What do you do when you try harder and still struggle with sin? That’s the question Paul answers in Philippians 3:12-31. In this section, Paul clarifies what he means by perfection and the goal of the Christian life.
Paul wrote this letter during his first Roman imprisonment (60-62 AD). The Philippians have sent him a gift of financial support. Paul and the Philippians are on good terms and they have a warm and caring relationship. As a church, they are basically doing well. Paul is writing this letter 1) to thank them for their generosity in sending the gift; 2) assure them that he is doing well even though he is a prisoner and 3) to encourage them to persevere in and live out their faith.
In Philippians 3, Paul shifted to a new but related topic: warning them not to follow the Judaizers. The Judaizers were Jewish Christians who believed that you had to keep the law of Moses in order to be a true believer. After saying in 3:8-11 that he counts all his personal accomplishments, his pedigree and his law keeping as loss in order to gain faith in Christ and to obtain the resurrection from the dead he says:
- The “this” in 3:12 refers back to “the resurrection from the dead” in 3:11.
- There is both a future sense and a present sense to the resurrection. The future sense is what we call glorification: when our physical bodies will be transformed at the second coming of Christ.
- The present sense is the fact that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is at work in us now, to mature and strengthen our faith.
- The greek word “perfect” does not mean flawless or without blemish. Rather it means to have arrived at its intended goal and become that which it is suppose to be.
- Paul is clarifying that he does NOT believe we have the power to live a perfectly obedient life now (3:12; 3:13; 3:14).
- He uses the metaphor of an athlete running a race, and keeping his eyes focused on the finish line.
- Notice throughout chapter 3 that Jesus Christ is central to everything.
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.
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Series: Philippians: Choose Life
Study Resources: Philippians Bible Study Resources
Scripture references are from the English Standard version.