New American Bible (Revised Edition)
V. Polemic: Righteousness and the Goal in Christ[b]
Against Legalistic Teachers. 2 [c]Beware of the dogs! Beware of the evil-workers!(B) Beware of the mutilation![d] 3 For we are the circumcision,[e] we who worship through the Spirit of God, who boast in Christ Jesus and do not put our confidence in flesh,(C) 4 although I myself have grounds for confidence even in the flesh.(D)
Paul’s Autobiography. If anyone else thinks he can be confident in flesh, all the more can I. 5 Circumcised on the eighth day,[f] of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrew parentage, in observance of the law a Pharisee,(E) 6 in zeal I persecuted the church, in righteousness based on the law I was blameless.(F)
Righteousness from God. 7 [But] whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss[g] because of Christ.(G) 8 More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ,(H) the righteousness from God, depending on faith 10 to know him and the power of his resurrection and [the] sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death,(I) 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.(J)
Forward in Christ.[h] 12 (K)It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity,[i] but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus]. 13 Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.(L) 15 Let us, then, who are “perfectly mature” adopt this attitude. And if you have a different attitude, this too God will reveal to you. 16 Only, with regard to what we have attained, continue on the same course.[j]
Wrong Conduct and Our Goal.[k] 17 Join with others in being imitators of me,[l] brothers, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us.(M) 18 For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.(N) 19 Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things.(O) 20 But our citizenship[m] is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.(P) 21 He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.(Q)
VI. Instructions for the Community[n]
Live in Concord. 1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, beloved.(R)
2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche[o] to come to a mutual understanding in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you also, my true yokemate,[p] to help them, for they have struggled at my side in promoting the gospel, along with Clement and my other co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.(S)
Joy and Peace. 4 Rejoice[q] in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!(T) 5 Your kindness[r] should be known to all. The Lord is near.(U) 6 Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.(V) 7 Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.(W)
8 (X)Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.[s] 9 Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me.(Y) Then the God of peace will be with you.[t]
VII. Gratitude for the Philippians’ Generosity[u]
10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that now at last you revived your concern for me. You were, of course, concerned about me but lacked an opportunity.(Z) 11 Not that I say this because of need, for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient.(AA) 12 I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. 13 I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.(AB) 14 Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.
15 You Philippians indeed know that at the beginning of the gospel,[v] when I left Macedonia, not a single church shared with me in an account of giving and receiving, except you alone. 16 For even when I was at Thessalonica you sent me something for my needs, not only once but more than once. 17 It is not that I am eager for the gift; rather, I am eager for the profit that accrues to your account. 18 I have received full payment and I abound. I am very well supplied because of what I received from you through Epaphroditus, “a fragrant aroma,” an acceptable sacrifice,[w] pleasing to God.(AC) 19 My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.(AD) 20 To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.(AE)
21 Give my greetings to every holy one in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send you their greetings; 22 (AF)all the holy ones send you their greetings, especially those of Caesar’s household.[y] 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
- 3:1 Finally…rejoice: the adverb often signals the close of a letter; cf. Phil 4:8; 2 Cor 13:11. While the verb could also be translated “good-bye” or “farewell,” although it is never so used in Greek epistolography, the theme of joy has been frequent in the letter (Phil 1:18; 2:2, 18); note also Phil 4:4 and the addition of “always” there as evidence for the meaning “rejoice.” To write the same things may refer to what Paul has previously taught in Philippi or to what he has just written or to what follows.
- 3:2–21 An abrupt change in content and tone, either because Paul at this point responds to disturbing news he has just heard about a threat to the faith of the Philippians in the form of false teachers, or because part of another Pauline letter was inserted here; see Introduction. The chapter describes these teachers in strong terms as dogs. The persons meant are evidently different from the rival preachers of Phil 1:14–18 and the opponents of Phil 1:28. Since Phil 3:2–4 emphasize Jewish terms like circumcision (Phil 3:2–3, 5), some relate them to the “Judaizers” of the Letter to the Galatians. Other phrases make them appear more like the false teachers of 2 Cor 11:12–15, the evil-workers. The latter part of the chapter depicts the many who are enemies of Christ’s cross in terms that may sound more Gentile or even “gnostic” than Jewish (Phil 3:18–19). Accordingly, some see two groups of false teachers in Phil 3, others one group characterized by a claim of having attained “perfect maturity” (Phil 3:12–15).
- 3:2–11 Paul sets forth the Christian claim, especially using personal, autobiographical terms that are appropriate to the situation. He presents his own experience in coming to know Christ Jesus in terms of righteousness or justification (cf. Rom 1:16–17; 3:21–5:11; Gal 2:5–11), contrasting the righteousness from God through faith and that of one’s own based on the law as two exclusive ways of pleasing God.
- 3:2 Beware of the mutilation: literally, “incision,” an ironic wordplay on “circumcision”; cf. Gal 5:12. There may be an association with the self-inflicted mutilations of the prophets of Baal (1 Kgs 18:28) and of devotees of Cybele who slashed themselves in religious frenzy.
- 3:3 We are the circumcision: the true people of God, seed and offspring of Abraham (Gal 3:7, 29; 6:15). Spirit of God: some manuscripts read “worship God by the Spirit.”
- 3:5 Circumcised on the eighth day: as the law required (Gn 17:12; Lv 12:3).
- 3:7 Loss: his knowledge of Christ led Paul to reassess the ways of truly pleasing and serving God. His reevaluation indicates the profound and lasting effect of his experience of the meaning of Christ on the way to Damascus some twenty years before (Gal 1:15–16; Acts 9:1–22).
- 3:12–16 To be taken possession of by Christ does not mean that one has already arrived at perfect spiritual maturity. Paul and the Philippians instead press on, trusting in God.
- 3:12 Attained perfect maturity: possibly an echo of the concept in the mystery religions of being an initiate, admitted to divine secrets.
- 3:16 Some manuscripts add, probably to explain Paul’s cryptic phrase, “thinking alike.”
- 3:17–21 Paul and those who live a life centered in Christ, envisaging both his suffering and resurrection, provide a model that is the opposite of opponents who reject Christ’s cross (cf. 1 Cor 1:23).
- 3:17 Being imitators of me: not arrogance, but humble simplicity, since all his converts know that Paul is wholly dedicated to imitating Christ (1 Cor 11:1; cf. also Phil 4:9; 1 Thes 1:6; 2 Thes 3:7, 9; 1 Cor 4:6).
- 3:20 Citizenship: Christians constitute a colony of heaven, as Philippi was a colonia of Rome (Acts 16:12). The hope Paul expresses involves the final coming of Christ, not a status already attained, such as the opponents claim.
- 4:1–9 This series of ethical admonitions rests especially on the view of Christ and his coming (cf. Phil 4:5) in Phil 3:20–21. Paul’s instructions touch on unity within the congregation, joy, prayer, and the Christian outlook on life.
- 4:2 Euodia…Syntyche: two otherwise unknown women in the Philippian congregation; on the advice to them, cf. Phil 2:2–4.
- 4:3 Yokemate: or “comrade,” although the Greek syzygos could also be a proper name. Clement: otherwise unknown, although later writers sought to identify him with Clement, bishop of Rome (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.15.1).
- 4:4 Rejoice: see note on Phil 3:1.
- 4:5 Kindness: considerateness, forbearance, fairness. The Lord is near: most likely a reference to Christ’s parousia (Phil 1:6, 10; 3:20–21; 1 Cor 16:22), although some sense an echo of Ps 119:151 and the perpetual presence of the Lord.
- 4:8 The language employs terms from Roman Stoic thought.
- 4:9 Cf. note on Phil 3:17.
- 4:10–20 Paul, more directly than anywhere else in the letter (cf. Phil 1:3–5), here thanks the Philippians for their gift of money sent through Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25). Paul’s own policy was to be self-sufficient as a missionary, supporting himself by his own labor (1 Thes 2:5–9; 1 Cor 9:15–18; cf. Acts 18:2–3). In spite of this reliance on self and on God to provide (Phil 4:11–13) Paul accepted gifts from the Philippians not only once but more than once (Phil 4:16) when he was in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1–9), as he does now, in prison (my distress, Phil 4:14). While commercial terms appear in the passage, like an account of giving and receiving (Phil 4:15) and received full payment (Phil 4:18), Paul is most concerned about the spiritual growth of the Philippians (Phil 4:10, 17, 19); he emphasizes that God will care for their needs, through Christ.
- 4:15 The beginning of the gospel: it was at Philippi that Paul first preached Christ in Europe, going on from there to Thessalonica and Beroea (Acts 16:9–17:14).
- 4:18 Aroma…sacrifice: Old Testament cultic language (cf. Gn 8:21; Ex 29:18, 25, 41; Lv 1:9, 13; Ez 20:41) applied to the Philippians’ gift; cf. Eph 5:2; 2 Cor 2:14–16.
- 4:21–23 On the usual greetings at the conclusion of a letter, see note on 1 Cor 16:19–24. Inclusion of greetings from all the holy ones in the place from which Paul writes would involve even the Christians of Phil 1:14–18 who had their differences with Paul.
- 4:22 Those of Caesar’s household: minor officials or even slaves and freedmen, found in Ephesus or Rome, among other places.