Philippians Three

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Philippians 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

Philippians 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

dogs. The epithet of “dogs” was sometimes applied by Jews to Gentiles in general, but Paul would not do this; indeed, he was writing to Gentile Christians. In the Old Testament, sodomites were called dogs (Deuteronomy 23:17-18). In view of Paul's strong condemnation of this typically pagan Gentile sin (Romans 1:25-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9), it is probable that Paul's warning here had reference to the sin of homosexuality or bestiality.

concison. This word, from a Greek word meaning “cutting down,” seems to be cited as in contrast to “the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, ... and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). That is, the Judaizers who were trying to force Gentile Christians to be circumcised had no concept of the spiritual significance that had once been attached to circumcision and which was now fulfilled in spiritual circumcision. To them it was merely a ritual and amounted to nothing more than a mutilation of the flesh; and Paul called them “the concision” instead of the circumcision, warning the Philippians against their legalistic heresies. See his discussion in Galatians 5:1-6, 11-13; 6:12-15. This is the only occurrence of the word in the New Testament.

Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Philippians 3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

Philippians 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

Philippians 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

persecuting the church. It is significant that Paul had considered his zeal in persecuting the church as a highly meritorious service to his religion. It seems always to be true that those who are devoted to some false religion are the most zealous opponents of true Biblical Christianity.

blameless. If anyone could ever have been saved by keeping the law, it would have been the Apostle Paul. Yet he came to regard all his “righteousnesses” as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) when he saw Christ as He is.

Philippians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

loss. The connotation of “loss” is “damaged goods.”

Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

excellency. “Excellency” means “higher authority.” That is, the knowledge of Christ as Savior and Lord is higher than all the secular and religious knowledge Paul had learned in his scholastic training as a Pharisee. Similarly, it is higher than any knowledge one could ever acquire from modern science or philosophy, or from any other discipline.

dung. The Greek word skubalon basically means “refuse,” either human waste or garbage in general.

win Christ. “Win Christ”—that is, “be gain for Christ.” We should not only seek to gain Christ and His salvation for ourselves, but also to be profitable spiritually in His service.

Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

faith of Christ. The connotation here is not “through faith in Christ,” but rather “that kind of faith of Christ” or “that body of faith about Christ.” The phrase “the faith” is found often in the New Testament (e.g., Acts 6:7; 14:22; Romans 14:1; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 1:23; 2:7; 1 Timothy 4:1; 5:8; 6:12; 2 Timothy 3:8; 4:7; Titus 1:13; Jude 3), carrying this meaning—not our faith, but the body of doctrine about Christ's person and work (from creation to consummation) in which we believe and upon which we take our stand—in other words, the whole Christian faith.

of God by faith. For “of God by faith,” read “out of God based upon that faith.”

Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

know him. The tense here suggests “come to know Him.” Even though we may already know Christ as Savior, we also need to know Him in both the power of His resurrection (Romans 6:11-13; Colossians 3:1) and the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 1:29; 1 Peter 4:13).

Philippians 3:11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

resurrection. Note Galatians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 15:31.

Philippians 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

one thing I do. “This one thing I do” is only one word in the Greek, succinctly expressing single-minded concentration and determination.

Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

press toward. “Press toward” is the same as “follow after” in Philippians 3:12.

mark. The Greek word for “mark” here actually means “watch,” referring to being watchful for signs of the approaching end of the race.

prize. The “prize” is nothing less than God's “crown of righteousness” which the Righteous Judge (2 Timothy 4:7-8) will award those who have kept the faith and finished the course.

high calling. This “high calling” could very well be the great rapture at the end of the age, when the Lord says: “Come up hither” (Revelation 4:1), and we are “caught up ... to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Philippians 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

Philippians 3:16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

Philippians 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

of me. Paul was not arrogant or conceited; he even called himself “less than the least of all saints” (Ephesians 3:8). However, the churches were being led astray by false apostles and false teachers “whose God is their belly, … who mind earthly things” (Philippians 3:19). Therefore, he often had to defend himself and his teachings (2 Corinthians 11:17-18; 12:11; etc.). The church could not actually see Jesus, but they could see Paul, and compare his life and ministry to those of the false teachers. Therefore, he could say, in all humility: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). See also 1 Corinthians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 3:7.

Philippians 3:18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

Philippians 3:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

Philippians 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

conversation. The Greek word politeuma means “citizenship.” Essentially the same word occurs elsewhere only in Philippians 1:27, there in verb form. In other words, we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, now serving as “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20) to the kingdoms here on earth and their citizens.

Philippians 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

his glorious body. These “vile” bodies in which we now reside are subject to decay and death, along with the entire creation (Romans 8:20-22), but they will be instantaneously glorified and made like His body of glory when Christ returns (1 Corinthians 15:51-54; Romans 8:21; xTerm 3:2).

working. This “working” (Greek energeia) could be effectively paraphrased as “creative energizing.” He who is the Creator of all the energy and matter of the universe (actually, even matter is a form of energy) is able to create new energy and matter to resurrect dead bodies and glorify living bodies to make them like His own eternally living resurrected body, no longer subject to decay and pain and death.