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Saturday, June 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Philippians 3

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Verse 1

Php 3:1

Philippians 3:1

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.—He encourages them to rejoice in the Lord, despite these afflictions brought upon them.

To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not irk­some, but for you it is safe.—There was no cause of sorrow to him in writing the exhortations and warnings, and it might be needful to them as a matter of safety to give them the caution that follows. The same things refer to the things he taught them when present, which doubtless were the things concerning the circumcision of the Gentile concerts. His first visit to them was when he delivered the apostolic decrees given at Jerusalem on the subject. (Acts 15:19-20). This question had greatly subsided at the time this epistle was written, yet he thinks it safe that he write it to them. He taught that the demand that the Gentile Christians should be circumcised was a great sin against God and wrong to the Gentiles.

Verse 2

Php 3:2

Philippians 3:2

Beware of the dogs,—It was out of harmony with Paul’s usual style to apply this term to any one. The Jews called the Gentiles dogs, as a symbol of what was ignoble and mean, now for the same reason he calls them dogs. [Those persons who bark and rail at such as they hate are called dogs. They are inclined to abominable courses; are dumb dogs; they do not faithfully warn and instruct men; are lazy dogs; do not faithfully work; are greedy dogs; they never get enough of worldly things; and are given to bark at and reproach the people of God. (Isaiah 56:9-11).]

beware of the evil workers,—The evil workers were the Judaizing teachers. They were actively at work, but in the wrong direction. These Judaizers were like the Pharisees before them, of whom the Savior said: “Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is become so, ye make him twofold more a son of hell than yourselves.” (Matthew 23:15).

beware of the concision:—He applies the term concision to those who insisted on the literal act of circumcision, but had lost its true spirit. As the literal, fleshly seed of Abraham had brought them up to, and given way to the circumcision of the heart, “the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ.” (Colossians 2:11).

Verse 3

Php 3:3

Philippians 3:3

for we are the circumcision,—Christians have put off the body of the sins, are the circumcised, “having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12).

who worship by the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus,—They are the true circumcision who worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, but have no confidence in the flesh to save. The fleshly has given way to the spiritual circumcision. That which is of the flesh is the concision. Jesus said: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23). Circumcision and descent from Abraham of the flesh can no longer save.

and have no confidence in the flesh:—[Flesh is here the antith­esis both to Christ Jesus and the Spirit. What the apostle meant by the term is explained very fully in the two following verses. It includes all that a Jew valued most, and all that was the source of his vaunted righteousness, all that led to the familiar contempt for those who stood outside the covenant, but with special emphasis on the thought that the Jewish confidence was primarily based on the fleshly act of circumcision which widened out into confidence founded on one’s own effort to attain right­eousness as contrasted with that rooted in the consciousness that righteousness is only attainable in union with Christ and through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit.]

Verse 4

Php 3:4

Philippians 3:4

though I myself might have confidence even in the flesh: if any other man thinketh to have confidence in the flesh, I yet more:—He here shows that he is not condemning a trust in the fleshly line of Abraham because he is deficient in this re­spect, for if any man had ground for trusting in his fleshly descent, he was the man. [Paul gives here his spiritual biography. The repetition of the pronoun I which occurs fifteen times in this passage shows the strong personal element running through it. He begins by a description of himself as Saul the Pharisee and gives a catalogue of the privileges and advantages which were the pride and glory of vain Pharisees and so proves that even from his opponents’ own point of view, which assumes all through this passage, that he had a better claim to boast than any of them, if he were so inclined.]

Verse 5

Php 3:5

Philippians 3:5

circumcised the eighth day,—He was neither an Ishmaelite, who had been circumcised at the age of thirteen, nor a proselyte, who would have received circumcision in mature life. In his case the sacred rite, of which the Jews were always so proud, had been received in its perfection. [The parents of such a child must have been zealous for the law, and careful that their son should be made fully a partaker of the Abrahamic covenant.]

of the stock of Israel,—Born of Rachel, a legitimate wife, not of a handmaid, and therefore of good Israelitish stock. [He mentions this that it may be clear that not only he but his parents were Israelites. He was not of a father or mother who had come into the privileges of the chosen race as proselytes.]

of the tribe of Benjamin,—He was born of the tribe of great renown in the national history, a tribe which gave Israel its first king; which remained loyal to the royal line of David, and to the worship of Jehovah, and preserved its own strain with remark­able purity. The Holy City and temple stood on its soil.

a Hebrew of Hebrews;—He was a son of Hebrew parents and stock. By this he would mark the purity of his descent. All his ancestors were Hebrews. He was born in Tarsus away from the Holy Land, but there was no intermixture of other blood in his veins. [We can judge that this was likely to be so when we find that the son was sent to study in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel. Only those who were proud and careful for the strict Jewish character of all belonging to them would have sought to have their son placed under such a teacher away from their own home. We can see also how learned Paul was in all that concerned his own people.]

as touching the law, a Pharisee;—He observed the law with the minuteness of a Pharisee, the most scrupulous of all in the observance of every minutia of the law. [He explains this as brought up in Jerusalem “at the feet of Gamaliel, instructed ac­cording to the strict manner of the law of our fathers” (Acts 22:3), and again he tells us “that after the straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee” (Acts 26:5). And thus far he has spoken only of those distinctions as a Jew, which depended on others. His birth, family, and education were not in his own hands, but yet he could point to them as each one marking him for a privileged member of the chosen people. He now proceeds to tell that his former zeal for Judaism did not disgrace such parentage and training.]

Verse 6

Php 3:6

Philippians 3:6

as touching zeal, persecuting the church;—His zeal for the law led him to persecute the church of Jesus Christ, to follow them to strange cities, to cast men and women into prison, and when they were put to death he gave his vote against them. (Acts 26:10).

as touching the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless.—Such righteousness as consisted in obedience to the legal ordinances he could claim, for he had claimed them all. It is clearly to externals that he is referring, for his words imply that it was to mean he had approved himself; none of his fellows surpassed or even equaled him in strictness of legal observance. All his prejudices, feelings, and works led him to maintain the observance of the law, He says; “I advanced in the Jews’ re­ligion beyond many of mine own age among my countrymen, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” (Galatians 1:14). His careful observance of the legal ordinances had brought him to be in the eyes of his fellows, one in whom no fault could be found.

[The claim to blamelessness from a Pharisaic viewpoint was by no means uncommon as we learn from the story of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus. (Luke 18:18-24). There was nothing unusual or presumptuous in the assertion that in his outward conduct there had been found neither fault nor failure. There is no contradiction between his state­ment here and the description of his inward struggle in Romans 7:7-23. It was not the infraction of the outward demands of the Mosaic law in its ethical and ceremonial aspect that filled his heart with torment, but the sense of sin in his innermost being; neither is it inconsistent with the following: “I thank him that enabled me, even Christ Jesus our Lord, for that he counted me faithful, appointing me to his service; though I was before a blas­phemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: howbeit I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:12-14), because there he is regarding his past in Judaism from the Christian and not from the Pharisaic viewpoint as he is doing here.]

Verse 7

Php 3:7

Philippians 3:7

Howbeit what things were gain to me,—Paul was honored because of his blamelessness and zeal in the Jews’ religion, of which he was very proud. In these like the rest of his nation, he had rested his hope.

these have I counted loss for Christ.—All the profits and honors gained in the observance of the Jewish law, and in main­taining the traditions of the fathers, he counted loss—worse than nought for the sake of Christ. Instead of service to be recorded, and regarded worthy of honors, they were sins and crimes con­demned, and sorrowed for through life. All gains out of Christ are losses for Christ.

Verse 8

Php 3:8

Philippians 3:8

Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss—He carries the thought further, not only were the services of the Jewish law and the persecutions loss, but he counted blessings gained in the knowledge and service of Christ so immeasurably safer as to everything else, that all else was nothing compared with it.

for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:—[This sets forth the idea of a business transaction, exchanging what was worthless and even ruinous for what was a treasure of surpassing worth. (Matthew 13:45). Knowledge here signifies his whole experience in Christ. It reaches far beyond mere in­tellectual knowledge, includes faith, service, sacrifice, and is analogous to the phrase “to be in Christ”—the spiritual knowl­edge by which the individual becomes one with Christ, so that his whole life is lived in Christ and he has no consciousness of being apart from Christ. It is a knowledge that is constantly developing as the intimacy with the Master becomes closer until it reaches the culmination when it constitutes the whole secret of the Christian life.]

for whom I suffered the loss of all things,—The threefold emphasis upon his renunciation, twice in this verse and once in the preceding verse, is very similar to the self-abnegation of Christ. 2: 7, 8). Paul is now a man in Christ Jesus who dominates the world of manhood for him—Christ Jesus my Lord. [For Christ’s sake Paul did suffer the loss, yea, all things, the sum total of his old life’s values. His own family probably regarded him as a disgrace to Judaism. His Pharisaic fellow members considered him a deserter from the cause. The Jews in general regarded him as a renegade. He had paid the price for Christ’s sake. But it was worth the price. He had no regrets.]

and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ,—For Christ he had given up all things, and counted them as refuse to be turned from, that he might gain Christ. [He was not a mad­man in reckless values; it was the greatest bargain of his life. He lost the Jewish world to gain Christ the Lord of all.]

Verse 9

Php 3:9

Philippians 3:9

and be found in him,—[Being found in Christ is the very crown of the Christian life. To “gain Christ” and “be found in him” are parallels, and the general trend of the passage is that he has in mind his Christian course as a whole, from the day when he came to know “the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus,” till “that day” (2 Timothy 4:8), when Christ’s work in him shall be consummated in final union with him.]

not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law,—He begins by describing the righteousness which he claimed to have possessed from the Pharisaic standpoint. Ac­cording to the strict Jewish view he already stood in right relation to God as a member of the covenant people, and his observance of the law and its demands proclaimed him righteous in actual practice. Paul here calls the law of Moses a “righteousness of mine own,” which means that the law of Moses had been nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14), and taken out of the way. While it was in force it was God’s way of making man righteous, but after its repeal to seek righteousness, through it, was to seek one’s own righteousness. Then the things commanded by God at one time, or to one people, taken from them and given to a different people at a different time, bring not God’s righteousness but man’s righteousness.

but that which is through faith in Christ,—The righteous­ness which is of faith is that which is gained by doing the things to which faith in Christ leads. Faith in Christ leads man to do the things that Christ has commanded. These things ordained by God were sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ which cleanses from all sin. The righteousness thus gained is the righteousness which comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

the righteousness which is from God by faith:—That is, faith in God that changes a man’s feelings, desires, and character into a likeness of God. He is led by faith to live the life that pleases God, to do the will of God, becomes righteousness accord­ing to the righteousness of God, and becomes in life and character like God. Even when a man’s heart is purified by faith, and his affections all reach out towards God and seek conformity to the life of God it is imperfect. His practice of the righteousness of God falls far short of the divine standard. The flesh is weak, and the law of sin reigns in our members; so that we fall short of the perfect standard of divine righteousness; but if we trust God implicitly and faithfully endeavor to do his will, he knows our frame, knows our weakness, and as a father pities his chil­dren, so the Lord pities our infirmities and weaknesses, and im­putes to us the righteousness of Jesus Christ. So Jesus stands as our justification and our righteousness, and our life is hid with Christ in God.

Verse 10

Php 3:10

Philippians 3:10

that I may know him,—In seeking the righteousness which comes through faith in Christ, led him to trust and obey him, to do his will, and in so doing he sought to know Christ, to trust and obey him. He longed to go deeper and know more of Christ by inner experience.

and the power of his resurrection,—To gain the presence of that Spirit by which Jesus was raised from the dead, he ever kept before his mind that his own deepest spiritual experience must correspond with the vital facts in the scheme of redemption. He must die to sin and be raised to newness of life, and the power that raised Jesus from the dead was the power to raise him from spiritual death to the new and abiding life in and through the exalted Christ. [Paul is here not thinking so much of the his­torical facts of the resurrection of Christ, nor of his own resur­rection after death, but rather of his own experimental knowledge of the power or force in Christ’s resurrection in its influence on his own inner life. He felt the grip of this truth in its appeal to sacrifice for the Lord in doing acts of kindness to others and denying self to help the poorest and stand out faithfully for the most unpopular of his teaching.] It is the heroic spirit in man that responds to this. It admires and responds to the appeal to do and sacrifice for the welfare of others. The strength and vigor of the hero is that the spirit is tested by its capacity to labor, to deny self, and to suffer for the good of others. Like many other things, this heroic spirit looks beautiful in others; but when we come to a personal test, we fail to prove our love and fidelity. We are not willing to deny self, and to suffer for the good of others. The spirit is strong to see, the spirit is weak to stand.

and the fellowship of his sufferings,—He desired to know so as to have the benefit of the fellowship in the sufferings of Christ, because he wished to share them. “If we endure, we shall also reign with him.” (2 Timothy 2:12). [Being in Christ involves fellowship with him in all points—his obedient life, his spirit, his sufferings, his death, and his glory. He was thinking of the spiritual process which is carried on in the soul of him who is united to Christ. As he understood the power of Christ’s death and resurrection, he was able to understand his sufferings and to enter into them with sympathy and spiritual blessing.]

becoming conformed unto his death;—Through these suf­ferings he would be brought into conformity to his death—to die for Christ’s sake like that which Christ suffered for man. Paul so gloried in persecution and affliction for the sake of Jesus that he was ambitious to die for Jesus’ sake. [If we are to share in the glory of Jesus, we must also share in his suffering. (Romans 8:17-28). So he rejoiced to fill up on his part the sufferings of Christ. In dying on the cross Christ was regarded as sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), and identified himself with the sin of the world. So now we are identified with Christ’s sufferings and death.]

Verse 11

Php 3:11

Philippians 3:11

if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead.—Not that he might be simply raised from the dead, but that he might enjoy the promises of the resurrection connected with conformity to his life, sufferings, and death. [This is the consummation of the whole process of redemption outlined in verses 9 and 10. The apparent distrust is not distrust, but the dis­trust inspired by the humility which comes from the consciousness of his own weakness as he faces the great work to be accom­plished. The particular form of the phrase “the resurrection from the dead” shows that he has in view here the resurrection of the righteous only.]

Verse 12

Php 3:12

Philippians 3:12

Not that I have already obtained,—He explains that he, an apostle of Jesus Christ, who had been more abundant in labors and sufferings than all others, had not already attained to the blessedness of salvation that came to those who were raised in Jesus, neither had he completed his race. He gathers up the whole past in its relation to the present.

or am already made perfect:—Jesus was made perfect through suffering the death of the cross, and became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him (Hebrews 5:7-8), and Paul did not claim perfection before he suffered as did his Master. [There is a relative perfection which was true of Paul and of all who grow in grace at all and are no longer babes in Christ (Philippians 3:15). Concerning that he is not speaking. This wholly dissatisfaction with his spiritual attainments and eager longing for loftier heights in Christ we often see in Paul’s writings. (Ephesians 3:13-19; Colossians 1:28).]

but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus.—Christ Jesus laid hold on Paul when he appeared to him on the Damascus road, and called him to his service, and he through the obedience and death sought to gain the crown of righteousness, which God had promised to him, and not to him “only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8). He did not boast of his attainments, but was humble, modest, distrustful of self, and felt what he received was of God’s mercy.

Verse 13

Php 3:13

Philippians 3:13

Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold:—He here repeats that he had not attained that for which he sought, but in order to attain it, he made it the one supreme end of his life. [Absolute perfection he expressly denies. He has not yet reached his goal. There is a relative perfection which was true of Paul and of all who grow in grace and are no longer babes in Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:15). Dissatisfaction with his spiritual attain­ments and his longing for a closer union with Christ we often see in his epistles. (Philippians 3:17-19; Philippians 4:13-16; Colossians 1:28).]

but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before,—For­getting all earthly aspirations, honors, and desires, [he had no desire to look backward. He reached forward to grasp the goal with the forward pressing of the body.]

Verse 14

Php 3:14

Philippians 3:14

I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.—He made it the one supreme end of his life, and made this one thing overcome all other con­siderations. [He calls it “the high calling,” and speaks of “the hope of his calling” (Ephesians 1:18), and “heavenly calling” (Hebrews 3:1). It is God calling and beckoning us on and upward toward himself “in Christ Jesus.” (Hebrews 12:1). The crown is laid up for all who run the race with patience and “have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8).]

Verse 15

Php 3:15

Philippians 3:15

Let us therefore, as many as are perfect,—In verse 12, he said he did not claim to be perfect. Here he classes himself and others as perfect. There he spoke of being perfected by reaching the mark at the end of life. He was not perfected until he reached that state. Here he speaks of those having passed from the law of Moses into complete and perfect revelation of God through Christ. [The term perfect is here used in the sense of relative perfection, contrasting the mature Christians with babes in Christ who lacked the experience and development which others have obtained.]

be thus minded:—To be just what he has been saying in the preceding verses—that they have not yet obtained absolute perfection. [He did not wish his readers to think they had already reached the goal because in one sense they belong to the ranks of the mature.] They were not to forget that faith is to be made manifest in the life, and that the prize is not won because they knew it to be before them at the end of the race­course. It is only bestowed on those who run to the end.

and if in anything ye are otherwise minded, this also shall God reveal unto you:—If any do not see the full truth, God will lead them to it yet, which has its full explanation in the following: “If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from my­self.” (John 7:17). That is, if any one who desires to do the will of God does not yet see as Paul does, God will lead him into the full truth, as God promises: “And let us know, let us follow on to know Jehovah: his going forth is sure as the morning; and he will come unto us as the rain, as the latter rain that watereth the earth.” (Hosea 6:3). To those who follow these instruc­tions there is hope, even if it takes time. Very few persons in this world attain to the state that they have no thought, or way, or preference of their own, who fully empty themselves of all their own ways and preferences and present to God hearts with no desire but to know and to do his will. A heart in that state is perfect before God. A sincere desire to know and do his will, without any wish or preference save to do God’s will, will lead into the fullness of divine truth. All should seek this state.

Verse 16

Php 3:16

Philippians 3:16

only,—[This term evinces the great importance of what he is now saying—while we wait for God to further reveal his will unto us, let our present attainments be the rule of our conduct, and be sure to walk in the straight line and not to stand still. The one who becomes discouraged because he realizes that others have made attainments in knowledge and life far beyond his own; and who consequently decides that it is useless for him to even try to be and do, is not the one who will attain higher things. He fails to count into his power for attainment the power of God.]

whereupon we have attained, by that same rule let us walk.—[In this passage there seems to be the same double reference which pervades all Paul’s practical teaching. He is anxious for two things—that they should keep on the same course, and that all should keep on together. In both senses he addresses the perfect; he will have them understand that they have attained only one thing—to be in the right path, and that it is for them to continue in it; he also bids them to refrain from setting themselves up above the imperfect; for the very fact of division would mark them as still carnal, mere “babes in Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).] If some have learned more than others, those who have learned the more must be patient and forbearing, striving to help all to learn more and more of the divine truth. None of us have learned the whole of that truth. Those who know least fre­quently assume that they know it all, and are the most dogmatic and exclusive. When one thinks he knows all of divine truth on any subject, he knows nothing as he ought to know it. The man who has most faithfully studied the word of God realizes what a mine of precious truth there is yet to be found in its sacred treasures. Let each learn all the truth he can, weigh all the difficulties, look upon every side of the question, teach to others what he learns, sacrifice no truth, but be patient and forbearing in teaching it, and the providences of God will favor the spread of the truth. In the meantime, let him not despise or reject him who is seeking and striving to learn the will of God, because he has not learned so much of the truth as we think we have. Let us all, at all times, labor diligently to bring men to serve and honor God, that they may be saved, and God will care for and direct us all into the oneness that existed between him and his Son Jesus Christ.

Verse 17

Php 3:17

Philippians 3:17

Brethren, be ye imitators together of me,—The apostle and his colaborers are examples to all others, for all time and in all countries, as to how the truth of God is to be spread abroad. In another epistle he says: “For yourselves know how ye ought to imitate us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; neither did we eat bread for nought at any man’s hand, but in labor and travail, working night and day, that we might not burden any of you: not because we have not the right, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you, that ye should imitate us.” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-9). He certainly intended this to be an example to the preachers as well as to others, and shows that he did not regard his inspiration as placing him on a plane that prevented his being an example to others in his life of labor in spreading the gospel. I do not understand that he intended this as an example to others, that they were not allowed to accept help in their preaching, for he here asserts his right to receive help and in other passages reproves Christians for not aiding him, and approves them for rendering assistance as a means of their own salvation, so as to place it as beyond doubt that a teacher may receive help and that it is a duty, the neglect of which imperils their salvation, laid on Christians to help him who gives his time to proclaiming the word. The example is to teach Christians the duty of industry and of personal self-denial and labor for the spread of the truth, and that no preacher (and every Christian is a preacher) is exempted from the obligation to preach, because others fail to support him.

The first necessity in preaching the gospel is a Christian, so deeply in earnest that nothing short of death will stop him from preaching. He must feel like Paul—“woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:16). He must be willing to preach it in want, in suffering, in hunger, and in prison. One who is willing to preach the gospel only when he can do it without inconvenience and self-denial on his part cannot preach it as it should be preached. He may recite the facts of the gospel, but there will be none of that earnest self-consuming zeal that carries the gospel with power to the hearts of others. I am sure that the inefficiency of the gospel to save today arises chiefly from the failure of Christians to present it with the intense zeal that the great truths of the gospel would and should naturally inspire in one who truly believes it. Paul says: “Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; and we toil, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, the off-scouring of all things, even until now,” and notwithstanding all this he said: “Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 4:11-13; 1 Corinthians 11:1). If we are not willing to deny self, and suffer loss of all things in order to serve and honor God and save men, we have not the spirit of Christ and are none of his.

and mark them that so walk even as ye have us for an ensample.—[Just as he had counseled the Romans (Romans 16:17) to mark those that caused “divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine” which they had learned, and to turn away from them, so he here instructs his readers to watch him and other faithful servants of the Lord for imitation.]

Verse 18

Php 3:18

Philippians 3:18

For many walk, of whom I told you often,—[We hear much of such men in the epistles, how in their boastfulness of their superior knowledge they held themselves at liberty to indulge their fleshly appetites. Their wicked character is shown in its full development in 2 Peter 2:1-22, and in Judges 1:1-16, but the knowl­edge falsely so called was doing its pernicious work long before, and the indulgence of all the fleshly appetites was a characteristic of a class of people claiming to be Christians. Whether the fre­quent warnings to which Paul here alludes were needed when he first visited Philippi, or whether they had been given subsequently is uncertain, but the word often gives color to the suggestion that he warned them when present, and through messengers when absent.]

and now tell you even weeping,—Years had only given him new and bitter experience of the deadly results of such an evil influence. The special sorrow most likely lay in this, that the profligacy sheltered itself under his own preaching of liberty and the superiority of the gospel over the law.

that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:—Such men are the greatest enemies of the cause of Christ. They led away the weak by the tempting promise of liberty, which appeals so powerfully to the carnal part of man; and they also give occasion to others who hate Christ’s cause to blaspheme his name. Thus their injury to the cause of Jesus Christ operates two ways—within and without the church.

Verse 19

Php 3:19

Philippians 3:19

whose end is perdition,—The intense severity is only paralleled by such passages as 2 Timothy 2:1-5; 2 Peter 2:11-22; and Judges 1:4; Judges 1:8; Judges 1:12-13. All express the burning indignation of a true servant of Christ against those who turn “the grace of our God into lasciviousness,” and “after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome.” [Thus they suffer the loss of everything that makes life worth living—exclusion from the kingdom of God, and the glorious eternal home of the righteous. (Revelation 22:15).]

whose god is the belly,—They are given up to the worst kind of lusts, and find their chief satisfaction in the gratification of their animal passions. “They that are such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly.” (Romans 16:18).

and whose glory is in their shame,—They pride themselves on those very sins of which as Christians they should be deeply ashamed.

who mind earthly things.—This presents the essentially earthly character of their state of mind and heart; they think of nothing but earthly matters, have no high and heavenly thoughts and aspirations, but concentrate their whole soul upon the things of time and sense. [For such persons the upward heavenly call­ing of God has no attraction. They are given up to what is base, the satisfaction of the momentary desires of the flesh, and therein they live entirely, groveling like the beasts. With all their talk of high thinking and their assumption of superiority their minds are essentially concerned with things of earth and their minds seldom rise above it.]

Verse 20

Php 3:20

Philippians 3:20

For our citizenship is in heaven;—This is in contrast with those who are actuated by these sordid, groveling, earthly motives. The believer is now in this present world, a citizen in the heavenly commonwealth, those who are in Christ, whose "life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3), for whom “to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21), and who “have been crucified with Christ” and live their present life by faith in him (Galatians 2:20), and are now members of the heavenly commonwealth and live and act under its laws. Their allegiance is rendered to it. They receive their impulse to action and conduct from it. Their con­nection with it is the basis of their life of “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17), as distinguished from the life of those “whose god is the belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” They are “fellow- citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). The commonwealth of believers is an actual fact on earth, because it is one with “the Jerusalem that is above.” (Galatians 4:26).

whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:—[The consummation of this citizenship, however, is yet to come. As members of the heavenly commonwealth they are still pressing on in obedience to the upward call (Philippians 3:14), hence they are in an attitude of earnest expectation.]

Verse 21

Php 3:21

Philippians 3:21

who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation,—The special aspect in which the expected Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is viewed is that of changing the mortal body of the believer into the likeness of his own glorified body. Our earthly mortal body that goes down to the grave, he calls the body of our humiliation, the body of death, in whose members sin reigns. (Romans 7:23-24). When Jesus comes again without sin unto salvation, he will transform our bodies into the likeness of his body in the glorified state. He will change them in nature and condition so that they will be fitted to dwell with his immortalized and glorified body. “It is sown in corruption; it is raised in in­corruption: it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. . . . And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. . . . For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-53). The apostle says: “Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.” (1 John 3:2). He shall thus change our mortal bodies in their nature or character and appearance, into the likeness of his glorified body. The likeness of man’s spiritual nature to that of Jesus Christ must begin here on earth. Jesus will use all the power in his kingdom through his laws to transform the body of our humiliation into the likeness of his glorified body that he uses to subdue all things unto himself.

that it may be conformed to the body of his glory,—He exerts all this power in his kingdom through his laws to transform our sinful, perishing bodies into the likeness of his glorified body; but this will be done only as our spirits are conformed to his spirit.

Our bodies are the homes in which our spirits dwell, and God gives a home suited to the character of the spirit. While the spirit is erring and sinful, the body in which it dwells is mortal and suffering. When the spirit shall be sinless—as Paul says: “And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye trans­formed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2)—God will give it an immortal body like to the glorified body of the Lord Jesus. When the soul is given over to sin, fitted for companionship with the devil, the body will be one of suffering and woe in hell.

according to the working whereby he is able even to sub­ject all things unto himself.—The first transformation is that of our spirits. God will give bodies suited to our spirits. The only peace, the only refuge from turmoil and strife of earth, is in submission to the laws of God, and this molds into the likeness of God, of Jesus, who was God manifest in the flesh, the temporal and fleshly suffering with Jesus here works out a far more exceed­ing and eternal weight of glory and honor with him in the world to come. This reward comes through the conformation of our lives to the life of Jesus. Our bodies then will be transformed into the likeness of his glorified body there. It must be attained through practicing these laws that constitute God’s code of morality for the universe, and by which all spirits must be tested and jus­tified or condemned at the last day.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Philippians 3". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/philippians-3.html.
 
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