Perfection - Resurrection Hope in Philippi

SYNOPSIS - Paul expressed his goal of going on to perfection, a process that culminates in the physical resurrection when Jesus returns – Philippians 3:7-21

Butterfly - Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash
In the opening thanksgiving of his letter to the Philippians, Paul prepares his readers for a key theme of his letter – Going on to “perfection” in Jesus. The promised bodily resurrection of believers is necessary to their “completion”; it is not optional but a vital part of their salvation hope. What God began in the Philippians He will continue to perform until the day that Jesus “arrives” in glory at the end of the age – At the “day of Christ.” - [Butterfly - Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash].
  • (Philippians 1:3-10) – “I am giving thanks unto my God on occasion of all my remembrance of you, At all times, in every supplication of mine, in behalf of you all, with joy my supplication making, — On account of your contribution unto the glad-message from the first day until the present: Being persuaded of this very thing — that he who hath begun in you a good work will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ…And this I pray — that your love may be yet more and more pre-eminent in personal knowledge and all perception, To the end, ye may be putting to the test the things that differ, in order that ye may be incorrupt and may give no occasion of stumbling, unto the day of Christ.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
The “day of Jesus Christ” refers to his future “coming” or parousia, the time when he will appear in glory and gather his elect to himself. That day will be a time of judgment and salvation – Everlasting punishment for the wicked, but everlasting life for the righteous - (Romans 2:16, 1 Corinthians 1:8, 2 Corinthians 6:2, Ephesians 4:30).

In his letters to the Thessalonians, Paul equated this day with the expectation of the “Day of the Lord” from the Hebrew Bible - An event that will result in a judgment for some, and life and salvation for others - (1 Thessalonians 5:1-22 Thessalonians 2:1-9).

Paul provides an example of what it means to go on to “perfection.” In his life, He put his Jewish heritage aside to pursue completion in Jesus - “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ…I have suffered the loss of all things and do count them dung that I may win Christ.” Of far more value to the Apostle is the knowledge of Christ:
  • (Philippians 3:10-12) – “that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death; if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus.
Unfortunately, some believers in Philippi chose a different path and made themselves “enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” – (Philippians 3:11-21).

Primarily, Paul had in view certain Jewish Christians, perhaps from a group like the one that had disrupted his churches in Galatia:
  • (Philippians 3:1-3) – “Beware of the dogs, beware of mischievous workers, beware of the mutilation; For we are the circumcision, who in the Spirit of God are doing divine service, and are boasting in Christ Jesus, and not in flesh having confidence.”
Whose glory is their shame.” Euphemistically, this refers to the circumcisions of the Jewish opponents of Paul on which they placed so much value. In contrast:
  • They who worship God in the Spirit and rejoice in Jesus have their citizenship in heaven, “from whence we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our lowly body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.”
The future resurrection of believers is necessary for their “completion” - It is not optional - It is central to their salvation hope. That resurrection will impart to them a new body of the same type as the glorious one that Jesus received at his resurrection. Completion does not mean abandoning the body for a disembodied state but exchanging the mortal state for an immortal and glorified body.


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