Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
CONTRAST OF THE
1. Finally--rather, not with the notion of time, but making a
transition to another general subject, "Furthermore" [BENGEL and WAHL] as in
Literally, "As to what remains," &c. It is often used at the conclusion
of Epistles for "finally"
But it is not restricted to this meaning, as ALFORD thinks, supposing that Paul used it here intending
to close his Epistle, but was led by the mention of the Judaizers into
a more lengthened dissertation.
the same things--concerning "rejoicing," the prevailing feature in
(Php 1:18, 25; 2:17; 4:4,
where, compare the "again I say," with "the same things" here).
In the Lord--marks the true ground of joy, in contrast with "having
confidence in the flesh," or in any outward sensible matter of boasting
not grievous--"not irksome."
for you it is safe--Spiritual joy is the best safety against
2. Beware--Greek, "Have your eye on" so as to beware of. Contrast
"mark," or "observe," namely, so as to follow
dogs--Greek, "the dogs," namely, those impure persons "of whom
I have told you often"
(Php 3:18, 19);
"the abominable" (compare
with Re 22:15;
Tit 1:15, 16):
"dogs" in filthiness, unchastity, and snarling
Ps 59:6, 14, 15;
especially "enemies of the cross of Christ"
Ps 22:16, 20).
The Jews regarded the Gentiles as "dogs"
but by their own unbelief they have ceased to be the true Israel, and
are become "dogs" (compare
Isa 56:10, 11).
"deceitful workers." Not simply "evildoers" are meant, but men who
"worked," indeed, ostensibly for the Gospel, but worked for evil:
"serving not our Lord, but their own belly"
Translate, "The evil workmen," that is, bad
concision--Circumcision had now lost its spiritual
significance, and was now become to those who rested on it as any
ground of justification, a senseless mutilation. Christians have the
only true circumcision, namely, that of the heart; legalists
have only "concision," that is, the cutting off of the flesh. To
make "cuttings in the flesh" was expressly prohibited by the law
it was a Gentile-heathenish practice
yet this, writes Paul indignantly, is what these legalists are
virtually doing in violation of the law. There is a remarkable
gradation, says BIRKS [Horæ
Apostolicæ] in Paul's language as to circumcision. In his
first recorded discourse
circumcision is not named, but implied as included in the law of Moses
which cannot justify. Six or seven years later, in the Epistle to
the first Epistle in which it is named, its spiritual inefficiency is
maintained against those Gentiles who, beginning in the Spirit, thought
to be perfected in the flesh. Later, in Epistle to Romans
(Ro 2:28, 29),
he goes farther, and claims the substance of it for every believer,
assigning the shadow only of it to the unbelieving Jew. In Epistle to
(Col 2:11; 3:11),
still later, he expounds more fully the true circumcision as the
exclusive privilege of the believer. Last of all here, the very name is
denied to the legalist, and a term of reproach is substituted,
"concision," or flesh-cutting. Once obligatory on all the
covenant-people, then reduced to a mere national distinction, it was
more and more associated in the apostle's experience with the open
hostility of the Jews, and the perverse teaching of false brethren.
3. "We are the (real) circumcision"
worship God in the Spirit--The oldest manuscripts read, "worship
by the Spirit of God"; our religious service is rendered by the
(Joh 4:23, 24).
Legal worship was outward, and consisted in outward acts, restricted to
certain times and places. Christian worship is spiritual,
flowing from the inworkings of the Holy Spirit, not relating to certain
isolated acts, but embracing the whole life
In the former, men trusted in something human, whether descent from the
theocratic nation, or the righteousness of the law, or mortification of
"the flesh" ("Having confidence," or "glorying in the flesh") [NEANDER]
rejoice in Christ Jesus--"make our boast in Christ Jesus," not
in the law: the ground of their boasting.
have no confidence in the flesh--but in the Spirit.
4. "Although I (emphatical) might have confidence even in the
flesh." Literally, "I having," but not using, "confidence in the
I more--have more "whereof I might have confidence in the flesh."
5. In three particulars he shows how he "might have confidence in
(1) His pure Jewish blood. (2) His legal preciseness and high status as
such. (3) His zeal for the law. The Greek is literally, "Being
in circumcision an eighth day person," that is, not one circumcised in
later life as a proselyte, but on the eighth day after birth, as the
law directed in the case of Jew-born infants.
of the tribe of Benjamin--son of Rachel, not of the maid-servant
Hebrew of the Hebrews--neither one or other parent being Gentile. The
"Hebrew," wherever he dwelt, retained the language of his fathers.
Thus Paul, though settled in Tarsus, a Greek city, calls himself a
Hebrew. A "Grecian" or Hellenist, on the other hand, in the New
Testament, is the term used for a "Greek-speaking" Jew [TRENCH].
touching the law--that is, as to legal status and strictness.
a Pharisee--"of the straitest sect"
6. Concerning--Translate as before and after, "As touching Zeal"
Ac 22:3; 26:9).
blameless--Greek, "having become blameless" as to
ceremonial righteousness: having attained
in the eyes of man blameless legal perfection. As to the holiness
before God, which is the inner and truest spirit of the law, and
which flows from "the righteousness of God by faith," he on the
that he has not attained perfection.
7. gain--rather as Greek, "gains"; including all possible
advantages of outward status, which he had heretofore enjoyed.
I counted--Greek, "I have counted for Christ's sake loss."
He no longer uses the plural as in "gains"; for he counts them all but
one great "loss"
8. Yea doubtless--The oldest manuscripts omit "doubtless" (Greek, "ge"): translate, "nay more." Not only "have I counted" those
things just mentioned "loss for Christ's sake, but, moreover, I even
ALL things but loss," &c.
for the excellency--Greek, "On account of the surpassing excellency
(the supereminence above them all) of the knowledge of Christ Jesus."
my Lord--believing and loving appropriation of Him
for whom--"on account of whom."
I have suffered the loss--not merely I "counted" them "loss," but
have actually lost them.
all things--The Greek has the article, referring to the preceding
"all things"; "I have suffered the loss of them all."
dung--Greek, "refuse (such as excrements, dregs, dross)
cast to the dogs," as the derivation expresses. A "loss" is of
something having value; but "refuse" is thrown away as not worthy of
being any more touched or looked at.
win--Translate, to accord with the translation,
"gain Christ." A man cannot make other things his "gain" or
chief confidence, and at the same time "gain Christ." He who loses all
things, and even himself, on account of Christ, gains Christ: Christ is
His, and He is Christ's
(So 2:16; 6:3;
Lu 9:23, 24;
9. be found in him--"be found" at His coming again, living spiritually
"in Him" as the element of my life. Once lost, I have been "found,"
and I hope to be perfectly "found" by Him
own righteousness . . . of the law--
Ro 10:3, 5).
"Of," that is, from.
righteousness . . . of God by faith--Greek,
"which is from God (resting) upon faith." Paul was
transported from legal bondage into Christian freedom at once, and
without any gradual transition. Hence, the bands of Pharisaism were
loosed instantaneously; and opposition to Pharisaic Judaism took the
place of opposition to the Gospel. Thus God's providence fitly prepared
him for the work of overthrowing all idea of legal justification. "The
righteousness of faith," in Paul's sense, is the righteousness or
perfect holiness of Christ appropriated by faith, as the
objective ground of confidence for the believer, and also as a
new subjective principle of life. Hence it includes the essence
of a new disposition, and may easily pass into the idea of
sanctification, though the two ideas are originally distinct. It is not
any arbitrary act of God, as if he treated as sinless a man persisting
in sin, simply because he believes in Christ; but the objective
on the part of God corresponds to the subjective on the part of
man, namely, faith. The realization of the archetype of holiness
through Christ contains the pledge that this shall be realized in all
who are one with Him by faith, and are become the organs of His Spirit.
Its germ is imparted to them in believing although the fruit of a life
perfectly conformed to the Redeemer, can only be gradually developed in
this life [NEANDER].
10. That I may know him--experimentally. The aim of the "righteousness"
just mentioned. This verse resumes, and more fully explains, "the
excellency of the knowledge of Christ"
To know HIM is more than merely to know a
doctrine about Him. Believers are brought not only to
redemption, but to the Redeemer Himself.
the power of his resurrection--assuring believers of their
and raising them up spiritually with Him, by virtue of their
identification with Him in this, as in all the acts of His redeeming
work for us
Col 2:12; 3:1).
The power of the Divine Spirit, which raised Him from literal death, is
the same which raises believers from spiritual death now
(Eph 1:19, 20),
and shall raise their bodies from literal death hereafter
the fellowship of his sufferings--by identification with Him in His
sufferings and death, by imputation; also, in actually bearing
the cross whatever is laid on us, after His example, and so "filling up
that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ"
and in the will to bear aught for His sake
(Mt 10:38; 16:24;
As He bore all our sufferings
so we participate in His.
made conformable unto his death--"conformed to the likeness of His
death," namely, by continued sufferings for His sake, and mortifying of
the carnal self
11. If by any means--not implying uncertainty of the issue, but the
earnestness of the struggle of faith
(1Co 9:26, 27),
and the urgent need of jealous self-watchfulness
attain unto the resurrection of the dead--The oldest manuscripts read,
"the resurrection from (out of) the dead," namely, the first
resurrection; that of believers at Christ's coming
Re 20:5, 6).
The Greek word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. "The
power of Christ's resurrection"
ensures the believer's attainment of the "resurrection from the (rest
of the) dead" (compare
Php 3:20, 21).
Compare "accounted worthy to obtain the resurrection from the
"The resurrection of the just"
12. Translate, "Not that I," &c. (I do not wish to be
understood as saying that, &c.).
attained--"obtained," namely, a perfect knowledge of Christ, and of
the power of His death, and fellowship of His sufferings, and a
conformity to His death.
either were already perfect--"or am already
perfected," that is, crowned with the garland of victory,
my course completed, and perfection absolutely reached.
The image is that of a race course throughout. See
See TRENCH [Greek Synonyms of the New
I follow after--"I press on."
apprehend . . . apprehended--"If so be that I
may lay hold on that (namely, the prize,
for which also I was laid hold on by Christ" (namely, at my
Jesus--omitted in the oldest manuscripts. Paul was close to
"apprehending" the prize
(2Ti 4:7, 8).
Christ the Author, is also the Finisher of His people's "race."
13. I--whatever others count as to themselves. He who counts himself
perfect, must deceive himself by calling sin infirmity
at the same time, each must aim at perfection, to be a Christian
forgetting those things . . . behind--Looking
back is sure to end in going back
So Lot's wife
If in stemming a current we cease pulling the oar against it, we are
carried back. God's word to us is as it was to Israel, "Speak unto the
children of Israel that they go forward"
The Bible is our landmark to show us whether we are progressing or
reaching forth--with hand and foot, like a runner in a race, and the
body bent forward. The Christian is always humbled by the contrast
between what he is and what he desires to be. The eye reaches before and
draws on the hand, the hand reaches before and draws on the foot
14. high calling--literally, "the calling that is above"
"the heavenly calling"
"The prize" is "the crown of righteousness"
"crown of life."
"a crown of glory that fadeth not away." "The high," or "heavenly
calling," is not restricted, as ALFORD thinks, to
Paul's own calling as an apostle by the summons of God from heaven; but
the common calling of all Christians to salvation in Christ,
which coming from heaven invites us to heaven, whither accordingly our
minds ought to be uplifted.
"As many of us then, as are perfect," that is, full grown (no
longer "babes") in the Christian life
"worshipping God in the Spirit, and having no confidence in the
fully established in things of God. Here, by "perfect," he means one
fully fit for running [BENGEL]; knowing and
complying with the laws of the course
Though "perfect" in this sense, he was not yet "made perfect"
(Greek) in the sense intended in
namely, "crowned with complete victory," and having attained
thus minded--having the mind which he had described,
otherwise minded--having too high an opinion of yourselves as to
your attainment of Christian perfection. "He who thinks that he
has attained everything, hath nothing" [CHRYSOSTOM]. Probably, too, he refers to those who were
tempted to think to attain to perfection by the law
who needed the warning
"Beware of the concision," though on account of their former piety,
Paul hopes confidently (as in
that God will reveal the path of right-mindedness to them. Paul taught
externally God "reveals" the truth internally by His Spirit
(Mt 11:25; 16:17;
unto you--who sincerely strive to do God's will
16. The expectation of a new revelation is not to make you less
careful in walking according to whatever degree of knowledge of divine
things and perfection you have already attained. God makes further
revelations to those who walk up to the revelations they already have
rule, let us mind the same thing--omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
Perhaps partly inserted from
and Php 2:2.
Translate then, "Whereunto we have attained, let us walk on (a military
term, march in order) in the same (the measure of knowledge
17. followers--Greek, "imitators together."
of me--as I am an imitator of Christ
Imitate me no farther than as I imitate Christ. Or as BENGEL "My fellow imitators of God" or "Christ";
"imitators of Christ together with me" (see on
which walk so as ye have us for an ensample--In English Version of the former clause, the translation of this clause is, "those who are
walking so as ye have an example in us." But in BENGEL'S translation,
"inasmuch as," or "since," instead of "as."
18. many walk--in such a manner. Follow not evildoers, because they
Their numbers are rather a presumption against their being Christ's
often--There is need of constant warning.
A hard tone in speaking of the inconsistencies of professors is the
very opposite of Paul's spirit, and David's
The Lord and His apostles, at the same time, speak more strongly
against empty professors (as the Pharisees), than against open
enemies of the cross of Christ--in their practice, not in
Heb 6:6; 10:29).
19. destruction--everlasting at Christ's coming.
"perdition"; the opposite word is "Saviour"
whose god is their belly--
hereafter to be destroyed by God
In contrast to our "body"
which our God, the Lord Jesus, shall "fashion like unto His
glorious body." Their belly is now pampered, our body now wasted; then
the respective states of both shall be reversed.
glory is in their shame--As "glory" is often used in the Old Testament
so here it answers to "whose God," in the parallel clause; and "shame"
is the Old Testament term contemptuously given to an idol
seems to be referred to by Paul (compare
There seems no allusion to circumcision, as no longer glorious,
but a shame to them
The reference of the immediate context is to sensuality, and carnality
mind earthly things--
In contrast to
20. our conversation--rather, "our state" or "country";
our citizenship: our life as citizens. We are but pilgrims on
earth; how then should we "mind earthly things?"
Heb 11:9, 10, 13-16).
Roman citizenship was then highly prized; how much more should the
is--Greek, "has its existence."
in heaven--Greek, "in the heavens."
look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ--"We wait for (so the
same Greek is translated,
the Lord Jesus as a (that is, in the capacity of a) Saviour"
That He is "the Lord," now exalted above every name, assures our
Our High Priest is gone up into the Holy of Holies not made with hands,
there to atone for us; and as the Israelites stood outside the
tabernacle, expecting Aaron's return (compare
so must we look unto the heavens expecting Christ thence.
21. Greek, "Who shall transfigure the body
of our humiliation (namely, in which our humiliation has place,
that it may be conformed unto the body of His glory
(namely, in which His glory is manifested), according to the
effectual working whereby," &c. Not only shall He come as our
"Saviour," but also as our Glorifier.
even--not only to make the body like His own, but "to subdue
all things," even death itself, as well as Satan and sin. He gave a
sample of the coming transfiguration on the mount
&c.). Not a change of identity, but of fashion or
Our spiritual resurrection now is the pledge of our bodily resurrection
to glory hereafter
As Christ's glorified body was essentially identical with His body of
humiliation; so our resurrection bodies as believers, since they shall
be like His, shall be identical essentially with our present bodies,
and yet "spiritual bodies"
Our "hope" is, that Christ, by His rising from the dead, hath obtained
the power, and is become the pattern, of our resurrection