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Attaining to the Power of the Resurrection
Summary —A Warning Against Judaizing Teachers. Paul's Grounds for Boasting in the Flesh. All Counted As Loss Compared with Christ. The Great Aim to Attain to the Glorious Resurrection. Pressing Towards the Prize of the High Calling. Enemies of the Cross. At the Resurrection Our Present Bodies Changed to the Likeness of the Glorified Body of Christ.
1. Rejoice in the Lord. See 2:5, and 4:4, 10. There might be a little ground for rejoicing in earthly prospects, but they could rejoice in Christ and the blessed hope of the gospel. To write the same things. To repeat exhortations made before, either in person, or sent by messengers to them.
2, 3. Beware of dogs. Those snarling and snapping like dogs. The Judaizing teachers, who so troubled the early churches, are meant. See Galatians, chapter 1. Evil workers. So called because by their false teaching about the necessity of circumcision they wrought evil. Of the concision. Applied to those who called themselves the circumcision. It means simply a “cutting,” the class who were mutilated. It is contemptuous. 3. We are the circumcision. See notes on Rom. 2:29 and 4:12. The true circumcision is not in the flesh, but of the heart in the Spirit.
4–6. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. The confidence of the Jews was in the flesh of Abraham. They said, “We have Abraham to our father” (Matt. 3:9). But if any man had grounds for relying on the flesh, it was Paul. 5. Circumcised the eighth day. As enjoined by the law (Luke 1:59). Of the stock of Israel. Descended from Israel (Jacob), who had the birthright of Isaac and Abraham. Of the tribe of Benjamin. A tribe descended from the beloved Rachel; a tribe that remained faithful when the Ten Tribes of Israel seceded, the tribe on whose soil Jerusalem and the temple stood. A Hebrew of the Hebrews. Hebrew by race, by religion, by education, and by custom. A Pharisee. A member of the strictest sect in Israel, “after the straitest manner of the sect.” 6. Concerning zeal. His zeal for Judaism was demonstrated by the fact that he was a persecutor of the church. What were his feelings concerning this part of his career in shown in 1 Tim. 1:13–16. Blameless. Keeping the letter of the law so as to be blameless in the eyes of my fellow-Jews.
7–11. What things were gain to me. These things which were counted as a gain he now counts as nothing; nay, as loss, instead of gain for Christ. Instead of saving him, a trust in them would have been eternal ruin. 8. I count all things but loss. In comparison with the inestimable value of the 218knowledge of Christ, all worldly things are to be regarded as a loss. For whom I have suffered the loss of all things. In accepting Christ he gave up all the world holds dear. But he did not long for them; nay, he counted them as a he would count filth, to be avoided, if only he may win Christ. The one word Christ in itself embraces every real blessing. 9. And be found in him. In him “there is no condemnation” (Rom. 8:1). Not having mine own righteousness. Those in Christ trust not in a legal righteousness, obtained by keeping the law, but in the righteousness which the gospel provides to those who accept Christ through faith. That righteousness is the forgiveness of sins, which is of God by faith. Note that, although the definite article is omitted in our Versions before faith, the Greek supplies it. “The faith” is equivalent to “the gospel.” It is faith in Christ acted upon, causing an acceptance and steadfast obedience to Christ, which secures the righteousness (forgiveness) of which Paul speaks. 10. That I may know him. By enjoying his presence in the soul; an experimental knowledge. And the power of his resurrection. The resurrection demonstrated him to be the Son of God with power (Rom. 1:4). The mighty power that worked in his resurrection works in the saints (1) in their resurrection from spiritual death to a new life (Col. 2:13; Eph. 1:19–23). It is therefore a present power. (2) It works also when they are lifted from the dead to eternal life. Consciousness of the victory over sin is the earnest of the ultimate triumph over death. And the fellowship of his sufferings. Christ's life is the plan of that of the saint. Like him, we take the cross, are crucified with him (Rom. 6:6), are baptized into his death (Rom. 6:3), are planted in the likeness of his death, and are risen with him (Col. 3:1). In all these we look to the suffering Savior, and are conformed to his death. Not only do we take the form of his sufferings, but we sympathize with him. If the obedience is from the heart, there is a partaking of his sufferings. 11. If by any means I might attain to the resurrection from the dead. This great consummation of a glorious resurrection to a heavenly life is worth attaining by every sacrifice, and by every possible means.
12–14. Not as though I had already attained. Had already obtained the great prize. It still requires effort. The prize is at the end of the race. Or am already made perfect. He never claimed to have received such a state; nor does he intimate any where that such a state is ever reached on earth. But follow after. Press on, as one who must push forward. If so be that I may apprehend. The idea is, I press on in the hope that I shall lay hold upon the prize. That. He will seek to lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold of him at conversion, viz., his eternal salvation. 13. I count not myself yet, etc. The prize is yet before. Constant effort is still required. This one thing I do. 219His whole life is given to one purpose. Forgetting the things which are behind. Especially the things which he once counted gain (verse 7), and even all the hardships and sufferings of the apostolic lot. And reaching forth. The image is of one so eager for what is before him that hands and body are stretched to lay hold of it. 14. I press on toward the goal. His eye is upon the goal and he presses through every difficulty to reach it. Unto the prize. This is the prize offered to those in the high calling of the saints in Christ. A crown was bestowed in an earthly race when the goal was reached. This prize is “the resurrection from the dead” (verse 11) and an eternal crown.
15, 16. As many as be perfect. It cannot mean perfect in the absolute sense, for in verse 12 he declares that he is not perfect, and surely the Philippians were not in advance of the apostle who admonishes them. Meyer says the Greek word here (teleioi) means mature, well developed, not children in Christ. Let such as are so far advanced be thus minded. Show the spirit indicated in verses 7–14. If … ye be otherwise minded. If you have not the mind to count all else as refuse in contrast with Christ, etc., God shall reveal it to you; will bring you to this state of mind. Of course this clause shows that he does not address those whom he believes to be “perfect.” 16. Only, whereunto we have already attained. The meaning is, Those who have not reached the status I have described, let them make the right use of all the light, ability and knowledge they have obtained.
17–21. Be followers of me. Compare 1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1. Mark them which walk so. Not only follow my example, but note those who do not follow it. 18. For many walk. There is a class who walk far otherwise, who cause him great sorrow. Of whom I have told you often. Probably, when he was preaching at Philippi, or visiting there (2 Cor. 2:13). This class had come into the church, but had not left off their pagan vices. Now tell you weeping. Because of the evil such offenders do. Enemies. Such persons are the worst enemies of Christ. One church member who arouses a scandal can wound the cause of Christ more than a dozen scoffers. 19. Whose end is destruction. Their final fate must be eternal ruin (2 Peter 2:3). Whose God is their belly. They obey their sensual appetites. Whose glory, etc. They glory in shameful things. Mind earthly things. Instead of setting their affections on the things that are above (Col. 3:1). 20. For our conversation is in heaven. Our citizenship. See Revision. We are citizens of heaven itself, our country, from which we are now absent, and which we are seeking. Hence we ought to mind heavenly things. There our Lord 220dwells, and from thence he will come. 21. Who shall change our vile body. Our lowly body shall undergo a change to fit it for heaven. It will take the form of his glorified body, such as was seen at the Transfiguration. Compare 1 Cor. 15:43–52; 2 Cor. 5:1–4; 1 John 3:2. According to the working. This change shall be effected in harmony with that mighty power which shall subdue all things to his sway. 220
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