Philippians 3:8 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Philippians 3:8, NIV: "What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ"

Philippians 3:8, ESV: "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ"

Philippians 3:8, KJV: "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,"

Philippians 3:8, NASB: "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them mere rubbish, so that I may gain Christ,"

Philippians 3:8, NLT: "Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ"

Philippians 3:8, CSB: "More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ"

What does Philippians 3:8 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

To Paul, nothing else mattered in comparison to Christ. This included his religion, his family, his career, and his past accomplishments (Philippians 3:5–6). His single goal was Christ. Paul further emphasizes this focus when he notes what he has given up for the sake of the gospel. From Paul's perspective, he had sacrificed all of the worldly accomplishments mentioned in the prior verses. He had left Jerusalem and the temple in exchange for Rome and imprisonment. He had no freedom to travel or to live as he pleased. Yet he thought of those prior glories as "rubbish."

English translations typically use a far more elegant word—such as "dung" or "rubbish,"—than what Paul uses in this phrase. The term Paul wrote is derived from the Greek skubalon, used only here in the entire New Testament. The word refers to excrement. Non-biblical sources of that time use it almost exclusively to refer to digestive wastes: feces. Paul's terminology is not vulgar, but it is extremely strong. English terms such as "garbage" don't fully capture the sharpness of this expression.

Most ancient cities had a large, ever-burning pile of waste outside of the community where trash, filth, and garbage were discarded. This, in fact, was the same imagery Jesus used when describing the destiny of the wicked in Matthew 5:22 and 10:28. Christ's term was "Gehenna," the valley used for trash and filth outside of Jerusalem.

In short, Paul is describing his great and noteworthy human achievements using the worst word picture he could share with his audience. All that mattered to Paul was Christ; everything else was not merely less valuable—it was utter garbage.