Philippians 3:17-21 Scripture
“17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 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 set their mind on earthly things.
“20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:17-21)
Philippians 3:17 Meaning
“Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.”(Philippians 3:17)
In the previous verses (12-16), Paul makes a statement about the call of God upon every believer and he explains how he lives in order to attain to this calling.
The “calling”, or the “goal”, or the “prize” is simply that we would be conformed into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). This conformity is referring both to our earthly walk and to our heavenly one. We are called to grow to be more like Christ every single day and we will also become instantly like Him when He returns and gives us a glorified body.
When Paul says, “join in following my example” he is referring to what he just explained, in the previous verses, about how he lived and how he thought in order to “lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Philippians 3:12).
Paul mentions five things that he does in order to get closer to the calling of God on His life.
First, Paul counts all of his fleshy works as nothing (v. 7-8). Second, he receives the righteousness of God on the basis of faith alone and not upon the works of the law (v. 9). Third, he seeks to know Christ personally. Fourth, he seeks to know Christ’s sufferings and His resurrection power so that he can die to the flesh and live to the Spirit. Finally, he forgets those things which are behind (i.e failures, mistakes, stumbles) and reahces forward to those things which are ahead (i.e holiness, legacy, Chirstlikeness).
Once Paul says these things, then he finally encourages all of us to do the same and follow his example, and the example of those who walk the same way Paul does.
Becasue we are all called to the same purpose, which is to be conformed into the image of Christ, to look like Him in every facet of our life.
Philippians 3:18-19 Meaning
“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 set their mind on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18-19)
There are those who walk with Christ and toward Christ as Paul says in verses 16-17, but sadly there those who walk against Christ. These are the enemies of the cross, as this verse states.
The first thing to notice here is Paul’s response to those who are the cross of Christ’s enemies. He weeps for them. It breaks his heart that they will not accept this free gift of salvation, but instead they choose to oppose it.
We should have the same response to those who will not accept Christ. However, I don’t suggest we get distraught and demobilized over it and I don’t thing Paul did either, but I do think we should care for those who have rejected the Gospel and pray for them that they might change their hearts and repent.
For the very next verse reveals to us who these people are in more detail and where they are headed.
These people are those who completely live according to the flesh, “whose god is their belly”.
The greatest glory these people will ever achieve is their shame, “whose glory is in their shame”.
And the only thing these people set their minds upon is the things of this earth, “who set their minds on earthly things”.
Sadly, the ending for this group of people is destruction, or as the Bible calls it in other places; “hell”.
Philippians 3:20 Meaning
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)
After Paul warns about the people who reject Christ and who are opposed to the Gospel and he mentions how they do nothing but set their minds on earthly things, he goes right back to who the believers are and how they have their citizenship in heaven.
Now, how did Paul go from warning about those who reject Christ to believers are citizens of heaven?
Because since we are citizens of heaven, therefore we should have our mind set on heavenly things. Unlike those that are opposed to the Gospel who do nothing but think about worldly things, we should think about heavenly things because we are of heaven not of this earth.
Paul says this over and over again throughout almost all of his letters to the churches. He mentions this concept in Romans 8:5, in Colossians 3:1-2, in Ephesians 4:23, in Philippians 4:8-9, in Galatians 5:16, and many more places. It would take me a long time to list them all but these are the main verses that refer to this concept of having our minds set on things above.
Paul also mentions in this verse that just like we are to set our minds on heavenly, or spiritual, things we are also to eagerly wait for the Lord Jesus Christ who will come down from heaven just like He went back up into Heaven (Acts 1:11).
We are called to eagerly wait. We are supposed to get excited about it. We are supposed to have it on the forefront of our minds. We should be aware of the fact that Jesus is returning one day.
Becasue the Bible says that anyone who “has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).
Philippians 3:21 Meaning
“…who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:21)
When Jesus returns He will transform our earthly and lowly body into an immortal glorious body that was just like Christ’s when He was resurrected from the dead.
Many people believe, because of this scripture, that our glorious body will appear to be around the age of 33. It appears that this thought has some merit to it when you look at this scripture closely.
And this will all happen according to the Power of God. That is what Paul meant when he said, “according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself”.
The same power that is able to subdue everything is the same power that will transform our bodies.
I hope you enjoyed this article and that it assisted you in your walk with God.
If you want to read more commentary on the 3rd chapter of Philippians you can by clicking the titles below.
Also, if you want to read my commentaries on the other chapters of Philippians you can do so by clicking one of the titles.
God bless you all and enjoy!