Joy in the Lord and What Can Spoil it (3:1-3)
Paul’s Experience Under Judaism and in Christianity (3:4-14)
Paul's sense of his own sin did not lessen with time. There can be a tendency to think higher of ourselves as time passes in light of past wrongs. Not Paul. Writing in A.D. 54 he referred to himself as "not fit to be called apostle" (1 Cor. 15:9), in A.D. 64 as "less than the least of all saints" (Eph. 3:8), and in A.D. 65 as "the chief of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). His humility only grew as time went on! Interestingly, his sense of the light of God's glory which shone about him on the Damascus road also increased each time the story is told (Acts 9:3; 22:6; 26:13).In addition to forgetting the successes of the flesh, Paul was “stretching out to the things before”. He was longing for heaven, to see his Lord and Savior. This prize, that of being with and like Christ, is the reason we were called by God, although we will not receive the prize until we are in the resurrection state. Our calling is referred to as “the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus”. The name “Christ Jesus” brings before us the glorified man in heaven, while the name “Jesus Christ” brings before us the humbled man on earth. Our calling is a holy calling (2 Tim. 1:9), a heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1), and a high calling (Phil. 3:14). And the object of our high, holy, and heavenly calling is a glorified man, the man Christ Jesus!
Exhortation to Follow Paul (3:15-21)
Many times over Paul exhorts us to be followers of him (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 1 Thess. 1:6; 2 Thess. 3:7; 3:9). Paul could say this without being vain or fleshly, because "he so thoroughly realized the power of God in Christ, that it just illustrated the energy of the Spirit in him. He was led of the Holy Ghost to speak thus."6 Apart from being led of the Spirit to say this, it would be pride. Sometimes when exhorting the saints to follow his example, Paul adds "as I am of Christ", and other times he does not. In Phil. 3:17 he does not add "as I am of Christ" because the context there is running to attain a prize, putting down thoughts of self-exaltation and worldly glory, and Christ never had to do that. But whenever possible, Paul adds that little expression.The words “all together” refer to those whom Paul was addressing; the saints in Philippi collectively. Along with himself, Paul includes others who were “walking thus” (v.15). God is pleased to use mature believers – the perfect or full-grown ones – as models for new converts to follow. Those who are experienced in the path have a tremendous responsibility to be examples for those who are younger in the faith. We can only be a help to others if we are wholeheartedly pursuing the prize, which is Christ in glory. If we have other objects that divide our hearts from Christ, we will be a poor example to others.
- Cluff, Samuel O’Malley. Nothing but Christ, as on we tread. Little Flock Hymnbook #25A
- A poor man may not part with his old coat; but if you give him a new one instead, he will soon have done with it. The moment the soul has the eye fixed on the Lord Jesus, all our righteousness becomes filthy rags, and the heart revolts from mixing it up with Him. – Darby, J.N. Brief Thoughts on Philippians.
- In a world where Christ had been rejected, the object of all my hopes is at the right hand of God. I have got a life completely paramount over death. The resurrection of Christ was past sin, past Satan’s power, past judgment, past death. The second Man had gone into death – was made sin; but He is risen, and all that is past. God has been glorified, and death belongs to us now as we belonged to it in the first man. We have got this divine life which is above everything in the world. – Darby, J.N. Brief Thoughts on Philippians.
- Pounds, Jessie B. The Way of the Cross Leads Home.
- The apostle John calls them “fathers”, because they had “known him that is from the beginning” (1 John 2:13).
- Kelly, W. The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians.
- J.N. Darby made this comment in his translation – ‘Commonwealth’ does not satisfy me, but ‘citizenship’ gives a different idea. ‘Conversation’ is wrong, though it be a practical consequence. It is ‘associations of life,’ as, ‘I am born an Englishman.’
- Frazer, George W. Have I an object, Lord, below. Little Flock Hymnbook #46A