Sunday, 12 February 2017
Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. Philippians 3:17
Paul, having addressed the doctrinal error of the Judaizers, will now set out on another course of correction concerning doctrine. He will address those who use their freedom in Christ as license to sin. This is known as the Antinomian heresy.
For now, he begins with “Brethren.” He is addressing saved believers in Christ, and he is identifying himself with them. With this understanding, he says, “…join in following my example.” The phrase is unique in the New Testament, and it indicates being joint imitators. He is saying that he is an imitator of Christ, and he desires them to jointly follow in this imitation of the Lord. The Pulpit Commentary notes that, “He changes the singular number to the plural, modestly shrinking from proposing himself alone as their example.”
From this point, and understanding that all are to be united in imitating Christ, he next says, “and note those who so walk.” The metaphor of the race which was used in the previous verses is now changed to a walk, thus a walk of life. The conduct in this life (even if it is a race with our eyes on the goal), is to be one which is in imitation of the life of Christ. In this walk there is an example laid out for them. This is seen in the words, “…as you have us for a pattern.”
In a broad perspective, he shows that there are two types of people who are to be found in a church. Those who imitate Christ and have their minds, hearts, and affections on heavenly things, and those who are earthly and carnal. The apostles and their designated representatives had set the first example, and he desires that they follow in that. Those he will describe in the coming verses will be given as examples of what not to emulate.
Life application: In the quickly apostatizing church of today, the carnal is growing almost exponentially. It is incumbent on us to go to the word itself, and to follow it as closely as possible. This will keep us from going astray. This is what the word is for. Let us not deviate from it.
Lord God, the church today is quickly turning from the soundness of Your word, and towards ever-increasing licentiousness. Sexual sin of the most perverse kind is hailed as acceptable, and those who follow Your word are being called haters and bigoted. But Your word stands. There is one Lord and one path of truth which is found in the pages of Scripture. May we be called a thousand disparaging names by the world if it means that we are obedient to Your word. Be with us as we face this onslaught of wickedness. Amen.