1 - A Right Righteousness v2-9
brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you
2 - A Right Life - v12-21
3:3–4a Genuine believers in Christ were the truly circumcised. Paul referred here to a spiritual circumcision rather than physical. In God’s economy, spiritual circumcision was always more important. The Old Testament said as much (Jer 31:31–34; Ezek 36:26ff.), and Paul confirmed it elsewhere (Rom 2:25–29). Physical circumcision served to identify someone with the Jewish nation and had value for purposes of ministry, but it had no value in commending someone to God. Spiritual circumcision was a matter of the heart (Col 2:11).
The three characteristics involve worship, glory, and confidence. First, true believers worshiped by the Spirit of God. Using a term that often referred to temple service (latreuō), Paul identified inward, spiritual worship in contrast to the legalism of outward conformity to the law. The Spirit energizes and focuses Christian worship. Second, true believers glory in Christ Jesus. The term “glory” means to boast (kauchaomai), and Paul consciously contrasted the boasting of good works with boasting that is in the work of Christ. Third, true believers have no confidence in the flesh. Again he referred to a righteousness that trusts in human initiative and energy to gain spiritual blessing. Paul came to the place where he realized his own efforts were useless, and that attitude paved the way for his trust in Christ.
These seven characteristics of heredity and achievement reveal that Paul’s accepting Christ did not occur because he was marginally Jewish. He had not failed in his own religion. He had seen a better way and had chosen to follow it.
This passage makes clear, however, that theology and life go together and that the antidote to poor living is proper theology. If the Philippians understood the richness of Paul’s life, they would not follow the false teachers.
No one can choose Christ who does not reach a similarly negative conclusion about his own efforts.
They did not bring him to Christ. Three times Paul expressed that the goal was Christ. First, he said it was “for the sake of Christ” (3:7).
of “the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (3:8)
Seen this way, “knowledge” means “a personal response of faith and obedience to God’s self-revelation.”
It was impossible to hold on to the former values and still have Christ. It was one or the other, and Christ exceeded anything and everything else. The three statements express repentance regarding Paul’s former attitudes about salvation. He turned away from the past to gain Christ.
Paul explicitly stated that this righteousness comes to people from God and based on that faithfulness. Paul rejected his own faithfulness to the law, realizing it was insufficient. His hope was the faithfulness of Christ. This verse, then, brings a knowledge of how God makes his righteousness available: It is through Jesus’ faithfulness and a person’s total reliance on him.
Paul described succinctly and successively what has come to be known in the topical arrangements of classical systematic theology as “justification” (v. 9), “sanctification” (v. 10), and “glorification” (v. 11).
First, at conversion believers experience the power of a spiritual resurrection. They are given new life. A new spiritual energy characterizes the new life in Christ. Yet this powerful life only begins at conversion. Successively and progressively the moral life must be changed, the physical body ultimately transformed, and believers brought to the eternal resting place of resurrection, heaven itself. The transformation does not happen at once. It culminates in the attaining of the resurrection from the dead. The resurrection occurs at the time of the Lord’s return to earth. (1 Thess 4:13–18). That will finalize the application of resurrection power to the Christian.
The task of the Christian is, in part, to realize that the nature of salvation is a death. By constantly choosing that death to sin and self, a conformity to Jesus’ death occurs. Jesus completely died to self and became a sacrifice for others. It was the greatest demonstration of commitment to the will of God, and it was that death which brought his resurrection life. Paul realized that conformity to Jesus’ death made him a candidate for resurrection power. This helps explain the spiritual discipline mentioned in 3:12–16.
The best explanation of this desire is that Paul looked ahead to the completion of his salvation.
He lived for the day when the heavenward call would come, like a victory in a race.
Rather than slack off, as some were prone to do, the thought of it motivated him to further purity and service. He would get to know every dimension of Christ (reign and suffering), through every means. The joy of the process kept him going, but he realized that the ultimate joy was the completion of God’s work in his life.
Two primary possibilities exist regarding it. Conceivably, Paul addressed a group of people who shared his outlook and were perfect in their understanding of their imperfection or in their desires to be perfected. This meaning requires different uses of two words built on the same root, which is awkward. On the other hand, Paul could have been speaking in irony, addressing a group of people who assumed they were perfect. If so, he was calling them to admit their imperfect knowledge about such matters and accept his evaluation.53 The choice between the meanings is difficult, but the latter is likely the correct reading.