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Bible Commentaries
Philippians 3

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


May the Lord. Joy from the Lord = joy in the Lord. “Be jubilant in your knowledge of the Good News of God’s finished work in Christ!!!” To repeat. Paul had written many letters to oppose the false teaching of the circumcision party. Since these false teachers adapted their sales talk to the prejudices of the people, Paul had to expose it in a different way in each case. The Philippians have certainly read the things he has already written, Now he repeats himself to expose the circumcision party in a way especially adapted to them! If members of the circumcision party were not already there at Philippi, they would soon be coming!!! Forewarned is forearmed!!!

Verse 2


Watch out. Compare 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. Paul calls them: “those who do evil things,” and “dogs.” In ancient times, dogs were not “man’s best friend,” but vicious scavengers who snarled and snapped!!! Who insist on cutting. Compare Galatians 5:12 and note.

Verse 3


For we, not they. Compare Romans 2:29; Romans 4:12 and notes. By his Spirit. Both the TEV and NIV follow the corrected Greek Text. The fact that a person is a Jew by nationality and has been circumcised, does not give him the right to worship God. Because Christians have the Spirit (Romans 8:15), they worship God as sons and daughters!!! To renounce Christ, they had to renounce the Spirit also (Hebrews 10:29 and note). In external ceremonies. Compare Colossians 2:11-13 and notes.

Verse 4


I could, of course. “If salvation came by these things, I could trust in them just as much as anyone, as I will now show you.”

Verse 5


I was circumcised. Week old = on the eighth day. “I am no Gentile converted to Judaism! My circumcision when a week old proves it! Neither were my parents and ancestors Gentiles converted to Judaism, as I show you by telling you I am of the tribe of Benjamin, a pure-blooded Hebrew!” I was a Pharisee. A member of the strictest of the Jewish sects. It was Pharisaism at its worst, not its best, that caused its disgrace.

Verse 6


So zealous. Because he had seen Christianity as a heresy, his zeal had driven him to try to destroy this new thing! Certainly he never forgot what he had done in ignorance (1 Timothy 1:13-16)! So far as. Paul says all this to show that by Jewish standards, he was as good a Jew as any who ever lived (except Christ), and that his Jewish credentials were much better than those of the circumcision party.

Verse 7


But all those things. “I could be very proud of my ancestors and my Jewish background. But now they are just things to be thrown away, because they have no value in Christ!” Johnson says: “Instead of saving him, a trust in them would have been eternal ruin.”

Verse 8


Not only. “Not only my Jewish heritage, but everything which men are so proud of, and by which they try to save themselves – all of this I gladly throw away for the sake of what is so much more valuable, the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord!!!”

Verse 9


And be. Compare Romans 8:1-4 and notes. No longer. Compare Romans 10:3 and note. That Is given through faith. Compare Romans 4:3 and note. We reach out through faith to seize Christ and make ourselves part of Him!!! Compare what Paul says in Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27; 2 Corinthians 5:17 and notes.

Verse 10


All I want. Robert Rainy says: “The Christ of Paul is the Lord who met him by the way (Acts 9:5). It is Christ dead, risen, and ascended; it is Christ with the reason and the result of His finished work made plain, and with the relation unveiled which He sustains to men who live by Him; it is Christ with the significance of His wonderful history for believers shining out from Him – Christ VESTITUS EVANGELIO.”

Verse 11


In the hope. Union with Christ opens up Eternity!!! Some think Paul says in the hope, because the false teachers were saying the Resurrection was already past (compare 2 Timothy 2:17-18 and notes). They claimed to already be perfect and to have the blessings of Eternity! This heresy has popped up again and again over the centuries.

Verse 12


I do not claim. Evidently the false teachers claimed they were righteous because they obeyed The Law, and that they had already been raised from death. Paul makes no such claim!!! The prize still is in the future for him (compare Hebrews 11:40). Perfect. This word means the perfection that comes with the end of time and the coming of Eternity. The false teachers probably claimed to be like the angels, spiritually perfect, and they may have said this excused them from all moral laws! In contrast, Paul says; I keep going on. Paul keeps on reaching out through faith, trying to win the prize of life for which Christ has already won him (at Paul’s conversion).

Verse 13


Of course, brothers. “I was a better Jew than these false teachers, but I do not think I am as good a Christian as they claim to be. That is, I do not claim to have already won the prize.” The one thing I do. “I forget everything in the past and all the progress I have already made! I do my best to cover the part of the race that is still ahead so that I can reach the prize!!!” Paul will not allow the past to dominate the present, and as he lets go the past, he can more easily reach ahead to the future.

Verse 14


So I run straight toward. The goal marks the end of the race. Paul must complete his race and reach the goal in order to be given the prize. The prize is God’s call to life above, that is, to Eternity. Compare the language in Revelation 11:12.

Verse 15


Who are spiritually mature. This is a play on words: he is not perfect, he is mature. Those who are mature should have this attitude: forget the past; run straight toward the goal. If, however. It may be that the false teachers who claimed to be perfect, also claimed God spoke directly to them. “If you have a different attitude, the God who speaks to you will make this clear!” We can also understand it: “If you really want to be perfect, God, in his word, will make this clear to you!”

Verse 16


However. “You have already run part of the race! Even though some of you have a different attitude than I have, let us run straight toward the goal using the same rules we have followed until now!”

Verse 17


Imitating me. Robert Rainy says: “Do not mistake the whole nature of Christianity; do not altogether miss the path in which God’s children go. It is one Spirit that dwells in the Church; let not your walk forsake the fellowship of that Spirit. Christians are not bound to any human authority: Christ is their Master.” We have set. Paul and the other servants of Christ have set the right example by following Christ! The Philippians are to pay attention to see who is following this right example, and also follow them!

Verse 18


I have told you. Again and again Paul has warned about those who would refuse to follow the fellowship of the Spirit. Compare Acts 20:29-31. Whose lives make them enemies. They are enemies of Christ’s death because: of their sinful lives (Philippians 3:19); their teaching about The Law (Philippians 3:9); their refusal to suffer with Christ for the truth (Philippians 3:10). On the cross. Christ-on-the-cross is the source of salvation (1 Corinthians 1:23). By teaching forgiveness through the sacrifices of The Law, the circumcision party in effect preached a cross-less Christ and destroyed the very foundation of the Good News!!! Compare Hebrews 10:29 and note.

Verse 19


To end up in hell. APOLEIA. See note on Acts 8:20. Robert Rainy says: “Probably, as was said, the Apostle is speaking of a class of men whose faults were gross, so that at least an Apostolic eye could not hesitate to read the verdict that must be passed upon them. But then we must consider that his object in doing this was to address a warning to men to whom he imputed no such gross failings; concerning whom, indeed, he was persuaded for other things, even things that accompany salvation; but whom he knew to be exposed to influences tending in the same direction, and whom he expected to see preserved only in the way of vigilance and diligence.”

Verse 20


We, however. In contrast to those who think only of worldly things, Paul and all who imitate his example are CITIZENS OF HEAVEN! Christians are foreigners and refugees, living in this world only until they can go on to their heavenly home!!! For this reason, the world is no longer important to them (although people are important). We eagerly wait. The false teachers said that sin and death had already been conquered! Paul shows that we as Christians eagerly wait for our Savior to come! Not until then will our salvation be complete, as he shows in Philippians 3:21. Christ’s SECOND COMING will signal the defeat of death (1 Corinthians 15:25-26)!

Verse 21


He will change. Our bodies are not vile, but weak and mortal. All that will change when Christ comes!!! Robert Rainy says: “How decisive the change is which Christ completes at His coming – how distinctive, therefore, and unworldly, that citizenship which takes its type from heaven where He is, and from the hope of His appearing – is last of all set forth. . . . In our body we carry about with us what seems to mock the idea of an ethereal and ideal life. And when we die, the corruption of the grave speaks of anything but hope. Here, then, in this very point the salvation of Christ shall complete its triumph, saving us all over and all through.” Compare 1 John 3:1-3 and notes.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Philippians 3". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/philippians-3.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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