About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapter 3
verse 1 Paul says that it is no bother or trouble for him to remind the
Philippians of "the same things."
The words "same things" do not refer to the word
rejoice, but to the things that Paul will say in the following verses.
He considers these things a safeguard or a reminder so they will
live accordingly. It is not
burdensome for him to repeat himself if it will help his readers stay on
the right track.
that we should be following the world of modern day advertising but one
of the most important things to the world of advertizing is the
repetitive nature of their commercials.
Over and over again the words and images we see and hear are
burned into our heads so we will purchase what is being advertized.
The point is simple. Repetition
is one way to get a point across and have it burned into the human
2 begins the warning or the reminder to Paulís readers.
Paul says this. "Watch
out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the
the word "dogs" in this verse.
For a Jew, this word was a derogatory word used for nasty,
irreligious, and unrighteous people.
Jews considered the pagan Gentile as a dog.
The dogs Paul and the Jews had in mind here were not cute little
household puppies. They were
ferocious, hungry, scavengers that roamed the streets.
The dogs that Paul had in mind here were Jews who were promoting
circumcision in order to be saved. Paul's
choice of words is important here. He
is calling fellow Jews the same derogatory word that Jews would call
their arch enemy, the Gentile. The
words "mutilators of the flesh" refers to circumcision.
Paul's day there were certain Jews who said that in order to be saved
one had to be circumcised. Paul
called these men evil. Again,
this is very strong language. He
is calling religious men evil. They
were evil because their position on circumcision took away the
importance of the cross of Christ.
thing we should know about Old Testament circumcision is that even
though a man might be circumcised, if he did not have a heart towards
God and live accordingly, his circumcision was useless.
See Leviticus 26:40 and 41, Deuteronomy 10:16, and Jeremiah 4:4.
point to be made here is that the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross
with Jesus. The Law ended
with Jesusí death on the cross and therefore circumcision had no place
in New Testament thinking. See
Romans 10:4 where Paul says that Jesus is the end of the Law.
See also Colossians 2:14.
is human tendency to want to attain to Godís salvation through our own
good works. We have done
this throughout the history of the church. There has been so many rules
made up to help us get saved, but they are all meaningless. Then beyond
that, we have made rules to keep us saved, but staying saved is all
about continuing to trust Jesus with your life, which includes trusting
Jesus for your salvation. Paul
clearly teaches this in all of his writings.
we add rules to getting saved or staying saved, we are telling Jesus
that what He did on the cross was not good enough.
We just need to add a few things to improve on his work.
I cannot think of a worse sin that a Christian can commit.
This was the sin of the Judaizers.
Itís the sin of many people and groups today. Paul calls this
another gospel in his letter to the Galatians, and he calls such
promoters of this thinking dogs. We
need to remain pure in the gospel message we preach.
verse 3 Paul calls true believers in Jesus who donít add rules to the
process of being saved the real circumcised people. New
Testament circumcision is all about the Holy Spirit entering oneís
life. Paul calls this
circumcision a circumcision of the heart, because in New Testament
terms, issues of the heart are the important issues.
Outward issues are secondary.
fact of the matter is that if Jesus can change a heart, then all the
outward things; all the outward sins get changed as well, because that
which is in the heart will show itself in our outward actions.
The Old Testament dealt more with outward issues while the New
Testament majors on inner issues. This is one reason why the Holy Spirit
comes to live within us.
who believe in what has been traditionally called "Covenant
Theology, the alternative to Dispensationalism, believes that the Jews
have no special significance in the mind of God in this New Testament
era and in the ages to come. They
believe that throughout all of the ages God's plan has been for all
people, not just Jews. The
Jewish era of the Old Testament, you might say was a bracketed period of
time. Covenant Theologians
use verse 3, along with other verses, to prove their point.
They say that that true Children of God are those who have been
circumcised in their heart, not their bodies.
I can understand how Covenant theologians come up with their
thinking, especially when you read Romans 2:28 and 29 where Paul says
that the true Jew is one who has been circumcised in the heart by the
Holy Spirit. It is my opinion that the whole debate over who is a real
Jew boils down to how you understand the Abrahamic Covenant.
understand the Abrahamic Covenant to be directed to Abraham, his
in verse 3 Paul says that the true believers "put no confidence in
the flesh," something he begins to explain in the next few verses.
The word "flesh" here is most likely in reference to
the outward act of circumcision, but, Paul also uses this word in his
writings to denote all aspects of fallen human nature.
anyone has good reason to put confidence in the flesh, our outward
humanistic activities, it is Paul, and for the following reasons.
word "flesh" here is appropriate because Paul speaks of
circumcision, but a good understanding of Paul's thinking is that any
activity apart from human effort and without the assistance of the Holy
Spirit is flesh and does nothing for the believer.
Circumcision is just one example of a fleshly activity, albeit,
that was one of the more important fleshly activities that challenged
the early church.
says that true believers don't boast in any fleshly activities.
Their boast or glory is in Jesus and Him alone.
When seeing any Christian ministry today, a valid ministry is one
who puts no boast in the ministry. All
of the glory and boasting goes towards Jesus.
I would dare say that this would rule out many ministries as
being Biblically valid today.
again, in verse 4 Paul says that if anyone should be boasting about
personal achievements, it is him. He
lists many of them. Note
that they are all associated with Judaism because the underlying threat
to the church that Paul is addressing here is from the Jews who want to
put Christians under the bondage of law.
verse 5 Paul says that he was "circumcised
continues by saying; "of the people of
then goes on to say that he was born into the tribe of Benjamin.
Paul points this out for a reason.
important aspect of being of the tribe of Benjamin is because
said that he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, meaning, he was a pure,
undefiled Hebrew. There was
no mixture in his heritage.
the word "Hebrew" the general consensus seems to be that it
was a term applied to those living beyond (to the east) the Euphrates
River, where Abraham originated from.
Hebrew differs from the word Jew that finds its roots in the
Paul says that "in regard to the Law, a Pharisee."
A Pharisee was one group in the ruling class of
Pharisees, many people think that these men were conservative in
religion, culture, and maybe even politics.
We can't think of these men in today's standards of conservatism.
In some respects, their divorce laws for example, we would call
them liberal. That being
said, these men were extremely legalistic.
They protected the Law of Moses, 613 rules, by adding their own
laws and commentary. So, if
the Law of Moses said one thing, in order not to disobey that law, they
made an even harder law to obey. In
obeying that harder law they certainly would not disobey God's law.
It was all about protecting the purity of the Law of Moses and
making sure it was obeyed.
verse 6 Paul speaks to the issue of zeal, something that these Judaizers
had lots of. He says that he
had so much zeal that he persecuted the church. Paul
went out of his way to have Christians arrested and even killed.
closes verse 6 by saying; "as for legalistic righteousness,
faultless." Paul was
blameless when it came to obedience to both the Law of Moses and the
rabbinical laws. It was for
this reason that he was advancing as a Pharisee so fast.
See Galatians 1:14.
Paul associates the word "legalistic" with the word
"righteousness" in verse 6 he is saying there is more than one
type of righteousness. Legalistic
righteousness is attained legally, by following certain legal rules.
In this case the rules are from the Law of Moses.
The book of Romans shows us that there is another type of
righteousness that is "apart from the Law," as Paul puts it in
Romans 3:21. This
righteousness is by faith in Godís grace.
Simply put, when we trust in what Jesus has done for us, God
proclaims us to be righteous. This
righteousness is a free gift. You
do not work for it. You
simply trust in what Jesus has done because He has paid the price for
this proclamation of righteousness over our lives.
tells his readers that when it comes to legalistic righteousness he was
indeed faultless. I do not
think that Paul menses words. When
he said he was faultless, we can believe him.
That was what being a Pharisee was all about.
Pharisees had a very high esteem of the Law of Moses, so high
that it protected it, or, fenced it in with their own rules which were
stricter than the Law of Moses. This
meant if you obeyed the rabbinical laws instituted by the Pharisees, you
would not break one of the 613 rules of the Law of Moses.
will now see that all of this legalistic righteousness means nothing to
Paul any longer.
Paul has just done here is to measure his past life with the lives of
the Judaizers who were attempting to make Christians into Old Testament
Jews. These false teachers
were saying that in order to be a real Christian, you had to become a
Jew and obey the Law of Moses. In
some Christian circles today, this very thinking, sad to say, is coming
back into the church.
Judaizers had nothing on Paul in these outward issues of righteousness. By
far Paul wins the battle of outward legalistic style righteousness if
one was going to make a comparison.
of the Christian Evangelical world, although not in the exact same
category as the Judaizers, were very legalistic in their thinking.
Many Evangelicals in the past believed salvation, or initial
salvation was by faith and faith alone, but, when it came to keeping
your salvation, or, staying saved, it was very much a matter of obeying
rules. It was very much a
matter of legalistic righteousness.
Sad to say, much of Evangelical Christianity has now swung too
far in the opposite direction and has become way too worldly in the way
verse 7 Paul says that all these things that he has just mentioned,
things that were very important to him and to the Jewish society in
which he lived, he now considered a loss.
He gladly forsook all of these glamorous things for Jesus.
To him there was no contest between Jesus and the prestigious
life he lived as a Pharisee. He
gave it all up. It was worth
absolutely nothing in his eyes after meeting Jesus on the road to
English verb "I now consider" in the Greek text is actually a
Greek perfect middle indicative verb.
A perfect verb is a completed action.
Indicative means the action of the verb is a certainty.
The middle aspect of this verb means the action is being done to
Paul. In other words, Paul
has allowed Jesus into His life which has caused him to have certainly
counted all that he once considered a gain to be a loss.
This counting is a completed action.
He has made up his mind that there is no comparison between the
glory of his past life and Jesus.
verse 8 Paul goes even farther in considering things loss.
He just said that his past religious life means nothing to him
any longer. Now he says that
he considers all of life a loss when compared to his relationship with
Jesus. There is nothing more
important to Paul in life than Jesus. It
does not matter what it is. There
is nothing in life that even comes close to being as important as Jesus.
I wonder how many of our lives as Christians reflect this same
goes on to say that he "has lost all things," and Paul was
right. When he was in house
arrest as he wrote these words, he had next to nothing.
He had no prestige, no money, and to use bad grammar, "no
nothing." Paul was
poverty stricken in every since of the word except spiritually. Some
scholars even believe that Paul was once married and that because of his
conversion to Jesus his wife left him.
We cannot say this for sure, but some reputable scholars believe
this to be so. It would not
surprise me if Paul had have been married at one time in his life.
in verse 8 Paul says, "I consider them all rubbish that I might
gain Christ. The King James Bible translates the word
"rubbish" as "dung" and in this case the KJV
translators are more accurate while the NIV translators who have
attempted to be a bit more diplomatic and culturally correct in their
wording is probably less accurate to the text.
Greek word "skybalon" that is translated as "dung"
means any kind of "refuse," including human refuse.
verse 9 Paul comes back to the matter of righteousness that the
Judaizers were saying comes from obeying the Law of Moses.
Paul simply says that he has forsaken all of that.
He does not want that outward righteousness any longer in his
life. It is not part of the
gospel. He would rather have
the righteousness that comes from Jesus.
This righteousness is a free gift that is given from Jesus to
those who believe, to those who have given their life to Jesus in
genuine repentance and faith.
can give us this righteousness because He lived the perfect life for us.
This is why Jesus obeyed the Law of Moses while on earth.
He obeyed it on our behalf. He
obeyed it for us and now God looks on the obedience of Jesus and says
that finally someone has obeyed the Law as I wanted and it is Jesus my
Son. If we place ourselves
in the arms of Jesus then we are found to be righteous just as He is
righteous even though we are far from being righteous.
This is the good news of the gospel.
The Jews understood this to be good news because they understood
being righteous as attempting to follow all the rules which was
extremely difficult for sinful humanity.
Gentiles did not understand the gospel as good news as the Jews did
because they were never under the Law of Moses and knew little about the
Law of Moses. That being
said, they were still sinners an alienated from the presence of God.
this is important to know because as Christians we should never
institute any rule that tries to make someone righteous.
Real righteousness comes from trusting Jesus with your life. It
cannot be found anywhere else no matter how religious the rule may look,
and the Judaizers looked pretty religious, but in Paulís mind they
verse 10 Paul says he wants to know Christ. Knowing Jesus is the most
important thing to Paul, but he continues.
Knowing Jesus is also knowing two other things.
The first is knowing the power of His resurrection.
Paul wants that same power that was demonstrated when the rock
was blown away from the mouth of the tomb of Jesus. He
wants the dynamic power that caused Jesus to rise from the dead.
He wants this in his own life, and I think we can clearly see
that he had it in his life.
we think of the dynamic power of God we often think of performing
miracles and causing people to be healed of their illnesses, but I think
it is more than that. It is
the dynamic Holy Spirit power that can transform a life into the
likeness of Jesus that we will see Paul speak to in a couple of
did not stop with the power stuff. We
would all like that kind of dynamic power in our lives.
Paul knew that Jesus experienced more than a powerful life of
miracles. Jesus also
experienced great suffering and which was the other thing that Paul
embraced once knowing Jesus. Knowing
Jesus to Paul meant having the power of the Spirit but it also meant
suffering throughout his whole life as Jesus suffered while he was on
in verse 10 Paul says, "becoming like Him in His death."
The suffering of Jesus reached its climax when Jesus was killed
as a criminal. Paul was more
than willing to die the same death as Jesus. He
was willing to have his head cut off as a criminal even though he was
not one, and that is what eventually happened to Paul.
Christians living in the first century Roman world life was not easy.
Persecution was ramped. When
someone became a Christian it was a serious matter.
For them, in those days, it could be a matter of life and death.
It was not about getting saved and living happily ever-after.
section ends with the words "and so somehow to attain to the
resurrection of the dead." Through
all these things Paul wanted to end up on the right side of Jesus when
the Day of the Lord came and life eternal would be given to all those
who gave themselves to Jesus. The
word "somehow" suggests to us that maybe Paul had doubts about
attaining to the resurrection of the dead, but I donít think he had
any doubts. Somehow we can
reach that place of resurrection, and that somehow is only by trusting
our lives with Jesus implicitly.
word "somehow" might well imply that before we reached that
all important day, there are some very rough roads that we must travel,
of which Paul had many.
difficulty with the word "somehow" seems to me to be a product
of the aorist subjunctive verb tense in this verse.
It is hard for us to translate this verb tense into English. Some
commentators suggest that the word "somehow" actually
expresses a certain expectation on the part of Paul and not doubt.
That is my position on the matter.
has just told his readers to what degree he is dedicated to following
Jesus. Now in verse 12 he
tells the Philippians that he has not attained to these things as yet.
He is not perfect, and this from a man that most of us would
consider pretty close to having perfection and dedication to his Lord.
We know that perfection only comes in the next life.
Greek verb "have already attained" is an aorist verb.
An aorist verb, at least for the most part, is a one time action
verb. This suggests that
Paul believed there would be one moment in time when he would reach the
state of perfection. I
believe this would mean that perfection comes when our mortal sinful
bodies are transformed into an eternal glorified body.
Perfection does not come in this life, despite the thought that
it does by some Methodists.
the second half of verse 12 Paul says, "I press on to take hold of
that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."
The Greek verb "I press on" is an aorist subjunctive
verb which suggests that Paul is constantly pressing on in the attempt
to take hold of the reason why God first called him.
might be seen as a bit of a tongue twister here, but simply put, God
took hold of Paul for a specific reason.
Acts 9:15 makes this very clear.
Jesus had work for Paul to do and he was pressing on to the work
that Jesus had for him, and not just doing Godís work, but being the
person that Jesus called him to be.
to note what Acts 9:15 says. There,
we see that Paul was called by Jesus to proclaim Him to the Jews, to the
Gentiles and their kings, and, along the way to suffer greatly for the
sake of Christ. For Paul,
coming to Jesus had nothing to do with get saved and live happily ever
after. If that is the gospel
you have adopted, it is the wrong gospel.
word "press" suggests effort.
Paul was one who put great effort into being a follower of Jesus.
Yes, he preached faith and not works, but that does not mean he
did not work as a result of his faith.
His faith, or trust in Jesus drove him to do Godís will for his
life. Too often some have
stressed salvation by faith and not by works, which is very Biblical,
but in so doing they forget about works altogether.
Valid Biblical works stem from genuine faith.
If there are no works of faith, then you might question if there
is any valid faith in the person who has no works.
This is the message of James.
verse 13 Paul calls the Philippian Christians brothers. Once again we
see that Paul views these people as brothers, not as subjects under his
goes on to say in verse 13 that he does not consider that he has taken
hold of what he wants to take hold of.
He has not quite done all that there is to do. Paul
fully expects to be released from house arrest and finish the job that
Jesus asked him to do. Paulís
desire was to go to
in verse 13 Paul says that he forgets what is behind him.
Much of what Paul is forgetting is from his past life of rigid
legal living as a Pharisee. Paul
left the institution of religion, never to return.
He had no intension to duplicate legalistic Judaism into his new
Christian life. He forgot
about all the legalism. Now
he is "straining towards that which is ahead."
We see the word "straining" here.
It is clear that Paul is putting extremely great effort into his
life as a Christian. He is
not lax. He is not sitting
back doing nothing. Of
course, the straining here is not pure human effort that he speaks of in
Galatians. This is human
effort enabled by the Holy Spirit. It
is cooperation with the Spirit of God who has given him the ability to
do God's will.
legalistic religion, Paul gave it all up.
It was now worthless to him. That which was once his life has now
been flushed down the toilet so to speak.
There is no way that he would ever think to implement such
legalistic religion into the church, the ekklesia of Jesus, and he never
did. It is my thinking that
Paul would be extremely disappointed with the institutional church as we
know it today. To him that
would be to re-introduce legalistic Judaism back into his life.
verse 14 Paul says that "he presses on towards the goal."
He is using a sporting analogy here.
The word goal in the Greek text speaks to "a mark" in
which a runner is running towards. It
is as if Paul is running a race, as we see him using this analogy
elsewhere in his writings. He
is neither looking to the right or to the left as he runs.
He is looking straight ahead.
Nothing is distracting him for the mark.
Paul is a very intentional person.
Once he sets his mind to do something, he will do it.
verse 14 Paul says that he is making all this effort because he wants to
win the prize. Note the
sporting analogy here. He
uses the word "heavenward." This
tells us that the prize, or the mark, he is fixing his life on is in the
next life. He also uses the
word "called" in this verse.
Paul was called by Jesus in Acts 9 to a certain ministry, but in
another real sense of the word his final calling is to Jesus Himself,
where he will see him in the next life.
This is the final calling of all Christians.
In our thinking we need a proper balance between our earthly
calling and our heavenly calling. Often
we get out of balance and promote one over the other.
It has often been said that we too often can love the work of the
Lord more than the Lord of the work.
I do not believe that was ever seen in the life of Paul.
understood that some day he would meet Jesus once again in person.
At that point he would be rewarded for all of what he had done in
his life for Jesus. You can
read 1 Corinthians 3 to learn more about the rewards we as Christians
will receive on that day. That is the mark, the goal that Paul is
pursuing here. He does not
want to disappoint, either himself or Jesus on the day he stands before
verse 15 Paul says "that all of us who are mature should take such
a view of things." Note
that the Greek word translated as "mature" can also be
translated as "perfect," but sine Paul has already said that
he was not perfect; we cannot translate this Greek word as perfect here.
view of what Paul has just said, a mature Christian is one who knows
God's will and is straining by the enabling of the Holy Spirit to do
God's will. Paul is not
speaking to a young struggling Christian here.
the last part of verse 15 Paul says that "if on some point you
think differently, God will make that clear to you". Paul
is suggesting that there might be some issue, that some of these people
may thinking differently than him on.
He still views these people as mature believers but that does not
mean they agree on every last detail.
So what does Paul do? Does
he try to figure out where the difference is and try to make them think
like he does? No, he does
not do that. He leaves it
all up to the Lord. God will
reveal to his readers what needs to be revealed.
idea that Paul is leaving such things to God to reveal to the
Philippians is interesting to me. Many
view apostolic authority as being to heavily authoritarian in nature,
but Paul does not use his authority as an apostle here. He
is not straining to make these people understand every last detail as he
does. He leaves this up to
God and the Holy Spirit, and he has to, because he cannot be with these
people long enough to make sure they believe every last detail to how he
believes. This shows that
Paul knows that in the final analysis the growth of these people
doesnít totally depend on him but on God.
verse 16 Paul says that "we should live to that which we have
already obtained." Simply
put, "put in practice that which you already know."
When you do that, what you do not know will some day become clear
to you by the Lord. Another
possible way to view this is that Jesus has placed us in a certain place
alongside of Him in the Spirit. We
should thus live accordingly.
verse 17 Paul says, "join with others in following my
example." Paul clearly
tells his readers that they should follow his example.
In context I believe the example that Paul is telling these
people to follow is the way he is approaching the will of God.
He has just told them that he is straining to accomplish the goal
that Jesus has set forth for him. He
wants to win the prize that is available for him in heaven.
He wants to be victorious in life as a Christian.
He is a driven man when it comes to fulfilling his God-given
ministry. It is this that
Paul is asking these people to follow.
I don't believe Paul is asking these people follow him in every
last detail of his life. They
do not have the same ministry as Paul.
think Paul was telling his readers to follow him in the things he just
said. These things include
making a great effort to do Godís will, whatever that would be in an
individualís life. Not
everyone was called to do what Paul did, but we are all called, and the
same effort that Paul put into his calling should be found in our lives
as well. So Paul is not
asking these people to do as he does in every respect.
He is asking them to be as he is.
There is a big difference between the two thoughts.
Paul says to "take note of others who follow the pattern we have
given. What pattern is Paul
speaking of here? He is
speaking of oneís dedication to the Lord.
He is not speaking of a list of rules to run a church by.
He is talking about living a dedicated life for Jesus.
Pattern does not suggest a formal blueprint.
It suggests a living example of one who follows Jesus, and Paul
is that example.
note" means to acknowledge or watch for the sake of showing others
that this is the way the Christian life should be lived.
Do not let a good example go unnoticed.
appears to me that Paul is talking about what we have called
discipleship in recent decades. Some
call it mentoring. The point
is that those who are mature in the Lord, as Paul spoke about earlier,
should help those young believers mature in the things of the Lord.
verse 18 we see that with many tears Paul reminds his readers something
he has said over and over again, that many "are enemies of the
cross of Christ." As I
have noted throughout my commentaries of Paul's letters, he puts his
heart into all he does. He
has a great heart-felt love and concern for those whom God has given him
to care for. Do all pastors
and Christian leaders have to express their concern in tears?
Well, we are all different individuals who express heart-felt
emotion differently. Whatever
the case, and, no matter how one expresses heart-felt love and concern,
if it is not visible in one way or another I suggest it my not exist.
believe the enemies of the cross of Christ are the Judaizers that he has
warned these people about. They
are the enemies of the cross because what they teach degrades the cross.
They taught that people had to obey the Law of Moses in order to
be a true Christian. This
degrades the cross because it takes away from its importance and
meaning. The cross is so
important that it is the only way in which one can be saved.
Obeying any rule, whether an Old Testament Law or some man made
rule is not acceptable for the purposes of salvation.
If you say that you have to be circumcised to be saved, then you
are adding a rule to the cross and that weakens the place of the cross
are many ways in which people weaken the meaning to the cross of Christ
today. The very fact that
much of Evangelical Christianity fails to teach the multi-faceted aspect
to the cross of Christ weakens it. The
fact that we have traditionalized the real meaning of communion, the
Lord's Supper, has weakened the cross of Christ.
Adding rules to maintain one's salvation also weakens the cross
newer enemy of the cross of Christ is those who believe we can worship
with those of other religions because we all end up serving the same
God. That by-passes the
cross of Christ. These
people are present day enemies of the cross.
verse 19 Paul says that "their destiny is destruction."
Final destruction will come to these enemies of the cross in the
next life after the Great White Throne Judgment of God as seen in
Revelation 20:11 and following. Some
people use this verse to suggest that there is no eternal judgment.
The enemies of God simply are destroyed forever, not eternally
living in the
Paul is writing about here are the Judaizers.
What Paul says here gives us a bit of insight into the Judaizers.
They are all about themselves.
Paul says "that their god is their stomach and their glory
is in their shame." Different
versions of the Bible translate the Greek word for stomach here in a
variety of ways. The Greek
word "koiia" can mean more than just the stomach.
It can mean "the inner parts of a human" and was
commonly used for "the womb" of a woman.
me, this suggests their motivation is purely selfish, driven by money to
feed their selfish desires. They
may glory in their fleeting prestige and earthly accomplishments, but
according to Paul, their glory is in fact their shameful life.
then says that these men are earthly.
All of what they do is all about earthly success, fame and
importance and has no eternal benefit.
Earthliness is a problem with present day Christians as well.
It has probably always been a problem but with to many material
temptations these days, not focusing on them can be difficult.
Evangelical Christians of the last generation called this
is to say, we spend too much time and effort on the things of this world
and not on the things of the heavenly world, and it shows in our
productivity as servants of Jesus. This
is confirmed by what Paul says next.
verse 20 Paul says that the Christian citizenship is in heaven.
We may reside and be citizens of a particular country here on
earth but as Christians our main citizenship is with God in heaven. Our
first alliance is not to an earthly nation but to the
last part of verse 20 says that "we eagerly await a Saviour from
there," meaning from heaven, who is the Lord Jesus.
Paul is eagerly awaiting the return of Jesus to this earth.
Here you see the balance between this life and the next.
We have just seen Paul speak about straining with all his might
to do Godís will on earth right now, yet as he works hard, he is
eagerly awaiting the return of Jesus to earth when his present work will
be over. There is nothing
wrong with eagerly desiring the return of Jesus.
Some people get criticized for this.
People say that they are too heavenly minded to be of any earthly
good. Well, that is only
true if the one eagerly waiting for Jesus is not working with Jesus
right now. That was not Paul
and it should not be us.
verse 21 Paul says that at the return of Jesus He will transform our
(the Christian) earthly bodies that we have into a glorious heavenly
body, that which Jesus Himself has.
We will have a glorified eternal body just like Jesus has right
now. This is something we
can look forward to, and it is clear that Paul is doing just that. He
would have had good reason to look forward to his eternal state because
his present earthly state had been battered and bruised while doing the
work of the Lord. This leads
me to think about the Hyper Faith Prosperity Gospel that has inflicted
the church over the last few decades.
This so-called gospel tells us that we should be healed of all
illnesses and live in health. That
was not Paul's experience. He
bore in his body the marks of Jesus.
He had been flogged and the marks did not go away.
Jesus did not take those marks away from his body.
Galatians 6:17 clearly states that.
"From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my
body the marks of Jesus." See
2 Corinthians 4:10. Note
also 2 Corinthians 11:24 and
25 where we see that Paul received thirty nine lashes on five different
occasions. He was stoned
once and beaten with a rod three times.
All this would have left severe marks on Paul's body.
We have no evidence that Jesus ever took those marks away from
him. No wonder Paul was eagerly awaiting the return of Jesus and his
eternal glorified body.
the first part of verse 21 Paul says that Jesus will put everything
under his control. Jesus
has this power, and He will do just that.
1 Corinthians 15 is all about the future resurrection of the dead
when the time will come when Jesus will subject everything under His
power, and the last thing to come under His authority is death itself.
At that point Jesus will come to His Father and hand it all over
to Him. Final victory will
have been won.
NIV puts chapter 4 verse 1 in this
to whom Paul was writing was his "joy and his crown."
All that was important in his life had to do with Jesus and those
to whom Jesus had him care for. You
can certainly tell that Paul and the believers at