Philippians Part 15, Chapter 3:4-3:12
I. Confidence in Flesh (v. 3:4-)
A. Paul was a descendant of the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin and Joseph were the sons of
the favored wife Rachel. Paul was not of Ishmael (Abraham & Hagar) nor of Esau
(Isaac & Rebekah). The first king, Saul, was of the tribe of Benjamin.
1. A Hebrew—spoke Hebrew language and lived Hebrew customs.
2. A Pharisee—elite group –the “Separated Ones”. Never more than 6,000—spiritual
Athletes of Judaism.
B. I have no confidence in the flesh.
C. Concerning zeal, persecuting the church. (v. 3:6)
Concerning zeal, persecuting the church - Showing the greatness of my zeal
for the religion which I believed to be true, by persecuting those whom I
considered to be in dangerous error. Zeal was supposed to be, as it is, an
important part of religion; Paul says that he had shown the highest degree of
zeal that was possible. He had gone so far in his attachment for the religion of
his fathers, as to pursue with purposes of death those who had departed from
it, and who had embraced a different form of belief. If any, therefore, could
hope for salvation on the ground of extraordinary devotedness to religion, he
said that he could. (Barnes’ Notes)
D. Blameless concerning the Law. (v. 3:6)
Touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless - So far as the righteousness
which can be obtained by obeying the law is concerned. It is not needful to suppose here
that he refers merely to the ceremonial law; but the meaning is, that he did all that could
be done to obtain salvation by the mere observance of law. (Barnes’ Notes)
He led a moral and strictly upright life, and no one had occasion to "blame" or to
accuse him as a violator of the law of God. There is every reason to believe that Paul,
before his conversion, was a young man of correct deportment, of upright life, of entire
integrity; and that he was free from the indulgences of vice and passion, into which
young people often fall. (Barnes’ Notes)
E. Taking an account; That I may win Christ. (v. 3:7-8)
1. He had been led by these things to an improper estimate of his own character, and
he had been thus hindered from embracing the true religion. He says, therefore,
that he now renounced all dependence on them; that he esteemed them not as
contributing to his salvation, but, so far as any reliance should be placed on them,
as in fact so much loss. (Barnes’ Notes)
2. Earthly Rich—Scholar—but Heavenly Poor
3. Paul lost his religion and his reputation, but he gained far more than he lost.
4. “He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot
5. Paul knew that the only way to peace was to abandon the way of human
achievement and accept the way of grace. (WB pg 61)
II. Life in Christ (v. 3:9)
A. Life in Christ is not a continuance of the former life under new conditions; it is a new
qualitative life which is the risen Christ’s heavenly life. The old life simply is not
purged of its evil aspects. Life in Christ means that a person is “a new creation.”
B. Faith is not mere assent to testimony, a mental act separable form personal trust and
reliance. The derived meaning of the word stresses the idea of personal reliance.
It also involves distrust in self and trust only in Christ. Believers are united with
Christ by God’s grace through faith.
III. That I may know Him (v. 3:10)
A. To know Christ means that we share the way He walked; we share the cross He bore;
we share the death He died; and finally we share the life He lives forever more.
B. If Christians are satisfied with Christ for salvation, they cannot be satisfied with
themselves until they are like Him. (Robbins pg 99)
C. To know Him means more than simple knowledge of, but an intimate relationship.
D. We should never rest until we know Him as we know our friends, and are able to read
without speech the movements of His soul. We should know by a quick intuition
what will please and what will hurt His pure and holy nature. We should know
where to find Him; should be familiar with His modes of thought and methods of
action; should understand and identify ourselves with His goings forth, as, day by
day, He goes through the world healing and saving. (F. B. Meyer)
E. Power of His Resurrection – Christians ability to conquer sin’s daily habits, and the
possibility of living in daily holiness, are derived from the power of the resurrected
Christ living in them. (RFR)
F. Paul had the “spiritual mind” and looked at the “things” of earth from heaven’s point of
view. People who live for “things” are never really happy, because they must
constantly protect their treasures and worry lest they lose their value. (WW pg 101)
Maybe now is a good time for you to become an accountant and evaluate the “things”
that matter most to you.
IV. I might attain (v. 3:11)
A. Attain means to arrive at the end of one’s journey.
1. Have you made it yet Paul? Not as though I already attained, either were already
2. Judaism relied on outward rules and regulations.
B. I do not believe there is anything that will compare with the realization that we have lived
out the great purpose for which we were redeemed. On the other hand there is not
tragedy so great as a Christian at the end of life’s journey with the bitter knowledge
that he failed to achieve that for which his Lord saved him. What shame there will be
at the Judgment Seat of Christ for the Christian who missed the mark!
(Lehman Strauss pg 182-183)
V. Paul was apprehended of Christ on the road to Damascus. (Robbins pg 109) (v. 3:12)
1. apprehend – piazó (pee-ad'-zo) to lay hold; to take
Usage: I lay hold of, apprehend, catch, arrest.
2. perfect – teleios (tel'-i-os) mature; having reached its end, complete, perfect
Usage: perfect, (a) complete in all its parts, (b) full grown, of full age,
(c) specially of the completeness of Christian character.
Philippians Part 16, Chapter 3:13-3:21
I. I count not (v. 3:13-3:14)
A. Count-- pséphizó (psay-fid'-zo) to count, calculate Usage: I reckon, compute,
B. Three things to do to make it:
1. Die out to self/ be made alive in Christ.
2. Forget (Robbins pg 110) Paul would not allow any past experience to hinder his
efforts in the present or the future.
a. apothlibó (ap-oth-lee'-bo) to press hard Usage: (lit: I rub), jostle,
press hard, crowd.
b. to press on all sides, squeeze, press hard: used also of pressing
out grapes and olives,
c. The goal of the Christian’s life, therefore, is nothing less than Christ
Himself. The prize would be granted when the goal was reached.
(Robbins pg 111)
C. Essentials for winning the race.
1. Dissatisfaction – “Not as though I had already attained!”
a. A sanctified dissatisfaction is the first essential to progress in the Christian
b. When a man is satisfied he ceases to grow. Paul’s humble self-evaluation—
Not perfect or complete only in the sense of reaching one’s prescribed
c. Self-dissatisfaction lies at the root of our noblest achievements.
d. Problems with Self-evaluation.
(1) Making ourselves better than we are.
(2) Making ourselves worse than we really are.
e. Paul realized that his conversion had be his apprehension by God.
f. Many men are born into the world who are clever at a number of things,
but succeeds in nothing. There are others who concentrate their
minds upon on thing and succeed, though they have not half the genius
of their competitiors.
2. Devotion—“this one thing I do”
a. Mark 10:21 one thing thou lackest—Rich young ruler
b. Luke 10:42 one thing is needful—Martha and Mary
c. John 9:25 one thing have I desired of the Lord
d. The men who do one thing is this world are bound to succeed.
e. Too many Christians are too involved in “many things,” when the secret
of progress is to concentrate on “one thing.”
f. The Christian will succeed who specializes in running the Christian race.
3. Direction—Looking Ahead (Forward)
The unsaved person is controlled by the past, but the Christian running the
Race look toward the future.
D. “Forgetting those things which are behind” (v. 3:13)
1. To forget in Bible terminology
a. does not mean to fail to remember, but
b. it means no longer to be influenced by or affected by
c. It simply means that we break the power of the past by living for the future.
d. Paul would not allow past experience (stoning Stephen, persecuting others)
hinder his efforts in the present or the future.
e. Too many Christians are shackled by regrets of the past. They are trying
to run the race by looking backward! No wonder they stumble and
fall and get in the way of other Christians!
f. Some Christian runners are being distracted by the successes of the past,
not the failures; and this is just as bad. “The things which are behind”
must be set aside and “the thing which are before” must take their place.
g. It takes a spiritually sound mind to remember that which edifies and to
forget that which hinders.
h. Quoting Sir William Osler, R. A. Herring says, “The load of tomorrow
added to that of yesterday, and carried today, make the strongest falter.”
i. There is no bright future for the Christian who wastes time dwelling
on the past.
j. Let past failures be an incentive to more commanding achievements.
k. Forget problems such as:
(1) Broken relationships
(2) Encounters with false brethren
(3) Financial bankruptcy
(5) Parental failures
2. Reaching forth—“straining forward”
a. Runner—racing hard toward the tape with his eyes on nothing but the goal.
b. Charioteers – looking back can lead to possible collisions and serious injury.
Drivers had to lean forward—reaching forth—and strain every nerve
and muscle to maintain balance and control of the horses.
3. He that runs looks not at the spectators, but at the prize. Whether they be rich or
poor, if one mock them, insult them, throw stones at them—if one plunder
their house, if they see children or wife or anything whatsoever—the runner is
not turned aside, but is concerned only with his running and winning the prize.
He that runneth stoppeth nowhere; since, if he be a little remiss [careless,
negligent], all is lost. He that runneth relaxeth in no respect before the end,
but then, most of all, stretcheth over the course. (Chrysostrom pg 450 Vincent
4. Determination – “I press”—At times you may encounter problems. Sometimes
you’ll cry “O wretched man that I am.”
a. Watchman Nee says the true Christian life was not one of always on
the mountain experiences. The true Christian often holds on to the plow
with tears in his/her eyes.
b. Two extremes to avoid:
(1) “I must do it all.”
(2) “God must do it all.”
5. Discipline—the runner must obey all rules to avoid disqualification.
a. Don’t clown around and lose your crown.
b. In a small churchyard at the foot of one of the greatest mountains of
Switzerland, the body of a young Englishman, who was killed while
making an ascent, is buried. On the tombstone, under his name and
the dates of birth and death, the following inscription is carved:
“He Died Climbing.”
c. Death will be our finish line.
II. Perfect again in (v. 3:15)
A. In verse 15, Paul again uses the Greek word teleios and says that this must be the attitude
of those who are teleios. What he means is: “Anyone who has come to be mature in
the faith and knows that Christianity is must recognize the discipline and the effort
and the agony of the Christian life.” He may perhaps think differently but, if he is
an honest man, God will make it plain to him that he must never relax his effort or
lower his standards but must press towards the goal, until the end.
B. (v. 3:16) This is a most wise and valuable rule, and a rule that would save much difficulty and
contention in the church, if it were honestly applied. The meaning is this, that
though there might be different degrees of attainment among Christians, and different
views on many subjects, yet there were points in which all could agree; there were
attainments which they all had made, and in reference to them they should walk in
harmony and love. (Barnes’ Notes)
C. Be followers of me (v. 3:17)
1. Paul uses his experience (his walk with God) as an example.
2. What Paul wanted the Philippian Christians to imitate were his rejection of
self-sufficiency and his willingness to sacrifice all things to win Christ.
3. Be Careful!!
You are setting an example for someone! The children and young people in
our homes and assemblies are consciously and unconsciously following the
examples we set. We set the pace and shape the pattern by our lives.
D. Enemies of the cross of Christ (v. 3:18)
1. There were, in the Church of Philippi, men whose conduct was an open scandal
and who, by their lives, showed themselves to be enemies of the Cross of
Christ. Who they were is not certain. But it is quite certain that they lived
gluttonous and immoral lives and used their so-called Christianity to justify
2. Some had confused liberty to license to sin.
3. To know of people who professed Christ as their Lord and Savior and then
denied Him by their lives broke Paul’s heart.
4. An immoral life is enmity to the cross of Christ; for he died to make us holy. A
life where there is no evidence that the heart is renewed, is enmity to the cross;
for he died that we might be renewed. (Barnes’ Notes)
E. More Enemies of the Cross of Christ (v. 3:18--3:19)
1. Gnostics—heretics who tried to intellectualize Christianity and make a kind of
philosophy of it. They, with the principle that from the beginning of time
there had always been two realities—spirit and matter. Spirit, they said, is
altogether good; and matter is altogether evil. It is because the world was
created out of this flawed matter that sin and evil are in it. If the, matter is
essentially evil, the body is essentially evil and will remain evil whatever you
do with it. Therefore, do what you like with it; since it is evil anyhow it makes
no difference what you do with it. So these Gnostics taught that gluttony,
adultery, homosexuality, and drunkenness were of no importance because
they effect only the body which is of no importance.
2. Libertines (Antinomians = against law)—those who viewed grace as freedom
from moral restraint. They distorted Paul’s teaching of Christian liberty.
They said that in Christianity all law was gone and that the Christian had
liberty to do what he liked. They turned Christian liberty into unchristian
license and gloried in giving their passions full play. There were those who
distorted the Christian doctrine of grace. They said that, since grace was wide
enough to cover every sin, a man could sin as he liked and not worry; it would
make no difference to the all-forgiving love of God.
a. These individuals had constructed for themselves a Christianity
without a cross!!
b. They professed to believe in Christ, yet lived lives of sin and
c. They loved sin and so proved themselves enemies of the Cross; for
the Cross of Christ is the enemy of sin. To love sin is to kiss
the sword that pierced the soul of Jesus.
3. The death of Christ is directly mentioned 175 times in the New Testament. All
the great doctrines of the Bible are laid by the Holy Spirit at the foot of the
cross. The Cross and Christ are represented as One, because they are nailed
together. To preach the Cross is to preach Christ and Him crucified.
a. At the Cross, people did their worst against God while God did His
best on behalf of people.
b. These individuals are those who by failing to accept the death of
the old life, disqualify themselves from the new.
c. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof
are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12
III. Conversation (v. 3:20-3:21)
A. Conversation –391 anastrophé (an-as-trof-ay') behavior, conduct Usage: dealing
with other men, conduct, life, behavior, manner of life.
1. Paul says to the Philippians, “Just as the Roman colonists never forget that they
belong to Rome, you must never forget that you are citizens of heaven; and
your conduct must match your citizenship.” (Barclay 69)
2. Locally, they were citizens of the world; spiritually they were citizens of heaven.
3. We are heaven-born and heaven-bound.
B. Our vile bodies (v. 3:21)
1. 4508 rhuparos (rhoo-par-os') filthy Usage: filthy, defiled, dirty.
2. The original words, which are rendered here as "vile body," properly mean
"the body of humiliation;" that is, our humble body. It refers to the body
as it is in its present state, as subject to infirmities, disease, and death.
It is different far from what it was when man was created, and from what
it will be in the future world. Paul says that it is one of the objects of the
Christian hope and expectation, that this body, so subject to infirmities
and sicknesses, will be changed. (Barnes’ Notes)
C. Our glorious bodies
1. 1741 endoxos (en'-dox-os) held in honor, glorious Usage: highly esteemed,
2. It is certain that it is adapted to the glorious world where he dwells; that it
has none of the infirmities to which it was liable when here; that it is
not subject; as here, to pain or death; that it is not sustained in the
same manner. (Barnes’ Notes)