Php 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.
Paul is about to write something that he has written before.
- There are times to repeat and reemphasize. The reason things are repeated is because they are important and it is for our own safety.
Php 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
Paul is telling us to beware of certain groups. Who are they?
- Evil workers.
- The Jews referred to the Gentiles as dogs.
- Matthew 15:26
But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
- The person that Jesus was referring to was the woman who had come from Canaan. He was speaking in accordance to how the Jews viewed her, but later on granted her request because of her faith.
- Now the dogs here that Paul is referring to cannot be the Gentiles as he is speaking to the Gentiles. He must be referring to the Jews as we will see later in the other two descriptions of these people.
- The word dog simply means a man of impure mind or an impudent man.
- 2 Corinthians 11:13
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
- This is referring to the Judaizers who were active in pushing the Jewish customs and practices on people to adopt.
- The word concision means to cut off or put off or mutiny (to rebel against).
- This is also referring to the Judaizers who would require the Gentiles to be circumcised in order to be Christian.
Php 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.
“we are the circumcision”
- The we is referring to Paul and the Gentiles that he is writing to.
- What Paul is stating here is what he has mentioned in other books. This is what “true” circumcision is. It is not about cutting the flesh.
- Romans 2:29
But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
- Circumcision of the heart. A spiritual circumcision.
What are the characteristics of true circumcision?
- Worship God in the spirit.
- Rejoice in Christ Jesus.
- Have no confidence in the flesh.
- No merit is put on the literal circumcision of the flesh.
Php 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:
Php 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;
Php 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Php 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Why does Paul seem to brag about his past? He is telling them that if there is anyone who can have confidence in the flesh, it is him!
- He was circumcised the eighth day.
- He was of the tribe of Benjamin – part of literal Israel.
- He was a Pharisee.
- He had zeal by persecuting the church.
- He was blameless according to the law.
- This is the confidence he could have in the flesh.
So the group above is trying to put righteousness in the flesh, in the works. But Paul counted all that as loss for Christ. It wasn’t important. And it isn’t necessary.
Php 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,
All the things mentioned above was counted as dung, for loss, just so that he could gain the knowledge of Christ Jesus. That was more important to Paul than anything else. We can see here that Paul has just trashed his resume. It is nothing.
Why is the knowledge of Christ Jesus so important?
- So that we can have the mind of Christ.
- It is not anything of our credentials that will get us through the difficult times in the future, especially with persecution coming. What will carry us through the last days will be the mind and character of Jesus Christ in our hearts and minds.
Php 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:
What is our own righteousness?
- It is the works of the flesh. In this case it is circumcision.
What is the righteousness which is of God by faith?
- It is the faith of Christ.
- It is the mind of Christ.
- It is having a knowledge of Christ Jesus.
Php 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;
“That” is referring to the righteousness of faith. The experience of righteousness of faith is:
- To know Christ.
- And the power of His resurrection.
- And the fellowship of sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.
Chapter two also mentions about the sufferings of Jesus, death on the cross, the mind of Jesus.
- So the experience of righteousness by faith is to help you to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. And the sufferings of Jesus is part of the mind of Christ, the fellowship of His sufferings.
- So righteousness by faith is to have the mind of Christ to help us endure.
Php 3:11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
How do we attain the resurrection of the dead?
- By having the righteousness of Christ by faith.
Php 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.
- Reached the point of being perfect.
“but I follow after”
- Other versions translate it more clearly – but I press on.
- Paul is not satisfied with where he is at at that point. Even though he has counted all his past as dung to obtain the righteousness of Christ by faith, he still is moving forward, pressing on.
- On to what though?
“if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus”
- “apprehend” means to obtain, to come upon.
- So Paul is stating that there is still something for him to obtain. He is not satisfied with his current position and growth but is pressing on.
- What does he need to obtain? That which Christ wishes for him to obtain.
- The righteousness of Christ.
- The resurrection of the dead.
Php 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,
“I count not myself to have apprehended”
- Paul is saying that he doesn’t consider that he has obtained whatever is needed to be obtained yet. He doesn’t consider himself perfect.
- Rather, he forgets those things which are behind. What are those things that he forgets?
- All his past accomplishments. All his past credentials. All his past life.
- He counts it all as dung.
- And he reaches forth unto those things which are before. What is that?
- The righteousness of Christ.
- To attain the resurrection of the dead. This is one that will be a life-long goal until we lay our lives down, or until Jesus comes for the second time.
Php 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
What is the “prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus?”
- The righteousness of Christ.
- The resurrection of the dead.
Php 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.
“Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded”
- If we are to be perfect, it really has much to do with the mind.
- This is not a new topic.
- Phi 2:5
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus
- If we are to be perfect, we must have the mind of Christ!
- Phi 2:5
- However, the immediate context in this chapter is the righteousness of Christ. So it means that if we are to have the righteousness of Christ by faith, it is much to do with having the mind of Christ.
- If there is any other way to be perfect, God will reveal it to us. But He hasn’t. The only way to be perfect is to have the mind of Jesus. There is no other way.
Php 3:16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
only, whereunto we have attained, by that same rule let us walk.
Up to this point, whatever got us here, let us keep doing the same thing. If it is the mind of Christ and His righteousness that has brought us to this point, let us keep doing the same thing. If it worked for us in the past, it will work for us in the present and into the future.
It is clear that the book of Philippians is talking bout the mind. This chapter is connected to the previous by that word “mind.”
What does it mean to mind the same thing? To have the mind of Christ. To experience righteousness by faith.
Php 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
“be followers together of me”
- Paul is asking them to follow his example.
- He had confidence that he had the mind of Christ, and that he was experiencing righteousness by faith.
“mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”
- Paul is asking them to look at or take heed to those who walk in similar manner as how Paul has set the example.
- It’s not enough to just look at and beware of those who are walking wrongly, but we need to look at those who do walk in the correct manner. Those that have the same mind as Paul and as Jesus.
Php 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:
Php 3:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
There are many that walk contrary to how Christ has instructed us. They are quite simply the enemies of the cross of Christ. They are the opposite. Here is their characteristics:
- Whose end is destruction.
- Whose God is their belly.
- Whose glory is in their shame.
- Who mind earthly things.
“Whose end is destruction”
- This is simply stating what the enemies of Christ will reap at the very end – destruction.
“whose God is their belly”
- The only other possible connection can be found in Romans.
- Romans 16:18
For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
- It is obvious that these people serve their appetite. And somehow what we eat is very much connected with the sort of character that we have.
- Appetite is certainly a moral issue and is a big issue here according to Paul.
“whose glory is in their shame”
- The New Living Translation renders it as following “they brag about shameful things.”
- This group of people glorify in the shameful things. They are not shy about it.
- Their characters clearly reveal whose side they are on.
- If it were not obvious, Paul would not have said in verse 17 to mark those that walk according to the pattern that Paul had given them. So it would have been just as obvious to be able to mark those that walk contrary to his counsel and example as well.
“who mind earthly things”
- In Philippians 2 Paul urges all the readers to have the mind of Christ.
- Here is the opposite. This group has a mind that is bent towards the earth.
- Another place that the Greek word for earthly things is used is James 3:15
This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
- The wisdom of the world is connected to things that are sensual and devilish. It is the opposite to Christ and the mind of Christ.
- This is what the earthly things in Philippians is as well. For the earthly mind makes people to make the bellies their god and glory in their shame.
Php 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
“conversation is in heaven”
- The word conversation means citizenship.
- What we talk about will reveal our mind and also where our citizenship is.
- This is a contrast to minding earthly things.
“from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ”
- It is not trying to state the obvious – Jesus is in heaven.
- What Paul is stating is, if our conversation is in heaven, we will be eagerly expecting the second coming of our Lord and Saviour.
- The word “look for” in Greek is often connected with the second coming of Jesus.
- Romans 8:23
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
- 1 Corinthians 1:7
So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Hebrews 9:28
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
- Romans 8:23
- If we would look for the Saviour, it would change the way we eat (our appetites), and it would change our focus on the temporary things of earth.
This is really the experience of righteousness by faith.
Php 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.
It is obvious now that Paul is talking about the second coming, as that is when our vile bodies will be changed into a glorious body. That is were our focus should be. That is where our conversation should be. That is where our mind should be today.
So Paul starts off chapter three by warning them to be careful about the enemies of Christ. And then he cites his own past and his credentials, that we should be careful not to look to our own works of righteousness to being perfect or merit heaven. All our righteousnesses is like filthy rags.
But Paul urges us to have the same mind. To press towards the same mark. To have the mind of Christ. To count all things as loss just so we could obtain the knowledge of Christ Jesus. To experience righteousness by faith.
And he contrasts the mind of Christ with the mind that is focused on earthly things. The mind of the world is focused on the appetite and glorying in shameful things. But the mind of Christ is focused on the second appearing of Christ.
May our conversation today by in heaven. May we talk of heavenly things. May we truly desire to see the second coming of Jesus in our life time. Oh how that would change our focus and our thoughts. How that would change our priorities in this life. Let us pray that God would give us His mind today.