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Philippians 3:8 – BibleTools.info

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Philippians 3:8

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.
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.

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
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 307

I have seen a device representing a bullock standing between a plow and an altar, with the inscription, “Ready for either”—willing to swelter in the weary furrow or to bleed on the altar of sacrifice. This is the position the child of God should ever be in—willing to go where duty calls, to deny self, and to sacrifice for the cause of truth. The Christian church was founded upon the principle of sacrifice. “If any man will come after Me,” says Christ, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” He requires the whole heart, the entire affections. The exhibitions of zeal, earnestness, and unselfish labor which His devoted followers have given to the world should kindle our ardor and lead us to emulate their example. Genuine religion gives an earnestness and fixedness of purpose which molds the character to the divine image and enables us to count all things but loss for the excellency of Christ. This singleness of purpose will prove an element of tremendous power. 5T 307.1

We have a greater and more solemn truth than was ever before committed to mortals, and we are responsible for the way we treat that truth. Every one of us should be intent on saving souls. We should show the power of the truth upon our own hearts and characters, while doing all we can to win others to love it. To bring a sinner to Christ is to elevate, dignify, and ennoble his whole character, and make him a blessing in the home, in society, and in the church. Is not this a work that is worthy of our noblest powers? 5T 307.2

Persons of little talent, if faithful in keeping their hearts in the love of God, may win many souls to Christ. Harlan Page was a poor mechanic of ordinary ability and limited education; but he made it his chief business to seek to advance the cause of God, and his efforts were crowned with marked success. He labored for the salvation of his fellow men in private conversation and in earnest prayer. He established prayer meetings, organized Sunday schools, and distributed tracts and other religious reading. And on his deathbed, with the shadow of eternity resting upon his countenance, he was able to say: “I know that it is all of God's grace, and not through any merit of anything that I have done, but I think I have evidence that more than one hundred souls have been converted to God through my personal instrumentality.” 5T 307.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 49

I was shown that your brother had been convinced of the truth for some time, but influences had held him back. His wife had hindered him from obeying his convictions. But in her affliction she sought the Lord, and He was found of her. Then she felt an anxiety that her husband should embrace the truth; she repented that she had opposed him, that her pride and love of the world had so long kept him from receiving the truth. Like a weary child in search of rest but unable to obtain it, she at length complied with the gracious invitation: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Her weary, burdened soul sought her Lord, and with repentance, humiliation, and earnest prayer she cast her burden upon the great Burden Bearer, and in Him found rest; she received the evidence that her humiliation and earnest repentance were accepted of God, and that for Christ's sake He had forgiven her sins. 2T 49.1

I was shown, Brother D, that you have but a short time to work. Do up your work thoroughly, redeem the time. In your business transactions let not a blot tarnish your Christian character. Keep your garments unspotted from the world. Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. Temptations may be all around you, but you are not compelled to enter into them. You may obtain strength from Christ to stand unsullied amid the pollutions of this corrupt age. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Keep the eye steadily fixed upon Christ, upon the divine image. Imitate His spotless life, and you will be a partaker of His glory, and with Him inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 2T 49.2

*****

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 496

Young Sabbathkeepers are given to pleasure seeking. I saw that there is not one in twenty who knows what experimental religion is. They are constantly grasping after something to satisfy their desire for change, for amusement; and unless they are undeceived and their sensibilities aroused so that they can say from the heart, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,” they are not worthy of Him and will come short of everlasting life. The young, generally, are in a terrible deception, and yet they profess godliness. Their unconsecrated lives are a reproach to the Christian name; their example is a snare to others. They hinder the sinner, for in nearly every respect they are no better than unbelievers. They have the word of God, but its warnings, admonitions, reproofs, and corrections are unheeded, as are also the encouragements and promises to the obedient and faithful. God's promises are all on condition of humble obedience. One pattern only is given to the young, but how do their lives compare with the life of Christ? I feel alarmed as I witness everywhere the frivolity of young men and young women who profess to believe the truth. God does not seem to be in their thoughts. Their minds are filled with nonsense. Their conversation is only empty, vain talk. They have a keen ear for music, and Satan knows what organs to excite to animate, engross, and charm the mind so that Christ is not desired. The spiritual longings of the soul for divine knowledge, for a growth in grace, are wanting. 1T 496.1

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Ellen G. White
Faith and Works, 18

The danger has been presented to me again and again of entertaining, as a people, false ideas of justification by faith. I have been shown for years that Satan would work in a special manner to confuse the mind on this point. The law of God has been largely dwelt upon and has been presented to congregations, almost as destitute of the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His relation to the law as was the offering of Cain. I have been shown that many have been kept from the faith because of the mixed, confused ideas of salvation, because the ministers have worked in a wrong manner to reach hearts. The point that has been urged upon my mind for years is the imputed righteousness of Christ. I have wondered that this matter was not made the subject of discourses in our churches throughout the land, when the matter has been kept so constantly urged upon me, and I have made it the subject of nearly every discourse and talk that I have given to the people. FW 18.1

In examining my writings fifteen and twenty years old [I find that they] present the matter in this same light—that those who enter upon the solemn, sacred work of the ministry should first be given a preparation in lessons upon the teachings of Christ and the apostles in living principles of practical godliness. They are to be educated in regard to what constitutes earnest, living faith. FW 18.2

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