World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
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.
7. What things were gain to me He says, that those things were gain to him, for ignorance of Christ is the sole reason why we are puffed up with a vain confidence. Hence, where we see a false estimate of one’s own excellence, where we see arrogance, where we see pride, there let us be assured that Christ is not known. On the other hand, so soon as Christ shines forth all those things that formerly dazzled our eyes with a false splendor instantly vanish, or at least are disesteemed. Those things, accordingly, which had been gain to Paul when he was as yet blind, or rather had imposed upon him under an appearance of gain, he acknowledges to have been loss to him, when he has been enlightened. Why loss? Because they were hinderances in the way of his coming to Christ. What is more hurtful than anything that keeps us back from drawing near to Christ? Now he speaks chiefly of his own righteousness, for we are not received by Christ, except as naked and emptied of our own righteousness. Paul, accordingly, acknowledges that nothing was so injurious to him as his own righteousness, inasmuch as he was by means of it shut out from Christ.
8. Nay more, I reckon. He means, that he continues to be of the same mind, because it often happens, that, transported with delight in new things, we forget everything else, and afterwards we regret it. Hence Paul, having said that he renounced all hinderances, that he might gain Christ, now adds, that he continues to be of this mind.
For the sake of the excellency of the knowledge He extols the gospel in opposition to all such notions as tend to beguile us. For there are many things that have an appearance of excellence, but the knowledge of Christ surpasses to such a degree everything else by its sublimity 183183 “Par son excellence et hautesso;” — “By its excellence and loftiness.” , that, as compared with it, there is nothing that is not contemptible. Let us, therefore, learn from this, what value we ought to set upon the knowledge of Christ alone. As to his calling him his Lord, he does this to express the intensity of his feeling.
For whom I have suffered the loss of all things He expresses more than he had done previously; at least he expresses himself with greater distinctness. It is a similitude taken from seamen, who, when urged on by danger of shipwreck, throw everything overboard, that, the ship being lightened, they may reach the harbour in safety. Paul, then, was prepared to lose everything that he had, rather than be deprived of Christ.
But it is asked, whether it is necessary for us to renounce riches, and honors, and nobility of descent, and even external righteousness, that we may become partakers of Christ, (Hebrews 3:14,) for all these things are gifts of God, which, in themselves, are not to be despised? I answer, that the Apostle does not speak here so much of the things themselves, as of the quality of them. It is, indeed, true, that the kingdom of heaven is like a precious pearl, for the purchase of which no one should hesitate to sell everything that he has (Matthew 13:46.) There is, however, a difference between the substance of things and the quality. Paul did not reckon it necessary to disown connection with his own tribe and with the race of Abraham, and make himself an alien, that he might become a Christian, but to renounce dependence upon his descent. It was not befitting, that from being chaste he should become unchaste; that from being sober, he should become intemperate; and that from being respectable and honorable, he should become dissolute; but that he should divest himself of a false estimate of his own righteousness, and treat it with contempt. We, too, when treating of the righteousness of faith, do not contend against the substance of works, but against that quality with which the sophists invest them, inasmuch as they contend that men are justified by them. Paul, therefore, divested himself — not of works, but of that mistaken confidence in works, with which he had been puffed up.
As to riches and honors, when we have divested ourselves of attachment to them, we will be prepared, also, to renounce the things themselves, whenever the Lord will require this from us, and so it ought to be. It is not expressly necessary that you be a poor man, in order that you may be Christian; but if it please the Lord that it should be so, you ought to be prepared to endure poverty. In fine, it is not lawful for Christians to have anything apart from Christ. I consider as apart from Christ everything that is a hinderance in the way of Christ alone being our ground of glorying, and having an entire sway over us.
And I count them but refuse. Here he not merely by words, but also by realities, amplifies greatly what he had before stated. For those who cast their merchandise and other things into the sea, that they may escape in safety, do not, therefore, despise riches, but act as persons prepared rather to live in misery and want 184184 Pierce adduces the two following instances of the same form of expression as made use of among the Romans—Plautus says, (Trucul. Act 2, sc 7, ver. 5,) when speaking of one that was chargeable with prodigality — “Qui bona sua pro stercore habet, foras jubet ferri,” (“who counts his goods but dung, and orders them to be carried out of the house.”) Thus, also, Apuleius, (Florid, c. 14,) speaks of Crates, when he turned Cynic: “Rem familiarem a.bjicit velut onus sterootis, magis labori quant usui;” — (“He casts away his goods as a heap of dung, that was more troublesome than useful.”) — Ed. , than to be drowned along with their riches. They part with them, indeed, but it is with regret and with a sigh; and when they have escaped, they bewail the loss of them. Paul, however, declares, on the other hand, that he had not merely abandoned everything that he formerly reckoned precious, but that they were like dung, offensive to him, or were disesteemed like things that are thrown awayin contempt. Chrysostom renders the word—straws. Grammarians, however, are of opinion, that σκύβαλον is employed as though it were κυσίβαλον — what is thrown to dogs. 185185 Such is the etymology given by Suidas, τὸ τοῖς κυσὶ βαλλόμενον — “what is thrown to dogs.” — Ed. And certainly there is good reason why everything that is opposed to Christ should be offensive to us, inasmuch as it is an abomination in, the sight of God. (Luke 16:15.) There is good reason why it should be offensive to us also, on the ground of its being an unfounded imagination.
That I may gain Christ. By this expression he intimates that we cannot gain Christ otherwise than by losing everything that we have. For he would have us rich by his grace alone: he would have him alone be our entire blessedness. Now, in what way we must suffer the loss of all things, has been already stated — in such a manner that nothing will turn us aside from confidence in Christ alone. But if Paul, with such innocence and integrity of life, did not hesitate to reckon his own righteousness to be loss and dung, what mean those Pharisees of the present day, who, while covered over with every kind of wickedness, do nevertheless feel no shame in extolling their own merits in opposition to Christ?
9. And may find them in him The verb is in the passive voice, and hence all others have rendered it, I may be found. They pass over the context, however, in a very indifferent manner, as though it had no peculiar force. If you read it in the passive voice, an antithesis must be understood — thatPaul was lost before he was found in Christ, as a rich merchant is like one lost, so long as he has his vessel laden with riches; but when they have been thrown overboard, he is found? 186186 “Mais apres que les richesses sont lettees en la mer, il est trouue, pource qu’il commence a avoir esperance d’eschapper, d’autant que le vaisseau est allege;” — “But after his riches have been thrown into the sea, he is found, inasmuch as he begins to have hope of escaping, because the vessel has been lightened.” For here that saying 187187 “Le prouerbe ancien;” — “The ancient proverb.” is admirably in point — “I had been lost, if I had not been lost.” But as the verb εὐρίσκομαι, while it has a passive termination, has an active signification, and means — to recover what you have voluntarily given up, (as Budaeus shews by various examples,) I have not hesitated to differ from the opinion of others. For, in this way, the meaning will be more complete, and the doctrine the more ample — that Paul renounced everything that he had, that he might recover them in Christ; and this corresponds better with the word gain, for it means that it was no trivial or ordinary gain, inasmuch as Christ contains everything in himself. And, unquestionably, we lose nothing when we come to Christ naked and stript of everything, for those things which we previously imagined, on false grounds, that we possessed, we then begin really to acquire. He, accordingly, shews more fully, how great the riches of Christ, because we obtain and find all things in him.
Not having mine own righteousness Here we have a remarkable passage, if any one is desirous to have a particular description of the righteousness of faith, and to understand its true nature. For Paul here makes a comparison between two kinds of righteousness. The one he speaks of as belonging to the man, while he calls it at the same time the righteousness of the law; the other, he tells us, is from God, is obtained through faith, and rests upon faith in Christ. These he represents as so directly opposed to each other, that they cannot stand together. Hence there are two things that are to be observed here. In the first place, that the righteousness of the law must be given up and renounced, that you may be righteous through faith; and secondly, that the righteousness of faith comes forth from God, and does not belong to the individual. As to both of these we have in the present day a great controversy with Papists; for on the one hand, they do not allow that the righteousness of faith is altogether from God, but ascribe it partly to man; and, on the other hand, they mix them together, as if the one did not destroy the other. Hence we must carefully examine the several words made use of by Paul, for there is not one of them that is not very emphatic.
He says, that believers have no righteousness of their own. Now, it cannot be denied, that if there were any righteousness of works, it might with propriety be said to be ours. Hence he leaves no room whatever for the righteousness of works. Why he calls it the righteousness of the law, he shows in Romans 10:5; because this is the sentence of the law, He that doeth these things shall live in them. The law, therefore, pronounces the man to be righteous through works. Nor is there any ground for the cavil of Papists, that all this must be restricted to ceremonies. For in the first place, it is a contemptible frivolity to affirm that Paul was righteous only through ceremonies; and secondly, he in this way draws a contrast between those two kinds of righteousness — the one being of man, the other, from God. He intimates, accordingly, that the one is the reward of works, while the other is a free gift from God. He thus, in a general way, places man’s merit in opposition to Christ’s grace; for while the law brings works, faith presents man before God as naked, that he may be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. When, therefore, he declares that the righteousness of faith is from God, it is not simply because faith is the gift of God, but because God justifies us by his goodness, or because we receive by faith the righteousness which he has conferred upon us.
10 That I may know him He points out the efficacy and nature of faith — that it is the knowledge of Christ, and that, too, not bare or indistinct, but in such a manner that the power of his resurrection is felt. Resurrection he employs as meaning, the completion of redemption, so that it comprehends in it at the same time the idea of death. But as it is not enough to know Christ as crucified and raised up from the dead, unless you experience, also, the fruit of this, he speaks expressly of efficacy. 188188 “De l’efficace ou puissance;” — “Of the efficacy or power.” Christ therefore is rightly known, when we feel how powerful his death and resurrection are, and how efficacious they are in us. Now all things are there furnished to us — expiation and destruction of sin, freedom from condemnation, satisfaction, victory over death, the attainment of righteousness, and the hope of a blessed immortality.
And the fellowship of his sufferings Having spoken of that freely-conferred righteousness, which was procured for us through the resurrection of Christ, and is obtained by us through faith, he proceeds to treat of the exercises of the pious, and that in order that it might not seem as though he introduced an inactive faith, which produces no effects in the life. He also intimates, indirectly, that these are the exercises in which the Lord would have his people employ themselves; while the false Apostles pressed forward upon them the useless elements of ceremonies. Let every one, therefore, who has become through faith a partaker of all Christ’s benefits, acknowledge that a condition is presented to him — that his whole life be conformed to his death.
There is, however, a twofold participation and fellowship in the death of Christ. The one is inward — what the Scripture is wont to term the mortification of the flesh, or the crucifixion of the old man, of which Paul treats in the sixth chapter of the Romans; the other is outward — what is termed the mortification of the outward man. It is the endurance of the Cross, of which he treats in the eighth chapter of the same Epistle, and here also, if I do not mistake. For after introducing along with this the power of his resurrection, Christ crucified is set before us, that we may follow him through tribulations and distresses; and hence the resurrection of the dead is expressly made mention of, that we may know that we must die before we live. This is a continued subject of meditation to believers so long as they sojourn in this world.
This, however, is a choice consolation, that in all our miseries we are partakers of Christ’s Cross, if we are his members; so that through afflictions the way is opened up for us to everlasting blessedness, as we read elsewhere,
If we die with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him. (2 Timothy 2:11,)
We must all therefore be prepared for this — that our whole life shall represent nothing else than the image of death, until it produce death itself, as the life of Christ is nothing else than a prelude of death. We enjoy, however, in the mean time, this consolation — that the end is everlasting blessedness. For the death of Christ is connected with the resurrection. Hence Paul says, that he is conformed to his death, that he may attain the glory of the resurrection. The phrase, if by any means, does not indicate doubt, but expresses difficulty, with a view to stimulate our earnest endeavor 189189 “Afin de nous resueiller et aiguiser a nous y addonner de tant plus grande affection;” — “That it may arouse and stimulate us to devote ourselves to it with so much greater zeal.” for it is no light contest, inasmuch as we must struggle against so many and so serious hinderances.