Call to rejoice
in the Lord (3:1)
through Faith in Christ (3:2-11)
toward the Goal (3:12-16)
Rejoice in the
Lord, Spirit/flesh, gain/loss, excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my
Lord, gain Christ, righteousness, faith, resurrection, press on, lay hold, “one
thing I do”, mature, walk, citizenship in heaven, stand fast in the Lord.
The false teachings and ungodly
practices that Paul warns the Philippians against can rob them of the joy that
they have in the Lord. That is why Paul tells them that the things he writes
are a safeguard to them (1).
Those who insist and advocate
that circumcision and observance of the Old Testament regulations is necessary
While these advocates of
circumcision seem to be zealous toward God, it is believers in Christ who have
been truly circumcised because they have received the spiritual circumcision
from God. Through faith in Jesus Christ, believers who are baptized into Christ
have been regenerated. With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, they have
received a new heart and are able to obey God in truth and spirit rather than by
mere outward observance.
We worship God in the Spirit
because we serve God from our hearts and obey Him by the Spirit who is at work
in us (cf. Rom 7:6). We rejoice in Christ Jesus (also translates as “glory in
Christ Jesus”) because we have access to God and the hope of salvation through
the atonement of Jesus Christ. We have no confidence in the flesh because we no
longer depend on our own efforts to achieve righteousness before God.
Paul uses his own example to
show that although he had every reason to put his confidence in the flesh, more
so than those who insist on justification by works, he has come to realize that
these achievements cannot bring about the righteousness that God desires. If
even with his heritage and achievements Paul fell short of God’s perfect
standard, then no one else should put their trust in themselves.
Paul was blameless before men
because he observed the letter of the law flawlessly. But he knew that he could
not stand before God with confidence because, being controlled by his sinful
nature, he had nothing good within him (Rom 7:14-24).
He has counted his confidence
in his achievements as loss because such confidence could only hinder him from
accepting Christ. Instead, he has gained Christ and His righteousness.
The people of the world seek
after vain glory and pleasure, and they consider it a gain to obtain these
things. To give up their ego and sinful indulgence in order to follow Christ
would be a loss to them.
There are others who take pride
in their religious zeal or their philanthropic deeds and think that they are
able to attain to God’s standard. They are unwilling to acknowledge their sin
and put their hope in Christ alone. To surrender their self-confidence to
believe in Christ is a loss to them.
To be found in Christ means to
be baptized into Christ and to live in Christ, abiding in his love and
commands. The only way to have confidence before God and be kept from the
coming wrath is for us to be found in Christ (cf. 1Thess 1:10). On judgment day,
we will be blessed if God “finds us” in Christ.
Righteousness from the law is
based on human effort. It is imperfect and superficial. Because of our sinful
nature, no human being can ever meet God’s perfect requirements (Rom 3:20). But
God has revealed a righteousness apart from the law—His righteousness (Rom
3:21). This righteousness is a gift that God imparts freely to believers. By
the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can now be justified before God through
faith. We who have been baptized into Christ have clothed ourselves with Christ
(Gal 3:27). Thus, we have received Christ’s righteousness and may stand before
God with confidence.
To know Christ is to know the
power of His resurrection. This means being able to experience the Spirit’s
transforming power in our Christian walk (Rom 8:1-4, 9-11)
To know Christ is to know the fellowship of His sufferings. This
means participating in the sufferings of Christ by enduring hardships for
Christ’s sake (1Pet 2:21; 4:1, 13; Col
To know Christ is to be conformed to His death. This means dying
with Christ and putting to death our sinful nature (Rom 6:4-11; 8:12-13; Gal
Only by experiencing the death,
resurrection, and sufferings of Jesus Christ in our lives can we truly know
Attaining to the resurrection
from the dead (11), the glorious moment that all believers eagerly expect (Rom
Paul presses on toward the goal
of knowing Jesus Christ (8,10).
Believers are able to lay hold
of the heavenly prize because Christ has first “laid hold” of them. In other
words, without the salvation of Jesus Christ and the upward call of God (14),
all human effort to attain salvation or God’s reward is futile.
Past achievements can make us
complacent so that we stop pursuing spiritual advancement.
Paul regards the journey of
faith as a race (cf. 1Cor 9:24-27; 2Tim 4:7), which requires all his energy and
focus. We should likewise set our mind on the heavenly glory and make every
effort to know Jesus Christ more and more (cf. 1Pet 1:5-11). Then our lives
will not be unproductive and aimless.
As long as we share the same
attitude of pressing on to know Christ (“Let us, as many as are mature, have
this mind”), God will reveal His will to us concerning issues which we cannot
fully agree on. When our views differ, there is no need to turn our differences
into endless disputes or even personal grudges. Instead, each one of us needs
to make sure that we do have a sincere desire to know God’s will and pursue the
knowledge of Jesus Christ. We should humbly seek God’s will through the study
of God’s Word and prayer. With this goal and attitude as our common basis, we
will eventually reach perfect unity under God’s guidance (cf. Eph 4:11-13). But
in the process, we do not have to wait until we are in complete agreement on
all things before seeking progress in our faith. We should continue to pursue
spiritual growth towards our common goal with the same mind and same spirit.
They serve their appetites by
indulging in gluttony and feasting (Rom 16:18).
They advocate and boast of
their shameful behavior (Eph 5:12 Rom 1:32).
Their mind is constantly
thinking of godless ambitions, material pursuits, and sinful pleasures (1Jn
Whereas the cross of Christ
brings salvation, godless lifestyles lead to destruction (19). Not only are
their conducts contrary to the will of God, they also often oppose the gospel
and profane the message of the cross.
If we realize and believe that
we are heavenly citizens, our priorities, values, and conducts will be
drastically different from those whose minds are on earthly things.
Instead of investing our hopes
and energy in the temporary material things, we will live our lives as
strangers here with reverent fear (1Pet 1:17 NIV; Heb 11:13). We will make wise
use of our time, possessions, and talents to strive for spiritual growth (Phil
3:12-14), lay up treasures in heaven (Mt 6:19-20; 1Tim 6:17-19), and always
abound in the work of the Lord (1Cor 15:58).
Continue to strive for
spiritual growth. Keep our eyes on Christ, who is seated in heaven, and
remember that this world is not our home. Always focus on the coming of Christ
and the glorious resurrection