Philippians 3:16
Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
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(16) Let us walk . . .—In this verse the last words appear to be an explanatory gloss. The original runs thus: Neverthelessas to that to which we did attainlet us walk by the same. The word “walk” is always used of pursuing a course deliberately chosen. (See Acts 21:24; Romans 4:12; Galatians 5:25.) The nearest parallel (from which the gloss is partly taken) is Galatians 6:16, “As many as walk by this rule, peace be upon them.” In this passage there seems to be the same double reference which has pervaded all St. Paul’s practical teaching. He is anxious for two things—that they should keep on in one course, and that all should keep on together. In both senses he addresses the “perfect;” he will have them understand that they have attained only one thing—to be in the right path, and that it is for them to continue in it; he also bids them refrain from setting themselves up above “the imperfect;” for the very fact of division would mark them as still “carnal,” mere “babes in Christ” (1Corinthians 3:1-4).



Php 3:16.

Paul has just been laying down a great principle--viz. that if the main direction of a life be right, God will reveal to a man the points in which he is wrong. But that principle is untrue and dangerous, unless carefully guarded. It may lead to a lazy tolerance of evil, and to drawing such inferences as, ‘Well! it does not much matter about strenuous effort, if we are right at bottom it will all come right by-and-by,’ and so it may become a pillow for indolence and a clog on effort. This possible abuse of a great truth seems to strike the Apostle, and so he enters here, with this ‘Nevertheless,’ a caveat against that twist of his meaning. It is as if he said, ‘Now mind! while all that is perfectly true, it is true on conditions; and if they be not attended to, it is not true.’ God will reveal to a man the things in which he is wrong if, and only if, he steadfastly continues in the course which he knows and sees to be right. Present attainments, then, are in some sense a standard of duty, and if we honestly and conscientiously observe that standard we shall get light as we journey. In this exhortation of the Apostle’s there are many exhortations wrapped up; and in trying to draw them out I venture to adhere to the form of exhortation for the sake of impressiveness and point.

I. First, then, I would say the Apostle means, ‘Live up to your faith and your convictions.’

It may be a question whether ‘that to which we have already attained’ means the amount of knowledge which we have won or the amount of practical righteousness which we have made our own. But I think that, instead of sharply dividing between these two, we shall follow more in the course of the Apostle’s thought if we unite them together, and remember that the Bible does not make the distinct separation which we sometimes incline to make between knowledge on the one side and practice on the other, but regards the man as a living unity. And thus, both aspects of our attainments come into consideration here.

So, then, there are two main thoughts--first, live out your creed, and second, live up to your convictions.

Live out your creed. Men are meant to live, not by impulse, by accident, by inclination, but by principle. We are not intended to live by rule, but we are intended to live by law. And unless we know why we do as well as what we do, and give a rational account of our conduct, we fall beneath the height on which God intends us to walk. Impulse is all very well, but impulse is blind and needs a guide. The imitation of those around us, or the acceptance of the apparent necessities of circumstances, are, to some extent, inevitable and right. But to be driven merely by the force of externals is to surrender the highest prerogative of manhood. The highest part of human nature is the reason guided by conscience, and a man’s conscience is only then rightly illuminated when it is illuminated by his creed, which is founded on the acceptance of the revelation that God has made of Himself.

And whilst we are clearly meant to be guided by the intelligent appropriation of God’s truth, that truth is evidently all meant for guidance. We are not told anything in the Bible in order that we may know as an ultimate object, but we are told it all in order that, knowing, we may be, and, being, we may do, according to His will.

Just think of the intensely practical tendency of all the greatest truths of Christianity. The Cross is the law of life. The revelation that was made there was made, not merely that we might cling to it as a refuge from our sins, but that we might accept it as the rule of our conduct. All our duties to mankind are summed up in the word ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ We say that we believe in the divinity of Christ; we say that we believe in the great incarnation and sacrificial death and eternal priesthood of the loving Son of God. We say that we believe in a judgment to come and a future life. Well, then, do these truths produce any effect upon my life? have they shaped me in any measure into conformity with their great principles? Does there issue from them constraining power which grasps me and moulds me as a sculptor would a bit of clay in his hands? Am I subject to the Gospel’s authority, and is the word in which God has revealed Himself to me the word which dominates and impels all my life? ‘Whereunto we have already attained, by the same let us walk.’

But we shall not do that without a distinct effort. For it is a great deal easier to live from hand to mouth than to live by principle. It is a great deal easier to accept what seems forced upon us by circumstances than to exercise control over the circumstances, and make them bend to God’s holy will. It is a great deal easier to take counsel of inclination, and to put the reins in the hands of impulses, passions, desires, tastes, or even habits, than it is, at each fresh moment, to seek for fresh impulses from a fresh illumination from the ancient and yet ever fresh truth. The old kings of France used to be kept with all royal state in the palace, but they were not allowed to do anything. And there was a rough, unworshipped man that stood by their side, and who was the real ruler of the realm. That is what a great many professing Christians do with their creeds. They instal them in some inner chamber that they very seldom visit, and leave them there, in dignified idleness, and the real working ruler of their lives is found elsewhere. Let us see to it, brethren, that all our thoughts are incarnated in our deeds, and that all our deeds are brought into immediate connection with the great principles of God’s word. Live by that law, and we live at liberty.

And, then, remember that this translating of creed into conduct is the only condition of growing illumination. When we act upon a belief, the belief grows. That is the source of a great deal of stupid obstinacy in this world, because men have been so long accustomed to go upon certain principles that it seems incredible to them but that these principles should be true. But that, too, is at the bottom of a great deal of intelligent and noble firmness of adherence to the true. A man who has tested a principle because he has lived upon it has confidence in it that nobody else can have.

Projectors may have beautiful specifications with attractive pictures of their new inventions; they look very well upon paper, but we must see them working before we are sure of their worth. And so, here is this great body of Divine truth, which assumes to be sufficient for guidance, for conduct, for comfort, for life. Live upon it, and thereby your grasp of it and your confidence in it will be immensely increased. And no man has a right to say ‘I have rejected Christianity as untrue,’ unless he has put it to the test by living upon it; and if he has, he will never say it. A Swiss traveller goes into a shop and buys a brand-new alpenstock. Does he lean upon it with as much confidence as another man does, who has one with the names of all the mountains that it has helped him up branded on it from top to bottom? Take this staff and lean on it. Live your creed, and you will believe your creed as you never will until you do. Obedience takes a man up to an elevation from which he sees further into the deep harmonies of truth. In all regions of life the principle holds good: ‘To him that hath shall be given.’ And it holds eminently in reference to our grasp of Christian principles. Use them and they grow; neglect them and they perish. Sometimes a man dies in a workhouse who has a store of guineas and notes wrapped up in rags somewhere about him; and so they have been of no use to him. If you want your capital to increase, trade with it. As the Lord said when He gave the servants their talents: ‘Trade with them till I come.’ The creed that is utilised is the creed that grows. And that is why so many of you Christian people have so little real intellectual grasp of the principles of Christianity, because you have not lived upon them, nor tried to do it.

And, in like manner, another side of this thought is, be true to your convictions. There is no such barrier to a larger and wholesomer view of our duty as the neglect of anything that plainly is our duty. It stands there, an impassable cliff between us and all progress. Let us live and be what we know we ought to be, and we shall know better what we ought to be at the next moment.

II. Secondly, let me put the Apostle’s meaning in another exhortation, Go on as you have begun.

‘Whereunto we have already attained, by the same let us walk.’ The various points to which the men have reached are all points in one straight line; and the injunction of my text is ‘Keep the road.’ There are a great many temptations to stray from it. There are nice smooth grassy bits by the side of it where it is a great deal easier walking. There are attractive things just a footstep or two out of the path--such a little deviation that it can easily be recovered. And so, like children gathering daisies in the field, we stray away from the path; and, like men on a moor, we then look round for it, and it is gone. The angle of divergence may be the acutest possible; the deviation when we begin may be scarcely visible, but if you draw a line at the sharpest angle and the least deviation from a straight line, and carry it out far enough, there will be space between it and the line from which it started ample to hold a universe. Then, let us take care of small deviations from the plain straight path, and give no heed to the seductions that lie on either side, but ‘whereunto we have already attained, by the same let us walk.’

There are temptations, too, to slacken our speed. The river runs far more slowly in its latter course than when it came babbling and leaping down the hillside. And sometimes a Christian life seems as if it crept rather than ran, like those sluggish streams in the Fen country, which move so slowly that you cannot tell which way the water is flowing. Are not there all round us, are there not amongst ourselves instances of checked growth, of arrested development? There are people listening to me now, calling themselves--and I do not say that they have not a right to do so--Christians, who have not grown a bit for years, but stand at the very same point of attainment, both in knowledge and in purity and Christlikeness, as they were many, many days ago. I beseech you, listen to this exhortation of my text, ‘Whereunto we have already attained, by the same let us walk,’ and continue patient and persistent in the course that is set before us.

III. The Apostle’s injunction may be cast into this form, Be yourselves.

The representation which underlies my text, and precedes it in the context, is that of the Christian community as a great body of travellers all upon one road, all with their faces turned in one direction, but at very different points on the path. The difference of position necessarily involves a difference in outlook. They see their duties, and they see the Word of God, in some respects diversely. And the Apostle’s exhortation is: ‘Let each man follow his own insight, and whereunto he has attained, by that, and not by his brother’s attainment, by that let him walk.’ From the very fact of the diversity of advancement there follows the plain duty for each of us to use our own eyesight, and of independent faithfulness to our own measure of light, as the guide which we are bound to follow.

There is a dreadful want, in the ordinary Christian life, of any appearance of first-hand communication with Jesus Christ, and daring to be myself, and to act on the insight into His will which Christ has given me .

Conventional Godliness, Christian people cut after one pattern, a little narrow round of certain statutory duties and obligations, a parrot-like repetition of certain words, a mechanical copying of certain methods of life, an oppressive sameness, mark so much of modern religion. What a freshening up there would come into all Christian communities if every man lived by his own perception of truth and duty! If a musician in an orchestra is listening to his neighbour’s note and time, he will lose many an indication from the conductor that would have kept him far more right, if he had attended to it. And if, instead of taking our beliefs and our conduct from one another, or from the average of Christian men round us, we went straight to Jesus Christ and said to Him, ‘What wouldst Thou have me to do?’ there would be a different aspect over Christendom from what there is to-day. The fact of individual responsibility, according to the measure of our individual light, and faithful following of that, wheresoever it may lead us, are the grand and stirring principles that come from these words. ‘Whereunto we have already attained,’ by that--and by no other man’s attainment or rule--let us walk.

But do not let us forget that that same faithful independence and independent faithfulness because Christ speaks to us, and we will not let any other voice blend with His, are quite consistent with, and, indeed, demand, the frank recognition of our brother’s equal right. If we more often thought of all the great body of Christian people as an army, united in its diversity, its line of march stretching for leagues, and some in the van, and some in the main body, and some in the rear, but all one, we should be more tolerant of divergences, more charitable in our judgment of the laggards, more patient in waiting for them to come up with us, and more wise and considerate in moderating our pace sometimes to meet theirs. All who love Jesus Christ are on the same road and bound for the same home. Let us be contented that they shall be at different stages on the path, seeing that we know that they will all reach the Temple above.

IV. Lastly, cherish the consciousness of imperfection and the confidence of success.

‘Whereunto we have attained’ implies that that is only a partial possession of a far greater whole. The road is not finished at the stage where we stand. And, on the other hand, ‘by the same let us walk,’ implies that beyond the present point the road runs on equally patent and pervious to our feet. These two convictions, of my own imperfection and of the certainty of my reaching the great perfectness beyond, are indispensable to all Christian progress. As soon as a man begins to think that he has realised his ideal, Good-bye! to all advance. The artist, the student, the man of business, all must have gleaming before them an unattained object, if they are ever to be stirred to energy and to run with patience the race that is set before them.

The more distinctly that a man is conscious of his own imperfection in the Christian life, the more he will be stung and stirred into earnestness and energy of effort, if only, side by side with the consciousness of imperfection, there springs triumphant the confidence of success. That will give strength to the feeble knees; that will lift a man buoyant over difficulties; that will fire desire; that will stimulate and solidify effort; that will make the long, monotonous stretches of the road easy, the rough places plain, the crooked things straight. Over all reluctant, repellent duties it will bear us, in all weariness it will re-invigorate us. We are saved by hope, and the more brightly there burns before us, not as a tremulous hope, but as a future certainty, the thought, ‘I shall be like Him, for I shall see Him as He is,’ the more shall I set my face to the loved goal and my feet to the dusty road, and ‘press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God.’ Christian progress comes out of the clash and collision of these two things, like that of flint and steel--the consciousness of imperfection and the confidence of success. And they who thus are driven by the one and drawn by the other, in all their consciousness of failure are yet blessed, and are crowned at last with that which they believed before it came.

‘Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house’--the prize won is heaven. But ‘blessed are they in whose hearts are the ways’--the prize desired and strained after is heaven upon earth. We may all live a life of continual advancement, each step leading upwards, for the road always climbs, to purer air, grander scenery, and a wider view. And yonder, progress will still be the law, for they who here have followed the Lamb, and sought to make Him their pattern and Commander, will there ‘follow Him whithersoever He goeth.’ If here we walk according to that ‘whereunto we have attained,’ there He shall say, ‘They will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.’

3:12-21 This simple dependence and earnestness of soul, were not mentioned as if the apostle had gained the prize, or were already made perfect in the Saviour's likeness. He forgot the things which were behind, so as not to be content with past labours or present measures of grace. He reached forth, stretched himself forward towards his point; expressions showing great concern to become more and more like unto Christ. He who runs a race, must never stop short of the end, but press forward as fast as he can; so those who have heaven in their view, must still press forward to it, in holy desires and hopes, and constant endeavours. Eternal life is the gift of God, but it is in Christ Jesus; through his hand it must come to us, as it is procured for us by him. There is no getting to heaven as our home, but by Christ as our Way. True believers, in seeking this assurance, as well as to glorify him, will seek more nearly to resemble his sufferings and death, by dying to sin, and by crucifying the flesh with its affections and lusts. In these things there is a great difference among real Christians, but all know something of them. Believers make Christ all in all, and set their hearts upon another world. If they differ from one another, and are not of the same judgment in lesser matters, yet they must not judge one another; while they all meet now in Christ, and hope to meet shortly in heaven. Let them join in all the great things in which they are agreed, and wait for further light as to lesser things wherein they differ. The enemies of the cross of Christ mind nothing but their sensual appetites. Sin is the sinner's shame, especially when gloried in. The way of those who mind earthly things, may seem pleasant, but death and hell are at the end of it. If we choose their way, we shall share their end. The life of a Christian is in heaven, where his Head and his home are, and where he hopes to be shortly; he sets his affections upon things above; and where his heart is, there will his conversation be. There is glory kept for the bodies of the saints, in which they will appear at the resurrection. Then the body will be made glorious; not only raised again to life, but raised to great advantage. Observe the power by which this change will be wrought. May we be always prepared for the coming of our Judge; looking to have our vile bodies changed by his Almighty power, and applying to him daily to new-create our souls unto holiness; to deliver us from our enemies, and to employ our bodies and souls as instruments of righteousness in his service.Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule - This is a most wise and valuable rule, and a rule that would save much difficulty and contention in the church, if it were honestly applied. The meaning is this, that though there might be different degrees of attainment among Christians, and different views on many subjects, yet there were points in which all could agree; there were attainments which they all had made, and in reference to them they should walk in harmony and love. It might be that some had made much greater advances than others. They had more elevated views of religion; they had higher knowledge; they were nearer perfection. Others had had less advantages of education and instruction, had had fewer opportunities of making progress in the divine life, and would less understand the higher mysteries of the Christian life. They might not see the truth or propriety of many things which those in advance of them would see clearly.

But it was not worth while to quarrel about these things. There should be no angry feeling, and no fault-finding on either side. There were many things in which they could see alike, and where there were no jarring sentiments. In those things they could walk harmoniously; and they who were in advance of others should not complain of their less informed brethren as lacking all evidence of piety; nor should those who had not made such advances complain of those before them as fanatical, or as disposed to push things to extremes. They who had the higher views should, as Paul did, believe that God will yet communicate them to the church at large, and in the meantime should not denounce others; and those who had less elevated attainments should not censure their brethren as wild and visionary. There were common grounds on which they might unite, and thus the harmony of the church would be secured.

No better rule than this could be applied to the subjects of inquiry which spring up among Christians respecting temperance, slavery, moral reform, and the various doctrines of religion; and, if this rule had been always observed, the church would have been always saved from harsh contention and from schism. If a man does not see things just as I do, let me try with mildness to Teach him, and let me believe that, if he is a Christian, God will make this known to him yet; but let me not quarrel with him, for neither of us would be benefited by that, nor would the object be likely to be attained. In the meantime, there are many things in which we can agree. In them let us work together, and strive, as far as we can, to promote the common object. Thus we shall save our temper, give no occasion to the world to reproach us, and be much more likely to come together in all our views. The best way to make true Christians harmonious is, to labor together in the common cause of saying souls. As far as we can agree, let us go and labor together; and where we cannot yet, let us "agree to differ." We shall all think alike by-and-by.

16. The expectation of a new revelation is not to make you less careful in walking according to whatever degree of knowledge of divine things and perfection you have already attained. God makes further revelations to those who walk up to the revelations they already have (Ho 6:3).

rule, let us mind the same thing—omitted in the oldest manuscripts. Perhaps partly inserted from Ga 6:16, and Php 2:2. Translate then, "Whereunto we have attained, let us walk on (a military term, march in order) in the same (the measure of knowledge already attained)."

Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained; however, let us, or we ought to, walk in obedience to Christ, love to him and each other, according to the light we have already received, trusting he would make known his mind more clearly to us. Our using the light we have well, is the ready way to have more: it behoves us, then, to live suitably to that degree of the knowledge of Christ we have attained, 1Jo 2:3-5 but still within our lines, with regard to the same rule.

Let us walk by the same rule: whether in this metaphorical allusion the apostle do borrow his phrase from architects, soldiers, or racers, is not much material. Be sure he had an eye to that

same rule which was well known to them, and by which he regulated himself, and therefore it was such a canon as really had a Divine stalnp upon it, that very canon in exact conformity whereunto God’s Israel might be sure of the best peace, Galatians 6:16 Philippians 4:7. The unerring word of God, exemplified in the condescending love of Christ, whom he had proposed to their imitation, in whom he was found, and the fellowship of whose sufferings he desired to know more perfectly, being heavenly-minded, in opposition to those who became enemies to his cross, Philippians 3:18,19: With Galatians 6:14,15; the rule of faith, love, and a Christian life, or heavenly conversation, which he doth elsewhere call a walking in the Spirit, and according to the Spirit, in opposition to walking in and after the flesh, Romans 8:1,5 Ga 5:16.

Let us mind the same thing: in like manner, all of us who are spiritual, grown Christians, should be so affected, being of one accord, one mind, and one judgment, in imitation of Christ; so far that the adult, or better grown Christians, should not despise the weak or less grown, neither should they judge the adult; but in the fundamental articles, those main principles of the Christian institution wherein we all agree, in that common salvation towards which we all press, agreeable to the analogy of faith, we should still be perfecting holiness in the fear of God, by the same rule of faith, and loving and mutual condescension, by the unity of our judgments in the main business of religion, the concord of our affections, the concurrence of our ends, our consent and delight in the same truth: we should declare to the church of God, in our differences Christ is not divided, but in the variety of persuasions in lesser matters, (not fundamental), the purity, holiness, and peace of the church is still preserved, Philippians 2:14. The main principles attained wherein dissenting parties agree, being the measure of all other doctrines, to hold nothing inconsistent with the majesty or truth of the foundation; to walk circumspectly, and in order, according to that wherein is a harmony; not to break our rank, or leave our station, contrary to received prescripts; wherein every Christian is to exercise a judgment of discerning for himself, Romans 14:23, and not impose on each other, (as that sort of Christian Jews who did compel the Christian Gentiles, Galatians 2:14,15, &c.) superadding no preter-evangelical doctrine, Galatians 1:8,9; to live godly, agreeably to known truths; to serve God soberly and prudently, (with due moderation), in our places, consonantly to the measure of the rule God hath distributed to us, 2 Corinthians 10:13, holding the truths wherein we agree in love, unity, and constancy. It being more reasonable that the many truths wherein we agree, should cause us to join in love, which is a Christian duty, rather than the few opinions wherein we disagree, should cause a breach in affection, which is a human infirmity.

Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained,.... Whatever degree of knowledge of Christ, and the truths of his Gospel, is attained to, let it be retained, and not departed from:

let us walk by the same rule; either the doctrine of justification by Christ's righteousness in particular, which is a rule of judgment concerning other things; for so far as they agree or disagree with this, they are to be received or rejected; or the Scriptures of truth, which are the rule of faith and practice, and the standard and test, to which all are to be brought and tried:

let us mind the same thing; be of one heart and affection to each other, Romans 12:10, and of the same judgment in the doctrines of the Gospel, 1 Corinthians 1:10, and pursue the same measures; particularly press towards the same mark, and for the same prize the apostle did, Philippians 3:14, and be followers of him, as is exhorted to in Philippians 3:17.

Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
Php 3:16. A caution added to the precept given in Php 3:15, and the promise coupled with it: Only let there be no deviation in the prosecution of the development of your Christian life from the point to which we have attained! Neither to the right nor to the left, but forward in the same direction! This warning Paul expresses briefly and precisely thus: “Only whereto we have attained,—according to the same to direct your walk!”—that is, “however ye may be in some point otherwise minded and, therefore, may have to await further revelation, at all events ye ought not to deviate—this must in every case be your fundamental rule—from that whereto we have already attained in the Christian life; but, on the contrary, should let the further direction of your moral walk be determined by that same.” Such a general precept addressed to the Philippians conveys an honourable testimony to the state of their moral constitution on the whole, however different in individuals we may conceive the point to be from which Paul says εἰς ὃ ἐφθ., as is evident from the very fact that he includes himself in the εἰς ὃ ἐφθ., which could not but honour and stimulate the readers. On πλήν, nisi quod, comp. Php 1:18; on φθάνειν εἰς, to attain to anything, comp. Matthew 12:28; Luke 11:26; 1 Thessalonians 2:16 (ἐπί); Romans 9:31; Daniel 4:19; Tob 5:18; Plut. Mor. p. 338 A; Apollod. xii. 242. It denotes the having come forward, the having advanced. Ewald takes it: if we had the advantage (see 1 Thessalonians 4:15, and the common classical usage), that is: “in what we already possess much better and higher than Judaism.” But this reference to Judaism is not given in the text, which aims to secure generally their further progress in the development of Christian life. On στοιχεῖν with the dative of the rule: to advance (march) according to something, that is, to direct oneself in one’s constant conduct by something, see on Galatians 5:16; Galatians 5:25. The infinitive, however, as the expression of a briefly measured wish or command, without supplying λέγω, δεῖ, or the like (which Buttmann requires, Neut. Gr. p. 233 [E. T. 272]), stands in place of the imperative, as in Romans 12:15; see Hom. Il. i. 20, and Nägelsbach in loc.; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep. p. 473 A; Pflugk, ad Eur. Heracl. 314; Fritzsche, ad Rom. III. p. 86. Fritzsche, however, Diss. II. 2 Cor. p. 93, has erroneously made the infinitive dependent on ἀποκαλύψει: “praeterea instituet vos, ut, quam ego consecutus sum τῷ βραβείῳ τῆς ἄνω κλήσεως intentam mentem, ejusdem participes fieri ipsi annitamini.” Comp. Oecumenius. Decisive against this view is the plural ἐφθάσαμεν, which, according to the context (Php 3:15), cannot apply merely to Paul, as well as the fact that the antithesis of persons (ego … ipsi) is gratuitously introduced. Michaelis, who is followed by Rilliet, closely unites Php 3:16 with the sequel,[170] but in such a way that only an awkward arrangement of the sentences is attained, and the nervous vigour of the concise command is taken away.

The εἰς ὃ ἐφθάσ.—which cannot in accordance with the context denote the having attained to Christianity, to the being Christian (Hofmann’s view, which yields a meaning much too vague and general)—has been rightly explained by Chrysostom and Theophylact as relating to the attainments in the Christian life, which are to be maintained, and in the further development of which constant progress is to be made (ὃ κατωρθώσαμεν, κατέχωμεν, Theophylact). Comp. Schinz and van Hengel. This view is corroborated by the sequel, in which Paul represents himself as model of the walk; and therefore it is not to be referred merely to the measure of the right frame of mind attained (Weiss). Most expositors understand the words as signifying the measure of Christian knowledge acquired (so also Heinrichs, Flatt, Rheinwald, Matthies, Hoelemann, de Wette, Wiesinger), in conformity with which one ought to live. In connection with this, various arbitrary definitions of the object of the knowledge have been suggested, as, for instance, by Grotius: “de circumcisione et ritibus;” Heinrichs and de Wette: concerning the main substance of the Christian faith apart from secondary matters; Schneckenburger: “that man is justified by faith, and not by the works of the law;” along with which de Wette lays stress on the point that it is not the individual more or less perfect knowledge (so usually; see Flatt, Rheinwald, Matthies) that is meant, but the collective conviction, the truths generally recognised. But the whole interpretation which refers it to knowledge is not in keeping with the text; for ἐφθάσαμεν, correlative with ΣΤΟΙΧΕῖΝ, presents together with the latter a unity of figurative view, the former denoting the point of the way already attained, and τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν, perseverance in the direction indicated by that attainment. Therefore, if by ΣΤΟΙΧΕῖΝ there is clearly (see Php 3:17) intended the moral conduct of life, this also must be denoted by ΕἸς Ὃ ἘΦΘ. as respects its quality attained up to the present time. Moreover, if ΕἸς Ὃ ἘΦΘ. is to be understood as referring to knowledge, there would be no motive for the prominence given to the identity by τῷ αὐτῷ.

[170] This is thrown out as a suggestion also by Hofmann, according to whom the infinitive clause ought “perhaps more correctly” to be coupled with συμμιμηταὶ κ.τ.λ., and taken as a prefixed designation of that in doing which they are to be his imitators and to have their attention directed to those, etc. Thus the infinitive would come to stand as infinitive of the aim. But even thus the whole attempt would be an artificial twisting of the passage without reason or use.


What Paul means in Php 3:16 may be illustrated thus:

Here B is the point of the development of Christian life εἰς ὃ ἐφθάσαμεν, which, in the case of different individuals, may be more or less advanced. The τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν takes place, when the path traversed from A to B is continued in the direction of C. If any one should move from B in the direction of either D or E, he would not τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν. The reproach of uncertainty which Wiesinger brings against this canon, because a ἑτέρως φρονεῖν may take place which does not lie in the same direction, and generally because the power of sin might hinder the following out of this direction, would also apply in opposition to every other explanation of the εἰς ὃ ἐφθ., and particularly to that of the knowledge attained; but it is altogether unfounded, first, because the ἑτέρως φρονεῖν only refers to one or another concrete single point (τι), so that the whole of moral attainment—the collective development—which has been reached is not thereby disturbed; and, secondly, because Paul in this case has to do with a church already highly advanced in a moral point of view (Php 1:5 ff.), which he might, at all events generally, enjoin to continue in the same direction as the path in which they had already travelled. Very groundless is also the objection urged by Hofmann, that the εἰς ὃ ἐφθ. must necessarily be one and the same for all. This is simply to be denied; it is an utterly arbitrary assumption.

Php 3:16. πλήν. It is quite common as introducing a parenthesis. “Only one thing! So far as we have come, keep the path” (Weizs.). For the word Cf. Schmid, Atticismus, i., p. 133, and Bonitz’s Index to Aristotle.—εἰς ὃ ἐφθάς. In later Greek (as in modern) φθάνω has lost all idea of anticipation and simply means “come,” “reach”. Cf. 2 Corinthians 10:14 (and see See Hatz., Einl, p. 199; Sources of N.T. Greek, p. 156). “So far as we have come.” In what? Weiss thinks in right φρονεῖν, connecting the words immediately with τοῦτο φρονῶμεν. Kleiss supposes the νόμος δικαιοσύνης, referring to the earlier part of the chap. (esp Php 3:9). Does he not rather mean the point reached on the advance towards the goal (the κατὰ σκοπὸν διώκειν), which is the subject directly before his mind? The very use of στοιχεῖν seems to justify this interpretation.—τῷ αὐτῷ. It is, at first sight, natural to refer τ. αὐτ. immediately to preceding. And this may be right. But there is much force in the interpretation of Lipsius, who renders “let us walk on the same path” (so also Hlst.). The exhortation would then be directed against the difference of opinion and feeling which were certainly present in the Church at Philippi, and is suggested to Paul by the ἑτέρως φρον. of Php 3:15. That this was an early interpretation is shown by the v.l. of TR. The words κανονι το αυτο φρονειν (not found in the best MSS.) are evidently a gloss on the text. “Only, so far as we have come, let us keep to the same path.” τῷ αὐτῷ is an instance of a dative common after verbs of “going” and “walking” in N.T. Cf. Buttm., Gram., p. 184.—στοιχεῖν. An imperatival infinitive found in Hom., Aristoph., Inscrptions (see Meisterhans, Gram. d. att. Inschrr., § 88 A; Viteau, Le Verbe, p. 147). Probably this usage is closely connected with the origin of the infinitive, which was a dative, as is shown, e.g., by the infinitive in English, e.g., “to work”. This might easily become an imperative, “to work”! Analogous is the use of χαίρειν and ὑγιαίνειν in Letters. στ. is only found in late writers, although, from the frequency of στοῖχος, we may infer that it must have existed in earlier times. Literally it means “march in file”. Moule well observes that στ. more than περιπατεῖν (the common word) suggests the step, the detail.

16. Nevertheless] Better, with R.V., only; a word, like the Greek, of less contrast and easier transition.

attained] Not the same Greek verb as that in Php 3:12, though R.V. (with A.V.) gives the same English. The verb here is properly used, in classical Greek, of anticipation (so 1 Thessalonians 4:15), arrival beforehand, rapid arrival. Later, and so ordinarily in N.T., it loses much at least of this speciality, and means little besides “to reach,” “to arrive.” Still, a shadow of the first meaning may be traced in most places; a suggestion of an arrival which is either sudden, or achieved in spite of obstacles. The latter idea would be in place here, where the metaphor of the race with its difficulties is still present; as if to say, “whereunto we have succeeded in arriving.”—The verb is in the aorist, but the English perfect is obviously right.

let us walk by the same &c.] The Greek verb is in the infinitive, “to walk”; a frequent idiomatic substitute for the mood of command or appeal. Apparently this construction is always used in address to others (see Alford here), and thus we should render “walk ye &c.”—The verb here rendered “walk” means not only movement on the feet in general, but orderly and guided walking, stepping along a line. The appeal is to take care of Christian consistency in detail, up to the full present light, on the unchanging principles of the Gospel, which are essentially “the same” for all. And there is a reference, doubtless, in the words “the same,” to the Philippians’ tendency to differences of opinion and feeling.

The words after “by the same” are an excellent explanation, but not part of the text. Read, in the same [path or principle].

Php 3:16. Πλὴν, nevertheless) The expectation of a new revelation should not make you yield the position which you now firmly hold.—εἰς ὃ) in that, to which we have attained.—ἐφθάσαμεν, we have attained) at a greater or less distance. They are admonished in order that the others should act with them that are perfect.—στοιχεῖν, to walk) The infinitive, mildly for the imperative; Romans 12:15.—κανόνι)[45] Al. Boern. Clar. Colb. 7. Copt. both the Hilarys,[46] leave out this word; Facundus too, or, by comparing Pelagius, even Sedulius. The clauses thus correspond, τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν, and τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν. Nor even do we follow the Latin Vulgate copies, which transpose the clauses, Covelianus 2 following them in this, since ἐφθάσαμεν and στοιχεῖν more nearly cohere with one another, and στοιχεῖν, which is metaphorical, is explained by the φρονεῖν which follows after. The word κανόνι seems evidently to have been brought hither from Galatians 6:16.—τὸ) There is here an Asyndeton.—τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν, to mind the same thing) He returns to this topic, ch. Php 4:2.

[45] AB Memph. Theb. read only τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν: Hilar. 1097, “in ipso ingrediamur.” DGfg (‘convenire,’ for στοιχεῖν) read τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν, τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν. Vulg., with Rec. Text, retains κανόνι, but transposes the Order. Rec. Text has τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν κανόνι τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν.—ED.

[46] Viz., Hilary the deacon, and Hilary of Poitiers.—ED.

Verse 16. - Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Omit, with the best manuscripts, the words from "rule" to "thing," and translate, R.V., only, whereunto we have already attained, by that same (rule) let us walk; or, more literally, only, what we arrived at, by that same walk. Let there be no falling back; let us, at each point in our Christian course, maintain and walk according to that degree of grace at which we arrived. This explanation seems more probable than the other view, which understands the words, "by the same," of the rule of faith as opposed to the works of the Law. Philippians 3:16Nevertheless

Rev., only. Notwithstanding the minor points in which you may be otherwise minded.

Whereto we have already attained (εἰς ὃ ἐφθάσαμεν)

Whatever real christian and moral attainment you may have made, let that serve as a rule for your further advance. The character of this standard of attainment is illustrated by the words in Philippians 3:15, be thus minded, and by those in Philippians 3:17, as ye have us for an example. The individual variations are not considered. He regards rather the collective development, and assumes the essentials of christian attainment on the part of his readers. For attained, see on we are come, 2 Corinthians 10:14.

Let us walk by the same rule (τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν)

The idea of a regulative standard is implied, but rule κανόνι must be omitted from the Greek text. Rev. brings out the antithesis better: whereunto we have already attained, by that same rule let us walk. Omit let us mind the same thing.

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