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Bible Commentaries
Philippians 3

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

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Verse 1

Philippians 3:1

Joy-Stealers -- "things" (can steal our "joy" in Christ)

ch 1 Circumstance and ch. 2 People and ch. 3 Things can rob us of our joy, ch. 4 Worry.

Ch. 3 The Christian Life is the Sound Life - (see outline in notes on Philippians 1:1)

or The Spiritual Mind.

Worldly minded mind earthy things - Philippians 3:19

Spiritual minded mind heavenly things - Philippians 3:20.

Key Word of ch 3 is "Count" v. 7-8, and v.13 (two different words)

Paul’s Spiritual Biography

1-11 Paul’s Past

The accountant, "I count" Philippians 3:7-8, new values

12-16 Paul’s Present

The athlete , "I press" Philippians 3:14, new vigor

17-21 Paul’s Future

The alien, "I look" Philippians 3:20, new vision

Paul wants them to be ready to deal with error, v. 1-2

Philippi was a Roman colony. They understood v. 20 about "our citizenship". So mind not the things of this earth (world).

Ch. 3, "Paul’s Learns How To Count"

Verse 2

Philippians 3:2

v.2 The False; v.3 The True

Note the tripple warning.

Dogs -- The false teachers were following and barking at Paul’s heels.

Evil workers ..

Concision -- militation. A pun (a frequent method of Paul) on the word "circumcision". Colossians 2:11, Colossians 2:12-28;

There was the problem of Judaizers who was teaching that it was necessary for Christians to also keep parts of the Law of Moses. Acts 15:1. [Give historical background]

Verse 3

Philippians 3:3

Here Paul describes true circumcision.

1) Worship God is spirit

2) Rejoices (boasts) in Christ

3) No confidence in the flesh (in being "Jews")

See note on John 16:7 for a note of the "Work of the Trinity" from the ESV Study Bible.

Verse 4

Philippians 3:4

Paul’s Example of A True Jew

1) His Relationship to Nations - v.5

2) Paul’s Relationship to the Law - v.5b

3) Paul’s Relationship to Israel’s Enemies - v.6

Verse 6

Philippians 3:6

Regarding righteousness of the law, and liberty from it: Galatians 5:1-6; Romans 2:25-29

Verse 7

Philippians 3:7

Key Word of ch 3 is "Count" v. 7-8, and v.13 (two different words)

Count -- Paul, like an "accountant" measured the treasures of his old way against what Christ had to offer.

Paul’s Loses - v.7 the Accountant

1) Trust in his heritage (flesh)

2) His religious achievements (circumcision)

3) His prestige as a religious leader

4) Attempts at righteousness by the Law

Paul’s Gains

1) He won Christ - v. 8b

A new relationship was included

2) Knowledge of Christ - v.8

3) Found in Him - v.9

(How in Him? Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 6:3-4)

4) Righteousness of Christ - v. 6 and v. 9

5) Fellowship of Christ - v.10

Verse 8

Philippians 3:8

(see note on Philippians 3:7)

Dung -- "refuse" "rubbish" or garbage fed to dogs, (a possible play on his word in v. 2) scrapes from the table to be thrown away.

Verse 9

Philippians 3:9

(see note on Philippians 3:7)

Verse 10

Philippians 3:10

(see note on Philippians 3:7)

Fellowship of Christ

Personal experience, "That I may know him" (note the "me", John 20:29; John 17:20.)

Powerful experience, Resurrected by the H.S., power, Acts 4:33

Painful experience, Privilege to suffer, Acts 5:41

Practical experience, by baptism into the likeness of His death - Romans 6:2-5

Becoming like him in his death -- A clear reference to baptism, Romans 6:3-5.

Verse 11

Philippians 3:11

Resurrection -- If "raised" with Christ in baptism, we have a picture of also being "raised" at the resurrection.

Verse 12

Philippians 3:12

Section 12-16

Verse 13

Philippians 3:13

Reaching forth -- "Straining toward" -- The extra push at the end of a race.

Great for a New Year’s sermon.


1) We need to forget our Failures (David, Peter, etc)

2) We need to forget our Hurts - Eph. 4:26

3) We need to forget past success -


Precious memories

2 Peter 1:9 We have been purged from our old sins

The purpose of the Genesis rainbow

How good God has been (is being) to us


Resolutions for the New Year

1) Read, study, meditate upon God’s Word (have a reading plan)

2) Be more supportive of the Lord’s work

3) Be faithful in attendance at assemblies of the church

4) Preaching the Word

5) Bible teachers to teach better lessons, true and practical

6) Pray for shepherds, servants, missions and missionaries

- - - - - -

1) Dissatisfaction -

Most Christians are satisfied because they compare self with other Christians who are not making much progress.

2) Devotion

"One thing I do"

3) Direction -

4) Determination - v.14

5) Discipline - .15-16

Verse 14

Philippians 3:14

Press toward the mark -- Give it the best, the "kick", he surge just before the finish line, using all the reserve.

Prize -- For us, heaven, eternal life with God.

Verse 15

Philippians 3:15

Perfect -- mature, full grown

Otherwise minded -- God’s word reveals the futility of the "things" of this world. What treasures can we send on to heaven? Not things, but souls! Our family, friends, etc.

Verse 16

Philippians 3:16

Verse 17

Philippians 3:17

Section: 17-21 Living in the Present Tense

Mark them -- What kind of people are to be marked? Here it is the "good" examples. Some mark and follow 1 Peter 5:3, some mark and avoid, Romans 16:17.

Verse 18

Philippians 3:18

Enemies of the cross -- [See sermon on this verse. WG]

Verse 19

Philippians 3:19

Verse 20

Philippians 3:20

Philippi was a Roman colony. They understood v. 20 about "our citizenship". So mind not the things of this earth (world).

The aliens on this planet are Christians. So mind not earthly things.

Our -- The pronoun is emphatic. Paul using the citizens of Philippi as an example, while they lived in Macedonia, their citizenship (politics) was Roman, using their colonial status as an illustration.

Conversation -- citizenship, RSV = "commonwealth", NCV "homeland", * (’conversation’, or ’commonwealth-citizenship’ -- The Greek word is "politeuma," from which we have our English "politics." Hence one might say "Our politics are in heaven.")

In heaven -- 1) Our names are written in heaven, Philippians 4:3

2) We speak heaven’s language

3) We obey heaven’s law

4) We are loyal to heaven’s cause

5) We are looking for heaven’s Lord, Philippians 3:20-21

In heaven -- (plural) 2 Corinthians 12:2; Ephesians 4:10; Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 7:26

Verse 21

Change -- transform, We will be translated (transported, using Star Trek term)

Change -- Striped of it weakness, mortality, and death. (Of its vileness, baseness, and meanness,Gill.) 1 Corinthians 15:43. Psalms 103:14 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ; 1 John 3:2 .


Vile body -- “Lowly” (tapeinwvsi" [tapeinôsis]; some translations have “vile”) was not meant to derogate the body, but to indicate its weakness or frailty. " the body of humiliation" that which is subject to infirmities, disease, and death.

His glorious body -- [Any vision or concept we may have of that glorious, heavenly body like Christ, must come up woefully short and inadequate. wg]

“Like his glorious body,” though an expression incapable of exact definition, sets the mind stretching to exalted heights, and raises hope to the boiling point." College Press.

According to the working -- "by the power which enables him.." RSV; "by means of that power by which he is able to subject" NET;

3:21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control,

The certainty of that which Paul anticipated is underscored by the reference to power. Though “power” (ejnevrgeia, energeia) could be described with several illustrations, this is the ultimate one, comprehending all others. The word “power” comes from a Greek root which stands behind the English “energy.” College Press.

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Philippians 3". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/philippians-3.html. 2021.
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