In the third chapter of Philippians Paul warns those at Philippi to not relapse back into Judaism. Paul declares that fellow Christians, including himself, have no confidence in the flesh in verse 3. Paul tells them in verse 7 that the things which would seem important to others, those who held confidence in the flesh, that even though they were gain to him, those things he counted as loss for the Messiah. They were a detriment to him in his obtaining Christ. All the things that Paul mentioned in verses 4-6 (1) circumcised the eight day, (2) of the stock of Israel of the tribe of Benjamin, (3) a Hebrew of the Hebrews, (4) as touching the law a Pharisee, (4) concerning zeal persecuting the family of Christ, (5) touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless, all these advantages which he held among the Jews, as well as his future with them, he counted as loss, a detriment in reaching his goal in Christ. Paul’s desire was for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. Paul wanted to excel, to be higher, to be supreme, to be better in this knowledge so that he could win or gain Christ. This is why he suffered the loss of all things and why he counted them as dung as revealed in verse 8. Paul did not want to be approved before God by the keeping of the law but by the righteousness which is of God by faith through the faith of Christ which he explained in verse 9. Paul further expressed to those at Philippi that he wanted to know, to be aware, to feel, to understand, to perceive, to be sure of Christ and the power of his resurrection. And Paul even wanted to be in fellowship, to participate in his sufferings being made conformable, to render like, the death of Christ. Paul wanted to know Jesus and the power of his resurrection and to have fellowship of Jesus’s sufferings in his death. Paul expresses his desire to attain unto the resurrection of the dead in verse 11, but he is quick to point out that he has not already attained and was not complete but he followed the course that he may apprehend. To do that Paul said the thing that he did was forgetting those things which were behind, those things which were in the past, and reaching forth unto those things which were ahead. And so he was striving toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Paul was telling them that he had not already attained that resurrection of the dead but he was pressing toward that prize of the high calling so that after the resurrection of the dead he could have that inheritance which was promised to those in Christ. And then in verse 15 Paul exhorts those at Philippi to be thus minded if they also wanted to be complete and in verse 16 Paul tells them at their stage of attaining to this goal of striving for the prize of the high calling to have this same rule and to mind the same thing. They needed to ever keep in front of them this same concept that Paul had and that is to know Jesus, to know the power of his resurrection, to have fellowship in his sufferings and to be made conformable unto his death. In doing this, then when they attained to the resurrection of the dead, they would lay hold of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
- Larry Bumgardner