Philippians 3

Chapter three was apparently meant to be the end of the letter, as Paul seemed to begin concluding it in Philippians 3:1. The command to rejoice occurs again. Paul knew he was repeating himself, but he thought it was worth it. He warned them about those who had continually dogged him throughout his ministry (dating back at least 14 years earlier to the writing of Galatians), specifically legalistic Jews who insisted that Gentiles must be circumcised in order to be truly saved or at least adding it as a requirement for spiritual growth (Philippians 3:2-11). It seems they emphasized their degrees and certifications to prove their legitimacy, but Paul would have none of that. It was not just that he had more qualifications than they did (although he did). He had come to the conclusion that none of those things mattered for spiritual growth. In fact, he began to see them as liabilities instead of helps. Because of this, he eliminated anything from his resume that would detract from Christ. His only goal was to know Jesus better and love him more.

Of course, he knew that he still had a long way to go, but he was intent on finishing well (Philippians 3:12-16). Not everyone was willing to push forward to spiritual growth, and Paul rebuked them for it. He said that anyone who disagreed with him that this should be the believer’s goal will be handled by God himself. At the very least, he said, we should “live up to the standard that we have already attained,” rather than going backward in our growth, which circumcision for these Gentiles would do. We must be careful who we choose to follow and attach ourselves to (Philippians 3:17-21). Many charlatans are out there who claim to be Christ-followers but whose “end is destruction, their god is their belly, they exult in their shame, and they think about earthly things.” There are many well-known preachers today who have fallen into that trap, and we should not follow them. Instead, we must keep our focus on spiritual things, because “our citizenship is in heaven,” and we should be eagerly anticipating the Savior’s return.