Philippians 3:21
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
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(21) Who shall change . . .—This passage needs more accurate translation. It should be, who shall change the fashion of the body of our humiliation, to be conformed to the body of His glory. (1) On the difference between “fashion” and “form,” see Philippians 2:7-8. The contrast here signifies that humiliation is but the outward fashion or vesture of the body; the likeness to Christ is, and will be seen to be, its essential and characteristic nature. This “humiliation” marks our condition in this life, as fallen from our true humanity under the bondage of sin and death. The body is not really “vile,” though it is fallen and degraded. (2) “His glory” is His glorified human nature, as it was after the Resurrection, as it is now in His ascended majesty, as it shall be seen at His second coming. What it is and will be we gather from the sublime descriptions of Revelation 1:13-16; Revelation 19:12-16; Revelation 20:11. What is here briefly described as change to conformity with that glory is worked out in 1Corinthians 15:42-44; 1Corinthians 15:53-54, into the contrast between corruption and incorruption, dishonour and glory, weakness and power, the natural (animal) body and the spiritual body. In 2Corinthians 3:18; 2Corinthians 4:16, we read of the beginning of glorification in the spirit here; in 2Corinthians 4:17-18; 2Corinthians 5:1-4, of the completion of “the exceeding weight of glory” in the hereafter, as glorifying also “our house which is in heaven. St. John describes that glorification with brief emphatic solemnity, “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is,” and draws out explicitly the moral which St. Paul here implies, “Every man that hath this hope purifieth himself, even as He is pure.”

According to the working . . .—Properly, in virtue of the effectual working of His power to subject all things to Himself. Comp. Ephesians 1:19; Ephesians 3:7, and Notes there. Here, as there, St. Paul speaks of His power as not dormant or existing in mere capacity, but as energetic in working, unhasting and unresting. Here briefly, as more fully in the celebrated passage of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (1Corinthians 15:24-28) he describes it as “subduing all things unto Himself,” till the consummation of this universal conquest in the Last Judgment and the delivery of “the kingdom to God, even the Father . . . that God may be all in all.” Of that power the primary exhibition, in which He is pleased to delight, is in salvation, gradually preparing His own for heaven; the secondary exhibition, undertaken under a moral necessity, is in retributive judgment. It is of the former only that St. Paul speaks here, as it shall be made perfect in the resurrection unto eternal life.

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.Who shall change our vile body - compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 15:The original words, which are rendered here as "vile body," properly mean "the body of humiliation;" that is, our humble body. It refers to the body as it is in its present state, as subject to infirmities, disease, and death. It is different far from what it was when man was created, and from what it will be in the future world. Paul says that it is one of the objects of the Christian hope and expectation, that this body, so subject to infirmities and sicknesses, will be changed.

That it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body - Greek, "The body Of his glory;" that is, the body which he has in his glorified state. What change the body of the Redeemer underwent when he ascended to heaven, we are not informed - nor do we know what is the nature, size, appearance, or form of the body which he now has. It is certain that it is adapted to the glorious world where he dwells; that it has none of the infirmities to which it was liable when here; that it is not subject; as here, to pain or death; that it is not sustained in the same manner. The body of Christ in heaven is of the same nature as the bodies of the saints will be in the resurrection, and which the apostle calls "spiritual bodies," (notes, 1 Corinthians 15:44); and it is doubtless accompanied with all the circumstances of splendor and glory which are appropriate to the Son of God. The idea here is, that it is the object of the desire and anticipation of the Christian, to be made just like Christ in all things. He desires to resemble him in moral character here, and to be like him in heaven. Nothing else will satisfy him but such conformity to the Son of God; and when he shall resemble him in all things, the wishes of his soul will all be met and fulfilled.

According to the working ... - That is, such a change demands the exertion of vast power. No creature can do it. But there is One who has power entrusted to him over all things, and he can effect this great transformation in the bodies of people; compare 1 Corinthians 15:26-27. He can mould the mind and the heart to conformity to his own image, and thus also he can transform the body so that it shall resemble his. Everything he can make subject to his will. (Matthew 28:18, note; John 17:2, note.) And he that has this power can change our humbled and debased bodies, so that they shall put on the glorious appearance and form of that of the Son of God himself. What a contrast between our bodies here - frail, feeble, subject to sickness, decay, and corruption - and the body as it will be in heaven! And what a glorious prospect awaits the weak and dying believer, in the future world!

Remarks On Philippians 3

1. It is a privilege of the Christian to rejoice; Philippians 3:1. He has more sources of real joy than any other persons; see 1 Thessalonians 5:16. He has a Saviour in whom he may always find peace; a God whose character he can always contemplate with pleasure a heaven to look forward to where there is nothing but happiness; a Bible that is full of precious promises, and at all times the opportunity of prayer, in which he may roll all Iris sorrows on the arms of an unchanging friend. If there is anyone on earth who ought to be happy, it is the Christian.

2. The Christian should so live as to leave on others the impression that religion produces happiness. In our contact with our friends, we should show them that religion does not cause sadness or gloom, sourness or misanthropy, but that it produces cheerfulness, contentment, and peace. This may be shown by the countenance, and by the whole demeanour - by a calm brow, and a benignant eye, and by a cheerful aspect. The internal peace of the soul should be evinced by every proper external expression. A Christian may thus be always doing good - for he is always doing good who leaves the impression on others that religion makes its possessors happy.

3. The nature of religion is almost always mistaken by the world. They suppose that it makes its possessors melancholy and sad. The reason is, not that they are told so by those who are religious, and not that even they can see anything in religion to produce misery, but because they have fixed their affections on certain things which they suppose to be essential to happiness, and which they suppose religion would require them to give up without substituting anything in their place. But never was there a greater mistake. Let them go and ask Christians, and they will obtain but one answer from them. It is, that they never knew what true happiness was until they found it in the Saviour. This question may be proposed to a Christian of any denomination, or in any land, and the answer will be uniformly the same. Why is it, then, that the mass of persons regard religion as adapted only to make them unhappy? Why will they not take the testimony of their friends in the case, and believe those whom they would believe on any other subject, when they declare that it is only true religion that ever gives them solid peace?

4. We cannot depend on any external advantages of birth or blood for salvation; Philippians 3:4-6. Few or no persons have as much in this respect to rely on as Paul had. Indeed, if salvation were to be obtained at all by such external advantages, it is impossible to conceive that more could have been united in one case than there was in his. He had not only the advantage of having been born a Hebrew; of having been early trained in the Jewish religion; of being instructed in the ablest manner, but also the advantage of entire blamelessness in his moral deportment. He had showed in every way possible that he was heartily attached to the religion of his fathers, and he began life with a zeal in the cause which seemed to justify the warmest expectations of his friends. But all this was renounced, when he came to see the true method of salvation, and saw the better way by which eternal life is to be obtained.

And if Paul could not depend on this, we cannot safely do it. It will not save us that we have been born in the church; that we have had pious parents; that we were early baptized and consecrated to God; that we were trained in the Sunday school. Nor will it save us that we attend regularly on the place of worship, or that we are amiable, correct, honest, and upright in our lives. We can no more depend on these things than Saul of Tarsus could, and if all his eminent advantages failed to give him a solid ground of hope, our advantages will be equally vain in regard to our salvation. It almost seems as if God designed in the case of Saul of Tarsus, that there should be one instance where every possible external advantage for salvation should be found, and there should be everything that people ever could rely on in moral character, in order to show that no such things could be sufficient to save the soul. All these may exist, and yet there may not be a particle of love to God, and the heart may be full of selfishness, pride, and ambition, as it was in his case.

5. Religion demands humility; Philippians 3:7-8. It requires us to renounce all dependence on our own merits, and to rely simply on the merits of another - the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are ever saved, we must be brought to esteem all the advantages which birth and blood and our own righteousness can bestow as worthless, and even vile, in the matter of justification. We shall not despise these things in themselves, nor shall we consider that vice is as desirable as virtue, nor that a bad temper is to be sought rather than an amiable disposition, nor that dishonesty is as commendable as honesty; but we shall feel that in comparison with the merits of the Redeemer all these are worthless. But the mind is not brought to this condition without great humiliation. Nothing but the power of God can bring a proud and haughty and self-righteous sinner to this state, where he is willing to renounce all dependence on his own merits, and to be saved in the same way as the vilest of the species.

6. Let us seek to obtain an interest in the righteousness of the Redeemer; Philippians 3:9. Our own righteousness cannot save us. But in him there is enough. There is all that we want, and if we have that righteousness which is by faith, we have all that is needful to render us accepted with God, and to prepare us for heaven. When there is such a way of salvation - so easy, so free, so glorious, so ample for all, how unwise is anyone to rest on his own works, and to expect to be saved by what he has done! The highest honor of man is to be saved by the merits of the Son of God, and he has reached the most elevated rank in the human condition who has the most certain hope of salvation through him.

7. There is enough to be gained to excite us to the utmost diligence and effort in the Christian life; Philippians 3:10-14. If people can be excited to effort by the prospect of an earthly crown in a race or a game, how much more should we be urged forward by the prospect of the eternal prize! To seek to know the Redeemer; to be raised up from the degradation of sin to have part in the resurrection of the just: to obtain the prize of the high calling in heaven - to be made everlastingly happy and glorious there - what object was ever placed before the mind like this? What ardor should it excite that we may gain it! Surely, the hope of obtaining such a prize as is before the Christian, should call forth all our powers. The struggle will not be long. The race will soon be won. The victory will be glorious; the defeat would be overwhelming and awful. No one need fear that he can put forth too much effort to obtain the prize. It is worth every exertion, and we should never relax our efforts, or give over in despair.

8. Let us, like Paul, ever cherish an humble sense of our attainments in religion; Philippians 3:12-13. If Paul had not reached the point of perfection, it is not to be presumed that we have; if he could not say that he had "attained," it is presumption in us to suppose that we have, if he had occasion for humiliation, we have more; if he felt that he was far short of the object which he sought, and was pressed down with the consciousness of imperfection, such a feeling becomes us also. Yet let us not sink down in despondency and inaction. Like him, let us strain every nerve that we may overcome our imperfections and win the prize. That prize is before us. It is glorious. We may be sensible that we, as yet, have not reached it, but if we will strive to obtain it, it will soon be certainly ours. We may feel that we are far distant from it now in the degree of our attainments, but we are not far from it in fact. It will be but a short period before the Christian will lay hold on that immortal crown, and before his brow will be encircled with the diadem of glory. For the race of life, whether we win or lose, is soon run; and when a Christian begins a day, he knows not but he may end it in heaven; when he lies down on his bed at night, he knows not but he may awake with the "prize" in his hand, and with the diadem of glory sparkling on his brow.

9. Our thoughts should be much in heaven; Philippians 3:20. Our home is there, our citizenship is there. Here we are strangers and pilgrims. We are away from home, in a cold and unfriendly world. Our great interests are in the skies; our eternal dwelling is to be there; our best friends are already there. There is our glorious Saviour with a body adapted to those pure abodes, and there are many whom we have loved on earth already with him. They are happy now, and we should not love them less because they are in heaven. Since, therefore, our great interests are there, and our best friends there; and since we ourselves are citizens of that heavenly world, our best affections should be there.


21. Greek, "Who shall transfigure the body of our humiliation (namely, in which our humiliation has place, 2Co 4:10; Eph 2:19; 2Ti 2:12), that it may be conformed unto the body of His glory (namely, in which His glory is manifested), according to the effectual working whereby," &c. Not only shall He come as our "Saviour," but also as our Glorifier.

even—not only to make the body like His own, but "to subdue all things," even death itself, as well as Satan and sin. He gave a sample of the coming transfiguration on the mount (Mt 17:1, &c.). Not a change of identity, but of fashion or form (Ps 17:15; 1Co 15:51). Our spiritual resurrection now is the pledge of our bodily resurrection to glory hereafter (Php 3:20; Ro 8:11). As Christ's glorified body was essentially identical with His body of humiliation; so our resurrection bodies as believers, since they shall be like His, shall be identical essentially with our present bodies, and yet "spiritual bodies" (1Co 15:42-44). Our "hope" is, that Christ, by His rising from the dead, hath obtained the power, and is become the pattern, of our resurrection (Mic 2:13).

Who shall change our vile body; who shall transform the body of our humility, or our lowliness, i.e. our lowbrought body, the singular for the plural, our humble and mean bodies, which depend upon and are beholden to our eating and drinking, and the actions which follow thereupon, that do humble and lower them, Luke 1:48; now, it may be, languishing with pains, sickness, and many infirmities, perhaps cooped up in a noisome prison, and, it may be, an unclean dungeon, sown in dishonour and weakness in the grave, 1 Corinthians 15:43.

That it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body; that they may be conformed to Christ’s incorruptible, impassible, and immortal body, and so glorious, 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, in their proportion agreeing with the blessed body of our Lord when he shall appear, 1Jo 3:1-3, and they shall see him with the eyes of their bodies, made like unto his, Job 19:26,27 Col 3:4, not in equality, but only in respect of the same qualities that his body hath, 1 Corinthians 15:51,52 1 Thessalonians 4:17. A conformity agreeable to that of head and members, that like as the sun is the fountain of all that glory which the stars have, so shall our Lord and Saviour Christ’s glory be of all our glory, Daniel 12:3 Matthew 16:27 1 Corinthians 15:40,41 2 Corinthians 4:14 Revelation 21:11,23. But we must not imagine that our bodies shall be raised to the same height and degree of glory that his is: and therefore in regard of that power and majesty which is included in the body of Christ from the hypostatical union, our bodies will not be conformable, or made like to his; but in glory which he obtained from his resurrection. For the body of Christ may be considered either:

1. In its nature, and so there will be an agreement betwixt the bodies of saints and Christ’s body; or:

2. In regard of its subsistence in the person of the Word, and so there will be none.

For it is impossible that the saints should be raised up to the same union with the Godhead which Christ hath. But however their bodies may be tormented here, by unreasonable persecutors, then they shall be like to his glorious body.

According to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself: how incredible soever this may appear to be unto carnal reason, Acts 17:32 26:8, yet he who thought it no robbery to be equal with God the Father, and therefore can do what he pleaseth, Luke 18:27, can, by the same Divine power whereby he himself was raised from the grave, John 5:21,26,29 Eph 1:19,20, subject all things to himself, destroy death and the grave, 1 Corinthians 15:24-27 Hebrews 2:8,14, raise them up to the throne of his glory, Matthew 19:28, and make them like the angels in glory.

Who shall change our vile body,.... Which is defiled with sin, attended with frailty, and is mortal; and being dead, is sown and laid in the grave in corruption, weakness, and dishonour: in the Greek text it is, "the body of our humility"; sin has subjected the body to weakness, mortality, and death; and death brings it into a very low estate indeed, which is very humbling and mortifying to the pride and vanity man: now this vile body, in the resurrection morn, shall be stripped of all its vileness, baseness, and meanness; and be changed, not as to its substance, nor as to its form and figure, which shall always remain same, as did the substance and form of our Lord's body after his resurrection; but as to its qualities, it shall be changed from corruption to incorruption, 1 Corinthians 15:42, from mortality to immortality, from weakness to power, from dishonour to glory, and be free from all sin: so the Jews say (b), that "the evil imagination, or corruption of nature, goes along with man in the hour of death, but does not return with him when the dead arise:

and this change will be made by the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, when he shall descend from heaven; who as he is the pledge, the first fruits, the exemplar, and meritorious cause, so he will be the efficient cause of the resurrection of the saints; who will be raised and changed by him, by his power, and by virtue of union to him:

that it might be fashioned like unto his glorious body; or "the body of his glory", as it is now in heaven, and of which his transfiguration on the mount was an emblem and pledge; for glory, power, incorruption, and immortality, the bodies of the saints in the resurrection shall be like to Christ's, though not equal to it, and shall shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The Jews (c) have a notion, that "the holy blessed God will beautify the bodies of the righteous in future time, like the beauty of the first Adam:

but their beauty and glory will be greater than that, it will be like the glory of the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, whose image they shall then bear: and whereas this requires almighty power, of which Christ is possessed, it will be done

according to the working, the energy of his power and might; or as the Syriac version renders it, "according to his great power"; which was put forth in raising himself from the dead, and whereby he was declared to be the Son of God: and

whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself; not only sin, Satan, and the world, but death and the grave; and so consequently able to raise the dead bodies of his saints, and to change the qualities of them, and make them like unto his own: and now who would but follow such persons, who are citizens of heaven, have their conversation there, look for Christ the Saviour from thence, Philippians 3:20, who when he comes will raise the dead in Christ first, put such a glory on their bodies as is on his own, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, and take them to himself, that where he is they may be also? see , Hebrews 6:12.

(b) Midrash Tillim apud Galatin. de Arcan. Cathol. ver. l. 12. c. 2.((c) Midrash Hanneelam in Zohar in Gen. fol. 69. 1.

Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Php 3:21. As a special feature of the Lord’s saving activity at His Parousia, Paul mentions the bodily transfiguration of the ἡμεῖς, in significant relation to what was said in Php 3:19 of the enemies of the cross. The latter now lead an Epicurean life, whilst the ἡμεῖς are in a condition of bodily humiliation through affliction and persecution. But at the Parousia—what a change in the state of things! what a glorification of these bodies now so borne down!

μετασχηματ.] shall transform.[173] What is meant is the ἀλλάσσειν of the body (1 Corinthians 15:51 f.) at the Parousia, which in this passage, just as in 1 Corinthians 15:52, Paul assumes that the ἩΜΕῖς will live to see. To understand it at the same time of the resurrection of the dead (so most expositors, including de Wette, Wiesinger, Weiss), is inappropriate both to ἀπεκδεχόμεθα and to the definition of the quality of the body to be remodelled: Τῆς ΤΑΠΕΙΝ. ἩΜῶΝ, both these expressions being used under the conviction of being still alive in the present state when the change occurs. Moreover, the resurrection is something more than a ΜΕΤΑΣΧΗΜΆΤΙΣΙς; it is also an investiture with a new body out of the germ of the old (1 Corinthians 15:36-38; 1 Corinthians 15:42-44.

Τῆς ΤΑΠΕΙΝΏΣ. ἩΜῶΝ] Genitive of the subject. Instead of saying ἡμῶν merely (our body), he expresses it with more specific definition: the body of our humiliation, that is, the body which is the vehicle of the state of our humiliation, namely, through the privations, persecutions, and afflictions which affect the body and are exhibited in it, thereby reducing us into our present oppressed and lowly position; πολλὰ πάσχει νῦν τὸ σῶμα, δεσμεῖται, μαστίζεται, μυρία πάσχει δεινά, Chrysostom. This definite reference of Τ. ΤΑΠ. ἩΜ. is required by the context through the contrast of the ἩΜΕῖς to the ἘΧΘΡΟῪς ΤΟῦ ΣΤΑΥΡΟῦ Τ. Χ., so that the sufferings which are meant by the cross of Christ constitute the ταπείνωσις of the ἩΜΕῖς (comp. Acts 8:33); in which case there is no ground for our taking ΤΑΠΕΊΝΩΣΙς, contrary to Greek usage (Plat. Legg. vii. p. 815 A; Polyb. ix. 33. 10; Jam 1:10), as equivalent to ταπεινότης, lowliness, as in Luke 1:48 (Hofmann). On this account, and also because ἡμῶν applies to subjects distinctly defined in conformity with the context, it was incorrect to explain ταπειν. generally of the constitution of our life (Hofmann), of weakness and frailty (Luther, Calvin, Grotius, Estius, and many others; including Rheinwald, Matthies, Hoelemann, Schrader, Rilliet, Wiesinger, Weiss); comparison being made with such passages as Colossians 1:22; Romans 7:24; 1 Corinthians 15:44. The contrast lies in the states, namely, of humiliation on the one hand and of δόξα on the other; hence ἩΜῶΝ and ΑὐΤΟῦ are neither to be joined with ΣῶΜΑ (in opposition to Hoelemann), nor with Τ. ΣῶΜΑ Τ. ΤΑΠ. and Τ. Σ. Τῆς ΔΌΞΗς as ideas forming an unity (Hofmann), which Paul would necessarily have marked by separating the genitives in position (Winer, p. 180 [E. T. 239]).

ΣΎΜΜΟΡΦΟΝ] Result of the ΜΕΤΑΣΧΗΜ., so that the reading ΕἸς ΤῸ ΓΕΝΈΣΘΑΙ ΑὐΤΌ is a correct gloss. See on Matthew 12:13 and 1 Corinthians 1:8; Fritzsche, Diss. II. in 2 Cor. p. 159; Lübcker, grammat. Stud. p. 33 f. The thing itself forms a part of the συνδοξάζεσθαι, Romans 8:17. Comp. also 1 Corinthians 15:48 f.; Romans 8:29. We may add Theodoret’s appropriate remark: Οὐ ΚΑΤᾺ ΤῊΝ ΠΟΣΌΤΗΤΑ Τῆς ΔΌΞΗς, ἈΛΛᾺ ΚΑΤᾺ ΤῊΝ ΠΟΙΌΤΗΤΑ.

Τῆς ΔΌΞ. ΑὐΤΟῦ
] to be explained like Τῆς ΤΑΠ. ἩΜ.: in which His heavenly glory is shown forth. Comp. ἘΓΕΊΡΕΤΑΙ ἘΝ ΔΌΞῌ, 1 Corinthians 15:44.

ΚΑΤᾺ Τ. ἘΝΈΡΓ. Κ.Τ.Λ.] removes every doubt as to the possibility; according to the working of His being able (comp. Ephesians 1:19) also to subdue all things unto Himself; that is, in consequence of the energetic efficacy which belongs to His power of also subduing all things to Himself. Comp. κατὰ τ. ἐνέργ. τῆς δυνάμ. αὐτοῦ, Ephesians 3:7, also Ephesians 1:19; as to the subject-matter, comp. 1 Corinthians 15:25 f.; as to the expression with the genitive of the infinitive, Onosand. I. p. 12: ἡ τοῦ δύνασθαι ποιεῖν ἐξουσία.

καί] adds the general element ὑποτάξαι αὐτῷ τὰ π. to the ΜΕΤΑΣΧΗΜΑΤ. Κ.Τ.Λ.[174] Bengel aptly says: “non modo conforme facere corpus nostrum suo.”

τὰ πάντα] all things collectively, is not to be limited; nothing can withstand His power; a statement which to the Christian consciousness refers, as a matter of course, to created things and powers, not to God also, from whom Christ has received that power (Matthew 28:18; 1 Corinthians 15:27), and to whom He will ultimately deliver up again the dominion (1 Corinthians 15:24; 1 Corinthians 15:28). Chrysostom and Theophylact have already with reason noticed the argumentum a majori ad minus.

[173] As to the nature of this transformation, see 1 Corinthians 15:53. The older dogmatic exegetes maintained in it the identity of substance. Calovius: “Ille μετασχηματισμός non substantialem mutationem, sed accidentalem, non ratione quidditatis corporis nostri, sed ratione qualitatum salva quidditate importat.” This is correct only so far as the future body, although an organism without σάρξ and αἷμα, 1 Corinthians 15:50, will not only be again specifically human, but will also belong to the identity of the persons. See 1 Corinthians 15:35 ff. Comp. Ernesti, Urspr. d. Sünde, I. p. 127 f. More precise definitions, such as those in Delitzsch’s Psychol. p. 459 ff., lose themselves in the misty region of hypothesis. The inappropriateness of the expression employed in the Confession: Resurrection of the flesh, has been rightly pointed out by Luther in the Larger Catechism, p. 501.

[174] Hoelemann takes καί as and, so that the sense would be, “that Christ can do all things, and subdues all things to Himself.” The very aorist ὑποτάξαι should have withheld him from making this heterogeneous combination, as it betrays itself to be dependent on δύνασθαι.

Php 3:21. μετασχ. It is doubtful whether, in this passage, any special force can be given to μετασχ. as distinguished from μεταμορφοῦν, carrying out the difference between σχῆμα and μορφή. The doubt is borne out by its close connexion here with σύμμορφον. Perhaps, however, the compound of σχῆμα has in view the fact that only the fashion or figure in which the personality is clothed will be transformed. We have here (as Gw[9]. notes) the reverse of the process in chap. Php 2:6-11. The locus classicus on the word is 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. It is found in Plato and Aristotle in its strict sense. Cf. also 4Ma 9:22. It is Christ who effects the transformation in the case of His followers, because He is πνεῦμα ζωοποιοῦν (1 Corinthians 15:45). Cf. Apocal. of Bar., li. 3: “As for the glory of those who have now been justified in my law … their splendour will be glorified in changes, and the form of their face will be turned into the light of their beauty, that they may be able to acquire and receive the world which does not die”.—τὸ σῶμα τ. ταπειν. The expression must apply esp[10]. to the unfitness of the present bodily nature to fulfil the claims of the spiritual life. It is pervaded by fleshly lusts; it is doomed to decay. ταπειν. is plainly suggested by δόξα which follows. σῶμα is “pure form which may have the most diverse content. Here, on earth, σῶμα = σάρξ” (see an illuminating discussion by F. Köstlin, Jahrb. f. deutsche Th., 1877, p. 279 ff.). Holst. (Paulin. Th., p. 10) notes that for this conception of σῶμα as “organised matter,” the older Judaism had no word besides בָּשָׂד. Later Hellenistic Judaism used the word σῶμα in its Pauline sense (see Wis 9:15).—εἰς τὸ γ. α. is to be omitted with the best authorities. See crit. note supr.σύμμορφον is used proleptically as its position shows. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:13, στηρίξαι τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν ἀμέμπτους. Perhaps the compound of μορφή is used to remind them of the completeness of their future assimilation to Christ. Cf. Romans 8:29. The end of the enumeration in that passage is ἐδόξασεν. δόξα is the climax here.—τ. σώμ. τ. δόξης α. With Paul δόξα is always the outward expression of the spiritual life (πνεῦμα). It is, if one may so speak, the semblance of the Divine life in heaven. The Divine πνεῦμα will ultimately reveal itself in all who have received it as δόξα. That is what the N.T. writers mean by the completed, perfected “likeness to Christ”. This passage, combined with 1 Corinthians 15:35-50 and 2 Corinthians 4:16 to 2 Corinthians 5:5, gives us the deepest insight we have into Paul’s idea of the transition from the present life to the future. He only speaks in detail of that which awaits believers. Whether they die before the Parousia or survive till then, a change will take place in them. But this is not arbitrary. It is illustrated by the sowing of seed. The Divine πνεῦμα which they have received will work out for them a σῶμα πνευματικόν. Their renewed nature will be clothed with a corresponding body through the power of Christ who is Himself the source of their spiritual life. The σῶμα σαρκικόν must perish: that is the fate of σάρξ. If there be no πνεῦμα, and thus no σῶμα πνευματικόν, the end is destruction. But the σῶμα πνευματικόν is precisely that in which Christ rose from the dead and in which He now lives. Its outward semblance is δόξα, a glory which shone forth upon Paul from the risen Christ on the Damascus road, which he could never forget. Hence all in whom Christ has operated as πνεῦμα ζωοποιοῦν will be “changed into the same likeness from glory (δόξα) to glory”. Paul does not here reflect on the time when the transformation takes place. That is of little moment to him. The fact is his supreme consolation. On the whole discussion see esp[11]. Hltzm[12]., N.T. Th., ii., pp. 80–81 and Heinrici on 1 Corinthians 15:35 ff.; for the future δόξα Cf. Apocal. of Bar., xv. 8 (Ed. Charles).—κατὰ τ. ἐνέργ. ἐνέργεια is only used of superhuman power in N.T. Quia nihil magis incredibile, nec magis a sensu carnis dissentaneum quam resurrectio: hac de causa Paulus infinitam Dei potentiam nobis ponit ob oculos quae omnem dubitationem absorbeat. Nam inde nascitur diffidentia quod rem ipsam metimur ingenii nostri angustiis (Calvin).—τοῦ δύν. “His efficiency which consists in His being able,” etc. The beginnings of this use of the genitive of the infinitive without a preposition appear in classical Greek. But in N.T. it was extended like that of ἵνα. Cf., e.g., Acts 14:9, 2 Corinthians 8:11. See Blass, Gram., p. 229; Viteau, Le Verbe, p. 170.—ὑποτάξαι. Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:24-28.—ἑαυτῷ. αυτω must be read with the best authorities. How is it to be accented? Is it to be αὑτῷ or αὐτῷ? W.H. read the former, regarding this as one of the exceptional cases where “a refusal to admit the rough breathing introduces language completely at variance with all Greek usage without the constraint of any direct evidence, and solely on the strength of partial analogies” (N.T., ii., Append., p. 144). On the other hand, Blass (Gram., p. 35, note 2) refuses to admit αὑτῷ. Winer, although preferring αὐτῷ, leaves the matter to the judgment of edd. Buttmann gives good reasons for usually reading αὐτ. (Gram., p. 111). Certainly αὐτοῦ is quite common as a reflexive in Inscriptions of the Imperial age (see Meisterhans, Gram. d. Att. Inschrr., § 59, 5). To sum up, it cannot be said that the aspirated form is impossible, but ordinarily it is safer to omit the aspirate. Cf. Simcox, Lang. of N.T., pp. 63–64.

[9] . Gwynn.

[10] especially.

[11] especially.

[12] tzm. Holtzmann.

21. change] The Greek verb is cognate to the word schêma, on which see second note on Php 2:8. It occurs also 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, and, with a different reference of thought, 1 Corinthians 4:6. Its use here implies that, in a sense, the change would be superficial. Already, in the “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15) of the saint the essentials of the glorified being are present. Even for the body the pledge and reason of its glory is present where the Holy indwelling Spirit is, (Romans 8:11). And thus the final transfiguration will be, so to speak, a change of “accidents,” not of “essence.” “Now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be” (1 John 3:2).

our vile body] Lit., and far better, the body of our humiliation. Wyclif has “whiche schal refourme the bodi of oure mekenesse”; the Rhemish version, “the body of our humilitie”; Beza’s Latin version, corpus nostrum humile; Luther, unsern nichtigen Leib. All paraphrases here involve loss or mistake. The body transfigured by the returning Lord is the body “of our humiliation” as being, in its present conditions, inseparably connected with the burthens and limitations of earth; demanding, for its sustenance and comfort, a large share of the energies of the spirit, and otherwise hindering the spirit’s action in many directions. Not because it is material, for the glorified body, though “spiritual” (1 Corinthians 15:44), will not be spirit; but because of the mysterious effect of man’s having fallen as an embodied spirit. The body is thus seen here, in its present condition, to be rather the “humbling” body than “vile” (Lat., vilis, “cheap”), “humble.”

Observe meanwhile that peculiar mystery and glory of the Gospel, a promise of eternal being and blessedness for the body of the saint. To the ancient philosopher, the body was merely the prison of the spirit; to the Apostle, it is its counterpart, destined to share with it, in profound harmony, the coming heaven. Not its essential nature, but its distorted condition in the Fall, makes it now the clog of the renewed spirit; it shall hereafter be its wings. This is to take place, as the N.T. consistently reveals, not at death, but at the Return of Christ.

The bearing of this passage on the error of the libertine, who “sinned against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18), is manifest.

that it may be fashioned like] One word, an adjective, in the Greek; we may render, nearly with R.V., (to be) conformed. The word is akin to morphê, Php 2:6, where see note. It is implied that the coming conformity to our Blessed Lord’s Body shall be in appearance because in reality; not a mere superficial reflection, but a likeness of constitution, of nature.

unto his glorious body] Lit. and better, the body of His glory; His sacred human body, as He resumed it in Resurrection, and carried it up in Ascension[25], and is manifested in it to the Blessed.—“Of His glory”; because perfectly answering in its conditions to His personal Exaltation, and, so far as He pleases, the vehicle of its display. A foresight of what it now is was given at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2, and parallels); and St Paul had had a moment’s glimpse of it as it is, at his Conversion (Acts 9:3; Acts 9:17; Acts 22:14; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 1 Corinthians 15:8).

[25] The Ascension may well have been, as many theologians have held, a further glorification, the crown of mysterious processes carried on through the Forty Days. We see hints of the present majesty of the Lord’s celestial Body in the mystical language of Revelation 1:14-16.

Our future likeness in body to His body is alone foretold here, without allusion to its basis in the spiritual union and resemblance wrought in us now by the Holy Spirit (e.g. 2 Corinthians 3:18), and to be consummated then (1 John 3:2). But this latter is of course deeply implied here. The sensual heresies which the Apostle is dealing with lead him to this exclusive view of the glorious future of the saint’s body.

It is plain from this passage, as from others (see esp. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44; 1 Corinthians 15:53), that the saint’s body of glory is continuous with that of his humiliation; not altogether a “new departure” in subsistence. But when we have said this, our certainties in the question cease, lost in the mysterious problems of the nature of matter. The Blessed will be “the same,” body as well as spirit; truly continuous, in their whole being, in full identity, with the pilgrims of time. But no one can say that to this identity will be necessary the presence in the glorified body of any given particle, or particles, of the body of humiliation, any more than in the mortal body it is necessary to its identity (as far as we know) that any particle, or particles, present in youth should be also present in old age. However, in the light of the next words this question may be left in peace. Be the process and conditions what they may, in God’s will, somehow

“Before the judgment seat,

Though changed and glorified each face,

Not unremembered [we shall] meet,

For endless ages to embrace.”

(Christian Year, St Andrew’s Day.)

according to the working whereby &c.] More lit., according to the working of His being able. The word “mighty” in the A.V. (not given in the other English versions) is intended to represent the special force of the Greek word energeia (see note on the kindred verb, Php 2:12); but it is too strong. “Active,” or even “actual,” would be more exact; but these are not really needed. The “working” is the positive putting forth of the always present “ability.”

even to subdue all things unto himself] “Even” precedes and intensifies the whole following thought.

Elsewhere the Father appears as “subduing all enemies,” “all things,” to the Son. Cp. 1 Corinthians 15:25 (and Psalm 110:1), 27 (and Psalm 8:6). But the Father “hath given to the Son to have life in Himself” (John 5:26-29), and therefore power. The will of the Father takes effect through the will of the Son, One with Him.

“All things”:—and therefore all conditions or obstacles, impersonal or personal, that oppose the prospect of the glorification of His saints. Cp. Romans 8:38-39; 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.

“Unto Himself”:—so that they shall not only not obstruct His action, but subserve it. His very enemies shall be—“His footstool,” and He shall “be glorified in His saints” (2 Thessalonians 1:10). And through this great victory of the Son, the Father will be supremely glorified. See 1 Corinthians 15:28; a prediction beyond our full understanding, but which on the one hand does not mean that in the eternal Future the Throne will cease to be “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1; Revelation 22:3), and on the other points to an infinitely developed manifestation in eternity of the glory of the Father in the Son. Meanwhile, the immediate thought of this passage is the almightiness, the coming triumph, and the present manhood, of the Christian’s Saviour.

Php 3:21. Ὃς μετασχηματίσει, who will transform) not only will give salvation, but also glory; 2 Timothy 2:10.—τῆς ταπεινώσεως, of humiliation) which is produced by the Cross, Php 3:18, ch. Php 4:12, Php 2:17; 2 Corinthians 4:10. דכא is in the LXX., ταπείνωσις, Psalm 90:3.—κατὰ, ording to) construe with will transform. The work of the Lord’s omnipotence.—τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ δύνασθαι, working efficacy of His power [Engl. Vers. to the working, whereby He is able]) The Infinitive instead of the noun. [His] power will be brought forth into action.—καὶ) ; not merely to make our body conformed to His.—τὰ πάντα, things) even death.


Verse 21. - Who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body; rather, as R.V., who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory. Compare the description of our Lord's person and work in Philippians 2:6-8. There St. Paul tells us that he who was originally in the form of God took upon him the form of a servant, and was found in fashion as a man. Here he uses the derivatives of the same words "form" and "fashion" (μορδή and σχῆμα), to describe the change of the bodies of the saved at the resurrection. He had already told us (ver. 10) that the Christian soul is being gradually conformed during life unto the death of Christ. He now tells us that this conformity of the Christian unto Christ is ultimately to extend to the body. The Lord shall change the outward fashion of our body; but this change will be more than a change of outward fashion: it will result in a real conformity of the resurrection-body of the believer unto the glorious body of the Lord. The body of our humiliation; not "vile body." St. Paul does not despise the body, like the Stoics and Gnostics; the Christian's body is a sacred thing - it is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and the seed of the resurrection-body (comp. 1 Corinthians 6:20). According to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. According to the working, the energy, of his power not only to change and glorify the bodies of the redeemed, but also to subdue all things, the whole universe, unto himself. "The apostle shows," says Chrysostom, "greater works of the Savior's power, that thou mightest believe in these."

Philippians 3:21Shall change (μετασχηματίσει)

See on Matthew 17:2; see on 1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 11:13. Also see on form, Philippians 2:6; and see on fashion, Philippians 2:8. The word thus indicates a change in what is outward and shifting - the body. Rev., correctly, shall fashion anew. Refashion (?).

Our vile body (τὸ σῶμα τῆς ταπεινώσεως ἡμῶν)

Wrong. Render, as Rev., the body of our humiliation. See, for the vicious use of hendiadys in A.V., on Ephesians 1:19. Lightfoot observes that the A.V. seems to countenance the stoic contempt of the body. Compare Colossians 1:22. The biographer of Archbishop Whately relates that, during his last illness, one of his chaplains, watching, during the night at his bedside, in making some remark expressive of sympathy for his sufferings, quoted these words: "Who shall change our vile body." The Archbishop interrupted him with the request "Read the words." The chaplain read them from the English Bible; but he reiterated, "Read his own words." The chaplain gave the literal translation, "this body of our humiliation." "That's right, interrupted the Archbishop, "not vile - nothing that He made is vile."

That it may be fashioned like (εἰς τὸ γενέσθαι αὐτὸ σύμμορφον).

The words that it may be, or become, are omitted from the correct Greek text, so that the strict rendering is the body of our humiliation conformed, etc. The words are, however, properly inserted in A.V. and Rev. for the sake of perspicuity. Rev., correctly, conformed for fashioned like. Fashion belongs to the preceding verb. See on shall change. The adjective conformed is compounded with μορφή form (see on Philippians 2:6, and see on made conformable, Philippians 3:10). As the body of Christ's glory is a spiritual body, this word is appropriate to describe a conformation to what is more essential, permanent, and characteristic. See 1 Corinthians 15:35-53.

His glorious body (τῷ σώματι τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ)

Wrong. Rev., correctly, the body of His glory. The body in which He appears in His present glorified state. See on Colossians 2:9.

The working whereby He is able (τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ δύνασθαι)

Lit., the energy of His being able. Δύνασθαι expresses ability, faculty, natural ability, not necessarily manifest. Ἑνέργεια is power in exercise, used only of superhuman power. See on John 1:12; see on 2 Peter 2:11. Hence, as Calvin remarks, "Paul notes not only the power of God as it resides in Him, but the power as it puts itself into act." See Ephesians 1:19, where four of the six words for power are used.

Subdue (ὑποτάξαι)

Rev., subject. See on James 4:7. It is more than merely subdue. It is to bring all things within His divine economy; to marshal them all under Himself in the new heaven and the new earth in which shall dwell righteousness. Hence the perfected heavenly state as depicted by John is thrown into the figure of a city, an organized commonwealth. The verb is thus in harmony with Philippians 3:20. The work of God in Christ is therefore not only to transform, but to subject, and that not only the body, but all things. See 1 Corinthians 15:25-27; Romans 8:19, Romans 8:20; Ephesians 1:10, Ephesians 1:21, Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 4:10.

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