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Philippians chapter 3

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King James Version

New King James Version

What does Philippians chapter 3 mean?

Philippians chapter 3 speaks about Christ as the proper focus during times of suffering. Philippians 2 sets this passage up in the context of persecution and oppression for the sake of the gospel. First, Paul discusses the importance of righteousness through faith in Christ rather than by works (Philippians 3:1–11). Second, Paul talks about straining toward the goal of following Christ (Philippians 3:12–21).

In Philippians 3:1–11, Paul begins with a reminder to "rejoice in the Lord" (Philippians 3:1). He also warns his readers to "look out" for certain specific types of false teachers (Philippians 3:2). Those who required Jewish circumcision, or other rituals, as part of salvation were not part of the true family of faith. The true "circumcision" are those who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:3).

Paul then adds his own spiritual resume, noting his reasons to boast "in the flesh" (Philippians 3:4). They included: circumcision on the eighth day; being from Israel, specifically the tribe of Benjamin; being a Pharisee; persecuting the church; and living according to the law (Philippians 3:5–6). Paul's point is that if any human being could be justified by the law, he would be—and yet, he considers all of that wasted in comparison to Christ (Philippians 3:7–8). Nothing was more important than knowing Jesus.

Paul's focus is to be "found in [Christ]," finding a righteousness not based on works of the law but on faith (Philippians 3:9). His goal is to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. He wants to also share in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death (Philippians 3:10).

In the second half of the chapter, Paul speaks of pressing on or straining toward Christ-like living (Philippians 3:12–21). He begins by stating that he is not yet perfect, but is working toward living more like Christ (Philippians 3:12). He does not focus on the past, but on the future (Philippians 3:13). He is committed to the goal of the calling of Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). All mature believers are to live this way (Philippians 3:15), holding on to the progress they have already attained (Philippians 3:16).

Paul then calls the believers to imitate him (Philippians 3:17). In contrast, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ (Philippians 3:18), something that brought tears to Paul. These people were focused on their own satisfaction and were set on earthly things (Philippians 3:19). In contrast, the believer's citizenship is in heaven. Believers await the return of Christ (Philippians 3:20). Christ will change the human bodies of believers into a new body like Christ has, something that should bring believers joy (Philippians 3:21).
What is the Gospel?
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