Day 322 – Thru the Bible
Today we complete Philippians. Excellent job.
Philippians 3 – One of the greatest obstacles to applying the Gospel to ourselves is our human tendency to depend on our own resources. Paul demolishes any dependence on human ability for righteousness. The “dogs” who “mutilate the flesh” are Judaizers who taught that circumcision was necessary for salvation.
Paul lists the reasons that he himself might put “confidence in the flesh” only to claim that these trophies are nothing but rubbish (the actual word Paul uses is a much stronger word than this) in comparison with the righteousness that comes from God by faith. Rather than taking pride in his own accomplishments, Paul says he “gains” Christ by the loss of all such things. His salvation comes not from his accomplishments but from depending on nothing but the Savior’s provision.
Paul aims to be found in Jesus, to know Him and the power of His resurrection, sharing (koinonia) in His suffering and His death so that he might attain (i.e., arrive at, or reach) the resurrection. Sharing in suffering does not “earn” us the resurrection but enables us to identify more with Jesus, to experience the power that gave Him new life, and to understand more of the love of the Savior who had to endure immeasurable pain for His resurrection and ours.
When we take serious stock of our lives in light of the Gospel, we realize that we must repent not only of our sins but also of the achievements that we would use to justify ourselves before God. But curiously and wonderfully, this descent from our pedestals identifies us with the risen Savior who gave up heaven’s honor to suffer for our sin. God’s righteousness comes by faith alone, in Jesus alone.
God invites us to share, to fellowship (koinonia), not just in grace but in Jesus’ sufferings as well in order that we might grasp the greatness of His love and the power of His resurrection hope. Can we say with Paul that we consider the achievements of our lives to be “rubbish”? In Jesus, we can not only say such things but also discover that the greater wonders of the resurrection are ours no matter what we face in this life.
Life in the Gospel is an utter repudiation of our own moral resume—not only the bad but also the good. Jesus is all. He alone has “surpassing worth.”
Paul returns to the imagery of heavenly citizenship to depict the complete knowledge, rule, and righteousness of Jesus that we will someday see. This future glory is something toward which Paul is “straining forward” to obtain. Paul forgets what lies behind and strains toward what lies ahead, pressing toward the prize in heaven. Paul wants the Philippians to imitate him and any who walk according to his example.
Tearfully, however, Paul points out that many are enemies of the cross (v. 18). They set their minds on earthly things (v. 19) and do not look forward to the return of Jesus (v. 21). Their end is destruction (v. 19). This is the destiny of all those whose hearts are not transformed by the Gospel. This is by their own choice to reject Jesus.
As those who belong to Jesus, we are not to grow too comfortable on earth. Nor are we to be distracted by the pleasures of the earth. Our citizenship is in heaven, where Jesus has been exalted. With Paul, we eagerly strain toward our heavenly prize.
How do you keep from thinking your accomplishments earn you any merit before God?
Philippians 4 – Paul further applies the Gospel, first to two partners in ministry and then to the Philippian church as a whole. The ministry partners Euodia and Syntyche need to agree in the Lord. Their disunity contradicts the model of Christian servanthood and humility outlined in .
Paul climaxes his teaching on the joy in Gospel unity with a two-fold call to rejoice. The reason for rejoicing is the proximity of the Lord’s presence. God conquers anxiety that creates tensions in and among Believers through (1) petition, with (2) thanksgiving, which (3) invites God’s all-surpassing peace. In context, 4:8–9 is a reminder to meditate on all that is true—but particularly on what is honorable, pure, and lovely in the Gospel.
Our Christian community, Paul reminds us once more, is to be marked by unity and joy. Relational discord and anxiety rob our Gospel communities of joy. God’s presence means that we can cultivate thankful, praying, peaceful hearts marked by a joyful reflection on what is good. Do you find yourself anxious? Take time to prayerfully memorize and meditate on Philippians 4:4–7.
As Paul concludes, he returns to the theme of rejoicing despite difficulty. Cheered as he is by the Philippians’ revived concern for him, his true contentment lies elsewhere. He is not dependent on their support to find contentment. He rejoices in the practical oneness that the Gospel brings, but emphasizes practical humility. He has learned the secret of facing both plenty and hunger.
Our contentment as Believers, likewise, rests in the fruit of the Gospel—including our oneness in Jesus. Paul teaches us to look beyond our circumstances, whether we have much or little, and rejoice in Jesus. In Him, we have all we could ever need or desire.
Returning in verse 23 to the blessing of grace with which the apostle greeted them initially, and of which they are partakers, Paul re-centers a troubled Philippian church on the humble joy and fruit of the Gospel. From first to last, the letter to the Philippians is a summons to grace—to receive it, to rest in it, and to work it out in one’s life.
How is God’s grace working in your life?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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