Let’s talk about being an authentic disciple. By the way, for those who may wonder why I keep using this image in my last few posts, it’s an image of the ancient city of Philippi. So in the second chapter of Philippians we discussed the emphasis Paul put on unity and obedience in Christ. In this third chapter division of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, the primary emphasis shifts towards being aware of those who are not authentic disciples of Christ, and how to exemplify being an authentic disciple of Christ. After reminding the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord as a safeguard for them, Paul then states in verse 2-3, “2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; 3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,”. Paul will show in the next verses the people he’s denouncing as dogs, evil workers, and to be cautious of as the false circumcision, is those who profess adhering to Jewish Law in order to be a true worshiper of God.
Righteousness through Christ
He denounces this teaching by using his early life as an adherer to Jewish Law. He states that he among anyone teaching the need to adhere to Jewish Law should be most confident in his flesh for having adhered to Jewish Law to the fullest extent. But he tells the Philippians in spite of his strict adherence, he does not have righteousness from God through the Law, but through faith in Christ. Paul continues on to state that through this faith, he can come to attain the resurrection from death through knowing Him, the power of His Resurrection, and participation in His suffering. Participation seems to suggest continual action required of the believers. He expands on this concept further in the next verses.
Push towards the prize
Paul states in verses 12-14, “12 Not that I have already obtained it (resurrection from death) or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” What amazing humility that even Paul admits he has to continually live up to the cause to reach the final destination. It’s really something worth pondering and how much more we have to have that attitude as Christians. And he encourages the Philippians (Phil 3:15-16) to have this attitude of pressing on and pushing towards the prize, noting that if in anything they have a different attitude from that God would reveal it, and that they need to keep living by this standard that has been attained. When you look at your life now as a Christian, are you currently striving to live by that standard?
Follow the Apostle’s example
Paul encourages the Philippians to follow after his example and observe those who are walking according to the pattern given by the Apostles. He contrasts this form of walking with a warning of many whom walk, which he’s saddened to say this, are enemies of the cross of Christ. He notes that these people, who will receive destruction, are walking according to their appetite being their God, their glory in their shame, and their minds set on earthly things. Let’s go to our handy blueletterbible.org and see the meaning of these words in verse 19 so you know what not to walk according to.
Koilia (is there appetite) – to be given up to the pleasures of the palate, to gluttony
Aischynē (shame) – ignominy, disgrace, dishonour, a thing to be ashamed of
Epigeios (on earthly things) – existing upon the earth, earthly, terrestrial
I think the meaning for Koilia in particular is something to really analyze. Palate refers to mouth, which we pleasure that through good tasting food. The meaning of the word gluttony would seem to confirm this understanding being accurate, because it means habitual greed or excess in eating. Now in western culture in particular, the common knowledge is that it’s not polite to discuss someone being overweight, but this is something scripture doesn’t seem to shy away from. I’m not trying to be rude to anyone that is overweight, but those of us who want to be authentic followers of Christ according to the Word of God have to think about this. One who makes their appetite their god, or in other words, actively eats excessively, according to God’s Word is committing a sin.
The last two verses that close this third chapter state, “20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” Citizenship is a word that refers to political loyalty and a homeland in which one proclaims as theirs. It’s interesting that the political loyalty and homeland Paul stresses as that in which Christians should proclaim is heaven, and consequently Christ whom Christians are eagerly awaiting for. The Philippians were also Roman citizens as well, but Paul puts their heaven/Christ citizenship above that in only recognizing them by their heavenly citizenship. Think about that. It seems one should not tie other kinds of loyalties (country for example) with one’s loyalty to faith, which in some cases the tying of those loyalties with faith can seem to reach levels that have the appearance of idolatry. Is your heavenly citizenship in Christ above all other identifications you hold in life?
The last verse is very intriguing in giving us insight into what will happen with our physical bodies, in that they will transform from this current state to a state of conformance with the body of His glory. It’s a very hopeful and beautiful to imagine that the next state we as Christians transform to will be infinitely better than the current state that we are in for now. As always any thoughts, questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. If this post enlightened you in anyway, I’d greatly appreciate you taking a quick few seconds to share this on your social media. Peace to all those who are in Christ.