New English Translation
True and False Righteousness
3 Finally, my brothers and sisters,[a] rejoice in the Lord! To write this again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.
2 Beware of the dogs,[b] beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh![c] 3 For we are the circumcision,[d] the ones who worship by the Spirit of God,[e] exult in Christ Jesus, and do not rely on human credentials[f] 4 —though mine too are significant.[g] If someone thinks he has good reasons to put confidence in human credentials,[h] I have more: 5 I was circumcised on the eighth day, from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews. I lived according to the law as a Pharisee.[i] 6 In my zeal for God I persecuted the church. According to the righteousness stipulated in the law I was blameless. 7 But these assets I have come to regard as liabilities because of Christ. 8 More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things—indeed, I regard them as dung![j]—that I may gain Christ, 9 and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness[k]—a righteousness from God that is in fact[l] based on Christ’s[m] faithfulness.[n] 10 My aim is to know him,[o] to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings,[p] and to be like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow,[q] to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Keep Going Forward
12 Not that I have already attained this—that is, I have not already been perfected—but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me.[r] 13 Brothers and sisters,[s] I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded:[t] Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, 14 with this goal in mind,[u] I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God[v] in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let those of us who are “perfect” embrace this point of view.[w] If you think otherwise, God will reveal to you the error of your ways.[x] 16 Nevertheless, let us live up to the standard[y] that we have already attained.[z]
17 Be imitators of me,[aa] brothers and sisters,[ab] and watch carefully those who are living this way, just as you have us as an example. 18 For many live, about whom I have often told you, and now, with tears, I tell you that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, they exult in their shame, and they think about earthly things.[ac] 20 But our citizenship is in heaven—and we also eagerly await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform these humble bodies of ours[ad] into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself.
- Philippians 3:1 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:12.
- Philippians 3:2 sn Dogs is a figurative reference to false teachers whom Paul regards as just as filthy as dogs.
- Philippians 3:2 tn Grk “beware of the mutilation.”
- Philippians 3:3 tn There is a significant wordplay here in the Greek text. In v. 2 a rare, strong word is used to describe those who were pro-circumcision (κατατομή, katatomē, “mutilation”; see BDAG 528 s.v.), while in v. 3 the normal word for circumcision is used (περιτομή, peritomē; see BDAG 807 s.v.). Both have τομή (the feminine form of the adjective τομός [tomos], meaning “cutting, sharp”) as their root; the direction of the action of the former is down or off (from κατά, kata), hence the implication of mutilation or emasculation, while the direction of the action of the latter is around (from περί, peri). The similarity in sound yet wide divergence of meaning between the two words highlights in no uncertain terms the differences between Paul and his opponents.
- Philippians 3:3 tc The verb λατρεύω (latreuō; here the participial form, λατρεύοντες [latreuontes]) either takes a dative direct object or no object at all, bearing virtually a technical nuance of “worshiping God” (see BDAG 587 s.v.). In this text, πνεύματι (pneumati) takes an instrumental force (“by the Spirit”) rather than functioning as object of λατρεύοντες. However, the word after πνεύματι is in question, no doubt because of the collocation with λατρεύοντες. Most witnesses, including some of the earliest and best representatives of the Alexandrian, Western, and Byzantine texts (א* A B C D2 F G 0278vid 33 1241 1505 1739 1881 2464 M co Ambr), read θεοῦ (theou; thus, “worship by the Spirit of God”). But several other significant witnesses (א2 D* P Ψ 075 365 1175 lat sy Chr) have the dative θεῷ (theō) here (“worship God by the Spirit”). P46 is virtually alone in its omission of the divine name, probably due to an unintentional oversight. The dative θεῷ was most likely a scribal emendation intended to give the participle its proper object, and thus avoid confusion about the force of πνεύματι. Although the Church came to embrace the full deity of the Spirit, the NT does not seem to speak of worshiping the Spirit explicitly. The reading θεῷ thus appears to be a clarifying reading. On external and internal grounds, then, θεοῦ is the preferred reading.
- Philippians 3:3 tn Grk “have no confidence in the flesh.”
- Philippians 3:4 tn Grk “though I have reason for confidence even in the flesh.”
- Philippians 3:4 tn Grk “flesh.”
- Philippians 3:5 sn A Pharisee was a member of one of the most important and influential religious and political parties of Judaism in the time of Jesus. There were more Pharisees than Sadducees (according to Josephus, Ant. 17.2.4 [17.42] there were more than 6,000 Pharisees at about this time). Pharisees differed with Sadducees on certain doctrines and patterns of behavior. The Pharisees were strict and zealous adherents to the laws of the OT and to numerous additional traditions such as angels and bodily resurrection.
- Philippians 3:8 tn The word here translated “dung” was often used in Greek as a vulgar term for fecal matter. As such it would most likely have had a certain shock value for the readers. This may well be Paul’s meaning here, especially since the context is about what the flesh produces.
- Philippians 3:9 tn Or “faith in Christ.” A decision is difficult here. Though traditionally translated “faith in Jesus Christ,” an increasing number of NT scholars are arguing that πίστις Χριστοῦ (pistis Christou) and similar phrases in Paul (here and in Rom 3:22, 26; Gal 2:16, 20; 3:22; Eph 3:12) involve a subjective genitive and mean “Christ’s faith” or “Christ’s faithfulness” (cf., e.g., G. Howard, “The ‘Faith of Christ’,” ExpTim 85 : 212-15; R. B. Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ [SBLDS]; Morna D. Hooker, “Πίστις Χριστοῦ,” NTS 35 : 321-42). Noteworthy among the arguments for the subjective genitive view is that when πίστις takes a personal genitive it is almost never an objective genitive (cf. Matt 9:2, 22, 29; Mark 2:5; 5:34; 10:52; Luke 5:20; 7:50; 8:25, 48; 17:19; 18:42; 22:32; Rom 1:8; 12; 3:3; 4:5, 12, 16; 1 Cor 2:5; 15:14, 17; 2 Cor 10:15; Phil 2:17; Col 1:4; 2:5; 1 Thess 1:8; 3:2, 5, 10; 2 Thess 1:3; Titus 1:1; Phlm 6; 1 Pet 1:9, 21; 2 Pet 1:5). On the other hand, the objective genitive view has its adherents: A. Hultgren, “The Pistis Christou Formulations in Paul,” NovT 22 (1980): 248-63; J. D. G. Dunn, “Once More, ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ,” SBL Seminar Papers, 1991, 730-44. Most commentaries on Romans and Galatians usually side with the objective view. sn ExSyn 116, which notes that the grammar is not decisive, nevertheless suggests that “the faith/faithfulness of Christ is not a denial of faith in Christ as a Pauline concept (for the idea is expressed in many of the same contexts, only with the verb πιστεύω rather than the noun), but implies that the object of faith is a worthy object, for he himself is faithful.” Though Paul elsewhere teaches justification by faith, this presupposes that the object of our faith is reliable and worthy of such faith.
- Philippians 3:9 tn The words “in fact” are supplied because of English style, picking up the force of the Greek article with πίστει (pistei). See also the following note on the word “Christ’s.”
- Philippians 3:9 tn Grk “based on the faithfulness.” The article before πίστει (pistei) is taken as anaphoric, looking back to διὰ πίστεως Χριστοῦ (dia pisteōs Christou); hence, “Christ’s” is implied.
- Philippians 3:9 tn Or “based on faith.”
- Philippians 3:10 tn The articular infinitive τοῦ γνῶναι (tou gnōnai, “to know”) here expresses purpose. The words “My aim is” have been supplied in the translation to emphasize this nuance and to begin a new sentence (shorter sentences are more appropriate for English style).
- Philippians 3:10 tn Grk “to know him, the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings.”
- Philippians 3:11 tn On εἰ πῶς (ei pōs) as “so, somehow” see BDAG 279, s.v. εἰ 6.n.
- Philippians 3:12 tn Grk “that for which I also was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” The passive has been translated as active in keeping with contemporary English style.
- Philippians 3:13 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:12.
- Philippians 3:13 tn Grk “But this one thing (I do).”
- Philippians 3:14 tn Grk “according to the goal.”
- Philippians 3:14 tn Grk “prize, namely, the heavenly calling of God.”
- Philippians 3:15 tn Grk “those of us who are ‘perfect’ should think this,” or possibly “those of us who are mature should think this.”sn The adjective perfect comes from the same root as the verb perfected in v. 12; Paul may well be employing a wordplay to draw in his opponents. Thus, perfect would then be in quotation marks and Paul would then argue that no one—neither they nor he—is in fact perfect. The thrust of vv. 1-16 is that human credentials can produce nothing that is pleasing to God (vv. 1-8). Instead of relying on such, Paul urges his readers to trust God for their righteousness (v. 9) rather than their own efforts, and at the same time to press on for the prize that awaits them (vv. 12-14). He argues further that perfection is unattainable in this life (v. 15), yet the level of maturity that one has reached should not for this reason be abandoned (v. 16).
- Philippians 3:15 tn Grk “reveal this to you.” The referent of the pronoun “this” is the fact that the person is thinking differently than Paul does. This has been specified in the translation with the phrase “the error of your ways”; Paul is stating that God will make it known to these believers when they are not in agreement with Paul.
- Philippians 3:16 tc Although κανόνι (kanoni, “standard, rule”) is found in most witnesses, though in various locations in this verse (א2 D2 Ψ 075 1505 2464 M), it is almost surely a motivated reading, for it clarifies the cryptic τῷ αὐτῷ (tō autō, “the same”). Both the fact that the word floats, and that there are other variants which accomplish greater clarity by other means, strongly suggests the secondary nature of any of the longer readings here. Further, the shortest text has excellent and early support in P16,46 א* A B Ivid 6 33 1739 co, rendering it decidedly the preferred reading. The translation adds “standard” because of English requirements, not because of textual basis.
- Philippians 3:16 tn Grk “Nevertheless, to what we have attained, to the same hold fast.”
- Philippians 3:17 tn Or “become fellow imitators with me [of Christ].”
- Philippians 3:17 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:12.
- Philippians 3:19 tn Grk “whose end is destruction, whose god is the belly and glory is their shame, these who think of earthly things.”
- Philippians 3:21 tn Grk “transform the body of our humility.”