Useful Bible Studies > Philippians Commentary > chapter 3
Paul had many advantages in life by which he hoped to gain a right relationship with God. Those advantages were real, although his hope was not.
Many people trust in their wealth or importance. It should not surprise us that a person’s wealth or importance cannot give that person a right relationship with God (Mark 8:36). However, that was not what Paul trusted in.
Paul’s trust was in good things, even in those things that God himself had given. So, it is good to come from a family that knows and obeys God’s law. It is good to belong to God’s special nation, Israel. It is good to study the Bible carefully. It is good to care about God’s honour with an eager attitude. These were Paul’s advantages (3:4-6).
However, Paul had to consider all these things to be loss. Of course Paul does not mean that the Bible, or God’s law, or Israel had no value to him. He always insists that these have the greatest value (Romans 3:1-2, 7:22, 11:25-29 and 15:4). They were not the things that Paul lost. Rather, Paul had to lose the trust that he placed in himself because of these advantages. When Christ appeared to Paul (Acts 9:1-9; Acts 26:4-20), Paul could no longer claim any of these advantages for himself. Instead, he saw that he must trust in Christ alone. Only Christ, by his death, could ever give Paul (or anyone else) a right relationship with God. No advantage in life could ever give that to Paul, or to anyone else. Nobody can ever earn it by their good works or eager attitudes or anything else (Romans 4:1-8). A right relationship with God is God’s free gift to those people who put their trust in Christ alone (Romans 6:23).
Next part: To know Christ is better than everything else (Philippians 3:8)
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© 2020, Keith Simons.