Commentary on Philippians, 3:7-11 (One Way Trip)

Scripture quotations are from the English Majority Text Version (EMTV) unless noted otherwise.

Philippians 3:7-11

3:7 But such things as were gain to me, these I have considered loss for the sake of Christ.

3:8 More than that I also consider all things to be loss, on account of the surpassing worth of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have sustained the loss of all things, and I consider them to be rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ,

Note:  This continues from my Commentary on Philippians 3:7-9 (Defining Faith)

All things that Paul considered gain to him before he met Christ, he now considers “to be loss.” Whatever he considered to have spiritual value in the eyes of God before, he now sees as “rubbish,” as worthless. Paul gave up all things in order to “gain Christ,” to “know Christ.”

When he says, “that I may gain Christ,” he is referring not only to salvation, but also his personal relationship and walk with Christ. He willingly gave up all things in order to know Christ in the most intimate way possible. He understood that whatever relationship he obtained in this life, he took with him to the next life. He understood that that those who have a close walk with Jesus in this life, will have a close walk with Jesus in Heaven:

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves dig through and steal;
20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupts, and where thieves do not dig through and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  (Matt 6:19-21)

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw a beautiful child; and they did not fear the edict of the king.
24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season,
26 regarding the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. (He 11:23-26)

All the things that people normally value in this life, Paul gladly gave up in order to know Christ more and more. He followed the exhortation of Jesus, to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Whatever he couldn’t take with him, he refused to live for it. He lived with eternity in view. 

Living with eternity in view is something we must all do as followers of Christ. We must give our heart and life to those things that have eternal value. What’s the point in living for things that do us no good in Glory? It was missionary Jim Elliot, who said, “he is no fool to give up what cannot keep, to obtain what he cannot lose.”

It’s really a no-brainer, but we still have a tendency to focus so much on the things of this world, rather than on serving Christ. How often do we choose the temporary over the eternal? What things do we practice in our daily living that prevent us from growing closer to Jesus? How often do we give our attention to those things that are really a waste of time in the eyes of God? It’s important that we all take spiritual inventory of our lives routinely, to make sure our focus is where it should be, to make sure we are giving our time to the things that really matter in the big picture of eternity.

I once heard Chuck Swindoll say something like this: “There are only two things that last forever, people and God’s Word, so I’m going to commit my life to those two things.” That’s good advice for all of us, yea, it’s biblical!

Perhaps you’ve also heard the phrase, “only one life will soon be past, and only what’s done for Christ will last.” 

Paul understood this well. And I think we all do as Christians, but living it out in our lives seems to be such a struggle. We just need to do it!  We just need to make up our minds that we’re no longer going to live for the temporary things of this life, and to give ourselves only to those things that will last forever. We have to get it clear in our minds that living for Jesus will result in wonderful rewards, both in this life and in the presence of God throughout eternity. Of course, as Paul clearly taught, we cannot live faithfully without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul gave up all things to be a true follower of Christ. Indeed, it was those things that revealed himself to be a true follower of Christ. Are we willing to do the same thing with our own lives?

3:9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness [which is] of God by faith;

Once Paul met Christ on the road to Damascus, and as he continued to grow in his understanding of the truth that is in Christ, he realized that righteousness was not obtained via our own efforts, but only through faith in the One who died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead. Righteousness before God only comes by grace as we place our faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. 

Before Paul met Jesus, he, like all other legalistic Jews, relied upon following the letter of the Law in order to merit favor with God. Paul addressed this in Romans 10:

1 Brothers, the good pleasure of my heart and my supplication to God on behalf of Israel, is for [their] salvation.
2 For I testify concerning them, that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4 For Christ is the end of [the] law for righteousness to everyone that believes.
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which [is] of the law, “That the man who does those things shall live by them.” (Ro 10:1-5)

What Paul describes here is himself. He was right there along with all the rest. This is where he was before Jesus revealed Himself to him. But don’t misunderstand. It’s not that it wasn’t God’s will for His people to follow the Law. However, it was to be followed not in an outward, legalistic manner, but out of a sincere faith in Yahweh. 

It’s no different today. Faith follows what it knows to be true. Thus, we follow Jesus because of a genuine faith in Him. A faith that doesn’t follow Jesus with a sincere allegiance to Him and His authority, is a false faith, as we discussed in my previous commentary on these verses. What resides in our heart, will be reflected in the life that we live. Faith and obedience are sides of the same coin. One defines the other.

3:10 [so as] to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

Paul continues to describe what it means to him to “gain Christ.” He wasn’t willing to settle for mediocrity. He wanted to experience fully the power of God in his life, the same power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead, the “power of His resurrection.” 

God’s power to live faithfully is available to each of us as followers of Christ. But this power is only obtained through a denial of ourselves, a denial of our own will. God’s will and our own will cannot function together. One has to give way to the other. When we yield to God, He bestows upon us His power and grace….even in suffering. In fact, for Paul to experience the “fellowship of His sufferings,” is something he actually wanted to share in. He wanted to be identified with Christ in every area of his life, even if it meant death: “being conformed to His death.”

In verse 10, while I believe Paul is primarily referring to physical suffering and death, I believe he may also have in mind the suffering and death of his own will, his own way of life. In other words, he was speaking of dying to himself and to this world. The suffering and death that Jesus experience was totally for the will of His Father. It was totally in denial of the things of this world. He had eternity in view. He had sinners who needed a Savior in view. Thus, Paul could say:

31 I [affirm], by my boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.  (1 Cor 15:31)

Jesus said:

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
24 For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake shall save it.
25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?  (Luke 9:23-25)

What Jesus taught here is that in order to be a true follower of His, to be a true disciple, we must deny ourselves, that is, we must die to our own will, to sin, and to this world. 

What we have pictured here is a one way trip. When Jesus walked toward the cross, it was a one way trip for Him. There was no turning back. It’s the same way with us. We must regard our lives as a one way trip, that there’s no turning back. We must get it firm in our hearts that we’re going to follow Jesus no matter what. Christ’s walk towards the cross was a walk of death. Thus, our life too is to be a walk of death. That must be the resolve of our hearts. Just as Jesus focused on the cross, so must we also have our focus on the cross, and all that it represents.

3:11 if in some way I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 

“in some way”  (Gr. Ei Pos – 1513)

“if after all”

I don’t believe Paul was expressing any kind of doubt that he would “attain to the resurrection from the dead.” If anyone felt secure in their relationship with God, it was Paul. I believe he was primarily referring to whatever he had to go through (“if after all”) to get to his ultimate destination, which was the resurrection. God had a plan for him, and Paul was focused on living out that plan, but he did so with the resurrection in view. So must we.

While I don’t believe Paul was expressing doubt about his resurrection, I do think he was expressing his desire to see it all through to the end. That’s not a statement of doubt, but of humility, and one of reliance upon God. He understood that faithfulness was a demonstration of sincere faith. He may have doubted himself, as being weak in the flesh, but he did not doubt God, whom he relied upon for his strength and power. I believe that is what he has in mind here.

“the resurrection”

Most believe that our resurrection is a bodily resurrection, that we are raised with a body that is immortal, one that is different than the one we have now (like the body Jesus was raised with).:

2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. (1 Jn 3:2)

23 And not only that, but also [we] ourselves having the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting adoption, the redemption of our body. (Ro 8:23)

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. [The body] is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Cor 15:42-44, 53)

21 who will transform our lowly body, that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subject all things to Himself. (Phil 3:21)

Others believe that the resurrection simply refers to that moment of death when our spirit goes into the presence of God in Heaven; preterists hold this view. Furthermore, there are different viewpoints of when the resurrection takes place. There are even differing viewpoints on how many resurrections there are. 

This is a very heavily involved subject, and has a lot to do with how one views end time prophecy. I believe the Bible teaches that when we die, our spirits go into the presence of the Lord. I also believe the Bible teaches that the resurrection occurs at the return of Christ prior to the earthly Kingdom. At that time our spirits are united with a glorified body in the likeness of Christ’s own body. 

I further believe the Bible teaches that the rapture/resurrection for “Kingdom believers” occurs at the end of the earthly Kingdom. In fairness, most premillennialists believe the rapture occurs pre-trib or post-trib, and some at mid-trib. I was a pre-tribber most my Christian life, but I now believe those positions are out of harmony with the overall end time picture the Bible presents.  

As for unbelievers, I believe their resurrection occurs at the end of all things, right before we enter into eternity, and that they’re resurrected with an eternal body of some sort. 

The main point we need to see here, is that believers will be resurrected into the eternal presence of God, and that unbelievers will be resurrected to eternal damnation:

28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming in which all those in the tombs will hear His voice 29 and shall come forth—those who have done good, to [the] resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to [the] resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28-29)

Paul elsewhere made it clear that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. In other words, he equated being out of this body (our spirits) to be in the presence of Christ, that death is equated to being with Jesus:

6 Therefore always being confident, and knowing that while we are in the body, we are away from home from the Lord 7 (for we walk by faith, not by sight), 8 but we are confident and prefer rather to be away from home from the body, and to be at home with the Lord. (2 Cor 5:6-8)

I encourage you to read chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians, the resurrection chapter of the Bible.

Jesus defines faith for us:

Notice who Jesus says will experience the “resurrection of life” in John 5:29: It’s those “who have done good.” This falls right in line with my previous commentary on verses 7-9. It’s not that doing good gets us into Heaven (works, obedience), it’s that doing good follows genuine faith. Obedience is the outward evidence of a genuine inward faith, which is what saves us. A profession of faith without faithfulness is a false faith.