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with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Philippians 3

The apostle cautions the Philippians against judaizing false teachers, and renounces his own former privileges. (1-11) Expresses earnest desire to be found in Christ; also his pressing on toward perfection; and recommends his own example to other believers. (12-21)

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The apostle cautions the Philippians against judaizing false teachers, and renounces his own former privileges

1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

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,

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:

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

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

Expresses earnest desire to be found in Christ; also his pressing on toward perfection; and recommends his own example to other believers

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.

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,

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

15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. To write. From hence it would appear, says Grotius, that S. Paul had intended to have finished his letter at the end of the preceding chapter; but something new occurring to him, he added the two following chapters.

Ver. 2. Beware of dogs.[1] The Jews called so the Gentiles; and S. Paul now applies it to those among the Jews who spread false doctrine, who privately snarled and publicly barked against the true apostles. None deserve sharp reprehension more than heretical preachers. — Beware of the concision, or as some French translations, of false circumcision. S. Paul by derision makes use of this word, which signifies a cutting to pieces, or destruction. Wi.

Ver. 3. For we are the circumcision. We Christians now use the only profitable and commendable spiritual circumcision; which, to the Coloss. (ii. 11.) he calls the circumcision of Christ, and to the Rom. (ii. 29.) circumcision of the heart in the spirit.Not having confidence in the flesh; i.e. in such carnal ceremonies. Wi.

Ver. 4-7. If any other thinketh he may have confidence in the flesh, in being of the Jewish race and of their religion, I more; i.e. I have greater reasons to glory than they have, being circumcised of the stock of Israel, &c. — But what things, &c. as soon as I was miraculously called to the knowledge and faith of Christ. Wi.

Ver. 9. I may be found in him not having my justice, which is of the law; i.e. not pretending to be justified either by my own works or by the works of the Jewish law, but by that which proceedeth from faith in Christ, and by his merits. Wi. — S. Austin expounds the sense thus: not that justice which is in God, or by which God is just, but that which is in man from God, and by his gifts. l. 3. cont. 2. ep. Pelag.

Ver. 10. That I may know him. This knowledge of Christ the apostle prefers to all honours and advantages accruing from his adherence to the synagogue.

Ver. 11. If by any means I may attain to the resurrection, which is from the dead; i.e. may attain to a happy resurrection, when the dead shall rise again. Wi. — This manner of expression does not betray any distrust or fear, but merely insinuates the difficulty of the enterprise, the uncertainty of success, and the ardent desire of the apostle, who sought by every means to arrive at this happiness, either by sufferings and labours, or even by martyrdom. S. Chrys. Estius.

Ver. 12. Not as though I had already attained the happiness I hope for, or am now become perfect as to that perfection in virtue, which I must always endeavour to increase in; but, like a person still running a race for a prize, I pursue and run as well as I can, I stretch myself with perseverance towards[2] the mark, forgetting that part of the course which I had made. Let all of us, though perfect as to the knowledge of the mysteries we are to believe, be of this mind, that we are still to advance in the way of Christian perfection; and if any of you be of another mind, and think otherwise, God will reveal to you and teach you this truth, that we may all continue in the same rule of doctrine and discipline. We may here take notice with S. Chrys. that it is not enough to believe, or have the true faith, but that we must strive and labour to the end in the way of perfection; secondly that S. Paul did not look upon himself absolutely certain of his salvation: and how much greater presumption would this be in us? Wi.

Ver. 13. I do not count myself. That is, I do not suppose that vain security is sufficient to put my salvation out of doubt, and that Christ having died, nothing remains for me to do. No; I consider myself as a wrestler at the games, uncertain of success. Calmet.

Ver.17. Be followers of me, always in distrust of your own merits, and always eager to advance in perfection, as I am. It is a happy thing when a pastor can thus in all sincerity and simplicity address his flock. — He exhorts them to follow him in what he had taught them, and in the model of a good life, which he had set before them. He repeats to them, with tears, what he had formerly told them, that many walk and conduct themselves as enemies to the cross of Christ, to Christ crucified, by abandoning themselves to the pleasures of a sensual life, who glory in things they ought to be ashamed of. He hints at the disciples of Simon Magus, or of the Jewish doctors. Wi.


[1] V. 2. Videte canes . . . Videte Concisionem, blepete tous kunas . . . ton katatomen. The Jewish circumcision at this time, says S. Chrys. (log. 1.) was merely a cutting off of the flesh: ouden allo e sarkos tome esti, kai katatome.

[2] V. 14. Ad destinatum, kata skopon dioko. See S. Chrys. of the necessity of good works, (log. is. p. 65) and of the uncertainty a man is always in of his salvation. p. 67.