Oct 10/23 2009 20th Friday after Pentecost
Today’s reading from Philippians is too good to miss. If one only had this passage and the Gospels it would be enough. Let’s do a little exegetical study of a small portion of the mellifluous words in this passage.
Remember what exegesis is – to glean what the writer intended the passage to mean. These are not mere facts! This cannot be done without reading the text in an intensely personal way. One must consider these words to be written to him, and the moral admonitions to be fully binding, even if all specific circumstances do not apply to our particular lives.
The meaning of the text is only the beginning for us. We then must apply this meaning to our own lives. Perhaps there is something we should do, or be not doing, or perhaps in understanding the text, as if the scales fall from our eyes, we tremble because we are so far from perfection. Merely understanding what we should do or not do is not enough. We must also glean from the text encouragement and method, and allow our soul to be changed by mediation on the extreme beauty that is Jesus Christ. We must look carefully for instructions about how we should think, and what our attitudes and priorities should be, because as a man thinks, so he does.
Learn to read the scripture with the expectation and firm conviction that something is going to change in you for the better, right here, right now.
This passage is a deep well. Let’s put our toes in. It is important to understand the meaning of the scripture, but its application is as varied as the people who read it. Therefore, what “hits” me may not “hit” you, however, if you can read this passage without being touched to your very marrow, you will not have understood it in any meaningful way.
3:8 Yea doubtless, and 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,
There is a lot here. I am far from perfection. I know the Saints were those who embodied this attitude (and more than an attitude – it is a state of being – of being totally IN Christ). This is my goal – to count ALL things but loss except for the knowledge of Christ. Our Lord has also taught this:
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Mat 10:37)
St Paul is merely rephrasing our Lord’s admonition. “Mother and Father” and “son and daughter” are “all things”. Taking St Paul’s assertion and combining it with our Lord’s words we have an equally true statement:
He that loveth ANYTHING more than me is not worthy of me.
What does the Apostle value above ALL THINGS? It is the KNOWLEDGE of Christ Jesus. He is referring here to experiential knowledge – that which is gained by toil and fasting and prayer and repentance. He is describing THEOSIS, when a man becomes like Christ, by emulation and grace. It is impossible to have the “knowledge of Christ” without become like Christ. Our religion is one of emulation. We imitate the God-man Jesus Christ to the extent we are able, and His grace is sufficient for us if we truly count all things as loss except Him.
St Paul uses a powerful term: he states that he (has) suffered the loss of all things …
that I may win Christ.
This brings to mind the athlete (a favorite subject for the Apostle), who strives above all others to win the contest and is victorious. Our modern view of Christianity is very passive, but Christianity is aggressive! Nobody wins in sport by being passive. We must go about our life “with loins girded” because we are in a battle to the death. Can you see the Apostle’s urgency? This begs the question: where is our urgency? If we are not as urgent, there must be an attitude/priority problem in our life – we must be valuing something above Christ! What is it?
“… the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Mat 11:12)
Please read the rest of the passage, below.
Philippians 3:8-19 8 Yea doubtless, and 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, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. 17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 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 mind earthly things.)
Priest Seraphim Holland 2009. St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
This article is at: http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-10-23_i-count-all-things-but-loss+the-knowledge-of-christ-jesus+that-i-may-win-christ+philippians-3-8+biblical-exegesis+it-is-always-about-you.html
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