Notes on Chapter 3
3:1 To write the same things to
25; 2:17-18; 3:1; 4:4, 10)
Paul's tone is very similar to his tone in Gal. 5:12. Compare the
there with the context here. What parallels
can you cite between Galatians 4-5 and Phil. 3?
3:3 The true circumcision is not
Rom. 2:28-29. Paul glories in Christ, not in the flesh, Compare
3:4 Who had as much right as anyone
confidence in the flesh?
Compare 2 Cor. 11:21-22.
3:5 circumcised the eighth
of the stock of Israel, i.e.,
not a proselyte.
of the tribe of
could specify the very tribe of his ancestry. Paul was not of one
tribes which had rebelled against the house of David.
a Hebrew of
a Jew who adhered to his ethnic culture. Cf. Acts 6:1. (While
say such things as in 1 Cor. 9:21 after his conversion, in Phil.
contrasts the advantage he has in Christ (3:7ff) with what
had otherwise (3:4-6). Hence it is particularly his life
conversion that is characterized in vss. 4-6.
as touching the law, a
i.e., leavings, or dung. Such is all that Paul's fleshly glories
3:9 A true righteousness through the
have been one's own doing. Cf. Rom. 4:1-6. But Paul's
not his own through the law, but was of God through faith in
Gal. 2:16, 21, 3:11.
3:10 power of his resurrection
power over death. Cf. Heb. 2:14, Jn. 10:18. Satan had the power
death upon us through sin, but in Jesus, we have the power over
fellowship of his sufferings
to the theme of this letter.
becoming conformed unto his
3:11 attain unto the resurrection of
the dead This
is what Paul seeks to gain in Christ.
3:12 Not that I have already
obtained or am
already made perfect i.e., not that I have
reached my goal of overcoming death - rather I must press on to
On the word "perfect", see notes on 1:6.
Also compare with this passage 2 Tim. 2:18.
3:13 I count not myself to have laid
means the same thing as "not that I have already obtained or
forgetting the things that are
i.e., the things of the flesh which he has counted as skubala
Paul's example is one to be followed (cf. Gal. 4:9, 5:1).
stretching forward to things that
- the things in Christ. Cf. Gal. 6:14.
3:14 The goal Paul presses on toward is
not in the law.
3:15 Paul has spoken of being perfect
in one sense which is not yet true of Christians and will not be
until the resurrection (1:6, 3:12). Now however, he speaks to
are perfect or complete in the sense of being mature Christians.
3:16 Cf. Gal. 6:16.
A MISUSE OF PHILIPPIANS 3:16
"Only whereunto we have attained,
same rule let us walk" (Phil. 3:16). Attempting to establish
for confidence in one's salvation, and not being content to
the assurances of God without further explanation, several have
passage as evidence that one who sins out of a lack of knowledge
will is acceptable to God as long as he is at least obedient with
to what he does know about God's will. It is argued that the
grows, and therefore is at different levels of knowledge and
at various points. This passage, it is urged, tells us that as
we walk according to whatever level of knowledge and
understanding we have
attained, we are acceptable to God, even though we may be living
for example, adultery, ignorant that such is sin. Briefly, we
show that such a use of Phil. 3:16 is a misuse, taking the
of its context.
The context is a rebuke of the
an exhortation to "press on toward the goal unto the prize
high calling of God in Jesus Christ," not in the law
The thoughts expressed in Philippians 3 are very similar to those
in Paul's epistle to the Galatians. And it is significant that in
we find a phrase similar to the one in Phil. 3:16: "And as
shall walk by this rule peace be upon them," (Gal. 6:16).
parallels between the two contexts:
in rebuking Judaizers
|no confidence or
in the flesh, rather in Christ
not of the
law, but of God in Christ
|don't turn back
||Gal. 4:9; 5:1
|I glory in /
|walk by this
(Christ, as opposed to the Law)
When Paul speaks of some who might be
anything...otherwise minded," (Phil. 3:15) he has reference
same thing as when he wrote to the Galatians. "I have
ye will be none otherwise minded," (Gal. 5:10), i.e.,
refers to those who are minded to glory in the law, rather than
Then that to which "we have attained" is Jesus Christ,
level of understanding we currently have. If it were the latter,
have Paul's fierce rebuke of the Judaizers (Phil. 3:2) followed
by a statement
which would imply that a Judaizer who was performing to his
of understanding was acceptable. If he just didn't understand the
calling of God in Christ Jesus yet, his glorying in the law and
his confidence in the flesh, et al., would not be held
Such an interpretation just doesn't fit the context.
Note the contrast in Phil. 3:13:
the things which are behind" - for example, having been
the eighth day. of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin,
of Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee,...Howbeit what
gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ." On the
Paul was "stretching forward to the things which are
- for example: "I press on toward the goal unto the high
God in Christ Jesus." The things behind were the things of
The things before are the things in Christ
Notes on Chapter 2