Here in the third chapter of Philippians Dr. McGee outlines for us the PRIZE for Christian living, Chapter 3. Notes and outline, scripture references, pdf and audio link is provided for your learning.
KEY: The epistle is practical; its key thought is joy. It has been labeled “The Secret of Joy.” Some form of the word occurs 19 times. It answers the question, “How may I have joy in my heart?” The man who wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4), was in the Mamertine prison in Rome. Joy does not depend upon circumstances.
III. PRIZE for Christian living, Chapter 3
Philippians Chapter 3 Commentary
(Key verses: 10-14)
A. Paul changed his bookkeeping system of the past, vv. 1-9
v. 1 — “Finally” indicates that Paul intended to bring this epistle to an end at this point. However, the Spirit of God prompted him to continue. He calls upon the Philippians to rejoice. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is not a burden to him as the Galatian and Corinthian epistles had been.
v. 2 — “Beware of dogs” — dogs in the Old Testament were false shepherds and prophets who did not warn the people nor feed the flock.
“Concision” is a slur on the word “circumcision.”
v. 3 — Paul declares that the true circumcisions are those who are new creations in Christ (Galatians 6:15), rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence in the flesh.
v. 4 — There are those who might say that Paul had nothing according to the flesh in which he could place confidence. However, Paul is going to present a very impressive list of assets in which he once had confidence:
v. 5 —
(1) “Circumcised the eighth day” means that he had godly parents who reared him according to the Mosaic Law.
(2) He was a full-blooded Israelite, not a half-breed.
(3) Benjamin was a son of Jacob by Rachel, who died after she had given him birth. Jacob called him the son of his right hand. He was something special, and so was the tribe that came from Benjamin. The first king of the nation, Saul, came from Benjamin.
(Paul may have been named for King Saul.)
(4) “Hebrew of the Hebrews” means that Paul was in the highest strata of the religious circle.
(5) As a Pharisee, he represented the best in Israel. The Pharisees were a religio-politico party. As a religious party, they were fundamental. As a political party, they were extremely nationalistic.
v. 6 —
(6) Paul led in persecuting the Christians.
(7) Paul does not mean that he kept the Ten Commandments; he means that he offered the proper sacrifice when he broke the Law.
…I had not known sin but by the law; for I had notknown coveting, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. (Romans 7:7)
v. 7 — Paul changed his bookkeeping system when he came to Christ. This was the great revolution that took place in his own life.
It was as radical as if the entire economy of the nation changed to the extent that credits became debits and debits, credits. This would upset the economy of the nation and the world. Paul was turned upside down and right-side up on the Damascus road when he met Christ.
All that he had as “confidence in the flesh” (v. 4) became garbage.
v. 8 — This describes the marvelous transformation that took place in the life of Paul.
v. 9 — This is the theological explanation of the conversion of Paul. “Mine own righteousness” was legal righteousness — it was filthy rags in God’s sight. He had given up all claim to his righteousness in order to receive the grace righteousness of Christ (which he had received by faith). Faith was the only modus operandi of receiving grace righteousness.
B. Paul changed his purpose for the present, vv. 10-19
v. 10 — Being saved by faith may give the impression that there is no motivation for conduct and works. Paul dissipates that notion in this section. He exhibits an effort and energy derived from the Holy Spirit which is far greater than any legal effort. Under the Law, he would go to Damascus to stamp out the followers of Christ. Under the grace-faith system, he will go to the end of the earth to make followers of Christ and to witness for Him (v. 14). At the end of his life, his ambition is still to know Christ — His person, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings. To know Christ and His work of redemption will engage our attention for eternity.
v. 11 — Paul is not expressing a doubt about his participation in the Rapture. Rather, he is affirming that he will have part in it with great joy. Paul does not expect to attain perfection in this life.
v. 12 — The knowledge that he will not attain perfection here does not deter him from moving in that direction.
v. 13 — This expresses the modus operandi of the life of Paul. The past — he is leaving it behind, with all its mistakes, not letting it be a handicap for the present.The future — he lives in the present in anticipation of the future when he will grow and develop. This is his practical sanctification.
v. 14 — This is the prize for Christian living. Paul’s future is so absorbed by Christ that it motivates everything he says and does in the present. He likens himself to a track star running for a prize. His prize is not some earthly award, but Christ Himself.
vv. 15, 16 — Paul calls upon the Philippians to make this their goal also.
v. 17 — Paul’s life is an example to other believers, not for imitation, but to share the power of Christ in the body of Christ — the church.
vv. 18, 19 — There are some who profess Christ yet contradict all of this by their lives. Their god is their belly. Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. (James 2:17, 18)
John Calvin put it this way, “Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone.”
C. Paul changed his hope for the future, vv. 20, 21
v. 20 — “Conversation” (KJV) is citizenship, meaning the total way of living. Mrs. Montgomery translated it, “Our city home is in heaven.”
Paul’s hope is the imminent coming of Christ from heaven to receive the church.
v. 21 — “Lowly body” is perhaps better translated “body of humiliation”; “body of corruption” is an acceptable translation. “Like his glorious body” is the goal toward which Paul is moving.
Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.…Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (1 Corinthians 15:51-54)
Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
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