Philippians 3

Philippians 3

Philippians 3 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Have you ever met someone who always tries to one-up you? No matter how the story goes, they always pull the trump card with some experience or credential that’s bigger and better. It’s not only annoying, but dangerous. If anyone had a right to brag about their assortment of personal achievements, it was Paul.

Coming off the heels of studying Galatians, we can certainly appreciate Paul’s words in Philippians 3. There were so many false teachers who were requiring additional works in order to find true Salvation. It’s fitting that in Paul’s life he acquired such a diverse range of accomplishments through his works. He had a proven successful track record. Based on his experiences alone, it would be easy to conclude that he was a true believer. But all these accomplishments meant nothing to him compared to Christ.

I love these moments when Paul attacks his opponents head on. Here in Chapter 3, he presents his résumé.

  • Circumcised the eighth day – as was the Old Testament requirement in Leviticus 3
  • Of the nation of Israel – as a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Paul was an heir
  • Of the tribe of Benjamin – this was a prestigious tribe which gave Israel her first king (Saul) and joined with Judah (Christ’s lineage) during the split of the kingdoms
  • A Hebrew of Hebrews – he was not ashamed to be a Hebrew during a time when many Jews were trying to fit in with the Roman culture
  • As to the Law, a Pharisee – he was part of the most elite and significant group of religious leaders who were wholeheartedly committed to the law of God
  • To zeal, a persecutor of the church – he was so passionate about his position that he acted out upon it with physical persecution of those who were “against God”
  • As to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless –  he reached the pinnacle of holiness as measured by the most distinguished men of his time

Essentially, Paul was saying to his opponents, “I am far more qualified than you to speak to accomplishments.” Paul stands proudly on a mighty vessel of accomplishments, yet, he is content to abandon ship.

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

Philippians 3:7 NASB

Essentially, these accolades mean nothing compared to Christ. It’s true they were all great successes, but Paul chose to count them as loss because they could never please God! To those requiring additional works, these words spoke loud and clear. No work of the flesh will ever please God. It pleased Him to put His Son on a cross for our sin! Think about that for a moment. Let it sink in.

Paul had found the treasure hidden in a field and he sold everything to buy that field. He found a pearl of great value and sold all he had to buy it (Matthew 13).

So, I’m curious. Do we actually believe this about our lives? Can we discern the ways we are still working in the flesh to please God? Do we recognize the ways we are abiding in the grace of Jesus? Grace comes through faith and faith alone. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. How is this playing out in your life today?

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