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As a follower of Jesus, you can have joy in this life no matter what happens; Philippians shares
truths and actions that show how.


What does it take to be happy? Good health?
True love? Money in the bank? Career success? Harmonious relationships? Many people spend their lives chasing these things to be
happy. Or theyre always striving to eliminate
happiness busters from their lives: problems,
pain, and heartache. The trouble is, no one
ultimately has control over his or her circumstances, and happiness is elusive.
Pauls letter to the Philippians is about true,
lasting joy. This joy isnt grounded in getting
what you want out of life or living free from
suffering. Its tied to growing in a relationship
with Jesus Christ. Paul could speak with authority about joy that doesnt depend on ideal
life circumstances, as he wrote the letter to the
Philippian Christians from prison. Most Bible
students believe this was during his imprisonment in Rome (Acts 28:1631) near the end of
his life (about a.d. 6062).
Among Pauls letters, Philippians is the
most personal in nature. Here Paul did not
address disturbing church issues. Absent are
any stinging rebukes. Instead, the letter overflows with a joyful spirit and thanksgiving for
this group of Christians. Paul had started the
church in Philippi on his second missionary
journey. He went there in response to a vision
from God, leaving Troas in the province of
Asia (part of present-day Turkey) for Macedonia (in present-day Greece). There in the city
of Philippi, he established the first church in
Europe (Acts 16:612).
Philippi, named after Philip II of Macedon,
the father of Alexander the Great, was the
leading city in Macedonia. It was strategically located along the Egnatian Way, a major
thoroughfare between the eastern provinces
of the Roman Empire and the city of Rome.
The Romans bestowed on Philippi the highest possible status for a provincial city, that
of a Roman colony. This allowed its citizens

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God will finish what He started (1:6)
Christianity is a lifelong journey (3:1216)
God will supply all our needs (4:1220)
to purchase, own, and transfer property. They
could file civil lawsuits in Roman courts and
didnt have to pay poll or land taxes. Philippis
citizens took great pride in their exalted status
and accompanying wealth.
From its start, the church Paul established
in Philippi included various races, cultures,
and social classes. This variety would have
contributed powerfully to the joy of the church.
Early converts included Lydia, an upper-class
seller of royal dyes (Acts 16:14, 15) and a
middle-c lass Roman jailer (Acts 16:223 4).
A young girl healed from demon possession may also have been a church member
(Acts 16:1618). As the church grew, it would
remain predominantly Gentile, but a minority
group of Jewish members had a strong
i nfluence within the congregation. Once

again, the Philippians practiced the unity to

which Christ calls us (see such passages as
Ephesians 4 5).
Joy is the primary theme running throughout Pauls letter to the Philippians. For example, Paul:

prayed for them with joy (1:4);

rejoiced in the spread of the gospel (1:18);

wanted to remain with the Philippians for

their progress and joy (1:25);
asked them to fulfill his joy by being united
anticipated rejoicing in the day of Christ

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1668 | Philippians INTRODUCTION

was glad and rejoiced despite his trouble

and told the Philippians to do the same (2:17,
was sending Epaphroditus so they could
rejoice in seeing him again (2:28, 29);
told them to rejoice in the Lord (3:1);
referred to the Philippians as his joy and
crown (4:1);
repeated his imperative to rejoice in the Lord
always (4:4); and
rejoiced in the care they had expressed for
him (4:10).

Pauls joy withstood opposition (1:1518)

and imprisonment (1:1214). It was not dampened by having to sacrifice or suffer (1:17, 18).
Even the prospect of death could not rob Paul
of his joy (1:1923). His joy flowed out of a


aul and Timothy, bondservants of

Jesus Christ,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who

are in Philippi, with the bishopsa and
2 Grace to you and peace from God
our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thankfulness and Prayer

3I thank my God upon every remem
brance of you, 4 always in every prayer
of mine making request for you all with

1:111 To all the saints. This term means holy ones

(those who are separated to God) and refers to all
the believers in Philippi. bishops. This refers to those
who watch over the spiritual welfare of the local
church. deacons. This is a reference to those who
serve the congregation in special service capacities.
They were charged with handling the physical and
material concerns of the church (Acts 6:17). In the
first few verses, Paul reveals his great love for the
Philippians. He thinks of them often (vv. 36), he is
concerned about them (vv. 78), and he regularly
prays for them (vv. 911).
1:3 I thank. The tense of the Greek verb indicates
that Paul was continually thankful to God for the
Philippian Christians. upon every remembrance of
you. Every time God brought them to his mind, Paul
gave thanks.
1:4 joy. This is the first of five uses of the Greek word
for joy in the letter (v. 25; 2:2,29; 4:1). Paul also uses
the Greek word for rejoice eight times in this letter
(v.18; 2:1718,28; 3:1; 4:4).
1:5 fellowship. This term is a commercial term for a

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passion to know and serve Christ (3:714). Because his joy was not tied to circumstances, no
circumstances could shake it.
A secondary theme is partnership in the
gospel. Paul regarded the Philippian believers
as partners in the gospel with him. They had
sent Epaphroditus to minister to Pauls needs
(2:25) along with a gift of support (4:18). Epaphroditus became gravely ill during his stay with
Paul. So Paul was returning him to the Philippians with the letter expressing gratitude for their
support for his efforts in spreading the gospel
(4:1416). From Epaphroditus Paul would have
received information about the status of the
Philippian church since he had last visited. The
occasion of Epaphroditus return afforded Paul
the opportunity to write to his Philippian friends
and not only express thanks, but also encourage them in specific areas to continue in their
spiritual growth.

joy, 5for your fellowship in the gospel

from the first day until now, 6 being
confident of this very thing, that He
who has begun a good work in you will
complete it until the day of J
esus Christ;
7 just as it is right for me to think this of
you all, because I have you in my heart,
inasmuch as both in my chains and in
the defense and confirmation of the
gospel, you all are partakers with me
of grace. 8For God is my witness, how
greatly I long for you all with the affec
tion of Jesus Christ.
1:1aLiterally overseers

joint-partnership in a business venture in which all

parties actively participate to ensure the success of
the business. In the Christian community, the word
expresses intimacy with Christ (1Cor. 1:9).
1:6 until. This word can also be translated as far as.
It expresses progress toward a goal and indicates
that a time is coming when God will completely finish His work among the Philippian Christians.
1:7 right. This word conveys a sense of moral
uprightness and is often translated throughout the
New Testament as righteous. In this context, the
word indicates that Pauls thoughts regarding
the Philippians were in perfect accord with Gods
will. confirmation. Used only here and in Hebrews
6:16 in the New Testament, this word is a legal and
commercial term meaning a validating guarantee.
1:8 the affection of Jesus Christ. The word translated affection literally means the internal organs,
regarded by the first century reader as the center of
the deepest feelings. Whereas the heart is the seat
of reflection, Paul now speaks of his deep feelings for
the believers. His feelings for the Philippians were

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Philippians 1:14 | 1669

God will finish what He started

Imagine contracting with a construction
company for a major home renovation.
Youve heard good things about a particular
company, so you hire them and place a down
payment on the job. Then several weeks into
the project, the construction company goes
belly up. They bail on you, and youre stuck.
Nothing is finished. Your home is in a state of
incompletion, only halfway functional and far
from beautiful.
You dont have to worry about anything
like that happening with God. God is unwaveringly dependable. He finishes what He
starts. And He does so with beauty, delight,
and goodness.
Salvation is both an event and a process.
The event is the moment a sinner turns
to Jesus in faith, asking forgiveness and
surrendering to Gods lordship. That event
transforms us and declares us righteous. But
we dont instantly become like Jesus. The
process part of salvation is called sanctification (see the concept notes on sanctification
at Leviticus 11:44, 45; Hebrews 2:11
2 Thessalonians 2:13; James 1:22
Romans 12:1, 2; and 2Corinthians 2:14, 15).
From the moment you receive salvation, God
begins a work in your life, conforming you to
the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29).


Philippians 1:6
God continues this work in us until the
day we see Him face-to-face. When we keep
struggling with the same sins, He doesnt give
up on us. When we make a bit of progress, He
builds upon that with delight. When we neglect
Him for lesser priorities, He doesnt throw up
His hands and walk away. When we throw
ourselves to Him in devotion, He equips us to
serve Him. When the struggle is long and hard
and our faith is feeble, He continues working
to complete His transforming work in us.

Gods enduring faithfulness in sustaining
and working out His purpose for His people
appears throughout Scripture. The psalmist
prayed, The Lord will perfect that which
concerns me; your mercy, O Lord, endures
forever; do not forsake the works of Your
hands (Ps. 138:8). And God spoke through
the prophet Isaiah, saying, Listen to Me,
Ohouse of Jacob, and all the remnant of the
house of Israel, who have been upheld by
Me from birth, who have been carried from
the womb: Even to your old age, I am He,
and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have
made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will
deliver you (Is. 46:3, 4).
next: Philippians 3:1216

9And this I pray, that your love may

abound still more and more in knowl
edge and all discernment, 10 that you
may approve the things that are excel
lent, that you may be sincere and with
out offense till the day of Christ, 11being
filled with the fruits of righteousness
which are by J
esus Christ, to the glory
and praise of God.

Christ Is Preached

like those of Jesus Christ, who loved them and died

for them.
1:9 love. The kind of love that Paul sought for the
believers is the highest form of Christian love, based
on a lasting, unconditional commitment, not on
an unstable emotion. knowledge. The first of two
terms on which a directed love is built, knowledge
suggests an intimate understanding based on a
relationship with a person. Here the focus of this
knowledge is God. discernment. Found only here in
the New Testament, the Greek word means moral or
ethical understanding based on both the intellect
and the senses.

1:10 that you may approve. This verb is used in

ancient literature for the testing of gold to determine its purity and for trying oxen to assess their
usefulness for the task at hand.
1:12 furtherance. This phrase could suggest a pioneer beating or cutting a path through a densely
forested area. Pauls imprisonment was a strategic
advance in the kingdom of God because it was clearing the way for the gospel to penetrate the ranks of
the Roman military.
1:13 palace guard. This is a reference to the praetorian guard, a force consisting of several thousand
highly trained, elite soldiers of the Roman Empire

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12 But I want you to know, brethren,

that the things which happened to me
have actually turned out for the further
ance of the gospel, 13 so that it has be
come evident to the whole palace guard,
and to all the rest, that my chains are
in Christ; 14and most of the brethren in
the Lord, having become confident by

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1670 | Philippians 1:15

my chains, are much more bold to speak
the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ even
from envy and strife, and some also
from goodwill: 16T he formera preach
Christ from selfish ambition, not sin
cerely, supposing to add affliction to
my chains; 17but the latter out of love,
knowing that I am appointed for the de
fense of the gospel. 18W hat then? Only
that in every way, whether in pretense
or in truth, Christ is preached; and in
this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

To Live Is Christ
19 For I know that this will turn out
for my deliverance through your prayer
and the supply of the Spirit of J
Christ, 20 according to my earnest ex
pectation and hope that in nothing I
shall be ashamed, but with all boldness,
as always, so now also Christ will be
magnified in my body, whether by life
or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ,
and to die is gain. 22But if I live on in
the flesh, this will mean fruit from my
labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot
tell. 23Fora I am hard-pressed between
the two, having a desire to depart and be
with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nev
ertheless to remain in the flesh is more
needful for you. 25And being confident

who were headquartered at Rome. For the one to

two years that Paul had been under house arrest in
Rome, different soldiers had taken turns guarding
him. Although Paul could not go to the world to
preach, in this way God brought the world to Paul. In
an ironic twist, they were the captives and Paul was
free to preach.
1:18 in pretense or in truth. Whether the preaching
was done for false motives or pure, whether for
appearances sake or for the sake of what was right,
Paul was pleased that the gospel was being spread.
1:19 deliverance. In the New Testament this word
is used for physical healing, rescue from danger or
death, justification, sanctification, and glorification.
1:20 be magnified. Paul was committed to ensuring
that Christ would be made even more conspicuous
in his own life than ever. He was not relying on himself to magnify Christ but looked to the Holy Spirit
(v19) to magnify Christ in him (John 16:14).
1:21Christ... gain. Paul would experience gain in his
own death because he would be with Christ (v.23). In
fact, Paul may have been expressing his confidence
that his imprisonment had furthered the gospel; God
would also use his death to further His kingdom.
1:22 what I shall choose I cannot tell. Paul was in a
dilemma because he clearly saw the advantages of
both life and death, for the Christian life meant an
opportunity to minister to people like the Philippians (v. 24), while death meant being with Christ his

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of this, I know that I shall remain and

continue with you all for your progress
and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing
for me may be more abundant in J
Christ by my coming to you again.

Striving and Suffering for Christ

27Only let your conduct be worthy of
the gospel of Christ, so that whether I
come and see you or am absent, I may
hear of your affairs, that you stand
fast in one spirit, with one mind striv
ing together for the faith of the gospel,
28 and not in any way terrified by your
adversaries, which is to them a proof of
perdition, but to you of salvation,a and
that from God. 29For to you it has been
granted on behalf of Christ, not only to
believe in Him, but also to suffer for His
sake, 30having the same conflict which
you saw in me and now hear is inme.

Unity Through Humility

herefore if there is any consolation

in Christ, if any comfort of love, if
any fellowship of the Spirit, if any af
fection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by
being like-
m inded, having the same

1:16aNUText reverses the contents of

verses16 and 17. 1:23aNUText and M
Text read But. 1:28aNUText reads of your

1:25 your progress. Paul was not satisfied that the

Philippian Christians should simply be saved, but
that they should advance to maturity in Christ.
1:27 let your conduct. The word used could refer
to discharging the obligations of a citizen. Because
Philippi held the privileged status of a Roman colony, its citizens understood the responsibilities associated with citizenship. Paul here commanded them
to shift their perspective from the earthly realm to
the heavenly one. They should live in this world as
citizens of another world, the heavenly kingdom.
Their conduct should reveal their heavenly citizenship.
1:28 terrified. This word is a strong term that is used
for the terror of a panicked horse. The Philippians are
not to be terror-stricken in the face of their enemies.
1:29 to suffer for His sake. Suffering matures us as
Christians in the present (James 1:24) and enables
us to be glorified with Christ in the future (Rom. 8:17).
2:1 if... if... if. The conditional clauses in this verse
indicate certainties, not maybes. Each if here
expresses the idea of since, and each following
clause may be considered to be true.
2:2 being like-minded. In this verse the apostle
sets forth a fourfold appeal that expresses one
major ideanamely, the unity of the church. Paul
is strongly emphasizing the unity that should exist
between believers and how they must single-
mindedly strive together to advance the gospel of
Jesus Christ.

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Philippians 2:11 | 1671

love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3 Let nothing be done through selfish
ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of
mind let each esteem others better than
himself. 4 Let each of you look out not
only for his own interests, but also for
the interests of others.
5Let this mind be in you which was
also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the
form of God, did not consider it rob
bery to be equal with God, 7but made
Himself of no reputation, taking the

form of a bondservant, and coming in

the likeness of men. 8 And being found
in appearance as a man, He humbled
Himself and became obedient to the
point of death, even the death of the
cross. 9T herefore God also has highly
exalted Him and given Him the name
which is above every name, 10 that at
the name of J
esus every knee should
bow, of those in heaven, and of those
on earth, and of those under the earth,
11and that every tongue should confess
that J
esus Christ is Lord, to the glory of
God the Father.

2:3 esteem others better than himself. This verb

indicates a thorough analysis of the facts in order to
reach a correct conclusion about the matter. In other
words, each Philippian Christian was to properly
assess himself or herself. Such an assessment would
lead to valuing others.
2:5 Let this mind. All godly action begins with the
renewing of the mind. Right thinking produces right
actions. Our actions are the fruit of our deepest
thoughts. in you. Thinking and being like Christ are
requirements not only for an individual but also for
the corporate body of believers. Together, we need
to think and act like one being, like the Person of
Jesus Christ.
2:6 did not consider it robbery. Because Christ was
God, He did not look on sharing Gods nature as robbery, as though He did not already possess it, or as
a thing to be retained, as though He might lose it.
2:7 made Himself of no reputation. Christ did this
by taking on the form of a servant. In doing this, He
did not empty Himself of any part of His essence
as God. Instead, He gave up His privileges as God
and took upon Himself existence as a man. While
remaining completely God, He became completely
human. form. Jesus added to His divine essence

(v. 6) a servants essence, that is, the essential

characteristics of a human being seeking to fulfill
the will of another. Paul does not say that Christ
exchanged the form of God for the form of a servant, involving a loss of deity or the attributes of
deity. Rather, in the incarnation, Christ continued
in the very nature of God but added to Himself the
nature of a servant.
2:8 He humbled Himself. Jesus willingly took the
role of a servant; no one forced Him to do it. obedient. Although He never sinned and did not deserve
to die, He chose to die so that the sins of the world
could be charged to His account. Subsequently, He
could credit His righteousness to the account of all
who believe in Him (2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 1:4). even the
death of the cross. Paul describes the depths of
Christs humiliation by reminding his readers that
Christ died by the cruelest form of capital punishment, crucifixion. The Jews viewed death on a cross
as a curse from God (Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13).
2:11 confess. The term Paul uses is a strong, intensive verb, which means agree with or say the same
thing. Essentially Paul is saying that everyone will
unanimously affirm what God the Father has already
stated (Is. 45:23): that Jesus Christ is Lord.

TheHumbled and Exalted Christ

God the Son / Note 4

Jesus Is Lord

Philippians 2:911
Jesus, as fully divine, has always existed. God
the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the
Holy Spirit have been here from before the
beginning (John 1:1, 2). And Jesus knows
what matters and what doesnt matter, where
power lies and where power doesnt lie.
After Jesus triumphant battle over sin
and death, He was exalted and given the
name which is above every name, that at
the name of Jesus every knee should bow
(Phil. 2:9, 10).
We have no earthly parallel to this kind of
selfless power. Jesus leadership is not like

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any earthly power. Think about an Olympic

gold-medalist on the podium, or a war hero
receiving his Medal of Honor, or scientists inventing medicines that cure deadly diseases.
Add those together and multiply them by ten
thousand. Not even close to the glory and
power of Christ.
Jesus was humble, yet His name is above
every name (v.9). Jesus made Himself low,
but one day every knee will bow to Him (v.10).
Jesus became a human, and He now sits at
the Fathers right hand where He will be for
all eternity (Heb. 1:3), crowned with glory and
honor, higher than every other.
He is a Lord worth following.
previous: 1Corinthians 15:1258
next: 1Corinthians 1:30

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Light Bearers
12T herefore, my beloved, as you have

always obeyed, not as in my presence

only, but now much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear
and trembling; 13for it is God who works
in you both to will and to do for His good
14 Do all things without complain
ing and disputing, 15 that you may
become blameless and harmless, chil
dren of God without fault in the midst
of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you shine as lights in the
world, 16holding fast the word of life, so
that I may rejoice in the day of Christ
that I have not run in vain or labored in
17Yes, and if I am being poured out
as a drink offering on the sacrifice and
service of your faith, I am glad and re
joice with you all. 18For the same reason
you also be glad and rejoice withme.

Timothy Commended

24 But

I trust in the Lord that I myself

shall also come shortly.

Epaphroditus Praised
25Yet I considered it necessary to
send to you Epaphroditus, my brother,
fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but
your messenger and the one who minis
tered to my need; 26 since he was longing
for you all, and was distressed because
you had heard that he was sick. 27For
indeed he was sick almost unto death;
but God had mercy on him, and not
only on him but on me also, lest I should
have sorrow upon sorrow. 28T herefore
I sent him the more eagerly, that when
you see him again you may rejoice, and
I may be less sorrowful. 29Receive him
therefore in the Lord with all gladness,
and hold such men in esteem; 30 because
for the work of Christ he came close to
death, not regarding his life, to sup
ply what was lacking in your service

All for Christ

19But I trust in the Lord J

esus to send
Timothy to you shortly, that I also may
be encouraged when I know your state.
20 For I have no one like-
m inded, who
will sincerely care for your state. 21For
all seek their own, not the things which
are of Christ Jesus. 22But you know his
proven character, that as a son with his
father he served with me in the gospel.
23T herefore I hope to send him at once,
as soon as I see how it goes with me.

2:12 work out. The Greek term speaks of the present

deliverance of the Philippians. The word translated
work out is used by a first century author to speak of
digging silver out of silver mines. Thus, salvation can be
compared to a huge gift that needs to be unwrapped
for ones thorough enjoyment. Note that Paul is
encouraging the Philippians to develop and work out
their salvation, but not to work for their salvation.
2:15 crooked and perverse generation. Paul describes the world as being the opposite of Christian.
On the one hand, the world is turned away from the
truth, while on the other hand, it exerts a corrupting
influence that is opposed to the truth.
2:17 poured out. Paul was probably saying that he
was presently being offered as a living sacrifice on
behalf of the faith of the Philippians. sacrifice. This
means primarily the act of offering something to God.
2:19 Timothy. He had accompanied Paul on his
second missionary journey, during which time they
had established the church at Philippi. Timothy was
apparently well loved by the Philippians, and he in
turn exhibited a great concern for them.
2:22 as a son with his father. In New Testament times
a son who served his father did so to learn the family
trade. Serving in this way meant learning all about

the business and being willing to obey the teacher

in order to become as skillful as possible in the work.
2:25 Epaphroditus. He was a Philippian Christian
sent by the church in Philippi to take a gift to Paul
and to assist Paul in his ministry.
2:27 sick almost unto death. Paul was making certain that the Philippians understood the effort that
Epaphroditus had made for the cause of Christ. His
condition had been far worse than perhaps they had
imagined. Paul viewed Epaphrodituss healing as
Gods direct intervention.
3:2 Beware of dogs. In New Testament times, dogs
were hated scavengers. The term came to be used
for all who had morally impure minds. the mutilation. Paul here points sarcastically and specifically to
those who desire to reinstate Jewish religious practices as necessary for salvation. He chooses a term
that literally means to cut. By doing so, he suggests
that these people do not even understand the truth
about the Old Testament practice of circumcision.
3:3 the circumcision. Paul defines this as a matter
of the heart and not of the flesh. He reveals three
aspects: (1) worshiping God in the Spirit; (2) rejoicing
in Christ; and (3) placing no confidence in any human
honor or accomplishment as a means to reach God.

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inally, my brethren, rejoice in

the Lord. For me to write the same
things to you is not tedious, but for you
it is safe.
2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil
workers, beware of the mutilation! 3For
we are the circumcision, who worship
God in the Spirit, a rejoice in Christ

3:3aNUText and MText read who worship

in the Spirit of God.

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Philippians 3:10 | 1673

esus, and have no confidence in the
flesh, 4 though I also might have confi
dence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks
he may have confidence in the flesh, I
more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day,
of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of
Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews;
concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 con
cerning zeal, persecuting the church;
concerning the righteousness which is
in the law, blameless.
7But what things were gain to me,

these I have counted loss for Christ.

8Yet indeed I also count all things loss
for the excellence of the knowledge of
Christ J
esus my Lord, for whom I have
suffered the loss of all things, and count
them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
9 and be found in Him, not having my
own righteousness, which is from the
law, but that which is through faith in
Christ, the righteousness which is from
God by faith; 10 that I may know Him
and the power of His resurrection, and

3:5 eighth day. Pauls parents obeyed Gods law and

had Paul circumcised on the appropriate day after
his birth (Lev. 12:23). tribe of Benjamin. This tribe
was highly regarded because it had produced the
first king of Israel and had remained loyal to David.
Hebrew of the Hebrews. This description of Paul may
indicate that (1) both his parents were Jews, (2) he
was a model Jew, or (3) he was educated completely
as a Jew. Pharisee. They rigorously followed and
defended the letter of the Jewish law.

3:7 loss. This word indicates that which is damaged

or of no further use (v. 8). Those things that Paul
thought to be important became unimportant after
confronting the resurrected Messiah.
3:8 rubbish. This word means anything that is
detestable or worthless. All things of this world are
dung compared to Christ. Even our righteousness is
like filthy rags (Is. 64:6).
3:10 power of His resurrection. Paul does not say
the power in His resurrection, which would specify

Christianity is a lifelong journey

How long does it take a Christian to reach
completeness, to become spiritually mature,
to display all God intends him or her to be?
The simple answer: a lifetime.
Christianity is a lifelong journey, an adventure. Its not an event or a temporary project.
Paul had just written about his goalsto gain
Christ and be found in Him with a righteousness that comes through faith, to know Christ
and be conformed to His death (Phil. 3:811).
Doubtless Paul had come far in his spiritual growth. He had progressed from persecuting followers of Jesus to teaching followers of
Jesus how to live the Christian life (Phil. 3:17).
Yet for all he had achieved and passed on to
others, Paul still had room to grow. He had
not yet arrived.
The Greek word for attained in verse 12
means gained possession of or laid hold
of all he desires to be. Perfected refers not to
moral or sinless perfection, but to maturity or
completion (2Cor. 13:9, 11; 2Tim. 3:17; Heb.
13:21; James 1:4).
Press on suggests pursuing the goal
with all deliberate speed. And the form of the
verb indicates the pressing on is a continual
action. Paul was on a lifelong, passionate pursuit to grab hold of the God who had grabbed
hold of him on the road to Damascus and

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Philippians 3:1216
changed his life. Each new day was another
opportunity to become more of what God
had designed him to be.

God continues to challenge and shape
His servants as long as they live. An Old
Testament example of this is Caleb. At forty
years of age, he served as one of the spies,
surveying the land of Canaan. He had heard
Gods promise through Moses that the land
would be theirs. Forty-five years later, when
Joshua was dividing the Promised Land
among the twelve tribes, Caleb approached
Joshua with a request: Here I am this day,
eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong
this day as on the day that Moses sent me;
just as my strength was then, so now is my
strength for war.... Now therefore, give me
this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that
day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim
were there, and that the cities were great and
fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with
me, and I shall be able to drive them out as
the Lord said (Josh. 14:1012).
previous: Philippians 1:6
next: Philippians 4:1220

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1674 | Philippians 3:11

the fellowship of His sufferings, being
conformed to His death, 11if, by any
means, I may attain to the resurrection
from the dead.

Pressing Toward theGoal

12 Not that I have already attained,
or am already perfected; but I press
on, that I may lay hold of that for which
Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
13Brethren, I do not count myself to have
apprehended; but one thing I do, forget
ting those things which are behind and
reaching forward to those things which
are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for
the prize of the upward call of God in
Christ Jesus.
15T herefore let us, as many as are
mature, have this mind; and if in any
thing you think otherwise, God will
reveal even this to you. 16Nevertheless,
to the degree that we have already at
tained, let us walk by the same rule,a let
us be of the same mind.

Our Citizenship in Heaven

17Brethren, join in following my ex
ample, and note those who so walk, as
you have us for a pattern. 18For many
walk, of whom I have told you often, and
now tell you even weeping, that they
are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19 whose end is destruction, whose god

the power of the one-time event of His resurrection.

Rather, Paul seeks the ongoing power that is the
day-to-day experience of being in Christ. fellowship
of His sufferings. Paul sees the value of participating in the persecutions or struggles that naturally
accompany one who is in partnership with Christ
and His sufferings. being conformed to His death.
Paul desires to imitate Christeven in His death. In
other words, Paul wants to be completely obedient
to God the Father, just as Jesus was obedient to His
Fathers will (Luke 22:42).
3:12 perfected. The Greek term means mature or
complete, finished. It does not specifically mean a
moral or sinless perfection. Paul is not speaking of
moral perfection or righteousness but of reaching
the state of completion as a Christian. lay hold. This
phrase adds the idea of overtaking by surprise to the
sense of seizing some object. Paul urgently wants to
grab hold of God as God had laid hold of him.
3:13 forgetting. Paul was indicating that it is an
ongoing process. He might even be implying that
he wanted to forget everything so that he would not
rest on his past successes in Christ, but continue to
labor for the Lord.
3:16 let us walk. Paul commands the Philippians to
conduct themselves as soldiers who march in line
together, organized each in his proper position.
3:17 example. The word indicates an exact representation of the original. The example of Pauls life

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is their belly, and whose glory is in

their shamewho set their mind on
earthly things. 20 For our citizenship
is in heaven, from which we also ea
gerly wait for the Savior, the Lord J
Christ, 21who will transform our lowly
body that it may be conformed to His
glorious body, according to the working
by which He is able even to subdue all
things to Himself.
T herefore, my beloved and longed-
for brethren, my joy and crown, so
stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

Be United, Joyful, and in Prayer

2I implore Euodia and I implore Syn

tyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.
3 Anda I urge you also, true companion,
help these women who labored with me
in the gospel, with Clement also, and the
rest of my fellow workers, whose names
are in the Book of Life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I
will say, rejoice!
5Let your gentleness be known to all
men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in
everything by prayer and supplica
tion, with thanksgiving, let your re
quests be made known to God; 7and
the peace of God, which surpasses all

3:16aNUText omits rule and the rest of the

verse. 4:3aNUText and MText read Yes.

is so evident that one can readily see it and use it as

a pattern for living.
3:19 glory is in their shame. The things in which they
take pride actually are the things that will bring disgrace or humiliation to them, things of which they
should have been ashamed.
3:20 citizenship is in heaven. Here Paul presents a
direct contrast to the earthly focus of enemies of the
cross in verse 19. The eager desire of Christians is not
earthly things, but a heavenly Person, the Savior.
3:21 conformed to His glorious body. Our bodies
now are weak and susceptible to sin, disease, and
death. But God will change our bodies to resemble
Christs glorious resurrection body.
4:2 Euodia... Syntyche. What is written here is all
that is known about the two women and their dispute. Paul does not take sides in the argument, but
instead encourages them to be reconciled.
4:4 Rejoice in the Lord. The joy of Christians is not
based on agreeable circumstances; instead, it is
based on their relationship to God. Christians will
face trouble in this world, but they should rejoice in
the trials they face because they know God is using
those situations to improve their character.
4:6 Be anxious for nothing. Paul prohibits the Philippians from worrying about their own problems.
Instead, they are to commit their problems to
God in prayer, trusting that He will provide deliverance.

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Philippians 4:18 | 1675

understanding, will guard your hearts
and minds through Christ Jesus.

Meditate on These Things

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things
are true, whatever things are noble,
whatever things are just, whatever
things are pure, whatever things are
lovely, whatever things are of good re
port, if there is any virtue and if there
is anything praiseworthy
on these things. 9T he things which you
learned and received and heard and saw
in me, these do, and the God of peace
will be with you.

Philippian Generosity
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly
that now at last your care for me has
flourished again; though you surely
did care, but you lacked opportunity.
11Not that I speak in regard to need, for
I have learned in whatever state I am, to
be content: 12I know how to be abased,
and I know how to abound. Everywhere
and in all things I have learned both to
be full and to be hungry, both to abound
and to suffer need. 13I can do all things
through Christa who strengthensme.
14 Nevertheless you have done well
that you shared in my distress. 15Now
you Philippians know also that in the
beginning of the gospel, when I de
parted from Macedonia, no church
shared with me concerning giving
and receiving but you only. 16 For even
in Thessalonica you sent aid once and
again for my necessities. 17Not that I
seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that
abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I

4:13aNUText reads Him who.

4:7 will guard. Pauls choice of a military term

guard implies that the mind is in a battle zone and
needs to be protected by a military guard since
the purpose of such a guard in a wartime situation
is either to prevent a hostile invasion or to keep the
inhabitants of a besieged city from escaping.
4:9 learned. This verb conveys not only the concept
of increasing in intellectual knowledge, but also
the idea of learning by habitual practice. In some
areas of their Christian development, the Philippians
had been excellent disciples of Paul, practicing what
he had taught.
4:11 content. The word literally means self-
sufficient. In Stoic philosophy this Greek word described a person who dispassionately accepted whatever circumstances brought. For the Greeks, this
contentment came from personal sufficiency. But for
Paul, true sufficiency is found in the strength of Christ.
4:17 account. Paul uses business terminology. The
Philippians gift was producing spiritual profit, just

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Christ Follower / Note 4

Christ Followers Choose

Philippians 4:8, 9

So youre a follower of Christ. Wonderful.

Now what do you do?
Realize you are not your old self; there
is the old you and the new you. Now, to
be very honest, you have probably not
changed very much yet. You are still
prideful, sinful, selfish, and disobedient.
But when you chose to be a Christ follower, you got the power to change: you got
the Holy Spirit.
Your old self didnt have the power
to overcome sin and self. Your new self
does. With the Holy Spirit living inside
you, speaking to you, guiding you, helping you know God, and energizing you,
you have the power truly to act like a
Christ follower.
If you choose.
And this is where the rubber meets the
road for Christ followers: Will you choose
to walk in the Spirit? Will you choose to
love when you want to yell? Will you
choose to serve when you want to pout?
Will you choose to help when you want to
cross to the other side of the road?
When we choose to live according
to the Spirit, we start to bear the fruit of
the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22, 23). We
take every thought captive and begin
to dwell on:

Whatever things are true

Whatever things are noble

Whatever things are just

Whatever things are pure

Whatever things are lovely

Whatever things are of good report

(Phil. 4:8).

Our thoughts then grow into virtue.

The fruit and the virtues grow out of us
as we choose to follow Christ and walk
in the Spirit.
previous: Ephesians 2:110
next: 2 Peter 1:210

6/15/16 9:35 AM

1676 | Philippians 4:19

Greeting and Blessing

have all and abound. I am full, having

received from Epaphrodit us the things
sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma,
an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing
to God. 19And my God shall supply all
your need according to His riches in
glory by Christ Jesus. 20Now to our God
and Father be glory forever and ever.

21Greet every saint in Christ Jesus.

The brethren who are with me greet you.
22 All the saints greet you, but especially
those who are of Caesars household.
23T he grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
be with you all.a Amen.

as money deposited in a bank account accrues interest. But Paul was not as concerned with their gift as
with the development in the Philippians of the spiritual ability to give.
4:20 Amen. The Jewish practice of closing prayers

with the word amen carried over to the Christian

church as well. When found at the end of a sentence,
as it is here, the word can be translated so be it or
may it be fulfilled. At the beginning of a sentence,
it means surely, truly, or most assuredly.

God will supply all our needs

The law of mathematics says the more you
give away, the less you have. But in the kingdom of heaven, those who give generously
receive more. Those who share with others
in need have their needs supplied (Luke 6:38;
Prov. 11:25; 19:17; Matt. 5:7).
The Philippian Christians had helped provide for Pauls needs by giving sacrificially on
more than one occasion. Lest they had any
concern their own needs might go unmet,
Paul reassured them. God would provide for
all their needs.
The One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the world, and all its fullness
has limitless resources (Ps. 50:1012). He
cares about our most basic needs (Matt.
6:2533). He is pleased to provide for His
people who honor Him and who depend on
Him with childlike faith (Ps. 37:4, 18, 19, 25,
26; 1 Peter 5:7).

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4:23aNUText reads your spirit.


Philippians 4:122 0

Paul did not preach a prosperity gospel that
says, Bring your gifts to God, and He will
multiply your wealth. Paul had experienced
hunger and times of need (Phil. 4:12). He did
not say to stop working and get your needs
met through a false faith. He said that those
who did not work would not eat (1 Thess.
3:10). Paul had learned to trust God whether times were plentiful or scarce and to be
content with Gods provision (Phil 4:11). He
had learned that God is faithful at all times
to sustain those who look to Him for help
(Phil. 4:13).
previous: Philippians 3:1216

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