Philippians 3:1-16 A Call to Rejoice

Philippians 3:1-16 A Call to Rejoice

Here is a brief summary of Phil 3:1-16. I will update it with more detail.

Paul issues another call to rejoice almost as if he is ending the book. Then he becomes concerned about those who would steal the joy of these Christians, by establishing a standard other than Christ.

Paul is reacting against a group of people within the church known as the Judaizers. The whole epistle to the Galatians is a defense against them. Judaizers were Jews who embraced Christianity, but felt the need to enforce the Mosaic regulations upon all who were Gentiles. The Gentiles were to be Jews first before they could become Christians. Paul reaction is that to enforce Judaism is to diminish what Christ has done.

He begins his argument here by stating that if anyone could uphold themselves before God through a strict standard of Judaism it was himself. Paul was from the right tribe, studied in the right Jewish schools, and performed all the actions of a zealot. Yet he counted all this as “crap” (see Farley’s text), when held up to the person of Christ.

Jesus himself reacted against this standard of holiness when he encountered the Pharisees. Jesus’ reaction was to be “perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” This is a much more exacting standard than the outward focus of the Pharisees, yet because of its “impossibility” it forces the seeker into a relationship with God in order to attain it.

Paul then upholds the way to God as the way of faith and not by upholding Jewish ritual. However, this way of faith is not necessarily an easier road to travel, and in fact may be more difficult. Paul explores the depth of this communion of faith in 10 & 11. Those who walk this path of faith not only experience the resurrection of Christ, but are called to experience the crucifixion and death of Christ. There is no Easter without Good Friday. To deny the experience of Christ’s suffering in ones life is to deny the path of faith.

In verse 12-16, Paul reaffirms that this path of faith is not instantaneous transformation, but a journey. This is amazing considering the dramatic Damascus road experience Paul encountered. Yet to never move beyond that experience would have caused a stagnant faith that may never have grown. We have been saved, we are being saved, and we hoped to one day be saved. Paul calls the people to remember not to look at any spiritual attainment but only at the distance between yourself and Christ and to keep pressing onward.

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