Bible Study
Philippians - Program 03

Jeffrey Fall

This Bible Study is part of the "Philippians" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series

Paul knew that if anyone was finding or experiencing joy in God’s way of life, they are moving ahead spiritually because there should be joy in God’s way of life. They are joyful because they know the outcome of their life, their life-long training—eternal life in God’s family.

Hello, this is Jeff Fall. In Philippians 3, Paul first expresses his fatherly concern for their spiritual well being and then sets out to encourage them with some very inspiring and moving words.

Philippians 3:1

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.…

Paul knew that if anyone was finding or experiencing joy in God’s way of life, they are moving ahead spiritually because there should be joy in God’s way of life. They are joyful because they know the outcome of their life, their life-long training—eternal life in God’s family.

Philippians 3:1 (continued)

For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.

Paul reminded them again and again that "it was not tedious." It is this principle of repetition, of reminding them over and over again that it was for their own good. It was for their benefit. Spiritual repetition keeps us in remembrance of those important principles, and keeps us on track in life.

Philippians 3:2

Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!

Paul here refers to various men, as it says back in Chapter 2, verse 21, "whom seek their own—not of things of Christ Jesus." The mutilation would likely refer to those who were trying to drag the new Christians back into rituals, including Old Testament rituals, including circumcision as an essential part. Going on in verse 3…

Philippians 3:3

For we are the circumcision…

He refers to those who are the people of God. We are the circumcision—the true circumcision. In Romans 2:28, Paul explains that our circumcision is "that of the heart"—inwards, in other words—a necessary change within ourselves. In our character and our nature, true Christians would demonstrate what follows.

Philippians 3:3

…who worship God in the Spirit [They have the very spirit of God. They fulfill the spirit of the Law.], rejoice in Christ Jesus [They find joy in Christ as our Savior and in the way of life.], and have no confidence in the flesh.

Our physical heritage is not that important. It is our spiritual heritage from our spiritual Father that is extremely important.

Philippians 3:4

Though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so.

Paul was saying: "Just for the sake of argument, if you are going to boast about confidence in the flesh and in your physical heritage," he says, "I can boast more."

Philippians 3:5

Circumcised the eighth day [as mandated in the Old Covenant], of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin…

Paul knew precisely his physical heritage. He descended from the tribe of Benjamin. We know that Benjamin was the only one of the twelve sons of Israel who was actually born in the Promised Land. It was one more claim to fame that he could make. He goes on in verse 5 to say…

Philippians 3:5

…a Hebrew of the Hebrews [Paul was born an Israelite on both sides of his family—his mother and his father. He was not a recent convert or proselyte.]; concerning the law, a Pharisee [the most "orthodox" and strict group of the Jews in that day].

Acts 22:3 says that Paul was "brought up… at the feet of Gamaliel"—a famous teacher who was part of the supreme council of the Sanhedrin.

Philippians 3:6

Concerning zeal, persecuting the church…

Paul was well known for his persecution of the early Church. Acts 8:3 even tells us of an example of Paul wholeheartedly persecuting the Church: "As for Saul [who later had his name changed to Paul], he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison." In Acts 9:1, we read: "[And] then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem." So, Paul was whole hearted in what he believed, even wholeheartedly persecuting the very Church of Christ.

Philippians 3:6-7

… concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless [as far as the "letter of the law" is concerned]. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

What was gained to Paul previously—his whole identity, what made him feel important in his culture—he says that he has "counted lost for Christ." All he had mentioned above, his claim to fame, was absolutely worthless when he understood his true calling—as it is for us when we understand our true calling.

Philippians 3:8

Yet indeed I also count all things loss [Paul was in chains and even considered the fact that he might have to give up his physical life.] for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord [including that we are to become literal brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ—members of the very family of God—at Christ’s return], for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish…

Paul counted his previous claims to fame as rubbish—as so much egotism. He emphasized this also in Romans 8:18, where he said: "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Paul was speaking of the eventual resurrection when we will be full members in the family of God.

Philippians 3:8-9

…that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law [Paul was referring to his physical heritage again and the ritualistic law.], but that which is through faith [of] Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.

Jesus Christ—that faith of Christ—lives His life in us and we have the same faith of Christ who trusted God totally even to the end of His life.

Philippians 3:10

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection [By "the power of His resurrection" the living Christ will live His life in us as we obey His spiritual laws.], and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.

We bury our old self and our old nature in baptism. From that point forward, we allow Christ to live His life in us until the very end of our lives.

Philippians 3:11

If, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Of course, this is the ultimate goal of any Christian and of all Christians—the resurrection to eternal life.

Philippians 3:12

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected [Paul knew he still had room to grow spiritually; he had not totally arrived. He had room to grow to be perfected, but he was determined.]; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

He pressed on and he laid hold. In other words, he struggled for the goal of the prize of the high calling.

Philippians 3:13

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.

Paul repeated—with emphasis—that he had not laid hold of the total mastery of godly character of life. But he was determined to forget past mistakes, and to reach forward to the Kingdom of God.

Philippians 3:14

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul had true vision of the coming Kingdom of God, and he was struggling towards that Kingdom to reach the Master.

Philippians 3:15

Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

If we are spiritually mature, this will be our mindset. And if not, Paul tells the Philippians that God will reveal our error to us in time.

Philippians 3:16

Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

To the degree that we have spiritual understanding, he says: "Let us walk by these same principles and have a real unity in the Church."

Philippians 3:17

Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.

We should follow others’ examples as they follow Christ. He mentions here: "Join in following my example and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern." In saying "us" he was probably referring to Timothy who was with him, and also Epaphroditus—but only as they followed Christ’s example. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul also says, "Imitate me just as I also imitate Christ." Christ is our standard. He is the one we should truly follow.

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.

There were individuals who were enemies of the Work of God, of the cross of Christ. Paul also wrote in Galatians 1:7 that "there were some who want to pervert the Gospel of Christ." Even Jesus Christ Himself prophesied in Matthew 24:5: "Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I [that is, Jesus] am the Christ,’ and will deceive many." Many individuals would come preaching Christ, saying that Jesus was the Messiah, and would deceive many.

Philippians 3:19-20

Whose end [speaking of those "enemies of the cross of Christ"] is destruction [death—ultimate destruction], whose god is their belly [whose highest priority or allegiance is their physical or personal gain], and whose glory is in their shame [shameful to those who are truly following God.]; who set their mind on earthly things [things that are not lasting in total contrast to God and God’s family, which will be forever.]. For our citizenship is in heaven…

Our citizenship is in heaven. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are told that we are ambassadors of Christ. An ambassador is a representative of a foreign government. That government or that kingdom will be established on earth atChrist’s return. One of Christ’s disciples one time thought the Kingdom of God would immediately appear. At that time, in Luke 19:12 Christ likened the Kingdom of God "to a nobleman who went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return." And that is exactly what Jesus Christ will do, in establishing His Kingdom.

Philippians 3:20

…from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The establishment of that Kingdom of God at Christ’s return, and the resurrection (or our change, if we are alive) for all those who have lived godly lives, is what God’s people eagerly wait for.

Philippians 3:21

Who [speaking of Jesus Christ] will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Our lowly bodies will be transformed and conformed to His glorious body—the glorious resurrected body of Jesus Christ. And when we are fully transformed with powerful spirit bodies, after the return of Jesus Christ, we will have similar appearance to the living Jesus Christ. In Revelation 1:14, Christ appears as follows: "His head and His hair were like white wool as white as snow and His eyes like a flame of fire, His feet like fine brass as if refined in furnace and His voice as the sound of many waters." Finally, here in verse 21, Paul speaks of Jesus Christ subduing all things to Himself. Christ will use this same mighty power to conquer and to subdue the entire earth and mankind will finally, at last, enjoy world peace and prosperity. What glorious good news we have of the coming Kingdom of God.

We will conclude our study of the book of Philippians in the next segment.