What does Philippians 2:3 mean?
ESV: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
NIV: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
NASB: Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves;
CSB: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.
NLT: Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
KJV: Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
NKJV: Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Verse Commentary:
Following his focus on unity in the previous verse, Paul commands his readers to avoid acting in greediness or dishonesty. His goal was to remove focus from self to others. In this, Paul takes a slightly different approach than Christ's statement to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:36–40). Instead, he first addresses the motives of wrongful ambition and pride. When these drive our decisions, love and unity are not our true goals.

Instead, Paul taught that Christians ought to treat the needs of others as more important than our own, and other people as greater than us. By putting the needs of others first, believers pursue the kind of humility that leads to mutual love and unity. The emphasis was not on self, but on others. When this is achieved, the overall goal for humility is also met. Paul will continue this area of teaching by connecting it with the example of Jesus in the following verses (Philippians 2:6–11). Those who put others first exhibit Christ-like character through love and humility.
Verse Context:
Philippians 2:1–5 connects the blessings of Christianity with corresponding results in a Christian's life. We experience comfort, encouragement, love, and unity as saved believers in Christ. As a result, we ought to express comfort, encouragement, love, and unity to our fellow believers. Here again, Paul emphasizes that how a Christian thinks—how they frame their attitude—is crucial to living a Christian life. This sets up a classic description of Jesus Christ's sacrifice on our behalf, starting in verse 6.
Chapter Summary:
Paul describes Jesus Christ as one willing to be humble, in obedience to God the Father. For this, God will exalt Jesus' name above all others. Someday, one way or another, all people will admit that Jesus Christ is Lord, and submit to Him. Paul wants the Philippian believers to live with contentment and unity, without complaining. Instructions are given regarding two visitors. The first is actually the one delivering this letter, Epaphroditus. The other is Timothy, Paul's trusted friend, who hopefully will be visiting soon.
Chapter Context:
Philippians 1 focused on the importance of perspective. A Christian's life, lived for Christ, may be hard or easy, but all things can give God glory. Chapter 2 frames this concept through the humility shown by Jesus Christ. His willingness to obey God the Father, even being crucified, is the ultimate example of humble service. In return, His name will be honored more than any other. Paul's instructions regarding Timothy and Epaphroditus also form a bridge to chapter 3, where Paul will contrast these good men with the dangers of false teachers.
Book Summary:
Philippians is Paul's discussion of living the Christian life. In this letter to the church of Philippi, Paul highlights themes such as joy and glory. He also puts great emphasis on how a Christian's thinking—their attitude—affects the way they live out their faith. Paul is very thankful for the support of the Philippian church, but is also concerned about the influence of various false teachers. This letter is less theological than most of his other writings, and more practical.
Accessed 5/26/2024 5:16:21 PM
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