Summary: In this passage, Paul compares all his earthly acheivements to garbage, compared to his salvation in Christ.
Philippians 3:1-14 – “The best, not the rest”
By James Galbraith
First Baptist Church, Port Alberni.
October 29, 2006
3 Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
If others think they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
7But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in b Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Have you ever been at the point in a discussion or argument where you simply stop debating and say “Enough!!”
I have to admit, I reach that point fairly often in my parenting journey. I think we all reach that point in certain areas – it’s just part of being human.
This portion of the letter we’re reading together is much like one of those “Enough!” moments.
Throughout his ministry, the Apostle Paul has been hounded by a group of people set on making people work for Christ’s free gift of grace.
These people cannot accept that God would freely give salvation to those who simply believe in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, so they try to add their own ideas and requirements to the gospel.
Almost every letter he writes confronts this issue, and Paul is now taking time to address it here, in hopes that the Philippians will be ready to defend themselves against this attack on their faith.
The same words that he uses here for “Finally” mean more then just “Good Bye”. Indeed, they are better understood as, “There’s one more thing I want to talk about “, then as “See you later”.
His declaration to “Rejoice in the lord” is a lot like a command bellowed to someone when they are in mortal danger.
Any one who has cared for children will be familiar with hollering, “NO” just as a child is about to stick their in a socket. The care-giver is not trying to hurt or boss the child, he’s trying to save her from danger.
Likewise, Paul is calling the Philippians to take joy in the Lord, whatever may be ahead. What better preparation to face false teaching then to rejoice in what God has done, and what he is doing?
Those who are focusing on the greatness of God are less likely to be pulled away from him then those who are preoccupied with other things.
It’s evident that Paul has shared the following thoughts before, but considers them important enough to repeat.
He spares nothing in the next few lines - beginning with a three-pronged insult that if directly translated should not be repeated in church.
2-32Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—
To fully appreciate the severity of Paul’s words you have to know the problem he was confronting.
He is attacking, with vigour, those who insisted that any new Christians also had to comply with Jewish laws and customs, such as circumcision. This can be called “Judaizing” the gospel.