What is Philippians 3 talking about?

Answered by Robert Dupre

Philippians 3 is primarily focused on Paul’s re-evaluation of his values through his faith in Christ. In this passage, Paul shares his personal story with the Philippians in order to emphasize the importance of putting Christ above all else and pursuing a deeper relationship with Him.

Paul begins by warning the Philippians to beware of false teachers who place emphasis on external religious practices, such as circumcision. He then contrasts these external markers of religious identity with his own personal credentials, highlighting his impeccable Jewish heritage and religious zeal. Paul notes that if anyone had reason to boast in their religious accomplishments, it would be him.

However, Paul quickly shifts his perspective and declares that all of his past accomplishments and religious credentials are worthless compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ. He uses strong language, describing those accomplishments as “garbage” or “rubbish” (verse 8). This radical shift in priorities is a result of Paul’s encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, where he experienced a transformative encounter with the risen Lord.

Paul goes on to explain that his ultimate goal is to know Christ and be found in Him, not relying on his own righteousness but on the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ. He acknowledges that he has not yet reached this goal, but he continues to press on, striving for the upward call of God.

Paul’s language here is significant. He uses imagery of a race, pressing forward towards the finish line, and forgetting what lies behind. This speaks to his determination and perseverance in following Christ, despite the challenges and setbacks he may face. He encourages the Philippians to adopt this same mindset, to press on towards the goal and not be distracted or discouraged by false teachings or worldly values.

Philippians 3 is a powerful reminder of the centrality of Christ in Paul’s life and in the life of believers. It serves as a call to re-evaluate our own values and priorities, to let go of anything that hinders us from fully knowing and following Christ, and to press on towards the goal of deepening our relationship with Him.