Your Legacy

LifeWay Research found that teens, who, at the age of 17, have parents who are authentic examples of Christian faith—proactive and consistent in living out their faith—are more likely to stay in church as young adults. Additionally, “20 percent more of those teens who stayed in church indicated they had parents or family members who discussed spiritual things, gave them spiritual guidance, and prayed together” (“Parents, Churches Can Help Teens Stay in Church,”

This study underscores the need for children and teens to see a vibrant faith in the lives of adults. Parents are responsible for their children’s spiritual development, and parents and churches need to be intentional in spiritually influencing future generations.

As much as I hate to think about it, I will die one day. But, my influence does not have to die with me. I can build and leave a godly legacy for my children and those under my influence. In the 30th Psalm, King David complained, “What gain is there in my death, in my descending to the Pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it proclaim Your truth?” (30:9). David’s first question can only be answered by God. However, we can answer the other questions.

For those who have intentionally built a godly legacy, their dust can praise God from the grave and proclaim His truth. What we teach the present generation matters and will outlive us. Our words and example can continue to influence the next generation from the grave. I want to live in such a way that my children will be inspired to build their lives on a foundation of obedience to God, even after I am in the grave.

Deuteronomy 6:1-5

Building on the right foundation is essential to the integrity of any structure, including the structure of our lives. Jesus compared those who hear and obey His words to those who build on a solid foundation (Matt. 7:24-27).

Moses also affirmed the importance of obeying God’s statutes and ordinances (Deut. 6:1). Hearing God’s word should cause us to fear the Lord (6:2) or to have reverence for Him (Ps. 119:138). The way you fear the Lord and show that you revere Him is by obeying Him. The relationship between obedience and blessing is a recurring theme in Deuteronomy. The Bible affirms the general principle expressed in Deuteronomy 6:3 that those who obey God’s word fare better than those who despise it (see Prov. 13:13).

Deuteronomy 6:4 introduces the “Shema” — the great confession of faith of Judaism. The designation “shema” comes from the Hebrew word listen in verse 4. This confession of faith starts with the declaration that the Lord is One. This was an important confession for a people at the intersection of a past in which they had been exposed to the polytheism of Egypt and a future that would expose them to the gods of the Canaanites.

As the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land, Moses challenged them to love God affectionately, entirely, and energetically. In repeating this command, Jesus added that we are also to love God intelligently or “with all your mind” (Mark 12:30). There is nothing unreasonable about loving God. Our love for Him is best demonstrated by obeying His commands.

Building a godly legacy begins with establishing the right foundation. The most solid foundation that parents can build upon is a sound biblical worldview. Parents must know what they believe, own what they believe, and then believe what they own. The choices we make every day should be consistent with what we believe.

A legacy is built one choice at a time. All parents leave a legacy but not all parents leave a godly legacy. Parents who proactively and consistently live out their faith are more likely to have a positive impact on the next generation. However, all parents should realize that it’s never too late to begin building on a good foundation. While we can never go back and make a new start, it is possible to start now and make a new end. You can finish well regardless of how old you are.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Parents are to be the primary faith trainers of their children. Moses instructed parents to teach their children about God. However, owning the message must precede sharing the message.

Parents and church leaders cannot pass on to the next generation what they themselves do not possess in their own hearts. The home is the most natural place for parents to share the message about God with their children.

My own theological education began at home when I was a child. My parents and grandparents were intentional about teaching me about God. Our family faith talks helped me to develop an awareness of the bigness of God and impressed upon me the importance of loving and obeying Him.

Moses provided practical instruction concerning how to share the message about God and His purposes. First, he suggested that parents employ repetition, which essentially meant sharing the message “line after line, a little here, a little there” (Isa. 28:10). Repetition is a basic learning technique that can help children to memorize key verses and learn foundational truths about God. Parents should also make conversations about God a seamless part of everyday life.

When our children were young, my wife and I looked for teachable moments to talk about God and to model for our children what it means to love God and serve others. Parents must combine instruction with incarnation or living out the truths they are trying to teach their children.

The most immediate legacy we can leave is the life we live before they eyes of our children and grandchildren.

Moses also encouraged parents to bind God’s commands to their bodies and to write them on the doorposts and gates of their houses (6:8-9). In later times, the Jews interpreted literally these instructions and placed the words of the shema in small containers worn on the person (phylacteries) and attached to their homes (mezuzahs). However, over time these outward trappings became more important than what they symbolized.

Even today, it is easy for Christian parents to hang plaques with Scripture messages in our homes and yet never talk about or live out the messages on display. While our children can certainly benefit from what is written and placed on our doorposts and gates, we must live the message if we expect it to become a part of our legacy.

Deuteronomy 6:10-15a

In anticipation of the blessings they would receive in the Promised Land, Moses warned the Israelites not to let the good things they would experience there take their focus off of God. He understood that prosperity and abundance can easily lead to arrogance and cause us to lose perspective.

Our human tendency is to not value the things we freely receive or to convince ourselves that we are entitled to the things we have. Prosperity can cause us to forget that God is the source of “every generous act and every perfect gift” (James 1:17). God’s blessings should humble and inspire us to acknowledge Him as the true source of all blessings. He alone deserves our gratitude.

Moses offered the people an antidote to counteract the myopic effects of prosperity.

First, fear the Lord. Fear is the attitude that recognizes the holy character of God. The fear of God should motivate us to holy living.

Second, worship Him. Service was prescribed as a means of remembering God. Those who fear God and live in close communion with Him will faithfully serve Him. Worshiping and serving Him also helps us to keep things in proper perspective by reminding us of His kindness to us.

Third, Moses prescribed swearing or taking oaths by God’s name as a means of remembering Him. Oaths were not to be made in the name of any other god.

Moses restated the first commandment — Do not follow other gods (6:14). These words apply to us as well. Although we do not have to contend with the gods of the Canaanites, we must constantly resist the lure of society’s gods — gods that tempt us to do and to get and to be something other than what God desires. Our love for God should be unrivaled, undivided, and unbridled.

Moses warned the Israelites to have absolutely nothing to do with the gods of the peoples around them. He offered two reasons for doing so. First, because God is among you — He is not an absent God who does not care, but One who is intimately concerned about the welfare of His people. Second, because God is a jealous God who alone was responsible for their deliverance from Egypt, their survival in the wilderness, and their arrival in the Promised Land.

As we look to the future, we must do more than plan for the financial legacy we will leave. While that is important, it is not the most important thing. The more important and greater legacy is our walk with Christ. Long after we are in the grave, our children will be better served by the lessons they learned from our devotion to Christ than by the dollars we leave behind. The best thing that we can do for our children and those under our influence is to intentionally live out our faith in words and actions. By doing so, we can help them to see God clearly and serve Him faithfully, long after we are in the grave.

Final Thoughts

Most of us do not think much about our ancestors. Nor do we think much about the fact that we will one day be ancestors to those who come after us.

We tend to give little thought to how future generations will be impacted by our words and actions. My prayer is that those who come after me will look back and thank God for my faithfulness. The day is coming when I will join my ancestors, but I pray that my influence will continue to touch the future through those in whom I have invested. Here are some practical pointers for how to live each day with the next generation in mind.

L = Look at your children and those under your influence. Try to envision what God can do in and through them if you will teach them through your words and actions.

E = Do not underestimate the power of your example. Words alone are not enough to influence the next generation.

G = Do not turn your home into a grave for the living, focusing only on yourself and your comforts. Get your children involved in loving and serving others outside your home.

A = Build accountability into your life. Ask your spouse or a trusted friend to keep you from making choices that will hurt the kingdom, ruin your influence, or bring shame on your family.

C = Stay committed for a lifetime. Continue to invest a godly example in your children even after they are grown.

Y = Yield your personal rights for the sake of others. Do not engage in behaviors that might confuse or cause others to stumble.

Not long after my mother passed away, my sister found this sentence written in one of our mother’s journals: “My Legacy: I want to leave the love of the Word of God to my children.” Although my mother has joined our ancestors, her words and personal example of selfless service continue to inspire me to build on the right foundation. I want to live in a way that will lead my children to do the same.

1 Samuel 2

2:1 Then Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the Lord;
    in the Lord my horn is lifted high. 
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
 for I delight in your deliverance.

2:2 “There is no one holy like the Lord;
 there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.

2:3 “Do not keep talking so proudly
 or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the Lord is a God who knows,
 and by him deeds are weighed.

2:4 “The bows of the warriors are broken,
 but those who stumbled are armed with strength.

2:5 Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
 but those who were hungry are hungry no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
 but she who has had many sons pines away.

2:6 “The Lord brings death and makes alive;
 he brings down to the grave and raises up.

2:7 The Lord sends poverty and wealth;
 he humbles and he exalts.

2:8 He raises the poor from the dust
 and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
    and has them inherit a throne of honor. “For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
 on them he has set the world.

2:9 He will guard the feet of his faithful servants,
 but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness. “It is not by strength that one prevails;

2:10 those who oppose the Lord will be broken.
The Most High will thunder from heaven;
 the Lord will judge the ends of the earth. “He will give strength to his king
 and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

2:11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy ministered before the Lord under Eli the priest.

After Hannah and her husband returned to their home, Samuel stayed and served “under Eli the priest” (2:11). Her young son continued to “grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with men” (2:26). Like Hannah, parents should desire to see their children involved in life-long service to the Lord.

2:12 Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord.

2:13 Now it was the practice of the priests that, whenever any of the people offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand while the meat was being boiled

2:14 and would plunge the fork into the pan or kettle or caldron or pot. Whatever the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh.

2:15 But even before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the person who was sacrificing, “Give the priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.”

2:16 If the person said to him, “Let the fat be burned first, and then take whatever you want,” the servant would answer, “No, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force.”

2:17 This sin of the young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they[b] were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt.

2:18 But Samuel was ministering before the Lord—a boy wearing a linen ephod.

2:19 Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice.

Hannah kept Samuel home until she had weaned him and then took him to the tabernacle at Shiloh, the place where she had prayed for a son. At Shiloh, Hannah made a large offering and dedicated Samuel to God’s service. From that point on Samuel lived with Eli the priest at Shiloh. Hannah had the opportunity to see Samuel every year when she and Elkanah would return there “to offer the annual sacrifice” (2:19). And, every year Hannah would bring Samuel a robe just like the one that Eli wore (2:18-19). Hannah praised and thanked God for answering her prayer for a son.

2:20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the Lord.” Then they would go home.

2:21 And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

2:22 Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.

2:23 So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours.

2:24 No, my sons; the report I hear spreading among the Lord’s people is not good.

2:25 If one person sins against another, God may mediate for the offender; but if anyone sins against the Lord, who will intercede for them?” His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death.

2:26 And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people.

2:27 Now a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Did I not clearly reveal myself to your ancestor’s family when they were in Egypt under Pharaoh?

2:28 I chose your ancestor out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod in my presence. I also gave your ancestor’s family all the food offerings presented by the Israelites.

2:29 Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?’

2:30 “Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.’ But now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.

2:31 The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your priestly house, so that no one in it will reach old age,

2:32 and you will see distress in my dwelling. Although good will be done to Israel, no one in your family line will ever reach old age.

2:33 Every one of you that I do not cut off from serving at my altar I will spare only to destroy your sight and sap your strength, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life.

2:34 “‘And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you—they will both die on the same day.

2:35 I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his priestly house, and they will minister before my anointed one always.

2:36 Then everyone left in your family line will come and bow down before him for a piece of silver and a loaf of bread and plead, “Appoint me to some priestly office so I can have food to eat.”’”

1 Samuel 12

12:1 Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you.

12:2 Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day.

Samuel is one of the most significant figures in the Old Testament. He was born in the days before Israel had a king. During the tumultuous period between Joshua and Saul, the tribes of Israel were led by judges or military leaders who delivered the people from nations seeking to oppress them.

Samuel served as the last judge and the first king-maker. He also served in the roles of priest and prophet. When the elders of Israel appealed to Samuel for a king “as all the other nations have” (1 Sam. 8:5), Samuel warned them about the dangers of a monarchy and reluctantly agreed to give them a king. Saul was later selected to be the first king over Israel.

12:3 Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right.”

12:4 “You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.”

12:5 Samuel said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and also his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.”

“He is witness,” they said.

12:6 Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the Lord who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your ancestors up out of Egypt.

12:7 Now then, stand here, because I am going to confront you with evidence before the Lord as to all the righteous acts performed by the Lord for you and your ancestors.

12:8 “After Jacob entered Egypt, they cried to the Lord for help, and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them in this place.

12:9 “But they forgot the Lord their God; so he sold them into the hand of Sisera, the commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hands of the Philistines and the king of Moab, who fought against them.

12:10 They cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned; we have forsaken the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths. But now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve you.’

12:11 Then the Lord sent Jerub-Baal, Barak, Jephthah and Samuel, and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around you, so that you lived in safety.

12:12 “But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, ‘No, we want a king to rule over us’—even though the Lord your God was your king.

12:13 Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the Lord has set a king over you.

On the day that Samuel presented Saul to the nation, the people acknowledged that Samuel had led them with integrity. Samuel also reminded them about the Lord’s righteous acts in behalf of them and their ancestors (12:7). However, in spite of Samuel’s capable leadership as a judge and the Lord’s faithfulness to deliver them from their enemies, the people had still insisted on having a king.

12:14 If you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God—good!

12:15 But if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors.

 Samuel told the people that all would be well as long as they and the king obeyed the Lord. He also warned them that failure to obey God would invite trouble. The people acknowledged their sin and pleaded with Samuel to pray for them.

12:16 “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!

12:17 Is it not wheat harvest now? I will call on the Lord to send thunder and rain. And you will realize what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the Lord when you asked for a king.”

12:18 Then Samuel called on the Lord, and that same day the Lord sent thunder and rain. So all the people stood in awe of the Lord and of Samuel.

12:19 The people all said to Samuel, “Pray to the Lord your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.”

One of the wisest decisions the people of Israel made was asking Samuel to pray for them. James affirms that the prayer of a righteous person is effective (James 5:16). Jeremiah the prophet regarded Samuel and Moses as two great intercessors of Israel (Jer. 15:1).

12:20 “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.

12:21 Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.

12:22 For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own.

12:23 As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.

Samuel prayed for the Israelites to be God’s people and remained committed to teaching them what was right. He expressed that it would be a sin to not pray for those entrusted to him. Like Samuel, we never retire from the ministry of prayer or service to others. One of the kindest things we can do for others is to pray for them.

I have made it a point over the years to ask those whom I regard as faithful intercessors to pray for me. And I take seriously the requests of others to pray for them. I was fortunate to learn about the importance of prayer and how to pray from some godly mentors.

It is likely that Samuel was influenced to become a righteous man of prayer because of his mother’s example. Parents should be intentional about teaching the next generation to pray and to remember what God has done for them. Considering what God has done for us should be a great incentive to remain faithful to Him.

12:24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.

12:25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.”

Philippians 1 NIV

1:1 Paul and Timothy [Timothy had assisted Paul in establishing the church at Philippi and had visited them at least twice since (cf. Acts 19:22; 20:3-4); not a co-author of this letter], servants [Gr. “doulos” meaning “slave”] of Christ Jesus [Paul and Timothy belonged to Jesus and acted in His name], To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

1:2 Grace [unmerited favor of God toward man] and peace [the kind of peace born of reconciliation; note the order: grace and then peace] to you from [the source from which grace and peace flow] God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1:3 I thank my God every time I remember [according to Acts 16 we might conclude that Paul’s memories of Philippi (illegally arrested and beaten, imprisoned and humiliated before the people) ought to produce sorrow rather than joy, but those memories caused Paul to rejoice and give thanks] you.

1:4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always [he continually prayed on their behalf] pray with joy [first mention of this little word which will be used repeatedly throughout this letter]

1:5 because of [the specific occasion for his thanksgiving and joy] your partnership [Gr. word “koinoniai” which means “fellowship, sharing, participation”] in the gospel from the first day [from the day Lydia was converted and opened her home to Paul’s missionary team] until now,

1:6 being confident of this, that he [God] who began a good work [refers to the perfecting of character (sanctification) and also to the furtherance of the gospel] in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus [cf. 1 Jn. 3:2].

1:7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart [Paul had a deep and sincere love for the Philippian believers]; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.

1:8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection [Gr. word “splagchnois” is the strongest word in Greek for the feeling of compassion (Rienecker/Rogers)] of Christ Jesus.

1:9 And this is my prayer: that your love [refers to their mutual love for each other and their regard for their fellowman] may abound [overflow] more and more in knowledge [practical, spiritual principles] and depth of insight [refers to moral discernment or perception],

1:10 so that you may be able to discern [wise and careful discrimination of issues of right and wrong, true and false] what is best and may be pure [in relation to God] and blameless [giving no offense to others] until the day of Christ [the coming of Christ should serve as an incentive to holy living],

1:11 filled with the fruit of [the fruit which righteousness produces] righteousness [right standing with God and right doing (Amplified)] that comes through [comes only through our union with Christ (cf. Jn. 15:4-5); as we are in proper union with Christ the Holy Spirit is able to produce the fruit of the Spirit in us (cf. Gal. 5:22-23)] Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.

1:12 Now I want you to know [come to know, learn, or understand], brothers [fellow believers who are members of the same spiritual family by faith in Christ], that what has happened to me [his imprisonment] has really served [in contrast to what might be expected; his imprisonment did not end his missionary activity but rather expanded it for himself and for others] to advance [Gr. “prokope” used to describe the progress of an army or expedition] the gospel [circumstances served to clear the way for the gospel to advance into new areas].

1:13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard [the soldiers to whom Paul was chained; Paul’s imprisonment opened the way for exposing soldiers in the Roman army to the gospel of Christ] and to everyone else [refers to a wide circle in Rome beyond the guard itself] that I am in chains [Paul’s chains gave him contact with the lost] for [Paul was in prison because of his religious convictions and teachings] Christ.

1:14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged [inspired and stimulated to greater evangelistic activity] to speak [in everyday conversations and opportunities] the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

1:15 It is true that some [the brothers mentioned in the previous verse] preach Christ [the issue here was not the substance of their message but rather the motivation that led them to preach it] out of envy and rivalry [some preached from unworthy motives], but others out of goodwill [some preached from worthy motives].

1:16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.

1:17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition [Gr. “eritheia” refers to a self-seeking, ambitious, and competitive spirit], not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.

1:18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached [Paul was able to see the bigger picture — Christ was being preached!]. And because of this [the fact that Christ was being preached in spite of the imperfect motives of the preachers] I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,

1:19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance [Paul believed things would work out for the best].

1:20 I eagerly expect [Gr. “apokaradokia” from “apo” (away), “kara” (head), “dokein” (to watch)] and hope that I will in no way be ashamed [cf. Rom. 1:16], but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain [because he would be with Christ].

1:22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!

1:22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!

1:23 I am torn between the two [“hard-pressed from both directions” (NASB); Gr. “senechomai” means “to hem in on both sides”]: I desire to depart [military term for breaking camp] and be with Christ, which is better by far;

1:24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

1:25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain [to remain alongside another], and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,

1:26 so that through my being with you again [when Paul and Philippians see one another again] your joy [Paul’s presence will give them occasion to boast and rejoice in the Lord] in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me [Paul was a living testimony of how Christ can sustain a man in and through the worst of circumstances].

1:27 Whatever happens, conduct [Gr. “politeuesthe” means “to behave as citizens”; cf. Eph. 4:1; Col. 1:10] yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm [like a soldier who will not budge from his post] in one spirit, contending [Gr. “sunathleo” means “to contend or struggle with someone”] as one man [working cooperatively like an athletic team] for the faith of the gospel

1:28 without being frightened [like a startled animal] in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.

1:29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer [not because of their sin but because of their allegiance to Christ and their commitment to the advancement of the gospel; cf. Jn. 15:18] for him [Paul saw this as a privilege],

1:30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

Philippians 2 NIV

2:1 If [Gr. first class conditional statement: should be understood to mean “since” or “in view of the fact”] you have any encouragement [Gr. “paraklesis” can also mean exhortation, comfort] from being united with Christ, if any comfort [may be rendered “consolation”] from his love, if any fellowship [Gr. “koinonia” means participation, association, sharing] with the Spirit [Holy Spirit], if any tenderness [“bowels” (KJV) is tender mercies; sensitivity to the needs and feelings of other people] and compassion [to feel another person’s sorrow or hurt],

2:2 then make my joy complete by [1] being like-minded [“thinking the one thing”; cf. Phil. 2:5], [2] having the same love [the kind of love demonstrated by Jesus], [3] being one in spirit [cf. Phil. 1:27; Jn. 17:22] and [4] purpose [a common goal, namely, to spread the gospel].

2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition [Gr. “eritheia” refers to a self-seeking, ambitious, competitive spirit] or vain [empty] conceit [Gr. “kenodoxia” is literally “empty praise” or boastful pride], but in humility [“lowliness of mind” (KJV); ability to recognize personal insufficiency and God’s sufficiency; recognizes need to depend on God] consider others better than yourselves.

2:4 [cf. Rom. 12:10] Each of you should look [make it your aim] not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus [the ultimate example of true humility]:

2:6 Who, being in very nature [“in the form of” (KJV)] God [a reference to the preexistence of Christ], did not consider equality with God something to be grasped [Jesus did not have to grasp what was already His; Jesus willingly laid aside His heavenly glory or status for our sakes],

2:7 but made himself nothing [Gr. “ekenosen” means that He emptied Himself; He gave up divine privileges; He imposed on Himself certain limitations], taking the very nature of [“the form of” (KJV)] a servant [a slave; one without advantage, without rights, and without privileges], being made in human likeness [He exchanged His kingly robe for the sackcloth of human flesh].

2:8 And being found in appearance [Gr. “schemati”; “in fashion” (KJV)] as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross [the ultimate display of humiliation]!

2:9 Therefore God exalted [through His resurrection and ascension] him [the One despised and rejected and regarded as a criminal] to the highest place and gave him the name [Jesus, the Gr. equivalent of the Heb. Joshua, an abbreviation of Yahweh [Jehovah] is Savior] that is above every name,

2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow [in worship], in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

2:11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father [cf. Jn. 17:1,5].

2:12 Therefore, my dear friends [an affectionate term; a reminder that the Philippians were dear to Paul], as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out [not “for”] your [plural (indicating that they were to work out their salvation in the context of their relationships with others in the church); they already possessed salvation] salvation [a reference to sanctification] with fear and trembling,

2:13 for it is God who works [through His Holy Spirit who energizes and empowers believers] in you to will [or to want] and to act according to his good purpose [God’s desired unity in the Philippian church].

2:14 Do everything without complaining [cf. 1 Cor. 10:1-5,10; 1 Pet. 4:9] or arguing [may possibly imply “arguing” in court (cf. 1 Cor. 6:1-11)],

2:15 so that [the goal or purpose of the prohibitions of 2:14] you may become [implies a process of development] blameless [expresses what the Christian is to the world (Barclay)] and pure [refers to that which was unmixed and unadulterated; expresses what the Christian is in himself (Barclay)], children of God without fault [refers to what the Christian is in the sight of God] in a crooked [unbelieving] and depraved [refers to an abnormal moral condition or being twisted and misshapen in character and conduct] generation, in which you shine like stars [Gr. “phosteres”] in the universe

2:16 as you hold out [or hold forth; to offer to a lost world] the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing [in vain; empty].

2:17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice [the prospect of death did not rob Paul of his joy (cf. Phil. 1:21)] with all of you.

2:18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

2:19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy [as his representative; Timothy was always willing to go anywhere; his message was as safe as if Paul had delivered it himself] to you soon, that [the purpose for sending Timothy] I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.

Note: Timothy held a special place in Paul’s life. Paul had enlisted Timothy to accompany him on the second missionary journey while passing through Derbe and Lystra (see Acts 16:1-3). Timothy was the son of a Jewish mother and a Greek father. His grandmother (Lois) and mother (Eunice) were both believers. Thus Timothy was with Paul on the second missionary journey when he founded the church at Philippi. Timothy had also visited the saints at Philippi on at least two other occasions (see Acts 19:22 and 20:3-4).

2:20 I have no one else like him [an expression of Paul’s confidence in Timothy], who takes a genuine interest in your welfare [characteristic of the good minister].

2:21 For everyone [as opposed to Timothy] looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ [Timothy was more “other-centered” than “self-centered”; “In a very real sense, all of us live either in Philippians 1:21 or 2:21!” (Wiersbe)].

2:22 But [conjunction places Timothy’s character in contrast to what Paul mentioned in v. 21] you know [Philippians knew Timothy personally] that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father [served as father and son, side by side] he has served with [preposition “with” shows Paul’s humility (Wuest) and raises Timothy to the position of an equal, a fellow laborer, a fellow messenger (Erdman)] me in the work of the gospel [in the common cause of advancing the gospel of Christ].

2:23 I hope, therefore, to send him [Timothy would bear the news of Paul’s deliverance or death to the Philippians] as soon as I see how things go with me [once he knew the outcome of his trial, which at this time was still uncertain].

2:24 And I am confident [a settled persuasion or conviction] in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

2:25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother [brother in the faith; shared a common sympathy with Paul], fellow worker [shared a common service with Paul , namely, the advancement of the gospel] and fellow soldier [shared a common suffering and danger with Paul ], who is also your messenger [Gr. “apostolos” refers to one entrusted with a mission], whom you sent [acted as the official representative and priestly servant of the entire church at Philippi] to take care of [“minister to” (NAS) from Gr. “leitourgos” which refers to “one who is engaged in priestly service.”] my needs.

Note: Like Timothy, Epaphroditus was a man whose life exemplified the exhortations of Philippians 2:1-4. He was a man who was more “other-centered” than “self-centered.” Epaphroditus, a member of the Philippian church, had been given the responsibility of taking the Philippians’ special love offering to Paul. He had also been charged with the responsibility of staying to minister to Paul’s needs, doing the things that the Philippians could not do themselves because of distance, but that could only be done by one present. Epaphroditus showed kindness to Paul and was concerned for others in his church.

2:26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill.

2:27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died [literally means “alongside of a neighbor”; he was next door to death]. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow [death of Epaphroditus would have been almost more than Paul could stand].

2:28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.

2:29 Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him,

2:30 because [the reason they are to lovingly receive Epaphroditus and hold him in high regard] he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life [Gr. “paraboleuesthai” means to expose one’s self to danger] to make up for the help you could not give me [not a rebuke but a reminder that he was there to do what they could not do for him].

Philippians 4 NIV

4:1 Therefore [connects the last verses of chapter 3 with the first verse of chapter 4], my brothers, you whom I love and long for [reminder of his affection for the Philippian saints], my joy [Philippians were source of joy and gladness to Paul (cf. Phil. 1:3)] and crown [Gr. “stephanos” refers to the crown or garland that was awarded to a victorious athlete at the Greek games], that is how you should stand firm [Gr. “stekete” means to stand fast in the heat of battle when the enemy is coming upon you; Paul urged them to maintain their spiritual position as citizens of heaven, especially in face of persecution from without and error from within] in the Lord, dear friends!

4:2 I plead [ exhort] with [note that Paul listed them in alphabetical order, perhaps to show impartiality] Euodia [name means “prosperous or successful journey,” or, according to some texts, “sweet savor/fragrance”] and I plead [exhort] with Syntyche [name means “pleasant acquaintance, good fortune, or affable”] to agree [be of the same mind; to live in harmony; we are not told the cause of their dissension; must have been at odds a long time since news of their disagreement reached Paul in Rome] with each other in the Lord.

4:3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow [has been interpreted to mean either a proper name (Syzygus) or as a reference to some outstanding saint who Paul felt was capable of helping these two women; some believe this is reference to Epaphroditus], help these women [sadly, these women are remembered because they quarreled; thy failed to live up to the meaning of their names] who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel [had been of great service in furthering the establishment of the Philippian church], along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

4:4 Rejoice [keep on rejoicing] in the Lord always [at all times; in all places; in good or bad circumstances; when things look promising; when everything is wrong (cf. Hab. 3:17-18)]. I will say it again: Rejoice!

4:5 Let your gentleness [or reasonableness; “the opposite of stubbornness and thoughtlessness” (Erdman)] be evident to all [not just to some persons; to those within the church and in society at large]. [note the reason and motive for this exhortation…] The Lord is near [the expectation of the Lord’s return should serve as an incentive to holy living].

4:6 Do not be anxious [means “to be pulled in different directions” (Wiersbe)] about anything, but in everything [someone noted that there is nothing too great for God’s power, and nothing too small for His fatherly care], by prayer [the general word for making requests known to the Lord; prayer is the cure for anxiety] and petition [means to ask for things], with thanksgiving [bringing requests to God with an attitude of appreciation for whatever answer He may give], present your requests [refers to particular or specific petitions] to God.

4:7 And the peace of God [the fruit of believing prayer], which transcends all understanding, will guard [stand guard like a soldier] your [cf. Isa. 26:3] hearts [feelings] and your minds [thoughts] in Christ Jesus.

4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true [keep in mind that Satan is a liar (Jn. 8:44) and wants to corrupt our minds with his lies (2 Cor. 11:3)], whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure [refers to moral purity], whatever is lovely [means beautiful or attractive], whatever is admirable [means worth talking about, appealing]—if anything is excellent [that which motivate us to do better] or praiseworthy [worth commending to others]—think [consider; ponder] about such things.

Paul’s goal was to press on toward maturity in Christ. He believed all spiritually mature believers would embrace his way of thinking. Because our thoughts affect how we live and how we interact with others, Paul listed some of the virtues that should dominate believers’ thinking.

Paul urged the Philippian believers to fill their minds with the kind of thoughts that please God and would guide them on the journey toward Christlikeness. Right thinking does not just happen but is the result of filling our hearts and minds with the Word of God (see Ps. 19:7-9; 119:9-16). That is the way we develop a new mind-set that impacts how we live and a biblical worldview that impacts how we view life. Filling our minds with God’s Word will help us to pursue a mature way of thinking and to dwell on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable.

4:9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice [an exhortation to follow his example (cf. Phil. 3:17)]. And the God of peace will be with you.

4:10 I rejoice [Paul rejoiced specifically because they had sent an offering and Epaphroditus to minister to him] greatly [word used only here in the NT] in the Lord that at last you have renewed [Gr. word means “to sprout or blossom again”] your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned [they had never lost their interest in or concern for him], but you had no opportunity to show it.

4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need [Paul’s joy was not dependent upon whether or not his needs were met], for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances [included the litany of experiences recorded in 2 Cor. 11:23-33].

4:12 I know what it is to be in need [having very little], and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned [means “understanding” or “entering into the secret of” ] the secret of being content in any [particular] and every [general] situation, whether well fed [refers to being full of food] or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want [refers to one who is in serious financial difficulty or in debt].

4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength [enabled Paul to deal with the “every situation” of verse 12].

4:14 Yet it was good of you to share [Paul was truly thankful for their gift and for the ministry and friendship of Epaphroditus] in my troubles.

4:15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days [Paul recalled the past generosity of the Philippians] of your acquaintance with the gospel [they had expressed their thankfulness for and commitment to the gospel from the very beginning, from the day Paul founded the church at Philippi some ten years earlier], when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving [possibly refers to the gift Paul received from Macedonia while he was in Corinth (2 Cor. 11:8-9)], except you only [no other church followed their example];.

4:16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you [the Philippian church was a new assembly of believers when it made these donations] sent me aid again and again when I was in need.

4:17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account [the Philippians benefited spiritually by their giving].

4:18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied [Paul addressed the matter of the personal benefits of the Philippians’ gift; Paul told his Philippian friends that his needs were “amply supplied” by their generous gift (cf. Eph. 3:20-21)], now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

4:19 And my [personal relationship] God will [speaks of certainty] meet [supply] all your needs [both temporal and spiritual] according to his glorious [God will supply their needs in such a way that His glory will be manifested] riches [inexhaustible and boundless] in Christ Jesus .

4:20 To our God and Father be glory [Paul’s earnest desire was for God to be glorified] for ever and ever. Amen.

4:21 Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings.

4:22 All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household [those who worked in Caesar’s household; Paul had likely led these to faith in Christ through his ministry in Rome (cf. Phil. 1:12-14).].

4:23 [a simple benediction…] The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Philippians 3 NIV

3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord [indicates the true sphere of joy]! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again [views include: refers to rejoice; refers to encouragement to live in harmony; refers to previous letters to them; refers to warnings against false teachers], and it is a safeguard for you.

3:2 Watch out for [beware; note three references to the Judaizers whose activity was dangerous, divisive, and subversive (cf. 2 Cor. 11:13)…] those dogs [they followed Paul and barked their contradictory doctrines], those men who do evil [their teaching and activity led people away from God], those mutilators of the flesh [Judaizers believed that circumcision was essential to salvation (Acts 15:1; Galatians 6:12-18); cf. Col. 2:11 re: spiritual “circumcision done by Christ”; Judaizers had also “mutilated” the message of the gospel].

From the time of his dramatic conversion on the Damascus road, Paul committed himself to tell others about Him. In addition to the physical hardships he experienced as he took the gospel to new frontiers, Paul felt the pressure of concern for all the churches (see 2 Cor. 11:28). He often encountered strong opposition from those who sought either to add to Christ’s work on the cross or to subtract from His deity. These individuals wedged their dangerous doctrines into the hearts of new believers and caused divisions in the early church.

Paul warned the Philippian believers to watch out for evil workers or the Judaizers. This subversive group (2 Cor. 11:13) taught that Gentiles had to first become Jews before they could become Christians. They added to Christ’s work by insisting that circumcision was essential to salvation. Paul therefore referred to them as those who mutilate the flesh. Like dogs, the Judaizers followed Paul everywhere he went. They barked their contradictory doctrines and mutilated the message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ.

3:3 For it is we [those who trust Christ Jesus alone for salvation] who are the circumcision, we who worship [serve] by [under the leadership and power of] the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus [and not in any outward rites], and who put no confidence in [to depend on] the flesh [what we are and can achieve apart from Christ]

3:4 [Paul reinforced his warning against the Judaizers by referring to his own personal testimony] though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more [because of who he was and what he had achieved before coming to faith in Christ]:

Under the old covenant, circumcision was a physical sign that set the Jews apart from the Gentiles. This bodily sign was to be a mark of a spiritual relationship with God. However, after Jesus Christ, physical circumcision was no longer necessary. He made it possible for all who believe in Him as Savior to become part of God’s family. Those who have placed their faith in Christ have had their hearts circumcised by Him (Col. 2:11-12). Unlike the Judaizers who put confidence in their own external achievements, true believers boast or exult only in Christ Jesus and in what He has done to make salvation possible.

The Judaizers placed a great deal of confidence in their personal religious credentials and accomplishments. They mistakenly believed that their religious effort and activity would earn their salvation. However, if religious credentials were the basis for salvation, then Paul had better grounds for confidence in the flesh.

Paul listed several facts about his life that would have qualified him for a place in the covenant people of God according to the Judaizers’ standards. However, after his encounter with Christ, Paul realized that his religious resume had actually kept him from knowing God. Those who depend on their religious credentials will be disappointed.

3:5 [Paul listed seven personal credentials which formed the basis for his boasting in v. 4…] [1] circumcised [the Judaizers were most vocal about this] on the eighth day, [2] of the people of Israel [he was not a proselyte but a true Jew], [3] of the tribe of Benjamin [youngest son of Jacob and his beloved wife, Rachel; the only one of Jacob’s sons who was born in the Promised Land], [4] a Hebrew of Hebrews [a Hebrew from Hebrew parents (pure and unmixed Hebrew stock)]; [5] in regard to the law, a Pharisee [strictest and most law-abiding sect of Judaism; name means “the separated ones”];

3:6 [6] as for zeal, persecuting the church [cf. Acts 8:1; 9:1-2]; [7] as for legalistic righteousness, faultless [Paul kept the demands of the Law (the Mosaic law as interpreted by the Pharisaic tradition)].

Like the Judaizers, many religious people today need to experience a transformation of their way of thinking. Christianity is not about religion or religious activity, but about a relationship with God made possible by Christ’s work on the cross. How arrogant to imagine ourselves standing before God and expecting that our personal religious resume will either please or impress Him.

Isaiah noted that our own works and accomplishments, however good or righteous we imagine them to be, are as filthy rags before God (Isa. 64:6). If following the law, doing good works, and building an impressive resume is how people are made right with God, then Christ died for nothing (Gal. 2:21).

3:7 But whatever [reference to the things (cf. Phil. 3:5-6) which both the Jews and the Judaizers looked to put them in right relationship with God] was to my profit [reference to all of the things mentioned which were a source of enrichment and pride] I now consider [to count, deem, think, account] loss [all of the things that were keeping him from gaining righteousness in Christ] for the sake of Christ.

Paul saw things differently after his conversion. His encounter with Christ led him to rethink all of his Old Testament studies in light of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus. Only then did he understand that all of the things he once considered profitable were actually useless in helping him gain righteousness in Christ. The sum of all his religious activity could not earn him salvation. He learned that right standing with God comes at God’s initiative and by faith in Christ. He therefore abandoned trust in the flesh and external rites and observances and tossed his religious resume into the garbage.

3:8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things [refers to a specific time in the past, probably his conversion when he suffered the confiscation or loss of all things]. I consider them rubbish [can refer either “to human excrement . . . or . . . to the refuse or leavings of a feast, the food thrown away from the table” (Rienecker/Rogers)], that [Paul had a new ambition in life] I may gain Christ [a profitable exchange]

Paul recognized the surpassing value of knowing Christ. All of the things he had once considered valuable he now considered to be a loss by comparison to knowing Christ. For Paul, knowing Christ was indeed a profitable exchange for everything he had lost.

Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who found a pearl of great value. Recognizing the surpassing value of that pearl, the merchant eagerly sold all that he had and bought the pearl (Matt. 13:45-46). Like this merchant, Paul counted everything he had lost as nothing in comparison to what he had gained.

I know many believers who live in places that are hostile to the gospel of Jesus Christ. What convicts and inspires me most is what they have exchanged for the privilege of knowing and following Christ. Many have exchanged personal security. Others have lost careers, property, and family. And yet, I have never heard a single one of these believers utter a complaint. Their lives are a testimony to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ and to the fact that what they have gained far exceeds anything they have lost.

We should make knowing Christ the central goal of our lives and be absolutely determined to accomplish that goal. Knowing Christ is not merely having factual information about Him, but a growing, personal experience with Him that shapes our entire outlook on life.

One way in which we can become better acquainted with Jesus is by spending time in the study of the Bible. While we should not equate knowing the Bible or knowing theology with loving Jesus, we must gain acquaintance with Him in the Bible. We must become so familiar with Christ and know Him so well that we are not duped by counterfeits or by thinking that minimizes who He is or adds to what He did to make provision for our redemption.

3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

Prior to his conversion, Paul had thought that his own righteousness and religious credentials were sufficient to gain him access to God. After his conversion, Paul’s thinking underwent major changes. His greatest desire was that he might be found in Christ, not depending on his own righteousness, but in the righteousness that results from placing one’s faith in Christ alone for salvation. Like Paul, we too should want to be found in Him every moment that we live, when we die, when He returns, and at the final judgment.

3:10 I want to know [same word that Paul used in verse 8; means “to know personally through experience.”] Christ [“to know Christ” was the was the deep desire and passion of Paul’s life] and the power of his resurrection [God’s great power was manifested in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead] and the fellowship [means “a joint participation”] of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

After his conversion, knowing Christ became Paul’s greatest ambition in life. While many are content to know about Christ or to be acquainted with facts about His life, Paul’s deepest desire was to know Christ intimately. He wanted to live each day in the power of the Holy Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead. Paul also was willing to suffer for Christ who suffered for him. Paul indeed suffered many hardships and trials for the sake of the gospel. And, he expressed a desire to become like Christ in His death, something that Paul did by daily dying to his sinful nature and personal ambitions.

3:11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect [the Greek word used here does not mean “sinless, flawless,” but “spiritually mature”], but I press on [Watchman Nee said that all who aspire to spiritual maturity must maintain Paul’s attitude in Phil. 3:12; picture here is of athlete running a race, straining every nerve and muscle to reach his goal] to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Paul understood that knowing Christ and becoming like Christ is a lifelong process. His journey toward becoming all that he was meant to be began on the day Christ took hold of him on the road to Damascus. Like an athlete running a race, Paul pressed on, straining every muscle to move toward the finish line. Every step carried him closer to spiritual maturity—to Christlikeness. Every believer who aspires to spiritual maturity must maintain Paul’s attitude of pressing on toward the goal of knowing Christ better and better.

3:13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it [Paul was still a learner and understood that he had not arrived]. But one thing I do [Paul focused on a single purpose]: Forgetting what is behind [he did not allow past victories to fill him with pride nor past failures to fill him with fear] and straining [like an athlete expending every ounce of strength to win a race] toward what is ahead,

While Paul was satisfied with Christ, he was never satisfied with his Christian life. He recognized that complacency and satisfaction are the enemies of spiritual progress. Instead, Paul maintained the attitude of a learner or of one who had yet to arrive. He did not allow past successes to fill him with pride or past failures to fill him with fear lest these cause him to stumble. Instead, he had a single focus — to reach or to lean forward like an athlete on the home stretch of a race. He fixed his eyes on the goal of spiritual maturity — knowing Christ, and finishing the race set before him. He allowed nothing to distract or deter him from reaching that goal.

3:14 I press [continual action] on toward the goal [translates a word meaning “a mark on which to fix the eye”] to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Not everyone in the Philippian church shared Paul’s views about spiritual maturity. Some were filled with pride and looked down on others from their perch of perceived personal perfection. Paul therefore urged his friends in Philippi to pursue a mature way of thinking. Those who are truly mature generally are more aware of their imperfections and of their need to press on toward Christlikeness. For those who thought otherwise, Paul expressed the hope that God would reveal the truth to them.

Note: Here are a few things that you and I can do to know Christ better.
G = Make it your goal to know Christ intimately. Spend time alone with Him daily in prayer and in the study of His Word.
R = Take responsibility for your spiritual progress. Invite others to hold you accountable for your spiritual health.
O = Order your priorities to reflect your determination to press on toward spiritual maturity.
W = Watch out for modern-day Judaizers who add rules, regulations, rites and rituals or other external standards as qualifications for receiving salvation.
T = Guard your thoughts. Fill your mind with God’s Word and think about things that please God.
H = Aim high. Make it your goal to follow Christ daily and to know him more intimately.

3:15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.

3:16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained [exhortation to stay on the path in which they had made steady spiritual progress].

3:17 Join with others in following my [Paul wanted for the Philippians to follow his example only insofar as he followed the example of Christ] example [cf. 1 Cor. 11:1], brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we [others whose lives were exemplary and worthy of imitation included Timothy and Epaphroditus, whom Paul highly commended in Phil. 2:19-30] gave you.

3:18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears [“to weep audibly” (Lightfoot)], many [men of a character far different from Paul’s] [1] live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

3:19 [2] Their destiny is destruction [reference here is to eternal punishment; they will not be able to stand in the judgment. (cf. Ps. 1:4-6)], [3] their god is their stomach [“may be used as a general term to include all that belongs to the bodily, fleshly life of man and therefore inevitably perishes” (Rienecker/Rogers)], and [4] their glory is in their shame [they were proud of things they should have been ashamed of]. [5] Their mind is on earthly things [cf. Col. 3:1-2; Rom. 13:12-14].

3:20 But our citizenship [the same word used in Phil. 1:27; conduct of believer must be in accordance with citizenship] is in heaven. And we eagerly await [we ought to have an eager longing for the Lord’s return (it is at that time that He will bring to completion our salvation)] a Savior from there [cf. Jn. 14:2-3], the Lord Jesus Christ,

3:21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body [cf. 1 Jn. 3:2].