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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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Finally, my brothers, rejoice 1
in the Lord. Writing the same things to you is no burden for me but is a
safeguard for you.
2 3 Beware of the dogs!
Beware of the evil workers! Beware of the mutilation! 4
For we are the circumcision, 5
we who worship through the Spirit of God, who boast in Christ Jesus and do not
put our confidence in flesh,
although I myself have grounds for confidence
even in the flesh.If anyone else thinks he can be confident in flesh, all the
more can I.
Circumcised on the eighth day, 6
of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrew parentage,
in observance of the law a Pharisee,
in zeal I persecuted the church, in
righteousness based on the law I was blameless.
(But) whatever gains I had, these I have come
to consider a loss 7 because of Christ.
More than that, I even consider everything as a
loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake
I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish,
that I may gain Christ
and be found in him, not having any
righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in
Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith
to know him and the power of his resurrection
and (the) sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death,
if somehow I may attain the resurrection from
8 It is not that I have already taken hold of it
or have already attained perfect maturity, 9 but I continue
my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken
possession of by Christ (Jesus).
Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself
to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but
straining forward to what lies ahead,
I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the
prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus.
Let us, then, who are "perfectly
mature" adopt this attitude. And if you have a different attitude, this
too God will reveal to you.
Only, with regard to what we have attained,
continue on the same course. 10
11 Join with others in being imitators of me, 12
brothers, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model
you have in us.
For many, as I have often told you and now tell
you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Their end is destruction. Their God is their
stomach; their glory is in their "shame." Their minds are occupied
with earthly things.
But our citizenship 13 is in
heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He will change our lowly body to conform with
his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into
subjection to himself.
1  Finally . . . rejoice: the
adverb often signals the close of a letter; cf ⇒ Philippians
4:8; ⇒ 2 Cor 13:11. While the verb could
also be translated "good-bye" or "farewell," although it is
never so used in Greek epistolography, the theme of joy has been frequent in the
letter (⇒ Philippians 1:18;
⇒ 2:2, ⇒ 18); note also
⇒ Philippians 4:4 and the addition of
"always" there as evidence for the meaning "rejoice." To write
the same things may refer to what Paul has previously taught in Philippi or to
what he has just written or to what follows.
2 [2-21] An abrupt change in content
and tone, either because Paul at this point responds to disturbing news he has
just heard about a threat to the faith of the Philippians in the form of false
teachers, or because part of another Pauline letter was inserted here; see
Introduction. The chapter describes these teachers in strong terms as dogs. The
persons meant are evidently different from the rival preachers of
⇒ Philippians 1:14-18 and the opponents of
⇒ Philippians 1:28. Since
⇒ Philippians 3:2-4 emphasize Jewish terms like
circumcision (⇒ Philippians 3:2-3,
5), some relate them to the "Judaizers"
of the Letter to the Galatians. Other phrases make them appear more like the
false teachers of ⇒ 2 Cor 11:12-15, the evil-workers.
The latter part of the chapter depicts the many who are enemies of Christ's
cross in terms that may sound more Gentile or even "gnostic" than
Jewish (⇒ Philippians 3:18-19). Accordingly, some
see two groups of false teachers in Phil 3, others one group characterized by a
claim of having attained "perfect maturity"
(⇒ Philippians 3:12-15).
3 [2-11] Paul sets forth the
Christian claim, especially using personal, autobiographical terms that are
appropriate to the situation. He presents his own experience in coming to know
Christ Jesus in terms of righteousness or justification (cf
⇒ Romans 1:16-17;
⇒ 3:21-⇒ 5:11; ⇒ Gal
2:5-11), contrasting the righteousness from God through faith and
that of one's own based on the law as two exclusive ways of pleasing God.
4  Beware of the mutilation:
literally, "incision," an ironic wordplay on "circumcision";
cf ⇒ Gal 5:12. There may be an association with the
self-inflicted mutilations of the prophets of Baal (⇒ 1
Kings 18:28) and of devotees of Cybele who slashed themselves in
5  We are the circumcision: the
true people of God, seed and offspring of Abraham (⇒ Gal
3:7, ⇒ 29;
⇒ 6:15). Spirit of God: some manuscripts read
"worship God by the Spirit."
6  Circumcised on the eighth day:
as the law required (⇒ Genesis 17:12;
⇒ Lev 12:3).
7  Loss: his knowledge of Christ
led Paul to reassess the ways of truly pleasing and serving God. His
reevaluation indicates the profound and lasting effect of his experience of the
meaning of Christ on the way to Damascus some twenty years before
(⇒ Gal 1:15-16; ⇒ Acts
8 [12-16] To be taken possession of
by Christ does not mean that one has already arrived at perfect spiritual
maturity. Paul and the Philippians instead press on, trusting in God.
9  Attained perfect maturity:
possibly an echo of the concept in the mystery religions of being an initiate,
admitted to divine secrets.
10  Some manuscripts add, probably
to explain Paul's cryptic phrase, "thinking alike."
11 [17-21] Paul and those who live a
life centered in Christ, envisaging both his suffering and resurrection,
provide a model that is the opposite of opponents who reject Christ's cross (cf
⇒ 1 Cor 1:23).
12  Being imitators of me: not
arrogance, but humble simplicity, since all his converts know that Paul is
wholly dedicated to imitating Christ (⇒ 1 Cor 11:1;
cf also ⇒ Philippians 4:9; ⇒ 1 Thes
1:6; ⇒ 2 Thes 3:7, 9;
⇒ 1 Cor 4:6).
13  Citizenship: Christians
constitute a colony of heaven, as Philippi was a colonia of Rome
(⇒ Acts 16:12). The hope Paul expresses involves the
final coming of Christ, not a status already attained, such as the opponents
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