Philippians 3:8-14

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

November 27, 2002


Paul has been dealing with the issue of the “Judaizers”, those that taught that you needed to be circumcised and you needed to keep the Law of Moses in order to be saved. These teachers would come through the churches after Paul had established them and greatly upset the Gentile believers.

Paul has talked about how if any person ought to be boastful about their ability to be “righteous” according to the Law of Moses, it was he, Paul. Before meeting Jesus, Paul had considered himself a “Hebrew of Hebrews”, a member of the strictest sect, the Pharisees.


:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

Yeaalla – but; nevertheless, notwithstanding; nay, rather, yea, moreover; forms a transition to the cardinal matter

doubtlessmenounge (“truly” + “then” + “indeed”) – nay surely, nay rather

I counthegeomai – to lead; to consider, deem, account, think

losszemia – damage, loss

fordia – through; the ground or reason by which something is or is not done; by reason of; on account of

excellency huperecho – to have or hold over one; to stand out, rise above, overtop; to be above, be superior in rank, authority, power; the prominent men, rulers; to excel, to be superior, better than, to surpass

the knowledge gnosis – knowledge signifies in general intelligence, understanding

This isn’t the “knowledge” that Jesus possesses, as if Paul is going to know as much as Jesus.  But this is the “knowledge” of Jesus that comes from having come into a relationship with Him.  It’s knowledge that comes from experience.

fordia – through; the ground or reason by which something is or is not done; by reason of; on account of

I have suffered the losszemioo – to affect with damage, do damage to; to sustain damage, to receive injury, suffer loss

do counthegeomai – to lead; to consider, deem, account, think

dung skubalon (“into” + “dog” + “throw”, “to fling to the dogs”) – any refuse, as the excrement of animals, offscourings, rubbish, dregs; of things worthless and detestable

I may winkerdaino – to gain, acquire, to get gain


Jesus is still better.

Last week we ended last week with Paul’s statement:
(Phil 3:7 KJV) But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

Note the tense of the verb. It is a past tense, something that Paul did in the past.

Now Paul repeats his statement, but brings it into the present.
Paul had counted these things as loss thirty years earlier when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.
He still counts them as loss.
He’s not trusting just in what happened thirty years ago, it’s still very real to him in the present.

:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

be found heurisko – to come upon, hit upon, to meet with; after searching, to find a thing sought

This could be translated, “turn out actually to be

righteousnessdikaiosune – in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God


Jesus’ righteousness, not mine

When we opened our heart to Jesus and decided to trust in His death as being enough to pay for our sins, God did something wonderful.  God performed an exchange, taking my sins and exchanging them for Jesus’ righteousness.
(2 Cor 5:21 KJV)  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

God put my sins upon Jesus and in turn took Jesus’ righteousness and gave it to me.

The Beggar's Rags
A beggar lived near the king’s palace. One day he saw a proclamation posted outside the palace gate. The king was giving a great dinner. Anyone dressed in royal garments was invited to the party. The beggar went on his way. He looked at the rags he was wearing and sighed. Surely only kings and their families wore royal robes, he thought. Slowly an idea crept into his mind. The audacity of it made him tremble. Would he dare? He made his way back to the palace. He approached the guard at the gate. “Please, sire, I would like to speak to the king.” “Wait here,” the guard replied. In a few minutes, he was back. “His majesty will see you,” he said, and led the beggar in. “You wish to see me?” asked the king. “Yes, your majesty. I want so much to attend the banquet, but I have no royal robes to wear. Please, sir, if I may be so bold, may I have one of your old garments so that I, too, may come to the banquet?” The beggar shook so hard that he could not see the faint smile that was on the king’s face. “You have been wise in coming to me,” the king said. He called to his son, the young prince. “Take this man to your room and array him in some of your clothes.” The prince did as he was told and soon the beggar was standing before a mirror, clothed in garments that he had never dared hope for. “You are now eligible to attend the king’s banquet tomorrow night,” said the prince. “But even more important, you will never need any other clothes. These garments will last forever.” The beggar dropped to his knees. “Oh, thank you,” he cried. But as he started to leave, he looked back at his pile of dirty rags on the floor. He hesitated. What if the prince was wrong? What if he would need his old clothes again? Quickly he gathered them up. The banquet was far greater than he had ever imagined, but he could not enjoy himself as he should. He had made a small bundle of his old rags and it kept falling off his lap. The food was passed quickly and the beggar missed some of the greatest delicacies. Time proved that the prince was aright. The clothes lasted forever. Still the poor beggar grew fonder and fonder of his old rags. As time passed people seemed to forget the royal robes he was wearing. They saw only the little bundle of filthy rags that he clung to wherever he went. They even spoke of him as the old man with the rags. One day as he lay dying, the king visited him. The beggar saw the sad look on the king’s face when he looked at the small bundle of rags by the bed. Suddenly the beggar remembered the prince’s words and he realized that his bundle of rags had cost him a lifetime of true royalty. He wept bitterly at his folly. And the king wept with him.

Edited from More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice. Copyright 1995 by Youth Specialties, Inc.

We have been invited into a royal family—the family of God. To feast at God’s dinner table, all we have to do is shed our old rags and put on the “new clothes” of faith which is provided by God’s Son, Jesus Christ. But we neet to let go of our old rags. When we put our faith in Christ, we must let go of the sin in our life, and our old ways of living. We need to even let go of counting on the “good things” that we thought made us so special – instead we need to find out identity, our hope, our life in Jesus and what He has done for us.
That’s learning to live like true royalty.

:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

I may know ginosko – to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel; to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of

The word speaks of knowing something through experience. Paul didn’t want to just know about Jesus.  He wanted to know Jesus.

the power dunamis – strength, power, ability

We’d like to experience the ability and strength of the resurrection.

resurrectionanastasis – a raising up, rising (e.g. from a seat); a rising from the dead

the fellowship koinonia – fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation

sufferings pathema – that which one suffers or has suffered; externally, a suffering, misfortune, calamity, evil, affliction; of an inward state, an affliction, passion; an enduring, undergoing, suffering

being made conformablesummorphoo – to be conformed to, receive the same form as

deaththanatos – the death of the body; metaph., the loss of that life which alone is worthy of the name,


Power and suffering

We would like to think that this is a multiple choice deal as in:  Would you like the power or the suffering?
But it’s not multiple choice.  It’s both.
We come to truly “know” Jesus when we learn to experience both suffering and resurrection power.


Suffering and death

Death and suffering isn’t fun.
That’s why they call it death and suffering.
Yet you don’t get to the Resurrection until you’ve gone through Gethsemane and Calvary.
We want the power but without the suffering.  Because we shy away from suffering, we don’t get the power.
I don’t mean that we need to suffer just for the sake of suffering.  I don’t mean that we should go out and beat ourselves up or look for new ways of suffering.
But there are times when the path ahead is going to be rough.
Will we choose to go down that path and in the process experience suffering?
Or will we choose to go around the hurtful things and end up missing the target?
(2 Cor 4:7-11 KJV)  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. {8} We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; {9} Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; {10} Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. {11} For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
Paul knew what it meant to suffer for Jesus.  But in on the path of suffering, he also experienced the life of Jesus.

:11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

If by any meansei pos – if indeed, since, if after all

I might attainkatantao – to come to, arrive; to come to a place over against, opposite another; metaph. to attain to a thing

the resurrectionexanastasis – a rising up, a rising again; resurrection

the deadnekros – properly: one that has breathed his last, lifeless; deceased, departed, one whose soul is in heaven or hell; spiritually dead

Paul is speaking in humility, not in doubt.  He doesn’t doubt that he will be raised from the dead.  He’s aiming for it, but humbly.

:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

attainedlambano – to take; to receive (what is given), to gain, get, obtain, to get back

were … perfectteleioo – to make perfect, complete; to carry through completely, to accomplish, finish, bring to an end; to complete (perfect); to be found perfect; perfect tense

I follow after dioko – to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away; to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after; metaph. to pursue; to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavour to acquire

that I may apprehend katalambano – to lay hold of; to lay hold of so as to make one’s own, to obtain, attain to, to make one’s own, take possession of; to lay hold of with the mind; to understand, perceive, learn, comprehend

I am apprehendedkatalambano – to lay hold of; to lay hold of so as to make one’s own, to obtain, attain to, to make one’s own, take possession of; to lay hold of with the mind; to understand, perceive, learn, comprehend


You haven’t arrived yet

Some people follow a teaching that says that you can reach this state of “sinless perfection”.  They claim that they no longer sin.
It can’t happen until you go to be with Jesus.
Paul is saying that he hasn’t arrived.


Finding God’s purpose for my life

that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended …
God has a purpose for each of us.  He has something that He has planned for us, something that He’s chosen for us.
God wants us to get a hold of what He has for us.
He wants to be with us in heaven.
He wants us to be sure to get a hold of it.
He has things for us to do now.
He wants us to find out what He has for us and walk in it.

(Eph 2:10 KJV)  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

(Jer 29:11 NASB)  'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

I countlogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over; to take into account, to make an account of; to reckon inward, count up or weigh the reasons, to deliberate; by reckoning up all the reasons, to gather or infer; This word deals with reality. If I "logizomai" or reckon that my bank book has $25 in it, it has $25 in it. Otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers to facts not suppositions.

to have apprehendedkatalambano – to lay hold of; to lay hold of so as to make one’s own, to obtain, attain to, to make one’s own, to take into one’s self, appropriate; to seize upon, take possession of

behindopiso – back, behind, after, afterwards; of place: things that are behind

forgetting epilanthanomai – to forget; neglecting, no longer caring for; forgotten, given over to oblivion, i.e. uncared for

beforeemprosthen – in front, before; before, in the presence of, i.e. opposite to, over against one

reaching forth unto epekteinomai – to stretch out to or towards; to stretch (one’s self) forward to.  Paul is using the picture of a runner stretching towards the tape at the end of a race.

Paul is telling us how to “apprehend” – how to get there – “forget” and “reach forth”


Forgetting the past

Forget the glory of the past victories.
The past isn’t always what we make it out to be.

Talking Dog for Sale

This guy sees a sign in front of a house: “Talking Dog for Sale.” He rings the bell and the owner tells him the dog is in the backyard. The guy goes into the backyard and sees a dog sitting there. “You talk?” he asks. “Yep,” the dog replies. “So, what’s your story?” The dog looks up and says, “Well, I discovered this gift pretty young and I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA about my gift, and in no time they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping.” “I was one of their most valuable spies eight years running. The jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn’t getting any younger and I wanted to settle down. So I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security work, mostly wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings there and was awarded a batch of medals. Had a wife, a mess of puppies, and now I’m just retired.” The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog. The owner says, “Ten dollars.” The guy says,” “This dog is amazing. Why on earth are you selling him, and so cheap?” The owner replies, “He’s such a liar. He didn’t do any of that stuff.”

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the “good old days” that we lose sight of what God might have in front of us.  What if He wants to do better things in your future than He did in the past?
Forget the pain of the past failures
Sometimes it’s the pain of our past failures that keeps us from moving ahead.
We’ve failed before, we figure we will fail again, so why try?
If I hold too much to the past, it will keep me from moving forward into the future.
(Isa 43:18-19 KJV)  Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. {19} Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
When Cortez landed at Vera Cruz in 1519 to begin his conquest of Mexico with small force of 700 men, he purposely set fire to his fleet of 11 ships.  His men on the shore watched their only means of retreat sinking to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.  With no means of retreat, there was only one direction to move, forward into the Mexican interior to meet whatever might come their way.  In paying the price for being Christ’s disciple, you too must purposefully destroy all avenues of retreat.  Resolve that whatever the price for being His follower, you will have to pay it.

- Walter Henricksen, Disciples Are Made—Not Born

:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

the markskopos – an observer, a watchman; the distant mark looked at, the goal or end one has in view

I pressdioko – to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away; to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after; to press on: figuratively of one who in a race runs swiftly to reach the goal; metaph., to pursue; to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavour to acquire

the prizebrabeion – the award to the victor in the games, a prize; metaph. of the heavenly reward for Christian character

the highano – up, upwards, above, on high

callingklesis – a calling, calling to; a call, invitation


Stretch toward the goal

“reaching forth”, “press toward”
Keep going in the race.  Don’t quit.
One morning a couple of cowpunchers went out on the range to bring in a wild steer from the mountains.  They took along with them one of those shaggy little gray donkeys—a burro.  Now a big three-year old steer that’s been running loose in the timber is a tough customer to handle.  Nevertheless, these cowboys had a technique for handling this steer.  They got a rope on the steer and then they tied him neck and neck, right up close, to the burro and let them go.
At first, the burro had a bad time.  The steer threw him all over the place. He banged him against trees, rocks, into bushes. Time after time they both went down.  But there was one great difference between the burro and the steer. The burro had an idea.  He wanted to go home. And no matter how often the steer threw him every time the burro got to his feet he took a step nearer the corral.  This went on and on.  After about a week, the burro showed up at the corral.  He had with him the tamest and sorriest-looking steer you ever saw.
Sometimes we feel like that poor burro, being tied to such difficult times.  But we need to be like that burro and keep getting back up and taking another step home.
Press on.  Keep moving.  Keep moving forward.  Keep heading toward Jesus.
We want to get to the finish line.  We want the prize.  We want to hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”.