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4even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Pressing toward the Goal

12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

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4. "Although I (emphatical) might have confidence even in the flesh." Literally, "I having," but not using, "confidence in the flesh."

I more—have more "whereof I might have confidence in the flesh."

5. In three particulars he shows how he "might have confidence in the flesh" (Php 3:4): (1) His pure Jewish blood. (2) His legal preciseness and high status as such. (3) His zeal for the law. The Greek is literally, "Being in circumcision an eighth day person," that is, not one circumcised in later life as a proselyte, but on the eighth day after birth, as the law directed in the case of Jew-born infants.

of the tribe of Benjamin—son of Rachel, not of the maid-servant [Bengel].

Hebrew of the Hebrews—neither one or other parent being Gentile. The "Hebrew," wherever he dwelt, retained the language of his fathers. Thus Paul, though settled in Tarsus, a Greek city, calls himself a Hebrew. A "Grecian" or Hellenist, on the other hand, in the New Testament, is the term used for a "Greek-speaking" Jew [Trench].

touching the law—that is, as to legal status and strictness.

a Pharisee—"of the straitest sect" (Ac 26:5).

6. Concerning—Translate as before and after, "As touching Zeal" (compare Ac 22:3; 26:9).

blamelessGreek, "having become blameless" as to ceremonial righteousness: having attained in the eyes of man blameless legal perfection. As to the holiness before God, which is the inner and truest spirit of the law, and which flows from "the righteousness of God by faith," he on the contrary declares (Php 3:12-14) that he has not attained perfection.

7. gain—rather as Greek, "gains"; including all possible advantages of outward status, which he had heretofore enjoyed.

I countedGreek, "I have counted for Christ's sake loss." He no longer uses the plural as in "gains"; for he counts them all but one great "loss" (Mt 16:26; Lu 9:25).

8. Yea doubtless—The oldest manuscripts omit "doubtless" (Greek, "ge"): translate, "nay more." Not only "have I counted" those things just mentioned "loss for Christ's sake, but, moreover, I even DO count ALL things but loss," &c.

for the excellencyGreek, "On account of the surpassing excellency (the supereminence above them all) of the knowledge of Christ Jesus."

my Lord—believing and loving appropriation of Him (Ps 63:1; Joh 20:28).

for whom—"on account of whom."

I have suffered the loss—not merely I "counted" them "loss," but have actually lost them.

all things—The Greek has the article, referring to the preceding "all things"; "I have suffered the loss of them all."

dungGreek, "refuse (such as excrements, dregs, dross) cast to the dogs," as the derivation expresses. A "loss" is of something having value; but "refuse" is thrown away as not worthy of being any more touched or looked at.

win—Translate, to accord with the translation, Php 3:7, "gain Christ." A man cannot make other things his "gain" or chief confidence, and at the same time "gain Christ." He who loses all things, and even himself, on account of Christ, gains Christ: Christ is His, and He is Christ's (So 2:16; 6:3; Lu 9:23, 24; 1Co 3:23).

9. be found in him—"be found" at His coming again, living spiritually "in Him" as the element of my life. Once lost, I have been "found," and I hope to be perfectly "found" by Him (Lu 15:8).

own righteousness … of the law—(Php 3:6; Ro 10:3, 5). "Of," that is, from.

righteousness … of God by faithGreek, "which is from God (resting) upon faith." Paul was transported from legal bondage into Christian freedom at once, and without any gradual transition. Hence, the bands of Pharisaism were loosed instantaneously; and opposition to Pharisaic Judaism took the place of opposition to the Gospel. Thus God's providence fitly prepared him for the work of overthrowing all idea of legal justification. "The righteousness of faith," in Paul's sense, is the righteousness or perfect holiness of Christ appropriated by faith, as the objective ground of confidence for the believer, and also as a new subjective principle of life. Hence it includes the essence of a new disposition, and may easily pass into the idea of sanctification, though the two ideas are originally distinct. It is not any arbitrary act of God, as if he treated as sinless a man persisting in sin, simply because he believes in Christ; but the objective on the part of God corresponds to the subjective on the part of man, namely, faith. The realization of the archetype of holiness through Christ contains the pledge that this shall be realized in all who are one with Him by faith, and are become the organs of His Spirit. Its germ is imparted to them in believing although the fruit of a life perfectly conformed to the Redeemer, can only be gradually developed in this life [Neander].

10. That I may know him—experimentally. The aim of the "righteousness" just mentioned. This verse resumes, and more fully explains, "the excellency of the knowledge of Christ" (Php 3:8). To know HIM is more than merely to know a doctrine about Him. Believers are brought not only to redemption, but to the Redeemer Himself.

the power of his resurrection—assuring believers of their justification (Ro 4:25; 1Co 15:17), and raising them up spiritually with Him, by virtue of their identification with Him in this, as in all the acts of His redeeming work for us (Ro 6:4; Col 2:12; 3:1). The power of the Divine Spirit, which raised Him from literal death, is the same which raises believers from spiritual death now (Eph 1:19, 20), and shall raise their bodies from literal death hereafter (Ro 8:11).

the fellowship of his sufferings—by identification with Him in His sufferings and death, by imputation; also, in actually bearing the cross whatever is laid on us, after His example, and so "filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ" (Col 1:24); and in the will to bear aught for His sake (Mt 10:38; 16:24; 2Ti 2:11). As He bore all our sufferings (Isa 53:4), so we participate in His.

made conformable unto his death—"conformed to the likeness of His death," namely, by continued sufferings for His sake, and mortifying of the carnal self (Ro 8:29; 1Co 15:31; 2Co 4:10-12; Ga 2:20).

11. If by any means—not implying uncertainty of the issue, but the earnestness of the struggle of faith (1Co 9:26, 27), and the urgent need of jealous self-watchfulness (1Co 10:12).

attain unto the resurrection of the dead—The oldest manuscripts read, "the resurrection from (out of) the dead," namely, the first resurrection; that of believers at Christ's coming (1Co 15:23; 1Th 4:15; Re 20:5, 6). The Greek word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. "The power of Christ's resurrection" (Ro 1:4), ensures the believer's attainment of the "resurrection from the (rest of the) dead" (compare Php 3:20, 21). Compare "accounted worthy to obtain the resurrection from the dead" (Lu 20:35). "The resurrection of the just" (Lu 14:14).

12. Translate, "Not that I," &c. (I do not wish to be understood as saying that, &c.).

attained—"obtained," namely, a perfect knowledge of Christ, and of the power of His death, and fellowship of His sufferings, and a conformity to His death.

either were already perfect—"or am already perfected," that is, crowned with the garland of victory, my course completed, and perfection absolutely reached. The image is that of a race course throughout. See 1Co 9:24; Heb 12:23. See Trench [Greek Synonyms of the New Testament].

I follow after—"I press on."

apprehend … apprehended—"If so be that I may lay hold on that (namely, the prize, Php 3:14) for which also I was laid hold on by Christ" (namely, at my conversion, So 1:4; 1Co 13:12).

Jesus—omitted in the oldest manuscripts. Paul was close to "apprehending" the prize (2Ti 4:7, 8). Christ the Author, is also the Finisher of His people's "race."

13. I—whatever others count as to themselves. He who counts himself perfect, must deceive himself by calling sin infirmity (1Jo 1:8); at the same time, each must aim at perfection, to be a Christian at all (Mt 5:48).

forgetting those things … behindLooking back is sure to end in going back (Lu 9:62): So Lot's wife (Lu 17:32). If in stemming a current we cease pulling the oar against it, we are carried back. God's word to us is as it was to Israel, "Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward" (Ex 14:15). The Bible is our landmark to show us whether we are progressing or retrograding.

reaching forth—with hand and foot, like a runner in a race, and the body bent forward. The Christian is always humbled by the contrast between what he is and what he desires to be. The eye reaches before and draws on the hand, the hand reaches before and draws on the foot [Bengel].

unto—towards (Heb 6:1).

14. high calling—literally, "the calling that is above" (Ga 4:26; Col 3:1): "the heavenly calling" (Heb 3:1). "The prize" is "the crown of righteousness" (1Co 9:24; 2Ti 4:8). Re 2:10, "crown of life." 1Pe 5:4, "a crown of glory that fadeth not away." "The high," or "heavenly calling," is not restricted, as Alford thinks, to Paul's own calling as an apostle by the summons of God from heaven; but the common calling of all Christians to salvation in Christ, which coming from heaven invites us to heaven, whither accordingly our minds ought to be uplifted.