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Philippians 3:8

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

I count all things but loss - Not only my Jewish privileges, but all others of every kind; with every thing that men count valuable or gainful, or on which they usually depend for salvation.

The excellency of the knowledge of Christ - That superior light, information, and blessedness which come through the Gospel of Jesus Christ; justification through his blood, sanctification by his Spirit, and eternal glory through his merits and intercession. These are the blessings held out to us by the Gospel, of which, and the law, Jesus Christ is the sum and substance.

I have suffered the loss of all things - Some translate δι 'ον τα παντα εζημιωθην, for whom I have thrown away all things - I have made a voluntary choice of Christ, his cross, his poverty, and his reproach; and for these I have freely sacrificed all I had from the world, and all I could expect from it.

And do count them but dung - The word σκυβαλα means the vilest dross or refuse of any thing; the worst excrement. The word shows how utterly insignificant and unavailing, in point of salvation, the apostle esteemed every thing but the Gospel of Jesus. With his best things he freely parted, judging them all loss while put in the place of Christ crucified; and Christ crucified he esteemed infinite gain, when compared with all the rest. Of the utter unavailableness of any thing but Christ to save the soul the Apostle Paul stands as an incontrovertible proof. Could the law have done any thing, the apostle must have known it. He tried, and found it vanity; he tried the Gospel system, and found it the power of God to his salvation. By losing all that the world calls excellent, he gained Christ, and endless salvation through him. Of the glorious influence of the Gospel he is an unimpeachable witness. See the concluding observations on the 9th chapter of the Acts, ( Acts 9:43; (note)) on the character of St. Paul.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss - Not only those things which he had just specified, and which he had himself possessed, he says he would be willing to renounce in order to obtain an interest in the Saviour, but everything which could be imagined. Were all the wealth and honor which could be conceived of his, he would be willing to renounce them in order that he might obtain the knowledge of the Redeemer. He would be a gainer who should sacrifice everything in order to win Christ. Paul had not only acted on this principle when he became a Christian, but had ever afterward continued to be ready to give up everything in order that he might obtain an interest in the Saviour. He uses here the same word - ζημίαν zēmian- which he does in the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 27:21, when speaking of the loss which had been sustained by loosing from Crete, contrary to his advice, on the voyage to Rome. The idea here seems to be, “What I might obtain, or did possess, I regard as loss in comparison with the knowledge of Christ, even as seamen do the goods on which they set a high value, in comparison with their lives. Valuable as they may be, they are willing to throw them all overboard in order to save themselves.” Burder, in Ros. Alt. u. neu. Morgenland, in loc.

For the excellency of the knowledge - A Hebrew expression to denote excellent knowledge. The idea is, that he held everything else to be worthless in comparison with that knowledge, and he was willing to sacrifice everything else in order to obtain it. On the value of this knowledge of the Saviour, see the notes at Ephesians 3:19.

For whom I have suffered the loss of all things - Paul, when he became a Christian, gave up his brilliant prospects in regard to this life, and everything indeed on which his heart had been placed. He abandoned the hope of honor and distinction; he sacrificed every prospect of gain or ease; and he gave up his dearest friends and separated himself from those whom he tenderly loved. He might have risen to the highest posts of honor in his native land, and the path which an ambitious young man desires was fully open before him. But all this had been cheerfully sacrificed in order that he might obtain an interest in the Saviour, and partake of the blessings of his religion. He has not, indeed, informed us of the exact extent of his loss in becoming a Christian. It is by no means improbable that he had been excommunicated by the Jews; and that he had been disowned by his own family.

And do count them but dung - The word used here - σκύβαλον skubalon- occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, properly, dregs; refuse; what is thrown away as worthless; chaff; offal, or the refuse of a table or of slaughtered animals, and then filth of any kind. No language could express a more deep sense of the utter worthlessness of all that external advantages can confer in the matter of salvation. In the question of justification before God, all reliance on birth, and blood, and external morality, and forms of religion, and prayers, and alms, is to be renounced, and, in comparison with the merits of the great Redeemer, to be esteemed as vile. Such were Paul‘s views, and we may remark that if this was so in his case, it should he in ours. Such things can no more avail for our salvation than they could for his. We can no more be justified by them than he could. Nor will they do anything more in our case to commend us to God than they did in his.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Sincere Christians rejoice in Christ Jesus. The prophet calls the false prophets dumb dogs, Isa 56:10; to which the apostle seems to refer. Dogs, for their malice against faithful professors of the gospel of Christ, barking at them and biting them. They urged human works in opposition to the faith of Christ; but Paul calls them evil-workers. He calls them the concision; as they rent the church of Christ, and cut it to pieces. The work of religion is to no purpose, unless the heart is in it, and we must worship God in the strength and grace of the Divine Spirit. They rejoice in Christ Jesus, not in mere outward enjoyments and performances. Nor can we too earnestly guard against those who oppose or abuse the doctrine of free salvation. If the apostle would have gloried and trusted in the flesh, he had as much cause as any man. But the things which he counted gain while a Pharisee, and had reckoned up, those he counted loss for Christ. The apostle did not persuade them to do any thing but what he himself did; or to venture on any thing but that on which he himself ventured his never-dying soul. He deemed all these things to be but loss, compared with the knowledge of Christ, by faith in his person and salvation. He speaks of all worldly enjoyments and outward privileges which sought a place with Christ in his heart, or could pretend to any merit and desert, and counted them but loss; but it might be said, It is easy to say so; but what would he do when he came to the trial? He had suffered the loss of all for the privileges of a Christian. Nay, he not only counted them loss, but the vilest refuse, offals thrown to dogs; not only less valuable than Christ, but in the highest degree contemptible, when set up as against him. True knowledge of Christ alters and changes men, their judgments and manners, and makes them as if made again anew. The believer prefers Christ, knowing that it is better for us to be without all worldly riches, than without Christ and his word. Let us see what the apostle resolved to cleave to, and that was Christ and heaven. We are undone, without righteousness wherein to appear before God, for we are guilty. There is a righteousness provided for us in Jesus Christ, and it is a complete and perfect righteousness. None can have benefit by it, who trust in themselves. Faith is the appointed means of applying the saving benefit. It is by faith in Christ's blood. We are made conformable to Christ's death, when we die to sin, as he died for sin; and the world is crucified to us, and we to the world, by the cross of Christ. The apostle was willing to do or to suffer any thing, to attain the glorious resurrection of saints. This hope and prospect carried him through all difficulties in his work. He did not hope to attain it through his own merit and righteousness, but through the merit and righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Ellen G. White
Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 91

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” Colossians 3:1. MB 91.1

Singleness of purpose, wholehearted devotion to God, is the condition pointed out by the Saviour's words. Let the purpose be sincere and unwavering to discern the truth and to obey it at whatever cost, and you will receive divine enlightenment. Real piety begins when all compromise with sin is at an end. Then the language of the heart will be that of the apostle Paul: “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” Philippians 3:13, 14, 8. MB 91.2

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1106

(Matthew 7:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12.) An Unfailing Test—Satan has come down in these last days to work with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. His satanic majesty works miracles in the sight of false prophets, in the sight of men, claiming that he is indeed Christ Himself. Satan gives his power to those who are aiding him in his deceptions; therefore those who claim to have the great power of God can only be discerned by the great detector, the law of Jehovah. The Lord tells us if it were possible they would deceive the very elect. The sheep's clothing seems so real, so genuine, that the wolf can be discerned only as we go to God's great moral standard and there find that they are transgressors of the law of Jehovah (The Review and Herald, August 25, 1885). 6BC 1106.1

Preparing for the Final Act—This world is a theater. The actors, the inhabitants of the world, are preparing to act their part in the last great drama. God is lost sight of. There is no unity of purpose, except as parties of men confederate to gain their ends. God is looking on. His purposes in regard to His rebellious subjects will be fulfilled. The world has not been given into the hands of men, though God is permitting the elements of confusion and disorder to bear sway for a season. A power from beneath is working to bring about the last great scenes in the drama—Satan coming as Christ, and working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in those who are binding themselves together in secret societies. Those who are yielding to the passion for confederation are working out the plans of the enemy. The cause will be followed by the effect (Letter 141, 1902). 6BC 1106.2

(Ephesians 6:10-12.) Constant Vigilance Demanded—[Ephesians 6:10-12 quoted.] Every one who has enlisted under the bloodstained banner of Christ has entered upon a warfare that demands constant vigilance. Satan is determined to keep up the warfare to the end. Coming as an angel of light, claiming to be the Christ, he will deceive the world. But his triumph will be short. No storm or tempest can move those whose feet are planted on the principles of eternal truth. They will be able to stand in this time of almost universal apostasy (Manuscript 74, 1903). 6BC 1106.3

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Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 24.5

Life, with its privileges and endowments, is God's gift. Let us remember that all we have comes from God, and is to be wholly and freely consecrated to Him. Paul declares, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Philippians 3:8. The sacrifice of our ideas, our will, is necessary if we would be one with Christ in God. All we have and are must be laid at Christ's feet. OHC 24.5

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Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 363.2

Did the great apostle to the Gentiles make any real sacrifice when he exchanged Pharisaism for the gospel of Christ? We answer No! With decided purpose, he turned away from wealth, from friends and social distinction, from public honors, and from his kinsmen whom he loved fervently and earnestly. He chose to link his name and his destiny with that of a people he had regarded as low and the offscouring of all things; but for the sake of Christ he suffered the loss of all things. OHC 363.2

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