, sanctified, and saved through faith in Him who died, the just for the unjust, to bring them to God.

Verse 12

Not as though I had already attained ; the prize of my high calling, mentioned below, verse Philippians 3:14 .

Apprehend ; obtain that heavenly glory for which Christ had arrested and called him when a persecutor, and for which, through faith and patience and much tribulation, He was preparing him.

Verse 13

To have apprehended ; the fulness of that to which he was appointed, and which he most earnestly desired.

Reaching forth ; as a racer, who never looks back, but always bends forward in his race.

Verse 14

I press toward the mark ; the goal at the end of the course.

For the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus ; the prize which God’s heavenly calling has in view. This prize is perfect likeness to and full glory with Christ, for which Christians were led to renounce their sins, believe on him, and devote their life to his service. John 17:24 ; 1 John 3:2 .

Verse 15

Be perfect ; have attained to mature Christian knowledge.

Be thus minded ; have my mind as just described.

Be otherwise minded ; if any had not attained to so much light as to their duty, let them improve what they had, and earnestly seek the teaching of God, and he would impart more. Those who would be perfect must not imagine that they are so, or count themselves to have attained complete likeness to Christ; but they must press onward and daily seek it, in obedience to him, till the end of life.

Verse 16

Whereto we have already attained ; so far as we understand duty let us heartily do it, taking the Bible for our guide, regarding God as our Father, and all his children as brethren, affectionately uniting with them in what is right, and kindly endeavoring to enlighten and convince them where they are wrong.

Verse 19

Who mind ; seek as their chief good.

Verse 20

Our conversation ; more exactly, our citizenship: we are citizens of heaven; our King is there; our hearts and thoughts are there; we obey its laws, and look to it as our everlasting home. As Christians are citizens of heaven, and only pilgrims and sojourners here, they should not be greatly influenced by things of earth, or chiefly occupied with its concerns. Their treasure is, and their hearts should be in heaven; whence they look for Christ perfectly to change them into his own glorious image, and raise them for ever to reign with him in the kingdom of their Father.

Verse 21

Shall change ; at the resurrection.

The working ; the almighty power or energy.

To subdue all things unto himself ; consequently death also, the last enemy that should be destroyed. See 1 Corinthians 15:26 , where the destruction of death is mentioned in immediate connection with the subjection of all things to Christ.

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Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Philippians 3". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/fam/philippians-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.