Useful Bible Studies > Philippians Commentary > chapter 3

Paul’s eager attitudes before he trusted Christ

Philippians 3:6

Even before Paul became a Christian, he was eager to please God in everything. Many people obey God’s law unwillingly, perhaps because they are too afraid not to obey God. That was not Paul’s attitude. Paul loved God’s law and he gladly obeyed it. At that time, Paul believed that he could obtain a right relationship with God through his efforts to obey God’s law.

So, Paul did everything that God’s law told him to do. He was strict in his religion. He obeyed all of its rules gladly and willingly. However, Paul still desired that his life would, somehow, bring more honour to God and his law. Paul was so eager in that desire that he began to oppose the first Christians (Acts 8:1-3). He wrongly thought that, by their belief in Christ, they were speaking against God. Soon, Paul became the leader of their enemies (Acts 9:1-2; Galatians 1:13-14). He did not realise that he himself was in fact speaking and acting against God at that time (1 Timothy 1:12-16).

Paul was doing those things without knowledge of who Christ really is. Only God could show that to Paul – and that is what happened in Acts 9:1-22. However, we must ask ourselves why Paul did those things. The answer is that Paul desired righteousness; in other words, a right relationship with God. Paul thought that he could obtain his own righteousness by his acts to obey God’s law. However, Paul discovered that righteousness does not come through a person’s acts or efforts (Romans 4:1-8). A person can only receive righteousness by faith (belief and trust in God) – Philippians 3:9. That person does not receive his own righteousness, but rather the righteousness of Christ, who died for him (Romans 5:17-21; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Next part: Paul gives up his trust in himself (Philippians 3:7)


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© 2020, Keith Simons.