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Philippians Chapter 3

Memory verses for this week:   Hebrews 1:4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 

Introduction:    In chapter 2, Paul urged the Philippians  to be like-minded and to have the mind of Christ.   He sent this letter back to them by his fellow-laborer and friend Epaphroditus, who was a member of the church in Philippi. 

I.  Paul Warns the Church Against Judaizers  

Philippians 3:1   Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. 2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. 3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Paul tells us that we should rejoice in the Lord, not in the flesh.   When we rejoice in the Lord, we should turn away from the flesh and have no confidence in it.   Paul minces no words in verse 2 where he calls the evil workers ‘dogs’ and tells them to beware of this type of individual.   Many want to destroy the work of the Lord, and we need to always determine whether a teacher is a true teacher of God’s Word or a false teacher.

Title:   Barnes Notes on the New Testament

Author:   Barnes, Albert 

We may and should rejoice in him. The principal joy of the true Christian
should be in the Lord. He should find his happiness not in riches, or gaiety, or
vanity, or ambition, or books, or in the world in any form, but in communion
with the Lord Jesus, and in the hope of eternal life through him. In his friendship,
and in his service, should be the highest of our joys, and in these we may always
be happy. It is the privilege, therefore, of a Christian to rejoice. He has more
sources of joy than any other man—sources which do not fail when all others
fail. Religion is not sadness or melancholy, it is joy; and the Christian should
never leave the impression on others that his religion makes him either gloomy or
morose. A cheerful countenance, an eye of benignity, a conversation pleasant and
kind, should always evince the joy of his heart, and in all his contact with the
world around hint he should show that his heart is full of joy. 

It is interesting to note that the Gentiles were considered dogs to the Jews.   Paul warns the church that the Pharisees may be the worst of dogs to beware of in their day.   They works were evil and they their circumcision was only of following the fleshly rules, not following after the true spiritual circumcision that only comes by the regeneration of Jesus Christ.   Men are to worship God in spirit and in truth.

John 4:20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.


II.  The Flesh Vs. the Spirit

4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law,  blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Paul illustrates by using his own self as an example.  If men could trust in the flesh, Paul could boast more than they all.  He was circumcised the eighth day according to the Law. 

Genesis 17:10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.  

Paul was born of the tribe of Benjamin, the same tribe from which Saul, the first king of Israel had originated.  Paul was a Hebrew of the Hebrews and was a Pharisee, the strictest of the organized religious groups of his day.   According to the law, he was righteous and blameless as a person could be.   And when it came to zeal, he was behind no one, having persecuted the church with orders from the High Priest. 

But all of these things Paul counted them as nothing.  His desire was to found righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ.  Paul was like the man who found the pearl of great price and gave up all he had to obtain that thing of great value.


Matthew 13:45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.


Paul relates how he gave up all his worldly titles and worldly gains to come and buy without money that which was of the greatest value.


Isaiah 55:1  Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.  3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

Paul had learned that ‘our’ righteousness is nothing in the flesh, and he desired to have the righteousness of God that comes only by salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

Paul declared that Israel was lost because they had not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.  They were ignorant of the righteousness that can only be obtained by turning to Jesus Christ.


J. Vernon McGee had this comment about the flesh.


“And have no confidence in the flesh.” We do not have confidence in our old nature. We trust Christ alone. We do not look to ourselves for salvation, nor can we live the Christian life in our old nature. It must be Christ in us.

These legalizers would follow Paul in his missionary journeys. After he was gone, they would meet with the believers and say something like this: “Well, we know that brother Paul says we are to have no confidence in the flesh, that we are not to trust the rituals nor the sacrifices, and that the Law won’t save us. He does well to say that, because he doesn’t have very much to rest upon. He doesn’t have the background in Judaism that we do. He says that because of his ignorance and the failure of his life to measure up to the requirements of the Law. So of course he has no confidence in the flesh.”   [1]


III.  The High Calling of God


10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.


Title:   Matthew Henrys Commentary on the New Testament

Author:   Henry, Matthew 

Knowing him here is believing in him: it is an experimental knowledge of the
power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, or feeling the
transforming efficacy and virtue of them. Observe, The apostle was as ambitious
of being sanctified as he was of being justified. He was as desirous to know the
power of Christ’s death and resurrection killing sin in him, and raising him up to
newness of life, as he was to receive the benefit of Christ’s death and resurrection
in his justification. 4. That he might be conformable unto him, and this also is
meant of his sanctification. We are then made conformable to his death when we
die to sin, as Christ died for sin, when we are crucified with Christ, the flesh and
affections of it mortified, and the world is crucified to us, and we to the world, by
virtue of the cross of Christ.
This is our conformity to his death. 

Paul’s calling into the ministry was special. 

Acts 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.  

Paul had a driving desire to know Jesus better.  Every Christian needs to have this desire that we might become more like Him.   The more we know about Christ, the more loyal we will be to Him and the more we will love him.    Paul wanted to understand the Resurrection in a greater way and to be a partaker in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. 

1 Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

Paul certainly did not claim to be perfect.  But he knew one day he would be perfect when the resurrection took place.  That day, all true believers will receive a perfect body fashioned unto that of the Lord’s glorified body.  In verse 13, Paul speaks of forgetting those things that were behind him and reaching forth unto those things which are before. 

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.  


IV.  Those Who are Perfect 

15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.  

The word perfect in verse 15 speaks of being full grown or mature.   The Spirit of God guides us unto all truth.  We are to walk by the same rule and mind the same thing. 

Hebrews 5:11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. 12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.  14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.  

V.  The Walk and Responsibility of a Christian


17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 

Why should we follow the example of Paul? The reason is because he was  a follower of Christ and tried his best to live the life just like Jesus would have lived.   (I Cor. 11:1)  We are to mark those who live Godly lives, and also to mark those who cause divisions among us.  Those who are enemies of Christ will face an end of destruction one day. 

Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:  21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.    

The word conversation in verse 20 speak of citizenship.   It is true that we are citizens of this world and have an obligation as such.  But our true citizenship is in heaven.   We are commanded to look for Christ to return from heaven. (Acts 1:10-11)   As mentioned earlier, when Christ returns, he will change our bodies at His appearing. 

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.   


Believers Study Bible had this to say: 

“Join in following my example” could be rendered “become fellow imitators of me.” “Fellow imitators” (summimetaéµg, Gk.) is related to the English word “mimics.” Just as Paul mimics Christ, so they should mimic or imitate him. “Pattern” (tupos, Gk.) comes from tuptoµg (Gk.), which meant to strike an exact image upon a blank piece of metal. The word was used of making coinage. Paul’s ministry consists of following Christ so closely that in making Paul a pattern for the Christian walk, his converts would essentially be reproducing the image of their King, Jesus Christ, throughout the realm. Those who refuse to conform to the image of the Suffering Servant are only reproducing the base coinage of this world, which will be further devalued when Christ returns.   [2]


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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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