Lesson 12

Paul's Letter to the Philippians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

3:7 However, what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. 3:8 Yes most assuredly, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 3:10 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death; 3:11 if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 3:12 Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, if it is so that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.  

Today's Lesson 

Today's Scripture is the spiritual heart of this letter. Paul had warned the Philippians about the Judiazers, a group of Jews who had infiltrated the early church and who taught that in order to fully participate in the church a Gentile must first convert to Judaism. Paul called them "dogs" and "the false circumcision." Paul told the Philippians to place no faith in the things done on the flesh. He told them that if anyone had reason to be confident in being a Jew it was him. Paul was a "Hebrew of the Hebrews." His whole life had been lived in exemplary fashion according to the Law of Moses.


But in Today's Scriptures Paul writes that all of the things that were gain to him in his old life under Judaism he now counted as a loss for Christ. Paul is not saying that the things of Judaism were without value. What he was saying is that even though at one time he esteemed the things of Judaism, now he values the things of Christ even more. He would be willing to give away all things to obtain Christ. In comparison with knowing Christ, everything else he had ever sought to achieve with his life was like rubbish.


Once Paul had tried to establish a righteousness of his own through the law. He had tried to live a faultless life as a Jew and he had achieved a place in which he was quite proud of himself. But on the road to Damascus Paul had learned that all that he had believed had been wrong. Paul had been going to Damascus to persecute the followers of Jesus and then he learned that Jesus was the Chosen One of God. He learned that there was a righteousness that came from God and was by faith. Suddenly, Paul was willing to give everything that he had away and became consumed with something completely different. He wanted to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. Instead of persecuting the followers of Christ, Paul found that he wanted to share in the sufferings of Christ. If God had raised Jesus from the dead and glorified Him, Paul wanted to know all about why and how.


Even though Paul wanted to know everything that there was to know about Jesus Christ, he wanted the Philippians to know that he had not yet achieved that. Paul had not yet been made perfect. Even though Paul was an apostle of Christ, not even apostles were given perfect understanding and perfect knowledge. Apostles were messengers. They had a message to deliver to their initial audience and to us. Beyond their message there were many things that they did not understand.


What made the apostles and the great men of faith different from most was the desire to know. Paul deeply wanted to know Christ. Paul wanted to understand the power of the resurrection of Christ. He wanted to understand how the suffering of Christ had led to His glorification. The apostles, the prophets and all of the great men of faith became obsessed with trying to know even more about God than they had known before. To them, there was nothing more important than their search for God.


What is the power of the resurrection of Christ? How had the suffering of Christ led to His glorification? None of us has all the answers to these questions, not even Paul. But as we grow in maturity in Christ, it is the desire to know and the urge to understand that leads us on our path toward God.


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