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Philippians 3:9-17

Context
3:9 and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness 1  – a righteousness from God that is in fact 2  based on Christ’s 3  faithfulness. 4  3:10 My aim is to know him, 5  to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, 6  and to be like him in his death, 3:11 and so, somehow, 7  to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Keep Going Forward

3:12 Not that I have already attained this – that is, I have not already been perfected – but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me. 8  3:13 Brothers and sisters, 9  I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: 10  Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, 3:14 with this goal in mind, 11  I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God 12  in Christ Jesus. 3:15 Therefore let those of us who are “perfect” embrace this point of view. 13  If you think otherwise, God will reveal to you the error of your ways. 14  3:16 Nevertheless, let us live up to the standard 15  that we have already attained. 16 

3:17 Be imitators of me, 17  brothers and sisters, 18  and watch carefully those who are living this way, just as you have us as an example.

1 tn Or “faith in Christ.” A decision is difficult here. Though traditionally translated “faith in Jesus Christ,” an increasing number of NT scholars are arguing that πίστις Χριστοῦ (pisti" Cristou) and similar phrases in Paul (here and in Rom 3:22, 26; Gal 2:16, 20; 3:22; Eph 3:12) involve a subjective genitive and mean “Christ’s faith” or “Christ’s faithfulness” (cf., e.g., G. Howard, “The ‘Faith of Christ’,” ExpTim 85 [1974]: 212-15; R. B. Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ [SBLDS]; Morna D. Hooker, “Πίστις Χριστοῦ,” NTS 35 [1989]: 321-42). Noteworthy among the arguments for the subjective genitive view is that when πίστις takes a personal genitive it is almost never an objective genitive (cf. Matt 9:2, 22, 29; Mark 2:5; 5:34; 10:52; Luke 5:20; 7:50; 8:25, 48; 17:19; 18:42; 22:32; Rom 1:8; 12; 3:3; 4:5, 12, 16; 1 Cor 2:5; 15:14, 17; 2 Cor 10:15; Phil 2:17; Col 1:4; 2:5; 1 Thess 1:8; 3:2, 5, 10; 2 Thess 1:3; Titus 1:1; Phlm 6; 1 Pet 1:9, 21; 2 Pet 1:5). On the other hand, the objective genitive view has its adherents: A. Hultgren, “The Pistis Christou Formulations in Paul,” NovT 22 (1980): 248-63; J. D. G. Dunn, “Once More, ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ,” SBL Seminar Papers, 1991, 730-44. Most commentaries on Romans and Galatians usually side with the objective view.

sn ExSyn 116, which notes that the grammar is not decisive, nevertheless suggests that “the faith/faithfulness of Christ is not a denial of faith in Christ as a Pauline concept (for the idea is expressed in many of the same contexts, only with the verb πιστεύω rather than the noun), but implies that the object of faith is a worthy object, for he himself is faithful.” Though Paul elsewhere teaches justification by faith, this presupposes that the object of our faith is reliable and worthy of such faith.

2 tn The words “in fact” are supplied because of English style, picking up the force of the Greek article with πίστει (pistei). See also the following note on the word “Christ’s.”

3 tn Grk “based on the faithfulness.” The article before πίστει (pistei) is taken as anaphoric, looking back to διὰ πίστεως Χριστοῦ (dia pistew" Cristou); hence, “Christ’s” is implied.

4 tn Or “based on faith.”

5 tn The articular infinitive τοῦ γνῶναι (tou gnwnai, “to know”) here expresses purpose. The words “My aim is” have been supplied in the translation to emphasize this nuance and to begin a new sentence (shorter sentences are more appropriate for English style).

6 tn Grk “to know him, the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings.”

7 tn On εἰ πῶς (ei pws) as “so, somehow” see BDAG 279, s.v. εἰ 6.n.

8 tn Grk “that for which I also was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” The passive has been translated as active in keeping with contemporary English style.

9 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:12.

10 tn Grk “But this one thing (I do).”

11 tn Grk “according to the goal.”

12 tn Grk “prize, namely, the heavenly calling of God.”

13 tn Grk “those of us who are ‘perfect’ should think this,” or possibly “those of us who are mature should think this.”

sn The adjective perfect comes from the same root as the verb perfected in v. 12; Paul may well be employing a wordplay to draw in his opponents. Thus, perfect would then be in quotation marks and Paul would then argue that no one – neither they nor he – is in fact perfect. The thrust of vv. 1-16 is that human credentials can produce nothing that is pleasing to God (vv. 1-8). Instead of relying on such, Paul urges his readers to trust God for their righteousness (v. 9) rather than their own efforts, and at the same time to press on for the prize that awaits them (vv. 12-14). He argues further that perfection is unattainable in this life (v. 15), yet the level of maturity that one has reached should not for this reason be abandoned (v. 16).

14 tn Grk “reveal this to you.” The referent of the pronoun “this” is the fact that the person is thinking differently than Paul does. This has been specified in the translation with the phrase “the error of your ways”; Paul is stating that God will make it known to these believers when they are not in agreement with Paul.

15 tc Although κανόνι (kanoni, “standard, rule”) is found in most witnesses, though in various locations in this verse (א2 D2 Ψ 075 Ï), it is almost surely a motivated reading, for it clarifies the cryptic τῷ αὐτῷ (tw autw, “the same”). Both the fact that the word floats, and that there are other variants which accomplish greater clarity by other means, strongly suggests the secondary nature of any of the longer readings here. Further, the shortest text has excellent and early support in Ì16,46 א* A B Ivid 6 33 1739 co, rendering it decidedly the preferred reading. The translation adds “standard” because of English requirements, not because of textual basis.

16 tn Grk “Nevertheless, to what we have attained, to the same hold fast.”

17 tn Or “become fellow imitators with me [of Christ].”

18 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:12.



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