Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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Scripture Passage

      Philippians - Chapter 03 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. Finally, my dear friends, be glad that you belong to the Lord. It doesn't bother me to write the same things to you that I have written before. In fact, it is for your own good.
    2. Watch out for those people who behave like dogs! They are evil and want to do more than just circumcise you.
    3. But we are the ones who are truly circumcised, because we worship by the power of God's Spirit and take pride in Christ Jesus. We don't brag about what we have done,
    4. although I could. Others may brag about themselves, but I have more reason to brag than anyone else.
    5. I was circumcised when I was eight days old, and I am from the nation of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin. I am a true Hebrew. As a Pharisee, I strictly obeyed the Law of Moses.
    6. And I was so eager that I even made trouble for the church. I did everything the Law demands in order to please God.
    7. But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless.
    8. Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ
    9. and to know that I belong to him. I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses. God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ.
    10. All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did,
    11. so that somehow I also may be raised to life.
    12. I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize.
    13. My friends, I don't feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead.
    14. I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done.
    15. All of us who are mature should think in this same way. And if any of you think differently, God will make it clear to you.
    16. But we must keep going in the direction that we are now headed.
    17. My friends, I want you to follow my example and learn from others who closely follow the example we set for you.
    18. I often warned you that many people are living as enemies of the cross of Christ. And now with tears in my eyes, I warn you again
    19. that they are headed for hell! They worship their stomachs and brag about the disgusting things they do. All they can think about are the things of this world.
    20. But we are citizens of heaven and are eagerly waiting for our Savior to come from there. Our Lord Jesus Christ
    21. has power over everything, and he will make these poor bodies of ours like his own glorious body.

Philippians - Chapter 03

Entered: November 29, 2005
Paul's goal, indeed the goal for which all mature Christians should strive, is "the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus." Paul says to, "Watch out for "dogs," watch out for evil workers, watch out for those who mutilate the flesh." These people would attempt to turn us away from this goal in Christ and to things of the flesh. Paul says, "Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things." But, with our eyes on "the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus," God will "transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself." Can we attain this goal? Paul says, "I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me."

Entered: December 21, 2011

Paul, in chapter three, holds before the Philippian Christians the proper target at which they should aim. First, however, he tells them at which target not to aim. This target is fleshly attainment. It was the target of which the judaizers were boasting. With strong words, Paul denounced them as "dogs," evil workers, and those "who mutilate the flesh." Though they boasted of being the "circumcision," Paul told his readers that they are the true "circumcision" who "serve by the Spirit of God." Therefore, he said, "boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh." (3:3) 

If fleshly attainment were the proper target, Paul had the judaizers outstripped: "circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, persecuting the church; as to the righteousness that is in the law, blameless." (3:5-6) Few of the judaizers could boast of anything near Paul's attainment. But Paul told the Philippians that this is not the proper target. He considered all of this "a loss because of Christ." (3:7)

What, then, is the proper target at which to aim? It is "God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus." (3:14) This is the prize Paul had set as his goal - to be like Christ. This is the mark of spiritual maturity, and "all who are mature should think this way." (3:15) Paul could legitimately encourage the Philippians to "join in imitating me," for what they would be imitating was his goal of becoming like Christ. To put it in perspective he pointed out that their citizenship was now in heaven. This being the case, things of the flesh do not have the significance as "God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus." Thus, this should be their target rather than aiming for fleshly accomplishments. One day our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, will come and "will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself." (3:21)