Is it worth it?
Philippians 3:17 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. (NKJV)
Paul wrote this letter to the Church at Philippi in Macedonia, which is now northern Greece. It is thought that he wrote this during his first Roman imprisonment when he was under house arrest.
The time of the writing is about 62 A.D. Epaphroditus visited him in prison and Paul sent this letter back with him to deliver it to the church.
At the time of Paul’s letter, Philippi was a principal city. Paul established the church on his second missionary journey.
Philippi was abandoned in the fourteenth century after the Ottoman conquest. The current city of Fillipoi is located near the ruins of Philippi.
The church at Philippi was the first known church in all of Europe and it supported Paul financially. In many ways it was a model church.
Paul begins this passage by writing “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern” (v. 17). Paul is encouraging his brothers and sisters in Christ by stating that he has set an example for them to follow (v.17). He has been obedient to the Lord to the extent that he has suffered great persecution, and even now he is under house arrest.
The phrase in verse seventeen translated “take note of” is the Greek word “skopeo” which means “To watch out for.” The noun of this verb, “skopos”, means goal.
So, he is saying to set as a goal the continuous looking out for examples of faithful Christians who are living in obedience, the example that Paul has given them. This should be an ongoing exercise for all Christians.
We should study examples of faithful Christians in the world today. We can read biographies of faithful Christians who are now enjoying their rewards in Heaven. All of this will help us to stay obedient and will strengthen our faith.
Next, Paul writes “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” (v. 18). Paul gives us the reason why we should always be watching out for faithful Christians. He writes it is so that we do not become as those who “live as enemies of the cross of Christ”.
The enemies of the cross of Christ are those false teachers that Paul wrote of earlier in this letter. They teach a different gospel.
They teach legalism, not grace. They teach religion, not relationship. That so many are deceived by these false teachers brings tears to Paul’s eyes.
Paul continues “whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame--who set their mind on earthly things” (v. 19). He writes that these false teachers and their followers are headed for destruction, meaning Hell.
Their god is humanism, the god of the body. Their only concern is to please themselves by obtaining the things the world runs after.
They seek pleasure, good food, good drink, the best clothes, honor, prestige, comfort, and everything else the world worships. Even their religious exercise is directed toward gaining the wealth to live the way they want to live.
Next, Paul writes “For our citizenship is in heaven” (v. 20a). Paul is reminding us that we are citizens of Heaven, not this world.
We are just passing through this world. Our real home is Heaven. This world is a boot camp, short and hard, to refine us for the real life to come.
Paul concludes this passage by writing “from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ 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 (v. 20b-21). He writes that we “eagerly wait” for Jesus, who will change these mortal earthly bodies into Heavenly bodies.
We will step out of these worn-out, beat-up earth suits and put on our Heaven suits. We will have new, glorified, bodies that no longer get sick, no longer have pain, and no longer age.
We will be in a place where there is no sin, no tears, and no disappointment. We will be with our loved ones, worshiping the Lord, day and night, warmed by God’s glory, and basking in the beauty of heaven, a place a thousand times more beautiful than the most beautiful day on earth.
So, tell me my friends, is it worth it? Is it worth doing the hard things of living a life obedient to Christ for a few short years in order to gain eternity in Heaven? One would have to be a fool to answer “no”.
Online Bible Commentary