PHILIPPIANS 31-11 By Nathan Ellis Presented to Dr

PHILIPPIANS 31-11 By Nathan Ellis Presented to Dr. Greg Trull April 20, 2006 Bible Study Methods Box 621 Summary Statement Philippians 31-11 Paul tells the Church of Philippi to rejoice in the Lord and to not have any confidence in the flesh because all righteousness comes through Christ and not through human works, but also focuses on disproving the false teachings which interfere with the Philippians relationship with God. Outline of Philippians 31-11 Encouragement for rejoicing in the Lord (1) Warning against false teachings (2-4) Pauls personal testimony (5-6) Pauls confidence in Christ (7-11) Introduction Christ is not equally human and God, He only appeared to have human attributes. Imagine that your pastor was out of town and a guest speaker was at your church for that Sunday, and said this to the congregation. Hopefully you would acknowledge that this is not correct and guard your mind from this false teaching. You would want to let all the other Christians who might not know that this is false, that in fact, it is false. You would not want any of your brothers or sisters in Christ to fall into this trap. When Paul heard about the false teachings at the Church of Philippi he was appalled. He knew that his fellow believers werent all at the point in their Christian walk to understand that not everything they heard about Christ was true, and that some would fall into this trap of false teaching. In this passage of Philippians 31-11 Paul makes sure that this church will not be one to fall to Satans weapon of false teachings. Historical Context Harpers Bible Dictionary states that Philippi was fairly insignificant until approximately 168 B.C. when the Roman conquest of Macedonia took place. After this conquest took place, Mark Antony overpowered the Roman Republican forces in 42 B.C. and refounded Philippi as a Roman colony which is important to the book of Philippians due to the reference to the Philippians as citizens of heaven. Mark Antony renamed it Colonia Julia Augusta Philippensis and settled many of his retired soldiers there. Later, the city was largely populated by these veterans of war (Drane, Harper), but also consisted of other cultures besides the Romans. This could possibly be in part due to the newly constructed road Via Egnatia, which was a road that connected Byzantium with the Adriatic ports leading to Italy. This road caused Philippi to become a major stopping point, resulting in many people settling there. Philippi became very religiously eclectic because of this. Besides the Roman gods, there were Egyptian gods, gods form Cybele, and a Phrygian goddess (Harper). The Book of Philippians was written by the apostle Paul in approximately 60 A.D., which would be during the time of his first imprisonment. Paul was writing this letter because his friend Epaphroditus was visiting him in Rome and brought back news of the Church in Philippi, and on Epaphroditus return to Philippi, Paul sent this letter with him (Kersey, Philippians). The literary context of this passage shares key similarities as well as differences and extensions of previous verses as well as following verses. In 32, Paul claims that it is no trouble to write the same things to you again, which implies that he has previously told the Philippians to rejoice prior to this time. Indeed, he uses the literary device of repetition in order to get this point across. In verses 118, 217-18, 31, 44 Paul uses the word rejoice multiple times to emphasize his point that rejoicing is a necessity. Another word that is repeated multiple times throughout the book is confidence. In verses 126 and 33-4 Paul uses this repetition again emphasizing his point that it is dangerous to put confidence in the flesh, because confidence should only be put into something, or someone who is completely perfect, of which only God fits the description. The theme of confidence is continued after this passage by the encouragement Paul gives to press on towards the goal of perfectness. Being one of Pauls letters to his churches, it is one that encourages as well as directs the church into the direction it should go, pointing out its weaker aspects, or encouraging it for its better ones. Prior to this passage, Paul encourages the church to imitate Christs humility, and this is coming from Paul while he is in chains, imprisoned, most likely, in Rome (113). This is important to the themes of rejoicing in Christ as well as confiding in Him. Even in his current state in prison, Paul claims to be incomparably better than when he had everything any human could want, described in verses 35-6, all because he knows Christ. Encouragement for rejoicing in the Lord (1) Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard to you. In this verse, Paul is reiterating to the Philippians to rejoice, which is a word derived from the Greek word chairo. The word is used in this context as a command, not just a suggestion or an action, but something that is to be done. Paul understands that what he is telling the Philippians may be hurtful due to the hard times the church is going through, but in spite of this, Paul tells, or commands the Church of Philippi to be joyful (ws, rejoice). By doing this, he lightens the mood prior to his stressing of the danger of having confidence in the flesh. Paul claims that, It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, in which he indirectly claims that he has told them this before. Indeed, he used the word rejoice several times throughout the letter (118, 217-18, 31, 44). By using this word repetitively, Paul gives the church an emphasis to rejoice in the Lord, hinting that this church might have needed the reminder (Walvoord). Paul claims that on top of it being no trouble to him, he thinks it as a safeguard to the Philippians. This word in Greek is asphales, defined as the adjective of safely or secure (Swanson). What this means is that Paul believed that by repeating to them to rejoice, it would help keep a safe and secure relationship with God. Warning against false teachings (2-4) Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh though I myself have reasons for such confidence. According to Keener in his IVP Bible Background Commentary, he says that, cynic philosophers were regularly called dogs, but given the specific error Paul refutes in this passage, he clearly does not use it as a reference to these philosophers. Instead, he claims that the dogs spoken of are most likely that of traveling Jewish Christian teachers whom Paul met in Galatia. The term dogs would be considered very derogatory. This animal was considered unclean and even sexually immoral by Jewish teaching (Keener). In reference to the mutilators of the flesh, these traveling teachers were ones who wanted to circumcise the Gentiles (Keener), which in Acts 1528-29 the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem deemed unnecessary by saying, It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell. Paul, being among this council, agreed that circumcision was unnecessary among the Gentiles (Kersey). Thus, circumcision among Gentiles turned merely into a mutilation of the flesh, not meaning anything to God instead, Paul believed that spiritual circumcision is what really matters (Keener). Paul goes on to contrast the dogs and mutilators of the flesh to how the church is supposed to act by putting no confidence in the flesh. Confidence, pepoithesis in Greek, is used in this passage to portray confidence in ones own achievements and background, or a trust in ones self (Verbruggew, 992-96). Flesh, from the Greek word sarx, is used to define what the confidence Paul is speaking of is put into. In this specific passage, flesh is not used as the literal meaning of skin, or the body, but it means rather anything of this world compared to things of God and heaven. It reflects the human aspect of this world and that our bodies are sinful, temporary, and separated from God (ws, flesh). Then Paul says, if anyone is to have confidence in the flesh, it should be him because of the immense success hes had in earthly terms, which he defines in the next passage. Pauls personal testimony (5-6) If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews in regard to the law, a Pharisee as for zeal, persecuting the church as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. Again, confidence and flesh are used in the same way as before, due to the fact that he is referring back to the previous verses. Socrates once said, The unexamined life is not worth living (Wiersbe). In Pauls case, he thoroughly examined his life and found every bit of it that made it worth living in terms of human standards, but none of these commendable attributes of his life seemed to be the means of a happy life, or rather, one pleasing to God, as will be further analyzed in the next passage. Paul claims that if anyone else believes that they have justification for putting confidence in the flesh, he has more. This statement is not only meant for the Church of Philippi, but to anyone at all, who puts confidence in the flesh. The letters Paul would write often were meant to be passed on from church to church (after all, we do have it in scripture today) and Paul knew that more than just the Philippians would read it. Its almost a challenge of qualification to have fleshly confidence and Paul would most likely win. There are seven total advantages Paul had for putting confidence in the flesh he was circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, and a Pharisee, a persecutor of the church (which was well thought of as a Pharisee), and completely faultless in accordance to the law. Pauls reason for stating that he was circumcised on the eighth day is important because only a pure-blooded Jew did this proselytes and Ishmaelites were both circumcised later on in life. Being of the people of Israel points out that his heritage was of Jewish descent. Both of his parents were Jews who could trace their lineage indefinitely back to Abraham. The tribe of Benjamin had an honor that other tribes did not and they were typically viewed as more faithful due to their loyalty to the house of David even after the kingdom was disrupted. On top of being from the tribe of Benjamin, Paul did not implement Greek customs, but rather knew both the language as well as customs of the Hebrews the people of God. Pharisees were the strictest sect of all. They had extra laws on top of the Law of Moses which were set to be strictly followed. As for zeal, Paul said he persecuted the church. The church was a complete heresy to the Jewish religion, so by persecuting the church, it was acknowledged extremely well among Jews (Walvoord). Finally, as for legalistic righteousness, Paul claims to be completely flawless. This word flawless translates to Greek as amemptos. This same word is used in Philippians 215, but is translated to English as blameless, which only further emphasized Pauls point that in accordance to the law, he was faultless, or blameless (Strong). Pauls confidence in Christ (7-11) But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. In this passage, Paul is claiming that all his authority and what seems to be earthly righteousness, having all these commendable attributes did not satisfy his soul. He considers everything a loss which comes from the Greek word zemia. This word is only used four times in the New Testament, and the meaning is nearly the same every time it is used. In this passage, Paul refers to this loss figuratively with the word zemia, referring to these high qualifications to have become meaningless, or worthless in comparison to knowing Jesus (ws, loss). He goes on to say that he not only considers these things a righteous life, obedience to the law, and a defense of the religion of his fathers as a loss, but he considers everything a loss in comparison to knowing Jesus (Wiersbe). He goes even further in proclaiming how much knowing Jesus Christ is worth to him by saying that he counts everything as rubbish. This word in Greek is skybalon, which is used to communicate filthiness, dirtiness and refusal in other words, dung (ws, rubbish). Paul is comparing his position as a Pharisee to dung he is comparing his membership to the tribe of Benjamin as a heap of excrement He claims that the legalistic righteousness that he had as a Pharisee was actually not righteousness at all because the only righteousness comes from God through having faith in Christ. Faith is a word in Greek translated pistis, which is found 270 times in the New Testament and can be translated many different ways such as protection, to guarantee, or confidence (Liddell, 1408), but in this certain situation, faith is the trust and belief in Christ alone (ws, faith). It is obvious to see how Paul can be so amazingly joyful, even after so many trials hed been through, even at the time he wrote this letter, because his life didnt depend on the cheap things of life, but on the eternal values of heaven and Christ (Wiersbe). The word know when Paul says I want to know is derived from the Greek word ginosko, which translated means to come to know or learn to know, which implies that Paul does not know the full extent of Christ, and the power of his resurrection (Stong). Also, it means that Paul has not fully learned to share in Christs sufferings, and this is coming from a man who has suffered immensely for the sake of the Lord, enduring prison sentences, severe floggings, multiple near-death experiences, forty lashes minus one five times, three beatings with rods, stoned once, shipwrecked five times, starvation, and sleep depravation (2 Corinthians 1116-28) And even he claims he is still in the learning process of knowing what it is to share in Christs sufferings. Application Not only was this passage a lesson given to the church at Philippi, but as the breathed word of God, God thought it was necessary for us to read as well. In application, this verse can be used nearly the same as it was intended to guide the Philippians. Section I, encouragement for rejoicing in the Lord, is a timeless practice that God finds pleasing whenever His people do this. Although in the second section of warning against false teachings Paul was probably referring to a specific situation the church at Philippi was facing, the same principle stands true today. There will always be false teachings, especially in the final days (Revelation 13) which we as Christians need to avoid at all costs, for if we do fall to these false teachings, it would cost us everything including an eternal life lived with God in heaven. For example, evolution is being taught in public schools freely, and even though it is addressed as only a theory, often teachers dont teach any other theories leading to the full belief of the students that this just is what happened. Pauls personally testimony as well as Pauls confidence in Christ, are great reminders of how important Christ should be to us. Especially in todays society where materialistic goods are so valued such cars, money, nice houses, etc. become status symbols, and almost, if not completely idols in our lives, Paul gives us the reminder that no matter how good we are in worldly standards, knowing Christ is so much better. Bibliography Background Tools Achtemeier, P. J., P. Harper Row, Society of Biblical Literature. Harpers Bible Dictionary. 1st ed. San Francisco Harper Row, 1985. Keener, C. S., InterVarsity Press. The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament. Downers Grove, Ill. InterVarsity Press, 1993 Kersey, Kent. Lecture. Philippians. Corban College, Salem, OR. 13, March. 2006. Swanson, J. Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains Greek (New Testament). Electronic ed. Oak Harbor Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997 Commentaries Drane, J. W. Introducing the Old Testament. Completely rev. and updated. Oxford Lion Publishing plc, 2000. Walvoord, J. F., R. B. Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL Victor Books, 1983-c1985. Wiersbe, W. W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. Victor Books, 1996, c1989. Word Study Tools Liddell, H.G. R. Scott. Greek-English Lexicon with a Revised Supplement. Oxford Clarendon Press, 1996. Vergruggew, Verlyn. The NIV Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words. Grand Rapids Zondervan Publishing House, 2000. Strong, J. The exhaustive concordance of the Bible (electronic ed.). Ontario Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996. Y, B8L 1(IzZYrH9pd4n(KgVB,lDAeX)Ly5otebW3gpj/gQjZTae9i5j5fE514g7vnO( ,[email protected] /[email protected] 6Q