Social Network Links
Powered by Squarespace
Search the Riddleblog
"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
« J. S. Bach's Lutheranism | Main | 1968 -- The Year I Was Afraid »

"Found in Him" -- Philippians 3:1-11

The Sixth in a Series of Sermons on Paul's Letter to the Philippians

One writer says that “chapter 3 of Philippians is without dispute a singularly powerful passage–a foundational building block for theology and a true classic of Christian spirituality.”  Well said and quite true.  After exhorting the Philippians to stand firm in the face of persecution coming from those outside the church (Greco-Roman pagans) Paul warns the Philippians in no uncertain terms about those attempting the disrupt the church from within.  Known as Judaizers–because of their insistence that Gentile converts must live as Jews after undergoing circumcision in order to be justified–Paul first encountered them in Galatia, but now Judaizing missionaries have made their way from Asia Minor into Greece, causing havoc in the church in Philippi.  In the process of warning the Philippians about the destructive ways of the Judaizers, Paul gives us a glimpse into his life before his conversion.  This is one of the few places where we gain genuine insight into Paul’s thinking as an up and coming Rabbi, who was extremely zealous to see Christianity wiped out before it could really begin.  Paul speaks of finding a justifying righteousness not his own (that of Jesus) which comes through faith, as well as how he longs to know firsthand the glories of the resurrection power of Jesus since Paul has been privileged to suffer for the sake of his Lord.  This is an important and a remarkable section of Paul’s Philippian letter, and truly one of the high points in all the canonical writings of Paul.

We are continuing our series on Paul’s letter to the Philippians and we come to chapter 3.  The transition from Paul’s lengthy exhortation (which began back in verse 27 of chapter 1 and continued on to verse 18 of chapter 2), to the Apostle recounting certain details of his life (in verses 4-6 of chapter 3) is not as abrupt as it may first seem.  Upon concluding his exhortation for the Philippians to stand firm in the face of persecution (2:18), Paul expresses his desire to send Timothy to Philippi to bring them a word of encouragement (vv. 19-30).  Since Paul was presently under house arrest in Rome awaiting his appearance before Caesar, Paul needs Timothy to remain with him until the settling of his appeal.  Since Paul or Timothy are unable travel to Philippi, Paul will send Epaphroditus (he, of course, is the minister sent by the Philippians to Paul upon learning of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome).

Until Paul can make his way there, the Philippians are to live in a manner consistent with the gospel which he first preached to them, and which the Philippians had obeyed (to use Paul’s term).  The Philippians were also to follow the example set by Jesus, who, in his incarnation, humbled himself, taking the form of a servant, not using his divine attributes to gain advantage.  In striving to be of one accord, loving one another, and being one in mind, the Philippian Christians are to cease grumbling and complaining, and live as children of God ought to live, blameless and innocent, in the face of the crooked and twisted generation in which they found themselves.  The expression “crooked and twisted”, as we saw, is an expression taken from the Old Testament and used in reference to unbelieving Israel while God’s disobedient people were wandering for forty years in the Sinai wilderness.  It was now (ironically) applied by Paul to both the Greco-Roman pagans and the Judaizers then troubling the Christians in Philippi.  But in a real sense, all generations following (including ours) are twisted and crooked.  

So, when we read in the opening words of chapter 3 of Paul’s stern warning to watch out for the Judaizers, those “evil-doers” who mutilate the flesh, the Apostle is not so much beginning a new thought, as he is explaining why the lengthy exhortation he had just given was so important to heed.  The Judaizers are a serious foe, they are destructive to Christ’s church, and they are not to be taken lightly.  Paul grants them no quarter.  He anathematized them in his epistle to the Galatians and warns of their tendency to boast about the number of coverts they had been winning.  When the Judaizers show up in a church founded by Paul, it is as though a claxon on a warship sounds “battle stations.”

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.