Philippians 3 Bible study

Chapter 3


Rejoicing in Christ v1 & 2.


v1. The word "finally" is used as Paul begins the conclusion of his letter. His exhortation is that we should rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ, in Him alone, not in material things or possessions. Whilst this includes rejoicing in what the Lord has done for us, it is chiefly rejoicing in Him for His own sake, for Himself. Paul had given the Philippians a practical lesson in this when he and Silas were imprisoned at Philippi for preaching the gospel. At rnidnight they sang hymns and praised God. In the same way, we are to rejoice in the Lord, whatever our circumstances. HAB 3.17-18 & l THESS 5.l6-18.


Paul is happy to repeat this truth, although he had taught the Philippians about it  already. He knows that maintaining a constant spirit of rejoicing will be a safeguard for the believers.


v2. At that time there were certain people who were trying to undermine the faith of the Philippians. More than anything else, the devil will try to rob the Christian of his faith by undermining the truth.


Apparently, Paul tells the Philippians to beware of three different kinds of people, though some commentators believ that these are three descriptions of the same people.


a) Dogs.  These turn the Gospel message into an excuse to do evil things. They claim that they too know Christ as Saviour, but they deny Him by their actions 2 PET 2.22


b) Evil workers. These also pretend to be messengers of Christ, when in fact they are not. 2COR.11.13


c) The concision. This group of Jewish Pharisees taught believers that in order to be saved they not only had to believe in Jesus Christ, but also be circumcised and obey the law of Moses. This was "another gospel" which was in fact no gospel at all. GAL 1.6,7.


No Confidence in the Flesh v 3 - 9.


v3. Paul counters the false teachings of this group by asserting that we who trust the Lord Jesus Christ are the true circumcision, since we have been circumcised in our hearts by the Spirit of God. Through Christ we draw near to God and worship Him in Spirit and in truth. JOHN 4.24. We do not trust in what we can do or what we are in ourselves - "no confidence in flesh". We trust Christ to save us and so rejoice in Him.


v4-6. If the concision group had any real ground for trusting in themselves for salvation, Paul would have more. Paul could boast more than they of  the things they boasted about.


1) They boasted that they were Jews. Paul was a Jew. As far back as could be traced, their was no Gentile blood in his family - he was a Jew "through & through".


2) Like them, Paul had been circumcised eight days after his birth in accordance with the Jewish law.


3) The members of this sect were Pharisees. Paul himself had previously been a member of this sect and as such zealously kept the requirements of the law of Moses.


4) If zeal commends a man to God then Paul's could not be doubted. He went from place to place arresting those who followed the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he looked upon as enemies of Judaism.


5) As far as keeping the Law of Moses was concerned, no one could point a finger at Paul. He kept it blamelessly.


v7. What Paul had once thought would benefit him and gain him entrance into heaven, he had now found out was useless. All the works of men are just as useless. When Paul met Christ on the Damascus road an exchange took place. Paul let go of all his own efforts to be righteous and accepted Christ alone as his righteousness. Paul realised that none of his religious efforts could save him, for only Christ could save him. This is true for all of us. TITUS 3.5


v8. Compared with the surpassing riches of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul considered everything else worthless. So he had been willing to lose everything to gain Christ, counting all that he lost as rubbish in comparison. His aim in life was to know Christ more - that he might be "more deeply and intimately acquainted with him, perceiving and recognising and understanding him more fully and clearly." AMP. v9. His goal was to be found in Christ, having His righteousness, which is of God by faith and not his own righteousness, which is achieved by obeying the law. Rom3.21,22


Pressing on Toward the Finish Line v 10 - 16.


v10. In verses 8 & 9 Paul made clear that his desire was to know Christ. In this verse he explains how he wanted to know the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, which had become available to him through the resurrection of Christ. Paul realised that in order to know Christ's life, he would also have to share His sufferings. Resurrection follows death. Christ first died before being raised to life by the Holy Spirit. To know the power of Christ's resurrection, we must suffer for Christ, and his resurection power enables us to endure these sufferings. Paul's desire was not only to know Jesus, but to be like Jesus. He rejoiced to become like Him in His death (sharing his sufferings), that he might also experience His power in resurrection.


v11. What Paul means here by "the resurrection of the dead" is not that he may become worthy of the resurrection to eternal life, for this has already been secured for all believers by Christ's own death and resurrection. What Paul desires is that now, in this life, her might know that power working in him that raised Christ from death. He wanted to experience the fullness of Christ's life dwelling in him and flowing out from him. As believers we all have the life of Christ in us, but our daily experience of it depends much on how much we desire it.


v12. Paul recognised that there was still room in his life for spiritual growth. He had not yet attained to the final perfection for which Christ has saved us and that will be ours only when we see Him face to face. Until then, the law of sin will continue to work in our bodies. Only when Christ comes again will our bodies, which He has redeemed, be changed that there might be a complete absence of sin. When we see Him, we shall be like Him. 1 John 3.2. Until then, we should follow Paul's example. He was like a runner in a race, pressing on with his eyes on the finish line, which is perfection. And that perfection is none other than Christ Himself.


v13. If Paul, that "mighty" apostle, that man of God, could say he was not yet perfect, let us beware of thinking that we are. 1 John 1.8. Paul ran with all his energy to obtain the prize - which was not a gold medal. The reward at the end of our race is Christ Himself. As Christians, we are all running in this race, and the prize is not for one person, for we will all win, just so long as we finish the race.


We must keep several things in mind as we run this race. Firstly, the runner who keeps looking behind him will lose valuable time. Whatever has happened before in our lives, whether good or bad, are now gone into eternity. It is no good for us to look back or dwell on them. Looking back in this way will only hinder us from running in the race. So, we are to FORGET those things that are behind.


Secondly, any serious runner will tell you that it is important to keep your eyes on the finish line, lest anything distract you from winning the race. We must keep our eyes on Jesus. HEB 12.2.


V14. Thirdly, when running a race, we are not to stop running until we have crossed the finish line. The Christian race is a life long commitment. It never stops till the day we die. Even though Paul was in prison, even though he was getting old, he never "eased up" in his commitment to Christ. Instead he was pressing forward. He was reaching forth to obtain, for by faith he could see the prize that was before him. He could already see the finish line, and anticipated crossing the line to receive the prize - being with Christ.


v15. All those who are mature in the faith should take the same view of their Christian life as Paul did.  If we are prepared to listen, God will reveal to us the things that hinder us, so that we may act on this knowledge and cast off the hindrance.


v16. Whether we are old or young in the faith, we are all to have this same attitude since we are all running in the same race.


Heaven our Home v 17 - 21.


v17. Paul and those who live like him have been given by God as examples, showing us how we should live our Christian lives. Paul was eager for the Philippians to follow his example and not the bad example of others.


v18 Many who professed to know Christ as Saviour were in fact His enemies - "enemies of the cross of Christ".


v19. Rather than accept the cross of Christ and surrender to its implications, these people lived according to their own sensual appetites. Their minds and desires were completely fixed on earthly things- not spiritual things. There can be no other end for such people than eternal misery. Mark 8.34-37.


v20 The Christian's desires are to be fixed on what is eternal and spiritual for these things are of Christ. Col 3.1 They come to us from heaven, our true home, where the Lord Jesus is at present. We eagerly and patiently wait  for His return.


v21 When He comes,  He will transform our mortal bodies to be like his own glorious resurrection body by exerting His divine power to which all things must submit.

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