Book information

Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee

ISBN: 0-7363-0912-8
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry

Currently in: Chapter 19 of 62 Section 1 of 3

LIFE-STUDY OF PHILIPPIANS

MESSAGE NINETEEN

THE EXCELLENCY
OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST

Scripture Reading: Phil. 3:5-8

In 3:8 Paul says, “I count also all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” In this message we shall consider the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.

THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE LAW AND CHRIST

As Paul was writing 3:5-8, he was no doubt mindful of the contrast between the law and Christ. Paul had much experience both with Christ and with the law. Through his experience, he gained a full knowledge both of Christ and of the law.

The law and Christ are two major factors in the composition of the Bible. In a sense, the Old Testament is composed mainly with the law as a basic factor. It may be regarded as a book of the law. The New Testament, on the contrary, is composed with Christ as the basic and governing factor. Hence, the Old Testament is based on the law, and the New Testament is based on Christ.

Paul was very knowledgeable concerning both the law and Christ. Through his years in Judaism, he gained a detailed knowledge of the law. His knowledge was not that of an outsider, but of a very zealous insider. But by the time Paul wrote the book of Philippians, he had been transferred out from under the law into Christ. Furthermore, he had both the knowledge and the experience of the wonderful, all-inclusive, and extensive Person of Christ. Paul lived in this Person and could therefore speak of himself as a man in Christ (2 Cor. 12:2).

The phrase as to in 3:8, which may also be rendered “according to,” is used three times in verses 5 and 6, referring to the law, zeal, and righteousness. The phrase on account of, which may also be rendered “because of,” is also used three times, in verses 7 and 8, referring to Christ, the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and Christ again. Christ stands in contrast to the law, the zeal for it, and the righteousness in it. The excellency of the knowledge of Christ and Christ Himself are in contrast to all other things, including the law. On account of Christ and the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, Paul gave up the law, his zeal for it, the righteousness in it, and all other things. This indicates that Christ and the excellency of the knowledge of Him are far superior to the law and all other things.

According to verse 8, Paul not only counted all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ and suffered the loss of all things, but he actually counted them to be refuse. The Greek word for refuse denotes “dregs, rubbish, filth, what is thrown to the dogs; hence, dog food, dung.” There is no comparison between such things and Christ.

It is important to realize that in 3:8 Paul does not speak of the excellency of Christ, but of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. Many readers of Philippians take the word excellency to refer not to the knowledge of Christ, but to Christ Himself. However, Paul specifically and definitely speaks of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. Paul’s knowledge of Christ was excellent. On account of the excellency of this knowledge, he was willing to suffer the loss of all things.

In verse 7 Paul says “on account of Christ,” but in verse 8 he goes further and says “on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” The addition of the words my Lord indicates that as Paul was writing, he was filled with intimate, tender feelings concerning Christ. Tender feelings concerning the preciousness of the Lord Jesus rose up within him, causing him to speak of “Christ Jesus my Lord.” Paul placed great value on the excellency of the knowledge of his dear Lord Jesus Christ.


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