Advantages and Disadvantages in Philippians 3:8

“Yea verily I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffer the loss of all things and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

Paul has made a comparison between “loss” of the world and “gain” in Christ. The Greek word translated “loss” is defined as, “having to do with the loss of something with the implication of sustaining hardship or suffering, damage, disadvantage, loss, forfeit: (BDAG, 427–428.)All the things that the world counted as “gains” were “disadvantages” in Paul’s mind.  On the other hand, knowing Christ is described by a single Greek word which means, “to surpass in quality or value, be better than, surpass, excel” (BDAG 1033). This was not an emotional decision. Paul described this decision-making process with a word that means “to engage in an intellectual process, think, consider, regard” (BDAG 434).

Paul took the time to think about his life. He thought about where he could invest himself. Everything the world offered is loss or hardship. Everything in Christ is described by the one word “surpassing.” Philippians 3:8 isn’t just about what direction our lives are headed. Philippians 3:8 is a pivotal verse in Paul’s argument for being in Christ at the resurrection. He recognized all his righteousness to be as “filthy rags.” He knew Christ’s righteousness was “surpassing.” Rather than trust in his own abilities, he trusted in Christ’s. Paul did this “to be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ” (Phil. 3:9).

In this way, Paul had confidence in the resurrection. He pressed on in faith toward the goal (Philippians 3:12-14). We can have confidence before God as well by pressing on toward God through faith in Christ. What a great day it will be when the faithful hear, “the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

D. L. DeBord

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