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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Philippians 3

 

 

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Verses 1-3

Philippians 3:1-3. A Warning.—Paul says "Finally" although he is only half-way through his epistle; he uses the word again at Philippians 4:8, though even then he adds fresh paragraphs. Some have tried to find a meaning not so suggestive of a conclusion, but the exhortation "rejoice" that follows is a form of the Greek valediction. So plainly the apostle was about to end when new ideas crowded into his mind and he proceeded to deal with them. It is not clear what he means by "the same things." He may be referring to some previous letter, since lost—Polycarp speaks of Epistles to the Philippians—or perhaps only to his encouragements of rejoicing. His after-thought takes another turn. Suddenly he thinks of an attack on the faith of his beloved friends made by the Jews, whom he designates with the horrible title, "dogs"—the very name they gave to Gentiles. Paul will not reckon them as within the pale of the true Israel. The Christians constitute his Israel because their claim is not external—mere bodily circumcision—but spiritual worship and glorying in Jesus Christ. The Jews claim to be God's people; but they are not, because they have neither His Spirit nor Christ. The "dogs" are not in the Philippian church; nor can they be the Judaizing Christians who gave trouble in Galatia; they are simply Jews antagonistic to Christianity.


Verses 4-9

Philippians 3:4-9. Privilege and Renunciation.—The contrast between Jew and Christian leads Paul to refer to himself in a striking autobiographical passage, which, though brief, may be compared for spirit and tone to Augustine's Confessions. He begins with his origin and early experience. A Jew punctually circumcised, of the royal tribe of Benjamin, a rigorous Pharisee and persecutor of the Church, he had better claims for boasting on these lines than the wretched denizens of the ghetto at Philippi. Yet he treated all these claims with contempt in exchange for the knowledge of Christ, content to be excommunicated from Judaism in order to gain Christ and the God-given righteousness obtained through faith, all instead of his own righteousness got through the Law.


Verses 10-16

Philippians 3:10-16. Aim and Aspiration.—In exchange for the proud Jewish privileges that he has renounced, Paul has a new pursuit. His aim is to know Christ and the power that comes from His resurrection, the energy of the glorified, risen Christ—not the power which raised Him from the dead—together with a sympathetic union with Christ in suffering by his own endurance of suffering like Christ's, so that he may hope also for a resurrection—a privilege only for Christ's people. Writing towards the end of his career, he seems himself still imperfect and he presses forward to a better future. Comparing himself to a runner in the games, he fixes his gaze on the goal, where he sees the prize, to win which he had been called to aspire. Though actually imperfect, in another sense Paul claims for himself and for his readers that they are perfect. Here he uses the word as it is employed in the Greek mysteries to designate the initiated—as we might say, fully fledged members. All such should live in accordance with the same high aspirations.


Verses 17-21

Philippians 3:17-21. A Contrast.—The Philippians are to follow Paul's example in this matter. It is needed because many live very differently. They are a great grief to him; indulging in gross living and even glorying in that for which they should be ashamed, their minds are set on earthly things. Paul and the Philippians claim a citizenship in heaven, corresponding to the claim of citizenship in Rome, which the people in Philippi may put forward, seeing that it is a Roman colony. He and they are looking for Christ to come from heaven (a fourth and most distinct allusion to the Parousia), when He will transform their very bodies (lit. "the body that belongs to our low estate") into the likeness of His glorified body.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Philippians 3:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/philippians-3.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, August 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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