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Chapter 3

3:1 Finally [to loipon]. Accusative of general reference, literally, “as for the rest.” So again in 4:8. It (or just [loipon] is a common phrase towards the close of Paul’s Epistles (2Th 3:1; 2Co 13:11). In Eph 6:10 we have [tou loipou] (genitive case). But Paul uses the idiom elsewhere also as in 1Co 7:29; 1Th 4:1 before the close of the letter is in sight. It is wholly needless to understand Paul as about to finish and then suddenly changing his mind like some preachers who announce the end a half dozen times. To write the same things [ta auta graphein]. Present active articular infinitive, “the going on writing the same things.” What things? He has just used [chairete] (go on rejoicing) again and he will repeat it in 4:4. But in verse 2 he uses [blepete] three times. At any rate Paul, as a true teacher, is not afraid of repetition. Irksome [oknēron]. Old adjective from [okneō], to delay, to hesitate. It is not tiresome to me to repeat what is “safe” [asphales] for you. Old adjective from [a] privative and [sphallō], to totter, to reel. See Ac 21:34.

3:2 Beware [blepete]. Three times for urgency and with different epithet for the Judaizers each time. The dogs [tous kunas]. The Jews so termed the Gentiles which Jesus uses in a playful mood [kunariois], little dogs) to the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mt 15:26). Paul here turns the phrase on the Judaizers themselves. The evil workers [tous kakous ergatas]. He had already called the Judaizers “deceitful workers” [ergatai dolioi] in 2Co 11:13. The concision [tēn katatomēn]. Late word for incision, mutilation (in contrast with [peritomē], circumcision). In Symmachus and an inscription. The verb [katatemnō] is used in the LXX only of mutilations (Le 21:5; 1Ki 18:28).

3:3 For we [hēmeis gar]. We believers in Christ, the children of Abraham by faith, whether Jew or Gentile, the spiritual circumcision in contrast to the merely physical (Ro 2:25-29; Col 2:11; Eph 2:11). See Ga 5:12 for [apotemnein] (to cut off) in sense of mutilation also. By the Spirit of God [pneumati theou]. Instrumental case, though the dative case as the object of [latreuō] makes good sense also (worshipping the Spirit of God) or even the locative (worshipping in the Spirit of God). No [ouk]. Actual condition rather than [] with the participle. In the flesh [en sarki]. Technical term in Paul’s controversy with the Judaizers (2Co 11:18; Gal 6:13f.). External privileges beyond mere flesh.

3:4 Might have [echōn]. Rather, “even though myself having.” Confidence [pepoithēsin]. Late word, condemned by the Atticists, from [pepoitha] (just used). See 2Co 1:15; 3:4.

3:5 Thinketh to have confidence [dokei pepoithenai]. Second perfect active infinitive. Old idiom, “seems to himself to have confidence.” Later idiom like Mt 3:9 “think not to say” and 1Co 11:16, “thinks that he has ground of confidence in himself.” I yet more [egō mallon]. “I have more ground for boasting than he” and Paul proceeds to prove it in the rest of verses 5, 6. Circumcised the eighth day [peritomēi oktaēmeros]. “In circumcision (locative case) an eighth day man.” Use of the ordinal with persons like [tetartaios] (Joh 11:39). Ishmaelites were circumcised in the thirteenth year, proselytes from Gentiles in mature age, Jews on the eighth day (Lu 2:21). Of the stock of Israel [ek genous Israēl]. Of the original stock, not a proselyte. Benjamin [Beniamin]. Son of the right hand (that is, left-handed), son of Rachel. The first King, Saul (Paul’s own Hebrew name) was from this little tribe. The battle cry of Israel was “After thee, O Benjamin” (Jud 5:14). A Hebrew of the Hebrews [Ebraios ex Ebraiōn]. Of Hebrew parents who retained the characteristic qualities in language and custom as distinct from the Hellenistic Jews (Ac 6:1). Paul was from Tarsus and knew Greek as well as Aramaic (Ac 21:40; 22:2) and Hebrew, but he had not become Hellenized. A Pharisee [Pharisaios]. In distinction from the Sadducees (Ga 1:14) and he continued a Pharisee in many essential matters like the doctrine of the resurrection (Ac 23:6). Cf. 2Co 11:22.

3:6 As touching zeal [kata zēlos]. So the old MSS. treating [zēlos] as neuter, not masculine. He was a zealot against Christianity, “persecuting the church” [diōkōn tēn ekklēsian]. He was the ringleader in the persecution from the death of Stephen till his own conversion (Ac 8:1-9:9). Found blameless [genomenos amemptos]. “Having become blameless” (Ga 1:14). He knew and practised all the rules of the rabbis. A marvellous record, scoring a hundred in Judaism.

3:7 Were gain to me [en moi kerdē]. “Were gains (plural, see on 1:21) to me (ethical dative).” Paul had natural pride in his Jewish attainments. He was the star of hope for Gamaliel and the Sanhedrin. Have I counted [hēgēmai]. Perfect middle indicative, state of completion and still true. Loss [zēmian]. Old word for damage, loss. In N.T. only in Phil. and Ac 27:10,21. Debit side of the ledger, not credit.

3:8 Yea, verily, and [alla men oun ge kai]. Five particles before Paul proceeds (yea, indeed, therefore, at least, even), showing the force and passion of his conviction. He repeats his affirmation with the present middle indicative [hēgoumai], “I still count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge [to huperechon], the surpassingness, neuter articular participle of [huperechō], Php 2:3) of Christ Jesus my Lord.” Dung [skubala]. Late word of uncertain etymology, either connected with [skōr] (dung) or from [es kunas ballō], to fling to the dogs and so refuse of any kind. It occurs in the papyri. Here only in the N.T. That I may gain Christ [hina Christon kerdēsō]. First aorist active subjunctive of [kerdaō], Ionic form for [kerdainō] with [hina] in purpose clause. Paul was never satisfied with his knowledge of Christ and always craved more fellowship with him.

3:9 Be found in him [heurethō en autōi]. First aorist (effective) passive subjunctive with [hina] of [heuriskō]. At death (2Co 5:3) or when Christ comes. Cf. 2:8; Ga 2:17. Through faith in Christ [dia pisteōs Christou]. The objective genitive [Christou], not subjective, as in Ga 2:16,20; Ro 3:22. Explained further by [epi tēi pistei] (on the basis of faith) as in Ac 3:16.

3:10 That I may know him [tou gnōnai auton]. Genitive of the articular second aorist (ingressive) active infinitive (purpose) of [ginōskō], to have personal acquaintance or experience with. This is Paul’s major passion, to get more knowledge of Christ by experience. The power of his resurrection [tēn dunamin tēs anastaseōs autou]. Power (Lightfoot) in the sense of assurance to believers in immortality (1Co 15:14f.; Ro 8:11), in the triumph over sin (Ro 4:24f.), in the dignity of the body (1Co 6:13ff.; Php 3:21), in stimulating the moral and spiritual life (Ga 2:20; Ro 6:4f.; Col 2:12; Eph 2:5). See Westcott’s The Gospel of the Resurrection, ii, 31. The fellowship of his sufferings [tēn koinōnian tōn pathēmatōn autou]. Partnership in (objective genitive) his sufferings, an honour prized by Paul (Co 1:24). Becoming conformed to his death [summorphizomenos tōi thanatōi autou]. Present passive participle of [summorphizō], late verb from [summorphos], found only here and ecclesiastical writers quoting it. The Latin Vulgate uses configuro. See Ro 6:4 for [sumphutoi] in like sense and 2Co 4:10. “The agony of Gethsemane, not less than the agony of Calvary, will be reproduced however faintly in the faithful servant of Christ” (Lightfoot). “In this passage we have the deepest secrets of the Apostle’s Christian experience unveiled” (Kennedy).

3:11 If by any means I may attain [ei pōs katantēsō]. Not an expression of doubt, but of humility (Vincent), a modest hope (Lightfoot). For [ei pōs], see Ro 1:10; 11:14 where [parazēlōsō] can be either future indicative or aorist subjunctive like [katantēsō] here (see subjunctive [katalabō] in verse 12), late compound verb [katantaō]. Resurrection [exanastasin]. Late word, not in LXX, but in Polybius and one papyrus example. Apparently Paul is thinking here only of the resurrection of believers out from the dead and so double [ex] [ten exanastasin tēn ek nekrōn]. Paul is not denying a general resurrection by this language, but emphasizing that of believers.

3:12 Not that [ouch hoti]. To guard against a misunderstanding as in Joh 6:26; 12:6; 2Co 1:24; Php 4:11, 17. I have already obtained [ēdē elabon]. Rather, “I did already obtain,” constative second aorist active indicative of [lambanō], summing up all his previous experiences as a single event. Or am already made perfect [ē ēdē teteleiōmai]. Perfect passive indicative (state of completion) of [teleioō], old verb from [teleios] and that from [telos] (end). Paul pointedly denies that he has reached a spiritual impasse of non- development. Certainly he knew nothing of so-called sudden absolute perfection by any single experience. Paul has made great progress in Christlikeness, but the goal is still before him, not behind him. But I press on [diōkō de]. He is not discouraged, but encouraged. He keeps up the chase (real idea in [diōkō], as in 1Co 14:1; Ro 9:30; 1Ti 6:11). If so be that [ei kai]. “I follow after.” The condition (third class, [eiᰬkatalabō], second aorist active subjunctive of [katalambanō] is really a sort of purpose clause or aim. There are plenty of examples in the Koinē of the use of [ei] and the subjunctive as here (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1017), “if I also may lay hold of that for which [eph’ hōi], purpose expressed by [epi] I was laid hold of [katelēmphthēn], first aorist passive of the same verb [katalambanō] by Christ Jesus.” His conversion was the beginning, not the end of the chase.

3:13 Not yet [oupō]. But some MSS. read [ou] (not). To have apprehended [kateilēphenai]. Perfect active infinitive of same verb [katalambanō] (perfective use of [kata], to grasp completely). Surely denial enough. But one thing [hen de]. No verb in the Greek. We can supply [poiō] (I do) or [diōkō] (I keep on in the chase), but no verb is really needed. “When all is said, the greatest art is to limit and isolate oneself” (Goethe), concentration. Forgetting the things which are behind [ta men opisō epilanthanomenos]. Common verb, usually with the genitive, but the accusative in the Koinē is greatly revived with verbs. Paul can mean either his old pre-Christian life, his previous progress as a Christian, or both (all of it). Stretching forward [epekteinomenos]. Present direct middle participle of the old double compound [epekteinō] (stretching myself out towards). Metaphor of a runner leaning forward as he runs.

3:14 Toward the goal [kata skopon]. “Down upon the goal,” who is Jesus himself to whom we must continually look as we run (Heb 12:2). The word means a watchman, then the goal or mark. Only here in N.T. Unto the prize [eis to brabeion]. Late word (Menander and inscriptions) from [brabeus] (umpire who awards the prize). In N.T. only here and 1Co 9:24. Of the high calling [tēs anō klēseōs]. Literally, “of the upward calling.” The goal continually moves forward as we press on, but yet never out of sight.

3:15 As many as be perfect [hosoi teleioi]. Here the term [teleioi] means relative perfection, not the absolute perfection so pointedly denied in verse 12. Paul here includes himself in the group of spiritual adults (see He 5:13). Let us be thus minded [touto phronōmen]. Present active volitive subjunctive of [phroneō]. “Let us keep on thinking this,” viz. that we have not yet attained absolute perfection. If ye are otherwise minded [ei ti heterōs phroneite]. Condition of first class, assumed as true. That is, if ye think that ye are absolutely perfect. Shall God reveal unto you [ho theos humin apokalupsei]. He turns such cases over to God. What else can he do with them? Whereunto we have already come [eis ho ephthasamen]. First aorist active indicative of [phthanō], originally to come before as in 1Th 4:15, but usually in the Koinē simply to arrive, attain to, as here.

3:16 By that same rule let us walk [tōi autōi stoichein] Aleph A B do not have [kanoni] (rule). Besides [stoichein] is the absolute present active infinitive which sometimes occurs instead of the principal verb as in Ro 12:15. Paul means simply this that, having come thus far, the thing to do is to go “in the same path” [tōi autōi] in which we have been travelling so far. A needed lesson for Christians weary with the monotony of routine in religious life and work.

3:17 Imitators together of me [sunmimētai mou]. Found only here so far, though Plato uses [summimeisthai]. “Vie with each other in imitating me” (Lightfoot). Mark [skopeite]. Old verb from [skopos] (verse 14). “Keep your eyes on me as goal.” Mark and follow, not avoid as in Ro 16:17. An ensample [tupon]. Originally the impression left by a stroke (Joh 20:25), then a pattern (mould) as here (cf. 1Th 1:7; 1Co 10:6,11; Ro 5:14; 6:17).

3:18 I told you often [pollakis elegon]. Imperfect active, repetition in Paul s warnings to them. Even weeping [kai klaiōn]. Deep emotion as he dictated the letter and recalled these recreant followers of Christ (cf. 2Co 2:4). The enemies of the cross of Christ [tous echthrous tou staurou tou Christou]. Either the Judaizers who denied the value of the cross of Christ (Ga 5:11; 6:12,14) or Epicurean antinomians whose loose living gave the lie to the cross of Christ (1Jo 2:4).

3:19 Whose god is the belly [hou to theos hē koilia]. The comic poet Eupolis uses the rare word [Koiliodaimōn] for one who makes a god of his belly and Seneca speaks of one who abdomini servit. Sensuality in food, drink, sex then as now mastered some men. These men posed as Christians and gloried in their shame. Who mind earthly things [hoi ta epigeia phronountes]. Anacoluthon. The nominative does not refer to [polloi] at the beginning, but with the accusative [tous echthrous] in between. See Mr 12:40.

3:20 Our citizenship [hēmōn to politeuma]. Old word from [piliteuō] (Php 1:27), but only here in N.T. The inscriptions use it either for citizenship or for commonwealth. Paul was proud of his Roman citizenship and found it a protection. The Philippians were also proud of their Roman citizenship. But Christians are citizens of a kingdom not of this world (Joh 18:36). Milligan (Vocabulary) doubts if commentators are entitled to translate it here: “We are a colony of heaven,” because such a translation reverses the relation between the colony and the mother city. But certainly here Paul’s heart is in heaven. We wait for [apekdechometha]. Rare and late double compound (perfective use of prepositions like wait out) which vividly pictures Paul’s eagerness for the second coming of Christ as the normal attitude of the Christian colonist whose home is heaven.

3:21 Shall fashion anew [metaschēmatisei]. Future active indicative of [metaschēmatizō] for which see 1Co 4:6; 2Co 11:13ff. Conformed to [summorphon]. For which [sun, morphē] see Ro 8:29, only N.T. examples. With associative instrumental case. The body of our state of humiliation will be made suitable to associate with the body of Christ’s glory (1Co 15:54f.). According to the working [kata tēn energeian]. “According to the energy.” If any one doubts the power of Christ to do this transformation, Paul replies that he has power “even to subject all things unto himself.”

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