Philippians 3:10 MEANING

Philippians 3:10
(10) Inseparably connected with the possession of this "righteousness of God" is the knowledge of Christ, or more exactly, the gaining the knowledge of Christ (see Philippians 3:8), by conformity both to His suffering and death, and also to His resurrection. This "conformity to the image of Christ" (Romans 8:29-30)--with which compare the having "Christ formed within us" of Galatians 4:19)--is made by St. Paul the substance of the gracious predestination of God, preceding the call, the justification, the glorification, which mark the various epochs of Christian life.

(10, 11) The order of these verses is notable and instructive. (1) First comes the knowledge of "the power of the Resurrection." What this is we see by examining it as historically the main subject of the first apostolic preaching. There it is considered, as in St. Peter's first sermons, as giving the earnest of "forgiveness," or "blotting out of sins," and the "gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38; Acts 3:13; Acts 3:26), or, as St. Paul expresses it, of "justification from all things" (Acts 13:38-39). This same idea is wrought out fully in his Epistles. Thus, for example, without it (1 Corinthians 15:17) "we are still in our sins." It is the pledge of our justification (Romans 5:1), and the means of our being "alive unto God" (Romans 6:11). Hence "the power," or efficacy, "of His resurrection" is the justification, and regeneration inseparable from it, which lie at the entrance of Christian life. (2) Next comes the "partaking of His sufferings" and "conformity to His death," which are the "taking up the cross, and following Him," in the obedience even unto death. This "fellowship of sufferings," coming partly from the sin of others, partly from our own, is the constant theme of the New Testament. (See 1 Peter 4:13; Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Colossians 1:24; 2 Timothy 2:11.) The "conformity to His death" is the completion of the death unto sin, described as "mortification" of sin (Colossians 3:5); "as bearing about in the body the dying (or, properly, mortification) of the Lord Jesus" (2 Corinthians 4:10); or more frequently as being "crucified with Christ," "the world to us and we to the world" (Galatians 2:20; Galatians 5:24; Galatians 6:14). (3) Lastly comes the "attainment to the resurrection of the dead," properly, "the resurrection from the dead," which is (see Luke 20:35) the resurrection unto life and the glorification in Him, so nobly described below (Philippians 3:20-21). "If we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection" (Romans 6:5). For of our resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 15:12-23) His resurrection is not only the pledge, but the earnest. Note how in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18, and 1 Corinthians 15:51-57, the whole description is only of the resurrection unto life, and compare the first resurrection of Revelation 20:6. This is the completion of all; St. Paul dared not as yet anticipate it with the confidence which hereafter soothed his dying hour (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Philippians 3:12-16 lead us from the warning against trust in human merit to deprecate the supposition of a perfection here attained even in Christ. The transition is natural. The same spirit which shows itself undisguisedly in the one pretension, comes out half-concealed in the other.

Verse 10. - That I may know him (τοῦ γνῶναι αὐτόν). For the grammatical construction, see Winer, sect. 44:b. For the sense, comp. John 17:3, where Dr. Westcott notes, "In such a connection, Knowledge expresses the apprehension of the truth by the whole nature of man. It is not an acquaintance with facts as external, nor an intellectual conviction of their reality, but an appropriation of them (so to speak) as an influencing power into the very being of him who knows them." Γινώσκειν differs from εἰδέναι: εἰδέναι is "to know," γιγνώσκειν is "to recognize" or "to become acquainted with." We must be found in Christ in order to know him; we must have that righteousness which is through the faith of Christ, for we can know him only by being made like unto him. Comp. 1 John 2:2, "When he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is;" and now those who see him by faith are in their measure being transformed into the same image. For the knowledge here spoken of is a personal knowledge, gained, not by hearing or reading, but by direct personal communion with the Lord; it is not theoretical, but experimental. "non expertus fuerit, non intelligit" (Anselm, quoted by Meyer). And the power of his resurrection. The resurrection of Christ was a glorious manifestation of Divine power (Romans 1:4). That resurrection is now a power in the spiritual life of Christians: it stimulates the spiritual resurrection, the resurrection from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness (comp. Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12). It is the center of our most cherished hopes, the evidence of our immortality, the earnest of the resurrection of the body. And the fellowship of his sufferings. This clause and the last are bound together under one article, according to the best manuscripts. There is a very close connection between them (comp. Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:11, 12). To know the quickening power of his resurrection, we must share his sufferings. The Christian, meditating in loving thought on the sufferings of Christ, is led to feel ever a deeper, a more awful sympathy with the suffering Savior. And if, when we are called to suffer, we take it patiently, looking unto Jesus, then our sufferings are united with his sufferings, "we suffer with him." And he who hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows feels for us in his sacred heart, being "touched with the feeling of our infirmities." This fellowship in suffering leads through his grace to fellowship in glory (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:10; Romans 6:5). Being made conformable unto his death; rather, as R.V., becoming conformed. The participle is present: it implies a continual progress. It is derived from the word μορφή, form, used in Philippians 2:6 (where see note), and denotes, not a mere external resemblance, but a deep, real, inner conformity. The reference is not to the impending death of martyrdom, but to that daffy dying unto self and the world which the apostle exhibited in the heroic self-denials of his holy life: he was "crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:20; comp. also 1 Corinthians 15:31).

3:1-11 Sincere Christians rejoice in Christ Jesus. The prophet calls the false prophets dumb dogs, Isa 56:10; to which the apostle seems to refer. Dogs, for their malice against faithful professors of the gospel of Christ, barking at them and biting them. They urged human works in opposition to the faith of Christ; but Paul calls them evil-workers. He calls them the concision; as they rent the church of Christ, and cut it to pieces. The work of religion is to no purpose, unless the heart is in it, and we must worship God in the strength and grace of the Divine Spirit. They rejoice in Christ Jesus, not in mere outward enjoyments and performances. Nor can we too earnestly guard against those who oppose or abuse the doctrine of free salvation. If the apostle would have gloried and trusted in the flesh, he had as much cause as any man. But the things which he counted gain while a Pharisee, and had reckoned up, those he counted loss for Christ. The apostle did not persuade them to do any thing but what he himself did; or to venture on any thing but that on which he himself ventured his never-dying soul. He deemed all these things to be but loss, compared with the knowledge of Christ, by faith in his person and salvation. He speaks of all worldly enjoyments and outward privileges which sought a place with Christ in his heart, or could pretend to any merit and desert, and counted them but loss; but it might be said, It is easy to say so; but what would he do when he came to the trial? He had suffered the loss of all for the privileges of a Christian. Nay, he not only counted them loss, but the vilest refuse, offals thrown to dogs; not only less valuable than Christ, but in the highest degree contemptible, when set up as against him. True knowledge of Christ alters and changes men, their judgments and manners, and makes them as if made again anew. The believer prefers Christ, knowing that it is better for us to be without all worldly riches, than without Christ and his word. Let us see what the apostle resolved to cleave to, and that was Christ and heaven. We are undone, without righteousness wherein to appear before God, for we are guilty. There is a righteousness provided for us in Jesus Christ, and it is a complete and perfect righteousness. None can have benefit by it, who trust in themselves. Faith is the appointed means of applying the saving benefit. It is by faith in Christ's blood. We are made conformable to Christ's death, when we die to sin, as he died for sin; and the world is crucified to us, and we to the world, by the cross of Christ. The apostle was willing to do or to suffer any thing, to attain the glorious resurrection of saints. This hope and prospect carried him through all difficulties in his work. He did not hope to attain it through his own merit and righteousness, but through the merit and righteousness of Jesus Christ.That I may know him,.... The Ethiopic version reads "by faith"; and to the same sense the Syriac. The apostle did know Christ, and that years ago; he knew whom he had believed; he knew him for himself; he knew his personal interest in him; nor did he know any but him in the business of salvation: but his knowledge of Christ, though it was very great, it was, imperfect; he knew but in part, and therefore desired to know more of Christ, of the mystery and glories of his person, of the unsearchable riches of his grace, of his great salvation, and the benefits of it, of his love, which passes perfect knowledge, and to have a renewed and enlarged experience of communion with him. The apostle here explains what he means by winning Christ, for the sake of which he suffered the loss of all things, and counted them but dung; it was, that he might attain to a greater knowledge of the person and grace of Christ:

and the power of his resurrection; not that power which was put forth by his Father, and by himself, in raising him from the dead; but the virtue which arises from it, and the influence it has on many things; as on the resurrection of the saints: it is the procuring cause of it, they shall rise by virtue of union to a risen Jesus; it is the firstfruits, which is the earnest and pledge of their resurrection, as sure as Christ is risen, so sure shall they rise; it is the exemplar and pattern of theirs, their bodies will be raised and fashioned like to the glorious body of Christ; and this the apostle desired to know, experience, and attain unto. Christ's resurrection has an influence also on the justification of his people; when Christ died he had the sins of them all upon him, and he died for them, and discharged as their public head and representative, and they in him: hence it is said of him, that "he was raised again for our justification", Romans 4:25. Now, though the apostle was acquainted with this virtue and influence of Christ's resurrection, he desired to know more of it, for the encouragement of his faith to live upon Christ, as the Lord his righteousness. Moreover, the regeneration of men is owing to the resurrection of Christ; as to the abundant mercy of God, as the moving cause, so to the resurrection of Christ, as the means or virtual cause; and therefore are said to be "begotten again by the resurrection of Christ from the dead", 1 Peter 1:3. This power and virtue the apostle had had an experience of, yet he wanted to feel more of it, in exciting the graces of the spirit to a lively exercise, in raising his affections, and setting them on things above, and in engaging him to seek after them, and set light by things on earth, and in causing him to walk in newness of life, in likeness or imitation of Christ's resurrection, to all which that strongly animates and encourages; see Colossians 3:1.

And the fellowship of his sufferings; either his personal sufferings, and so signifies a sharing in, and a participation of the benefits arising from them; such as reconciliation for sin, peace with God, pardon, righteousness, nearness to God, &c. or the sufferings of his members for him, and with him, and which Christ reckons his own: these the apostle was willing to take his part in, and lot of, knowing, that those that are partakers of his sufferings in this sense, shall reign with him, and be glorified together. What the Jews deprecated, the apostle was desirous of; namely, sharing in the sorrows and sufferings of the Messiah, and which they reckon the greatest happiness to be delivered from,

"The disciples of R. Eleazar (y) asked him, what a man should do that he may be delivered , "from the sorrows of the Messiah?" he must study in the law, and in beneficence.

And elsewhere they say (z),

"he that keeps the three meals on the sabbath day shall be delivered from three punishments, , "from the sorrows of the Messiah", and from the damnation of hell, and from the war of Gog and Magog.

But our apostle rejoiced in his sufferings for Christ, and was desirous of filling up the afflictions of Christ in his flesh, for his body's sake, the church:

being made conformable unto his death; either in a spiritual sense dying daily unto sin, 1 Corinthians 15:31, having the affections, with the lusts, crucified, Galatians 5:24, and the deeds of the body mortified, Romans 8:13, and so planted in the likeness of his death, Romans 6:5; or rather in a corporeal sense, bearing always in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, 2 Corinthians 4:10, and being continually exposed to death for his sake, and ready to suffer it whenever called to it,

(y) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 2.((z) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 118. 1. See Cetubot, fol. 111. 1.

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