With chapter 3 of Philippians, Paul begins a new but related topic. While his major concern is still that the Philippians sincerely embrace the gospel and so find eternal life, he now warns them against the false teaching of the Judaizers. While warning against legalism, Paul explains his view of his own “accomplishments” under the law.
Paul is imprisoned in Rome around 60-62 AD, waiting to see whether he will be released or executed. The Philippians church has generously sent him financial support. Paul is writing this letter to thank them and send them news.
Paul had 3 purposes in writing this letter
- to express his joy that their faith has led them to support him financially;
- to encourage them to live lives of obedient persevering faith;
- to update them on his circumstances.
He expressed his gratitude for their faith that led them to support him financially. And, he prayed that they would have a genuine faith that manifests itself in wisdom which leads them to love one another. In spite of his circumstances, he rejoiced that the gospel was progressing even though he was not free to proclaim it himself.
In this letter he has been encouraging them to extend self-sacrificing love and patience to each other. They are to flee rivalry and conceit, and consider the needs of others as more significant than their own interests. They are to have unity around their shared belief in the gospel, as they strive to embrace the gospel that will lead them to have one mind. He wants their common hope and faith to bring them together in spite of the many ways they might disagree.
Chapter 3 begins the second major section of the body of the letter.
1Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. 2Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh– 4though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8Indeed, 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 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith– 10that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. – Philippians 3:1-11 ESV
- When Paul tells the Philippians to rejoice, he’s saying, I want you to so value the hope of the gospel that you rejoice no matter the circumstances.
- Rejoice in the Lord – Even though you are facing hardship, rejoice in what the Lord Jesus is doing for you. Find comfort and hope in what the Lord has done for you.
- The more we rejoice in the Lord, the less likely we are to be taken in by counterfeits.
- The Judaizers taught that to follow Christ you must also keep the Law of Moses.
- The Judaizers consider themselves the true people of God because they follow the law of Moses but Paul calls them “dogs,” outside the people of God.
- The Judaizers believe they are for good by enlightening the Gentiles but Paul calls them workers of evil.
- The Judaizers see themselves as the true circumcision but Paul calls them the false circumcision.
- By contrast, followers of Christ boast in Jesus and put no confidence in works of human hands.
- Using himself as an example, Paul says he had all the advantages of serious law-keeping and yet he counts them as a loss because his accomplishments fooled him into thinking he did not need a savior.
- Faith in Christ makes him right with God in a way law-keeping could never accomplish.
Please listen to the podcast for more detail and explanation.
Series: Philippians: Choose Life
Study: Philippians Resources
Scripture references are from the English Standard version.