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Philippians 3:21  (King James Version)
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<< Philippians 3:20   Philippians 4:1 >>


Philippians 3:21

Hupotasso is here translated "subdue." The Revised English Bible and the Revised Standard Version translate this "subject to." The New International Version reads "under His control."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Submitting (Part 1)



Philippians 3:21

In this verse, the phrase "subdue all things to Himself" adds more detail to this picture of oneness. "Subdue" (hupotasso) means "to place in order" or "to place under in an orderly fashion." This word describes someone neatly rearranging scattered, disorganized objects according to a pattern.

In this context, the objects are not merely things, but people whose minds are in disorder, divided, confused, and not wholly subject to God as a result of their own actions. Before being subdued, they exercised their own free will, followed the deceptions of Satan, loved the world, and showed enmity toward God. Yet when Christ puts us in order, rearranges us, subdues us to bring us into oneness, He goes so far as to change our bodies to conform to the body of the One doing the subduing—God!

John W. Ritenbaugh
All in All



Philippians 3:20-21

Philippians 3:20-21 remains in the present tense, but the teaching is essentially the same as I Corinthians 15:25-28. Verse 20 begins by asserting that we are now a colony of people whose real citizenship is in heaven. "Citizenship" indicates a fellowship or society all living under the same administration, but in this case, not living in the land of their citizenship. When we see this in context with His purpose, God is already drawing the church as a body into oneness with Him. Paul then goes on to assure us that by His power Christ will complete the process—even to transforming our bodies to be like His! What an awesome oneness to anticipate!

Paul began the section in verses 17-19 by contrasting two groups, and the difference between the two lies in the way each lives. He implies that those who are citizens of heaven are one, and they have a fellowship whose characteristics are opposite to "the enemies of the cross of Christ" (verse 18). They will end in destruction because they have "set their mind on earthly things" (verse 19). As a people living by sight, they are not in control of their flesh, their carnal nature.

Paul must have used "heaven" in verse 20 to emphasize how vast the difference between the two groups is. Heaven represents the unreachable to those whose minds are fixed upon goals limited to the earthly, carnal gratification of their senses. Though satisfying the self may be much easier at the moment, God says living that way will end in destruction.

Because we are reaching for something we cannot see, hear, smell, touch, or taste, the carnal mind perceives living by faith as wasting life on the unreachable or as living a daydream or fantasy. Why pursue something that never gives any immediate gratification? God, however, hastens to reassure us that He has the will and the power to bring us into this oneness with Him (verse 21).

John W. Ritenbaugh
All in All



Philippians 3:21

There is nothing ambiguous, cloudy, or vague about this. Our bodies will be conformed to be like His. It does not say they will be conformed to be like an angel's. It does not say they will be conformed to be like a better human being. They are going to be conformed to be like His body. Paul is referring to the Lord, who is God! Our bodies will be like God's body.

The word conform or, as it is in the King James, fashioned means "to make similar to or identical with." Will our bodies be "similar to" or "identical with" God's? Which one does Paul intend us to understand? John writes in I John 3:1-3:

Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God. Therefore the world does not knows us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now are we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be. But we know that, when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

When he says, "it has not yet been revealed what we shall be," he means that we do not know some of the specifics about what our nature will be like, but we do know what it will be in a generality: "We shall be like Him."

What other creature that God has created has been given the Spirit of God and is being conformed to His image? Angels? Hebrews 1 says that the angels of heaven worship Jesus Christ. He is greater than angels, and we are going to be conformed to Him! We are not going to be conformed to angels. The conforming is to be to God.

Another thing that John adds here is that this hope—to be conformed to the image of God in Jesus Christ—is what motivates a person to purify himself. It is the engine that drives a person along the Way, because he knows where he is headed. He is not going to be someone slightly above angels but someone like the Son of God, one who is worshipped and is worthy of the worship of angels. This doctrine is not ambiguous in any way. We are going to be like Him, and He is worthy of worship.

Does it not say in Revelation 3:9 that people will worship the saints? Do people worship angels? No, the angels tell them, "Get off your knees, because I am a servant as you are" (see Revelation 19:10). God says we will be worthy of worship as part of the God Family.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 1)



Philippians 3:21

When Jesus was resurrected, He took pains to make it clear to His disciples that He was not a ghost, not merely an essence. He had flesh and bone. He was plainly saying that there was substance to what He was then—and thus to what He is today.

To put it bluntly, He was saying that He was corporeal. Corporeal from Webster's means "having tangible qualities of a body such as shape, size, and resistance to force." If a person leans against the wall, it resists him. Why? Because it is solid, tangible. If Jesus was not solid, whenever His disciples stretched their hands out to Him or perhaps ran their fingers against the palm of His hand where the nail marks were, they would have felt nothing, yet there was substance.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 2)




Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Philippians 3:21:

Luke 24:39
Colossians 1:15-20

 

<< Philippians 3:20   Philippians 4:1 >>



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