NLT Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition - Flipbook - Page 84
P h i l i pp i a n s 3
heard he was ill. 27And he certainly was ill; in fact, he almost died. But God had mercy
on him—and also on me, so that I would not have one sorrow after another.
28So I am all the more anxious to send him back to you, for I know you will be glad to
see him, and then I will not be so worried about you. 29Welcome him in the Lord’s love*
and with great joy, and give him the honor that people like him deserve. 30For he risked
his life for the work of Christ, and he was at the point of death while doing for me what
you couldn’t do from far away.
3. Joy in believing
The Priceless Value of Knowing Christ
Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters,* rejoice in the Lord. I never get
tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.
2Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you
must be circumcised to be saved. 3For we who worship by the Spirit of God* are the
ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ J esus has done for us. We put no
confidence in human effort, 4though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone
could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!
5I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel
and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a
member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. 6I was
2:29 Greek in the Lord.
3:1 Greek brothers; also in 3:13, 17. 3:3 Some manuscripts read worship God in spirit;
one early manuscript reads worship in spirit.
2:29-30 The world honors those who are intelligent, beautiful, rich, and
powerful. What kind of people should the church honor? Paul indicates
that we should honor those who give their lives for the sake of Christ,
going where we cannot go ourselves. Our missionaries do that for us
today by serving in places where we are not able to go.
3:1 As a safeguard, Paul reviewed the basics with these believers. The
Bible provides our safeguard both morally and theologically. When we
read the Bible individually, study it in groups, and hear it taught at church,
it makes us aware of corrections we need to make in our thoughts, atti
tudes, and actions. Knowing the Bible keeps us alert against false teaching
while pointing us to sound doctrine, wise choices, and most importantly,
a life-giving relationship with God.
3:2-3 These “dogs” and “people who do evil . . . mutilators” were
Judaizers—Jewish Christians who wrongly believed that it was essential
for Gentiles to follow all the Old Testament Jewish laws, especially sub
mission to the rite of circumcision, in order to receive salvation. Many
Judaizers were motivated by spiritual pride. Because they had invested
so much time and effort in keeping their laws, they could not accept the
fact that all their efforts couldn’t bring them a step closer to salvation.
Paul criticized the Judaizers because they looked at Christianity back
ward, thinking that what they did (circumcising—cutting or mutilating the
flesh) made them true believers rather than the acceptance of the gift of
grace given by Christ. What believers do to serve God is a result of faith,
not a prerequisite to faith. This had been confirmed by the early church
leaders at the Jerusalem council 11 years earlier (Acts 15), and Paul taught
earnestly about the relationship between faith and the law in his letter
to the Galatians. Who are the Judaizers of our day? They are those who
say that people must add something else to simple faith. No person
should add anything to Christ’s offer of salvation by grace through faith.
3:2-3 It is easy to place more emphasis on human effort than on faith,
but God values the attitude of our hearts above all else. Don’t judge
people’s spirituality by their fulfillment of duties or by their level of human
activity. In addition, don’t think that you will satisfy God by feverishly
doing his work. God notices all you do for him and will reward you for
it, but only if it comes as a loving response to his free gift of salvation.
3:3 The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, impacts all aspects of
the Christian life. Paul wrote many times about the vital role of the Holy
Spirit in the lives of believers. No one can be considered part of the new
community unless they receive the Spirit (Romans 8:9). The presence of
the Spirit in a believer’s life makes circumcision unnecessary (Galatians
1 Cor 16:16, 18
1 Tim 5:17
1 Cor 16:17
Phil 2:18; 4:4
Ps 22:16, 20
Luke 1:59; 2:21
2 Cor 11:22
Acts 8:3; 22:4;
3:1-5). The Spirit also aids us in our prayers (Romans 8:26) and gives gifts
to help us worship God and serve others (Ephesians 4:11-13). Through the
Spirit we have real access to God in prayer (Ephesians 2:18-21). Christian
worship is intensely spiritual—whatever outward forms are used, worship
is always inspired by the Holy Spirit. When we worship God, we should
take time to acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s role.
3:4-6 At first glance, it looks like Paul is boasting about his achievements
and status. But he is actually doing the opposite, showing that human
achievements, no matter how impressive, cannot earn a person salvation
and eternal life with God. Paul had impressive credentials: upbringing, na
tionality, family background, inheritance, orthodoxy, activity, and morality
(see 2 Corinthians 11 and Galatians 1:13-24 for more of his credentials).
However, his conversion to faith in Christ (Acts 9) wasn’t based on what
he had done but on God’s grace. Paul did not depend on his deeds to
please God because even the most impressive credentials fall short of
God’s holy standards. Are you depending on Christian parents, church
affiliation, or just being good to make you right with God? Credentials,
accomplishments, or reputation cannot earn salvation. Salvation comes
only through faith in Christ.
3:5 Paul belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, a heritage greatly esteemed
among the Jews. From this tribe had come Israel’s first king, Saul (1 Sam
uel 10:20-24), and the tribes of Benjamin and Judah were the only two
tribes to return to Israel after the Exile (Ezra 4:1). Paul was also a Pharisee,
a member of a very devout Jewish sect that scrupulously kept their own
numerous rules in addition to the laws of Moses. Paul explains for these
mostly Gentile believers that his Jewish credentials were impeccable.
3:6 Why had Paul, a devout Jewish leader, persecuted the church?
Agreeing with the leaders of the religious establishment, Paul had
thought that Christianity was heretical and blasphemous. Because
Jesus did not meet his expectations of what the Messiah would be like,
Paul had assumed that Jesus’ claims were f alse—and therefore wicked.
In addition, he had seen Christianity as a political menace because it
threatened to disrupt the fragile harmony between the Jews and the
3:7 When Paul speaks of “these things,” he is referring to his credentials,
credits, and successes. After showing that he could beat the Judaizers
at their own game (being proud of who they were and what they had
done), Paul shows that it is the wrong game. Be careful of considering
your position or past achievements so important that they get in the way
of your relationship with Christ.