Sacrifices of Joy

being —

Meditations on the Epistle to the Philippians - 3

G C Willis.

Chapter 30

"Rejoice in the Lord"

"Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision."

"(For) the rest, brothers mine, Rejoice in (the) Lord. To-write the same-(things) to you (is) not irksome to me, but safe for-you. Look-out-for the dogs, Look-out-for the evil-workmen, Look-out-for the concision."

Philippians 3:1-2

At first sight, Chapter 3 might seem to be the beginning of an entirely fresh subject: with a break in the continuity of the Epistle. It might seem to jar on our spirits to turn from such an example of devotedness as Epaphroditus to those who must be termed, "dogs," "evil workers," "the concision." But let us remember that DEVOTEDNESS has seemed to be the theme of our Epistle throughout; and we have, in Chapter 2, gazed with joy and wonder at the examples of devotedness the Spirit of God has been pleased to bring before us; and now He is about (I believe) to bring before us the Power for Devotedness. Bearing this in mind, I trust we may see that there is no break in the continuity of the Epistle, even though it is true we are now to gaze on Devotedness in a different aspect.

Our English Bible begins Chapter 3, with: "Finally, my brethren." This seems to intimate that Paul had in mind that he was about to close his letter. In Chapter 4:8 we find the same word, and it has been suggested that again Paul thought to close, but once again found more to say. I do not think that such is the case. The literal translation of what Paul wrote is: "For the rest, my brethren;" or, as we may try to translate it: "(As to) that which remains (to be said), Brothers mine." Doubtless Paul knew his letter was drawing to a close, but he also knew that much more remained to be said. We find almost the same words, used in the same way, in 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Thess. 3:1; 2 Cor. 13:11; and Eph. 6:10; and I think in every case, the meaning is somewhat as we have suggested above. You will notice 1 Thess. 4:1 translates it, 'Furthermore.'

"Brothers mine," or, "My brethren." Paul does not often use this expression, though we find it twice in each of the three Epistles, — Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Philippians. (Ephesians 6:10 should omit it) James is the one who uses it more often: but it is a very sweet and touching name, and seems to convey nearness and love in a special way: and perhaps that is why it is used in these particular Epistles: In Romans the saints were mostly strangers, though some exceedingly well known and loved: and Paul would bind them to him with the words: "My brethren," or "Brothers mine." In 1 Corinthians Paul had been compelled to do a lot of scolding. It was an Epistle that was written through "many tears," and "Brothers mine," seems peculiarly appropriate; for these naughty saints were very, very dear to the Apostle. But in Philippians it is altogether different. It was their warm-hearted love and fellowship in the Gospel that drew out the affections of the Apostle's heart, as perhaps in no other Epistle to the Churches, and caused him to exclaim, "Brothers mine!"

And now we come to the particular word, that seems to me to link all together in such a beautiful way, so that we may see the entire coherence and wonderful harmony in the structure of the whole Epistle: "Rejoice in the Lord." The keynote of the Epistle has been joy: "With joy he made supplication for them all. (Chap. 1:4). It was with joy, and ever new joy, that he beheld his very bonds giving a fresh impulse to the preaching of Christ. (Chap. 1:18). So too he is assured of his continuance with them all for their progress and joy of faith, that their boasting might abound in Christ through him. (Chap. 1:25). Next he called on them to fulfil his joy (Chap. 2:2), not merely by the proof of their love to him, but by cultivating unity of mind and mutual love according to Christ, Who, though the highest, made Himself the lowest in grace, and is now exalted to the pinnacle of glory. 'Yea, and if I be offered (or, poured forth) on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy and rejoice with me.' (Chap. 2:17-18). So, again, the apostle sends away his companion and solace, Epaphroditus, when recovered, to the Philippians, who were uneasy at the tidings of his dangerous sickness, 'that when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.' (Chap. 2:28)." (W. Kelly).

Thus we see Joy like a cord of gold, running through the first two Chapters of our lovely little Book: and in like manner we will still find it in the last two Chapters. So it is fitting that "REJOICE" shall be the link that so strongly and so beautifully binds the whole Epistle together. "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." (Ps. 96:6).

So far we have seen joy amidst circumstances: often difficult circumstances: but now we come to joy that is independent of circumstances: "Rejoice in the Lord." In Romans 5:1-11 we have an accumulating multitude of blessings: one added after another: so we find the words, "also," "not only so," "much more," as one blessing after another is heaped before us: but in Verse 11 we come to the crowning blessing of all: "Not only so, but we joy in God." It is true the correct translation is to exult, or boast: but it is a "joyous exultation." (Abbott-Smith). Well do I remember dear old Mr. Potter, in a conference at Des Moines, remarking: "We cannot get beyond that." There is no "not only so" to follow "Joy in God." That joyous exultation is beyond and above circumstances entirely. It is "in God," where the storms of earth can never touch it. And so our Chapter begins: "Finally, my brethren, Rejoice in the Lord." In a sense that sums up all the Apostle has to say: and as long as the saints are rejoicing in the Lord, they are safe. In Chapter 4:4, the Apostle writes even more strongly: "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice!" Some people seem to think to be a Christian is a sad thing, with all joy taken away. It is quite the reverse. A Christian who is walking with the Lord is filled with joy: yes, he may even be sorrowful, "yet always rejoicing." This joy is not the light and "frothy" joy of this world. It is a joy that accords with the Greek word "semnos," a word that is almost impossible to translate into English: the dictionary gives the meaning as: "grave, serious." But the "semnos" man "has a grace and dignity not lent him from earth; but which he owes to that higher citizenship which is also his." (Trench). And so only four verses after Phil. 4:4, (referred to above), we find the Spirit telling us to think on things that are semnos. (Translated honest in our English Bible). Our Lord Jesus said: "These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." (John 15-11). It is our Lord's own joy with which we rejoice, even now, down here.

We suggested that the Third Chapter of Philippians gives us the Power of Devotedness. If this suggestion is correct, could there be anything more suitable, or more beautiful, than the way in which it begins: "Rejoice in the Lord!" We know that "The joy of the Lord is your strength." (Neh. 8:10). And so here, in four words, the Spirit of God gives us the key to the Power for Devotedness to Christ. He, Himself, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame: and we, as we rejoice in Him, will find strength and power to walk the path before us, no matter what it may be, in devotedness to our Lord and Master.

Well may the Apostle say, "To write these things to you is not irksome to me, but safe for you." Joy is the second of the Fruits of the Spirit, and one who is led by the Spirit, will never find it irksome to speak of that joy. Out of the fulness of the heart, the mouth speaks; and if our hearts are flooded with the joy of the Lord, it must be manifested in our speech: yea, our very faces will be irradiated by it. "They looked unto Him, and were radiant." (Ps. 34:5). No, it was no trouble to the Apostle, to write "Rejoice in the Lord!" "But for you (it is) safe," he adds. And, as we have said, in a sense this sums up what the Apostle has to say: for just as long as the saints are rejoicing in the Lord, they have His strength, and "are safe."

It has been said that Discouragement is the devil's strongest weapon: and there may be truth in this, for when we are discouraged we are not rejoicing in the Lord: for He is the God of All Encouragement: and so when we cease to rejoice in the Lord, our strength is gone: and we are an easy prey for the enemy. Well the Apostle knows this, and well does he know how easy it is for us to get our eyes elsewhere than "Looking off unto Jesus," and then our joy is gone, and with it our strength. So the next portion of our Chapter is a warning against those things which so easily rob us of our joy in the Lord. We will close this lovely portion by once again repeating

"Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord!"
WHO are these whose faces are irradiate
    With eternal joy?
With the calm the tempest may not trouble
    Nor the grave destroy?

Glad as those who hear a glorious singing
    From the golden street,
Moving to measure of the music
    That is passing sweet.

They have been within the inner chamber
    None can tread beside,
Where the Bridegroom radiant in His glory
    Waiteth for the Bride.

Is it strange that from that golden chamber,
    From the secret place,
Come they forth with everlasting radiance
    Of His glorious Face?

Changed — transformed; for ever and for ever;
    Thine alone to be;
Knowing none on earth, O Lord, beside Thee,
    None in Heaven but Thee.
        (From "Citizens of Heaven", C.P.C. "Hymns of Ter Steegen and Others," Vol. 1)

Chapter 31

Dogs, Evil Workmen, Concision

"Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."

"Look-out-for the dogs! Look-out-for the evil-workmen! Look-out-for the concision. For we, we-are the circumcision, the-(ones) worshipping by-(the)-Spirit of-God, and exulting in Christ Jesus, and not trusting in flesh."

Philippians 3:2-3

The first two verses of Chapter 2 call us to be of "one mind." But immediately after, Verse 3 exposes those evils which hinder the desire of the Spirit for this unity. Similarly, the first verse of Chapter 3 calls us to "Rejoice in the Lord," and we saw that this is the path of strength for devotedness to Christ. Now, immediately, Verses 2 and 3 expose those teachers whose evil teachings would hinder this joy in the Lord, and so hinder the power for devotedness to Christ; and these Verses also give the character of those who hold the truth. We will see that these things are given to us in seven short sentences:
1. "Look-out-for the dogs!
2. Look-out-for the evil workmen!
3. Look-out-for the concision!
4. For we, we are the circumcision,
5. The ones worshipping by (the) Spirit of God,
6. And exulting in Christ Jesus,
7. And not confiding in flesh."
Notice how three times over the Apostle repeats the words: "Look-out-for the …" thus making them tremendously emphatic. In the Greek New Testament each of these first three sentences has only three words in it.

In Acts 15:1 we read of "certain men which came down from Judea" to Antioch, and taught the brethren, "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." Actually these men, by demanding circumcision, were seeking to put the disciples under the Law of Moses, and were, as Peter said, putting "a yoke upon the necks of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear." (Acts 15:10). And Paul wrote: "I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing." (Gal. 5:2). This was a desperately important matter: important for us as well as for them: and the Church in Antioch decided to send Paul and Barnabas, with some others, to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. At that time the apostles and elders in Jerusalem plainly stated that the Gentile disciples were not to be put under the Law of Moses, and were not to be circumcised: that "yoke" was not to be put upon their necks.

But those "evil workmen" who so troubled the Christians in Antioch never wearied of their evil work; and wherever Paul preached the Glad Tidings of Salvation through Christ alone, without the deeds of the Law, these "dogs" followed, and tried to "remove" the disciples from "the grace of Christ unto another Gospel: which is not another." (Gal. 1:6-7). Almost the whole of the Epistle to the Galatians is written to expose the folly and wickedness of these evil workmen. Hear the Apostle cry, "Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth?" (Gal. 3:1). And notice well the solemn curse, twice repeated, on such teachers, in Gal. 1:8 & 9. But it was not to Galatia alone these "dogs" found their way, but also to Corinth, and most of the latter part of Second Corinthians is taken up exposing them there: Listen: "Such are false apostles, deceitful workmen, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness." (2 Cor. 11:13-15). "False apostles" is the name the true Apostle calls them: "deceitful workmen," and "ministers of Satan." Such in the sight of God are teachers who seek to put the saints of God under Law.

And the descendants of these evil workmen are just as active today as they were in Paul's day: so we do well to give good heed to the Apostle's warning. When I was a child we had a neighbour who kept some fierce dogs; and he had a sign on his gate: "BEWARE OF THE DOGS!" That is just what Paul is saying to us. The word translated "Beware" is just the ordinary word for "Look," so we have translated it, "Look out for the dogs!"

In Paul's day the Jewish rabbis used to teach, "The nations of the world are like dogs." Our Lord took up this saying to test the faith of the woman of Canaan in Matthew 15:22 to 28; but, in His infinite grace, He changed the word to "little dogs," and this gave the woman the opportunity to point out that the "little dogs" got the crumbs under their master's table, even though it was true in the East that the other dogs were kept outside. The Jews felt that they, and they only, were the people of God; and all else were unclean: were dogs! Now Paul takes up their saying, and, as it were, says: No, it is not the Gentile Christians who are the dogs. They are truly God's people: it is you, yourselves, who are the dogs: you have rejected Christ, God's Son, and so you cannot now be reckoned as God's people: you are the unclean ones who are outside: you are the dogs!" And when we come to Verse 8, we will see that Paul says that all these outward religious observances, such as circumcision, were only refuse, only fit to be thrown to the dogs.

In our ordinary English Bible it reads: "Beware of dogs." But in the Greek New Testament there is the word "the," — "the dogs, … the evil workmen, … the concision." The word "the" in Greek is generally like a finger pointing out something or someone. So it probably means that there were some special men who had come to Philippi, and were going, or trying to do, their evil work there, just as they had done in Antioch, Galatia, Corinth and other places.

In Acts 20:29 Paul foretold that "grievous wolves" should enter in among the saints, "not sparing the flock." Wolves are even more fierce and cruel than "dogs." When Paul wrote to the Philippians, the dogs were already there: but since then the wolves have come, and what havoc they have made of His flock, — His "beautiful flock"! (Jer. 13:20).

The Apostle goes on: "Look-out-for the evil workmen!" It may be either evil workmen, or workers. "Workmen" would turn our eyes to these evil men themselves; whereas "workers" might make us think more of their evil teaching, always preaching "works," of which they were so proud, but which were so evil, as a means of salvation or holiness. It is exactly the same word that we saw in 2 Cor. 11, where the Apostle calls them "deceitful workers." O Beloved Saints of God, let us ever, ever remember that Salvation is "not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph. 2:9).

The third name that the Apostle calls them is "the concision." This is a term of the utmost contempt. The Apostle is making a sort of pun on two Greek words: kata-tome (Verse 2), and peni-tome (Verse 3). You will notice each word has tome in it, but one begins with kata, and the other begins with peri. The first means literally, a "mutilation," which was forbidden by the Law of Moses in Leviticus 21:5; where this very Greek word is used. Paul compares their circumcision, of which they were so proud, just to being mutilated. The second word is the proper word for circumcision, which was the badge, or mark, of a true Jew. In Romans 2:28 & 29, Paul wrote: "He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." It is very interesting to remember that Paul had almost certainly heard Stephen say much the same thing: "Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye." (Acts 7:51). And perhaps as Saul of Tarsus listened to Stephen, he remembered that Jeremiah had said: "Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah." (Jer. 4:4). And these "men of Judah" were already circumcised in their flesh, as Saul well knew. In Galatians we find the same thing: "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." (Gal. 5:6; See also 6:15) And in Galatians 3, you may see how plainly Paul shows that "Ye (Gentile Christians) are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus … And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

All these things the Apostle tells the Philippian saints in three short sentences. And now he goes on to tell us the other side of the matter; in four short sentences: "For we, we are the circumcision, the ones worshipping by (the) Spirit of God, and exulting in Christ Jesus and not confiding in flesh." As we have seen, the Scriptures plainly tell us that in the sight of God circumcision is a heart matter, not an outward thing: and so Paul can say: "For we, we are the circumcision." Paul was a Jew, but the Philippian Christians were Gentiles: but circumcision in the flesh availeth nothing: so, no matter whether Jew or Gentile, "we are the circumcision, —
"the ones worshipping by (the) Spirit of God,
and exulting in Christ Jesus,
and not confiding in flesh."
In our ordinary English Bibles we read, "We are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit." But the way we have rendered it is almost certainly correct; and you will see that the New Translation by Mr. Darby renders it in almost the same way. You will recall that our Lord in John 4:24, said: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." There is no way to worship God in spirit and in truth, except "by the Spirit of God." I fear that very much of what is called "worship" today is not by the Spirit of God; and is not in spirit and in truth. The very first necessity to worship by the Spirit of God is that we should be born again, — "born of the Spirit" (John 3:5). They who are not born again, are still "in the flesh", and "they that are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom. 8:8). The contrast here is between external ceremonies, which these evil workers were pressing, and worship by the Spirit of God.

The word used here for worship is one which the Scriptures have taken to express the service of God, which was told forth in type by the priesthood of old. So here the Spirit of God claims that every true believer is "one worshipping by the Spirit of God." That means that every true believer is a priest. And other Scriptures tell us the same thing, as for example, "Jesus Christ … hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father." (Rev. 1:5 & 6. See also 1 Peter 2:9.)

"And exulting in Christ Jesus." The word translated "exult" means to glory, or to boast; but it carries in it the additional sense of joyful exultation. It is both different in form and of a weightier force, than the words usually translated to glory, or boast: It expresses rather the full utterance of victorious confidence, than merely gladness of heart. (See Pridham). It is one of Paul's favourite words, He uses it almost sixty times in his Epistles, and elsewhere we only find it in Hebrews and James. He may have taken it from Jer. 9:24, which he quotes more than once. Beloved, may we exult more in Christ Jesus: may we enter more into His triumphs and victory!
Thou, Thou art worthy, Lord,
Of most exulting praise;
The Lamb once slain shall be adored
Through everlasting days.

O Lord, the glad new song
Is ours e'en here to sing;
With loyal heart and joyful tongue
We now our homage bring.

"Worthy!" we cry again,
"Worthy for evermore!"
And at Thy feet, O Lamb once slain,
We worship, we adore.
        (Miss von Poseck)

The Judaizers could not sing this. We, who rest in Christ alone, without works, we are the only ones who can "exult in Christ Jesus."

"And not confiding in flesh." Every child of God must watch and fight against this snare. It was this that caused Simon Peter to deny his Lord, and this fleshly confidence comes naturally to "the flesh." But in this verse in Philippians I think the Spirit of God is speaking especially of fleshly piety, and empty forms, in place of Christ. Alas, far from being rare, such confidence in the flesh, in respect to the things of God, is the commonest thing today. May the Lord help us each one to say from the depths of our hearts: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Gal. 6:14).

I do not think that these "evil workers" were seeking to bring the Philippian saints to Jewish worship; but they were, I believe, seeking to mix Jewish worship with Christian worship: and that is exactly what we see on every hand today. The forms and ceremonies, the robes and vestments, the choirs and instrumental music, the noble church buildings and magnificent furnishings; everything, indeed, that is of an outward form, rather than of spirit and of truth: as well as putting people under the Ten Commandments: these all are, I believe, in heart going back to Judaism; and partake of the work and teaching of these evil workmen.

If you were to say to people who use such things, that Christ alone is sufficient for salvation, and the Holy Spirit for worship, many would agree, but assure you that they only use these external things as a help to worship, and the Commandments as a rule of life. "We know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully." (1 Tim. 1:8). But this is not a "lawful" use of the law: on the contrary, such people are "so foolish," that having begun in the Spirit, they want to be made perfect by the flesh. (See Gal. 3:3). This is just what those evil workers tried to do at Antioch, Galatia, Corinth and Philippi. This is exactly what made the Apostle use such strong language: — "dogs, evil workmen, the concision, false apostles, ministers of Satan." It is of just such people the Apostle said of some at Ephesus, that they were "desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm." (1 Tim. 1:7).

It is common to the heart of man the whole world over to suppose that righteousness and holiness come by works, — by keeping the law: but if you will read carefully the early chapters of Romans, you will see that the Scriptures teach the exact opposite. Listen: "Sin, getting a point of attack by the commandment, wrought in me every lust; for without law sin was dead… And the commandment, which was for life, was found as to me, itself to be unto death: for sin, getting a point of attack by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me… O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. For what the law could not do, in that it was without strength* through the flesh, God, having sent His own Son, in likeness of flesh of sin, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law should be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to flesh but according to Spirit." (Rom. 7:8 to Rom. 8:4 New Trans.)

{* Same word as Rom. 5:6.}

Perhaps before we stop, we should ask, What does Circumcision indicate in the mind of the Spirit? It was first given to Abraham in Gen. 17, "as a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had being yet uncircumcised." (Rom. 4:11). Thus Circumcision marked Abraham and his family off from all others in the world: it was a mark of separation. But it was a picture of death, so the Spirit of God says to us, those who are now the circumcision: "Mortify (or, Put to death) therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, etc." (Col. 3:5). We are (or, should be) marked off from the world, not by an outward mark in the flesh: but because, having died with Christ, and having been raised with Him, we should walk in newness of life, in separation from evil, and possessing a righteousness, not of works, but by faith.

"Tis finished," Jesus said,
My Lord on Calvary bled,
Conscience may not condemn,
White are my sins once red,
I now can enter in
Where foes can never tread,
Through Christ our Living Head.

    Hark! God's beloved Son
    Cried, "Finished!" all is done.
    Oh! Praise and never cease
    The glory of His grace.
    Grace, matchless grace, so free:
    He won the victory.
    Hallelujah! 'tis done.

"Tis finished!" — Hark the strain,
We're cleansed from every stain,
By blood we're sanctified,
Made holy, without blame,
Tell! Tell it! far and wide;
Praise! Praise! His glorious Name,
JESUS, Who for us died.

"Tis finished!" Jesus cried,
And from His wounded side,
The blood and water flowed.
Now God is satisfied.
No more of God afraid,
By faith I'm justified.
Christ is my righteousness.

Complete in Him we stand,
All Death and Hell demand
Is fully satisfied.
And now at God's right hand
Our risen Saviour pleads,
For us He intercedes,
For us He ever lives.
        I. Lo. (Translated from Chinese by D. Dear)

Chapter 32

Loss and Profit

And have no confidence in the flesh.

Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

"And not confiding in flesh, although I have confidence even in flesh; if any other think to-confide in flesh, I rather: in-(the matter of) circumcision, eight-days (old); from (the) race of-Israel; of-(the) tribe of-Benjamin; a-Hebrew (sprung) from Hebrews; as-to law, a-Pharisee; as-to zeal, persecuting the church; as-to righteousness, the (righteousness) in law, being blameless; but whatever (things) were to-me gains, these I-counted for-the-sake-of the Christ loss."

Philippians 3:4-7

To learn, and yet to learn, whilst life goes by,
    So pass the student's days;
And thus be great, and do great things and die,
    And lie embalmed in praise.

My work is but to lose, and to forget,
    Thus small, despised to be;
All to unlearn — this task before me set;
    Unlearn all else but Thee.
        (G. Ter Steegen)

In our last chapter we spoke of the first few words quoted above: "And not confiding in flesh," but the words that follow are so closely linked with these, that we must quote them again if the Scripture is to be clear to us. The true "circumcision," as we saw, does not trust, or, have confidence, in the flesh. But, apparently, certain men had come to Philippi and were telling the saints they must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses if they were to be saved. These men had confidence in the flesh: — just what the true circumcision had not. Now Paul is about to take his place, so to speak, alongside of these men, and compare his own credentials with theirs. The sense of the translation "I might have confidence in the flesh," as it is usually translated, is true; but Paul puts it that he actually has confidence in the flesh. (See the New Translation). And from man's standpoint, he had entire ground for such confidence. So now he places himself at the standpoint of these Judaizing men who had come to Philippi. He continues: "If any other think to trust (or, have confidence) in flesh, I rather." Now he states seven seasons why he might have confidence in flesh:
1. In (the matter of) circumcision, eight days old;
2. From (the) race of Israel;
3. Of (the) tribe of Benjamin;
4. A Hebrew (sprung) from Hebrews;
5. As to law, a Pharisee;
6. As to zeal, persecuting the church;
7. As to righteousness, the (righteousness) in law, being blameless.
These evil teachers seem to have pressed circumcision more than anything else, (Acts 15), so Paul begins with it. A proselyte might be circumcised at any age, but the law required a Jew to be circumcised on the eighth day: and Paul had met every requirement of the law, as far as circumcision went.

Further, he came from the race of Israel, and this title was accounted the noblest that any Jew could have (Trench); but to appreciate fully what it meant, we must turn to Romans 9:4 & 5: —
"Who are Israelites;
to whom pertaineth the adoption,
and the glory,
and the covenants,
and the giving of the law,
and the service of God,
and the promises;
whose are the fathers,
and of whom concerning the flesh Christ came, Who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen."
All these privileges belonged to Paul, because he was "From the race of Israel." (I suppose the Spirit of God lists eight, rather than seven, as He so often does, because here CHRIST is the eighth: and the eighth speaks of a new beginning; the eighth day is the resurrection day, and in Verse 11 we will find the resurrection is eighth on another list.)

But not only was he from the race of Israel, he also was "of the Tribe of Benjamin." And Benjamin was a very favoured tribe. Benjamin was one of the two sons of Jacob's favourite wife. He was the only child of Jacob born in the Promised Land. The first king of Israel came from the Tribe of Benjamin, and Saul of Tarsus bore his name. The "holy City," Jerusalem, was in the land of Benjamin. And the Tribe of Benjamin was the only tribe to remain loyal to Judah and the House of David, when the other tribes revolted. So it was no small honour to belong to the Tribe of Benjamin.

But Paul had more: he was "A Hebrew sprung from Hebrews." He was pure Jew. Timothy's father was a Greek: not so Saul of Tarsus: he was pure Hebrew. A man was a Jew if he traced his descent from Jacob and conformed to the religion of his fathers: but he was not counted a "Hebrew" unless he spoke the Hebrew language. (See Trench, Syn. No. 39). And Paul could hardly have spoken of himself as "A Hebrew sprung from Hebrews" were it not that his father also had these qualifications; and so he probably spoke Hebrew from his earliest childhood; and we know he spoke it fluently: and had been "taught according to the perfect manner of the law of his fathers." (Acts 22:2 & 3).

These four "gains" (as Paul calls them) came to him by birth and parentage, apart from his own volition. Now we come to those that were his by choice:

"As to law, a Pharisee." Speaking to King Agrippa Paul said: "After the most strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee." And to the Council he could say: "I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee." He was, moreover, brought up in Jerusalem, at the "feet of Gamaliel," a Pharisee, a doctor of the law, and one had in reputation among all the people: apparently a wise and a good man. (Acts 22:3 & 5:34). There was no higher position in the Jews' religion to which Paul could attain.

"As to zeal, persecuting the Church." Now we will see how he used these privileges and attainments. Writing to the Galatians, he could say: "Ye have heard of my manner of life in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the Church of God, and wasted it: and profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers." (Gal. 1:13-14). In the eyes of Saul of Tarsus, and in the eyes of most in his own nation, this was the highest proof of his devotion to God: but to Paul the Apostle, it was a grief that he never could forget: "I am the least of the apostles, and am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." (1 Cor. 15:9) And see Acts 26:10 & 11. His part in the murder of Stephen seems to have stayed with him all his days: "When the blood of Thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him." (Acts 22:20). Such is the heart of the most religious of men!

And now we come to the last of these "gains." "As to righteousness, the (righteousness) in law, (or, such as law has in it) being blameless." Perhaps in the sight of moral men, this righteousness is the highest attainment of all. Few there are who could truthfully follow Paul in this statement of his "gains" after the flesh. He himself says: "If any other think to trust in flesh, I rather (or, I more.)" The young ruler in Mark 10:20 could say, with the honest belief that he spoke truly, "All these have I observed from my youth." With both Saul and the young ruler, this was true in the sight of men: but both should have known it was not so in the sight of God, for the Old Testament told them this: "There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not." (Ecc. 7:20): or the 14th Psalm, which Paul himself quotes to prove this to us. But Saul of Tarsus in the eyes of men was blameless: none on earth could point a finger at him, and accuse him of failure to keep the law of Moses. Such was the man whom God chose to meet the attacks of these "evil workmen." Was there one of them who could measure up to Paul? Was there one who could go through those seven "gains", point by point, and come out with the glory (the earthly glory) which Paul could claim. I think not one.

Now let us see how Paul the Apostle, writing perhaps 30 years later, viewed all his gains. "But what things were to me gains, these I counted (or, considered, esteemed) for the sake of Christ loss." Notice "gains" is in the plural, but "loss" is in the singular: "just one loss, one deprivation, not merely a worthless thing, but a ruinous one." If my memory serves correctly, Canadian bank shares used to be (perhaps still are) subject to "double liability." That meant that if the bank failed, not only did the owner of the shares lose his investment: but he was also liable to pay up to double the value of his shares: not merely were they a loss, but to many, they were utterly ruinous. Thus Paul came to consider all these great assets of his: these "gains" were not merely one great loss, but they were ruinous: and were he to hold to them, he would lose his own soul.

The passage we have been considering is like a great account book, where on one side he records all his credits: counting them up, item after item: perhaps not one before or since could set forth such an imposing array of fleshly assets. And now, Heaven is opened to him, and he gets a sight in the Glory of the Man he hated and despised, the Man Christ Jesus, and in an instant, all his gains must be put on the debit side of the ledger: all to him now are loss. "Whatever things were to me gains, these I counted for the sake of Christ loss." Now he could sing:
"I have seen the Face of Jesus —
Tell me not of aught beside;
I have heard the Voice of Jesus —
All my soul is satisfied."

And so, "Whatever things were to me gains, these I counted for the sake of Christ loss." We must reserve the next verse, Verse 8, for another chapter; but I cannot resist asking you to compare two words in it, with the two words shown italicised just above, in Verse 7: "these" and "counted." The word "counted" is in the perfect tense, and indicates that Paul made this reckoning when first he met his Lord, on the road to Damascus; and that he continued to reckon it thus ever since. Now, note in Verse 8 he says: "But, Nay, rather, I do count (or, I am counting) all things to be loss on account of the surpassingness of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." Notice the two changes the Apostle makes as he goes from Verse 7 to Verse 8: the perfect tense becomes the present: — "I counted" becomes "I do count," and the word "these" (which referred to the seven "gains" previously listed) becomes "all." All his righteousnesses had long since become filthy rags to him (Isaiah 64:6), only to be accounted loss: but now, perhaps thirty years later, he counts, not only "these things", but all things to be loss for the sake of the surpassingness of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord.

Before we turn from this passage we must note the words, "persecuting the church." From Acts 26-10 & 11 we learn that Paul persecuted the saints "even unto strange cities." And it was while on his way to Damascus, a city far from Jerusalem, for this same purpose that the Lord met him. In Gal. 1:13 we read: "I persecuted the church of God." These passages plainly show that the Holy Spirit views the Church on earth, though scattered in many different places, as one church, one body. It is true the Spirit speaks of individual groups of believers in different cities as churches: as, for example, "the churches of Galatia." (1 Cor. 16:1). Each one is looked at as representing the whole church of God on earth: but all the various individual churches together are viewed in the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit as "the Church of God." It is also true that the Church is not perfected until the Lord comes, and the last member of Christ's mystic body is gathered in: then all those 'in Christ,' whether sleeping or living, shall be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall they ever be with the Lord: thus He shall present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but holy and without blemish: perfected. (See Eph. 4:13 & 5:27). But let no man deceive you by telling you that the Scriptures do not tell us of the Church of God on earth as being one body, for they plainly do teach this.

"Beyond the Brightness of the Sun"
Acts 22:11.
I WAS journeying in the noontide,
    When His light shone o'er my road;
And I saw Him in the Glory —
    Saw Him — Jesus, Son of God.
All around, in noonday splendour,
    Earthly scenes lay fair and bright;
But my eyes no more behold them
    For the glory of that light.

Others in the summer sunshine
    Wearily may journey on,
I have seen a light from heaven
    Past the brightness of the sun —
Light that knows no cloud, no waning,
    Light wherein I see His Face,
All His love's uncounted treasures,
    All the riches of His grace:

All the wonders of His glory,
    Deeper wonders of His love —
How for me He won, He keepeth
    That high place in Heaven above;
Not a glimpse — the veil uplifted —
    But within the veil to dwell,
Gazing on His Face for ever,
    Hearing words unspeakable.

Marvel not that Christ in glory
    All my inmost heart hath won;
Not a star to cheer my darkness,
    But a light beyond the sun.
All below lies dark and shadowed,
    Nothing there to claim my heart,
Save the lonely track of sorrow
    Where of old He walked apart.

I have seen the Face of Jesus —
    Tell me not of aught beside;
I have heard the Voice of Jesus —
    All my soul is satisfied.
In the radiance of the glory
    First I saw His blessed Face,
And for ever shall that glory
    Be my home, my dwelling-place.

Sinners, it was not to Angels
    All this wondrous love was given,
But to one who scorned, despised Him,
    Scorned and hated Christ in heaven.
From the lowest depths of darkness
    To His city's radiant height,
Thus in me He told the measure
    Of His love and His delight.

Chapter 33

All gains but refuse

"Yea doubtless, and I count all things (but) loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them (but) dung, that I may win Christ."

"But, Nay rather, I even do count all-(things) to-be loss on-account-of the surpassingness of-the knowledge of-Christ Jesus my Lord, on-account-of whom I-have-suffered-the-loss-of (or, I-have-suffered-forfeit-of) all those (things), and do-count (them but bits of) refuse (or, dung) in-order-that I-may-gain Christ (or, have Christ for my gain)."

Philippians 3:8

Before we begin to meditate on this verse, I think we should consider a little further some of those things which Paul lost, or forfeited, on account of Christ. We have seen in our last chapter seven amazing "gains" that nearly all would hold most dear because of a religion they loved: but Paul had more than that to forfeit.

In Acts 21:39, Paul tells the Chief Captain that he is "a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city." In Chapter 22:3, Paul tells the Jews, "I am verily a Jew, born in Tarsus." And in Acts 22:27 & 28 he tells the Chief Captain that he is a Roman, (free) born. In Sir William Ramsey's book, "St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen," he tells us some most interesting things about these three passages of Scripture. I will quote: "According to the law of his country, he (Paul) was first of all a Roman citizen. That character superseded all others before the law and in the general opinion of society; and placed him in the aristocracy of any provincial town. In the first century, when the citizenship was still closely guarded, (it) may be taken as a proof that his family was one of distinction and at least moderate wealth. …

"Paul was, in the second place, a 'Tarsian, a citizen of a distinguished city' (Acts 21:39; Acts 9:11). He was not merely a person born in Tarsus, owing to the accident of his family being there: he had a citizen's rights in Tarsus. … Roman (citizens) in a provincial city commonly filled the position of high-class citizens, and even had magistracies pressed upon them by general consent. Now, if Paul's family had merely emigrated to Tarsus from Judea some years before his birth, neither he nor his father would have been 'Tarsians,' but merely 'residents.'

"In the third place, Paul was 'a Hebrew sprung from Hebrews'. The expression is a remarkable one. It is not used to a Jewish audience, but to a Greek Church (Phil. 3:5), and it is similar to a familiar expression among the Greeks: 'a priest sprung from priests' is a term commonly applied to members of the great sacerdotal families which play so important a part in the society of Asian cities. He was a Jew at least as much as he was a Tarsian and a Roman, as regards his early surroundings; and it is obvious that the Jewish side of his nature and education proved infinitely the most important, as his character developed. But it is a too common error to ignore the other sides. Many … seem to think only of his words, 22:3, 'I am a Jew born in Tarsus,' and to forget that he said a moment before, 'I am a Jew, a Tarsian, a citizen of no mean city'. To the Hebrews he emphasises his Jewish character, and his birth in Tarsus is added as an accident: but to Claudius Lysias, a Greek-Roman, he emphasises his Tarsian citizenship. … Now there is no inconsistency between these descriptions of himself. Most of us have no difficulty in understanding that a Jew at the present day may be a thoroughly patriotic English citizen, and yet equally proud of his ancient and honourable origin. …

"If Paul belonged to a family of wealth and position, how comes it that in great part of his career (but not in the whole, …) he shows all the marks of poverty …?

"Now, as Paul himself says, he had been brought up in strict Judaic feeling, … as a Pharisee; and we must infer that the spirit of his family was strongly Pharisaic. The whole history of the Jews shows what was likely to be the feeling among his parents and brothers and sisters, when he not merely became a Christian, but went to the Gentiles. Their pride was outraged; and we should naturally expect that such a family would regard Paul as an apostate, a foe to God and the chosen race, and disgrace to the family; his own relatives might be expected to be his most bitter enemies. Looking at these probabilities, we see a special force in Paul's words to the Philippians, 3:8, that he had given up all for Christ, 'for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and do count them but refuse'. These emphatic words suit the mouth of one who had been disowned by his family, and reduced from a position of wealth and influence in his nation to poverty and contempt."

Let us now seek, with the Lord's help, to meditate a little on the beautiful verse before us. It begins with five little words, one after the other, which literally translated are: "yea, indeed, therefore, at-least, also (or, even)". But we may not take them literally: we must try and find what the Holy Spirit is seeking to tell us by putting them together in this way. The three middle words form a combination which expresses the correction of a foregoing statement as either incorrect, or inadequate. It was inadequate to say, "I counted (long ago) these things to be loss - these national and religious privileges of which we have been speaking: No, indeed, not only did I count them loss long ago, when first I was converted, but I still do count them so. And not only these things, but all things, do I count loss, — my social standing, my family, my wealth, my all do I count loss for the surpassingness of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. As we have seen in our last chapter, Paul changes "counted" to "do count," and "these things," to "all things." This was to correct the inadequate statement in the seventh verse. This string of little words is to prepare us for this change, and I think helps us to see the vehemence and strength of Paul's conviction as to the worth of the exchange he had made "on account of Christ."

We have seen that our Lord Jesus Christ, "Who subsisting in the form of God, He counted not as a means of gain the being equal with God, but made Himself empty." His servant Paul sought to follow his Master, in such measure as a human being could. Paul, too, had his gains, and in his measure he emptied himself; cast them all away; counted them not as a means of gain, but rather reckoned them to be loss and refuse. And for what? "For the surpassingness of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." It is not for the sake of the superiority of the knowledge (the fact that it is superior, or more excellent), but for the sake of the knowledge which is surpassing all else, that he counts all things to be loss. And the more of that knowledge he gained, the more he longed for more of it; so when we get to Verse 10, we hear him cry: "That I may know Him!" O my beloved Readers, what do we know of that urgency to "know Him"? Of what have we suffered the loss, for the surpassingness of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord?

And you notice Paul does not say, "our Lord." No, it is "my Lord." Outside of this Epistle Paul does not often speak in this way: Rom. 1:8; 2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 2:20; Philem. 4; (perhaps there are others, I do not recall more): but in this little Epistle we find it three times: 1:3; 3:8; and 4:19. I think we can understand the suitability of this: there is a warmth, a fervour, that perhaps we see nowhere else: and so he writes: "Christ Jesus my Lord." We get something the same in The Song of Solomon: my Beloved is mine, and I am His." (2:16). "I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine." (6:3). I wonder can we truthfully say, as shown out in our daily walk: "my Lord"?

Paul cried: "I even do count all things to be loss on account of the surpassingness of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of Whom I have suffered the loss of all those things, and do count them but refuse, in order that I may gain Christ: (or, have Christ for my gain.)" The word translated "suffered the loss of," echoes the word "loss" used twice before. But it has also the meaning of a fine, or penalty imposed by a court. "I was fined all things I possessed." Paul thus expresses the utter confiscation of all that he had: his aristocratic position, his wealth, comforts, reputation (you remember the One Who "made Himself of no reputation"), family, friends society, interests, prospects and ambitions; and still more, to such a man, all his religious advantages both by birth and training: hopes, standing, confidences, such as we saw in our last chapter. All were cast away in a moment, at the sight of the Lord of Glory. The God of Glory appeared also to Abraham, and he also left all. Beloved, were our eyes fixed more steadfastly on the Lord of Glory, — "looking off unto Jesus," — might not we too be more ready to cast away many of the things that now drag us down?

(You will notice that twice we get the little word "all" in this verse: the first is without the article "the," the second with it. We have seen that the article is like a finger pointing: in this case pointing, I think, back to the first "all," and so I have translated it, "all those things," to which he had been referring above).

The word translated refuse is used only here in the New Testament, and is of uncertain origin, but it may come from two Greek words, meaning "to cast to the dogs;" and there is said to be an old papyrus in which this word is used to describe "bones cast out to the dogs." (Blaiklock). It is in the plural, and I do not know how to express this except "bits of refuse." You will recall that in Verse 2 Paul had written: "Look out for the dogs!" Then he goes on to describe all his manifold "gains," and now he tells us they were only bits of refuse, to be cast to the dogs. It may be he is telling us that this refuse is what the Judaizers feed on. This word also may, perhaps, be rightly translated "dung" as in our English Bible. In 1 Cor. 4:13 we find two words with a very similar meaning: also used nowhere else in the New Testament.

"That I may gain Christ, or, That I may have Christ for my gain." In Verse 7 we saw he spoke of his "gains" (plural), in Verse 8 he enlarges these gains to include "all things:" wealth, home, friends, and so forth: these all are on one side of the ledger: and now we come to the crowning point: the single item: the one great "Gain": on the other side of the ledger, — CHRIST!!! This one "Gain" replaces all the lost items: "Whatsoever things were gains" (Verse 7) I now count loss for the sake of that one Gain. Oh, Beloved, have you and I discovered "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph. 3:8), to be of such value, that all else may go? Another true servant of Christ could sing:
    "Let goods and kindred go,
    This mortal life also;
    The body they may kill,
    God's truth abideth still,
His kingdom is for ever."

This passage reminds me of the Merchantman (He was a Wholesale Merchant, who went abroad for His wares). He was seeking pearls: and having found one exceedingly valuable pearl, He went away "and sold all things whatever He had," (indeed, the word is that used for selling a slave, as though He had given Himself also), and He bought it. (Matt. 13:45 & 46: See Greek Text). And the day is coming when He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: for He reckons that pearl was worth all that He gave for it. And Paul will also be satisfied in that day, when awake with His likeness, he no longer knows in part: but knows in full the surpassingness of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord.

Nothing but Christ, as on we tread,
The Gift unpriced — God's living Bread,
With staff in hand and feet well shod,
Nothing but Christ — the Christ of God.

Everything loss for Him below,
Taking the cross where'er we go;
Shewing to all, where once He trod,
Nothing but Christ — the Christ of God.

Nothing save Him, in all our ways,
Giving the theme for ceaseless praise;
Our whole resource along the road,
Nothing but Christ — the Christ of God.
(S.O'M. Cluff)

Chapter 34
"That I may know Him"

"That I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

1. "That I may gain Christ: and
2. (That) I-may-be-found in Him,
3. Not having my-own righteousness, the (righteousness) from law, but the (righteousness) through faith of-Christ, the righteousness from God, on-the-ground-of that faith;
4. To-know Him and
5. The power of-His resurrection and
6. Partnership of-His sufferings,
7. Being-conformed to-His death,
8. If by-any-means I-shall-arrive at the resurrection, the-(one) from the-dead."

Philippians 3:9 to 11

Our last chapter closed with the one great "Gain" for which Paul was ready to cast away not only all the "gains" he had enumerated, but "all things." That "Gain" was CHRIST.

When a man gains a great and beautiful estate, he will find as he comes to know it better, that with the estate, or, included in the estate, are many other gains. Not only is there the mansion, which filled his eyes at first: but there are beautiful gardens, a lovely park, and a multitude of other things that he learns to value, as more and more he gets to know his new-found gain.

So is it with CHRIST. And now, in Verses 9 to 11, the Apostle tells us of some of these other gains that he obtained with Christ when HE became his gain. We will find seven fresh "gains", making eight in all: and we will find that the eighth is the Resurrection from among the dead.

We spoke in the last chapter of the first part of this Scripture: "That I may have Christ for my gain." Now, the Lord helping us, we will ponder the seven treasures we find in Christ: First, —
"That I may be found in Him."

In the 24th Chapter of Isaiah we read of the most terrible judgments that are going to sweep over this world: "The inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left." (24:6). In the First Verse of Chapter 26 we read of a song that is to be sung in the land of Judah: even in the face of such awful judgments, —
"We have a strong city;
Salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks."

And then comes 'perfect peace,' (verse 3), our Refuge being in that city, hidden safely, 'until the indignation is overpast.' (Verse 20). And then in Chapter 32:2 we read, "A Man shall be as an hiding place." Yes, 'the Man Christ Jesus' is our Hiding Place, and when we are 'found in Him' we are safe, we have perfect peace, and even a song in our mouths. It is like the City of Refuge in Numbers 35, that the Lord provided for the manslayer. He is liable to death from the avenger of blood, but when he forsakes all his own efforts to save himself, and just flees to the City of Refuge, he is safe: he may have perfect peace, for he is safely hidden from the judgment that was his due. When he is 'found' in the City of Refuge, none may touch him.

* * * * *

What the guilty sinner, liable to judgment, needs most of all is righteousness: but how can man be just with God? How can a condemned sinner be counted righteous? Naturally we would all think it is utterly impossible for a just God to justify a guilty sinner: but God Himself has found a way to be just, and the justifier of even such. So righteousness is the next thing the Apostle speaks of for the one who has Christ for his gain. But it is not, he says, 'my righteousness', or, 'a righteousness of my own.' In Greek there are two ways of saying 'my righteousness.' The usual way would be to say, 'the righteousness of me,' where 'me' is a pronoun. But we can also say 'my righteousness', where 'my' is an adjective agreeing with 'righteousness.' In this case 'my' tells the kind of righteousness. And this is the way the Spirit of God puts it here. And of what kind is 'my righteousness'? Isaiah 64 tells us "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." So Paul may well say, "That I may be found in Him, not having my righteousness." No! Paul wants no filthy rags, no refuse, when found in Him. Instead he can say, "He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels." Such is the righteousness of God that He freely gives to those who are 'found in Him.' This righteousness is 'through faith of Christ,' (some translate, 'through faith in Christ'), the righteousness from God, on the ground of that faith.' Notice the Apostle speaks of 'righteousness from law,' and of 'righteousness from God: ' but of 'righteousness through faith;' for faith is the means, not the source, of righteousness. "It is God that justifieth." He alone is the Source: for the righteousness of which Law is the source, is unobtainable by man.

What the guilty sinner, liable to judgment, needs most of all is righteousness: but how can man be just with God? How can a condemned sinner be counted righteous? Naturally we would all think it is utterly impossible for a just God to justify a guilty sinner: but God Himself has found a way to be just, and the justifier of even such. So righteousness is the next thing the Apostle speaks of for the one who has Christ for his gain. But it is not, he says, 'my righteousness', or, 'a righteousness of my own.' In Greek there are two ways of saying 'my righteousness.' The usual way would be to say, 'the righteousness of me,' where 'me' is a pronoun. But we can also say 'my righteousness', where 'my' is an adjective agreeing with 'righteousness.' In this case 'my' tells the kind of righteousness. And this is the way the Spirit of God puts it here. And of what kind is 'my righteousness'? Isaiah 64 tells us "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." So Paul may well say, "That I may be found in Him, not having my righteousness." No! Paul wants no filthy rags, no refuse, when found in Him. Instead he can say, "He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels." Such is the righteousness of God that He freely gives to those who are 'found in Him.' This righteousness is 'through faith of Christ,' (some translate, 'through faith in Christ'), the righteousness from God, on the ground of that faith.' Notice the Apostle speaks of 'righteousness from law,' and of 'righteousness from God: ' but of 'righteousness through faith;' for faith is the means, not the source, of righteousness. "It is God that justifieth." He alone is the Source: for the righteousness of which Law is the source, is unobtainable by man.

We often hear people speak of 'the righteousness of Christ,' but I do not think the Bible ever speaks thus: though of course He is absolutely righteous. But the Bible speaks of 'the righteousness of God.' Six times in the first three Chapters of Romans do we find 'the righteousness of God', or, 'His righteousness.' We often hear men speak of Christ's righteous life as reckoned to us for righteousness. This is completely contrary to the Word of God. Christ is made unto us righteousness (1 Cor. 1:3): but it is Christ, who died for our sins, and is raised again the third day: not the life of Christ down here: Who is our righteousness. If we are 'found in Him', then we have that robe of righteousness to cover us:
"Clad in that robe, how bright I shine!
Angels possess not such a dress;
Angels have not a robe like mine —
Jesus, the Lord's my righteousness."
And notice that righteousness is 'through faith of Christ.' We get exactly the same expression in Rom. 3:22. Faith is like the coupling that links the train to the locomotive. The coupling could never pull the train one inch: but through, or by, the coupling, the locomotive pulls it safely.

Notice, also, that in the end of Verse 9 the Spirit changes from 'through faith', to, 'on-the-ground-of that faith.' It is the same word as is used for the man who "built his house upon the rock." Christ is the Rock, and Christ is the only foundation for faith: but the righteousness of God is reckoned to us 'on that faith,' or, 'on-the-ground-of that faith.' The words translated 'that faith' are literally 'the faith.' But as we have pointed out, the article 'the' is like a finger pointing: and I think it points back to the words 'through faith of Christ' (where there is no article), and so I have translated it 'on-the-ground-of that faith.'

What does the righteousness of God' mean? First, of course, it tells us that God is absolutely righteous. But there is more. Christ glorified God on the earth, He finished the work that God gave Him to do: and God was righteous in raising Him from the dead, and setting Him at His Own right hand in the heavens. But Christ was made sin for us, He was made a curse for us, He bore our sins in His own body on the tree. The very fact that God is righteous in raising Christ from the dead, and setting Him on high in the glory, is proof that all our sins, our curse, are gone for ever: and so God is righteous in accepting us in the Beloved; and He is just (or righteous) in justifying us. Just as it would have been unrighteous not to raise Christ from the dead when He had finished the work God gave Him to do: so it would be unrighteous not to count righteous those who forsake all confidence in themselves, and trust only to Christ, and His finished work. So I count on 'the righteousness of God' to reckon me righteous. "It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?" (Rom. 8:33-34). Now I am 'found in Him,' and "there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1) There cannot be. "Christ Jesus … of God is made unto us … righteousness." (1 Cor. 1:30). If any one asks, How can a wretched sinner like you be justified? I may answer: "Look at Christ. He is my righteousness. Is there any unrighteousness in Him? Surely, surely not! God sees me 'in Him.' God looks at Christ, not at me. So He sees me righteous.

The Chinese character for righteous tells the same story in a most beautiful way. Above is the character for "Lamb", and below is the character for "I" or "me." So I am completely covered by the Lamb: and when God looks down at me, He sees only the Lamb, — the spotless Lamb of God.

But there is another most remarkable Scripture: "He made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made "the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor. 5:21). God speaks of Christians as 'the righteousness of God in Him: ' in Christ, and only in Him. Another has said, "Never think of yourself as apart from Christ." If one asks, "Is God righteous to justify sinners?" The answer is: Look at the sinners who are justified: See the price that God paid to justify them. He gave His only begotten Son. "He spared not His own Son." There is the proof that God is just, and at the same time the Justifier of him who believeth in Jesus. (Rom. 3:26). And so the sinner is made, — he demonstrates, — the righteousness of God, in Christ.

But let us never forget that this righteousness is from God, by the blood of Christ, and it is through faith.

The Scriptures tell us we are,
1. Justified by Grace Rom. 3:24; Titus 3:7.
2. Justified by Blood Rom. 5:9.
3. Justified by Resurrection Rom. 4:25.
4. Christ Himself is our Justification, or, Righteousness 1 Cor. 1:30.
5. Justified through Faith Phil. 3:9; Rom. 3:28; 5:1.
6. Justified by works James 2:14 to 26.
7. Justified by God Phil. 3:9 & Rom. 8:33.

With Christ for his gain: being found in Him, not having his own righteousness, but the righteousness that is from God, what does Paul want next? "That I may know Him!" or, literally, "to know Him!" And did he not 'know Him'? Surely he did, as few others have ever known Him: but he could say, "Now I know in part," (1 Cor. 13:12): and no matter how large a part, that could not satisfy until he could say, "I know even as I am known." Paul's desire was not to know about Him, blessed as that is. There was a university professor who could challenge his class to begin any verse in the Bible, and he would finish it: but I sadly fear, though he knew the written Word so well, he did not know the Living Word at all. Most of us know a certain amount about Her Majesty the Queen: some of us have even seen her drive by: but that does not mean we know her. It was altogether something different for which Paul longed. This intellectual knowledge of Christ is not to be despised. I suppose it must come first, before we come to "know Him." It is preliminary, introductory, subordinate, to the knowledge spoken of in Phil. 3:10. What do we mean when we say of a man, I know him? Do we not mean, I have kept company with him — I have talked with him — I have spent time with him — I have learned to know his thoughts and his ways, I have been admitted to his confidence. What does a child mean when he says: "I know my Father: I know what he would like"? Surely it means he knows his Father's inmost heart: he knows his thoughts, without the necessity of uttering a word. We have no right to say we know Christ, merely because we have read of Him in the Scriptures. Paul had suffered the loss of all things for the surpassingness of the knowledge (as he says with such affection) of Christ Jesus my Lord: but he longs to know Him better still. The aged Apostle John writes to the fathers "because ye have known Him that is from the beginning." Perhaps through a long life, — a life of service to their Lord, — they had learned to "know Him." And what about the "little children"? "I write unto you little children, because ye have known the Father." (1 John 2:13). And none can come to the Father except by the Son: and so, in their measure, no doubt the little children knew "Him" also. How encouraging for you dear Lambs of the flock! And He has given Eternal Life to as many as the Father has given Him: "And this is Life Eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." (John 17:3).

No, it is not some special grace, reserved for certain special people, that they should "know Him." All who have Eternal Life "know Him," they know God, and Jesus Christ, whom God hath sent, — Yes, even the babes know Him: and yet he who knew Him best, could cry, — Oh, "To know Him!" It is like the child, who had always lived in an inland town, when first he went to the seaside: he kept telling all his friends on his return, "I have seen the sea!" And it was true, even though he had only seen a few miles of it; and of all the length and breadth and depth of it, he knew little or nothing. And so the babe in Christ can say with truth: "I know Him!" And the Apostle Paul can cry from the depths of his heart, and can cry truly, — "To know Him!" Down here that craving will never be satisfied: the better we know Him, the more we long to know Him better still. For while in the body down here, it must ever be: "Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Cor. 13:12). Lord, Haste the day!

And though it is true that all who have eternal life, whether 'fathers' or 'babes' "know God, and Jesus Christ whom" God hath sent: yet let us always remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God; "No man knoweth the Son, but the Father." (Matt. 11:27) There are ways in which we know the Father and the Son: but the finite can never fathom the Infinite: and so there are ways in which "no man knoweth the Son, but the Father."

There are those who come in constant contact with Her Majesty the Queen in the affairs of the government of her realm, who can truly say, "We know Her Majesty." Yet they might be totally ignorant of her intimate family affairs, and know nothing of her as the mother of her children. I suppose no one on earth knows the Queen as Prince Charles knows her: for he knows her as 'mother.' And no one knows Prince Charles as Her Majesty knows him, for she knows him as 'son.' This is a very feeble illustration, but it will perhaps help us to understand that it is perfectly true when we say, 'I know Christ, the Son of God,' and it is also true that "no man knoweth the Son, but the Father."

Let us humbly, reverently bow before Him, and accept this truth, without seeking to pry into those relationships which are beyond us: yet ever, like the apostle, seeking to 'know Him' more and better!

* * * * *

But the apostle's longing was not only "to know Him." In the Greek Testament there is no full-stop, not even a comma, after 'Him.' It reads: "To know Him and the power of His resurrection and partnership of His sufferings." Another has said: 'The essence of knowing Christ consists in knowing the power of His resurrection.' Every Christian knows that Christianity has its root and foundation in the death of our blessed Saviour. But if it had been possible that death could have held the Saviour in his power: death, instead of being the foundation of joy, and the certainty of salvation, would have been the source of a black despair which nothing could have dissipated. It is the resurrection which throws its bright beams even into the dark tomb of Christ: that tomb which seemed to mean victory for the adversary. It is resurrection which explains the reason of that momentary submission to the power of the devil, and subjection to the necessary judgment of God.

It is by resurrection, and the glory which shall follow, that the foundation and hopes of the Christian are bound together. It is by resurrection that justification and that which is the power of the Christian's life, — sanctification, are united. Not only is He raised again for our justification, but in Christ risen, we are in Him as risen and sanctified in the power of a new life.

So we may see that Paul found in the resurrection not only the evidence of the foundation of his faith (Rom. 1:4), and the proof of the accomplishment of the satisfaction for sin (1 Cor. 15:17), but much more. The resurrection was to Paul, as to Peter, the object and source of a living hope, the power of life within. So, he sought to know the power of His resurrection.

Except for John, in Revelation, Paul is the only one of the apostles of whom it is recorded that he saw the Lord Jesus Christ in His Resurrection Glory: "a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun." Did he not, then, know "the power of His resurrection"? Yes, Surely; more and better, perhaps, than any other living man: but he would know that power still more and still better. It was the sight of the God of Glory (Acts 7:2) that kept Abraham true and faithful for a hundred years (Gen. 12:4 & 25:7): and that sight taught him something of "the power of His resurrection." (Rom. 4:17). And it was the sight of "The Lord of Glory" (1 Cor. 2:8) in resurrection that also taught Paul something of "the power of His resurrection." A friend of mine told me that when he first came to China he preached 'Christ died for our sins,' and souls were saved, but the new Christians did not stand. In his anguish he searched himself and his preaching; and realized that he had not preached, 'and He rose again the third day.' Now he preached not only the death of his Lord, but also His resurrection. As many, or more, were saved, but now they stood firm and true. They, too, learned something of "the power of His resurrection."

Paul never forgot that sight on the Damascus Road of the Lord of Glory, in His resurrection power and glory. Three times over in the little Book of Acts do we read that story. But that sight only gave him a deeper longing to better know "the power of His resurrection." You may hear Paul describe something of that power in Ephesians 1, Verses 19 to 22. But as we read, and ponder, such a Scripture, we are like the Queen of Sheba as she gazed on the glory of Solomon: "there was no more spirit in her." (2 Chron. 9:4). And yet she had to own that she had believed not the report in her own land; even though "the one half was not told me." Paul longed to know the other half!' And it is as we look off unto Jesus, off from all this world may offer, and with unveiled face we behold, — now, it is true, as in a glass, — the glory of the Lord, (His resurrection glory), that we are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor. 3:18).

* * * * *

But there is more in this one amazing sentence: "To know Him and the power of His resurrection and partnership of His sufferings." Having seen the Lord in glory, and having learned to know in part the power of His resurrection, the apostle understood the path which led Him there: a path of suffering and death: and he longed to follow Him even in that path, if need be, in order to be where his Lord is, and in the glory with Him. HE had said, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone. … He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am there shall also My servant be." (John 13:24-26). That was the burning desire of the apostle's life: to follow Him, and to be with Him.
"Anywhere with Jesus,
    Always says the Christian heart:
Anywhere that He may lead me,
    So that we two do not part."

And so he would have partnership of His sufferings, as he had been a witness of His glory. Peter, you recall, was "a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed." (1 Peter 5:1). Yet he also knew what it meant to be "partaker of Christ's sufferings." (1 Peter 4:13).

Notice how often the suffering and the glory are linked together: and so it is right there should be no pause between "the power of His resurrection" and "partnership of His sufferings." In the Greek Testament they are linked together in a peculiar way that we cannot express in English. With power there is the article: 'the power,' but there is no article with partnership, because they are so closely linked that one article serves both: 'The power … and partnership.' The two are inseparable. If he is to know the power of His resurrection, he must also know partnership of His sufferings: but perhaps we should put it the other way: If he knows partnership of His sufferings, then he will also know the power of His resurrection.

You recall when Saul of Tarsus had that first sight of His glory, the Lord sent His messenger to "shew him how great things he must suffer for My Name's sake." (Acts 9:16). The path of suffering is one from which the flesh shrinks: but if we know the power of His resurrection, we will find it enough even for this path. Ponder 2 Cor. 11:23 to 28, and see something of what this soldier of Jesus Christ suffered for his Master's sake: and there was power to carry him through all.

* * * * *

"To know Him and the power of His resurrection and partnership of His sufferings, being conformed to His death."

The hymn says:
"We are but strangers here, we do not crave
A home on earth, which gave Thee but a grave:
Thy cross has severed ties which bound us here,
Thyself our treasure in a brighter sphere."

At the murder of the Son of God, His accusation was written in Hebrew and Greek and Latin, to show that the whole world had a part in it: Hebrew tells of the religious world: Greek tells of the literary and scientific world: and Latin (representing Rome) tells of the government and power of this world. All had their part. And so Paul says: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Gal. 6:14).

Soon after the Japanese attacked China they murdered the beloved son of a very dear friend of mine. From that day my friend's life was changed. Others, for the sake of gain, might fraternize with the Japanese: but my friend, never! From that day he ever bore about the dying of his son: that murder severed any possible ties with the murderers. From that day and onward, he was conformed to his death. That is a little picture of his Lord and Paul: and I hope in some small measure of my Lord and me. (2 Cor. 4:10, New Trans.)

One who has true communion with Christ's sufferings cannot share in the world's delights, or settle down to live at ease and in luxury in it. The beautiful homes and the too common luxury of the saints tell only too plainly how little they know the meaning, and the power, of the words: "being conformed to His death." 'The animating principle which governs the apostle, and impels him on his course, is the constraining love of Christ; and whenever this is operating in any force there is a corresponding distaste for what the prince of this world has to offer. God had shined in Paul's heart to give there the light of the knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Death, then, and not life, was his choice as to all natural things — Christ's death, even the death of the cross, to which the High and Lofty One had submitted in a slave's form for his and our sakes. So long as he remained, then, in this body upon earth, his place should be in spirit with his suffering Redeemer outside the camp.' (Arthur Pridham).

But there is more. This word translated "being conformed," is the present participle passive, and tells of a process that is going on continuously. As we gaze on our suffering Saviour, we are gradually conformed to His death: just as when we gaze on the glory of the Lord we are gradually changed into the same image (I take it, that, 'from glory to glory' has this meaning). (Cor. 3:18). Indeed, Dr. Vaughan, from whom I have had untold help in this lovely Epistle, translates this sentence: "being gradually conformed to His death."

The word 'being conformed' is a remarkable word. This is the only place in the New Testament it appears as a verb. But as a noun we meet it again in two other passages: Rom. 8:29, and in the 21st verse of this same chapter in Philippians. Surely the Spirit of God means to link up these two verses, when He puts these two exceedingly rare words, that are almost the same, so close together. And what does Phil. 3:21 say? "We eagerly await the Lord Jesus Christ (as) Saviour, who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory, according to the working of the power which He has even to subdue all things to Himself." (See New Translation: J. N. Darby). Just now we may gradually be conformed to His death; soon; I doubt not, very soon; in a moment, HE is going to transform (an entirely different word) these bodies of ours, some of them old and worn and bearing the scars of warfare: Yes, HE will transform these bodies of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory. Surely that should be motive enough to make the glories of this world fade, that our deepest longing may be that day by day we are "being conformed to His death."*

{*For those interested, the word in Phil. 3:11 is sum-morphizomenos; and the noun in 3:21 is sum-morphon. You will note that Rom 8:29, the only other place in the New Testament we find this word, tells us the same blessed truth. You will also enjoy linking these words with morphe in Phil. 2:6 & 7. The word translated transform in Phil. 3:21 is meta-schematisei, in the future tense; and I presume indicates an instantaneous transformation. You may also enjoy connecting the similar words in Rom. 12:2 with this passage.}

* * * * *

"If by-any-means I-shall-arrive unto the out-resurrection, the-(one) out-from (the) dead-(ones)."

We have now reached the last of these treasures that the apostle has listed as being found in Christ. This is the eighth, the resurrection number, and it tells of the resurrection on which Paul had his eyes fixed. We must remember this follows immediately after Paul's longing to be conformed to His death: then, immediately, our eyes are turned to Resurrection. We get a very similar thought in Rom. 8:17: "If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together."

The opening words, "If by any means," tell us of the difficulty. "With men this is impossible." (Matt. 19:26). I do not think they are intended to suggest the slightest doubt in Paul's mind as to his arrival at that Resurrection. Rather, I think he is telling us that he is prepared to tread any path that is necessary to arrive at it: including the path that leads through death: and this is the path of which he has just been speaking.

The next part of the verse may be translated quite correctly in two ways:
"If by any means I shall arrive unto …"
or, "If by any means I might arrive unto …"
The first way of translating uses shall, and makes the definite and positive assurance that we shall arrive at that resurrection. The second way uses might, and leaves room for a doubt as to whether we reach there or not. As far as Greek grammar goes, either way is correct. However, we get a very similar expression in Romans 1:10, "If by any means I shall have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you." In this case there is no ambiguity, and it can correctly only be translated "I shall have …" So it would seem that this is how the Spirit of God would have us understand this passage in Philippians. "The combination, if by any means I shall, brings into striking union the two thoughts, the difficulty, and the certainty." (Dr. Vaughan).

And unto what is it that he is so desperately anxious to arrive? "Unto the out-resurrection, the-(one) out-from (the) dead-(ones.)" It is a remarkable word, found only here in the New Testament, that we have translated the "out-resurrection." Christ is risen from the dead, "and become the firstfruits of them that slept." (1 Cor. 15:20). The "firstfruit" is the sample of what is to follow. When Christ arose, His was an "out-resurrection". That resurrection morning He came out from the grave; while all around were thousands of graves untouched by resurrection: He came "out-from the dead ones" around Him. And this is a sample, a pattern, of the resurrection on which Paul had fixed his eyes. The Bible does not tell us of a general resurrection when all the dead, both saved and lost, will be raised. On the contrary it tells us quite plainly that "the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." (1 Thess. 4:16-17). It tells us plainly that "the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection." (Rev. 20:5-6). This is the resurrection Paul longed for, if by any means he shall arrive at it.

There is no question whatever of it's being two different classes of believers: some who overcame, and some who did not overcome, and must pass through judgment. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself tells us quite plainly: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment; but is passed from death unto life." (John 5:24: See New Translation). Listen again: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1: Note that the last part of Verse 1, as shown in our Authorised Version, should not be there). Of that First Resurrection, we read: "But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming." You will notice that the test is "Are we Christ's?" Not, "Have we overcome?"

Beloved Reader: Let me affectionately ask, Are you amongst the blessed who will have their part in the First Resurrection, the 'out-resurrection, the one out-from the-dead'? Will you be 'found in Christ' in that day? Have you a righteousness, not your own, but 'from God', that spotless 'robe of righteousness'? Do you know anything of the power of His resurrection and partnership with His sufferings? Do you know practically what it means to be conformed to His death? These are most solemn questions. Do not rest until you can answer them, as you would wish them to be answered in 'that day.' The first four verses of 1 Cor. 15, tell you how you may be fitted for these things.

Chapter 35

The Race

"Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

"Not that I have already obtained, or am already perfected; but I-press-on, if also I-may-appropriate, seeing that (or, with-a-view to-which) also I-have-been-appropriated by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not-yet reckon myself to-have-appropriated; but one-(thing) - on-the-one-hand forgetting the-(things) behind, on-the-other-hand straining-forward to-the-(things) before, - down to-the-goal I-press unto the prize of-the calling on-high of God in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 3:12 to 14

In Chapter 33 we saw that Paul suffered the loss of all things, and counted them but refuse or dung, in order that he might gain Christ: and in Chapter 34 we saw seven other treasures that he might obtain with Christ. Now he says: "Not that I have already obtained." He does not say what it is he has not yet obtained: he is running a race, and has neither time nor breath for a word he can do without. Notice the urgency all through this passage of Scripture: the sentences are short, and sometimes seem unfinished, as the apostle strains to press on. His eye is not on us, his readers, but on Christ, at the end of the race. Oh, that we knew more of such urgency!

And so, were you to ask; Paul, what is it you have not yet obtained? I think he would reply, Have you so quickly forgotten my passionate longing to gain Christ, and with Him those other treasures I showed you? I have not got them yet: but I am pressing on for them.

When I first went to a large boys' school, it was Easter time, and in a few weeks they held the annual school races and other athletic sports. The various events were listed, and the boys invited to enter their names for the races in which they wished to take part. The prizes were also put on view: they fairly took away my breath: never had I seen such a collection of beautiful silver cups and trophies. I was only just twelve, and most of the boys were older, so I knew I had not much chance: but there was one little silver cup for the Hundred Yard Dash, for boys of twelve and under: and, Oh, how I longed for that cup! I had not already obtained it, but I could train and practise for that race, and then, so run that I might obtain! And I often went and looked at the little cup, and that stirred me to more earnest efforts.

I think that is something the way the dear Apostle felt, as he gazed on Christ, and all the treasures found in Him. But then Paul was still running the race, and the prize does not come until the race is finished: so I think that is what he means when he says: "Not that I have already obtained, or am already perfected; but I press on, or, — I am pressing on!"

There is a difference between the race Paul was running, and the races we ran at School that day: in our races but one received the prize; but in Paul's race (and he won the prize, not a silver cup, but a crown of righteousness), the prize was, "not to me only," he says, "but unto all them that love His appearing." (2 Tim. 4:8).

And what did he mean when he said, I am not "already perfected"? He did not mean that he expected down here to be perfect, and without sin. Rather, I think, he meant that he had not yet that glorified body that he would have later on, (See Verse 21), through "the power of His resurrection," the last of those treasures on which he had been gazing. We have seen that Salvation in Philippians not only includes the salvation of our souls, but also being kept all the way through this wilderness journey, and right on till we reach that Home in Glory: not till then have we fully obtained, or are we perfected.

And so he says, "But I am pressing on." Like the runner in the 12th of Hebrews, he would lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and he would run with endurance the race set before him. And it was not any Hundred Yard Dash that Paul was running. The race he ran called for endurance: never to give up: he may have been like some of a previous day, "faint yet pursuing:" so he cries, "But I press on!"

"Though faint, yet pursuing,
    We go on our way.
The Lord is our Leader,
    His Word is our stay;
Though suffering and sorrow
    And trial be near,
The Lord is our Refuge,
    And whom can we fear?

"Though clouds may surround us,
    Our God is our Light,
Though storms rage around us,
    Our God is our might;
So 'Faint, yet pursuing,'
    Still onward we come,
The Lord is our Leader,
    And Heaven our Home."

"But I press on, if also I may appropriate, seeing that also I have been appropriated by Christ Jesus."

The word we have translated 'appropriate' is sometimes translated 'apprehend', sometimes, 'lay hold on' or 'grasp', sometimes 'get possession of.' The meaning is very much the same with any of these words, and each carries much truth in it: but there is such a fulness in many Greek words that one English word cannot express it; so in using appropriate there is no suggestion that these other words are not right: but it is with the hope of bringing out another ray of divine light from this word that Paul uses. One of the best Greek Lexicons (Moulton and Milligan), that has compared many New Testament words with the recent finds of old Greek manuscripts, tells us that appropriate "is Paul's regular use of the verb in active and passive:" so we have used it. It just means, to take for oneself: and this is exactly what Paul had done: he had taken Christ for Himself, for his own gain: and for Him he had thrown away all other gains, seeing that Christ Jesus had appropriated him: taken him for Himself. "I am His, and He is mine."

I suppose some of my readers will say that 'appropriate' must have an object to it: he must tell what it is he so longs to appropriate: but I do not think Paul troubles about small matters like that: he is so earnestly pressing on in his race, and his eyes and heart are so filled with Christ, and the treasures he has been showing us in Christ: treasures he longs to appropriate, that it never crosses his mind that our eyes and hearts may not be filled with the same Object, and so we might not realize that he wants to appropriate Christ and the treasures to be found with Him.
And why does he so passionately long to appropriate Christ? He gives his reason: "Seeing that also I have been appropriated by Christ Jesus." I think that is perfectly beautiful. Long years before on the Damascus Road the Lord Jesus Christ had 'appropriated' Paul: Paul had seen Him in His glory, and from that day and onward his one absorbing desire was to appropriate Him. But, you say, had not Paul long since appropriated Christ? Did he not, only a few verses back, say "Christ Jesus my Lord"? Yes, truly. But yet he could cry, "To know Him!" although he knew Him better, perhaps, than any other: he still longed to know Him more and more. And as we cannot appropriate what we do not know, so as Paul learned to know his Lord better and better, he longed more and more to appropriate Him.

And I also can say, I have been appropriated by Christ Jesus. Like the Apostle, I am not my own, I have been bought with a price: Yes, I have been appropriated by Christ Jesus. Have you, dear Reader, also been appropriated by Christ Jesus? Then you are not your own, but HIS.

      "Thine, Jesus, Thine,
    No more this heart of mine
Shall seek its joy apart from Thee,
The world is crucified to me,
        And I am Thine.

        "Thine — Thine alone,
    My joy, my hope, my crown:
Now earthly things may fade and die,
They charm my soul no more, for I
        Am Thine alone."
            (A. Midlane)

A policeman may 'apprehend' a criminal: and I was a criminal right enough: but it was not a 'policeman' who 'apprehended' me. No, it was my own beloved Lord and Saviour, who bought me with His own most precious blood, and then He appropriated me: rightly enough: for when He bought me, then I belonged to Him, and Him alone. I was only a little child the day He appropriated me, or, 'laid hold on' me; and He has never let go of me through all those 67 years since that day: and He will not let go of me, not until He has me safe Home in the Father's House, to go no more out. (John 10:28-30).

"Brothers, I do not reckon myself to have appropriated," so Paul continues. When this word "Brothers" begins the sentence, it is always in preparation for a particularly earnest appeal. See Verse 1 of our chapter, or Romans 10:1, or Galatians 3:15, etc. Perhaps there were 'brothers' in the assembly at Philippi who felt they had 'appropriated,' who felt they were doing well in the Christian race, and the prize was theirs. So Paul points to himself, and says, "I do not reckon myself to have appropriated." He makes the "I" and "myself" both emphatic. If there were such brothers in Philippi, what a sweet and gentle way to reprove them! Well Paul knew that not until he gets safe Home, and knows in full the power of His resurrection, not until the Lord Jesus Christ shall change his vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself (see our Chapter, Verse 21); not until the flesh with all its imperfections will be done away for ever, this mortal will have put on immortality, and this corruptible, incorruption: not until then can Paul say: "I have obtained! I am perfected! I have appropriated!" Meanwhile, as the children sing: "All, all above is treasured, and found in Christ alone."*

{*As to this third chapter, many have enquired whether the thing aimed at was a spiritual assimilation to Christ here, or a complete assimilation to Him in the glory. This is rather to forget the import of what the apostle says, namely, that the sight and the desire of the heavenly glory, the desire of possessing Christ Himself thus glorified, was that which formed the heart here below. An object here below to be attained in oneself could not be found, since Christ is on high; it would be to separate the heart from the object which forms it to its own likeness. But although we never reach the mark here below, since it is a glorified Christ and resurrection from among the dead, yet its pursuit assimilates us more and more to Him. The object in the glory forms the life which answers to it here below. Were a light at the end of a long straight alley, I never have the light itself till I am arrived there; but I have ever increasing light in proportion as I go forward; I know it better; I am more in the light myself. Thus it is with a glorified Christ, and such is christian life. (Compare 2 Cor. 3). (Syn. p. 489, 490)

In the meantime there is "but one thing." The Apostle is too occupied with the race to stop to write, "One thing I do." He takes for granted we will understand that a man running such a race cannot waste words. I told you about the Hundred Yard Dash in which I ran soon after going to school. (I did not win that beautiful little silver cup). Well, the following October was the time when they ran "The Steeplechase." It was five miles across open country, through a river and streams, over fences and plowed fields, up hill and down hill, and then along a dusty country road to the goal. I was passing the gymnasium one day, when the Trainer called me over, and asked if I was running in The Steeplechase. "Oh, no," I replied, "I never could run five miles!" But he insisted that I enter; and so I found myself lined up for the start: the pistol went, and we were away. I can assure you that for those five miles I did but one thing. I knew where the goal was, and the one thing I did was to press on towards it. Sometimes the going was hard, especially when a plowed field came after a stream, and your shoes were full of water. There was never a thought to stop and rest, nor look around to see how the other fellows were getting on; and at last, in the distance, I could see the goal, along the country road, down a little hill, and then perhaps a hundred yards on the straight. There were four or five boys a little ahead of me, but when I saw the goal, forgetting the things behind, and stretching forward with every bit of strength I had, down to the goal I pressed, passed the boys, and got in ahead. The Trainer put his arm around me, and said, "Well done!" and I was as pleased as if I had won the race, though there may have been fifty boys ahead of me.

I think it must have been a race something like the steeplechase the Apostle ran: though they all tell me it was The Marathon he had in mind, and may be it is so. But most of us are running a race like the steeplechase: there are all sorts of difficulties in the way: streams to cross, plowed fields to get over, fences to climb, and perhaps we may even have to cross a river before we reach the goal. But never mind, it is well worth while. For some of us the Goal is almost in sight: we can almost see "The Trainer" waiting for us. Think you that our minds are on the difficulties of the way we have passed? Are we wondering how the other fellow is getting on? Oh, No! One thing I do, forgetting the things behind, and straining forward to the things ahead, down to the Goal I press. And there is our Trainer, just waiting to receive us, and if so be He should take us in His arms, and say 'Well Done!' will it not infinitely more than make up for all the difficulties and fatigue of the race?

Beloved Reader, Are you running that race? Have you entered for it yet? Can you say, "One thing I do"? May God help us to be true followers of that runner whose record we have been pondering.

But perhaps some will question, What are the things behind that the Apostle says he forgets? He does not tell us: he does not say if they were the victories or the failures. But I think it is anything and everything that would take our eyes off Christ. I think it is like Ps. 45:10: "Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty." When Rebecca was going through the desert she would have had nothing if she had forgotten Isaac. Isaac was the attraction, the object before her heart, and I doubt not her heart was filled with thoughts of him; and in a sense she forgot her own people and her father's house: but I do not suppose the Lord meant that she should never think of them again: but Isaac was the supreme object of her heart. We find the Apostle, when occasion served, remembered both his victories and his failures: See 2 Cor. 11:22 to 12:7; Acts 22:20; 24:21; 1 Cor. 15:9; but his heart was not set on either. To remember our victories tends to make us proud: to remember our failures tends to cast us down and discourage us, so we are tempted to give up. If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. He knows the failure and the sin; and He knows if we have confessed it, and it is all forgiven: He does not cast it up against us. So let us take Him at His word, and forget it: not surely to make us careless: but to magnify His grace. The night after Paul failed when standing before the Council, (Acts 23:2-7), the Lord Himself came to him in the prison, (He did not send an angel, as in Acts 12:7), and HE said to him, "Be of good cheer, Paul." He used His own special word, "Tharsei", (cheer up!) that He so often used when down here. But not a single word of the failure did He mention. Paul, I doubt not, had confessed it, and it was forgiven; and the Lord would not bring it up again. So it seems to me the Lord means us to forget everything that would distract us, whether good or whether bad, whether victories or whether defeats. If the latter, confess it, and believe the Lord's promise to forgive, and then press on.

Now we are nearing the end of the race: the prize is in view: "Down to the goal I press unto (or, for) the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus."

Before we look at the prize, we must consider the calling. We read much about our calling. The following quotations are from the New Translation, by Mr. Darby.
We are "Called ones of Christ Jesus." Rom. 1:6: See Note in N.T.
We are "Called saints," or, "Saints by calling." Rom. 1:7: See Note.
It is a "holy calling." 2 Tim. 1:9.
It is a "heavenly calling." Heb. 3:1.
Paul prays we should "know what is the hope of His calling." Eph. 1:18.
It is a "calling of God … not subject to repentance." Rom. 11:29.
We are exhorted "to walk worthy of the calling wherewith ye have been called." Eph. 4:1.

What, then, does it mean, — "the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus"? When, as a child, I ran in that Hundred Yard Dash, I might have said: "Down to the goal I press for the prize of the Hundred Yard Dash." "The Hundred Yard Dash" described the race I was running. So "the calling on high" I think describes the race Paul was running. It is the calling "which bears the character of the world above … the calling whose origin, nature, and goal are heavenly." (Cremer's Lexicon).

But I think it may include the call to that race: just as the Trainer called me to run in the Steeplechase. In the Marathon Race the Herald proclaimed:
    "Foot by foot
To the foot-line put."

When the Marathon Race was finished, and the prize won, it is said the winner was called up before the Emperor, or other high personage, who had his seat above the rest: and this high official handed him the prize. "The calling" may include this: but it seems usually to refer to the pathway of the saint down here.

And what is the prize that Paul so valued? I think the poet is not far wrong when he sings:
"Run the straight race, through God's good grace,
Lift up thine eyes, and seek His face.
Life, with its way, before us lies,
CHRIST is the Path, and CHRIST the Prize".

The prize for the winner of the Marathon race was a crown of leaves, — a fading crown: but our Prize is an unfading one. We read of some of these crowns that the Lord promises to His saints:

"A crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing." (2 Tim. 4:8).

"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him." (James 1:12)

"Feed the flock of God … And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." (1 Peter 5:2, 4).

"Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Rev. 2:10).

The word translated 'crown' in each of these passages is stephanos, from which we get our name 'Stephen,' and is really the 'Victor's Wreath.' His enemies gave our Lord a crown of thorns, and it is the same word: for I think His Father saw in it the Victor's Wreath: but soon he was crowned with another "Victor's Wreath", even the first martyr, for His Name's sake.

"On His head were many crowns" (Rev. 19:12): here the word is the kingly crown: the 'diadem.' And HE wears both the Victor's Wreath, and "many Diadems:" and He is worthy of all.

To Israel, the Lord says: "In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of His people." (Isa. 28:5). And so I think we are not wrong in supposing that each of the crowns He promises His people today, tell us of Christ our Lord. And I think in Revelation 4:10 we learn what His saints will do with those crowns that He so graciously gives them: "The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power." What a joy it will be in that day, if we have a crown to cast before Him! May you and I dear Reader, taste of that joy!

But there is a note of warning that we do well to heed: "Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." (Rev. 3:11). The crown tells of reward, and that is an entirely different thing to eternal life, which is the free gift of God; and none who have it will ever lose it, or perish. But we may lose our crown, and be ashamed before Him at His coming. And notice this warning is given to those in Philadelphia. Well is it indeed, if those who pride themselves on representing church (and I grieve to say there are such) take serious heed to this warning: but let us each remember the warning is meant for ourselves. Do not let us reckon that we have already obtained the prize, or that we are sure to obtain it. These verses are intended, I believe, to stir us up to press on for it.

And soon, very soon, the Prize Day will be here. "Yet a very little while He that comes will come, and will not delay." (Heb. 10:37 New Trans). And then we will hear that shout, — 'that great commanding shout', — that calls us up on high, —
"Arise, My Love, My Fair One, and Come Away!"
"Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"

One Thing
"Not one thing hath failed - Joshua 23:14
One thing have I desired of the Lord - Ps. 27:4
One thing thou lackest - Mark 10:21, Luke 18:22
One thing is needful - Luke 10:42
One thing I know - John 9:25
One thing I do - Phil. 3:13
Be not ignorant of this one thing" - 2 Peter 3:8

Chapter 36

How minded?

"Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing."

"As-many therefore as (are) perfect, let-us-be thus minded. And if in-anything ye-are differently minded, this also God shall-reveal to-you. Only unto what we-have-(succeeded)-in-reaching, (let us) walk in-the-same steps."

Philippians 3:15-16 Note: the better readings leave out the last sentence of verse 16.

In Verse 12 the Apostle told us he was "not already perfected." It may seem strange that now he speaks of "as many as are perfect." There is really no contradiction at all. In Verse 12, the Apostle was looking forward to the end of the race, when he would be with Christ in Glory, and his "vile body" would be changed, that it might be "like unto His glorious body." (Phil. 3:21). Then he will be "perfected," but not until then. But in the verse before us, he is looking at us down here. He has been giving a most thrilling description of the Christian race: and in this verse he may be thinking of a runner who has trained well, and is, as we say, "in perfect condition."

In the dining room in our school there were five long tables, with about 30 boys at each table. One of these was called "The Training Table," and any boy who seriously wished to train for a race, other sports, sat at this table. The food here was plain, no pies or fancy puddings, as at the other tables: but the boys at The Training Table knew they must deny themselves, — and they did so gladly, — for the sake of the prize they hoped to gain. As you looked at some of these boys, with their daily training and self-denial, you could not but say, of some at least, They are a type of perfect boyhood. When he speaks of those who are 'perfect,' I think the apostle is thinking of those who seek to run the spiritual race with all their hearts, as these boys sought to run their school races. Please read 1 Corinthians 9, Verses 24 to 27.

The word perfect is also used in another way in the Scriptures, as in Hebrews 5:14: "Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age." Here "full age," or maturity, refers to spiritual maturity. The words "them that are of full age" are literally: "The ones being perfect:" that is, spiritually mature. And it may be that this is the thought in the apostle's mind: or, perhaps, he had both in mind: One full grown, spiritually; in perfect training. And to all such the apostle says: "Let us be thus minded." Let us have the same mind towards the race that Paul has just described so vividly: "Let everything go that would interfere with your running; do not hesitate; let the eye be single. Saints in this condition, with Christ as their one Object, the Word of God as their one Guide, will not be long in seeing eye to eye." (Lincoln).

We have already seen that the Apostle had grave cause for fearing that some of the saints in Philippi did not see eye to eye, and in the Fourth Chapter of our Epistle, he must speak of this still more plainly: but now he is pointing out the remedy. We have also noticed before how often the apostle speaks of how we are "minded." I think ten times in this Epistle does he speak of this: and ten, you will remember, speaks of responsibility. We are responsible for the way our minds work: and this is a serious matter, for "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Prov. 23:7). And you will recall in the Second Chapter of our Epistle the Spirit of God tells us: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." O Beloved, if only we would obey this single injunction, we would all be of one mind: our strife and our quarrels would all disappear. You remember Christ said, "I am meek and lowly in heart." That tells us the mind of Christ. Another has said, — "Meekness never takes offence, and lowliness never gives offence." It is "only by pride cometh contention." Notice the big "I" in the centre of that word. That is the one who causes the trouble. So the Apostle after saying: "Let us be thus minded," continues: "And if in anything ye are differently minded, this also God shall reveal to you." I think differently minded, means that some are not of the mind just described, the mind the Apostle had in running the race. I do not think the Apostle is thinking of evil and blasphemous teaching that would mean disloyalty to Christ if we had to do with it. But there are many matters in which we may go on together in happy fellowship, even though we may not be entirely agreed. And the remedy is very sweet: leave them with the Lord, and God Himself shall reveal this to us. It might be well for us to lay this to heart, for sometimes we are tempted to take it on ourselves to try and compel our brethren to have our mind: and we seem sometimes to forget that I do not know everything, and it is possible I might make mistakes myself. And even if I could succeed in forcing my brother to accept my ideas; have I gained anything, unless the Spirit of God teaches him? And it may be the Spirit of God has something to reveal to me also. In First Thessalonians 4:9 we read: "Ye yourselves are taught of God." But let us remember that it is "the meek will He teach His way." (Ps. 24:9). May He give us that spirit that is willing to learn of Him!

And notice that we do not learn these truths of God by study. 'All spiritual realities have a veil over them to our sight till God lifts it up to disclose first one portion and then another of the whole thing.' The word translated 'shall reveal', is literally, 'shall unveil.' God lifts the veil that hangs over these spiritual things, so that we can see them as they truly are. I think it is this veil that keeps even dear children of God from being able to see truths that God has, perhaps, unveiled to us: and we cannot understand why our brethren do not see them too. "Things which eye has not seen … God has revealed (unveiled) to us by His Spirit." (1 Cor. 2 9. N.T.). 'And this, which is spoken of as an accomplished act in general, is a gradual and progressive act for the individual.' So we need patience one with another.

"Only unto what we have succeeded in reaching, (let us) walk in the same steps." We have been speaking about running, now we are to speak about walking, and in the last chapter of our Epistle we must speak about standing.

The word translated reaching*, seems always to indicate not merely reaching, but reaching with some difficulty (Moule), so the word succeeded attempts to express this. But if we have succeeded in any measure in reaching that mind that seeks those things above, that has Christ alone for its object, that is ready to deny ourselves, to sit (so to speak) at the Training Table, to keep up our daily exercise, forgetting the things behind, and straining onward to the things before, not tempted with an ice cream or cake (that which they represent in spiritual things), let us hold this fast. And remember that to him that hath shall more be given.

{*In verses 11, 12 and 16 we have, in our English Bible, three different Greek words, each translated attain. The first is kat-antao, and means I 'come to, arrive at.' The second is lambano, and means I 'receive or obtain, lay hold of.' The third is phthano, and means I 'come before another', and in this sense is used in 1 Thess. 4:15: but it also means to 'come, arrive.' It will be seen how very difficult it is to find English words to bring out the differences that there are between these three words in Greek.}

And there is another thing you will find, and that is there is a strong bond between those who have this mind; those who sit at the training Table, and train in real dead earnest, are drawn very close together. Another has said: "Devotedness to Jesus is the strongest bond between human hearts."

These are the ones the Apostle exhorts to "walk in the same steps." The word we have translated in this way is a special word, that really means to walk in line, in single file: and intimates a number of people walking together. It was used especially of soldiers marching in file to battle: each keeping step with the other. In the Athenian military oath the promise was given, not to desert the soldier by whom (not by whose side, but by whose regulating step as it were) the man walked. (Vaughan).

Peter tells us that Christ has left us an example (a copy, as we say, to write after) "that ye should follow in His steps." (1 Peter 2:21. N.T.). And if we are all following in His steps, we will all be of one mind. In Ephesians 4 we learn more about our walk: "I therefore the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation (or, calling) wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity" (Ps. 133:1)

Lo, how pleasant and how well,
When in unity saints dwell:
Like the hands and feet together,
Serve and love and help each other.

Like the precious ointment poured
On to Aaron's head and beard:
Flowing to his garment's skirt,
Making all the house smell sweet.

As the dew of Hermon's mount
Of refreshment is the fount:
So when brethren dwell in love
Blessings flow from Thee above.

All Thy words are true and sure,
They bring peace and pleasures pure:
Peace, how good and pleasant now,
E'en like heaven here below.
(From Chinese)

Chapter 37

The victory won

Heavenly Citizens

"Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. [For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, (that they are) the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.] For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."

"Be joint-imitators of me, brothers, and fix-your-eyes-on the-(ones) thus walking as you have us for a pattern; for many are-walking, [of-whom I many-times told you, but now even weeping tell (you)], (as) the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end (is) destruction, whose god (is) the belly, and the glory in their shame, the-ones minding earthly-(things). For our citizen-life (or, citizenship) exists-already in (the) heavens, from whence also we-are-eagerly-awaiting (as) Saviour, (the) Lord Jesus Christ, who shall-transform (or, change-the-fashion-of) our body of humiliation, into-conformity to His body of glory, according-to the working of-His ability even to subdue all-(things) to-Him."

Philippians 3:17-21

We saw in our last chapter, that Paul exhorted the saints: "Only unto what we have succeeded in reaching, (let us) walk in the same steps." We saw the word for walk in this passage means to walk in a line, as a line of soldiers, each keeping step with the other. In Gal. 5:25 we find the same word, and there the Word tells us: "By the Spirit we should keep in step." If each man exactly copies the man ahead of him, then all will be in step. And, remember, the Spirit dwells in each true believer: and so can keep us in step, if we will but heed Him. This is just what the Apostle is telling us now:
"Be joint-imitators of me, brothers."
I do not think 'imitator' is a good word here. The Greek word is the one from which we get 'mimics', and this would be excellent, if it did not have a nasty meaning attached to it. Even 'copyist' has not an entirely good meaning, but it does give the thought fairly well.

I think what Paul is telling the Philippians (and us) is that we each one should copy him: and in 1 Cor. 11:1, he writes: "Be ye followers" (it is the same word as here): "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." That is the secret. Paul follows Christ: copies Him, 'mimics' Him, if we can say it reverently: and we all are to be 'joint-imitators' of Paul. This is the only place in the New Testament we find this word, 'joint-imitator,' and it includes all the saints. It tells us we are not only to "keep step," but we are also to "keep rank", like the men of Zebulon, long ago: fifty thousand of them could keep rank, (1 Chron. 12:33), so that should encourage the little companies of the saints to do the same. You remember Peter told us that Christ left us an example "that ye should follow His steps." That is exactly what the Apostle Paul was doing; and he calls us to be 'joint-imitators' of him, in this path. In this way we will keep step and keep rank.

More eyes may be watching our steps than we realize: what a responsibility that we do not lead their feet astray! What a responsibility to see that we are faithful followers, — imitators, — of Christ, following His steps. You will recall that in verses 12 and 14 Paul spoke about pressing on. The word is dioko, and means also to press after. In the New Testament we often find it: there are many things we are to press after: Four times it tells us to press after peace; three times after love; twice after faith, and twice after righteousness; once each after godliness, patience, meekness, holiness, hospitality, and that which is good: besides those already mentioned in Philippians 3. But there is a stronger word than dioko, "I-press-after:" it is kata-dioko, meaning "I-earnestly-press-after." It is used only once in the New Testament, and that is in Mark 1:36, where the disciples waked up to find their Lord had risen up a great while before day, and had departed into a solitary place to pray: "and Simon and they that were with him earnestly-pressed-after Him." As far as I know we are never told to 'press-after' Christ: but we are given this beautiful example of His disciples of old who earnestly-pressed-after Him: and if we truly love Him, will not we be joint-imitators of them? Meanwhile, let us give heed to be 'joint-imitators' of Paul, as he exhorts us in Verse 17.

Again we get that sweet word 'Brothers,' again telling of the earnestness and importance of the Apostle's appeal. This word really belongs to the portion we have just been considering: "Be-joint-imitators of me, Brothers." It might have seemed as though Paul was setting himself above the saints in Philippi, so he quickly reminds them that he and they are all brothers: all one family.

Now he continues: "And fix-your-eyes-on the-ones walking as you-have us for-a-pattern." "Fix-your-eyes-on" is the same word we found in Chapter 2:4, where he told them not to fix their eyes each on his own interests, but each on the interests of others also. So there are some things on which we should fix our eyes, and some things on which we should not fix them. The word translated 'goal' in the 14th verse of our Chapter is from the same word; as the goal is the spot on which the racer has his eye fixed. Now the Apostle tells the saints to have their eyes on the ones thus walking as you have us for a pattern, or model. Paul had said, "Be joint-imitators of me," now he speaks of us, perhaps this includes Timothy, Luke, Epaphroditus: all well known to the saints in Philippi. Notice Paul does not tell them to have their eyes on "us." The ones they were to fix their eyes on were saints in the assembly at Philippi who were walking as they had these dear servants of the Lord for a pattern. How good to know there were saints in Philippi whom Paul could commend in this lovely way. And I doubt not Christ has His own faithful ones in many places today: perhaps poor and despised: as Christ Himself was down here: perhaps not recognized even by their brethren: but these are the ones on whom we are to fix our eyes.

"For many are-walking, (of whom I many-times told you, but now even weeping tell you) as the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is the belly, and the glory in their shame, the-ones minding earthly-things."

The reason they were to fix their eyes on the saints having Paul and his friends for a pattern was that there were many who were walking very differently. The word used for walk here and in Verse 17 indicates walking alone, and there is no thought of following in line. In the early verses of this chapter we saw that the enemy was seeking to bring in those who taught circumcision and the law of Moses, as the means of salvation. Now we come to those who go to the other extreme. The 'narrow road' has two sides, and often in our eagerness to avoid one side, we may fall in the ditch on the other side. These men were 'enemies of the cross of Christ.' It does not say they were enemies of Christ, but to take up the cross and follow Christ was the last thing they desired. But there is no other way of safety except by the cross; so 'their end is destruction.' This word is the key note of 2 Peter 2: False teachers who bring upon themselves swift destruction. Their god was their stomach: their stomachs had first place in their lives. Are there not such today? And they had their minds on things of earth. These people evidently had come in among the Christians, and there may have been no gross evil, as men see it, in their lives, that would call for excommunication. Their daily walk may have been better than some who were true believers: for it was a day in which all sought their own. They may have attended the meetings regularly, and even taken the Lord's Supper: yet, their end was destruction.

There is no ground, as far as I know, to suppose that any of these people were living in Philippi; rather the reverse, as apparently the saints there did not know of them, apart from what Paul had told them when he was with them, and again in this Epistle. But the true saints needed to be warned against them. Their conduct made Paul weep, as he wrote of them. Like Joseph, Paul was a "great weeper." The First Epistle to Corinthians was written with "many tears." He often wept as he brought the Gospel to the Ephesians. I am sure the Epistle to the Galatians was blotted with untold tears. And now he weeps even as he writes to his beloved brethren in Philippi. (2 Cor. 2:4; Acts 20:31).

Actually we know that in the days of the early Church those known as Gnostics were in some cases 'practical libertines,' walking very much as the Apostle describes here. Others, it is true, were ascetics, but many made a god of their bellies.

My reader is probably thinking, This has nothing to do with me: why spend time thinking of such persons? The Spirit of God is He who has given us this grave warning; and I believe that many of us in our day might do well to lay to heart His words. Never, I suppose, has there been such luxury and extravagance amongst the Lord's own people, as there is today in some quarters. It is doubtless a mark of this present evil age: but the tragedy is that the saints of God, who should be marked by holiness, — separation from such things, — have, on the contrary, become seriously affected by them. I know that the very 'atmosphere' which we breathe today is saturated with this spirit of luxury; but there were fish, — should I not say, There are fish? — that have both fins and scales. (Lev. 11:9). Such fish can swim against the current, and can pass through filth without it's affecting them. But, let me repeat it, I believe most of us do well to take earnest heed to this most solemn warning, as well as to the warning of the aged Apostle John: "Little Children, Keep yourselves from idols." How sad if the idol is my stomach!

There are quite a few words in the Greek New Testament with the thought of luxury in them: streniao (Rev. 18:7, 9) tells of 'insolent luxury: ' luxuriated is the way the new Interlinear Greek Testament translates it. Truphao (James 5:5) tells of the effeminacy of luxury: 'lived daintily'. Spatalao (1 Tim. 5:6; James 5:5) tells of 'the wastefulness of luxury:' lived riotously. Aselgeia is 'the wantonness of luxury' (translated 'luxury' by Ronald Knox in Gal. 5:19: one of the works of the flesh). We find it four times in Peter's Epistles. The New Testament utterly condemns all this sort of thing. There we often read of 'prayer and fasting: ' what do we know of it today?

You recall that Martha was cumbered about much serving. The Master was coming for a meal, and Martha wanted a meal that would be worthy of Him. What does the Lord say? "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many: but few are needful, or one." That is the literal translation of what the Lord said. Our translators have added 'things' so as to make good English: but probably what the Lord meant was, 'many dishes,' or, 'many courses,' when 'few dishes,' or 'even one dish,' only a plate of porridge perhaps, was all that was needed. Should not this have a voice for us today? See also Romans 16:17-18.

The apostle ends the description of these people with the words: "whose glory is in their shame; the ones minding earthly things." Beloved saints, do not, in many cases, our homes, our furnishings, our cars, our manner of life agree to an appalling extent with this description? And perhaps the saddest part is that we glory in them, when they are in reality our shame. Were we more truly 'joint-imitators' of the Apostle, we too would weep.

Verses 18 and 19, which give us this sad description of some in Paul's day, are a sort of parenthesis; and now we come to Verse 20, which seems to follow on directly from Verse 17: "Fix your eyes on the ones thus walking as you have us for a pattern. … For our citizen-life is already in the heavens; from whence we are eagerly awaiting as Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." The word our at the beginning of this 20th verse is very emphatic. 'Our citizen-life' in the heavens is contrasted with those who 'mind earthly things.' They are the ones 'that dwell upon the earth,' of Revelation 3:10; 6:10, etc. This Greek expression is used, I believe, 11 times in Revelation: May the Lord help us to seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. May He give us to "set our mind on things above, not on things on the earth." (Col. 3:1-2).*

{*The word translated 'citizen-life' is politeuma, — from which we get our word 'politics.' It is very difficult to translate. Mr. Darby and Mr. Kelly both translate it as 'commonwealth.' Mr. Kelly has a footnote: "or, 'conversation.'" Mr. Darby has a footnote: "'Commonwealth' does not satisfy me at all, but 'citizenship' is a somewhat different word. 'Conversation' is wrong, though it be a practical consequence. It is 'associations of life,' as, 'I am born an Englishman.'" Some translate it 'a colony of heaven.' Moulton and Milligan do not think this is correct, and suggest 'citizenship or franchise.' Dr. Vaughan translates it 'citizenship' with the following note: "This is perhaps as near an approach as can be made in English to the sense of the Greek word (politeuma), which is properly a thing done as a citizen, and so an act, function, or department, of the citizen-life (in the spiritual and heavenly sense of that word). Our citizen-life is already in heaven." The word here is a noun: in Phil. 1:27 we saw it as a verb, and translated it as: "Live-as-citizens," which is probably fairly near the meaning. The verb is also found in Acts 23:1: nowhere else in the New Testament. The noun, politeuma, is found only here in the New Testament.}

"O make us each more holy,
    In spirit, pure and meek:
More like to heavenly citizens,
    As more of heaven we seek."

The saints at Philippi would probably understand Paul's meaning better, and more easily, than we can: for you will remember that Philippi was 'a colony' of Rome. (Acts 16:12). The word 'colony' did not have at all the same meaning that we think of today. Rather it was a miniature or copy of Rome, transplanted into the Province of Macedonia. It was populated largely by men who had formerly been Roman soldiers, and they were all Roman Citizens, with the special privileges that belonged to such. You will remember that Paul was a Roman Citizen, 'free born.' We have already spoken of these things, and pointed out the pride with which they held this citizenship. Paul uses this unique position of the City of Philippi as a figure of the heavenly Citizenship of the Philippian saints. And they would understand his meaning better than any other of the saints to whom he wrote.

Not only was their citizenship in Rome, but their laws, their government, their ways, their 'conversation', were all Roman: even though they lived in Macedonia. And so is it with us. Our 'citizen-life' is (not, ought to be) in heaven. We are:

"Called from above, and heavenly men by birth
(Who once were but the citizens of earth),
As pilgrims here, we seek a heavenly home,
Our portion in the ages yet to come."
        (J. G. Deck)

"From whence also we eagerly await (as) Saviour, (the) Lord Jesus Christ."

When first we learned to know the Lord Jesus Christ, we learned to know Him 'as Saviour.' What, then, does it mean when it says that now 'we eagerly await Him as Saviour'? When first we learned to know Him, we knew Him as Saviour of our souls: — the Saviour who bore our sins: now we eagerly await Him as Saviour of our bodies: "Ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly-awaiting the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." (Rom. 8:23). It is the very same word we have in Philippians 3:20: 'eagerly-await', or, 'assiduously and patiently wait for' (Thayer), and he suggests that we compare the English expression to 'wait it out: ' which, I suppose, means that we go on eagerly awaiting, no matter how long it may be: right on till Him we await appears. This word is used three times in Romans 8: verses 19, 23, and 25. It is used 8 times in the New Testament, always with a good sense. You will recall the number eight is the resurrection number: just the opposite of dwelling on the earth, or minding earthly things.

There is another rather sweet thing in this verse. Our citizen-life, or citizenship, is in the heavens; the word heavens, is plural, perhaps intimating the vastness of that sphere: but when we read, "from whence also we eagerly await as Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ," the word whence is in the singular, as though it might suggest the Father's Home: not the vast heavens.

Beloved, Are we eagerly awaiting as Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ? A dearly loved brother, speaking nearly forty years ago, remarked: "We remember the day when there first dawned on our souls the truth of a Coming Saviour: it was then so real that every night we prayed that, before we awoke, we might see Him as He is; and in the morning we thought of one thing, — that before the evening came, the day of glory might arise for our souls." (F. Lavington). Is the hope as bright and real and true for us?

"Who shall transform (or, change the fashion of) our body of humiliation, into conformity to His body of glory, according to the working of His ability even to subdue all things to Him." (Phil. 3:21).

The Greek word translated 'transform' in this verse means to change the outward appearance of that which itself remains the same. It is used of Saul and of Jeroboam's wife, when they disguised themselves. (1 Sam. 28:8; 1 Kings 14:2). Their outward appearance was changed, but they remained the same. 'The butterfly, prophetic type of man's resurrection, is immeasurably more beautiful than the grub, yet has been unfolded from it.' (Trench). The outward form of the grub has been changed: it has been 'unclothed' (2 Cor. 5:4) from its grub-body; and it has 'put on' (1 Cor. 15:53-54) its beautiful garments; but it is still the very same creature, the same life, that was in the grub. Our Lord was "found in fashion as a man." This word 'fashion' is the word from which the expression 'change-the-fashion' is made. When men saw Him, saw His outward appearance, "there was no beauty that we should desire Him." To man's eye, He was only 'the carpenter.' (Mark 6:3). It tells of the outward form only, but not of the inner Being. In His inner Being, He was 'in the form of God.' This is an entirely different word, telling of the 'specific character, the inward and essential.' Men found Him only 'the carpenter,' for they judged by outward appearances: but all the time He was very God.

So the Apostle writes: "Who shall transform (or, change the fashion of) our body of humiliation, into conformity to (or, sharing the form of) His body of glory." The word translated conformity uses the very same word that was used when the Scripture tells us He was 'in the form of God.' It is the 'specific character, the inward and essential.'

Our outward form is changed, truly: but we are still our own selves. Our dear ones who have gone before us to the Father's House are still themselves, still our own dear ones: their body of humiliation is 'transformed': my beloved wife will be no longer deaf: but she will be her very own self, when I see her again. These poor, weak, mortal bodies are going to be changed 'into conformity to', or, are going 'to share the form of,' His body of glory.' We may not be able to understand it: but we believe it: and if we ask "How?" the answer is, "according to the working of His ability even to subdue all things to Him." But let us be careful not to ask too many questions as to "How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?" or the Lord will answer us, "Thou fool," as He did in 1 Cor. 15:35-36. But this we do know: "Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son." (Rom. 8:29). This is the very same word as the Apostle uses in Phil. 3:21: the only other place in the New Testament where we find it.

And Who changes us in this amazing way? Our Lord Jesus Christ, Whom we eagerly await as Saviour. He Who "made the stars also", can subdue these mortal bodies, and have them 'put on Immortality.' Now, little by little, as we gaze at our beloved Lord in glory, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory: Then, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.
"Our earthen vessels break;
The world itself grows old;
But Christ our precious dust will take
And freshly mould;
He'll give these bodies vile
A fashion like His own;
He'll bid the whole creation smile,
And hush its groan."
    (Mary Bowley)

We may not pass over the last words of this amazing Scripture: "According to the working of His ability even to subdue all things to Him."*

{*The better Greek reading is 'to Him,' rather than 'to Himself,' as in the Authorised Version. This may have the same meaning, or it may be that the thought is that our Lord will subdue all things to His Father: as in 1 Cor. 15:24 to 28; where we see that the Father puts "all things under Him." (1 Cor. 15:28).}

In Micah 7:10 we read: "He shall subdue our iniquities." And the day is coming when this will be true in all its fulness, even though now we need to pray that He may 'break the power of cancelled sin.' But even now He is able to bring 'into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.' (2 Cor. 10:5). 'He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He hath put all things under His feet.' (1 Cor. 15:25-27). And though 'now we see not yet all things put under Him,' yet let us remember the fight has been fought and won: the foes that are left are vanquished foes. When on the cross our Lord cried
"Tetelestai!" — "It is Finished!"
He knew then that the mighty victory was won: It is Finished! The fight was over: even death must yield its prey.

When a conquering Roman general returned to Rome, he would lead a march of triumph through the city: and would shout
"Tetelestai!" — "It is Finished"
and the crowds would answer in triumph:
It was the cry of the Conqueror: and this is just what the last words of Chapter 3 of Philippians tell us.

"Tetelestai!" "It is finished!"
"Tetelestai!" All is done!
"Tetelestai!" Cries the Conqueror!
Conflict's finished! Victory won!
"Tetelestai!" "Tetelestai!"
All His foes have been put down!